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Monday, June 11, 2012
June 11, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:33 PM :: 7947 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Lingle Campaign Launches Cable TV Channel 110

Hee: Sandwich Isles Communications "Will Quickly Face Bankruptcy"

Kamehameha Day: Abercrombie, Hirono, Akaka, Inouye sending Hawaiians to tribalism?

Hirono Pleased as Nutroots Boo Case, Apologizes again for not being Gay

CB: When the crowd started booing former Rep. Ed Case, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono paused.

"You've heard of him," she said, sounding pleased.

The congresswoman was onstage in a big, darkened conference room at the Rhode Island Convention Center, delivering a keynote address to a crowd of hundreds of progressive bloggers, community organizers and activists as part of the annual Netroots Nation conference.

These were Hirono's people.

It was the kind of crowd that sees Hirono's Democratic U.S. Senate opponent Case as so much of a blue dog that he might as well be Republican. The mention of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, who will likely square off against either Case or Hirono in the general election, drew more boos. …

“I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate," Hirono said. "I’m a woman. I’ll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I am an immigrant. I am a Buddhist. When I said this at one of my gatherings, they said, ‘Yes, but are you gay?’ and I said, ‘Nobody’s perfect.’”

read … Hirono Pleased

Nurse: HGEA is a Lousy Union Compared to HNA

CB: It has been over a year now since Hawaii state nurses have voted to reject the two-year contract (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013) worked out by the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the state of Hawaii. Back in April 2011, registered professional nurses in HGEA Unit 9 voted in April 2011: 392 to accept; 509 to reject. Total unit membership is 1,561….

In September 2011, attorney Alan Davis and AFSCME labor economist Michael Messina were retained to prepare for arbitration. Davis successfully represented all HGEA bargaining units in arbitration over the past 15 years. The goals and priorities of the negotiation would focus on the difference in pay between Hawaii’s public- and private-sector nurses which was now about 39 percent, differential and working condition, and continuation of “Step Movements.” HGEA has taken a position that will give up wage equality with private facility nurses as an issue in this negotiation and hopes over several years and many more contracts that it will be obtained.

In November 2011, Queen’s nurses ratify a 3 year contract with a 9 percent pay raise. At a time when other union members (HGEA) are facing pay cuts, furloughs and losing benefits, registered nurses at Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii's largest hospital, approved a nine-percent raise over three years.

"It was a fair raise. It keeps us up to pace, where we can maintain economic standards as far as supporting our families," said Sharon Chun, an intensive care unit nurse and seven-year employee at Queen's who's a member of the (HNA) union’s negotiating committee.

Cindy Kamikawa, vice president of patient care at Queen's and chief nursing said, "Our nurses are valuable members of our Queen’s ohana. The numerous contributions they make every day help Queen’s put our patients first as we continue to provide the best health care to the people of Hawaii for many years to come.

By March 2012 the Unit 9 negotiating team finally agreed to proceed to arbitration. The decision to proceed to arbitration does not mean that an arbitration hearing is imminent. Under the state’s collective bargaining law (Chapter 89, HRS) and the alternate impasse procedure HGEA signed with State of Hawaii in May 2011, there are a number of steps that must be completed before formal arbitration hearings can begin.

Meanwhile, in April 2012, Kuakini Nurses, Hawaii Nurses Association (HNA) ratified a 3 year contract with a 6 percent raise, and in May, Wilcox Nurses (HNA) ratify a 3 year contract with a 12 percent pay raise.

read … HGEA Is a lousy Union

Move to Natural Gas Could Kill 25% of Refineries’ Business

CB: A move toward natural gas could cause financial issues for the state’s two oil refineries which are already facing decreased sales as the state moves toward renewable energy. And that could mean the price of gasoline, marine and jet fuel could be higher.

Tesoro announced that it was pulling out of the Hawaii market in January and is currently looking for a buyer. Lance Tanaka, a spokesperson for the company, would not comment on whether the state’s push for natural gas could hurt its ability to sell its refinery.

Both Chevron and Tesoro import crude oil that is then refined into fuel oil for electricity generation and other petroleum products. Hawaiian Electric Co. accounts for about a quarter of the refineries’ business. And the loss of business from The Gas Co. would also decrease sales.

Civil Beat reported earlier this year that the loss of one or both refineries could make the state more vulnerable to disruptions in the global oil supply and that importing an already refined product for use in the electric companies’ generators could be more costly.

"We already have a refinery that is up for sale and another that is kind of skidding," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation, which is working to eliminate the state's reliance on fossil fuels. He said that the loss of the refineries could drive up costs for gasoline, diesel and other oil products used in the state's generators.

But both refineries are already facing an uncertain future with the push for clean energy, noted Fesharaki.

“So they can see the future regardless of whether LNG is coming or not," he said.

read … Can Natural Gas Solve Hawaii's Energy Woes?

HTA Homestudy Charter School Back on Track

SA: Hawaii's largest charter school has been directed to come up with a plan to be financially self-sufficient in its dealings with a mainland corporation as the next step in its recovery from a turbulent year that saw its principal fired and its money management faulted by auditors.

At issue is Hawaii Technology Academy's relationship with K12 Classroom LLC, which provides services including the school's online curriculum. In return for retaining that role, K12 has agreed to forgive payments owed when the academy has a shortfall — which amounted to $1.3 million in fiscal year 2011. Until January, K12 also employed the academy's top administrator.

HTA opened in 2008 in Wai­pahu offering a largely online education and soon became the fastest-growing charter school in the state (hence the DoE’s desperate need to harass this school). By last fall it had 1,085 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

That number dwindled to 843 over the school year. But enrollment is expected to climb to 1,161 students this fall, after major changes were made to its operations as recommended by auditors….

On the academic front, 81 percent of HTA students tested proficient in reading, well above the statewide average of 67 percent in 2011. (Just ignore this.) Just 55 percent were proficient in math, the same as the state average. All of its teachers are fully licensed, according to state rec­ords, and more than 90 percent are expected to return next year.

SA: Federal RTTT grants fund Waianae Coast and Kau-Pahoa courses

read … Harassment of a Charter School Success Story

DoE Bus Decision: Hire a Consultant to do a Study

CB: Hawaii school officials may get some help meeting a legislative mandate to cut rising bus costs by hiring a consultant to explore sustainable solutions to the state's escalating student transportation troubles.

Enlisting outside support could also shore up the expected loss to the Department of Education due to the departure of Randy Moore, assistant superintendent of facilities and support services.

Moore, who is retiring June 29, has been the DOE's point man on transportation issues. He has been a fixture in providing testimony before the Board of Education for the past few months. The board has looked to him for recommendations on how the district should cover a $17 million shortfall in bus services while minimizing the impact on student achievement.

Moore credits James Kauhi, student transportation services manager, for the technical knowledge. He said Kauhi will provide the continuity needed after he steps down and before his successor, yet to be named, takes over.

There's much to be done. When lawmakers approved the state operating budget last month, they gave the DOE $25 million for home-to-school transportation costs beyond those required by law (special ed students, for instance) as long as several conditions are met.

The DOE has started working on these requirements internally, but is also soliciting bids for someone to study the student transportation program as a whole.

read … DOE Hoping Consultant Finds Answers to Bus Woes

Hawaii Lobbyist Irregularities Not Audited

CB: Hawaii got dinged for not having a law that requires independent auditing of lobbying disclosure records when irregularities are uncovered. The state also rarely imposes fines against lobbyists for under-reporting.

read … Does Hawaii Effectively Monitor Lobbyists' Disclosures?

Rep Doc Hastings Seeks Overhaul of Endangered Species Act

SA: Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has called for hearings on the act. He claims it's "failing badly" because just 1 percent of all listed species have been taken off the list….Specifically, 80 percent of species haven't been listed long enough to reach their projected delisting date, according to the new study of 110 species. On average, species were expected to be recovered 46 years after they were protected under the act, yet have only been listed for 32 years. (Which means that a listing creates a lifetime sinecure for an eco-activist with a degree.)

jobseeker-conducted studies suggest the act could be strengthened if we move to protect species sooner, increase habitat protection, and raise the bar on what constitutes a recovered, sustainable population so even more ‘scientists’ can get a job!

Lets just skip to the comments: “The problem with the ESA is that it is so poorly written. The public does not realize, for instance, that evidence of a species being harmed is not a requirement, it can be assumed. Here is another one. If a coral is endangered in a part of the Pacific unrelated to Hawaii, its inclusion on the endangered species list requires that it receive special treatment here. The Act needs a rewrite, or it will cause so much hardship that it will end up destroying itself. Imua!”

“The ESA has good intent, but it has too many loopholes that can be exploited by unscrupulous NGOs. Half the time, listing a species isn't done primarily to protect the species itself, but for some ulterior motive that will benefit a special interest. CBD is a prime culprit here! Not all critics of the ESA are giant oil companies, like Mr. Greenwals suggests. Most of the people hurt by it are ordinary people who can't get on with their lives because the ESA creates so much red tape that only large corporations are able to deal with it - and most of the time their activities wouldn't have hurt the species in question anyhow. That's just wrong. The ESA needs to be thrown out and rewritten in a way that works to actually help species that need it but doesn't cause so much collateral damage to society.”

Related: Monk Seals Dying in NW Hawaiian Isles Because of Fishing Ban

read … Politics aside, Endangered Species Act has enviable record of success

NELHA Under Pressure

SA: State legislators requested the audit of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority mainly because of their concerns about a lack of accountability in how NELHA charged tenants for deep-sea water pumped through the facility's offshore pipes. What auditors found was an organization that "struggled with the basics of open government" and was "woefully inadequate" in a host of performance measures.

Among other problems, NELHA lacked an adequate master plan, financial plan, administrative rules and training program for board members, according to the 50-page audit released May 31. In addition, its policies and procedures manual, as well as website, were outdated, the audit continued. As a result, "NELHA has had difficulty convincing legislators, taxpayers and potential tenants of its worth and successes," according to the audit.

"Our findings reflect an agency which, after nearly 40 years, has yet to achieve its potential as an ocean-related research, education and commercial center," auditors wrote….

NELHA is self-sufficient on an operational level, with more than 75 percent of its operating income generated from tenant lease rents and seawater pumping fees. The agency still relies on state funding for capital improvement proj­ects. In addition, NELHA receives federal funding. The Commerce Department last week awarded NELHA $3 million for alternative energy and biotechnology proj­ects.

NELHA Audit: 40 Years of Pork Without a Plan

read … Pressure

SA: Patients should act as consumers, too

SA: The American health care system is driven at least partly by the fee-for-service model that dominates in the industry. It adds fuel to the rise in costs by incentivizing practitioners to order procedures and tests, all generating fees but some of them not necessary.

The countervailing force behind much of the health care reform effort is movement toward a system of payment based on the outcome — improved wellness — and not the input — tests and procedures. Health care is one of the few industries in which the buyers, who typically see themselves as patients rather than consumers, have such a weak voice.

The release last week of a national patient-safety survey grading hospitals is part of a welcome course correction, in Hawaii and elsewhere. More than half of the hospitals here were rated average or worse in the report issued by the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, underscoring how much room for improvement there is….

Related: How Safe are Hawaii Hospitals?

read … Patients should act as consumers, too

Federal fire union expresses concern over reduction in manpower on Oahu's leewardside

KITV: The Federal Fire Department operates out of the Lualualei Fire Station, but in April the feds cut 24/7 staffing down to an 8am to 4pm work day, Monday through Sunday.

Read … Federal Fire Union

Future of Haleiwa Farmers' Market remains uncertain

KHON: The fate of the Haleiwa Farmers' Market has been in limbo since April. After several extensions, Sunday, June 10, is technically the last day they are allowed to operate on state property. But they have no plans of leaving just yet.

The state gave the farmers' market an eviction notice back in April because of safety and liability concerns. The market's future is now tied up in legal battles and small farmers are on pins and needles awaiting their fate.

It looks like business as usual at the Haleiwa Farmers' market. But in the back of many people's minds is - will it be here next week?

"We rely on it for a lot of our sales, if you take away this market or any other market we do - that could be 20% to 25% of our sales would be gone," said Monique Vanderstroom from Naked Cow Dairy.

read … Future Uncertain

Carlisle set to discard school recycling sites

SA: The Carlisle administration announced at the end of April that due to diminishing returns from an annual $1.5 million investment, it would end sponsorship of the program that allowed schools and other community groups to earn money by letting the public drop their recyclable items in specially marked white bins, a program that has been around for more than 20 years.

The administration said that with the growing number of households switching to curbside recycling service, habits are changing, and much less is placed into the bins that once netted schools as much as $1,000 a month for the bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard and other recyclable material. About 160,000 Oahu homes get curbside recycling service, and the city plans to reach the remaining 20,000 single-family households beginning later this year.

The first of the bins are due to be removed Friday, but Hono­lulu Disposal Co., which has had the $1.5 million annual contract to provide 100 bins, has said it would continue to maintain about half the locations without paying the schools. The bins would stay in locations where the volume of recyclable items justifies the cost of hauling the bins, sorting and baling the materials and shipping the loads off island.

read … White Bins

Single-family homes at ‘sale’ prices on Maui

MN: The foreclosure law, Act 48, is intended to protect owner-occupants by requiring lenders to meet face-to-face with homeowners before foreclosing on a property. It also placed a temporary ban on new nonjudicial foreclosure actions, forcing any new foreclosures to go through the court system. That ban will be lifted July 1.

"Act 48 has impacted the market as we're seeing a decided drop in the number of listings," Batham said. "Inventory is low at the moment."

Lightbourn said that there are 53 bank-owned properties on the market now, compared with more than 100 this time last year.

"Partially it's the foreclosure law, where we're not seeing huge backlogs of foreclosures in the pipeline, according to banks," he said. "Here, there's been an increase in the willingness of banks to work with short sales, which used to be a very trying process."

Batham said her agents are seeing the same thing.

"I'm seeing a lot of short sale deals going through," she said. "Most (bank-owned) properties are getting multiple offers on them. Banks are much more likely to, one, do them quicker, and two, be reasonable about the prices they're accepting."

read … Single-family homes at ‘sale’ prices on Maui

Derelict lots spur calls for harsher penalties

SA: Attorney Richard Turbin, who lives around the corner from the weedy parcel, said the city needs to impose harsher penalties against property owners like Kawa­moto who fail to maintain their land.

The billionaire recently paid $3,000 to the Department of Planning and Permitting for violations on three properties, bringing the total amount of fines he has paid to $38,000.

Turbin calls that sum "laughable" and criticizes the city for taking too passive an approach to the problem.

The fines are chump change to a billionaire like Kawa­moto, said Turbin, who ran for the City Council in 2010.

"If the fines started amounting in the millions rather than the thousands, even a billionaire would stand up and take notice," said Turbin. He proposed the city increase the daily fine to $500 from $50 for violators.

read … Kawamoto, again

NYT: Pakalolo is Obama’s Connection to Hawaii and Green Harvest Led to Meth Epidemic

NYT: People with Hawaiian roots, like me, like to look for signs of true Hawaiianness in our president…. But I think I’ve finally found a good one. Pakalolo.

Things changed after Mr. Obama (Punahou, ’79) and I (Damien, ’82) left for college. The police waged a large-scale eradication program. Helicopter spraying sent supplies plunging and prices through the roof. The mood shifted, and Hawaii spent the 80s to the present day struggling with an epidemic of methamphetamine.

Here’s a simple question for any doper connecting Green Harvest with meth: “Has it ever been difficult to get marijuana in Hawaii?”

read … Dopers at NYT

Barack Obama's transsexual nanny Evie in fear for her life in Jakarta slum

UK Telegraph: Barack Obama's former Indonesian carer, who dressed as a woman but was born a man, has given up her feminine identity and is living in a Jakarta slum in fear after a life-time of beatings and taunts.

Another cool story: Obama's Puck's Alley Drug Dealer Killed by Gay Lover

read … Another Wonderful Story from Obama’s Childhood


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