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Thursday, March 21, 2013
March 21, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:06 PM :: 6706 Views

House Oversight Hearing on Recognition of New Tribes -- Akaka Tribe Brushback

House Ethics Investigating Alaska Rep Don Young

Atheists Push to Exclude Church Preschools from Early Learning

AARP: Health Connector Transparency Legislation Did Not Pass

Compassionate Care Versus Religious Freedom

NFL: Pro Bowl in Hawaii One More Year

Out of Reach: Hawaii Most Expensive Housing in Nation

5,000 Petition Abercrombie to Keep Tesoro Open

Rep. Ward urges Jones Act reform

GAO Releases Jones Act Puerto Rico report

Honolulu City Auditor Survey: Environment Great, Living Tough

Schatz Bill Would Expand National Parks in Hawaii, Pacific

Online Travel Companies Ordered to Pay $70M, Appeal Planned

Hawaii Firearm Permits Set New Record in 2012

UH Contracting: Minaai Career Begins With 1982 Election Fraud

HR: The allegations have brought back memories for some investigators of a 1982 Democrat election fraud scandal in which Minaai was convicted with 26 others, including several of his fellow students at the University of Hawaii.

How Minaai ended up years later with authority over scandal-plagued budgets at the University of Hawaii — and how his compatriots in the 1980s vote-fraud scandal may now be in position to judge him — is a story that reveals how politics really work in Hawaii.

The Honolulu prosecutor’s 1982 case again Minaai and others concluded that 27 participated in a scheme to illegally register Honolulu voters. Their goal: to boost Democrat candidate Ross Segawa, a student in the University law school, into the District 19 state House seat that encompassed Manoa, where the university’s main campus is located.

The students, including some working in the Legislature or attending the university’s law school, were caught when Segawa’s opponent noticed something odd about Segawa’s youthful supporters: on voter-registration forms, they claimed to live at the Arcadia Retirement Residence.

“They recruited people from outside the 19th district – a total of 32 known names – and used false addresses to register them on the 19th district rolls,” George Cooper and Gavan Daws wrote in Land and Power in Hawaii: The Democratic Years. “In doing this, they drew on the cooperation of friends and acquaintances, several of whom served as volunteer voter registrars, others then working in political patronage jobs in the legislature or in the office of the state attorney general, plus one person in the sheriff’s office, others again who were in law school with Segawa, and family members, up to and including Sen. (Clifford) Uwaine’s father, wife, sister, and brother-in-law.

Background: Mitsunaga Names Names, Slams UH for Favoritism Towards Kobayashi

read … Land and Power

Distraction and Diversion: Legislators Set to Score 25% Pay Hike While Rejecting Additional 2% Hike

MN: …under the current scheme, lawmakers will see their pay hiked by around 25% to … $57,852. That would make them the sixth-highest paid Legislature in the nation (and the highest part-time legislature).

Nevertheless, at their most recent meeting on March 18, the State Salary Commission recommended an additional 2% yearly raise through July of 2018. That is on top of the previously scheduled pay increases, and would bring the average legislator’s salary up to $62,604 in the next four years.

To prevent the pay increases, lawmakers would have to pass a concurrent resolution rejecting the commission’s proposal.

(The additional 2% has been put up so the Lege can ‘heroically’ reject it while scoring the fat 25% raise. That way they can campaign on their only vote -- against legislative pay hike. Who could be fooled by this?  Lots of people apparently.  It is exactly the same distraction technique Abercrombie used to win support for extending the TAT hike.)

read … Typical two-Step

Hanabusa to Announce Plans in Next Several Weeks

RC: According to a source close to the congresswoman, Hanabusa will likely decide on whether to run for governor, senator or for re-election within the next couple of weeks and then announce her plans soon after.

A poll commissioned by Hanabusa and leaked to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser earlier this month showed Hanabusa leading both Abercrombie and Schatz by double-digit margins in hypothetical Democratic primaries. Should Hanabusa challenge either in a statewide contest, several Democrats would no doubt enter the race to replace her in the safely Democratic 1st District.


read … Hanabada

Suicide Squad Helps Insurance Company by Preparing to Kill Off Expensive HIV Patient

KITV: "You come to a point where you say I've done everything I can. I've made peace with myself," he said.

Lum said he realized the choice to die was a choice he wanted to have.

"I didn't even have a say. I want to make sure that that doesn't happen to me ever again," he told KITV reporter Lara Yamada.

"It was a very moving experience actually," said retired Oncologist Dr. Chuck Miller.

He is a founding member of the Physicians Advisory Council for Aid in Dying which is partnering with the national organization called Compassion & Choices.  For the first time, in February, he prescribed a terminally-ill cancer patient a prescription to end her life….

As of March 2013, 41 patients in Hawaii have asked for an evaluation, 17 have qualified, and Miller said a total of six have been prescribed medication, though none have died from that dose.  He told KITV4 the attorney general's office has yet to contact them with any concerns….

Reality: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii

Read … About the latest cost-cutting technique



Greenwood Admits Overstepping Authority


KL: Though Greenwood says she doesn’t have many regrets about her tenure at UH so far, one process that she wished she had handled differently was her role in the university’s move to the Mountain West Conference.

“Sometimes, you do something you think is okay, and it has reverberations you don’t expect,” Greenwood explained. “I really probably should have said no, but I was asked to do it at the time by the board leadership, so I did it.”

Though she eventually figured out the job, the president says that her involvement in the transition constituted an overstep of authority on her part.

“It confused the roles of the university’s president and the chancellor at Manoa with respect to athletics.”

read … Ka Leo Interview

Proposed Oahu fuel tax fails to pass first reading

HNN: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's proposed nickel-per-gallon increase in Oahu's gas tax has failed to pass its first reading at the Honolulu City Council by a vote of 6 to 3…. Hawaii motorists already pay 68 cents a gallon in federal, state and county gasoline taxes, the third-highest in the country….

read … B-Bye

Hawaii lawmakers advance new development agency

AP: A Hawaii Senate bill to establish a Private-Public Partnership Authority is making leaps through the state House.

The committees on economic development and water and land approved the bill Wednesday.

Lawmakers expanded the number of pilot projects that the agency can start from three to seven.

The projects include a film production facility, a project in Wahiawa and four county-initiated projects.

Background: PPPA: PLDC Bait and Switch?

read … Headed for Conference Committee

Hawaii federal employees protest furloughs

KITV: Many of the protesters work at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where about 4,500 workers would face 22 furlough days from April through September.

"My whole life is going to change," said Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard worker Piilani Migel. "I have to watch where I spend my money, what I spend on. You know, I have contemplated on finding a part-time job, finding a job elsewhere."

But not everyone at Pearl Harbor may be looking. KITV4 News has learned that an "exceptions list" is in the works that would exclude about 450 employees.

"When we first got the list, it was about 80-percent management," said Jamie Hironaka, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 121 president.

Read … Sequestration

OHA Trustee Says $21M Property Deal Was Shady

CB: The complaint by Rowena Akana against Haunani Apoliona is pending before the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.

Akana alleges that Apoliona should not have voted last year to approve purchase of the Gentry Pacific Design Center because she sits on the board of directors for Bank of Hawaii, OHA's financer of the purchase.

In her July 17 letter to the Ethics Commission, Akana argues that Apoliona's vote is "a clear violation" of the state's Ethics Code known as Chapter 84.

But Apoliona and other OHA officials say she was not in conflict because her vote came before OHA knew who its financer would be. Bank of Hawaii was competing against First Hawaiian Bank and Central Pacific Bank at the time.

Apoliona's position is strongly backed by OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado, Trustee Ozwald Stender and Board of Trustee Counsel Robert Klein.

In a conference call with Civil Beat Wednesday — with Apoliona, Stender, Klein, legal counsel Ernie Kimoto and communications manager Garett Kamemoto on the line — Machado said both she and Apoliona, the prior chairwoman, have "always been transparent."…

(Now you know what it takes to get four OHA trustees on the phone at once.)

In her complaint — which was filed a month before the purchase — Akana argues that OHA was not proposing to buy all of the Gentry parcels "therefore, the purchase amount is lower."

Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey agrees that the property was not as valuable as assessed.

"I thought it was overpriced," said Lindsey, a real estate broker and former state and Maui County official. "I proposed that we pay $18 million."

The other trustee who opposed the purchase, Robert Lindsey (a distant relative of Hulu Lindsey's), left a voice message with Civil Beat Wednesday acknowledging his "no" vote along with Lindsey's and Akana's.

"On the Gentry conversation I was with the minority, and we got outvoted fair and square, in my view," he said. "Yes, I did have concerns about the starting price. I thought that we could maybe have gone into the negotiations using a lower number. But that didn't happen."

Robert Lindsey added, "Other colleagues felt differently. I honor their position, and I am very hopeful about the future as regarding the Gentry purchase by OHA."

LINK: OHA interoffice memorandum to Rowena Akana from Colette Machado, Aug. 22, 2012.

LINK: Rowena Akana's complaint about Haunani Apoliona to Ethics Commission, July 12, 2012; and Akana December 2012 Kai Wai Ola columns, pre- and post-edit.

Background: Akana: OHA Gentry Deal Sidelines Kakaako Development

read … Gentry Pacific



Solar Scammers Rally to Continue Looting General Fund

News Release: Members of the Blue Planet Foundation, the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter and the Ulupono Initiative…. gathered at the State Capitol today in support of legislation that will keep renewable energy tax credits going….

read … Looters

SB1196: Tax Collectors Step up Harassment of Farmers Market Vendors

HTH: Cash-based businesses could be facing more pressure from Hawaii tax collectors.

The state Department of Taxation is seeking to amend a state law that allows businesses that rely on cash transactions, such as vendors at farmers markets or swap meets, to avoid penalties for not keeping proper records of sales if they don’t do more than 10 transactions a day.

Department spokeswoman Mallory Fujitani said the law was passed to give smaller businesses “some flexibility” in case they weren’t familiar with state tax law. But it has since opened the door to abuse, she said, with some businesses claiming they do too few of sales to pay taxes or keep records even when that’s not the case….

Lawmakers are considering a bill to make the change.

Senate Bill 1196 passed the Senate and is up for consideration by the House Committee on Finance.

R. Peterson, a Hilo Farmers Market vendor who declined to give her full first name, said she is concerned the rule change would place too much pressure on the smallest of business owners.

“It’s just more paperwork,” she said. “I’ll have to invoice everything I do.

read … Looted

Supreme Court to hear arguments in Hapa Trail case

KGI: In January 2004, the planning commission granted tentative subdivision approval to the Knudsen Trust Lands Phase I Portion of the Village at Po‘ipu Project, with conditions that included SHPD approval of mitigation plans to protect significant historic sites.

The protection plan identified 30 significant historic sites, including the Hapa Trail, and called for a marked buffers and fencing at a minimum of 50 feet, according to the SHPD report.

Construction resulted with the breach of two wall portions of the Hapa Trail in 2008 and 2009. A portion was rebuilt while construction continued within 50 feet in another area, Frankel said. Knudsen sought authorization to remove another portion of protected wall, he said.

Frankel said the planning commission’s final subdivision approval was given without the benefit of a supplemental EIS or environmental assessment that described the destruction of a portion of the Hapa Trail wall, its impacts or the alternatives. After the county granted final subdivision approval, Knudsen commenced construction of its project with an archaeological and biological survey that reportedly failed to include essential State Historic Preservation information.

The documents show that the development assumed incorrectly that Hapa Trail was county-owned, Frankel said. A title search showed that it is owned by the state of Hawai‘i and that makes a big difference legally and all parties agreed to that in court.

read … Supreme Court

Hawaii senators advance social-media privacy bill

AP: several members of Hawaii's business community had concerns about the proposal.

The state Chamber of Commerce says the bill is well-intentioned but that the issue isn't a prevalent problem in Hawaii.

The Maui Police Department also opposed the measure, saying it would limit the department's ability to conduct background checks….

The National Conference of State Legislatures says six states — California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey — passed legislation last year preventing employers or academic institutions from accessing social media accounts.

The organization says Hawaii is one of 29 states considering legislation related to social media privacy this year.

read … Employers Restricted

Funding approved for more seats on Oahu rail transit system

KHON: Oahu commuters will see an increase in the number of seats available on the new rail transit system. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's board of directors approved the funding to pay for 800 additional passenger seats for its railcar fleet -- a 25 percent increase.

Members of HART's Finance and Project Oversight committees unanimously approved $1.75 million to pay for the additional seating during a joint meeting on Thursday. The cost includes design changes to the train cars to accommodate the additional seating, as well as the fabrication, production and installation of the seats.

The additional seating will be paid for using existing contingency funds built into the budget and will not change the overall cost of the project. Each two-car train will now have 96 seats, with room for luggage, bikes, and surf boards.

"We're building this system for our customers, and they've made it clear that they want more seats on our trains," HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas said.

read … $1.75M

Hilo $1.9M Water Tank Sits Empty 10 Years, Water Dept Seeks Rate Hike

WHT: Almost 10 years after it was constructed, a $1.9 million water tank still sits unused at the corner of Komohana and Kawailani streets in Hilo, as contractors try to repair yet another problem with the ill-fated project.

Water used to pond on the top. Now the liner and sealing coat on the sides are blistering.

The county had sued and then settled a lawsuit in 2011 with consultant Wesley R. Segawa & Associates, after paying Segawa $109,300 to design the tank and assist the Hawaii County Water Board during the bidding and construction process. The tank, completed in 2004, was paid for with customer fees.

Meanwhile: Sewage rates could be on the rise

read … Government Waste

Honolulu International Airport to get $750M makeover

KHON: A $750 million project will begin rolling out this year to upgrade the aging facility, starting with where you rent your car….

Another change will be here at the commuter terminal, this building will be demolished and in its place a new mauka concourse, that will look like this adding a food court and 11 more gates….

The entire project is projected to take five years to complete and is being paid for with because fees have been generated from the airport and they couldn’t figure out what else to do with the money.

read … Another Disaster in the Making

Why Is Hawaii The Only State Without A Statewide Police Standards Board?

CB: Hawaii is the only state without a single entity to oversee police officer training and performance standards, raising questions about the qualifications of Hawaii’s law enforcement officers.

There are no statewide standards for police procedures or practices, something 49 other states have, according to law enforcement experts. When it comes to training recruits on how to shoot their guns, detain suspects and follow proper search and seizure protocols, the county’s four police departments and other law enforcement agencies are on their own.

“The power that police have to arrest and use deadly force and to search and seize is really tremendous,” said Roger Goldman, Callis Family Professor of Law at Saint Louis University. “You need to have a minimal standard of training, just like you do for doctors and lawyers.”

Goldman is considered a leading expert on police licensing and revocation laws in the U.S….

read … 1 out of 50

Hawaii Elections May Soon Get Public Funding, More Transparency

CB: Hawaii senators took action this week to advance bills that boost campaign spending transparency and improve voter turnout. But the biggest surprise (NOT!) came when they cut themselves out of plan to create a public funding program for legislative candidates starting in 2016. (No surprise.  The Senators don’t want their opponents funded.)

The Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Sen. Clayton Hee, amended House Bill 1481 so the publicly funded elections program would only apply to state House races.

Even in its “half a bite” form, as Hee put it, the legislation faces a tough fiscal test in the Ways and Means Committee.

Hee said his committee is not inclined to agree to any specific plan until the financing can be defended.

Even strong advocates for public financing of campaigns acknowledged Wednesday that the funding question remains unanswered.

read … Public Funding

OHA Primary Election Bill Needed To Stop Recycling Trustees

CB: Senate Bill 3 — for an Office of Hawaiian Affairs primary starting in 2014 — has passed the Senate committees headed by Sens. Brickwood Galuteria and Clayton Hee. At the same time the House version died in the House Judiciary Committee headed by Rep. Karl Rhoads.

Rep. Faye Hanohano passed the SB3 (Senate version) in her House Committee, and guess what? It is back in Rep Karl Rhoads' Judiciary Committee again!

read … OHA Primary?


Saudis to Bypass DHS Passport Controls (And they can bring knives, too.  But not box cutters so you’re safe.  Really.)

Seven Democratic senators push to maintain family visas

Hearings Scheduled for Release of Alleged Marijuana Activist Multi-Kilo Drug Dealer Roger Christie

DLNR attempts to close Axis Deer loophole

City Council approves smoking ban at some beaches

Hirono And Gabbard Oppose Cuts to Military Tuition Aid

ANZ American Samoa overwhelmed amid Bank of Hawaii saga

Dentist Sentenced for Medicaid Fraud

AARP Hawaii and SBA Promote Encore Entrepreneurship

Timeshares on the Rise, Hotel Rooms Down

Hawaii Kai Residents Battle to Save Key Preservation Land Parcel from Development; Area Lawmakers Host Town Hall Tonight

Billionaire's yacht yucks things up for another

HNN: Former Damien students file lawsuit for alleged sex abuse 


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