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Monday, April 16, 2012
April 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:37 PM :: 7253 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Dalai Lama Slams Beijing for Burnings

Hawaii Bishop at Vatican, Prays for Courage to Defend Religious Liberty

Honolulu TEA Party Rally April 16

Case: Far Left Hirono is just as Bad as Limbaugh

KOS: Think of the most radically right-wing Members of Congress. Those who want to eliminate Planned Parenthood, the EPA, and the Department of Education. Those who dispute that President Obama is American and kowtow to Rush Limbaugh.

Former Congressman Ed Case - who was a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition - is running against Hirono in the Democratic primary. He says Frank and Hirono are just as bad as anyone in that group:

"[Frank's] and Mazie's extreme-left fiscal and economic policies and endless partisan warfare are no more the solution for our country than the far right's."…

read … Raatz

Rail Advertiser: Don’t Add 4th Lane to H-1

SA: The solution to the rush-hour bottleneck along the three lanes in each direction of the H-1 freeway in Makiki seems temptingly simple: Grab the paint brush and turn the freeway into four lanes each way. That may seem to be the logical solution, but it also may come with increased danger of vehicles coming too close to each other better traffic flow reducing support for rail.

The consequences may be severe. The Federal Highway Administration put it bluntly: "On high-speed roadways with narrow lanes that also have narrow shoulders, the risk of severe lane-departure crashes increases." Meisenzahl said the change may require reducing the present 50 mph speed limit by 5 mph.

That may not be enough…. (But instead of advocating a 40-mph limit, we just want to block the 4th lane.)

The addition of an extra lane each way on H-1 is appealing for commuters who struggle daily to drive to and from work, and state transportation officials get points for broaching for discussion creative options to combat bottlenecks. But officials need to examine the consequences of similar changes in other urban areas. The proposal may seem too good to be safe (for rail).

read … about what they will do and say to keep you jammed

Abercrombie Tries to Block HFF From Defending Marriage

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie opposes participation by a Christian group in a court case to defend state marriage laws that restrict marriage to a man and a woman.

But Loretta Fuddy, his director of the Department of Health, says the Hawaii Family Forum should be included in one of the nation's most important cases.

The Abercrombie administration filed the conflicting messages last week in response to the Hawaii Family Forum's request to intervene in the case involving a lawsuit challenging the state marriage laws….

Their three-paragraph response said that as far as Fuddy knows, the lawsuit is the only one in the federal courts that "squarely addresses" the issue of whether a state may preserve under the U.S. Constitution a marriage between a man and a woman.

They said the issue ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The litigation, they said, is "one of the most important cases in the nation."

It is "vitally important," they said, that the judge have the "broadest, most comprehensive and best discussion" on the issue.

"Director Fuddy believes that granting the motion will further this objective," the response said.

James Hochberg, the Hawaii Family Forum's lawyer, applauded Fuddy's position.

"We are delighted that Director Fuddy agrees and understands how important it is for Hawaii Family Forum to participate in defending against the claims in this very important case," he said.

But he added that "it is quite strange that the governor and Director Fuddy are on opposite sides in this litigation when they are represented by the same attorney general."

read … State of 2 minds on 1-sex marriage

Blue Planet Foundation Legislative Agenda: Higher Utility Bills for the People, More Tax Credits for ‘Green’ Energy Scammers

 

(In the interest of ratepayers and taxpayers, every bill the Blue Planet Foundation wants passed should be defeated. Every bill they want to defeat should be passed.)

Jeff Mikulina, Blue Planet Foundation: Senate Bill 2785 establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland high-voltage electric transmission cable system, bringing it under the governance of the PUC. Having a regulatory framework for the implementation of an interisland cable system will ensure more certainty and oversight in the development process us megaprofits.

Senate Bill 1197 is a complex but important measure that gives the PUC direction and authority to make changes in how the electric utility functions. First, the measure enables the PUC to allow the utility to recover operational costs that are incurred through power purchase agreements (new or renegotiated) with renewable energy producers. This grid reliability management surcharge encourages the utility to purchase more renewable energy by reducing an economic disincentive for doing so allowing them to soak the ratepayers on our behalf….

Two pending measures seek to modify Hawai‘i’s renewable energy tax credit. SB 2288 dangerously (wisely) reduces the effectiveness of the tax credit, while HB 2417 maintains the purchase incentive and provides a reasonable reduction in the credit over time is the compromise we extracted from our allies in the Lege.

Hawai‘i’s solar tax credit has been extremely effective at making Hawai‘i a leader in both solar water heating and photovoltaic installations putting your money in our pockets.

House Bill 2262 expands the existing ethanol facility income tax credit to apply to various types of renewable transportation fuel, including biodiesel. The measure also increases the maximum available amount of tax credit available to an individual facility to $3 million, as well as other improvements to this biofuel infrastructure incentive…. Mo Money, mo bettah!

Left on the cutting room floor of the capitol, unfortunately, are a number of progressive measures that would have greatly facilitated the transition to clean energy. Prohibitions on excessive curtailment of renewable energy and building new coal-fired power plants never made it out of committee. Changes to Hawai‘i’s carbon tax (barrel tax) that would have reallocated the majority of the funds toward clean energy also failed to advance. (But we’ll be back to block our competitors and steal this money from you next session!)

If the bills to establish the Hawai‘i Electricity Reliability Administrator, strengthen the PUC, and maintain incentives for clean energy investment pass, lawmakers will have made positive, incremental progress this year. The transformative policy will have to wait until 2013. (Yes, this is just the beginning of our looting of the ratepayers and the taxpayers)

read … Scammers’ Lobby

OSHA to Take Over Takamine’s Incompetent DoL?

HR: But the federal government, in two reports issued in 2009 and 2010, noted the state department is understaffed, untrained, underfunded and not keeping up with inspections - and apparently not much has improved since then.

That has led the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division to discuss "concurrent jurisdiction” with the state this year, which means the federal agency may take over many of the state functions. However, both the state and federal government officials involved are refusing to release details about the plan.

“There is a lot of talk and rumors and I think OSHA themselves are in turmoil on what to do. They threatened over the years but did nothing. Now they know they must do something but they don't really know what and they want to ‘appear’ to be working with the State,” one source close to the issue said, noting national OSHA officials will meet with the state director sometime this week.

The governor’s office admits discussions with the U.S. Department of Labor are ongoing but won’t provide details.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, Deputy Director of Communications for the Office of the Governor, said: “The Abercrombie Administration is in discussions with federal OSHA to find solutions to not only restoring positions but significantly improving the state's ability to assure workplace safety and health. Because we are in the process of learning what are the appropriate and most effective next steps, it is too early to provide any official statements regarding OSHA, at this time.”

read … But Takamine is Qualified to Run a State Owned Bank?

In spite of High Cost of Living, Hawaii Workers’ Earnings Below US Average

CB: Hawaii workers — across all occupations — earned an average $44,600 in 2011, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Hawaii’s average was the 17th highest among the states and the District of Columbia.

The Business Journals reports that D.C. ranked No. 1, with workers earning an average $74,540. Massachusetts was a distant second, with an average $54,740. Mississippi was at the bottom of the list with an average $34,770.

Nationwide, the average worker earned $45,230 last year, according to the… state by state data here.

read … Below Average

Hawaii doctors offer patients 'choice' to die

Radio Australia: Euthanasia is illegal in Hawaii, but The Physician Advisory Council for Aid in Dying (PACAID) says it's not euthanasia if the patients administer the drugs themselves. The council has four members which co-founder Dr Charles Miller says is adequate...

AUDIO from Pacific Beat: PACAID's Dr Miller speaks to Geraldine Coutts

read … Saving Insurance Company Dollars

KHON Retracts Story About Inouye Hospitalization

KHON: Senator Daniel Inouye's office says he returns to Washington, D.C. today and is perfectly healthy.
Saturday night, KHON2 News reported that Sen. Inouye had been hospitalized at The Queen's Medical Center, when in fact his office says he left Honolulu on Friday.

CB: KHON Story on Inouye Hospitalization False, Spokesman Says

read … KHON?

NHLC Shake-Down Lawyers Still Grabbing for Control of Public Water

NHLC Lawyers: Our state Constitution confirms that water is a public trust, not a private commodity. The same 1978 Constitutional Convention that enshrined this principle mandated the creation of the Water Commission as trustee for all the people, including future generations.

This was supposed to put to rest the 19th century colonial mentality in which a handful of plantations drained rivers and valleys dry for profit, heedless of the harms to the environment and local and Hawaiian communities dependent on flowing water for survival.

More than three decades later, plantation companies are still hoarding water as their private property. In Na Wai Eha (central Maui), for example, the former Wailuku Sugar plantation is now Wailuku Water Co., draining rivers and selling that water to the public. In East Maui, the HC&S plantation leaves dozens of watersheds critical to Hawaiians bone-dry.

Yet, the Water Commission for years has failed to hold these diverters accountable, forcing citizens to take legal action to uphold the public trust. The Hawaii Supreme Court has repeatedly reversed the commission for neglecting to adequately uphold public rights to water for purposes such as ecological protection and Hawaiian cultural practices. Now, on Maui, the commission has more blatantly than ever sided with the plantation diverters, again forcing citizens to court.

This administration has continued this decline….

as long as politics rather than principle governs which way water flows, there can be no justice, and no peace.

read … Trying to take over the Plantation

13% of OHA Small Business Loans Default

SA: Derek Scott, the 47-year-old owner of Loco Trendz, pushes his Hawaiian giftware business in Waikiki where he used to sell drugs.

"I still sell bags but everything is legal now," said Scott, who became sober in his late 20s, started his now-thriving business about 10 years ago and became this quarter the only Native Hawaiian business owner in Waikiki to be approved for a low-interest-rate Malama Loan through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs….

Meeting H. Murray Hohns, a successful businessman-turned-staff pastor at New Hope Christian Fellow­ship, was a turning point. "He believed in me and invested money in my business," Scott said….

since its November 2007 start, the program has supplied nearly $6.4 million to 277 businesses statewide. Scott was one of 15 businesses awarded a combined $475,000 in Malama Loans in the first quarter of this year, he said.

"The approval rate is about 46 percent," Crowell said, adding that OHA works with applicants like Scott to help them get funded. The default rate on OHA loans is about 13 percent, Crowell said. (13% !!!)

read … giveaway to the cronies

Kobayashi to Credit Unions: Disclose Exec Salaries, or Face Property Tax Hikes

SA: The 10 largest credit unions in Hawaii declined or did not respond to a Star-Advertiser request to voluntarily disclose compensation data for their five highest-paid executives — the same type of information that many other nonprofits here, such as charities, schools and hospitals, and roughly 2,800 state-chartered credit unions on the mainland, are required to disclose.

The federal credit unions are not subject to the same disclosure requirement. But transparency advocates say even those credit unions should make public the salary and benefits for senior managers because the organizations are publicly subsidized. (And Hawaii’s Congressional delegation has done what?)

If Oahu's larger credit unions are unwilling to share compensation data, they could lose all or a portion of their property tax exemption, according to Ann Koba­ya­shi, budget chairwoman of the City Council, which next month will consider whether to overhaul the city's exemption system. One recommendation the Council will debate is a repeal of the credit union exemption.

Kobayashi said she intends to ask for compensation data.

"If they don't (disclose), there might be consequences," she added.

In addition to the salary data, the newspaper requested information on whether the top managers would receive financial payouts if they remained at the credit unions for a certain length of time or until they reached a certain age, an incentive that is designed to keep key executives from leaving. The deferred-compensation practice, called "golden handcuffs," is believed to be common among Hawaii's larger credit unions.

A 2010 whistle-blower lawsuit filed by a former Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union finance vice president provided an unusual glimpse into that secretive world.

Renee Inaba alleged that three top executives at the Hawaii island institution were paid $1 million, $750,000 and $650,000, respectively, once they reached a certain age. The payments were not based on merit, were large financial liabilities for the credit union and were not disclosed to members, according to her lawsuit, which is pending.

read … Profitable Nonprofits

Congressional hearing on GSA's lavish spending begins Monday

AP: A General Services Administration executive will assert his right to remain silent at a congressional hearing next week into the agency's spending practices, the official's lawyer said Friday. It was learned that the official, Jeffrey Neely, also could face a possible criminal investigation.
Neely was placed on leave by the GSA's new leadership. He was commissioner for the Public Buildings Service in the Pacific Rim region, covering Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and several other countries and territories.

read … GSA Hawaii

Politics: Leaders debate Micronesia impact in US areas

IB: both FSM President Manny Mori and Marshall Islands officials emphasized an often forgotten point as Guam and Hawaii clamor for more federal aid to defray costs they say are associated with incoming islanders.

“The people do work,” said Mori. “They pay tax. And they contribute a little to the community.”

Muller said the U.S. jurisdictions need to distinguish between those islanders who are working and ones who are making use of subsidized health care and other social programs.

“They are lumping everyone together to come up with a bigger number that is not realistic,” Muller said, adding that a good number of Marshall Islanders are American citizens entitled to services but are still listed as “freely associated states” citizens by Guam or Hawaii.

read … Micronesia

Micronesia: Fishing days to dominate treaty talks

IB: The number of days and how much the United States is willing to pay will be the deal breaker in the current negotiations for a successor agreement to the US tuna treaty.

The next round of talks between the Pacific and the US will be held in New Zealand in June.

The US is willing to pay $65 million for 9000 days but for this price the Pacific parties are only willing to offer 7500 days—an issue that will dominate the seventh round of talks in Auckland.

“We also note that the price per day for the 7,500 days under your current proposal is marginally higher than the price per day for the 7,000 days in your previous proposal. The additional 500 PNA days appear to be valued at $10,000 per day,” the US said in the sixth round of negotiations early last month in Hawaii.

In response to the US position, the Pacific said this calculation is misleading. “Our proposal represents around $8,666 per day for all 7,500 days.

The Vessel Day Scheme is a Parties to the Nauru Agreement initiative hence known as PNA days.

read … Fishing Days

Vacation Rental Legislation is Deceptive

CB: The Hawaii Legislature, under the guise of enforcing existing tax laws, is proposing to essentially deprive off-island property owners of their legal rights to manage their own properties.

Why? Because hotels and property managers are seeing their traditional model of a monopoly visitor industry placed at risk due to a burgeoning direct rental movement.

read … Monopoly

90% of Hawaii Financial Disclosures Hidden from Public View

CB: More than 90 percent of financial disclosures — documents required to be filed by Hawaii public employees and politicians to enhance government transparency — are not visible to the public. Kondo told Civil Beat that approximately 160 of the 1,800 financial disclosure filings the ethics commission receives each year are public, but not all are online. As a courtesy, not because it is required by statute, the commission posts 160 filings online here: http://hawaii.gov/ethics/findisc

See §84-17 Requirements of disclosure (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0084/HRS_0084-0017.htm) for details.

ILind: How high is “palpably erroneous” as a legal standard?

read … Disclosure

Shoppers and farmers are dismayed over the state forcing the Haleiwa Farmers' Market from its site

SA: Word has spread that the market needs to find another home.

Tan Luangsiyotha, who owns Fields of Aloha, said she depends on the market for her livelihood. Her produce generates close to $1,500 weekly, which she uses to pay rent for her Maka­kilo home and to support her three children, ages 4 to 8.

"If this falls, I fall, too," Luang­si­yo­tha said.

Before the farmers market was established in April 2009, Luang­si­yo­tha was on public assistance, struggling to support her family, she said. With steady sales of her produce since the farmers market opened, she was able to get off welfare….

David Delventhal, owner of Pupu­kea Gardens and Hawaii's Special Inc., said while they sell their organic lettuce and papaya seed salad dressings to restaurants, the farmers market is the only spot where he sells his produce.

"It's so hard to be a farmer," he said. "You struggle to find a way to get your produce out."

He predicted that dozens of farmers will go out of business without the Hale­iwa venue.

PBN: Haleiwa Farmers’ Market gets a taste of state bureaucracy

read … Haleiwa


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