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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
October 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:57 PM :: 4899 Views

Mediscare: Mazie's $6400 Falsehood

Audit Pushes Special Fund Ahead of Vote: City Loses $366K by Not Collecting Camping Fees

Hawaii Teachers Halt Labor Negotiations, Escalating Conflict

Treasury Dept. Fingers SolarCity in Exploration of the Dark Underbelly of Solar Leasing

Honolulu Transit Megaprojects Compared

KITV: Hirono, Lingle to square off in KITV/CivilBeat.com debate

Filipino Chronicle: Djou vs Hanabusa

Cayetano, Legislators Begin Fight Over .5% GE Tax Revenues

SA: Mayoral candidate Ben Caye­tano says he would use revenue from the state general excise tax surcharge currently designated for rail to fund a new Bus Rapid Transit system, and do it without seeking special permission from the state Legislature.

The excise tax surcharge is expected to raise nearly $3.36 billion, which the city intends to spend on the planned 20-mile rail system.

However, Cayetano said that money could instead be used to pay for much of his "Flexible Affordable Smart Transportation" system, which he is offering as an alternative to rail.

If people disagree with Caye­tano's interpretation of the law, "then if I'm the mayor, then we plan to resolve that thing in court," he said in an interview Friday.

"I don't think that will happen," he said of the possibility of a court challenge over the use of the excise tax funding. "If I get elected, I don't see why anybody would."…

Cayetano said there is enough flexibility in that law to allow him to use the surcharge funds for the BRT efforts without returning to the state Legislature first.

He contends a new federal law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, classifies BRT projects as "fixed guideway" systems that qualify for both federal funds and funds from the surcharge.

However, Cayetano said he does plan to ask the Legislature for other adjustments in the surcharge law that will allow him to spend some of the money on non-transit-related items. For example, Caye­tano has said the city must make major investments in its aging water and sewer systems.

House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro, who was House majority leader in 2005, said the Legislature always intended the excise tax money would pay for a rail system.

Oshiro, who supports rail, said it would be extremely difficult to persuade lawmakers to amend the law to finance new projects.

Reopening the issue now for any reason will trigger intense lobbying by critics who want the tax repealed entirely, putting pressure on lawmakers, Oshiro said. The Legislature will also be concerned about the uncertainty of federal funding, and will be unsure exactly how the excise surcharge money will be used, he said.

"Talk about the fear of the unknown, that's even a greater fear there," he said.

read … Legislative Agenda

Borreca: Because of early voting, Hawaii's Election Day is actually 22 days long

On Oahu, ballots should start arriving today. Voters must mail back ballots before the election, although they can actually walk them into the polls on the day of the election.

If voters continue to follow the trend of the last two elections, as many as half of Hawaii's voters will have mailed in their ballots before the Nov. 6 general election….

In the August primary election, 48 percent of voters dropped their ballots in the mail. In the 2010 general election it was 42 percent, and back in 2008 it was 38 percent….

So far there is very little to separate the early and late voter. Early voting appears to be more of a convenience to voters than a boon for politicians.

Now politicians must devise a campaign for the early or absentee voter and another one for the Nov. 6 walk-in voter, meaning the successful political campaign must peak twice.

Neal Milner, University of Hawaii political scientist, says that early or absentee voters are likely to be those who have already made up their minds and are therefore likely to be either strong Democrats or Republicans….

Milner notes that Pacific Resource Partners, the pro-rail Carpenters Union and contractors group, has started mailing out anti-Ben Cayetano cards attempting to link the liberal, Democratic former governor with the Republican Party.

"This may be what is behind what looks like a last-ditch attempt to influence loyal Democrats," Milner said….

read … Campaigns must target early and regular voters

State voter registration increases by 18,000

WHT: Hawaii added 18,168 voters to its rolls between the Aug. 11 primary and the Oct. 8 General Election registration deadline, a 2.6 percent increase that brings the number of registered voters to 705,668, according to figures obtained Monday from the City and County of Honolulu, which keeps the voter lists for the state.

With what promises to be a neck-and-neck battle for the re-election of Hawaii-born President Barack Obama topping the ticket, and what could be a once-in-a-generation open seat for U.S. Senate following close behind, Hawaii residents seem particularly attuned to politics this year. But at least one elections official says it’s not unusual for voter registration to spike after the primary in presidential election years.

Leading the way in terms of sheer numbers, and in percent increase, was Oahu, with a 2.7 percent increase, followed by Hawaii County, with a 2.6 percent increase, Maui, with a 2.4 percent increase and Kauai, with a 2.3 percent increase.

Honolulu Elections Administrator Glen Takahashi said Oahu’s primary-to-General-Election bump of 12,658 voters is similar to previous presidential elections. In 2008, 15,977 voters were added to the rolls during that time frame and 14,968 were added in 2004.

“It’s par for the course,” Takahashi said. “It’s a general interest in presidential elections.”

Hawaii County, the county with the fastest population growth rate in the state, has had, by far, the biggest percentage increase of registered voters since the 2008 General Election. The county added 4,986 voters, for a 5 percent increase, compared to the state average of 2.1 percent.

Some 104,323 voters are registered for the General Election, said acting Hawaii County Elections Administrator Lehua Iopa.

read … State voter registration increases by 18,000

Target Greenwood: Faculty Marxists Attempting to Convene Lynch Mob Wednesday

SA: The discussion and possible vote comes a day before a UH Board of Regents meeting Thursday, where regents are scheduled to continue a closed-door discussion about Greenwood's future.

The Faculty Senate motion to take a no-confidence vote was proposed last month by (Marxist) ethnic studies professor Noel Kent, who testified before the regents Friday that he believes Greenwood should be fired.

Wednesday's meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. in the Architecture Auditorium…. (Should be amusing, if you like wildly posturing academics desperately trying to out-left each other.)

Greenwood's supporters point to the development of the $1 billion Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, the construction of the UH Cancer Research Center and a new community college campus in West Hawaii, and rising graduation rates as reasons for her to stay.

read … No Confidence

95 Applicants for University of Hawaii Athletic Director

HNN: The reason the search advisory committee cannot progress is because "initial culling [of applications] will be done by the external search firm, once a contract has been approved and executed."

However, the school is expecting the reviewing of contracts to begin within days.

The university is still "hopeful" that the deadline of early November to present a finalist or finalists to UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple can be met.

The total number of applicants is now over 95.

read … No review of applications yet for UH Manoa Athletics Director

Senator Murkowski echoes Lingle on bipartisanship

SA: Murkowski won re-election through a write-in campaign in 2010 after she lost the Republican primary to a tea party-inspired attorney who had the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

One of Hirono's contentions is that Lingle, if elected, would be under pressure to vote with more conservative national Republicans. But Murkowski said national Republican leaders recognize that some GOP senators need to more closely reflect their home state's politics.

"I think there is a recognition and an appreciation that a Republican senator from the South has a different constituency than a Republican from Alaska or a Republican from Hawaii or a Republican from Massachusetts," she said.

Hawaii and Alaska have had a political alliance in Washington since both became states in 1959, a partnership formed by U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye, D-Hawaii, and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. Hawaii and Alaska lawmakers often vote together on home-state-related issues to expand their influence.

Murkowski, for example, is one of the few Republicans to support Native Hawaiian federal recognition, viewing the issue as similar to tribal recognition for Alaska Natives.

"We are very unique, and some of that uniqueness helps us, but more often than not it presents challenges because people don't really understand, they can't relate to us," she said.

Politico: Alaska pols take Hawaii Senate spotlight with Lingle endorsements

read … Senator echoes Lingle on bipartisanship

After Hanabusa Loots Campaign Funds, Djou Has more cash on Hand

SA:Democrat Hanabusa raised about $200,000 from late July through September for her re-election in urban Hono­lulu's 1st Congressional District. She has raised about $1.1 million overall.

Djou, the Republican candidate, raised about $161,900 since late July. He has brought in about $573,000 overall.

Federal campaign finance reports filed Monday also show that Djou had slightly more cash on hand than Hana­busa at the end of September. He had about $431,600 while Hana­busa had about $396,450.

Related: The $123K Question: Is Hanabusa Looting Her Own Campaign?

read … Cash On Hand

Ali’i Gives to GOP, He’e Gives to Democrats

CB: A member of Hawaiian royalty is the top political donor from the state of Hawaii.

Abigail Kawananakoa gave $100,000 to Winning Our Future, a conservative super PAC that spent more than $17 million in support of Newt Gingrich's unsuccessful presidential candidacy.

Kawananakoa, a descendant of King Kalakaua, also gave $30,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee — "the only political committee solely dedicated to electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate," as the NRSC explains on its website

A review of Hawaii donors in the 2012 election cycle shows that contributions $5,000 and above to Republican candidates, PACS, super PACS and parties edge out contributions from Democrats.

But local Democrats have given lots of money, too, such as Albert Hee, who runs a Kailua energy company called Waimana Enterprises.

Hee, brother of state Sen. Clayton Hee, donated $30,800 to the DNC Services Corp, the organizational and fundraising arm of the Democratic National Committee that has already spent $232 million this election.

Related: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

read … Squid

Miss A Payment? ‘Free’ Solar Installer Could Soak You for $28K

CB: Miss a payment on your solar electric bill? You could be slapped with a bill for $28,000.

That’s what Vivint Solar can charge customers who miss a payment on the electricity generated by a typical 4,000-watt solar system installed on their roof, according to the fine print of a 20-year contract that the company is offering in Hawaii.

The new company out of Provo, Utah has taken the Hawaii market by storm this year. Sales representatives have signed up hundreds of customers on Oahu and Maui this year. And Vivint has quickly grown to be one of the largest solar installers in the competitive Hawaii market, according to city Department of Planning and Permitting data compiled by Marco Mangelsdorf, a local solar executive at Hilo-based ProVision Solar.

read … the small print

Federal Funding for BRT Requires Rail-Like System

CB: … the FTA did point me to the guidance it produced to help make sense of the new law (MAP-21) that Cayetano’s camp says opens new possibilities for BRT. An excerpt from the section explaining the new definition of BRT:

This definition means that a BRT system may include a mixture of both exclusive guideway and non-dedicated guideway with traffic signal priority, so long as the exclusive guideway (during peak periods) constitutes a “majority of the line” and so long as the other features emulating rail transit are present.

The guidance also makes clear that there are other definitions of BRT in federal law. In particular, Section 5309, which deals with the type of New Starts and Small Starts funding Honolulu rail is relying on, says the term “fixed guideway capital project” includes a “corridor-based bus capital project” if:

(A) a substantial portion of the project operates in a separate right-of-way dedicated for public transit use during peak hour operations; or

(B) the project represents a substantial investment in a defined corridor as demonstrated by features such as park-and-ride lots, transit stations, bus arrival and departure signage, intelligent transportation systems technology, traffic signal priority, offboard fare collection, advanced bus technology, and other features that support the long-term corridor investment.

Panos: Bus Rapid Transit Gaining Support

read … One More Note On Federal Funding for ‘Flexible’ BRT

Hawaii's Elevator Safety In Free Fall?

CB: There are up to 5,000 elevators, escalators and similar equipment in Hawaii that haven't undergone safety inspections this year.

That’s more than 70 percent of the 7,000 such machines that the state is supposed to check annually for compliance with safety regulations.

Bill Kunstman, spokesman for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said that the backlog is nothing new.

“The last time we were able to stay on top of things and the branch was fully staffed was 1995,” Kunstman said.

read … 5000 Backlog

Hawaii Rarely Prosecutes for Campaign Spending Violations

CB: Rod Tam. Andy Mirikitani. Rene Mansho.

These names are synonymous with political corruption after successful prosecutions at the local, state and federal levels.

But they remain lone exceptions to how Hawaii handles people who violate campaign finance rules. The norm is an administrative fine, and if that doesn't work, a court-imposed penalty.

And yet complaints continue to pour into the commission's office, raising questions about how well Hawaii's campaign finance system works in keeping politicians honest and holding them accountable when they lapse.

read … Not Enough Felony Prosecutions

Raid on arcades of dubious value

SA: Police and prosecutors expressed conviction that the machines are illegal gambling devices, although Honolulu Police Assistant Chief Susan Dowsett said after the raid, "This is the start of the investigation, just the start."

Five of the six companies being investigated took the offensive late last week, suing police and the prosecutor's office for return of the 77 machines, estimated by police at a value of more than $250,000, and seeking an injunction preventing future seizures.

That lawsuit should not have surprised Kaneshiro. Before its filing, a spokesman for Kaneshiro told the Star-Advertiser his office was "waiting to see what the owners of the machines will do." Meanwhile, he added, "There has to be a determination if the machines are gambling devices or not."

It seems such legal determination should first be clear before legal enforcers swoop in.

Eight months ago, city Liquor Administrator Greg Nishioka told KITV regarding Products Direct Sweepstakes machines, "We have run it by the police, and my understanding is they have run it before the prosecutor's office and we are still waiting on some decision on this."

He now says that 21 of 32 businesses that the Liquor Commission has allowed to use the machines have had them installed, with the stipulation that the machines be removed if they are found by any law enforcement agency to be illegal. Talk about mixed messages for the arcade business owners: One city agency gives tacit approval for legal installation of the machines, then another comes in later with zealous law-and-order seizure of the devices.

read … Its Election Time for the Prosecutor

Hilo and Kapaa residents most stable in Hawaii in terms of residency, analysis finds

PBN: Some 89 percent of Hilo and Kapaa residents, on the Big Island and Kauai respectively, lived in the same house in 2011 as they did the year before, the highest stability rate among the four metropolitan areas in Hawaii, according to the analysis of newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey by On Numbers, an affiliate of Pacific Business News.

While about 83 percent of people lived in the same house as a year earlier in the Kahului-Wailuku metro area, 13 percent of residents had moved either to a new house or to the area from another part of Hawaii, the highest rate for in-state moves.

Honolulu, which had a stability rate of 85 percent, had nearly 9 percent of residents who moved from other parts of the state. Honolulu also had the highest rate of people who moved there from a different state — 5 percent.

Kapaa had the highest percentage of residents who moved there from abroad — 3 percent.

read … unstable

W Maui Community Rallies to Stop Omidyar Development of Lipoa Point

MN: West Maui state Rep. Angus McKelvey is hoping to pool state and federal funding to acquire Lipoa Point from landowner Maui Land & Pineapple Co. in an effort to preserve the coastal land in perpetuity.

On Monday, McKelvey asked a Maui County Council committee to hold off on any growth boundary designations for the area while he works with other Maui legislators to bring stakeholders together, including the landowner….

Save Honolua Coalition

read … Lawmaker views Lipoa Point as ‘living park’

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