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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
July 6, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:30 AM :: 10717 Views

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they voted July 5th

Abercrombie Administration: State homeless plan on track

Quash Private Agendas For Public Good

Mufi to Neil: “Too bad”

It's too bad that some feel ambivalent about tourism. Yes, we should pursue economic diversity, by all means. But we also need to acknowledge the critical importance of tourism to our future, the vitality of the visitor industry in competing successfully in the global marketplace, and the essential role tourism will have in supporting the very diversification we seek.

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Shapiro to HSTA: “Go on strike”

The Hawaii State Teachers Association accuses the Abercrombie administration of skirting the collective bargaining process by imposing its “last, best and final” contract terms, but that’s exactly what the union would be doing by filing a legal challenge.

If the teachers don’t like the state’s final offer, they have a remedy under the collective bargaining process: go on strike….

HSTA can’t seem to settle a contract without drama.

In the Cayetano years it was an extended disagreement after the deal was signed over what had been agreed to.

With the Lingle administration, teachers agreed to drug testing to gain an 11 percent pay raise but refused drug tests after the raise was pocketed.

Then came Furlough Fridays, when HSTA displayed its pique and created a crisis in the schools by insisting that every single furlough day be on an instructional day….

PDF: Matayoshi’s Memo to Teachers

CB: No Legal Action By Hawaii Teachers Union — Yet

CB: HSTA Pay Cuts Comparable To HGEA's

HFP: Four of a Kind: UPW, UHPA get big Fat Pay Raise—and HSTA suit could give one to HGEA

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Martin, Anderson: HART power struggle not about money

Clearly, this argument is not about the money. It's about the mayor's insistence that the Council has no legitimate responsibility for rail. It is absolutely absurd to think that the Council would have amended the Charter to completely eliminate its fiduciary oversight of the largest public works project in our history.

Yeah, right: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman

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Could Teacher Contract Talks Affect Race to Top?

Hawaii's teachers are already upset with the state for forcing a new contract on them — and it's bound to have an effect on Race to the Top.

The state still needs teachers to agree to numerous Race to the Top promises, including annual evaluations, which have been controversial.

That makes clear, open communication among both parties essential, says Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda. Negotiators should be careful not alienate each other over the teachers' contract, she says.

"If (Race to the Top promises) aren't negotiated already, we're going to have to go back and do that," Tokuda said. "Like I said, I'm not involved in these discussions, but I hope everybody can come together and work through these issues, because the kids are expecting the adults to figure this out."

HFP: Abercrombie’s HSTA contract says nothing about 180-day law, RTTT

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Amazing: Stop feeding Homeless in Parks and 125 move to Shelters

Businesses and charitable organizations are heeding Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plea to stop feeding the homeless, and the Institute for Human Services estimates that it has seen a 15 percent increase in meals it has served over the last two weeks, Abercrombie's office announced halfway through his 90-day homeless plan initiative.

An estimated 125 people have moved from emergency shelters or the streets of Waikiki and Honolulu's urban core into transitional or permanent housing, Abercrombie's office said Tuesday.

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State receiving millions in education money

The federal government is giving Hawaii $115,257,706 in education money this fiscal year.

More than $39 million of those funds will go to education programs targeting children with disabilities. More than $47 million will go towards the improvement of current state programs.

The state will receive $39,562,879 from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and $75,694,627 through 10 grants programs administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) at the U.S. Department of Education.

Close to 18,000 local students from kindergarten to grade 12 will receive services paid for by the IDEA Act.

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Letter from Lanai: The Governor and Big Wind

The Governor attempted a few opening remarks at the public session, but was quickly interrupted with a question about Lana’i’s healthcare challenges, in particular the long-overdue funding for our State-run community hospital. Shortly thereafter, the real concern on the minds of most who attended — Big Wind — erupted, prompting the Governor to plead more than an hour later, “Can’t we talk about something besides wind?”

Judging from the questions and comments, Governor Abercrombie has not made many fans on Lana’i, except perhaps for those who have been pressured by Castle & Cooke (CCR) and the ILWU to support the siting of the industrial wind power plant here – clear evidence not withstanding that there will be pitifully few jobs for Lana’i residents. Despite his continually saying, “I’m here to listen to you,” and “nothing definite has reached my desk yet,” the crowd of about 50 were clearly not satisfied.

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Hawaiian group to protest Native Hawaiian bill signing

Hawaiian Nationals and supporters of a Free Hawai‘i” announced Tuesday through a press release they will hold a public demonstration today in Honolulu from 12 to 1 p.m. at Lili’uokalani Statue, and from 1 to 4 p.m. in front of Washington Place to protest Abercrombie’s signing of SB 1520.

“Hawaiian Nationals and many other Hawai‘i residents adamantly opposed the Akaka Bill and successfully fought for 10 years to stop its passage in Washington (D.C.),” Committee of Hawaiian Nationals spokesperson Leon Siu said in a press release. “SB 1520 represents a desperate ‘back door’ tactic to accomplish what the Akaka Bill failed to do.”

Another Hawaiian National, Pilipo Souza, said, “Like Abercrombie’s inauguration at ‘Iolani Palace, this is an affront to those of us whose nation was stolen.”

The state and federal governments intend to use this Native American tribal designation to “underhandedly quash Hawaiian Nationals’ rightful claim to the sovereign jurisdiction and lands of the stolen Hawaiian Kingdom,” Siu said in the release.

The signing of SB 1520 is scheduled for 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Washington Place. Besides Abercrombie, other officials attending the bill signing include Sens. Malama Solomon, D-1st District, Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th District, and Clayton Hee, D-23rd District; Rep. Faye Hanohano, D-4th District; and OHA Chair Collette Machado.

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Freddie Mac moves its Hawaii foreclosures into courts following state overhaul

Freddie Mac instructed its loan servicers in a June 30 bulletin to use the courts for filing new foreclosures and for converting existing nonjudicial foreclosures.

The company attributed the change to Hawaii's recently passed foreclosure overhaul, which calls for dispute resolution and requires document disclosures in the nonjudicial process.

Because the dispute resolution system hasn't started yet, Hawaii is operating under what amounts to a moratorium on nonjudicial foreclosures.

FACE: Under New Foreclosure Law, Lenders Giving Families Day in Court

HFP: Fannie Mae ends use of non-judicial foreclosure in Hawaii

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Hawaii School Bus Fares Could Rise Again

The cost of transporting students to and from school has nearly doubled in the last five years, from $185,000 per day to $340,000 per day — and nobody can explain why. The cost works out to a new cost of about $1,100 per student each year, and that doesn't include special ed students, whose school bus transportation costs about $8,000 per student per year.

It looks like the rising costs will continue to be passed on to students.

A Hawaii State Board of Education committee voted Tuesday to increase school bus fares — for the second time in two years. If the full board approves the recommendation, beginning this fall, the cost of a one-way ride to school will rise 67 percent to $1.25, up from $0.75.

Quarterly passes would go up by $12, and annual passes by $45, to $270. The fare increases would affect about half of the 43,000 school bus riders throughout the state. Students who qualify for free lunch will continue to ride for free.

HNN: Proposals to change school meal and bus prices advance

SA: School bus fares poised to go up again

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Accused Human Trafficker Goes on the Record

Orian, who maintains his innocence, is being held in Hawaii through an electronic monitoring system by federal authorities.

He sat down with Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman to dispute the charges against him. See the 1 hour exclusive video interview here. Orian said his criminal defense lawyer gave him the go-ahead to do the interview because he is not guilty.

Orian also discussed a separate civil case filed April 20, 2011 against Global Horizons and 6 Hawaii farms and two mainland farms by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for alleged labor abuses involving 200 Thai workers.

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Seed Growers debunk Critics

Myth: Seed producers have been given “unregulated and unrestricted access” to land with “no oversight [and] no inspections.”
Fact: As part of the most regulated industry in the nation, biotech crops undergo intense regulatory scrutiny in all aspects of their production and distribution. HCIA member companies and their crops are closely monitored and inspected by the USDA, FDA, EPA, as well as state and county agencies.

Myth: The seed industry is occupying all of the available agricultural land, and it will never return to local food production.
Fact: Seed companies own or lease approximately 25,000 acres, or 5 percent, of the available prime agricultural land in the state. At any point in time, they are only growing crops on 7,000 acres so the environmental footprint (water use, inputs, tillage, etc) is smaller compared to other agricultural operations. Seed companies are not only keeping important agricultural lands in agricultural use, but they partner with local farmers and ranchers to make those lands available for food production. Mr. Santoro only needs to look at his own gated community of Poamoho Estates to know that “gentlemen farms” with mansions valued at $4 million are contributing to the loss of important agricultural lands – not the seed industry.

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Drop in fire calls but has fun gone out of 4th?

The fire department reports the number of probable fireworks-related incidents over the July 4th holiday weekend dropped dramatically. The Honolulu Police Department also saw a huge decrease in calls.

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Honolulu: Mega Rail Project in a Micro City

An exorbitantly costly rapid transit heavy rail project has been proposed for the small Hawaiian island of Oahu, where the leading metropolis, Honolulu, ranks 53rd in population among U.S. cities, with less than 500,000 people. If the project moves forward it will be the world’s only elevated heavy rail in a metro area with a population of under four million.

Nothing about this 20-mile long rail project makes sense, except for its politics and its cronyism. It is projected to cost $5.3 billion according to the financial analysis of the city, or $7.2 billion, according to the state. For comparison, the Blue Line between Los Angeles and Long Beach that opened in 1990 has the same length and would cost roughly $1.5 billion to build now.

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Hawaii Includes all in Census Counts: Reapportionment Commission vote affirms U. S. Census Rules

Hawaii’s military, student and incarcerated populations will be included in apportioning local legislative districts, an 8-1 vote of the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission has affirmed. The Commission has thus formally upheld residence rules of the U. S. Census Bureau.

The concept of “usual residence,” guiding census counts since the founding of the nation, states, “Usual residence is defined as the place where a person lives and sleeps most of the time. This place is not necessarily the same as the person’s voting residence or legal residence.”

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Mineral-rich ocean mud stirs environmental fears (surprise, surprise)

said University of Hawaii oceanography professor Eric De Carlo. "The environmentalists are just going to love this. They're going to cry bloody murder."

He looked at a map produced by the Japanese research team and said the major sites appear to be well beyond 200 miles from Hawaii.

But Robert D. Harris, a lawyer and statewide director of the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter, said, "I would plainly disagree with anyone who says there would be no environmental regulation. Hawaii's ocean resources are a billion-dollar resource that fuels most of our economy. We're critically concerned about anything that might damage our near-shore and offshore waters."

(Visualize a mining ship, armed, flying the Jolly Roger.)

Environmental concerns have hobbled U.S. production of rare-earth elements, and (thanks to the enviros) China currently dominates the world market with 97 percent of the planet's production, increasing tensions with its neighbor, Japan. 

(Said a Chinese source, “Enviro lawyers are a lot more useful than gangs of RCPers waving copies of Mao’s Little Red Book.  I wish we had thought of this years ago!”)

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Aina Koa Pono signs contract with AECOM for biofuels plant

The 13,000-acre farm will use technology to turn bio-feedstocks, such as invasive plant species, into electricity, biofuel and gasoline. The farm plans to produce 16 million gallons of synthetic bio-diesel for Hawaiian Electric Co….

The farm will create an estimated 300 construction jobs during the next two years, as well as more than 100 permanent farming and facility operations jobs. Construction is set to begin early next year, with the first delivery of fuel anticipated by mid-2013. The Kau Energy Farm is expected to be in full operation by the third quarter of 2013, according to the statement.

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EPA has “significant concerns” about Hu Honua Permit

We received word this morning that EPA Region 9 office has completed its review of the Hu Honua permit. Please take the time to read the EPA’s comments – they are revealing – especially Comment #1. Click on this link to review EPA’s comments.

While the Region 9 EPA office has not “objected” to the permit, they have expressed “significant concerns” to the Hawaii Clean Air Branch (CAB) regarding the veracity of the permit data, the ability to realistically enforce the conditions, and have suggested changes and another public review.

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Boa Constrictor may have given birth while on the loose in Wahiawa

Pig hunters found a 9-foot-3-inch boa constrictor in Waiawa Gulch Monday, and though the snake — one of the largest ever found in Hawaii — was secure in state custody Tuesday, officials were sobered by the thought that the female reptile may have given birth in the wild.

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