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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
December 13, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:45 PM :: 11170 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

What to Do about Drug Shortages

$149M: Inouye Makes Hirono #1 Sponsor of Earmarks in US House for 2010

Curtis: HECO has Failed to Look at Alternatives to Big Wind, Should be Denied Rate Hikes to Cover Costs

As rooftop solar surges, states hit brakes

VIDEO: Jones Act Impact on Hawaii Business

Drunken Abercrombie assistant fined for refusing to leave Waikiki bar

Tim McBroom, 34, a special assistant to the governor, was arrested for refusing to leave a Kuhio Avenue bar at about 2:40 a.m. Sept. 17, according to police. By definition, the charge involves a person who is intoxicated and refuses to leave a licensed liquor establishment.

It is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

McBroom pleaded no contest Monday before District Judge Faye Koyanagi and was fined $75 and ordered to pay court fees of $30.

McBroom also was granted a deferred acceptance of his plea despite objections from a city deputy prosecutor. Under such a misdemeanor deferred plea, the charge will be erased from his record if he does not run afoul of the law for six months. (Wipe the record like they do for all Democrat politicos. Does anybody know how many deferred acceptances there are in the House? the Senate? Sen J Kalani “Powdernose” English comes to mind.)

McBroom previously served on Abercrombie's congressional staff and also spent time working with Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He is considered a logistical assistant to the governor and his staff

read … Abercrombie

Hawaii 5-0 Crew Insults Pearl Harbor Survivors at Punchbowl

HR: Walter Maciejowski, 90, from Massachusetts soon caught up and I quickly tried to run interference so he wouldn't get yelled at as he stood there in his cream-colored Pearl Harbor Survivors cap. Walter was clueless and was just amazed at the technology. He whispered in my ear as the scene was about to begin 75 yards away. We both stood exactly where the director had told me to stand.

Two minutes later, another guy with an earpiece came up and simply asked us to leave. Period. He was polite, and I politely retorted: "This is a public place and its Pearl Harbor week. These men have made it possible for you to shoot here today. Plus, this is where your director placed us."

He told me he agreed but to please leave with Walter. Oh, he did offer to get us a water or soda to enjoy as we left. We declined.

I told Walter we had to go, and we started to walk away as lead actor Alex O'Laughlin and Terry O'Quinn from Lost did their scene. As we moved out, yet another woman came up to us and with a fake smile told us Walter couldn't take any pictures.

"Our actors get very skittish around still cameras, sir."

"Funny, and yet they act in front of them," I said, ticked off because we were already leaving.

I wish he hadn’t done it, but Walter asked if they by chance had a hat for him. To his face, she said, "I doubt it but I will try." She never did.

We continued to walk down the road and now 300 yards from where we had stopped previously. At that moment, yet another production assistant, this one in his 20s and with frizzy blonde hair, told us we couldn't stand near the graves because we were in "the line of sight" of the actors. This was physically impossible. We were back near the podium where our ceremony had been held, and oh, we were behind a tree. I let this kid have it with a few select, powerful adult words and basically told him what he could tell his director. I give you my word we were NEVER in the way, NEVER loud and followed every instruction.

It gets worse.

The TGGF program had brought 24 red roses to place at the gravesites on the opposite side of the Punchbowl. The program crew actually had one of their men wearing a backpack and earplug walk through – infiltrate – our rose-laying ceremony hushing everyone.

KHON: Vets felt disrespected by Hawaii Five-0 crew

SA: Veterans group in tiff with 'Five-0' crew

read … CBS Hawaii Five-O Crew Disses Pearl Harbor Survivors: A Disgrace at Punchbowl

OHA: Hilo Meeting on Settlement is “Contentious”

The Hilo meeting on Saturday was described by OHA officials as "contentious," with many who showed up opposing the $200 million deal.

In a story on the Maui meeting, the Maui News reported that some of the 50 people who showed up expressed "anger and distrust" with OHA.

read … Few Turn Out For Meeting On Kakaako OHA Deal

OHA Fails to Elect Replacement for Mossman, Kicks Decision to Abercrombie

MN: At Monday's board meeting, 24-year-old University of Hawaii graduate Mark Kaniela Ing garnered the most votes, and drew the attention of trustees who said they wanted to see more young people represented on the board, but he fell one vote short of the required six.

Alu Like manager, taro farmer and Hui o Na Wai Eha founder Rose Marie Hooulunahui Duey, and noted Hawaiian music vocalist, real estate broker and former county employee Carmen Kahulumealani "Hulu" Lindsey, each garnered one vote. Development consultant, former A&B executive and nonprofit board member Mercer "Chubby" Vicens was eliminated after several rounds of voting.

It was the second time the OHA board was unable to decide on Mossman's successor. At a meeting last month in Honolulu, Vicens received five votes, while Duey won two. Trustees decided to reopen the list to more nominees and schedule Monday's follow-up meeting to hear from Maui residents.

Both Duey and Vicens said they planned to run as candidates for the seat in the 2012 general election.

"All of the people here talked me into it," Duey said, gesturing to the crowd of supporters behind her. "I know they're on my side."

"I believe in the cause," Vicens said.

But Lindsey said she would not run against an incumbent for the seat, and Ing said he has already made plans to run for the state House of Representatives.

read … Governor to appoint Mossman’s successor

Survey: 41% say “Arrest Ritte”

MN: What's your opinion of the tactics used by protesters on Molokai who blocked a cruise ship from entering the harbor?

41% say “Disagree with their goals and their tactics; anyone blocking the harbor should be arrested”

read … Maui News Survey

Judge refuses to Boot Cayetano, Others from Rail Case

Tashima called that argument "premature" in his ruling, pointing out the city still has not produced a complete record of the administrative proceedings for the rail project.

Without that administrative record, Tashima wrote that it is impossible for him to determine whether Cayetano and the others participated in the administrative process.

The city has said it is compiling up to 500,000 pages of documents that make up the administrative record for the rail project, and is expected to deliver that record to the court and to rail opponents next month….

"Now it is very, very obvious that the city is trying to grind us down," Slater said. "There is no other reason to file in that manner." Slater has said the city is trying to delay the court case and run up legal fees for the critics while the city pushes ahead with the project.

Cayetano called the motion to dismiss him and the others from the lawsuit "a total waste of time."

"I think they knew as well as we did that they had little chance of winning that motion, and we had to spend attorneys' fees just to rebut the motion," Cayetano said. "The way we look at it is, it was a waste of the taxpayers' money because our money is raised from private sources. They're being paid by the taxpayers."

HR: Federal Judge Rules for Group Challenging City Rail Project

read … Opponents allowed to contest rail project

Bert Kobayashi is Author of Secret Study Approving Ansaldo Bond

ILind: Honolulu’s rail transit authority says it will not publicly disclose an “independent, third-party” review of $361 million of bond guarantees provided by Ansaldo Honolulu JV, which was awarded the project’s core systems contract at the end of last month.

The review was requested by several members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board prior to the final vote on the contract in light of public questions about the financial stability of the contractor, a joint venture formed by two subsidiaries of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica.

The review was conducted by the law firm of Kobayashi Sugita & Goda, which has received substantial amounts of city legal business in recent years….

The only document made public was a letter from the law firm consisting of a single paragraph reiterating its conclusion….

read … Old Boy Coverup

Tokuda: Education Reform Depends on Legislature Voting to Restrict its own Powers

CB: Expect to see a move toward a broad cultural shift, education committee leaders said, one that gives more power to the Board of Education and front-line decision-makers like complex area superintendents.

Bigger-picture changes that may be in store for the Hawaii Department of Education would come in the form of "statutory cleanup," as Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda calls it.

Over the summer and fall, her office performed an audit of the laws covering charter schools as well as the regular public school system. The result is a package of bills attempting to streamline educational decision-making — which in many cases may mean taking the Legislature out of the process.

"It's basically taking us away from legislating into the weeds in our educational system, and instead honoring our constitutional mandate that the Board of Education will set educational policy," Tokuda said.

If successful, these cleanup bills will be part of a broad cultural shift in the Department of Education, for the policymakers to stop micromanaging and put decisions in the hands of those best equipped to make them — supposedly those on the front lines of teaching and running schools.

Tokuda plans to propose a similar but more dramatic cleanup for the charter school system, based on the results of the Charter School Governance Task Force she co-chaired with Rep. Della Au Belatti over the summer and fall. The task force last week recommended a complete overhaul of the authority structure for charter schools.

SA: Charter school plan is progress

read … Legislature to Disempower itself

Scathing Audit: Honolulu Ambulance Service Lacking

CB: A scathing audit released earlier this month says that despite millions of dollars in overtime pay in recent years, city ambulances have still struggled to respond quickly to emergency calls.

The audit says just three of 21 ambulance units met response time guidelines between Fiscal Years 2008 and 2010, and each of those only cleared the bar in one of three years.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Department of Emergency Services paid out nearly $16 million in overtime during that stretch — a significant portion of the $95 million the department spent on total operations. In the worst examples, some workers were earning between 200 percent and 350 percent of their regular salaries in overtime.

read … Audit 

The Supernova Syndrome

Marco Mangelsdorf: In astronomy as a star enters its nova phase, it can expand exponentially and burn thousands of times brighter for a relatively brief time before shrinking back to a much smaller dwarf state. Given what’s happening in the solar electric industry in Hawaii, if not much of the Mainland as well, it can be argued that we are now witnessing the supernova state of the photovoltaic industry where generous government subsidies and a manic mania for megawatts is causing an unsustainable feeding frenzy that may ramp down as dramatically as it went up.

With the local PV industry having yet another banner year, near record high electric rates and the state more committed than ever to bringing more renewable energy on line, how can that be?

There are a number of reasons, including decreased government incentives, an increasing number of saturated electric grid circuits and the unsustainable level of PV peddlers now in the market….

Since 2009 the IRS has allowed businesses which purchase or invest in commercial PV systems the ability to receive something even more valuable than the 30 percent of the cost of the system federal tax credit: 30 percent cash back in the form of a check from the treasury within 60 days after completion of the project. This incentive has proved to be huge over the past three years as small and large companies, banks, investment groups and multi-billion dollar corporations dove into the PV systems ownership game enticed by the grant in lieu of tax credit.

With practically no likelihood of that grant being extended by Congress beyond its expiration date at the end of this year, this incentive will disappear January 1 and so will a major factor that has sparked the explosion of commercial solar electric projects here and on the Mainland. Yes, the 30 percent federal tax credit will still be available through 2016. But a credit pales beside cash back and will likely lead to a noticeable drop in commercial PV projects, which make up the bulk of installed solar kilowatts in the state.

Along with the federal grant and tax credit, another critical part of the equation for purchasers of or investors in PV systems has been the generous 35 percent (or 24.5 percent if a rebate is preferred) state tax credit. Every year over the past handful of years there have been efforts in the state legislature to modify or reduce or put a sunset date on this tax credit. And every year the renewable energy industry and its supporters have rallied to defeat such efforts….

Five years ago there were less than a dozen pure PV companies in the state which focused exclusively on selling and installing solar electric systems. Now, by one count, there are more than 150 trying to grab their piece of the PV pie.

News Release: Hawaii homeowner to earn more than $15,000 a year with Oahu's FIRST residential feed-in tariff system

Related: As rooftop solar surges, states hit brakes

read … Solar Power in Hawaii

Real Life Version of "The Descendants" Now Playing In Court

HR: Two Damon Estate beneficiaries, Christopher Damon Haig and Myrna Murdoch, continue to press claims that trustees of the estate may have mishandled estate assets and are demanding that fuller financial disclosures be made to beneficiaries.

One of the trustees they have targeted, David Haig, is the brother of Christopher Haig and the ex-husband of Murdoch.

Virtually all that’s left of the estate is some $30 million held in reserve pending resolution of the objections from Murdoch and Haig, which have been under dispute for eight years.

In a recent court hearing, Probate Court Judge Derrick Chan refused to order the trustees to turn over additional material to Murdoch and Christopher Haig, saying he wants to wait for a report on Estate finances to be completed by mid-February.

The report will be written by former Circuit Judge Gail Nakatani, appointed by Chan as a court “master” to review Damon Estate financial accounts for the period 1999-2004.

The work of a previous independent “master” who reviewed those same accounts, private attorney James Kawachika, was rejected by the Hawaii Supreme Court in late 2008.

The high court upheld a claim by Christopher Damon Haig that Kawachika had been in a conflict of interest when he when he worked as the master because his law firm also represented the estate in other legal matters.

read … Damon Estate

DHHL Pretends to try to tackle waiting list

HTH: Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Alapaki Nahale-a said he department has invited the 100 Big Island beneficiaries who have been waiting more than 40 years to meet with him this week in Waimea and Hilo.

At these meetings, Nahale-a will give the community information on what DHHL is calling the "Kauhale Pilot Project," an initiative to knock down the long list of wait-listed residential applicants, which number more than 5,000 on the Big Island alone.

"This week we're going to Hawaii Island to meet with the 100 homestead beneficiaries who have been on the wait list the longest," Nahale-a said Monday morning in a conference call with reporters. "So by taking the 'top 100,' we're calling it, we're actually going to be talking with families that have been on the wait list for more than 40 years; some of them more than 50 years.

"So our goal is to really reach out, meet with them face to face, and try to find out, what are their obstacles and barriers to taking advantage of their opportunity that Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole (Hawaii's second congressional delegate and author of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act) left for them," he said.

SA: Homelands plan aimed at long-waiting applicants

read … DHHL tries to tackle waiting list

Property Tax Changes on deck for Kauai

KGI: County officials recently announced changes in two of the county’s real property tax relief programs — the circuit breaker and home exemption programs — are now in effect.

Homeowners in the home exemption program could be eligible for an additional $80,000 exemption, depending on their income, after the Kaua‘i County Council passed Bill 2416, setting the exemption.

But this additional exemption will likely get a 50 percent boost.

Bill 2417, which last week cleared the council’s Finance Committee, will be heard Wednesday by the full council. If the bill is approved, the additional home exemption will increase to $120,000.

Bill 2417 also gives the county a tool to assess properties based on use rather than zoning, according to county Deputy Finance Director Sally Motta.

Residents living on commercially zoned lands may see their property taxes drop in the next fiscal year, and the county may collect more taxes from businesses operating on agricultural or residential zoned lands.

read … Property Tax

Video: Representative Cynthia Thielen and Jay Fidell discuss Wave Energy 2011 

Representative Cynthia Thielen and Jay Fidell discuss Wave Energy 2011. Rep. Thielen returned from a conference in Europe and shares the latest news.

View … YouTube Video

Full Text: Sidewalk Property Ordinance

ORD11-029 RELATING TO STORED PROPERTY TO ESTABLISH A PROCEDURE FOR THE REMOVAL AND DISPOSAL OF PERSONAL PROPERTY STORED ON PUBLIC PROPERTY.

Read … Full Text

Hawaii Pimp Gets 10 Years For Child Sex-Trafficking

CB: On Monday, a federal judge sentenced a pimp to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor by force.

Quadralis Watson, 28, had five women between the ages of 14 and 20 under his employ in 2007 and 2008. He admitted to having sex with the 14-year-old and beating her multiple times, once locking her in the trunk of a car for five hours.

Watson had a long history of crime in Honolulu and was arrested on drug charges in Georgia when federal agents caught up with him. He'd been arrested 73 times for theft, harassment and prostitution, among other charges.

read … Only 10 years

How Ranked-Choice Voting Silenced 31,500 Voters

Sixteen percent of San Francisco voters who filled out their ballots correctly and completely -- more than 31,500 people -- did not have a say in the final outcome of the city's mayoral race, according to The Bay Citizen's analysis of election results.

Their ballots were discarded or exhausted, because they did not list either Ed Lee, the eventual winner, or runner-up John Avalos as one of their top three candidates. Unlike other cities, San Francisco does not allow voters to rank all the candidates on the ballot.

The analysis renews questions about the fairness of the city's ranked-choice voting system at a time when supervisors are considering repealing it.

read … The Bay Citizen

NEW ATTACKS ON THE JONES ACT 

Colton Company: There's a long article in the Journal of Commerce this week about Puerto Rican efforts to roll back the Jones Act. (You have to be a subscriber to read it.) Today we have a similar article from American Shipper, reproduced in the Hawaii Free Press. Read it here. And just yesterday we read about fuel oil being imported to Nome AK in a Russian ship, because no Jones Act operator can get there. One can hardly blame the Puerto Ricans and Hawaiians and Alaskans for being frustrated, but surely the solution is not to roll back the Jones Act, it's to revitalize it, with modern ships, efficiently crewed and competently managed. Now that would be something for MARAD to do, instead of piddling around with coastal shipping, which won't happen unless the big trucking companies want it to happen. December 10, 2011.

APR: Russian Icebreaker to Make History in Alaska 

Link: Colton Company

WaPo: Dan Akaka Demands to Know Why Teenagers Can’t Buy Abortion Pills without Prescription

Fourteen members of the Senate Democratic caucus led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday penned a letter to Sebelius asking for the scientific basis for her move last week to overrule Food and Drug Administrator Margaret A. Hamburg’s decision to make Plan B One-Step available to people of all ages without a prescription.

“We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science. ... We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence,” the senators wrote to Sebelius.

In addition to Murray, the other Senate Democrats signing onto the letter are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Carl Levin (Mich.), John Kerry (Mass.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Al Franken (Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Senate Democrats, also signed the letter.

read … Abortion for sale, cheap

Hirono Still Trying to use Micronesians to Score more Bucks

ST: Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP) and four other U.S. House of Representatives members have asked for a hearing on a recently released U.S. Government Accountability Office report that cited “weaknesses” in territories' collection and reporting on the impact of migration from the Freely Associated States….

“GAO recommended improvements in how the Interior Department and the U.S. insular areas account for these Compact impact costs and noted the discrepancy between reported costs and compensation,” Sablan said. “A hearing will provide further opportunity to make sure that the insular areas do not bear an undue burden from federal agreements with our neighbors in the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.”

Sablan was joined by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, American Samoa Delegate Eni Faleomavaega and Hawaii Rep. Mazie Hirono.

read … Money, money, money

Hawaii-based soldiers to return from Iraq

Hawaii-based leaders of the 25th Infantry Division are scheduled to return from Iraq this weekend after a year-long deployment.

The leaders are coming home on Sunday as the U.S. as the last American troops leave the country.

read … Leaving Iraq


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