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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
February 6, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:56 PM :: 7562 Views

Abercrombie Unveils Early Childhood Action Strategy

Caldwell's Secret group to disclose its Secret donors

SA: A nonprofit group set up to help Kirk Caldwell pick appointees and to put on inaugural events will make public the names of its donors in response to media inquiries.

City Councilwoman Ann Koba­ya­shi had urged that the names of donors be disclosed to avoid the possible appearance of undue influence, especially since Caldwell had made transparency a priority for his administration.

Meanwhile, the mayor confirmed that Harry Mattson, the Caldwell adviser paid to organize and evaluate candidates for department heads and other mayoral patronage jobs, is himself no longer being considered for a position with the city.

Lex Smith, the committee's president and secretary, said the organization will disclose the names of its donors in the coming days in response to media inquiries.

Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, applauded the action, saying it would avoid the appearance that parties could be exerting influence over the mayor anonymously. "My concern is it could be used as a way to circumvent disclosure laws," Lim said, noting that campaign expenditures are capped.

Mattson, a key strategist for Caldwell during his hard-fought mayoral campaign, was given a $10,000-a-month contract for four months to oversee activities related to hiring department heads and other mayoral appointees. This included collecting applications, sifting through them and determining who should be interviewed, Caldwell said….

Caldwell said that while Mattson initially was being considered for a position in the administration, a decision was made Monday to scrap that move.

Mattson said Caldwell made the decision.

Mattson in 2007 was convicted of failing to file tax returns and had been ordered to pay $63,834 in restitution, a situation that would have barred him from taking a position with the city until he paid it off, Caldwell said. Mattson said he is current with his payments under a plan approved by state court and the state Department of Taxation.

Related:

read … Snowball Rolling Downhill

IRS Police Leading Investigation of alleged DoTax Criminals

KHON: Summer 2011, the state’s first chief information officer starts taking stock of systems at various departments, including tax. "When I was seeing their specific system, when I did the sniff test. There's something going on,” said CIO Sonny Bhagowalia.

He sat down with state Tax Director Fred Pablo.  "I said do you think you have an insider threat problem, and he looked at me and he's like, how did you know that? And I said no I'm just thinking, just observing some of the things and learning about your system, you may have that issue, you think?” Bhagowalia recalls. “And he's like, ‘actually there's a case going on.’ "….

"In the history of security breaches in the state government, where does this one rank?” I asked State Rep. John Mizuno, House vice speaker who has tried to stay apprised of what’s going on. “Probably the mother of them, all,” Mizuno said. “This is pretty big, 21 people involved, it's unheard of, the case is ongoing, so this is really big."

"There were some people who were extending their reach and snooping around in places they shouldn't have been,” Bhagowalia explained….

After an investigation of "unauthorized access" and" internal controls" spanning at least those six months after that meeting between the CIO and tax director, crackdown day came.

"Agents came in and escorted people off the premises and some of them were relieved of their duties,” Mizuno said….

"Federal agents, federal IRS agents came in so that's big,” Mizuno said.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, all states have a data sharing agreement.

In Hawaii, compliance and audit are among the divisions able to see taxpayers' federal filings.

“Keep in mind that this is a federal process now, so the IRS comes in, and when the IRS comes in, it's federal so you're under some federal statutory stuff which I'm very familiar with,” said Bhagowalia, whose resume includes federal-level investigative and security work. “So those are very strict, and that's why you have the quote-unquote ‘IRS police’ that came in. So when that happens, it obviously raised above a threshold that got their attention. In my view all the federal and state authorities did the right thing.”….

I asked Bhagowalia, have you seen anything to the extent in other departments of what you've seen at the tax department, or is this one an extreme case?

“It's target rich environment," he said. “You come up another measure they try another thing, and you're like oh, you try another thing. It's like this cat and mouse thing. Maybe we should watch more Tom and Jerry cartoons."

Background: DoTax Employees Secretly Arrested, Fired

read … Target Rich Environment

Poll: Hanabusa 42% - Abercrombie 35%

The poll, taken last week, showed Abercrombie trailing Hanabusa in a hypothetical primary match-up. The poll also had Abercrombie with low favorability and job approval ratings. Local labor sources described the survey as an early temperature check by the national AFL-CIO.

·       Hanabusa: 42%

·       Abercrombie: 35%

·       Not sure: 23%

read … Temp Check

GE Tax Hike Passes First Hurdle

CB: he House committee on Economic Development and Business today gave its okay to a bill that would raise the state general excise tax in order to pump revenue into public education. 

The measure is known as the Penny for Education Act, or HB1368. It asks that the state raise the GET by 1 percent and that 20 percent of all GET revenue go toward education, including teacher salaries and school facilities. 

Several teachers — most of them representing the grassroots Campbell High School-based group Teachers Work to the Rules, which helped draft the bill — gave emotional testimony in strong support of the measure….

Republican Rep. Gene Ward was the only committee member to oppose the bill.

HSTA Teacher: Chicago Teachers Strike ‘Eye-Opening’

HR: Hawaii’s teachers demand tax bump to boost salaries

UH Manoa Prof: Public education necessary, and earlier the better

Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure

read … GE Tax Hike

Hawaii School Board Scrutinizes High Teacher Sick Leave, Turnover Rates

CB: Teachers do indeed miss 17 days each year on average, school officials said. But it’s not all sick leave; that number represents the average number of all absences per teacher, said Diana Niles-Hansen, senior director of the DOE's Office of Human Resources.

Teachers are actually sick only about six days a year, she said.

But teachers — who get 18 sick days a year plus other paid time off — use their sick leave for many reasons, especially professional development, said Kerry Tom, director of the DOE's Personnel Management Branch.

The data presented to the board’s Human Resources Committee, chaired by Jim Williams, makes it possible to figure out how many teachers take 10 days or more of sick leave each year. More than one-fourth of the department’s 13,000 teachers annually take 10 or more sick days, which again includes professional development days and other paid time off that falls under sick leave….

Board member Kim Gennaula said the bigger issue is whether the district is comfortable with teachers taking off 15 to 25 days a year, if that's indeed happening, regardless of whether it's for time when teachers are actually sick or if it's for professional development….

Roughly 50 percent of new teachers leave the district within their first five years of employment, the state's own numbers show.

Of the 1,591 new teachers hired in 2006, only 715 are still active. The following year, 1,465 teachers were hired but just 691 are still active.

The data shows that 20 percent of the teachers hired in 2011 have already left. Fifty-five percent of the teacher class of 2006 are gone.

read … Where that ‘Penny for Education’ Goes

Hawaii Ed Department's Food Service Problems Mirror School Bus Woes

CB: Warning bells were ringing again in the Board of Education’s meeting room Tuesday, sounding a lot like the scathing audit of the student transportation system that school officials heard last year.

Lack of oversight. Limited accountability. Unclear policies. Outdated technology. Wasted taxpayer dollars.

The board had to hire a consultant to figure out how to handle the school bus program’s deep-rooted problems. Bills are moving through the Legislature as a result and changes are slowly but surely being implemented.

Although that issue is still far from fixed, district officials are now turning their attention to the $92 million school food services program. An internal state Department of Education audit released this week says operations are functioning at an “unacceptable” level….

For instance, the department can find out how much it paid to serve hamburgers at lunch. But it can’t go back and find out how the hamburger was used or how much of it was leftover.

“Ten pounds of hamburger is cash,” Horner said. “But there’s no more control over that inventory than a 3x5 card.”

The DOE audit on the food services program doesn't say how much money the district might be losing. But Horner said in his experience, whenever consolidation can happen, savings can be found.

The cost of school lunches in Hawaii has been rising, especially for hot dogs. Civil Beat recently reported that the state paid 22 cents per frankfurter in 2009; in 2012, that price jumped to 40 cents a dog.

The school food services program was rated as a high-risk area 18 months ago, Horner said….

read … Where that ‘Penny for Education’ Goes

Hawaii state library website and services down—apparently no one renewed the domain registration

SA: The Hawaii State Public Library System’s website at www.librarieshawaii.org went offline due to technical difficulties Tuesday and library officials are unsure when it will be back up, according to a statement from State Librarian Richard Burns. (You can buy it now for $69)

Computer users trying to access the site went to a godaddy.com template that said the certificate for the web domain had expired on Monday.

Workers were trying to figure out what went wrong…, (duh)

Patrons can still access the library’s electronic borrowing site at hawaii.lib.overdrive.com  ….

read … Geniuses in Education System

Encampments must be removed

SA: Homelessness encampments continue to proliferate around town. Some of this is due to the chronic difficulty persuading some people to submit to the less than optimal conditions and the communal rules in the established shelter facilities.

Most of these people have tried to find havens hidden away from the public eye, which can end up causing safety hazards and other problems for themselves and others. The recent fire beneath the Nimitz viaduct produced burns for one homeless man and an Internet service outage.

But there's more damage than that. Increasingly, the tourists visiting Oahu see the encampments in visible locations — sites near the Hawaii Convention Center and facing Honolulu Museum of Art spring to mind. There have been visitors who have been ending their stays with a poor impression of the city. In an economy this dependent on tourism, that's a problem that can't be ignored.

It's perhaps the location near the museum, especially on the Beretania Street side of Thomas Square, that is the most dispiriting example, one combining varying degrees of shelter for the homeless with protest by people who are making a statement….

Giving up these pointless encampments shouldn't be contingent on a government-provided "opportunity." Even if it was, a public-private partnership has yielded the 100,000 Homes project, which already has accomplished far more than an ugly, intrusive row of tents ever could.

SA: Sofa, rug among 7.75 cubic yards of trash cleared from Thomas Square sidewalk

DN: Success story only underlines inadequacy of efforts to provide a Housing First solution in Honolulu

read … Force them into Shelters

Abercrombie’s Latest DHHL Pick Called ‘Divisive’

SA: Nearly half of the nine-member commission that oversees the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands opposes Gov. Neil Abercrombie's choice to head the department, saying Jobie Masa­ga­tani is divisive and has worked against the interests of the agency's Native Hawaiian beneficiaries, several commissioners said.

But written testimony submitted to the Senate Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs, which holds a confirmation hearing today for Masa­ga­tani, has been overwhelmingly supportive, committee chairman Sen. Brickwood Galu­te­ria said….

In her eight months as chairwoman, Masa­ga­tani has attempted to delay or derail beneficiary-driven projects for no legitimate reasons, according to Tassill and Kahi­kina. They cited as an example what they described as her failure to submit financing paperwork on a timely basis for a planned Nana­kuli community center and housing development, jeopardizing its funding….

Three months into her tenure, for instance, the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly said it would oppose her confirmation, while Auamo i na Ala­ka‘i, another statewide group, endorsed her leadership.

Galuteria said he has yet to take a position on Masa­ga­tani's confirmation and will wait to hear from her and others at today's hearing, scheduled for 2:45 p.m. in Room 224 at the state Capitol.

Galuteria's committee is supposed to make a recommendation to the full Senate, which must confirm Masa­ga­tani for her to keep the job.

Tassill said Masa­ga­tani has allowed informal opinions of the attorney general, legal counsel for the department and commission, to stifle the decision-making authority of the commission.

Tassill is among those supporting Senate Bill 10, which gives the commission the authority to hire its own attorneys without approval of the attorney general.

Sometimes the attorney general's opinion does not represent what is in the best interests of beneficiaries, and the commission's main duty is to beneficiaries, Tassill said.

Galuteria's panel and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced SB 10.

read … DHHL Failing on Purpose

Homosexual Child Molester gets 5 Years

SA: The victim had testified that Shi­ma­bu­kuro sexually assaulted him from 2005 to 2007 at the Japa­nese Cultural Center of Hawaii in Moiliili, where Shi­ma­bu­kuro leased space for a dojo, and in an adjacent office building. He said he didn't immediately report the sexual assaults to anyone because he wanted Shi­ma­bu­kuro to continue coaching him.

Another former student testified that Shi­ma­bu­kuro provided his underage students alcohol and pornography, and used a sexual organ size-enhancement device on them during sleepovers at the dojo.

The victim reported the sexual assaults to his parents in 2007.

The boys' mothers said they and other parents confronted Shi­ma­bu­kuro with the allegations and tried to get Shi­ma­bu­kuro's mother, another teacher at the school, to intervene. They said they also made sure from then on that a parent was always present whenever Shi­ma­bu­kuro was with students.

The victim's mother said she finally went to police in 2009….

Related: Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Gay Policy

read … How They Recruit the Next Generation

Internet Gambling Corporation: Bill Introduced in Hawaii Senate

PND: After seeing a similar bill fail last year, State Senators Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Gilbert Kahele, and Malama Solomon have introduced a new bill that would legalize gambling, including online poker. Hawaii is one of two states in the U.S. that has no legal gambling in any form (the other is Utah), though there have been around 150 attempts to change that in the past three decades.

Senate Bill 768 would, according to the 27-page document, “…create a body politic, known as the Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation, authorized to offer a regulated, secure, and responsible framework for the conduct of internet wagering and gaming in Hawaii…”

The bill is virtually identical to last year’s House Bill 2422, sponsored by Representatives Joseph Souki, Faye Hanohano and Angus McKelvey. Like HB 2422, the “corporation” created by this Senate version would “…provide consumer protections and capture additional revenues for the benefit of the State that are currently flowing offshore to unregulated internet gambling operations.”

·       PR: Popularity contest

·       PR: SB 1

read … Another ‘Corporation’

Legislators Rush to hand out Money to Solar Scammers

SA: Environmental and solar-energy interests urged state lawmakers Tuesday to gradually reduce the state's generous solar tax credit and undo the temporary rules imposed by the Abercrombie administration that many believe have undercut the growing solar industry.

Consensus appears to be moving behind legislation to ramp down the state's 35 percent renewable energy tax credit for consumers and businesses over several years, preserve a feature that allows the tax credit to be taken as refundable at a lower rate — a rebate that encourages leasing and lowers the upfront costs of solar installation — and offer a production tax credit for utility-scale projects that spreads the cost to the state over time.

The Abercrombie administration imposed temporary administrative rules in January to restrict the solar tax credit after lawmakers last year failed to address the rising cost of the tax incentive. The rules, which expire in 18 months, allow homeowners to claim one tax credit — 35 percent, with a cap of $5,000 — for each five kilowatts of photovoltaic generating capacity. Businesses can claim one tax credit — 35 percent, with a cap of $500,000 — for each 1,000 kilowatts of generating capacity.

read … Tax the Poor to Feed the Rich

Public Utility Commission orders on-bill program to finance clean energy

EDF: Last Friday evening, February 1, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a landmark decision and order to create an on-bill program, very much in line with EDF’s recommendations for on-bill repayment (OBR), that will provide access to low-cost financing for solar and energy efficiency projects for homeowners and small businesses.  This decision comes 18 months after the State passed legislation directing the PUC to investigate an on-bill program and authorized the Commission to implement the program (by decision and order or by rules) if the on-bill program was found to be viable.

The PUC decision determined that a statewide on-bill program is viable, and specified program design criteria that the Commission deems necessary to achieve viability.  EDF has been working to shape the proposal with key stakeholders including environmental groups, lenders and the Hawaii State Energy Office.

The specified criteria include the following components that EDF believes are critical for achieving both success and scale

HNN: State legislators tackle renewable energy tax credits

read … On Bill Financing

Hawaii lawmakers investigate university tuition

AP: Both chambers of the Legislature held hearings Tuesday afternoon to consider measures that seek to increase accountability at the university.

Representatives in the House Committee on Higher Education approved measures to require members of the university's board of regents to undergo mandatory training and submit public financial disclosures.

The committee also approved a bill limiting the board's ability to hire attorneys other than the university general counsel or the attorney general. Lawmakers were critical of the board's hiring of costly outside counsel during the Wonder concert fallout.

HNN: UH defends tuition hikes to skeptical senators

CB: Lawmakers Crack the Whip on UH Board of Regents

read … Tuition

Abercrombie to Pick 3 New UH Regents

MN: The sitting Maui County member on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents is seeking another five-year term as the Regents Candidate Advisory Council on Monday released the names of three candidates for the post.

The governor will choose among current regent Artemio C. Baxa, Eugene Bal III and Georgia K. McMillen. The governor's choice will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

In addition to the Maui County seat, a Hawaii County seat currently held by Barry Mizuno and an at-large seat that was held by Michael Dahilig, who resigned Jan. 2, also needed to be filled.

read … Regents

On second thought, construction of $300M telescope atop Maui's Haleakala is under way

Construction on the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope began Nov. 30 after the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources affirmed a conservation district use permit for the project, said Mike Maberry, the Maui-based assistant director for the UH Institute for Astronomy. The University of Hawaii is a partner with the National Science Foundation on the project.

UH President M.R.C. Greenwood had said last week that construction was on hold while the Hawaii Supreme Court considers an appeal by the group Kilakila O Haleakala, which opposes the project.

But Maberry said the case before the state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Dec. 20, did not affect the start of construction.

read … On second thought

Expedia 4Q profit plunges After Hawaii Loots Company

AP: Soaring hotel bookings pushed revenue higher at Expedia Inc., but the online travel agency's fourth-quarter profit fell 90 percent because of money it set aside to appeal a tax dispute in Hawaii.

read … Expedia 4Q profit plunges 90 percent on charges

Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson addresses HB916 – Minimum Hourly Wage

From the floor session in the chamber – House of Representatives

RELATING TO MINIMUM HOURLY WAGE.
Report Title: Minimum Wage; Consumer Price Index
Description: Increases the minimum hourly wage to $8.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2014; adjusts the minimum hourly wage thereafter in accordance with the consumer price index; and increases the tip credit to thirty cents.

Passed Second Reading and referred to the committee(s) on FIN with Representative(s) Evans, Hanohano, Kawakami, McKelvey, Thielen, Tokioka, Ward, Yamashita voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Cheape, Fale, Fukumoto, Johanson, McDermott voting no (5) and Representative(s) Carroll, Har, Oshiro, Takumi excused (4).

watch … Excerpt from Capitol TV – Feb 05, 2012

Better Government – Minority Caucus Package 2013

Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, Minority Leader and Representative Beth Fukumoto, Minority Floor Leader, discussed the Minority Caucus Package:

PROTECTING PEOPLE: Safe Schools, Senior Care, Women’s Wellness and
Veteran’s Health

EQUIPPING COMMUNITIES: Cost of Living and Small Business

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Reliable Elections and Government Transparency

watch …Minority Caucus Package

Usual Suspects, Usual BS: Gay ‘Marriage’ Will Make You Rich, Rich, Rich!

CB: The report was authored by noted University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix. …

Using a multiplier effect, the report estimates that legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii will result in total additional spending ranging from $46 million to $258 million over the 2014-2016 period.

The report also found that passage of same-sex marriage legislation is not likely to lead to substantial increases in employee health insurance expenditures. …

UHERO: The Impact of Same-Sex Marriage on Hawai‘i’s Economy and Government

CB: Hanabusa Welcomes More Benefits For Gay Military ‘Spouses’

read … Another Bogus Study

New Study: Hawaii drivers spending less time in traffic

HNN: …it's not all gloom and doom on the roads. The latest data shows traffic is actually getting better here…. The 45 hours that Honolulu drivers spend stuck in traffic every year is about the same amount drivers in Dallas spend in gridlock, but Dallas has almost six times our population.

Hawaii state officials say there are also seven percent more gas vehicles on the islands than one year ago, with just over one million registered vehicles in Hawaii…

Full Text: Honolulu Performance Measure

read … Now That Rail is Approved....

43% of Hawaii Roads ‘Degraded’

Shapiro: While road conditions vary greatly from state to state, nowhere else does overall degradation seem as bad as here.

Such reports are anecdotal, but they're backed by surveys that show Hawaii drivers pay more for car repairs caused by poor roads than motorists in other states.

A recent city program to map all 3,517 lane-miles of city roads with high-definition cameras found 27 percent of our roads fail to meet acceptable standards, and nearly 16 percent more have some degree of degradation….

read … Roads in the Holes

Act 221 Scammers to Host Transportation Forum

Cheryl Soon is our moderator for this important program. The panel will include Dave Rolph on cars, Tim Dick on interisland ferry transportation, Brian Gibson on OMPO, Cliff Slater on the status of rail, Panos Prevedouros on new transportation technologies, and Chad Taniguchi on bicycles and Complete Streets. We also hope to have some legislators who sit on the transportation committees.

The luncheon and panel discussion will be on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at the Plaza Club, 900 Fort Street Mall, 20th Floor. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. and the program will start at noon. Register at hvca.org or call Gail at 382-4638. Space is limited, so sign up early.

read … Tax Credits?

HR6, HCR3--Pot Heads Push for ‘Industrial Hemp’

WB: HR 6 and HCR 3 to encourage the state Congressional Delegation to support the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in the U.S. House and Senate, which would allow states to regulate hemp farming….

read … A Great Place to Hide Marijuana Crop

QUICK HITS:

·       Hawaii Charter School Commission Gets New Director

·       More legislative frustration: “Mailbox Full”

·       U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Schedules Special Sitting at UH Mānoa Law School

·       Legislators seek $500K to fight coffee berry borer

·       50 State Winners announced: Inaugural US Benchmark Annual Awards--Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing Profile

·       Allegiant Air hires full-time flight attendants for Hawaii routes

·       Four Hawaii tech companies among eight chosen for Energy Excelerator program

·       WaPo: Gabbard Among Six House freshmen that are making an early (media) impact

·       Lawmakers amending bill to ban pigeon feeding

·       Top 5 Oddball Proposed Laws in 2013

·       DLNR: First Monk Seal Death of 2013 Could Have Been Prevented with Earlier Reporting

·       Larry Ellison to invest another $10M into Lanai utilities

·       Dopers Pay Protection Money to Union

·       Tsunami kills at least five in Solomons after big Pacific quake

·       Makaha Residents fear dangers of planned bypass road

·       Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs

·       Clothesline bill asks for right to dry in public housing projects

 


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