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Saturday, November 26, 2011
November 26, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:36 PM :: 9404 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Hint to Hawaii: Google Abandons Concentrating Solar Power Project

Oahu Democrats Fail in Effort to Break up Hawaii News Now

Abercrombie Wins Approval to Take $1.06M from Pre-School, Sister Isles, spend it on Central Office Bureaucrats

Suspended Attorney Says 'Vindictive' Navy Purposely Sows Intimidation & Fear in Civilian Counsel

Horner: Ansaldo OK to Build Rail after Financial Analysis Shows Libya Revolt is Root of Company’s Problems

CB: It got so bad that barely a week ago, Civil Beat reported officials would delay signing the $1.4 billion contract they wanted to award to design, build, operate and maintain the city's planned rail system.

And then came a meeting Friday, where the CEO of Ansaldo STS, Sergio De Luca, the man ultimately in charge of getting the work done on time and on budget, met with board members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, and especially their chief questioner, First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner.

When the session was over, board members said their tough questions had been asked and answered.

So what did they learn that changed the picture?

Essentially, they learned that Finmeccanica, the company that owns 40 percent of Ansaldo STS and 100 percent of Ansaldo Breda, the two companies that will together carry out the Honolulu project in a joint venture known as Ansaldo Honolulu, can't sink them. They have the financial resources and technical ability to stand on their own, no matter what happens…. (Oh yeah? See next article)

And the financial data, examined by the bank president in tables presented by Ansaldo, seemed solid. No red flags were raised. In fact, one board member concluded that there's been a lot of "misinformation" out there about the contractor. (Misinformation from the WSJ? No. Sounds like we’re getting a snow job from HART.)

Horner, chair of the finance committee, made it clear that the final decision rests with HART Interim Executive Director Toru Hamayasu. And while Hamayasu, as is his style, was cautious about next steps, saying his staff would still need to review the latest submissions from Ansaldo, he said the contract could be signed as early as next week….

He acknowledged it had been a tough year financially. But not because of the debt crisis in Italy or Finmeccanica's woes. Instead, it was a contract in Libya for a major project that couldn't proceed for what he said were obvious reasons. (And some Libyan guys offed one of Finmeccanica’s owners after catching him in a storm drain.)

SA: Rail system contractor asserts solvency to panel

CB: Ansaldo CEO Satisfies Honolulu Rail Board

read … Its Libya so its OK

WSJ July 28: New Finmeccanica Boss Pledges To Clean Up Group's Act, Considers Sale of Ansaldo

WSJ: Speaking to analysts after the group's weaker results and outlook sent its stock down more than 17%, Chief Executive Giuseppe Orsi said one of his priorities was to resolve problems hampering two of the group's myriad of divisions: aeronautics and transportation.

Orsi, who has spent his time reviewing the group's divisions since taking the job in May, raised the possibility of a sale of the transportation division, which was described by one analyst at the London presentation as a "waste of time" because of the billion of euros it has lost over the years. The division, AnsaldoBreda, makes trams, trains and subways.

Orsi dismissed the idea of shutting down the division, saying it only needed to find the right partner once its managerial and organizational problems were resolved.

read … Some ‘misinformation’ from Orsi, eh Don?

OHA goes back to drawing board after failure to elect new trustee

SA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees are still working to pick a replacement for former Maui trustee Boyd Mossman despite failing to agree on a successor this week.

Two Maui residents nominated by trustees for the position failed on Tuesday to garner the six votes needed to fill the vacancy created when Mossman resigned Oct. 31.

Maui businessman and former Alexander & Baldwin executive Mercer "Chubby" Vicens received five votes during secret balloting, while Maui activist Rose Marie Lindsey Duey received two votes. Seven of the eight remaining trustees voted. Kauai trustee Donald Cataluna cast his vote via fax after participating in the discussion via teleconference. Trustee Rowena Akana said she objected to the process and abstained from voting….

The deadline for trustees to choose is Dec. 23, but the board must inform the governor by Dec. 16 if they cannot agree.

"I don't think it's a good idea to let the trustees pick a replacement," trustee Peter Apo said. (Abercrombie would pick Henry Peters)

Cataluna stated he would not participate if another vote were conducted….

Trustee Haunani Apoliona, who was the only board member to speak up for one of the candidates Tuesday when she endorsed Duey….

Machado said she'd also like to hold a hearing on Maui to give people a chance to talk about the candidates as requested by Akana and a member of the audience.

read … Clayton Hee Waits in the Wings

DoE wins RTTT Approval to Tinker With Assessments Again

Amendments approved this month allow the state Department of Education to:

  • Adopt national reading and math assessments based on new standards when they become available, rather than having the department create its own. This change will free up $7 million in federal funds, which will instead be used for "assessment literacy" and end-of-course exam projects.
  • Assign a task force to make recommendations on potential special designations for high school diplomas, including those for honors and academic pathways.
  • Expand the time line for teacher training on new common core national standards, which started rolling out in the islands this school year.

Full Text: Nov. 8 letter to Gov. Abercrombie from the U.S. Dept. of Education

Related: Abercrombie Wins Approval to Take $1.06M from Pre-School, spend it on Central Office Bureaucrats

Related: DoE Boosts Test Scores by Giving Answers to Students

read … Changes to state education reforms get federal OK

Star-Adv Comes out against Laupahoehoe Charter School

Stepping back from the fray, it should be obvious that something has fractured the base of support for this school, a fatal flaw in the charter project that needs to be repaired before moving ahead.

Initially the push to convert Laupahoehoe from a conventional public school to a charter had some legs. The tiny school of 236 students, in kindergarten through Grade 12, was added a few years back to a list of schools being considered for closure. Community members and parents formed Save Our School, obtained $450,000 in a federal grant and won a vote in favor of the conversion.

But things have changed considerably between that vote, in February 2010, and now. As details of the financial plan emerged, the review panel became concerned that there was insufficient funding to run the program and that its support base had withered. One reason for the change of heart, according to Principal James Denight, is a projected funding shortfall and the loss of funds for services such as athletics and school buses.

As a result, 20 of the school's 21 teachers have signed a letter to the state BOE asking to be transferred to other schools in the district. That's an unambiguous no-confidence vote on the charter plan. (What’s missing from this story? The DoE has informed the teachers that they will lose all seniority if they stay on at the Charter. This choice to manipulate teachers against the Charter is the root of the entire problem.)

As for the BOE's intervention in this process: Its decision to reverse the review panel's decision was ill-advised. Namely, it had not even sought the advice of the teachers and staff who now stand against the charter. Was the BOE legally bound to hold hearings on this appeal? Arguably not. But often hearings can bring useful information to the fore, whether or not they're required. The Laupahoehoe appeal was such a case.

(Here’s a better idea for the BoE: Cut through the Gordian Knot and allow teachers to keep their seniority and pay when they stay on at a charter school.)

read … As usual the Star-Adv is missing the key detail

Choosing legislative theme can be a gamble for Dems

Shapiro: Democratic legislators and the Abercrombie administration hope to agree on a common theme for the upcoming election-year legislative session. They can't decide between "Gamble on Taxes" or "Taxes on Gambling.”

PR: Workmanlike

read … Gambling

Price of car insurance rises a smidgen

The average annual premium for someone with a clean driving record rose to $467.55, a 0.7 percent increase from last year, according to a recent analysis of DCCA data….

The comparison table can be found on the agency's website: hawaii.gov/dcca/ins/consumer/consumer_information/mv_premiums….

Motorists on Oahu paid the highest average premium in the state this year at $509.42. The rate with one speeding conviction rose to $604.51. Hawaii island was a close second with an average premium of $509.40. That rose to $603.06 with one speeding conviction. Maui was third with an average premium of $472.25, or $560.89 with a speeding conviction. Kauai trailed with an average premium of $379.15, or $444.87 with a speeding conviction.

(Car insurance, unlike health insurance, is highly competitive. Get it?)

read … Insurance Rates

City replaces scorned towing firm

A towing company under investigation for allegations of insurance fraud has been replaced as the city's exclusive vendor for Oahu's busiest tow region, ending an eight-year tenure marked by controversy, a prolonged legal fight and scores of consumer complaints.

Stoneridge Recoveries' contract to handle police-ordered tows from downtown to Makapuu expired Oct. 31, and even though the company bid for a new deal, the city selected a competing bidder, Kuni's Automotive & Towing.

read … Towed Away

Kauai’s economy has ‘settled back to 2003 levels’

KGI: A Kaua‘i County fourth-quarter report released Tuesday reveals a flat economic “recovery,” with the exception of the tourism and construction sectors.

“Kaua‘i’s economy is moving mostly sideways,” said Ken Stokes, an economist with Island Matters, a research firm contracted by the county’s Office of Economic Development to produce Quarterly Economic Outlook reports. “Going forward, there are few signs that the mostly flat trends we are seeing will rebound in the quarters just ahead.”

The report contains the latest indicator data from the first quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2011 and forecasts through the first quarter of 2012.

Four key indicators — jobs, income, spending and electricity sales— have “settled back to about the same level they were in 2003 and well below the boom years of 2006-07,” the report states. It should be noted that 2003 was a recessionary year in the U.S.

The Quarterly Economic Outlook report is available on OED’s webpage at www.kauai.gov/oed/statisticsandforecasting

read … Kauai

Telescope funding under fire

HTH: As governments around the world look for ways to slash spending and cut deficits, one appealing target has emerged -- the telescopes on Mauna Kea.

While some observatories seem to be doing fine with the help of private or state funding, others, like those operated by the Joint Astronomy Centre or the Gemini Observatory, are bracing for cuts in government funding.

The Joint Astronomy Centre administers the 15-meter James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. Both telescopes are funded by the United Kingdom, while Canada and the Netherlands are also partners in the JCMT.

Last August, the Netherlands made waves when it announced it was withdrawing its 20 percent partnership in the JCMT after March 2013.

read … Netherlands Pulls Out

Convicted Killer Lui—now a sovereignty activist-- gets his day in court Tuesday

County Property Manager Ken Van Bergen on Friday verified the property sale has closed and said Olson is in court to complete conditions of the sale that include clearing the title. The county also holds an ejectment judgment, but hasn't gone to court to enforce it, said Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela.

Kamelamela said the county will also be at the hearing, protecting taxpayers' interest.

"We're ensuring the public can use the property without being threatened, without being stopped," Kamelamela said. "The county purchased it for use by the public."

Lui claims his great-great-grandfather, Timoteo Keawe, got the land in a royal grant and that under kingdom law, it could be leased but never sold. The state Supreme Court in 2007, in an 83-page opinion, ruled the Apikis -- another Native Hawaiian family that traces its roots six generations to a Kawa Bay fishing village -- and other families had no ownership interest in the land.

LINK: In 1977 Abel Simeona Lui was convicted in 1976 shooting death

read … Killer back in Court

USS Lassen Sailors Contribute to Flood Cleanup in Thailand

NAVY: Sailors from the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) continued providing flood relief assistance and disaster relief to Thailand during a combined services project at Watsanamchai Temple School Nov. 20.

Since arriving on the 16th, Sailors have been providing assistance to victims of flooding that began in late July, claimed hundreds of lives and left many without food, water and basic supplies.

Twenty Sailors from Lassen combined forces with personnel from the U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and the Royal Thai Army to help rehabilitate the school. The school suffered heavy water damage inside and on the surrounding compound. Flood water still surrounded the entire town as the team approached their destination.

read ... Thailand

25th ID Gets New Commanding General

Army Times: The Army chief of staff announced three two-star and one one-star assignments Friday.

• Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, currently commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division/commanding general, U.S. Division-Center, Operation New Dawn, will become assistant chief of staff, C-3/J-3, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea/deputy commanding general, 8th Army, Korea.

• Maj. Gen. William K. Fuller, currently deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., will become the new commanding general of the 25th ID at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

read … Gen Fuller

Hawaii History: Selective Editing Project Begins

At 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 28 -- the date in 1843 that Hawaii was recognized as a sovereign kingdom by European countries -- dozens, perhaps hundreds of Hawaiians and cultural supporters are expected to gather on the grounds of Iolani Palace to kick off the "'Ike Ku'oko'a Initiative," which seeks 3,000 volunteers from around the globe to archive some 60,000 pages of (selectively chosen) Hawaiian-language newspapers on the Internet in order to boost the sovereignty movement….

read … Selective Editing

Descendants: Roth, Daws, Hemmings Guided Producer

WSJ: Jim Burke, the producer of “The Descendants,” approached making the film almost like a documentary. As a father himself, he was convinced that her dark comedy about a father struggling to cope with his two daughters following an accident that left their mother in a coma would make a great movie, with its themes of isolation, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Burke and the film’s director, Alexander Payne, traveled to Honolulu nine months or so before shooting began. Once there, they were guided by a number of well-known locals, including the author of the novel that the film was based upon, Kaui Hart Hemmings, historian and author Gavan Daws, and University of Hawaii law professor Randall W. Roth. They were his “tour guides through Honolulu society,” he said.

read … Descendants

Descendants: First Popular Film to See Us Through an Insider’s Eyes

USA Today: But The Descendants, adapted closely from the novel by Hawaii author Kaui Hart Hemmings, portrays the Aloha State in an equally gorgeous but far more realistic and nuanced light - from angst over land development to Honolulu traffic jams and leaf-filled swimming pools.

"For Hawaii's people, living in a place that's unrelentingly misrepresented in mainstream media as a perennially sunny, welcoming vacation paradise in which locals only get the supporting roles, this small, quiet film will feel profoundly different," writes Honolulu Weekly. "In it, locals of all backgrounds will recognize ourselves, our families, our neighbors, the gritty stuff of our real lives. Not only that, it's the first popular film to see us through an insider's eyes."

read … Descendants


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