Hawaii Family Forum: Religious Freedom takes a Beating in Legislature
Israel Day Hawaii Celebration May 29
Rep Gene Ward plans for July 4th Maunalua Bay
OHA behind effort to block Hydro on Kauai
Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative members will have an opportunity Saturday morning to pose questions to co-op representatives regarding a contract with Free Flow Power to design small-scale hydroelectric facilities throughout the island.
The special member meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at Kaua‘i Veterans Center in Lihu‘e. Free Flow representatives will also attend.
The meeting is in response to a petition generated by Adam Asquith, a local taro farmer and extension specialist for the University of Hawai‘i’s Sea Grant program.
Asquith has spoken out against Free Flow’s use of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s permitting process as a method of developing hydroelectricity. He has argued that FERC, as a federal regulatory agency, could assert authority over and supersede state water-rights laws….
Under the Federal Power Act, Congress gave a broad delegation of power to FERC, including jurisdiction over licensing, but reserved jurisdiction over water rights to states through a “savings clause,” according to a 2006 Foothills Water Network report.
However, the FPA does not require FERC applicants to submit evidence of compliance with state law regarding water use, the report said, and the FPA therefore divides jurisdiction between federal and state agencies.
A 1990 water-rights case — California vs. FERC, heard before the U.S. Supreme Court — ruled in favor of FERC. California argued a hydroelectric project did not allow for enough stream flow for trout. The court said trout do not have vested rights to the water, so FERC trumped the state’s law. (Just as FERC could trump OHA trustees claim to own all fresh water in Hawaii.)
REALITY: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water
HPD Chief Replaces APEC Coordinator Months Before Event
Assistant Chief Bryan Wauke has been in charge of the police department's special field operations bureau, overseeing police security preparations for APEC, since Kealoha assigned him to that task in January of 2010.
Wauke has been responsible for everything from ensuring safety for the motorcades of Obama and other world leaders to assuring that any anti-APEC protesters will be handled safely and fairly.
For the last year and three months, Wauke attended APEC training and took trips to Japan, which hosted the last APEC conference, as well as the mainland, to view procedures and learn techniques to prepare for APEC.
The police department spent at least $5,000 training Wauke and sending him on those trips.
But in mid April, Kealoha transferred Wauke to the Support Services Bureau, so he is no longer in charge of HPD's APEC preparations. Instead, Kealoha appointed Assistant Chief Greg Lefcourt to be HPD's APEC coordinator. So Wauke is now planning to retire on July 1, four months before the APEC events get underway….
There have been other changes in HPD’s APEC team recently.
Kealoha replaced Major Rich Robinson, who he had put in charge of the APEC Crowd Management Unit. A few months ago, Kealoha assigned Major Bobby Green to handle crowd management instead of Robinson.
Captain Nyle Dolera, who’s been working on APEC logistics, is retiring from HPD at the end of the month.
One neighbor island police chief is concerned about APEC coordination at HPD.
Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry told KITV 4 News he's still waiting to hear back from HPD's APEC team about whether it will need extra officers on loan from Kauai during APEC.
"APEC is quickly approaching and it should have been coordinated by now. Frankly, I'm a little worried," Perry said. He said his officers need time to train and coordinate with Oahu police if they're going to work on APEC.
REALITY? Complacent Honolulu out of its league, not ready for APEC
Star-Advertiser calls for Abercrombie to sign Charter School Ethics Bill
Some charter schools, like experiments in the lab, are bound to fail. But after a decade, not a single charter has been withdrawn. Judging by the lackluster and even dismal academic achievement records at some of the schools, at least some weeding should have been done by now. The students at those sub-par schools over the years of inaction have now missed their chance at a decent public education. (What about the sub-par DoE?)
Finally, this inertia may be at an end. The missing piece that prevented school closures in the past — administrative rules governing the ending of school charters — has been supplied, and decisions on the first round of schools up for review are pending.
The Legislature has taken a stab at tightening up the accountability gap (?) with the passage of Senate Bill 1174, still awaiting the governor’s signature. It would put charter schools on a six-year calendar of review and reauthorization and require local school boards to adopt an ethics policy. (Gap is that DoE schools are even less accountable.)
It also would establish a task force on charter school governance, accountability and authority. This may be useful as a start, because one of the other major deficits — a shortfall in resources, both for school operations and training of boards — will be hard to erase until the economy recovers more fully.
Unfortunately, the Legislature failed to provide another fairly low-cost improvement: liberalizing the state charter schools law so that more than one agency can authorize and review charters. That door shouldn’t be thrown wide open, but certainly a few credentialed educational entities, such as the University of Hawaii College of Education and Kamehameha Schools (which is already injecting funds in Hawaiian-focused charter schools) should qualify as authorizing agencies.
Star-Advertiser: Hawaii well poised to offer an alternative to the Wisconsin model of dealing with public sector unions (Raise taxes $600M and give the unions 9 paid days off)
These stakeholders not only agreed in principle that a negotiated, collaborative approach would better serve all parties, they acted on this belief.
The governor and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state’s largest public service union, took the first step in this direction by reaching a negotiated agreement that addresses the immediate fiscal challenges and lays a foundation for working together over the longer run. Lee Catterall’s piece on the legislative session (“Reining in Hawaii’s labor costs,” Star-Advertiser, May 15) underscores agreements that were forged from a willingness to talk, listen and problem-solve….
Best Comment: “The tone and direction of this article assaults common sense. It is a typical Ivory Tower dog and pony show with Kochan to lend his name for credibility and UH unionized Pratt to do the heavy lifting. Their assertions are contra to polls and news we see daily. That union backed legislators, the Democratic governor, and the labor unions can agree to raise taxes to fund further public employee benefits is no shock to anyone's reality. To try to build credibility by citing a union puffing article by Catterall only shows their is no foundation for this article but wishful thinking. We need no new taxes, smaller government, and a State that MUST operate on what it takes in.”
Law's delay halts foreclosures until Oct 1
It will be several months until a key consumer-protection provision of Hawaii's overhauled foreclosure law can be used. But there has been one immediate impact: a freeze on many new foreclosures and auctions of homes owned by occupants.
The new law, which took effect earlier this month, did not prescribe a foreclosure moratorium, but the law prohibits lenders from holding nonjudicial foreclosure auctions until borrowers have an opportunity to participate in a dispute resolution program.
The dispute resolution program, a pivotal piece of the law, is slated to begin operating by Oct. 1. So in effect, existing foreclosure cases between owner-occupants and lenders are on hold for up to five months.
Several hundred to a couple thousand auctions of owner-occupant homes could be frozen, based on a rough estimate derived from RealtyTrac foreclosure data.
Hawaii public schools set goal of serving more food cooked from scratch in cafeterias
Saffery is the cafeteria manager for three schools on Oahu's Waianae Coast, where there's high concern about diabetes and childhood obesity, especially among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander students.
Schoolchildren nationwide share those health concerns, which have led to a demand for healthier cafeteria food. The Hawaii Department of Education is heeding that call by launching an ambitious program that requires that a majority of its entrees be made from scratch in the upcoming new school year. It's a trend that's growing nationwide.
"It's hard work but I believe it's more tastier when it's made from scratch," Saffery said. "It's like feeding our own children."
Starting in August, 15 entrees in the 25-day monthly menu cycle will be made from scratch in Hawaii public schools, where 100,000 meals are served daily in the nation's 10th largest school system and the only statewide district in the country.
"The mission is to have less processed food and use basic ingredients instead of opening up a box and heating up something," said Glenna Owens, director of the school food services branch. The district already serves about 10 entrees from scratch but the new initiative moves toward making a majority of the meals that way.
BYU officials defend hotel proposal
But Punaluu resident Creighton Mattoon worries about the effect of the proposal on traffic, especially with other planned hotel developments on Kamehameha Highway between the North Shore and Windward Oahu.
"Sometimes I have difficulty just getting out of my driveway," said Mattoon, a member of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board. "It's bearable now, but with each new planned development we're going to have increasing traffic."
The City Council's Committee on Zoning is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Kahuku High School cafeteria to hear public testimony and possibly recommend whether to grant a special management area permit for the proposed development in coastal Laie. The proposal would move to the City Council before final approval.
Hawaii Reserves Inc., which manages property for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wants to develop a four-story, 223-unit hotel along with a restaurant and banquet facilities to replace its former 49-unit hotel on 9.84 acres of land.
Hawaii Reserves President Eric Beaver said besides accommodating visitors to the campus as well as business people, the hotel will be used to train BYU-Hawaii students for travel industry management jobs.
Beaver said the hotel would reduce the number of visitors driving back to hotels in Waikiki and elsewhere after visiting Laie and the North Shore.
Hawaiian stilts make comeback in former Homeless Tent City
Officials had filled in the marsh to make it into a landfill decades ago, drying the land out and making it difficult for the birds to feed on grubs that live in the mud. The plan for a landfill was discarded, and over the years, the area was neglected and became an illegal dumping ground, a homeless encampment and drug haven.
The state received grants to clean up the marsh in 2002, then removed truckloads of rubbish, chopped down mangrove thickets and hauled away the extra dirt.
The state also controlled predators in the bird habitat. A fence was put up on the mauka side to keep dogs and people from wandering across the preserve. Two streams and the ocean protect the wetland on the remaining sides.
Pair circling isle on foot to help combat meth use
You may see them today or Monday walking along a road close to a shoreline — two women wearing white baseball caps that say "Meth Not Even Once."
They'll be moving briskly as they're on a mission and under a deadline.
Natasha Gray, 29, and Alexandra Lavers, 25, are trying to raise awareness about the use of meth in Hawaii.
The two are planning to walk the perimeter of Oahu, a 134-mile trek, in three days in the hope of raising $13,400, or $100 for every mile, for the Hawaii Meth Project.
High-tech meters to drive new system
The latest technology could eliminate the need for coins and reduce the risk of parking tickets by letting drivers add additional time to their meters through credit cards and smartphone apps — instead of having to interrupt shopping and meetings to walk back to their cars to feed the meter.
New technology could help drivers like Nguyen find unseen open spots while still in their cars, which will reduce traffic from drivers circling the block looking for a space, said Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services.
Feds slow to fund Alii Drive repairs
Governmental red tape means yellow caution tape will remain along the tsunami-damaged portion of the Alii Drive sidewalk and seawall.
Public Works Director Warren Lee said the county wrapped up its exit interview with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and submitted a funding application to pay for the repairs, which will cost about $200,000.
The seawall is in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' jurisdiction, and while the county could get the sidewalk work bid in about two months, Corps officials told Lee they expected to need at least a year to get approvals for the seawall repair work.
"I'm saying we don't have a year," Lee said.
Such delays have happened before. FEMA funding for repairs to water tanks damaged in the October 2006 earthquakes has taken years to come through.
(More federal funds? Where’s Brian Schatz?)
For 55 years, a Hawaii man has fulfilled a promise to tend the grave of his friend's brother
It's undisputed that John Leroy Dains, the young lieutenant killed over Wheeler Field on Dec. 7, died a hero trying to defend Hawaii from Japanese attack planes.
Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor, which includes the Arizona Memorial, said Dains "unquestionably, was one of the bravest pilots we had."
A relatively small number of American pilots managed to get into fighter planes and into the air that day. Records showed Dains, of the 47th Pursuit Squadron based at Wheeler Army Airfield, was among the first. The 21-year-old flew a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk for two sorties and returned to the air field with the plane littered with bullet holes, Martinez said.
"According to some of the stories, a flight mechanic refused to let him fly that airplane again because they didn't feel it was flight-worthy due to the damage to it," he said. "So he gets in a P-36 and the last thing we know … is that he would be shot down by friendly fire."
Because he expended a lot of ammunition, "some people have made the supposition that he must have shot something down," Martinez said. But to date, he said, "there's just no credible evidence that he shot down anyone."
Regardless, Dains was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart posthumously for his actions that day.
The citation for his Silver Star reads: "Lieutenant Dains' undaunted courage and determined action contributed to a large extent toward driving off the sudden enemy air attack."