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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
June 26, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:40 PM :: 8642 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Governor Sends Notice of Intent to Veto 19 Bills

Illegal Vacation Rentals Behind Opposition to Haleiwa Inn?

Lingle, Bipartisan Policy Center Discuss Budget, Healthcare

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted June 25, 2012

Stanford University Paper Looks at Ranked Choice Voting

Hawaii Enviro-Democrats Compared to Spanish Inquisitors

Borreca: In our nation's quest to form a more perfect union, was there ever thought given to just making people be quiet?

What if the problem we face is not that the issues are too complex, the solutions too costly or the options too limited?

What if the real problem is that we talk too much about our problems?

Apparently this may be some of the thinking from sections of the state Democratic Party wanting to sanction Wahiawa Democratic state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz.

The issue is a complaint filed by Lynn Sager, chairwoman of the party's environmental caucus, who says that Dela Cruz introduced a bill that is "in direct opposition to our party platform."

The measure, Senate Bill 2927, was one of the big controversies of the recently concluded legislative session.

In one form, it would have exempted development around bus transit stations and planned rail stations from city planning. Critics feared it would do away with zoning and impact fees and scrapped public participation in the planning process.

Sager asked for a full inquiry by the Oahu County Committee into Dela Cruz's "status as a Democrat in good standing with the party."

The party's constitution says: "A member of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i may be expelled, censured or reprimanded for … failure to abide by the constitution of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and/or platform of the party."

It then goes into a long process for how the party is to sort things out. Happily for Dela Cruz, there is no mention of an auto-da-fe, as practiced by the Spanish Inquisition.

read … Dela Cruz allowed to raise debatable ideas, isn't he?

Abercrombie Threatens Veto of Hospital Fees Because DoH Isn’t Getting Enough of the Money

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie told state House and Senate leaders on Monday that he may veto a bill that would establish provider fees on private hospitals that could attract millions in federal dollars to help cover health care costs of the poor.

Private hospitals would pay $42 million in provider fees and get an estimated $77 million in return, a cost-sharing strategy that most states have adopted to leverage federal Medicaid money. The state Department of Human Services would receive a 7 percent share of the transaction, or about $2.8 million.

Human Services officials had wanted a larger share of the money to help the state restore some health benefits for the poor, but private hospitals warned that a bigger state share could have jeopardized industry support for the fees.

"There are concerns about the effect and equitableness of this measure," Abercrombie's staff said in a statement describing the 19 bills that made the governor's potential veto list. (Translation: DoH is not satisfied with its cut and we are carrying their water.)

State Sen. Josh Green (D, Milolii-Waimea), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and an emergency room doctor, urged the governor to let the provider fee bill become law. "It's an extremely important bill that will help keep hospitals open and bring tens of millions of dollars in federal money without costing taxpayers a dime," Green said.

(This sets up negotiations between DoH and the hospitals over money transfers)

Related: Governor Sends Notice of Intent to Veto 19 Bills

read … Hospitals

Billionaire One Step Closer to Clinching Lanai Deal

CB: Castle & Cooke, Murdock’s management company, warned the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that if it didn’t grant expedited approval by Tuesday, it could jeopardize the sale of the island. And if this were to happen, Castle & Cooke said it might not continue to fund the island’s operations.

“Buyer must be in place as owner by the June 27, 2012 closing date, or there will be no commitment to provide funding in the ordinary course of business,” wrote Castle & Cooke in PUC filings.

The company said that if the sale didn’t go through it could take years to find another buyer, potentially endangering the economic future of the island.

While the PUC gave the interim OK for the transfer of Manele Water Resources, Lanai Water Co. and Lanai Transportation Co. to Ellison, it reserves the right to deny the transaction when making a final decision.

Two community groups, Honolulu-based Life of the Land and Lanaians for Sensible Growth, have both criticized the speedy approval….

read … PUC Temporary Approval

Cost of Land at Root of High Cost of Living

CB: In 2011, the cost of living in Honolulu was 168 (up 3 percentage points from 2010) based on the national average of 100. (That means the cost of living is 68 percent higher in Honolulu than the average city in the United States.) Individual staggering differences are illustrated in basic food staples, such as bread, priced at $3.27 in Honolulu, as compared to $1.50 in Phoenix, Arizona, and $1.36 as the national average. Additionally, the cost of individual other basic items, from potatoes to toilet paper, are 30 percent to 100 percent higher in Honolulu than other cities across the United States.

The average individual income in Honolulu, Hawaii reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 was $28,882. The comparable after-tax income in the 13 other cities is shown in the middle of the chart. An income of $16,121 in Austin, Texas is actually equivalent to a $28,882 income in Hawaii. In simple terms, that would mean an individual could take a 44 percent pay cut and still maintain the same lifestyle.

Why are these figures so extremely skewed?

It all comes down to the cost of entitled (developable) land…

Land use regulation, NIMBY’s and a lack of competition (oligopoly) are the biggest problems Hawaii faces. Recent land use approvals help to mitigate the problem and new housing along the rail line could provide the competition we need.

read … Land and Power

HART public outreach contracts to be scrutinized

KITV:According to documents obtained by Councilman Tom Berg, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is spending $4.36 million per year on what the agency calls public outreach for the $5.3 billion rail project.

The review of HART's public relations contracts will be conducted by the office of City Auditor Edwin S.W. Young. First, the full council must pass the resolution, which faced no opposition by members of the Budget Committee.

"It's been frustrating for us to have to peel back the layers of who is employed by HART, who is employed by the major contractors and then the many subcontractors that are out there," said Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the Budget Committee.


read … Audits

Carlisle Returns Council-Approved Budgets — Some Signed, Some Not

CB: While signing some measures into law and allowing others to become law without his signature, Carlisle made his frustrations plain in a memo to the legislative body on the last day he could have issued any vetoes. Much of his concern focused on his perception that the council had overstepped its bounds and stepped on his toes as the city's executive.

The memo was sent to council Chair Ernie Martin Friday afternoon and includes explanations for why Carlisle declined to affix his signature to some of the bills. It was not yet on the city's Docushare website as of Monday. Civil Beat obtained a copy from the Office of the City Clerk and has posted it in its entirety at the bottom of this article.

In particular, Carlisle said he declined to sign the capital budget for next year because the council included a proviso that requires his administration to review alternative technologies before constructing a second sewage digester at Sand Island. That had been one of the final items hammered out earlier this month.

read … No vetoes

VoteVets Throws $100K More Behind Gabbard

CB: When VoteVets first went up with the spot, Civil Beat noted that the lack of transparency about its funding sources clouded the endorsement. Much of the money, apparently, comes from environmental groups and not from veterans.

Regardless, the spots might be part of the explanation for how Gabbard raised her name recognition so dramatically in the last few months to close what had been a 45-point deficit into a dead heat with Mufi Hannemann. Will two more weeks of airtime push her into the lead?

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=82hbkxix9ws

read … VoteVets Throws $100K More Behind Gabbard

Solar Scammers Trot out Rented Economist

SA: The state does not "lose" $70 million per year by funding the credit leading to a "revenue shortfall," as stated in recently published comments. Solar systems return more to the state than the credit monies refunded over their life. Individually, I go from a negative-$1 situation to import fossil fuel for energy, to a plus-$1 situation because I produce my own energy. If local, I spend my energy dollars saved in our economy. Anti-solar commentators also need to address Department of Taxation administrative rules adding to the credit cost in their "shortfall" accounting….

The "poor versus rich" language commentators use to frame their wealth-transfer discussion is politically charged rhetoric.

Anti-solar folk state the solar credit expenditure has "zero public benefit." So legislators, past and present, supporting the solar credit are ill-advised idiots?

Anti-solar folk equate Hawaii's "Clean Energy" policy with North Korea's "self-sufficiency development strategy." Wow! A more apt and appropriate comparison is South Korea's shipbuilding industry….

read … Cavalcade of Straw Men

Haleiwa Decision Deferred

SA: The City Council Budget Committee deferred action Monday on a resolution to approve the sale of city land in Haleiwa after opponents and supporters raised questions.

Council Chairman Ernest Martin, who represents Haleiwa, said he received many emails about the sale process. Martin introduced the resolution at the request of Mayor Peter Carlisle.

Part of the reason for the deferral was an amendment to the resolution, he said. Martin added a clause to the resolution that the Council wants proceeds of the sale to be used to acquire property for a park or recreational purposes on the North Shore.

Related: Illegal Vacation Rentals Behind Opposition to Haleiwa Inn?

read … Protesters?  Against a hotel?  Shocking!

Fontaine Factor - Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Host: Representative George Fontaine / HD 11

Guest 1: Ted Sakai, Director Public Safety

Guest 2: Andrew Barbee, Council of State Governments Justice Center

Contact: repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkQmkGVXSdA

No opinions issued by Office of Information Practices so far this year.

ILind: According to the list published on OIP’s website, the agency has not published a single opinion during 2012, and issued only a single opinion in 2011.

OIP is on track to its lowest output (at least as measured by opinions) in any 2-year period in its history.

Item #3: DBEDT Director finally files financial disclosure

Richard Lim, DBEDT director, filed a lengthy personal financial disclosure on June 14, well after the May 31 deadline.

Lim’s disclosure contains 4-1/2 pages of investments, many valued at less than $25,000, but at least nine valued at more than $100,000 and one at more than $500,000.

The larger interests include R3BST LLC, a Hawaii real estate limited partnership, valued between $250,000 and $500,000; JCM Investments LP of Vancouver, BC, and Bank of America, both valued at $150,000 to $250,000; Bank of Hawaii, Radiance Rewards LLC, ConAgra Foods($100,000 to $150,000).

Given the position of DBEDT in leveraging public resources through partnerships of various kinds with private interests, it looks like Lim has to be very careful to avoid conflicts between his family’s extensive investments and the department’s programs.

ILind: OIP Director replies regarding lack of opinions

read … Abercrombie’s Silent Office

Maui HS Teacher Allegedly took Lewd Photos of 4 year Old

SA: A 61-year-old Maui High School teacher will be tried in August in Washington state on a charge that he took nude photos of a 4-year-old girl there.

Thomas T. Takeuchi was arrested May 22 at the Portland Airport in Oregon and taken to Whitman County, Wash., where he was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor by the Pullman Police Department. He entered a plea of not guilty on June 7 and his jury trial will be held Aug. 20 in Whitman County Superior Court. He was released on his own recognizance.

The maximum penalty for sexual exploitation of a minor — a class B felony — is 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Takeuchi has been a social studies and science teacher at Maui High School since 1994.

(The State exempted itself from the reopening of the child abuse statute of limitations.)

read … Another Day in the DoE

'Pipe Whisperers' Hear The Rustle Of Running Water

CB: Omiya and his partner, Ed Takaesu, are among Honolulu's most seasoned pipe whisperers. They both have the formal title of "Water Service Investigator," but Omiya has self-applied a different descriptor — "surgeon," thanks to the precision the equipment affords them as they identify underground leaks.

"It'll go within about two feet or less, depending on what type of pipe," Omiya says. "When you go with PVC or AC, because it really absorbs the sound, there's more chance of an error, but it's going to be within, I would say, less than five feet. The machine is that accurate."

read … 'Pipe Whisperers'

NOAA Announces New WesPac Appointees

NOAA: The Western Pacific Council includes members from American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The appointees for 2012 fill obligatory seats for American Samoa, Guam, and Hawaii. The appointee for the obligatory seat from American Samoa will be announced at a later date.

Obligatory seats:  Michael P. Duenas (Guam),  Michael K. Goto (Hawaii)

read … NOAA News Release

New Vehicle Registrations Up 17.8%

SA: New vehicle registrations through May in Hawaii shot up 17.8 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a new report.

Hawaii Auto Outlook reports that the national increase was 8.4 percent.

read … Registrations Up

 


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