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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
July 26, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:22 PM :: 17241 Views

Rail: Ansaldo Parent Company at center of Slush Fund payoffs scandal in Italy

Full Text: AARP Report Pegs Value Family Caregiving in Hawaii at $1.9 Billion

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How they voted July 25

Kaiser recognized as Top Medical Home System

Obama vs. Boehner on the Debt

Djou: Ineffectiveness of Hawaii's One Party Rule Revealed in East-West Center Federal Funding Debacle

Earlier this year a single freshman Texas Republican congressman, who had never before held public office, successfully stripped funding for the East-West Center in the U.S. House. The funding was restored in the Senate version of the budget appropriation, but only after quick maneuvering by local officials.

When I spoke with the Texas representative’s staff they told me that no one from Hawaii’s congressional delegation had ever spoken to them explaining the importance of the East-West Center. Indeed, neither of Hawaii’s congressional representatives even spoke up on the House floor to defend the center. Ironically it was left up to another Texas Republican, Congressman Kay Granger, to defend funding for the East-West Center on the House floor.

Now the East-West Center is under fire again, as Congress is looking at completely eliminating the center. The House Foreign Affairs Committee recently voted to wipe out the UH based facility. Similarly, the USS Missouri and USS Bowfin museums will soon have to start paying market rent for their educational missions because, unlike previous years, Hawaii’s new representative has been unable to secure assistance for these historic facilities in the new environment in D.C.

The East West Center might again be saved in the coming weeks in the U.S. Senate; but these difficulties with the center and other Hawaii programs will always continue as long as Hawaii continues to send a one-sided and unbalanced delegation to Congress.

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HSTA Declares Political War on Abercrombie, Legislators

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is officially "unfriending" Gov. Neil Abercrombie, but it's not stopping there. The union has declared political war on those it considers the enemies of education.

"Our old friends are no longer our friends," President Wil Okabe wrote in a memo to the union's rank-and-file last week….

HSTA is stepping up its political activity.

The union is launching a battery of public relations blitzes and political programming.

"We can no longer accept nice words of support for education and teachers," he wrote in the memo, dated July 20. "We will hold elected officials accountable by mounting our own political campaigns that share how politicians vote on the issues that matter to children and teachers."

The union is also preparing "a strong legislative agenda," Okabe said, which includes calling out the state for granting tax breaks to "a favored few, while teachers pay for school supplies out of their own pockets." Okabe proposes giving teachers a school supplies tax credit.

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Mitsunaga Money Laundered thru Schatz’ Campaign committee to pay off Schatz’ Father

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, collected about $59,900 from January through June for the 2014 re-election campaign.

According to state campaign-finance reports, the largest source of donations — $25,000 — came from executives at Mitsunaga & Associates…

Schatz spent about $39,500, including $30,000 in repaid or forgiven loans from his father, Irwin.

Shapiro: Schatz not likely to run for Senate

HFP:  Attack ads "coordinated' with alleged Pay-to-Play engineering firm  

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Aloun Farms Slavery Trial Begins


ACT 221 Scammers:  The action is in energy, PUC is window to our future

The PUC is certainly where the action is, and will be. Telephone, truck, water and taxicab regulation notwithstanding, the action is in energy. Although its funding has hardly kept up, the demands made on the PUC have never been greater. Nor has the effect and leverage of its decisions been more profound. It is in the center of the channel and will stay there as long as it takes us to reach our clean energy goals, and beyond.

When Neil Abercrombie took office, he wanted to speed up the transformation of the agency. After he found that the creation of an Energy Authority might be problematic, he proceeded instead to appoint former state legislator Mina Morita as chair of the PUC. In these days, the work of the PUC includes meeting Hawaii's challenge to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and it’s a daunting job.

To stay in touch with that process, check out the program to be presented by ThinkTech and the Hawaii Venture Capital Association on Thursday, July 28th. It’s a study of the remarkable changes going on in our PUC. The program includes a blue-ribbon panel of PUC officials, namely Chair Mina Morita, Chief Counsel Cat Awakuni, Chief Researcher Josh Strickler and also Consumer Advocate Jeff Ono.

It’s great that these PUC VIPs are willing to come and talk to us, the business community and the public. It’s an opportunity which is sure to clarify if not telegraph the shape of what’s to come, and it’s one which we shouldn’t miss. The faces of the PUC, and the words of these speakers, are a window to our future.

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Borreca: We’ll get it right with the Next Big Thing

Switzerland of the Pacific. That was what we were going to be.

Somehow Hawaii leaders became convinced we were just months away from being the Geneva to the East and West.

Honolulu was going to have a stock exchange, banks would be lured to our palm tree-lined shores.

Hawaii was to become a mid-Pacific center for trade, high finance and even dispute resolution.

It turned out that the world was able to get along with just one Geneva, which did not need to be relocated to the middle of the Pacific.

Enter Asia's Mayo Clinic in the Pacific. The dream was for Hawaii to encourage or even set up a Mayo Clinic to serve an international clientele. Be you despot or industrialist, a heart murmur in Honolulu would get special treatment. While you were recuperating, the family would shop, wine and dine. It was going to be the ultimate win-win deal.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano worked hard to bring it about, but it just never came together, although Cayetano's determination preserved the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Time after time Hawaii has tried to place our isolated fleet of islands on a map of economic development. The lack of major successes takes away from our place as a viable second tier, reliable location to host meetings, solve problems and repair what ails you….

Kalapa: Taxpayers suffer from a glut of omniscient soothsayers in elected office who believe they know it all and can predict the winner industry of the future

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Alternatives to Wind: New RFP may site Renewable Energy off Molokai

The 400 megawatt Big Wind project may not be just a wind project anymore.

The Hawaii State Energy Office is expanding the scope of its environmental assessment to include solar and geothermal energy sources in Maui County.

A recent ruling by the PUC requires Hawaiian Electric Co. to develop a new RFP for at least 200 mw of renewable energy that was originally planned for the Molokai portion of the Big Wind project. The RFP is open to any renewable energy source and can be sited on any island that can reasonably reach Oahu by an inter-island cable or Oahu itself.

The expansion of the EIS is in response to community “scoping meetings” on the affected islands earlier this year, according to Allen Kam, who is managing the EIS for the energy office.

“When looking at the EIS, it’s very broad,” said Kam. “We’re paving the way for what could happen, not what will happen.”

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Cooking the Truth at the Hawaii Office of Information Practices

One thing we do know, from the OIP's own website, is that it is issuing fewer and fewer opinions every year. In the last three years, it has issued fewer than five advisory opinions a year. In 1994, 30 were issued and in 1995, 27 opinions were written.

Here's the raw truth: The OIP is not exerting the power it has under the existing law, and now it has issued a statement making the case its opponents would make for why it doesn't have any power. That approach, I'm sure, will rally those who support open government to its side.

What's seemingly contradictory about the agency's stance is that at the same time it says it's doing a great job, it says it wants clarification of its powers from the Hawaii Legislature. Maybe the best thing the Legislature could do is shield the agency from the power of the governor, who can fire its director at any time, by bringing it under its umbrella, the way the auditor and ethics commission are.

You'd think, reading the OIP's statement, that the agency understands its powers very well…. (but)

ILind: OIP needs to advocate and educate on the duty to make government information public

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Honolulu Water rates lower than mainland cities run by Progressives

By comparison, single-family households in Portland typically pay about $4.13 for every 1,000 gallons, according to a spokeswoman for the Portland Water Bureau. In San Francisco, families pay about $4.68 per 1,000 gallons.

In Seattle, water costs even more: about $5.32 per 1,000 gallons, or almost twice as much as in Honolulu.

On the whole, neighbor island residents pay less for water than their Honolulu counterparts. Maui's Department of Water Supply charges $1.75 per 1,000 gallons for the first 5,000 gallons used and $3.20 for the next 10,000 gallons used. In Kauai, 1,000 gallons of water generally costs $3.20. And on the Big Island, general-use water costs 89 cents per 1,000 gallons for the first 5,000 gallons used and $1.80 for the following 10,000 gallons used.

By 2015, assuming Honolulu's rate increases go through as planned, Honolulu residents would pay $4.42 per 1,000 gallons.

(If only more Progressives were in office, then we could really ‘soak’ the ratepayers.)

RELATED: Analysis: Hawaii Democratic Tent not Broad, voter satisfaction can shift quickly

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Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness created

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed an executive order to establish the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness, he announced Tuesday.

The 24-member council will develop a plan for housing options, securing federal funding and creating assistance programs to address homelessness in Hawaii.

The council will meet quarterly and report annually to the governor, the legislature and county mayors about policy recommendations supporting the statewide plan. The first meeting of the council is tentatively scheduled for early August.

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Fireworks injuries nonexistent in Oahu ERs

Oahu's new fireworks ban appears to be one of the main reasons that no one went to a hospital emergency room here with a fireworks-related injury this past Fourth of July, a state official said Monday.

For the first time in nine years, the state Department of Health recorded no fireworks-related injuries treated in Oahu's emergency rooms for a July 4 holiday period.

From 2003 — when the department began tracking such injuries — through 2010, an average of 17 people were treated in Oahu hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, Galanis said. Last year 16 people were treated.

In contrast, this year nine people were treated for fireworks-related injuries on the neighbor islands, the most since 2006. The total includes four each on Maui and Hawaii island, and one on Kauai.

Totally Unrelated: Harvard Study: July 4th Parades turn kids into Republicans

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Schofield Wolfhounds Host Japanese Orphans for Two Weeks

For the 47th year, the Wolfhounds of Schofield and Peace Bridge 501c 3 are ready to receive another group of children arriving from Osaka's Holy Family Home.

I was in the midst of catching up with my emails when "that" moment hit me. I'm tired, I'm grouchy and I been a bit burnt out, but my day took a change in it's flavor. "Why?"....the next two weeks are a big "why" I do some of the things I do. It's the substance, the essence and the seasoning of my existence.

It's often said that this trip to Hawaii is the MOST significant and memorable experience in these children's lives. Most of them will not be adopted and will spend their childhood and formative years in the care of the home. This trip to Hawaii is more than just Waikiki and the beach. They stay with a host family and have a mom and dad for 2 weeks.

(Just another one of the things that military personnel do in our community….)


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Bidding closes with Four Offers for Hawaii Superferry catamarans

The American Shipper, an international trade and logistics organization, reported on its website (registration required) that four offers were made for the Alakai and Huakai by the July 20 deadline. The site did not name the bidders, or the bid amounts, and officials with the Maritime Administration could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Related: Why Hawaii Lost the Superferry

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Feds, State sponsor Million Dollar Car Giveaway

Hawaii has more than $1 million remaining in funding for electric vehicle rebates and has extended the deadline for applying for those rebates….

Hawaii residents can apply for state rebates of up to $4,500 on purchases of electric vehicles and up to $500 for electric vehicle chargers. Federal tax credits for electric vehicles are worth up to $7,500.

Since the beginning of the year 128 rebates have been approved for 68 electric vehicles and 60 chargers.

SA: Electric car rebates now good till January

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University of Hawaii Execs Score $22,000 in Tickets To Their Own Games

UH system President M.R.C. Greenwood reported accepting the highest value of tickets — $13,140 — for "various collegiate sporting events" from the UH Manoa Athletics Department.

Hinshaw received the second-highest value of tickets — $3,570 total. In addition to the men's basketball tickets, she also received season tickets for the university's football, women's volleyball and baseball games.

The UH system's chief financial officer, Howard Todo, got tickets valued at $1,660. Those included men's basketball season tickets, valued at $540, as well as a $200 season parking pass for football games….

University of Hawaii spokeswoman Lynne Waters provided Civil Beat with a copy of its policy regarding sports event tickets. The policy requires employees report complimentary sports tickets on their annual gift disclosures. The rules were drawn up following controversy over travel expenses for UH staff and guests to attend the 2008 Sugar Bowl.

University of Hawaii athletic event ticket policy

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4 Hawaii Post Offices On Potential Closure List

Here is the list of Hawaii post office locations under review:

  • Uptown Branch 1170 Nuuanu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96817
  • Kapolei Station 1001 Kamokila Boulevard Kapolei, HI 96707
  • Hanamaulu Branch 3-4251 Kuhio Highway Lihue, HI 96766
  • Kalaupapa Branch 290 Beretania Street Kalaupapa, HI 96742

    LINK:  U.S. Postal Service Possible Closure List

    SA: Four Hawaii post offices could be closed

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    Terming out, Councilman Pete Hoffmann will not run for Hawaii County mayor, may seek other office

    Recently there has been some speculation regarding my political aspirations since I am prohibited from running for a fifth consecutive term as Councilman next year. I’ll admit that I have fueled some of that speculation and indicated that I am considering whether I should campaign for Mayor. It is no secret that I am disappointed with the leadership demonstrated by Mayor Kenoi and have felt that I could do much better for the residents of this County.

    However, translating that political desire/commitment into election votes is not easy. I have analyzed the situation taking into account my participation in a campaign against the two most likely candidates for the Mayor’s office in 2012; Mr. Kenoi and Dominic Yagong. From my perspective, I sought to determine whether I could survive the primary election, i.e. be one of the two candidates involved in a runoff in November 2012. My objective has always been not merely to run for office – I don’t obtain much satisfaction from merely seeing my name in the papers. My goal in campaigning would be to have a reasonable chance to win and thereby make a difference.

    My analysis, some of which relied on a professional survey, provided me with inconclusive results. After further discussion with my wife, who is always involved in decisions of this nature, I have decided I will not seek the office of Mayor next year. I am undecided if I will consider any other political office at this time….

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    Hawaii Council imposes Ka’u Rezoning Moratorium

    On Friday, the Hawaii County Council voted to temporarily delay any action on certain rezoning applications in the Ka’u district until the Ka’u Community Development Plan is adopted.

    Resolution 60-11 will not affect projects already underway, nor will it affect Hawaiian Homelands projects, state housing development, Habitat for Humanities, or public projects like those involving schools, water and sewer systems.

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    County considers HR department to curb sexual harassment

    The idea of replacing the county Personnel Department with a more all-encompassing Human Resources is slowly taking shape as it progresses through council and board meetings.

    “One of the biggest things we want to prevent is sexual harassment,” said Sandi Sterker, chair of the Cost Control Commission. “That is happening more and more. We felt that if there was a Human Resources department we would end up not having the problem.”

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    China Completes Record Dive near Hawaii

    China surpassed current U.S. capabilities in a race to explore resources in the deepest parts of the world's oceans and set its sights on beating world leader Japan next year.

    The Jiaolong, China's first manned deep-sea submersible completed a Pacific Ocean dive to 5,057 meters (16,591 feet). It set the Chinese record at 6:17 a.m. Beijing time Tuesday in the northeastern Pacific, between Hawaii and the North American mainland, according to a statement on the website of the State Oceanic Administration….

    Chinese officials have said the Jiaolong is designed to explore for valuable mineral resources on the ocean floor.

    The British journal Nature Geoscience published a paper this month in which Japanese researchers claimed to have discovered vast deposits of rare-earth minerals—used in a variety of high-tech products—on the ocean floor east and west of Hawaii at depths ranging from 3,500 meters to 6,000 meters.

    China hasn't addressed whether it will explore for rare-earth deposits specifically.

    The Jiaolong is diving at the site in the Pacific because China was granted rights to explore for minerals there in 2001 by the International Seabed Authority, a U.N. body that oversees mining in international waters.

    ISA, meeting at its headquarters in Jamaica, also approved last week applications from China and Russia—the first from any countries—to explore relatively newly discovered deposits called polymetallic sulphides that form around volcanic vents in ridges on the seabed.

    China applied last year to explore the site in the Southwest Indian Ridge, which bisects the ocean between Africa and the Antarctic. Russia applied to explore a Mid-Atlantic Ridge site.

    U.S. scientists in an Alvin discovered polymetallic sulphides, which contain base metals that include copper, lead and zinc, as well as gold and silver, in 1979, when they found vents spewing superheated fluids on the ocean floor off the west coast of Mexico.

    But many experts say that U.S. investment in such research has declined over the past two decades, even as some resource-hungry emerging economies stepped up their efforts to develop deep-sea exploration technology.

    Another obstacle for the U.S. is that it is hasn't ratified the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and so is only an observer, rather than a full member of ISA.

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