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Friday, April 25, 2014
April 25, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:29 PM :: 3898 Views

Lawsuit: Students Ordered to Stop Handing Out US Constitution at UH Hilo

Panos: Sopogy's Demise is a Huge Victory for Honest Engineering and the Taxpayer

Djou: Cook Political Report has CD1 Moving Our Way

States make wild claims about the effectiveness of their tourism promotion campaigns

Volunteers Wanted to Investigate, Discipline Lawyers

Analysis: 13% of Hawaii Bridges 'Structurally Deficient'

Ige: Pay for Turtle Bay by Refinancing Hawaii Convention Center

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

Full Text: Hannemann Announces Campaign for Governor

Kakaako: 8 New 400' Towers KSBE, OHA, State to Split Billions

SA: Residential towers in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard would be permitted to rise on eight large parcels -- or just two -- under competing proposed amendments to one of the most controversial bills at the Legislature this year.

The suggested revisions were made Thursday to Senate Bill 3122 by a conference committee of House and Senate leaders considering the bill that set out to allow the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop high-rise housing on some of the land it received two years ago to settle a debt over ceded-land revenues owed by the state.

Under a draft amendment offered by committee members from the House, eight large parcels including four owned by Kamehameha Schools, two owned by OHA and two owned by the state would be approved for residential towers up to about 400 feet, which is twice the current height limit.

SA: OHA opposes House changes to Kakaako development bill

read ... Land and Power in Hawaii

Kakaako: Last-minute shenanigans on full display

SA April 27, 2014: The Hawaii State Legislature is wrapping up another session May 1, and its final week of upheaval hardly resembled any kind of process, pretty or otherwise. The tendency toward last-minute shenanigans was on full display.

There were several examples, including the back-and-forth over funding the hard-won plan to preserve areas adjacent to the North Shore's Turtle Bay Resort. There was also eleventh-hour drama over the bill to increase the minimum wage; the working poor can't afford to wait any longer for a boost in household income.

But nothing demonstrates the lack of responsiveness to the public more than the sudden reversals over development of the Kakaako Makai district, part of the area otherwise under the direction of the Hawaii Community Development Authority....

...as the conference committee wrangled over OHA's Kakaako amendment, state Rep. Cindy Evans proposed that the residential zone expand a block past Ala Moana Boulevard, enabling 400-foot-high residential development of not only two OHA parcels but also four owned by Kamehameha Schools and two owned by the state.

This version of the bill represented nothing less than a repeal of the entire 2006 law, and all without conducting a single hearing before the public. The Legislature should stick by its 2006 decision to keep the waterfront from becoming a private enclave....

read ... Last-minute deals leave public input in the dust

OHA: One More Chance for Kakaako Makai Development Scheme?

OHA: There is still a chance the bill could resurface before the end of session.  “We ask the legislature to reconsider their actions and allow lawmakers to vote yes or no on the merits of our proposal without adding entitlements for other properties,” Crabbe said. “That is simply the right thing to do.”

read ... One More Chance?

Precisely as Predicted: Abercrombie Uses Turtle Bay as Political Set Up Job

SA: State House Speaker Joseph Souki suggested Thursday evening that the decision on whether the state should spend $40 million to preserve land near Turtle Bay Resort could wait until next session....

"It would be unwise to rush to a decision in the final days of the legislative session," Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku) said in a statement. "We only learned of the agreement just a couple of days ago. We have not had any discussion with the governor's office on this. We do not know any of the details of the agreement.

"I believe this matter can be taken up next session after we have had a chance to discuss the details with the governor's office and had the opportunity to vet the arrangement."

Abercrombie's office responded late Thursday. "This would be very disappointing to the community and all parties who worked hard and in good faith to reach a deal to preserve the Turtle Bay shoreline," according to a statement. "Letting an opportunity like this slip through our hands would be sad because it may not be available again."

Abercrombie's office called Souki's comments "perplexing" because the governor's aides hope to meet with Souki on Friday morning to provide information about the Turtle Bay deal.

An hour before Souki issued his statement, Sen. David Ige, the lead Senate negotiator on the budget, told reporters that the Senate had come up with a creative solution to fund the Turtle Bay deal.

The state, Ige said, could restructure the debt on the Hawaii Convention Center and use a portion of the interest savings about $3 million to cover debt service in the state budget for the $40 million in bonds for Turtle Bay.

"It would be an opportunity for us to within the existing resources acquire the easement," said Ige (D, Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea).

Ige, who is challenging Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, rejected claims by some conservationists that he was holding up the money for the deal.

read ... Set Up

State budget agreement trims $300M from Abercrombie's spending request

SA: Lawmakers agreed to spend $12.1 billion in fiscal year 2015, down from the $12.3 billion Abercrombie had requested. The general fund portion of the budget is $6.1 billion, down from the $6.3 billion the governor had sought.

Negotiators also made adjustments to the budget for this fiscal year, which ends in June. The revision contains $11.7 billion in spending, down from the $11.8 billion in Abercrombie's request.

Late last night, negotiators settled on a state construction outlay that had been the sticking point in negotiations. The state construction budget would authorize $2.8 billion in spending next fiscal year. The blueprint calls for $2.2 billion in spending for this fiscal year.

The construction budget includes $28 million over two years for the allied health and administration building at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo's pharmacy college, which was shut out last year, would receive $33 million.

The separate construction budget for the state Judiciary contains $35 million for a new judiciary complex in Kona.

Rep. Sylvia Luke, the lead House negotiator on the budget, said the construction budget does not include the $40 million in bond money for the state to acquire a conservation easement near Turtle Bay Resort.

PR: HB 1700 -- Day 5

read ... State budget agreement trims Abercrombie's spending request

Kenoi: Hotel tax dispute not impacting county budget

WHT: Faced with a May 5 deadline to present his final budget proposal to the Hawaii County Council, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Thursday he’s crafting a spending plan that doesn’t take any increases in the county’s share of the hotel tax into account.

The state Legislature is taking negotiations on the tax issue right to the wire, with a 10 a.m. conference committee planned today that may or may not come up with an agreement. The legislative conference committees hope to have a budget resolved by the end of the day, with next week’s end of the 60-day legislative session looming.

“We’re working within our budget without factoring in any increases,” Kenoi said. “We’re working with what we know.”

Still, Kenoi said, he’s remaining “hopeful and optimistic” the Legislature will see fit to return some of the county’s share of the tax that it capped in 2010.

read ... Hotel tax dispute not impacting county budget

Ikaika Anderson Still Shut out of Dem Convention

PR: Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson's campaign for Congress has made a second request to the Democratic Party of Hawaii for speaking time at the state convention in May.

The party announced Tuesday that state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, would be given five minutes at the convention podium after initially being left out.

Anderson wants the Democrats in the primary for urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District to also get speaking time.

read ... Convention

Public schools civil rights director under probe; is she a scapegoat?

HNN: Kitsu went on personal leave several months ago and is under a DOE internal investigation, accused of conducting biased civil rights investigations, sources said.  The DOE confirmed an investigation into several complaints but declined to go into detail.

"I'm quite sure that she doesn't act independently, she does what her supervisors and bosses in the administration up to the superintendent want her to do," said civil rights lawyer Eric Seitz, who has been Kitsu's adversary on numerous cases.

Seitz said the Department of Education is making Kitsu a scapegoat because the state knows he's planning to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of public school students who've been denied mental health treatments and programs.

"She is being prepared to be the fall guy for institutional failings that have been going on for a long time," said Seitz, who said he notified the education superintendent and attorney general's offices of the impending class-action case recently.

Seitz said the DOE has not upheld any of the 30 to 40 civil rights complaints he's been involved with over more than three decades, many of which ended up costing the department thousands and even tens of millions of dollars in court....

Kitsu is also being investigated by the DOE for allegations that she worked on the gubernatorial campaign of State Sen. David Ige during work state time and that she forced a handful of subordinates who work for her in the civil rights office to do the same, sources said.

Kitsu stepped down as deputy treasurer of the Ige campaign in February, according to Lynn Kenton, a spokeswoman for Ige For Governor.

"Susan was one of my campaign's earliest supporters and I thank her," Ige said in a statement. "She let the campaign know when she took leave, and at that time stepped down as our deputy treasurer. Unfortunately, since that time she has not been as involved, but does continue to volunteer."

Ige has been endorsed by the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the statewide public school teachers' union.  His wife, Dawn Amano-Ige, is a vice principal at Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipahu.

read ... Scapegoat?

Conrow: Kauai Anti-GMO Initiative Unconstitutional

KE: Under the guise of fighting an enemy, we're being pumped with fear so our Constitutional rights can be stripped away.

Except the folks who want to permit warrantless property searches, convictions without proof, are supposedly “progressives.” I laughed aloud at the irony and a Newell's shearwater — first of the season, flying overhead — laughed, too.

Gee, the old Who song — “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – is still apropos today. Except instead of brown shirts, or black shirts, they're wearing yellow, and red. Shucks. Looks like we did get fooled again.

So who is backing the decidedly regressive charter amendment that would establish an all-powerful environment czar answerable to no citizen, with broad authority to trample civil rights, ban a wide range of commercial and governmental activities?

Well, Makana, making like a farmer in his spanking new overalls. And Councilman Gary Hooser, whose goal from the beginning was to pass a “mellow” ordinance — Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 — as a lead up to “the next step:” ramming through a Draconian charter amendment.

read ... Fooled Again

Judge Rules Farmer ‘John Doe’ Can’t Remain Anonymous

BIVN: According to the lawsuit filed by Honolulu attorney Margery Bronster, the papaya farmer wished to remain anonymous because he had already been the victim of “intimidation and threatening behavior” by anti-GMO activists.

The lawsuit argues that the registration requirement, part of a new county law prohibiting farmers from growing new transgenic crops, conflicts with Hawaii’s Constitution and state law.

Under the law, growers of papayas genetically modified to resist the ringspot virus who don’t register the locations of their crops face fines of $1,000 per day.

On March 7, Nakamura ordered the county to temporarily stop requiring the registrations.

During that hearing, Bronster revealed that another papaya farmer, Ross Sibucao, had been added as a plaintiff.

Bronster said today that “John Doe” will now have to decide whether to reveal his identity or allow the lawsuit to proceed without him.

read ... Judge Rules Farmer ‘John Doe’ Can’t Remain Anonymous

House-Senate Panel Passes Sunshine Law Exemption for County Councils

CB: Under the bill that a conference committee passed Wednesday, council members can meet at an event or elsewhere so long as they provide public notice six days in advance; don’t make any decisions; don’t meet outside Hawaii; and don’t try to circumvent the Sunshine Law’s purpose.

The conference committee amended the bill so it sunsets June 30, 2016.

read ... House-Senate Panel Passes Sunshine Law Exemption for County Councils

Rail exec gets second yearly bonus

SA: For a second consecutive year, the rail project's top executive will receive a $35,000 bonus.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board voted unanimously Thursday to approve the bonus for Dan Grabauskas. He recently completed the second year of a three-year contract as executive director and chief executive officer on the $5.26 billion effort to build Oahu's 20-mile, 21-station rail transit line.

The first 10-mile leg, from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, is slated to start running in 2017.

Grabauskas' contract gives him a base annual salary of $245,000 and the opportunity to receive the bonus if he hits performance objectives that he and the board agree upon at the beginning of each year.

From April 2013 to March, Grabauskas had to hit 29 benchmarks that fell under three categories: organizational development, project delivery and community leadership.

read ... Rail exec gets second bonus

UH Law prof sees ways that government can improve its procurement policies

SA: Q: You say that Hawaii is weak on that generally. Why?

A: We've had a culture in the past (in the state procurement office) of thinking about the administration phase of a procurement as outside the procurement process. So if you think that actually administering a contract is outside of the procurement process, then you are going to communicate that culture to others within the acquisition core and they're going to pick up on that and they're going to decide that's not part of their responsibility.

Q: So they were just focusing on the soliciting of the bids and the granting of the contract but not the aftermath?

A: Exactly.

read ... Law professor sees ways that government can improve its procurement policies

Mufi: Duke will be perceived "to the extreme right of me"

Borreca: Mufi notes that Abercrombie's unpopularity is fueling the Democratic primary challenge by state Sen. David Ige, presenting a chance that Ige could upset Abercrombie. Even then, Hannemann figures, he still trumps Ige in managerial experience and name recognition.

And Hannemann also likes his chances against the likely GOP nominee, former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, because he thinks the public will perceive the conservative Republican as "to the extreme right of me."

read ... Extreme

Legislative Motion:

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