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Friday, August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:36 PM :: 6097 Views

DCCA: Ige Business 'Not in Good Standing'

Sai: Wong, Dwyer, Namuo Rake in Millions from Kanaiolowalu

Supreme Court Dismisses All Three Puna Election Challenges

FEMA: Iselle Not Severe Enough for Disaster Declaration--State to Appeal

FEMA Rejection Shows Lack of Leadership by Schatz

Djou: America Must Build Coherent Strategy to Deal With Islamic State

Aloha Chancellor Apple Rally Today

Remind me again: Who wants GMO labeling?

RAILROADED: Rail construction Could put Small businesses out of business

Waihee: Without Abercrombie, Takai, Ige Will Lose

PR: Former Gov. John Waihee introduced Abercrombie as the titular head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and said that the governor's leadership would be necessary for Democrats such as state Sen. David Ige and state Rep. K. Mark Takai to win in the November general election....

Abercrombie did not mention Ige in his 20-minute remarks. Instead, he urged supporters to pass a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool. The amendment is a key component of Abercrombie's plan to eventually offer preschool options to all of the state's 4-year-olds.

read ... Ige Who?

Hawaii Farmers Push Back Against Utopian Extremists

CB: The effort is “intended to win the hearts and minds of voters and shore up support for ALL agricultural producers,” the organization’s president, Chris Manfredi, wrote in an Aug. 21 letter....

“Agriculture in Hawaii and across the nation is under attack,” Manfredi wrote. “Across the nation, farmers and ranchers have been caught off guard by extremist activists that will stop at nothing to realize their utopian, misinformed and unsustainable vision of how you should farm.”

According to an internal document obtained by Civil Beat detailing the public relations campaign, the group plans to run ads in major newspapers on five islands as well as on Hawaii News Now. The organization is also hoping to air 30-second commercials during TV shows like “CSI,” “Big Bang Theory” and “60 Minutes,” in addition to college football, PGA Golf, and CBS NFL games....

The Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for Keiki and the Aina (SHAKA) Movement, the (utopian extremist) group behind the ballot initiative, is also planning to register with the commission. The group has raised at least $29,000 so far, according to its online fundraising campaign.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Center for Food Safety is launching the Hawaii Chef Action Network in two weeks along with Chef Ed Kenney and the Chef Action Network. The initiative will sponsor educational events during the legislative session, create a policy guide for state lawmakers and conduct advocacy training for chefs.

In the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation’s public relations campaign plan, the group describes the Center for Food Safety as a “well‐funded anti‐agriculture activist organization” that exemplifies how farmers are under attack.

PDF: http://www.slideshare.net/civilbeat/hfbf

read ... Some Excellent News

Star-Adv: Anti-GMO Measures Fail Common Sense Test

SA: Meanwhile, other significant home-rule fights await. In October, Kurren will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging a Hawaii County ordinance that prohibits the open-air use and testing of GMO crops not already being cultivated. And Maui voters will consider a ballot initiative in the Nov. 4 general election that would prohibit the testing or cultivation of GMO crops until the industry -- i.e. Monsanto -- conducts a public health and environmental study on the safety of its cultivation practices.

Both measures fail the common-sense test. A broad consensus of experts, including from the University of Hawaii, agree that biotechnology not only is safe, but can be essential to protecting important crops. Genetic modification saved the Hawaiian papaya -- notably exempt from the Hawaii County ordinance.

Present and future environmental pressures, such as climate change and the constant threat of destructive pests, require agricultural policies that give our farmers every tool possible to keep growing an abundance of healthy food. Unsubstantiated fears of GMOs, combined with a lack of viable alternatives, do not make for sensible farm policy.

Kurren's opinion in the Kauai case said the Legislature intended that state law "be both uniform and exclusive" on the regulation of pesticides. Such uniformity and exclusivity also should apply to laws regulating agriculture across the islands. County farmers don't just feed themselves; they feed the entire state, and we all have a vital stake in their success.

read ... Pesticide ruling resets debate

Abercrombie Didn't Claim Enough Damage to Get Federal Disaster Declaration

WHT: FEMA assessors worked with the state and county last week to survey the damage to Big Island residences brought on by Iselle.

“In the request, it was 11 destroyed homes and 29 major damaged homes,” Fujioka said. “Normally, that’s far below the threshold of what they normally (consider a major disaster).”

A letter attached to the official disaster declaration request stated 50 homes sustained some sort of damage.

“Our Office of Housing and Community Development went in with our National Guard and they did a thorough assessment,” he said. “We submitted all of the documentation. I know FEMA had different criteria. We might not have had the number of homes destroyed that fit their criteria, but we were told that other factors would be considered, such as trauma to the community, the needs of the community, socioeconomic factors of the community. And we believed those other factors weighed in Puna’s favor.”

read ... He's not running so he don't care

Native Hawaiian Roll Reopens?

FH: Do They Really Think There's A New Sucker  Born Every Minute?

KR: Register Page Active Again

read ... Reopens?

Bills relating to getting homeless off the street advance to full council

KHON: The city says it’s making strides in getting people off the streets of Honolulu.

On Thursday, four of the five bills that relate to sitting, lying, urinating and defecating on the sidewalks moved out of committee and are one step closer to gaining final council approval.

Read Bills 42, 43, 45 and 46 with changes here.

The bills have the support of Hawaii tourism officials who are concerned about the effect Waikiki homeless camps have on visitors....

The mayor is also working with the state to find a temporary site for the homeless on Sand Island.

CB: In turnaround from a month ago, committee advances five bills to the full Honolulu City Council for consideration

read ... The Only Way to Stop Homelessness is to Get off the Street

Ember Shinn: "Sand Island Will not be a Tent City"

HNN: "We want to have an interim solution. So we're looking for a place we can do permanent supportive housing in a temporary fashion," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The city said it plans to open the center in three months but the exact location and the size of the operations are still being worked out. The facilities will include tents for the homeless as well as more permanent buildings.

"There will be tents but it won't be what you think, an Aala Park situation," said City Managing Director Ember Shinn.  (Yeah.  There's more copper around Sand Island.)

"We're hopeful that if we provide a safe environment with services involved and transportation with hygiene that will be an incentive to want to live in."

This isn't the first time that a homeless camp was proposed for Sand Island. Former Gov. Linda Lingle considered Sand Island among several locations in 2006 after the city decided to close Ala Moana Park at night.

Some are skeptical that the city's latest plan will work.

"We may be oversimplifying the issue of just putting a facility here and tents here. I have grave concerns," said City Councilman Breene Harimoto.

"When you have a large concentration of homeless people, any people who may have mental conditions or drug additions, isn't that almost asking for trouble?" ("Especially if your big idea it to put them in tents.")

read ... Tent City?

Hospital Layoffs Shutter Mental Health Unit

MN: Maui Memorial Medical Center administrators said this week that they do not anticipate cutting staff positions other than those associated with the closure of the hospital's adolescent behavioral health unit, Molokini II, at least for now.

The Hawaii Health Systems Corp. sent a letter to its employees and physicians Aug. 22, notifying them that it intended to implement "a systemwide reduction in force" beginning Tuesday. The letter did not specify how many employees or from which departments the cuts would be made.

read ... Mental

Souki Calls for Special Session on Hospital Layoffs

Borreca: Alice Hall, HHSC acting president and chief executive officer, said in an interview that a total of 35 union members will be laid off. Most will be from Kauai, but some workers on Maui and in Kona also will lose jobs, she said.

"We have already had nonunion layoffs; we are not filling vacancies and are consolidating," Hall said.

"We are expecting that next year there will be another wave of layoffs," she warned.

The reason the HHSC doesn't have enough money is because the 2014 state Legislature stopped giving the hospitals emergency subsidies.

Over the years the subsidies have increased and become such a regular part of the yearly budget process it is difficult to understand why the request is always included as an emergency.

State Rep. Bert Kobayashi, a former administrator of the hospital system, says this year the Legislature purposely decided not to fund the HHSC's entire request.

"Essentially what happened is the Legislature gave hospitals a tough-love message: 'Here is a $101 million subsidy and we know your deficit is $150 million,'" Kobayashi said in an interview.

The state has to weigh all its responsibilities, Kobayashi said, arguing that it cannot fund everything....

House Speaker Joe Souki is asking the House Health and Finance committees to meet up with their Senate counterparts (that would be Ige, ahem...) for an emergency public hearing to figure out what to do.

"We need a correction rapidly," Souki said in an interview, adding that he would like to see the Legislature go into a special session on the hospital situation.

He worries that because Gov. Neil Abercrombie is a lame duck and state Sen. David Ige, Ways and Means chairman, is running for governor, there will not be enough emphasis put on helping the neighbor island hospitals.

"There is a need right now, but we can't continue to just cover the costs; we are losing tons of money," Souki said.

Kobayashi said the layoffs are the "first serious response from the hospital system" that he has seen in dealing with the crisis....

This year, there are four fellows running for governor who all are saying they are up to the job.

Coming up with a solution, not a study or a call for an audit, would be one way of measuring which one of the candidates for governor is the leader we need.

read ... No Kidding

HCDA Considers Request to Reduce Number of Affordable Units in Kakaako

SA: There could be fewer moderate-priced homes in the Ward Village master-planned community in Kakaako if the state approves a request from project developer Howard Hughes Corp.

The developer submitted a petition Thursday to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, asking the agency to clarify whether developers can satisfy affordable-housing rules by making rental units available to moderate-income households for twice as long as required in return for building perhaps half as many affordable units.

A decision on the issue from HCDA, which governs development in Kakaako, would apply to other projects in the area and could dramatically affect the diversity of housing in the urban Honolulu hotbed for luxury condo tower development.

read ... Less Affordable

Hawaii deemed ‘sinkhole’ state by fiscal watchdog for pension debt

HR: Only Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut are in worse fiscal condition that Hawaii.

Donna Rook, president of StateDataLab.org, a division of Truth in Accounting, said Hawaii has been one of the five worst states since this annual study was started in 2009.

“The average Hawaii taxpayer’s share of the state’s debt is $27,000 after available assets are tapped. Since we set aside both capital assets and debt related to capital, the remaining debt is primarily unfunded pensions and retirement health,” Rook said.

The $27,000 per taxpayer is about 57 percent of the average resident’s annual income, Rook said.

read ... Sinkhole State

116% Kauai Tax Hikes 'Killing the Local People'

KGI:  Rosalina “Sweetie” Lopez said she and her late husband have worked hard for what they have.

For a number of years, they operated a hog farm on their Keapana property and even built many of the structures on it from the ground up with the help of their children. It is something that Lopez said she is proud of and wants to hand down to her five children and grandchildren.

But recent increases on her tax bill this year, she fears, could jeopardize her family’s hard work.

Though the assessed value on her property did not change between last year and this year, Lopez lost her homeowners exemption and was moved into the county’s residential tax class — one that’s reserved for properties that are not owner-occupied. This caused her taxes to jump from $1,343 to $2,908, a 116 percent increase between 2013 and 2014. 

“This is not paradise for us locals — you’re killing us,” Lopez told Kauai County Council members on Thursday. “Every week you guys put something on us, now the trash, what else? It doesn’t come out of your pockets — it comes out of our pockets. My daughter has eight children and seven of them are home with her, because when you try to go out and rent a place, it’s $1,500 or $1,400 for one room that you can’t even fit one damn bed. That is not right. You guys are killing the local families, you are killing the local people.”

Lopez is not alone.

She and nearly 75 other homeowners attended a standing room only workshop to hear county officials outline current tax policies and discuss potential relief measures for residents who saw measurable increases on their real property tax bills that, in some cases, amounted to hundreds of dollars, if not thousands.

read ... Arguing tax reform

Small business owners in jeopardy of being shut down by Honolulu rail project

HR: Cliff Garcia operates Tropical's Lamps & Shades on land his family has owned in the Kakaako district near downtown Honolulu for the past 70 years.

The city planned to route a controversial $5.2 billion rail project several yards behind Garcia’s store, but Garcia learned the city changed the route.

Current plans show the elevated steel rail will now hover just 20 feet above Garcia’s store and a pillar will encroach into his building.

read ... Shut Down

HECO Rate Hike Will Pay for Biomass at AES

PBN: The only coal-fired power plant in Hawaii, which is the single largest generating plant on Oahu, is under financial stress because there is no financial reserve, according to the Hawaiian Electric Co.'s new energy plan released this week.  (This is an excuse for a rate hike.)

Hawaiian Electric is also asking AES Hawaii to convert some of the energy being produced at the plant in Campbell Industrial Park to biomass from coal.  (The rate hike will cover the higher cost of the biomass fuel as compared to coal.)

Given the potential financial impact of an interruption of service associated with a financial default of AES Hawaii, HECO said it has been negotiating in good faith with the company to explore the possibility of an amendment to the power purchase agreement that would make financial sense to AES Hawaii and ratepayers.  (They are preparing to jack up your rates to pay for the biomass.)

read ... Rate Hike Coming

End of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s solar net energy metering inevitable, sources say

PBN: Some members of Hawaii's solar energy industry are not too happy with the changes the Hawaiian Electric Cos. have proposed in a plan submitted to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission late Tuesday, including some who say that the end of the net energy metering program, which credits rooftop solar customers at the full retail value of electricity, is inevitable.

The program also has been one of the main factors for the record-breaking growth of rooftop solar in Hawaii....

In 2013, the cost to full-service customers due to this program totaled $38.5 million, representing about 1.3 percent of the collected rates for the Hawaiian Electric Cos....

IM: Net Metering targeted for extinction

read ... Inevitable

3 years after construction begins, Waialua school library still not open

KHON:  “The holdup is really an electrical issue. We really were trying to get it open in time for the new school year. When they went in, there was some sort of default with the electrical system,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokesperson for the Department of Education.

Some parents and community members said they were told the delay was due to a permit issue, so KHON2 checked with the city Department of Planning and Permitting.

We learned that a building permit application was filed. In a December 2010 letter from the state, the DOE told the city it would be getting started with construction even if the building permit was not yet approved, which is allowed under state law.

“Can the DOE confirm that there was some sort of permit issue?” KHON2 asked.

“I’d have to check because, like I said, before any new building, it takes some time to get going,” Dela Cruz said.

So KHON2 checked and the city told us the project also requires a Special Management Area (SMA) permit, because the school is close enough to the shoreline. According to DPP, that kind of permit would need City Council approval.

So when will the building finally open? Last week, the DOE said it would be another two to four weeks....

The city says as of Thursday, there is no application for that SMA permit.

read ... Another Day in the DoE

County says no conflict in hiring Wheelabrator rep

WHT: Five months ago, Michael Kaha signed in as the Wheelabrator representative at a pre-bid conference for a waste-to-energy incinerator in Hawaii County.

Last week, he was named to a newly created position as the county’s deputy solid waste division chief.

A lot has happened in the interim.

Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. on June 17 was named one of the three finalists vying for the multimillion-dollar Hawaii County project.

And Waste Management Inc., where Kaha had worked for 21 years, on July 29 agreed to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator to Energy Capital Partners.

The sale is expected to close later this year and still requires Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, Waste Management said in a news release.

read ... Nothing to see here ...

TMT sublease appealed

WHT: An appeal of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease was filed Monday in 3rd Circuit Court.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources granted a sublease on Mauna Kea for the $1.3 billion project July 25.

The board also denied contested case requests regarding the sublease, and E. Kalani Flores, one of the five petitioners, is appealing both decisions.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the telescope is planned for Oct. 7.

read ... OHA Funded Shakedown

District challenge to former Hawaii House speaker heats up

HR: Say's residency actually has been challenged three previous times since 2006, all of them unsuccessfully.

But the significant difference in this latest challenge, filed in 2012 in state Circuit Court, is it's bypassing the City Clerk's office entirely and asking the courts to rule directly on Say's residency qualifications.

read ... District challenge to former Hawaii House speaker heats up

Taxi companies blast 'ride-sharing' outfits

HNN: Fay has been a Lyft contractor since June. He carries passengers in his personal car and gets paid for it. But he's not a taxi driver, and he's not regulated by any government body.

"As we look at regulation, you look at how we are and how we operate, and that is that we're not exactly a taxi company and not exactly a common carrier as regulated by the PUC," said Lyft attorney Chrystn Eads

Traditional cab companies feel Lyft and Uber Honolulu ignore the rules that regulate motor carriers.

"These operators are not licensed and there's no accountability for their operations," Charley's Taxi president Dale Evans said.

"If it's not an equal playing field, then the companies that abide by the rules, it's unfair for them because we have huge expenses," said Howard Higa, president of the TheCab.

KITV: City meets to regulate ride sharing controversies

read ... Taxi companies blast 'ride-sharing' outfits

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