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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
February 15, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:53 PM :: 13572 Views

HB2103 Should Hawaii Borrow $3.2B to create Bank of Abercrombie?

Thielen: HB1893 "Demolishes Environmental Law"

Puerto Rico = Hawaii? Another Island Eyes Natural Gas as Substitute for Oil

Schatz Working on Obama Library

Hawaii: Important NRA Instructor Liability Bill to be Heard

Honolulu Prosecutor Sharply Criticizes HOPE Probation Program  

Abercrombie Secretly Appoints Young Bros President to Water Board

CB: The president of Young Brothers is withdrawing from the state water commission a day before he was supposed to show up for his first meeting.

…Hong found himself in the middle of a political maelstrom that swept through the environmental community and Native Hawaiian groups who were caught off guard by Gov. Neil Abercrombie's appointment.

The Commission on Water Resource Management, formed in 1987, has a highly charged political history, and many people have been closely watching the appointment process. The fight over water has been intense among developers, large plantation owners, environmentalists, the military and Native Hawaiian groups.

Because of the historical and legal complexity of the issues involving water rights, the law requires that commissioners, who are in charge of enforcing the state water code, have significant experience with water resource management.

The position has been vacant for more than a year and has been the subject of much speculation and criticism over how Abercrombie has gone about filling it.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, which oversees the seven-member board, advertised several times for applicants. In April, at least three names were sent to Abercrombie, but he did not select a nominee and instead sought a bigger pool to choose from. The Attorney General raised concerns about the process last fall.

Hong was selected for the position in January. The governor's office did not announce his appointment but Hong told Civil Beat he was notified in mid-January.

But the appointment caught the attention of environmental and Native Hawaiian activists this past weekend when they saw an agenda item for the commission’s upcoming meeting that read, “Welcome newly appointed Commission member, Mr. Glenn Wong.”

read … Another Secret Nomination

New Reapportionment Maps Set Up Face-offs on Big Island, Oahu

CB: In the Senate, the Big Island gains a seat due to population shifts. And that appears to be coming at the expense of Oahu Sen. Carol Fukunaga, whose district is essentially being eliminated in the boundary changes. Fukunaga's district — which currently includes Makiki, Punchbowl, Ala Moana and McCully — has been combined with the district now represented by Brian Taniguchi, who represents Manoa, Moiliili and Makiki. (It also sets up Lorraine Inouye to run against Malama Solomon.)

Fukunaga could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Taniguchi told Civil Beat he hasn't had a chance to review the new maps, which will be discussed at a Reapportionment Commission meeting Wednesday afternoon. "I'm planning to run," he said.

The shifting of lines in the state House will pit these incumbent lawmakers against one another if they seek to run:

  • Scott Saiki (D) and Della Au Belatii (D)
  • Mark Hashem (D) and Barbara Marumoto (R)
  • Kymberly Pine (R) and Rida Cabanilla (D)
  • Gil Riviere (R) and Jessica Wooley (D)
  • Jerry Chang (D) and Mark Nakashima (D)

Chang and Nakashima are on the Big Island.

read … Reapportionment Plan

FTA: Feds Won’t Pay for Rail Without ‘Strong Local Partner’

CB: The Obama administration has budgeted $250 million for Honolulu rail this coming year, more than for any other transit project in the country.

But the Federal Transit Administration is keeping a close eye on Honolulu politics, and won't come through with a promise of $1.55 billion in federal money for rail unless Honolulu remains a "strong local partner," FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff told reporters in a conference call Tuesday morning….

Rogoff, meanwhile, displayed familiarity with the specifics of Honolulu's project as well as the recent poll showing anti-rail mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano with an early lead in the 2012 race.

Rogoff said he was "aware" of the survey, which also revealed that public support for rail has dried up significantly in the last nine months.

But Rogoff said the poll shows the two pro-rail candidates, if pooled together, poll stronger than Cayetano. Cayetano polled at 44 percent, followed by Mayor Peter Carlisle at 35 percent and former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell at 16 percent. Rogoff said that indicates Cayetano might well not win the job in the end.

"We are mindful of it, because it is important that we have a strong local partner," he said in response to Civil Beat's question about the impact of the mayoral race on the Full Funding Grant Agreement process.

SA: SHOPO again supports Caldwell for mayor's job

read … Still a Chance to Kill Rail

Djou 52% Favorable in poll larded with Democrats, Obama Supporters

SA: The survey found that 56 percent had a favorable opinion of Hanabusa and 33 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The ratings were similar to the Hawaii Poll last May, when 55 percent had a favorable opinion of the congresswoman and 37 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

For Djou, meanwhile, 52 percent had a favorable opinion of the Republican and 38 percent had an unfavorable opinion. Last May, the split was 58 percent to 36 percent.

read … Djou

CD2 Hannemann leads by big margin

SA: Hannemann appears to have bounced back from losing the Demo­cratic primary for governor to Neil Abercrombie by 22 points in 2010. His name recognition and favorability remain high.

Among 432 likely voters in the district, 59 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Hannemann, who was twice elected mayor. Thirty-three percent had an unfavorable opinion, 7 percent said they did not know enough about him while only 1 percent had never heard of him.

Gabbard's favorable rating was 18 percent, compared with 19 percent unfavorable. Twenty-three percent said they did not know enough about her, while 40 percent said they had never heard of her. The margin of error for the favorability was 4.7 percentage points.

To get her name out, Gabbard has some ground to make up on fundraising, having started the year with about $317,000 in cash on hand, compared with $509,000 for Hannemann.

read … Only a Republican can Stop Mufi

Honolulu Prosecutor Sharply Criticizes HOPE Probation Program

HR: Hawaii’s highly-praised Drug Court program “is being used as a dumping ground” for criminal offenders who have washed out of another very successful program of the state Judiciary, HOPE probation, according to Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and state Public Defender Jack Tonaki.

“HOPE violators are taking up available treatment spaces and preventing Drug Court offenders, whom the program was created for, from entering the program,” Kaneshiro said in testimony to the Legislature last week….

Alm took over the Drug Court program last year and combined it with his HOPE cases, which now total some 2,000 offenders.

“Eligible drug offenders are being rejected (by Drug Court) and told to seek their own drug treatment in less intensive programs which may be unaffordable for some,” said Kaneshiro, who helped start Drug Court 13 years ago.

“They are being pre-empted by HOPE probationers who are failing their probation supervision and are being diverted from prison at the expense of drug offenders who WANT DRUG TREATMENT” (emphasis in original), Kaneshiro said in written testimony to the state House Judiciary Committee.

Kaneshiro said he and Tonaki took their concerns to Alm more than a year ago but they “appeared to be ignored.”

read … Prosecutor

Hawaii is only State where Charter School Employees are State Employees

CB: A proposal to overhaul Hawaii's charter school system will go a long way to fixing known problems, but it lacks a key component that could dramatically improve accountability, national experts say.

Charter school employees should not be state employees, experts told Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda in a briefing about her omnibus charter bill last month.

Charter schools, although publicly funded, operate independently under charters with the state.

"When our organization did an evaluation of the Charter School Administrative Office, we saw them spending a significant amount of time on the personnel matters of charter school employees because they were state employees," said Greg Richmond, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

"That's a highly unusual arrangement that charter school employees must be state employees," he said. "It actually undercuts the charter school concept of increased autonomy and accountability. You're taking away autonomy and creating administrative headaches. That's a big issue, and I would suggest you take a look at that."

Richmond said he doesn't know of any other state that classifies charter school employees as state employees. Some allow the staff and faculty to remain state employees in schools that convert from traditional public schools into charter schools.

read … National Experts: Charter School Employees Should Not Be State Employees

Parents Deserve Answers After Firing of Waimea Charter School Principal

CB: We want Mr. Colson reinstated unless you will publicly and truthfully state the REAL reason for Mr. Colson's termination. Given his recent performance review of 4.8 out of 5, it's obviously not a performance issue. Also given that Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School is one of the highest rated schools in the state, again his performance cannot be an issue. As his forced resignation was also not due to any impropriety, what is left??

That said, the only other avenue would be a personal vendetta / agenda to take his job by an individual, quite possibly this Ms. McCorriston who is temporarily heating his chair, she will never fill his shoes.

read … Personal Vendetta?

As Kakaako Deal Comes up, Donovan DelaCruz Suddenly Hosts Fundraiser

DN: Today’s highlighted event is taking place even as I type this, in the Mandalay Restaurant in Honolulu, not far from the State Capitol. It’s a fundraising favorite. Senator Donavan Dela Cruz is throwing a bash at the restaurant from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is asking for $100 per attendee. Senator Dela Cruz represents District 22, which is a central Oahu district, so at least his constituents might possibly drive over to attend.

Sen. Dela Cruz is the chair of the Water, Land and Housing Committee and is the go-to guy for developers or other deep pocket folks concerned in any way with land use in Hawaii. You wanna have him on your side if you plan to build something someplace. You need him. Friending him on Facebook isn’t enough, the way to a politician’s heart is through your pocketbook.

For what happened last year, see: Hawaii senate committee meets without public notice right before a fundraiser for its chair, (3/31/2011).

I wrote again in November, when the OHA Kakaako land deal came up….

CN: Hawaii Land Question May Be Resolved

read … Chair of Water, Land and Housing Committee holds fundraiser in town during session


News Release: IUEC Local 126 Business Representative Thad Tomei said: "We are a small construction union of 220 members who work statewide in the installation, modernization, service and repair of all elevator/escalator and related equipment. We are endorsing Ed Case for U. S. Senator because we want legislators with the independence to work for their constituents."

read … Endorsement

Heide & Cook plans acquisition by Alaska Native Company in bankruptcy filing

SA: Heide & Cook proposes that a subsidiary of Chugach Alaska Corp., a Native Alaskan-owned conglomerate, provide $500,000 to sustain Heide & Cook through bankruptcy reorganization.

The petition said Chugach is expected to assume ownership of Heide & Cook and retain the majority of its roughly 100 employees.

Details on restructuring debts have yet to be proposed and will be subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.

Heide & Cook's 20 largest creditors with debts not secured by company assets are owed $4.3 million. The largest of those is a $1 million claim by Chugach. The next-largest claim is $488,956 in credit card debt owed to First Hawaiian Bank. Debts owed to 15 vendors and subcontractors range from about $70,000 to $300,000 each…,.

However, six weeks after the restructuring announcement, Bank of Hawaii filed a lawsuit to foreclose on substantially all of Heide & Cook's assets secured by $4.6 million in loans and credit. Two months later, in November, American Express filed a lawsuit to collect a credit card balance over $300,000.

Matsuda said in the bankruptcy filing that Heide & Cook explored selling the company to Chugach in November and that Chugach instead arranged to pay the Bank of Hawaii $1.4 million to acquire the $4.6 million debt against the engineering firm. The debt purchase occurred Jan. 19, a day after Bank of Hawaii received court approval to foreclose.

As Heide & Cook's largest creditor, Chugach intends to acquire the firm's assets through bankruptcy.

read … Chugach

Newspapers Keep $1 Million Legal Ad Revenue For Another Year

HR: Hawaii’s newspapers will continue collecting some $1 million for at least another year to print government legal notices, according to the state’s Chief Information Officer.

Bills to allow electronic publication of such ads and notices are pending before the state Senate and House of Representatives.

The House Finance Committee voted to defer one measure following testimony from Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, Chief Information Officer in Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration.

I think I’m saying provide a one-year hiatus so that … everyone’s given one year to set up our site, one year (of) continuing with the way we do business,” Bhagowalia told the committee.

After that, he said, legal ads can migrate to a state-operated website.

“We will always have some portion that will be reserved for print media,” said Bhagowalia. “And that will continue and I think that we can reach some sort of agreement on that.”

But electronic publication is coming, he said.

read … $1M

Stop Mitch Kahle Bill to Be Heard by House Ctte

CB: The House version of a bill that aims to punish “disorderly or contemptuous behavior at the Legislature” — aka the “Mitch Kahle bill” — will be heard before House Legislative Management at 1:30 p.m. in Conference Room 423.

A proposed new draft of the bill drops earlier language that called for an offense for showing disrespect to the House or Senate.

The new draft also calls for an unspecified fine or 30-days imprisonment.

(Meanwhile in the Senate, they still don’t have invocations.)

read … Illegal to act like an atheist

Family Of Murdered Inmate Sues State, Private Prison

HR: Nunuha, 26, was serving time for burglary and criminal property damage and had previously been threatened and attacked by prison gang members in Arizona, the suit alleged.

The morning of February 18, 2010, “two prisoners punched, kicked and stomped on Bronson.They stabbed him more than 140 times with two different weapons and carved the name of their gang into his chest," the lawsuit charged.

One of the inmates, Miti Maugaotega Jr., has a long history of violence both in and out of prison.

Maugaotega had assaulted Nunuha earlier at Saguaro and was implicated in a 2005 brutal assault of another Hawaii inmate at a CCA facility in Mississippi, according to the suit.

“Maugaotega was a ‘shot caller’ in a dominant, violent prison gang at SCF,” said the suit.

"A ‘shot caller’ is a high-ranking gang member who directs the activities of other gang members, and authorizes the use of violence,” said the suit.

Nunuha was held in a special housing area of Sauguaro that improperly mixed violent and non-violent inmates, the suit alleged.

The fatal attack occurred during “morning day room” hours when prison cells were unlocked, the complaint alleged.

While the sole CCA employee on duty at the time was “distracted by a group of prisoners,” the suit alleged, Nunuha was fatally assaulted in his cell.

“As he lay dying, other prisoners mopped up the bloody footprints leading away from his cell” and the killers showered, changed clothes, and re-mingled with the other prisoners,” said the suit.

read … Family Of Murdered Inmate Sues State, Private Prison

170,000 to get bank refunds

SA: State Circuit Judge Karen Nakasone approved Tuesday a $9 million settlement between Bank of Hawaii and 160,000 customers in a class-action lawsuit stemming from the method the bank used to maximize debit and ATM overdraft fees by reordering the transactions from the highest dollar amount to the lowest dollar amount over a five-year period.

Brandee Faria, whose Perkin & Faria LLLC law firm filed the suit last February along with three mainland firms, called the Bank of Hawaii case the largest class action in state history.

read … Overdraft 

Applicants Sought for Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Board

News Release: Applicants are being sought for the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection of the Bar of Hawaii board (LFCP). This is to fill a term expiring on January 31, 2015 for one of the attorney positions on the five-member board.

The LFCP board members serve without compensation and are appointed by the Supreme Court of Hawaii. The duties of the board are to oversee and administer the LFCP, the purpose of which is to reimburse, to the extent provided by the Rules of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, losses caused by dishonest conduct of members of the bar.

read … CPB

Representative Cynthia Thielen - I love Kailua Town Party 2012  

Representative Cynthia Thielen (50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) speaks with Leigh Prentiss, President Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle and Lyn Turner, Chair, I Love Kailua Town Party



Federal funds flow to clean-energy firms with Obama administration ties

WP: Following an enduring Washington tradition, Wagle shifted from the private sector, where his firm hoped to profit from federal investments, to an insider’s seat in the administration’s $80 billion clean-energy investment program.

He was one of several players in venture capital, which was providing financial backing to start-up clean-tech companies, who moved into the Energy Department at a time when the agency was seeking outside expertise in the field. At the same time, their industry had a huge stake in decisions about which companies would receive government loans, grants and support.

During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle’s former firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.

Obama’s program to invest federal funds in start-up companies — and the failure of some of those companies — is becoming a rallying cry for opponents in the presidential race. Mitt Romney has promised to focus on Obama’s “record” as a “venture capitalist.” And in ads and speeches, conservative groups and the Republican candidates are zeroing in on the administration’s decision to extend $535 million to the now-shuttered solar firm Solyndra and billions of dollars more to clean-tech start-ups backed by the president’s political allies.

White House officials stress that staffers and advisers with venture capital ties did not make funding decisions related to these companies. But e-mails released in a congressional probe of Obama’s clean-tech program show that staff and advisers with links to venture firms informally advocated for some of those companies.

read … Dirty Money for Green Energy

Hunters Speak Up Against DLNR

BIW: “We are losing our hunting areas,” says Harvey Chan, at an early morning roadside protest outside the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) in Hilo. “They fenced off Mauna Kea. They’ve been eradicating sheep there for thirty years and there’s hardly any sheep left. Now they’re gonna fence more area for the sake of supposedly preserving the environment.”

Chan, along with a crowd of hunters, is protesting against a government bill that is in the final stage of being pushed through the State Legislature. The House and Senate Bills, are called HB 2520 and SB 2782, respectively. The gist of this legislation is to protect thousands of acres of public watershed by putting a fence around it in the name of water sustainability and native species conservation. Enemy number one spotlighted in the Bill is alien species, especially wild pigs and goats. The near 19,000 acres of wet Koa, Ohi’a, and grassland forest reserve in question is called, Pu`u Maka`ala, located on the northeast flank of Mauna Loa.

read … Hunters Speak Up


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