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Thursday, February 28, 2013
February 28, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:22 PM :: 5082 Views

Sequestration Scare Tactics: Caldwell Administration Threatens Sec 8 Housing Evictions

Solar Scammers Pleased by SB623: Extends Solar Tax Credit Giveaway

Pine Announces Improved Leeward Bus Routes

Mad Money Video: Jim Cramer Rips Jones Act

Peg Legs and Eye Patches - Ninth Circuit Wades Into Piracy

Status Of Appeal Of Land Use Commission’s Koa Ridge Approval

Gallup: Hawaii Again Tops Nation in Well-Being

Woodward at War

POLITICO: The Woodward reporting has caused the White House spin machine to sputter at a crucial time. The president was running around the country, campaign-style, warning that Republicans were at fault for the massive cuts set to hit Friday. What Obama never says: It was his own staff that proposed sequestration, and the tax hikes he now proposes — aimed at replacing half of the cuts — were never part of that very specific plan.

Read … POLITICO

Rep Hanohano Launches Racist Tirade

SA: State Rep. Faye Hanohano — unhappy with the paintings installed in her state Capitol office as part of a public exhibit — used racial and ethnic slurs in a tirade Monday, according to an email from a state exhibit specialist.

Hanohano, who is Native Hawaiian, called the works for the "Art in Public Places" exhibit "ugly" and questioned why the paintings chosen were not from Native Hawaiian artists.

Exhibit specialists who were installing the art said the House member from Hawaii island told them that "any work done by Haoles, Japs, Paranges, Pakes, you can just take away right now."

(The meaning of Paranges in the email is unclear.)

Hanohano also threatened to cut funding to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, which oversees the "Art in Public Places" program, if she did not get works from Native Hawaiian artists. When exhibit specialists offered to remove the paintings, the House member said she would leave the paintings up until "she gets sick of them," according to the email.

Hanohano (D, Hawaiian Acres-Pahoa-Kalapana), would not comment about the incident Wednesday.

"I don't want to talk about it," she said.

House Speaker Joseph Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku) said Wednesday that Hanohano would be sending a letter of apology to the exhibit specialists. The speaker said he has also extended his "sincerest apology."

"I absolutely do not condone this type of offensive language and behavior by anyone," Souki said in a statement. "I have spoken to Rep. Hanohano and emphasized that this is not in keeping with the spirit of the House of Representatives."

Full Text: Rep Hanohano Accused of Workplace Violence after Racist Tirade Aimed at State Workers

Background: Hanohano Smiles as UH Hilo Professor Attacked

read … Hanohano Revealed

Senate Ctte Advances Minimum Wage, HHSC Privatization, Gun Control, Abercrombie Preschool, Film Tax Credits

AP: The Senate Committee on Ways and Means advanced a host of proposals Wednesday on issues including gun control, health care and education.

The committee approved and sent to the full Senate a proposal to increase the state minimum wage

The panel also endorsed a measure intended to help improve health care management by allowing Hawaii's regional hospitals to become private. 

The Senate Ways and Means Committee also advanced a proposal by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for a statewide preschool program….

Also regarding education, the senators voted in favor of reforming charter schools and increasing legislative oversight of University of Hawaii salaries….

The committee also gave its support to a proposal requiring background checks on people who register firearms purchased in other states. But the panel removed a provision to provide more extensive background checks for people with mental health problems.

A bill to expand and extend tax credits for the film industry also passed the committee.

CB: HB1147 to Boost Disclosure of Campaign Spending Advances

CB: HB174 GMO Labeling Advances

HR: Hawaii's Cost of Living Will Increase with Minimum Wage Hike

read … Hawaii senators OK minimum wage increase

HB1149 Would Require Windfarm Decommissioning Plan

HW: Five industrial wind projects are currently in proposal and planning stages–four are facing opposition. Proposed wind projects on Lanai, Molokai and West Maui connected with the proposed inter-island cable (an undersea cable that would be constructed to deliver wind power generated from these locations to power grids on Oahu) face community resistance. A proposed wind farm above the Kahe Generating Station has faced opposition from Ko Olina, former Mayor Peter Carlisle and cultural practitioners. “The other site brought up from time to time is Oahu’s Kaena Point, which would never happen due to environmental, cultural and preservation issues,” Curtis said in an email interview….

A wind farm’s life is 20 years. The machines won’t last much more than 20 years,” says Wren Wescoatt, First Wind’s Development Manager, standing beneath a Kawailoa turbine. “They wear out.” Therefore, the lease agreements and utility contracts for wind operations are usually 20 years. Currently, decommissioning (removal) is not required by law and is strictly part of an agreement between a landowner and developer, if at all. A bill (HB 1149) currently moving through the state House would create a relationship between a wind farm developer and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to require a suitable financial instrument be available to ensure decommissioning of a wind farm at the end of its life.

Related: Wind Energy’s Ghosts

read … Wind Power Players--just more industrial sprawl?

Star-Adv: We’ll Take Same-Day Registration

SA: A proposal to allow voters to register on Election Day should bring a modest improvement in (fraud and challenged ballot) numbers but legislators are understandably nervous about a (totally insane) proposal endorsed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to require all residents to vote by mail….

House Bill 321 would allow eligible voters to register to vote on the very day of the election instead of requiring registration 30 days before, as it now stands. That could increase overall turnout by nearly 6 percent and turnout among 18- to 25-year-olds by about 9 percent, according to a study by Demos….

Jeffrey T. Kuwada, Maui's county clerk, expressed "grave concerns" about such a change, predicting that his office would have to recruit and train at least 40 more personnel to staff the 34 polling places and provide a computer control center and computer connections at each polling place to handle new registers. That's tough….

Related bills seeking stronger controls around mail-in voting and the very foreseeable problems of voter intimidation and voter fraud are rightly advancing in the Legislature. SB 827 would prohibit a candidate from handling or possessing another person's absentee ballots and voter registration forms; HB 1027 aims to tighten voter assistance laws to prevent election fraud….

As for converting to an all-mail election: Senate Bill 854 advanced to the Ways and Means Committee for further "dialogue" but has since stalled…..

Colorado Secretary of State: Same Day Registration Leads to Fraud and Error

NCSL: Same Day Registration

Reality: PEW: Vote-by-Mail Favors Old White Democrats

read … And Come Back for All-Mail-In Later

SB286 Count Every Person for Apportionment, Moves to Full Senate

CB: Sen. Sam Slom's Senate Bill 286, would define a permanent resident for reapportionment purposes "as any individual counted as a usual resident in the last preceding U.S. census within the State of Hawaii."

Thomas, the attorney challenging the 2012 reapportionment, supports SB 286.

In detailed written testimony, Thomas and other attorneys with Damon Key Leong Kupchack Hastert laid out an argument based on equal protection. Among other things, they noted, "Every other state but Hawaii and Kansas uses the Census count of 'usual residents' as its reapportionment population."

They continued:

Thus, the 2010 Census resident population of Hawaii included servicemembers, their families, university students, federal civilian workers "stationed" in Hawaii, legal and illegal aliens, children, and prisoners incarcerated here, all irrespective of whether they pay state taxes, their eligibility to vote in Hawaii, or actual registration to vote.

Thomas Smyth of the Military Officers Association of Hawaii testified in support of SB 286, too, noting the sizable economic contribution to Hawaii that comes from the military.

But Chun of the AG's office expressed "strong concerns" about the bill, arguing that a constitutional amendment is necessary to define a population base.

Bart Dame, an active member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii who testified on his own behalf, made a similar argument while expressing "some sympathy with what I believe may be the motives behind the bill. ..."

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary and Labor passed the measure with technical amendments, and it now heads to the full Senate.

Related: Reapportionment: Plaintiffs Attorneys Back SB286, Reapportionment: SB286 Would End Discrimination, Mandate Count of All Persons

read … Passed

Hawaii government technology stuck in time warp

AP: Walking into the windowless office where payroll is processed for the state of Hawaii is like stepping back in time.

Clerks scour thousands of pages marked with red pen to calculate overtime and other changes to paychecks. They pencil down department totals in a paper ledger.

In most places such work is done on computers, but in Hawaii decades of putting technology funding on the backburner has led to an environment where state workers process payroll the same way they did 40 years ago, when offices were commonly equipped with rotary phones.

The longhand accounting is an extreme example of how essential functions across state government are performed with minimal or antiquated technology, forcing employees to spend large chunks of time on a preponderance of paper records and manual tasks that breed inefficiency and waste taxpayer dollars.

Now, Hawaii's first chief information officer wants to lift the state into the 21st century….there are the functions that have never been computerized — like Hawaii's $130 million payroll.

Traci Fujita, central payroll supervisor, and four clerks use calculators to tabulate department payroll data on papers that are delivered by hand to another group that enters the figures in a computer system. If there's a discrepancy, Fujita's team goes through paper records one by one to determine whether numbers were input incorrectly or a department's figures are wrong. Only then may the state send 70,000 to 80,000 paychecks every two weeks.

"Even 30 years ago they had said they were going to move away from this," Fujita said. "And 30 years later it's still here."

read … Time Warp

DoE: The Numbers Don’t Lie (But HSTA Member Does) 

CB: The road to transformation in our public schools goes through the rural towns of Kau, Keaau and Pahoa on Hawaii Island. Just three years ago, schools in this area were among the lowest-performing schools in the state and the complex, known collectively as Kau-Keaau-Pahoa (KKP), was identified as being part of the “Zones of School Innovation” (ZSI). Today, through the hard work of dedicated teachers, principals, staff, and students all pulling in the same direction, the results are remarkable….

We invite you to see for yourself that numbers don’t lie. On the Department of Education’s Accountability Resource Center Hawaii (ARCH) website at arch.k12.hi.us, you can go to the “Accountability Data Center” from the home page and see that the complex has practically outperformed the entire state over the last three years – especially in reading and math proficiency. In fact, these schools have accelerated the learning of students by more than a grade level. This is the kind of data that stirs enthusiasm among educators. It’s what makes educators put forth their best and the results speak for themselves. The department believes in the evaluations as a tool for success. When teachers succeed, students excel.

HSTA Member: Raise Taxes and Double the Number of Teachers

HSTA: Labor Board Needs New Definition of ‘Promptly’

read … Response to Puna HSTA Teacher

UHPA Dumps NEA in Slap at HSTA

ILind: UHPA leaders have long been unhappy that they play second-fiddle to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which is the primary NEA affiliate in Hawaii.

This problem has been exacerbated in recent years by a series of clashes between UHPA and HSTA. Back in mid-2011, for example, an UHPA email to its membership, it “accused HSTA leaders of taking ‘ignoring the consequences of their actions’ by taking legal actions that ‘jeopardize the rights of all public sector unions, including the right to strike.’”

The charges stemmed from the approach taken by HSTA during a challenge to state bargaining tactics being heard by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board….

Later, I noted the link between the HSTA-UHPA dispute and HSTA’s attempt to obtain special health benefits for its members, and some of the questionable history surrounding the issue (“UHPA again highlights challenge to HSTA, health benefits controversy“).

UHPA has also clashed with HSTA and NEA over political endorsements. Last year, in the most high profile example, UHPA endorsed Ed Case in the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate, while HSTA/NEA backed then-Rep. Mazie Hirono.

Documents provided to members relating to the issue of NEA affiliation shows UHPA formally complained about the NEA’s endorsement decisions.

read … UH union board voted to cut NEA ties without discussing faculty opposition 

Pension Debt May Damage Hawaii Bond Ratings

CB: Hawaii has fallen so far behind in financing its Employees' Retirement System and Employers-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund that budget analysts are worried the state’s credit rating may soon take a hit. If this happens, it could reduce the state’s borrowing power and increase the cost of public projects.

The Legislature significantly reformed the ERS over the past few years, alleviating some of the concern credit raters noted in recent bond rating reviews. So this session lawmakers are working to make similar headway with the EUTF, which has $16.3 billion in unfunded liabilities — twice as much as the ERS….

State budget officials have expressed tepid support for Senate Bill 946 and serious concerns over House Bill 1459. But others say the former is in line with what the governor wants to do and the latter creates an outside-the-box approach that would cut costs.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie used his State of the State address to urge lawmakers to put down $100 million a year toward unfunded liabilities to (pretend to) get a handle on the problem. (Not solvent for 150 years at $100M/year.)

(In reality) Hawaii would have to spend more than $500 million a year for the next 30 years to make the ERS and EUTF viable again, Young said….

Reality: Act 100: How Hanabusa and Cayetano launched Hawaii Pension crisis

More Reality: Abercrombie Plan: Shortchange Retirees for next 150 Years

read … Multi-Billion Dollar Employee Benefits Hole?

What The Police Commission Isn't Doing About Misconduct

CB: On a Wednesday just before Christmas, Chief Louis Kealoha addressed the Honolulu Police Commission….

What Kealoha didn’t talk about were the three officers listed on the agenda who needed legal representation from the city because they were being sued in federal court. Kealoha didn’t offer any details and the commission didn’t ask for any.

Any members of the public at the meeting also were left to wonder about the six citizen complaints lodged against HPD officers and listed on the agenda only by case number….

A few minutes later, Commission Chairman Marc Tilker ended the public portion of the meeting….

Inside the room, the commissioners took up Chief Kealoha’s annual performance review and the six citizen complaints — conduct unbecoming an officer, overbearing conduct, mistreatment of prisoners and threats….

CB: HPD Wants $2,000 For Three Files

CB: Hawaii County Releases Cop Misconduct Summaries

read … Police Commission

Proposal could extend benefits to Age 21 for foster children

KHON: Your tax dollars could support foster children until they turn 21.

A proposal is making its way through the State Legislature, that would raise the age limit for foster kids who receive support.

Supporters say it could give children a better life.

When foster children in Hawaii hit the age of 18, they're basically on their own….

A bill has just made its way onto the Senate Floor….

Raising the age, would cost the state nearly a million dollars to support 135 young adults. And by the fifth year, that cost would double to nearly two million dollars for 175 foster adults.

read … Foster Kids

EPA Sues Over Waimanlo Gulch, City ‘Will Not Pay’

SA: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suing the city and Waste Management of Hawaii Inc., the operator of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Leeward Oahu, over gas emissions.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, claims the city and the operator failed to install a gas collection and control system at the landfill when they were supposed to, and that the system that was installed in 2005 failed to comply with national standards.

The EPA is asking the court to order the defendants to comply with federal clean-air laws and regulations and to impose civil penalties until they do. Maximum penalties are $27,500 per day for each violation that occurred on or before March 15, 2004, $32,500 per day for each violation through January 2009, and $37,500 per day for each violation after that.

City Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said the city and Waste Management of Hawaii have already addressed the issues raised by the EPA under the terms of a consent decree.

"The alleged violations resolved by this consent decree were operational deficiencies for which Waste Management of Hawaii Inc. has taken full responsibility," Kahikina said in a written statement. "The company, which replaced its leadership team at the facility after the discovery of the alleged violations, will be solely responsible for paying the $1.1 million required by the consent decree."

She said, "The city will not pay any part of this penalty."

read … Will Not Pay

Tow company still overcharging motorists

SA: The company appears to be charging more than allowed under the agreement, exceeding a $165 mandatory cap for combined hookup and mileage fees or by calculating the mileage based on distances to storage lots farther than the nearest one to the accident or pickup point, the Star-Advertiser analysis determined.

The overcharging was raised Wednesday at a City Council Budget Committee hearing at which members questioned the administration about why the switch to a new system for handling police-initiated tows got off to such a rough start.

Leeward Auto on Nov. 1 became the exclusive vendor, winning the towing contract over several bidders.

Before that, the city divided the island into about a dozen zones and awarded exclusive contracts for each one….

read … Tow Charges

Senate Committee Moves Turtle Bay Purchase Bill

SA: The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor and the Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill Wednesday that would direct the governor to continue negotiations for the property. The committees removed a highly criticized provision that would have allowed the state to use eminent domain….

Maria Falevai, a housekeeper at Turtle Bay, was one of dozens of hotel employees and others who flocked to the state Capitol on Wednesday to protest the bill.

Falevai said she’s worried about what the bill could mean for the availability of jobs on the North Shore. She said that before starting at Turtle Bay four years ago, she used to have to travel for hours by bus to get to Kalihi for work.

“I had to leave at 4 a.m. and take two buses,” Falevai said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t get home until 9 p.m. and my kids wouldn’t even see me.”…

Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee told hearing attendees that he had been surprised and put off by how opponents acted when the bill was considered Friday. Opponents wearing matching T-shirts had stood up in unison to face lawmakers when the bill’s title was announced.

“Let me be clear: This isn’t Aloha Stadium,” Hee said. “This isn’t a neighborhood board meeting. This is the Senate.”

read … No Eminent Domain

Star-Adv Parent Removes Last Printing Press From Kauai

KGI: As today’s edition of The Garden Island rolled through the old press in the back of the building, Wednesday watched the whole process undisturbed by the noise. The sweet black cat, the newspaper’s unofficial mascot, was probably unaware it was the last press run she would ever witness.

The 12-unit Goss Community Press, more than 30 years old, will be dismantled and likely shipped to Canada, where Black Press Ltd., The Garden Island’s new parent company, is headquartered. It means Kaua‘i is the first major Hawaiian island to not have a press….

In January, Lee Enterprises Inc., announced it sold The Garden Island to O‘ahu Publications Inc., whose parent company is Black Press.

The sale, a $2 million deal according to Lee’s First Quarter earnings report, was initially scheduled to be final Feb. 11, but concerns from the Attorney General’s office delayed the sale to March 1.

OPI has several products on O‘ahu and other Neighbor Islands, including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, MidWeek publications on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu, HiLuxury magazine and three official military publications.

Aside from internal restructuring, The Garden Island will go through other changes that its readers will soon notice, including color on every page….

Many members of the community have expressed concern that the new owners of The Garden Island may put a pay wall on the online publication, following the Star-Advertiser’s policy….

read … The End

 

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