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Friday, November 16, 2012
November 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:03 PM :: 5100 Views

As Legislative Session Looms, Greenwood Wins Backing of BoR

Census Bureau: Hawaii 7th Highest Poverty Rate in US

Hawai‘i Health Connector Submits Blueprint Application

DBEDT Releases Quarterly Economic Forecast

Workshops: Discover the Public's Power in the Legislative Process

Dr. Panos Prevedouros Honored by Honolulu City Council

Wounded Warrior and Kaimuki Grad to Speak at Navy League Luncheon

Act 208 Gives legislators carte blanche to use their positions to give unwarranted benefits to themselves, friends, or supporters

ILind: A subtle change of wording included in a measure passed this year to ease restrictions on lobbying by appointed members of temporary committees or task forces also exempted legislators themselves from provisions of the state ethics code that otherwise prohibit state officials from misusing their positions for the benefit of themselves or others, state ethics commissioners were told this week.

Les Kondo, executive director of the State Ethics Commission, told commissioners the broad exemption, while likely unintentional, results in removing their authority to rein in abuses of legislative power and authority.

“I can’t emphasize this enough,” Kondo said.

HB 2175, passed into law as Act 208, amended the “fair treatment” provisions of the ethics law by expanding a legislative exemption. It effectively now gives legislators carte blanche to use their positions to give unwarranted benefits to themselves, friends, or supporters, Kondo said. (An oversight, of course)

The commission agreed to seek further amendments during the next legislative session to correct the problem. Kondo warned that if they are not successful, the commission could be powerless to stop self-serving abuses of power by members of the House and Senate….

I found a long, 21-page informal advisory opinion issued by the Ethics Commission back in 1997 (IAO 97-03) which examines the history of the legislative privilege and how it has been interpreted by the Hawaii Supreme Court. It’s a bit mind-numbing, but informative if you can push through it.

Given that Act 208 grew out of a somewhat acrimonious dispute between lobbyists, legislators, and the commission over application of the ethics law to task force members, I imagine the attempt to immediately amend the law again could draw some legislative push-back.

read … Changes to state ethics code could unleash abuse of power by legislators

Concert probe unable to Blame Rich Sheriff for approving ticket sales

HNN: A University of Hawaii Board of Regents task group studying what went wrong in the Stevie Wonder blunder has been unable to figure out who approved the printing and sale of tickets to the failed fundraising concert, the regents were told Thursday morning.

A report by the task group said besides the $200,000 deposit for the failed concert, UH lost $11,955 in internet host ticket processing fees, ticket printing costs and wages for student ticket office workers.

The UH ticket office manager said Stan Sheriff Center Manager Rich Sheriff approved of the sale and printing of the tickets, but Sheriff denied that and said UH higher ups made the approval, according to Dallas Weyand, a senior manager at KMH LLP, the consulting company that did the bulk of the work in the review. Weyand said Sheriff did not name names and who made the approval is "still undefined."

"I'm baffled," said UH Regent John Dean. "Someone must have said 'Print those tickets.'"

The UH has a $50,000 contract with KMH for its assistance on the project, a bill that is expected to increase

read … Bureaucrats

Did free tickets undermine independent review?

ILind: Looking at gift disclosures filed with the State Ethics Commission, I reported that Darolyn Lendio, general counsel and v.p. for legal affairs, had received pairs of complimentary season tickets in five sports. Meanwhile, chief financial officer, Howard Todo, was given over tickets and parking passes valued at nearly $5,000 over the past three years.

Now we can add associate general counsel Ryan Akamine, who worked closely with Rich Sheriff and the athletic department in drafting and vetting the concert contract.

Buried down in towards the end of the attachments to the recently released athletic department audit were lists of certain complimentary tickets distributed by former athletic director Jim Donovan.

read … Did free tickets undermine independent review?

HSTA: Abercrombie Contract Proposal Dismal, Disappointing

KHON: The Hawaii State Teachers Association returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday in hopes of reaching an agreement with the State.

But after receiving a 103-page proposal, they feel that that hope looks dismal.

"After going through some of the initial proposal in which the state has proposed for us, I believe that the teachers will be very disappointed in the package that the state has given us," said HSTA president Wil Okabe.

The clock struck 2:15 p.m. Thursday, and at the sound of the bell, when Campbell High School students would normally head home, they instead, rallied in support of their teachers.

"We came to support the teachers because they don't get enough pay for everything they do, and we just want them to be paid fairly," said student Deidra Raqueno.

SA: HSTA contract protest draws hundreds in Ewa Beach

KITV: Next Work to Rule Protest Nov 29

read … Dismal

League of Women Voters of Hawaii Urges Legislative Action To Protect Citizens’ Right to Vote in Hawaii

HR: We ask the Legislature to respond to this review as necessary to ensure that in future elections voters are not faced with avoidable inconvenience and frustration as occurred in Hawai`i County on August 11 and in Honolulu City and County on November 6, 2012.

Citizens of Hawai`i deserve to know why the problems occurred, and what needs to be done to improve the voting process and ensure that the state does not face similar problems in the 2014 elections.

read … LWV

Kauai County Will Support Accused Gas Thieving Employee 100%

HR: Janine Rapozo, the former county transportation manager who is married to County Parks Director Lenny Rapozo, was indicted on charges of theft and falsifying government records yesterday.

The investigation into Rapozo and other county employees was initiated after a county audit showed unusual mileage reports from county officials. …

Kauai County Managing Director Gary Heu said today: “We have learned of the grand jury indictment against Human Resources Manager Janine Rapozo on charges relating to the County’s gas audit. We wish to make it clear that she will continue to carry out her duties regardless of this action, as we’ve seen no evidence of wrongdoing. We have observed 18 years of exemplary service from Janine on behalf of the County and the people of Kaua’i, and we will support her 100 percent in this matter.”

KGI: County HR manager indicted for theft, falsifying records

read … Fuel Audit

Maui Prison Guard Used Inmates as Slaves in Landscaping Business?

KHON: According to the lawsuit, Hendricks Haupu says he complained that a supervisor, a sergeant at the facility, was using inmates for his personal landscaping business.

Haupu says he was subsequently re-assigned and physically and emotionally abused.

In this instance its not sanctioned by the state or the federal government," said Joseph Rosenbaum, Haupu's attorney. "It's being used by a private man's business and in the instance we believe the inmates are being used as slaves."

read … Retaliation

City planning 63 land buys along rail line in fiscal 2014

SA: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is budgeting nearly $86 million to buy 63 properties in the next fiscal year as part of an accelerating land acquisition program for the 20-mile rail line.

That effort will also require the relocation of an estimated 14 businesses, although city officials said they could not immediately identify the companies that will have to move.

Those plans call for the city to buy eight properties outright in the next fiscal year, and to buy portions of another 55 in the segments of the rail line that pass near Hono­lulu Airport and through the city center.

The budget also includes a request for $1 million to help pay to relocate 14 businesses, but that number is only an estimate, said Jerry Iwata, HART's real estate acquisition manager.

"HART still needs to finish the archaeological work in the city center area in order to complete the design work, which will determine the exact area needed for property acquisitions and which businesses will be affected," he said in a statement.

The statement added that "it is also premature to release the names of potentially affected parties when the process of notifying property owners has yet to begin."

The city estimates it will spend $202 million buying land along the route, which does not include the cost of relocating homeowners and businesses.

In all, the city expects to purchase 38 properties outright and buy part of another 133.

As of Aug. 31 the city had spent $29.3 million to buy 19 properties, less than budgeted, Iwata said.

read … Source of Future Megaprofits

Developers say TOD needs state help

PBN: Lawmakers remain divided in their views of what the state should do to foster transit-oriented development around the proposed stations that will be connected to Honolulu’s elevated-rail mass-transit project.

Developers and TOD experts here, as well as those on the Mainland, say with the right incentives to build such projects, TOD would work.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, D-Kunia Village-Mililani Mauka-Wahiawa, said he already has started talks with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and his Senate colleagues about how to do TOD around the $5.16 billion rail project’s 21 stations between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center. He plans on meeting with HART and the city in the coming weeks.

Dela Cruz, a member of the Transportation and International Affairs Committee, proposed Senate Bill 2927 last session. It would have waived development fees and eased some requirements for TOD, but that bill and other TOD legislation failed to pass.

read … PLDC TOD

Interview Cliff Slater

Q: What are you going to do next?

A: We are going to wait and see what the judge says on the 12th of December.

Q: What’s the best you could hope for?

A: An injunction to further halt any construction until such time as they remedy the problems that they have with the three issues: TCP, Mother Waldron Park and the Beretania tunnel.

Q: TCP?

A: Traditional cultural properties. They totally glossed over that. I’ll tell you how bad that is: The city did not list one Native Hawaiian cultural property that should be protected, on the whole island of Oahu.

read … TCP

Mental Health Non-Profits, HGEA Sense Job Opportunities in Homelessness

DN: As the meeting progressed, it became clear that many disparate organizations, including non-profits and religious groups, are working hard to fill the gaps in the state’s lack of effort to assist those living without a roof over their heads. There was sharp contrast between the dedication and achievement of these organizations and individuals, hobbled by limited resources and hence having limited effect, and the inaction of city and state government. Yet the article reported:

"We're really smart out here but we could get smarter," said Colin Kippen, the governor's coordinator on homelessness.

This is part of the problem. Neither Hawaii nor the City and County of Honolulu are the least bit smart. For example, more from the story:

Kippen also said that, based on the dialogue with [Matthew] Doherty [coordinator for the Western region of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness], he plans to spend time looking at access requirements for programs that are not specifically designated as homeless services, but do work to help that community.

"Whether it's mental health services, whether it's counseling of some sort, those are the kinds of things that we may be able to tweak to increase utilization and increase service," he said. "And that's not really hard to do, it's just that we have to start to have a broader perspective."

(In other words, programs designed to serve people on the streets rather than getting them off the streets.)

SA: Move faster to fix suicide hotline

read … a rant about mental health clubhouses

State plugging into solar schools

HNN: At Kaimuki High School, 558 photovoltaic panels harness energy from the sun. They were installed in May as part of the Department of Education's five-year plan to dramatically reduce its energy bill.

"We're one of the pilot schools to implement this project," vice principal Gary Harada said.

Kaimuki, Aiea, Kahuku, Waianae, Radford and Moanalua high schools now have photovoltaic. Eventually all 256 public schools in the state will be powered by PV panels. Hawaii Pacific Solar company is contracted to do the first 49.

http://hawaiipacificsolar.com/staff Mr. Kihune was elected for six consecutive terms on the Maui County Council, retiring as Chairman in 1992. He has also served on many community committees involving such issues as transportation, ocean activities, flood control, agriculture, water, and the revitalization of Lahaina Town. Mr. Kihune continues to enjoy a close relationship with local and state officials and is a past president of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

read … State plugging into solar schools

Death By Electrocution Costs Honolulu $550K

CB: In 2009, 42-year-old Michael Perron, of Honolulu, was electrocuted on the sidewalk near Kapiolani Boulevard and University Avenue.

Perron was walking on the sidewalk when he stepped on a charged metal electrical junction box cover and then put his hand on a streetlight. The current rushed through his body, killing him.

Perron’s mother and two daughters sued the city in 2011, saying it was negligent and therefore liable. The family asked for $2.5 million, claiming emotional distress and lost wages.

According to court records, engineers discovered that there were wires in the streetlight junction box that were not grounded. These boxes can be identified by their rectangular metal covers that are found embedded on sidewalks throughout the city.

While it would appear that these sorts of accidents are rare, Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Gene Park reported at the time that there had been 200 electrocution cases across the U.S. and Canada over a two-decade span.

read … Electrocution

More Profitable Discussions of Natatorium

KHON: Even though the state owns the natatorium and the city operates it, the government did not participate in Thursday night's meeting.

Different organizations shared their vision for the 85-year-old Natatorium in Waikiki. The group, Friends of the Natatorium, believes the pool should be restored, and has architectural drawings that support their opinion.

"You have this huge swimming legacy of us generating gold-medal winning olympians and a lot of international swim meets," said Donna L. Ching, with Friends of the Natatorium.

Also at tonight's meeting in Downtown Honolulu, was the Kaimana Beach Coalition. They would like the Natatorium to become a memorial beach. They want to preserve portions of the facility, including the frontal façade.

read … Natatorium's future discussed again

Self-Appointed Activists Seek Planning Power

WHT: Wille envisions the (unelected) CDP action committees (composed of the activists who were left after they chased everybody else away) as similar to the neighborhood boards on Oahu. On that island, the neighborhood boards vet and provide input to the Honolulu City Council on proposed developments. She said she doesn’t think the county ordinance needs to be changed as much as there needs to be an educational process for communities and the administration.

“They were never intended to be mini-planning commissions,” Leithead Todd said, adding that the county added the CDP process about the same time it split the Planning Commission into Leeward and Windward Planning Commissions to make them more responsive to community concerns.

The conflict has escalated into a lawsuit over the Kona CDP.

Richard and Patricia Missler are fighting a proposed planned unit development called Waikakuu Ranch in South Kona. Last month, they filed a lawsuit in 3rd Circuit Court, naming the county Planning Department and Board of Appeals among other defendants, because those agencies declared CDPs have no say over planned unit developments.

read … Wille: community planners deserve more respect

Smoking Ban: Six Years, 1000 Complaints, 5 citations

PBN: As Hawaii’s no-smoking law celebrates its sixth anniversary on Nov. 16, state Department of Health officials say it is working and they have no plans to begin enforcing it.

Meanwhile, some business owners openly continue to break the law, almost daring authorities to enforce it.

But, in its first six years, fewer than five citations are known to have been issued out of approximately 1,100 complaints registered

“Well over 95 percent of the businesses enforce it,” he said.

(And the other 5% profit from the business of all the smokers.)

read … Therefore a huge success?

Rubio: Make it so Less People Need Government Benefits

Politico: A handful of prominent Republicans criticized Mitt Romney for his disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to core constituencies, saying that it was the wrong message to send voters as the party tries to rebuild itself after a bruising defeat.

“I don’t think it’s helpful,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told POLITICO at the Republican Governors Association conference on Thursday. “I guess my feeling is that we need to turn the page, and we need to focus on the future and not make excuses for the past.”

“I don’t want to rebut him point by point,” Rubio said of Romney. “I would just say to you, I don’t believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work. I’m not saying that’s what [Romney] said. I think we have millions of people in this country that are out of work and are dependent on the government because they can’t find a job.”

Rubio said that as a party, “our mission should not be to deny government benefits to people who need them,” but the GOP should work to ensure “less people need government benefits.”

Read … Romney 

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