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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
March 13, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:50 PM :: 12707 Views

LINK: March 13 GOP Caucus Voting Locations

Romney Sweeps Pacific: Wins Alaska, Guam, CNMI, heads for Am Samoa, Hawaii

Romney Wins Backing from Ward, Hemmings, Rohlfing, Djou, Saiki

Romney, Paul, Santorum Campaign in Hawaii Monday

Hirono, Hanabusa Vote Against Hydropower, Inouye, Akaka Vote against Keystone

Department of Health Fines Eight Businesses

Unemployment 6.5% in Hawaii

Photos, Reports from Hawaii Republican Caucuses

CB: Civil Beat is planning to have reporters at a number of caucus sites on Oahu as well as on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. We're interested in the state of the GOP in Hawaii these days. Has the 2012 presidential race — as well as former Gov. Linda Lingle's U.S. Senate candidacy — served to energize the party? What are the issues and concerns that most matter to Republicans in Hawaii, a state that remains an enthusiastic supporter of Democratic President Barack Obama.

The caucuses begin at 6 p.m. We'll be live blogging the event and have stories from throughout the state by the end of the night. Follow the live blog here.

Want to help? We'd love contributions to the blog. If you're attending a caucus in your district send us your observations of the evening as it goes along — even photos — to news@civilbeat.com. We're interested in turnout and what people are talking about. Please include your name so we can attribute information accordingly.

read … Live Blog

Slom Backs Santorum, Paul Wins Support of Bar Owners, Romney Announces Hawaii Endorsements

SA: Slom — who supports former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Elizabeth's father, for president — is the only Republican in the Senate.

The elder Romney, who has been endorsed by former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou and former U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki, picked up more support from the local party establishment Monday when House Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai), former Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings and former Sen. Fred Rohl­fing announced their endorsements.

Paul, meanwhile, was endorsed by the Hawaii Bar Owners Association, which has fought state regulation on small businesses, particularly the state's smoking ban….

"It already has created a lot of energy," said Andrew Walden, the state GOP's presidential caucus chairman and the editor of the Hawaii Free Press, a conservative website. "We're getting a lot of people who are going to be signing up as Republican Party members for the first time tomorrow, a lot of new Republican voters."

read … Republicans ready votes

Abercrombie Admin Gives Atheist $100,000 Cash

SA: A man who was dragged out of the state Senate chamber and arrested for objecting to lawmakers opening their daily proceedings with a prayer has reached a $100,000 out-of-court settlement with the state.

The state has agreed to pay Mitchell Kahle and Kevin Hughes, a friend of Kahle's who videotaped the incident, to settle their lawsuit against Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ben Vil­la­flor, two of his subordinates and four state sheriff's deputies.

read … For Services Rendered

House Approves Budget Even Larger than Abercrombie’s Proposal

SA: The budget appropriates about $5.61 billion from the state's general fund, slightly higher than the $5.59 billion requested by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his supplemental budget request to the Legislature in December.

Lawmakers received a boost last week when the state Council on Revenues, which forecasts the amount of revenue the state can expect, upgraded its quarterly forecast to 12 percent growth in the 2012 fiscal year that ends June 30. The forecast was up from 11.5 percent estimated in January, which translates into about $21.6 million in additional money….

Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) lamented what he called "hidden" aspects.

"Behind this budget are a lot of fees that are propping up this budget, fees that we don't see but fees that are quite large," he said.

Ward said he had specific concerns about a $75,000 appropriation to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to study the feasibility of establishing a state bank that could offer loans for alternative-energy projects or help rescue homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure. Ward has consistently opposed such proposals.

"This is too costly to start and too risky to run," he said.

read … $11.1 B

Cayetano: The People of Honolulu “Don’t Like Being Conned”

SA: The people of Honolulu, former Gov. Ben Cayetano says, "don't like being conned."

Claiming that the city has not explained either the true cost or real impact of its heavy-rail transit program, Cayetano is running for mayor to stop the program.

The Hawaii Poll taken a month ago has Cayetano with 44 percent of the vote in a three-way race against current Mayor Peter Carlisle and former acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Since then other polls have Cayetano at more than 50 percent.

It is Cayetano's blunt, no-sugar-on-top approach that is fueling his eye-opening rise in the polls….

Now in his new campaign, Cayetano has linked up with allies, some of whom during his previous political life would have been enemies.

First, Cayetano and others filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the rail project had not been properly examined. Cayetano joined with former judge Walter Heen, law school professor Randy Roth and transit critic Cliff Slater. Heen is a Democrat. Roth is a conservative Republican and senior adviser to former Gov. Linda Lingle.

During the preparation for the trial, Cayetano learned something.

"You find yourself working with guys like Randy; you find he is just as dedicated to the public interest in supporting Lingle. He is just as dedicated as anyone else.

"Whatever happens, I will walk away from this with my respect for all of them," Cayetano said.

After running campaigns with the sense that "it is us against them," Cayetano said he is learning that "you may be a Democrat, but you don't have a monopoly on virtue."

read … Cayetano

Abercrombie, Legislators agree: Big Cable to be forced on Lanai, Molokai

SA: State lawmakers Monday amended a bill that would create a framework for a proposed undersea power transmission cable, removing language that Gov. Neil Abercrombie said could have been misconstrued as giving communities the ability to "opt out" of the project.

Abercrombie, testifying before a joint House committee hearing, reiterated his position that the legislation (SB 2785) is a first step needed to proceed with the project that would link the electrical grid on Oahu with those on the neighbor islands. The bill lays out how the undersea cable would be financed and regulated without explicitly authorizing the project itself.

Much of the opposition to the bill has come from community groups on Lanai and Molokai, which are against plans to build utility-scale wind projects on the islands and transmit the energy to Oahu via an undersea cable.

Abercrombie stated his strong support for the bill, except for one paragraph that read, "Nothing in this Act is intended to require the construction of an interisland cable from the islands of Molokai or Lanai to Oahu unless the communities affirmatively request an interisland cable."

The governor said the language went against his administration's philosophy of addressing Hawaii's energy future as a statewide effort….

Rep. Gil Riviere (R, Schofield-Kahuku) said he was concerned that approving even a framework for an undersea cable project before more details are known would be putting taxpayers at risk unnecessarily.

"I'm terribly concerned that this is more of a blank check," he said during an exchange with Abercrombie. "I think in light of the rail situation — with everybody concerned about the cost of rail now — I'm concerned that we're setting ourselves up for another very, very expensive situation."

The bill does not include a cost estimate for the proposed undersea cable.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe) said she objected to a section of the bill that would allow Hawaiian Electric Co. to petition the Public Utilities Commission to recover from ratepayers costs that it incurs for improvements made on "on-island transmission infrastructure" even if the cable is not built.

"My concern is that under this bill Hawaiian Electic doesn't have any corporate risk at all," she said. "I don't know of a situation where we in the Legislature have said, ‘Don't worry, your shareholders are going to be protected, and you're not going to have to run any corporate risk.'"

However, PUC Commissioner Michael Champley responded that he did not belive HECO's participation would be risk-free.

"The utility does not make risk-free investments. They have to make these investments and hold to a prudent cost level. If these costs are not prudent, then the commission may very well not authorize them," he said.

read … Lanai, Molokai

After Report of Collusion, Legislators Threaten to Cut School Bus Funding

CB: The House Finance Committee is calling the Hawaii Department of Education's bluff on school buses.

House budget writers are giving district officials millions of dollars less than the district says it needs to provide school bus service to all regular education students on all islands.

Education leaders told lawmakers earlier this session that 17,000 students on Oahu could end up without school bus services next year unless the Hawaii Legislature gave them $42 million more for student transportation than the $29 million that was already budgeted.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie had asked for only $25 million more for school buses, and last week the House handed the state budget bill over to the Senate with an even lower figure set aside: $20.3 million.

"We didn't give them anything more than what was approved by the governor, and we cut that amount by about 20 percent," said House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro. "It was a collective decision from the representatives from both Oahu and the neighbor islands — both rural folks, as well as people from the urban core. I think we all understood that there's much more to be done to cut costs in this area."

read … Price of Collusion?

SA to DoE: Just Ignore ‘60 Minutes’—Avoid Successful Private Online Classes and Keep those Federal Bucks Flowing

SA: All of these are issues confronted across the country by school districts experimenting with online education. One such experiment was featured Sunday in a segment on the news magazine "60 Minutes," a feature about the Khan Academy, already known to many in the homeschooling and e-school community here in Hawaii.

The academy — founded and headed by former hedge-fund manager Sal Khan, who discovered an affinity for online teaching — is a nonprofit that makes its lectures available free to all (www.khanacademy.org). But it also supports the lectures with online student testing that enables teachers to track student mastery. This means it's best deployed as a supplement to in-classroom teaching rather than only as a remote-learning replacement for it.

Schools that succeed with it do so by making provisions for all students to learn, regardless of their family income, keeping computer labs open late.

Hawaii's e-school program was founded in 1996, but it grew at a snail's pace, only reaching its current enrollment more than a decade later. And now the DOE finally seems poised to make the critical next step, aided with a $1.9 million federal grant that was aimed at improving educational offerings for military dependents.

Let's hope it does so with a sensitivity to the challenges and the potential of distance learning. A place must be found for the personal touch in the online classroom, too.

read … $1.9M

 

Hawaii Jobs: Outlook for Jobs in Education, Government, Military and Tourism

 

Panos: In round numbers, education (DOE, UH system and private) employed 63,000 people in 2010, civilian federal, state and county government employed 77,000 people, the hospitality industry including arts, restaurants and bars employed 90,000 people, the armed forces employed 50,000 people, and professional, business and other services employed 100,000 people. These five types of industries employ 60% of Hawaii's people.

While we have been inundated about a need for "construction jobs," the construction industry typically employs less than 5% of the workforce

Read … Unemployment

Latest Storm Brings Federal Megabucks

HNN: "The county of Kauai, they just need to make over $227,000 worth of damages. We think we're over a million for the county. Once again, (it's) unofficial. We're still trying to get validation from the county itself. And from the state, it (the threshold) is $1.8 million and I think we're right around $2.6 (million)," said Vic Gustafson, Plans and Operations Officer for State Civil Defense.

Read … Money Spinner

Budget Bill Advances; Doubts Raised About OHA Settlement deal

HR: Rep. Faye Hanohano, D-4th Dist., (Puna, Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana), chair of Hawaiian Affairs, repeatedly said “there needs to be more discussion” about details of the settlement, including its overall value and how OHA will use some of the property included in the deal.

Rep. Sharon Har, D-40th Dist. (Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa), vice chair of the Water Land and Ocean Resources Committee, raised concerns about a companion bill passed by the Senate which would ease development restrictions on two of the parcels meant to be transferred to OHA’s control.

“I do believe that the settlement did not have enough in it and we should be considering other parcels of land,” she said.

The parcels in the settlement proposals are on the ocean side of Ala Moana Boulevard in the Kakaako neighborhood of Honolulu, an area where community sentiment has been strongly opposed to high-rise residential development projects.

The companion bill passed by the Senate would permit residential development on two of the parcels and a prospect that has dismayed environmental and community activists.

“We’re just in a quandary because we’re being put in a situation to now support something under the guise of Native Hawaiian rights while hurting another group” that has worked to preserve property in the same area, said Har.

Read … Doubts

House Shelves Hawaii Vacation Rental Bill

CB: An outpouring of opposition testimony helped convince the House Tourism Committee to defer Senate Bill 2089 Monday morning. Only about 20 letters supported the measure.

"We got in the neighborhood of 700 pieces of testimony in opposition," said Tourism Chair Tom Brower. "The bill has merit, because we want to properly tax people with vacation rentals in the islands who may live here or not live here. But the issue is enforcement."

Supporters of SB 2089 say the state is losing tens of millions in potential tax revenue.

Myoung Oh, government affairs director of the Hawaii Association of Realtors, suggested that a better approach for the Legislature to deal with vacation rentals would be to support House Bill 1706. It requires out-of-state or off-island owners to provide managing agents or resident managers of condominiums the contact information of local rental agents.

Oh called HB 1706 "a small step approach," and Brower agreed, describing it as "a step in the right direction of enforcement of people not paying taxes."

HB 1706, which has attracted much less opposition than SB 2089, passed the state Senate last week and awaits a House hearing.

Related: Attorney: Discrimination Against 'Non-Residents' is Unconstitutional

Read … House Shelves Hawaii Vacation Rental Bill

Reso 12-59: Berg Pushes for Repeal of HART

Listen to Berg’s radio ad trying to rally testifiers to come and testify- click here.

read … Berg

HPD Arrests only One Pimp Per Year

CB: The Honolulu Police Department confirmed that it had arrested just one pimp in 2011. The department said it also arrested just one pimp in 2010.

The scope of human trafficking in Hawaii isn't precisely known. Yet it's considered serious enough that Honolulu is one of 39 cities with a federally-funded government human trafficking task force. Federal prosecutors here have also filed criminal charges against alleged labor traffickers, including the Global Horizons case, billed as the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history, involving more than 600 Thai workers.

A former Seattle police chief says the single pimp arrest in a year indicates that prostitution isn't a priority for the department — and by proxy, neither is human trafficking.

"I'm kind of amazed at that. A single pimp arrest in Hawaii? In Honolulu? And island wide, in one year?" said Norm Stamper. "I trust there's an explanation for it, but I certainly couldn't give it to you."

"It's safe to assume that if there's only been one pimp arrest per year for the last two years, the department is not targeting pimps — which means they're not targeting traffickers, because by definition that's what most of them do," he said.

read … HPD

‘Unable to make a Fist’ Criminal Sues State, Wins $25K

CB: As Kuresa and other inmates formed a line-up to return to their housing units after lunch, Butch approached and chomped down on Kuresa's hand. A prison nurse gave him a tetanus shot and a Band-Aid.

Left to fester, the wound became infected and his entire arm swelled. By the time he was treated at Queen's, the damage to Kuresa's hand was severe, leaving his hand permanently disfigured and unable to make a fist. (And thus unable to pursue his usual occupation!)

Kuresa, who was completing the last few months of a five-year sentence, sued the state in early 2009. The suit claimed the state, which operates the prison, was negligent for harboring a wild animal on the grounds and failing to provide a safe environment.

Now, Hawaii taxpayers are on the hook for a $25,250 settlement.

Lawmakers recently approved legislation that authorizes a payout for Kuresa, along with other settlements totaling $5.8 million in state funds. The bill has been sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for final approval.

Kuresa wasn't Butch's only victim.

The boar attacked three others, including a guard, according to Kuresa's attorney Daphne Barbee.

"The thing that bothers me is that when (Andrew) got out of surgery, the wild boar was still on the grounds," Barbee told Civil Beat. "Others had been bitten before, so the state had notice that this was a dangerous animal. Would they allow a wild German Shepard loose on the grounds?"

Barbee contends the attack was unprovoked. Some accounts of the attack have reported that Kuresa had a sandwich in his hand at the time, and that he may have been trying to feed Butch.

read … Money Spinner

How Are 'Good Government' Bills Faring at the Ledge?

CB: This session, while six good government bills have died (some never even got a hearing), six other bills survived last week's crossover deadline and moved from one chamber to the other.

Here's where all 12 measures stand….

SA: Government needs to shine a brighter light on the public's business

read … Good Government?

DRHorton Defends Hoopili Water Usage

CB: I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on the following: (1) the availability of water for Ho‘opili; (2) why building Ho‘opili in Kapolei has a water advantage over building a community in other areas on O‘ahu; and (3) what we, as a company, are doing to design our communities to best conserve O‘ahu’s water resources.

read … Hoopili And Water

Hawaiian reaches tentative agreement with flight attendants” union

HNN: Hawaiian Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract aimed to balance increased compensation.

The agreement extends through 2016 and is subject to a ratification vote by the company's 1,280 flight attendants.

Read … Flight Attendants

Child's Fingers Found In Dumpster

CrimeStoppers and the Honolulu Police Department are asking for the public's help in a case after fingers from a child were found in a dumpster at the Kukui Gardens Housing Complex in Liliha.

The fingers were found on February 12.

Laboratory testing revealed that the fingers are those of a child.

Investigators have been questioning residents, staff and hospitals.

"I have not seen anything in my 25 years... seen something like this," said Sgt. Kim Buffett.

Read … Horror in Public Housing


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