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Friday, October 26, 2012
October 26, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:51 PM :: 5339 Views

On the Honolulu Ballot: $5M Ward Heelers' Slush Fund

Census: Hawaii Tops Nation in Multi-Generational Families

Senator, 1000 Ratepayers Call for Lower Electric Bills

Fitch: $71M in Maui Co Bonds Rate AA+

Louise Kim McCoy To Be Named Gov’s Communications Director

CB: Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle’s spokeswoman, Louise Kim McCoy, will be Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s new communications director.

The governor’s current spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said Friday she could not confirm if Kim McCoy has been named to replace Jim Boersema, who stepped down last month. Dela Cruz said the administration has been interviewing for the position and that an announcement of a hire will be forthcoming.

But Jim Fulton, Carlisle’s chief of staff, confirmed the hire….

Kim McCoy will be Abercrombie’s third communications director in less than two years. Her husband, public relations executive Jim McCoy, handled communications for Abercrombie’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

PR: Other sources say that McCoy has yet to meet personally with Abercrombie about the job…. (In other words, the appointment of a new Communications Director has devolved into another Abercrombie administration communications debacle.)

read … Louise Kim McCoy To Be Named Gov’s Communications Director

Debate: Djou Closer to the Center

SA: Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou said he would work closer to the political center than the extremes.

Djou blamed both political parties for the gridlock in Congress.

"The American people and the people of Hawaii are looking at Congress today and saying, ‘You guys aren't getting anything done,'" he said. "This is a corrosive, poisonous atmosphere over in Washington, D.C. And I think a large part of it is because of a lack of bipartisanship, a failure in the center, and for both parties — Republicans and Demo­crats — (that) have become captured by the hyper-partisan extremes.

"And everything is seen from a hyper-partisan vantage point here."

Djou said that Native Hawaiian federal recognition has not passed in Congress because there was no Republican in the state's congressional delegation to explain to Republican opponents why the issue is important to Hawaii. But Hana­busa said that U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, a senior lawmaker who supports Native Hawaiian recognition, has said that other Republicans do not "understand the indigenous peoples' rights." She said she doubts Djou alone would be able to advance the bill in the House.

Both Hanabusa and Djou said the federal government should reimburse Hawaii and other states and territories for the cost of providing medical care, education and other services to Pacific migrants. Hawaii has estimated that the Compact of Free Association between the United States and Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau costs the state more than $100 million a year.

Reality: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Hanabusa, Djou talk about parties' differences

Linda Lingle: The Clear Choice

CB: Linda Lingle inherited nearly a quarter of a billion dollar gap in the State budget when she took office in December 2002. Rather than dwelling on who created the deficit, she and her new budget director, Georgina Kawamura, systematically reviewed the entire state balance sheet, pared unnecessary or duplicative expenditures, and turned the State’s red ink into a $730 billion surplus by 2006. This is an extraordinary achievement in less than four years.

MN: Lingle Like Lincoln

WHT: Hirono Promises to Leave: Admits Negative campaigning has no place in Hawaii

read … Linda Lingle: The Clear Choice

Star-Adv Endorses McDermott, Reader, Butler, Fale

» District 40 (Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point): Republican Bob McDermott, who represented Foster Village and Halawa 14 years ago in the state House, moved to Ewa several years ago and is the better choice for this newly drawn district, over Chris Manabat. McDermott, executive director of the Navy League, is focusing on school repairs, road conditions and the timely reopening of Hawaii Medical Center-West, now being acquired by The Queen's Medical Center.

» District 41 (Ewa Beach, West Loch Estates): Rida Cabanilla-Arakawa, whose district has been reconfigured, has underperformed for her district and is confronting a GOP opponent, Adam Reeder, who deserves this chance to represent his community. The former legislative analyst for the House Minority Research Office works as a homelessness prevention specialist at the Institute for Human Services, a vantage point that could be useful in social-service discussions at the Capitol.

» District 43 (Kalaeloa, Ko Olina, Maili): Incumbent Democrat Karen Awana, who five years ago switched from the GOP, probably has the base to win re-election, but we are concerned about her recent trouble with the Campaign Spending Commission. That agency has fined her $6,800 for violations in reporting spending dating back to 2008, on top of the $1,900 fine she paid last year. This is a distressing sign and could distract her from service to her district. Our endorsement goes to GOP candidate Glenn Butler, a real estate agent who has a record of community outreach through his church, in the hopes he can broaden perspectives in the House.

» District 47 {Waialua, Kahuku, Waiahole): Richard Fale was the surprise victor in the GOP primary, unseating incumbent Gil Riviere, and gets our nod here over Democrat D. Ululani Beirne. Fale is unapologetic about his support for "Envision Laie," the Mormon church development plan, and his campaign backing from the project sponsors. But the Tongan-born military veteran maintains that he realizes the need to balance job creation with environmental concerns, a promise to which his constituents surely will hold him.

read … Four Endorsements

Council hopeful aims to do job without 'drama' of incumbent

SA: City Councilman Tom Berg makes no apologies for his outspoken, aggressive approach to politics. "If I have to raise my voice to shed light on corruption, greed and graft, I will raise my voice," he said.

His strident political persona and some well-publicized controversies have made Berg a well-known political figure on Oahu, but that fame may also make him vulnerable to a challenge by four-term state Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine.

Pine said residents of the Leeward Oahu Council district tell her that "we just want someone who can do the job without all the drama."

"Tom Berg has created more division in our community than any other leader in Leeward Coast history," Pine said. "It just is really sad to me because we have a lot of work to do on the Leeward Coast."

District I extends from near Kaena Point to the Ewa area and includes Ko Olina, Campbell Industrial Park, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa and parts of Ewa Beach.

read … Berg v Pine

Political Fight For Oahu's GET Heats Up

CB: If Ben Cayetano thinks he can get his hands on the general excise tax surcharge that’s currently being collected for the city’s $5.26 billion rail project, he may want to think again.

That's the message Marcus Oshiro, the chair of the House Committee on Finance, recently sent in a letter to Dan Grabauskas, the head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. He says Cayetano will have a difficult time wrestling the money from the state, which is currently collecting the funds on behalf of Honolulu.

Oshiro said that not only does Cayetano’s alternative transportation plan not qualify for the surcharge funds under current law, but that the state could put the money — already nearly $1 billion — to a more effective use, such as filling its own budget gaps.

“The law is clear in its intent that funds not be diverted to other transportation or county capital projects,” Oshiro wrote in his letter. “Additionally, as you are aware, the State has many of its own programs and projects that face funding shortfalls, and any legislative initiative to change the restrictions in the use of the surcharge will almost certainly result in the surcharge funds being directed away from Honolulu’s transportation needs to address the budgetary challenges confronting the State.”

VIDEO: Marcus Oshiro Discusses Honolulu 0.5% GE Tax Grab at Community Meeting in Wahiawa 9-11-2012

Text: Oshiro Letter to HART

CB is playing Catch-up to these articles from last week:

read … Post Rail Reality

Tax Review Commission Report Calls for More Tax Hikes

CB: When the commission last met, on Sept. 11, it heard an earful from lawmakers and others who didn't take kindly to the PFM Group, a mainland firm that recommended serious changes to Hawaii tax policy.

The proposals include raising the general excise tax — from 4 percent to 4.5 percent on the neighbor islands and from 4.5 percent to 5 percent on Oahu.

Other ideas include raising hotel taxes, corporate income taxes and cigarette and alcohol taxes; cutting or dropping deductions for things like income and property taxes; and taxing pensions.

The PFM Group report made the recommendations based on what it projects will be state revenues and expenditures in 2025. Critics took issue with the projections as well, saying that they weren't based on realistic models.

The PMF Group predicts an accumulated shortfall of $3 billion by the year 2025, starting with a $200 million shortfall beginning just two years from now….

Exactly what the commission will agree to hasn't been released yet. Because the report is a working document, Civil Beat was not allowed to review it.

At Thursday's meeting, the commission — along with Iwase, it includes vice chair Mitchell Imanaka and members Roy Amemiya, Peter Ho, Michael McEnerny, Darryl Nitta and Gregg Taketa — wrangled over language in the draft, in particular the report's executive summary.

The report will include PMF Group's final recommendations and a report titled Will Hawaii’s Tax Structure Prove Adequate in the Future?, authored by Joshua Fujino and Donald Rousslang of the state's Tax Research and Planning Office, part of the state Department of Taxation.

The Tax Review Commission is also seeking fresh number-crunching on accrual-based liability projections from the PMF Group….

Gambling was something the PMF Group did not recommend.

read … About how Propaganda is Written

BoE Mulls PLDC, 21st Century Schools and Who Owns the Land

CB: Board Chair Don Horner said there are three pieces to building 21st Century schools in Hawaii: one, hiring a consultant to look at the current inventory; two, determining what schools of the future should look like; and three, dealing with the money issue.

"Our brick and mortar is woefully underfunded and old and challenged," Horner said. "The good news is this board has substantial assets within our communities."

The chair said he suspects schools can be built for far less than they are now.

"I'm still concerned about quote-unquote a million dollars a classroom. That to me is unconscionable," Horner said.

L'Heureux, Horner and Wesley Lo, who chairs the board's Finance and Infrastructure Committee, seemed stoked for the possibilities the effort could yield. But they'll have to convince the public and other board members, like Nancy Budd and Charlene Cuaresma, who support the noble intent but have concerns over the slowly emerging details….

The board's discussion of the department's strategic approach to building 21st Century schools in Hawaii raised eyebrows with references of a "PR machine" and talk of using the beleaguered Public Land Development Corporation as a mechanism to raise money….

Budd said she supports leveraging underutilized school facilities but worries about the lack of environmental oversight if the PLDC is the mechanism to do so….

Cuaresma, one of the board's three Oahu appointees, said there needs to be more discussion on using the PLDC or taking action to ensure there's a provision that ensures all the money leveraged from DOE assets goes back into education.

"There's a big fear in the community and a big distrust," she said….

Horner tried to reassure her, but Board member Jim Williams added his doubts to the mix.

"We as the Board of Education control our properties," Horner said. "So before we're going to put that asset in play, we're going to make darn sure that money comes back to public education."

Williams said he thinks the governor controls school properties, not the board. (Yes dear reader, the BoE is uncertain about who owns the land. Wow. Just…wow.)

He offered a case in point with the Kakaako development. He said a school used to sit on that property, but the governor recently announced plans to build a mixed-use housing complex there.

"We weren't even told about that project," Williams said.

Horner said most land is basically owned by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, but the board can control it for educational purposes. For example, the state recently bought some 60 acres on Maui to build a high school and even though it's on DLNR land, it's for public education so its use is dictated by the board….

Hawaii is 51st in the nation with regards to capital improvement money per student per year, L'Heureux said. He said Hawaii spends on average about $300 per pupil whereas the mainland averages $1,200 to $1,500.

PDF: Hawaii Department of Education CIP 2013-15 budget

read … 21st Century Schools

Computers: Preview of DoE, HSTA, Abercrombie Posturing over DoE Budget Buster

Borreca: The Department of Education is moving to computers.

Well, the move appears to be couched in enough bureaucratic deniability that if the Legislature and the governor dig out on funding, the Department of Education won't look foolish.

Still the new DOE budget calls for equipping each public student with either a tablet or laptop by 2015, and training teachers to include both them and the computers in a modernization of teaching and doing away with textbooks.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was first to call for going digital in his State of the State address so going forward should be a priority for the entire administration.

The DOE is wisely thinking about leasing the computer gear for three years, though even that may be too long a time period; remember, the now-antique iPad1 first came out in 2010 and now is in its fourth generation.

"Board of Education Chairman Don Horner stressed that it is still early in the budgetary process and that there will have to be discussions with the executive and legislative," Vorsino wrote.

She quoted Horner as saying: "I don't think the nation has done analysis on the return on investment. We need to weigh that in relationship to all the other priorities in the department."

Another US News report delves further into the debate regarding teaching and computers to note that today's teacher is used to being the center of the classroom and the base of a "teacher-centric" education system.

This could change if the education programs come from software with progress measured by completed computer lessons. The question then is who is running the classroom.

"Now, the iPad allows us to put the responsibility of learning into the hands of the students," Joel Backon, director of academic technology at Choate Rosemary Hall, a coeducational boarding and day school in Connecticut, said in the magazine report.

This is sure to make the Hawaii State Teachers Association pout….

(The students should be given Wangs so they will be properly equipped for the HGEA jobs of the future.)

read … Outline of Negotiating Positions

PUC: Ewa Field Solar Scammers to Rake in Megabucks

SA: The project to be built by Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park LLC on 20 acres of Navy-owned land will generate an estimated 8.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, according to the developer. That's enough electricity to power about 1,100 homes using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month.

The target date for completion is June.

HECO will pay 21.6 cents a kilowatt-hour for power if Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park elects to claim a 24.5 percent refundable state tax credit, or grant. Refundable credits are often claimed by companies that don't have a tax liability in Hawaii.

The rate drops to 19.7 cents a kilowatt-hour if the developer instead choses to take the standard 35 percent state tax credit for the project.

The prices outlined in the power purchase agreement are comparable to what HECO is paying independent power producers for energy generated from photovoltaic panels under the utility's feed-in tariff program.

Kalaeloa Renewable Energy is owned by Scatec Solar North America Inc. and Hunt ELP Ltd. Kalaeloa Renewable Energy will sublease land for the project from Ford Island Ventures LLC, which has a Navy contract to manage the land.

The project will be built on the site of a World War II-era runway at Ewa Field

read … PUC clears pricing for HECO power buy

Kauai County Details Massive Waste of Electricity

KGI: The biggest usage is from the Department of Water, who uses 38 percent of the county’s energy resources. Most of that usage comes from pulling water out of wells using pumps, but Sullivan said the department is looking at a way to drill horizontally to expend less energy.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Sullivan said of the project, which could potentially save customers money. “It’s not an easy project in any way, certainly, but it may or may not be viable to potential savings. We want to study it and make it happen because it is very valuable to our community.”

Wastewater uses 23 percent of the county’s energy. The four public wastewater facilities are looking to reduce their energy bills by 25 percent and under performance review right now, Sullivan said.

Public Works also uses 23 percent of the county’s energy resources, followed by street lights at 9 percent and parks at 6 percent.

The Public Works figure covers things such as air conditioning in county buildings, as well as other resources.

The county is also looking to establish a thermostat policy in offices to determine a happy medium so that some employees aren’t freezing and sneaking space heaters under their desks as others are roasting.

One key area the county is looking into is refrigerator replacement. Sato said some refrigerators in county offices are 15 to 20 years old.

read … About Waste in Government

ML&P Threatened with NYSE Delisting

SA: Maui Land faces a maturity of about $48 million in debt in May, and said in the quarterly report that its finances are highly dependent on selling real estate in a difficult market and being able to refinance debt.

The company also is continuing efforts to lease more real estate and cut costs, it said in the report.

Shares of Maui Land stock rose 21 cents Thursday to $2.62 after the earnings announcement but before release of the quarterly report. Shares have rebounded in the last several days from a 52-week low of $1.90 on Oct. 17, following a steep decline from around $3.50 in August.

The recent trough for Maui Land stock put the company out of compliance with a requirement to maintain at least a $50 million value of total outstanding shares over 30 days. The NYSE notified Maui Land on Tuesday of the noncompliance.

Maui Land said it intends to submit a plan to the stock exchange for regaining compliance, which has to be achieved within 18 months under NYSE rules.

At Thursday's stock price the value of all Maui Land shares was $49.2 million.

MN: ML&P reporting $1.6 million loss

read … Doomed?

170 On Staff at Kokua Kalihi

SA: Derauf, who has been involved with Kokua Kalihi Valley for 20 years, said his 170 staff members work hard to keep the center connected to its humble beginning.

"We've grown a lot," he said. "But the most important thing, in that regard, is we haven't lost our essence of who we are. When we were working out of rusty old trailers, or whether we're working out of a state-of-the-art facility like this, we're the same people. And our love for this community and our joy of working together with one another is the same as it was 40 years ago."….

Since it opened in a studio apartment at Kalihi Valley Homes 40 years ago, the center has been focused on holistic health and meeting the needs of a diverse community. The center's work in the valley includes mental health services, youth outreach, organic farming, a mobile dentistry unit that goes to schools, an Elder Center on Gulick Avenue, and many other programs.

"It is a center for community health because KKV has not only treated the wounds of the community, but also empowered the community to seek their own medicine appropriate to the culture of the person and the community," said Jeffrey Acido, a center patient and Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education.

The 16,500-square-foot facility also features a pharmacy, an eye clinic, spaces for health and wellness education, vocational training facilities, including a commercial kitchen, and a showcase space dubbed the Wai­wai Room where Kokua Kalihi Valley program participants can sell handmade crafts.

read … Community Organizers

Browsing through the data on campaign money

ILind: To help you make sense of all these data, check out this experimental site that gathers data from the Campaign Spending Commission, State Ethics Commission, and the Office of Elections and processes it into useable form. That link will take you to a start page with a list of candidates who have raised the most money during this election cycle. Using the links at the top of the page, you can then slice and dice the contribution data by candidate, corporation, special interest, etc.

CB: Study: Hawaii Sees Twice As Many Political TV Ads As News Stories

VIDEO: Cayetano Blasts Pacific Resource Partnership for New Attack Ad

read … Browsing through the data on campaign money

Ballot listing does not follow state law -- Presidential candidates not in alphabetical order

WHT: More than one-half million Hawaii ballots were printed with the presidential candidates in no particular order, despite a state law that says all candidates must be in alphabetical order within their respective races.

The state Office of Elections has downplayed the error, and officials contacted this week also don’t see it as a problem, especially for the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race. But Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi is seeking a legal opinion after her office was contacted by voters.

But close races elsewhere on the ballot could be challenged based on the illegal order at the top, said Kyle Kondik, a spokesman for noted political analyst Larry Sabato’s Center for Politics, based at the University of Virginia.

“If lawyers could get at something, they will,” Kondik said. “If there’s something to sue about, they’ll sue.”

That’s not likely to be the Obama-Romney battle, nor the next race on the ballot, between Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Linda Lingle for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka. The Center for Politics sees an “overwhelming majority” for Obama in Hawaii, and has pegged the Hirono-Lingle seat as “likely Democratic.”

Ballot position has been shown to be important. Candidates listed first on the ballot gain an automatic 5 percentage point advantage over other candidates simply by being first, according to a 2010 study by researchers from Kellogg School and the University of Pennsylvania.

Nago, in reply, explained how the error happened, but didn’t address the legal question.

“The Office of Elections has stated this was an error on its part and that it apologizes,” Nago said in the email, obtained under Hawaii’s open records laws. “The ballots will not be reprinted as all candidates for president are on the ballot and voters are still able to exercise their right to vote.”

West Hawaii Today’s questions to Nago’s office Thursday about the legality of the ballot were referred to the Attorney General’s Office. Spokesman James Walther said the law also requires the state Office of Elections and the county clerks’ offices to provide candidates and political parties an opportunity to review draft ballots before they’re printed.

“There was a process for review prior to printing and nothing was said about any problems,” Walther said.

read … About the Genius of Scott Nago

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