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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
April 18, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:48 PM :: 6031 Views :: Hawaii State Government

Unspeakable arrogance and Hawaii's environmental laws

BoE Unanimously Approves Teacher Evaluation Policies

Zoning the ocean

Report: The State of Poverty in Hawaii

Barack Obama Sr Brought to America by Harry Belafonte

Legislators Begin Secret Budget Negations

PR: State House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday night opened conference committee on the supplemental state budget, announcing agreement on about two-thirds of the draft.

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho), the chairman of the House Finance Committee, said the budget was a chance to “reprioritize, rehabilitate and renew” after several years of spending cuts during the recession. The House also wants to make a $50 million down payment on the unfunded liability in the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said senators want to shore up safety net programs for the poor and make targeted investments in information technology.

Some of the early agreements on new money:
*$8.1 million for Medicaid payments in QUEST that will help attract federal matching funds.
*$6.8 million for child welfare services purchase of service contracts.
*$2.5 million for the community school for adults program.

Star-Adv Memo to Negotiators: Early education is worthy expense (Translation: Give more money to DoE.)

Read … HB 2012 — Day 1

Abercrombie Comes out Against Rail, Backs Cayetano

ILind: … Gov. Abercrombie told people in a recent informal conversation that he backs both Ben Cayetano’s mayoral bid and Cayetano’s opposition to rail.

Abercrombie said he had favored the original rail plan for a system that would link Kapolei with Waikiki and the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus, but that isn’t the system that is now being built, according to two people who were present.

Neil has sidestepped the public rail debate, but I think he could make a difference if he privately backs Cayetano.

Read … The final revenge against Mufi

Judge invalidates Pay-to-Play Rule Under which Rail Contracts Awarded

Circuit Court Judge Karl Saka­moto on Tuesday struck down a procurement rule that the city used to award more than $144 million in rail-related contracts, declaring the 1995 rule invalid because it conflicts with state procurement law.

It was not immediately clear what effect, if any, the ruling might have on the city's contracts with rail consultants PB Americas Inc. and InfraConsult LLC. Those companies have had a critical role in the planning, design and launch of construction for the $5.27 billion rail proj­ect.

The lawsuit challenging the procurement rule had asked that all contracts awarded under the disputed rule also be declared void. However, Saka­moto said he was not declaring invalid any contracts awarded before Tuesday's ruling.

With his decision, Saka­moto said the court was declaring the procurement rule invalid, and "that is all the court does." (Yup. This is a State court.)

Honolulu lawyer John C. McLaren said his firm sued to enforce the state procurement code in the public interest, and said research revealed at least 26 contracts for professionals, including architects and engineers, were awarded using the now-invalid rule….

The 1995 procurement rule that was the subject of the judge's decision created a waiver of the requirement that at least three competitors be ranked. That rule set out procedures to be followed in cases where there were fewer than three architects, engineers or other professionals seeking a particular contract.

Honolulu lawyers McLaren and Arthur Park concluded the 1995 rule was invalid because it conflicted with the state law requiring a minimum of three competitors for professional services contracts….

"It's to make sure that the distribution of these very lucrative contracts isn't based on favoritism or pay-to-play or that kind of improper, unethical conduct," McLaren said of the law. "That's why the system was laid out that way, particularly for architects and engineers."

Judge Sakamoto agreed Tuesday the rule is invalid because it contradicts the "clear and unambiguous" language of the state law.

read … Pay to Play

Government Union Members Have no Effective Process to Report Corruption

CB: State law provides the state Ombudsman Office the power to independently investigate complaints against state and county agencies. However, the office does not cover state employees under collective bargaining agreements.

read … Does Hawaii Have An Effective Process For Civil Servants To Report Corruption?

US Sen. Daniel Akaka doing well after dehydration?

HNN: Spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke says Akaka is expected back at work Wednesday after his family took him to see a doctor on Saturday. He was diagnosed with dehydration and cleared to fly from Honolulu, where he had been for the past two weeks holding field hearings while the Senate was in recess. Akaka and his wife arrived in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. (Slowly more details drip out. These guys are lying thru their teeth.)

Read … US Sen. Daniel Akaka doing well after dehydration

"Fraud, waste, corruption:" Congress decries GSA culture

·       Chicago Tribune: "We gonna pawty," said high-flying U.S. government official

·       NYP: GSA exec took wife, kids on Hawaiian vacations paid for by taxpayers

·       WP: 2nd House committee blasts GSA for parties, trips, bonuses paid for by taxpayers

·       CSM: "Fraud, waste, corruption:" Congress decries GSA culture

Lingle #1: Case's fundraising totals trail Hirono's by wide margin

SA: Former U.S. Rep. Ed Case said Tuesday that he raised $138,000 in the past three months for his Demo­cratic primary campaign for U.S. Senate, the latest indicator that he continues to struggle to attract financial support for his moderate political message.

Case's quarterly fundraising places him far behind U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, his primary opponent, who raised more than $1 million in that period. Case has brought in more than $600,000 in total for his campaign, compared with $2.5 million for Hirono. Former Gov. Linda Lingle, the leading Republican candidate, raised $1.3 million in the past quarter and $3.1 million overall.

Read … Case's fundraising totals trail Hirono's by wide margin

LDS: Without Religious Freedom, Hawaii Civil Unions Law Likely Unconstitutional

SA: » First, without the facilities exception, application of the civil unions law to Hawaii churches and religious organizations will most likely be held unconstitutional under principles emphasized in the U.S. Supreme Court's most recent religious liberty decision, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.

» Second, churches and religious organizations are not "public accommodations" — by definition. They naturally discriminate in favor of their adherents; this is why they are exempted under federal public accommodations law. The First Amendment protects them. Your editorial seems to express support for classifying churches and religious organizations as public accommodations by default, to be accorded by Act 1 only the slenderest of exceptions to their ministers and clerics from being compelled to perform such civil union ceremonies if against their religious tenets.

» Third, failure to provide an unambiguous exception to religious organizations and their affiliates in the use of their premises and facilities will result in additional litigation. It should come as no surprise that a Hawaii civil rights claim already has been brought by a couple seeking to celebrate a civil union on Catholic church premises in Hawaii. Does the Legislature expect that the Church will not defend itself under such circumstances? Surely it will, and probably expend significant financial resources in the process.

But what of a small Hawaiian church on Molokai, for example, without financial resources to hire lawyers and defend against such a claim? Wouldn't it make for better public policy to insert an additional measure in the "housekeeping amendments" to protect such churches from ill-founded claims, which could result in financial calamity to organization, which otherwise perform so many varied and important social services within our community?

Far from diminishing the civil unions legislation, churches and religious organizations are attempting to ensure that lawmakers get it right this time around. By integrating the fundamental principle of freedom of religion, the Legislature can effect its "housekeeping amendments" while at the same time dialing back the rancor that has been associated with this controversial issue.

Read … Constitution favors facilities exemption for churches

Democrats Consider lawsuit to Knock Laura Thielen Off ballot

SA: Dante Carpenter, the party's chairman, said the process was applied fairly. He has urged Demo­crats who are upset about how the rule was enforced in Laura Thielen's case to discuss potential rule changes at the state party convention in May.

"Is it complete? I'm sure that it could be improved, there's no question about that. But that is the process that we're involved in," he said.

Carpenter said he would consult with the party's state central committee about whether the party should legally challenge Thielen's candidacy. Demo­crats could also file a complaint with the Oahu Demo­crats alleging that Thielen violated the party's constitution and should be expelled. Oahu Demo­crats would review the complaint and make a ruling, which could be appealed to the state central committee.

"Obviously, if everybody felt that they could make their own rules at any point in time, we wouldn't have a party," Carpenter said.

While many Democrats believe the Thielen saga has damaged the party's "big tent" image, others defend the "good standing" rule as a way for the party to screen candidates to ensure they represent the party's values and platform.

Read … Thielen's run as Democrat poses a challenge to party

Cash Call! Reps. Kawakami, Shimabukuro Latest to Hold Fundraisers During Session

CB: (Appointed) Rep. Derek Kawakami was the latest to do it. As Capitol Watch reports, Kawakami held a fundraiser Tuesday (April 17) at Mandalay Restaurant downtown — Day 50 of the 2012 Hawaii Legislature. The suggested contribution was $50.

Rep. Maile Shimabukuro is next in line, with a fundraiser of her own slated for the same restaurant on April 23. The suggested donation for her is $100.

There’s a long list of other lawmakers who have held fundraisersduring session.

read … Cash Call! Reps. Kawakami, Shimabukuro Latest to Hold Fundraisers During Session

Water Board Nominees Approved over Hee’s Objections

SA: Several environmental and community groups had questioned the selection process and said candidates with water resource management experience were overlooked. Senators opposed to the nominations said they liked both men but were uncomfortable with their level of expertise in water resource management.

Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) opposed both nominees, saying he interviewed both before Tuesday's vote and believed that neither was qualified to serve on the commission.

Read … He’e wai

More schools volunteer for teacher evaluation pilot program

KHON: The Hawaii State Department of Education has expanded its teacher evaluation pilot program for the 2012-13 school year.

The DOE is currently piloting the program in 18 schools in the Zones of School Innovation (Nanakuli-Waianae and Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex areas).

The DOE is adding 63 schools that volunteered to join the pilot program, bringing the total number of schools to 81 in the next school year.

The pilot program includes input from teachers, principals and administrators.

The proposed evaluation system includes four research-based tools, all geared to generate greater feedback to support teachers. This evaluation system would use:

·      A common observational process adapted from Charlotte Danielson’s well-recognized instructional model

·      A student survey, which offers detailed feedback on how each teacher’s instruction is perceived by the students in their classroom

·      A model that measures student academic growth relative to their peers with similar academic history (this measure is not the federal requirement of proficiency, but rather measuring where students began at the start of the year, and the growth they demonstrated over the course of the year) and;

·      Student learning objectives, using a rigorous process where teachers set planned goals, based on the content standards, for what students will learn over a given time period. (The objectives would be driven by a thorough review of available data reflecting students’ baseline skills, and reflect collaboration and consultation with colleagues and administrators).

Link: www.hawaiidoereform.org/Teachers-and-Leaders

Read … More schools volunteer for teacher evaluation pilot program

TheBus uses half the energy that rail would use

HT: If your primary concern is to use the most energy efficient means for urban transportation, and particularly commuting, then rail should not be your choice.

We have shown that if fuel efficiency is a concern then the solution for Honolulu is clearly buses, or even better, van pools. Federal data show that TheBus is one of the most fuel efficient in the country with energy use per passenger mile -- half that of the U.S. average for buses. Van pools are even more efficient and while good data on this issue is hard to come by, vanpools run one way into town with normally a full load and do not make a return trip empty as so many pubic transporttion vehicles do. It would not be surprising to find that vanpools have half the energy usage per passenger mile of buses.

Read … Bus vs Rail Energy Use

Mainland Solar Contactors form Front Group to Save their Baksheesh

PBN: Some of Hawaii’s solar energy companies, including one of the biggest — Kailua-based SunetricSunetricLatest from The Business JournalsFollow this company— have formed a group called “Save Hawaii Solar” to try and stop proposed state legislation they say “would kill Hawaii’s solar industry.”

The group’s website has circulated an online petition targeting Senate Bill 2288, which Save Hawaii Solar says would severely restrict the Renewable Energy Technology Credit currently offered by the state.

The bill would limit credits to one for each tax map key regardless of the number or types of systems and by creating a cap on the credit for renewable energy systems regardless of the cost or capacity of the system.

State Rep. Denny Coffman, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection and a proponent of SB 2288, told PBN that it’s been very difficult working on this bill.

“I want to keep the [solar energy] industry going, but when I hear that we’re [state] cutting services for our people and that students may not have bus service, we need to think about how we deal with the tax credits,” he said.

The bill still has a long way to go, even though it has passed both the Senate and the House, according to Coffman, who said it will change before its all said and done.

The bill is currently being discussed by both sides as it heads into conference committee.

Read … their last ditch effort

HECO, MECO in top 10 for Solar Penetration

MN: In 2011, Maui Electric Company reported a 100.2 watts-per-customer rate, an increase from its 22.8 rate a year before.

The Solar Electric Power Association announced the ranking at their annual Utility Solar Conference in Tuscon, Arizona this week.

Also included on the list was Hawaii Electric Company, whose annual watts-per-customer rate was 82.9 in 2011, up from 33.2 the year before.

Read … Top 10

Firearm registrations break records in Hawaii

SA: A record number of firearms were registered in Hawaii last year, marking a 17.2 percent over last year, with registration of 36,804 firearms, the attorney general's office reported.

The total number of firearms in Hawaii also hit a record of 36,804, a 9.3 percent increase over the previous high set in 2009.

The state agency said 14,460 permits were issued statewide in 2011. This is a 17.2 percent increase from the 31,390 firearms registered in 2010.

Just under half (17,949) of the firearms registered in 2011 were imported from out of state. The remainder (18,855 registrations) were in-state ownership transfers of guns that were already in Hawaii.

Read … Firearms

ERS Dumps Goldman Sachs, Looking for New Equity Managers

PI Online: Hawaii Employees' Retirement System, Honolulu, is searching for up to three domestic large-cap equity managers to run a total of about $1.2 billion, according to sources.

The $10.7 billion retirement system is looking for two managers to run about $300 million each in active growth and one manager to run about $600 million in passive growth or value. The final size of each portfolio could vary, according to RFIs posted on Pension Consulting Alliance's website.

The RFIs refer only to a public pension fund client in Hawaii. Neither Rod June, chief investment officer, nor Neil Rue, PCA managing director, would confirm it is the Hawaii Employees' Retirement System.

Read … ERS

Malu Mota Fundraiser Meets Convicted Killer in Kau

BIVN: A judge granted eviction orders against Lui nearly four months ago, but the administration has not enforced the decision. At a recent talk story in Naalehu, the mayor was pressured by the community to act on the eviction of Lui. (And for some reason, the police have not acted. Hmmmmm….)

Idiots: Mainland Students Come to Hawaii for Brainwashing

Read … Mayor Kenoi to meet with Uncle Abel at Kawa today

Report: Hawaii Women Make 80% of Males’ Income

Hawaii women on average earn 80 percent of what Hawaii men make, according to a new report by the American Association of University Women.

The study looked at earnings of women working full-time in 2010. Hawaii women earned an average $36,242 that year, compared to Hawaii men who earned an average $45,443, according to the AAUW.

Hawaii’s ratio ranks us No. 16 in the nation. Washington, D.C., took the top spot, where women earn 91 percent of what men earn. Wyoming ranked last, with women making 64 percent of their male counterparts.

Nationally, women on average earn 77 percent of what men earn.

Read the full report here.

And read a related story by Raycom News Network: Women Earn Less in All But 2 Popular Jobs

read … And the reason is …

Judge approves Univ. of Hawaii data breach class action settlement

KITV: The data breaches potentially exposed personal data of more than 90,000 faculty, students, alumni, and guests at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Hawaii at West Oahu, Kapiolani Community College, and Honolulu Community College.

The lawsuit was the first data breach class action brought in the state of Hawaii.

Victims will be given two years of credit monitoring and fraud restoration services.

(Lawyers will get fees.)

Read … Judge approves Univ. of Hawaii data breach class action settlement

Congressman alleges China helping North Korea with ICBMs

TC: "As you have likely seen, the press is reporting that North Korea unveiled a new mobile missile at a military parade in Pyongyang in honor of the founder of that dictatorship, Kim Il Sung," Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), wrote in an April 17 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, obtained by The Cable. Turner is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee.

"Whether this missile is the new road mobile intercontinental missile (ICBM) the administration has been warning about is, as yet, unclear based on these public reports," Turner wrote. "Of deeper concern, however, are allegations that the missile, unveiled at the recent military parade in Pyongyang, is based on Chinese technology, in violation of international obligations and a threat to the national security interest of the United States."

Turner wrote that the photographs of the missile "suggest cooperation and support" by the Chinese government and he quotes missile-technology expert Richard Fisher as saying that the 16-wheel transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) was "very likely" a Chinese design and that there was a "possibility" it was actually manufactured in China for North Korea's use.

read … Congressman alleges China helping North Korea with ICBMs

Dalai Lama eyes reform in China, fearing return to 'Cultural Revolution'

The Sun: The Dalai Lama said Monday there are hopeful signs that China will push through political reforms in China and Tibet in order to avoid another "cultural revolution."

But the exiled Tibetan leader warned that there were still "worshippers of the gun" in Tibetan areas of China, where more than 30 protestors -- many Buddhist monks and nuns -- have set themselves alight since March 2011.

"The same cultural revolution is returning that was the cause of a crisis in 2008 when several hundred people were killed or disappeared," he said in Hawaii, where he spent the weekend before a trip to the US mainland.

"Now the time has come that the Chinese authority must investigate the causes" of Tibetan protests, the Dalai Lama said.

"The local (Chinese) authority (in Tibet) I think .. are worshippers of the gun, as Chairman Mao Zedong once expressed that power comes from the barrel of the gun. Unfortunately some hardliners still believe that," he said.

Read … Dalai Lama eyes reform in China, fearing 'revolution'

$1M to Bring Dalai Lama to Hawaii

CB: Don’t worry, Pierre can afford it….

read … How Much Did It Cost to Bring Dalai Lama to Hawaii?

 


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