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Wednesday, December 07, 2011
December 7, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:29 PM :: 8766 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Sneak Attack: Re-write of Pearl Harbor History Awaits Death of WW2 Veterans

Pearl Harbor, Civil Rights, and Hawaii Statehood

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

Ewa Field Event to Mark 70th Anniversary of Attack

Petition hits Hawaiian Airlines 'Price Fixing', seeks return of Superferry

Hawaii Health Ranks #4 in Nation

Feds Force DHS to Streamline Food Stamp Processing

White House: North Korea making missile able to hit US

Shapiro: Haughty Abercrombie's troubles are all his own, not Lingle's

Shapiro: Abercrombie's low popularity is more a result of his haughty manner and questionable actions than any tough decisions he's made. He simply hasn't been the mature, good-listening, consensus-building governor he promised.

He's in trouble because of issuing dubious emergency decrees without bothering to tell the affected public, waffling on an excise tax increase, dismissing seniors worried about his pension tax proposal as fronts for the insurance industry, calling the Pro Bowl "stupid," saying he's not our pal, shouting down unhappy nurses, stripping transparency from judicial selection, rudely demanding resignations of state board and commission members, and turning over his entire top staff just 10 months into the job.

These were self-inflicted wounds that had nothing to do with cleaning up after Lingle.

As for U.S. Senate politics, Democrats should be wary of Abercrombie injecting himself into that race.

He doesn't have much political stock to offer Democratic Senate candidates Mazie Hirono and Ed Case, and Lingle would love to see the race turn into a referendum on the nation's least popular governor with a 30 percent approval rating. 

read … Abercrombie's troubles are all his own, not Lingle's

Star-Adv: New History of Pearl Harbor being Written as Generation Passes

The moment drew the U.S. at last into World War II. And whether or not everyone accepts the rationale for "The Good War" being the moniker for that conflict, all can agree that the war mission inspired a broad commitment from Americans. The repurposing of U.S. industry ultimately cleared the economic wreckage of the Great Depression and laid the groundwork for the postwar flourishing of the middle class.

And it was that middle class that later had the resources for vacationing in Waikiki, which jet travel made more affordable and spurred the explosive growth of the tourism industry as the central pillar of the Hawaii economy. Statehood, and the lightning-fast development of a previously rural society, soon followed.

The enduring impact of the events of Dec. 7, 1941, has been documented and celebrated by those who have made studying this period their life's work. Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, noted this week that a new chapter in the chronicle is being written "as this generation passes." ….

What this is about: Sneak Attack: Re-write of Pearl Harbor History Awaits Death of WW2 Veterans

read … Revisionism Waiting

Hawaii soldiers return from Iraq

KHON: This was the second group to return to Hawaii from Iraq and several more are expected in the coming weeks.

Just last week, the United States handed over one of the last U.S. military bases in Iraq to the Iraqi government.

An effort is now underway to move all U.S. troops out of the country by the end of the year.

read … Back from Iraq 

 

Hanabusa: Military Strategic Doctrine Based on My Need to Deliver Pork 

Roll Call: That is why this past spring I advocated the insertion of language into the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill that would require the secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the PACOM commander, to identify locations within the PACOM Area of Responsibility into which the United States could deploy a forward presence to train and address future contingencies in a quick, decisive manner.

Hawaii continues to serve as our nation’s primary home-soil presence in the Pacific. I have long understood the strategic importance of the state’s status as a forward position for our military in the region. Beyond geography, Hawaii also provides a stable and supportive community. As a leading-edge base of operations in the Pacific, we could do no better, as demonstrated, for example, by the presence of PACOM in the islands.

NY Post: A new Pearl Harbor?

read … Pork, not Defense 

 

DSCC Doubles Down on Rejection of Ed Case 

NJ: In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Democratic Senatorial Committee Chair Patty Murray, accompanied by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, touted the female Democratic Senate recruits for 2012 and discussed the Senate landscape.

A few highlights from the briefing:

Hawaii: Murray made her support for Hirono, who is facing off with former Rep. Ed Case in the Hawaii primary, clear. "I'm supporting Mazie, and I believe she's going to win," said Murray.

That the DSCC is backing Hirono is no surprise. Back in August, DSCC executive director Guy Cecil accused Case of not "being honest" with a poll his campaign released.

read … Ed Who?

Planned Parenthood: Make Catholics Pay for Birth Control

SA: Hawaii is home to 41 Catholic schools and early education providers and one major Catholic university. The teachers, faculty and staff, and students at these institutions all could lose coverage of birth control care as a result of the expanded religious exemption.

ALSO AT STAKE are benefits for the hundreds of employees of two large Catholic-run nonprofits here. Nationally, the numbers are even larger, with almost 800,000 employees of Catholic hospitals and more than 2 million students and teachers at Catholic universities whose benefits would be jeopardized.

read … Reject calls to expand religious exemption on birth control

BoE Orders Audit of DoE Procurement

HTH: The governor's appointed Board of Education approved on Tuesday plans for a two-year, internal audit of the state's school system.

Among the audit's primary areas of focus will be procurement of goods and services -- an area that has been found to be ripe for abuses in past audits.

While annual audits are a regular occurrence, this marked the first time that the BOE had charged an outside auditing firm with performing a prior risk assessment "of what departmental functions are at risk for creating problems for us on an ongoing basis," said Big Island BOE representative and Vice Chairman Brian De Lima on Tuesday, shortly after the BOE approved the measure.

The risk assessment, which was performed by Honolulu-based accounting and consulting firm KMH LLP, guided the BOE's audit committee in formulating a two-year audit plan, he said, giving earliest priority to areas that had been "red-flagged" as high risk.

Foremost among those high-risk areas is the Department of Education's procurement and contracting process. A February 2009 audit of the DOE's procurement practices "revealed a lack of proper leadership and controls over the department's procurement process and a resulting indifference toward procurement compliance among department personnel," according to the report summary by State Auditor Marion M. Higa.

Related: DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior"

read … Audit the DoE

DoTax was ‘Highly Politicized’

SA: At an informational briefing Tuesday before the state Senate Ways and Means Committee and the state Senate Economic Development and Technology Committee, administration tax officials said they inherited a department that was highly politicized, had inefficient processes and inflexible and outdated functionality.

The Department of Taxation processes more than 2.4 million tax returns a year, 70 percent of them filed on paper. Tax analysts hope to reverse the practice and have 70 percent of returns filed electronically by 2014.

read … State quick to cash excise tax payments this year

Bhago on HGEA: "I can't tell them not to do it…I've never experienced this before, where we don't have the resources, per se, nor the authority ….”

The 220-page report revealed a system suffering from lack of investment and multiple inefficiencies. More specifically, the report noted a number of specific state processes that were "paper-driven in many cases" and "extraordinarily labor intensive and therefore drove users to create one-off solutions."

At that time, Bhagowalia had estimated the transformation would take eight to 10 years. He told lawmakers Tuesday he intends to submit a strategic plan to the Legislature by July 1, 2012 that will outline his goals and costs.

On Tuesday, Bhagowalia told lawmakers he's already run into some tough situations, where employees are accustomed to doing things a certain way even if it the process is arduous or creates more work in the end.

"I can't tell them not to do it, unless we give them something different," he said. "So we're in this odd area — I've never experienced this before, where we don't have the resources, per se, nor the authority in a way. But even if we did, we don't have an alternate system set up to change it, so we have to really balance this in a very careful manner." (Welcome to Hawaii, Bhago.)

Full Text: Hawaii OIMT presentation

read … HGEA Not Even Warmed Up Yet

Gov Cuts Funding for Special Ed Supplies In Budget Request

CB: Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking the Hawaii Legislature for millions of dollars less for education spending next year than the Department of Education wants. In fact, the governor's spending plan is $23 million lower than the department's.

Comparison of the district's and the governor's requests: LINK

CB: Taken For a Ride: District Wants Even More Money For Buses Next Year

read … Golden Goose

Director hired for Hawaii health insurance exchange

Hawaii's first health insurance exchange designed to provide affordable medical coverage for thousands of uninsured residents under the federal health reform law has reached a milestone: the hiring this week of an executive director.

Coral Andrews started in the position on Monday and spoke at a health forum Tuesday about how the exchange will drive down the number of uninsured from 8 percent to less than 5 percent over the next decade. (While making the coverage itself worthless.) Andrews was previously vice president for six years of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a trade association representing hospitals, long-term care and hospice providers.

Andrews was picked by an interim board of directors, which includes insurance carriers, state officials, consumers and medical providers, to lead the private nonprofit exchange. The Hawaii Health Connector is funded in part by state appropriations, federal grants and private contributions.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week awarded the state $14.4 million to establish the online marketplace aimed at providing affordable health plans to individuals and small businesses with 50 employees or less.

What this is about: Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act

read … Kiss Prepaid Goodbye

Laotian Workers Suffer Health and Financial Problems on Oahu Farms

HR: Alay Tansili left his family and home in Vientiane, Laos, in 2006 and moved to Hawaii after his wife encouraged him to seek a job in America. Like many Laotians in that impoverished country, Alay and his family believed America to be the land of opportunity, a safe place to work and make enough money in a year or two to pull the family out of poverty forever.

He never dreamed that just five years later at age 46 he'd be confined to a bed in the hospital after suffering a debilitating stroke, facing the possibility that he'd never walk again, and in the middle of a tug of war with his employer and his attorney over whether he should be forced to return home while he's unable to care for himself.

Alay's story is shared by many Laotians now secretly working on farms in Hawaii….

read … Laotian Workers Suffer Health and Financial Problems on Oahu Farms

Honolulu Panel: Property Tax Exemptions Unfair

CB: Kalapa, executive director and president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii since 1979, says he believes the Council created the Commission to relieve the political pressure that comes with tax changes.

"It's obvious that politicians don't want to take the heat," he said.

The recommendations will, according to Kalapa, advocate for the elimination or reduction of a number of exemptions, including those for homeowners, second homes, historic homes and nonprofit organizations, including religious institutions. He said the goal is to maximize "equity and efficiency" in the system, and one way to do that is to end the practice of having renters subsidize owners, young families subsidize retirees, or businesses subsidize residences.

Cutting a slew of exemptions might mean higher tax bills for many citizens, but it should make it possible for others to avoid hikes despite tough financial times.

"We do not believe that the recommendations we're making should give Council license to just generate additional money. …."

Granting some taxpayers total exemptions "breaks the accountability relationship" and disconnects them from a feeling of responsibility for the government services they receive.

Kalapa: Vitality of County Depends on Everyone Paying Their Share

read … Property Tax

Last Ditch Effort to Water down Sidewalk Property Ban

CB: St. Petersburg's ordinance applies only to abandoned property, while the Honolulu bill covers stored belongings, both attended and unattended. If adopted and enforced, the Honolulu bill would bar people from staying in tents on sidewalks, for example, which is part of the reason it's drawn fire from the Occupy Honolulu protest group….

The proposal is up for a final vote Wednesday. The Honolulu City Council meeting begins at 10 a.m., and Bill 54 is the first item on the agenda.

read … ACLU is Next 

Taxpayers sacrifice, not politicians or union workers

MN: Earlier this year, Hawaii Government Employees Association and the state and counties agreed to a 5 percent pay cut, 50/50 on health insurance premiums and an additional six hours of paid time off.

You would think that should help in lowering the operating cost of government.

Except Maui County and HGEA modified the agreement to no cuts in pay, maintain 60/40 split in health insurance premiums and no additional six hours of paid time off.

To make the water muddier, HGEA is now calling to reopen the contract because it felt that UPW got a better deal. So what happens to the Maui County/HGEA supplemental agreement?

In any event, whatever agreement is reached between the state/counties and unions, it will not negatively affect the employees of this county as evidenced by the earlier supplemental agreement.

Unfortunately, the property owners had their taxes increased to cover the loss of revenues due to property values decreasing.

read … The Reality for a Change

Honolulu Roads to be Repaved after 21 Years

KHON: The city announced the $11.5 million project on Tuesday by holding a press conference in Hawaii Kai on Kuliouou Road, a major thoroughfare that hasn’t been repaved since 1990.

“The only thing I've seen is like the patch, where they do the little patches and stuff, but actually it just creates more bumps,” said Eric Weber, an East Oahu resident for the past twelve years.

All of the roads scheduled for refurbishment are currently rated in “poor” condition. East Honolulu Councilman Stanley Chang said a majority of the complaints his office receives deals with the condition of roadways.

“We do have the second worst roads in the country here in Honolulu,” said Chang.

read … 21 years of neglect

Kekaha public housing residents go from ‘paradise to living hell’

Henri Carnal, a resident for nearly 12 years, had one of the last awnings remaining, but he said it would be coming down — he was told it was in violation of the HPHA lease agreement. The awning rested as the centerpiece over Carnal’s doorway and covered some chairs with tall bushes on both sides.

“This is Kekaha,” Carnal said, referring to the daily sun and heat.

A retired union organizer, Carnal said he understands that the small group cannot make a difference without a much larger voice from the residents. He said the resident advisory board has not proved effective on this matter.

Carnal is most upset that the HPHA justified the loss of green space to install a septic system that won’t depreciate before the buildings are on the county sewer line within five years. He said the response was, “Do you want trees or do you want septic?”

Read … Government Planning

Eric Ryan’s Latest Vendetta (Yawn)

CB: Ryan, who was fired by Berg in July, backs up his allegations largely with internal emails. In one, for example, Berg instructed his staff to wear their "Team Berg" shirts to official events. In another, a staffer said her Team Berg shirt "is part of my regular attire nowdays (sic)."

Berg's expenditure reports indicate that taxpayers paid for some of these items. In Fiscal Year 2010-2011 (XLS), Berg spent $207.30 of his Council allowance on "Banners and grommets for Town Hall Meeting at Ma'o Organic Farm," and another $206.70 for T-shirts for that same meeting. In Fiscal Year 2011-2012 (XLS), he spent another $483.27 on a banner and grommets for a Town Hall meeting.

But that's hardly proof of law-breaking or even ethical missteps. Council members are permitted to communicate with their constituents and to solicit feedback from them.

read … More Eric Ryan Crap

IRS has $1M tax lien on Guirguis

GPDN: Hawaii businessman Wagdy Guirguis, who has been trying to build a new landfill on leased public land in Santa Rita, allegedly owes the federal government nearly $1 million in employee payroll taxes, according to documents filed in Hawaii.

The Internal Revenue Service on Oct. 19 filed a $940,856 tax lien against Guirguis' property, alleging he owes employee payroll taxes dating back to March 1999….

Guirguis is president of Guam Resource Recovery Partners, which has been leasing 87 acres of Chamorro Land Trust Property in the Guatali area of Santa Rita since December 2002. The company plans to build a landfill there and currently is going through a government permitting process.

read … Hawaii, Business, Landfill, Tax Lien. It all makes sense

Biofuel to Power Navy Exercise

MP: The U.S. Navy will employ a biofuel blend to power aircraft and most vessels participating in a maritime exercise that's slated to be conducted near Hawaii next summer, senior officials told reporters today.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a conference call with reporters this morning to discuss a contract the Defense Logistics Agency announced last week for 450,000 gallons of biofuel that will power a Navy carrier group during a maritime exercise next summer.

The contract is the largest government purchase of biofuel in history, and provides $12 million to suppliers Solazyme and Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture of Tyson Foods, Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation.

Solazyme's biofuel is algae-based, Mabus explained, while Dynamic's is made from used cooking oil and non-food-grade animal fats.

KHON: Hawaii business runs on solar power

read … Biofuels

CB Continues Styrofoam War on Restaurant Industry

About the author: Rachel Harvey is a volunteer for Kanu Hawaii and Kokua Hawaii Foundation. She recently finisher her PhD in anthropology and is interested in community sustainability projects. When Rachel moved to Kailua in 2010, one of the first things she noticed was the insidious presence of micro-plastics and marine debris on the beach.

(Where do they make these people? We must find the point of manufacture and send them back for a refund.)

read … More anti-Styrofoam Drivel

Kilauea’s History of Explosive Eruptions

SF Chron: Swanson and his colleagues have just completed a fresh look at Kilauea's worst eruption in history, which killed uncounted numbers of Hawaiian people in November 1790.

They described what's known about that eruption in a poster presentation for the meeting here.

According to sketchy accounts in local folklore, and a missionary's description from 1843, the volcano's summit exploded as a local chief named Keôua led three groups of warriors and their families across the summit on their way to battle King Kamehameha, Keôua's cousin, for supremacy over the island.

One of the three groups was annihilated, there were casualties in another, and the third suffered only a few injuries.

Remains of the bodies found afterward suggests that a dilute mixture of hot gas and volcanic ash moving at hurricane speed engulfed the victims, Swanson said.

Read … Footprints in the Ash


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