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Sunday, October 7, 2012
October 7, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:35 PM :: 5886 Views

PLDC Seeking ‘Chinese Bubble’ to Match 1980s ‘Japanese Bubble’

Frustrating the Taxpayer’s View of Public Finances

Cal Lee Refuses Debate, Declares OHA “NOT for the Public”

Duke Aiona Endorses George Fontaine: Passion, Character, Values

Saturday Oct 6 Last Day to Mail Voter Registration Forms

Molokai Video: What is IAM?

Machida Trotted out to Help Cayetano on ERS Unfunded Liability

NFL, HTA Name Jim Donovan to Pro Bowl Committee

Target Greenwood: “Missiles have left the silos”

ILind: One University of Hawaii faculty leader sent an email last night with a link to the notice of a special meeting of the Board of Regents, to discuss President M.R.C. Greenwood’s contract.

The subject line of his email: “Missiles have left the silos.”

While Greenwood has fumbled the aftermath of the Stevie Wonder fiasco, there is a dangerous undercurrent (undercurrent--how about Tsunami?) of behind-the-scenes political meddling that makes a bad situation quite a bit worse. This kind of interference will do far more damage to the university’s reputation in the long term than anything Greenwood has done, or not done, to date.

There was Greenwood’s testimony before the Senate Special Committee on Accountability concerning pressure from the governor’s office, which in turn was being pushed by the Senate President, House Speaker, and other political insiders seeking Donovan’s reinstatement.

The Star-Advertiser Oct 6 quotes Rep. Mark Takai calling for Greenwood’s removal. Recall that Takai … was prominent in sending a letter on behalf of the UH-Manoa Letterwinners Club to Chancellor Tom Apple called Sheriff and Donovan “men of impeccable character with outstanding leadership and administrative qualities.”

So it’s it seems to me no coincidence that the same day the Board of Regents announced its intent to review Greenwood’s contract, the Hawaii Tourism Authority–itself one of the more politicized state agencies–announced it had included Donovan among 45 movers and shakers appointed to a new Pro Bowl Committee.

The joint signals seem pretty clear. No confidence in Greenwood. Full backing of Donovan….

Also named to the Pro Bowl committee were UH Foundation staffer Vince Baldemor, (president of the umbrella booster group, Ahahui Koa Anuenue (AKA), and Bruce Coppa (Governor Abercrombie’s chief of staff and the state’s administrative director), who was key player in pressuring Greenwood on Donovan’s reinstatement.

(Speaking of AKA, Don’t Forget This: Bert Kobayashi Power Play: ‘I Have No Respect for Tom Apple’)

According to the documents that have been made public, Baldemor participated in the athletic department’s planning for concert’s ticket sales.

In any case, Greenwood’s removal would be unavoidably tied to all this external politics. After Even Dobell’s ouster, it was difficult for the university to recruit a new president. Pushing Greenwood out under these circumstances would just compound those difficulties for the university as a whole going forward. And that wouldn’t be good news for the state.

read … Scrum

Shapiro: Apple Got the No Respect he Deserved

» UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple got skepticism and derision from state senators looking into the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco. He must have made quite an impression; it was rare for legislators to give a witness the respect he deserved.

» Apple claimed former athletic director Jim Donovan's hastily conceived $211,000-a-year marketing job actually saved UH money because the salary is lower than what peer institutions would pay. Only in academia do they have an official salary scale for make-work jobs.

» UH regent James Lee said the university never reported the $200,000 in missing concert money to Honolulu police because regents "didn't think the police department would be able to handle all of that." They should never assume everybody is as inept as they are.

read .. Another Person who Has ‘No Respect’ for Tom Apple

Sen Kim, Sen Hee’s Wife, And other UH Politicizations

SA: The University of Hawaii's hiring of three private law firms to work on the aftermath of the failed Stevie Wonder concert reflects an overall tendency by the school to spend large amounts of money on outside consultants without sufficient regard to how much the work will cost, whether the jobs could be done internally and whether the quality of services received was worth the price, according to two senators who served on the panel examining UH accountability issues.

"It seems as though for every little thing, they hire a consultant," said Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who led the questioning by a special Senate committee in the wake of the botched benefit concert.

The university's practice of turning to outside law firms for certain types of legal cases despite having an in-house staff of attorneys drew particular scrutiny by the committee, which held its second hearing last week….

Just since January 2011, Kim noted that UH has awarded nine contracts totaling as much as $435,000 to the law firm of Mark Bennett, a former state attorney general. One of those contracts involves the Wonder case.

Bennett said in a statement to the Star-Advertiser that his firm has billed UH only $254,000 so far. He also said one of the contracts he did pro bono, negotiating a deal over securities investments that likely saved the university and taxpayers $15 million to $18 million….

UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters wrote in an email to the Star-Advertiser that the university would have nothing more to say about this matter, and she did not return phone calls Friday afternoon seeking more information.

read … Total Politicization

Three of Four Greenwood Faction Members Named

SA: Greenwood has the staunch backing of at least four regents, including Chairman Eric Martinson and vice chairmen Carl Carlson Jr. and James Lee, while another faction has soured on Greenwood, and most members are either undeclared or undecided….

"It is not unusual for searches for presidents or system heads at large universities to cost several hundred thousand dollars," said Michael McLendon, a professor of higher education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University, near Dallas.

Besides the cost associated with firing and hiring new leaders, boards also have to look at the impact firing a leader will have on the reputation of a university, McLendon said in an emailed response to questions from the Star-Advertiser.

"Without question, it is harder to recruit top candidates to lead a system or a campus, when there has been a pattern of instability in leadership, particularly if the pattern involves one of poor relations between institutional leaders and their boards," he said. "This doesn't mean that boards shouldn't dismiss leaders who are performing poorly; the failure to act would be a far worse disservice to the public."

read … Lynch Mob Circles

UH's Palafox linked to state, federal probe

SA: Three months after Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked Dr. Neal Palafox to withdraw his nomination as health director, the University of Hawaii hired an outside law firm to help deal with a state and federal investigation involving the embattled physician and entities associated with him, according to UH documents.

The April 2011 contract outlining the scope of work the law firm was to do indicated that the investigation related to possible misuse of university-related resources by faculty members and to matters related to Wahiawa General Hospital and UH's John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The school's family medical practice, which Palafox used to head, is affiliated with the Wahiawa hospital….

On April 18, 2011, UH hired Mark Bennett, a former state attorney general, to assist in the Palafox case, according to the UH documents, which were among hundreds of pages released by the Senate panel examining accountability issues at the university.

On the same day Bennett was hired, Palafox asked to step down as lead administrative director and chairman of the medical school's Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, according to information previously released by UH.

Don Olden, chief executive officer of the Wahiawa hospital, confirmed that the investigation is ongoing. "It hasn't gone away," Olden said Thursday, declining further comment….

another UH document listing active contracts with private law firms includes a summary that says Bennett's firm was hired to provide advice and services in connection with an investigation by state and federal enforcement authorities concerning Palafox "and entities related to Dr. Palafox."

In the redacted contract, it refers to the possible misuse of UCERA resources by faculty members.

UCERA is the acronym for University Clinical, Education & Research Associates, a nonprofit organization that was established largely to provide billing and other administrative services for UH physicians who have hospital and clinic practices.

The organization has had a history of financial problems. On its most recent tax return, it reported net assets of $8.7 million and revenue of more than $30 million.

read … Palafox Back in the News

UH Hilo officials spend $126K to travel

HTH: Travel expenses among top administrators at the University of Hawaii at Hilo spiked last year, jumping 38 percent over fiscal year 2011.

A five-year review of expenses for 13 of UH-Hilo’s top-paid administrators shows that the university spent $126,796 for a total of 177 trips in fiscal year 2012, between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. That averages out to $716.37 per trip.

In fiscal year 2008, the same administrators — or the people who held their positions — took only 119 trips, costing a total of $83,447.81. That year’s average cost per trip was $701.24….

The chancellor was the most frequent traveler last year, making 54 trips costing a total of $44,897.92. His average cost per trip came out to $831.44….

Over the last five years, Straney has only been outdone by his predecessor when it comes to spending, with former Chancellor Rose Tseng spending $60,843.76 for 46 trips during her final year at the helm of UH-Hilo, in fiscal year 2010. She averaged $1,322.69 per trip that year.

Other heavy travelers within the group include De Mello, who spent $13,989.86 on 35 trips last year; Luoluo Hong, the vice chancellor for student affairs, who spent $22,006.40 on 24 trips; and Marcia Sakai, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, who spent $7,314.91 on 16 trips.

read … UH officials spend $126K to travel

Inouye gets no deference from Cayetano, Lingle

Borreca: His wishes, however, are not always commands, as two former Hawaii governors reminded us this week.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, wants to join Inouye in the U.S. Senate. Inouye thinks not.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano wants buses and not a $5.27 billion rail system to move Honolulu commuters, and again Inouye thinks not.

Both want what Inouye doesn't, but both contend that on balance, the senior senator will still be available to represent Hawaii and support the state's plans, even if they don't line up with his desires. Voters, not Inouye, will decide, they say.

"Respect is one thing, deference is another," says Cayetano….

"Sen. Inouye was trying to personally determine who gets elected, and that decision is up to the people," Lingle said in an interview.

She also released a campaign video saying Inouye should stay out of the race.

"Sen. Inouye believes he should be the one to determine who should step down, and who should step up, in Hawaii politics….

Lingle and Cayetano both believe that if Inouye's election wishes are not granted, he will still come around to help Hawaii.

"If I win, I am sure he will be with us," Cayetano said.

read … Last Term

Aila: PLDC is genuine opportunity for Hawaii

SA: The PLDC does not have "superpowers," as described in a recent commentary by Laura Thielen, a candidate for state Senate District 25 ("Abolish PLDC before it has chance to do damage," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Sept. 12). In actuality, other existing state agencies have the same or even greater authority.

Thielen's criticisms regarding the lack of expertise or disclosure requirements of the PLDC board members and the lack of restrictions on the sale of land are all unfounded….

The full potential of the PLDC becomes clear when we consider that the state faces years of deferred maintenance and upgrades with finite budgetary resources. This has resulted in parcels falling into disrepair, succumbing to choking overgrowth and becoming more susceptible to invasive species.

Ironically, when Thielen was chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under the Lingle administration, she spearheaded the "Recreational Renaissance" that included public-private partnerships for the purpose of developing land to raise revenue, acknowledging that public recreational facilities were in "dire need of some tender loving care."

Complete Debunk by Thielen: PLDC Seeking ‘Chinese Bubble’ to Match 1980s ‘Japanese Bubble’

read … PLDC

Rail: PRP, FACE Hire Meheula to Justify Phased Approach Disaster

SA: When SHPD agreed to allow construction on the first phase of Honolulu's rail transit project to proceed before the archaeological inventory survey (AIS) for all phases was completed, the protection of iwi kupuna was the first and foremost priority.

In its unanimous ruling on Aug. 24, the court never addressed the fact that SHPD deferred the AIS process in order to protect iwi from unnecessary sub-surface testing, on the basis that the area of testing would have been 10 times larger prior to the availability of preliminary engineering plans. Under federal regulations, the city could not request approval to begin preliminary engineering until very late in the EIS process.

Significantly, the Final EIS specifically stated: "The City has committed to conduct archaeological investigations in locations where foundations will be placed. This would limit the area disturbed for archaeological investigations and construction to potentially less than 10 percent of what would be disturbed if archaeological investigations were conducted for 100 percent of the alignment." SHPD also agreed to this phased approach, but only after obtaining the city's commitment to test all construction disturbance areas once engineering plans became available and avoid any iwi identified during this process by making engineering changes, including re-routing if necessary.

Best Comment: “If SHPD and the City wanted to do a "phased" approach, they should have started with an AIS in phase 4, then go to phase 1, phase 2, and then phase 3.”

read … Phased testing was meant to protect iwi

FACE Forces Reestablishment of Housing Department

SA: The City and County of Honolulu has had a tumultuous history with housing issues, but now officials stand on the brink of making progress in an effort to improve conditions for low-income tenants in their charge.

A public-private partnership is in the works to resolve a kind of paralysis that dates to 1998. That's when the city dismantled its Housing Department in the wake of a scandal over fraud in an Ewa project development.

City officials then wholly backed away from housing issues, even proposing during the administration of Mufi Hannemann to sell off altogether the city's 12 affordable-housing projects.

This was untenable, said tenants and their supporters in the nonprofit sector. One of them, Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), pushed back hard.

The final result was the establishment of the city Office of Housing and, in recent weeks, the inking of a promising deal.

It's a partnership that seems likely to keep rents within reach of the housing program's target population: households earning below 80 percent of the area median income.

The core of the deal is that a private leasehold buyer, Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC, will pay the city $142 million in cash and an additional $42 million for renovations in exchange for a 65-year lease on the properties.

There are still details the City Council, rightly, has insisted on nailing down, mainly assurances there is enough financial support to avoid displacing current tenants. But thanks to the insistence of FACE and other advocates, there seem to be safeguards in place, and good reason to move the deal along to completion.

read … About Another Welfare Program

Abercrombie Super Tower: HCDA has not had very much success developing state land with private partners

SA: Two developers are competing to build a 650-foot tower on state land in Kakaako to create the tallest building in Hawaii. So the odds may seem good that one of the proposals will succeed.

But the state agency overseeing the estimated $500 million supertower project doesn’t have a good track record with proposals intended to tap the private sector to develop state land for residential or commercial use.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has launched projects to develop state land with a private partner in Kakaako four times in the past 15 years — without a single one coming to fruition.

To be fair, two of the agency’s efforts fizzled because developers failed to perform.

A third project died when the agency concluded that the plan lacked financial viability, though the developer said politics were at play. The fourth, and most recent, was withdrawn by its developer after public and legislative backlash….

Anderson’s $138 million plan dubbed Kewalo Pointe featured a Ferris wheel, laser-light tower, concert shell, restaurants, shops, art galleries, a carousel ride and miniature golf course.

The agency’s board voted for the plan despite an HCDA staff recommendation to reject it along with a runner-up. Then-Gov. Ben Cayetano also derided Anderson’s plan, saying he didn’t want Kakaako turned into a Coney Island….

HCDA directors voted 7-2 to kill the project. Anderson, a longtime Republican leader in Hawaii, suggested the board dominated by appointees of the Democratic governor sacked his plan for political reasons.

(Another agency riddled with political influence leading to disaster after disaster.)

read … About the next disaster

PLDC Will Rebuild Natatorium?

SA: Bickerton said he expects the Abercrombie administration will use the new Public Land Development Corp., which is exempt from many land use and zoning rules, to achieve its ends, and idea that Abercrombie himself has recommended.

"This is a whole coterie of people, and it's some of the same people who are behind the PLDC, and this is actually one of the reasons the PLDC was brought in, because this is the most expensive piece of real estate that the state owns," Bickerton said. "It's the most valuable, and it's been coveted by commercial interests for years, and this is their chance to get it with minimal environmental and regulatory oversight."

read … Natatorium

More than 150 of Oahu's sirens need to be modernized

KITV: More than 150 of Oahu's sirens need to be modernized by the end of this year to keep up with FCC standards. One of the main reasons for the changes is to make the sirens more reliable.

Before there was only one system to activate the sirens. So they are installing a satellite and cellular activation system to back up each other just in case one fails.

"A lot of times there will be an emergency and the sirens get sounded and someone calls in the sirens didn't sound the sirens didn't sound what's happening what's happening," said George Burnett with Hawaii State Civil Defense.

Burnett also said the sirens might be malfunctioning because they are old. "They are literally falling off the poles. The poles are in some cases termite eaten and it's a major problem," said Burnett.

Harai said the problem should most likely go away with the new system. There will be two way communications for troubleshooting, and they will be standardizing the sirens statewide.

Instead of having to turn all the sirens on at the same time operators can choose to turn on just one siren.

read … Modernization



Waimea windmills create eyesore to some

HNN: This one is on Kawailoa ridge, right above Waimea Valley.

And it's being met with some criticism from the North Shore community.

Over the past few months, 30 windmills have been constructed on Kawailoa ridge and they can be seen from Waialua all the way to Sunset Beach.

Many say it's an eyesore.

You may notice something different towering over Waimea Valley.

"They're oppressive, they're right there," says Michael Lyons, North Shore Neighborhood Board President….

"Alternative energy is so important in Hawaii. My electricity has doubled, so definitely we do need alternative energy, but we have to balance it with aesthetics," says Rex Dubiel, Outdoor Circle Hawaii Vice President.

"A lot of people brought up concerns that they didn't know about it or hear about it until it was already being constructed," said Lyons.

Along with completing an Environmental Impact statement with public comment periods, they also have been attending neighborhood board and community meetings.

"When they first presented it, they said it would be hardly noticeable but that's certainly not the case ," said Dubiel….

First Wind plans to attend this month's North Shore Neighborhood Board meeting and also a meeting organized by the Outdoor Circle in early November.

read … Eyesore



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