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Friday, May 04, 2012
May 4, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:20 PM :: 9545 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Abercrombie: Re-Vote on HSTA Contract Has No Legal Standing

Abercrombie Cheers Big Cable, Release of Criminals

House Republicans reclaim the legacy of "Teddy" Roosevelt

Marcus Oshiro: ‘Top Ten Reasons’ to Pass Supplemental Budget

Mass Release of Hardened Career Criminals Will Begin this Summer

HNN: It's a move prison reform advocates are applauding. Legislators have voted to make fundamental changes to the state's judicial system. They passed a law that streamlines prison and parole requirements and could ultimately help reduce the number of Hawaii inmates in mainland corrections centers.

Carmael Stagner chats with her father about the day this August when her husband will be set free. "I'm just kind of getting chicken skin because it's soon!" says Stagner.

36 year old Joseph Kamealoha has been in and out of prison since 1994….

read … Crime Wave Coming

Repeat Contract Rejection by HSTA Members Will Likely Lead to Strike

CB: "We feel that with more time and more information, our members can learn more about this good and viable agreement," he said. "Time is of the essence because of the Race to the Top grant."

Jim Halvorson of the Attorney General's Office said if the union ratifies the January contract and the state wanted to consider it, both parties would probably have to meet.

"There might be some things in the agreement that due to the passage of time have been rendered moot and would have to be updated," he said….

Okabe's letter to Abercrombie said the HSTA Board of Directors decided to hold a vote to ratify the January settlement "or to pursue other action."

Some teachers have interpreted "other action" to mean authorizing a strike.

Joan Lewis, HSTA treasurer and a member of the negotiations team, confirmed that the union is "out of options."

"I am more than ready to talk to you about why this contract was and is worth your yes vote," she said in a Facebook post on the union's website. "If I cannot give you the information you need to vote for the contract, then I will be happy to act on your vote to authorize a strike."

Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda said she too has heard that "other action" means a strike….

How this is being reported nationally: Re-Vote is "driven by the urgency to preserve" the state's $75 million Race to the Top grant

How this is being reported locally: The rejected teacher contract has "no legal standing," Abercrombie says

read … HSTA Prepares to Strike

Teachers Angered by Re-Vote, Prepare to Strike

KITV: By Thursday night, HSTA's Facebook page was on fire, receiving more than 200 responses -- the vast majority -- angry with the union.

"Hey Wil, can I get my union dues back? What's the point of having a union if they don't know how to negotiate?" Matthew Calica wrote.

Calvin Paleka added, "HSTA. H-awaii S-crewing T-eachers A-gain. But teachers are expected to just pass it now? What in the world is the union thinking?"

read … Entirely Predictable Response Exactly as Expected by Okabe and Daugherty

Vote Count For New HSTA Prez on Saturday

CB: The voting has ended, but the counting has yet to begin in the Hawaii State Teachers Association election.

A contracted company will tabulate the results Saturday morning. Winners will be announced after the Board of Directors certifies the results.

read … HSTA Vote

Legislature Votes to Burn $14.4B

SA: The state House and Senate gave final approval Thursday to an $11.2 billion budget and a $3.2 billion outlay for capital improvement projects, taking measured steps to restore money cut from programs during the recession while investing in construction intended to prod economic recovery.

The supplemental budget came in slightly higher than what Gov. Neil Abercrombie requested in December and later than anyone at the state Capitol can remember. The budget contains more money next fiscal year for health care for the poor, for welfare and a student spending formula to reflect enrollment increases at public schools.

Lawmakers also made down payments on Abercrombie's initiatives for early childhood education, watershed protection and criminal justice reforms while giving the new chief information officer the resources to start an overhaul of the state's outdated technology footprint.

The compromise on state construction — the issue that delayed the budget — produced the $3.2 billion outlay, which includes $825 million in construction financed by general obligation bonds. Abercrombie had asked for a $300 million increase in bond-financed construction.

HR: Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Michelle Kidani Details 2012 CIP Budget

ILind: Session’s pau…Assessing the damage

CB: How Abercrombie Fared at the 2012 Legislature

CB: Disagreement, Exemptions Marked 2012 Hawaii Ledge

On Line: Complete List of Bills Passed by Legislature

read … $11.2B plus $3.2B

Senate passes bill authorizing the state to establish regulations for an undersea power cable

AP: A proposal to connect Oahu and the neighbor island power grids with an undersea cable has cleared a legislative hurdle.

The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would allow the state to establish regulations for development of a high-voltage electric transmission undersea cable.

Proponents of the cable say it would allow power sharing between islands, which could increase the reliability of electricity and stabilize power costs.

Hawaii households pay about $200 a month for electricity, three times the national average. (And now it will be even higher)

HNN: Interisland underwater cable bill passes

KHON: Legislative session wraps up last day

HR: Roz Baker: Legislation Establishes Regulatory Framework for Developing, Financing, and Constructing Underwater Electric Transmission Cable

read … Big Cable, Big Bill

Stabbed in the Back by Sens English and Baker, Molokai and Lanai Wind Opponents Prepare for “Long Road”

MN: "There's a long road ahead for us," said Robin Kaye, a spokesman for the group Friends of Lana'i, which opposes a proposed wind farm project on the island's north end because of the development's cultural and environmental impacts. "Our focus in the next six to nine months is to educate folks on Oahu how much this is going to cost."

Even as its proponents maintained that Senate Bill 2785 would only allow the Public Utilities Commission to regulate an undersea

cable if it were constructed, Kaye said the bill is a "gift to the developers."

Bill proponents said that cable would allow power sharing between islands, increasing the reliability of electricity and stabilizing costs in Hawaii, where residents pay about $200 a month for electricity, or three times the national average.

Kaye maintained that the bill would have electricity consumers pay for the cable's costs, now estimated at $1 billion.

Molokai resident Kanohowailuku Helm, president of I Aloha Moloka'i, a grass-roots group, said his and other groups would remain opposed to the proposed undersea cable and a planned wind farm on the west side of the Friendly Isle.

"We are not going to change our stance no matter what the Legislature says or wants to do," Helm said via cellular phone at the Capitol after the bill was heard.

Helm said he wasn't surprised the bill was passed because he could see how legislators were leaning in favor of the measure when Molokai residents spoke to them just prior to Some senators Thursday expressed dismay that House members did not want to take it to a conference committee session and instead pushed it forward to a floor vote.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker (skip excuses) supported the bill but (made more excuses which we need not consider).

Former cocaine dealer, Sen. J. Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English also voted in favor of the bill, but (made more excuses which we need not consider).

read … Stabbed in the Back by their Own Senators

Environmental exemptions for geothermal energy near final approval

KITV: Unlike wind or solar, geothermal energy located deep below the earth's surface is always on.

But companies will often shy away from exploring new geothermal sites in Hawaii because of the state's strict environmental regulations, which cost both time and money.

On Thursday, a subcommittee of the state Environmental Council heard from potential geothermal developers about why the State Land Department should be allowed to waive certain environmental regulations.

"The cost and timelines of the current rules make it restrictive to explore in this state," said Bill Sherman, land manager for Ormat Technolgies, a Nevada based company that owns the 30 megawatt geothermal plant in Puna on the Big Island.

After hearing testimony, the seven member subcommittee approved three environmental exemptions for geothermal exploration. They include non-invasive testing and analysis, the issuance of leases on state or reserved lands, and the drilling of exploration wells.

If approved by the full 15-member Environmental Council May 17, the exemptions would allow the State Land Department to drop costly environmental assessments from geothermal exploration projects.

read … Geothermal 

House Kills Transit-Oriented Development Bill

CB: In a tough day for Donovan Dela Cruz but a victory for environmentalists and open-government folks, the House followed the Senate’s lead and killed the infamous Senate Bill 2927.

read … House Kills Transit-Oriented Development Bill

Tax Tricare? Senate Unanimously Overrides Abercrombie Veto of GET Exemption

CB: The Senate unanimously voted to override Gov. Abercrombie’s veto of Senate Bill 2101.

The bill would extend a repeal of the GET exemption for amounts received from the military’s TRICARE health-care program from Dec. 31, 2013 to the end of 2015.

read … First Veto Override

Cayetano Doubles Down: Calls Inouye Uninformed, Out of Touch

SA: Discussing whether Ino­uye could secure $1.55 billion in federal money for the proj­ect, Caye­tano spoke of how he reached out to Ino­uye's office seeking a face-to-face meeting but never received a response.

"Sen. Inouye is up at the 30,000-foot level dealing with national and international affairs," Caye­tano said. "The senator should take time to go down to McDonald's and talk to the retirees who go there to eat breakfast because it's cheap.

"He's out of touch, as far as I'm concerned. I respect Sen. Ino­uye — he's done a lot for our country and for our state — but we shouldn't defer to him."

Cayetano said Thursday he was "perplexed" by Ino­uye's reaction.

"When it comes to the rail issue, basically, he's not informed, and I don't know what's so offensive about that," Caye­tano said. "So we disagree on something."

Cayetano contends the rail system is more likely to cost about $7 billion and that the city will have to raise taxes or shortchange core services to make up the difference. Ino­uye has said the only thing that can stop the proj­ect is "World War III."

read … The Emperor has no Clothes

Cayetano Pummels Caldwell, Carlisle Until They Run Out of Questions

SA: “No mas” comes to mind after witnessing the pummeling former Gov. Ben Cayetano gave former acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell in the debate Wednesday night in downtown Honolulu.

The two appeared along with Mayor Peter Carlisle in a 75-minute debate that was mostly about seeing if Caldwell and Carlisle could handle the Cayetano onslaught.

Cayetano’s tactics were tough enough that at the end of the debate, when the three were given a free two-minute period to ask questions of their opponents, Caldwell folded and said he didn’t have any more questions to ask.

“I’m hungry, I bet you guys are, too; I’m OK, I enjoyed the back and forth,” Caldwell said.

Neither Caldwell nor Carlisle, during any of their question periods, asked Cayetano to spell out his alternatives to the rail project or questioned why he purposely said the $5.3 billion rail project would cost $7 billion. But, to run out of questions in a political debate is like the matador, walking away from a still-living bull, telling him, “Well, I enjoyed that. Have a nice day.”

Cayetano, however, had plenty more questions, asking Caldwell to explain what he would do as mayor if the rail was partially built and then ran out of money. Caldwell said he already answered that question; Cayetano rephrased it; Caldwell said he would call for a public referendum, adding, “I already answered your question — if you don't like it, I will give you the same answer.” Cayetano dismissively shot back, “I don't know if they will like the answer, but I think they can figure you out.”

read … A good Story for anybody dumb enough to think that politics is about being nice

Charter School Accountability, DoE to get a Slice of Pre-K Education

SA: Lynn Finnegan, executive director of the Hawaii Public Charter Schools Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, said there is anxiety about implementation of the bill.

But she added there is an opportunity to "really make this positive for the public charter schools."

"We'll be focusing on doing just that … helping to preserve that innovation space while making sure the system is set up for fair and effective governance," Finnegan said.

The push to overhaul the state's charter school system followed reports of possible favoritism in the hiring of relatives at a few charter schools, questions about use of public money and the academic performance of students at some campuses. In December the state auditor issued a critical report on the system, concluding that in many cases charter schools are "free to spend public funds with little or no oversight."

The early-learning bill came out of a broad effort to beef up the state system.

Hawaii is one of 11 states with no state-funded preschool program, and many children enter kindergarten lacking basic skills and preschool experience.

Two years ago legislators approved the elimination of junior kindergarten in 2013, amending state law so that kindergartners must be at least 5 years old on the first day of a new school year.

The new measure would delay the elimination of junior kindergarten by one year, giving the state more time — and a strong mandate — to create a statewide early-learning system.

read … Just wait ‘til you see what they are going to teach your 3 year old.

Go Topless Day Leads to New Speech Regulations

SA Editorial: The American Civil Liberties Union has come down in favor of legislation now before the City Council that seeks to amend the regulations that govern "expressive activities" in public parks. Considering the ACLU aversion to fiddling with free speech, its support tells you that the current rules must need improvement and that there could be a rational basis for the bill.

Just how much improvement became clear last year when Jamie and Tess Meier, a Maui couple, joined in the National Go Topless Day protest and were cited not for the wife's attire — there was no explicit ban of female toplessness — but because they violated the city's requirement for a permit for meetings or gatherings of two or more persons in a city park.

Most people were surprised to find such a ludicrous requirement on the books. But rather than suing, the ACLU decided that the approaching Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last November provided an opportune moment to clarify the rules of public protest. In the months that followed, the organization hammered out a settlement with city lawyers on more reasonable regulations that would apply to city parks.

The legislation, Bill 38, attempts to resolve issues raised in that negotiation

read … ACLU

CB Poll 66% Want to Die but Won’t do it Themselves

CB: Hawaii voters support the rights of doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives by better than a 2-to-1 margin, according to The Civil Beat Poll.

Liberal, well-educated and wealthier voters were most likely to say physician-assisted suicide — also known as "death with dignity" — should be legal, the survey of 1,162 registered voters1 found.

Proponents have argued that death with dignity is already legal in Hawaii. Doctors and have formed an aid-in-dying advisory council and are already offering to help terminally ill patients end their lives.

read … Assisted Suicide Support Strong

Abercrombie’s OIP Director Insults Open Government Advocates

DN: “Cheryl Kakazu Park, the OIP director, described the reaction by open government advocates as ‘an emotional response, not a reasoned response.’ ” 

I read this line, from the article Open records advocates fear information roadblocks (Star-Advertiser p. B1, 5/3/2012), a couple of times, and realized that I’m having a strong “emotional response” to Park’s statement as reported in the paper.

Testimony submitted in opposition to this bill (SB2858) included well-reasoned arguments by members of the County Council of Maui, the Mayor of Honolulu, the ADA, the Society of Professional Journalists, respected journalism professor Beverly Keever, the Big Island Press Club, and others.

This administration-sponsored bill, along with its companion, SB2859, has been described as setting back Hawaii’s sunshine laws by 24 years. John Pritchett published a cartoon devoted to this bill yesterday in the Honolulu Weekly titled “Pulling the wool over your eyes.

This is the same OIP director who decided not to issue opinions although the law mandates her to do so, and has issued only one opinion in 2011 and none at all in 2012.

WHT: OIP touts Sunshine Law tweaks

read … Abercrombie’s Pick

Speaker: Thielen is ‘Out of Order’

CB: Speaker Calvin Say just verbally reprimanded Rep. Cynthia Thielen regarding a motion to recommit — i.e., kill — Senate BIll 2424, concerning Labor Department regulation of professional employer organizations. Say says Thielen was commenting on the bill and not the motion, a no-no.

Karl Rhoads, chair of House Labor, says the bill had plenty of hearings, but Thielen thinks a lot of folks don’t appreciate what’s been put in the bill

As punishment of sorts to his members, the speaker ordered a roll vote on the motion, which proved to not have enough votes: 20 ayes, 30 noes, 1 excused.

read … Out of Order

Marumoto Wins Funding for Snake Inspection Program

HR: Barbara Marumoto, (R-Kahala, Kaimuki), is glad that the brown tree snake dog detection program will be re-started.

HB 1943 is expected to pass on May 3. The state budget bill, HB 2012, contains $162,540 to match federal funds for the dog-detector program. The money will be used for one inspector/trainer and three inspector/dog handlers.

The dogs will also be used by the state Department of Agriculture to ferret out other invasive species in the incoming airline baggage area and in the small-package air cargo area.

read … Snakes on an Island 

Nene Transfer Averages $28K per Goose

MN: So far, 32 nene from Kauai have made their home on Maui after state workers last year started to remove at least several hundred of the geese near Kauai's Lihue Airport to ensure that the birds don't become flying hazards for aircraft.

The new Maui residents are being housed at a nene facility managed by the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife at Haleakala Ranch, said Thomas Ka'iakapu, Kauai wildlife manager of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

On Wednesday, he said the nene were "doing really well." He hadn't heard of any problems from Maui state officials.

The project began last year, with a first set of birds arriving on Maui in April 2011. Nene also have been sent to the Big Island.

Overall, the budget for the five-year relocation plan is approximately $6.5 million, state officials said. So far, project costs, including salaries, amount to $923,674.

($923,674 / 32 = $28,864.81 per goose)

read … Million Dollar Nene

Public Housing Tenants Score $500K Settlement

SA: In December 2008, Lawyers for Equal Justice filed a class-action lawsuit in Circuit Court against the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and Realty Laua LLC, formerly known as R&L Property Management LLC, for substandard living conditions that included broken elevators, roaches, vermin and lack of equipment to ensure access for the disabled.

A settlement was reached in December 2011.

About 770 tenants — 630 at Kuhio Park Terrace and 140 at Kuhio Homes — are entitled to receive cash rebates.

Under the settlement, about $250,000 is allotted for rent abatement, and an additional $250,000 will go toward programs such as job training, home care and transportation for the disabled, on-site legal services and early education. Executive Director Victor Geminiani of the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice said a request for proposals will go out in early June to find organizations to provide services and programs.

read .. Kuhio Terrace

Insurance Commissioner's Financial Disclosures are Confidential

CB: The state insurance commissioner is required to file financial disclosure forms to the State Ethics Commission. Under the law, the commissioner's financial disclosures are confidential. (A previous version of this story did not specify that state law prohibits the Ethics Commission from releasing the commissioner's disclosures.)

read … Insurance

First Wind files $15M permit for Hawaii wind farm

PBN: First Wind has filed a $15 million building permit for work on part of its 70-megawatt Kawailoa Wind Farm on Oahu’s North Shore.

The contractor for the work is Wisconsin-based RMT Inc., which will be doing business as RMT Renewables.

In March, Boston-based First Wind closed on $236 million in financing for what will be the largest wind power project in the state.

It began construction in February and hopes to be operational by the end of this year, according to Kekoa Kaluhiwa, who leads First Wind’s external affairs in Hawaii.

read … $15M Permit

Tax Subsidized Solar Buyers Not Interested in Cheaper Product

CB: For that third choice, I chose a U.L.-listed Chinese brand with a -0/+3 percent power tolerance, standard industry warranty and accompanying flash test data showing that each and every module produces its nameplate rating or higher. With what comes out of my pocket for this brand a whopping 60 percent cheaper than what it costs me for my Best brand and 20 percent cheaper than my Better brand, I would cover the widest price range for those wanting the best and willing to pay for it to those not really caring what was on their roof as long as it was at the lowest cost and brought down their electric bills. I could now offer three options: Best, Better and Good. Let the increased sales come rolling in! Or so I thought.

I have yet to make a sale using my Good modules despite the total installed cost being dramatically lower than the Best option and 10-15 percent less than the Better option…. And putting aside all the sales and marketing hype, Generic Brand Chinese is likely to produce 90-95+ percent compared to what Premium Brand Mono will produce over their respective lifetimes.

read … Solar

Band Deposits Gambled Away in Vegas

KITV: Members of the Southside High School Rebel Band paid Ope Saaga $267,000 for their dream vacation.

The Willard High School Marching Band in Willard, Mo. paid another $360,000 for the same trip.

Saaga had brought the Willard band to Hawaii nine years ago.

"Very nice man, family man. Very upstanding. Everything. And we decided to go with him on this third trip this coming summer," said Chris Church, the Willard High School band director.

With $627,000 in his hands, the temptation may have been too much. Saaga headed to Las Vegas.

read … What goes to Vegas, stays in Vegas

New graduates face challenging job market

HNN: At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Preston Bauder studied his notebook and contemplated his future as a Marine Biology major. He's heading toward graduation and eager to work.

"I'm willing to pretty much get anything I can at the current moment," he said. "I see the job market is really hard right now."

One national report said half of college grads are unemployed or under-employed. Thousands of UH students turn their tassels this month. Career counselors advise them to ditch unrealistic expectations

"Students think that they're going to graduate and they're going to become the vice-president ….

read … Graduate

The Top 10 Facts About Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

CFAP: What You Should Know About America’s Fastest-Growing Racial Group

CB: Poll Finds Major Political Parties Ignore Asian Americans

read … CFAP

Drugmakers’ Deal With Obama Said to Be Probed by House

Bloomberg: Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Merck & Co. (MRK) are being pulled into an expanding congressional investigation into the agreement drugmakers reached with the Obama administration to support the Democrats’ overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, according to three people familiar with the talks.

The probe began last year, with Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee seeking documents from an industry trade group, said the people, who aren’t authorized to speak publicly. When that group didn’t cooperate, the panel decided to target Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, along with Merck,Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Abbott Laboratories (ABT) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN),…

read … Kickbacks

Punatics, SPACE Cadets Fight over land Use Violations by HICCUP Circus

HTH: At a packed meeting Thursday in Hilo, the commission could have revoked the special use permit issued in 2001 to the Hawaii Volcano Circus, the parent organization of the Seaview Performing Arts Center for Education. Instead, the commission voted to defer a final decision until December.

That will allow time for HVC to submit an amendment for the permit to broaden the scope of things HVC is allowed to do.

HVC, along with its related programs — SPACE, the farmer’s market, the satellite charter school and the HICCUP Children’s Circus — was facing a shutdown for violations of the permit following numerous complaints by a handful of neighbors about noise and parking issues.

The county Planning Department had sent HVC a cease-and-desist order in March 2010, but Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd allowed the farmer’s market and bazaar to continue temporarily while members of the nonprofit organization prepared an amendment to the 2001 permit.

The amended permit was submitted to the county in July 2010, but was withdrawn so that HVC could propose a lease of adjacent state land from the Board of Land and Natural Resources. This required an environmental assessment, which has prevented HVC from submitting the amended permit to the county for approval.

In the meantime, neighbors frustrated with the organization’s apparent disrespect for land use laws continued to file complaints with the Planning Department….

R.J. Hampton, a neighbor of the center, provided some fireworks.

“I’m the tyranny of the minority that everyone’s talking about, because I’ve made a complaint,” she said. “When I look at Graham Ellis, I don’t see SPACE.” She said she sees a corporation of Europeans and Americans coming in “to make their fortune. Isn’t it nice.”

read … These people are smarter than you are. They are enlightened, conscious and progressive. Bow before their majesties.


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