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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
June 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:51 AM :: 12301 Views

RAND: Military is 18% of Hawaii’s Economy (Full Text)

Hirono, Hanabusa vote to increase National Debt: House rejects 97-318

Horizon Lines may be delisted from NY Stock Exchange

Hawaii Right to Life PAC Congratulates Neighborhood Board Candidates Who Advocate for Life

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted May 31

Abercrombie signs Appropriation for Reapportionment Commission

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed an emergency appropriation Tuesday for $664,000 so the commission can pay its staff and purchase software that can help redraw the district lines with just the click of a computer mouse.

In the past, commissioners have had to use paper maps, hand drawn lines and mathematic formulas to redraw the political district lines for Hawaii’s congressional and state House and Senate seats. The U.S. Constitution requires all states to reapportion districts every 10 years based upon population changes in the U.S. Census.

Commissioners at their meeting last week expressed concern that they are facing an August deadline to submit their initial plan and yet had no funding to purchase the software to complete the job.

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Visitor arrivals rose 5.3% and spending jumped 20.2% in April

"This represents the 12th consecutive month of double-digit increases in overall visitor spending," McCartney said.

Strong arrivals from Canada, which climbed 33.7 percent in April, and a 10 percent increase in arrivals from the U.S. West helped offset a 23.5 percent decline in Japan arrivals related to the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent radiation scare. Arrivals from the U.S. East stabilized with a 0.7 percent increase over last April. However, arrivals by cruise ships in April fell 13.3 percent to 13,750 visitors compared to April 2010.

"The meetings, conventions and incentives (MCI) market also continued to rebound and experienced a boost from the American Academy of Neurology with more than 9,000 delegates and an estimated 72,630 room nights," McCartney said.

For the year ended April, visitor spending rose 17.8 percent to $4.1 billion, while arrivals grew 8.9 percent to 2.4 million visitors.

AP: Hawaii Visitor Spending Increases 17.8 Percent

Shapiro:  Is Hawai‘i’s economic break finally coming?

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MRC Greenwood on Misuse of Protocol Funds: “There are many things I don’t do”

There are many things I don’t do, because I don’t think it would be appropriate. Let’s apply a business model: We’re a $1.4 billion business, we raised $41 million last year in a tough economy, and hope to raise $45 million this year, and $130,000 (used in protocol funds) is a very, very small percentage of that and it was used to help get me out there for the first couple of years.

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As Hurricane Season begins,  Abercrombie signs law allowing him to spend hurricane relief fund

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed into law a measure allowing him to spend money from the state's hurricane relief fund to help balance this year's budget.

The measure is meant to get the state through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

It authorizes the governor to first spend $42 million from the $117 million hurricane relief fund, and then drain it entirely if needed.


RELATED: Hawaii Red Cross: Hurricane Season is Here, So Prepare

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No Special Session Means Key Bills In Limbo

Because Hawaii has a biennium session, each of these bills remain alive for the 2012 session.

Lawmakers could still reconvene, possibly to override any vetoes from the governor (he's vetoed only two so far and indicated his intention on a third).  But it takes a two-thirds majority in both chambers to make that happen.

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No Competition For Hawaii School Bus Contracts

The cost of transporting Hawaii students to and from school has nearly doubled in the past five years. A major factor contributing to the increase is that there's almost no competition among bus companies for contracts.

The 12 companies that provide bus services for the Department of Education typically do not compete with one another for new contracts, said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of school facilities and support services. The companies range from small mom-and-pop operations servicing only a single island, to the ubiquitous Roberts Hawaii.

The department spends more than $70 million to transport students to and from school each year, or about $1,000 per student passenger. It has roughly 800 bus routes that are divided among around 100 contracts, most of which last for six years. In a given year, about 15 of those contracts will end and come up for bid again.

But the department often only receives one bidder for each solicitation, Moore told members of the former Board of Education at their December 2 meeting last year.

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Hawaii's Electric Vehicle Rebates Off to Slow Start

The state still has nearly $1.3 million to dole out in rebates for electric cars. And it has just four months to do so.

The rebate program Hawaii launched last August for the purchase of new electric vehicles is set to end in September. It can knock up to $4,500 off the price of a new electric car, and can be combined with a federal tax credit. As of this month, the state still had $1.28 million in funds remaining.

State officials say the slow start is tied to the limited supply of electric vehicles in Hawaii. But they are hopeful more rebates will be issued as more electric cars come to market in the islands.

And while it's a possibility the rebate program will be extended, a decision hasn't been made, said Maria Tome, renewable energy program manager at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which oversees the rebate program.

If the rebate program ends with a surplus of funds, Tome said the money could be diverted toward other renewable energy programs at DBEDT, including, for example, installing photovoltaic systems on state buildings.

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Civil Beat: Facts are not Facts if We Decide They’re Not

CB: FACT CHECK — Hawaii GOP: Democrats Outspent Us 3-1 in 2010 -- False

In a May 26 Fact Check Civil Beat claimed that GOP National committeewoman Miriam Hellreich was wrong when she told the recent GOP State Convention "We were outspent 3-1 in 2010."  But in fact she was right as admitted by Civil Beat reporter Robert Brown, author of the Fact Check: 
"the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows a clear Democrat advantage compared to Republicans when it comes to overall contributions, roughly 3-1." -- Robert Brown
"what was heard by Hellreich's listeners was accurate" -- Robert Brown
BUT … this morning CB Editor John Temple announced that the factless fact check will stand because "…we chose to narrowly examine the claim based on the intention of the speaker as it was reported to us after the fact…."
Key words: “We chose”

Paying For Honolulu News: Follow the money, the technology and the readers to try to predict the future of the news business

The old ways of delivering news to readers and viewers are not as popular as they used to be, and the new ways don’t pay nearly as much as the old ones did.

That revolutionary imbalance has created a host of changes in the local news media:

  • A year after the state’s two biggest daily newspapers died to give it birth, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser says it is profitable, plans to charge for its website this year and has more circulation than either of its predecessors at their demise.  Higher Star-Advertiser advertising rates drove some customers to look for alternatives. “When you go from having several newspapers and end up with one, a small business like myself is going to look around,” says Rochelle Lee Gregson, CEO of the Honolulu Board of Realtors. “I scrambled for about six months looking at business options.” But the board is back with the daily.
  • Civil Beat, the year-old online news site subsidized by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, includes some powerful and influential people in its audience of paid subscribers. It would not disclose its finances, but it appears to be a long way from financial self-sustainability.
  • Malia Zimmerman’s nine-year-old website, Hawaii Reporter, has added reporting staff and gained financing from ads, subscribers and Mainland interest groups. Matt Levi, a veteran Hawaii private investigator and former TV reporter, has launched a four-times-a-year investigative report to run on Hawaii Reporter and KGMB.
  • Hawaii Public Radio has used new or more-powerful transmitters to expand its signals into more communities across Hawaii. That has helped increase fundraising and some of that money has been spent on added local reporting, including a daily public affairs program called “The Conversation.”
  • Local news blogs and websites run by volunteers and innovators have won many readers, though little revenue. They include Ian Lind’s, the Hawaii Independent, Hawaii Free Press, Pacific Network and Disappeared News.

Does all of that add up to better-informed Hawaii citizens?

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KHON2, KITV, Hawaii News Now Face Uncertain Future

Soon after the launch, the Media Council of Hawaii, a nonprofit watchdog, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The complaint said the SSA was a breach of the public trust and a violation of FCC rules that prevent one entity from owning or controlling two of the top four stations in a single market. The complaint also said the consolidation diminished the quality and diversity of news.

Raycom, which owns or operates 46 stations nationwide, says the SSA is an operational arrangement – not an ownership change – and, therefore, does not violate the FCC rules. University of Hawaii journalism professor Gerald Kato, who is a member of the media council, isn’t buying it.

“They’ve created this fiction that they’ve maintained separate operations when MCG Capital is like a silent partner and Raycom runs the show,” Kato says. “What they’ve actually done is formed a media cartel that controls about 45 percent of the marketplace.”

Blangiardi declined to comment on issues concerning the media council’s complaint because a ruling by the FCC is pending. McTear was not reachable for comment.

Janice Wise, of the FCC’s Media Bureau, says the agency does not keep statistics on how many stations nationwide are part of SSAs, “but they are not unusual and are becoming more common.”

REALITY: Raycom Honolulu TV Deal: Honolulu Community Media Council has its own issues with "media control"

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Anti-Geothermal Protesters now Love Geothermal Because OHA will Profit

And some people are so stupid they actually believe this has something to do with the ‘aina or something …. $$$$$

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Toxic Waste in Hawaii

Thirty years after it shut down, the old Gasco site in Iwilei is still a vacant lot. For generations, it converted heavy petroleum into synthetic gas and light oils. Now, its storage tanks, thermal cracker unit and pipelines are long gone and, in their place, is a field of gravel and weeds.

All that remains of the old gasworks is its contamination – a vast underground reservoir of viscous tar and toxic aromatics, like benzene, toluene and ethylbenzene. Indeed, the Gasco site is one of the most contaminated sites in the state, and the technical and legal consequences of that contamination are why the land sat vacant for more than three decades. Even so, three years ago, Weston Solutions, an international environmental engineering company, bought the property – and all the liability that goes with it.

That’s because the four-acre site is prime real estate. It’s near downtown, the harbor, airport, highways and the planned rail line. Weston plans to clean it and redevelop it, but three years after buying the land, Weston’s project still faces technical glitches and regulatory hurdles, and has become a symbol of Hawaii’s contaminated lands problem.

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UH Manoa Ethnic studies to Invade New Zealand

In addition to student exchanges, AUT’s work in indigenous studies through Te Ara Poutama (Māori Development) will provide unique research opportunities for UH Mānoa faculty and students of Political Science, Linguistics, the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, and the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, among others.

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Rick Hamada Five Questions. 5 Answers.

$2M bail for man charged in Hawaii resort death

Bail for a Washington state man charged with murdering his girlfriend at a Big Island resort has been increased to $2 million.

Philip Howard Zimmerman's preliminary hearing Tuesday was postponed to determine whether he qualifies for a public defender.

His request for a public defender was denied because he owns property in Washington.

HNN: Community offers help against domestic violence

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Nishihara: Agricultural Renaissance?  This time we mean it.  Really.

Last fall during his campaign, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said that it is time for an agricultural renaissance in Hawaii, as more than 80 percent of our food is now imported; only 50 years ago about half of our food was produced locally.  During the legislative session, we took those words to heart.

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Kuehnle Algae Replaces Oil, but costs more

While algae biomass is cleaner for the environment, it costs more to produce than the price of oil. “The cost needs to be down enough so that it will be competitive enough with petroleum,”
CEO Heidi Kuehnle says.

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