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Sunday, May 06, 2012
May 6, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:44 PM :: 8853 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

SEC Report: ML&P on Verge of Bankruptcy

Bankrupt Marianas Islands Pension Fund Advisor Vanishes

Asking for More by Limiting Deductions

SA: List of How major bills fared at the Capitol

VIDEO: Gov. Cayetano: Honolulu mayoral campaign getting nasty

Borreca: Democratic State Convention “Going to be a Hotbed of Insurrection”

SA: For the Democrats, the Legislature's approach to the environmental exemptions cooked up a caldron of discontent.

"The state convention is going to be a hotbed of insurrection," one party activist predicted about the May 25-27 state convention.

Although the Democrats pulled back almost all the environmental exemption bills, they did so at the last minute. Still, there is a lingering feeling that Democrats in the Legislature are looking to get around environmental laws in order to push unrestricted development.

"Clearly these measures generated strong feelings among supporters of the environment, and it is reasonable to expect the issue will be raised and possibly play a role in some races where the district constituency is particularly sensitive to the issue," says Gary Hooser, the former chairman of the party's environmental caucus….

"My guess is that advocates of the measures underestimated the backlash and will be hesitant to go down the same path in the future," Hooser said.

Still, the pro-environment forces are looking to make changes….

"It is interesting that most of the time the only people voting no on the exemption bills were Republicans," said Wong.

The Sierra Club did praise the leadership of Senate Democrats, especially Senate President Shan Tsutsui and Sen. Les Ihara, for blocking the exemption bills.

"We've seen a tremendous resurgence of public involvement in the legislative process, perhaps because of the aggressive attacks on basic environmental laws," said Robert Harris, director of the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club.

So far the dissent was gently framed by the Sierra Club's Harris, who predicted that it and other organizations will "spend this election year ensuring the political discussion is more positive next year."

This could be the start of a "toss the bums out" election year.

Related: Both Sides in Thielen Dispute Aim For Democrats-Only Primary Elections

read … Toss the Bums Out

Rail Finances Take $244.7M from TheBus

SA: The recent concerns about bus funding center on $244.7 million in so-called "5307" federal Urbanized Area Formula Program funds the city has included in the rail financial plan to help pay for rail construction over the next seven years.

That money would normally be used to buy new buses and vans for the TheBus and TheHandi-Van systems, and to do preventive maintenance. The federal funds are also used to make improvements to city transit centers.

Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard said the cost of operating the city bus system is rising, and "not a single dollar should be taken away from running, operating, and maintaining our buses in order to go toward this rail project."

Wayne Yoshioka, director of the city Department of Transportation Services, said there is "a very small probability" that the federal 5307 funds will actually be taken from the bus budget and applied to the rail project….

At least some of the recent concern about bus funding was spurred by calls from constituents who are upset about city plans to reduce service on some bus routes and eliminate two routes in an effort to save the city $6 million to $7 million a year in bus operating costs.

Gabbard said she has received calls from residents who are "very concerned" about recently announced city plans to reduce bus service on some routes.

read … $35M a Year from TheBus

Abercrombie Alienates Labor, Environmentalists, Progressives

SA: While the session was functionally positive, politically, the liberal Democrat may have further alienated the labor, environmental and progressive activists who are influential within the party. The disappointment from some on the left with Abercrombie and majority Democrats at the Legislature, particularly in the House, is palpable.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association likened the demand for teacher evaluations to the anti-labor policies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Environmentalists felt betrayed by proposals — tacitly supported by the governor — for temporary environmental and regulatory exemptions to speed up state construction projects. Open government advocates complained about a lack of transparency.

Abercrombie, who was known for verbal bomb-throwing during his time as a legislator, said the rhetoric has been harsh.

"Knowing that I couldn't do it through general excise tax exemptions or tax credits, the focus was put on the procurement process along with the permitting process," the speaker said.

The Senate also wanted to streamline permitting and procurement for state construction, but not to the degree the House did, so Say and his allies took the brunt of the blowback.

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter, said that while there may have been extreme statements made on both sides of the debate, the scale of bills placing environmental regulations in a "cross hair attack" was different than anything seen in the past decade.

Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, said progressives often felt shut out. Some of the mechanics of the legislative process that could be viewed as routine — time limits on testimony, amendments, re-referring bills between committees, reviving bills that appear dead — take on a shadowy edge when people think they are not being heard.

"I had the impression that it's ‘Shut up and sit down! We're driving,'" she said. "And the problem is the drivers don't really have a map and we're all in the car."

Brady said she thought it would be different with Abercrombie in charge. "I think under the former administration, the Lingle administration, we were very vigilant. We knew we had to watch everything," she said. "And I think when this administration came in there was a sense of, ‘Whew, good. You know? These are our guys.' And pretty much immediately the lack of transparency was pretty obvious. And that's been very frightening."

While many Democrats at the Legislature were unsettled — including several in the House dissident faction at odds with Speaker Say — no Democrat stepped forward to give real public voice to the dissatisfaction from the left or provide political cover for critics like Hooser.

Instead, Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe) and Rep. Gil Riviere (R, Schofield-Kahuku) filled the void.

Thielen, an environmental and land use attorney, believes more environmental and regulatory exemptions would have been approved had they and others remained silent. She said Republicans were following the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt, a progressive who prized conservation.

"It really took some pretty heavy floor arguments to say, ‘You guys, what are you doing? You're destroying what your predecessors worked so hard to put in place,'" Thielen said.

read … Abercrombie gains momentum with Legislature, An OHA settlement and framework for an undersea cable rank among achievements

Survey: Vast Majority Agree Legislature, Inouye Out of Touch, Failing

What overall grade would you give the 2012 Legislature?

  • E. F (48%, 214 Votes)
  • D. D (30%, 133 Votes)

Was former Gov. Ben Cayetano rude or out of line in calling U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye “out of touch” on the rail issue?

  • B. No (66%, 2,246 Votes)
  • A. Yes (34%, 1,141 Votes)

read … Out Of Touch and Failing

Civil Beat Poll: Questionnaire, Toplines and Crosstabs — April 2012

Below are the full questionnaire, issue results, issue crosstabulations, demographics by voter type and methodology.

Here are the stories and editorial Civil Beat published based on the poll:

read … Crosstabs

Public benefits offered by developers are often met with doubts

SA: Some Ho‘opili and Koa Ridge opponents point to what happened with Ocean Pointe/Hoakalei Resort when developer Haseko Hawaii announced last year — 22 years after it received LUC approval for development — that the viability had disappeared for building a marina long touted as a central feature and public benefit for its 4,850-home community.

The marina was promoted as an economic magnet attracting maritime industry businesses and international boat races. Other public benefits included badly desired boat ramps in Ewa Beach, and the possibility that the marina could serve as a commuter ferry terminal.

In October, Haseko announced its intention to transform a basin, which is finished, into a recreational lagoon that it argues will be a greater public benefit because of broader use. A marina, it said, would take longer to build and attract far less use than was forecast 20 years ago.

Haseko needs government approvals for its lagoon plan, but the LUC didn't condition its approval of Haseko's urban development on the marina.

Even in cases where a described public benefit is a condition of LUC approval, delivery can be uncertain. That's the case with a 150-acre agricultural park at the second phase of Royal Kunia

read … Community Benefits

US Trustee wants Marianas Pension Fund bankruptcy case dismissed

MV: THE Retirement Fund is not eligible to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because it is a governmental unit according to the U.S. Trustee in Hawaii in a motion to dismiss filed on Friday there.

For Assistant U.S. Trustee Curtis Ching, the Retirement Fund, the debtor, is a governmental unit because it is an instrumentality of the CNMI and therefore it cannot be a “person” eligible to file for Chapter 11 protection pursuant to Section 109 (d).

“Since the debtor is not a ‘person,’ it is not eligible to be a chapter 11 debtor pursuant to Section 109(d). Therefore, regardless of the debtor’s financial difficulties, this case must be dismissed,” the Trustee stated.

read … US Trustee wants Fund bankruptcy case dismissed

Hawaii Case Leads Supreme Court to Review Police Use of Stun Guns

McC: Malaika Brooks was seven months pregnant when a Seattle police officer stunned her with a Taser. Hawaii resident Jayzel Mattos was at home when she, too, got zapped by police.

Now, the Supreme Court is being asked to consider for the first time police use of Tasers. With more than 11,000 agencies nationwide arming officers with the stun guns, the time may be getting ripe for settling questions about when electrical force becomes excessive.

"One could argue that the use of painful, permanently scarring weaponry on non-threatening individuals who were not trying to escape, should have been known to be excessive by any informed police officer," Appellate Judge Mary Schroeder noted, before cautioning that "there is no good case law" to clarify decision-making.

Schroeder and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confronted the complicated Taser questions last year. The majority's conclusion that stunning a nonviolent individual could be considered excessive force will be reviewed by Supreme Court justices in a private conference this month.

Already, the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs' Association is urging the high court to take up the Taser cases. Some appellate judges, too, are warning about dire consequences if Taser use is restricted.

Read … Supreme Court to review police use of stun guns

How to Maintain Competitiveness in Tourism

SA: Whether tourism will continue to support the standard of living we enjoy in Hawaii today or whether we will see that standard of living erode will depend entirely on our state's long-term competitiveness in this field, since tourism, like so many aspects of modern life, is becoming increasingly competitive. We can't just stand still and keep what we have: We will either move ahead or we will fall behind….

So while we are proud of Hawaiian Air's contribution to the recent spate of encouraging headlines about Hawaii tourism — five new destinations in 18 months, 1,000 new, local, high-paying jobs and the first arrivals of $8 billion in new long-range aircraft (a private investment that is as important to the economic infrastructure of the state as rail transit or airport modernization) — our focus is set firmly on the future….

In an increasingly volatile global economy, how do we diversify our sources of visitors and the price point of the visitor experience to protect the state against recession?

As a casual look in the rearview mirror reveals, visitor demand can rise and fall quickly and unpredictably region by region and income group by income group. If we value economic stability, our tourism product needs to appeal to a broad spectrum of visitors, whether from east or west, and from those of ample means to the more budget conscious.

read … Airlift investment just 1 key factor in growing Hawaii’s future

Financial Advisor: Hawaii Working Class Families Having Difficulty with Gas, Food, Insurance, Housing

Question: In your book you advise people to cut their spending and increase their income until they have positive monthly cash flow. What do people tell you is the most difficult challenge they have accomplishing that?

Answer: We have been helping thousands of Hawaii’s working class over the past 10 years. These are great families that have jobs, children and want to do better with their finances but are having a difficult time keeping up with the rising cost of goods. Everything from gas, food, health insurance and even the cost of taking the family to see a movie is having a negative impact….

Q: You are living on the North Shore with your wife and five kids. That must be expensive. How does your family save money?

A: Here are two things that we did that allowed my family to save money. First, we have never bought a brand-new car, all used cars. Second, for the past 14 years we have been living in a house that is less than 1,000 square feet. Yes … all seven of us. Our house has been paid off for the last eight years.

read … Squeeze

Hawaii Island Democrats Vote to back Geothermal

HTH: Russell Ruderman, a Puna resident and owner of Island Naturals who is running for the state Senate District 2 seat said that “nobody who lives near (Puna Geothermal Venture’s plant) is in favor of” expanding geothermal production. He said that for those living near the geothermal facility, it’s been “a horrible, horrible experience.”

“We’ve had a lot of experience with geothermal and the people who promote it are not from Puna,” he said.

David Gomes disagreed, calling the present geothermal industry in Hawaii “a one-legged stool.” He said geothermal development should be expanded to that Mauna Loa and Hualalai on the Big Island and Haleakala on Maui.

“Solar is a piece of the puzzle; it’s not the answer,” said Patti Cook of Waimea….

David Tarnas, a former state representative who works for Merica International, a Waimea biofuel company, spoke in favor Hu Honua, which is in the process of converting the former Hilo Coast Processing Co. facility in Pepeekeo into a wood-burning powerplant despite resistance from nearby residents.

“We need renewable energy that is not intermittent,” he said.

That prompted another speaker who said the island “does not need biomass.”….

In the end, delegates voted for resolutions favoring the expansion of geothermal and against a solar-first approach.

read … Democrats rally at Honokaa High School

AG Targets Property Owner After Third Gambling Bust

SA: Officers served the gambling search warrant at 162 N. King St. about 7 p.m. and found six people on the second floor, Santos said.

Two people were arrested for outstanding warrants. The others were questioned and released.

Officers brought down six electronic “fruit” machines, similar to slot machines ….

Honolulu property tax records show the property is owned by the Murli H. Manghnani Trust….

Santos said a representative with the Attorney General’s Office was also at the scene to issue a nuisance abatement warning to the property owner, which could lead to the state condemning the property if the illegal activity doesn’t stop.

On Dec. 6, 2011, four people were arrested for gambling at the address and police found various electronic gaming machines.

On Sept. 15, 2010, officers responded to reports of gunfire and a robbery on the second floor of 162 N. King St. When officers got upstairs, they found no evidence of a robbery or a shooting. But they seized about a dozen illegal video gaming machines.

KHON: Police bust another Chinatown gambling room, neighbors still uneasy

Related: 350 Ward: Prominent Local Lawyer Controls Building Full of Massage Parlors

read … Nuisance abatement

Change 1: Yukimura: Koloa Tenants ‘Ready to Change’

SA: Some tenants have left under duress, but would return if there was a viable way for them to live onsite. At issue is the gentrification of Koloa-Poipu as a place for mainly the rich.

The tenants are willing to change; they know things cannot remain the same

read … Ready to Change

Change 2: Journey back to Manzanar

SA: Ogawa, a longtime University of Hawaii professor of American studies, knows the story of Manzanar better than most. He has taught and written about Japa­nese-American studies and ethnic identity since the late 1960s.

But Manzanar also was a crossroads for his family.

In the spring of 1942, shortly after the camp opened, Ogawa's father, mother and maternal grandparents arrived there by bus. They had to leave everything behind in Santa Mon­ica, where Ogawa's father owned a popular neighborhood grocery store near the beach….

"To me when you look at Manzanar, it's about families, and it's more about the inner strength that families have," he says. "And I can see why my grandfather and my grandmother would be so happy that a child was born, even in the camp, because fundamentally, my grandfather had made a choice that the future of his generations would be in America."

Ogawa sometimes gets emotional thinking about his grandfather, a former carnation farmer named Ichi­taro Tanaka who had emigrated from Japan to the United States in the late 1880s. After the war he took his wife back to Japan because she was dying, and he never returned. Ogawa was 6. He says his grandfather, who spoke almost no English, did not leave with a heart full of hate.

"The inner belief of my grandfather is that people made mistakes, that the way you survive is not through hatred or getting even or revenge," he says. "The reason is because you believe in the goodness of other human beings."

read … Manzanar

Change 3: Obama’s Gitmo Trial: "They're engaging in jihad in a courtroom"

The defendants' behavior outraged 9/11 family members watching on closed-circuit video feeds around the United States at East Coast military bases. One viewer shouted, "C'mon, are you kidding me?" at the Fort Hamilton base in Brooklyn.

"They're engaging in jihad in a courtroom," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon. She watched the proceeding from Brooklyn.

A handful of people who lost family members in the attacks and were selected by a lottery to attend the proceedings watched in the courtroom….

Saturday's arraignment, which should have taken a couple of hours at most, lasted almost 13 hours, including meal and prayer breaks, as the men appeared to make a concerted effort to stall the hearing at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

At one point, Mohammed cast off his earphones providing Arabic translations of the proceeding and refused to answer Army Col. James Pohl's questions or acknowledge he understood them. All five men refused to participate in the hearing; two passed around a copy of The Economist magazine and leafed through the articles.

Walid bin Attash was confined to a restraint chair when he came into court, released only after he promised to behave.

Ramzi Binalshibh began praying alongside his defense table, followed by Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, in the middle of the hearing; Binalshibh then launched into a tirade in which he compared a prison official to the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and declared that he was in danger….

Nevin said he believed Mohammed was not responding because he believes the tribunal is unfair. Jim Harrington, representing Binalshibh, said his client would not respond to questions "without addressing the issues of confinement."

Cheryl Bormann, a civilian attorney for bin Attash, appeared in a conservative Islamic outfit that left only her face uncovered and she asked the court to order other women present to wear "appropriate" clothing….

(The idea here is to demonstrate the conversion of terror jihad to political/cultural jihad.)

read … Obama Allows Jihad in Courtroom


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