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Friday, February 22, 2013
February 22, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:41 PM :: 4956 Views

SB120: $3.5B Rate Hike and No Natural Gas for Hawaii

Could Soda Tax Shutter Hawaii's Only Can Maker?

Hawaii Foreclosure Relief: 1,468 Homeowners Get $158M Wiped off Books

Did murder suspect have help escaping?

KHON: A string of errors allowed Teddy Munet to make his escape, and authorities tell KHON2 there were so many that they're looking into whether others helped him.

Could all the broken protocols be part of a premeditated getaway? Authorities aren't ruling it out as they grapple with how so much could have gone so wrong.

Who and what is to blame for the escape that led to a day of fear throughout Honolulu? where to start:

  • Vans should be off-loaded inside a secure gated area under the court -- but not Teddy Munet's van Wednesday.
  • A miscommunication about the kind of hearing he was heading to meant he should have been in prison garb, not street clothes.
  • The protocol and timeline for notifying police wasn't followed.
  • As for a longstanding written procedure for leg shackles in transport, we saw it enforced today at the courthouse, and yesterday some with Munet were chained up that way, but not him.

"This is one of your baddest guys, and he's the one who doesn't have the leg shackles?" KHON2 asked Public Safety Director Ted Sakai.

"That's obviously of real concern to me, that's why one of the questions of OCCC I need to know is everybody who was transported, who was in shackles and who wasn't?" Sakai said. "And how they made the decision to put some inmates in shackles and other not."

It's one error after another, enough to make you wonder, is it possible that someone was trying to help him out?

"Oh it's very possible, and we are looking at that. That's part of the investigation," Sakai said….

As KHON2 reported from our exclusive interview with the woman he tried to carjack, her call to police came before the escape was confirmed to HPD. According to Sakai, protocol is that the corrections officer should notify OCCC, and the facility would contact police and sheriffs.

"It appears that the carjacking-attempt victim was actually first to reach police with her 9-1-1 call, police contacted Public Safety and asked what was going on. What do you think of that?" KHON2 asked Sakai….

KHON2 found there have been 56 first and second-degree escapes within public safety's jurisdiction over the past three and a half fiscal years ….

Halawa and out-of-state contractors reported no escapes.

read … Public Safety Department

Chevron: We’re Staying, But Prices are Going Up

CB: This leaves Chevron as Hawaii’s sole refinery. Last month, Fereidun Fesharaki, an oil expert and fellow at the East-West Center predicted that Chevron would also close its Hawaii refinery in the next couple of years.

The refinery is facing several economic challenges that could impact its future profitability, including stricter environmental controls and a state policy mandating a switch to more renewables and a major reduction in overall electricity use. The Abercrombie administration has also backed imports of liquefied natural gas as a replacement for oil.

For now, Chevron says that it's committed to the Hawaii market.

“Chevron has been in the islands for over 100 years,” said Albert Chee, a spokesman for Chevron. “It is our intention to be here as long as it makes sense to be here.”

Still, Chee said that the refinery’s profitability has eroded over the years.

Chee said that if both refineries close, fuel prices in Hawaii will likely go up.

"The fact that you have refineries on the island would have to mean that it is cheaper to refine gasoline in Hawaii than it is to import it," he said….

Lim said that the success of the group will ultimately depend on the participation of its members. He said it was hard to limit the size.  "That is your ecosystem and it's hard to exclude anyone," he said. (Except for the Tesoro workers, they can be excluded.)

Governor Excludes Union from Refinery Task Force

read … Prices Going Up

Danger: Senate Ways and Means Moves 70 Bills

AP: The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee is advancing a bill allowing the state to partner with private companies to develop public school land.

The measure is among more than 70 bills the committee considered Thursday.

The committee approved a bill to create a school readiness program for preschool-aged kids. But it's waiting until next week to vote on a proposal establishing state-sponsored preschool.

The governor says the preschool initiatives are his top priority this session.

The committee is also delaying a decision on a bill reforming the state's charter schools.

The senators advanced a bill providing affordable loans for green energy infrastructure and bills to help Hawaii rely more on local food and less on imports.

They also approved bills to fund indigenous filmmaking and aerospace research

read … Danger

Solar Loans to Help Scammers Make Out Big

HNN: Two bills moving through both the Senate (SB 1087) and House (HB 856) would allow the state to issue bond-financed loans for renewable energy systems. Under the green infrastructure financing – consumers would repay the loans from the energy savings on their electric bills without the up front costs. 

"A homeowner or a renter who's getting solar on their home would do it the same way they do it now, they'd use a contractor, the system would be installed but  instead of having to write a giant check they would pay it off overtime as part of their utility bill," said Cisco DeVries, President of Renewable Funding – a California-based firm that specializes in financing solutions for renewable energy.  "It should be very simple and it should really make it easier for a lot of people who could save money now to start saving money."

The revenue bonds would be backed by the public benefits fee residents are already charged on their electric bill. The on-bill financing model has proven successful in other industries, but experts say it would be a first for clean energy. It's being heralded as a game changer—a way to make renewable energy affordable and available to the masses. 

It will be sometime before green infrastructure financing will be available to the public. First the state legislature must pass the bills that will provide the framework for securitization. Then the Public Utilities Commission would need to issue an order outlining the program, which includes lending criteria and repayment terms. Officials say they hope to expedite the process so that green infrastructure financing is available by 2015.

read … scammers laugh all the way to the bank

Snow, Wind Rail Lash Isles as Global Cooling Intensifies

SA: Photos – snow, wind, rain  “Forecasters are also predicting snow above 8,000 feet as moist clouds hit the very cold air over Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Six to 12 inches of snow could fall through 6 a.m.”

SA: Cottage swept away in Upcountry Maui, heavy rain falling in east

Newsflash: Al Gore sells out to Big Oil

MRC Greenwood: I’m Gone in 2015

KHON: "I had the support and also I believed that many of the issues it raised had simply been resolved," answers Greenwood. "including the issues with Governor Abercrombie."

"Well, let me put it this way, I think the governor and I share one great passion and that is we'd like to see the University of Hawaii be the best that it can be and I think in all the brouhaha that went on perhaps that got overshadowed."

Commenting on the issue with Governor Abercrombie, Greenwood says, "We had a misunderstanding and I hope that's all it is."

Since perhaps becoming a single mom after a marriage out of high school ended. She was able to become a scientist, professor, college administrator thanks to an anonymous donor who paid her tuition at Vassar College.

"So so much of what I've done in education has been shaped by that single moment," she explained. "That someone else cared enough to try to help me get an education. And I've always felt ever since then that I needed to make the most of it."

…But would she stay beyond the end of her contract in mid-2015, if a new one was offered?

"Oh boy, that's a really hard question to answer but not because of the stress or any of this, hat's more related to where I am with my family, my age, how much energy I still have at that point," noted Greenwood.

She would be 72 years old.  Her family? Her son who is now 51, her grandchildren and her partner, biologist Patricia Johnson.

"How long have you and Pat been together," asked KHON2's Kathy Muneno.

"It will be 50 years next year," Greenwood said.

Bio: Patricia Johnson

VIDEO: Pt 1 Interview

VIDEO: Pt 2 Interview



HB713: Will Block Police from Investigating Applicants

The Honolulu and Maui police departments opposed the original draft of House Bill 713 at a Feb. 8 hearing before the House Labor and Public Employment Committee because it would have prevented law enforcement agencies from requesting personal account information from applicants as part of in-depth, routine background checks.

That committee inserted into the bill an exemption for law enforcement agencies that would allow them to request user names and passwords for social media or other personal accounts, but the House Judiciary Committee removed that addition Thursday.

"Law enforcement will still be able to do background checks on their new employees, which they need to and have to do," Rep. Karl Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said to committee members when proposing the change. "But my concern is that being able to get into people's social media accounts is very close to going through people's mail."

Rep. Derek Kawakami (D, Hana­lei-Princeville-Kapaa) voiced concern over taking out the law enforcement exemption.

Rhoads agreed that police departments need "be more intrusive than most employers," but reiterated his concern that without the proposed legislation, they are "being given a search warrant to just dig around in someone's private affairs without any inhibition whatsoever."

Rep. Sharon Har (D, Kapo­lei-Maka­kilo), vice chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee, agreed with Kawa­kami and questioned whether online posts can ever truly be private.

"In my opinion privacy and social networking seem somewhat oxymoronic," Har said. "People have a social network, they're involved in social networking, because they want the public to know about their lives, and so to not carve out an exception for law enforcement — I have serious reservations about this."

read … Helping Crooks become Cops

After Decades, Hilo Teachers, Parents Tired of Albertini’s BS, Tell Surrender Monkeys to get new Spokesman

HTH: Librarian Amy Okuyama, whose son serves in the military, objected to (being forced to host) the presentation (in her library-classroom), which she said would be one-sided, in a Feb. 15 email….

Dircks said Thursday morning … he received about 50 emails ….

Okuyama told the Tribune-Herald that while she disagrees with Albertini’s views, she would not have objected to him speaking to students if another viewpoint was offered.

She said she didn’t see cancelling the presentation as the best solution but called it a good call based on Dircks’ reasoning.

“I think a better resolution would be to have Mr. Albertini on and bring in another point of view,” Okuyama said….

“I think the message to teachers is to don’t invite people that don’t support the standard position of U.S. military policy,” Albertini said. “I think it contributes to a climate of fear.”

Dircks disagreed, saying that other points of view are welcome.  “I don’t think it was (about being) anti-war or anything,” he said. “I think it was that Mr. Albertini has some baggage he is bringing with him that’s not easily to forget through the years.”  BINGO!

“I am for freedom of speech,” Okuyama said. “I think that a compromise could have been made,” she added.

HFP: Pohakuloa protesters: Marines are "Dirty Bumbs"

HFP: Hawaii DLNR gives 11 acres to 9-11 truther group

read … Activist’s talk at Hilo High cancelled over controversy

With American Military on Decline, Time to Focus on Gay Sex

Borreca: In just one day this week, this newspaper reported that 125 BAE System workers at Schofield Barracks would be furloughed for 30 days.

The economic news darkened as we also reported that 327 Sears Ala Moana workers will lose their jobs outright in June.

Finally if the Tesoro refinery closes, another 250 local workers may be unemployed.

Unfortunately, these job losses are being described not as momentary glitches but instead, as the tip of an iceberg of upcoming bad economic news….

The state Legislature and governor have little sway in moving the federal government out of a sequestration mode, but a new (totally bogus) report (designed to suit a pre-determined agenda) from the University of Hawaii does show a new source of money: gay marriage.

It will not replace changing the tires on C-130s or restocking nuclear subs, but it could be another turn for the marriage business, part of the tourist industry that is doing fine.…

How Profitable is this? -- $5M Settlement in Homosexual Rape Gang case at DoE Blind-Deaf School

read … Decadence Personified

Regents Flatter Themselves Seven Illegals Get Discount Tuition so BoR can “Do the Right Thing”

CB: Lui Hokoana, the university’s associate vice president for student affairs, said the immediate financial impacts on the university would be minimal. Only seven current students would see their tuition decrease, he said. However, he estimated that number could grow to about 300 because many students who now cannot afford non-resident tuition would likely enroll. 

The change is not expected to affect admissions in most instances because most programs allow anyone meeting minimum requirements to enroll. However, Hokoana said, the change could have an impact in some specialized programs that are largely limited to Hawaii residents.

According to the transcript, Regent John Holzman said, “This is absolutely an opportunity for us to do the right thing.” (If so, then why is it ‘right’ to keep raising everyone else’s tuition?)

CB: Family Reunification Should Be Top Priority, Local Groups Say

read … Do The Right Thing

Abercrombie Fails on Elevator Inspections

CB: …backlogs in at least one department — elevator inspections — may take years to rectify. Abercrombie's statement gives the impression that services have been completely restored, when in fact they are still in progress. The claim is misleading, and overstates the true state of affairs.

read … Elevator Inspections

Hawaii Supreme Court hears Sunshine Law case: Kanahele v. Maui County

DN: In this case, of course we do not know how the Supreme Court will rule. The actions in question are the serial recessing of a meeting by the Land Use Committee of the Maui County Council. Over and over again the meetings were recessed so no public notice of their meetings was given. In fact, they did this twelve (count ‘em, 12) times. At the same time, the members circulated correspondence to conduct the Council’s business. 

The actions are not in dispute, only whether they were legal or not….

Should the Supreme Court rule that the County Council actions were legal, we can expect to see the Sunshine Law gutted as other organizations take to recessing their meetings instead of adjourning them at the end of the day. We can expect that there would be more correspondence by email or otherwise carried out away from public view. The Supreme Court would, in effect, be establishing a blueprint for gutting the Sunshine law.

While I hesitate to guess how a court will rule, the questions asked by the justices seemed to indicate that they were concerned whether or not the public actually had access to the serially-recessed meetings, and whether the meetings were held “as openly as possible” (paraphrase).

read … Sunshine Law

Union Power Ensures Hawaii Has Hefty Government Labor Force

HR: After former Gov. Linda Lingle cut the government workforce in 2009 and 2010 by between 7 percent and 10 percent, and furloughed others because of challenging economic times, the state’s public unionized employees were in an uproar.

Agricultural Department inspectors claimed invasive species would take over Hawaii; teachers said students would not get an education; product inspectors said consumers would be cheated; and tax department personnel said back taxes would not be collected in a timely manner, thus compounding Hawaii’s state government financial woes.

Since the less fiscally conservative Gov. Neil Abercrombie took office in 2010, he’s looked for “revenue enhancements” – tax and fee hikes – to increase his budget so he could restore many of the state government positions. He is increasing his budget in the next two years by 8 percent and 11 percent respectively. Even with this effort, Abercrombie is still fighting with union leaders, including the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which wants pay cuts during the Lingle administration restored and a pay increase on top of that.

A recent poll by Gallup shows Hawaii has the third highest number of government employees in the nation, just behind Washington DC and Alaska.

read … Government

Star-Adv: Allow limited-service hotels

SA: Bill 12-75 was kicked back on Wednesday to the Council Planning and Zoning Committee to add a requirement that a limited-service hotel with more than 180 rooms get Council approval as well as a conditional use permit from the Department of Planning and Permitting….

The principal opposition to the bill has come from Unite Here! Local 5, a union representing hotel and restaurant workers, which has proposed requiring an onerous list of criteria that permit applicants would need to meet.

For instance, the union wants city officials to weigh the operator's plans for "quality, living-wage, stable and full-time perma- nent jobs."

Objections from various opponents also include the concern that the limited-service approach would be adopted by other hotels and reduce the size of the workforce hired in the industry, and that the lodges would be able to afford higher rents and ace out other enterprises seeking a spot in mixed-use zones.

If anything, however, the limited-service hotel would add employment opportunities for West and Central Oahu residents, many of whom would like the chance to commute to work closer to home.

And, as some have pointed out in hearings, the allowance for motel-style lodgings in the airport district did not crowd out other businesses in that area, so there's little to suggest it would in West Oahu.

Unrelated: State let Maui resort use beach without public notice, suit claims

read … Union Power

Defense Witnesses in Jimmy Pflueger's Federal Tax Fraud Trial Include Well Known Politicians

HR: The defense plans to call several well-known people to the stand to testify on Pflueger’s behalf including former state Senator Fred Hemmings and former City Council Member John Desoto. Charles Alan Pflueger, Jimmy Pflueger’s son, is on the defense's witness list as is Jimmy Pflueger himself.

Jimmy Pflueger maintains he is innocent and blames his accountant and dealership staff for the tax fraud. However, four people have already pled guilty in the case, including Jimmy Pflueger’s son Charles Alan, who now owns and runs the Pflueger dealership empire, and the Pfluegers' accountant Dennis Duban.

read … Politicians

Hawaii Appeals to be UAV Test Site

GSN: Jim Williams, director of the FAA’s UAS integration office, announced the schedule at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Program Review 2013, which took place in McLean, VA.

“When will the test site selection begin? I’m sure all of you are asking that,” Williams said in his keynote presentation at the conference on Feb. 13, according to the association. “And the answer is we’re getting closer every day, very close as a matter of fact. My office is working diligently to release the screening information request, and we are committed to releasing it before the end of this month.”

The FAA has been under pressure from some of the states hoping to host the six proposed test sites to move ahead with the program.

The sites are expected to generate millions in revenue and create thousands of jobs in each location that’s ultimately chosen. Twenty-six states, including those as diverse as, Hawaii, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, have expressed interest in hosting one of the test sites.

read … Drones

Intelligence: North Korea set to conduct intermediate-range missile test

WFB: North Korea appears to be preparing for a test launch of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile that would further heighten tensions in the region following an underground nuclear test earlier this month.

Test preparations for the launch of a road-mobile Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile were spotted recently by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Signs at a remote missile base include indicators of fueling for the road-mobile Musudan missile, classified as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), said officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Comrade Style: South Koreans' Gangnam protest against North's nuclear test - video

Wikipedia: BM-25 Musudan

read … Nork Missile Test

Anti-GMO Activists Vandalize Kauai Roads

KGI: Kaua‘i residents may have seen a onslaught of anti-GMO symbols spray painted on area roads and signs.

The current rash of handwritten anti-GMO signs, which depict the word GMO in the center of a circle with a slash through it, have stretched across a full traffic lane and popped up in several places, including by the pedestrian crosswalk for Opaeka‘a Falls, on the Kuhio Highway near the entrance to Kaua‘i Beach Resort and on Kaumuali‘i Highway before it splits into Kuhio Highway and Rice Street….

“Our procedure is to file a police report with Kaua‘i Police,” Sluyter said. “In general for graffiti on state DOT property we have our own crews paint over it, if at all possible.”

Sluyter added that, “vandalism, such as graffiti on state highways or state property, diverts our workforce and resources away from maintaining our state roads.”

read … Road crews work to remove anti-GMO graffiti

Kawamoto Houses Used for Crack, Meth

HNN: Longtime Kawamoto opponent Mark Blackburn of Black Point cited a Hawaii News Now report which showed evidence of drug use at some of the properties.

"We should contact the federal authorities and have them do an investigation because these properties are not only blighted, they're crack houses. They're meth houses. It's totally out of control," said Blackburn.

read … Drug Houses



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