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Friday, August 3, 2012
August 3, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:36 PM :: 7660 Views

To Stop Mufi, Mrs Abercrombie Joins the Chris Butler Cult

NYT: Three Ingredients for Republican Victory in Hawaii

2010 Flashback: Xtreme Power: A Pig-in-a-poke For Hawaii Wind Farm

AKP Demands $1/month from Oahu, Big Isle Ratepayers

Pacom: Asia-Pacific Focus Represents ‘Whole of Government’ Rebalance

'Non-Partisan Hawaii Ohana' 2012 Candidate Endorsements

Act 183: First Injunctions Filed under New Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Law

Judge Orders State DPS to Allow Inmates to Marry

Mercatus: Economics and the History of Cronyism

Taxpayers pay UPW Members $50K to Attend Campaign Rallies for Hirono, Hannemann, Kenoi

HTH: Some 538 Hawaii County employees and their state counterparts over the past few weeks were sent to two-hour “educational and informational meetings” on the taxpayers’ dime, where a union-endorsed lineup of candidates made their case for election.

The practice isn’t illegal for state employees, according to a 2000 opinion from the state Ethics Commission, the most current opinion available. But Les Kondo, executive director for the commission, said Monday the commission doesn’t favor campaigning on government time and in government facilities.

“It’s inappropriate to use state resources, including state time, for campaign purposes,” Kondo said.

The meetings, attended by county and state workers in United Public Workers Bargaining Units 1 and 10, were to be held during working hours July 2, 3, 23 and 24, according to a May 22 memo from county Human Resources Director Ron Takahashi to eight county department heads, obtained by Stephens Media.

Candidates giving speeches included Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Council candidate Brad Westervelt, U.S. House candidate Mufi Hannemann and a spokesman for U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono, according to two rank-and-file meeting attendees, one from Hilo and one from Kona. The union handed out blue sheets with the endorsed candidates’ names, they said. Stephens Media is withholding the names of union members who came forward because of their fears of reprisal….

Meeting sites included these government venues: the West Hawaii Civic Center, North Kohala Public Library, Waimea Civic Center, Honokaa High School Cafeteria, Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and Naalehu School Gymnasium.

The meetings cost county taxpayers anywhere from $15,978.60 to $28,695.28 in salaries alone, based on Unit 1 monthly pay ranges from $2,731 for an entry-level employee to $4,907 for the top worker-supervisor category. Factoring in the allowed but undefined “reasonable” travel time to and from the meeting probably doubles that amount….

UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua on Tuesday evening defended the practice, saying it was upheld by the courts in 2010. He said UPW has recently been holding these sessions statewide.

“It’s part of our collective bargaining agreement,” Nakanelua said. “It’s a contractual right we have.”…

Article 15 of the Hawaii County Code of Ethics includes this prohibition under Section 2-83, Fair treatment: “(b) No officer or employee shall use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts, or treatment, for oneself or others; including but not limited to the following: … (3) Using County time, equipment or other facilities for private business or campaign purposes.”

read … Ethics official says UPW meetings ‘inappropriate’

UPW website: Kauai Division Members Getting Active “Kauai members made the M.O.V.E. to join their brothers and Sisters on the Big Island who came out in strong support of UPW endorsed candidates.”

 

Kahuku Windfarm Fire Spews Toxic Lead Over Watershed Areas

KITV: Another fire at a warehouse that holds batteries for the 30-megawatt wind farm in Kahuku has some residents questioning whether they should be concerned for their safety.

Kent Fonoimoana of the Kahuku Community Association believes the large plume of smoke originating from the fire could threaten the areas ecosystem.

"My concerns are for the downwind areas," Fonoimoana told KITV4. "All of this fallout has been added to our water shed."

The fire inside the 7,000-square-foot warehouse began at 4:45 Wednesday morning, and as of late Thursday afternoon, continued to smolder.

Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said First Wind, which owns and operates the wind farm, agreed to let the building burn after firefighters expressed concern about the stability of the warehouse, as well as toxic chemicals coming from the lead batteries.

"It probably included the casing of some of the batteries, which now releases the content, and these are lead cell batteries, so it's an acid base," said Seelig.

AP: Hawaii wind farm that had fire is industry pioneer

BYUH: Still Burning Second Day

SA: The facility is Oahu's only large-scale wind farm, but HECO officials emphasize it will not have an impact on customers (LOL!)

CN: Fires at Kahuku Windfarm Released 'Reactive' Particles, $2M Damage

Precisely as Predicted in 2010: Xtreme Power: A Pig-in-a-poke For Hawaii Wind Farm

Read … Toxic Pollution

Tulsi: More Limited Hangout of “Lifelong Hindu”

Borreca: While Hannemann's Mormon religion is not all that unusual on the national level, Gabbard's life-long Hindu religion would be a definite first for Hawaii. (More limited hangout.)

If by some chance the final results in the November election left Hawaii with former Gov. Linda Lingle in the U.S. Senate, and Gabbard and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Congress, Hawaii's congressional delegation tally would be: one Hindu, one Buddhist, one Jew and one Christian….

Perhaps not as complicated is the help that Gabbard is getting from Gov. Neil Abercrombie's supporters. Leading the list is the public support Gabbard gets from first lady Nancie Caraway.

Just as important is the financial patronage Gabbard has received from Abercrombie's top backers, including at least $13,900 from individuals associated with Mitsunaga & Associates, the architecture and engineering firm.

Despite the handshake two years ago after Abercrombie trounced Hannemann in the Democratic primary, there is still an almost obvious dislike between the two. It is not lost on the Abercrombie camp that a Hannemann defeat would pretty much end his political career and propel Gabbard into a different league.

Related: To Stop Mufi, Mrs Abercrombie Joins the Chris Butler Cult

read … Abercrombie camp making Gabbard’s Cult Palatable One Step at a Time

DoE: The Longer Students go to School, the Dumber they Get

SA: New Department of Education figures show 45 percent of Hawaii fourth-graders were proficient in science in the 2011-12 school year, from 43 percent the year before. In the eighth grade, 31 percent tested proficient, from 26 percent.

The picture was gloomiest among high school sophomores: For a second year, just 22 percent tested proficient in science.

read … And when they finally know nothing, we graduate them…

Star-Adv: To Disguise DoE Failure, We Must Deny Parents the Clarity of Numbers

SA Editorial: The state DOE's accountability plan would use a new measuring tool called the Hawaii Academic Performance Index, a complex set of measurements to calculate student achievement, growth and readiness of two primary groups: high-needs students and all other students. Depending on their progress, schools would be classified into Reward, Continuous Improvement, Focus and Priority schools.

It's not certain how schools, parents and students would adapt to this new accountability system. The current AYP pass/fail system at least has the advantage of the clarity of numbers: Test scores can be easily compared from year to year, even if the conclusions drawn from them are debatable. (So we are going to put a stop to these bad comparisons and leave only the debate, which we at the Star-Adv control while out buddies rake in the bucks doing ‘studies’ and ‘training programs’ on contract with the DoE.)

The last thing Hawaii's public school system needs is a more complicated, murky accountability system understood only by education bureaucrats (but that’s what we’re proposing). It's critical that the DOE provide the parents and the public with clear, plain-English explanations of how their schools are doing (so we propose the opposite).

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi says the new system, if approved, would be "a huge sea change" in how Hawaii public schools are evaluated.

She is right, and there's more at stake than federal funding (not really). The present and future education of Hawaii's children rests on the school system's ability to continually improve — and on the ability of the public to monitor this progress (so we want to make that nearly impossible by eliminating the tests).

read … that again slowly

Karen Street: The head of Hawaii’s new charter school panel brings a business background to the task

SA: Karen Street was getting a touch of cold feet when she was first named chairwoman of the new Hawaii Public Charter School Commission, the body standing at the helm of reforms to the state’s 32 charter schools….

She will keep her paid post as vice president of organizational development at First Insurance Co. of Hawaii while she pursues this latest passion. A human-resources orientation, she acknowledged, is not a bad asset to have when the mission is to restructure governance of the school organization.

The commission basically replaces the Charter Schools Review Panel in this task, one of the results of Act 130, passed last legislative session. The BOE has hired the National Association of Charter Schools Authorizers (NACSA) to guide the commission through the overhaul over the next year.

The mother of two grown children never had a personal stake in charter schools but served on the Ho‘okako‘o Corp. board, an organization helping standard public schools convert to charters.

read … Contractors take control?

Campaign money watchdog wants PRP $1 million spending details

KHON: “PRP is one of many other committees that have been asked to go back to their expenditures and really itemize, breakdown how the spending had occurred particularly in the area of advertising,” said Kristen Izumi-Nitao, executive director of the commission. “Everyone would soon be able to see how the money flowed.”

The money that supports the PRP PAC comes entirely from the "Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund." PRP lists more than $1 million given from that fund, while the fund’s own noncandidate committee filing lists $4,000 donated to a couple of Hawaii County Council contenders.

“We're all about following the money, and it looks complicated,” Izumi-Nitao said. “They show us that there is a separate stream or separate trail of money designation, one for candidates, and one for the independent expenditures. We would prefer to see separate names, because it does appear to be confusing and you would think that you would see the crossreference. We are going to continue to look at them.”

“That may cut legal muster, I'm not sure, but everybody knows it's the Carpenters Union that's running this,” Cayetano said. “They can have different trustees, different boards, but all of these guys answer to the Carpenters Union.”

The union has a third committee called the “Hawaii Carpenters Political Action Fund” that also gives to candidates, among them the same county council contenders that got the maximum from the "Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund.”

“It's ironic that they're attacking me for campaign spending issues when they themselves are relying on loopholes to play the same game,” Cayetano said.

HR: O no Ono!

read … Who is Paying to Play?

MidWeek Voters’ Guide to Non-Incumbent Candidates

MW: Could this be a watershed year for elections? If the sense of restlessness and discontent with entrenched politicians is any indication, as expressed by respondents to a recent MidWeek candidates survey, there could be some surprises. The voices of empowerment are coming from non-incumbents….

read … Non-incumbent

Only a handful of lobbyists disclose any expenses

ILind: . Almost none of the lobbyists report spending anything. Since the organizations that employ lobbyists also don’t normally report gifts, it means the legally required disclosure just isn’t happening.

For the May-Dec 2011 period, only four lobbyists reported any expenses, and only one–John Yoshimura, representing SolarCity–reported giving gifts valued at more than $25 a day to anyone. It was a little better during the period covering the first two months of 2012, where I counted six lobbyists who reported at least some minimal expenses.

John Yoshimura reported gifts valued at $55 were given to Rep. Joe Souki and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland during that 2011 reporting period. No dates or details were provided.

He was the only lobbyist to report giving anyone gifts worth more than $25 in a day. Credit for that.

One problem–Rep. Cindy Evans also reported receiving the same $55 bottles of wine from SolarCity on December 7, 2011. They aren’t reported either by Yoshimura or SolarCity. I’m guessing they aren’t the only gifts that aren’t accounted for.

read … Only a handful of lobbyists disclose any expenses

Atheists ‘Unhappy’ With HFF/HCC Lobbying Settlement

SA: …Former Ethics Commissioner Jacqueline Kido told the Star-Advertiser she was glad that the church now recognizes the need to disclose its lobbying efforts.

"The Roman Catholic Church has been one of the most active lobbying organizations in Hawaii for a long, long time" on issues ranging from "death with dignity" to same-sex marriage, said Kido, who took part in the case but stepped down as a commissioner last month.

"The church was wrong in not disclosing to the public how much they were spending on these efforts," Kido said. "This has changed now, and should send a message to others who lobby elected officials to inquire into whether filings are warranted in their particular case. We have a lobbying law for good reason."

Hawaii Family Forum, whose mission is to preserve and strengthen "traditional Judeo-Christian family values," said some of the expenses questioned weren't for lobbying and that donations it received were for general support. But it amended its reports in response to the complaint, and included contributions such as $20,000 from Focus on the Family Action in 2009.

"Since Hawaii Family Forum thought they were doing things correctly, and the rules and statutes as to who has to file and report are not all that clear, it just made sense to do a settlement and move on," said James Hochberg, attorney for the forum.

"Hawaii Family Forum is happy to have all of its required reports correctly filed with the Ethics Commission," he added.

Huber said she wishes the facts had been aired in a public hearing, with a chance for give-and-take as well as harsher consequences. She also thinks the Ethics Commission should have broadened the investigation.

"I'm very unhappy with the outcome of this," Huber said. "This is a giveaway to the Catholic Church and the Hawaii Family Forum, and this is a slap in the face to the people of Hawaii."

read … Atheist Harassment

Queen's files papers to buy HMC West

KITV: Queen's plans to invest a little more than $73 million. $21 million would go to buying HMC West from St. Francis Healthcare. The rest would pay for construction projects, buying equipment and moving costs.

read … HMC West

Non-Traditional Buyer for Tesoro Refinery?

Reuters: Regarding Tesoro's plan to sell its 93,500 bpd refinery in Hawaii, Tesoro CEO Greg Goff said it appeared "very likely" that the company would complete the deal by the end of 2012.

An analyst asked if interested buyers were other refiners or potential bidders outside the refining industry, referring to Delta Air Lines' purchase of Phillips 66's 185,000 bpd refinery in Trainer, Pennsylvania, and the joint-venture deal between Sunoco Inc and private equity firm Carlyle Group to save Sunoco's 330,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery from closure.

Goff said Tesoro the level of interest was encouraging and came from a "good cross" of market participants.

read … Sell to whom?

Rep Fontaine Galvanizes the Community

MN: Rep. Fontaine's timely call to action at the June Kihei Community Association meeting and subsequent letters written to government officials have galvanized the community and the state Planning Office into action regarding the "mega-malls."

His remarks at the KCA meeting were met with considerable applause and his actions showed leadership at a time when the county is aligned against the people on a miserable project.

Except for help from Fontaine and state Sen. Roz Baker, the county is trying to ram this travesty through, regardless of the law process, regardless of traffic impact and regardless of the vision that Kihei desires.

read … South Maui is fortunate to have leaders such as Rep. George Fontaine

Solar Co Buys Seven Hawaii Projects, Rush to Complete

Blue Earth, Inc. (OTCBB:BBLU) a renewable energy and energy efficiency services company announced today that it acquired the exclusive rights to construct seven different solar PV projects totaling approximately 3.5 megawatts DC in Hawaii. The projects are valued at approximately $15 million.

The projects are located on the island of Oahu and are primarily ground mount solar systems. Six projects acquired by BBLU meet the requirements of the Renewable Energy Tier 2 Feed-in Tariff ("FIT") offered by Hawaiian Electric Company ("HECO"). The planned projects will employ local trade people during their construction.

Question: Which crony did they buy the projects from?

Read … Blue Earth, Green Payday

POHAKU: Kauai Criminal ‘Diversion’ Program Dodges Procurement Code

KGI: The Office of the County Attorney had issued its own legal opinion in April, which questioned OPA’s authority to run programs, refer participants or charge fees. This effectively halted diversion programs including Drug Court, Teen Court and POHAKU, according to OPA.

The opinion of the special counsel concluded that “implementation of the program did not violate the state procurement code.”

County Attorney Alfred Castillo said the special counsel notes that this is perhaps a “gray area that is not explicitly dealt with by the state procurement code nor does special counsel deny that an argument could be made that the procurement code applies.”

He said the opinion suggested that a memorandum of understanding between SJP and OPA is advisable to ensure responsibilities and parameters are laid out clearly….

Some council members expressed concern that participants were paying SJP via credit card to participate. They felt the process might exclude some people who could not afford it.

Addressing the county attorney’s allegation that fees might be unconstitutional, Slovin wrote in his opinion that “case law is quite clear that the establishment of such a fee is legitimate.” ….

“It is noteworthy that, although the prosecuting attorney asserts in the release that her office has been ‘cleared’ in this matter, that decision is ultimately up to the agencies that are investigating POHAKU,” Castillo said.

Read … Self-Dealing Justice Reinvestment

HPD officer admits role in pot operation, May Return to Work

SA: Police found marijuana growing indoors at Lee's Kapiolani Boulevard apartment on April 6 and another indoor growing operation in Chu's Mililani home on April 7.

They had also intercepted a shipment of 14 pounds of marijuana addressed to Chu's former residence, an apartment on Young Street, in July 2011; a FedEx parcel addressed to Lee's apartment containing seven live and one dead juvenile or starter marijuana plants on April 6; and a shipment of 30.9 pounds of marijuana from California on April 10.

Lee admitted arranging all three shipments….

Chu said he intended to sell the marijuana and use some for his back.

The Honolulu Police Department says Chu is on unpaid leave.

His lawyer, Sean Coutain, said Chu can return to work Wednesday if the court amends the conditions of his release on bond, which now require him to remain at home.

If he does return to work, HPD says Chu will be placed on restricted duty.

He will no longer qualify to be a police officer after he is sentenced because as a convicted felon, he would be prohibited from possessing a firearm.

read … Another day in the nei

Money: Mainland Anti-GMO Activists Grab for KSBE Assets

WT: When local organic farmer Anthony Palazzolo set up an organic farm in the hills of Oahu, he shortly fell ill with chronic respiratory illnesses, wheezing and bronchial spasms, and myriad other health problems. After researching neighboring farms he discovered that his land was surrounded by GMO crop test fields that are owned or leased by the chemical giants Monsanto, Dow, Pioneer, BASF, and Syngenta. Heavy usage of pesticides and herbicides was polluting his farm and wreaking havoc on the health of people living in the area.

In a recently produced documentary, Stop Monsanto From Poisoning Hawai’i: Genetic Engineering Chemical Warfare, about the exacerbating GMO and agro-chemical catastrophe in Hawaii, the Hawai’i GMO Justice Coalition points the finger not only at the big-ag firms and an inadequate governmental response, but also at Kamehameha Schools, one of the largest public trusts in the world.

Reality: The Future of Fraud

read … Attacking Hawaiian Legacy

Audio: Big Island Health IT Talkstory

GIT: Quick: Where is the most beautifully remote Beacon Community? That’s right: Hawaii. And Senior Editor Mary Mosquera went there the week before last.

Surrounded by water as it is, the Big Island has some surprisingly distinct health-centric advantages – not least of which “the spirit of Aloha that permeates life there … a sense of respect and welcome in the way people interact with each other as well as a concept called ‘Talkstory’… leaders are supposed to listen” – as Mary explains in this podcast.

Related:

read … Government IT

HNL TSA boss who claims he was wrongly fired wins settlement, retirement

HNN: In June 2011, the TSA fired 36 employees at the airport after an investigation found they failed to properly screen checked baggage for explosives over several months at the end of 2010. TSA employees assigned to the morning shift in HNL's Lobby 4 allowed unscreened luggage to get onto aircraft, affecting flights by Delta Airlines, Korean Air and other major carriers, sources said.

Five managers were among those fired, including Kajiyama, the head of HNL's 700-person TSA operation. He is a former deputy police chief who spent 30 years with the Honolulu Police Department.

The TSA charged him with "negligent or careless behavior," as justification for his firing, according to his lawyer….

The TSA settled his case on July 16, just days before a hearing was to begin in Honolulu. An administrative judge from California had already arrived to hear the case, Smith said. As part of the agreement, Kajiyama is allowed to retire with federal benefits and TSA is paying him a financial settlement that Smith said he cannot disclose because of a confidentiality agreement with the TSA.

Kajiyama was paid more than $150,000 a year. He will be allowed to retire from the TSA on Aug. 16, on the same day he vests with the agency after five years on the job and receives full benefits, Smith said.

What about these guys? Honolulu TSA Screeners Investigated for catching Too Many Illegals and Drug Smugglers

read … Settlement

Hawaii's Silent Extinction

AM: The American Birding Association’s June newsletter, Winging It, updated the current biological freefall on the island of Kaua’i in an article written by two local conservation activists, Oscar Johnson and Alex Wang. Formerly described as a lush paradise of native plants and animals, Kaua’i has become, according to the authors, “nothing short of an ecological disaster. There is hardly a single native plant or animal below 1,000 feet.”

Especially insidious are mosquitoes, also imported to the islands by European seamen and settlers. These insects spread avian malaria and other diseases for which the native birds have not evolved a defense. “Species such as the ‘I’iwi have 90% mortality if bitten by a single infected mosquito,” write the authors. “That’s why almost all native passerines [songbirds] are restricted to high elevations, where it is too cold for mosquitoes to reproduce.”

read … Audubon Magazine

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day: America Defends Free Speech

PBN: So just how much did Chick-fil-A Inc.’s sales skyrocket on “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”?

“While we don’t release exact sales numbers, it was an unprecedented day,” Chick-fil-A Executive Vice President of Marketing Steve Robinson said in a statement. “We are very grateful and humbled by the incredible turnout of loyal Chick-fil-A customers on August 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not a company promotion; it was initiated by others.”

The Atlanta-based chain is private and therefore doesn’t reveal its bottom line. It discloses annual sales figures, with last year’s record haul hitting $4 billion. There are 52 weeks in a year and Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. So it operates roughly 312 days of the year. Sales of $4 billion divided by 312 is about $12.8 million a day.

One can only guess how much more than $12.8 million Chick-fil-A considers “unprecedented” for sales on Aug. 1.

read … America Defends Free Speech

The big bash: 86 percent of Romney coverage negative

WT: During Mitt Romney's overseas visit earlier this week, 86 percent of the coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC "emphasized Romney's perceived gaffes," according to a content analysis of 21 major news stories by the Media Research Center, which also compared Mr. Romney's trip to a similar excursion made by President Obama in 2008.

The results: The broadcast networks committed 53 minutes of almost entirely negative coverage to Mr. Romney, and 92 minutes of "gushing" to Mr. Obama.

"The near unanimous negativity of their coverage is as outrageous as it is transparent," observes the center's founder Brent Bozell.

RDTP: Romney 47% Obama 43%

read … and yet Romney is winning

Was Pres. Obama channeling Willy Maunawili?

HM: Last Friday, Pres. Barack Obama’s class warfare rhetoric soared in a speech to supporters in Roanoke, Virginia. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before from the particularly statist sort of technocrats who now dominate the Democratic party, such as Elizabeth Warren, running for the U.S. in Massachusetts. You might recall her “You built a factory? Good for you!” talk last August.
Pres. Obama’s remarks were basically the same as Warren’s, but the more I hear this kind of talk, the more I yell at my television. There’s something deeply unpleasant and entitled about their view of private success. Here are Pres. Obama’s points, and what pops to my mind when I hear them. Video of his remarks at The Washington Times, if you’d like to
hear them in their uninterrupted form.

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me—because they want to give something back.

No one is stopping them. The IRS will gladly accept checks above and beyond what these folks owe. Knock yourselves out!

They know they didn’t—look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.

Okaaaaaay, where are you going with this?

YouTube: Willy Maunawili

read … Honolulu Magazine

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