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Saturday, March 9, 2013
March 9, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:30 PM :: 7157 Views

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative: Watt, Me Worry?

Airlines Bet Big On Hawaii With 275,000 Additional Seats

Governor Releases $46.39 Million for Capital Improvement Projects Statewide

“Harassment and intimidation” Clayton Hee Challenges Wil Espero to a Duel on Senate Floor 

PR: State Sen. Clayton Hee took to the Senate floor on Friday to address complaints from other senators about his questioning during a debate Thursday over a bill that would create a new Public-Private Partnership Authority. (Yep: Hee is for the new PLDC.)

Hee had asked Sen. Russell Ruderman and Sen. Laura Thielen to specifically explain their objections to the bill. Some senators said privately afterward that Hee should not have asked the question.

In an email to Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and other Senate leaders, Sen. Will Espero complained that the questioning was "overly aggressive and borderline harassment and intimidation." (This has been going on for years.)

Espero -- who did not mention any senator by name in the email -- suggested that Kim issue a memo to senators regarding decorum and respect. (Weak.)

Hee, without mentioning Espero by name, spoke Friday of what he described as "the good old days" of the Senate where senators, as a courtesy, spoke to each other directly when they had concerns or planned to vote against another senator's bill. (Translation:  I am the only bull on this ranch.)

Hee said that the senator who had sent the email against him -- Espero -- had passed him after the floor session Thursday and they exchanged pleasantries about the weather. Hee said the senator did not use the opportunity to criticize Hee personally for his behavior. (Translation: Espero is a coward.)

"Because that's the old days. You got something to say, I'm your huckleberry," Hee told his colleagues. "Because if I had something to say, you're my huckleberry." (This Doc Holliday’s answer to Johnny Ringo’s challenge to a duel in the 1993 movie Tombstone.  Holliday then shot Ringo dead.)  VIDEO: "I'm your huckleberry." 

Totally Unrelated: Henkin: Rumors of Hee-Wooley Affair “Scurrilous”

read … I’ll shoot you dead

HGEA/AFSCME Fundraiser for Schatz

PR: The political arms of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO are hosting a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz later this month in Washington, D.C.

The March 20 reception at Johnny's Half Shell features Randy Perreira, the executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the president of the Hawaii AFL-CIO, as a special guest.

Insiders note that the labor interests have been supportive of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is considering primary campaigns next year against Schatz or Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

(Translation: Hanabusa not running.)

read … received

House finance committee approves $23 billion budget--$590 million shy of governor's request

KITV: Luke says the committee took a cautious approach Friday despite positive revenue projections because of uncertainty cast by federal budget cuts and ongoing collective bargaining negotiations….

The budget meets the governor's request for at least $100 million per year to draw down the state's growing unfunded liabilities. 

It does not include funding for initiatives that the Legislature is still debating, such as Abercrombie's proposed preschool program.

SA: The budget draft, which will go before the full House next week for approval, is a temporary marker. Lawmakers will not hear the latest state revenue forecast until next week and do not know the full impact of federal budget cuts from sequestration. Contract negotiations between the state and public-sector labor unions are in progress, so lawmakers would have to fit any agreement reached before session ends in May into the spending plan.

CB: Hawaii Lawmakers Snip Millions of Dollars Off Governor's Budget Request

DoE abuse of Disabled Children prompts calls for federal intervention

HNN: Eric Seitz says he's also considering a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Education like he and several other attorneys did 20 years ago, in what led to the Felix Consent Decree.

"The Department of Education is in denial. They don't take responsibility for a lot of bad things that are happening," he said.

Seitz represents several students at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind who were sexually assaulted and terrorized by larger children. The state recently agreed to pay $5 million because school officials failed protect the children even though they were aware of the problems.

He also represents three former students at the Kipapa Elementary School in Mililani who were allegedly held down by the neck, tied to their chairs or even force fed.

"If the DOE does not take a better prospective on these concerns and act upon them, the Justice Department will challenge their funding or will in the alternative file a lawsuit, " Seitz said.

The last time something like that happened was 1993 when the Felix Consent Decree was established. That placed the DOE's special ed programs under federal oversight and forced the state to invest more than $1 billion to upgrade its special education programs.

Several advocates for disabled students say the federal government should step in again.

"Because of the way the DOE is opposing families of disabled children ... we're seeking help," said attorney Carl Varady.

Varady, who also worked on the original Felix lawsuit, said he recently contacted the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of disabled students physically harmed by their teachers and denied access to a proper education.

He represents an autistic student who collapsed and nearly died in 2010 after a special education teacher at Kailua High School ordered him run three miles in 24 minutes on a treadmill, while wearing a jacket and latex gloves.

read … School abuse prompts calls for federal intervention

Star-Adv: Only Now is it time to Get Serious About HSTA Negotiations

SA: Only five months after walking away from federal mediation talks to reach a new labor contract, the Hawaii State Teachers Association has decided to renew the effort. This time, the extra attempt must be taken seriously — by all sides — to end what has been a vexingly prolonged stalemate.

Hawaii's collective bargaining law requires that a statutory impasse is declared by Feb. 1 of a year in which an existing contract is set to expire. At that point, the law allows the parties to enter into mediation, subject to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, which approved the HSTA request earlier this week.

What's added to the confounding situation is that the labor board has yet to rule on the governor's imposition of the contract after concluding lengthy hearings — now going on nine months without a decision.

Abercrombie, in turn, can be faulted for needlessly inflaming an already delicate situation two weeks ago, when he told a group of governors on the mainland that he may again impose a labor contract on teachers if a 2013-15 deal isn't reached.

Now that the joint statement from the teachers union and the state Department of Education has been made regarding federal mediation, it's vital to move forward.

This renewal should be a step in the right direction. A second walk away from the table would be ridiculous. An issue in the past mediation was a new system of wages reflecting teacher performance, which was important to maintain a $75 million Race to the Top federal grant reflecting academic growth. That remains a significant issue.  (Translation: By working under LBFO, HSTA allows DoE to scam the $75M.  Now that the money is in hand, and the LBFO is nearly expired, we can sign a new contract for 2013-14 and go back to the status quo ante.)

read … Teachers pact long overdue

DHHL, Solar Scammers Split Profits, Ratepayers Stuck with $108/barrel for 20 years

SA:The projects will give a significant boost to the state's effort to generate 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The Kalaeloa Solar Farm also will generate lease rent for the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which owns the site. The project occupies 25 acres of a 36-acre parcel leased from DHHL.

HECO will buy the power produced by the solar farm under a fixed-price contract for 20 years. The utility will pay an average of 21.8 cents a kilowatt-hour over the life of the contract.

That price is about 10 percent less than what it costs HECO to generate electricity from fuel oil at the current price of about $120 a barrel, said Riley Saito, SunPower's senior manager for Hawaii projects. (Translation: Locked in at $108 per barrel, WTI is about $90.  We’re overpaying by $28/barrel.)

Related: Kalaeloa: Hawaiian Burial Caves to Be Bulldozed for Solar Farms?

read … ‘Green’ Energy Giveaway

House passes bill to create night parking lots for homeless Tent Cities

KITV:  The state House of Representatives passed a bill that would authorize the designation of temporary nighttime parking lots in each county to provide safe overnight parking for homeless individuals who live and sleep in their motor vehicles.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Rida Cabanilla, who represents Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry and Ocean Pointe.

During the debate several legislators expressed concerns about sanitation….

Related: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

Read … Homeless Tent Cities

State: It'll Take 4 More Years To Clear Elevator Inspection Backlog

CB: Last year, nearly 5,000 elevators in Hawaii had not undergone a proper safety inspection. But officials say recent funding from Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration should clear that backlog by 2017.

Dwight Takamine, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations told lawmakers at a briefing Friday that public safety will continue to be a concern.

Last year, lawmakers gave the department $1 million to help it get back on track with its inspections, update safety codes and become more financially self-sustaining.

Since then, the department has hired 10 new staff members, bringing it up to 21 fulltime employees. There are still two positions left to fill — an office assistant and an elevator inspector. That's up from 11 employees they had two years ago. Staffing is now back to the same levels as 1995, the last time the state was up to date on its elevator inspections.

read … An optimistic appraisal

Soft-on-Crime Policy Gets Burglary Suspect Shot

SA: A man shot and critically injured by police responding to a domestic disturbance at a Kalihi Valley home Friday is scheduled to go on trial on a felony burglary charge next month.

Ralph Riveira Jr., 35, was granted supervised release by a Circuit Court judge into the custody of his mother, Nadeen Lane, at a hearing in December. (If he had been kept in jail, he’d be OK today.)

On Friday, police said, Riveira was fighting with Lane on the front lawn of her Machado Street home at about 11 a.m. when the first officer arrived and was approached by the suspect. Riveira threatened the officer with a foot-long metal stake raised over him as he advanced, at which point the patrolman fired at him several times, police said.

After Riveira was shot, Lane picked up the stake and also threatened the officer, police said.

Riveira remained in critical condition at the Queen's Medical Center Friday night. Lane was arrested and was being held on suspicion of terroristic threatening.

read … Hard on Crime is more humane to the criminals

Union employees at The Modern vote to authorize strike

SA: Union workers at The Modern Honolulu unanimously voted Thursday night to authorize a potential strike because of their unhappiness over working conditions at the luxury hotel.

About 260 workers represented by Unite Here Local 5 would be affected if they walk off the job.

No date for the potential strike has been set.

"There's only one reason why I voted ‘yes,' and that's because we have to demonstrate that we're willing to fight back against the corporations that continue to make lots of money while so many of us struggle to get by," Audrey Gecain, a Modern Hono­lulu hotel worker, (Local  5 shop steward) said Friday. "I voted ‘yes' for my job security, decent health coverage, but more importantly for a fair chance at a real future in Hawaii."

The Modern Honolulu management and Local 5 are negotiating the hotel's first collective bargaining agreement.

read … Strike

Star-Advertiser owner a very busy man these days

ILind: Torstar Corp., publisher of the Toronto Star and owner of a 20% stake in Black Press, reported its quarterly earnings and did not include results from holdings in Black’s empire. “Torstar did not record its share of Black Press’s results in the fourth quarter of 2012 as Torstar’s carrying value in Black Press had previously been reduced to nil.”

In November 2012, the rating agency S&P lowered its rating on Black Press debt.  “We are lowering our long-term corporate credit rating on Victoria, B.C.-based Black Press Ltd. to ‘B-’ from ‘B’ based on our view of the company’s ongoing organic revenue and profit declines, as well as refinancing risk.”

read … Black Press

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