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Friday, February 10, 2012
February 10, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:17 PM :: 14577 Views

DoE Contractor Touts 'Remarkable Growth' at Nanakuli Elementary School

Abercrombie Makes Third Error on Hurricane Fund

Hawaii to Receive $71M from Mortgage Settlement

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Bill Deferred by Senate Committee

Legislators think Act 221 Scammers are Mentally Ill

CB: Techies have a reputation at the Ledge — and it’s not a good one. Lawmakers think a lot of them are crazy.

“We gotta fix that,” said Dan Leuck, a local tech entrepreneur and community leader.

CB: Hawaii Tech Community Rallies Against Bad Internet Bills

read … Hawaii’s Tech Entrepreneurs Work On Their Image

Abercrombie Bows to pressure, Abandons Plan to retaliate against Champley

SA: Things are probably going to get worse before they get better, where Hawaii ratepayers' electricity bills are concerned. So it's reasonable that the public watches every twist and turn in energy policy with interest, even worry.

The latest twist involves the Public Utilities Commission, and mixed signals from Gov. Neil Abercrombie about the appointment of its newest member, Michael Champley. Observers wondered whether the fact that the governor had not forwarded Champley's name to the state Senate for confirmation meant the appointment was in danger.

Champley has an impressive resume and technical expertise with the restructuring of an electric utility in Michigan. That's the sort of skills that will help Hawaii triangulate away from the current situation of Hawaiian Electric Co. handling virtually all power generation and distribution and toward a model in which the utility primarily serves as a distributor for multiple producers.

Fortunately, the governor's office confirmed Thursday that Champley's nomination is moving forward. That's good news, whether it was clamor of alternative-energy interests that did the trick or whether there were, as Abercrombie's staff contends, more mundane reasons.

Scheduling conflicts had prevented a meeting between Abercrombie and Champley to discuss energy policy, as part of the appointment review, said Donalyn Dela Cruz, the governor's spokeswoman. She added that Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Oshiro did have that discussion with Champley.

Nervousness over the appointment arose from reports, citing unnamed sources, that the administration was unhappy with recent PUC decisions taken since Champley joined on an interim basis. Among them: the unanimous vote against Aina Koa Pono biofuels, a project with lobbyist support from William Kaneko, Abercrombie's campaign manager.

(Note: Kaneko should stick to the manini stuff like working to legalize bribes under $250.)

read … Retaliation defeated

Big Cable Shifts Focus to Geothermal, Big Island

CB: There is growing evidence that key lawmakers and state officials are pushing to shift state energy policy away from Big Wind, a project that the state energy office estimates could supply 20 percent of Oahu's electricity needs. The project, which has been in the planning stages for five years and cost the state and electric utility more than $7 million in studies, has been touted as the cornerstone of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. But it's been battered by criticism and lawmakers' enthusiasm for the project could be waning.

“We are just kind of moving away from Molokai and Lanai and focusing on Maui and the Big Island,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment.

Gabbard said the focus now is on making Maui the hub, where geothermal in particular, could be brought from the the Big Island and then transmitted on to Oahu. The state's only geothermal company, Puna Geothermal Venture, which currently operates on the Big Island, is also exploring geothermal resources on Maui. And excess wind energy on Maui that can't be absorbed by the island's small electric grid could be sent to Oahu where 75 percent of the state's population lives. Overall, a connected electric grid is expected to bring greater system stability and allow for greater amounts of renewables to come online.

This doesn’t mean that the proposed wind projects on Lanai and Molokai won't be moving forward or that they wouldn't be aided by passage of the cable bill.

But language recently inserted into the legislation by lawmakers could make it harder for Big Wind developers to proceed. Last week the bill was amended to read that “nothing in this act is intended to require the construction of an interisland cable to the islands of Molokai or Lanai unless the communities affirmatively request a cable.”

read … Big Cable to Big Island?

HELCO Gains Decoupling Approval

CB: Hawaii Electric Light Co., the electric utility on the Big Island, has gained decoupling approval, according to HEI’s quarterly earnings call Thursday.

Decoupling allows the electric utility to delink its sales from profits, which ideally allows the utility to support energy efficiency measures without it impacting its bottom line.

Here’s a an explanation from The Solar Alliance.

Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu has already implemented decoupling. Maui Electric Co. is still awaiting PUC approval.

UPDATE: Decoupling will take effect after the the electric utility’s rate request is finalized — the PUC issued a decision and order this week requesting HELCO to submit revised financial information. The PUC ruling could result in slightly lower rates for Big Island customers, according to a press release issued by HELCO.

read … Grab Your Wallet!

Lee: Mazie’s Lack of Substance Speaks for Itself

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, Lingle’s campaign manager, said Democrats are resorting to personal attacks to mask the lack of achievement of U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, one of the Democratic contenders.

It’s clear that both local and national Democrat Party leaders have concluded that Mazie Hirono’s lack of achievements or vision for Hawaii’s future have left them only one choice–Washington DC-style personal attacks against Governor Linda Lingle.

Fortunately for our campaign, Governor Lingle’s record of success is well-known and her vision for the future is well-articulated. They will not be able to fool the people of Hawaii.

After nine months as an official candidate, Mazie’s official website is nearly empty, without a word about what she would do if she gets elected. This lack of substance speaks for itself. Enough said.

read … Substance

Melanie Bailey: Does a School Field Trip Count as Instructional Time in Hawaii?

CB: What is considered instructional time? Can we count a field trip? Working in the lunchroom? Playing on a team? Homeroom? Study hall? A third grader is learning when they pass from one class to another: how to keep your hands to yourself, keep your voice at a respectable level, work as a team. But, a 10th grader is not learning by walking to his/her next class. These are all valid questions, and now is the time to ask them, and come up with answers.

read … 180 day law

Union Members Push $500M in CIP

Here is the breakdown of the Senate’s repair and maintenance money:

*Department of Education: $150 million
*State libraries: $3 million
*University of Hawaii: $90 million
*University of Hawaii community colleges: $25 million
*UH athletics: $12 million
*Department of Accounting and General Services: $60 million
*Department of Agriculture: $5 million
*Department of Defense: $5 million
*Department of Health: $30 million
*Hawaii Health Systems Corp.: $40 million
*Department of Human Services: $40 million
*Department of Land and Natural Resources: $20 million
*Department of Public Safety: $15 million
*Judiciary: $5 million

read … Contracts, Jobs

HGEA: Nine Mandated Sick Days Would Apply to Us As Well

KITV: Members cited overwhelming opposition, which included local chambers of commerce, auto dealers, as well as the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

The owner of a food truck said he rearranged his schedule to come to the Capitol to testify after hearing he might have to offer more paid sick leave starting in July. …

"This onerous bill could be catastrophic for them. It's only February and three restaurants in Hawaii have already closed." said Roger Morey of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

Labor unions testified in support of the bill.

The largest government union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association said while it believes benefits should be negotiated, not mandated. It added if non- governmental workers are eligible for the extra leave, than it should be offered to its members, as well.

"We do see that it does provide more benefits than our members have in terms of sick leave," said HGEA's Joan Takano.

Read … Deferred

Off-Duty Narcotics Officer Robbed of Gun, Badge, Handcuffs at Hostess Bar

SA: Rementer, 23, was working at Club Tomorrow I under the name "Lexi" on April 16, 2009, when she escorted her customer into the parking lot where two males attacked him and stole his fanny pack. Rementer fled after telling the customer she was going to her car. Her lawyer said Rementer was 20 years old at the time, below the legal age for working in an establishment that sells liquor.

The customer turned out to be an off-duty state narcotics enforcement officer. His fanny pack contained his badge, handcuffs and service weapon.

Thirty minutes after the robbery, Rementer contacted a friend about selling the firearm, a Glock 27, .40-caliber pistol loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition.

The friend turned out to be a police informant. (And yet, somehow they never bust these places. Duh!)

The next day the friend showed up to meet Rementer with an undercover officer posing as a prospective buyer for the gun.

The officer said he paid Rementer $300 for the firearm. He also said Rementer told him she threw away the badge and handcuffs and laughed when she told him how she got the weapon.

read … Officer Robbed

Mayor told to repay wife's trip costs

SA: Judy Carlisle's visit to China served no public purpose, says the city ethics agency…. (Pete, this is just the beginning of what all those Mufi-cronies are going to do to you on behalf of Captain Kirk.)

read … Mayor told to repay wife's trip costs

Bag Tax to Fund DLNR Make Work Program

SA: The bill would allot $800,000 of the projected revenues to the state Department of Health to run and enforce the program and $11 million to the Department of Land and Natural Resources to pay for its ambitious watershed projects.

If passed, the bill would not supersede county ordinances recently passed on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii that ban plastic grocery bags.

"The idea is that if you really need that bag and you decide, ‘I just have to pay for it,' you know that money will go to something that really benefits and supports Hawaii," said Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter. "So we're taking a problem and we're using it to create a solution that's going to help create water for generations to come."

read … Bag Ban

Future of sandalwood trees gets attention at Legislature

Political Radar: HB 1793 would require a permit to log sandalwood on private property, require replanting to replace the logs harvested and a process to control the harvesting of the trees.

According to Doo, the tree is as fascinating as our state and tied directly to Hawaii's growth, starting more than 200 years ago.

"There are probably trees in the mountains that first started growing when Kamehameha the Great was alive," says Doo, who is director of the Sun Yat Sen Hawaii Foundation.

In testimony supporting Doo's idea, William Aila, state land and natural resources director, said, "The decline in abundance of sandalwood can be attributed to the harvesting of Santaluin (sandalwood) species for the high international demand for the sweet-smelling qualities of the wood."

read … Sandalwood Regs

Accountability? DoE to Demand Waiver from NCLB

CB: The Hawaii Department of Education plans to apply for a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements this fall. Meanwhile, the first 10 states to receive the waiver were announced today.

LINK: Read all about Hawaii’s application process.

read … No DoE Contractor left Behind

Leaders Split on Lawmaker Disclosure Deadline

CB: Senate Bill 2609 would require the officials to file a public financial disclosure chronicling the previous year's activities with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission before the new legislative session begins each January.

As currently written, the law allows them to wait until May 31, nearly a month after sine die.

There's a lot of bills on insurance, mortgage foreclosures, renewable energy, agriculture, health and broadband this session. Wouldn't it be nice to know if a lawmaker voting on bills that impact these industries was also financially connected to them?

Asked whether they'd support SB 2609, Senate President Shan Tsutsui said through a spokeswoman he was "open to the idea of moving up the filing deadline for financial disclosure forms."

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Calvin Say, however, said Say has "not yet considered the bill, and, therefore, has not yet taken a position."

SB 2609, introduced by Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican, has not been scheduled a hearing, and if it doesn't get one by March 8, it's probably dead.

read … Disclosure

Hawaii Tax Review Commission Seeks Extension

CB: We’ve already reported that the Hawaii Tax Review Commission would be asking lawmakers for an extension to its statutory reporting deadline.

That request has formally been made via Senate Bill 2869, which would extend the panel’s deadline to the end of this year. That means lawmakers will have to wait an extra year to get advice on the state’s tax structure.

By law, the commission, which is convened every five years, is responsible for analyzing the state’s tax structure and ensuring taxpayers pay their fair share.

read … Tax Increase Commission

Representative Barbara Marumoto Discusses Quarantine of the Brown Tree Snake 

Representative Barbara Marumoto speaks with Christy Martin, Public Information Officer CGAPS - Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species and Carol L. Okada Plant Quarantine Branch Chief.
Report Title: Department of Agriculture; Invasive Species Detector Inspector Positions; Appropriation
Description: Establishes the Hawaii invasive species detection and prevention program within the DOA. Makes an appropriation to the DOA for the funding for the program

watch … 

The 89-Day Plan: How Retirees Collect Full Pensions Plus New State Salaries

HR: Nearly 90 per cent of the investigators in the Hawaii Attorney General’s office are retired police officers working under special 89-day contracts that allow them to collect full police pensions plus $45,000 state paychecks.

Attorney General David Louie said 37 of 43 investigators are 89-day contract employees hired outside of the normal civil service employment system.

State law says that retirees who rejoin the public payroll for 90 or more consecutive days cannot draw state pension benefits. So re-hired retirees work under 89-day contracts, take a break in service and then begin a new 89-day tour of duty.

Many of Louie’s investigators have been working for years as 89-day employees.

Louie declined to release their names or salaries, saying through spokesman Joshua Wisch: “We don't give out the investigators' names or salaries because there are times when they act in an undercover capacity.”

After Hawaii Reporter used the state’s open records law to obtain a list of all state 89-day contract workers (including Louie’s investigators) from the Department of Human Resources Development, Louie asked the department to withdraw that list and issue a new one that excludes the names of his investigators.

Here's the state list: State 89-day Employees

(How effective are they in investigating pension fraud?)

read … 89-day plan

Gay-Atheist Activists in Abercrombie Administration Targeted Alexander

CB: Joseph Woodard and Carolyn Golojuch say they worked in the governor's Office of Constituent Services when the email came in.

When Alexander resigned last month, the governor's spokeswoman told Civil Beat he didn't learn of the allegations until Mitch Kahle, leader of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, reached out recently.

After Kahle's allegations surfaced, Civil Beat filed an open records request for all correspondence between the public and the governor's office in January and February 2011. It received just 15 letters in response from the attorney general's office.

The two former workers say there were many more, including the one alleging sexual misconduct. (And we should believe them because, after all, Carolyn Golojuch is involved and her word is as good as gold.)

"I would push harder on the FOIA," Woodard said, referring to a Freedom of Information Act request. "They are lying to you."

read … More Atheists with stories and no documentation

UH student paper prints "how to" guide to sexual positions

HNN: College papers often push the envelope, but Ka Leo's special Valentine's Day issue is also pushing buttons - and students are reading all about it. On page 16, the headline reads "Don't change partners, change positions".

(Now you know why UH is so upset about the porno site—they can’t stand the competition.)

read … All about the University

Marine sergeant not guilty in hazing case

AP: A military jury on Thursday found a Marine sergeant not guilty after authorities charged him with hazing a lance corporal who later committed suicide in Afghanistan.

Johns will return to regular duty, and is looking forward to training once more, Bilecki said.

"He actually wants to be able to go and deploy again. He would like to be able to go down range with his unit and continue to serve his country," he said.

Prosecutors alleged Johns hazed Lew by ordering him to dig a foxhole as punishment for falling asleep on guard duty at their patrol base in a remote part of Helmand province. They also charged the 26-year-old from Russelville, Ark., didn't intervene when a corporal punished Lew by making him carry a sandbag around the base.

Bilecki told the jury in closing arguments the foxhole was needed to protect the base, which had already come under attack by Taliban fighters multiple times, and keep Lew awake while on watch duty.

"If something is necessary for the mission, it's not hazing," Bilecki said.

read … Not Guilty

Representative Barbara Marumoto Support Adult and Community Education Funding

Representative Barbara Marumoto address HB 2046. Stand. Comm. Rep. No. 187-12 H.B. No. 2046 RELATING TO ADULT AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION. (Education; Adult and Community Education Program Funding; Special Fund)

watch …

Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Honolulu Council Redistricting Plan

CB: The Hawaii Supreme Court this morning denied an appeal brought by an Ewa Beach citizen challenging the constitutionality of the one-per-decade update to the Honolulu City Council districts.

The reapportionment plan was adopted last year amid complaints from one member that political favors were a main motivating factor for the alignment of the new district boundaries through Ewa Beach.

Glenn Oamilda’s petition referenced the state reapportionment plan that was invalidated because the state commission did not remove non-resident military and students from the population base.

The city commission used the same population base, but the Honolulu Charter is different from the Hawaii Constitution. The Supreme Court said city ordinances don’t require that the districts be drawn using a “permanent” population base and said Oamilda’s assertions “are not support by any evidence.”

The Supreme Court’s order: SCPW-12-0000058

read … Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Honolulu Council Redistricting Plan


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