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Sunday, March 11, 2012
March 11, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:13 PM :: 4303 Views

Romney, Paul, Santorum Campaign in Hawaii Monday

Dempsey Details Fiscal Concerns Facing DoD at Hickam Town Hall

Yes, Houston, Hawaii has a Problem

Rail’s Broken Trust: Randy Roth Speaks

LINK: March 13 Caucus Voting Locations

Abercrombie Wife Behind Cayetano in Mayor’s Race

SA: The nominally nonpartisan race for mayor of Honolulu is turning out to be a Democratic Party brawl with entangled alliances.

Although current Mayor Peter Carlisle started out as a Republican, when he ran for mayor he decided to abandon the GOP. Carlisle this year appeared on stage at a Democratic Party rally for President Barack Obama, later explaining that his campaign supporters urged him to attend, but while he supported Obama's help for Honolulu, he was neither a Republican nor a Democrat.

The unions are backing former acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell, a member of the Democratic Party hierarchy by virtue of his former title as Democratic leader in the state House.

But this leaves one of the state's biggest, strongest Democrats, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, out of the mix.

According to polls, Cayetano's campaign is the biggest bipartisan operation in the state, getting overwhelming GOP and a fair share of Democratic support.

Abercrombie, as titular party head, says he is staying out of the mayor's race. (Yeah, right) Abercrombie's wife, first lady Dr. Nancie Caraway, a politically independent (surrogate for Neil) and strong progressive, is supporting Cayetano, attending rallies and fundraisers for him.

(Caraway is also working for Tulsi Gabbard against Mufi Hannemann)

Be sure to read her book: Segregated Sisterhood 

read … The Wife

After Working With Obama to Kill Inouye Earmarks, Abercrombie says Lingle is “A Body Blow to Hawaii”

SA: Abercrombie, who is already actively campaigning at Democratic Party events, says if Lingle is elected and the GOP controls the Senate, Lingle will be forced to vote against Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

"Is your first vote going to be to remove Sen. Daniel K. Inouye as Appropriations (committee) chairman and the answer will be, ‘Yes, I will vote to remove Sen. Inouye.' That would be a blow to Hawaii we will not countenance," Abercrombie said. (Is this the guy who killed the Pro Bowl, gave $140M to Dante Carpenter and 60-40 to his union buddies, and then raised taxes on everybody else. I guess he knows all about ‘body-blow to Hawaii’.)

"There is no way the people of Hawaii will elect someone whose first act is to vote to remove Sen. Inouye," said Abercrombie, who said the loss of the powerful money committee post would be "a body blow to Hawaii."

(Uhhh … Obama has already killed Inouye’s flow of earmarks—with Abercrombie cheering along. Did anybody notice the body-blow has already been dealt?)

"Gov. Lingle will find it impossible to run the campaign she has already stated she will run, that is, she is a bipartisan candidate," Abercrombie said.

Lingle is stressing her ability to represent Hawaii by working with both political parties.

"I worked closely with senators and congressmen of both parties to sponsor and hold hearings on the Akaka Bill for Native Hawaiian recognition," Lingle points out on her campaign Web page.

In his argument that Lingle will vote against Inouye, Abercrombie actually is stating the obvious. As Abercrombie noted, "Gov. Lingle is running as a Republican, she will caucus with the Republicans." Republicans vote for Republicans, Democrats vote for Democrats, no matter how bad either smells.

If the GOP controls the U.S. Senate in 2013, the newly elected senator from Hawaii will not be deciding Inouye's fate. It will be a done deal. Inouye will not be the Appropriations Committee chairman, period. Majority rules.

Related: Earmarks: Desperate Inouye lashes out at Obama, Obama’s War on Inouye Earmarks ‘Not A Deathblow, but….”, Pensions, Rail, Earmarks: Abercrombie and Obama wage war on Inouye

read … Neil’s Gift for the Obvious

Danger: Abercrombie predicts productive session

AP: As the state Legislature hit the midway point Thursday, Abercrombie noted that the majority of his priority bills survived the crossover deadline.

The House and Senate have exchanged hundreds of bills that include the governor's broadband initiative, watershed protection legislation, early childhood education proposals and a $200 million settlement with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

read … Abercrombie predicts productive session

Star-Adv: How to Spend the 12% Increase in Revenue

SA: Legislators and the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie now can afford a sigh of relief after Wednesday's forecast from the state Council on Revenues. Already expecting a sunny 11.5 percent rate of growth from the previous projection, the governor and lawmakers learned that the upward adjustment to 12 percent revenue growth would easily accommodate their budgetary plans….

» To the greatest extent possible, the state's most important trust funds should be replenished with the newly available revenues, not by floating new bonds, as some have proposed. The emergency caches — rainy-day and hurricane funds — that previously were drawn down to balance the budget must be brought to more sustainable levels.

And the state must make a down payment on its unfunded liability for medical care of retirees through the Employer-Union Trust Fund.

» Further on retirement costs, the state House should take another look at curbing the practice of "spiking" — applying overtime pay at the end of a government worker's career to boost the amount of pension he or she receives. Rep. Karl Rhoads, the labor committee chairman who had tabled one proposal, said he believed that better management control of overtime work is the simplest way to address the problem, which is a relatively small percentage of pension costs. But he acknowledged that abuse exists, and Rep. Pono Chong, the majority whip, said House leadership and Rhoads will revisit the issue when the companion Senate measure, Senate Bill 2750, comes to House committees.

» It's unfortunate that SB 1268, to eliminate Medicare Part B reimbursements for retired employee beneficiaries, has not moved this session. If a way can be found to capture that reform in another measure, that would represent a critical savings in the state's mounting liabilities for retirees.

» Among other policy moves, the House should pass SB 2511 authorizing fees for checkout bags at stores, to generate funds for a state environmental fund to curb invasive species in the forest watersheds. The City Council should shelve its lesser idea, a bill to ban plastic bags outright.

» The brighter fiscal outlook should bolster chances for House Bill 2869, which extends the tax credit for the film and digital media tax credit. The measure gets its first hearing in the Senate at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in conference room 16.

read … They call this ’fiscal prudence’

Schatz Eyes your Electric Bill: Smart Grid is all About Solar, Wind (No mention of Geo, Hydro, Waste to energy)

» First, we need to help transform the Public Utilities Commission, the body charged with regulating all utilities, including the electric companies.

Its problem is that it works under the old processes, with not enough staff and other resources, based on the old model — fossil fuel generation from large, centralized power plants. But now, there are dozens of power producers, technologies, and myriad challenges in making it all work together while looking out for the consumer. There is a different set of choices.

The PUC needs the financial resources — staffing, space and information technology — to process, in a fair and efficient manner, all of the new power purchase agreements hitting its desk.

» Second, we need an interisland cable network to connect a statewide grid.

Without the ability to move energy between islands, each island is on its own, which makes a statewide vision for clean energy nearly impossible. Our administration's desire to move forward with an interisland cable isn't about any particular project, but without a cable, most large-scale renewable energy projects will not be feasible, either technically or financially. In the past we always thought of ourselves as the end of a very long energy supply line. But with this cable network, we become our own supply line.

» Third, we need to modernize the electric grid. Parts of our old grid are rapidly approaching the maximum of clean, intermittent energy that can be used. Without some policy changes at the PUC, combined with deploying load- management tools, and a few additional technological breakthroughs, we risk seeing clean energy literally rejected from the grid as it's being generated. This is happening already in some places, and it's a shame.

The solution is a smart grid, where Hawaii is becoming a leader by enabling high levels of penetration of clean energy. We are hosting two smart-grid demonstration projects: one on Maui with the Japanese government and U. S. Department of Energy; another in development with the Korean government for Oahu.

The smart grid gives us access to clean energy options without sacrificing reliability and will enable rapid growth of wind and solar energy.

» Finally, we need to continue the partnerships. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative is a working alliance with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Abercrombie administration, our congressional delegation, the counties and the nonprofit and business sectors. We are one of the few states with such an alignment of powerful and serious allies.

By taking these four steps, we (politicians) will put ourselves in charge of managing our (YOUR) energy costs. (Expect to be paying more, a lot more, for electricity.)

read … Clean energy in Hawaii is moving from research to reality, from talk to action

DoE: Closed School Fills With Desks, 180 Desk Jockeys

SA: The governor has released $2.2 million for a new data storage center at the former Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School campus, nine months after the Kaimuki school closed its doors.

The data storage center, which will be housed in Liliuokalani's cafeteria, will replace one in the basement of the Department of Education headquarters on Punchbowl Street.

"The department, as it upgrades to an adequate IT (information technology) system, it's going to need a facility like this," said Duane Kashiwai, administrator of the DOE's facilities development branch.

Kashiwai said the center will be the hub for the department's network operations — both hardware and personnel. Funding for the center will cover air-conditioning the cafeteria, upgrading its power and other infrastructure systems and installing backup generators. (Nothing is too good for the bureaucrats.)

The project will go out to bid this year. Kashiwai said construction is expected to be completed next year.

The former, elected Board of Education voted in March 2011 to shutter Liliuokalani Elementary and send its 97 students to other schools in the area. The school's last day was May 26.

In addition to putting the data center on the campus, the department plans to install offices in former classrooms. Once that work is complete, the DOE will relocate 180 employee positions to the site from rented space. The rental savings is estimated at $900,000 annually.

read … Closed school will house DOE data center

Senate’s Answer to Traffic? Get out and Walk

AP: Senate Transportation Chairman J. Kalani English says that Hawaii needs to shift its attitudes about road usage and solving traffic problems. He suggests that communities need to be planned for all road users, not just cars.

The Transportation Committee on Thursday heard about ways to improve roads for all users from Don Burden, executive director for the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

The presentation is posted online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-S3Q3OyJww.

You walk, I get free Flights: Former cocaine dealer J Kalani English admitted that he has been a passenger on Hawaii Air Ambulance Flights between Honolulu and Maui

read … State senators are considering ways to improve highway and road design and ease traffic issues

Red tape ties up groups' fishpond restorations

SA: Hi‘ilei Kawelo said government rules haven't been a help in her more than 10 years of trying to restore an 88-acre traditional Hawaiian fishpond at Heeia-Kea.

"It's such a deterrent. It's probably easier to blow up a mountain and put a road through it than it is to re-build a fishpond," said Kawelo, executive director of the nonprofit Paepae o He‘eia.

She said her group is treated as if it were proposing a new commercial development and required to receive several permit approvals — the latest an Army Corps of Engineers review that will take at least two years to repair an 89-foot section of a wall damaged in a 1965 storm….

At Kalepolepo Beach Park in south Maui, a group of Native Hawaiians has taken nearly 10 years to receive all the federal, state and county permits to restore a three-acre fishpond — a project supported by the nearby Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Despite no opposition, the work to prepare the permits to restore Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond took about 1,600 to 2,000 hours and about $60,000, project leader Kimokeo Kapahulehua said.

read … About how bureaucracy sets Hawaii back 1500 years

Kiewit, Kobayashi Split Contract on Waipahu Rail Yard

The Honolulu rail transit project reached a significant milestone in early February when it received federal approval to move into the next phase of construction.

The latest approval by the Federal Transit Administration clears the way for Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. to begin construction later this month on the foundation and columns of the elevated rail guideway along the first half of the route from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium.

It also allows for our company to begin construction on the vehicle maintenance and storage facility near Leeward Community College in Waipahu. Work on the facility will be a joint venture between Kiewit and local contractor Albert C. Kobayashi Inc.

read … Kiewit

Stronger visitor activity offers hope after Abercrombie Ruins Pro Bowl

SA: Bowl spectators this year dropped 2 percent to 48,423, according to figures released Friday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Event visitors dropped to 18,873 this year from the 21,204 who came in 2011. As many as 15,098 visitors at the 2012 Pro Bowl made the trip to Hawaii just for the event; however, that number also is down from 17,048 in 2011.

Visitors who came specifically to attend the Pro Bowl generated $25.3 million in visitor spending and $2.8 million in state taxes, the HTA said. In contrast, the 2011 game pumped $28.15 million in visitor spending and $3.07 million in state taxes into the economy.

The Nielsen national rating for the 2012 Pro Bowl was 7.3, down from the 7.7 rating it earned in 2011. However, the results were better than the 5.4 rating in 2009. The 2010 Pro Bowl was played in Miami.

An increase in bowl visitors who planned neighbor island trips, participated in activities and visited attractions boosted the state's economy, offsetting declines in viewership and attendance, said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO.

This year, 91 percent of bowl visitors decided to attend the game prior to arriving in Hawaii as compared with 86 percent in 2011, according to HTA data. Also, 46 percent of 2012 bowl visitors took a neighbor island trip, compared with 28 percent in 2011, the HTA said. Eighty-five percent of 2012 visitors, up from 80 percent in 2011, said they visited attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Sea Life Park and Wai­mea Valley.

Because of the game's value to the state's visitor industry, the HTA has been working to get a new NFL contract that would bring the game back to Oahu. (Maybe we can get it back after Abercrombie is tossed out of office in 2014.)

read … Thanks, Neil

Tsunami Great for Business, Money flows to Islands

SA: Calculated public and private losses across the state totaled $30.6 million, according to Shelly Ku­ni­shige, state civil defense spokeswoman. While total damage may rise by another $40 million once insurers estimate losses at the still-shuttered Kona Village Resort, that tally is significantly less than initial state estimates.

"We were terrified of the possibilities," McCartney said. But the 45 percent tsunami-related drop in arrivals that Hawaii tourism officials had projected for 2011 never materialized. Japan arrivals only fell 5.1 percent in 2011 and spending rose by 8.2 percent, McCartney said.

While Hawaiian Airlines initially experienced a "very sharp downturn" from Japan, business came back within a few months, said Mark Dunkerley, the airline's president and CEO. The carrier's decision to keep the Haneda service that it introduced 18 months ago and launch Osaka service last July garnered an "enthusiastic response," Dunkerley said.

"The Japanese market is still doing very well," he said, adding that Hawaiian Airlines will begin service to Fukuoka in April.

HTA has pushed this year's spending target for Japan up by 13.9 percent to $2.3 billion and arrivals to 1.3 million, a 12.4 percent increase, McCartney said. The agency also wants to continue the diversification strategy that has helped it grow tourism outside of Japan, he said.

Public and private repairs across the state also are aiding the recovery. Business has surpassed pre-tsunami levels for the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, which introduced millions of dollars of improvements at its reopening six weeks after the tsunami. The conclusion of repairs at the Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel also brought substantial returns, said Deanna Isbister, the hotel's director of sales….

Other recovery efforts are under way across the state. More than 60 tsunami-related projects are eligible for a combined $5.4 million in disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance program, which pays for repairs at public facilities and emergency response costs, Kunishige said.

It was announced earlier last week that Kailua-Kona Wharf Small Boat Harbor will receive nearly $1.1 million from FEMA to fix tsunami-related damage. More than $1.4 million in FEMA funds also will shore up damage to Piers 700 and 800 of the Keehi Small Boat Harbor on Oahu. Design plans and environmental impact analyses are in the works for Hawaii's small boat harbors that were damaged by the tsunami, Kunishige said.

The Small Business Administration also approved 16 loans statewide totaling $1.04 million for businesses and $196,400 for homeowners/renters, Kunishige said.

WHT: County, state repairs mostly completed

read … Recovery

Hanalei Bridge Reopens

KGI: Road crews cleared a downed tree from Kuhio Highway near Wainiha, and KIUC crews repaired a downed utility pole. Hanalei Bridge opened Saturday, but motorists were urged to drive with caution by a Kaua‘i Civil Defense bulletin.

KGI: Sinkholes found on residential streets

Read … Bridge Reopens

New president 'coming home' to Filipino Community Center

SA: "It's like coming home," said Churma, 60, who served as interim executive director when she oversaw construction of the center that opened in June 2001. "I've been away for 11 years."

Churma succeeds Geminiano "Toy" Arre, who resigned in December after seven years and is credited with instituting multiple programs for youth and seniors.

Churma, an architect, said she wants to see more activity and attract more youth to the center. She said she is looking forward to finishing what she started when she served as interim executive director.

"The building needs more improvement, more exhibition spaces," she said, adding that she plans to maximize use of the space to generate more revenue for the center. "It will take the whole community to make this happen," she said.

Churma also looks forward to reconnecting with people who provided mass support during the development of the center.

For the past 18 months, Churma has been working as a contract administrator with the construction management branch of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority. She has helped oversee repairs and maintenance of public housing complexes statewide. Churma will leave her position with the state before she starts her new role at the FilCom Center later this month.

read … Filipino Community center


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