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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
April 23, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:54 PM :: 4635 Views

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

Gasoline: Jones Act Costs $0.15 per Gallon at the Pump

HB849 Will Compromise Civil Liberties

VIDEO: Grassroot Institute Looks at One Party States Idaho and Hawaii

Mainland Anti-GMO Activists Funnel Rockefeller Money to Hawaii

KE: ...A major player in the Hawaii anti-GMO movement is the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that helped write Bill 2491, which became Ordinance 960. A federal judge recently allowed CFS and Earthjustice to represent national groups like Pesticide Action Network and Surfrider Foundation, along with a new Kauai organization, in defending the law from the seed companies' lawsuit.

CFS receives the bulk of its funding from the Rockefeller clan. Other significant support comes from funds and foundations endowed by the scions and former spouses of oilman J. Paul Getty, chemist George Merck of Merck Pharmaceuticals, General Motors executive Charles Stewart Mott, industrialist and banker Andrew Mellon and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The 990 form filed by Center for Food Safety (CFS) shows total revenues of $7.2 million in 2012, with $3.8 coming from grants and contributions — up from $2.8 million in 2011. It listed total expenses of $5.3 million, with $1.3 million spent on legal fees and $1.5 million on salaries. Andrew Kimbrell, who is part of the legal team defending Kauai's law, was paid $222,540 to serve as CFS executive director in 2012, with another $25,194 listed in compensation from that and similar organizations.

Kimbrell also received $31,000 in 2012 compensation as director of the Cornerstone Campaign, whose tax return lists the same address as CFS. Additionally, he earns income from the International Center for Technology Assessment, an anti-nanotechnology group that shares the same office. It paid him $30,525 for working just eight hours per week in 2011.

Cornerstone, whose officers include Mary Rockefeller Morgan and Abby Rockefeller, is the largest source of support for CFS. The two heiresses, along with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc., donated at least $8.8 million to the Cornerstone Campaign between 2002-11. But since the IRS does not require gifts from charitable remainder trusts to be disclosed in tax returns, it's impossible to determine the full extent of contributions by Rockefeller heirs.

Kimbrell also apparently uses Cornerstone to write off substantial expenses that are missing from the CFS tax return, including $18,608 in travel, $62,691 in lodging and $15,115 in meals and entertainment for 2012 alone.

Though founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Cornerstone Campaign functions only to disperse grants to groups active in the anti-biotech movement, including Friends of the Earth, Genetic Engineering Action Network, Organic Seed Alliance, International Forum on Globalization, Californians for GE Free Agriculture and Earthjustice.

In the decade spanning 2002-11, CFS received 90.5% of its funding from foundations and trusts, as opposed to individual, grassroots donors. One of its funders is the Ceres Trust, which has pumped substantial money into Hawaii SEED, the anti-GMO umbrella group.

The Ceres Trust was created by Judith Kern, apparently derived from her family's business, Kern Generator Co. The 2012 tax returns for Ceres show it awarded Hawaii SEED $228,550 for a pesticide drift-catcher project that, as I previously reported, failed to detect any significant amount of toxins, prompting the group to shift its focus from evidence-based activism to fear-mongering.

Other major funders of Hawaii Seed are The Sacharuna Foundation, which was founded by money inherited from industrialist and banker Andrew Mellon; the Merck Fund, which was based on pharmaceutical fortunes; the Cornerstone Foundation and Ho Oli Foundation, a Delaware company with a Hawaii Island address. Overall, four anti-GMO groups in Hawaii received $931,840 in grants between 2002-12, with the bulk awarded in 2011-12....

Meanwhile, the foundations and funds that are supporting anti-GMO groups in their supposed fight against “big chem” have invested their assets in the very same corporate giants that are reviled by activists as the gouging, oppressing, polluting pillars of industrial capitalism. In other words, the “antis” who have cloaked themselves in self-righteousness and claimed the moral high ground are themselves running on dirty money that is "green" only in color....

KE: 1% War by Proxy

read ... Kauai Eclectic

Abercrombie Capitulates, Allows Ige to Speak

News Release: "I am pleased that the governor agreed with my call for fairness and that all statewide democratic candidates be given the opportunity to speak from the floor of the state democratic convention and not break from traditions of previous years.  This election is about hearing everyone's voices, positions and issues, and moving the party and the state forward." -- Hawaii Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Senator David Ige

read ... Party gives Ige time at Democratic convention

Leak: UH Presidential Search Down to Lassner or Ret Gen Wiercinski

HNN: (Just like last time) The search for the next University of Hawaii president has narrowed to as few as two candidates, including current Interim President David Lassner, after several other finalists dropped out, sources told Hawaii News Now.

A source said one of the finalists, Lassner, has been interim UH president since September and is paid $325,008 a year.

Lassner has worked at UH since 1977 and for the last seven years has been the university's first vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

A second finalist, according to sources familiar with the search, is the retired commander of the Army in the Pacific, Lieutenant General Francis "Frank" Wiercinski. 

Before retiring from a 34-year Army career last July, Wiercinski was based in Honolulu and oversaw 80-thousand soldiers and thousands more civilian employees throughout Asia and the Pacific. 

Wiercinski was the official escort to U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye's widow Irene at his Punchbowl funeral in December of 2012.  

Some members of Hawaii's business community have been pushing for Wiercinski to get the UH president's job, seeing him as a university outsider who can clean up UH who also has diplomatic experience around the Pacific.

But his selection could anger Native Hawaiians and so-called 'progressive' members of the UH faculty, who would oppose a former U.S. military leader running the state's university system are reflexively anti-military and would see Wiercinski's appointment as yet another chance to prove something about themselves....

Ilind: Retired general for UH president? -- No.

2009: Engineered choice: How to pick a Greenwood

2013: Picking the Next Greenwood: BoR Appoints Task Force to Form Committee

read ... Decision has already been made

Star-Adv: Council Needs to Get its Act Together on Homelessness

SA: ...There is one ray of hope to be extracted from the usual storm of woe delivered with any report about homelessness — specifically in Waikiki. The visitor industry is showing resolve to help pursue solutions this city so desperately needs.

Now for the woeful part: So far, any such show of resolve has been met with dithering from the City Council, which so far has not grasped how critical it is to adopt a unified plan of attack in addressing Honolulu's homelessness crisis.

That simply has to change. Discouraging encampments and associated ills — aggressive panhandling and visual blight, for starters — is especially important in a community that's the heart of tourism, the state's economic engine.

The business sector there should be enlisted in the project, but they're unlikely to sign on to assist the chronically homeless with housing if they lack confidence that the city will do its part, supporting enforcement and services.

Instead, the Council seems hesitant to embark on a full-scale launch of a homelessness initiative patterned after successful "Housing First" programs elsewhere. Its response to the administration's request for $3 million was to cut back funds needed to get the program going.

There seems little sense of urgency in Honolulu Hale to match the deplorable conditions on the streets in Waikiki. Some of the business leaders have spoken at public hearings on the subject recently, and to Star-Advertiser tourism writer Allison Schaefers in her chronicling of the worrisome problem.

read ... Star-Adv Editorial

Hawaii Out Of Clout? Seniority Ain't What It Used To Be

NPR: "They used to have a joke in Hawaii that there were three industries — the military, tourism and Daniel Inouye," says Donald Ritchie, the Senate's official historian.

Inouye, a Democrat and longtime appropriator who represented Hawaii in the Senate since statehood, died at the end of 2012, just before the state's other veteran senator, Daniel Akaka, left office.

Now Hawaii's senators have a total of just over two years' combined seniority. Similar stories about recent rapid decline in experience and seniority can be told about Massachusetts and South Carolin.a.

"States invest in senators for that reason, to make sure that they can get a share of whatever the federal government is doing," Ritchie says.

Seniority Ain't What It Used To Be: It would be easy to argue that seniority matters less than it once did, so a sudden power outage isn't quite as devastating as it might have been years before.

Committee chairmen are not the barons they once were, now that most important legislation is being steered out of leadership offices. (Clue: This is a powerful argument for electing Charles Djou.)

There's less legislation moving, anyway. And Congress has pretty much done away with earmarks, which readily allowed members to direct federal funding to specific projects back home.

"If you're not passing legislation, it's hard to say what you're being able to produce for your state," Ritchie says.

read ... Out Of Clout

State takes action against Big Island doctor with 12 complaints

HNN: The Hawaii County dentist and cosmetic surgeon at the heart of a state investigation is voluntarily surrendering his licenses. Dr. John Stover has agreed to stop operating on patients in Hawaii as part of a proposed settlement with the State over nearly a dozen complaints.

The cases involved Curtis Wagasky, 52, who died in December 2012 after complications from having a single tooth removed. Kristen Tavares, 24, also remains in a coma after having her wisdom teeth pulled by Dr. Stover.

The state took action on 11 of 12 complaints against Dr. Stover. Among the allegations were failure to comply with laws relating to work performance; failure to comply with laws governing professional conduct; failure to comply with licensing law or rule; and aiding and abetting an unlicensed person. Officially the action taken by RICO says "Pre-petition settlement agreement filed."

The outcome of the 12th complaint is still pending.

Sources say instead of fighting anymore Dr. John Stover worked out a settlement agreement with the state and is voluntarily agreeing to surrender both his medical and dental licenses.

"Effectively a voluntary surrender carries the same impact as a revocation," said Daria Loy-Goto, State Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO), Enforcement Officer. "The practical effect is the same. The person cannot practice in the state."...

"Other states will have the opportunity to hear about information that comes from another state. Frankly I would think that most states would require an applicant at the renewal process when they renew their license to disclose any disciplinary action that may have occurred," said Loy-Goto. "It's really just going to depend on that state's laws and rules."

"It will follow a person when they've given up their license under whatever the circumstance is," said State Senator Josh Green, MD, (D) Kona, Ka'u....

Dr. Stover and his attorney didn't return our calls, but people that have spoken with him say he's thinking about moving back to Louisiana. That won't free him from other litigation.

Background: Notorious Hilo Dentist Licensed Thanks to Schatz, Baker, Oakland

read ... State takes action against Big Island doctor with 12 complaints

Sopogy: After a Decade of Hype, Act221 Wunderkind Goes Bust

PBN: David Fernandez, who was named president and CEO of Sopogy last March, told PBN that Sopogy closed several months ago, and that he is back with his former company, SunEdison, one of the largest solar energy companies in the United States. He declined further comment.

Sopogy, which developed concentrated solar collectors that used mirrors to focus the sun’s energy to generate electricity, no longer leases space at 550 Paiea St. near the Honolulu International Airport. It also does not lease space at what was called its “main office” in Northern California at 600 Clipper Dr. in Belmont. A phone number listed at that office is no longer in service.

Sopogy, which started out at the Manoa Innovation Center, returned to Oahu’s first technology incubation center last June, but according to officials there, Sopogy is no longer there. Its website also is no longer available.

Kimura, who stepped down as the company’s CEO to become its chief global strategist and chief marketing officer last March, told PBN that when he exited from Sopogy completely last summer, he also left the industry and lost touch with the company.

Background: Running to Continue Act 221 Tax Credit Scams

read ... Another Fake Act 221 Company Goes Bust

Green Energy Scammers Miffed at HECO Plans

CB: HECO's plans are also sending ripples through Hawaii's burgeoning solar sector. Some companies are worried that a major HECO solar operation will reduce market competition and give the utility an unfair advantage over independent solar companies.

HECO’s solar plan includes a 15-megawatt facility near its Kahe Generating Station. The proposal, which would be the largest solar farm in the state, is currently being reviewed by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

HECO’s turn toward operating it's own renewable energy plants is being met with mixed reactions from clean energy advocates, however.

“The community has been asking the utility to get into the renewable energy business for decades,” said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation, a clean energy advocacy organization. “Finally, here they are saying we are here and we want to do this,”

But at the same time, Mikulina says that the utility should be investing in technologies that allow the utility to absorb more solar and wind energy instead.

read ... Competition

Lind: Lawyer Luke's Legislative Lift to Litigators Legal 

ILind: The attorney general proposed language aimed at absolving the state and counties from liability for such “volunteer trails,” and generally extending the protection against legal liability to any dangers, natural or unnatural, whether on improved land or in unimproved areas, as long as warning signs are properly posted.

The only opposition to the proposed changes came from Bob Toyofuku, lobbyist for the Hawaii Association for Justice, the professional association representing personal injury attorneys....

The amendments proposed by the attorney general were approved by the House Judiciary Committee over Toyofuku’s objections, but the bill then ran into a stone wall when Luke stripped out most of the amendments. When the bill emerged from the finance committee, it simply deleted the “sunset” provision in order to continue the liability protections in the existing 2003 law. None of the additional provisions were included....

As of Tuesday afternoon, no conference committee negotiations on SB 1007 have been scheduled. Luke is not among the House conferees assigned to the bill. Agreement has to be reached and any pending bills have to be filed or “decked” in their final form by the end of Thursday in order to be voted on this session.

read ... Lawyers make it legal to help themselves

Four Hawaii public high schools in U.S. News & World Report rankings

PBN: Each of the 10 best public high schools in the United States has a college readiness score of 100, while the top public school in Hawaii scored less than 35, according to the 2014 Best High Schools rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

Kalani High School in East Honolulu was ranked No. 1 in Hawaii, with a college readiness score of 34.8, which was based on the percentage of 12th-graders who took and passed Advanced Placement, or AP, examinations. According to the rankings, 52 percent of the seniors at Kalani were tested, and 29 percent passed.

The school received a score of 2.7 for math proficiency — 66 percent of students were proficient and 34 percent were not proficient. The school’s reading score was a 2.9 — 82 percent of students were proficient and 18 percent were not proficient.

In contrast, the nation’s No. 1 public high school — the School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas — had a college readiness score of 100 percent, with 100 percent of seniors taking and passing AP exams, a math proficiency score of 3.8 and a reading proficiency score of 3.6.

News Release: USNWR Rankings

read ... Four Hawaii High Schools

Why Do Hawaii's Private Schools Pay Teachers Less Than Public Schools?

CB: First, the state’s 13,500 or so public school teachers are backed by an influential union. Private school teachers have no such support structure.

Public school teachers are also subject to rigorous training and licensing requirements. Prospective public school teachers need to have a degree in education and successfully complete a licensing exam, after which they mustapply for a Hawaii teaching license.

Private schools don’t typically require those kinds of credentials, though some job postings for institutions such asPunahou indicate a preference for teachers with master’s degrees, and many call for educators who have degreesin the subject matter for which they’re applying to teach.

Across the board, advocates stress, teachers are underpaid; one study suggests that they earn 30 percent less per year than other college graduates.

So why would so many educators choose to work in private schools despite the lower pay?

Experts say there are many reasons teachers choose to work at private schools, from the better working conditions to greater teaching flexibility. McGovern, of the National Association of Independent Schools, pointed to a Columbia University study which concluded that four factors draw teachers to private schools: autonomy and empowerment, the teaching atmosphere, student quality and school facilities.

Whereas public school teachers have 45 minutes a day to prepare lesson plans, for example, private school teachers often get five times that, sometimes spending half their workday doing prep.

read ... Why Do Hawaii's Private Schools Pay Teachers Less Than Public Schools?

New FEMA maps may hit homeowners in wallet

WHT: Changes to flood zone maps in South Kona could mean elevations of houses as well as insurance premiums.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of updating flood maps for several areas in Hawaii County, with South Kona and Waikoloa among the most recent areas. South Hilo will also come under FEMA scrutiny in the near future.

Property owners are notified by letter if they live in an affected area, and are given 90 days to appeal the designation.

“If you are in an affected area, you would have received a letter from the Department of Public Works,” said Public Works spokeswoman Noelani Whittington.

“A $20,000 to $30,000 flood insurance bill could affect the affordability of the house,” he said.

read ... New FEMA maps may hit homeowners in wallet

Planned Parenthood closes Kauai office

KGI: After two years of service, Planned Parenthood of Hawaii officials said Tuesday the organization is halting walk-in office services on Kauai.

Officials didn’t specify why it was closing the office off Rice Street that had been open only on Fridays, but said it will expand its educational outreach on the island while the office is closed....

Since it opened two years ago, more than 500 individuals received affordable, confidential sexual and reproductive health care services at the walk-in health center, including pregnancy testing, contraception, emergency contraception, sexually transmitted infection testing, HIV testing and counseling, according to the press release.

read ... Planned Parenthood closes office

China Defies Obama’s Slow Asia Pivot With Rapid Military Buildup

B: President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia this week will be dominated by a country he’s not even visiting: China.

read ... Obama is a Weakling

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