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Thursday, December 01, 2011
December 1, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:16 PM :: 5954 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

OHA Announces Public Meetings to discuss Tentative Land Deal

Backed by Federal Loan Guarantees, Merrill Lynch Finances $1B in Military Solar Projects

Quality of Living: Honolulu #29 in World, right behind ... Stuttgart

Report: Hawaii Ranks 3rd in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

PUC Breaks 15% Limit on Solar Systems

Visitor Spending breaks $1 Billion per Month

Pearl Harbor Survivor to Direct ‘Mass Band Performance’ on 70th Anniversary

KHON: The Making of a Governor

Opponents Threaten To Halt Rail Project

KITV: A hearing on the merits of this case might not get under way until late summer or early fall, but rail construction is set to begin in Kapolei in February, so the opponents’ lawyer threatened to ask a federal judge to put the entire $5 billion dollar project on hold.

"If the city and the (Federal Transit Administration) are going to plunge ahead and start significant kinds of construction, we will have no alternative but to go in for a preliminary injunction," said Nicholas Yost, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The lead lawyers on both sides are from California. So is the visiting federal judge in this case, after the federal judges in Hawaii recused themselves from the case becausethey are concerned about the security risk of having the rail run along Halekauila Street, outside the courthouse.

They might hold some status conferences and other routine meetings in California, making it more difficult for the public and the media in Honolulu to monitor the case.

But Tashima said key hearings will be held in Hawaii.

Read … Opponents Threaten To Halt Rail Project

Putting two and two together—OHA land transfer and secret government/private development meetings

DN: Our elected representatives do represent us, but they are supposed to conduct our business in the full light of sunshine. Backroom deals are the mark of corruption in politics.When the newspaper springs a new development story on us in blaring headlines, I wonder where the heck that came from. We the people are usually blindsided by the deals we first see in the paper.

One of those done deals we learned about in a headline inspired OHA Kakaako land deal may be all wet (11/17/2011). When I read the story, I wondered who, among the public, would have agreed with a deal involving land in the tsunami inundation zone.

A comment posted to Hawaii senate committee meets without public notice right before a fundraiser for its chair (March 31, 2011) just this morning rang an alarm bell….

Related: OHA Announces Public Meetings to discuss Tentative Land Deal

read … Two and Two 

At 70th anniversary, urgency to observe WWII, honor vets

For many of the vets and those who chronicle their exploits, there is a sense of finality in the observance of the 70th anniversary of America's entrance into the war with the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day, and on Japan's Axis partners, Germany and Italy, Dec. 11 -- the same day they declared war on America.

Many unit reunions are billing their events as the "last" formal gathering, acknowledging the dwindling numbers and failing health of vets in their 80s and 90s. Kids and grandkids of veterans now make up the majority of attendees. They collect stories, tend to commemorative Web pages and proudly display the memorabilia their loved ones brought home.

And when they’re gone: East-West Center hammered for “sustained, biased and politically-motivated attack on World War II veterans”

read … Pearl Harbor

Lingle raises questions about federal monk seal petition

AP: The proposed designation would cover 4,787 square miles — nearly 75 percent of the size of the state, she said. Lingle is concerned about the "potential adverse impacts this rule could have on such important activities as clean energy projects (such as wave energy, ocean-thermal energy and seawater air conditioning), aquaculture, fishing, military activities, harbor improvements and near-shore construction (including airports modernization and highway reconstruction."

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register, which Lingle said isn't widely read. "They gave the public only 60 days to respond to a proposed rule that could last for over 50 years," she said. "Only after receiving letters from elected officials who were alerted by concerned fishermen, native Hawaiian groups and community activists did NOAA agree to re-open the public comment period."

The comment period on the plan has been reopened for 60 days from Nov. 7 to Jan. 6.

"NOAA Fisheries appreciates Ms. Lingle bringing attention to the topic of critical habitat designation and looks forward to receiving comments from anyone wishing to do," NOAA said in a statement Tuesday.

Full Text: Lingle calls for Delay in Federal Grab for Control of Hawaii Shorelines

read … Monk Seals

Hawaii Utility Regulators' Lack Of Data Is 'Troubling'

A contract for a new wind farm on Oahu's north shore is raising questions about why a project developer doesn't have to reveal seemingly critical financial information to state regulators who are charged with protecting consumer interests.

Boston-based First Wind and Hawaiian Electric Co. want the Public Utilities Commission to approve a new 69-megawatt wind farm at Kawailoa. But the company and the utility won't say how much the project will cost to build and operate or what the developer's profit margin is, according to Hawaii's consumer advocate.

So how can the commissioners tell whether ratepayers are getting a good deal if they don't have all the information?

State regulators’ lack of access to financial data is unusual and troubling, according to industry experts interviewed for this story, including consumer advocacy groups, the national trade group representing state public service commissioners and other state public utilities commissions.

DN: Cost of electricity is silent factor in Hawaii energy policy

read … First Wind, Last Information

Court rejects challenge to state use of surplus health funds

ILind: The Circuit Court ruled against the plaintiffs and tossed the case out back in 2006. The appeal has been slowly moving along since then.

In this 29-page ruling, the Intermediate Court rejected the union’s various contentions and held that the statutes governing the health fund “did not create vested property rights or contractual obligations” that prevented refunding of premium surpluses.

The opinion does trace the evolution from the health fund to the EUTF, and those more knowledgeable may glean some useful points relevant to the broader issue of whether changes can be made in employee health plans without stumbling over constitutionally-protections of vested employee benefits. That, of course, is the bigger battle going on as the state looks at was to reduce long-term liabilities

read … EUTF 

Reason to Vote: Inouye says Gingrich as GOP Nominee 'Frightens Me'

"From what I have seen in the last year, it frightens me if he becomes president," Inouye said in a Wednesday interview. "He can be mean. He's already demonstrated that, the way he treated some of the guys in the House when he was speaker."

read … An endorsement from Inouye

Obama Nominates Hawaii Woman to Social Security Board 

…Marie F. Smith, of Hawaii, to be a Member of the Social Security Advisory Board for a term expiring September 30, 2016, vice Dana K. Bilyeu, term expired.

read … Smith

Malama Solomon May Escape Fine For Trespass, Damages

EH: In late October, the Land Board fined a handful of men $300 to $400 each for possessing alcohol at Kane`ohe Bay’s `Ahu O Laka sandbar during Labor Day weekend. The board based the fines on administrative costs incurred by its Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

The department must, at the very least, cover its costs in violation cases, Maui board member Jerry Edlao stressed at the time.

When it came to state Sen. Malama Solomon’s trespass on and damage to unencumbered state lands on the Big Island, however, the board applied no such standard….

Kaulukukui agreed somewhat. He told the Land Board that the wall that had been damaged was “unremarkable.”

“It’s the kind of wall I could build myself. There were two rock mounds that were impacted, no more than one row high. There was an interior habitation wall on state land that was impacted. One place where the wall already was disturbed, the makai side was disturbed by the bulldozer. I would tend to concur that we weren’t talking about remarkable features,” he said.

The Land Board unanimously and with very little discussion approved Moore’s recommendation.

Last month, Edlao, while discussing a proposed $18,000 settlement for coral damage around Molokini (see below), again hammered on the need for the DLNR to recover its administrative costs.

When asked his thoughts on the board’s decision not to fine Solomon, he said he went along with it because remediating the site will take “time and money on her part.” He also reminded Environment Hawai`i that should Solomon fail to remediate the damage within six months, “she will be back with a fine and administrative costs.”

read … Environment Hawaii

Police: Berg, Reeking Of Alcohol, Argued With Secret Service At APEC

The report has Berg's name and occupation redacted because there are no charges from the incident. It says police were called by Secret Service requesting assistance with "an intoxicated male attempting to gain entry into the 'secure zone' without proper access credentials."

"Upon obtaining identification from (redacted) I could detect a strong odor of alcoholic type beverages emitting from (redacted) mouth and clothes while he spoke," Officer Thomas Carvalho wrote in his report. "(Redacted) also had red, bloodshot, and watery eyes. While speaking with him he was extremely argumentative and irrational and insisted that since he was a (redacted) that he had the right to enter into the area to retrieve his cellular telephone."

A police sergeant recorded a video but it is not being released because police say it is evidence.

Read the four-page police report here

Check out a story they aren’t interested in: Convicted Cocaine Dealer replaces Advertiser columnist as Ernie Martin’s Campaign Treasurer

read … Drunk and Disorderly

A&B Condo Project to Spark Development Boom again?

Eight years ago, Alexander & Baldwin was the first developer in Hawaii to get started on a high-rise condominium project just in time to take advantage of an upswing in the residential real estate market.

The Hokua project, which A&B developed with The MacNaughton Group and the Kobayashi Group, quickly sold out and ended up being the first of nearly a dozen condo towers to sprout up around Honolulu during the last economic boom.

Now A&B is announcing plans to develop another condo tower nearby in Kakaako, just as the local economy is starting to recover from a recession and prolonged downturn.

read … It sure helps to own the protesters

Hawaii County tries to delay Abercrombie Administration’s Waiawi Control insect release

Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said he has "major concerns" with the planned release, chief among them is learning who will pay guava farmers should the insect hurt their crops.

"No one has been able to answer that question," Yagong said of the liability issue.

Scientists insist Tectococcus ovatus eats only the leaves of strawberry guava trees.

Yagong said that could involve strawberry guava trees owned by people who raise them for fruit or other reasons.

"They don't have a choice but to have their trees affected as well on private property," he said.

The potential of releasing the insect within two weeks worries South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford, who has requested a 30-day delay to give lawmakers time make the public more aware of the biocontrol plan.

Ford said she asked Russell Kokubun, DOA chairman and a former Hawaii County Council chairman, to postpone the release so the council can schedule a meeting on the issue.

"He refused," Ford said.

EH: The final EA and FONSI may be viewed on the website of the OEQC: Waiawi.

EH: Green Light for Waiawi Biocontrol Agent

Related: Economist: Hawaii Wilderness Cult pursues Impossible Return to Pre-Human Existence

read … Save the Waiawi

EPA Orders Additional Safeguards at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill

CB: The EPA says landfill operators repeatedly failed to prevent the runoff of water that had been in contact with garbage, failed to control on-site erosion and improperly managed silt from surface water before it was discharged from the site….

The EPA required Waste Management to build a stormwater diversion channel to prevent the build-up of water that led to the near-failure. While the first order required that diversion channel to be functional but not necessarily complete, the new order requires Waste Management to complete the project altogether.

read … Waimanalo Gulch

Dotson Leaves MADD

MADD Field Director Kevin Watkins will be the interim executive director until a new person is found. He told PBN that MADD Hawaii had to make a “difficult decision to make the change in leadership.” He would not say if Dotson had been fired or if she quit on her own terms. She had been with MADD Hawaii for two years.

Watkins says a search for a new executive director will begin as early as next week.

read … MADD

Jon Van Dyke Dies


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