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Friday, August 12, 2011
August 12, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:51 PM :: 13644 Views

Akaka Brings Democrat Staffers to Maui for Taxpayer-funded Vacation

Meet Eni Faleomavaega: Hirono and Hanabusa's Hope for the East-West Center

Hawaii Tops Nation in Seat belt Use

Judiciary Seeking Applicants for Bar Examiners Board

80% of UPW votes for Strike

A source at United Public Workers tells KHON-2 eighty-percent of members approved walking of the job if that's what it takes to secure a new contract.

Unit one members have been working without a contract since July 1st.

The union is opposed to any across the board pay-cut that does not include furloughs.

Members are also upset over the prospect of a 50-50 split on health insurance premiums.

How they got 60-40: $126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance

read … Workers with UPW


Pasha-Young Bros. feud shows state as it really is

Lawmakers, PUC have appeared to play favorites instead of consistently applying the law

…state lawmakers, led by Maui Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-Kapalua-Makena, wasted no time during the last legislation session crafting a bill — since passed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie — that all but guarantees Pasha won’t be able to stay in the inter-island market once its interim license expires at the end of 2013.

…the law prohibits the PUC from granting a license if there is evidence that a new shipper would “diminish” Young Brothers’ rate of return. …

If there ever was an example of a law written specifically to limit the opportunities of one specific company, Act 213 fits the mold. And Pasha Group President and CEO George Pasha IV told PBN recently that he sees the writing on the wall. (Question: How many local consultants made thousands of dollars telling Pasha not to worry about this kind of intervention?)

… we want to help lawmakers see how their role in the ongoing saga between Pasha and Young Brothers shows Hawaii government at its worst — overly involved, inconsistent and with the appearance of favoritism.

(They know what they are doing and the Legislature and Young Bros are happy to do it again and again.)

Totally Related: Why Hawaii Lost the Superferry

read … Pasha-Young Bros. feud

Waimanalo Gulch Votes Bought n Paid For By Ernie Martin, Mufi Hannemann

According to the advisory opinion, Jamila, president of the Waimanalo Construction Coalition, received about $120,000 in grants since 2007 from the Leeward Coast Community Benefits Package, a grant program established in 2006 to offset impacts of the landfill on West Oahu areas.

When extension and expansion of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill permit came before the Planning Commission, Jamila disclosed the conflict to the Ethics Commission.

The Ethics Commission informed Jamila by email that a conflict existed because a reasonable member of the public could conclude that "receiving the benefit package could dispose you to act favorably on behalf of the city regarding the landfill," the Ethics Commission opinion states.

From May through August 2009, Jamila failed to disclose the conflict when participating on 14 matters related to Waimanalo Gulch Landfill and failed to recuse himself from seven votes, the Ethics Commission said. He subsequently failed to disclose the conflict on financial disclosure forms and on information used by the Hannemann administration when he was reappointed to the Planning Commission in 2010….

The Planning Commission in 2009 approved an extension and expansion of the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill until it reached capacity. The state Land Use Commission disregarded the recommendation and instead imposed a deadline of July 31, 2012, to close the landfill for all solid waste except ash from the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant. The city has appealed that deadline.

(Entire article written without mentioning Mufi Hannemann or Ernie Martin.)

The rest of the story: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman

read … Panelist fined for landfill ethics violation

HSTA Flack: I am a teacher first and a Democrat second

I am a teacher first and a Democrat second. After years of fending off attacks by the Lingle administration, I felt it was going to indeed be a "new day" when Abercrombie took office saying, "No more furloughs."

His duplicity on this and other promises soon became apparent, when he resorted to semantics, calling teacher furloughs "non-paid non-instructional days."

Thus, although kids were no longer furloughed, teachers were.

Bearing this in mind, how can education really be anywhere near the top of Abercrombie's priority list?

Hughey with Abercrombie: Photo

read … Abercrombie's 'new day' doesn't apply to teachers


Musto: HSTA position makes no sense

Okabe said that while the process is ongoing, the union's understanding is that teachers are precluded from going on strike. That's a point that prompted UHPA to intervene, Musto said.

"We do not believe the mere presence of prohibited practices charges preclude the union from striking," he said. "It's hugely important for us. We need to make sure that the decision doesn't change our legal right to strike."

Musto said HSTA's contention doesn't make sense because all an employer would have to do to prevent a strike is continuously file prohibited practice complaints.

read … UH faculty union party to teacher union dispute

COFA: Abercrombie Demands Feds Clean Up the Mess He Made

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has urged the federal government to take more of the financial responsibility for providing social services and education to Pacific migrants as costs to Hawaii have increased substantially over the past decade.

In a report Tuesday to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, the governor said the cost to Hawaii for providing social services, education and other assistance to Pacific migrants was $114.9 million in 2010, up from $32 million in 2002….

Abercrombie asked the Office of Insular Affairs to support legislative changes that would allow Pacific migrants to directly receive federal Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and other benefits, which could reduce the burden on states that are fronting the costs.

Conveniently Forgotten: Abercrombie admits responsibility for costing Hawaii millions under Compact of Free Association

read … Pacific migrants are unaffordable for Hawaii, Abercrombie reports

Boylan: Billion Dollar Barry will Save us from Lingle

Case and Hirono (and maybe Hanabusa) have an old Lingle number in mind: $6 million, the amount she raised in 2006 for her gubernatorial re-election campaign against only token Democratic opposition. Lingle is a prodigious money-raiser; her numbers in 2012 will be spectacular.

Lingle must worry about someone else’s numbers: those of President Barack Obama. The president, derisively referred to as the “Fundraiser-in-Chief” by Republican partisans, raised a record $760 million for his 2008 campaign, enough to outspend Republican John McCain 4 to 1 in several of the battleground states. This year it’s estimated Obama will raise and run the first $1 billion presidential campaign.

It’s tough enough for a Republican to win in a state as Democratic as Hawaii, tougher still when Hawaii Democrats have a native son at the top of the ticket, and probably impossible if that native son has sufficient funds to spend oodles of money, even in a seemingly safe state like Hawaii. But with $1 billion in his pocket, Obama will be able to do just that.

But … Only 56 percent of Hawaii residents gave the island-born president high marks

read … A Case Of Dueling Numbers

Hawaii County Redistricting commission releases six possible boundary maps

The commission considered six maps submitted by the public, but made no decisions on which maps should stay and which should go.

Many of the maps take one of Hilo's three districts and move it south to accommodate rapid growth in Puna. (This guarantees there will never be a Hilo majority again. Too bad they didn’t count all those UHH college students, eh?)

Accommodating Kona-side growth by splitting Waikoloa brought out a spirited debate, with Commissioner Valerie Poindexter, of Hamakua, noting there is a dichotomy of residents there that could accommodate such a split.

There's a rural Waikoloa, Poindexter said, of (ILWU controlled) people who migrated there after the Kohala plantations closed. The people are primarily (ILWU) hotel workers…

read … Redistricting commission

Kauai Luddites Open new Front in War on Hydro

The operatives: Don Heacock, from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Surfrider Kaua‘i Chairman and marine biologist Carl Berg….

The pitch: “Gobies can climb waterfalls hundreds of feet high, proving there’s water,” Heacock said. “They can’t climb over a weir if it’s dry.”When water pools near a dry weir, the temperature of the stagnant water rises, which further endangers the fish.

“They’re concentrated. The warmer the water gets, the lower the dissolved oxygen, so they’re going to start asphyxiating. The warmer the water, the higher their metabolism, so they need more food but there’s less food, and they’re more crowded and you end up with mass mortalities,” he said.

But what are the chances that Kaua‘i, often touted as one of the wettest places on earth, would ever have a dry weir?

Heacock said river levels are constantly fluctuating and recalled a severe drought during the spring and summer of 1982. Berg said the“wettest place on earth” claim is a total myth. (Mt Waialae is dry, but Global Warming is ‘consensus’. Who could possibly be stupid enough to fall for this line of bs?)

“With global climate change, Kaua‘i has seen a dramatic reduction of annual rainfall over the past 40 years that will only get worse in the coming decades,” he said. “We must protect water in natural ecosystems.”

(Pretty weak stuff…is that the best they can do -- Gobies and Global Warming?)

Read more:

read … Kaua‘i’s legacy of hydropower threatens native species

Kauai Food Bank Misuses $779,000

According to documents provided to the state and federal governments by HFB, and reviewed by MidWeek, the Kauai agency misused $779,000 in federal grant money (and thus was forced to pay it back), refused to submit to an audit and inspection in July of 2009, wrongfully distributed food to an unqualified local paddling club, was found to not be monitoring chiller temperatures properly and was distributing out-of-date foodstuffs.

Incidentally, the returned $779,000 was money that would have been spent for needy seniors on Kauai.

HFB also raised questions about the Kauai bank using grant money not to directly buy food from suppliers but through Kauai Fresh, a food business owned and operated by members of the Kauai Independent Food Bank.

In other words, a forprofit subsidiary of that food bank was using grant money to make a profit on food it sold to its owners.

Kauai Food Bank’s Lenthall admitted in a 2007 filing that Kauai Fresh was marking up the food costs before selling to her food bank, but said “that is what we believed was allowed by our grant.”

That led HFB’s Grimm to write to his board of directors: “The upshot is that I don’t trust Kauai Food Bank, its executive director (Lenthall) or its board of directors to properly and ethically operate a [contract agency] for us.”

read … Kauai Food Bank

Criminal Fake Cook Featured in Bizarre Aloun Farms Video

If Aloun Farm owners Mike and Alec Sou were innocent as they now claim, why did they allow the airing of a video documentary in court on September 9, 2010, on their original sentencing day, that appears to present false evidence?

Through a plea agreement, the Sous pled guilty to one count each. On their sentencing day on September 9, 2010, two significant things happened.

The first was the Sous' defense team showed a documentary style video of a cook, a driver and a monk, all who testified to the great care they took of the 44 workers. The video was a highly unusual legal tactic, some observers called it "bizarre", because it introduced evidence and testimony on a the sentencing day without giving prosecutors the ability to verify the information or interview the witnesses in the video….

There was only one problem ….

read … Bizarre Video

Trial dates set for HPD officers in overtime scam

Police officers Christopher and Patrick Bugarin, both represented by attorney Guy Matsunaga, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning at their Circuit Court arraignment on charges of theft and tampering with government records. The brothers were given a trial date of Sept. 19 before Circuit Judge Ed Kubo.

HPD Sgt. Duke Zoller pleaded not guilty to similar charges earlier this week. His case also will be heard by Kubo during the week of Sept. 19.

read … Trial Dates

Maui’s Medeiros, Madden Fined for failing to file reports

The state Campaign Spending Commission has fined former Maui County Council Member Bill Medeiros $2,750 for failing to file any campaign spending reports for the 2010 election cycle.

As part of the settlement approved Wednesday in Honolulu, the commission also gave Medeiros up to six weeks to file the five required documents.

Medeiros, who now works as an executive assistant to Mayor Alan Arakawa, has said the reports were not filed because money was apparently lost or stolen from his campaign account, and he did not have all the required information….

Also on Wednesday, the commission approved a fine of $2,250 for former state House candidate Ramon Madden for failing to file four required spending reports.

Madden did not file his 2010 final primary election report, his preliminary general election report, his final election period report and his supplemental report, which was due in January.

read … Medeiros

Marshallese go to Arkansas for Jobs

While the latest numbers appear to solidify Arkansas’ status as the mainland state with the largest Marshallese population, they don’t answer the most obvious question: Why Arkansas?

“Jobs,” said Charles Paul, charge d’affaires for the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ embassy in Washington, D.C.

(There is a lesson here for those who wish to learn it.)

AP: Hawaii government pays $115M a year for services to Pacific migrants under federal treaty

read … Arkansas Marshallese

Act 221 Company loses $10.2M

Hoku lost $10.2 million, or 19 cents a share, in the quarter compared with a loss of $2.7 million, or 5 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier, the company reported.

Earnings also were weighed down by a decline in revenue, which the company generates primarily from the installation of photovoltaic electricity systems through its Hoku Solar subsidiary. Revenue dropped to $485,000 in the latest quarter from $930,000 a year earlier.

Hoku is on track to deliver the first commercial shipment of polysilicon from its Pocatello, Idaho, plant by year's end, said CEO Scott Paul. Polysilicon is the main material used in the production of solar panels and microchips. (And the delivery date coincides with the expiration of federal subsidies for solar panels which means the market will be crashing just as they come to market. Hilarious but totally predictable.)

read … Hoku's loss widens to $10.2M

HSTA, Other Gov’t Workers now Get Open Enrollment

Trustees for the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund on Tuesday approved a limited open enrollment for Hawaii State Teachers Association members currently on the HMSA 80/20 medical plan, premiums of which more than doubled on July 1. Beginning Sept. 1, those who find the price increase a hardship will have the opportunity to shop among EUTF's other plan options for something more affordable.

Trustees voted last month to give other public employees a similar opportunity…. Their options will be limited, though, because going rates for six of the 12 other health plans appear to be even higher than those for the HMSA 80/20 plan

read … Escape For Teachers

Moon Race: Will Lunar Park be easier to build in Hawaii or on the Moon?

The 2011 International Lunar Research Park Leaders Summit is scheduled for Nov. 13-17 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Space experts participating in the summit plan to discuss the potential costs, benefits and milestones required to develop a lunar research park prototype in Hawaii.

They'll also analyze what it would take to establish a lunar park on the surface of the moon within a decade.


read … Scientists to discuss building moon research park in Hawaii

Superferry Protesters may drive final nail in Coffin of Pork Program for Shipbuilders

Even as Congress rails over runaway spending, a visit to Norfolk, Va., shows how hard it will be to trim the budget. At the Lambert’s Point Docks, you’ll find a pair of passenger ferries commissioned by Hawaii Superferry. The Honolulu company got $140 million in federal loan guarantees to cover the cost of the ships, but it filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans in 2009. Since taking possession of the ferries last October, the U.S. Maritime Administration has been stuck trying to sell them to recoup some of the government’s money.

The guarantees came from an initiative known as Title XI, which has long been used by both Republicans and Democrats to support shipbuilders and owners of all kinds of marine vessels in their districts. The program was suspended in 1987 after 129 defaults cost the Treasury some $2 billion. It came back in 1993 when Title XI was reauthorized, and since then the government has paid out $801 million in defaults on 15 loans it guaranteed. It recovered just $142 million from ship auctions and other asset seizures. Despite the losses, members with shipbuilders in their districts will “fight to the death for it,” says Chris Edwards, a scholar at the Cato Institute, a Washington group that advocates for smaller government.

read … A Pork Program for Shipbuilders

$1.5m in Federal Pork to Provide Internet Service to 800 in rural Hawaii

what if they didn't have to trade their Internet connectivity for a life off the beaten path?

That's the idea behind a $7.5 million federal grant offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service awarded the money to Virginia-based Internet provider Spacenet, to be used for its StarBand Open Skies program, which focuses on providing low-cost, high-speed Internet to residents in rural areas of Hawaii and Alaska.

Alaska will receive $6 million of that total, with Hawaii getting $1.5 million. Spacenet anticipates it will equip about 800 Hawaii residents with Internet service. The majority of the funding will likely go to the Big Island and the other Neighbor Islands, according to a spokesman.

(That’s $1875 per connection, still far cheaper than the cost per connect of Hawaii’s other internet pork scam—Sandwich Isles Communications.)

Compare: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off


read … Rural areas' Web boosted

SA: Vacation rental bill good first step

Many houses have been operated illegally in Oahu residential areas as vacation units for more than two decades, but that could change with City Council approval of listed permits and fines against the renegades….

Both B&Bs, with the homeowner present, and "transient vacation units," entire houses for rent for less than 30 days, have flourished since 1989, when only owners of 141 B&B homes and 2,235 transient vacation units were grandfathered into the scene if they had been in operation for three years.

Both types of vacation units are advertised online, and the transient units generate about $65 million a year in business revenue on Oahu, according to a study cited by Angie Larson, president of the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association….

Since 1989, the number of legally permitted transient units on Oahu has dwindled to 875, and Angie Larson points out that fewer than 200 are outside Waikiki.

read … Vacation rental bill good first step

Hawaii Ranked Worst State For Dental Health

During an oral health summit Tuesday in Honolulu, dentists, policy makers and lawmakers met to discuss solutions, including how to increase prevention.

There is a bright spot in the alarming statistics. More than 45 percent of children in Hawaii enrolled in Medicaid received dental services in 2009.

(That means this is tied into Abercrombie’s Medical Homes Scam)

PEW: Children's Dental Health

read … Hawaii Ranked Worst State For Dental Health

Postal Service proposes cutting 120,000 jobs, pulling out of health-care plan

During the past four years, the service lost $20 billion, including $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010. Over that period, mail volume dropped by 20 percent.

The USPS plan is described in two draft documents obtained by The Washington Post. A “Workforce Optimization” paper acknowledges its “extraordinary request” to break its labor contracts.

“However, exceptional circumstances require exceptional remedies,” the document says.

“The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence. . . . If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy and utilized the reorganization process to restructure its labor agreements to reflect the new financial reality,” the document continues.

In a white paper on health and retirement benefits, the USPS said it was imperative to rein in health benefit and pension costs, which are a third of its labor expenses.

For health insurance plans, the paper said, the Postal Service wanted to withdraw its 480,000 pensioners and 600,000 active employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program “and place them in a new, Postal Service administered” program.

read … Postal Service


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