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Tuesday, June 05, 2012
June 5, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:00 PM :: 12444 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Fires at Kahuku Windfarm Released 'Reactive' Particles, $2M Damage

Volcanic Haze: Debunking the 'Science' Behind EPA's Particulate Regs

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted June 4, 2012

Full Text: 2011 Hawaii Youth Tobacco Survey

Isle economist lambasts 'clean energy' tax policy

Borreca: In a column last week, I noted that the present Council on Revenues is warning that the state is now losing $70 million a year by giving tax credits to homeowners and businesses that install solar photovoltaic systems.

If the council's argument was that it is costing the state too much money, Brewbaker fired back that it is not just expensive, it is also economically inefficient and bad social policy.

Brewbaker was also worried five years ago about the state's tax credit plans for high-technology investments.

"It's exactly the same waste of money, for exactly the same lame reason, with exactly zero public benefit. These tax credits are costly to the public, with zero public benefit," Brewbaker said.

What is happening, Brewbaker argues, is that tax credits (money) are given to private citizens and businesses from the public treasury, only to help those rich folks who can afford to put solar on the roof.

"These are public expenditures for private benefits," Brewbaker said.

Related: CoR: Solar Tax Credit Scammers Will Take $491M More than Projected

read … Brewbaker

Gary Hooser Quitting Abercrombie Administration?

PBN: He filed Monday to run for Kauai County Council, nearly one decade after leaving his seat at the seven-member table to run for state Senate.

The Abercrombie appointee has led the state Office of Environmental Quality Control since early last year.

PNN: According to the source, Hooser has grown weary of the Honolulu climate and is looking forward to re-connecting to his island home and his friends here on Kaua`i. Hooser lives in Wailua Homesteads

Related: Sen. Gary Hooser campaign website linked to Holocaust deniers

read … Hooser Headed Home To Kauai?

Why Run? GOP Candidate Says She's 'Fed Up'

CB: Capelouto, 50, says she's eager for another try because taxes and regulations are killing businesses.

They include her own, Oahu Express, a Kapolei shipping company.

"We are over-taxed and over-regulated," Capelouto said Monday as she and other Republicans gathered at the state Office of Elections in Pearl City for a photo-op. "We're losing the confidence of our business owners and outside investors."

read … Why Run? GOP Candidate Says She's 'Fed Up'

Star-Adv Questions Bus Service Cuts

SA: Honolulu officials are trying to strike a difficult balance between meeting the need for an essential service — bus transportation — and managing the city's rising costs, largely due to the increasingly expensive diesel fuel that powers those buses rail project.

This effort took effect this week as the city Department of Transportation Services rolled out the first batch of changes to its bus timetables that, without further tweaking, could discourage bus ridership. Avoiding such an outcome should be the goal of continuing surveillance gauging the impact of the changes. Engagement with community leaders must continue to find ways of keeping the bus a practical means of transit for Oahu's commuters.

Some of the loudest outcries about the changes to 13 routes came from riders of the one serving the most remote communities, Route 55, formerly known as the "Circle Island" service. The route, which serves the North Shore, Windward Oahu and Wahiawa, had off-peak service cut from a bus every 30 minutes to hourly.

One problem is the definition of "off-peak." For riders boarding in Wahiawa who miss the 6:02 a.m. bus, another won't be coming along for an hour.

read … Evaluate service, costs of TheBus

Harry Kim running for mayor

HTH: Kim has said the state’s recent move to waive environmental assessments on geothermal exploration was one factor that got him thinking about running….

“I have nothing but love and aloha and respect for Harry Kim,” Kenoi said Monday. “We look forward to a positive, spirited campaign.” Kenoi won’t point out any differences the two might have, preferring to focus on his own campaign.

“We had expected Harry to run all along. He’s been putting out feelers,” Yagong said. A fiscal conservative, Yagong suggested his campaign would focus on the growth of county government on Kim’s watch during the boom years of the last decade.

Between 2000 and 2008, Yagong said, the county added 442 jobs, and the county payroll rose from about $56 million to $79 million.

“There’s no question that during the boom years, when Harry was in office, government grew by leaps and bounds,” Yagong said.

That growth was helped in part by property tax increases — charging more for certain homes built on agricultural land, and raising the $25 yearly tax that thousands of homeowners used to pay to $100. On the other hand, he secured the passage of legislation to protect homeowner-class properties against rapidly rising tax assessments.

“It just gives the people a real clear choice,” Yagong said. When voters go to the polls on Aug. 11, they can choose a mayor that represents “the past,” “the current,” or “hopefully … the future.”

read … Harry Kim running for mayor

Hawaii Co Council Proposes Clearing Morons, Luddites from Vicinity of Geothermal Plants

HTH: Bill 256, proposed by Council Chairman Dominic Yagong, goes before the full council Wednesday in Hilo for first reading. Yagong said the bill is the first step in dealing with the potential health ramifications of living so close to the geothermal energy production plant, although it could also have impacts, in the future, on people living in other parts of the East Rift Zone.

“The real key is, we need to take care of the people around the plant first,” Yagong said, adding that whether the buffer zone should extend farther into the rift zone is a good question. “We can go and expand it even farther from there (the proposed one-mile buffer).”

One thing the county cannot do, he added, is force people to leave their homes, even in a buffer zone.

Yagong’s proposal would move responsibility for the geothermal royalty funded Geothermal Relocation and Community Benefits program, which would be renamed the Geothermal Relocation and Public Safety Program, from the Planning Department to Civil Defense. Bill 256 would also allow spending relocation money for health studies, Yagong said.

read … Bill creating buffer zone around geothermal plant to be considered

UH Instructors wait 6 weeks for paycheck

SA: "What we are looking at is streamlining the process and then computerizing it," he added. (Yep, you heard that right. The UH system does not have computerized payroll systems. Amazing, huh?) "Of course, what we are working on will not occur overnight, but we will put into place a check-and-balance system in terms of making sure the paperwork is current and work flow moves and that people are paid on time."

Instructors said they hope to see their paychecks soon.

"I was very encouraged by the chancellor's statement that there would be no retaliation," said Teddy Harrison, a registered nurse whose next course in elder care starts June 12. She said she has not been paid since Feb. 15 and is owed $3,800.

"I'm very patient because I love the job," Harrison said. Nonetheless she remains perplexed about the delays at the college.

"I have worked for mom-and-pops, I have worked for big hospitals in financial trouble and I was a captain in the Army Nurse Corps, and I have never been shorted any pay," she said. "Nor have I ever been a day late in getting paid." (Now you work for the State of Hawaii. Congratulations!)

read … We're working on it, college tells instructors waiting for their pay

Suicide Leading Cause of Fatal Injuries in Hawaii

SA: From 2006 through 2010, among residents, suicide was the leading cause of fatal injuries at 747 (23 percent); followed by falls, 514 (16 percent); poisoning, 432 (13 percent); motor vehicle accidents (occupant), 330 (10 percent); and drowning, 160 (5 percent).

Among nonresidents, drowning accounted for 159 deaths (46 percent), followed by motor vehicle accidents, 36 (10 percent); suicide, 29 (8 percent); falls, 27 (8 percent); and poisoning, 19 (5 percent).

Regarding suicides among residents, Galanis said health issues were cited as a reason for about half of the older victims, while among younger ones, romantic issues or breakups were involved. Although many people believe economic issues may be a significant factor these days, they showed up as a reason “relatively less” than the other two, he said.

During the five-year period from 2006 through 2010, the following activities led to drownings (for residents and nonresidents, respectively): boat accident, 8 and none; fell in/swept in, 19 and 18; fishing/shorecasting, 15 and one; picking opihi, 10 and none; free diving, 19 and three; scuba diving, six and 14; snorkeling, 13 and 83; swimming, 47 and 82; surfing/bodyboarding, 18 and eight; other activity (kayaking, kiteboarding, jet-skiing, etc.), 22 and 13; unknown activity, 47 and 46.

Ignore this: Highest suicide rate in US: Hawaii DoE highschoolers

read … Nonresidents’ drownings due to lack of awareness

 

State, EPA, Enviros Join to Assault Agricultural Use of Pesticides

 

CB: A meeting called by state officials on Monday to hear public input was largely a battle between farming interests, including Alexander & Baldwin and Monsanto, that pushed to ease the rules, and environmental groups seeking to make them more stringent.

Dean Okimoto, head of the Hawaii Farm Bureau, said that the rules would increase costs for farmers and impede the push for food sustainability.

“It’s starting to feel like it’s an inordinate burden on farmers in this state to take on,” he said during testimony. “It comes to the point that farmers are almost endangered species.”

But local groups including Earthjustice, the Surfrider Foundation, Life of the Land and KAHEA, argue that the state isn't doing enough to protect local waterways, aquatic resources and human health. …

Meanwhile, those that do spray pesticides in or near waterways are pushing hard for the state to finish up the rules, even though they don’t like them. The federal law went into effect last year, but the state still hasn’t finalized its regulations, meaning those that spray chemicals can’t obtain the required Clean Water Act permit.

At least some of them have halted spraying pesticides that control the growth of invasive species and weeds that choke irrigation systems for fear of being sued.

Sean O'Keefe, director of environmental affairs for Alexander & Baldwin, said that the lag time in releasing the state rules was impacting the company's operations on Maui and Kauai, as well as other farms they supply water to.

“We are not able to conduct normal maintenance activities on irrigation ditches and irrigation reservoirs to keep them flowing and keep them free of weeds,” he said during testimony. “This is leading to choking of the system, a reduced capacity of the system and inefficient water delivery because the water is going to feed weeds not crops.”

But while farming interests hope state officials will hurry up and finalize the rules, they also want to make sure that the state immediately repeals them if Congress eliminates the EPA requirement.

read … War on Agriculture

700 Repossessed Homes Sold under Quitclaim Deed Leads to Lawsuit

CN: Deutsche Bank sold more than 700 distressed homes at submarket rates by advertising them for sale by quitclaim deed rather than warranty deed, a class claims in Hawaii's First Circuit Court.

Link: Lawsuit Filing

Bankruptcies in isles decline by 34 percent

SA: The 219 cases filed in May was down from 334 cases filed the same month a year earlier, according to data compiled by U.S. Bankruptcy Court. It marked the largest year-over-year decline since October 2006, when filings fell by 94 percent.

Bankruptcy filings in Hawaii have been trending lower since averaging 330 a month during the recent peak in 2010. Bankruptcy filings averaged 235 a month for the first five months of 2012, down from an average of 277 a month in 2011.

read … BK

Energy Debate at Hawai`i Democratic Party Convention

DN: The Hawai`i Democratic Party Convention met at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel (May 25-27, 2012). Four town hall debates were held. One dealt with the proposed undersea cable.

Click Here to Watch Video

  • Jeff Mikulina (Pro Inter-Island Cable)
  • Henry Curtis (Alternatives Are Better, Cheaper, More Reliable)
  • With Rep. Marcus Oshiro (Moderator)

read … Energy Debate at Hawai`i Democratic Party Convention

Hawaii Scores “D-“ on Lobbying Regs

CB: Confusion over what constitutes "lobbying" — and whether that includes "meet and greet" events — contributed to Hawaii's poor scores in the State Integrity Investigation for its record keeping on lobbyists.

The state got a D- or 63 percent score for lobbying disclosure, tying it for 30th place with Maryland.

read … Lobbying

Deedy Prosecutor Slaps Down Civil Beat

Prosecutor: The prosecutor’s office has no objection to releasing the video once the case goes to trial. In temporarily sealing the video, Judge Ahn made the right decision in the interest of justice.

The prosecutor strongly believes that pre-trial release of the video can only result in prejudicing the proceedings….

Since there is no audio, the images play out in a vacuum and will fuel rather than dampen speculation. Without the context and descriptions provided in court by witnesses and experts, people will see what they want to see. And just as online dissemination is instantaneous, so is comment-board judgment. Which brings us to Civil Beat’s conclusion that the video must be favorable to Christopher Deedy because his lawyer wants it released.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Deedy, a federal agent, wants his case taken out of the hands of a state jury and heard in federal court, before a federal judge. In seeking a change of venue, his lawyer — who wants to have questionnaires sent to potential jurors as trial nears — would have to show that the jury pool was tainted.

read … Tainted

As Bus Cuts Take Effect, Council To Urge A Second Look

CB: At its next meeting this coming Wednesday, the council will vote on a resolution urging Mayor Peter Carlisle’s administration to re-evaluate the changes.

KHON: Some bus routes at full capacity after changes

read … As Bus Changes Take Effect, Council To Urge A Second Look

Use of public transit is soaring in 2012

USA Today: At least a dozen communities set records for the number of people riding buses, trains and light rail, even though some cut service because of tight budgets, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

More people returning to work helped, says Michael Melaniphy, the association's president and CEO.

STORY: Public transportation use up across the nation in 2011

He says ridership on what's called heavy rail — subways and elevated trains — increased in 14 of the 15 systems that have such transit. Use of light rail — streetcars and trolleys — rose in 25 of the 27 cities that have it. And 34 of 37 large cities saw increases in bus ridership.

"It's nationwide," Melaniphy says. The result: fuller trains and buses straining the capacity of systems.

read … USA Today

Voters have turned against California bullet train, poll shows

LAT: A strong majority of voters is against the bullet train project just as Gov. Brown is pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds….

read … LA Times

Education official from American Samoa gets 2 years in jail

AP: Gustav Nauer was sentenced to 25 months in prison Monday morning and ordered to repay $100,000 of the nearly $300,000 he and another education official stole from 2003 to 2006.

Nauer, 47, was head of American Samoa's School Bus Division at the time.

The other education official, Paul Solofa, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday after a federal jury in Washington D.C. found him guilty in January of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

read … Samoa Corruption


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