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Wednesday, June 06, 2012
June 6, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:27 PM :: 7712 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

The Year of Living Abercrombie: Recovery Stops, Hawaii Economy Shrinks 0.2%

Abercrombie Nominates Judge Pollack to Supreme Court

Incumbents facing off in redrawn districts

SA: State Sen. Carol Fuku­naga has served in the Senate for two decades. State Sen. Brian Tani­gu­chi has served for 18 years. But redrawn political boundaries after the census have placed the veteran senators into the same Manoa area district, so one of them will not make it past the August primary….

House Majority Leader Pono Chong and state Rep. Jessica Wooley will face each other in a Kane­ohe area district, while state Rep. Heather Giu­gni — appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie this year to fill a vacancy — and state Rep. K. Mark Takai will compete in an Aiea area district. Both primary campaigns have leadership implications in the House. Chong is a top lieutenant to House Speaker Calvin Say, while Wooley and Takai are part of a dissident faction that has sought to replace Say for several years.

Dissidents dodged a head-to-head duel when state Rep. Scott Saiki, one of the faction's leaders, chose to move to and run in an open Pawaa area district instead of against state Rep. Scott Nishi­moto, a fellow dissident. Saiki will have to contend with Lei Ahu Isa, a former lawmaker and state school board member, in the primary….

On Hawaii island, state Sen. Malama Solomon, appointed by Abercrombie in 2010 to fill a vacancy, faces a challenge from Lorraine Ino­uye, a former senator and Hawaii island mayor. In the Pearl City region, state Sen. Clarence Nishi­hara will be up against former state Rep. Alex Sonson. In Mililani, state Sen. Michelle Kidani will face former state Rep. Michael Magaoay.

In a Windward campaign that has already divided Demo­crats, state Sen. Pohai Ryan will be up against Laura Thielen, a former director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican. State Demo­crats are still reviewing whether to go to court to block Thielen's candidacy….

On Hawaii island, state Sen. Gilbert Kahele, who was appointed by Abercrombie last year to fill a vacancy, will face Hawaii County Councilman Donald Ikeda in the primary.

Honolulu City Councilman Romy Cachola, who is barred by term limits from seeking another term on the Council, is running for the House in a Kalihi area district. He is also a former House member.

Former state Sen. Eloise Tung­pa­lan will face Gregg Taka­yama, a former television reporter, in a Pearl City area House district. Former state Rep. Romeo Mindo is among several Demo­crats seeking an Ewa Beach House seat….

Former Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings hopes to reclaim his old Windward Senate seat — now held by Ryan — in the November general election. Former GOP state Rep. Colleen Meyer has targeted state Sen. Clayton Hee in a North Shore area district….

Ron Menor, who lost re-election to the Senate in 2008 after a drunken-driving incident, will run for an open Central Oahu seat on the Hono­lulu City Council.

Gary Hooser, director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, who lost a campaign for lieutenant governor in 2010, will run for the Kauai County Council.

PDF: View 060612HSA B4 Candidates Page Asa-A-NONEXX 13-07-21 on Scribd

read … Primary Challenges

CB: These races are competitive

  • District 3 and 6 on the Big Island, which are open;
  • District 11 on Maui, which has four Democrats — including former occupant Joey Bertram — aiming to face Fontaine in the general;
  • District 34 in Central Oahu, where former TV reporter Gregg Takayama faces another Democrat in the primary;
  • District 45 in the Mililani area, which is open;
  • District 40 in Ewa Beach, an open seat where Republican Bob McDermott is seeking a comeback and six Democrats are also vying for the seat;
  • Awana's District 43 Waianae-area seat, where three other Democrats are in the hunt along with two Republicans.

HR: Incumbent Senators to Face Former Legislators in 2012 Elections

MN: Pontanilla, Keith-Agaran compete for House seat

read … Competitive

Garcia: Raise Bus Fares to Pay for Rail

Nestor Garcia: By Council resolution, bus fare box collections must cover no less than 27 percent but no more than 33 percent of total system operating costs. City highway and general funds, plus federal grants or subsidies cover the rest.

But the current mood in Congress jeopardizes the federal portion. We must get ahead of this and increase the fare box recovery ratio and give the city the tools to address the problem. That's why I introduced Council Resolution 12-66, changing the ratio to 33 percent and 50 percent, and also Bill 28 to effect changes in bus fares.

TheBus is a public service that should be supported more by its users and less through taxes. (In other words: Raise Bus Fares) Likewise, the greater burden of funding the city's summer fun program should be on its users. In other words, you have to pay to play. (So bus riders are just like politicians?)

It's not a popular position, but it's a responsible one. The Council's Transportation Committee approved 12-66 by a slim 3-2 margin, but amended it to keep the floor at 27 percent. The measure now goes to the Budget Committee for further consideration….

Some will argue that the city should take the general excise tax surcharge collections dedicated for rail and apply them to other needed areas like TheBus. But they either don't or won't understand that under state law and city ordinance, those funds cannot be used for any other purpose.

The planned rail system's primary route is from Honolulu to Kapolei. This is also the most heavily traveled corridor for bus service, with more than 70 of the 100 "peak traffic" bus routes. With future growth targeted for Leeward and Central Oahu, demand for bus service is fast approaching capacity. When the rail finally starts operations, many of those buses can be freed up and redeployed to service other areas of Oahu.

read … Raise Bus Fares

City officials do the do-si-doon repaying $450M rail loan

Shapiro: The fare box will cover only 40 percent of rail's operating costs, so any fare revenue diverted to loan repayment would have to be made up with general funds from property taxes.

If there were $450 million out there in advertising and rental revenue, it would have been included in the financial plan long ago.

Even Council Chairman Ernie Martin, a key administration ally on rail, urged the city to be "just admit it, there is a possibility" that property taxes could be needed to cover the line of credit.

The city lacks credibility in promising that rail will be fully paid by the current excise tax surcharge and federal funds.

For that to happen, everything would have to go perfectly — taxes coming in on schedule, full federal funding, no cost overruns or surprises on issues like burials.

When's the last time everything went perfectly on so massive a government proj­ect? …

If rail is voted down because city leaders wouldn't be honest about the financing, they'll have nobody to blame but themselves.

Michael Asato: Honolulu City Council Should Heed Bright Red Warning Light for Rail Project

read … Do-si-do

School bus cuts are too deep, board says

SA: The Board of Education is asking schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi to dig deeper to cover a shortfall for student transportation and wants service cuts to affect no more than 4,300 student riders.

In a Department of Education plan presented to the board Tuesday, 18 percent of riders —or about 7,500 students — would no longer be served.

Board members said that number was too high, and Mata­yo­shi agreed to scour the department's budget for other state and federal funds that could go to school buses. "We want to minimize the impact on students," she said.

The DOE's new plan will be presented to the board next month. The department is trying to cover a $17 million shortfall for school bus service, and said cutting routes —though a last resort — will be a reality. BOE members also said it appears clear that at least some service will be eliminated.

But the board wants to limit cuts to about 10 percent of all riders.

WHT: DOE still looks to trim Big Island bus routes

CB: School Board Still Can't Decide How To Cut Bus Costs

read … School bus cuts are too deep, board says

The Truth Hurts: Hawaii Hospitals Score ‘C’ or Worse in National Patient Safety Survey

SA: "The data at this point (are) suspect," said Don Olden, chief executive of Wahiawa General Hospital, which gets 95 precent of its patients through emergency room admissions and received a below-average designation in the Leapfrog survey.

Olden noted that his small hospital — it has 53 acute-care beds — has so few procedures in some categories that one bad outcome can skew the percentages and pre­sent a misleading picture.

Six of 12 Hawaii institutions, including two that have closed, received C grades, according to Leapfrog, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that focuses on hospital safety and transparency.

Two other facilities, Kua­kini Medical Center and Wahiawa General, received "score pending" designations, which meant their grades, if assigned, would've been less than C….Kua­kini has the highest percentage of Medicare patients — 73 percent — of any hospital in the state.

Only two local institutions, Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Straub Clinic & Hospital, earned a top grade of A….

Representatives from several C-rated Hawaii hospitals, including Pali Momi Medical Center, noted that their institutions exceeded state and national averages for various quality measures and received top marks in patient satisfaction surveys.

Hilo Medical Center spokes­woman Mary Stancill said her hospital, which also rated a C, received federal government rankings comparable to national rates for some key measures, including serious complications and death rates for patients who suffered heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia.

Survey Site: https://leapfroghospitalsurvey.org/

read … The Truth Hurts

Star-Adv: Nurture isle tourism carefully

SA: The most recent numbers are impressive: an April record for visitor arrivals, resulting in an increase in spending by 26.8 percent — $246.5 million more than the same month last year — for a total monthly expenditure of $1.17 billion, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Daily spending per visitor was $194, 10.4 percent more than April 2011.

The national unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent in May, after Hawaii's jobless rate dropped from 6.4 percent to 6.3 percent in April, the lowest level in more than three years. While the nation's job market came as a blow to President Barack Obama, at least some of Hawaii's success can be credited to the president for signing an executive order in January with initiatives that included a pilot program and rule change for visas processing in China, whose travelers to Hawaii spend an average of more than $380 a day.

read … Nurture

Sludge Digester Egg Back on Council Radar

CB: This year, Carlisle asked for $24.5 million for the project in his proposed capital budget and the council quickly sliced that request to a fraction of what it had been. But with the budget up for final vote Wednesday, most of the money is expected to be reinstated — with major conditions.

Council members don't want to throw good money after bad on a technology that they're not convinced is best for the city. They argue that alternatives should be considered before any construction begins.

Carlisle's proposal landed in council chambers back in March. In April, two-thirds of the project funding — $16.5 million of $24.5 million — was removed in an amended draft. In May, the bill was amended again, and $4 million was restored, putting the funding level at about half of what Carlisle had requested.

On Wednesday, most or all of the rest of the funding could be reinstated. Nestor Garcia has floated a draft that would give the Carlisle administration the entire $24.5 million it originally proposed, while Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi has floated a draft that would restore an additional $9.5 million, bringing the total funding up to $21.5 million.

But the money could come with a catch. The current version of the bill and Kobayashi's draft both contain a proviso that would prevent the administration from spending on construction until the council is satisfied that all alternative sewage treatment technologies have been vetted. Garcia's draft does not include the proviso and would award the funding without condition.

SA: City Council budget preserves 'white bin' recycling

 

read … Vet Alternative Technologies? What a concept

DSCC Screaming about Government-Mandated Pay Hikes for Women or Something

PR: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday drew a comparison between Senate Republicans blocking an equal pay bill and former Gov. Linda Lingle’s 2004 veto of a state bill that would have prohibited gender discrimination in wages and established a four-year pay equity task force in her office.

Lingle, the leading Republican candidate in the Hawaii Senate race, said in her veto message at the time that state and federal law already prohibited employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. She said the scope and review for the task force was broad and vague….

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case, the Democratic contenders to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, condemned Senate Republicans on Tuesday for their action.

CB: Lingle Rebuts DSCC, Hirono Over Fair Pay (Mazie) Hirono and the DSCC’s latest attempted hit piece has nothing to do with equal pay and everything to do with Hirono and her political operatives trying to score political points. Unlike Hirono, Governor Linda Lingle does not engage in political gamesmanship.

CB: Case, Hirono Condemn GOP Rejection of Equal Pay Act

read … Government Mandated Pay Hikes

Alaskan Native Co Buys out Hawaiian Native Co

SA: Heide & Cook filed for Chapter 11 in February, after debts incurred to expand business during a booming economy in 2005 could not be satisfied when the economy contracted a few years later.

The company reached out to Chugach as a potential buyer to avoid bankruptcy, but Chugach pursued an acquisition through bankruptcy by acquiring $4.6 million in debt held by Bank of Hawaii for $1.4 million, and providing Heide & Cook another $250,000 to continue operations under Chapter 11.

Chugach became Heide & Cook's largest creditor and paid an additional $378,000 to primarily settle taxes and bankruptcy expenses and bring the company out of bankruptcy as its new owner.

As part of the sale, Heide & Cook will emerge with a slightly different name, Heide & Cook LLC, instead of Heide & Cook Ltd., and will no longer be a Native Hawaiian-owned company.

Chugach is a conglomerate set up in 1972 as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act enacted by Congress a year earlier. Native Alaskans became shareholders in Chugach corporations organized to administer land and money they received under the act.

read … Set Asides

Taking the wind out of wind energy’s sails

WB: The future of wind power is not looking very promising at the moment. A key tax break to boost the industry will soon expire and election politics are getting in the way of its renewal….

The topic of discussion at the conference this week has been on the Production Tax Credit implemented in 2005 by President George W. Bush to boost use of renewable energy. It is set to expire on Dec. 31.

The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kwh for the production of electricity produced by wind turbines, biomass, geothermal and landfill-gas plants….

President Obama supports the PTC extension. GOP candidate Mitt Romney opposes tax breaks for wind and solar, saying free markets should determine the fate of renewables, but he hasn’t yet announced a specific position on the PTC.

At a May 31 campaign event in front of the closed Solyndra factory, a California solar company that went bankrupt despite an infusion of federal subsidies, Romney called Solyndra an example of“crony capitalism” to support costly renewable energy projects.

Meanwhile, a bill to extend the PTC through 2016 remains stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee, and some think it’s unlikely to get traction as the calendar moves closer to the November elections. This uncertainty has already slowed wind projects….

read … Workboat

Senator Espero Discuses ‘Future Legislation’ With Occupy Honolulu

DN: Iʻve been covering much of the continuing story of (De)Occupy Honolulu, particularly the 24 raids on the camp conducted by the police and the Cityʻs Department of Facilities Maintenance. At 212 days, (De)Occupy Honolulu is the longest running encampment in the entire Occupy Movement worldwide.

One of its goals is to establish a 24/7 public forum. A public forum is a traditional use of public space, and is one of the identifying features of a real democracy. When Senator Will Espero dropped by this past Sunday (after getting a lot of feedback from his Facebook photo of the encampment) he became the first elected official to participate in the encampmentʻs Public Forum.

He spoke of various things, including food security and future legislation ….

read … Espero Joins Occupy Honolulu

Dope Priest Still in Jail After Allegedly Dealing Dope on Bail

SA: Federal prosecutor Jonathan Loo suggested that Christie's motive for wanting release is to promote his view that he should not be prosecuted because he used marijuana as religious sacrament in his The Cannabis Ministry in downtown Hilo.

Loo said people have been handing out fliers at the federal detention center where Christie is in custody advocating for his release. He said Christie has also contacted National Geographic to do a story on his life.

Christie's lawyer Thomas Otake said it was National Geographic who contacted Christie.

Chang ordered Christie detained in July 2010 because he said based on Christie's previous behavior, he would likely continue to have and distribute marijuana if he was released and is therefore a danger to the community.

Christie appealed to two District Court judges and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who all upheld Chang's order.

The government had submitted evidence that Christie continued to operate his ministry after the Drug Enforcement Administration seized marijuana and related products from the ministry, Christie's home and the homes of his alleged marijuana suppliers in a raid on March 10, 2010. The evidence included wiretap recordings and surveillance of the ministry.

read … What drugs will do to you

Court says Hawaii may regulate commercial beach weddings

SA: The court ruled today that beach wedding permits required by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources don't violate the First Amendment, but the power to revoke or modify a permit at any time does.

The ruling says the Aloha State's permitting requirement serves a significant governmental interest by protecting more than 200 public beaches in the islands.

The state began requiring permits for commercial weddings in 2008. That prompted a lawsuit by a group of Maui wedding planners who argued the requirements violate the First Amendment.

read … More Regulations


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