As Legislators Consider Mass Release of Hardened Criminals, Lawsuit Challenges Half-Way House Supervision
Last Day for Legislation: Hospitals Medicare Fix, Early Release of Criminals, Gay Unions in Your Church, Tax Credits for Solar Scammers, and More
Honolulu Banquet Salutes Opening of Aloha Pregnancy Center Osaka
Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted April 30, 2012
Hawaii Christian Coalition Annual Prayer at the Capitol May 3
Hanabusa Sued over Beating by Sheriffs at Capitol
SA: …activist Mitchell Kahle and his friend Kevin Hughes filed a Circuit Court lawsuit Friday against former Senate President Colleen Hanabusa over Kahle's ouster from the State Capitol after he objected to opening the Senate session with a prayer.
Kahle and Hughes reached a $100,000 settlement earlier this year with the state in their lawsuit against Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ben Villaflor, his subordinates and sheriff's deputies.
Kahle was arrested in connection with the April 2010 incident, but later acquitted of a disorderly conduct charge. Hughes video recorded Kahle protesting the prayer and said several Sergeant-at-Arms employees attacked him and broke his camera.
Friday's suit is against Hanabusa, who was Senate President at the time. (And her husband is the former State Sheriff.)
read … People who deserve each other
Cayetano: Push Polls Backed by Pacific Resources Partnership
HR: The pollster going after Cayetano claimed when he was governor from 1994 to 2002, he laid off huge numbers of state workers, took away health benefits from teachers and raised taxes on the middle class. The pollers will not identify themselves or who their client is….
Cayetano said he knows the "client" paying for the push polling is the Pacific Resource Partnership, an organization supporting the rail project that claims to have more than 200 contractor members. Pacific Resource Partnership has been one of the key backers and funders of the pro-rail campaign....
Pacific Resource Partnership, along with another newly formed group, Move Oahu Forward, have launched an all out public relations campaign to promote the rail even though construction on the rail's columns started last week.
The poller in Berg's case would not disclose where the "facts" came from or who was paying for the poll. But Berg traced the number, which is 231-224-2032, to a man named Jerry Shears, with the Mountain West Research Center in Pocatello, Idaho. The company also is operating as Hawaii Opinion Research, Berg said. Neither company is registered to do business in Hawaii.
This is the same phone number - 231-224-2032 - a Cayetano supporter said the push poll smearing Cayetano is coming from....
According to a publication called America's Watch Tower, the "Mountain West Research–a group conducting polling for the Paul Hodes campaign–was fined $20,000 for conducting this push poll ... proving that his campaign was actually engaged in an illegal push poll against Kelly Ayotte."
(NH) Attorney General Michael Delaney, following an investigation, announced "Mountain West Research made calls that fall under the state’s legal definition of push polling, but did not provide necessary disclosures required by statute."
Related: Push Poll Audio: "Berg got so drunk ..."
read … Pro-Rail Push Polls
Honolulu bus cutbacks will hit the already disadvantaged
ILind: The bus that serves the Windward side, route 55, has had a stable schedule since at least the mid-1970s. Now, as a result of high gas prices and economic privation generally, bus ridership is higher that it has ever been before. Furthermore, we are constantly encouraged to “go green” and lower our “carbon footprint.” So, naturally, the appropriate response to this is to cut bus service to just once every hour.
[In this part of the island, there are no alternative routes to choose from. One bus each hour--that's all there will be.]
Each morning when I get on the bus in Ka‘a‘awa, it is over half full. That means that when this new schedule kicks in, and we are reduced to half the number of buses, anyone who lives south of La‘ie or Hau‘ula will be standing on the bus for over an hour on their way to town.
No one who relies on the bus from any point north of Kahalu‘u is affluent. As it is, the bus is so inconvenient that the only people who use it are those who absolutely have to. And I suppose that is the real problem here. We are a population utterly bereft of clout. We are not constituents of anyone.
When I speak to my fellow bus riders, they are all upset about this imminent change, but they will not say anything to anyone about it….
Related: Hawaii has no consumer advocates, national advocacy official says
read … Cost of Rail
State’s Top Paid CEO, Big Landowner Say You Can Afford to build Railroad
SA: These factors, along with a contingency fund of more than $800 million, have kept the overall project well within budget, despite some of the additional costs incurred because of project delays. In fact, any additional costs due to delays are already accounted for as part of the contingency fund portion of the overall budget. (Don’t worry, its only an extra $800M. No biggie.)
read … Constance Lau & Campbell Estate
As Rail Heads towards Burials Central, State Historic Preservation Division May Lose Federal Certification
CB: The state agency charged with safeguarding Hawaii's historic and archeological treasures is in such disarray that the federal government is threatening to revoke its certification and funding.
That could in turn hold up billions of dollars in state projects, including the Honolulu rail project, government officials say.
The National Park Service last week sent a warning letter to the head of Hawaii's Historic Preservation Division saying that the division isn't doing enough to address major operational problems that federal officials identified more than a year ago. As a result, the division risks losing its federal certification and one-quarter of its budget.
“We remain concerned that, irrespective of any other factors, without sufficient staffing and adequate retention programs, the (Historic Preservation Division) will not be able to satisfy the corrective actions to create a sustainable statewide historic preservation program within the schedule established for the (corrective action plan),” wrote Stephanie Toothman, an associate director for the National Park Service.
read … Another Abercrombie Failure
Teacher Evaluations Immediately Become HGEA Make-Work Program
SA: Administrators at the 18 public schools trying out a new teacher evaluation system need as much as three hours per teacher to conduct the comprehensive observation that is a central component of the process.
As the state Department of Education prepares to expand the system to 64 more schools in the coming school year before taking it statewide in the 2013-14 school year, some principals worry about how they will be able to squeeze the observations into their already packed schedules….
At present, only probationary or poorly rated teachers are evaluated annually. Tenured teachers are evaluated on a five-year cycle.
The current observation process, which the department says is too subjective, takes less time to complete.
Department officials agree the new procedures are time-consuming, in part because they require a pre- and post-conference with the teacher, and say they are exploring options that would give principals more time to be "instructional leaders."
That would mean reconsidering what principals do and almost certainly shifting some duties elsewhere.
"We're paying them good money for their instructional knowledge, but they're spending most of their time doing noninstructional things," said Yvonne Lau, administrator of the department's performance management section. "We really need to rethink that."….
State law requires that teachers be evaluated annually, but yearly evaluations had not been implemented because the department said principals did not have the time.
Only principals or vice principals can evaluate teachers.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association predicts that requiring all teachers be evaluated yearly will require additional administrative staff at every school.
"The administrators tasked with performing a large portion of teacher evaluations are already overworked and unable to perform annual evaluations for probationary teachers every year" using the current process, said HSTA President Wil Okabe in testimony at the Legislature this month on a failed measure that would have required the move to a performance-management system for teachers.
read … Shuffle Papers and Hire more HGEA Members
Legislature voting on charter school omnibus bill
HNN: The state Legislature will vote this week on a bill that would overhaul Hawaii's charter school management structure.
Senate Education Chairwoman Jill Tokuda explains that Senate Bill 2115 puts into place a comprehensive governance system for charter schools. It incorporates task force recommendations to establish clear lines of authority under a state charter school commission.
read … SB2115
Off to clumsy start in landfill site pick
SA: Honolulu mayoral committee's recommended choice of Kailua as the site of a new landfill stunned residents of the area, but the admission that it was a mistake — that a site in Kahuku was the top spot — casts doubt on the whole process, especially since the rankings were not accompanied by full explanations of the choices.
Those won't be revealed until next month at the earliest. In the meantime, those who live in the communities on the list are free to imagine the worst.
It will be the responsibility of the mayor's office, which must recommend a site, to ensure that the public has full confidence in the administration's selection process. The upcoming public debate must be thorough, transparent and open to all. And whoever's sitting in the mayor's chair when the site is chosen will need to exercise strong leadership in resolving what has been for years a problem of Gordian complexity….
There's nothing like choosing a new landfill to pit communities against one other. It will take strong, inspired leadership to keep the debate focused on what's best for all Oahu.
read … Election Year Fun N Games
Poll: Why do Hawaii Voters Vote—or Not?
CB: Likely voters say voting is a civic duty more than non-voters and 2008-voters do. We asked voters, "How do you feel, personally, about voting? Do you feel that voting is more your responsibility or your choice?"
Of likely voters, 84 percent said it's a responsibility versus 14 percent who said it's a choice. Non-voters were split 61 percent to 32 percent, and 2008-only voters 67 percent to 29 percent. Overall, of the universe of all registered voters, 78 percent said it's a responsibility and 19 percent said it's a choice.
The groups also differed when it came to what's perceived as one of the main barriers to voting: time. Likely voters didn't think lack of time was something that would prevent them from getting to the polls.
Full Text: Civil Beat Poll — Voters on Voting
read … Voters and Non-voters on voting
Hawaii Banks top Nation Again
SA: Hawaii’s two largest banks were ranked at or near the top in the nation for financial performance in 2011, according to the ABA Banking Journal, a monthly national trade publication.
Bank of Hawaii Corp. was ranked the nation’s top-performing bank among public and private banks and thrifts with at least $10 billion in assets. It was the second year in a row that Bank of Hawaii, the state’s second-largest bank in assets, was awarded the No. 1 spot. It’s been annually ranked among the top 10 performing banks in the country since 2007.
First Hawaiian Bank’s holding company, Honolulu-based BancWest Corp., was ranked second among private and foreign-owned banks and thrifts with assets of $10 billion or more. BancWest is owned by French banking giant BNP Paribas. First Hawaiian is the state’s largest bank by assets.
read … they avoided subprime lending
Andrew Rosen Named President/CEO of Hawaii State Federal Credit Union
CUT: Andrew Rosen, formerly of the San Francisco-based Bank of the West, has been named president/CEO of the Honolulu-based, $1.2 billion credit union.
Rosen has more than 22 years of experience in the financial services industry, and held key leadership positions at several large financial institutions on Hawaii and the mainland, including with Washington Mutual, Regions Financial Corp. and Bank of Hawaii….
The credit union has been looking for a new permanent CEO since Deborah Kim resigned in November 2011 after 20 years on the job.
read … Mainland Banker
Audit: Aloha Stadium Authority Mismanages Swap Meet
SA: Since 2007, Shim estimates that business at his family's handbag and garment stall has plummeted 50 percent while promises of more customers have yet to materialize.
"It's the economy, it's the management," Shim said. "It's just too slow."
Shim used to be president of the Aloha Swap Meet Vendors Association, which once represented some 450 vendors at the Wednesday-Saturday-Sunday swap meet. In good times it drew as many as 700 vendors.
But the vendors association eventually disbanded in what Shim described as disgust after years of complaints about how the swap meet was run.
Now, many of their criticisms have been validated in a blistering critique released by state Auditor Marion Higa last month that found mismanagement of Aloha Stadium's major source of revenue and lax oversight by the Stadium Authority of its swap meet manager, Connecticut-based Centerplate.
The vendors were hardly spared in the audit, which found widespread tax cheating by one-third of the top 450 vendors….
The audit began in frustration in 2009, when Aloha Stadium Swap Meet vendors appeared at legislative confirmation hearings for Stadium Authority members and blasted both the stadium's management and Centerplate. After getting an earful from vendors, legislators ordered Higa's investigation.
The swap meet represents the single-biggest money maker for the Stadium Authority and generated more than $4.8 million in sales in the 2009-2010 fiscal year — representing 67 percent of all stadium revenue.
But vendors' payments to the Stadium Authority had already been plummeting — from a high of $5.4 million in the 2007-2008 fiscal year.
In 2005, the swap meet saw 9,400 buyers before customer numbers dropped to 7,850 in 2007 — the last figures available in the audit.
Poor management of the swap meet also has the potential to hurt future stadium repairs — and could even harm the city's plans to build a transit station near the stadium for its rail project, according to the audit….
But one-third of the top 450 vendors did not file general excise tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 or were underpaying their taxes. State auditors also checked the general excise licenses with the state Tax Department and found that 26 licenses did not match tax records, suggesting the licenses were bogus. Another five vendors out of the top 50 highest-paying vendors had invalid licenses.
The state auditor's report is available at www.state.hi.us/auditor/Reports/2012/12-02.pdf.
read … Failing Small Business
Hawaii's Insurance Commissioner Subject to Political Influence
CB: Hawaii's only F in the State Integrity Investigation came for its state insurance commissioner, who oversees the insurance industry.
In two categories — protection from political interference and firings without justification — Hawaii strikes out completely, getting a 0 percent score.
Hawaii got a 57 percent overall mark for in the State Insurance Commissions category. That put us in 37th place, tied with North Dakota. Mississippi came in first. At the bottom was Wyoming.
Hawaii scored so poorly largely because the state insurance commissioner isn't protected from political interference and can be removed from the job at any time. The commissioner serves at the will of the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, who is appointed by the governor.
read … Insurance
Arakawa Rejects Proposal to Lift Cap on Maui Hostess Bars
MN: Arakawa stated his position even before his office received around 10 to 12 letters against removing the cap, Antone said.
He added that the letter writers alleged that the hostess bars drove families apart and promoted sex trafficking. There were no letters in support of removing the cap, Antone said.
In a hostess bar, employees are allowed to sit with and entertain patrons, although the employees are not allowed to consume alcohol.
Wailuku attorney Douglas Sameshima, who submitted written testimony to the commission in support of lifting the cap, declined to comment on Arakawa's decision.
In his letter, Sameshima said his client believed that there is no reason, "legal or practical," to keep a 12-license limit for hostess bars….
Tanaka said the hostess bar licenses have become very valuable, and when they are transferred, it involves an "enormous amount of money."
He said the commission thought it wasn't fair for those wanting to open a hostess bar to pay more than what an actual license is worth. A basic annual fee for this type of liquor license is $600, while Tanaka has heard of the license being transferred for many times that amount.
Tanaka, a longtime periodic member of the commission, said that removing the cap wouldn't necessarily mean a deluge of hostess bars and that "supply and demand" would regulate the numbers.
For example, Tanaka said that back in the 1980s there was a limit of 50 liquor licenses in Lahaina. People were afraid that there also would be more bars if there was no limit on liquor licenses in the old whaling town.
Like the hostess bar license today, the Lahaina liquor license became worth a lot of money.
But the limit has since been lifted, and there are only around 35 liquor licenses today in Lahaina, Tanaka said.
read … Sameshima
Hydropower developer gets Koke‘e License
KGI: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has exempted a local energy developer from the agency’s permitting process for its proposed 5.3 megawatt small-conduit Puu Lua Reservoir Hydropower Project.
For two years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will recognize Konohiki Hydro Power LLC as the sole developer of electricity utilizing the Koke‘e Ditch irrigation system located on former sugar cane lands in the Waimea District on the Westside of Kaua‘i.
Konohiki is a subsidiary of Kaua‘i-based Pacific Light and Power (PLP) and Orenco Hydropower Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.
“It basically grants us a license while exempting us from the FERC,” said Paulo Luckett, president and CEO of PLP. “It protects us from competition. Nobody can pursue a license there. We have two years to begin construction and four years to be operational.”
In order for PLP to sell its energy to KIUC, it must first have a power purchase agreement with the utility. So far, the co-op has turned his project down, Luckett said.
read … Hydropower
Barack Obama's mother 'was secretly in contact with his estranged father during his entire childhood without his knowledge'
UKDM: The claims are made in a new book by Mr Obama's half sister Auma in which she reveals that their father was routinely 'exploited' by the Obama family in Kenya.
She said he was a 'prisoner of his principles' who would do endless favours for others even if they had a history of failing to reciprocate….
In her autobiography 'And Then Life Happens', Auma Obama writes of a conversation she had with her brother. After their father's second wife Ruth left him, Barack Obama Sr 'kept promising us that you [President Obama] and your mother would come visit us in Kenya.'
The book says: 'I (Auma) believed him and waited a long time in vain for your visit.'
'Barack looked at me with astonishment. 'I knew absolutely nothing about that,' he replied after a brief silence.
'(I said) They wrote to each other. But you know that, right? Your mother always sent him your school report cards and regularly told him how you were doing.
'He always knew what was going on with you. He told us and anyone who would listen about you. From his descriptions, I knew you pretty well. So I thought at the time, anyway.'
Read … Secret Contact