Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted, September 12, 2011
Rail Plaintiffs: Motion to Dismiss is Frivolous
South Korea Free Trade: All Talk, No Action from Obama
CB: After Lingle’s Sunshine, Abercrombie Thrusts Hawaii Into Dark Ages
But there's no requirement that boards and commissions post meeting notices and agendas to this site. The Hawaii Sunshine Law, passed in 1975, required that information about upcoming meetings be made available to the public – in government buildings. It didn't anticipate the Internet and the law hasn't been amended by the Legislature in years.
But in 2008, Gov. Linda Lingle issued a memo instructing all boards and commissions to post to the state calendar site, noting that the public can’t easily obtain information on meetings, and thus misses opportunities to participate in them.
But she's been gone nearly a year now, and the order seems to have faded in the dark. Gov. Neil Abercrombie still hasn’t reviewed the executive memo and decided whether he wants to continue the policy.
read … Dark Ages
Fidell: As soon as Lingle Left, Distraction set in
We talked about clean energy in the 1980s then forgot about it when the price of oil went back down. In 2008, Gov. Linda Lingle rolled out the Clean Energy Initiative. Everyone was on board, alliances were made, foundations were formed and people danced in the street.
Now distraction is setting in. Big Wind and the cable have been seriously delayed. Even with the tax credits, photovoltaic is still less than 40 megawatts statewide. Ocean energy is still an experiment, OTEC is still decades away, geothermal is still a cultural issue, and we don't hear much about algae.
read … Abercrombie Distraction
Rail Lobbyist at Center of Effort to Relocate Kamehameha Schools to South Dakota Indian Reservation
ILind: Today I managed to find a few more historical tidbits about Dwyer’s Hawaii lobbying and politicking.
• Last year, Star-Advertiser reporter Richard Borreca mentioned that Dwyer put on a $1,000 per person Washington fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann.
• April 14, 1995 memo describes a meeting involving Waihee, Dwyer, Norma Wong, Bishop Estate General Counsel Nathan Aipa, and Trustee Gerry Jervis, regarding the possibility of moving the estate from Hawaii to an tribal reservation on the mainland where it might gain certain immunities from federal law.
• October 4, 1995. Memo from former Gov. John Waihee, Dwyer, and Norma Wong, “Back Up Position.” This stems from the period where Dwyer was lobbying on behalf of Bishop Estate to stave off reforms in nonprofit regulations that could have crimped the high salaries and free wheeling style of Bishop Estate trustees.” Waihee and Dwyer, both working for the same Washington law/lobbying firm, laid out their strategy for proceeding in Washington if their attempt to forestall so-called “intermediate sanctions” failed.
• December 13, 1995. Memo from Dwyer to Lokelani Lindsey, Bishop Estate Trustee, “Talking Points for discussions with Senators Pryor and Bumpers.
Related: Reservation for a Broken Trust?
read … ILind
Borreca: Inouye Overplays his hand against Ed Case?
Besides labor’s fundraiser at that hoary establishment bastion, The Monocle, in Washington, Inouye also attended a private Hirono fundraiser in Honolulu last month, according to Inouye’s spokesman.
To Inouye, nearly as important as having a Democrat, is having a Democrat who reads the Inouye script. To be more specific, a Democrat not named Ed Case.
The Case independent streak rubs Inouye the wrong way. Last year Inouye broke with his announced tradition of not endorsing a specific Democrat in the primary, to hold a news conference urging all Democrats to vote for Colleen Hanabusa, and not Case, in a special election. Inouye claimed that Case had misled him in the past and, “That’s not my kind of guy.”….
Case, for his part, is moving his own independent campaign forward, holding grassroots meetings on all the islands, and appears ready to continue a campaign for the Democratic nomination.
This is where Inouye may be overplaying his hand. If Hirono falters or Case’s message catches fire, then Inouye will have to decide that his kind of guy is anyone who carries a “D” after his name on the ballot.
read … Inouye Overplays Hand?
Progressive Trashes Hirono for Vote in Favor of Continued Afghan War
Last December, with virtually no media scrutiny or public debate, Congress passed H.R. 6523 (Rep. Mazie Hirono voted for it while Rep. Charles Djou didn't vote), a record-breaking $725 billion defense authorization act for FY2011 which continues to fund our wars even as we are eviscerating our own social infrastructure in ways that harm America to a degree no terrorist group could ever hope to achieve in their wildest dreams.
read … Progressive Trashes
Influence Peddling at Risk: Tsutsui, Say ask Louie to save them from The ‘Chilling Effect’ of Ethics
State Senate President Shan Tsutsui and House Speaker Calvin Say have asked state Attorney General David Louie whether the state Ethics Commission is correct in defining members of task forces as state employees subject to the ethics code.
In their Aug. 30 letter, Tsutsui and Say claim the commission’s interpretation could have a chilling effect on the Legislature’s ability to gather information and of task force members’ constitutional right to petition government.
read … `Chilling effect’
Abercrombie Lawyers Defend Judicial Secrecy
In the administration’s response, state Attorney General David Louie said:
- >> The Hawaii constitution provides that “deliberations of the [JSC] shall be confidential,” referring to the Judicial Selection Commission.
- >> The commission’s Rule 5, which has the force of law, says its proceedings “must be confidential [and therefore] all commission records, proceedings, and business, including names of all proposed nominees … shall be confidential.”
- >> Hawaii law “restricts access to government records when ‘by their nature [they] must be confidential for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate governmental interest.’”
- >> The Uniform Information Practices Act provides that "All government records are open to public inspection unless access is restricted or closed by state law."
The state’s response also cited a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision, Pray v. Judicial Selection Commission, in which the court said, “we also hold that it is within the sole discretion of the appointing authorities [i.e., the Governor and the Chief Justice] whether to make public disclosure of the JSC’s lists of judicial nominees.”
Full Text: State's response to Star-Advertiser lawsuit
read … Secrecy
SA: Charter schools bound by state law
"The local (charter) school board by law is the ‘autonomous governing body' for the charter schools," insists John Thatcher, principal of Connections, which was chartered in 2000 and teaches 370 students up to grade 12. "If you've got another body that's trying to impress their rules and regulations, that makes life difficult and really goes against the spirit of why charter schools were formed."
That may be true with private schools operated by private dollars, but charter schools remain public institutions reliant on tax dollars. Thatcher's suggestion that the charter school is not subject to state ethics rules and its employees are not state employees — although they are active members of state employee unions — is a chapter from wonderland.
Thirty-one charter schools now educate 9,000 children in Hawaii, nearly 50 percent more than three years ago. Some of them achieved high hopes in lifting student performance while others have received worse scores, especially in mathematics. At the same time, a few charter schools have made a habit of "hiring the entire family," according to state Sen. Jill Tokuda, Senate majority whip and chairwoman of the Education Committee.
That tendency has been observed in charter schools across the country. Hawaii's Charter School Review Panel has taken some action at Myron B. Thompson Academy about the number of family members on the payroll ….
read … Charter Schools
State falls behind in fix-up projects for APEC meeting
Underground utility lines and sidewalk work won't be done in time, but officials hope landscaping on Nimitz will be….
Reality? FT: Complacent Honolulu out of its league, not ready for APEC
read … As Predicted
Bag-screening gear goes kaput, adding to airport kerfuffles
Following the failure of the air conditioning, a malfunction of four TSA machines delayed a UH squad last week
read … Ready for APEC
Abercrombie chases Homeless Out Of Waikiki, into Your Neighborhood, for APEC
I made a few trips to Waikiki last week and found the homeless far less visible than my last visit in checks from the Elks Club end of Kapiolani Park through Ala Moana Park.
I’ve also noticed fewer homeless in once-popular areas in Kakaako.
Best Comment: There's been a migration of homeless further mauka. try check Pawaa Iha park – way more now. Try check around and about Keeaumoku and the side streets – way more. Sam with other neighborhoods especially near the downtown area…. The Gov has succeeded chasing the Feral Citizens from APEC-visible venues back into the neighborhoods at the expense of the residents.
2nd best Comment: As someone who has been involved with these issues for more than a decade now, I cann attest that there is a significant increase in the number of homeless AND at-risk folks along the Windward Coast & the North Shore.
read … Its Just for APEC
Abercrombie’s BoE Takes Aim at Military Students, Rural Schools
Scores of small schools — those with transient populations and campuses in remote areas — would see their main source of funding reduced next school year by as much as 20 percent under a proposal before the Board of Education….
Solomon Elementary in Wahiawa, which has about 1,000 students, would lose $393,000 under the new funding formula, or an 8 percent decline….
Pope Elementary in Waimanalo would lose an estimated $109,000 under the new formula — a 9 percent decrease in funding from this year. The drop would come on top of previous budget cuts because of the economic crisis, said Principal Ofelia Reed.
What they’re NOT cutting: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year
read … New Day
HSTA, ACLU, Abercrombie all agree to let Teachers Do Drugs more easily
On Monday afternoon, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and ACLU announced they've signed an agreement with the state ending suspicion-less random drug testing of teachers.
This has been an ongoing discussion and controversy for the past four years and so the HSTA president says he's happy to put this behind them.
A random drug testing provision was included in a contract in 2007, but was never implemented because
of constitutional questions (Hawaii’s sorry judges wouldn’t dare contradict anything the ACLU says.)
The agreement signed by the state on Saturday and by the HSTA and ACLU on Monday means there will not be any random drug testing of teachers….
The HSTA had filed a complaint with the Labor Board over random drug testing and the parties would've been subpoenaed on Tuesday.
Related: Full Text: HSTA Loses Drug Testing Appeal
KITV: No Random Drug Testing For Hawaii Teachers
read … Dopey Teachers Thrilled
Disability Rights Center Hammers Money-Grubbing DoE over Discrimination
The Hawaii Disability Rights Center along with Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing filed a class action complaint against the DOE to compel it to provide special education services until a student becomes 22 years of age. It would also enjoin the state from enforcing Act 163, passed by the last legislative session, which appears designed to continue the discrimination by permitting students to continue their education only by entering the adult education system. The adult system does not provide IDEA services.
The suit, brought in U.S. District Court, would enjoin the State from enforcing Act 163. It could provide compensatory education for those denied the ability to stay in school….
Judge Ezra observed. after the DOE attorney made some kind of derogatory remark about the adult education system, that “it is a good thing there are no reporters present in the courtroom…I don’t think [Governor] Abercrombie would agree with the statement that the state would consider the adult education program to be of little value…”
read … Ooops
Legislators to Celebrate Victory of Communism In China
In response to inquiries from lawmakers, Les Kondo sent a memo dated Sept. 9 to all state legislators concerning acceptance of complimentary tickets to events.
In the memo, Kondo gave the green light to accepting invitations to a DBEDT conference on clean energy scheduled this week and a celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at the Hilton Hawaiian Village next week. (The latter invite came from China's consul general.)
However, Kondo nixed invites to a "Dancing in the Streets" fundraiser on Sept. 24 to benefit the nonprofit Child & Family Services and an Oct. 14 silent auction for Sacred Hearts Academy scholarships. Kondo said there did not appear to be a "reasonable state benefit" in legislators attending either event.
Related: Hawaii Legislature honored Mao Zedong collaborator
read … Ethical
Supporters of Mass Murderer to Lead Protests against APEC
(We’ve added in a couple of key details which Civil Beat left out)
Carolyn Hadfield, (Boss of the local branch of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party) a member of World Can't Wait Hawaii (well-known to be a front group for the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party), said the group has not decided how many demonstrations to hold. But the top of its list includes the Nov. 12 reception and dinner for APEC leaders at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. (Mao Zedong murdered 70M Chinese people)
"APEC uses words like 'cooperation' and 'sustainability' that have a soft, fuzzy feeling, and eyes glaze over when people hear talk of 'trade relations' and 'lifting tariffs,'" Hadfield told Civil Beat. "That doesn't hit people emotionally. But when people become more familiar with what APEC is really about — neoliberalism — they change their mind." (Mao Zedong murdered 70M Chinese people)
Hadfield said she is "totally disgusted" by the beautification efforts being conducted on behalf of the APEC meeting, which she said includes the repaving of sidewalks, the dredging of sand to expand beaches and the relocation of 205 palm trees to be planted along Nimitz Highway. (Mao Zedong murdered 70M Chinese people)
"Social services need this money," she said. "The big rationalization is that this will help tourism, but I don't think it will bring that much money or an uptick in tourism — and in any case it would be at the high end of tourists." (Mao Zedong murdered 70M Chinese people)
World Can't Wait Hawaii has been holding community forums to get the word out on APEC. In addition to protests, film showings and forums are planned. (Mao Zedong murdered 70M Chinese people)
read … Mass Murderer’s Followers act as if they have moral authority
State Lawmakers Threaten to Fight Proposed Monk Seal Protections
State lawmakers will propose legislation challenging federal protections for monk seals if the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration doesn't scale back its proposals, according to state Rep. Sharon Har.
Har’s remarks Monday evening were met with a round of applause from a room in downtown Honolulu packed with Hawaii fishermen. She spoke during public testimony on a proposed expansion of protections for the endangered monk seal population.
Har said she was also speaking on behalf of Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Rep. Jerry Chang, who chair committees on water, land and housing….
NOAA has also proposed expanding the critical habitat designation of the monk seals to include not just the northwest Hawaiian Islands, but also the main Hawaiian Islands – which has also ignited anger among fishermen concerned that the designation will curtail their ability to fish….
(The fishing ban in NW isles is what caused increase in shark predation of Monk Seal pups and increased competition for food by Jacks and other fish. Dumb enviros still don’t understand what happens when they take the top predator out of an ecosystem.)
read … Solving Problems Created by the Earlier Eco-Solutions
Hawaii Public Pension System Will burn $2.4M to eliminate Backlog in Benefit Calculations
Inefficiencies with the Hawaii Employees' Retirement System have led to such things as backlogs for pension benefits and inaccurate payments. The fund has about 111,000 state and county government employee members, including about 39,400 retirees and beneficiaries.
ERS trustees on Monday approved a six-part plan recommended by a Virginia-based consultant to help streamline the process for calculating retirement benefits.
The efficiency study said the plan would cost $2.4 million and take 18 months to implement. The ERS would make back its investment fairly quickly. The study estimates the system would make back nearly $2.5 million in fewer than four years with the changes.
The plan is also seen as critical in light of new retirement rules Hawaii lawmakers approved earlier this year to save money by reducing benefits for new hires.
December, 2010: 2011 Legislative Agenda: ERS benefits to be slashed, “all eligible members to retire”
read … ERS
Political ties a boon for nonprofit
Over the past eight years, Hawaii County has awarded more than $3.3 million in no-bid contracts for disabled transportation services to a politically connected nonprofit….
The nonprofit Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council has been the sole-source contractor for the service at least for the past eight years, and likely for years before that. Local political heavyweight George Yokoyama stepped down as executive director of the nonprofit last year after 40 years at the helm. He remains as a part-time grant writer.
Yokoyama was the longtime Hawaii Island campaign chairman for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. He was active in an Obama campaign committee and remains a mover and shaker in Democratic Party politics, appearing in campaign ads for Gov. Neil Abercrombie last year.
Former county prosecutor Jay Kimura, who is the chairman, and county Research and Development Director Randy Kurohara, who is also a campaign worker for Mayor Billy Kenoi, are on the HCEOC board.
State procurement law requires state and local governments to put projects out to sealed bids, sealed proposals or to select from a list of prescreened professionals when spending $100,000 or more in public funds….
…The most recent sole-source documentation provided by the county allocates $527,000 for the annual contract, and reports that the vendor provided 22,651 passenger trips last year, at an average cost of $23.77 per trip.
The prior year, the vendor operated 13,303 trips at a cost of $37.44 per trip. The county hasn't reported its analysis of what it would cost the county to provide the service itself since 2007. At that time, it estimated 121,179 trips that would have cost the county $5.68 per trip, compared to HCEOC's cost of $3.08 per trip.
read … Kona Gang finally gets around to going after Geo Yokoyama
California Republican former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Kalihi school
The former California Governor visited students at Dole Middle School, in Kalihi Monday afternoon.
The 'Governator' founded the national "After School All Stars" program in 2002. It provides comprehensive after school activities to keep kids safe and help them achieve success in the classroom. Nearly 81,000 children in more than 450 schools in 12 different cities from NYC to Hawaii are in the program.
SF Gate: "Governator" Schwarzenegger surfaces for rare public appearance in Hawaii (VIDEO)
read … Arnold
Patten Energy to Submit New Molokai Wind Farm Proposal
“At this time, Molokai Renewables does plan on submitting a bid when the final RFP is issued,” Keiki-Pua Dancil, vice president of Hawaii Business Development and Strategy at Bio-Logical Capital, said via email. Bio-Logical partnered with Pattern this year to create Molokai Renewables and pursue the project….
Dancil confirmed Molokai Renewables is continuing initial studies of the potential construction sites as they await the RFP’s release.
“We remain committed to working with [Molokai residents] to seek to create a sustainable project that restores and conserves the land, preserves the rich culture and way of life, and protects the ocean and local food supply that Molokai depends on, and provides other substantial benefits to the Molokai community,” she said.
Related: Big Wind: Does Abercrombie want Giant Boondoggle as his Legacy?
read … Patten Energy
HECO signs deal to buy 10 million gallons of local biofuel
Hawaiian Electric Co. said today it has reached an agreement with Hawaii BioEnergy to buy 10 million gallons of biofuel a year to be burned at the utility’s Kahe power plant in Leeward Oahu.
HECO said the 20-year contract for the alternative fuel offers “stable pricing,” although it did not disclose terms of the agreement. HECO was criticized by some of its customers for another proposed biofuel contract that would result in a surcharge to offset the higher cost of biofuel over the utility's petroleum-based fuel….
The biofuel will be produced on Kauai by Hawaii BioEnergy from a crop that has yet to be identified.
Hawaii BioEnergy is a partnership between Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Grove Farm Company, and Kamehameha Schools. (Case, Omidyar, and KSBE.)
KGI: Biofuel relies on Grove Farm’s‘fallow and underutilized’ lands
read … Biofools
OTEC and geothermal should be considered first
In Hawaii, we have OTEC and geothermal. These firm sources of energy should be developed first and then wind turbines can be used as a supplement, if needed at all. Both OTEC and geothermal will create local jobs. We are a world leader in OTEC technology and we can export the technology.
The problem is:
* National policy does not support geothermal and OTEC to the extent that it supports wind.
* The outsiders have descended on Hawaii and are pushing industrial wind turbines, hoping to cover every mile of open land. Recreation, vistas, weather, culture and heritage are invaluable assets to a small island. If you take away all of these things, what good is electricity from any source?
read … Geothermal
Police Claim Blogger was Drunk, Combative
In his report, Officer James Waiamau, who arrested Tucker, wrote that Tucker “repeatedly refused to stop physically pushing himself between officers while they were engaged in interviewing witnesses and suspects, and appeared to be very intoxicated.” He stated that Tucker “shoved his camera into the faces of victims at the scene while they were being interviewed, and propelled them to become irate.”
Waiamau also wrote that Tucker, who operates an Internet blog about the Big Island, represented himself as a member of the media, but “was unable to produce proper media credentials” and “became combative and was subsequently arrested.”
In a court document, police Detective John Ancheta wrote that Waiamau said Tucker “forcefully used his body to get in between officers” and Melissa Lowe, identified as a victim in the fight. He wrote that Tucker’s camera was “approximately 15-20 inches away from Lowe’s face” and that as a result, “Lowe became enraged and combative against Tucker.” He wrote that Officer Matthew Bartz “was asked to assist in escorting Tucker away so the interview could be conducted.”
read … Drunk Blogger?
Honolulu hotel rates second-highest in U.S.
The site’s biennial hotel price index, which is based on bookings made on hotels.com, shows that the average room rate in Honolulu this year was $174.91, a 13 percent increase from last year’s rate.
New York was the most expensive city, with an average room rate of $190.46, a 5 percent increase from $181.66 last year. Honolulu was followed by Boston, Miami and New Orleans.
read … Squeezing Every Drop
LA Times: Disney's new Aulani hotel dining options are few and pricey
Dinner for three with cocktails came to $200 before tip. Not outrageous for a special dinner, but there was no way our wallet or waistline could afford to eat like that at every meal, even on vacation. But as we’d soon find out, the Aulani’s dining options were limited after the 'Ama 'Ama.
The next day we headed over to the Off the Hook poolside bar for lunch, where the menu was filled with $17-$19 sandwiches and a $21 Angus burger (all served with chips and cake).
I'd come to expect $10 tropical cocktails in Hawaii. I had my share of agave nectar margaritas rimmed with red sea salt while Nancy preferred the passion fruit mojitos. But $21 for a burger? Come on.
Add to that the $32.99 refillable drink mug sold in the gift shop (good for your entire visit) and it was clear the Disneyland pricing model would be employed throughout the Aulani resort. I quickly realized I'd have been better off if I'd taken the $100 Disney wanted me to spend on Coca-Cola and gone shopping at Wal-Mart to load up on soda, water, beer, wine and snacks.
read … Pricey Aulani
Kaua‘i secures $138M in state CIP budget
The state House Finance Committee wrapped up a two-day tour of Kaua‘i last week, its first collective trip to Kaua‘i since 2006.
Led by Rep. Marcus Oshiro, the group convened a community forum Wednesday evening at the Aloha Beach Resort in Wailua where residents had an opportunity to listen to his explanation of the 2011 state budget as well as voice concerns.
The forum followed a closed meeting with the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, the Lihu‘e Business Association and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau.
Also on the agenda was a short presentation by Ray McCormick of the state Department of Transportation, Highways Division, on the status of highway construction, primarily the recently completed Wailua Cane Haul Bridge and the ongoing Kaumuali‘i Highway expansion south of Lihu‘e. The Kaumuali‘i Highway expansion is anticipated to be completed in April or May of 2012, he said.
read … It doesn’t mean anything until its released by The Abercrombie
Maui Charter panel: District voting worthy of look
Members of the Charter Commission agreed Monday to continue discussing proposals to establish single-member County Council districts - even as many commissioners said they were personally opposed to the idea.
After months of listening to public comments and receiving proposals from county officials and members of the community, commissioners for the first time began deliberating on possible changes to the county's charter.
(Thus is a trick to put anti-Superferry Protesters in control of Maui Council.)
Also Monday, the commission decided not to move forward with other proposals for now, including a proposal to add a provision to the charter declaring that the county government is nonpartisan and a suggestion to change the county's political boundaries to include Kalaupapa, which is currently designated as the independent county of Kalawao under state law.
read … Maui
Maui: 62% of respondents want to ban Styrofoam
The herd races headlong towards the cliff….
read … It’s a Religion
Bureaucratic bungling Leaves Nature Reserve unpatrolled
"Right now with the lack of rangers, for me, I'm catching guys trying to throw net," he said. Fishing is not allowed in the reserve.
"The people know there are no rangers. You get some criminal aspects going on," Borge added.
The reserve was established in 1972 and contains 1,238 acres in land and 807 acres in water.
Maui District NARS Program Manager William Evanson of the state's Division of Forestry and Wildlife said the "lack of capacity to maintain that level of funding and staffing" is a reason for the lack of rangers, and the state is working on getting a volunteer program set up again for the reserve.
Evanson said many of the rangers left in the last year or so for personal reasons such as other jobs, family and health issues.
One of the vacant positions has been frozen for budget issues, while the others have not yet been filled due to contract questions or other procedural issues with the University of Hawaii Research Services.
Evanson said some rangers were being hired under the UH program, but officials with the program had raised concerns about rangers doing too much enforcement-like activity.
The two rangers still assigned to the reserve do their best to cover the area but may leave the reserve with no coverage for periods of time. The contract for one of the remaining rangers will expire in November, he noted.
To fill the void, Evanson said the state is looking at possibly hiring a private security company to patrol the area.
As for the volunteers, Evanson said staff from the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary were asked to leave three years ago to allow the state to implement a partial closure of the reserve so studies could be done.
read … Rangers