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Wednesday, May 16, 2012
May 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:17 PM :: 16672 Views

Lingle Birthday to be Celebrated Statewide

Enron Figures Buy Up Hawaii Windfarms

Navy Biofuel Purchases Banned by House

ACLU Sues to Force Prison Marriages on DPS

Sen Wadsworth Yee Dies at 90

Grabauskas: 10,000 Rail Jobs include Waitresses, Waiters, Cooks

KHON: Construction on Honolulu's rail system is now underway, with proponents promising 10,000 jobs ahead from the project and trickle-down spending. Where would all those rail-related jobs come from?

“It's the indirect and direct total jobs,” said Dan Grabauskas, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation “There's a whole calculation that goes into literally direct jobs people who are hired by the contractors and subcontractors -- then when they buy products, when they go to the local restaurants and they have to hire 2 or 3 more waitresses or waiters or chefs ….

We asked an economist how reliable such multiplier formulas are... “Ten thousand jobs is big but whether it's actually going to be 10,000 jobs just as a function of building rail seems to be a bit of a large number,” said Jack Suyderhoud, faculty at the UH Shidler College of Business and a member of the state Council on Revenues….

Who is getting the jobs so far? Out of more than 500 positions, about 300 jobs have gone to Hawaii residents or a handful of returning kama’aina.

read … Rail Jobs

Rail Plan to ‘Redirect Busses’

HR: A 10-page memo on the city's planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project, created by the city's rail authority, and distributed by the Department of Planning and Permitting to city employees, has some council members and rail opponents questioning the city administration's motives.

The May 8, 2012 document entitled Internal Memo, covers such topics as why the rail should be built; whether it will reduce traffic; whether the city can afford to build, operate and maintain the system; whether the rail will be on budget; why the city is requesting an additional $450 million in commercial paper from the city council; the benefits of rail; why there aren't more seats on the rail; and why people should support the project, even if it does not go to their community.

(See the memo here: InformationonRail-05-08-2012)

The city said: “Freeing buses from routes that the train will serve will allow the city to redirect those buses…”

Slater said: "They don’t tell you they plan of discontinuing express bus routes many of which will get commuters to work faster than the train with all its bus/rail/bus hassle."

read … They’re already ‘redirecting busses by cutting routes

Shapiro: Independent Party Unlikely

Shapiro: In the 31⁄2-minute video (on YouTube as "The IAM Voter's Guide"), Helm describes how only 10 of 25 senators cast clean "aye" votes for SB 2785.

Democratic Sens. Clayton Hee and Suzanne Chun-Oakland voted against, joined by sole Republican Sen. Sam Slom.

Ten Democrats voted yes "with reservations," meaning they had serious concerns, and two of the 12 straight yes votes gave floor speeches highlighting the bill's flaws.

"They didn't like the bill but they voted yes anyway," Helm said. "The problem behind this terrible bill is monopoly power — not just the HECO electric monopoly, but the Hawaii Demo­cratic Party.

"Too many of today's Demo­crats seem more focused on their job security than on their job. Too many see the cable proj­ect as one big luau pig to be carved up and distributed to the loyal."

With the Republican opposition hopelessly outnumbered, Helm suggested offering Hawaii voters "an independent, commonsense party, a voice for small-‘d' Demo­crats."

Unlikely, unless somebody with money and an organization gets behind it. In the meantime, Demo­crats work to tighten their political monopoly.

The party used an obscure rule to discourage independent Demo­crat Laura H. Thielen from running for the state Senate, and some are pushing to end Hawaii's open elections that let anybody vote in the Demo­cratic primary in favor of a closed system that would give only declared Demo­crats a vote. (This is a good thing. It will force the ‘outsiders’ into the GOP, thus improving the chances for a two-party system. We have a one-party system because the Democrats’ open primary allows non-Democrats in and thus excuses them from the work of creating a second party.)

If these succeed, party bosses would control who could run and vote, and Helm's dream of "getting government back to solving problems instead of creating them" would be more distant than ever (closer than ever because in politics accountability depends on partisanship.)

Related: VIDEO: Molokai Voters' Guide to the Bizarre Rituals and Slippery Corridors of Hawaii Senate, Both Sides in Thielen Dispute Aim For Democrats-Only Primary Elections

read … Vote highlights Democrats' stranglehold on isle politics

Two Supreme Court Justices vote for Absolute Right of Law Breaking

SA: Jake Delaplane, Kauai first deputy prosecutor, said the ruling will help judges evaluate whether the traditional practices of Native Hawaiians will absolve them of criminal liability.

David Kimo Frankel, lawyer for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which filed a legal brief in the case, said it wanted the court to rule that the state should shoulder the burden of proving that the state law is justified in prohibiting the traditional practices by Native Hawaiians.

But he said the court at least didn't place the burden on the practitioners of justifying their actions.

In dissent, Associate Justice Simeon Acoba wrote he would have set aside the convictions and sent the case back for a new trial.

He said there were questions about whether the evidence was sufficient to convict Pratt and whether he waived his right to have the prosecution prove each element of the charges.

Acoba's 37-page dissent also said he would not require judges to use the "totality of circumstances" test. He said it was "unnecessary and invites consideration of matters beyond (the standards set in the 1998 high court ruling)."

Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna agreed with the dissent.

read … Just Squeaked by

Teacher: “Don’t Leave for Recess Until You Find Something to Protest”

HM: "Don’t leave for recess until you think of something to protest,” hollers Dennis Tynan over the chatter of 50 tenth graders. No, Tynan isn’t trying to incite a school riot. Rather, in small groups, his students need to come up with something, anything, to protest for their next humanities class project: Occupy American Studies.

SA: More public school grads opt for college

read … Here’s an Idea, protest against the requirement to protest

Pension Spiking Measures Await Gov's OK

CB: The change — part of Senate Bill 1269 — is expected to save the Hawaii Employees' Retirement System millions of dollars over the next few decades and cut down on the public pension system's massive unfunded liability, which has swelled to more than $8 billion….

The elimination of overtime for pension purposes goes further than what the ERS board of trustees had been lobbying for during the session. The board had pushed for a cap on how much overtime could count toward pensions.

read … Pension Spiking Measures Await Gov's OK

Espero Pushes Bill aimed to protect small businesses may do the opposite

KHON: "We need to look at the industry as a whole and see where it needs to be regulated and see what's the fairest that all companies can compete equally," said Sen. Will Espero.

Those concerns led to the passage of a bill that will give the state Labor Department more control over PEOs. Under the measure, company's with more than 100 employees will be required to secure a surety bond of at least $500,000.

"All the other states have a surety bond of about $100,000 and this state of Hawaii is asking us to do $500,000 at minimum," said Aguinaldo. She said when she adds in fees it will cost additional $50,000 a year. "This really says it's not a great state to do business in Hawaii. It's just another blow to a small business."

Some lawmakers agree.

"This bill is like putting an atomic bomb on a problem that probably doesn't even exist," said Rep. Mark Takai. "Requiring companies to have a $500,000 bond basically ensures the success of the larger PEO's and I don't think that's what we want. This bill is going to probably put some of them out of business."

read … Intended Consequences

OHA revisits Makaweli Poi Mill Closure

KGI: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs announced Tuesday that its non-profit subsidiary, Hi‘ipoi LLC, will transition ownership and management of Makaweli Poi Mill to a Kaua‘i community organization.

To maximize the success of the transition plan, OHA will be meeting with Kaua‘i taro community stakeholders, Wednesday to discuss an appropriate timeline and other aspects of the transition.

“We understand our original timeline may have been too ambitious and are open to considering a longer timeframe to implement the transition,” Crabbe said. (In other words, these geniuses figured out that closing poi factory was bad PR.)

read … Makaweli

Autopsy Report Released in Death of "Hawaii Five-0" Driver

HR: The City Medical Examiner’s Office today released the results of an autopsy of Aaron Torres, the “Hawaii Five-0” crew member who died February 20 while being restrained by police at his Nanakuli home.

“In my opinion, this 37-year-old man died as a result of asphyxiation during restraint by police officers when they were laying on the decedent while he was in a prone position and struggling during cocaine induced excited delirium,” Dr. Kanthi De Alwis wrote….

There was cocaine in his bloodstream and Torres had a "history of chronic cocaine abuse," De Alwis said.

Police have declined to comment on the status of an internal affairs investigation into how Torres died and were unavailable for comment late this afternoon on the contents of the autopsy report.

read … Teamsters Production Unit

Hawaii teachers to begin voting on rejected offer

AP: Hawaii State Teachers Association members will vote electronically and via telephone from Thursday through Tuesday. The union says asking members to revisit the contract they rejected in January (Teachers are insulted by the repeat vote, thus increasing the chances they will approve a strike. Getting reluctant teachers to vote for a strike is the purpose of this exercise.)

read … To Be Rejected Again, and a Strike Approved

Lingle Has Most Campaign Staff

CB: Linda Lingle, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, has 13 paid staff working on her 2012 campaign, and most are longtime Lingle associates.

Lingle has twice the number of employed staff as compared with Mazie Hirono, though the Democrat's campaign manager, Betsy Lin, is the most well compensated of either campaign.

Democrat Ed Case, meantime, appears to be paying just one campaign staff member, coordinator Sarah Kaopuiki.

read … Staff

Leftist Vets Group buys Ads for Tulsi Gabbard

SA: A progressive veterans political action committee that seeks to elect Iraq and Af­ghani­stan war veterans to Congress has committed $75,000 for ads in Hawaii supporting Tulsi Gabbard in her bid for the 2nd Congressional District.

The television ad by the VoteVets.org PAC portrays Gabbard as "fresh leadership" and touts her military background, which includes two tours of duty to the war in Iraq. The buy is for weekdays starting today and running through May 30.

read … Progressives

Firefighter retirees endorse Cayetano for mayor

SA: “Ben understands the problems that we face as retirees on fixed incomes and trying to make ends meet,” Donald Chang, association president, said at a news conference at Cayetano’s headquarters. “The city of Honolulu is broken and needs fixing….

But Caldwell has received the endorsement of the firefighters union, the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association.

read … Firefighters

Yee Won Passage of Renters’ Tax Credit, Kept Magic Island as Park

SA: In the Legislature, Yee proposed and gained passage of a renters' tax credit bill, and was part of an effort in the 1960s to keep Magic Island as a public park, fending off proposals for resort or residential development there. He served as Senate minority leader.

GOP: Sen Wadsworth Yee Dies at 90

read … Wadsworth Yee

Army opens jobs in combat battalions at Schofield Barracks to women

SA: Female soldiers this week are moving into new jobs in once all-male units as the Army breaks down formal barriers in recognition of what has already happened in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The policy change announced earlier this year is being tested at nine brigades, including one at Fort Campbell and two at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, before going Army-wide. It opens thousands of jobs to female soldiers by loosening restrictions meant to keep them away from the battlefield. Experience on the ground in the past decade showed women were fighting and dying alongside male soldiers anyway.

Col. Val Keaveny Jr., commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team that is among units piloting the change, told The Associated Press that for the last decade it has been common to have women temporarily attached to the combat units and serve alongside them.

HNN: 200 service members returning to Hawaii from Afghanistan

read … More Social Experiments

Justify the Unjustifiable: UH chancellor salary

SA: Current Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw was paid a salary of $337,672 a year at the end of her five-year term and will be paid nearly $300,000 for a 10-month sabbatical after her contract ends June 30. She is expected then to assume a tenured faculty position in the College of Natural Sciences and the John A. Burns School of Medicine. That's a nifty parachute.

If approved, Apple would be paid $439,008 per year over a five-year contract, a considerable raise from his Delaware salary of $360,000 yearly. He was among the finalists earlier this year to fill a vacancy at the University of Vermont, which instead chose as president Thomas Sullivan from the University of Minnesota at a salary of $417,000 plus $30,000 of deferred compensation from each of the first three years.

The $102,000 bump-up in Apple's proposed salary raises the question of what he is expected to, and can, deliver….

UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, who is in charge of all campuses in the UH system, receives a contract that pays $475,000 yearly, plus a controversial $5,000 a month housing allowance….

There is a "throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air sort of sentiment toward it," Ohio state Sen. Peggy B. Lehner told the Chronicle about educator salaries….

The UH, though, needs to be especially vigilant that it gets what it pays for. It was not so long ago, in 2004, that the university got scorched trying to fire former president Evan Dobelle, then essentially had to pay him off to exit his lucrative contract.

read … About how we are looted by Academic Poseurs Topping off their Career in Hawaii




Law Of The Sea Treaty Is A Bad Deal For U.S.

NYT: Americans today are in no mood for subordinating U.S. sovereignty, plus seven-tenths of the world's surface area, to another entangling global bureaucracy, so advocates are using Orwellian talking points to pretend that LOST would do the opposite.

Panetta's statement is over the top: "Not since we acquired the lands of the American West and Alaska have we had such an opportunity to expand U.S. sovereignty."

The coalition for ratification includes three groups whose interests are rarely on the same side: the U.S. Navy, the big multinational oil companies led by Shell, and the radical environmentalist lawyers. That peculiar alliance should make you suspicious….

Big oil supports LOST because of its provision to extend jurisdiction over the continental shelf beyond the current 200-mile limit.

But LOST would require a royalty of 1% to 7% on the value of oil and minerals produced from those waters to be paid to the International Seabed Authority based in Kingston, Jamaica.

read … LOST

Ex-LA detective arrested in Hawaii in wife's death

AP: Dan DeJarnette, 59, was taken into custody without incident Monday night at his home on the Big Island in connection with the slaying of his wife, Yu Dejarnette.

He said at the time of her November 2006 death that he had awakened and found her lying on a lava embankment about 20 feet from the couple’s home in Ka'u on the southern end of island. She suffered severe head trauma and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

DeJarnette told patrol officers his 56-year-old wife had been hurt in an accident. But an autopsy determined she died from head trauma, and the retired officer was booked on suspicion of murder — and then released because of lack of evidence.

But authorities took a new look at the case in January. After additional investigation that included testing of DNA evidence, prosecutors secured an indictment against DeJarnette from a Hawaii grand jury, according to sources familiar with the case. They declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing.

read … Arrested

Kaiser profit dips on Influx of HMC Patients

SA: Kaiser Permanente Hawaii's profit fell by $1 million over the previous year to $1.8 million in the first quarter as patient volume soared due to the closing of the Hawaii Medical Centers.

Membership during the quarter ended March 31 was stable at 226,734. However, a spike in volume drove utilization at the state's largest health maintenance organization when bankrupt HMC abruptly closed its Ewa campus in December and its Liliha facility shortly thereafter.

"We have seen increased patient volume at Moanalua Medical Center with about 400 additional (non-Kaiser emergency department) visits and almost 1,000 additional nonplan hospital days in the first quarter," said spokes­woman Laura Lott. "We've gained a great appreciation for how fragmented the health care system is outside Kaiser Permanente."

The HMO's revenue grew to $282.2 million last quarter, up 8 percent from $261.4 million in the year-earlier quarter. Expenses rose 8.3 percent to $281.6 million from $259.9 million. Operating income dropped 60 percent to $600,000 from $1.5 million.

(This underlines the problem with low Medicaid/Medicare reimbursements.)

read … Kaiser

HMSA Profits Soar on Capture of EUTF, squeezing MDs

SA: Hawaii Medical Service Association recorded a $12.8 million profit in the three months ended March 31, its highest first-quarter gain since 2004.

The state's largest health insurer posted 53.8 percent growth in net income due in part to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund's switch on Jan. 1 from a self-funded medical plan -- an arrangement in which an employer agrees to carry the risk for its members and their dependents -- to a fully insured plan, in which HMSA has the risk.

This change increased membership by 111,985, or 19.2 percent, to 693,897 and now requires HMSA to report additional revenue and expense from the group in its financial earnings. In addition, HMSA attributes part of the gains to a new pay-for-performance provider reimbursement model intended to contain costs….

Meanwhile, HMSA is seeking to raise health insurance premiums on July 1 for roughly 84,000 small-business members by 3.8 percent ….

read … Its Good to Have Friends in the Legislature

Strong quarter lifts state pension fund by 8.3%

SA: The ERS approaches its peak asset level as investors embrace risk once again….

read … Must be a Crash Coming

Fitch raises Central Pacific Corp rating

News Release: CPF realized significant declines in year over year NPAs, net charge-offs (NCOs), and NPL inflows. Management continues to de-risk its balance sheet by significantly reducing exposure to both construction and development loans and California real estate.

read … Bailout

Creditors Committee wants NMI Pension bankruptcy case dismissed

ST: Variety learned that the majority of the members of the Creditors Committee decided yesterday 4-1 in favor of hiring Don Jeffery Gelber. (NMI residents loaned their own pension fund to themselves in the form of home mortgages. They then failed to repay those mortgages, causing the collapse. The ‘creditors’ are the mortgage holders.)

Gelber, Variety learned, made the list of Hawaii’s Super Lawyers for 2011.

“Today I was very surprised when Mr. Paul Joyce and Mr. Mariano Taitano came back and said they on their own initiated a discussion with the law firm of Don Gelber, and he now has changed his position.”

During yesterday’s gathering of the members of the Creditors Committee, Rayphand said he chose to abstain because “they did this on their own without the knowledge of the members. That was a surprise to me and I was very upset.”

For Raphand, “They were outside of the permissible procedure.”

Gelber’s fee was $360 an hour.

Rayphand said he wanted the committee to see what the two other firms have to offer before making the decision to go with firm Gelber & Ingersoll.

The longtime educator also said that all the firms they interviewed are competent to take on the case; however, it would be favorable for them to get the firm with the cheaper rate.

He said he wanted to give the other firms in Hawaii a chance to participate.

He said initially, they voted unanimously to having all firms come up with their rates, and that the firm that offered the least would be picked.

read … Creditors Committee wants bankruptcy case dismissed

DOE Looking to Lease School Buses

CB: The Hawaii Department of Education expects to make up the bulk of its $17 million shortfall in student transportation services by leasing buses to contractors, according to internal documents.

The Board of Education has spent the first half hour of its committee meeting on the matter today behind closed doors

(This means they will use their capital budget to buy the busses and then lease them to the colluding bus transportation providers. In essence they are finding a way to continue giving bus contractors the same level of support by transferring some of the operating expense to the capital budget. On the other hand, service providers will not be stuck with a bunch of busses when they lose contracts or when they win contracts.)

HNN: Staggered hours, combining ages considered for school bus challenges

read … DOE Looking to Lease School Buses


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