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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
April 11, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 11045 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Three Judge Panel Will Hear Reapportionment Case

Honolulu TEA Party Rally April 16

Study: Hawaii Cost of Long Term Care Soars 87% in Five Years

Carlisle Admin: Keep Waimanalo Gulch Open 15 More Years

Legislators Exempt State from Child Molestation Claims

Horizon Lines Completes Restructuring

Marumoto: SB2858 Relating to Closed Government

Activists attack bills that exempt construction projects from review

SA: Senate Bills 755 and 2927 and House Bills 2398 and 2819 — which are supported by a majority of legislators in the House and Senate — seek to speed up the regulatory proc­ess for public and private development proj­ects that would purportedly have minimal negative effects on the environment

"I think the thing that stands out is the hypocrisy of the Legislature and the state in trying to tell other people what they should do and then trying to exempt themselves," said Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai).

read … Hypocrisy

Without High-rises, OHA Cannot Justify Kakaako Toxic Waste Cleanup Expense

SA: In 2006 the state had carefully selected a local firm, Alexander & Baldwin, which planned to spend up to $700 million to not only clean up the toxic waste dump, but create "an exciting and vibrant waterfront community … a Hawaiian sense of place, based on local values, history and our combined heritage." Importantly, A&B would also provide affordable housing and plenty of shoreline access.

The company included high-rises because it knew that, for this miracle to happen, there had to be a substantial number of residents in the area. Hawaiian leader Peter Apo emphasized: "Without these residences, the project doesn't make financial sense."…

Since 2006, the cost of the clean up — estimated to be $10 million — has most likely skyrocketed. An active homeless population has been blamed for significant vandalism. And there are soil stabilization and flood zone concerns. With the down economy, the state has no funding to make any improvements.

No wonder, then, that Gov. Neil Abercrombie and lawmakers were thrilled to pass this turkey off to the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to settle some $200 million in past- due land claims. It was a deal too good to be true (for the state!).

At a strange "celebration," OHA Chairwoman Colette Machado spoke vaguely about "restaurants," omitting the fact that neither nearby Aloha Tower Market Place nor Restaurant Row has proven successful, not to mention there will be tons of competing eateries in Kakaako Mauka.

What's next for Kakaako Makai? As I predicted back in 2006, sadly, nothing. Machado foresees a 10- to 15-year time span for some kind of development. But this is unacceptable because, first, the property is supposed to produce income. Second, the cost of the cleanup will continue to escalate. And, third, those pesky protesters are not going away, even though the land is supposed to benefit our Hawaiian population. They don't want the area to "become another Waikiki," as if the two sites are identical — a ridiculous comparison.

Interestingly, the same Peter Apo, now with OHA, has been placed in charge of finding a solution.

I'm sure Apo realizes that now, as then, only high-rises can justify the huge amount of money that OHA had to relinquish to acquire the desolate property.

But, fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope and a chance for legislators to assuage their guilt.

House Bill 2819, which would allow high-rises, could clear the full Senate. OHA's considerable investment could then be justified. Without passage, Machado would do well to take the $200 million, and leave this horrible mess behind.

HNN: Abercrombie to sign historic land agreement

Meanwhile: Moiliili high-rise waits for elevator inspection

read … Kakaako

Civil Unions, Bag Ban, Taxes, Tax Credits Set for Crossover

SA: House and Senate positioned hundreds of bills to exchange between chambers Thursday, the last step before lawmakers move into conference committee to develop the final versions.

The Senate approved its draft of a $11.1 billion supplemental state budget that includes additional money for education, welfare and health care for the poor. Senators also moved their signature legislation, a $500 million investment in bond-financed state construction to reduce the repair and maintenance backlog at public schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

The House, which has supported a request by Abercrombie for $300 million in new bond-financed construction, approved a streamlined procurement proc­ess and a controversial bill that would temporarily give the governor the authority to exempt certain types of state construction proj­ects from environmental review….

The House moved a bill that creates a regulatory framework for an interisland electric transmission cable, a priority for the Abercrombie administration. A Republican amendment that would have excluded Lanai and Molokai from an interisland cable proj­ect was rejected.

The Senate kept alive a bill that would establish a consumer fee for single-use checkout bags to discourage use and generate money for environmental protection, an idea that has an uncertain future in the House. Senators also moved a bill that would give the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs flexibility for residential development near the waterfront at Kakaako, a proposal that the House has said it would not hear.

The House approved a bill that would provide an income tax credit for hotel construction and renovation that would be financed by an extension of a hotel-room tax increase beyond its scheduled sunset. (We tax you, then lend you the tax money if you do what we say.)

The House and Senate also advanced competing proposals on how to restrict a tax credit for photovoltaic systems that some lawmakers believe is costing the state more money than expected. Senators moved a bill, meanwhile, that would enhance film and digital media tax credits to help lure more movie and television productions to the islands.

read … Crossover

 

Big Victory for HSTA: House Kills Teacher Eval Bill, $266M in Federal Funds at Risk

 

CB: The House decision to recommit Senate Bill 2789 effectively killed the legislative plan to require the Department of Education to implement a comprehensive evaluation system for teachers and principals. The Senate will hear the companion measure, House Bill 2527, on Thursday but a similar fate is anticipated there.

Senate Education Committee Chair Jill Tokuda said if there weren't enough votes in the House to pass SB2789, her colleagues would likely recommit HB2527.

"While this may be the end of the road for these bills ... I don't think we've seen the end to a performance management system that has some component of student growth in it," she said. "In the end, my concern was who was really speaking up for those students in the classroom? It's very disappointing. We put a lot of work into this."

The bill's demise comes two weeks after federal education officials visited Hawaii to check on the state's Race to the Top progress. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and others pushing for the legislation and policies have emphasized the federal money that's at stake.

The governor notes the need for performance evaluations is linked to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, for which Hawaii has received $192 million, and securing the additional $74 million in funding for Race to the Top.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education's Human Resources Committee passed three policies that could accomplish the same goal. They will be up for final approval Tuesday…..

The Hawaii State Teachers Association celebrated SB2789's defeat and urged teachers to keep the pressure on lawmakers to kill HB2527.

Meanwhile … teachers on probation will have the same rights to fight their firing as tenured educators under a policy that passed the Human Resources Committee. (In other words, they effectively can’t be fired)

Among the amendments to the policies made at the special meeting this week and the committee's regular meeting last Tuesday is a significant change to the definition of "probation."

Board Policy 5100 had defined the term in a way that could have limited a non-tenured teacher's ability to contest being terminated. After hearing concerns from union members and others, the committee voted to delete the controversial paragraph.

The policy now gives teachers with or without tenure status clear recourse to the grievance procedure outlined in the bargaining agreement.

The board policy, like SB2789, also increases the probationary period from two years to three. The union has submitted testimony against this aspect of the legislation too. (Even though it means nothing since probationary teachers can’t be fired—just like tenured teachers. Why not just say that tenure starts on day 1?)

SA: Gift for Understatement “…the union's aggressive tactics — particularly the comparison with Wisconsin — might have alienated allies and rekindled criticism that the union is a barrier to school improvement….”

HSTA Flack: Education bill has unintended consequences

Read: Chicago Tribune: Yank Hawaii's Race To The Top Grant

read … Barely Faking it for the Feds

HGEA Inks Fake Principal Accountability Evaluations

Under a deal reached with the Hawaii Government Employees Association:

>> Principals in 61 schools will be evaluated next school year in part on the performance of their students.
>> All principals will be under the new evaluation system in the 2013-14 school year.
>> It’s unclear how much of the new ratings will be based on student growth.
>> The evaluations are meant to fulfill the requirements of a 2004 law mandating performance contracts for principals.

Few details on the memorandum of agreement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association were released Tuesday….

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi said the DOE "looks forward to working collaboratively with HGEA in developing a principal evaluation system that will provide quality feedback and support."

Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda said that performance contracts for principals have "been a bit of an IOU." (still are)

read … Faking it

Rail development proposal fails to give public a voice

Shapiro: Public officials have had six years since the rail plan took off to initiate a broad discussion on transit-oriented development, but instead have kept the decision-making to themselves and are attempting to ram the rules through in one session of the Legislature.

There's no legitimate reason not to take the time to bring the community fully into the discussion, as any transit-oriented development is still years away.

The closed process feeds a growing perception that this rail proj­ect is not primarily for the benefit of gridlocked commuters, but for unions, contractors, developers, landowners and banks that will profit not only from construction of the system, but also from unfettered development along the rail line.

These are the same interests to which Mayor Peter Carlisle and the City Council have given virtually total control of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Environmental groups are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the extreme planning exemptions for transit-oriented development. Robert Harris of the Sierra Club said SB 2927 all but eliminates the public voice and community collaboration from some of Oahu's most important upcoming planning decisions….

the environmentalists have been backed most vocally by Republican lawmakers, with the majority of their traditional Democratic allies in the Legislature following the money that flows into their campaigns from the unions, contractors, developers and other financial interests that are pushing SB 2927.

read … Rail development proposal fails to give public a voice

Geothermal to be Issue in Hawaii County Mayor’s Race

WHT: Kenoi also talked about his recent trip to the Philippines, where he and other county officials toured a geothermal energy plant in Ormoc City. Hawaii Electric Light Co. has issued a request for proposals for a 50 megawatt geothermal facility expansion, Kenoi said, adding his hope is geothermal sources may be explored in West Hawaii.

One plant in Ormoc City is run by three workers, is clean and produces 220 megawatts of power, he said.

“To put that in perspective, if everybody (on Hawaii Island) gets home, 6 p.m. turns on the lights, peak power, (that requires) 180 megawatts,” Kenoi said.

Yagong said geothermal will be one of the hot issues in the upcoming mayoral campaign. He said he supports geothermal, but he is wary of comments Gov. Neil Abercrombie recently made regarding generating large amounts of geothermal power, about 1,000 megawatts, and transmitting the energy via undersea cables to other islands.

“I’m going to make sure the County of Hawaii is not going to be the guinea pig for the state of Hawaii,” Yagong said. “We need to walk carefully. We need to make sure the people of this county are involved in the process.”

read … Geothermal

Big Wind Opponents Suffer Defeat in House

CB: Opponents of the Big Wind project failed on Tuesday to derail legislation that would make it easier to build large-scale wind farms on Lanai and Molokai and transmit the electricity to Oahu.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Rep. Gil Riviere tried to insert language into Senate Bill 2785 that excluded the two islands from legislation that would facilitate financing for undersea cables between islands.

Last year, similar legislation that focused on the Big Wind project failed to pass amid heated opposition to the proposed wind farms on Lanai and Molokai. This year, the bill’s supporters have tried to distance the measure from the project by stressing that the legislation is not specific to any island or renewable energy project and not a rubber stamp for Big Wind.

read … Big Wind Big Cable

Rep Mele Carroll Misses 25% of Sessions, Makes Excuses

CB: Rep. Mele Carroll, a neighbor island Democrat, has missed 11 of the 45 floor sessions in the 2012 Hawaii Legislature. (But she did have time to collect a free iPad.)

Part of the reason Carroll says she missed nearly one-fourth of session is that she represents a House district unlike most others: three islands — Lanai, Molokai and the uninhabited Kahoolawe — as well as parts of Maui including remote Hana.

With that kind of geography — plus flights to and from the Capitol in Honolulu — outreach can be challenging, she says. (Almost as challenging as making excuses.)

"It's hard," she said. (Maybe she should just quit.)

Carroll also got sick (of working), forcing her to miss Days 39 through 44.

Only a few of Carroll's colleagues come close to matching her poor attendance record.

In second place with 10 missed floor sessions is Rep. Bob Herkes, the Big Island Democrat (who will be seeking a Senate this year, thanks to reapportionment). Herkes was sick, too, including being hospitalized.

Mililani Rep. Marilyn Lee, another Democrat, missed nine floor sessions. But the absences followed the death of her husband, former Rep. Sam Lee, who passed away in February.

Twenty representatives posted perfect floor attendance, including … Minority Policy Leader Barbara Marumoto and Minority Whip George Fontaine.

read … Sick of Work

Hawaii Gov’t Hiring Tarnished by Nepotism, Cronyism, and Patronage

CB: Hawaii law governing the state administration and civil service has many flaws, according to the State Integrity Investigation.

Hawaii received an overall D, or 66 percent, grade for State Civil Service Management. That placed the state 26th. At the top was New Jersey. At the bottom was Georgia.

Hawaii fared even worse when it came to the effectiveness of its law governing the state administration and civil service, with a 59 percent score.

The state gets dinged for a number of reasons, including that in practice government hiring is tarnished by nepotism, cronyism and patronage and because the state doesn't publish the number of authorized civil service positions or the number that is actually filled.

Here's the basis for the 59-percent grade that contributed to the overall 66 percent score for State Civil Service Management.

read … Nepotism, Cronyism, and Patronage

SB2115 Would Allow Nepotism in Charter Schools

SA: Poor management practices, lack of accountability and waste of public funds were highlighted in a scathing report by the state auditor last December. The report highlighted nepotism, overpayments to staff and other questionable management practices at numerous charter schools, including the highly publicized Myron B. Thomp- son Academy.

Based on that, one would think that any reform to the state's charter schools would include a strong emphasis on ethical behavior. So it's a mystery as to why the latest version of SB 2115, HD2, does just the opposite — by exempting charter schools from complying with the state Ethics Code.

read … Don't exempt charter schools

GSA employees travel to Hawaii five-days for a one-hour ribbon cutting, Planning 10 day return Trip

FOX: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Wednesday that five employees associated with the recently scandal-plagued Government Services Administration went to Hawaii for up to a week in 2011 to attend an hour-long ribbon cutting on space leased by the federal government for the FBI.

Details of the incident surfaced in a transcript of an interview between the GSA Inspector General’s Office and a GSA employee.

The employee indicated to the IG investigator that trip was not isolated and that there was another, longer junket scheduled for Hawaii this fall.

That one would be in Hilo, Hawaii for 10 days and would include ribbon cuttings for a federal building, a post office and perhaps a courthouse.

FOX: Federal employees got bonuses for planning agency's lavish 2010 event, investigation reveals

Read … Boosting Tourism, no doubt

Feds Bust HPD Officer with Medical Marijuana Card for Multi-Location Grow-Op

SA: The DEA said the case against Chu and Lee started Thursday when a FedEx security manager seized a suspicious parcel that was sent from San Lean­dro, Calif., and addressed to a Kapiolani Boulevard apartment. The parcel contained eight juvenile or starter marijuana plants.

The following day, the DEA said its agents spoke with the building manager, who told them Lee lives in the unit to which the parcel was addressed.

The DEA said it found 20 marijuana plants growing inside the apartment and large amounts of cash. As its agents were conducting the search, Chu and Lee arrived at the apartment. Chu was carrying a bag containing plant nutrients and other material used for growing plants indoors, and Lee was carrying a bag containing about $12,000 in $2,000 bundles, the DEA said.

Agents found in Chu’s vehicle a pound of marijuana and Chu’s police-issued handgun and a supplemental weapon, both loaded.

The DEA said Chu told the agents he just works for Lee and helps her carry things for the indoor growing operation. He gave them a Young Street address as his residence, the same address at which DEA agents intercepted a parcel containing 14 pounds of marijuana in July.

The manager for the Young Street building told the agents Chu did live in the unit where they intercepted the 14 pounds of marijuana, but had moved out a few months ago.

Chu also told the agents he has a medical marijuana card.

The DEA said its agents checked the medical marijuana certification rec­ords maintained by the state Narcotics Enforcement Division and found that Chu listed a Mililani Mauka address as his residence. They went to the home and found 10 to 20 marijuana plants of about 3 to 4 feet tall growing inside. They also found a pickup truck registered to Lee parked in the driveway and documents in the home indicating that Chu and Lee reside there.

The Police Department said Chu is a 13-year police veteran assigned to the Wahiawa/North Shore patrol district….

Kealoha … said a medical marijuana permit does not exempt an officer from drug testing and that an officer who tests positive is in violation of the policy.

KHON: Indoor marijuana growing operation hidden right under neighbors noses

read … Only the Feds Will Do This

Wisconsin Homosexual Child Molester Gets 10 Years in Waikiki Molestation cases

From 2006 to 2010, Seefeldt was the resident manager of the Hawaiian Prince Apartments in Waikiki. In September 2010 he was arrested for allegedly fondling a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy in his office. It wasn't his first offense. Seefeldt was convicted in 1986 for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy. He failed to update his information as a sex offender.

"He's now been convicted of sexually assaulting three victims," said Kickland. "All of the victims are children. All of them are male, all of them were sexually sexually abused in the same way."

Prosecutors say he is a danger to the public and an extended term was necessary.

"I'm asking the court to impose 120 years in prison," said Kickland.

The public defender asked for five years probation saying since his 1986 conviction, Seefeldt had led a law abiding life except a 1992 DUI conviction.

"My client has taken full responsibility in this case," said Public Defender Alan Komagome. "He is deeply remorseful for what happened."

But there is still an open case in Wisconsin. According to prosecutors Seefeldt is accused of sexually assaulting two other boys in 2001 and 2007. Winnebago and Shawano counties have a warrant out for his arrest.

read … About someone who could have a future as a Legislative Staffer

 

 

Top Five Lobbying Spenders

  • Altria (tobacco) — $137,378
  • informedRX — $84,000
  • Outrigger Enterprises — $45,100
  • University of Hawaii Professional Assembly — $42,348
  • AFLAC (insurance) — $39,790

read … Big 5

Senate: DLNR Officers Don't Need Taser Training

CB: The department wants the exemption for its Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, which has full police powers and enforces all state laws and rules involving state lands, parks, historical sites, forest reserves, aquatic life and wildlife areas, coastal zones, conservation districts and state shores.

DLNR says the accreditation process is lengthy and costly. The agency didn't include a cost figure in its written testimony.

But the ACLU of Hawaii says the legislation — House Bill 2681 — is a bad idea. By lessening training and standards, the state could expose itself to liability for use of excessive force.

read … DLNR Officers Don't Need Taser Training

Federal Taskforce Stacked by Homelessness Industry

DN: A new federal report just issued by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the U.S. Department of Justice: Searching Out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness takes aim at municipalities that have attempted to deal with homelessness by criminalizing the homeless…in ways that might actually reduce homelessness and are therefore unprofitable to the profitable nonprofits of the homelessness industry.

read … Federal report condemns criminalization of homelessness by municipal ordinances

Styrofoam: Mainland Green Energy Scammers Attack Hawaii Restaurant Industry

SA: The website, sunetric.com/nofoam, includes a list of 45 restaurants and is accepting suggestions for expanding the list. National restaurant chains aren't being included in an effort to "keep it local," the company said.

Sunetric on the site asks, "Why do we continue to allow our local restaurants and eateries to serve us food in Styrofoam containers? It's indisputably (REALLY???) horrible for the environment, ultimately bad for us, and ugly to boot…. (The eco-cultists will now begin baying at the moon. Eventually Styrofoam will be banned like plastic bags.)

read … Omidyar’s Minions Begin Next Round of Hype

 

TPL Aims for 16% Profit on Sale of Swampland

MN: The parcel consists of 63.7 acres of oceanfront wetland at Kaehu Bay, between the communities of Waiehu and Paukukalo. Community members said it has long been used for fishing, gathering and cultural activities; contains a number of historic and archaeological sites; and is an important habitat for birds and native species.

The county's Open Space Fund would be tapped for the purchase.

The Trust for Public Land had obtained the right to purchase the property at a foreclosure hearing, and it entered into an agreement to sell it to the county.

But council members questioned why the Trust set a sale price of close to $1 million, when its foreclosure bid for the parcel was only $861,171.

Officials said the additional expenses included salaries, benefits, travel, marketing, conveyance tax and other organizational costs that had been incurred since the Trust began steps to acquire the property in 2008.

read … Profitable Non-Profit


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