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Thursday, February 16, 2012
February 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:06 PM :: 15477 Views

Rep Pine: Reapportionment Lawsuit Says Military Personnel Don't Matter

IBHS Applauds Defeat of Hawaii Legislation to Abolish State Building Code Council

Voters Angry over Reapportionment Plan

KITV: The Reapportionment Commission also heard from voters who were angry that their communities were being split under the new maps.

"You are taking Waialua and Mokuleia out of the North Shore representation and putting it with Makakilo? That's ridiculous,” said Stewart Ring.

"What really disturbs me and continues to worry me about this re-apportionment plan is that on the house side it continues to separate Kailua into three separate house districts," said Alani Apio.

One lawmaker even questioned if political favoritism wasn’t behind a plan to continue to lump Waimanalo with Hawaii Kai.

"They are divided by the Koolau range and they are as different as different islands," said Sen. Les Ihara, majority policy leader.

(Hmmm. These are military-heavy communities. Obviously they need to go to Federal Court.)

Related: Military to be Disenfranchised so Meth dealer’s friend can keep Senate Seat?

read … Seething, Boiling Anger!

106,000 Residents Disenfranchised to Satisfy Malama Solomon

KHON: The redrawn lines factor out 106,000 people, such as military among other large nonpermanent resident sectors, giving one district a huge swath across Oahu from North Shore to West side to Ewa for example.

SA: OK of final voting maps expected Feb. 29

read … 106,000

House and Senate close to Legalizing Bribery of members of advisory boards and task forces

ILind: Bills are moving in both the House and Senate that would remove members of a wide range of appointed committees, task forces, advisory boards and panels from the reach of the state’s ethics laws.

HB 2455 and SB 2240 would create a broad exception from conflict of interest provisions and other parts of the ethics laws for members of advisory groups.

The bills would remove limitations on soliciting or accepting gifts related to their official duties, eliminate all disclosure of those gifts, and even avoid public disclosure of potential conflicts.

read … House and Senate close to approving total ethics exemption for members of advisory boards and task forces

Star-Adv: We Don’t Know Where Big Cable is Going, But get Started With It Anyway

SA: Abercrombie told lawmakers last week that his proposal "does not ensure that there will be an interisland cable" and that's a politically understandable statement at this point. However, the state would be derelict in underestimating the feasibility of a statewide power-sharing system that could drastically lower the dependence of imported oil on the islands. Currently, each island has its own grid and its own electricity rate, which is rapidly becoming too steep for ordinary people to afford.

A $600 million, 65-mile submarine transmission cable connecting Long Island Sound and New Jersey is proof that such an undersea system can work. At its dedication in 2007, after taking six years to complete, the three-cable, 660-mega- watt Neptune Project was estimated to have saved the Long Island utility $20 million in its first 100 days of operation and is expected to save more than $1 billion over the following 20 years….

Last year's Legislature rejected an earlier version of the bill after opponents complained it was a vehicle to promote specific development of wind power on Molokai and Lanai. The current bill mentions neither a specific island nor a type of renewable energy technology. Abercrombie's promise that the process will be "to the benefit of everyone in Hawaii," embracing all technologies available, is compelling and deserves legislative approval empty talk so typical of politicians.

read … Big money for Big cable

Democrats Fail to Find Supporters of Soda Tax

The state Senate Health Committee shelved a bill Wednesday that would have imposed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, and the syrup and powder used to make them, in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

"We did not have the kind of activity (regarding community support) on this bill that I think warrants the passage of a major public health policy," Sen. Josh Green (D, Milolii-Waimea), chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said during a decision-making meeting.

read … Flat

Hirono is a Creature of the Hated House of Reps

AP: And in the toss-up race for an open Senate seat in Hawaii, former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, is likely to brand her once-favored challenger, Rep. Mazie Hirono, a creature of the hated House.

read ... Hated House

Kulani Prison to Be Transformed into Resort for ‘Healing’ Prisoners

AP: The former Kulani correctional facility has been identified as a possible site for the first culture-based wellness center for incarcerated Native Hawaiians.

The state Senate is reviewing proposals to establish a wellness center, or puuhonua, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Proponents say the center will focus on healing rather than punishment….

Alliance Coordinator Kat Brady urged senators to move forward with wellness center plans. “We need to find alternative means to reintegrate people who have lost their way,’’ she stated in her written testimony. (Burglar to homeowner: ‘I lost my way’)

Samuel Kaleleiki Jr., President of Ohana Hoopakele, also spoke of the need to move away from a strictly punitive prison system.

Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, director of the Department of Public Safety noted the future of the Kulani facility is still being decided. However, she added that there might be an opportunity to incorporate a Hawaiian culture-based program with the Justice Reinvestment Initiatives, which looks to alternative responses to crime when managing criminal populations.

At a joint committee meeting Tuesday, senators decided to merge two similar bills that would set plans for a pilot program into motion. The Hawaiian Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote on the amended bill Thursday.

KITV: Hanamaulu Man Charged With 200+ Felony Offenses

read … Soft on Crime

HCDA Gives Secret Raise to Exec Director

CB: The Hawaii Community Development Authority approved a 5 percent increase for executive director Tony Ching at a time when other state officials are subject to a 5 percent salary cut because of tight fiscal times.

Two sources tell Civil Beat that the HCDA made the recommendation during an executive session on Feb. 1 while discussing Ching's performance evaluation. Three HCDA board members opposed the pay raise, but a majority of the 18-member board voted in favor.

However, because the pay raise was not listed on the public agenda for the Feb. 1 meeting — an apparent violation of state law — the authority plans to vote again on the raise, perhaps as early its March 7 meeting. The HCDA meets on the first Wednesday of each month.

read … Another Secret Raise

Coffman, McKelvey Support Bill to Gut Environmental Protections

CB: Rep. Denny Coffman, chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, said that the bill was way down on his list of priorities and that even if it does pass, it won't have much impact because it's so narrowly constructed. He didn't say that he was opposed to the bill, agreed that it needed to go to the Finance Committee.

"Unfortunately the way things work here, things move too fast, and I know the Speaker needed to have it heard," said Coffman. So he signed-off on it.

But Harris told Civil Beat that it was important for the bill to go through Coffman's committee.

"This is a very complex issue," he said. "Normally you would want it to go to (the energy and environment committee) because those are the experts."

Coffman said that there were still a lot of hurdles for the bill. If it passes the House it will then have to go to the Senate where it will likely be heard by the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

Rep. Angus McKelvey, who chairs the Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business, said that he supported Say's bill, but that the measure didn't fit with the big picture issues that his committee was tackling this session.

"It wasn't a top priority," he said. "We're looking at the core economic matrix — aerospace, broadband, construction through the procurement process. The bill had nothing to do with anything at all as far as this goes."

But McKelvey said the bill was important, particularly for Maui where it could help speed up fixing structural problems with the runway at the Kahului airport and the highway along the west side that is falling into the ocean.

"It should be a real concern to the environmental community," he said of the projects. "You don't want to put the governor between a rock and a hard place by forcing him to declare a state of emergency."

DN: Sneaky House bill seeks to remove the iceberg that the Superferry ran into

Sierra Club: House Bill 1893

read … Remember in November

City needs to give more substance, not PR, to rail

Shapiro: How much traffic relief can we expect from rail? It's sinking in that rail won't actually reduce traffic, but will only reduce future gridlock growth by an uncertain amount.

CB: Time to Get Serious About Rail Conversation

read … Won’t Actually Reduce Traffic

Feds Approve More Delays in Hawaii RTTT

The amendments approved last week allow the department to:

  • » Reallocate $1 million meant for a research partnership to fund a contract for developing a strategic communications and branding plan.
  • » Launch a virtual center for science teacher training and college and career counseling for students, rather than two physical centers in Waianae and Hawaii island. The virtual center will be ready by July 2013, rather than the original target date of July 2011.
  • » Shift $1.6 million for a research consortium to instead provide extended learning opportunities for students during the summer. The summer programs will target students at risk for failure.
  • » Use $3 million to help develop a revamped teacher evaluation system that takes into account student academic growth, rather than using that money for implementation.

read … Hawaii RTTT

Will DoE Begin Earlier Brainwashing Efforts?

SA: It's been a years-long, real-time experiment for the state Department of Education to devise an optimal model for early childhood education. Though still a work in progress, the laudable goal of universal preschool is within reach if this Legislature can prime the path for smart coordination as the DOE prepares to sunset its junior kindergarten program.

Junior kindergarten in the public schools, enacted by law in 2006, has brought mixed results. It was created to better prepare late-born children for kindergarten and first grade — but funding and staffing challenges from school to school made success spotty.

Nearly 5,900 late-born children statewide currently attend junior kindergarten; after a year, they either move into first grade or take another year of kindergarten.

Due to the uneven implementation and results, junior kindergarten will be eliminated. Originally, that was to happen at the end of the 2012-13 school year, but state lawmakers are rightly looking at a one-year delay to first develop a better system in its place. Senate Bill 2545 also spells out that students entering kindergarten be at least 5 years old by July 31 for the 2014-2015 school year.

read … DoE

Dope Doctor Appeals to Abercrombie’s ‘Integrity as a Politician’

HND: I appeal to your integrity as a politician in power to hear the pleas of patients of Hawaii suffering from severe pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and appetite loss. They would be disqualified and loose their right to use their medical marijuana if current bills HB2600 and HB1963 (SB2606) pass the Hawaii legislature and you sign them into law.

read … Dopey Integrity

$487B in Defense cuts would take 2 cruisers from Pearl Harbor

SA: The Navy plans to retire two of three cruisers at Pearl Harbor under a leaner defense budget — a move that, along with other cutbacks, is expected to have a negative effect on Hawaii's economy.

Officials at the Pentagon confirmed that the USS Port Royal — the newest cruiser in the Navy inventory and one with ballistic missile shoot-down capability — is expected to be decommissioned in fiscal year 2013.

The USS Chosin, which is in Pearl Harbor shipyard receiving $112.5 million in repairs and upgrades, would be retired in 2014.

Poor Leadership: Military Spending: In pursuit of Ideology, Hirono Votes Against 18% of Hawaii Economy

read … Bye bye jobs

City resumes tagging property in public areas

SA: City officials tagged 79 personal belongings with removal notices in different sections of Hono­lulu on Tuesday, the fourth time they have gone through parks and sidewalks in the last month to enforce an ordinance that bans storage of private property on city premises.

Among the areas targeted was Thomas Square, where an Occupy Hono­lulu group has held a protest vigil since November. Seven items were tagged along the sidewalk on South Beretania Street.

For the first time, city officials tagged property along the Ala Wai promenade and other areas in the Kapiolani Boulevard-Atkinson Drive neighborhood near the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

City crews are expected to return today to confiscate tagged items that are not removed within 24 hours as specified in the ordinance.

read … Take Shelter!

Sugar is Josh Green’s Latest Excuse to Raise Taxes

SA: The state Senate Health Committee will vote today on a bill to tax sugary beverages after a hearing on the measure earlier this week in which the committee's chairman told industry representatives he believes sodas are a public health problem.

State Sen. Josh Green (D, Milo­lii-Wai­mea), who is a physician, said, "My contention is bill or no bill today, this is becoming a very serious question in society. I'm not hunting down Pepsi and Coke; I'm just saying this has become a public health problem."

Senate Bill 3019 would tax sugar-sweetened beverages, syrup and powder

read … Tax Tax Tax

Burial removals draw protesters to church

SA: Nearly 40 demonstrators, some in skeleton costumes, protested the rising number of Native Hawaiian burial disinterments at Kawaiaha‘o Church on Wednesday outside the historic institution known as “the Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.”

The group, mostly University of Hawaii students, held signs and chanted in Hawaiian to voice their objections to the removal of iwi kupuna, or ancestral remains, being carried out by Honolulu’s oldest church to make way for a $17.5 million multipurpose building….

A Star-Advertiser story disclosed on Monday the disinterment count through Jan. 21 reported to state officials by an archaeologist hired by the church. The church declines to disclose such figures. A more up-to-date count hasn’t been available from the State Historic Preservation Division, but 14 burials a week have been unearthed on average over the past few months.

read … Kawaiahao

Multi-Billion Dollar Estate Lays off 13 After Inouye Fails to Come Thru with Earmark

SA: Bishop Museum is one entity now feeling that brutal reality: It's had to lay off 13 workers and curtail some services after losing a $2.2 million federal grant, which was part of Hawaii's total $321 million cutback in federal earmarks. Museum public hours and operations, though, are expected to remain the same.

It's a blunt reminder that policy debates on The Hill do indeed translate to real jobs, even in faraway Hawaii.

read … Broke Bishop?

Hawaii GOP Still Wrangling over National Committeeman

SA: David Chang, the party’s chairman, said he expects to hear a recommendation from Terry Thomason, the party’s rules chief, on how to resolve the challenges by the end of the week.

Chang, who will make the final call, said he hopes to have an announcement by early next week.

read … Political Radar

January foreclosures reach 6-month high

SA: While the foreclosure count for January was the highest since June, it was still 34 percent below the 985 cases filed in January 2011, suggesting that the new law is still having a dampening effect and providing relief to troubled borrowers.

Of the 652 total filings last month, 149 reflected home repossessions by lenders. Only 16 filings were foreclosure sale notices announcing a public auction of a home.

By county, Honolulu had the most foreclosure filings at 287 but the best rate at 1 per 1,174 households. Hawaii island had the next highest total at 199 and the worst rate of 1 filing per 414 households.

On Maui, there were 126 filings or 1 per 559 households. And Kauai had 40 filings, or 1 per 745 households.

The total number of foreclosure filings in Hawaii last month gave the state the 18th highest rate among states, or 1 filing for every 797 households. Nevada had the worst rate with 1 filing for every 198 households. North Dakota had the best rate with 1 filing for every 63,500 households.

read … Foreclosures

Cannibal Monk Seal Murders Two, Wounds 11

The Hawaiian monk seal, the most endangered marine mammal in the United States, has a long list of threats — fishing nets, sharks and, particularly, humans. But for one group of seals, the biggest threat came from one of its own: a 400-pound (180-kilogram) brute named KE18 who killed two other seals and wounded at least 11, most of them helpless pups.

read … They’re just adorable


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