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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
April 22, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:11 PM :: 5613 Views

Contradictory Responses on Hawaii Health Connector Investigation: Pat Saiki Calls on US House to Guide GAO

Ira Einhorn, Earth Day's Dirty Secret

Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

Which kills more: ideology or religion?

No New Taxes! Maui County Budget Hearing April 24

Do We Really Want Another ‘Waikiki’ in Kakaako-Makai?

Parties Reach Agreement in Na Wai Eha Water Flow Case

$335M Airport CIP Released

Democratic Party always finds a way to stifle speech

Borreca:  The party of the "little guy," the party that speaks for the common man and the party of the big tent encompassing millionaires and the homeless, the disposed and the despised, has decided to not let Ige give a speech at the upcoming state convention May 24-25....

This "just say no to Ige" is not the first time the Democrats have decided that democracy and the right to speak at their convention have gone their separate ways.

Two years ago, the party took the "free speech isn't free" cliché to another level by charging candidates $500 a minute to address the assembled delegates.

The only person who wanted to pony up the money was then-U.S. Rep., Mazie Hirono, who was running for the U.S. Senate against former U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Once word got out, party leaders changed their minds....

Torturing the underdog is something the Democrats do almost by reflex.

In 2006, the party staged what was described as a "pre-election coronation ceremony for U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, who is battling a primary challenge from Ed Case."

At that convention, Case was allowed to speak, but much of his speech was drowned out by boos from the Akaka loyalists.

read ... Democratic Party always finds a way to stifle speech

HGEA Principals gets 18% pay raise, After 10 Years Still No Agreement on Evaluations

SA: Arbitrators did not resolve disputes between the union and the state over high-stakes evaluations for principals. 

Despite performance evaluations being a hot topic going into the arbitration proc­ess, Perreira said in a phone interview Monday there are no permanent or long-standing terms included in the arbitration agreement that link performance to pay increases — meaning the union and the state are still negotiating terms of a permanent performance evaluation system for school leadership that factors in student achievement nearly 10 years after lawmakers first mandated performance contracts for principals.

read ... Principals Receive Raises

Turtle Bay a Set up for Ige?

PR: House and Senate negotiators are still working on a state construction budget that could potentially include $40 million to help acquire a conservation easement at Turtle Bay Resort.

Neither the House nor Senate drafts of the budget include the Turtle Bay money, however.

Luke and Ige said they had not seen any details on what for now is a handshake agreement between the state, the county, conservationists and the resort's developer.

"It's kind of hard to fund $40 million on a handshake," Ige said.

read ... Handshake Between Abercrombie and Developer

$150M in GEMS for Green Energy Scammers

PBN: A new program that is designed to make the installation of rooftop solar energy systems more affordable and accessible to underserved residents in Hawaii, including low- and moderate-income homeowners, renters and nonprofits, has kicked off with $50 million in funds being made available for the initiative, bringing the total amount of program funding to $150 million.

House and Senate lawmakers said Monday that they have agreed to start funding the statewide green infrastructure financing program called Green Energy Market Securitization or GEMS, which was established through Act 211 last June, with the $50 million from the Green Infrastructure Special Fund.

The state also plans to go after another $100 million in bond financing to help fund the program....

The provision is a line item within the state’s executive budget bill, House Bill 1700, and would go into effect after the measure is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

read ... A Gift to Campaign Contributors

Hee: "We threw Minimum Wage Bill in Rubbish Can"

CB: State Sen. Clayton Hee made clear to his House counterparts Monday just how little he thought of their latest proposal to increase Hawaii's minimum wage.

"We have a draft for you, Mr. Chairman," said Hee, referring to Rep. Mark Nakashima, the House's lead conferee on Senate Bill 2609. "We took your ... CD1. We threw it in the rubbish can." (edited to convey message as received)

read ... Minimum Wage

City can't afford 8 percent raise for top Execs

SA: Members of the Honolulu City Council are expressing a fair degree of sticker shock over proposed city leadership pay raises, and with good reason. An 8 percent boost in pay goes above the level most people expect in a routine wage increase.

And yet that is the proposal submitted to the Council by the city Salary Commission, a plan that will undergo some vetting from the public at a hearing set for 1:30 p.m. April 29 in the Council committee room. It would be striking if the plan does not elicit a strong protest.

The increases would affect Mayor Kirk Caldwell, members of the Council and most department heads, starting July 1.

read ... City can't afford 8 percent raise

Hawaii Suits Filed Against Three More Alleged Hollywood Homosexual Child Molesters

V: Hollywood executives Garth Ancier, David Neuman and Gary Goddard have been accused of sexually abusing teenage boys in lawsuits filed Monday in Hawaii federal court.

“I would not wish on my worst enemies what I went through,” declared plaintiff Michael Egan, discussing the process by which underage boys are turned gay, at a Monday news conference at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

HNN: "I probably have about eight, nine maybe even ten more back at the office to be filed this week," said Mark Gallagher, Attorney

read ... Three More Alleged Sex Abusers

Attorneys: 2491 provides Target list for eco-terrorists

KGI: “We are asking the Court to invalidate the law and enjoin the County from enforcing it before it takes effect on Aug. 16,” Syngenta spokesman Mark Phillipson wrote in a statement. “We believe the law arbitrarily targets our industry with burdensome and baseless restrictions on farming operations by attempting to regulate activities over which counties in Hawaii have no jurisdiction.”

The motions were filed April 14, the same day U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled to allow the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and other nonprofit groups to intervene as defendants in the case.

One motion seeks summary judgment on grounds that Ordinance 960 is pre-empted by both state and federal law, and that the county didn’t have authority to enact Bill 2491, which requires the affected companies to disclose their use of pesticides and the presence of GMOs.

“No legitimate objective will be realized by the forced public disclosures under the ordinance, only the illegitimate targeting of GMO crops by vandals and eco-terrorists,” Syngenta attorney Paul Alston and others wrote in their motion.

read ... The Truth Hurts

Hippie Commune Zoning Bill to Reward Ruderman Contributors Advances

WHT: SB 2274, sponsored by Sen. Russell Ruderman, a Puna Democrat, would require the two counties to create a specialized permit for the sustainable living sites on parcels of less than 15 acres within the rural and agricultural districts. The only difference between the House and Senate version is the minimum size of the lots, Ruderman said Monday.

The House version sets the minimum at 1 acre while the Senate sets it at 1/2 acre. Ruderman said he prefers the House version.

The conference committee has not yet set a meeting date. The bill passed the Senate with one opponent and the House with 16 voting no.

The sites would promote a live-in environment that emphasizes conservation, waste re-use, organic foods, renewable energy and shared living.

State Ethics Commission Staff Attorney Megan Y.S. Johnson, in a letter to Ruderman on Thursday, said the commission staff “does not believe there is sufficient indication of any misuse of your official position to justify further investigation.”

S. Sativa Sultan, a Seaview Estates resident, and eight others signed a letter asking for an investigation into what they characterize as special interest legislation sponsored by a state senator on behalf of a tax-exempt nonprofit campaign supporter who is not registered as a state lobbyist. Sultan is worried about the profusion of unpermitted communities cropping up as neighbors.

Reality: Reward Campaign Contributions from Illegal Mainland Developers?Ruderman says "That's what we do"

read ... Sustainability measure advances

Feds Sue Hawaii Oil Supplier for 'Energy Market Manipulation'

CT: Barclays had already cut some of its metal, U.S. power and agricultural trading business, but in the past two years had also branched into new areas to bolster profits hampered by restrictions on trading with the bank's own money and rising capital requirements.

The bank signed several supply and sales agreements with major oil refineries since summer 2012, including Essar Oil's 296,000 barrel per day (bpd) Stanlow plant in Britain, Par Petroleum's 94,000 bpd refinery in Hawaii, and Klesch's 100,000 bpd Heide plant in northern Germany.

Mike Bagguley, head of commodities at Barclays, said in November the bank was starting to get "critical mass" as refiners became aware of their financing capabilities, including for crude deliveries and the sale of products like gasoline and diesel.

But commodities have also attracted increased regulatory scrutiny, and the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filed a lawsuit in a California federal court last year to recover some $435 million from Barclays for alleged power market manipulation. The bank disputes the charge.

B: "Barclays is at the forefront of the renewable energy sector"

read ... Barclays joins retreat from commodities as new rules bite

After Kakaako, Aiea is Next

CB: The Honolulu City Council approved a zoning change last week that allows Robertson Properties Group to move forward on plans to build up to 1,500 residential units in five high rises. Dubbed, “Live, Work, Play Aiea," the development is slated to be built next to the planned Pearlridge Transit Station.

But Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor says that the community mistakenly thinks that much, if not all, of the housing will be affordable to middle-class residents.

He noted an informal Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll earlier this month in which 51 percent of voters supported the “1,500-unit affordable housing project” at the former Kam Drive-In site because such “housing was needed.”

“At the end of the day, there will be much fewer affordable residential units on site than what residents expected,” he told Civil Beat after the hearing.

At most, there will be 450 affordable units, but he said that a "close reading of the development agreement" suggests that there may be far fewer.

read ... Will Aiea Development Meet Affordable Housing Expectations?

UNITE HERE Pushes Council to Repress Timeshares

CB: ...She is one of hundreds of Hawaii hospitality workers who have been reduced down to on-call schedules or who have lost their jobs altogether in recent years. Unite Here Local 5, a union made up of more than 10,000 hospitality and health care workers in Hawaii, attributes many of the job losses to the conversion of full-service hotel rooms into condos and time shares.

The conversions are part of a national trend in the hospitality industry because time shares and condos are in greater demand and cheaper to maintain than full-service hotel units.

While the conversions might make sense economically for the industry, they are hurting hospitality workers, particularly members of Hawaii’s Filipino community who fill more service jobs in the state than any other ethnic group.

Concern about the conversions has grown as policymakers grapple with what, if anything, they can do to stem the job loss. A Honolulu City Council committee is planning to take up a measure on Tuesday that aims to protect such jobs. Bill 16 would require companies to apply for a permit before transforming more than 20 percent of their hotel rooms to condo or time share units.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting and representatives of Hawaii’s visitors industry have criticized the proposal as ambiguous, unnecessary and too restrictive.

read ... Job Trust

Maui Council Looks to Trim Budget, not Raise Taxes

MN: The chairman of the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee is not looking to make any "significant rate changes" or to do any "upheaval" to current real property tax rates - in contrast to Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget calling for an across-the-board 6.5 percent increase in rates.

Chairman Mike White made the announcement Monday after the committee completed questioning of Department of Finance Real Property Tax Division officials. They reported that the county could see $261 billion in property tax revenues under Arakawa's proposed tax schedule for fiscal 2014-15, which begins July 1. The mayor has proposed a $622.6 million county budget, which the County Council is currently evaluating.

Arakawa has said that tax increases could be eliminated if the state Legislature agrees to lift the $93 million cap on the counties' share of the hotel room tax, also known as the transient accommodations tax. Currently, House-Senate conference committees are meeting to discuss various bills, including the cap, and some predict that negotiations will go down to the wire Friday, which is the last day to file fiscal bills to deck for final reading.

The session ends May 1.

MTP: No New Taxes! Maui County Budget Hearing April 24

read ... Maui Budget

Staffing shortage at EMS reaches critical level

KHON: “The sick leave tends to be higher on the weekends, particularly at stations where the people think they might get stuck at work,” said Rigg. “They have to stay because the last option is to close down units.  The shortage got so bad this weekend that we had to do that.”

Could that happen again?  Possibly....

With staff getting burnt out, KHON2 asked if EMS is concerned that more people will quit.

“That’s always a concern of ours.  We’re working on a shift schedule change,” explained Rigg.

He thinks that’ll help stop the bleeding of employees.  But any changes would still have to be approved by the union UPW.

read ... Staffing shortage at EMS reaches critical level

UH Presidential Selection Nominees to be Announced April 28

HR: The Committee on Presidential Selection for the University of Hawaii  completed its work today.

The committee will send a final report to the board prior to its special meeting April 28th. The report contains fewer than five names. Some candidates chose to withdraw from the process because of its public nature.

read ... Coming April 28

Probe into college's fees allegedly led to retaliation

SA: Three former Hawaii Community College student government officers say they were voted off the Hilo school's student council after trying to account for an estimated $1.8 million in student fees that have been collected over the past five years.

The former officers say students are being charged fees for programs and services that no longer exist.

The actual revenue collected is unclear because the students — two of them former treasurers for the student council — say they have been unsuccessful with repeated requests for financial rec­ords detailing revenue and expenditures of student fees.

Hawaii Community College students each semester are charged a $19 news publication fee, a $7 Campus Center fee and a $5 fee for recreation, services HCC students stopped receiving last spring.

read ... Teaching the Young

NELHA seeks new lease for geothermal site

WHT: The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is seeking a new lease for the former HGP-A geothermal test site.

The new 65-year lease would allow NELHA to continue to manage the 4-acre property adjacent to Puna Geothermal Venture on Pohoiki Road. The existing mining lease, transferred from the University of Hawaii in 1986, is set to expire June 18.

NELHA Executive Director Greg Barbour said the new lease would not allow for additional geothermal use on the property.

“This is just a surface lease,” he said.

IM: Energy Innovation comes to the Big Island

read ... NELHA seeks new lease for geothermal site

'Libertarian' Runs Tax-Credit Funded Business

KGI: Jeff Davis, known commonly by his radio show host name, “The Solar Guy,” has announced his run for governor as a member of the Libertarian party.

“I’m throwing big stones at a very glass house,” he said. LOL!

read ... ‘Solar Guy’ announces candidacy for state governor

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