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Sunday, August 17, 2014
August 17, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:25 PM :: 4196 Views

Am Samoa Leaders Work Around Missing Delegate to Resist Obama's Tuna Monument

Far-Left Ige Will Take Hawaii Further in Wrong Direction

Iselle Emergency Proclamation Updated

Flying High

Without Abercrombie, 'Huge changes' likely for troubled Obamacare exchange

SA: The future of the Hawaii Health Connector is in jeopardy with the impending departure of one of its strongest supporters in Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the decision by the state's largest medical insurer to pull back from the troubled online marketplace.

The three top gubernatorial candidates, vying to replace the defeated Abercrombie, agree the state should radically revise the Connector or shut it down.

Republican Duke Aiona and Democrat David Ige have been critical of the state's role in creating its own health insurance exchange, saying they would try to fix the mistakes of Abercrombie. Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate, said the state should "intensify our efforts to opt out."

"The Health Connector's gone either way," said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii assistant professor of political science. "It will either be restructured to the point of being entirely unrecognizable or eliminated. Certainly there's going to be huge changes." ...

What's more, Connector interim executive director Tom Matsuda is expected to exit the post before the next enrollment period begins on Nov. 15....

"This is the death blow to the exchange," the UH assistant professor said. "If Abercrombie had stayed, maybe he would've tried to patch things up. I don't think the exchange has any friends left in town."

read ... 'Huge changes' likely for troubled exchange

Kakaako, OHA, TOD: Gubernatorial Candidates need a plan for housing

SA: Much of Kakaako's transformation is already entitled to Hughes and other landowners, but this latest proposal ought to signal to the next state administration that time for influencing the future of this precious urban hub is running out. The pace of redevelopment is accelerating, not all of it pegged to solving one of Honolulu's most critical needs: affordable housing.

HCDA has advanced its Kakaako plan significantly during the soon-to-expire term of Gov. Neil Abercrombie. One of three major candidates advancing to the Nov. 4 general election will succeed him. And during the campaign of the coming weeks, those hopefuls -- including frontrunners Democrat David Ige, Republican Duke Aiona and Hawaii Independent Party nominee Mufi Hannemann -- should be pressed to explain their own vision for Kakaako.

Further, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is beginning the visioning process for its own property in the Kakaako Makai development zone, setting a Sept. 12 deadline for contract proposals to develop a master plan. Given the skyscrapers planned just across Ala Moana from OHA's property -- the 30 acres acquired in a $200 million settlement with the state -- the wisdom of ensuring no more residential development on the makai side is plainly evident. The next administration, as well as the next contingent of lawmakers, must recommit to that policy, which seemed at great risk during the past legislative session.

Beyond Kakaako, the richest opportunity for addressing the shortage of affordable housing will materialize in the next few years. That potential lies in transit-oriented development, one of the long-promised benefits of Honolulu's fixed-rail transit system. Gubernatorial candidates should have a plan for cooperating with city government -- making state property available along the rail route, for example -- and making the most of this opening.

read ... Kakaako is Bereft Without Abercrombie

Duke Aiona talks strategy for the General Election

KITV: Duke Aiona joins us in the KITV4 studio to talk about the upcoming gubernatorial race....

read ... Strategy

Cayetano: Elections Run Incompetently

KHON: Slom said the election problems aren’t unique to this year.

“Hawaii Kai in 2012, when the ballots didn’t get distributed here and it had a major impact on people being disenfranchised. And then while everyone was focusing on Puna yesterday, then, oh, guess what? Six days later, we find 800 ballots from Maui that had not been counted.”

Former Democratic Governor Ben Cayetano helped in appointing the election reform commission 13 years ago, and he said it’s not necessarily the election process itself that needs changing.

“When people make mistakes, you hold them accountable. That’s what should be done. I don’t think that the system needs to be changed.”

Complaints are still coming in from voters in certain Big Island districts who were not able to get to the polling place for Friday’s vote. Cayetano says it’s one more example that change must be made.

“Really, the elections have been run incompetent,” he said. “That’s a harsh word, but I would use that.” ...

These are questions that will be addressed at a meeting of the elections commission on Friday, Aug. 29.

read ... Fire Nago

Candidates could challenge primary election results

KHON: “The most obvious approach is what’s called an election contest and that’s very unusual circumstance where you would go straight to the Hawaii Supreme Court,” said attorney Robert Thomas.

Candidates would have until this Thursday to file a complaint. The Supreme Court would then have four days to make a ruling.

For Congresswoman Hanabusa, there are other options. On Thursday, a judge denied Hanabusa’s temporary restraining order to postpone the Puna elections until a later date, claiming residents needed more time.

“So there’s always, of course, perhaps, the option of appealing the judge’s ruling from the Big Island on Thursday because he said the election could go forward, but now maybe depending, they can always appeal that,” Thomas said.

A third option would be for Puna residents to join Hanabusa’s existing lawsuit or file one on their own.

“So maybe there’s enough people who want to come forward and claim that they couldn’t vote because they didn’t know about the election, they knew about it too late, they couldn’t get there on time,” Thomas said.

It would be up to a judge to decide the remedy for the voters who might feel cheated.

“What would you do? Declare the thing null and void and start all over again? Extend the deadline further? Allow extra voting? All those sort of things,” Thomas said.

read ... Primary Election Challenge?

Hanabusa Supporters Furious

HNN: The special election is finally done but the heated debate isn't over.

Now that he has won, Senator Brian Schatz says he is taking a short break from campaigning to hit the beach.

Meanwhile, Representative Colleen Hanabusa hasn't ruled out a legal challenge.

With less than a 1-percent difference in votes, it's no surprise that some local residents are furious with the outcome.

“I was devastated. I from the Big Island too and I figure that most of the locals over there would have vote for one local lady like Hanabusa. But they when swing the other way," said Scottie Matthews from Kalihi.

read ... Schatz Swings the Other Way

Puna: We've Already Been Forgotten

HNN:  ...now that the special election is over, residents who've been devastated by Iselle are concerned they'll be forgotten.

"It isn't going to be hard for the state to forget us. We've already been forgotten," said Francis Kim, a Hawaiian Paradise Park Resident.

Out of sight out of mind has become one of a growing list of worries.

"Now it's time for everybody's eyes to open -- wake up yeah -- to open their eyes and see what's going on with us people we've been suffering a lot," Kim said, his voice shaking.

Many are convinced the attention their plight has gotten in recent days will all but disappear now that candidates are gone.

"They're not coming back. We're not stupid, but we still need the help for sure," said Michelle Lee. "Just have compassion and still be aware of the fact that Iselle happened. It hit and there's people here that need the help."...

read ... Forgotten Puna

Pro-GMO a Winning Position for Legislative Candidates, Incumbents

Borreca: The high-profile debate about genetically modified food is not showing up as much as a political cause at the polls.

Most of the Hawaii candidates who opposed GMO food or supported GMO labeling did not do well in the Aug. 9 primary election.

Kauai, described by GMO opponents as "ground zero" for GMO protests, had several political test cases and the anti-GMO candidates did poorly....

Kauai politician Gary Hooser, who is a former state senator and now a councilman, has been one of the anti-GMO leaders.

His son, Dylan, who also is a strong supporter of the anti-GMO ordinance, ran against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jimmy Tokioka and lost 63 percent to 29 percent.

Tokioka explained that his district is home to many retired sugar plantation workers and GMO does not carry the same fears expressed in other parts of Kauai.

"It is really the silent majority. There was a clear message that Kauai is not opposed to GMO as people may have thought. Compared to people who showed up at the rallies, the votes didn't reflect it," Tokioka said in an interview.

On Maui, political newcomer Terez Amato said she partially decided to run against Sen. Roz Baker after Baker's committee killed a bill to require labeling of GMO products.

Amato lost by 451 votes, a 9 percentage point difference.

On Oahu, another strong anti-GMO proponent, Robert Harris, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, lost in the Windward 48th District primary to fellow attorney Jarrett Keohokalole.

During the campaign, Keohokalole said the required labeling of food was best left to the federal government and not the state or counties.

read ... No Mandate for Antis

Lawsuit Against Kauai Dairy Threatens Prime Ag Land Statewide

SA: Local food operations as diverse as our grass-fed dairy on Kauai to farmers on the Big Island are being sued by their neighbors, who themselves are on what was once agricultural land.

If we allow a resort on reclassified agricultural lands on Kauai to demand buffer zones miles away from its property -- affecting even Important Agricultural Lands -- there are serious implications to Oahu and Maui, where development and agriculture are in closer proximity. Most of the prime agricultural lands in these counties will vanish.

This raises the question of under what conditions should we allow reclassification of agricultural lands for resorts or housing. If development cannot coexist with agriculture, then it will surely be the farmers -- and Hawaii's local food industry -- and ultimately our community's children, who become the victims of unfettered growth.

read ... We must find path to steward lands and boost local food and farm efforts

Resort's Attack on Dairy Farm Precautionary Principle Run Amok

SA: Oft-quoted statistics of merely seven days of food on our store shelves and that 80-95 percent of our food is imported underscore the tenuous nature of our relatively comfortable existence.

Let's consider this while thinking about the divisions created in our communities by well-funded D.C.-based lobbyist groups, like The Center for Food Safety, whose goals include imposing a redundant regulatory regime upon local farmers and ranchers.

In touting the "precautionary principle," one CFS spokesman recently decreed it's OK to ban legal farming practices in the absence of a cause-and-effect relationship, while admitting there is no scientific evidence linking modern farming and the multitude of ailments claimed by activists. Ironically, a Kauai golf course resort is preemptively suing a proposed dairy farm -- not for what it's done but for what it might do. The precautionary principle has run amok....

Contrary to what propagandists would have you believe, advances in crop production techniques give growers the ability to use fewer chemicals, not more.

A 2013-14 statewide Department of Health study shows that urban areas on Oahu, not farms, have the highest number of pesticide detections, and only a historically used termiticide exceeded regulatory standards.

Claimed "cancer clusters" on Kauai were disproved in a 2013 UH report to the Hawaii Department of Health. It found that only melanoma showed a "significant higher incidence"; melanoma is typically caused by UV rays....

One recent survey in Hawaii shows that organic food on a calorie-for-calorie basis can cost 40 percent more than conventional crops. Numerous studies show no nutritional advantage to justify organics' higher price, including one by Stanford University researchers in 2013....

This (anti-GMO) folly diverts attention away from critical problems that must be solved. We have these debates while the homeless are lying on the sidewalk. While they wonder from where their next meal is coming, we quibble about how that food should be produced.

read ... Misguided policies hurt farmers, ranchers and isles’ food security

Accountability must accompany police power

SA: In Hawaii, police accountability is all but absent because the Legislature has caved in to pressure from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), the union that represents the state's four city and county forces. Public reporting requirements for police in Hawaii are far more limited than those in most states. Under an exemption SHOPO received in 1995, police are merely required to send the Legislature an annual summary of cases in which an officer has been suspended or discharged for misconduct. Each summary is only a few words long, and there are no names, places or dates.

There is also a failure of accountability with respect to lethal force. Police in Honolulu have shot and killed eight people in the past five years. This is, per capita, about double the national average of "justifiable killings" by police. As this newspaper has reported, police protocol in lethal force cases is "wholly internal" ("HPD transparency, oversight lacking," Our View, Aug. 13). The names of officers who use lethal force are not released to the public, and neither are the results of the police department's own internal investigations -- unless someone is fired.

read ... Accountability must accompany police power

City: Only 10 Homeowners benefit from Council's Tax Relief

SA: The Council passed Resolution 14-179 on Wednesday, allowing Oahu homeowners to apply for a one-time tax compromise if they qualified for owner-occupant tax breaks by last Sept. 30 but did not get them.

City officials said late Thursday they had no way of knowing how many times the form was downloaded on the first day, although the website did see a 20 percent increase in daily hits. Budget Director Nelson Koyanagi said the division office physically received one application and had about five walk-in requests for forms on the first day.

Anticipating the resolution would pass, the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services almost immediately put up claim forms and information on how the plan works at the website www.realpropertyhonolulu. com/. Eligible property owners have until Sept. 30 to submit their claim forms and necessary support documents.

Exactly how many homeowners are eligible for the relief is still uncertain.

City finance officials estimate that of about 70 queries they've received to date only about 10 property owners will benefit. Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi, who introduced the measure, say the number is likely significantly higher.

read ... Only 10

DoTax Targets Small Businesses, Homeowners for Petty Harassment 

HNN: The state created the SES in 2009 to reduce an estimated $1 billion tax gap tied to the cash economy. There are six positions, but two are unfilled. Investigators generated about $903,559 in Fiscal Year 2012 and $679,570 in Fiscal Year 2013.

"There's so much work to be done. We have large non-compliance rates," said Burnham. "Generally, it's about 30% across the state... that would be the percentage that we've spoken to."

In June, a judge sentenced the owner of "Taste Tea" on Kapiolani Boulevard to three years probation for trying to smuggle $100,000 on a flight to Taiwan to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Investigators have reached out to restaurants and other types of businesses by heading to Waikiki and Chinatown. They also follow up on complaints they receive.

"The biggest one that we're getting right now is rentals. Someone renting a room in a house and the person who owns the house not reporting that rental income," explained Burnham.

Burnham said going after small businesses adds up over time and her team is trying to stop tax evaders from cashing in.

"I want to make sure everything is done correctly, by the book. I never want to be in trouble," said Jessica Matsumoto, owner of Matsumoto Studio.

Not being targeted for tax collection: drug dealers, hostess bars, gambling dens, and brothels…

read ... Petty Harassment

Ice Maker Shuts Doors to Force Arrest of Criminal

HTH: A 22-year-old Puna man on supervised release for a strong-arm robbery charge has been arrested and charged by police for allegedly vandalizing and burglarizing Alii Ice Co. on Banyan Drive in Hilo.

Clinton Ronald Souza of Volcano was charged on Thursday night with burglary, burglary during a civil defense emergency, five counts of unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, two counts of criminal property damage and theft.

Burglary during a civil defense emergency is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

Souza being held at the Hilo police cellblock in lieu of $152,000 bail, pending his initial appearance Monday in Hilo District Court.

In a written statement, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said: “The Hawaii Police Department is committed to investigate all reported criminal activity affecting storm victims and to identify and arrest the responsible persons.”

Alii Ice owner Jon Bockrath said he received a call Thursday night from county Prosecutor Mitch Roth to inform him of the arrest....

According to court records, Souza missed an arraignment Thursday morning in Hilo Circuit Court on a strong-arm robbery charge.

It was later discovered he was already in custody. He’s to be arraigned on the robbery charge Thursday at 1 p.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara.

The state Department of Public Safety website indicates Souza was released from Hawaii Community Correctional Center on supervised release on Aug. 4....

Bockrath had vowed not to reopen the plant until a suspect was incarcerated for the break-in.

“Sometimes, it takes drastic measures to accomplish a goal, and the goal was to get this fellow incarcerated. He’s in jail now, and hopefully our legal system will follow up,” he said.

read ... About a Guy Who Shouldn't Have Been Released

Hurricane Relief Fund's purpose is for insurance and not actual relief aid

SA: ...The Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund has long been used by lawmakers as a cash cow.

Over the past two decades, the state has pulled $219.5 million from the fund to balance the budget, end teacher furloughs and for other needs. The fund now stands at $126.6 million.

With Hawaii island still cleaning up from Tropical Storm Iselle, Hurricane Julio a near miss and Tropical Storm Karina looming on the horizon, it raises the question: Is there enough money in the fund? ...

Lloyd Lim, acting executive director for the Hurricane Fund, said the current balance is acceptable for that purpose.

"What you're trying to do is have enough money to restart (insurance coverage) quickly for the public," Lim said. "To restart (coverage) immediately would probably require a reserve of about $100 million."

A common misconception about the Hurricane Relief Fund is that it was designed to provide disaster relief in Hawaii, state Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said. But that's not the case.

"The importance of the fund is if there's another event where it causes a market disruption, insurers stop writing hurricane policies and there becomes a severe availability problem where people can no longer purchase hurricane coverage, that's where the Hurricane Fund could potentially be reactivated to act as a hurricane insurer," Ito said. "The need for the Hurricane Fund is it provides startup costs for Hurricane Fund (insurance coverage) and it enables the Hurricane Fund to become operational a little quicker."

read ... Lets Raid it Again

John Carroll Continues Flacking for Mililani Trask Geothermal Scheme

IM: On August 13, 2014 Conservative Republican attorney John Carroll filed a Formal Complaint with the Public Utilities Commission on behalf of six Complainants.   (PUC Document Management System:  Docket No. 2014-0191)

The target of the action is the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) Energy Agreement

Carroll argued that the HCEI Energy Agreement is in violation of federal law, the Hawai`i State Constitution and the public trust doctrine.

The Formal Complaint is the outgrowth of a lawsuit Carroll filed last year. (Docket No. 2014-0191, pages 65-71). The Complainants are Edward "Mr. Ed" Wagner, Alfredo Bowman, Maya Dolena, Allen Frenzel, Kenneth Love, Daniel Lovejoy....

The state constitution mandates energy self-sufficiency which requires 24/7 baseload renewable energy resources such as biofuel and geothermal.

The HCEI Energy Agreement instead focused on intermittent renewable energy resources like wind and solar which were more expensive than geothermal.

Furthermore geothermal can simply be integrated into the grid whereas high penetration levels of solar and wind integration into the grid requires complex and costly hardware and software.

Thus the allegation goes, wind and solar benefit consultants and utilities while geothermal meets the constitutional requirements and benefits ratepayers.

On May 29, 2014 Circuit Court Judge Karl S. Sakamoto issued a ruling supporting in part and opposing in part, but asserting that the proper venue is the Public Utilities Commission. Hence the PUC filing.

read ... Disguised Geothermal Filing at the Public Utilities Commission

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