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Thursday, November 17, 2011
November 17, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:14 AM :: 12901 Views

Abercrombie, OHA to Propose Yet Another Ceded Lands Deal to Legislature

Hawaii National Guard Mobilization Supported APEC Summit

Council majority urges city to delay final rail approval

A majority of Honolulu City Council members are calling on city transit officials to delay final approval of a rail transit contract worth up to $1.4 billion, an agreement that would be the largest contract in city history.

Council members said they are alarmed at published reports of huge financial losses by the publicly traded parent company of Ansaldo Honolulu JV, and are concerned about the parent company's plans to stanch the financial bleeding in part by selling off the would-be Honolulu rail contractor.

Ansaldo Hono­lulu JV in March won a contract for up to $1.4 billion to design, build, operate and maintain the rail cars for the Ho­no­lulu system.

Lawyers for the city's Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit are reviewing performance and payment bonds put up by Ansaldo to assure that the rail work will be completed. Assuming those bonds pass legal muster, HART is tentatively scheduled to give final approval to the contract next week.

But City Council members, including Chairman Ernest Martin and Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, urged the city to delay finalizing the contract until the city knows more about the financial stability of Ansaldo's Rome-based parent company, Finmeccanica SpA.

Finmeccanica, which is Italy's largest defense company, announced this week it had suffered a third-quarter net loss of 790 million euros, or more than $1 billion.

Ariyoshi: Leave no stone unturned before passing rail's point of no return

Shapiro: Ariyoshi offers smart, sharp criticism of rail

read … Council Majority

Ansaldo’s local manager has long political track record

ILind: Ah, what wonderful political baggage Enomoto brings to this project! He is a veteran of the political influence and patronage game in Hawaii. I joined the staff of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin early in 1993, and was writing about Enomoto’s influence within just a couple of months, following up on investigations done while publishing my earlier newsletter, Hawaii Monitor.

As I review some of this ancient history, keep in mind the old axiom: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”

While there haven’t been any direct questions aimed at Enomoto’s actions while representing Ansaldo, there’s more than ample history to suggest this is something to watch closely.

So here are a few of those early stories.

read … Ansaldo’s local manager has long political track record

First Rail Lawsuit Hearing Nov 30

On November 30, the first court hearing involving the challenge to the Honolulu rail will take place in Honolulu federal court. The issue: standing of the 7 plaintiffs, including the SBH Foundation, who filed suit against the City. The actual court date for the issue of the rail itself will probably commence in February.

read … Smart Business

Panel to disclose judicial nominees

SA: The Judicial Selection Commission has amended its rules and will now release the names of judicial candidates it sends to the governor for appointment, the panel announced Wednesday.

The commission said its own rules that had restricted the release of the names were broader than the confidentiality requirement in the state constitution.

Under its revised rules, the commission will make public the names of the nominees when it submits them to the governor, the panel said….

State lawyers also cited the commission's confidentiality rule — now lifted — to support Abercrombie's position.

But Sakamoto said the commission's rule does not justify Abercrombie's refusal to disclose the lists in view of a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision that said it is up to the governor or chief justice to release the names.

read … Transparency

Hawaii’s Tax Burden on Low Income Residents #2 in Nation

A national report claims Alabama's poor pay the highest income taxes in the country. That study comes on the heels that the poverty line has increased by two percent.

The report suggests a family four with two parents pays nearly $500 a year. A single parent home of three pays almost $350.

Hawaii comes in second on the list and pays almost half the amount of state income tax Alabamians do.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released the report on Tuesday. It fired up several groups across the Tennessee Valley. Arise Citizen's Policy Project, a non-profit group out that helps low-income families, says the numbers shouldn't come as a shock.

read … Tax the Poor to Pay for Act 221 Credits

Scammed In Laos, Trapped in America

When he arrived in Hawaii in October 2005, Bouala was picked up at the airport by one of the two main labor recruiters responsible for bringing illegal Laotian workers into Hawaii. They delivered him to a farm in the mountains above Kunia where he would spend the next four years picking vegetables for $4 an hour. It was backbreaking work, starting at 7 a.m. and finishing long after the sunset.

He and several other “B2” workers lived in a makeshift plywood shelter that he was told to construct. There was no kitchen, bathroom or plumbing. Workers took showers with a garden hose and had only a freestanding portable for a bathroom. The farm owner took $200 a month out of Bouala's meager earnings to pay for his share of meals, which were delivered from outside.

Only after he arrived in Hawaii did Bouala learn from his family back in Laos that they owed the recruiter $20,000, and if they didn’t repay her, she’d take away their home. He also found out that he was unexpectedly in debt another $10,000 – he owed that money to the Hawaii recruiter who’d taken him to the farm. Even though there was nothing in writing, and no contract, the Hawaii recruiter came to the farm regularly to collect Bouala’s paycheck. Those regular collections every payday made it virtually impossible to repay the Laotian recruiter or send money to his family.

read … Hawaii Again

Oahu electric rates hit another high

Residential electric rates on Oahu hit a record high in November for the third time in four months, boosting the typical monthly bill to $215.81, Hawaiian Electric Co. reported Wednesday….

About 75 percent of the electricity generated by HECO and its subsidiaries last year came from the burning of petroleum-based fuels. HECO and its subsidiaries spent $900 million on fuel oil last year, up 34 percent from $672 million in 2009, the company said in its latest annual report.

The bulk of the fuel burned by the HECO companies is low-sulfur fuel oil, or LSFO. The companies also burn medium-sulfur fuel oil (MSFO), diesel and biodiesel. All fuels but the biodiesel are refined in Hawaii from imported crude. MSFO is generally the least costly fuel, followed by LSFO, diesel and biodiesel, HECO said in its most recent annual report.

HECO said 99 percent of the fuel it burned on Oahu last year was LSFO and the remaining 1 percent was diesel and biodiesel. HECO's cost for fuel oil on Oahu averaged $85.49 a barrel last year, up from $60.90 a barrel in 2009.

At MECO, diesel and biodiesel accounted for 76 percent of the fuel burned, with MSFO making up 24 percent. MECO's average fuel cost was $95.17 a barrel last year compared with $73.54 a barrel in 2009.

The fuel mix at HELCO was 58 percent MSFO and 42 percent diesel. HELCO's average fuel cost rose to $89.33 a barrel last year from $68.28 in 2009.

The residential electric bill in Maui County rose to 36.8 cents per kilowatt-hour in November from 35.6 cents in October. The typical bill rose to $228.74 from $221.41.

On Hawaii island, the residential rate rose to 42 cents this month from 41.2 cents in October, boosting the typical bill to $263.44 from $258.47.

Members of KIUC are paying 40.38 cents a kilowatt-hour in November, down from 41.94 cents last month.

read … Electricity

Up in the Air: Still No Easy Answers For Big Wind

CB: Big Wind may as well be called Big If.

DN: Will we be swayed by $195,000 of Big Wind hot air?

read … Up in the Air: Still No Easy Answers For Big Wind

US must help establish standards for seeking compact-impact funds

Guam PDN: …if Guam, Hawaii and the CNMI want to ensure adequate compensation for the impact of compact migration, we all need to be on the same page. Currently, all three jurisdictions use different methods to estimate the costs caused by compact migration. This needs to change.

The federal government needs to work with all U.S. jurisdictions in which compact migrants have a significant impact to hammer out specific formulas to calculate, as closely as possible, the cost to the jurisdictions in terms of health, public safety, education and other critical government services.

A set of mutually agreed upon standards make much more sense than the way things are done currently, and will allow Guam and the other areas affected by FAS migration to make a stronger, more solid case to the federal government for increased reimbursement.

read … CoFA

Sen Slom Endorses David Chang

From Smart Business News: Go Chang Go! David S. Chang is the new Chair of the Hawaii Republican Party. Chang is a community leader, entrepreneur, president & CEO of Green Tech Pacific and Chang Holding Company and a West Point grad. He'll need all those skills and more to help the financially troubled and philosophically split party. Go get 'em David!

read … Smart Business

Suicide Activists try to Talk To Elderly Democrats into Dying for Test Case

CB: Hawaii law already permits doctors to help terminal patients die, activist (and former Insurance Company Exec) Barbara Coombs Lee told a group of about 25 people at Harris United Methodist Church on Wednesday.

Lee is president of Compassion and Choices, which supported an Oregon law that went into effect in 1997 allowing doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. But Lee said Hawaii is a different case.

Instead, advocates pointed to a 1909 Hawaii law saying that doctors may not be forbidden from "furnishing any remedial agent" to a patient who is "hopeless and beyond recovery."

Wednesday's talk was part of an ongoing conversation in Hawaii about whether terminally ill patients can decide how to die on their own terms. The event, attended by a mature audience, was sponsored by the the Democratic Party of Hawaii's Kupuna Caucus, the Kokua Council and the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society.

Dr. Robert "Nate" Nathanson, a retired general practitioner, attended and gave brief remarks. Afterwards, he told Civil Beat he interprets the law to mean that if a terminally ill patient asked for life-ending medication, doctors should be able to prescribe it. He said in the past, he was asked by patients to prescribe lethal doses of drugs, but he refused thinking it was illegal. But now that he's talked with Compassion and Choices, he said he'd act differently.

He believes the "remedial agent" cited in the law doesn't necessarily have to be a cure. (And we care what he chooses to claim to believe?)

"How can you cure somebody who you've certified is already hopeless and beyond recovery?" he said. (Pivot off of his own red herring)

Remedial: “Giving or intended as a remedy or cure.:

read … Dr Death Seeking Patients

Civil union applications not available until Jan. 1

Alvin Onaka, state registrar, said the new online system will become active at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, so couples conceivably could have their ceremony "as quickly as people can enter their information."

Couples would be able to apply and pay for a license as soon as the site goes live, while civil union performers also would be able to apply for a solemnization license through the online site, Onaka said.

Couples also will be able to apply in person at the health department on any business day after Jan. 1.

The online system aims to cut down on paperwork and processing time for civil union applications, but it also will be able to process traditional marriage license applications, Onaka said.

Act 1 allows couples regardless of gender to enter into civil unions, gaining a legal status with all the rights, benefits, privileges, protections and responsibilities of traditional marriage.

Members of a legislative task force charged with studying implementation of the new law held their final meeting on Tuesday.

Some issues remain that would have to be addressed through legislation or changes in administrative rules.

Those issues include amending the law to eliminate a provision that couples in an existing reciprocal beneficiary relationship in Hawaii must first terminate that before entering into a civil union. The current language leads to a so-called "gap period" in which couples would not be covered under either status — putting some benefits such as health insurance at risk — while awaiting paperwork to be processed.

read … Fewer Births This Way

OHA May vote on Mossman Replacement this Month

Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have submitted names for a replacement for Maui Trustee Boyd Mossmann.

Mossman left OHA late last month to become president of the Kona Hawaii Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A vote for the new trustee, which is closed to the public, could happen later this month.

If the trustees are not able to make a decision by the end of the year, the selection will be made by the governor

read … Prelude to Chaos?

APEC Reduces Crime, Cures Sickness, Trims Profligacy

There were no APEC-related arrests and overall calls for police service fell 28 percent during APEC, Kealoha said.

At one point last week, there were three unprecedented days when no officers or civilian police employees called in sick, Kealoha said.

On the worst APEC sick day, "maybe five" HPD employees called in sick, Kealoha said.

"I've never seen anything like it before," he said.

Asked why police calls fell during APEC, Kealoha said, "Our culture is very embracing."…

The city came in at least $10 million under its $43 million budget for hosting last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, city officials said Wednesday.

read … What? They didn’t spend it all?

Agent shot to protect self, others, lawyer says

The State Department special agent accused of murder while in Honolulu to help provide security during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings "believes he acted appropriately in order to protect others as well as himself," said his lawyer, Brook Hart.

read … Self Defense

Grand jury indicts Special Agent in Waikiki killing

An Oahu grand jury Wednesday indicted State Department special agent Christopher Deedy, 27, with murder in the shooting death of a Kailua man November 5 in Waikiki.

Deedy of Arlington, Va., was charged with murder in the second degree and the use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony.

Kollin Elderts, 23, died of a single gunshot wound to his chest following an early-morning altercation with Deedy in a McDonald's restaurant on Kuhio Avenue.

According to If Deedy is convicted he faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Deedy is scheduled to make his initial appearance tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. in District Court.

SA: Shooting victim's picture dresses shirts at funeral

AP: Funeral for Hawaii man shot in Waikiki McDonald's

read … Grand Jury

Even With Free Makana Concert, Only 60 People Show Up for Occupy Honolulu

Makana, the local singer whose pro-Occupy protest song before world leaders at an APEC dinner became global news, performed at the Occupy Honolulu encampment Tuesday evening.

About 60 people, including a few children, gathered to listen to Makana’s renowned protest song, “We are the Many.”

read … A bunch of whiny Losers

Occupy Wall Street Movement Has Been Fun To Watch But The Party’s Just About Over

I’ve been keeping tabs the various Occupy Wall Street gatherings across the country, except for in Hawaii, where the “occupiers” seemed to be the same old perennial, graying, retread group of disgruntled left-wing academics and activists, some of whom I recognize from the days when my mother-in-law was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s….

read … Charleyworld

Youth corrections director says facility is safe

For the past six years the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating cases of violence, sex abuse, and civil rights violations against the youth housed in the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. But facility administrators said that has all changed.

From orderly guard stations to suicide proof security cells, the correctional facility complied with dozens of DOJ demands.

"We're no longer a place where they have to be afraid. That gives us the ability to treat their needs," Youth Facility Administrator Al Carpenter said.

Reports of corrections officers attacking kids led to one being found guilty of sex assault. In 2005 the Justice department ordered the state to repair things. Administrator Al Carpenter took over and ended the confrontational culture….

Justice department oversight ended in May.

CB: Detained Youth Feel 'Safe, Secure' at Kailua Prison

read … Youth Facility

Media Need Permission to Record at Capitol?

The occasion was a public briefing by public officials in a public building.

But a legislative aide told a Civil Beat reporter that he had to get permission before recording.

"It's out of courtesy," said the aide, who was clearly not happy when one reporter placed a live microphone at the briefing table

read … Tape Recording?

SA: Reef fish need wise protection

a 2010 study by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that surveyed fish populations found that an increase in West Hawaii waters was due to the 2000 establishment of "fish replenishment areas" along that island's coast, perhaps the state's primary resource for aquarium species.

"The management importance of comprehensive and extensive monitoring such as has been under way in West Hawaii for over a decade cannot be underestimated when addressing the issue of this highly controversial fishery," the report concluded.

If anything, the expansion of this approach — strict curbs placed in specific areas — should be a short-term solution. Some urge a rotating series of "kapu" zones be instituted statewide. Others have backed a transition away from harvesting marine life in the wild and instead developing an aquaculture sector for these popular species, and that longer-term project deserves greater focus as well.

Whatever middle path emerges from this ongoing discussion, a compromise is necessary at this point and it's critical that some progress be made. There is another industry at risk, that of marine tourism, so a balance must be struck in order for the resource to be preserved.

(There are only 9 aquarium collector divers in the entire state.)

read … SA Piles on

Punatics Very Pleased with New Council Districts

“You’re screwing Puna,” then-Sixth District Councilor Julie Jacobson told the commission, in 2001. The final redistricting map ended up with swath of Puna in then-council chair Jimmy Arakaki’s Third District-but not enough of Puna to out-vote Arakaki’s core Hilo constituency, though Arakaki himself complained about having to campaign in Kea’au and Mountain View.

But the mood this year appeared to be a different. When the redistricting committee met last week to determine its final draft map, it drew praise from several residents for its hard work, its fairness and its willingness to listen to the public.

“I’ve been involved with three of these little exercises,” noted long-time Puna resident Gregory Smith, “and you guys are the best we’ve ever seen.”

read … UnScrewing Puna


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