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Thursday, August 11, 2011
August 11, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:57 PM :: 12465 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development, World News, Hawaii History

Gallup: Hawaii Most Democratic State in '11

St Sophia’s Priest found Not Guilty of Hawaii sex assault tells his story

Panos: For about six billion dollars you can choose between Plan A and Plan B

Trains Helped Kill the Greek Economy – They’ll Kill Hawaii’s too  

 

Lawsuit: Hamamoto, Principal, Counselor Looked Other way as Homosexual Rapists Terrorized Underage Deaf and Blind Students 

Police said this week the charges they are aware of relate to incidents that allegedly took place in 2006 and that HPD learned about them earlier this year.

The lawsuit filed in Circuit Court on Wednesday by attorney Michael Green alleges that the Ringleaders were students who boarded at the school.

Named in the lawsuit besides the state Department of Education are longtime Principal Sydney Dickerson and a "counselor," Scott O'Neal. The lawsuit, without naming her, also said then-Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto knew of the situation.

The DOE said Wednesday that Dickerson has been placed on leave and that O'Neal has never been employed as a counselor at the school. The DOE did not elaborate on whether O'Neal had any role at the school.

O'Neal, who is listed as president of a Honolulu-based nonprofit that provides services for the deaf and hard of hearing, could not be reached for comment.

Officials with the DOE and Attorney General's Office said the case is under investigation and that they had no further comment.

The lawsuit said the Ringleaders admitted to O'Neal and other school officials that they had assaulted or otherwise harmed other students. These admissions came "at various times" as far back as 2007.

Among the allegations was that in 2007, Dickerson was informed that boys were being assaulted and raped by other boys on school grounds and elsewhere.

The lawsuit also alleged that in April 2009, a counselor at the school was told a deaf student had been intimidated into sexual acts with five boys, believed to be Ringleaders.

At one point, a young girl on a school bus was coerced into a sexual act with a member of the Ringleaders, who filmed the incident and showed the video to other students, the lawsuit said.

"The errors and omissions of the state created and resulted in a hostile learning environment …," the lawsuit said.

read … Suit claims group of boys victimized fellow students

HSTA Doesn’t get Immediate Injunction

Jim Halverson, supervising deputy attorney general with the state Employment Law Division, argued that the state did its part in negotiations and eventually had to do something to realize labor savings. He said teacher layoffs as an alternative to pay cuts and higher health care premiums aren't a threat, but a reality.

"It's all about money. We don't have it," Halverson said.

To receive relief from the labor board, the union must show the likelihood of its complaint prevailing on the merits, irreparable harm from the state's action and that providing relief is in the public interest.

Takahashi said the motion would restore the teachers' status, so negotiations can continue on a new contract for teachers, without the HSTA being at a disadvantage.

"A restoration of the status quo … is absolutely fundamental for this dispute to be resolved," he said.

He also argued that the state's position — that granting the relief could trigger hundreds of teacher and other layoffs — was akin to holding "this board hostage" and "wholly against public interest and public policy."

Halverson countered that the layoffs are a real danger, and would go against a "tangible public interest in keeping the public schools running with the number of teachers they've got."

On the issue of the union's complaint prevailing on the merits, Halverson said "the employer not only negotiated in good faith, it was the union that created the situation. We're clearly at impasse."

read … Teachers face delay

Maui Time: Lingle could Win Senate Race

Given the fact that the DSCC is already bashing Lingle in advance of any official senate run announcement, it's a good bet that Lingle could win the seat next year….

read … Democrats Bash Linda Lingle

Hawaii GOP Candidate Willoughby moves to Utah to Run For Congress Again

Two years ago, native Utahn John Willoughby was a tea partier who won the Republican nomination in Hawaii in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono.

Now the retired Navy aviator and current United Airlines pilot has moved back to Utah and is taking aim at Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. He said Wednesday that he will run for Matheson’s House seat.

read … Willoughby to challenge Matheson

Phony Abercrombie talks Union in Vegas while Fighting Unions at Home

As he spoke to more than 1,000 national delegates of the United Association, a union for plumbers, welders and other laborers, Abercrombie recalled the struggles of his mother, a teacher during the Depression. He said she was fired by the Buffalo, N.Y. school district after she got married because they wanted to deny her a pension and benefits.

“(She) went into the principal’s office and stamped (her) foot. That’s all she could do, the frustration and demonstration of the anger she felt inside, of the impotence,” Abercrombie recalled. “But she could not, could not get justice because she didn’t have a movement behind her. She didn’t have an organization behind her. She didn’t have a collective will willing to stand up for her as an individual.”

“That’s what the labor union is all about,” Abercrombie continued. “That’s what the UA is all about. That’s what we’re about.”

The audience cheered. Few seemed aware of the struggles Abercrombie himself is experiencing at home with Hawaii’s teachers union.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association last month filed a formal complaint against Abercrombie and his collective bargaining team accusing them of bullying negotiators and using unsavory “take-it-or-leave-it” tactics to impose new employment terms on the state’s 12,500 teachers.

Flashback: 1947 Buffalo NY Teachers Strike

read … Abercrombie Delivers Rousing Pro-Union Speech

Abercrombie Thriving on Chaos

For Hawaii voters of a certain age, Gov. Neil Abercrombie will forever be linked to the yellow Checker cab that shuttled him to key political victories in the 1970s and '80s.

Author Tom Peters argued in his 1987 book "Thriving on Chaos" that the best leaders are almost always those who are "master users of stories and symbols." And while the loquacious Abercrombie has made ample use of his powers of oratory in his 37-year political career, his voice was perhaps never as distinct as when paired with the striking visual symbol of his yellow taxi….

To some, the taxi was evidence that the New York-born Abercrombie, while educated at the University of Hawaii, was an outsider seeking to apply mainland ideas and values to local politics at a time when the young state's population was being pushed to new heights by a massive influx of mainland transplants.

read … Politician's big yellow taxi replaced by a leased SUV

ILind: Civil Beat superficial, misses Key Background Info

…the story never even gives a nod to the reasons given for folding HSTA’s members back into the EUTF. If I’m not mistaken (and I haven’t been able to access to legislature’s archive, so I’m unable to check my memory against the documents) the issue was that the VEBA creamed off the teachers, who generally are better health risks, leaving EUTF with categories of employees expected to have higher health costs. Although this benefited teachers, it reduced the risk pool and increased health insurance costs to all other state employees and retirees. Simply put, the teachers union tried to take care of its members at the expense of other public employees. But you wouldn’t have any inkling of these issues from the Civil Beat review….  

read … Civil Beat draws my attention and constructive criticism

Incarceration, not Education: Kulani School eyed as prison site

Talk of reopening the prison has left the Youth ChalleNGe Academy's Big Island operation with an uncertain future, statewide program Director Rick Campbell said following the June 27 graduation ceremony for its inaugural class.

It's possible the academy could be moved to the recently renovated Keaukaha Military Reservation located across the street from Hilo International Airport, he said.

read … Kulani

Electric Ratepayers may be robbed to line pockets of Biofool Scammers

"I oppose any ventures that will increase our electric rates. We are already paying four times the national average, which is unacceptable," Kau resident Lee Mcintosh said in written testimony submitted to the PUC. "The purpose of the PUC is to find a balance in protecting rate payers and the utility companies, not giving the electric utilities a free pass to do as they please."

Capt. Stephen P. Reimers at U.S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters said in written testimony that he was concerned about both the additional cost and the viability of technology that would be employed by Aina Koa Pono.

"I am writing to express my concern regarding HECO/HELCO's request to stick us utility users with yet another bogus charge — this time for overpriced biodiesel fuel that is being touted to reduce greenhouse emissions, benefit local agricultural and economic interests, and somehow reduce dependency on foreign oil but there is absolutely no proof of any of that being possible," Reimers wrote in his testimony.

"Second, has the company that is going to get this money proven that they can actually make 16 million gallons of the stuff? I don't think so."

Related: Aina Koa Pono based on Flawed Assumption

read … Biofools

Hawaiian Airlines Balks at Tax Burden on Tickets

Flying is among the most heavily taxed of all goods and services. More than 20 percent, or more than $35, of the cost of a typical interisland ticket is paid over by Hawaiian Airlines to government entities. The taxes not collected during the last two weeks were just two of six federal levies, and they alone accounted for $18.65 on the cost of a typical ticket (based on a $150 interisland round trip fare).

The dead weight of fees and taxes is information that taxing authorities would seemingly rather not be widely known to air travelers. Federal regulations inhibit airlines from prominently displaying taxes and fees in fare advertising.

Astonishingly, these regulations are set to become even more restrictive in the new year. Air travelers are being systematically denied the opportunity to understand just how heavily taxed air travel has become while taxing authorities enjoy ample cover to increase these levies.

And increase they have.

In the last decade, the burden of federal and local government taxes, fees and charges on a typical interisland ticket, for example, has more than doubled.

The inflation in taxes and fees paid to government and in the price of oil means that today, much less than half of the price of a ticket on Hawaiian goes to actually operating the airline.

read … Burden of taxes on air travelers should not be hidden

Ease visa hurdles for Chinese visitors

The difficulty by Chinese in obtaining visas will continue to be a problem in the foreseeable future. The average waiting time at the five posts in China for in-person visa interviews is 48 days. For the initial China Eastern flight, the wait took one month, according to a Chinese travel service manager. That's a promising sign of progress.

Hawaii's congressional delegation should get behind the request by the newly created federal Travel and Tourism Board that the State Department increase the number of visa posts in China and the number of officers to process the visas. Revenue from visa fees would far exceed the cost of increased visa posts and officers.

read … Ease visa hurdles for Chinese visitors

Lyla Berg says Abercrombie’s BoE is Ignorant, Inexperienced, Dumber than Legislators

Parents, social studies teachers and former lawmaker Lyla “Islam Day” Berg will rally at the August 16 Board of Education meeting in hopes of preventing the Board of Education from eliminating a social studies credit as a requirement.

The group, which formed Aloha POSSE (Preserve Our Social Studies Education), wants to ensure that “Hawaii’s public school students are provided with the wide array of educational opportunities and choices that the Social Studies curriculum offers.”

Berg stated, “I think our board is new. I don’t think they are even aware of all the Social Studies courses that are available. Economics is fundamental. We all know how much it would be needed in the legislature.”

read … Aloha Posse

Filth, Slime from Legislature Contributes to Honolulu’s Sewage Overload

State employees have been pumping the water from the reflecting pool surrounding the state Capitol building for years, according to Peter Lopez, who was busy siphoning it on Tuesday….

While it’s illegal to divert water into sewage drains, the state has a permit to pump the water from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m, according to Markus Owens, spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Services.

The state pays $1,500 a month, or $18,000 a year, to the city to pump the water into the sewage system, according to Bruce Coppa, director of the city's Department of Accounting and General Services.

Thus, workers clad in knee-high, rubber boots wade through the water a few hours a day, several days a week with loud vacuum hoses that suck water and algae into a nearby sewage drain. The noise is so deafening it's difficult to hold a conversation on the Capitol's lanais while the work is going on.

read … Hawaii Dumps 1,000s of Gallons of Water into Maxed-Out Sewage System

Ethics Director Blocks Texas Dinner For Hawaii Lawmakers

Invitations to the dinner were sent to Hawaii legislators and staffers attending the National Conference of State Legislators in Texas. Hosts of the event were the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, Outrigger Enterprises, Hawaii Medical Services Association, Island Insurance, Coca Cola and the Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel law firm.

In a letter yesterday to state Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Speaker Calvin Say, Kondo said the event was cancelled after he told a Chamber of Commerce executive that the the Ethics Code “likely did not allow legislators or staff to accept the dinner.”

The advice was given after Kondo learned the per-person value of the dinner exceeded the $25 threshold for free gifts established by the commission and repeatedly enforced by Kondo when the Legislature was in session earlier this year.

The dinner was to have been held at the Silo Elevated Cuisine restaurant, an upscale San Antonio eatery.

Shapiro: Les Kondo strikes again

read … Ethics Director Blocks Texas Dinner

Carlisle Cabinet Member Quits Job, Flees Country

There were no press releases, no public statements of any kind from the administration. In fact, the mayor's executive assistant didn't even know he was gone.

The only public evidence of his departure was a change to the Cabinet directory website. The spot for Enterprise Services Director has an empty photo box and a caption that says "(Vacant)." (A separate section of the city's website that lists all departments and their directors still has Quintal's name as of this writing.)

Asked about Quintal's employment status Wednesday, Carlisle's executive assistant Jim Fulton first said Quintal was merely out of town and not necessarily out of email range. Told that the department had already told Civil Beat that Quintal no longer worked there, Fulton checked with the Department of Human Resources and said Quintal had in fact finished his work for the city on July 31.

read … Enterprise Services Chief Quintal Retires, Quietly

Foreclosures Down Sharply for Second Month after new Law

The mediation program isn't expected to be running until Oct. 1, and until then, most out-of-court foreclosures are not allowed. That leaves lenders with the option of pursuing foreclosures in court, which are more costly and time consuming. Filings could pick up after the program starts.

To keep at least some foreclosures moving forward, lenders have been initiating most new foreclosure cases in state courts since June.

The state Judiciary reported that 187 new judicial foreclosure cases were filed in July. Before the new foreclosure law, relatively few residential property foreclosures were conducted in court.

read … New state law keeps lid on foreclosures

South Maui Wind Turbines to be 450 feet tall

The Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday accepted the final environmental impact statement for the project.

The larger generators will require the turbines to use bigger vanes, and the new design would have vanes standing about 450 feet high at their peak. (So when they are abandoned we will be able to see how foolish we’ve been)

Auwahi Energy LLC, a division of Sempra, has also committed to drilling for water in the area. A well permit has been obtained and work should start this fall….(before federal subsidies expire Dec 31)

Johanna Kamaunu testified that she believed that the environmental impact statement was incomplete because it did not contain a "Section 106" review. This requires consultation with Native Hawaiian groups, but only if there is a trigger of federal funding. Kamaunu said the tax subsidies for wind power amounted to federal funding, but Pulmano said no federal funding is involved.

The commission did not agree there was a Section 106 trigger, although some of the same exploration will come when the project seeks its National Environmental Policy Act review.

The project also will need special management area and county special use permits.

There will be an additional environmental review when the incidental take and endangered species mitigation plans are written. The area is home to four endangered animals, the Hawaiian petrel, Hawaiian hoary bat, nene and Blackburn's sphinx moth; and several rare native plants.

read … Fewer, bigger vanes planned at wind farm

Former councilor’s campaign finance reports still not in

More than eight months after state officials warned that he could face high fines for failing to file any campaign finance reports for the 2010 election cycle, former Maui County Council Member Bill Medeiros still has not filed the reports.

Medeiros, who now works as an executive assistant to Mayor Alan Arakawa, said Tuesday that he hadn't filed the reports because money had apparently been lost or stolen from his campaign account last year. He said Campaign Spending Commission officials were aware of the issue.

"I don't know if it was stolen or lost, but our campaign files - we couldn't find everything," he said. "We've been working with the bank to try and get back records on it."

read … Former Councilor

Opposing sides hunker down in dispute on vacation rentals

The Honolulu Planning Commission heard fewer than half of the 93 witnesses signed up to deliver public testimony before it continued the hearing until 10 a.m. Aug. 24 at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

A city bill supported by the Carlisle administration would require vacation rentals on Oahu to list their permit number, address and tax map key in their advertisements.

The proposed city ordinance would impose a fine of up to $1,000 if the permit number was not listed and between $1,000 and $2,000 a day seven days after the owner is warned of the violation.

read … TVRs

Famous "Times Square Kiss" sculpture arrives in Hawaii

The iconic KISS will be on display for the general public during "Keep the Hawaii Spirit of '45" concert on Saturday, August 13 at 7 p.m. at the Waikiki Shell.

The statue was created by Steward Johnson, artist and son of the founder of Johnson & Johnson. It then took months for it to be approved to be shipped to Hawaii.

Legendary artist Lee Greenwood will be the featured artist at "Keep the Hawaii Spirit of '45," where he will perform Proud to be an American-God Bless the USA!

Related: V-J Day Kiss Statue to be Unveiled in Waikiki, Country-Western Singer Lee Greenwood to Headline Hawaii GOP Fundraiser

read … "Times Square Kiss"

150 Hawaii Army National Guard troops come home from 10-month Afghanistan deployment

The troops from the Hawaii Army National Guard's Company B, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment were scheduled to land Wednesday evening at Schofield Barracks.

The Hawaii Army National Guard says the unit and its 12 Chinook helicopters flew more than 1,400 missions and logged 6,500 combat flight hours. They transported more than 7.5 million pounds of cargo and about 69,000 passengers.

SA: Returning troops reflect on fatal mission: Hawaii-based soldiers trained with those killed

read … 150

6000 Marshallese in Hawaii, 4000 in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — More than 4,000 people from a small Pacific island nation live in northwest Arkansas, according to 2010 census data released late Wednesday.

The new numbers show that Arkansas has the second-largest population of people from the Marshall Islands out of the 41 states where similar figures have been released. Hawaii is the only state with a bigger Marshallese population so far, with census figures pointing upward of 6,000 people.

read … 4,000 people from small Pacific island nation live in Arkansas

China launches first of FOUR Planned Aircraft Carriers, India aiming for three

The ongoing refit of the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov, purchased by India from Russia in 2005, and the construction in India of a new 40,000-tonne carrier are expected to be completed in the coming three to four years."We are definitely looking at deploying two aircraft carriers by the middle of this decade,'' assistant chief of naval staff (foreign cooperation and intelligence) Rear Admiral Anil Chawla said earlier this year….

China has said it will use the carrier for research and training. It is believed to be building two carriers itself and experts think it wants up to four in all.

read … China's first aircraft carrier


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