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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
February 26, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:20 PM :: 4844 Views

The Numbers Don’t Match: Obama vs Harkin on Hawaii Sequester Impact

OHA Offers Cash Prizes for Weight Loss

DoE Cash Rewards for Academic Progress

Designed to Fail? HECO Seeks Green Energy Projects on Oahu

23 Hawaii Robotics Teams Qualify for VEX World Championships

UHERO: Minimum Wage Hike Unlikely to Help Working Poor

DoE: ‘No Impact’ from Sequester

SA: Hawaii public schools won't immediately feel the effects of across-the-board federal budget cuts set to begin Friday, school officials said.

That's despite a new White House report spelling out close to $7 million in potential federal cuts Hawaii's public schools would face this year under sequestration. Effects would include possible layoffs of an estimated 80 teachers and aides, the report said.

State Schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi said the state already has most of its federal education funding in hand for the current school year.

"We are funded through this school year for most of our federal funding," Mata­yo­shi told the Star-Advertiser on Monday, "so there would be no impact on the current school year," which ends in May. (Oooops!)

SA: Prepare for impact of sequestration

Related: The Numbers Don’t Match: Obama vs Harkin on Hawaii Sequester Impact

Reality: Bob Woodward: Sequester Was Obama's Idea

read … No Impact

Non-Profits Have No Idea of Sequestration Effect

SA: "I don't think we're really understanding the ripple effect that it's going to have in the community," said Lisa Maru­yama, president and CEO of the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations.

Nonprofits say they're considering doomsday scenarios as they attempt to figure out how the cuts in federal spending will affect their bottom lines.

"The problem is, we don't know" just how deep the spending cuts to nonprofits will be, said Norm Baker, chief operating officer of Aloha United Way.

On the bright side, she said, the federal cuts are not expected to have a significant "direct impact" on Helping Hands Hawaii, which provides emergency rent subsidies and other assistance to low-income families.

Lyn Moku, director of Lana­kila Meals on Wheels, said she's not yet sure how much her program will be affected by the sequester

Related: The Numbers Don’t Match: Obama vs Harkin on Hawaii Sequester Impact

Reality: Bob Woodward: Sequester Was Obama's Idea

read … Only Guessing

Abercrombie Soda Tax Simplistic and Simple-Minded

SA: Too frequently simple solutions are sought. Based on J. Edward Russo and Paul J.H. Schoemaker's book, "Decision Traps: The Ten Barriers to Brilliant Decision-Making and How to Overcome Them," we are likely caught in their first two decision traps:

1. Plunging In — in other words, gathering data and researching conclusions before really thinking about the issues involved in childhood obesity;

2. Frame blindness — or setting out to solve the wrong problem.

QUESTION: What are some of the key factors we may be missing as we seek solutions to the weight problem?

ANSWER: While no one disagrees that weight gain is a result of a "caloric imbalance" (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed), the reasons for this imbalance are likely more complex than they seem. For example, research indicates that active, lean children consume more calories than overweight or obese children. Consequently, it is possible that we need to determine why some children are too inactive in comparison with their calorie consumption….

Hard problems are rarely solved by simple solutions. We need to make fewer assumptions and start tackling the real problems behind excess weight gain.

read … Simple-minded Hippie Wrong Again

Solar Scammers Seek Free Reign Over General Fund

SA: A bill that would reduce the amount of credit homeowners receive for excess electricity produced by their rooftop photovoltaic systems was roundly criticized by industry officials and other renewable energy proponents the usual suspects who testified against the measure at a hearing Monday.

State Rep. Denny Coffman (D, Holua­loa-Kailua-Kona-Hono­ko­hau) said he introduced House Bill 1256 in an attempt to address concerns that the boom in PV installations is reducing the amount of revenue Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries are able to collect to cover their fixed costs. Those "lost contributions to fixed costs" ultimately are borne by ratepayers who don't have PV systems, according to the bill….

Under Coffman's proposal, HECO customers would be compensated for excess energy production at a lower rate, similar to a wholesale rate. The amount would be equal to what HECO pays small energy producers under its feed-in tariff program, currently 21.8 cents a kilowatt-hour. In 2012, HECO customers with PV received an average of 33.2 cents a kilowatt-hour credit for excess electricity….

read … Gimme All Your Money

Good News: Vote By Mail Bills Nearly Dead

Shapiro:  A 100 percent mail-in ballot system was part of Abercrombie's legislative package this year, but it foundered. Of the half-dozen mail-in ballot ideas introduced this year, only Senate Bill 854 is still alive, although just barely.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, noting that "voting by mail will encourage and increase active participation in the electoral process, especially for individuals who find it difficult to get to the polls due to family, work or other obligations."

The House did not move any corresponding legislation, although it is readying a bill that would make it a crime for candidates to touch the ballot or direct someone how to fill in a ballot.

There was a concern last year that at least one candidate was able to mislead the elderly into voting for him by offering to help fill out their ballots.

But none of the all-mail-in voting bills moved in the House.

In the Senate, Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee said he was concerned that an all-mail ballot system was being rushed and would be expensive.

Hee added that the four county clerks, who would have to run the system, were worried because "identifying and implementing an efficient, expeditious and cost-effective process for handling the huge volume of outgoing and incoming mail pieces will be a challenge that may require a complete overhaul of their current operations."

The bill moved from Hee's committee to Ways and Means with warnings that it was "cost prohibitive," and there are no indications that it will survive.

PEW: Vote-by-Mail Favors Old White Democrats

read … All-mail election proposals not getting needed votes 

Same-Day Voter Registration on House Judiciary Agenda

AP: The state House judiciary committee is voting on a bill to improve maximize Hawaii's low voter turnout voter fraud problem by establishing Election Day voter registration.

The Senate judiciary committee is considering a bill to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Thirteen of the state's 25 senators co-sponsored the initiative.

The House judiciary committee is also voting on tougher penalties to curb child prostitution and limitations on the use of leaf blowers.

read … Same Day Registration

Abercrombie Holds $1000/plate DC Fundraiser

CB: Abercrombie held a fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 23, at the West End Bistro, located at 1190 22nd Street NW, WDC.

read … Suggested contribution $1,000.

DATABASE: A Compilation Of Honolulu Police Misconduct

CB: We classified the incidents into 22 categories of misconduct by type. We came up with the categories — for instance, HPD doesn't classify misconduct as domestic violence — that we thought would help readers quickly understand what officers are getting into trouble for and the punishment they receive.

Review the incidents below; you can filter by category and punishment received. To look at each incident and see how we classified it, we've provided a link to the raw data below.

read … Compilation Of Honolulu Police Misconduct

1994: UH Student vs. The Police

CB: On March 29, 1994, nearly 500 police officers staged a show of force at the state courthouse in downtown Honolulu the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the islands before or since.

The huge demonstration was meant to intimidate a handful of University of Hawaii journalism students who wanted to know the names of Honolulu police officers who had been suspended or discharged for misconduct.

Patrol cars took up every parking space around the building, and officers packed into shuttles running between the Blaisdell Center parking lot and Punchbowl Street.

Not only were the students already entitled to the information under the state’s public records law, but a Circuit Court judge and the Hawaii Supreme Court would later rule that the public has a "fundamental" right to know that police power is being kept in check.

Still, Hawaii’s police union worked alongside the Honolulu Police Department and the city to keep information on police misconduct out of the public's hands….

Honolulu media attorney Jeff Portnoy, one of Hawaii’s top First Amendment lawyers, took the students’ case pro bono.

He can still vividly describe the scene, especially the fleet of police cars double-parked around the courthouse. He had trouble even getting into the building, there were so many cops — many of them armed and in uniform — crowding the sidewalks and steps.

Hundreds of officers waved placards, denouncing the state’s public records law and seeking sympathy for police officers against the students. "Cops Are Human Just Like You." "Discipline Police Officers Not Their Families."

Inside the courthouse, officers flooded the hallways and packed the courtroom with their families.

“That whole day is just surreal,” Portnoy said. “At the time I was shocked, scared, nervous. Anybody who wouldn’t would have been lobotomized.” ….

read … Misconduct Disclosure

Settlement over Homosexual Rape Gang at school calls for big changes to campus

KHON: "No formal admission of wrongdoing, but if you take a look at the documents there is no denying what took place," says attorney Eric Seitz.

Seitz says the settlement requires the Department of Education to make sure cameras and lighting on campus are working and in the right area. So there's no more hiding.

"To keep track of students better so they can minimize students being in vulnerable situations," Seitz says.

Some of the alleged abuse took place in bathrooms, in the bushes and on the school bus.

"In past there have not been adequate supervision on the bus so they've agreed to take steps to assign aids, or provide cameras or do both to minimize the risks," Seitz says.

Along with cameras, there's talk of installing tracking systems on the buses. The DOE will also set up sign language classes for drivers.

read … Homosexual Rape Gang

Caldwell Left High and Dry as Mattson’s Pick for Corp Counsel Withdraws

SA: David Arakawa withdrew himself from consideration to become corporation counsel for personal reasons, Ara­kawa and Mayor Kirk Caldwell confirmed Monday in a joint statement to the Star-Advertiser.

Arakawa, who has headed the pro-development nonprofit Land Use Research Foundation since 2007, was Mayor Jeremy Harris' counsel from 1997 to 2005….

Menor said he and other Council members are concerned that two months after the mayor was sworn in, key positions within Caldwell's Cabinet have yet to be filled — chief among them the corporation counsel and budget director. Department financial evaluations have been taking place without a budget director, and the mayor is required to submit operating and capital improvement budgets by Friday.

Background: Caldwell Secretly Appoints ‘Chief of Staff’--Convicted Criminal Harry Mattson, Caldwell Announces Mattson's Cabinet Picks

read … Arakawa takes himself off city appointees list

 

DoE: Only Two Schools Meet Requirements for Instructional Time

 

HNN:  in 2009, Hawaii passed a law creating minimum instructional hours for students. The state evened out elementary schools first, but dealing with the other campuses will be more complicated.

By law, all public schools now have a minimum of 180 instructional days, and elementary schools must provide at least 915 hours of student learning time each school year.

The next phase focuses on 101 middle and high schools. Students have to be offered 990 hours of instruction starting in the 2014 - 2015 school year, but there is a huge difference between some campuses.

"Some schools show 220 hours less than other schools. We do have two schools that make the instructional minutes," said Department of Education superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

"It's a little disheartening to hear that so many are still so far behind, and it looks like they still have a lot of work to do," said Kathy Bryant of Hui for Excellence in Education.

Matayoshi briefed lawmakers on Monday about the state's progress. She pointed out that the legislation focuses on the students' learning time, not the teachers' instructional time, which is in HSTA's contract. However, lengthening the school day would likely affect the union's collective bargaining agreement.

"When if you look in the contract, there's also a breakdown of that 6.5 hours, so if we go beyond the requirements that are currently set in the collective bargaining agreement, that has a potentially significant fiscal impact as well," Matayoshi said.

read … Hawaii strives to provide equal instructional time at schools

$260,000 study tackles UH accountability

SA: A University of Hawaii Board of Regents task group will spend up to $260,000 to conduct a study of accountability in the UH system and lines of responsibility on financial transactions.

The report is being characterized as an opportunity to review operational concerns raised in the wake of last year's botched Stevie Wonder concert, which was to be a benefit for the cash-strapped athletic department but ended up costing the school more than $200,000 in an alleged scam.

James H.Q. Lee, regents vice chairman and a member of the task group, said the study will include interviews of UH administrators, legislators and representatives from the Governor's Office.

He said the examination is unprecedented in its scope.

"We just want to make sure that with every level (at the university) there's accountability," he said. "It's time to make sure that we are following best practices."

The Board of Regents gave the task group the go-ahead last week to begin its work.

read … CYA UH-style

Pro-American Speakers Will no longer be Censored at Hilo HS, Albertini May not Force his way into Teacher’s Classroom

HTH: The controversy started when school Librarian Amy Okuyama wrote a letter to Watts protesting the selection.

The presentation was scheduled for the library, and Okuyama objected to use of the (her) space, claiming the presentation would be biased against the military. Her son serves in the military.

She received support from others opposed to Albertini’s anti-war views.

Okuyama said she is fine with the decision since another speaker will be invited, though probably on a different day.

“I think it’s good that it will be taking place,” Okuyama said. “In this case, they will be having both sides presented.”

read … Pro-American Speakers Will not be Censored

Farmers, Ranchers Question Federal Takeover of 271,062 Hawaii Acres

MN: Farmers, ranchers and private landowners are worried that they could face more government regulations, see their businesses hurt and even be sued if their properties are included in federal proposed critical habitats for threatened and endangered species in Maui County.

The testimony came as the Maui County Council's Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Monday heard a presentation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its proposal to add 38 species to the Federal Endangered Species List and to designate critical habitat for 135 species found on Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Maui.

The federal agency is seeking to designate 271,062 acres of privately owned and state, county and federal land in Maui County as critical habitat. Approximately 47 percent of the land already is designated for endangered species, the service said….

the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service still is considering the exclusion of 40,973 acres of private land from the proposed critical habitat….

Bail questioned how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came up with the proposed critical habitat designations, noting that the agency has designated the 18th hole on The Experience at Koele golf course, part of The Challenge at Manele golf course and the Lanai Cemetery as critical habitat areas.…

Read … Federal Takeover

HB252 Amends Definition of ‘Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituent’

HB252:  According to the bill, the definition would include an ”individual who meets the ancestry requirements of Kamehameha Schools or of the Hawaiian registry program of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.”

HB 252, sponsored by Rep. Faye Hanohano, has a hearing Tuesday (Feb. 26) in House Judiciary.

read … QNHC

HB1374: Amend Procurement Code to Hold Contractors Responsible for Past Performance

WHT: HB 1374, introduced by House Finance Committee Vice Chairman Aaron Ling Johansen, R-Moanalua, would add a mechanism to the procurement code to consider whether a company previously completed projects that had significant delays or cost overruns.

“The usual principle of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder may lead to substandard work, because contractors may artificially lower bids to gain a contract, in spite of a lack of qualifications or worse a record of poor performance in the past,” the bill’s introductory language said….

The bill passed through the House Finance Committee unamended with unanimous support.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he would be tracking the measure as it continued through the Legislature.

“If a contractor has cost taxpayers money and time, then its lack of performance should have some bearing on its ability to get contracts in the future,” Kenoi said….

Labor management consortium Pacific Resource Partnership testified in favor of the measure….

read … Building Code

Bill Would Give Banyan Drive Properties to Hawaii County

BIN: The latest draft of Senate Bill 1361, which was introduced by Sen. Malama Solomon of the Big Island and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz of Oahu, will be taken up at 10:05 a.m. Tuesday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee….

…the bill was amended at the Feb. 5 joint meeting of the Senate committees on Water and Land, chaired by Solomon, and Public Safety Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, chaired by Sen. Will Espero. It was changed to say it involved “certain properties” along Banyan Drive and listed them by tax map key numbers.

The bill’s second draft included another amendment to change the method of transferal to legislative action instead of by governor’s executive order….

read … Banyan Drive

Caldwell hopes to smooth Oahu's ragged streets with $150 million for repair work

SA:  Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other city leaders Monday urged unprecedented spending to repave the city's most damaged and degraded streets through the next five years.

The $150 million Caldwell and the City Council propose for street repaving next fiscal year would almost double what the city spent for such repairs last year. It would also far outpace the meager $6 million or so the city spent in 2002, by comparison, according to Councilman Stanley Chang.

But to get that dramatic boost in paving funds, Chang, Caldwell and other supporters need the Council's approval.

read … Pavement

After Ten Years Obstructing Traffic Lights, Punatics Finally Get their Traffic Circle

CB: The hottest discussion was regarding the roundabout soon to be installed at Pahoa’s “meat grinder” intersection near a new but vacated Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise: the most dangerous intersection in the state. It is a place approximately 100 yards long on the highway that is fed by three different feeder roads. The nearest stoplight (at yet another very dangerous intersection by the high school — accidents galore) is a mile away.

There is nearly one accident per day on the stretch of Highway 130 from Keaau to Pahoa. What is in store for this site of death and demolition: a traffic island where drivers take turns yielding in a set circular pattern. These work well in other countries. Usually, police cameras are set up to record license plates and a ticket will then be mailed to those who do not obey the rules.

Brainchild of the State Department of Transportation and a private architectural firm, Ruderman said it is being put out in Puna "to prove it does not work.” He said this with an ironic smile. Ruderman hopes it works, as do many of his constituents. It might be a beginning to help solve problems of the very busy highway in this boom/bust area of the state.

read … Obstructionism

Lepeuli, Kauai: Trails and Tribulations

HR: Lepeuli, Kauai where a cattle rancher named Bruce Laymon applies for state and county permits for his beef cattle ranch company called Paradise Ranch. Laymon, beneficiary of a highly questionable Hawaii sweetheart deal system known as "after-the- fact" permitting, applied for these permits after the public informed land regulators that he was clearing brush mauka of the public beach there without a permit.

read … Tribulations

HNN Suckered by Bogus “Road Pollution Filter”

HNN: At Kauluwela Elementary School in Kalihi, it's loud in the cafeteria at lunch time but listen closely and besides the din of schoolchildren, the sound of traffic is very loud, even during lunch time when the facility is full of kids.

That's because the H-1 Freeway was built right below the school. A test on campus last year found levels of "road dust" that's 25-percent higher than recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It's known as particulate matter: the fine particles from tires, brake wear, and asphalt.

Retired EPA scientist Gene Tierney heads a nonprofit group called Hawaii Cares, which did the test last year.

SB1319: Sen Chun Oakland falls for Bogus “Road Pollution Filter”

read … A Sales Pitch

Chevron to Waste Money on Least Cost-Effective Form of Solar

PBN: Chevron Corp.’s Hawaii operation is planning to develop a solar thermal demonstration project at its Kapolei refinery, which will be used to offset burning fossil fuels utilized to generate heat and steam for internal use make nice with the solar scammers.

The 15.5-acre project, dubbed the “Chevron Hawaii Concentrated Solar Process,” is expected to break ground in the second half of this year and be operational by the beginning of next year, according to Chevron spokesman Al Chee, who told PBN that a contractor has yet to be chosen.  (It’ll be Sopogy.)

The project is being managed by California-based Chevron Technology Ventures, the research and development arm of Texas-based Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX).

In a final environmental assessment filed with the state office of Environmental Quality Control, Chevron said that the site is currently being used to store equipment and as a temporary staging area and working area for other projects on the refinery. Several permits still need to be issued for the proposed project, including a special management area permit….

read … Giveaway to Sopogy

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