Inouye: I Dumped Akaka Bill in Last Minute Horse-Trading
Mysterious DoTax Internal Security Breach Referred for Investigation
How Christmas Came to Hawaii
Reliance on government jobs weakens Honolulu's recovery
SA: The pace of Honolulu's economic recovery since the end of the recession ranks in the bottom 20 percent of the nation's top 100 metropolitan areas, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution.
The city's reliance on the government sector as a source of economic activity has been a cause of weakness, according to the report. Many of the cities near the bottom of the list with a high percentage of government jobs suffered disproportionally when federal, city and state agencies cut back on staffing, the report said.
read … Gov’t Jobs
Hirono: Taxpayers Must Buy Dope For the Jobless
Mazie Hirono: I could hardly believe my eyes when I first read what congressional Republicans proposed: allowing states to require mandatory drug testing for out-of-work Americans who apply for unemployment compensation. And that unemployment benefits only be paid to those who can prove they have earned at least a high school diploma.
It is an outrage.
As someone who has lived the struggles these families are facing, I am outraged by this insult to more than 13 million unemployed Americans. Because I know what happens when the breadwinner in the family loses a job and what the loss of security and stability also means to personal dignity.
When I was just eight years old, my mother courageously left an abusive marriage in Japan to give my brother and me the opportunity of America. We arrived in Hawaii with little more than the clothes on our backs (and a baggie of weed?)
read … Taxpayers Must Buy Dope for the Jobless
Abercrombie: Lanai, Molokai Must Accept Big Wind
Projects such as the 460-kilowatt photovoltaic system recently installed at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center are part of a "spectrum of alternative energy" from home-based systems to large-scale farms to meet the state's current and future power needs, said Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday.
The governor, on Maui for the blessing of the MACC's 1,972-panel, ground-based photovoltaic system, expressed his support for the MACC project as well as the controversial, large-scale, 200-megawatt alternative energy proposals on Molokai and Lanai, where wind and solar systems would feed Oahu's energy needs via an undersea cable….
In an interview before the blessing, Abercrombie noted that Oahu has the largest energy needs and that the Neighbor Islands offer possibilities for supplying that need. While there is opposition on Molokai and Lanai to those large-scale energy projects, especially with the power leaving the island, there also are supporters of those proposals, he said. A statewide perspective needs to be applied.
"We have to work together," the governor said, noting that rural communities often put in fewer tax dollars than they receive back for roads and schools. "We have to put it all together and share.
"I'm sure that (the difficulties) can be worked out," he said….
read … Governor: State must pull together on energy needs
Cronyism, Horse-Trading in Abercrombie’s Coup at Ag Corp
SA: Alfredo Lee, ADC's executive director for the past 12 years, was recently pressured into resigning from his position -- despite having received excellent performance evaluations by the ADC board throughout his tenure.
A brief and poorly advertised search for this important -- and potentially lucrative -- position produced a single "insider" candidate, James Nakatani, who was then hastily voted into the position by a board recently stacked with close associates of the candidate.
This stands in stark contrast with the search for a leader of the PLDC, where there were 17 candidates for the job.
The events surrounding the selection of an executive director for the ADC have been surprising and disappointing, not just to ourselves, but to producers up and down our island chain, from Hawaii island to Kauai.
Perhaps Mr. Nakatani is the best candidate for the job; however, the perfunctory nature of the search has left questions as to the fairness of the process. As the representatives of farmers and ranchers to the state government, we feel that it is our responsibility to express the shock and dismay that we hear every day, both at the process and in its result.
This was a process with a fore- ordained conclusion. This was a process that betrayed the trust of Hawaii agriculture in its leadership. Trust has been lost, and without trust in the fairness of the process and in the leaders, there can be no leadership.
This administration campaigned on a platform of supporting local agriculture. If cronyism and political horse-trading are going to be the modus operandi of this administration, then it is a "new day" that we can live without.
read … Change at ag corporation must happen with integrity
Audit Rips Hawaii Charter Schools
KHON: In one instance, four schools could not verify student enrollment during the 2009-2010 school year, resulting in possible overcharges to the state. One school in particular could not account for the enrollment of twenty-eight students….
At Myron B. Thompson Academy in Kakaako, the audit found a part-time registrar who was paid an “administrative differential” that boosted his annual salary to $55,200 – a 212 percent increase. Overall, according to the audit, staff at Thompson Academy was found to have been overpaid $133,000….
According to the 75 page report, the ten schools examined in the audit often misrepresented test scores for reading and math under No Child Left Behind. For instance, Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School painted a misleading picture by focusing on test scores for a single grade level.
read ... Charter Schools
After Expose, Competition Returns For Hawaii School Bus Contracts
CB: A new local company and one from the mainland enter the school bus business.
read … Suddenly Competition is Back
HPD major accused of extortion released on bond again
SA: Nishimura will have to post a $125,000 bond, $25,000 of it in cash.
However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi also suspended his order for a day to give prosecutors the opportunity to appeal the release.
Nishimura, 55, has been in custody since Nov. 14, when the FBI arrested him after finding methamphetamine in a raid of his Waianae home. Prior to that Nishimura had been free on $50,000 bond.
read … Revolving Door
City anticipates revenue increase
SA: Property values on Oahu rose slightly over the past year, giving the City Council and the Carlisle administration the expectation for some added revenue to work with as they craft a budget for the next fiscal year.
Total gross assessed valuation of all taxable real property on Oahu was $180.15 billion, up 1 percent from $178.26 billion a year ago. Gross valuations of residential property increased 0.7 percent, to $145.05 billion from $144.02 billion, the city said.
read … City anticipates revenue increase
Archeologist for Haseko Challenges Claims About Native Hawaiian Cultural Sites
CB: We did investigate Lee’s claim that he found historic features that show on an “1873 map of the site”. I was one of the archaeologists “scrambling into the bushes” to find a structure that Lee claimed was a fishing shrine. We did find the remains of a structure hidden by the bushes, but the feature we found was a steel-reinforced concrete wall that was built well after 1873. We didn’t find anything that resembled the remains of an old fishing shrine.
When we returned to the office, we found a copy of the 1873 map and plotted the location of the supposed fishing shrine (I use the word “supposed” because the map only shows a square and does not indicate what the square represents). We found that the supposed fishing shrine plots about 2 miles east of Oneula Beach Park in the neighboring land of Pu`uloa.
read … Archeologist for Haseko Challenges Claims About Native Hawaiian Cultural Sites
Study: Honolulu 15th ‘most secure’ large U.S. city
PBN: Honolulu was ranked as one of the most secure communities in the nation among large metropolitan areas in a study released Thursday by the Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance Group of Cos.
Honolulu was ranked No. 15 among the large metro areas in the study, which was compiled by www.bestplaces.net and considered such factors as crime statistics, extreme weather, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, life expectancy and mortality rates in 379 U.S. municipalities.
read … Crime, no crime here
HMC, former St. Francis hospitals, shutting down
SA: Hawaii Medical Centers, the former St. Francis hospitals in Liliha and Ewa, will immediately wind down operations after a potential buyer withdrew its offer.
The U.S. bankruptcy court approved the process for closing the hospitals today. The hospitals employ 990 workers.
In a memo to employees, HMC CEO Maria Kostylo said, "We can no longer continue operations."
read … Revenue
Youth Correctional Facility Cleans Up Its Act
CB: Civil Beat took a tour of HYCF on Tuesday, the day corrections officials held a Christmas party for the girls and the 42 held there. The party featured a band and the making of gingerbread houses.
Other sights stood out as well: Boys and girls warmly interacted with youth correctional officers (YCOs) and hugged and high-fived the warden.
This is the same HYCF that, only a few years ago, was the source of horror stories: kids physically abused by YCOs, 23-hour lockdowns, religious indoctrination, suicides in cells.
read … Youth Correctional Facility Cleans Up Its Act
HSTA’s 2012 Legislative Priorities
CB: Stronger collective bargaining and anti-bullying laws are among the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s top priorities for this coming legislative session.
Here are all six priorities, as passed by the union’s board of directors earlier this month….
read … HSTA’s 2012 Legislative Priorities
Your Tax Dollars At Work: Hoku faces possible delisting by Nasdaq
PBN: Hoku Corp., one of Hawaii’s 12 publicly traded companies, is in danger of being delisted by Nasdaq. Its stock price has fallen below the $1-a-share minimum requirement, and its market capitalization is about $10 million below the $50 million threshold that is required of companies listed on the exchange.
A company can be delisted after failing to meet these requirements for 30 consecutive trading days. Hoku has been below the dollar-a-share mark since Dec. 1, and as of midweek it was trading at 67 cents.
read … Another Act221 Success Story
Ewa Developer's Switch from Marina to Lagoon Raises Legal Issues
CB: The sudden switch has angered some residents, sparked talk of lawsuits and raised questions about whether state and county officials can hold developers to their promises.
“I’m willing and interested in paying for a marina, but I’m not interested in the upkeep and maintenance of a standing body of water that will turn into a cesspool,” said Matt LoPresti, who bought a townhome from Haseko last year.
read … Ewa Developer's Switch from Marina to Lagoon Raises Legal Issues
Ohio, Va., ready to fight military cuts—Lazy Hawaii says, Let Inouye Handle It
Hawaii business leaders and politicians are not taking any action at this time to protect the state’s military assets from potential federal budget cuts.
But, in Ohio and Virginia, work already is under way to save bases in those states from possible cuts in light of the $600 billion reduction that must be made in Defense Department spending following last month’s failure of the Congressional super committee to come up with a plan to cut the federal deficit.
Base supporters in Virginia are using the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance to create a preservation strategy….
read … Military Cuts