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Friday, October 14, 2011
October 14, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:54 PM :: 15204 Views

Honolulu Rated 5th Most Dangerous US Airport

Moody’s Downgrade Adds Pressure to sell off Honolulu Rail Contractor

Tax on ‘Tax-Free’ Bonds still alive in Congress: Hawaii Public Housing At Risk

Lingle Raises $400K on First Day of Campaign

Former Gov. Linda Lingle's return to the campaign trail was a textbook example of how a major campaign rolls out a kick-off.

Previously, Lingle has been much criticized for overly orchestrated and scripted media performances. This week it was pitch perfect.

In a matter of hours this week, Lingle softly blanketed the state with her announcement.

Political reporters got a nudge last week to wake up and charge their cell phones this week; Monday evening there was a "stay tuned" message; Tuesday morning a phone call from former communications czar Lenny Klompus; then the announcement on the "Perry & Price" radio show, followed by interviews and the Pacific Club speech.

Equally important but much less covered was a semi-quiet fundraiser Tuesday evening at the Kahala Hotel with about 200 guests and many more sending money. GOP sources pegged the take at $400,000 netted on the first night of the Lingle campaign.

Compared to the circular firing squad operating in Abercrombie's state Capitol, the Lingle campaign rollout was a model of glitch-free execution.

In her opening speech, Lingle almost made her candidacy sound like Hawaii's senior U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was asking her to run as a Republican.

She argued that with a GOP takeover of Congress likely, Inouye would need help across the aisle, just like when the GOP controlled the Senate and Democrat Inouye relied on the late GOP Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. They were a team and Lingle envisions an Inouye-Lingle team working in bipartisan splendor to help Hawaii.

Lingle's vision may be Inouye's nightmare, but there is nothing as successful as the audacious argument advanced softly, minus the bellicose tub-thumping.

read … Lingle

With Lingle in, Senate race now a 'tossup'

"This prestigious political report published so early in the campaign acknowledges Linda Lingle's strong record of fiscal responsibility and economic development," retired Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, Lingle's campaign manager, said in an email. "I am confident the people of Hawaii will once again elect her to office, this time on a national level."

Case called the new rating "a blunt but accurate assessment of this crucial election."

"It should serve as a wake-up call to D.C. insiders and to all voters who want change in Washington but not the destructive far-right agenda (huh???) Linda would strengthen," he said in an email. "It squarely presents all Democratic primary voters with the choice of who can best contest Linda's candidacy in the general and deliver change that will work for all."

Jadine Nielsen, finance chairwoman for the Hirono campaign, said polls have shown Lingle losing to Hirono by double digits.

"Apparently, some Washington political analysts have a little catching up to do regarding the decline in Lingle's popularity thanks to the super-disappointment of the Superferry (Killed by Maui and Kauai Democratic Party leaders), the Furlough Fridays (Put on instructional days by the DoE/BoE/HSTA, Democrats all.) that shortchanged our keiki and public schools, and Lingle's embrace of Sarah Palin over our island son Barack Obama," (who?) she said in an email. "We're confident the people of Hawaii haven't forgotten this Lingle litany of troubling decisions and disappointments." (Because we Democrats went to a lot of trouble inventing them.)

read … With Lingle in, Senate race now a 'tossup'

Hawaii Republican Party's interim chairwoman aims to make the party a solid political force

I want to make sure that people understand that the Hawaii Republican Party is open to all, that we offer an alternative voice to the dominant Democrat voice, and that there are different kinds of Republicans. We have fiscal conservatives, social conservatives; we have social liberals; we have some fiscal moderates -- there's all kinds of Republicans. So I think we have to continue to get that message out.

Related: Republicans in Hawaii in better shape than victories of last election suggested

Related: Church-based voter drive brings 15,000 to polls, powers GOP House gains

read … Beth Fukumoto

Homeowners face audits for Following DoTAX Regs on Solar Tax Credits

From HNN: The Hawaii Department of Taxation will audit homeowners who broke a state law that offers tax credits for photovoltaic (PV) systems even though it appears many of the homeowners may have unknowingly violated the law because of advice from solar electric companies.


Two systems, the companies maintain, can result in $10,000 in tax credits instead of $5,000 as the law intended. Three systems can result in $15,000 in tax credits and so on.

(The akamai reader will note that there is no mention of commercial solar installations and their $500,000 tax credits.)

Now people who claimed more than one system and received more than $5,000 in tax credits in a single year are facing audits.

"We are reviewing people that have filed tax returns claiming these credits," said Mallory Fujitani, spokesperson for the Department of Taxation.

"We're taking a look at those that seem abnormally high maybe for a single family residence or out of sync for what would be the norm," Fujitani added.

"It seems that the tax office has determined that egregious violations of the intent of the tax law ... have finally caught up with them," said Jeff King, a partner with Solar Services Hawaii….

"We have, at the department, realized that many of these tax payers rely on someone else to explain to them how much tax credit is available. And we are actively talking about trying to work with these tax payers, especially if they can provide us with information that can prove they were misled," Fujitani said.


No one is sure yet how many people may have knowingly or unknowingly received too much money in tax rebates from the state by claiming too many PV tax credits, but King said it is probably, "Thousands. You're talking millions of dollars."

Fujitani said the Department of Taxation will also investigate solar companies. She said companies that intentionally advised customers to violate state tax law can be fined up to $1,000 for every case of bad advice.

MISSING DETAILS: Why Stop at $500K? DoTAX Quietly Multiplies Hawaii Solar Tax Credit

read … A Classic Bureaucratic Maneuver to Deflect Blame

Governor's New Chief of Staff Will Continue Outside Business Deals

Coppa’s private and public lives came together last week when he represented the state at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new luxury condominium project in the Hawaii Kai area called Hale Ka Lae.

Hawaii Five-O Properties is the exclusive sales agent for the project, where units are priced from $700,000 to $3.8 million….

Coppa said he saw no conflict of interest in his participation in the groundbreaking.

“I’m not involved in sales there,” he said. “A separate team is handling those sales.”

Coppa said he attended the ceremony as a representative of state government and that several other department heads were also invited to attend.

Coppa reported his connection to Hawaii 5-0 Properties on the financial disclosure form he filed last year with the state Ethics Commission after he joined Abercrombie’s cabinet.

He said his work there brought him between $25,000 and $50,000 in income in 2010.

read … No Conflict Here

Ansaldo: HART outlines its Fatal Assumptions

"These things happen but I think at the moment Finmeccanica's standing is very good," said Toru Hamayasu, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Interim Executive Director. "They're also backed by the (Italian) government so I think we have sufficient reason to believe that these people are financially responsible." (Wow.)

Ansaldo Breda is also for sale which could complicate things but the city isn't concerned because it has a letter from Finmeccanica's president giving his word to stand by Ansaldo. (Wow)

"Regardless of the future of Ansaldo Breda, the parent company will stand by it. I can't speak of the legal obligation but there certainly is a moral obligation in the same spirit that he made in an earlier statement," said Hamayasu. (MORALS? Did they meet Berlusconi's favorite pimp? How about Gadhafi?)

Whether a letter giving his word stands up in court on a $1.4 billion deal remains to be seen. (Yep) However the city lead consultant also saw no problem with the possible sale of Ansaldo.

"My assumption that in the sale, particularly if it's the sale to a very large company, we're getting backed by another very large company," said Simon Zweighaft, InfraConsult Chief Project Officer. (That’s a lot of assumptions.)

CB: HART: Full Steam Ahead For Ansaldo Rail Contract (Hurry before Ansaldo is dissolved!)

read … Ass u me

WaPo: Lingle Has Good Opportunity in Hawaii

Recent events in Hawaii and Michigan show that Republicans are successfully expanding the Senate map in 2012, and now have a legitimate chance of winning a Democratic-held seats in at least 10 states.

Former governor Linda Lingle (R) got into the race in the Aloha State this week, giving Republicans their top recruit. Meanwhile in Michigan, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) showed some fundraising prowess that we hadn’t seen from him before, pulling in $1 million in the third quarter….

But the GOP still has good open-seat opportunities in lots of states: Hawaii, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Virginia, North Dakota and possibly Nebraska if Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) doesn’t run for reelection.

Perhaps most telling of all, our Line still includes eight Democratic seats and just two Republican ones. That means the GOP has the better map right now — by far.

CB tries to make Gay Marriage a Wedge Issue: Not a Word From Lingle on Her Most Difficult Decision

read … WaPo

$58M sought for next year's school budget

This year the DoE’s excuse is the enrollment increase.

SA: 'No Child' bar needs flexibility

Related: DoE Releases Public and Charter School Enrollment Numbers

read … Predictable

Congressional Committee Debates Cuts to Hawaii Military Spending

In a House Armed Services hearing on Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned members of Congress that further cuts to defense would "badly damage" the U.S. military.

Panetta talked about the importance of an "agile, deployable, effective force" that can respond to any number of threats facing the United States.

"To be agile, aren't we looking at different types of forces?" Hanabusa, a member of the committee, asked him. "If you've got a limited amount of resources, what rises to the top?"

Panetta's response: "You've got to be damn flexible, and that's what we're going to have to be in the future."

The threat of defense cuts is real. If Congress' so-called super committee tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion in federal spending by Thanksgiving fails to come up with a plan, the Defense Department faces about $500 billion in automatic cuts that would take effect in January 2013.

The Defense Department spent $10 billion on Hawaii last year, the most money per capita of any state.

Meanwhile: In pursuit of Ideology, Hirono Votes Against 18% of Hawaii Economy

read … Dog n pony show to make Hanabusa look significant

Suffering PDS, Hirono Can’t Remember who Ran for President

Rep. Mazie Hirono, and former Rep. Ed Case will face off on the Democratic side.

The finance chair of the Mazie for Hawaii campaign had this to say about the report, "Multiple polls of Hawaii voters, not Washington pundits, have shown Republican Linda Lingle losing to Mazie Hirono by double digits. Apparently, some Washington political analysts have a little catching up to do regarding the decline in Lingle's popularity thanks to the super-disappointment of the Super Ferry, the Furlough Fridays that shortchanged our keiki and public schools, and Lingle's embrace of Sarah Palin over our island son Barack Obama," said Jadine Nielsen, finance chair of the Mazie for Hawaii campaign.

(In fact, Obama’s opponent was AZ Sen. John McCain.)

BTW while McCain was being tortured in Hanoi, here’s what Obama was doing:

Bought n Paid For: Hirono Pulled In $302,443 Last Quarter

read … Palin Derangement Syndrome

Truth in Accounting Comes to Hawaii

Hawaii state government’s financial situation is dire, mainly because of unfunded obligations that total in the billions of dollars.

That was the assessment from Sheila Weinberg, founder of the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting, during a presentation that she made to Hawaii lawmakers on Monday at the Hawaii state capitol.

Weinberg, whose organization strives for “truth” and “transparency” in government accounting, offered more detail to a first of its kind report that looks at state debt nationwide.

The institute reports that based on the state’s latest financial data (2009), Hawaii is rated as the 5th worst “sinkhole” state.

While Hawaii has $19.5 billion worth of assets, only $3.9 billion are available to pay $15.4 billion of bills as they come due.

The Institute estimates that each person here - a state with just under 1.3 million residents - carries over $25,000 in debt from past government spending.

There is a per capita burden of $8,872 for Hawaii annually, which is in addition to the $25,000 per person owed for stat debt.

read … Asset Sales

Hawaii tax collections increase for first fiscal quarter

Hawaii tax revenues for the first three months of the fiscal year that started July 1 were $1.2 billion, the state Department of Taxation said Thursday.

That total was 32.4 percent higher than the July-September period in 2010, when $908.9 million was collected, the tax department said. However, when $187.4 million in accrued income tax refunds paid out in July 2010 are factored out, the year-over-year increase in general fund deposits was 9.8 percent.

The state collected a total of $425.3 million in September alone, tax officials said.

read … Vacuum Cleaner

PBN: Nullifying HECO’s contract with Aina Koa Pono was right call

The PUC’s responsibility is to decide how much money our state’s regulated utilities should be allowed to make, while keeping costs for consumers under control. And, to that end, we cannot fault the PUC for its decision to “just say no.” While we unequivocally support our state’s push for renewable energy, we also happen to think the transfer can happen in a way that should allow businesses and households alike to balance their budgets.

The Aina Koa Pono agreement did not, in our opinion, do enough to show an appreciation for the competing interests of energy independence and energy affordability.

The estimated impact for HECO and Hawaii Electric Light Co. ratepayers would have been $1.75-$2.10 per month for a residential bill of 500 to 600 kilowatt hours, according to PUC documents.

That doesn’t sound like much, but looked at another way: HECO estimated that during the life of the contract, customers collectively would spend at least $100 million more for biodiesel than they would for diesel fuel. Customers would pay at least a $10 million premium for biodiesel in 2015 alone

PBN: Biofuels companies confident they can get contract approval

KITV: First Harvest Of Biofuel Crops = 3.5 acres

read … Nullify

DANGER! Hawaii Bankers Grab Control of Citibank

Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. lender by assets, appointed former Bank of Hawaii leader Michael O’Neill as chairman of the board overseeing Citibank NA, its primary banking subsidiary.

O’Neill, formerly the chief executive officer of Bank of Hawaii Corp. and an executive at Bank of America Corp., replaced Jerry Grundhofer, according to a document dated Sept. 29 and posted on New York-based Citigroup’s website….

Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons, a University of Hawaii graduate, recruited O’Neill, Santomero and Grundhofer in 2009 to boost the board’s experience in the wake of the bailout. Taxpayers also guaranteed more than $300 billion of the bank’s riskiest assets. The bank has since repaid the bailout.

read … Danger!

After Losing in the Intermediate Court, James Pflueger Appeals Manslaughter Case to Supreme Court

On the very last day that he could legally do so, retired automobile mogul James Pflueger filed an appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court to challenge an opinion issued June 23, 2011 by the Intermediate Court of Appeals that allowed his manslaughter case to go forward.

Pflueger is charged with 7 counts of manslaughter for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his dam breached in the early morning hours of March 14, 2006.

read … running down the clock

Kauai Garden Isle Debunks Electric Cars

Despite its limitations, the prospect of zero emissions and zero trips to the gas station is an appealing one. However, in reality, a zero-emissions electric vehicle is not possible unless it is being charged by a zero-emissions source, such as solar or wind power.

Tome said Hawai‘i is the only state in the U.S. that relies almost entirely upon petroleum-based energy production. On Kaua‘i, 90 percent of the energy produced comes from a 50-50 mix of diesel and naptha, according to a 2005 KIUC report.

Sato said he wasn’t sure how much energy is required to charge the Leaf and hadn’t calculated the costs in dollars to charge it, but added that such figures will be determined during the course of the pilot program.

Diesel and naptha pollute more CO2 than gasoline, according to government-sponsored bioenergy research. One gallon of gasoline produces 2.42 kilograms of carbon emissions; whereas, one gallon of diesel fuel produces 2.77 kg. One gallon of naptha produces 8.3 kg carbon emissions.

It takes 2.8 gallons of diesel/naptha fuel to produce the 33 kilowatts needed to fully charge the Leaf, according to Leaf specifications and the energy rating on KIUC generators. With 10 percent deducted for KIUC’s non-fuel energy production, that translates to 2.52 gallons of diesel/naptha needed to fully charge the electric car and 13.96 kg of resulting for the zero-emissions Leaf.

At KIUC’s October rate for large commercial users of 43 cent per kwh, it will cost the county approximately $14.19 to go an average range of 68 miles. That equates to an average of 21 cents and 0.21 kg of carbon per mile to operate.

Comparatively, a standard gasoline-fueled economy vehicle that gets an average of 30 miles per gallon will require 3.33 gallons of gas to go 100 miles and result in 8.06 kg of carbon. At the current Lihu‘e rate of $4.47 per gallon, it totals $14.89. That’s an average of 15 cents and 0.08 kg carbon per mile….

The total taxpayer bill per car, including charger: $53,486.


read … “Creating Jobs?”

Hospital Blocker Sen. Roz Baker honored for efforts to support public health

And Jack Kevorkian was honored for saving lives.

read … The Audacity of Being Ridiculous

SHOPO backs Hannemann for Congress

The union representing 2,900 police officers also endorsed Hannemann when he ran for Governor.

read … SHOPO

Examining HTA’s 2012 efforts for marketing

With lingering uncertainty threatening the economic recovery’s momentum, Hawaii’s tourism stakeholders say they are watching closely the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s newly selected marketing contractors, which are designing the strategies the state will use to market its main economic driver in the coming year.

Hoteliers, travel agents and other industry partners tell PBN that the contractors’ plans lay the groundwork from which they build their own complementary marketing strategies for locking in new visitor business for the rest of 2012.

Based on the key performance indicators that the HTA has set for its contractors, 2012 will be a year focused on boosting meetings, conventions and incentives business as well as travel to the Neighbor Islands. And the rollout earlier this week of those marketing plans, via an HTA webinar, suggests the contractors are in sync and determined to hit those benchmarks despite growing competition and economic uncertainty.

read … HTA

FOX casting in Hawaii for show about struggling hotels

Chef and Executive Producer Gordon Ramsay is bringing a brand new television show to the FOX Network aimed at helping struggling hotel, motel and B&B owners.
"Hotel Hell" is a new show dedicated to helping turn around the fortunes of dedicated and determined hospitality industry owners.
The show is casting for Hawaii locations.

read … Hotel Hell


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