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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
February 12, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:51 PM :: 4915 Views

HFF: What's Happening at the Legislature

Hawaii Teacher Absenteeism 2nd-Worst in USA

Hawaii Teacher Absenteeism: How Did Your School Do?

RTTT: Hawaii DoE Wins Partial Removal of 'High Risk' Status

Ethics: Charter School Employee Fined $10K

Gallup: Alaska, Hawaii Follow D.C. in Highest Gov't Employment

Selection Committee Releases Names of UH Regent Nominees

Bishop Silva Reacts to Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

NYT Editorial: Steven Tyler Act 'Boneheaded'

Seismic Activity May Indicate North Korean Nuclear Test

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted February 11, 2013

Legalization of gay marriage appears stalled for session

SA: State Rep. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that after polling his colleagues he determined there was not the political will for a bill this session.

"The support is just not there to pass it this year," said Rhoads, who favors legalizing same-sex marriage. "In the aggregate we just don't have the support."

Marriage equality advocates were disappointed and said they would continue to urge lawmakers to act, though they conceded getting a hearing would be a long shot at this point.

Lois Perrin, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union-Hawaii, said she believes a measure would get the votes needed to pass, and added that at the least the committee should hold a hearing to gauge public opinion.

"It's the responsibility of the Legislature to tackle difficult issues," she said. "This is the time for it."

State Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the Senate decided to wait for the House to schedule a hearing on the issue since that's where much of the opposition would be.

Eva Andrade, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, one of several Hawaii organizations that oppose gay marriage, said if the Legislature were to take up the issue this session, it would draw plenty of opposition.

"Churches are paying very close attention. There will be people in the community who will make their voice heard," Andrade said. "We're hopeful that legislators will do the right thing."

The discussion comes as a lawsuit challenging Hawaii laws that reserve marriage as between a man and a woman is before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and as the Supreme Court also considers two gay marriage cases.

Hawaii Family Forum is a party in the 9th Circuit case, arguing that Hawaii laws don't violate the U.S. Constitution.

Andrade said rather than wade into the issue now, legislators should "allow the courts to do their job."

KHON: Should same-sex marriage be legalized in Hawaii?

  • Yes (47.8%)
  • No (52.2%)

KHON: Same sex rally held at Capitol

read … Wait until the end of the session to celebrate

Limp: Mainland Gays Miffed at Failure to Penetrate Legislature

Caldwell Jumps in Bed With Gay ‘Marriage’

No action: Here SB1369 or here HB1109

Senators Question Use of Taxes as Behavior Modification

Borreca: Luke said she is concerned about the state's tax policy.

"My basic question is, Are we taxing because we want to change behavior, or is it a revenue source?" Luke said.

This year, the Legislature has no specific big excise or income tax increase under consideration, but there are dozens of small taxes designed to curb sugar consumption or encourage recycling.

"My feeling is the more we attach fees and assessments to support a program, the Legislature loses oversight. My preference is to put all those things in the general fund. If they are worthy, they should stand on their own," said Luke.

Souki is in agreement, adding, "I prefer a broad-based tax rather than nickel and diming, which unfortunately is what the governor is doing because he has made a commitment not to raise taxes," said Souki.

There is neither the time nor the support for a general tax increase this year, according to Souki, but the legislative veteran said something will have to be done.

"I think in some point in time, we will need to all get together and see what the prospects for a broad-based tax increase are," Souki said.

His pupil, however, is not so sure.

"This is actually the time for us to take a conservative approach," she said.

"We need to reevaluate what government is for. Instead of restoring any cuts that have been made, it is a time to reevaluate. It is time for us to ask what different agencies and programs need additional funding."

Luke said part of the reexamination will be to look at how programs that were cut are now functioning and perhaps consolidate programs instead of simply restoring the state money.

read … House finance chairwoman questions various tax goals

Senate committee approves soda fee

SA: Sen. Josh Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua-Kona), an emergency room doctor and chairman of the Senate Health Committee, had rejected a soda tax proposed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie two years ago. But the senator said he was swayed by arguments from public-health advocates to move a bill this year.

Abercrombie has also been personally lobbying senators in favor of a soda fee. The bill must still clear the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee before going before the full Senate.

"I thought people came and made a very clear case that this is something that can be used as one of the pieces to address obesity," Green said. "I don't think it's a silver bullet, but I think it's worth going forward on."

Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai) voted against Senate Bill 1085 as a "money grab" that could hurt the local beverage industry and retailers.

read … But they raise Taxes anyway

House, Senate Committees Vote for Repeal of PLDC

SA: The more extreme bill prevailed over other proposals to merely reform the organization, which has been criticized for its power to override county zoning and permitting laws.

Rep. Cindy Evans, chairwoman of the House Committee on Water and Land, said opponents of the agency presented overwhelming opposition during a five-hour hearing last Saturday.

"Democracy has spoken loudly here," Evans told The Associated Press. She said opponents of the agency made a compelling argument for repeal. 

So many people testified about the issue that there was a delay in posting the testimony online, as letters continued to pour in days late….

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs submitted a bill to make the corporation more sensitive to Native Hawaiian culture and traditions.

But Evans said that because of public distrust, she didn't think the agency can be reformed or fixed at this point….

Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo), chairwoman of the Senate Water and Land Committee, had said she would not hear a PLDC repeal and would instead wait to see what was approved by the House.

But Solomon and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Wheeler-Wahiawa-Schofield), chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing Committee, agreed Monday to advance a PLDC repeal….

Gov. Neil Abercrombie suggested replacing the Public Land Development Corp. with an organization called the Harbors and Parks Development Authority. But critics say his proposal perpetuates the same problem under the guise of a different name.

"The only way to calm this storm and to right the canoe that we always hear about so much is to pass a complete and full repeal of the PLDC," testified Kauai Councilman Gary Hooser. "No morphing or amending or name-changing." (Really?  Look at the next story….)

MTVN: The Committees on Water & Land (WAL) and Finance (FIN) unanimously adopted HB1133, which would repeal the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC). The Bill will now be subject to a full vote on the House floor and, should it pass, cross over to the Senate for consideration. The remainder of the bills relating to the PLDC, which would have severely overhauled its scope and administrative rules, have been held in Committee.

CB: Progressive Dems Petition: Remove Malama Solomon As Committee Chair

read … The PLDC is Dead… Long Live the HCDA!

House Takes Lead On Gov’s Bill To Develop School Lands

CB: Key Senate committees have indefinitely deferred Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s bill to develop school lands via a partnership with the Hawaii Community Development Association.

Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda said Monday that the Senate will likely get the bill back later this session since the House version is still alive. House Bill 865, Senate Bill 1096’s companion legislation, was deferred until Friday.

Meantime, the Department of Education is pushing its own bill to develop school lands without using HCDA. The governor and DOE officials have indicated that there may be amendments to the governor’s bill that could help strike a compromise.

Sen. Laura Thielen, a member of the Economic Development Committee, said during the hearing Monday afternoon that SB1096 doesn’t offer enough guarantee that projects would be community-driven like the governor tried to assure lawmakers of last week.

read … PLDC Under New Name?

OHA Pitch to US Congress: Not One Word About the Akaka Bill

OHA’s Rep in DC: Recently, the National Congress of American Indians, the largest and oldest Native American organization in the U.S., released its federal budget request for the next fiscal year. While the NCAI focused on federal programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives, it also stated its strong support for Native Hawaiian federal programs.

For this, we are grateful to our American Indian and Alaska Native brothers and sisters. With the current fiscal landscape, there could be no better time to remind Congress of the federal government’s obligation to fulfill its trust responsibilities to Native Hawaiians.

Funding for Native Hawaiian programs is part of the federal government's trust obligation to Native Hawaiians— an obligation codified in national law. Ronald Reagan clarified this 25 years ago when he signed the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act, both of which affirmed the federal trust obligation to Native Hawaiians.

Before anyone in the U.S. House of Representatives talks about rolling these programs back, they would do well to recall the legacy of President Reagan, a conservative hero.

Not Mentioned:  Akaka Tribe: We Can Kick Out Anybody Anytime for Any Reason

Conklin: U.S. Apology Resolution's 20th Anniversary -- Repeal it, Don't Celebrate It!

read … Upholding the Federal Government’s Responsibility to Native Hawaiians

Abercrombie administration relying on threats rather than persuasion?

ILind: I was very interested to see accounts of another instance of alleged threats and intimidation by Gov. Abercrombie’s chief of staff, Bruce Coppa, who also serves as the state’s administrative director….

What’s interesting is that this is just one in a series of incidents in which Coppa acts as the administration’s hammer who threatens those perceived as threatening his boss, the governor, or the governor’s policies and proposals.

It wasn’t too long ago that UH President M.R.C. Greenwood described a similar incident in which she was pressured and reportedly felt threatened by the governor and Coppa. She disclosed the incident during her Senate testimony only under pressure from Senator Donna Kim.

I’ve heard an insider’s account of another incident in which a nonprofit agency’s funding was threatened if it didn’t mute criticism of one of the governor’s policy proposals.  (Oh?  Do Tell!)

read … Abercrombie administration relying on threats rather than persuasion?

HSTA Teacher; All Hawaii’s Education Problems Created by Evaluations 

CB: I will have been observed/evaluated for my job performance approximately 38 times this school year. That is a little bit much. It is overkill. It is disruptive and distracting to my students and to my teaching.

The evaluators also begin conversations with students to quiz them about my teaching right there, right in the room. Sometimes these interviews are not brief. It gives teenagers an open forum to complain. Yesterday, after an observation/evaluation students said, "Miss, you owe us now, we made you look good. What did you bring for lunch?"

Thirty-eight observations/evaluations are a lot. Add to that number a weekly sample of student work that every teacher must submit with a detailed cover sheet and copy of the week’s pacing guide to see if it is deemed as matching the specific standard and learning target for that week (mine come back as not having met the standard) and you have teachers either tearing out their hair or filing the thing out of sight.

These weekly samples are also evaluations of teacher performance, albeit roundabout ones. That brings our number to approximately 75 teacher evaluations per year. All data is reported to the Complex Area Superintendent. Teachers then need further "training" because they are judged as "deficient."

Observations by teams of other non-classroom teachers, other classroom teachers as peer observations, principals, district personnel, and my students who evaluate my performance as a teacher are all included in this number. I am not counting individual student evaluations in this number (two classes of 25 students would make 50 more evaluations) but as a group they will have evaluated me twice this year so I only added the number two to my total.

Hawaii Teacher Absenteeism 2nd-Worst in USA

Hawaii Teacher Absenteeism: How Did Your School Do?

read … How To Kill A Teacher's Enthusiasm For Teaching 

Hirono: Military cuts could affect Hawaii tourism

PBN: If Congress doesn’t approve a plan to slash spending by March 1, the cuts would mean thousands of Department of Defense civilian employees being furloughed as well as Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers being laid off, which could impact tourism in Hawaii, she said.

“Clearly, this is not the way to go,” Hirono said during a conference call with Hawaii media.

According to U.S. Pacific Command, there are 19,000 DOD civilian employees in Hawaii. PACOM could not comment about the impact on any cuts here, but military officials said they are awaiting directions from the Pentagon if the cuts do happen.

Hirono said thousands of jobs would also be lost, including 2,200 in the health-care industry.

If a deal isn’t reached, the more than $2 billion in defense contracts here in Hawaii could be cut by 10 percent and contracts may have to be restructured, Hirono said.

Reality: Military Spending: In pursuit of Ideology, Hirono Votes Against 18% of Hawaii Economy

CB: Hirono Says Looming Cuts Will Be ‘Devastating To Hawaii’

SA: Devastating Cuts

read … ‘Devastating’

Department of Defense Announces Nomination of 4 Star General to Head Pacific Command

Fort Shafter, Hawaii - The President of the United States has nominated Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks for promotion to the rank of General (4 stars) and pending confirmation, command of U.S. Army Pacific. Tentative change of command will take place June 5, 2013, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

Brooks' currently is serving as the commanding general, Army Central Command. If confirmed, Brooks will succeed Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski who served as U.S. Army Pacific commanding general for more than two years.

Wiercinski has requested to retire from active duty after 34 years of service, with the last 8 years stationed in the Pacific.

The decision by the commander in chief to elevate U.S. Army Pacific to a 4-Star / General position at an Army Service Component Command represents a deep commitment to the National Defense Strategy, and to US allies and partners in the Pacific.

Hearing Scheduled For Casino, Shipboard Gaming Bills

CB: It’s set for Thursday (Feb. 14) before three Senate committees.

Senate Bill 769 grants a 20-year license for a stand-alone casino in Waikiki, establishes the Hawaii Gaming Control Commission, imposes a 15 percent wagering tax on gross receipts and creates a State Gaming Fund and a Compulsive Gambler Program.

Senate Bill 767 authorizes shipboard gaming on vessels in state waters and establishes a Hawaii gaming board within DBEDT, an admission tax and a wagering tax, and a gaming fund for the deposit of fees, taxes and fines.

read … Gambling

State pension fund rises to $11.9 billion

SA: Investments in the state's largest pension fund grew by 2.1 percent last quarter, enough to lift its assets to an all-time high of $11.9 billion….

The pension fund provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits to 113,282 active, retired and inactive state and county employees.

read … Pension

Luddites Target Seed Industry Water Supplies

CB: Hawaii Senate President Donna Kim Mercado has chosen a Monsanto lobbyist to be on the group that recommends candidates for the state water commission.

The choice is a controversial one because the Commission on Water Resource Management controls the allocation of state water resources, and Monsanto, a huge agri-business company, has a major stake in how water rights are granted. The commission has been at the center of fights among developers, large plantation owners, environmentalists, the military and Native Hawaiian groups.

A four-member selection committee chooses candidates for most slots on the seven-member water commission.

The committee forwards the nominees to the governor who picks a candidate who still has to be confirmed by the Senate. Two positions on the commission will become vacant at the end of June.

Last week, Kim appointed Alan Takemoto, the community affairs manager at Monsanto, to the nominating committee.

Reality: Must Read: Leading Activist Apologizes For Starting Anti-GMO Movement

read … Only Makes Sense if you ‘think’ Monsanto = Devil

 

Goodfellow Bros. cutting 100 jobs after Hawaii agency shoots down Maui mega-mall

PBN: Goodfellow Bros. is laying off about 100 people after a Maui mega-mall proposal was shot down by the Hawaii Land Use Commission late last week.

Goodfellow is the general contractor for the site work on the 700,000-square-foot retail project in Kihei, which included a housing component.

Steve Goodfellow, CEO of Goodfellow Bros., told PBN that they had started work on the project but put things on hold during the hearing process with the LUC.

Last Thursday, the LUC voted 6-3 against California-based Eclipse Development Group’s proposed project because it was not in compliance with the land reclassification ruling in 1995 received by the former owner.

read … 100 jobs

Genshiro Kawamoto’s derelict properties trigger new legislation

KITV: "Some of the property is used by squatters, by homeless people that is creating a dangerous situation and they yell at night. They are public nuisances and Kawamoto doesn’t police those properties,"

Under a public nuisance bill advanced today by state lawmakers, private homeowners could take action if three complaints go unresolved for three years.

But the House Water and Land committee cut the time to a year and a half, as a message to state and city regulators to act sooner.

read … Legislation

State lets tow firm off the hook in fraud claims

SA: The state has decided not to prosecute Stoneridge Recoveries, the controversial vendor that had the city's most lucrative towing contract for eight years, on allegations of insurance fraud.

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, which in 2010 launched a criminal investigation into Stoneridge's pricing practices on police-initiated tows, decided recently to take no action against the company.

The insurance industry had turned over evidence to the state, raising questions about inflated prices.

A company attorney in 2011 acknowledged to the Star-Advertiser that Stone­ridge had overcharged some customers, but blamed it on employee errors, not something intentional, and said the excess charges were refunded.

read … State lets tow firm off the hook in fraud claims

 

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