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Thursday, April 05, 2012
April 5, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:25 PM :: 14453 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

U.S. Senator Susan Collins Visits Hawaii

Guam Legislator Calls for Exemption from US-Build Provisions of Jones Act

Rep Kymberly Pine Running for Honolulu City Council

Hirono Supporters Worry about Candidate’s Ability to Go One-on-One vs Lingle

ILind: While Hirono is widely considered the frontrunner, there are also many whispered doubts about her ability as a campaigner. Hirono often seems formal and uncomfortable, and lacks that personal “spark” that makes some candidates shine in more intimate campaign settings. Hirono and her supporters point to the impressive list of endorsements she has been accumulating, but those don’t translate directly into a win at the polls. And even supporters worry about her ability to go one-on-one with Linda Lingle should she become the party’s nominee, recalling the 2002 gubernatorial election, when Hirono narrowly defeated Case in the Democratic primary, but was beaten by Lingle in the general election….

UHPA set a new standard in transparency in union endorsements by making videos of candidate interviews publicly available via YouTube (just search for UHPA) and on its own web site, FacultyVotes.org. Unfortunately, the videos have drawn very few viewers to date,

read … Whispered Doubts

Lingle: Pro-choice Republican women Needed in Senate

Lingle: It pains me deeply to see members of my own party attempting to legislate women's health and contraception choices. Throughout my years of public service, I have listened with great interest to both sides of these often controversial issues. The positions taken were argued with equivalent passion and effectiveness. But I have always been an ardent supporter of women's rights, including a woman's right to choose.

In holding this position, I have continued to respect the deeply-held, diverse beliefs of colleagues and supporters, and others who oppose "choice", but my position has never changed.

These discussions are too important to be subject to election-year jabs slung by both political parties. Additionally, it is both insulting and ridiculous to assume that such a significant group of influential voters focuses their attention only on one set of issues.

read … Women

Inouye, Muslims Raise Money for Michigan Democrat Senate Candidate

Sen. Daniel Inouye’s trip to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., this week wasn’t just a cultural stopover. The senator was there to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, a spokesman for Inouye told DC808.

The vast majority of guests were members of the Arab American community, and they paid up to $5,000 a head. Hassan Jaber, the CEO of Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) introduced Inouye to attendees.

Related: Inouye, Wife Visit Arab-American Museum

read … Inouye, Muslims

SA: Legislators Should Let Housing Authority Ban Smoking in Public Housing

SA: And the imposition doesn't even appear to be necessary at this point. Hakim ‘Islam Day’ Ouansafi, the recently appointed HPHA executive director, has testified that the new administration supports smoking restrictions but underscored that they fall within the purview of the HPHA board, which should be given the space to develop them.

If any bill is passed, HPHA favors the first revision, House Draft 1, which bans smoking in enclosed or partially enclosed common areas. Leaving this governance issue to the board, Ouansafi said in his prepared testimony, "would allow us to incorporate participation from the Department of Health, our Resident Advisory Board, property management staff, public hearings and the tenants that would be directly impacted by

Ignore this: Smoking is banned under Shariah (that’s just a coincidence, really and you’re a bigot if you even think about this.)

read … Let HPHA Do It

April 6 is ‘Tax Freedom Day’ in Hawaii

SA: Hawaii residents can celebrate Tax Freedom Day tomorrow, April 6, well ahead of the national average day April 17.

Tax Freedom Day, according to the national Tax Foundation, is the date by which workers will have earned enough money to pay the current year's tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels.

This year Hawaii will have the 8th-earliest Tax Freedom Day of all 50 states, according to the group.

read … 8th earliest

Abercrombie to Steal $200M from Hawaiians, Give 30 ac to OHA Trustees

AP: Gov. Neil Abercrombie will put his signature on a historic $200 million settlement between the state and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on Wednesday.

The ceremony will take place at Washington Place, the former home of Hawaii's last reigning monarch Queen Liliuokalani.

read … Abercrombie

Hurried House Rushes 13 Bills to Hearing

CB: It’s not unusual for legislators to waive a 48-hour notice requirement in order to schedule hearings for bills.

It is unusual, however, to waive the requirement for 13 bills all at once, which is exactly what the state House of Representatives did Wednesday (April 4).

The hearing for the bills in House Finance began at 2:30 p.m. But the electronic notice went out just an hour prior to that time, while hard copy postings at the Capitol were date-stamped 1:20 p.m.

Thursday (April 5) is decking day at the Hawaii Legislature ….

read … Hurried House Rushes 13 Bills to Hearing

Ernie Martin: Honolulu Will Move Bag Tax

CB: City Council Chair Ernie Martin has talked to folks in the Hawaii Senate and House of Representatives and isn’t convinced they’ll be able to get it done, so he wants the city to just take care of the plastic bag ban itself.

“I don’t think they’re going to move this forward,” he said of the House specifically. If it makes it into conference committee, “it’s going to be a very tough sell.”

Martin wants the Public Works and Sustainability Committee to advance the bill out for final reading later this month at the full council.

SA: Council clears bill to ban plastic bags -- eventually

read … Doubting State, Honolulu Moves To Add Bag Fee

Honolulu Budget panel Decides Horses are Agricultural: OKs restoration of tax breaks for horse owners

SA: Horse owners and stable operators testified that their livelihood and their ability to own horses are being jeopardized because of a bill approved by the Council last year designed to curb the practice of "gentlemen's farms," properties where no actual agriculture is occurring. The bill inadvertently excluded horse boarding and stabling from the definition of "agricultural use," making such uses ineligible for agricultural dedication, which provides substantial tax breaks.

Bill 12, introduced by Windward Councilman Ikaika Anderson, would include "horse boarding and stabling" in the legal definition of "agricultural use." Bill 30, also introduced by Anderson, would repeal the current law, which severely curtailed the number of lot owners eligible for agricultural dedication breaks.

read … Horses are Agricultural

Abercrombie: No Declaration for Annual Hawaii Prayer Day

SBH News: No Prayers For You. Sponsors of the Annual Prayer Day in Hawaii were surprised to learn that Governor Neil Abercrombie has declined to issue a certificate this year declaring a day of prayer. He did issue a proclamation last year but not this time. Pray for the Gov.

read … Abercrombie

Pacific Palisades Shooter Was Watch Commander at Wahiawa Prison

SA: Damon Pavao, a watch commander at the minimum security facility, is charged with first-degree reckless endangering, promotion of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. …

Police closed the only access to Pacific Palisades for two hours while they negotiated with Pavao on the night of March 28.

Pavao has been with the Department of Public Safety since 1998, according to its director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and elevated to lieutenant last year.

She said Pavao is considered "a reliable individual" and is responsible for overseeing the adult correctional officers at Waiawa. He was placed on unpaid leave pending an internal investigation.

read … ‘A reliable individual’

Oi: Thielen is type of Candidate Democrats Need

Oi: The Hawaii Democratic Party did itself and voters no favor in rejecting Laura Thielen’s request to become a member in good standing so she could run for office under its banner.

But she was also Lingle’s point person in the former governor’s effort to dismantle the state Department of Education and replace the Board of Education with local school boards, a proposal that did not sit well with the status-quo leadership at the state Capitol.

If Thielen had been granted the exemption, she would have set up a primary challenge against an incumbent Democratic loyalist….

If there’s more to the rebuff than letters in the political alphabet, it may be that Thielen’s D stands for “different.” She may be someone less likely to toe the line, more likely to shake the existing state of affairs, to seek to change it. Which is what the Hawaii Democratic Party really needs at this point.

Right now, the D that once stood for its diversity and dynamic spirit is now fixed in dormancy….

read … Thielen is type of candidate Hawaii Democrats need

Enviros Prepare to Destroy Tuna Farm

WHT: All 23 were negative. Twenty-one of the letter writers called for a public hearing.

On Wednesday, DOH officials announced they’d awarded the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. No public hearing was ever held.

“They choose to disregard the wishes of the people who live here,” Kohala Ranch Association President Karl Delaney said. “They’re just going to steam ahead.”

Delaney said the association’s board will have to decide what the organization’s next step is.

“We’ll be looking at whether we have any other legal recourse,” he added.

Hawaiian Oceanic Technology Inc. has proposed an ahi farm 2.6 miles off Malae Point, in North Kohala.

read ... Already Dead

Sen Roz Baker Makes Excuses for Vacation Rental Bill

Roz Baker: Last Friday, CPN passed out HB2078 with amendments that make it clear that existing laws like the Landlord-Tenant Code apply to these vacation rentals. This version HB2078, SD2 gets rid of the requirement that owners living out of state or on another island use a licensed rental agent to manage their properties. However, any owner that does not reside on the same island as the rental property must designate someone on-island to act as a local point of contact. This requirement already exists in the Landlord-Tenant Code but there has been some uncertainty regarding its applicability to these rental properties. Including this provision in the bill is important to ensure that our visitors have someone they can call in case of an emergency or if they need any kind of assistance. This bill would also require that the contact information for the local contact person be provided to the appropriate condominium, apartment or planned community association. Often times, these associations are left with the burden of dealing with unhappy visitors in need of assistance when it is the owner’s obligation to provide that assistance. This provision will help remedy that situation.

The vacation rentals, subject to this legislation, present a particularly difficult GET/TAT enforcement problem for the Department of Taxation. Amendments made to HB2078 help to remedy that problem. For instance, homeowner associations and the counties will be required to submit an owner’s relevant information to the Department of Taxation. This applies to all owners of these transient accommodations, even owners residing on the same island as their property.

read … Roz Baker

Improvements at Kewalo may hinge on public-private partnership

KITV: Almar, which operates or owns 15 other harbors in Hawaii and California, has been operating Kewalo since March 2009. The company turned a perennial loser into a moneymaker that averaged $700,000 profit over each of the past three years.

"The harbor was losing about $35,000 to $40,000 a month when we got here, (and) we're now making quite a bit more than that," said Charles Barclay, an Almar employee who doubles as the harbormaster at Kewalo.

Under a proposed 50-year lease, Almar would raise $18 million of capital to increase the number of slips at Kewalo by a hundred to 243. The project would also feature new fuel and maintenance docks, as well as two wave fences or attenuators in order to calm surges from south swells….

When HCDA took ownership of the harbor, only 40 percent of the 143 available slips were being utilized. Three years later, the harbor is filled to capacity, in large part because HCDA welcomed pleasure and recreational vessels.

read … Kewalo

Hawaii SB2168 Will Activate Nationwide Reinsurance Tax Clearinghouse

Lexology: In connection with the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act of 2010 of the Dodd-Frank Act (the “NRRA”), the legislatures of Wisconsin (SB 378), Colorado (HB 1215), Wyoming (HB 15), and Hawaii (SB 2168) have introduced bills to establish requirements that are consistent with the federal law for surplus lines insurers doing business in each of these states. Although California has not yet enacted similar legislation, the California Senate has introduced a bill (SB 716) declaring “the intent of the Legislature to reconcile California surplus lines and reinsurance law with the recent changes to federal law to minimize any possibly adverse effects of preemption” by the NRRA.

While Wisconsin’s and Colorado’s bills do not reference the surplus lines proposals approved by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators and National Association of Insurance Commissioners (SLIMPACT and NIMA, respectively), Hawaii’s bill is expressly modeled after SLIMPACT, stating the legislature’s intent to become the tenth state to enact SLIMPACT legislation. Upon passage of SLIMPACT by ten states, the compact would be effectuated for tax clearinghouse and rulemaking purposes. Additionally, Wyoming and Hawaii already participate in multi-state cooperatives under NIMA for the purpose of collecting surplus lines insurance premium taxes and fees and distributing those taxes and fees to the proper states.

read … Lexology

HB2703 Directs Dept of Ag to Maintain Count of Local Grown Food

KHON: HB 2703 requires the Department of Agriculture to measure and analyze the food grown and sold in Hawaii annually. The department would then work with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to identify key food commodities and help increase their market shares.

The bill will likely be voted on by the full Senate next week.

PBN: Does 'Oprah’s Farm' mean Winfrey’s moving to Maui?

read … HB2703

State senators table workers comp bill

HNN: A bill has been set aside in the Hawaii Senate that would have changed the rules of workers comp cases by eliminating independent medical examinations.

The Senate Ways & Means Committee tabled HB466, sponsored by House Labor Chairman Karl Rhoads, which drew opposition from experts in the workers comp field in addition to the usual opposition of the business community.

Sen. David Ige, chairman of the committee, called for a study to assess the issue of alleged bias in independent medical examinations, and drew praise for the proposal.

"This is a constructive, logical, and intellectually sound approach to a complex, emotionally charged issue," said Maui-based neurologist Lorne Direnfeld, who submitted written testimony against the bill.

Hawaii has lower workers comp costs than many other states. The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii said costs would be raised, and jobs jeopardized, by new rules obliging employee and employer to agree on a physician or face a state official choosing a doctor from a list. Costs did rise in California when similar changes were undertaken.

read … Workers Comp

Rep. Giugni’s Fundraiser During Session

CB: Rep. Heather Giugni’s fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday (April 5) evening at Downtown HiSAM ($50 donation) — Day 45 at the Ledge.

Giugni was appointed this year by the governor to fill a twice-vacated seat, so no one has given to her nascent campaign … yet.

read … Goes straight to the old boys

Are Hawaii Judges Governed By Conflict Of Interest Rules

CB: The only conflict of interest criteria where Hawaii didn't score a perfect 100 percent was its lack of laws restricting state judges from entering the private sector after leaving the bench.

 

read … Judiciary

“Clean Energy’ Stimulus Funds Burned by State, Cronies, Utilities, and Profitable Nonprofits

CB: The state has spent about $30 million in stimulus funds provided by the White House in the past three years.

Much of it has gone to bolstering the state energy office, to fund energy efficiency programs and to give electric vehicle rebates. More than $300,000 was spent on advertising to promote the controversial Big Wind project, which would build wind farms on Molokai and Lanai to supply power to Oahu.

The state energy office is on track to finish spending a total of $37 million in stimulus money by the end of the year. The original deadline for using all of the cash was the end of April, but that deadline has been extended.

Civil Beat reported previously on the slow pace of its allocation. And other states have struggled to expend similar grant money. But so far, about $29 million out of $37 million has been spent in Hawaii, and the rest has already been earmarked for projects this year.

“Frankly, we’ve done a pretty good job of managing that,” said Mark Glick, who leads the state energy office. He said it had been a top priority of the department.

One place it won’t be going is the so-called clean economy bank. Some had hoped that the state would take the balance of unspent stimulus funds and use it as seed money for a state run bank that would provide low-interest loans to clean energy companies. House Bill 1033, which would create the bank, passed its final Senate committee on Wednesday and will now go to a floor vote.

But Glick said there was never any possibility that any of those funds could be used for the bank as pending allocations have already been approved by the federal government. He said that anyone who believes otherwise is “a bit uninformed.”

LINK: State Energy Stimulus Funds

read … Where Did Hawaii's Energy Stimulus Money Go?

Tesoro Sale Casts Doubt: Federal Stimulus Still Not Stimulating Many Jobs at Local Biorefinery Plant

CB: One of the companies to receive the funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is Honeywell UOP, a $38-billion-dollar venture that licenses technology to oil and gas companies.

The company got a $25 million grant in 2010 to help it build a biofuels demonstration plant at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu. James Rekoske, vice president of renewable energy for UOP, tells Civil Beat the biofuels project would not have moved forward without the money.

But whether Honeywell’s project — or 18 others throughout the country that in total received as much as $564 million in stimulus funds — can create the jobs they promised is still unclear.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which oversees the grants, declined Civil Beat’s request to review Honeywell’s application, saying that it was private.

DOE says that Honeywell anticipated a peak of 85 construction jobs and an average of 40 permanent jobs per year during the duration of the project.

But in two years, Honeywell has only created about 10 permanent jobs, according to Rekoske….

The company has an agreement to test the fuel with Tesoro, one of two refineries in the state and the largest. The company is hosting Honeywell at its site and providing technical assistance to the project. But earlier this year, Tesoro announced that it was pulling out of the Hawaii market and selling its operations. …

But he said that much of the demonstration plant could be completed before a potential sale of Tesoro and that there was an opportunity to work with a new buyer. And Chevron, the other main refinery in Hawaii, could also be a potential buyer of the fuel.

Lance Tanaka, a spokesman for Tesoro, said that he believes agreements between the company and Honeywell are transferrable. He said that Tesoro doesn’t expect to announce a buyer before the second half of the year, and after that he “couldn’t even begin to predict” when a sale could be final.

…in Hawaii, many companies have struggled to make biofuels work at a price that would be competitive with oil.

read … Federal Stimulus Still Not Stimulating Many Jobs at Local Biorefinery Plant

Biofool Scammer Makes Nice in Hamakua

HTH: The out-of-state bidder who scooped up all 16 Hamakua land parcels that were put out for leases has withdrawn his option on eight of the smaller parcels, saying he wants to make them available for local farmers.

All Cool Fuel LLC, based in Westland, Mich., last month bid more than $180,000 for the parcels in a competitive sealed-bid process. The company is looking for feedstock for an ethanol plant it plans to construct at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority technology park at Keahole Point….

All Cool Fuel had bid more than $180,000 for the 16 Paauilo and Pohakea parcels totaling 718 acres. Bitner is turning back the eight smaller parcels totaling 156 acres. The second-highest bidders now earn the right to lease the property.

The resolution states the land could be used for “diversified agriculture, renewable energy development, pastoral use, ecotourism, workforce housing, agricultural education and training,” but not for “research, development, production or cultivation of genetically modified organism (GMO) products.”… (in other words only politically correct farmers are allowed)

The second-highest bidder on the parcels, Greg Seivert of Hawaii Wilderness Adventure School, (another farmer) plans to take only one parcel to use for a base camp for teenagers from around the world.

read … Biofool

Christian Sparks Propane Price War in Puna

WHT: For Lawrence Hamocon, owner of Jireh Fills Hawaii, running a business is not just about making a living. It’s also about helping those in the community.

That’s why when he opened at the corner of state Highway 130 and Kaluahine Street on Feb. 11, he started selling propane at $3.99 per gallon, a price low enough to give consumers a much appreciated break, yet still just high enough to skim across the profit line.

The result?

Puna District residents who rely on propane to heat their water or run their stoves began flocking to the new location, and competitors, feeling the pinch, began dropping their prices.

“It’s crucial,” said Lester Walker, who drove 45 minutes from Volcano to fill his three propane tanks.

Lawrence Hamocon centers his business around a sense of charity, and says he sees providing low-cost energy as his duty as a Christian.

The business’ name also sums up his approach. Jireh, in Hebrew, means to provide, he said.

The new businessman said he determined the price by figuring out how money he needed to make, not how much he wanted to make.

read … Christians

6 Occupy Honolulu protesters plead no contest, nobody cares

HNN: Six members of the Occupy Honolulu movement pleaded no contest to charges of violating city rules at Thomas Square Park last November.

The six were arrested for entering and remaining in the park after it had closed for the night.

The Honolulu prosecutor's office said Wednesday the six were granted six-month periods of deferral. They agreed to pay $50 each to the state general fund and $30 each to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.

read … Nobody Cares

Descent Into Haole: 'The Descendants' Dissed

CB: The Hawaii Legislature is eager to pass legislation to attract more film production in the islands.

It's a clean, glamorous and popular way to create jobs and promote the islands.

But if the laws are used to make cinema that glorifies the narrow slice of Hawaii depicted in "The Descendants," maybe lawmakers should reconsider….

Civil Beat is owned by the ‘narrow slice of Hawaii’ that bought out the old ‘narrow slice of Hawaii’: 'Descendants' based on Case Family Grab for Grove Farm

read … Descent Into Haole: 'The Descendants' Dissed

City offers online Sunshine Law training for board, commission members

SA: Until now, the training had to be conducted in person — and Honolulu has more than 600 seats that require training.

A new city law now allows board and commission members to use an online video produced by the state Office of Information Practices.

read … Sunshine Law


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