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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
February 20, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:35 PM :: 6433 Views

Holy Paparazzi! Molokai Mocks Steven Tyler Act, Sen English

Governor Excludes Union from Refinery Task Force

Former DPP Head Running Controversial Wailupe Valley Project

Prosperity? Hawaii Congressional Delegation Scores Zero

Can Vote-By-Mail Fix Those Long Lines At The Polls?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted February 19, 2013

AARP Opposes Chained CPI as Threat to Veterans Benefits

SB69: Hearing Feb 20 for Extremist Anti-Gun Measure

Repeal the Jones Act, Reduce the Price of Gasoline

Hospitals Chase Medicare Performance-Based Bonuses

Secret U.S. military flights carried officials, equipment to N. Korea

Schatz: Obama Administration May Recognize Akaka Tribe Without Congress

KHON: His most recent memory with Inouye on Kauai last summer: "He was getting such a kick out of the fact that it was my 40th birthday and he was just making fun of me endlessly."….

Jobs, the economy, clean energy are among his top concerns, but he's also working on the Akaka Bill and perhaps achieving Native Hawaiian recognition without going through Congress, but through the Obama Administration.

"What could President Obama and the administration do? Well we're in discussions and we'll certainly be able to make announcements later on this year," Sen. Schatz said.

Reality: Akaka Tribe: We Can Kick Out Anybody Anytime for Any Reason

read … Hanabada Days Not Over

Double-Digit Pay hikes weighed for politicians, appointees

KHON: Salary hikes are on the table across the islands for elected and appointed officials, though setting the right pay is a moving target.

In Honolulu for example, a 25 percent raise the city wants for its medical examiner may not even be enough to fill the long-vacant job. On Maui, the mayor is up for a 19 percent raise, and department heads would get a double-digit hike, too.

The Honolulu Salary Commission met Tuesday….

Meanwhile, the Big Island's salary commission is looking to bring the mayor's pay higher than the current $109,000 a year, which is lower than some department heads.

Kauai's salary commission is off the hook until the summer….

While the counties weigh their pay dilemmas, the state commission is facing the same task….

read … Pay Hikes

Shapiro: All-mail voting needs fraud insurance

Shapiro: Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposal to conduct future Hawaii elections by mail remains alive in the Legislature with Senate Bill 854, which would start a planning process that could lead to all-mail voting in 2016.

With nearly half of Hawaii voters already casting absentee ballots, any further shift to voting by mail must be accompanied by tighter controls on fraud, voter intimidation and other potential abuses….

House Bill 1027, which was passed by the Judiciary Committee last week, would apply to mail-in voting the same privacy and intimidation standards as in-person balloting.

The measure would bar candidates,employers or unions from helping voters complete mail-in ballots, and voters would have to sign affirmations that their ballots were completed in secrecy and without influence from others.

Mailed ballots would be required to include information on election fraud and penalties.

It's a good start, but a missing element is a mechanism for strong and proactive enforcement.

With our lack of a true two-party system, low voter turnout and constant problems at polling places, Hawaii has a reputation for not taking elections seriously.

The Legislature could start changing the perception with reforms that demonstrate real commitment to our right to vote in privacy and without intimidation or bureaucratic barriers.

read … Fraud Risk

SB 707: Senate Unanimously Repeals PLDC

Senate Bill 707 does this: Repeals chapter 171C, HRS, relating to the PLDC. Deposits funds appropriated to the DLNR, pursuant to Act 55, Session Laws of Hawaii 2011, into the land conservation fund. Deposits proceeds in the stadium facilities special fund and the school facilities special fund into the general fund. Transfers PLDC employees and assets to the DLNR.

SB 707 now heads to the House, which last week unanimously sent its own bill repealing the PLDC to the Senate

read … Bye Bye PLDC, hello HCDA

Settlement Prelim OK in Homosexual Rape Gang Case at Blind-Deaf School

SA: A federal judge granted preliminary approval today to a proposed $5.75 million class-action settlement of a lawsuit accusing the state of allowing and covering up years of sexual abuse of students at Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind.

The plaintiffs claim that as many as 35 current and former students were abused on the Kapahulu public school’s campus and on school buses since Aug. 10, 2001.

The lawsuit, filed in 2011 by Hono­lulu attorney Michael Green, alleged that a group of students “bullied, terrorized, assaulted, robbed, sodomized (and) raped” younger students at the school.

According to a timetable set by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang, the state must publish in the newspaper a notice of the proposed settlement for four consecutive weeks starting no later than Monday and mail notices to affected people by March 8.

read … Proposed $5.7M settlement of abuse lawsuit gets preliminary OK

Kim to Gays: “This is a Democracy, Everyone Has the Right to Propose Legislation”

SA: Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moana­lua-Halawa), a Catholic, (Notice how the atheist Advertiser has to include this religious identifier?) said she personally believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. But she said that lawmakers sponsor bills for a variety of reasons, so there are opportunities for full debates at the Legislature.

"It is a democracy, and everyone has the right to propose legislation," Kim said. "Whether that legislation goes through the process and manages to come out — that is to be determined by the majority. And especially in the case of a constitutional amendment — that's the right of the voters to vote."

Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley), a Christian, also believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. He actually introduced two constitutional amendments — one that reserves marriage to heterosexual couples; one that would legalize gay marriage — so voters could decide.

Many gay activists consider marriage a civil right that should not be subject to the will of voters. Mizuno said he respectfully disagrees.

"It's the will of the people. Truly you can't get any closer to that than by allowing all of our voters the ability to shape policy," he said.

Related: Gays Threaten Expulsion of 11 Democrat Legislators

read … About the Gay Dictators

Perreira: Tesoro refinery closure will Mean Higher Prices, Energy Crunch

SA: Hawaii is unique among Pacific Island jurisdictions because it is self-sufficient in liquid fuels. The two refineries supply just about all of the state's needs. Because of this, gasoline and diesel prices are close to $1 per gallon lower than in other parts of the Pacific that use the U.S. dollar.

Residual fuel, the kind used by most of Hawaii's power plants and by ships that call at our ports, sells for about $90 per metric ton more than the general global price when it is imported into Pacific Island jurisdictions.

National security also could be affected. The U.S. Navy depends on Tesoro for about 70 percent of the fuel it uses in Hawaii. Is it really a good idea for our armed forces here to be depending on imported fuel that could be cut off in the event of a crisis?

All of this is important because if the Tesoro refinery closes, our state will have to import more than half of the petroleum products it uses. If that happens, prices are almost certain to rise to a rate much closer to those typical in Pacific Island locations where there are no refineries. No one is going to give Hawaii a discount over what nations and territories in the rest of the Pacific must pay.

Some people say natural gas will be the solution to our problems. But Hawaii does not have the gas terminals it would need to import this fuel. Our state's power plants will need years to get ready for gas….

Other people say that wind and geothermal energy will be enough, but these technologies are even many more years away.

This means that if Tesoro closes its doors, Hawaii will face an energy crunch, and it could take several years to recover.

Totally Related: Governor Excludes Union from Refinery Task Force

read … Tesoro refinery closure will hurt our community

Furloughs hit more than 100 at Schofield

SA: About 125 BAE Systems Hawaii workers at Schofield Barracks received notice Friday that they are being furloughed immediately for 30 days, officials said.

Alan Hayashi, BAE's director of public relations here, said the job cutbacks are in "direct response" to Pentagon budget cuts.

U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii said the furloughs are a result of funding shortfalls in the Army's "force generation" maintenance program and are not part of the upcoming possibility of sequestration….

Elmore has been a heavy equipment mechanic with BAE at Schofield for 61⁄2 years, making almost $30 an hour as the primary breadwinner for his family. On Tuesday he was at the unemployment office with co-workers.

Those affected by the furloughs include mechanics, welders and painters who work on Army vehicles.

Robert Lillis, president of Machinists Union Local 1998, which represents about 100 of those furloughed Schofield contract workers, said the Army is withholding funds from BAE because of the budget uncertainty.

"I'll be frank: I'd like the public to know how this is the beginning (of budget cuts), and this is not a good thing," Lillis said. "We don't need a lot of unemployed people right now."

read … Sequester

3 hour airport security waits under sequester

WE: The travel industry is warning that airport security line wait times could stretch to three hours after mandatory funding cuts kick in March 1.

Top congressional aides and the U.S. Travel Association tell Secrets that under the looming budget sequester, an hour will be added to security waits at the nation's largest and busiest airports due to necessary Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Custom and Border Protection furloughs required to meet the funding cuts.

And once travelers pop out of those security lines they will likely face even longer waits since cuts in Federal Aviation Administration staff will result in reduced air traffic control and longer delays.

Customs furloughs will hit especially hard in international passenger areas where check-ins for those returning to or visiting the United States can experience two hour waits already. "Wait times getting back into the country projected at three or more hours," said a travel industry source.

read … Washington Monument Gambit

Star-Adv: Tents and sidewalks don't mix

SA: Bills 6 and 7, which will get their first hearing today, deserve consideration. Prompted by the growing visibility of squatters on public sidewalks, renewed efforts must be made on legislation to reclaim these areas for all.

As currently written, the bills seem certain to draw a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, but the organization has indicated willingness to meet with city attorneys to find a middle ground.

There must be a way for the city to keep sidewalks clear without running afoul of the Constitution. Otherwise the persistent problem of camping on common areas around town will continue to damage impressions of the city taken away by Waikiki tourists.

The clutter and obstruction of walkways is trying the patience of many isle residents, as well….

To that end, vigorous discussion on the proposed bills must yield improvement.

read … Homelessness Industry

HPD officer investigated for 'pepper pellets' incident caught on camera

KHON2 news has learned the officer used a non standard issue weapon on a homeless man and was caught on camera.

HPD says an incident allegedly occurred several weeks ago with an on-duty officer, with possibly pepper pellets.

Sources say it was an officer in the North Shore-Wahiawa area who was filmed firing the weapon at a homeless man in Haleiwa. Only special police units at special events are allowed to carry such a weapon.

"It's very disturbing if in fact that happened, because that's not what we train our officers to do, not what we expect from any officers to do, so without a doubt if there is an outcry from the public that's rightfully so," says Tenari Maafala, SHOPO Hawaii President.

Maafala says pepper pellets are normally for SWAT and the Crime Reduction Unit officers who are trained to carry the weapons for use during riots or events like APEC.

read … On Camera

Property Forfeiture bill advances

HTH: HRS 712a lays out a number of drug-related crimes, as well as felonies, for which the state may seize property. SB 1342 adds “any violation of laws or rules that is charged as a petty misdemeanor.”

Solomon has run afoul of some of those administrative rules, although not ones listed as being petty misdemeanors. In 2011, she was taken before the Board of Land and Natural Resources to face charges that she had a bulldozer access a North Kona property she owned by crossing state land without a permit. The final report found she violated two administrative rules and required her to take corrective actions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii testified against the bill, claiming it would give significant financial incentive to law enforcement agencies to profit from arresting people. People unfairly targeted by the bill would have to file a claim to get their property back, ACLU officials said, and the police could keep any items someone did not claim.

“It is unlikely that regular folks whose property is taken will be equipped to seek out the appropriate statute and comply with the requirements for making a claim,” ACLU staff attorney Laurie Temple wrote. “SB 1342 expands asset forfeiture to petty misdemeanors, which means that individuals who commit minor crimes, such as trespassing on private property or staying in a park after hours, are subject to asset forfeiture.”

read … Forfeiture

State might OK red-light cameras

SA: A new bill to install red-light cameras at intersections across Oahu is gaining speed, and state lawmakers are encouraged that this year’s effort could succeed where previous attempts hit the skids.

Senate Bill 693 would create a three-year pilot program allowing for cameras to catch and cite drivers who run red lights. Similar red-light camera programs have been implemented across the U.S., but such traffic enforcement has also attracted debate. In 2011 Los Angeles County opted to cancel its controversial camera program when officials there revealed that the fines issued to drivers were voluntary.

Efforts to create a red-light camera program in Hawaii have died in years past. However, SB 693’s backers say this year is different because it’s advancing in the Senate — the chamber where the idea previously stalled.

read … They’re Baaaack

New take on city park law OKs vendors at festivals

SA: The Haleiwa Arts Festival and Wahiawa's Pineapple Festival can continue as in previous years following a change in the interpretation of a new law governing commercial activity at city parks.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Tuesday that city attorneys say it's OK for nonprofit events such as the Haleiwa Arts Festival and Pineapple Festival to be held, even if they include for-profit vendors who may be brought in to provide anything from food to electronic rides.

Organizers had been turned away when they went to the Department of Parks and Recreation for permits to hold both events in 2013.

"An overly broad interpretation of legislation that was passed last year by the Parks Department … is going to be rolled back," Caldwell said at a news conference. Attorneys with the Department of Corporation Counsel confirmed the interpretation "should be much more narrow."

read … Just Change the Interpretation

Board of Education Spurs DOE Officials To Fix School Bus Program Faster

CB: “At some point you got to move to the next level,” Board member Brian De Lima told Ray L’Heureux, the assistant superintendent who oversees the $70 million school bus program. “I would like to have a better understanding of when that’s going to occur.”

De Lima said he wants a concrete timeline and more details of what school officials are doing to address the systematic flaws identified last year by the state auditor and an outside consultant.

L’Heureux said it’s difficult to lay out a calendar because there are so many moving parts. In particular, he highlighted a pair of bills moving through the Legislature this session that would change how the department contracts school bus services.

Dozens of contracts are up for renewal in June, L’Heureux said. If the department was doing business as usual, he said those would already have been renewed without any amendments to bring down costs and stimulate competition.

Contract costs more than doubled after bidding among contractors abruptly stopped in 2006. Civil Beat has documented the runaway costs in its Taken for a Ride investigative series.

Senate Bill 1082 and Senate Bill 1083, along with their House companion measures, would give the Department of Education more flexibility in handling the contracts. The legislation has cleared the education committees. The money committees will vote on the bills Thursday morning.

The board took an official position on the bills Tuesday, voting to support both.

KITV: Out-of-control costs force systemic school bus changes

read … Board of Education Spurs DOE Officials To Fix School Bus Program Faster

Charter School Employee Challenges Status as State Employee, Ethics Fine

HTH: Hilo-based attorney Ted Hong filed on Friday an appeal with the Hilo Circuit Court on behalf of Boyd. Chief among his complaints is the fact that the commissioners found Boyd to be an employee of the state at a November hearing in Hilo. As such, he would be subject to state ethics laws.

That finding “has a far-reaching effect for all charter schools,” he said Tuesday. “For three lay people (on the ethics commission) unfamiliar with the mission of charter schools to decide on their function is wrong. … They’re just looking to fit a square peg in a round hole. They don’t care how unique the charter school mission is.”

Additionally, Hong said he would seek appeal on the grounds that his client’s due process rights were violated due to what he says was the extended amount of time it took for the state to investigate and then hold a hearing concerning the ethics complaints.

Related: Ethics: Charter School Employee Fined $10K

read … Charter school employee fined $10,000 for ethics violation

UH might tighten reins on its execs’ sabbaticals

SA: University of Hawaii executives who take sabbaticals would have to make clear how their paid time away will benefit the institution, under a proposal set to go before the Board of Regents on Thursday.

They would also earn while on sabbatical the salary they’ll receive upon their return to the university, rather than automatically keep their executive pay, which is often higher.

The amendments to board policy are in response to public criticism of large salaries some UH executives have received while on sabbatical.

read … Fancy Word for a Really Long Paid Vacation

Advocates Suddenly Find 293 More Illegal immigrants Who might qualify for in-state tuition

SA: The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is considering a policy change that would give undocumented immigrants such as Cortes the chance to qualify for resident tuition rates at a UH community college or four-year campus.

The board is scheduled to take up the proposal Thursday morning at its monthly meeting in Hilo.

Cortes was poised to go to college and had just been awarded financial aid to attend UH Maui College when she learned, just before graduating from high school, that she didn't have papers to be here legally, which disqualified her for resident tuition.

Full-time nonresident tuition at Maui College is $8,736 per semester, nearly three times the resident tuition of $2,940….

Advocates of the policy estimate that as many as 300 full-time students would qualify for resident tuition.

Feb 17: UH Finds only SEVEN Illegals Among Student Body

read …  Now its 300?

Show Us The Money: Bill Calls For Early Financial Disclosure

CB: Hawaii legislators are required to file public financial disclosure statements by May 31 of each year.

But that falls after the end of the regular legislative session, which usually wraps up business by the first week in May….

House Bill 1132, which passed a second House committee Tuesday and now heads to the floor for a full vote, would move the disclosure deadline to between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission supports HB 1132.

"By moving the filing requirement to January 31, legislators' financial disclosure statements would be made available to the public early in the legislative session," the commission testified. "This earlier disclosure, in turn, would enable the public to assess a legislator's actions or positions against the legislator's publicly disclosed financial interests."

ILind: Support timely financial disclosures by state legislators

read … Show Us the Money

Will Local Taxation Drive Gasoline Above $5.00 Per Gallon As A Norm?

WS24/7: The news flow on the price of gasoline is rather concerning. 24/7 Wall St. just took a look at the states that have the highest gasoline prices in America. After personally paying about $99 at the pump this weekend, I wanted to see which cities were bilking their citizens the most. As expected, major metros in California led the list even though Hawaii beat California on the list of states.
What consumers need to understand is that this is not just the
oil companies nor just the refineries bilking them. When you see crazy gasoline prices persisting over and over and when oil is not above $100 per barrel, you can generally blame the cities, counties, or state because the federal taxes and fees are generally fixed. GasBuddy.com showed these five cities as being in the top twenty which are not in California:

  • 7) Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 10) Chicago, Illinois
  • 15) New York, New York
  • 17) Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • 18) Long Island, NY

The list from GasBuddy.com showing the twenty cities with the highest average gasoline prices.

Read … Will Local Taxation Drive Gasoline Above $5.00 Per Gallon As A Norm?

Workboat Magazine LTE: Jones Act Reform

WB: The NTJAR initiative would only exempt the Jones Act noncontiguous domestic trades — Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico — from the U.S.-build requirement of the Jones Act and only for large self-propelled oceangoing merchant ships.

This proposal originated with the HSC and does not have a mainland counterpart as did previous reform efforts during the late 1990s led by Rob Quartel and the Jones Act Reform Coalition. We are not proposing to repeal the Jones Act nor create a full exemption for Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and Puerto Rico.

The NTJAR would not change the existing U.S.-owned and -crewed provisions of the Jones Act as they currently apply to the noncontiguous domestic trades. It would not allow foreign-flag ships, foreign seamen or foreign shipowners in any domestic trade where they are not currently allowed.

The NTJAR would not apply to the domestic tug and barge industry in the U.S. including in the Jones Act noncontiguous jurisdictions. It would not affect any domestic shipping along the coasts of the contiguous U.S. mainland, in the intercoastal trades, on the inland waterways, or on the Great Lakes. It would not negatively impact any maritime industry jobs in Hawaii and the other noncontiguous jurisdictions and it would not have any material adverse effect on national security.

read … Workboat

 

 

Lawsuit: Was SSgt Killed by Defective Mortar Round?

CN: Improper witness testimony tainted the trial over an allegedly defective mortar cartridge that killed and injured soldiers, a lawyer told the 9th Circuit.

Stephanie Rodriguez became a widow on March 10, 2006, when an 81mm mortar cartridge exploded prematurely in an Army training exercise in Hawaii. The blast killed Staff Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez and injured Samuel Oyola-Perez, Julius Riggins and Wilfredo Dayandante.

In 2010, a federal jury sided with General Dynamics, the Virginia-based manufacturer of the cartridge, against the ensuing product liability claims.

Hoping to revive the suit, attorney Ward Brown said that the trial had improperly allowed admitted testimony from investigator Philip Leong.

read … Army Exercise Appeal

Hawaii Happiest State in USA

TA: Sorry, Louisiana, you are the saddest state. And Hawaii (shocker!) you are the happiest.

That's according to a team at the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who posted their new analysis of 10 million geotagged tweets to to arXiv.org. They call their creation a "hedonometer."

read … The Atlantic

Army seeks community input for marine study
News Release from US Army -- SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The U.S. Army is seeking 
public comments through March 22 on a draft sampling and analysis plan to study 
marine resources at Makua Beach and surrounding areas.

This draft plan is part of an overarching supplemental marine resources study to determine whether military activities at Makua Military Reservation have contributed or will contribute to contamination of the marine resources near Makua, and whether the proposed Army training activities at MMR pose a health risk to area residents who rely on these marine resources for food or other purposes.

The community can view or download the plan online at www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/makua. Click "2013 Draft MR Study" on the left side of the page. The plan is also available at the Waianae, Kapolei and Waialua public libraries, under the title "Draft Supplemental Marine Resources Sampling and Analysis Plan, Makua Military Reservation, Oahu,Hawaii."

Comments may be submitted by email at usaghi.pao.comrel@us.army.mil or by mail to: U.S. Army Garrison - Hawaii, Environmental Division, Attn: Marine Study - Public Comments, 948 Santos Dumont Ave., Schofield Barracks, HI96857.

The community will also have an opportunity to provide comments in person during a public meeting, Feb. 20, at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School(89-980 Nanakuli Ave., Waianae). The meeting will consist of an informal information session from 6:30-7 p.m., with Army subject matter experts available to answer questions about the study, followed by a facilitated public comment session from 7-9:30 p.m.

Comments must be emailed or postmarked no later than March 22. Individuals who have questions about submitting comments can call (808) 656-3089. The Army will take all public comments into consideration before finalizing the plan.

Once the draft plan is finalized, the next step in the study will be to conduct species sampling in the ocean and analysis of the samples. The Army will continue to engage the community throughout the study.

The supplemental marine resources study was ordered by the Federal District Court June 20, 2012. The Army appreciates the community's interest and involvement in this study.

2013 VEX PAN PACIFIC Information

News Release from www.hawaiiroc.org/ -- This year's game, SACK ATTACK, is played on a 12’x12’ square field configured as seen above. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver- controlled play.

The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing Alliance by Scoring Sacks and Bonus Sacks in your colored Floor Goals, Troughs and High Goal, and by having the most Robots of your color Parked at the end of the Match.

Over 100 teams from Hawaii, Taiwan, China, and all across the world will be competing in the annual Pan Pacific competition on February 22-24, 2013 at the Hawaii Convention Center.  

This amazing event will bring together teams from around the world and will also qualify top teams to compete in additional tournaments including the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, California.

2013 FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION Information

The 2013 game, ULTIMATE ASCENT, is played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many flying discs into their goals as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Matches end with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field.

The kick-off launches an intense six-week build season in which Hawaii’s teams will construct their robots for competition from a common kit of parts.  Over the next six weeks, Hawaii’s students will test their team-building skills as well as their construction skills by working with their fellow students, teachers and professional mentors.

Forty teams from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Australia, China and Taiwan will compete at the 6th Annual FIRST in Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition on April 4-6, 2013 at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sheriff Center.

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