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Monday, April 09, 2012
April 9, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:26 PM :: 10076 Views :: Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Pacific Rim GSA: 115 iPods Missing

RNC Moves to Boost Hawaii GOP

Hawaiian societies caught as much fish as modern fishers

HSTA Leader: Abercrombie, Legislators Should Switch to Republican Party

…a group of Democrats in the state Legislature, urged on by our Democratic governor, passed in the wee hours of the morning bills that Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his cronies in the Legislature would be proud of: bills that strip collective bargaining from the teachers union….

Apparently, many within Hawaii's Democratic Party no longer recognize where their support is. If this is true, they should be honest about it and switch parties.

Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the state House Education Committee, and his Senate counterpart, Jill Tokuda, led the charge on Senate Bill 2789 SD2, HD2 passed through the Finance Committee last week that mirrors the Wisconsin legislation that allows Hawaii's Board of Education appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to unilaterally change the teachers contract….

Abercrombie had been smarting from the failure of his bully tactics to coerce teachers to accept his "best and final offer" for a contract. He needed the agreement to appease the federal Department of Education, which was threatening to take back funding to the state under its Race to the Top program unless the teachers were on board.

Abercrombie went next to the Legislature to go around the union and make his demands law, citing "Right to Work" states that had done the same (all incidentally Republican-controlled). When some of the Democratic stalwarts balked, the governor personally contacted them, demanding to know why they would disobey the titular head of the Democratic Party in Hawaii. The implied threat was clear in regard to their own legislation.

The times are indeed a-changin'. A fox is in the hen house. The wolves have donned sheep's clothing.

Democrats beware!

read … The ultimate irony: 'Liberal' Hawaii follows Wisconsin Republican lead

Daughtery Challenges Okabe: The top-down approach has bankrupted teacher morale

CB: So it's not a stretch that "communication," or the lack thereof, provided the impetus for (Paul) Daughtery to decide to run for the top union spot back in November. That, and the lack of anyone else willing to give the incumbent some competition.

"There's cultural secrecy, not the transparency that I expect from a democratic organization," he said. "Teachers have indicated they are very dissatisfied with the level of communication."

A March 2012 survey by Ward Research shows many teachers voted against the most recent contract settlement proposal because it was "too vague" and there wasn't enough information about the evaluation process and other components.

The same survey, commissioned by Castle Foundation, shows few feel HSTA is representing them well. Some 43 percent of respondents said "not very well," compared to 40 percent who said "somewhat well," 6 percent "very well," and 10 percent "not at all."

Daughtery, 57, and Okabe, 60, have been part of the union's negotiations team for years, but that doesn't mean they've always seen eye-to-eye on how to attain their shared goals.

"I saw missed opportunities in negotiations and missed handling of opportunities," Daughtery said. "I felt misjudgment in leadership. These are kind of negative things to say, but I believe them."

Because the negotiations are ongoing, he said he was unwilling to provide specific details of the blown chances. …

The top-down approach has bankrupted teacher morale, Daughtery said.

Daughtery, who teaches math at Konawaena High School on the Big Island, said if he is elected there will be a lot of education outside the classroom.

"The public likes teachers, as people, but they don't like unions, because unions are a bad thing," he said. "There's a lot of misconceptions in the public in terms of how they view the union. I think they picture Teamsters and swimming with the fishes and ILWU and bad experiences there….

HSTA's website, which could help improve communication between the union leaders and its members, is "an embarrassment," he added. "Teachers complain vociferously about that."

read … Okabe Challenged

Gov. Lingle Selected Laura Thielen for Her Cabinet Based On Talent, Not Political Affiliation

HR: We had the privilege of working with Laura as fellow members of former Gov. Linda Lingle's cabinet. Throughout the nearly four years Laura served as DLNR director, her political affiliation never came up.

In fact, Governor Lingle never asked anyone in her Administration what their political affiliation was. She appointed people based on their qualifications and expertise, commitment to serving the public, and doing what was in the best in interest of all the people of Hawaii – not their political party….

Throughout her two terms, Governor Lingle invited the public to apply for vacant positions and no one was ever asked about their political affiliations. Members of boards and commissions appointed by prior administrations were not asked to resign before their term expired, and many were re-appointed to another term.

Governor Lingle’s approach to picking the best people - like Laura Thielen - regardless of their political leanings, is indicative of her bipartisan leadership.

read … Gov. Lingle Selected Laura Thielen for Her Cabinet Based On Talent, Not Political Affiliation

Hawaii Gaming Promoter to Host $1M Obama Fundraiser

CBS: President Barack Obama is coming to the Motor City for a $1 million pizza party being thrown for him compliments of Denise Ilitch, daughter of Little Caesars’ founders Mike and Marian Ilitch. (Hires John Radcliffe to push casino plan for Waikiki. The Ilitch’s are the biggest advocates of casino gaming in Hawaii.) Ilitch is opening her home April 18 for the fundraiser where movers and shakers are being asked to pony up thousands to add to his re-election coffer while getting a chance to rub shoulders with the most powerful man on the planet. “I’m honored to have been asked,” by the Obama campaign to host,” Ilitch said of the event she and husband, Jim Scalici, will hold at their Metro Detroit home. She made the comments on “Michigan Matters” when asked about media reports.

read … Gambling

Airline Exec Offers to Campaign Against Lingle in Exchange for Subsidies

SA: Willis said Island Air needs the support of the state government to prosper.

"I hope the governor realizes how important it is to support small local carriers like Island Air," he said. "In the past, Island Air has had almost no support from the government with (Linda) Lingle as governor."

Willis said that during the height of the fare war between go!, Hawaiian and Aloha airlines, he unsuccessfully asked the Lingle administration for relief on the excise tax on aviation fuel and for financial assistance to help Island Air continue to serve smaller communities. He said he was losing millions of dollars and had to reduce the company's aircraft to four from 10, lay off half of Island Air's employees and pull out of 50 percent of the routes the company used to serve.

However, the Lingle administration wasn't legally able to provide that assistance, according to Barry Fuku­naga, Lingle's former chief of staff and a former director of the state Department of Transportation.

"Island Air and Mr. Willis sought financial relief over and above that which is provided to operators in their category — a request that the state could not legally provide to either Island Air or any other single operator," Fuku­naga said.

Nevertheless, Willis said Island Air needs whatever help the state can provide.

"These are fees that are in the millions of dollars," Willis said. "It's just not us but it affects everybody. We try not to pass the fees on to the customer, but it's almost impossible not to. Everybody likes low fares, but at the same time, not everybody realizes the state is doubling our fees and fuel has gone up about 30 percent over the last two quarters. The state should recognize that we've been here for 30 years. Island Air has not received the support it needs from the state in order to flourish and serve its citizens better."

Willis, who has not met with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said the current administration needs to take steps to ensure that Hawaii can have a healthy aviation industry.

"We hope that Abercrombie will recognize the benefit and support Island Air has given to the local communities over the last 30 years and make state fees more reasonable for smaller carriers," said Willis, adding that he would welcome a meeting with the governor.

Abercrombie spokes­woman Dona­lyn Dela Cruz said the governor is willing to meet with Willis. She added it's too soon to say what can be done to help until the administration looks into what its limitations are regarding what it can do.

House Bill 2800 could provide some relief. The bill would prohibit the state Department of Transportation from assessing landing fees for flights landing at Molokai, Lanai, Kapalua, Hana Airport, Kalaupapa Airport and Waimea-Kohala Airport. A report by a Senate committee said "these airports typically service smaller aircraft that are in grave financial straits due to the state of the economy" and that the bill's intent is for the savings in landing fees to be passed on to customers who reside in rural Hawaii and are suffering economically.

Willis said he's also hoping that the Abercrombie administration can encourage Hawaiian to give Island Air some breathing room on some of the routes between neighbor islands. Hawaiian recently announced expanded service between neighbor islands.

"It's important that they impress upon the larger carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, the need to allow smaller carriers like ourselves to prosper instead of being held in check all the time" by Hawaiian moving into smaller markets served by Island Air, Willis said. "If you have 85 percent of the market, you can do whatever you want, and Hawaiian basically has its way in the marketplace."

read … Quid pro Quo

Republicans Overwhelmingly Reaffirm Ted Liu as National Committeeman

PR: State Republicans on Saturday chose not to rescind a vote taken in January to elect Ted Liu, the former director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, as the Republican National Committeeman.

“Ted Liu is still our national committeeman,” said David Chang, the state GOP chairman.

Several Republicans had protested the January vote, alleging, among other things, that some votes were cast improperly by proxy. Liu had beaten Willes Lee, a former state party chairman, by a single vote.

Chang said the motion on Saturday to rescind the January election was overwhelmingly defeated, which he believes shows that most Republicans thought the initial tally was conducted fairly.

read … Still Liu

Council Support Wavers As Key Rail Vote Looms

CB: In the weeks since two Hawaii polls showed the public opinion has turned against the controversial Honolulu rail project, council members — particularly those on the ballot this year — have asked sharper questions and expressed doubts about the future for rail transit.

Lawsuits and the anti-rail mayoral candidacy of Ben Cayetano are among the biggest threats to rail in Honolulu. But the council could make those issues moot before they're resolved if it votes down a soon-to-be-introduced proposal key to securing federal funds.

A request from the administration to increase the city's line of credit is in the works, and it's critical as the city asks the federal government for $1.55 billion. But will the politics of rail's unpopularity weigh on the minds of council members who have to face voters?

read … Rail Shift?

Kauai District Attorney Recuses Herself AGAIN

KGI: Defense attorney Daniel Hempey’s motion to recuse was based on assertions that the prosecuting attorney made public, extrajudicial statements about Bynum that affected his right to a fair trial. He added that the evidence makes it possible for County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho to be called as a witness on concerns regarding extrajudicial statements.

The recusal motion also centered on a January letter from Iseri-Carvalho on behalf of the OPA to the County Council regarding legislative oversight of the Prosecutor’s Office.

First Deputy County Attorney Jake Deleplane argued that the letter was out of concern that Bynum appeared to be involved in actions against the OPA and reported it to Council Chair Jay Furfaro.

The letter stated Bynum, as a criminal defendant, has interest in using his position to negatively impact OPA operations. It said that his belief that the OPA was making a calculated attack against him was meritless and paranoid.

Hempey, nearly shouting, said the very idea that the OPA could assert that Bynum would place his own interest before the public safety of the people of Kaua‘i merits recusal, if not dismissal.

Defense witness Lucas Burns was a deputy prosecuting attorney with Kaua‘i OPA from Oct. 1, 2009, to March 31, 2011, when he resigned to work with the Hawai‘i County Prosecutor’s Office.

KGI: Ex-Boyfirend Case Recusal

The state Attorney General’s Office has agreed to accept the 2009 second-degree theft case against Koloa resident Dennis Louis Rego Jr., officials said.

County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said as soon as her office received the case she contacted the AG’s office for advice on whether she should transfer the case due to a conflict of interest because Rego was her long-time boyfriend in the 1980s and early ‘90s.

KE: Humane Society Wants Iseri-Carvalho Recused From Horse Abuse Case

The motion filed in Circuit Court yesterday claims that Iseri-Carvalho intends to dismiss the case, which is set for trial March 11, because the agency will not fire Jessica Venneman, who investigated the alleged abuse and neglect of Brady-Butler's horses.

In a declaration, KHS Executive Director Shannon Blizzard detailed attempts by Iseri-Carvalho to have Venneman disciplined or terminated following a personal run-in between the two women this past January.

It all started when Venneman checked out a barking dog complaint involving a man who reportedly is Iseri-Carvalho's cousin and married to a woman who works in the prosecutor's office.

KGI: Prosecutor says crime dynamics changing

Read … Incestuous little group of Squabbling Politicians

Runner for political seat would be youngest ever to hold office in state, at 18

KITV: When some teenagers see a problem in government, many grumble like the rest of us. E.J. Delacruz takes a different approach.

"I'm tired of it, and I would like to get involved and make a difference and represent the people, like they should be represented," said E.J., who's running for City Council.

He's 18 years old, turns 19 this month, and he's taking on an incumbent and many other contenders for Honolulu Council District 1, a key West Oahu seat with big issues, like rail.

"I personally disagree with the plan they have now. It doesn't make too much sense," he said….

"I had always thought that I would love to raise up a son that would make a difference in this world, that would make a difference in our country, someone who would stand for what's right," said Venus Delacruz, E.J.'s mother.

His father, an army lieutenant colonel, is deployed but has another big task ahead when he comes back for R&R next month.

read … Anti-Rail

Tobacco giant Philip Morris was top lobbyist during May-December 2011

ILind: The top spender during the period was Altria, the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The company’s expenditures included $50,000 in fees to G.A. “Red” Morris and Celeste Nip, and another $43,333 to attorney/lobbyist Gary Slovin.

The #2 spender was informed RX, the company which has been the drug provider for state and county employees, and which challenged the winning bid of rival CVS for the next contract period. The company paid $84,000 during the 8-month period to Harry Mark Fukuhara for lobbying services.

However, the 2012 expenditures of six of those Top 10 spenders had not yet been been posted on the Ethics Commission’s web site, making it difficult to assess the current situation.

read … Tobacco

State Workers having a Hard Time Scoring Workers Comp Bennies

SA: After Department of Health psychologist Saul Podhorzer blacked out at the State Hospital in 2008, he filed a workers' compensation claim, saying the incident was related to two previous workplace injuries, including a 2004 episode in which he collided with a co-worker responding to an emergency, smashed his head against a brick wall, lost consciousness and suffered a seizure.

A neurologist hired by the state to do a so-called independent medical examination, or IME, concluded that Podhorzer's blackout was not linked to the previous injuries, but was a new one that likely resulted from a congenital heart condition. His claim was denied.

When Podhorzer filed a new claim based on that evaluation, the state hired another independent medical examiner, who concluded that Podhorzer's 2008 injury was not new, but similar to the two previous injuries. That was essentially what Podhorzer argued — and the state disputed — in 2008.

His second claim was denied as well.

read … Bennies

Hawaii Owes $60,000 in Airport Workers’ Harassment Suit

CB: A contentious argument four years ago between a state airports office supervisor and her employees escalated so far, deputy sheriffs had to step in.

The supervisor, Lisa Matsuoka, was yelling at workers in her personnel office, demanding to know why one of them had requested a transfer out of the office. (LOL!)

Fearing for their safety, two of the employees, Donna Jinbo and Jennie Wolfe, filed a restraining order against Matsuoka in June 2008. Both employees had been with the Department of Transportation's airports division for more than 20 years.

The situation got so bad, the department sectioned off portions of the office, mapping out designated work areas and even restricting which women's bathrooms employees could use, to prevent any chance encounters.

Later, the two women would even lobby the Legislature for stronger workplace protection measures, an effort that was rejected by lawmakers earlier this year. Instead, taxpayers are footing the bill for Matsuoka's actions.

A court ordered Matsuoka to stop harassing the employees, imposing a three-year injunction against harassment. She was suspended for five days, then transferred to another worksite to work on special assignments. The department said it arranged counseling and training to help her improve her behavior.

Matsuoka returned to the airports personnel office in April 2010.

Wolfe and Jinbo filed a lawsuit against the state and Matsuoka in response, alleging that Matsuoka's reinstatement was retaliation for their reporting of workplace bullying.

read … Expensive

Electric Car Drivers May Face Federal Charges

SA: The question was posed on an Internet forum for Chevy Volt owners: Is it OK to charge your electric car's battery from an open outlet at, say, a public university parking garage?

Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, will answer that question for you.

Taking government-procured electricity from any building to charge a privately owned vehicle is illegal, he said.

"It is stealing and will be treated as such by law enforcement personnel and should be by all Army leaders as well," Mulbury said recently in the military newspaper Hawaii Army Weekly. The exception would be one's home on base, where the electricity is monitored.

read … Federal Charge

SA: Make room for bikes on roads

SA: this city needs to get going with the transformation, and the adoption of the proposed "Complete Streets" policy is necessary to build momentum.

State lawmakers enacted a similar law three years ago for state highways. Complete Streets is a planning approach in which design of roadways must include some accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as motorists at the earliest stages.

But clearly bike safety is an even greater concern on city streets, since most people may be more inclined to venture short distances on them rather than a longer commute involving state highways.

The City Council is, at long last, moving ahead with the consideration of its own Complete Streets ordinance. Bill 26 on Thursday passed one committee hurdle and will be discussed in further hearings over the coming weeks.

read … Bikes

Hawaii Turns to Dog Shrinks As 'Incessant Barkers' Enter Pleas

WSJ: Local authorities have charged Kala and Kamakani with being "incessant barkers," an offense under a new law here on the Big Island. If the two Italian sheepdogs don't zip it, their owners face $575 in fines, and the dogs could be evicted from the neighborhood.

"We have to say 'no' like a loving parent," Mr. Oguss, who operates the East Hawaii Dog Psychology Center, explains to owners Henry and Lindsey Kapu, whose lenience he thinks makes the dogs feel free to bark. He's administering dog counseling as part of a plea deal the Kapus have made after five barking citations.

Dog counseling has been in demand in Hawaii County since early last year, when county commissioners passed an ordinance banning "barks, bays, cries, howls" that go on continuously for 10 minutes, or intermittently for 20 minutes within a half-hour.

UK Daily Mail: Police in Hawaii can now issue barking tickets… to dog owners who can't keep their pets quiet

read … Wall Street Journal

Ninth Circuit Revives Lawsuit over Religious Marijuana Use

WSJ: In 2009, federal law enforcement officers in Hawaii seized from FedEx one pound of marijuana — worth about $7,000 — that was addressed to a member of the Oklevueha Native American Church. Police later destroyed it.

Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney, the intended recipient, sued the heads of the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, seeking to bar the government from enforcing a federal anti-drug law against the church. Mooney, the founder of the 250-member church, argued that his flock’s marijuana use is protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A lower court threw out the lawsuit, saying Mooney hadn’t shown the church was ever in real danger of prosecution by authorities for religious marijuana use. No one was charged in connection with the marijuana seizure, and a Justice Department lawyer said in court hearings that no investigation was pending.

The Ninth Circuit, its ruling Monday, said prosecution wasn’t a prerequisite for the lawsuit.

“The seizure of Plaintiffs’ marijuana that has already occurred creates a justiciable case and controversy about plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory entitlement to use marijuana for religious purposes,” wrote Judge Mary Murguia for the three-judge panel.

read … Wall Street Journal

Laupahoehoe Charter School names new Principal

BIVN: Dr. David Rizor has joined the Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School as its incoming Director of Operations.

Charter school officials tell us this position is basically the school’s principal.

The charter organizers say Dr. David Rizor is entering his 22nd year in education, with experience as a teacher and as an administrator that spans preschool through university levels. He served as the Director of Volcano School of Arts & Sciences in Volcano from 2004-2011, leading Volcano School to a rating of “In Good Standing, Unconditional,” which is the best rating a school in Hawaii can receive.

read … Laupahoehoe

Kids' English takes priority at Kalihi School

SA: Three years ago, Kala­kaua Middle School set out to develop a program that would provide a less intimidating environment for non-English-speaking students new to Hawaii, some of whom come with no previous formal education experience.

The model the Kalihi school developed, piloting it over two years before launching it in earnest this school year, puts newly arrived students with few English skills in a "newcomer center," where they spend a year getting intensive English lessons and learning how the American school system works.

In that first year the newcomer center students don't attend mainstream classes with their English-speaking peers or change classes for different subjects. Instead, they learn all of their core subjects from one teacher, like in elementary school.

read … ELL

Highlighting Hawaii's problem of child abuse

KITV: "We have 5,000 cases of child abuse a year," said Aileen Deese, with Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii.

26% of those children are physically harmed. 36% have been sexually abused. While 38% have been emotionally abused or neglected. And for every reported case, experts estimate, five more go unreported.
At least to authorities -- who could help stop the abuse.

related: Child molester back at work at Hawaii Legislature

read … Child Abuse

Mokulele Flights to Chicago, London put on hold

RRS: Chicago Rockford International Airport ran out of time to market the routes, so passenger flights from Rockford to Hawaii and England won’t happen this spring.

An airport official says they are still committed to landing regular overseas air service, but there is no deal in place. So the routes may not materialize at all.
Charter World Solutions, the charter airline operator that proposed flying the routes, says it is now shooting for October to start the service, which airport officials were ready to back with $1.4 million in revenue guarantees and $300,000 in marketing support.

Weekly round-trip flights would link Rockford with Honolulu International Airport and London Stansted Airport.

“It’s still No. 1 on our burner,” said Ron Hansen, president of Charter World Solutions, doing business as Mokulele Tours of Hawaii.

read … Rockford airport's flights to London, Hawaii put on hold

Supreme Court’s Ratings Jump Following Health Care Hearings

Rasmussen: Just before the highly publicized hearing on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, ratings for the U.S. Supreme Court had fallen to the lowest level ever measured by Rasmussen Reports. Now, following the hearings, approval of the court is way up.

Forty-one percent (41%) of Likely U.S. Voters now rate the Supreme Court’s performance as good or excellent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s up 13 points from 28% in mid-March and is the court’s highest ratings in two-and-a-half years.

read … Court Poll


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