NYT: Occupy Honolulu Looks Like Just Another Homeless Camp
Report: Hawaii Among Lowest Health Insurance Costs in Nation
Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted Nov. 21, 2011
Akaka on New Akaka Bill: “It’s Sneaky” -- Hanabusa: Akaka Bill must Stay off Radar to Pass
CB: Hanabusa is standing with her arm around Sen. Daniel Akaka, her voice lower than usual as she speaks.
"You think we going to be able to get it through the Interior?" she asks him.
Hanabusa is referring to a legislative strategy aimed at passing the controversial Akaka Bill, which would provide federal recognition to Native Hawaiians.
While a stand-alone bill has failed to pass in Congress, the latest strategy to pass the measure came from Sen. Daniel Inouye, who inserted recognition language into a larger Department of the Interior spending bill.
"I hope so," Akaka says. "It's tough."
"It is tough," she says. "Anywhere we can tack it."
"It's sneaky," Akaka says with a smile.
"It's not sneaky," Hanabusa replies. "It's what it takes, man. We got to get it through."
Akaka thanks her for the help, and the two continue posing for photos.
On the walk back toward her office, Hanabusa describes the challenges that still remain in passing legislation that recognizes Native Hawaiians as indigenous people.
"If people could just vote on whether it's right — whether this is the right thing to do — then it wouldn't be an issue," Hanabusa says. "But unfortunately, it's getting caught up, I think, in the politics of the whole situation. I'd like to think that's going to have a better chance, simply because this just gives broad recognition, which is really what we need. A lot of it's going to depend on, really, whether it becomes part of somebody's radar, and what issue people are going to make of it."
Related: Sneak Attack: Inouye hides Akaka Bill in Policy Rider -- just after “Grazing Permits”
read … Sneaky
Hanabusa: I wouldn’t go to dinner with Mazie Hirono
CB: On one side of Hanabusa is Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and on the other is Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., wearing one of her signature cowboy hats. Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and David Cicilline, D-R.I., also sit with the group.
They laugh often, at one point hard enough that Hanabusa pitches forward in her chair. She says later that they almost always sit together, and often socialize. Cicilline helped her shop for throw pillows.
Rep. Mazie Hirono is standing two rows behind Hanabusa, but the two don't speak. Hanabusa later acknowledges that they aren't close friends, but rejects the idea that they don't get along.
"People assume incorrectly that when you come from Hawaii there's this link you have," Hanabusa says. "We have different people we associate with. We're not that similar in terms of how we vote, either. Our perspectives are different."
Hanabusa seriously considered running for U.S. Senate in 2012, which would have pitted her against Hirono in a Democratic primary. Instead, Hanabusa is running for re-election in the House.
"The important thing is that we're very civil," Hanabusa says. "I don't think you could say that we would go to dinner together or anything like that. That's just not the relationship we have ... Mazie's the way Mazie is, and I'm the way I am."
Related: Hirono Cold, Aloof, Prefers to be Alone
read … Hanabusa
Lingle Listed at Palm Beach Event
Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle was listed as a special guest speaker on the Palm Beach Synagogue’s events calendar over the weekend.
read … Fundraising
Hawaii Delegates OK With Pizza as a Vegetable
In passing a wide-ranging spending bill this month, Congress thwarted President Barack Obama's attempt to change rules that allow schools to characterize pizza and French fries as vegetables.
After pushback from the food industry, lawmakers included a provision that enables public schools to bypass proposed federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines that would have required a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in cafeterias. They argued the changes would be too expensive, a claim that USDA rejects. Critics have drawn comparisons to President Ronald Reagan's attempt to classify ketchup and relish as vegetables as a way to keep costs down in the 1980s.
All four of Hawaii's congressional delegates voted in favor of the bill, which keeps the tomato paste standard intact and bans a limit on starchy vegetables like peas, potatoes and lima beans that the Obama administration sought to impose.
read … Pizza is a Veggie
Job of U.S. troops is far from over as Iraq War closes
The Iraq War is rapidly winding down — and so is Hawaii's lengthy involvement in it.
Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, commander of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii and last division-level commander of the war, said that most of the fewer than 16,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines remaining under his control would be out of Iraq "well before Christmas."
The number of Americans in Iraq is plummeting.
In early November there were 33,000 U.S. troops in the country. Champoux, in a teleconference with the Pentagon press corps on Thursday, said that number had dropped to 24,000.
A 2008 security agreement calls for U.S. combat forces to be out of Iraq by Dec. 31.
read … Back from Iraq
Sending aloha to the troops in Afghanistan
A little aloha goes a long way when you're stationed far away from home during the holidays.
And it's that little bit of Hawaii that local Rotarians and the Kealakehe High School Interact Club will send via 200 special Project Aloha holiday care packages to Afghanistan where members of the Hawaii-based L Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, "America's Battalion," are currently stationed.
"The kindness and generosity of this community to give a little aloha (to the troops) is a very humbling experience," said Ann Goody, who along with other Rotarians, volunteers and more than 150 students collected items over the past few weeks and packed the boxes on Saturday for the annual Rotary project.
The packages, weighing a combined 2,800 pounds, were shipped from Kailua Candy Co. on Sunday to the unit, which is stationed in a location in Afghanistan's Helmand province that is undisclosed because of security issues, she said.
read … Aloha from Kona
HSTA Pushing to Divert Race to the Top Money to Salaries
CB: Takahashi has launched into a long line of questioning about Hawaii’s Race to the Top money.
The state last year was selected to receive a $75 million federal grant over four years in order to make systemic education reforms. It’s evident from Takahashi’s questions that HSTA expected, or wants, some of that money to supplement salaries.
“How much of that $75 million is available for pay and compensation to teachers in Bargaining Unit 5?” Takahashi asks.
“Almost none of it,” Matayoshi says. “It is intended to be more of a system-improvement, asset-building expenditure, as opposed to supplement for ongoing operational expenses.
“We were looking to do things that would improve the system overall and be of ongoing benefit to the DOE and the students, as opposed to operating expenses that we wouldn’t be able to fund after the money was gone.” ….
Takahashi sidetracks into questions about incentive pay for teachers in certain geographic areas.
Halvorson … says Takahashi is presuming the earmarked money was available for teacher salaries. Collective bargaining talks about incentive pay stopped a long time ago, Halvorson says.
Matayoshi testifies that she received a request “a few weeks ago” from HSTA to negotiate Race to the Top-related items.
read … Accountability? Just gimme a raise
HSTA Organizes to Reverse Laupahoehoe Charter School Approval
SA: The move sparked an uproar in Laupahoehoe. Teachers and parents decided to run for the new charter school's governing board, some hoping to hand the charter back to the state and continue as a regular public school, said Bob Beekman, a faculty representative. Under state law each stakeholder group — including parents, teachers, staff, students and the community — has the right to elect its representatives to that board. But no elections are under way.
"They know that if they did the elections now, they are not going to win," said Nora Pajimola, a Laupahoehoe alumna who has three children at the school. "That's why they are trying to postpone it."
In applying for a charter, the Laupahoehoe Interim Local School Board said it would hold elections in September 2011 to create a permanent board to govern the school, set to convert in August 2012. After the charter was granted, it pushed the date back to November. Now it says it intends to hold the vote on or before Sept. 30, 2012, after it opens as a charter school.
Nicolette Hubbard, president of the interim local school board, wrote to the panel on Oct. 24 that the earlier date was "legally impossible," adding, "The election cannot lawfully occur until the eligible voters and candidates are determined. This determination cannot be made until after the parents, teachers and staff of the charter school are identified."
The Charter School Review Panel, however, disagrees, saying the stakeholders in a conversion charter school are the current parents, staff and students. It is holding the interim board to its original commitment to hold elections this fall and warned that if it does not, the panel could move to revoke the charter or refuse to allow the charter school to open. On Oct. 14 the panel directed that elections be held by Nov. 21.
Instead, the interim board intends to appeal again to the Board of Education, arguing that the panel overstepped its authority, according to Steven Strauss, a lawyer who just joined the interim board Sept. 27 and is now the only member authorized to speak to the press….
Meanwhile, teachers at the school are alarmed that they will lose their jobs and tenure with the Department of Education in the charter conversion and will have to apply as new hires at other public schools, said Carol Dodson, who has taught at Laupahoehoe for eight years. (Geee. Where did that rule come from?)
Teachers who want to stay at the charter school must apply for jobs there.
"We are writing to request your immediate action to prevent 21 public school teachers from being involuntarily terminated by the DOE," the teachers wrote in their Oct. 31 letter to the Board of Education. "We have worked hard for the past few years to improve Laupahoehoe School and have been successful. … We want the DOE to place us in other DOE positions within our own Hilo-Waiakea-Laupahoehoe District."
Asked how the school, which was founded in 1883, will function if virtually all of its teachers abandon ship, Strauss said, "These are collective bargaining issues that are going to be resolved."
"We're interested in teachers that want to teach at the school," Strauss added.
read … Laupahoehoe
Former school employee admits to stealing nearly a half million dollars
According to prosecutors, Harada used the stolen money to take trips to Las Vegas and Europe.
Harada faces a year and a half in jail when he is sentenced in May. He must also pay back the money he stole. Harada worked as business manager from 1993 to 2010, when the school fired him.
(17 years no audits. And this is totally typical.)
read … Just another day in the DoE
Procurement Office rejects contract targeting Big Wind opponents
ILind: The State Procurement Office this week turned down a request by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism to extend a public relations contract in order to tackle negative public opinion towards the Big Wind project on Molokai and Lanai.
In comments filed on Thursday, the Chief Procurement Officer said “it would be inappropriate to increase the contract amount by 40% with six months remaining on the contract….It would be inappropriate and unfair to the other participating offerors if an additional $195,000 is added conflicting with the solicitation’s requirement of proposals submitted were not to exceed $500,000.”
So that effort is apparently off the table, for the time being at least.
read … Propaganda Averted?
Improved youth prison still concerns ACLU
Although the ACLU of Hawaii concedes "the state has been given the framework to ensure that HYCF functions at a minimally constitutionally sufficient level," it is not completely satisfied.
"The ACLU of Hawaii has lingering concerns, however, about the placement of nonviolent status offenders (including those imprisoned for truancy or violating curfew) with those wards who have committed more serious crimes," said ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Lois Perrin.
The ACLU is still concerned that 80 percent of the female wards have committed minor offenses.
Another concern is a lack of programs that would make it easier for wards to re-enter the community with the necessary tools for a successful life, Perrin said.
While improvements have been made in HYCF, Hipp said its limited funding could be better used to put staff in communities, including more parole officers, monitors and social workers to work directly with youth in their community and families.
Many of its prison population are not violent and should not be incarcerated — rather, they have dysfunctional families and nowhere else to go, Hipp said.
He said physical changes made to the cells deter inmates from attempting suicide, and the guards have received training to address suicide attempts.
HYCF has a 56-bed facility and a separate cottage that houses 16. Currently, 82 youths are committed at the prison, 17 of whom are on parole, leaving 65 at the main prison and cottage.
read … Youth
APEC: Occupancy Up 1%, Rates Up 28%
SA: Waikiki hotels generated total estimated revenues of $37.7 million between Nov. 7 and 12, an increase of $8.7 million over the same period a year ago, according to a report by Hospitality Advisors and Smith Travel Research. The estimate is of hotel revenue only and does not include other spending generated by APEC, such as event setup, ground transportation or retail spending.
"We definitely saw a lift," said Joseph Toy, president and chief executive officer of Hospitality Advisors. "We're only looking at a small segment of the (APEC) impact. This is a small piece of it, but it does indicate some of the impact in at least one part of the puzzle."
The average occupancy rate in Waikiki hotels for the six-day period was 82.3 percent, about 1.3 percentage points higher than the same period a year ago, although the occupancy rate increased each day Tuesday through Friday, peaking at 87.3 percent on Friday night, according to the report.
Occupancy rose despite an increase in the average daily room rate to $202.79 per night for the six days, about 28 percent higher than the average daily rate of $158.40 for the same period a year ago.
Panos: So What Did APEC 2011 Do for the 99 Percent of Us?
Roy Chang: Cartoon
read … Hotels in Waikiki profit from APEC
Agent Charged in Hawaii Shooting Pleads Not Guilty
AP: Defense attorney Brook Hart entered the plea on Deedy's behalf. Deedy remains free on $250,000 bond….
Hart has said the agent was protecting himself and others.
SA: Federal agent pleads not guilty in Waikiki shooting death
read … Not Guilty
Navy hopes to gain two Hawaii superferries
In June, the Maritime Administration put the two vessels up for sale on an "as is, where is" basis and eventually received four bids.
In September, the administration said it was "working expeditiously with bidders and other interested parties in evaluating its options, with a goal of maximizing the government's return from these vessels."
Garas declined to comment on whether the Navy was among the bidders or whether the Navy was purchasing the vessels or simply taking possession of them.
Related: Why Hawaii Lost the Superferry
read … Superferries
Lack of Farmers Drives Decline in Hawaii Flower Industry
CB: Hawaii farm sales of dendrobium blooms have dropped from 29.3 million blooms in 2002 to 6.7 million blooms in 2010, studies by the U.S. and Hawaii departments of agriculture show.
The studies show declines in sales of most other types of flowers between 2006 and 2010.
One reason for the change, growers said, is that children are choosing careers other than inheriting the family farm. Elton Mow, a 47-year-old flower grower on the Big Island, said this is especially true for dendrobium growers.
“To have a young person come in and start from scratch, it’s almost — I’ve never heard of that,” he said.
Since 1997, the number of farms with dendrobium bloom sales of at least $10,000 has dropped from 35 farms to 19.
That's not the case for all types of flowers, though. Over that same time period, the total number of farms with sales of at least $10,000 has increased….
To make up for the losses, growers said they want the Hawaii state government to spend money marketing local flowers. And they’re hoping government research centers will start producing genetically modified flowers — making them larger, stronger, more fragrant and different colors. (Don’t tell the anti-GMO Luddites)
KHON: Christmas trees go on sale!
read … Inversely Proportional to Volume of Rhetoric about Saving Ag
Na Wai Eha water use process OK’d
MN: After years of uncertainty for kuleana users about their rights to Na Wai Eha's water, the state Water Resource Management Commission has started the distribution process.
Recently, the commission approved a two-step method for determining surface water use permits for "appurtenant water rights," more commonly known as kuleana users. By law, a kuleana user's right is privileged due to origin, landownership and closeness to a stream.
To have kuleana rights, the connection between the land and the water must date back to at least the Mahele, which started in 1848. The Mahele is when the land was divided and individual titles were created….
A kuleana owner, who often uses land for taro farming, must fill out an application before the Feb. 6 deadline, according to a commission announcement.
After the kuleana users get their water, then other applicants will be considered, Moriwake said….
Applications can be downloaded online by going to hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm/forms.htm. Or the commission will mail applications to people who visit the DLNR's Water Resource Management Commission office at Kalanimoku Building Room 227, 1151 Punchbowl St., Honolulu 96813.
read … Na Wai Eha
SA: Developments can evolve, too
Visions similar to Ko Olina Resort's lagoons and marina already have spurred completion of 3,500 of the 4,850 homes planned in the area. The nearby Ernie Els-designed members-only Hoakalei County Club opened for golf in 2009. Hotel or time-share accommodations and a complex of retailers, restaurants and other businesses also are planned.
Tim Tucker, chairman of the Ewa Beach Community Benefits Group and former head of the town's neighborhood board, has described the change as a "broken trust" that reneged on boaters who had been "promised new slips and boat launching ramps open 24 hours per day." He also complains about elimination of parks included in the initial plan.
Other nearby residents are not so angry. Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) sees "a whole new generation of people growing up with the largest enclosed water feature in our community. This will help bring a whole new health culture in Ewa Beach."
That active aspect surely would be a plus. And though this project would seem to be a regional land-use conflict, it bears watching, to ensure that easy public access to the shorelines is maintained. However this development has morphed over nearly three decades, Haseko cannot waver from its intention "to provide extensive public access to its lagoon, promenade, cultural and archaeological sites" and to integrate its shoreline with adjacent beachfront parks.
read … Developments can evolve, too
City Pays Landfill Operator $2.6M for Spill Cleanup
CB: The city paid or approved payment for the amount of $2.59 million, according to the Honolulu Department of Environmental Services. Waste Management, the company that manages the landfill, submitted 22 different invoices for reimbursement from Feb. 11 through Sept. 30.
The invoices submitted to the city, included at the bottom of this article, show that Waste Management charged the city a 10 percent "markup" for every expenditure.
Civil Beat previously reported that in its final report submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August, Waste Management estimated costs at $2.25 million. That figure included only costs paid to contractors hired to help but did not include internal costs like labor, Hawaii general excise tax or the markup.
The expenses — which include items like liner repair, pond pumping and even legal fees — stemmed from an administrative order issued by the EPA in late January.
LINK: Waste Management Invoices
read … Paid Spill
Lanai: Entire Island Lines up for Free Turkeys
MN: At least an hour before local visitor industry leaders distributed free frozen turkeys and corpulent bags of rice Saturday morning, residents of this tightknit island community were lined up for a block up Lanai Avenue.
With a Lanai resident population of just 2,500, the giveaway - which gets bigger every year - is believed to be enough food to supply an 11-pound bird and 5 pounds of the favored side staple, Homai Rice, for every Lanai family, organizers from a dozen government agencies, nonprofits and businesses said. Trilogy Excursions and the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association gave away 1,000 turkeys and 1,000 bags of rice, respectively, for the holidays.
And with privately owned Lanai's almost exclusive tourism-based economy still in the dumps and unemployment hovering around double digits, residents said they were very thankful for the Thanksgiving Day help.
With the combination of donations and community services, such as free health screening, environmental educational children's games and college extension class information, the morning outside Lanai City Service Station was part all-in-one social outreach and town party….
Language barriers or the taboo of unemployment, whether it's an individual's or the worldwide recession's fault, kept many from wanting to talk publicly about the event. Several people in line would only say a quiet, "Thank you," to the organizers….
Jim Coon said he was embarrassed by any media attention. He was careful to say that Saturday was not public relations….
read … Lanai
Hawaii Co Readies to Sell Uni-Dev Project Homes
Waikoloa's $44 million Kamakoa Nui affordable housing project is finally taking shape and will be offered at prices much lower than anticipated, Hawaii County officials said Friday.
The first of the homes to be offered for sale are expected to be completed late summer or early fall 2012, said Project Manager Mike Prinslow with the county's Office of Housing and Community Development. The workforce housing will be built in groups of six to eight bungalows and single-family homes as people commit to buying the homes, which is expected to begin next month.
Prices will range from $240,000 to $325,000 -- far from the project's original concept and designs that set prices from $385,000 to $495,000, said Mayor Billy Kenoi. The project began under the Mayor Harry Kim administration.
Also differing from the original concept that offered the homes as leasehold, buyers will have the chance to assume full ownership of the home and land after 15 years, Kenoi said. If sold before 15 years, any windfall profit must be shared with the county, he said. The 15-year requirement is a means to discourage speculation and keep the homes affordable.
Related: Waikoloa Workforce Housing CEO: How Hawaii County officials sabotaged affordable housing project
read … Uni-Dev
County to open West Hawaii transitional housing
The project will provide case management, mail and computer access along with an array of on-site social services such as employment and life skills training, mental health services, counseling, and childcare.
The transitional component replaces the former Kawaihae Transitional Housing Project, which was shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency because of its use of large-capacity cesspools.
read … Transitional Housing
HNN: No conclusive evidence regarding the effectiveness of ban against cell phones while driving
There's no question talking on a cell phone while you drive is a distraction. Studies show texting doubles a driver's reaction time. At 55 miles an hour, if you look away from the road for more than three seconds you've travelled the length of a football field. Certainly, a ban would decrease the number of crashes, right?
Oddly enough, there's simply no conclusive evidence. Since 1990, nationwide, the number of cell phones in use has gone from 4 million to 322 million. But the number of crashes has gone down.
read … Cell Phone Ban
Marriott spins off timeshare operations
HNN: Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) completed Monday its spin-off of its timeshare division as a separate company called Marriott Vacations Worldwide, which is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol VAC.
Marriott Vacations Worldwide now controls the six Marriott timeshare developments on three islands in Hawaii….
The calving off of the timeshare properties reduces Marriott International's assets by $2.5 billion and reduces liabilities by $1.2 billion. Marriott International management has been reducing outright ownership of properties in favor of long-term management and franchise contracts.
PBN: King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is now a Courtyard by Marriott
read … Timeshare
Kickstarter Funding Hawaii Projects
HM: Since launching in 2009, Kickstarter has rapidly become the Web’s foremost “crowd-funding” resource for artists, musicians, indie filmmakers and others seeking financing for creative projects. And Hawaii’s socially networked, DIY generation has been cashing in. The twists are that no money changes hands unless a project reaches 100 percent of its funding goal, the backers get rewards, and the proposals must meet Kickstarter’s creative guidelines. Charity is not allowed, no matter how worthy the cause—unless that cause is, say, sending a reggae-playing ukulele musician from Kailua to the Mainland to spread the aloha. That artist, RootHub, raised $2,396.
read …. Online
Kauai Doper Gets Marijuana Prescription to Ease Addiction to Oxy
Deputy Public Defender Christian Enright represented Tangelder, filing the request for a deferred sentence. The court granted a one-year deferral with the condition that Tangelder comply with terms of probation to include 100 hours of community service and a substance abuse or dependency assessment.
Enright noted that Tangelder had a variety of opiate painkillers in his possession when arrested after a roadside stop. He had prescriptions for the medications as the result of an automobile accident, however, they were all in one container which is illegal.
Tangelder did not like the effects of the painkillers and feared a growing dependency, Enright said. He obtained a prescription for medical marijuana for chronic knee pain instead of the opiates that he began to use sparingly.
Read … Soft on Crime