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Monday, November 28, 2011
November 28, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:33 PM :: 9394 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Kalaeloa Solar: Hawaii Ratepayers to Bankroll 'Green Fiesta'

Failing, Central Pacific Got $337M in Secret Federal Reserve Loans

Lowell Kalapa to Address Kona TEA Party

Duke Aiona to Address Pro-Life Group

UPW Contract, HGEA Reopen menace Legislature

Borreca: The contracts are all signed and the United Public Workers ratified its contract last week. The teachers union never got a contract: Abercrombie gave it the choice of taking the last and best final offer or the state would execute the last and best final offer, anyway, which is what he did, resulting in teachers taking what Abercrombie dictated.

But, there was one little clause in the Hawaii Government Employees Association's contract that if any other union got a better contract than the HGEA, then its contract would be open for bargaining again. It is called the favored nation clause.

Last week the HGEA sent the state and all its entities, such as the Judiciary, the schools, the university and the hospitals, a letter "demanding that upon the completion of the UPW ratification process, the employers reopen negotiations."

… If all that is true, it means the HGEA, the state's largest union, will be due more money and that's a whole new mess of zombies walking your way.

Republican state Sen. Sam Slom worries that the current state budget doesn't even include enough money for the existing public worker contracts and that the pay raises will have to be factored in before lawmakers can even figure out if the state can afford new raises for HGEA….

The last time the Legislature saw the state Hurricane Relief Fund, it took nearly all of the $40 million to pay for stuff now. But the Legislature passed a bill promising to pay it back….

the biggest zombie staggering toward the Legislature is the approximately $7 billion due the state retirement system….

ILind: Spinning the HGEA contract reopening

read … Legislature

DoE to Pay Contractors to Churn SpEd Programs

SA: The department began planning for the project in January and started contacting selected training sites last summer. Launching the program and operating it for a year is expected to cost about $1.5 million, which the DOE will cover with federal funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The DOE has also contracted with two consulting firms — at a cost of about $800,000 — to help improve special-education services, offer training and determine the effectiveness of revamped programs, including those under Po‘okela….

The project is part of a push to improve Hawaii's special-education system, which serves more than 19,000 children and accounts for about one-fifth of the DOE's $1.3 billion general fund budget…. (Rake in the bucks)

In 2008 about 16 percent of Hawaii students with disabilities spent 80 percent or more their day in regular-education classrooms, well below the national average of 59 percent, federal statistics show. (And not spend them on SpEd.)

Not mentioned: Lawsuit: Hamamoto, Principal, Counselor Looked Other way as Homosexual Rapists Terrorized Underage Deaf and Blind Students

Also not mentioned: Hawaii DoE SpEd Cheating Scandal: Teachers blocked from Prompting Answers, Proficiency drops from 62% to 4%

read … State will begin training to improve special education

School Bus Contacts Rise 192% after Collusion Begins

CB: Hawaii school bus companies say rising health-care and fuel costs are only two of many reasons they are now charging so much more to drive kids to and from school.

School bus contract prices with the Department of Education have doubled since 2005, taking a toll on parents' pocketbooks and the school district's budget. Civil Beat has been examining what's behind the soaring costs in its series, Taken for a Ride. Records over the past 11 years show that school bus costs started rising sharply in 2006, and contractors abruptly stopped bidding against each other two years later, in 2008.

With no competing companies to choose from, the school district began paying whatever the contractors asked. The cost of some routes tripled overnight, particularly when a contract would come up for bid again and only one company would submit a proposal. For instance, one route on the Big Island went from $35,000 in 2003 to $42,000 in 2008 and then to $105,000 in 2009.

School district officials say they can't figure out what's behind such sudden and dramatic price increases, because Hawaii's school bus contracts already include annual adjustments for inflation, wages and fuel costs. They say overnight price jumps of as much as 192 percent are significantly higher than what they think any increase should be.

read … Milking the DoE, it’s a way of life

Challenge to Honolulu Rail Project Goes to Federal Court Wednesday

HR: Attorneys for the city and Federal Transit Authority will be in U.S. District Court on Wednesday at 10 a.m. seeking to have several high profile plaintiffs challenging the legality of the city’s rail system thrown out.

They claim former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, Retired Judge Walter Heen, Dr. Michael Uechi, UH Law Professor Randal Roth and the Small Business Hawaii Foundation do not have standing.

However, the plaintiffs, which include Honolulutraffic.com founder Cliff Slater, former Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano, the Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation, Retired Judge and former City Council Chair Walter Heen, Dr. Michael Uechi, Hawaii's Thousand Friends, and University of Hawaii Law Professor Randal Roth, say they are impacted by the city's plan and they maintain that the city did not consider other options as required before approving the rail project.

Specifically, their Complaint outlines three statutes they say the city violated related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Properties Act (NHPA), and the U.S. Transportation Act of 1966. Those include the failure to consider all reasonable alternatives, analyze the environmental consequences of alternatives, identify and evaluate use of native hawaiian burials and traditional cultural properties and the effects on historic properties.

read … Rail

SA: Outspoken Berg driven by passion, desire for change

SA: Berg was on the defensive this month after Waipahu Neighborhood Board members accused him of repeatedly disrupting their monthly meeting to the point where someone called police to defuse the situation. Berg said he was invited to speak at the Nov. 17 meeting but then was denied the opportunity when he tried to interject a discussion on rail transit into an agenda item regarding Waipahu High School.

Berg wrote a letter of apology, saying he felt the board was muzzling him for criticizing the rail project. In his defense, at least one member of the board filed a formal complaint with the Neighborhood Commission, criticizing the Waipahu chairman and other board members for escalating the situation.

Councilman Breene Harimoto, who had clashed with Berg at a committee hearing earlier that day, has defended the board's actions. In a letter to the Neighborhood Commission, he described Berg's actions as "hostile" and unprofessional.

Harimoto and Neighborhood Board Chairman Rito Saniatan called on City Council Chairman Ernie Martin to review the matter and determine whether any disciplinary action was needed for Berg. Martin said last week he spoke with Berg and reviewed video of the meeting and does not feel any formal discipline is warranted….

Berg's support comes mainly from Leeward residents who appreciate his work for the community, including Steve Davidson, who on Berg's Facebook page posted, "Thanks for standing up for District 1."

Davidson, in an email to the Star-Advertiser, said even if Berg has not been successful in getting legislation through, he appreciates Berg's work representing the district.

"He gets a lot of flak for being ‘in your face' or for some of his proposals, which some are ridiculous and never have a chance of getting through, but I'd rather be represented by someone who may cross the line from time to time than someone who is afraid of the criticism or cares too much about saving face," Davidson said. "A good example could be the rail. He's constantly bringing it up by tying it loosely to a topic at hand, like at the recent Waipahu (Neighborhood Board) meeting."

But Berg insists that his confrontational style over rail will end come Dec. 6, after he holds a town hall forum on the project. Berg has invited all stakeholders to the forum at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

read … Berg Profile

SA: OHA infighting may Derail Kakaako deal

Native Hawaiians are nearing a resolution on the lengthy, controversial issue of lands ceded to the federal government after annexation and transferred to the state government at statehood. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs recently proposed to settle the stalled issue with a Kakaako land deal, a proposal already sure to draw legislative scrutiny so does not need further impediments.

But a seemingly benign internal issue at OHA is threatening to erupt in heated disagreement as trustees try to fill a vacancy created in August when retired state Circuit Judge Boyd Mossman of Maui took a position with the Mormon church. Mossman said he hoped the remaining eight OHA trustees would appoint his successor to serve temporarily until the seat comes up for election.

Unfortunately, that has not been so easy within the OHA board. Neither of two Maui residents nominated by trustees to sit in Mossman's seat received the six votes needed to be chosen in secret balloting last Tuesday. Former Alexander & Baldwin executive Mercer "Chubby" Vicens drew five votes and Rose Marie Lindsey Duey received the other two….

If Abercrombie's pick should be the deciding vote on the agreement, critics in the Native Hawaiian community will mock it — and OHA trustees would have themselves to blame.

The tentative agreement calls for the state to convey about 25 acres of land near Kakaako Waterfront Park to OHA to satisfy the $200 million in disputed past claims. Abercrombie on Nov. 16 praised the potential pact, which he said would benefit Native Hawaiians and be "the right thing for the state." OHA also lauded the plan to use the land with the "key stakeholders" of Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaii Community Development Authority and the University of Hawaii.

With so much at stake, OHA needs to move beyond internal bickering to prevent a relatively minor issue from festering. If the governor's choice is the trustee who casts the deciding vote, the deal will risk being portrayed as a sellout and denounced as capping more than a century of trickery and abuse. OHA trustees cannot let that happen. (Anybody wanna lay money on this?)

Reality: OHA driving Hawaiians out of Hawaii

read … OHA, focus on larger land task

Gov. Abercrombie vs. the 99%… why?

DN: So now we have a governor who reacts to those who seek a meeting with him or his staff by losing their requests over and over (it happened to me and to others).

We have a governor who issues secret edicts, even if well-intentioned, at a time when citizens groups are pushing for greater transparency in government.

We have a governor who chose secrecy with regard to the judicial selection process and may possibly appeal the court’s decision that pried it out of his hands—and that despite the judiciary’s declaration that it will release these lists itself. Go figure.

We have a governor who is appealing to the 9th Circuit in an attempt to cut off lifesaving medical care to COFA residents of Hawaii. They are part of the 99%, and the idea that the 99% hold, of course, is universal health care, not killing off our brothers and sisters. Cutting benefits is Congress-think.

read … Gov. Abercrombie vs. the 99%… why?

Homeless Avoid Shelter, Stay Drunk

SA: As a KHAKO volunteer, I recently spent a year working on a video about the resource center and the affect it has had on our community. We found and interviewed some of Maui's homeless families and individuals. Some had dropped out or "flunked out" of the KHAKO program.

"There's too many rules there," said a man whose two toddler children were sleeping in back of his truck parked near the docks in Kahului. "They want you to go to classes, get a job. You can't drink."

He looked out over the bay and shook his head. "Nobody tells me what to do." (This is what needs to be changed in order to force them into shelters. Any other policy is inhumane.)

read … Homeless

 

Cruise Yacht Outfoxes Ritte, Docks at Molokai

 

MN: "The safety of everyone is the top priority," said American Safari Cruises spokeswoman Sarah Scoltock in an email statement Sunday afternoon. "The captain made the decision to leave. Instead they spent the day enjoying activities off Lanai."

She added that on Sunday the yacht docked at the harbor without incident and was met by supporters on the pier.

Scoltock said the guests enjoyed a day of regularly planned activities on the island.

Ritte told The Maui News that the caravan of passengers did not go to Halawa Valley as planned because one of the vehicles had car trouble and a tree blocked a roadway the tour was on. (Chopped down by whom, Wally?)

Scoltock said Dan Blanchard, the CEO and principal of InnerSea Discoveries/American Safari Cruises, will have another community meeting on Molokai on Wednesday. (Idea: Bring the FBI and arrest Ritte and his cronies.)

"We have communicated that the door is open for continuing discussion, and we are eager to work with the community," Scoltock said. (Money in hand!)

Ritte said he heard Blanchard say on television Saturday that he wasn't going to go back to Molokai until things were worked out, but then the boat docked in the harbor on Sunday. (Hahahahahaha!)

"The trust has gone out the window with this guy," Ritte said when asked if he was going to Wednesday's meeting. (Show me the money!)

Ritte said he and a group of protesters had held several demonstrations against the cruise ship.

"We told him (Blanchard), you ask (pay) first, before you come to somebody's house." (Meanwhile everybody on Molokai stays unemployed.)

(You know there are still some people out there who think these protests have something to do with supporting Hawaiians. Please find such a person today and disabuse them of their ignorance.)

read … Ritte Outfoxed

Volunteers Clean Kahuku Beach, Find No Plastic Bags

SA: Scattered along Oahu's Kahuku shore is a mess of plastic crate pieces, buckets, ocean buoys, toothbrush handles, rope remnants and oddball pieces like a rubber fin, a car bumper and golf balls. (NOT A SINGLE PLASTIC BAG)

But the mess isn't the result of a hurricane, shipwreck or other calamity; it's the longtime buildup of marine debris washed ashore from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch resulting from human-generated litter in the ocean.

Suzanne Frazer and Dean Otsuki, founders of the nonprofit Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (BEACH), often get asked when the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will hit Hawaii's shores.

"This is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," said Frazer, gesturing toward the Kahuku beach debris on a recent November morning. "This is it." ….

Among the regular finds are bottle caps, bottles with Asian markings, straws, rope, oyster separators, an occasional sand toy and fishing floats. (NOT A SINGLE PLASTIC BAG)

read … No Plastic Bags

Two Mauna Kea telescopes face funding cuts

HONOLULU and HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - As governments look for ways to reduce spending, two observatories on Mauna Kea face possible budget cuts from two countries that may withdraw their financial support altogether.

The management of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope has been notified that the Netherlands will end its 20 percent support in the 2013 budget cycle, leaving Britain and Canada to find a new partner, increase their own support, or cut the observatory's budget.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald of Hilo reported that the management of the Gemini observatories - one on Mauna Kea, one in the Chilean Andes - has been looking at a handful of possible job cuts after learning that Britain might withdraw its 23 percent financial support. One job has already been eliminating, with its functions moving to the mainland, after the person doing the job resigned for a post in the private sector in Hilo….

More than 2,000 people have astronomy-related jobs in Hawaii County. Most work in Hilo or Waimea-Kamuela but dozens actually work at the summit.

read … But who will be left for OHA to shake down?

Final hearing backlog turns injured workers into hostages in paradise

SA: for hundreds of injured workers, final hearing backlogs at labor agencies make them nothing more than "hostages in paradise." I do like the people who work for the Department of Labor and the Labor Appeals' Board —but that doesn't excuse the incredible financial hardship caused by their slow claim processing….

If you were seriously injured, you are entitled to final monetary benefits because of permanent impairment to your body (motion losses, nerve losses, strength losses, etc.). These final benefit payments can range from $5,000 to $40,000 (or more) — sums that could greatly ease your financial burdens.

But the bad news is that due to final hearing backlogs at the Labor Department, you cannot get the insurance company to pay your final benefits. That's right — even though your family needs that final money, you cannot get it because the Labor Department claims it does not have enough staff to hold final hearings. And without a final hearing there is no final order telling the insurance company to pay the money that is owed you.

Due to this very same final hearing backlog, insurance carriers now realize they can leave your money in their bank accounts gathering interest for them, rather than simply agreeing to a fair settlement with you and avoiding the need for any final hearing. This results in even more cases needing a final hearing and further backlog keeping injured workers from their final money.

The hearing backlog is no better at the Labor Appeals' Board (LAB), which is supposed to correct any erroneous decisions made by the Department of Labor. In fact, LAB final hearing delays are even worse because it takes almost three years to generate final written decisions (one year to get you to a hearing, then two more years while LAB officials write up the decision made at the conclusion of the hearing two years earlier)….

Thankfully, there's talk that the Department of Labor's new director (Takamine) is about to attempt to unclog this final hearing backlog by simplifying the hearings. He should be encouraged to do so immediately and applauded if he accomplishes that goal. And in attempting to get final hearings completed faster, the director — and the LAB — should take advantage of the many suggestions offered by the attorneys of injured worker attorneys and insurance carriers to speed up the hearing process. Those ideas will streamline final claims processing and will get final benefit checks into the pockets of badly injured workers in a timely manner.

read … Workers Comp

County quiets nonprofit's rock-crushing operation

SA: Kauai County planning officials have shut down an allegedly illegal operation that crushed and delivered rocks for two state construction projects involving $5.4 million in work on dams and reservoirs.

The county said Waioli Corp., a nonprofit landowner, has shut down its operation at Lepeuli, between Kilauea and Anahola….

Attorney Donald Walker, representing Waioli Corp. and lessee Paradise Ranch, said he objects to the idea of calling the activity "quarrying" because it implies dynamiting and digging. He said no rocks were taken out of the ground on the less-than-300-acre parcel; rather, the activity involved crushing rocks left in piles from earlier farming operations.

He said the county officials objected to the crushing of the rocks and that the crushing was stopped.

Jennings Pacific has the $5.4 million contract to provide slope protection of the inner face of the Wailua and Upper Kapahi reservoir dams, as well as work on erosion control, according to county and state authorities.

Officers: Waioli Corp

read … More harassment of small business?

DoE Group seeks to undermine Private Schools

SA: When a new nonprofit group, Parents for Public Schools Hawai‘i, asked middle schools in town to offer tours for parents weighing where to send their children, some observers wondered whether anyone would come.

"Some of them thought that people wouldn't be interested," said the group's president, Lois Yamauchi. "They said, ‘What if nobody signs up?'"

The opposite has happened. Kaimuki Middle School originally planned a tour for 20 parents on Wednesday, but demand was so strong it boosted the number to 65 — and 23 more are on a waiting list maintained by Parents for Public Schools.

read … DoE Push

KPD set to start accreditation process

KGI: For the past two years the Kaua‘i Police Department has prepared itself to undergo an arduous process of national accreditation that would essentially streamline standards and policies utilized by law enforcement agencies around the country.

The three-year accreditation process starts from the day of application to final approval by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies at its national conference. The process should begin soon as the Kaua‘i County Council this month approved the $35,000 application fee.

(Putting KPD Blue in the rear view mirror.)

read … KPD

SBA lends record amount in isles

SA: The U.S. Small Business Administration's Hawaii office lent $73.6 million to 343 small businesses in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, setting a record.

Hawaii's previous high was in 2004, when the SBA lent $63.6 million here.

"The record loan volume is a great sign," said Jane Sawyer, SBA district director. "Each loan makes a big difference to our economic and employment outlook."

The SBA also announced awards for lender of the year in three categories. Top honors in the large-bank category went to Bank of Hawaii, which made 80 guaranteed loans for $8.98 million. The midsize lender of the year was American Savings Bank with 36 approvals for $3.69 million. Hawaii National Bank captured the top award in the small-bank category with 13 loans for $3.6 million.

HEDCO, a certified development company that works with the SBA, provided more than $28 million for 54 small business ventures, a record performance in its program's history. First Hawaiian Bank was honored as the most active participant in this program in 2011, making 30 loans. These loans provide long-term, fixed-rate financing to help expanding firms acquire land, buildings, machinery and equipment for building, modernizing or renovating facilities.

read … SBA Loans

CB: How Hawaii Reps Would Save $1.2 Trillion

A combination of real tax hikes and illusory spending cuts…plus a surrender to the Islamist head-choppers in Afghanistan will pay for Obamacare. So it all boils down to this: Would you trust a Government doctor to sew your head back on? If you answer ‘Yes’, then vote for Hirono and Hanabusa. If not, not.

read … $1.2T

Desperate to Save Obama, Americans Elect Petitions for Hawaii Ballot

CB: If Americans Elect has its way, voters next year will have at least three choices for president: Democrat Barack Obama, the Republican nominee and a third candidate determined through a grassroots effort that skips the traditional primary and caucus hurdles…. (This is just a Democrat scam to get Obama reelected with a plurality. The same con worked for Clinton, twice.)

The state Office of Elections is in the process of determining whether the group has submitted the necessary 691 signatures from currently registered voters to put a new political party on the ballot.

The formula is based on the 690,748 registered voters (691 is one-tenth of 1 percent) in the most recent general election.

"We submitted 950 signatures at the end of July, and we are just waiting for the certifications to be complete," said Sarah Malm, chief communications officer for Americans Elect….

A spokeswoman for the Office of Elections says the certification is still working its way through the process but it could be as soon as next week for a decision. She cautioned that there could be challenges to some of the signatures….

The goal is to qualify for ballots in 28 states (including Hawaii) by the end of this year and to seek the remainder in 2012. The order of petitions is determined by the requirements of each state; for example, the deadline for Hawaii is 170 days from the primary — in this case, Feb. 23 for the Aug. 11 primary.

Americans Elect has collected 2 million signatures in 29 states, or more than two-thirds of the 2.9 million signatures required.

read … Save The Obama!


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