Lingle, Collins: "Bipartisanship is Leadership"
VIDEO: Guam Senator Garners Support for Jones Act Exemptions
The View from DC: No Sign Hawaii is Serious about Teacher Evaluations
SA: On Wednesday, a day after House lawmakers essentially killed another version of the evaluations bill, the Department of Education reaffirmed its pledge to pursue performance evaluations for teachers and said a no-consequences pilot program would expand from 18 to more than 80 schools, as planned, in the coming school year.
"The department will continue to look for ways to support our teachers with appropriate training and feedback to improve educator effectiveness," DOE deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe said in an email statement.
Meanwhile, onlookers worried the apparent death of the bill this legislative session could bode poorly for Hawaii's efforts to demonstrate progress on key education reform efforts under its Race to the Top initiative. The state's $75 million federal Race grant is in danger of being lost because of missed targets and the bill was seen, in part, as a way of showing the Obama administration that Hawaii was serious about meeting its pledges.
The bill would have required that student academic growth be considered as one component in teacher evaluations and that those evaluations be used in high-stakes decisions such as tenure, compensation and dismissal.
Kate Walsh, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality, said since negotiations on a new evaluation system have produced no results, a law would have sent "the clearest signal" to the federal government that promised reforms will happen.
She added, "There haven't been any helpful signs from Hawaii about regulations or statutes that would suggest that they're going to get serious about teacher evaluations."
read … Couldn’t fake it for the Feds?
State Steals $200M from Hawaiians, Gives 30 Ac to OHA: Hee, Solomon Boycott Signing
Sen. Clayton Hee, a former OHA chair who fought for ceded land payments, strongly criticized SB 2783 as inadequate. Hee was not in attendance Wednesday at Washington Place, nor was Sen. Malama Solomon, another former OHA member who also expressed reservations about the bill….
…Machado's predecessor, Haunani Apoliona, went to the podium microphone and joined in singing along, her arm around Machado.
It was also a touchingly personal ceremony. Machado recognized the late Frenchy DeSoto, whom she called "the mother of OHA," and former Gov. John Waihee, who was instrumental in helping found OHA through the 1978 Constitutional Convention.
Machado also praised the late UH Law Professor Jon Van Dyke.
"Is Jesse here?" she asked the audience, knowing that Akaka's communications director, Jesse Broder Van Dyke, was certain to be in attendance. "I honor your dad because he established the framework. ... And I thank you ... mahalo nui."
Perhaps Machado's greatest praise was for Abercrombie.
read … OHA Cronies, but not all of them
Matthew DiGeronimo to Run for CD2
CB: Hawaii Republican Party Chair David Chang told me that he talked to Oahu businessman Matthew DiGeronimo today and learned he will be pursuing a serious campaign for Congress.
The retired Navy submarine officer will be running for the District 2 seat being vacated by Mazie Hirono. That territory includes the Neighbor Islands and rural Oahu.
PR: GOP in CD2
read … Matthew DiGeronimo
Linda Lingle's Role Model: Susan Collins of Maine
CB: Lingle, 58, on Wednesday told a Sheraton Waikiki ballroom packed with supporters that Collins, 59, is "a role model."
"She studies every issue" and votes not for special interests but for the interest "of the people who sent her there and the nation," Lingle said.
"That is the kind of senator I would be," said Lingle, who is seeking to be Hawaii's first woman elected to the U.S. Senate
SA: Maine Republican senator stumps for Lingle campaign
read … Role Model
Useless $75,000 Drone Traced to Waihee Cronies
HR: Transportation Department spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the drone purchase, by harbor security contractor Hawaiya Technologies, Inc., was a “mistake” and an example of ”government not working.” …
Hawaiya founder Paul Schultz flatly refused to discuss the company's harbor security work last year.
"This is not a friendly story,” Schultz told Hawaii Reporter. ”You're coming after me. You can come after me by yourself. But don't call me looking for information.”
After the drone was delivered, a key state official who oversaw Hawaiya’s work for the state, Kelvin Ogata, left his state job and went to work for a nonprofit company headed by Hawaiya owners Schultz and Mun Won Chang.
Schultz and Chang were the subjects of a long-running investigation conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service concerning expenditure of Navy research funds when Schultz served as a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and Chang worked as a civilian Navy employee.
Both left government service with no charges filed against them. Schultz was reduced in rank to captain before he retired. The pair are now married and active in local Democratic Party politics.
Schultz and Chang are business associates of former Hawaii Governor John Waihee. A company in which all three are involved, Aina Kai Environmental, performed subcontracting work on Hawaiya Technologies’ state harbor contract, according to records on file with the State Civil Defense Division.
Ignore this: State Sues to Get Back $39M Looted from Graves by John Waihee
read … What a Surprise
Boylan: Hawaii Dems Suspicious of Party-Switchers
MW: The simple part: A Democratic incumbent already holds the seat in the 25th Senatorial District (Lanikai-Waimanalo). Except for moral turpitude, the true-blue party loyalists who make up the party’s central committee are loath to turn their backs on an incumbent of their own, particularly to enable a Democrat who’s kept intimate company with Republicans literally from the womb.
The complex part: Thielen must contend with the history of Hawaii party-switching (whether she is, in fact, doing that or not). Currently, two state legislators – Mike Gabbard in the Senate and Karen Awana in the House – have crossed the aisle from the Republican side to the Democrat.
Few feel entirely comfortable with these conversions. Republican Party loyalists don’t like to see their colleagues depart, thinning their already thin ranks in the process. And Democrats look with suspicion on those joining who make the move. “What,” the suspicious Democrat asks, “do these people want?”…
Party-switching is not confined to office-holders or political candidates. Hawaii has an open primary, and voters switch camps every primary season. Usually it’s Republicans who do the switching. They don’t do it because of some philosophical epiphany – but because that’s where they can have influence.
Republicans and Independents will vote in droves in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary, knowing full well that they may be choosing the next United States senator in Ed Case or Mazie Hirono – or, among the craftier of them, hoping to choose the Democrat a Republican can more easily beat. Then, four weeks later, they will cast their ballots for Linda Lingle.
Thus Democrat Laura Thielen, however worthy, stands suspect in Democratic eyes.
RELATED: Island Democrats prepare to challenge “open primary” election law
read … Hawaii Dems
GSA Spends $330,000 to Relocate One Employee to Hawaii, Then He Quits
CNN: The agency appears to have spent $330,000 to relocate an employee from Denver to Hawaii, and likely "millions" on others over a two year period.
That information comes from an interview with a GSA event planner conducted by an investigator with the GSA inspector general in March, 2011. The transcript of the interview was provided to CNN by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee….
In the one particular relocation from Denver to Hawaii costing the GSA $330,000, the event planner said the employee "stayed on for just the one year and then quit. Left the GSA," despite signing an agreement to stay on after relocation, "Wow that is wasting taxpayer money," the investigator said.
It "blew me away when I saw how much it costs to relocate somebody. It's crazy. It's astronomical. Hundreds of thousands of dollars," for one person, said the GSA event planner.
According to this transcript, relocation allowances generally included: a house hunting trip, temporary quarters for one to 30 days (which could be extended to 90 days), a vehicle shipped, $25 per diem, as well as groceries and laundry….
"In the past two years how much do you think you've seen spent," asked the Inspector General investigator.
"Oh millions," replied the GSA event planner.
AP: Probes into wasteful spending at GSA focus on Hawaii expenses
House: Exposed: Obama Administration Fibbing About GSA Convention Spending Before They Took Office
read … $330,000
Manoa Chancellor Candidates At the End of their Careers
MW: It would be more entertaining if the University of Hawaii tried to cover up some of its obvious shortcomings.
The latest Manoa drama being played out before the local taxpayers is an effort at the state Legislature asking UH Board of Regents to consider eliminating the Manoa chancellor’s job at the same time it is advertising to fill the position. In an amazing display of optimism, the board has scheduled interviews with the candidates….
Historically, executives hired by the university come from the Mainland, the farther away the better. What makes this time around more worrisome is that all the candidates are at the end of their careers. Furthermore, they are all men and none is locally grown.
read … End of their Careers
Number of police officers holding medical marijuana cards remains a mystery
KITV: The April 6 arrest of Honolulu Police Department veteran Michael Steven Chu has shined a spotlight on the use of medical marijuana by law enforcement officers.
According to a criminal complaint, Chu holds a medical marijuana card in the state of Hawaii.
"It's a public policy issue for sure," said state Sen. Clayton Hee, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "I think the public has a right to know that."
But, according to officials at the Honolulu Police Department, HPD has no official policy regarding the disclosure of medical marijuana cards issued to its officers.
Under a state law enacted in late 2000, the Police Department is forced to treat medical marijuana like any other prescription drug. The legislation allows card holders to possess three mature marijuana plants, four immature plants and three ounces of usable marijuana.
However, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said illegal marijuana use by any officer is grounds for dismissal.
"The use or possession of marijuana by a police officer is not condoned by the department and is clearly prohibited by law and departmental policy," said Kealoha. "The HPD remains opposed to all efforts to legalize marijuana."
HPD policy calls for officers of all ranks to be drug tested up to four times per year. It's not known if Chu ever failed a urinalysis during his 13 years on the force….
According to statistics from the Department of Public Safety, the number of people participating in Hawaii's medical marijuana program continues to grow. In fiscal year 2001, the number of people holding cards stood at 255. But, by fiscal year 2011, that number had reached 7,593.
KHON: Officer linked in pot bust runs out of court after bail hearing
(Attention Defense Attorneys: Start asking all officer-witnesses if they have a medicated marijuana card)
read … Medicated Marijuana Officers may be Issuing Tickets to Tobacco Smokers
Police Warn Chinatown Shopowner not to Antagonize Meth Dealers, Threaten Him With Arrest
SA: Officer Fikani warned, however, that citizens should not do things that will antagonize criminals.
"We want everyone to use common sense," he said. "Don't do anything to put yourself in danger."
Michelle Yu, HPD spokeswoman, declined to speak specifically about McDonough's concerns.
HPD "is aware of the problems in Chinatown, and we are working hard to provide a safe environment," Yu said by email. "We have increased foot patrols and are continually working with the HPD Narcotics/Vice Division and plainclothes units to generate drug investigations in Chinatown."
When Otto Cake opened on Smith Street in July 2009, McDonough said, his focus was on his fledgling business and he was largely oblivious to the crime around him.
On Sept. 8, his employee was assaulted outside the shop.
"Then I started watching," McDonough said.
"Then I began seeing a lot," he said, nodding at the front-row view from his picture window of the park across the street.
McDonough has taken numerous photos and videos, including one of a man he calls "the swap meet man" because he lays out his plastic bags of drugs along the wall that forms the park's perimeter.
The drug dealing started picking up in the fall, McDonough said. On First Fridays, the once-a-month nighttime Chinatown festival, Otto Cake used to gross $1,200 but that began dropping to about $200 because "there were more drug dealers than anybody else." Today, he said, he doesn't even bother to open on First Fridays.
McDonough estimated that from the beginning of the year until Feb. 29, he called police 40 times to lodge complaints about drug dealing and other criminal activity.
Most of the people McDonough has complained about, including the ones who assaulted him and his employee, are still living or hanging around or near Otto Cake's building, he said.
McDonough said he thinks most of the drug dealing involves crystal methamphetamine because "they'll stand right on the street and yell ‘Crystal,'" he said. "And I've asked around. There's no one named Crystal living here."
His calls to police stopped on Feb. 29, the day he was punched in the chest, choked and then punched in the face by a man selling drugs in front of the Christian radio station next door, he said. The same man had sold drugs to two school-age children in front of his shop the previous day, McDonough said, acknowledging words were exchanged. When he called police, friends of the man said it was McDonough who attacked him.
Police at one point were about to handcuff him and arrest him, but later decided not to, he said.
read … Police Protection
City Council Would Create Bureaucracy to Track Plastic Bag Use
SA: Trust the City Council to take a long and winding road to the straightforward issue of banning single-use bags at checkout counters.
What could have been a rather simple prohibition on plastic bags has mutated into a complicated bill to charge businesses fees for the bags — in two steps — and leave a ban unimposed until whenever.
Also, by focusing their attention solely on plastic, Council members appear to be disregarding the burden retailers have had to bear with plastic bag bans elsewhere. On Kauai and Maui, plastic bans have increased expenses for businesses because paper bags cost more and the bulkier sacks require more space for storage.
If the Council’s intention is environmental protection, plastic and paper should both be on the hit list because both contribute to pollution and unnecessary, irresponsible resource use.
The bill a Council committee cleared last week would create enforcement difficulties and incorporate a new bureaucracy to track bag inventory and collect fees. Requiring retailers to pay fees would encumber them with more paperwork, too.
read … City Council’s convolutions tangle ban on plastic bags
Stanley Chang: Give Councilmembers $40K more to Play With
CB: Honolulu City Council member Stanley Chang has asked his colleagues to increase the annual contingency allowance for all council members by more than 25 percent.
That’s one of the proposed amendments to the Fiscal Year 2013 budgets. A 400-page list of requests from all council members was made public March 30.
Chang’s request would, if adopted, increase the total council allotment by $40,000, up to $191,400 from the $151,400 line item in the proposed legislative budget. Divided nine ways, that’s a little over $21,000 per council member to spend on incidentals each year, up from a little less than $17,000 apiece. The allotment in Fiscal Year 2012 was $16,032 and in Fiscal Year 2011 it was $14,000.
read … Stanley’s Change
State orders Haleiwa Farmer's Market to close
AP: Since 2009, the Haleiwa Farmer's Market has been operating on Sundays on a parcel of land that's zoned for agricultural use and not business. The state Department of Transportation issued a cease and desist order after officials were told by the attorney general's office that vending is prohibited on the site.
Organizers say more than 2,000 people visit the market weekly. A rally is planned for Sunday and organizers are expected to meet with lawmakers and transportation officials on Thursday.
The closure of the market has left farmers shocked. LuAnn Casey of Tin Roof Ranch says it's the best venue for small farmers on the North Shore.
Meanwhile in another socialist country: N. Korea lifts restrictions on private markets as last resort in food crisis
But Cuba may follow the Hawaii Model: PRIVATE FARMERS' MARKETS PUT ON ALERT
And the state-controlled media has eyes only for the HGEA: Inspector cuts endanger Hawaii farms, environment
read … Farmers Market
Koa Ridge, Hoopili Last Big Master Plans?
SA: The state Land Use Commission looks poised to approve the reclassification of 768 square miles of active farmland to allow Castle & Cooke's proposed Koa Ridge housing development between Mililani and Waipio. Before that happens, though, the agency should require that the developer make a longterm commitment to assure the replacement of lost agricultural lands….
Koa Ridge — along with Ho‘opili on the Ewa Plain — are the last big master-planned housing projects that were mapped into directed-growth plans a generation ago, when affordable homes was a main driving factor, but food sustainability discussions were vague.
Decades ago, urbanization for housing was paramount. It still is. But going forward, agriculture and self-sustainability have emerged as enduring crucial issues, as development threatens to push prime farmland aside. As a policy, agriculture must be given greater importance in determining where else housing can be considered.
read … Tie Koa Ridge OK to farm site pledge
Profitable Nonprofits Lose 19%
AP: Organizations offering services to Hawaii's needy have had their budgets slashed by 19 percent since the financial crisis hit in 2008, and they've lost 16 percent of their staff, an advocacy group for the poor said Tuesday.
The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice said it surveyed 13 organizations providing services to abused children and spouses, the homeless, the elderly, and others needing help. The Salvation Army, Child and Families Services, and Catholic Charities Hawaii are among the organizations….
The 13 organizations primarily pay for their programs with federal and state grants and contracts, he said. In 2008, they collectively had budgets totaling $141 million. By 2011, this had dropped to $115 million.
They also had 2,259 staffers when the financial crisis hit, and 1,898 staff members three years later.
Read … Appleseed
Few Hawaii Donors Support Presidential Super PACs
CB: The analysis, by nonpartisan researcher MapLight, shows Gingrich’s Winning Our Future Super PAC received $101,500 from Hawaii donors. The PAC has raised $18.7 million as of Feb. 29.
President Obama’s Priorities USA Action got just $1,250 from Hawaii donors. (It’s raised $6.4 million nationwide).
Ron Paul’s Endorse Liberty Super PAC received $1,000 from Hawaii. Neither Mitt Romney’s Restore Our Future, nor Rick Santorum’s Red White and Blue Fund got any Hawaii money, according to the data.
Read … Few Hawaii Donors Support Presidential Super PACs
Plan would squeeze 4th lane into Honolulu freeway
AP: The proposal calls for re-striping the H-1 freeway in Makiki and possibly from Pali Highway to Middle Street….squeezing in a fourth lane would narrow lanes to 10 feet and virtually eliminate shoulders. The current lanes in those areas are 11 feet wide.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl says a final decision has not been made and that the plan would need federal highway safety approval.
He says the narrower lanes would reduce the 50 mph speed limit by about 5 mph.
Read … 4th Lane
Historic Kauai Church Vandalized on Easter Eve
KGI: Glass, trash and plants were strewn all around the church, she said. Two stained-glass windows were also damaged, and a fire was started.
The vandals used prayer books and hymnals to start the fire, she said. A bench was burned along with a picture, and the back wall caught fire before it was extinguished in time.
There wasn’t an obvious hate message to explain the vandals’ actions. Instead, Taylor said they left behind a conflicting message of lighted candles on the altar and a prayer book open as if they held a service.
“It didn’t fit,” she said. “Were they having a service or burning the place down?”
Taylor said the people who came to church on Sunday couldn’t appreciate how much damage had been done. By that time, the walls had been scrubbed.
A brass crucifix was dismantled and damaged, as was the welcome sign outside.
There were many flower plants in place for Easter Sunday that were strewn about the church.
An oil-filled candelabra in the front alcove was tossed about and broken. She said the church workers patched it back together and cleaned all the oil off the floor.
Tombstones were knocked over, and two were broken. They predate the church building to the 1880s….
Some of the grave stones on the property date back to the original Hawaiian Congregational Church that predates 1888.
Read … Vandalism