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Thursday, May 10, 2012
May 10, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:40 PM :: 14102 Views

US Chamber of Commerce Endorses Lingle

Bateman Announces Run for State House District Representing Kona, Kau

Hawaii Superferries Renamed Guam, Puerto Rico

22% Proficient: Hawaii DoE Test Scores Reach Level of Alabama, Mississippi

Hawaii Courts Among the Nation's Worst for Abused and Neglected Children

VIDEO: Short Range Missile Killer Tested off Kauai


Abercrombie questions status of rail

HNN: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, for years a staunch supporter of Honolulu rail, staked out a new position Thursday, questioning the status of the project.

"The difficulty right now is that the rail that's proposed has nothing to do with what was stated before - going to the university, going into Waikiki, the transit-oriented development," Abercrombie said in an interview on HawaiiNewsNow Sunrise. "I'm for it, but how is it going to manifest itself?"

Abercrombie characterized his own position as supporting "alternative transportation" but suggested that Oahu voters needed to make up their minds about what alternative they wanted. He said some form of alternative transport from West Oahu is needed.

April 18: Abercrombie Comes out Against Rail, Backs Cayetano

read … Precisely as was hinted in earlier remarks

Honolulu City Council Approves $450 Million in Commercial Paper to Strengthen Rail's Financial Plan

HR: The Honolulu City Council passed bill 37 on the second of three scheduled readings late last night after its monthly meeting that included several controversial items lasted from morning until about 9 p.m.

Bill 37 would allow the city to borrow as much as $450 million in commercial paper for its planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project, something the city administration and the head of the rail authority, say is needed to strengthen the rail financial plan.

The bill passed on second reading by a vote of 6 to 2. City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi and Council member Tom Berg voted against the proposal, with Stanley Chang absent.

Mayor Peter Carlisle said at a January press conference that he would not need the $450 million unless – quote - the moon fell into the ocean.

So last night, Kobayashi reminded the administration of that, and said she would like to include in the bill that the city cannot use the $450 million unless the moon falls into the ocean.

read … Another $450M

Chamber aids Lingle with $275K in TV ads

SA: For the second time in four months, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has bought television ad time in Hawaii to support former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's run for U.S. Senate.

The ads are part of a nationwide campaign announced Wednesday by the Republican-leaning business interest group targeting four Senate races. The Chamber also was backing candidates in 17 U.S. House races….

Lingle leads all challengers with $3.1 million raised overall for her campaign. Hirono is next with $2.5 million overall.

The $525,000 the Chamber has spent indicates the national interest Hawaii's race is expected to attract as Democrats seek to maintain slim control of the Senate.

Nationally, the Chamber would not say how much it plans to spend in the latest round of advertising. Ad buys earlier this year in eight Senate races and 12 House races were estimated at $10 million. The Chamber only confirmed that the ad buy was worth eight figures and was unprecedented in the group's 100-year history….

read … $275,000

Oi: Thin-Skinned, Out of Touch Inouye Looses Cool, Feigns Offense

Oi: Surprising then that Inouye, who has been in Washington for more than 50 of his 87 years, didn't maintain a cool head. He said he "was deeply offended" by the remark made during a debate last week and criticized the former governor and present mayoral candidate for going negative.

The senator's reaction could be attributed to a sensitive awareness about his long-distance relationship with the community. He is far away physically and, absent from the day- to-day way of life in the islands, in consciousness, too. Though he stays in touch with elected leaders and business executives, presents awards, encounters working people at scripted events, pays attention to local news and sits for occasional interviews with the news media, his handful of visits a year to Hawaii allows little time for hanging and listening without filter to the concerns of regular people.

Granted, the work of the Senate is, as Cayetano also said, "at the 30,000-foot level," dealing with national and international issues. But the city's rail project isn't one of them.

Inouye's reaction could also be mostly feigned to provide his pro-rail allies with a bead to aim at Cayetano, whose anti-rail campaign has drawn a significant following.

read … All About Rail

HSTA Cancels Three Negotiating Sessions, Schedules Strike Vote

In a letter Wednesday, chief negotiator Neil Dietz also took issue with the union's decision to cancel the last three scheduled bargaining sessions with the state, calling the moves "counterproductive and disruptive."

Dietz asked that negotiations resume Monday.

The letter comes as the Hawaii State Teachers Association is planning a second vote on a proposed contract that teachers overwhelmingly rejected in January. (AND A VOTE ON A STRIKE, HELLO?)

Dietz noted in his letter that Hawaii's attorney general has said the proposed contract is now invalid and "cannot be revived by a subsequent purported acceptance."

He wrote that despite "HSTA initiating a membership vote for a proposal that is not on the collective bargaining table, the employer remains committed to good faith negotiations in an effort to reach a new collective bargaining agreement."

HSTA President Wil Okabe said the last three bargaining sessions were canceled because the union wanted to focus its efforts on revisiting the rejected offer.

May 9: View Abercrombie's letter to HSTA on Scribd (Just ignore the ‘April 9’ date error)

read … State asks teachers to renew contract talk

Even Now HSTA’s Okabe Doesn’t Understand LBFO

CB: One of the biggest revelations from the hearing was how little Okabe appeared to know about the implications of an impasse and a "last, best, final offer."

Okabe said he has had no training in contracts or labor negotiations, and Halvorson repeatedly asked him how he interpreted the HSTA board's unanimous rejection of an April 2011 tentative agreement.

Okabe said he felt talks would continue to "tweak" whatever the board members were concerned about and get back to the table.

Halvorson tried to steer Okabe back to his original line of questioning about the status of that tentative agreement after the board rejected it.

"What good is it?" Halvorson asked, referring to the rejected agreement before abandoning the effort. "You're obviously not going to answer my question so let's move on."

The state turned its focus to the "last, best, final offer" that the governor submitted in June. Halvorson asked Okabe what he thought that "label" meant when he first saw it.

"That there would be no more negotiations, that we're not going to be talking," Okabe said, later adding that he never thought that contract would be imposed.

Halvorson questioned how Okabe could not know that a last, best and final offer, as used in labor negotiations nationally, means an employer can implement it.

"You've never been in this situation before, have you?" Halvorson said.

He told Okabe that there is a legal requirement that both sides continue to negotiate if an LBFO is implemented….

Wednesday's hearing marked the first time since the re-vote plan was approved earlier this month that Okabe has publicly acknowledged that the union's 130-some-page February contract proposal is still on the table.

He avoided Halvorson's first question about the status of that offer, but answered "no" when asked if it had been withdrawn. Okabe also acknowledged that the governor's March settlement offer still stands.

Abercrombie has said the January contract offer no longer has any legal standing. This makes the implications of the re-vote uncertain, at best.

read … Dumb

Honolulu Council Pushes Funds for Profitable Nonprofits

CB: The City and County of Honolulu is thinking about following your lead, now that the Honolulu City Council has put a proposed charter amendment on the ballot for November despite objections from Mayor Peter Carlisle.

The measure, if adopted by voters, would establish a Grants In Aid Fund designed specifically to give money to nonprofit organizations so they can "provide services to economically and/or socially disadvantaged populations or provide services for public benefit in the areas of the arts, culture, economic development or the environment." Introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin, who before he was elected served in leadership roles for the Department of Community Services, it secured a supermajority of support at three council meetings: Feb. 15, March 21 and Wednesday.

read … Politically Profitable

Hawaii Supreme Court: State Must Fund Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands

CB: The state, in violation of the Hawaii Constitution, has failed to adequately fund the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, according to a unanimous ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Wednesday.

"The State has failed, by any reasonable measure, under the undisputed facts, to provide sufficient funding to DHHL,” the court wrote in its opinion. "The State’s track record in supporting DHHL’s success is poor, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of qualified applicants on the waiting lists and the decades-long wait for homestead lots."

The ruling ends a five-year court battle brought by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. on behalf of six Native Hawaiians from the Big Island.

read … DHHL

Hawaii Insurers Alone in Meeting Requirements of Obamacare

SA: Despite seemingly negative news reporting to the contrary, health plans in Hawaii have proven to be the best in the nation at managing premium dollars by spending more on medical services and less on administrative expenses. This distinction is demonstrated by the fact that Hawaii is the only state in the nation where health plans do not owe consumers refunds as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Until recently, medical loss ratio (MLR) was an obscure term found in the act. It describes the percentage of premium dollars spent by health insurers on health care for their members, from visits to a doctor's office to hospital services to prescription drugs. The MLR states that insurers must spent at least 80 percent to 85 percent of dues money on health care. Insurers that fail to hit that mark annually must provide refunds to individuals and businesses.

read … MLR

Tourist count to climb to record 7.8M this year, but Economy Grows only 2.2%

SA: Hawaii will host a record 7.8 million tourists this year, leading to 2.2 percent growth in the state's economy, according to a recalibrated government forecast released Wednesday.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism revised upward its forecast for tourist arrivals and spending, as well as overall economic growth for 2012 and 2013.

"We remain optimistic and confident that our economy is moving toward a more normal growth curve," said Richard Lim, DBEDT director.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the state's economic performance, is forecast to expand by 2.2 percent this year and 2.3 percent in 2013 after adjusting for inflation. Those figures were revised up from growth rates of 1.8 percent and 2 percent published in the state's previous forecast in February.

read … Tourists


Attempted kidnapping suspect released from OCCC 8 days ago

KHON: The man accused of an attempted kidnapping at Ala Moana Center Monday morning was released from Oahu Community Correctional Facility just eight days ago.

He's now back at OCCC.

The victim told police the suspect tried to wrap a string around her neck.

Christopher Estoy, 18, was arrested a block away from where the incident took place.

Estoy was in court Wednesday morning accused of trying to kidnap a 29-year-old woman on the fourth floor of the parking structure near Sears at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

According to court documents, the woman said she noticed a man with short, spiky hair, wearing a white shirt and black jeans following her. She says he approached her from behind and wrapped a green colored bag string around her neck.

read … The First of Many to Come

Hawaii's first prosecutor-directed cold case murder unit created on Kauai

KITV: The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney applied for and aggressively lobbied to obtain funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to focus on hiring specialized consultants and securing highly-accredited forensic laboratories to further examine tangible evidence with utmost scrutiny.

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney was one of 22 state and county agencies awarded funding. Almost $100,000 was given to create Ke Ahi Pio'ole.

The unit is comprised of two experienced prosecutors from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and two senior investigators from the Kauai Police Department Investigative Services Bureau that are committed to work extensively together with other expert homicide consultants and forensic chemists to reinterview witnesses and retrieve and test evidence with technology that was not available in the past.

read … Cold Case

10,000 Big Island Dopers Dumber than One Judge

BIN: A Third Circuit judge has rejected a lawsuit filed against a host of county officials that accuses them of not fulfilling the requirements of a 2008 ballot initiative making the personal use of marijuana the “lowest law enforcement priority.”

The initiative, which passed by a margin of nearly 10,000 votes, established Article 16 of the Hawaii County Code. The ordinance states that all other law enforcement activities should take precedence over the personal use of marijuana by adults on private property.…

The 17 current and former county officials were represented by Deputy Corporation Counsel Michael Udovic. He presented a variety of defenses against the lawsuit, with the primary one being that county code is preempted by state law, making Article 16 unenforceable.

In November, Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura agreed with Udovic and dismissed the lawsuit.

According to Michael Ruggles, one of the eight who brought the lawsuit, Nakamura’s ruling has been appealed.

Ruggles told Big Island Now that he believes Hawaii to be one of three states in the nation where the doctrine of “home rule” prevails, meaning that county law trumps state law.

read … ain’t got but one idea

City Seeks 30 Unit Apartment Building as Homeless Transitional Housing

SA: The number of chronically homeless people has increased recently in Honolulu, prompting Mayor Peter Carlisle to launch an ambitious and needed project for the city to buy a building in urban Honolulu for their needs. The question is whether Honolulu's mayor will have the fortitude to go forward with the necessary plan once its location becomes known.

A model "Housing First" proposal by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann was ultimately dropped because of neighbors' opposition at its location along River Street in Chinatown. A similar reaction may occur once Carlisle's "Pathways Project" site is decided —but we hope not, and not necessarily, as a transitional homeless shelter called Safe Haven already exists for the severely mentally ill on South Beretania Street on the outskirts of downtown.

Carlisle said he has ordered $3.5 million from the city's Affordable Housing Fund toward the purchase of a building in "urban Honolulu." He said the city will seek a building with 20 to 30 apartment units, but the number of occupants to be served has yet to be decided. Nonprofits to run the program are to apply through the end of this month, and the city's effort to identify a site will follow.

read … Housing First

Cabanilla, DelaCruz, Nishimoto: Deficient financial disclosure forms still on Ethics Commission website after two months

DN: Cabanilla’s 2012 financial disclosure apparently fails to disclose income, as required….

Senator Donavan Dela Cruz’s May 19, 2011 filing he simply checked the box indicating no changes to report since last filing. But his last filing was 12/9/10 which showed him as a Councilmember….

Nishimoto also just checked the same box. He doesn’t report his House of Representatives job.

ILind: Judiciary chairmen comment on bill limiting agency appeals of OIP determinations on public records

read … Deficient

Cashing In: Hawaii Candidates Stockpiling Campaign Cash

CB: For some perspective on Hee, Kim and Green's contributions: In the 2010 elections, winning Senate candidates raised an average $86,707 for their campaigns. The average losing Senate candidate raised $14,404 that year.

Hee was reelected to his Senate seat — representing Kahuku to Kaneohe — in the 2008 elections. Hee raised $291,875 for that election and spent a total of $130,719.

Kim was reelected in 2010 to her seat that represents Moanalua to Halawa Valley. That election year she spent $128,184 and raised $146,443.

Green — who represents Milolii to Waimea on the Big Island — was reelected to the Senate in 2008. His campaign raised $198,941 for that election and spent $116,770.

read … Bought and Paid For

Are Hawaii's Rules On How Political Parties Can Be Financed Effective?

CB: Hawaii may have gotten good grades in the State Integrity Investigation for having rules that govern how political parties can raise money. But whether those laws are effectively enforced is another story.

The state got a B, or 86 percent, grade for Political Financing. That's a pretty good grade, earning Hawaii 3rd place among 50 states. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island scored higher. Wyoming came in last.

Yet Hawaii earned a dismal 68 percent on the question of whether campaign financing laws are actually effective. The state gets dinged in part because limits on individual donations to political parties are high.

Bottom line: Hawaii limits how much individuals can donate to political parties, but critics say the limit is so high it's practically meaningless.

read … Political Finance

Hawaii Geothermal Energy Bills Aim To Reduce Oil Use, Energy Costs

AP: Legislation before Hawaii's governor could expand geothermal energy production across the state.

The pending measures could increase the geothermal output on all islands by amending the Hawaii State Planning Act to encourage development of geothermal energy on state and public trust land.

"I really believe that the consumer should own the resource because it's a mineral," explained Sen. Malama Solomon, who introduced Senate Bills 2001 and 3003.

read … Geothermal


News Release: "In 2012, we are making significant investments in our Jones Act fleet with the dry-docking of three of our Puerto Rico vessels in Asia," Mr. Fraser said. "Although dry-docking our vessels in Asia will add considerable transit expense in 2012, it will also facilitate extensive maintenance and high-quality enhancements that are instrumental in helping maintain service integrity in the Puerto Rico market."

read … Over the Horizon


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