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Friday, November 7, 2014
November 7, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:49 PM :: 4987 Views

Transition: Ige Chooses McCartney, Hiraoka

David Ige’s Action Plan: “Engineering Hawaii’s Future”

Decreases in Federal Funding Require New Path for Hawaii's Policy Makers

DHS Temporary Rules Maintain COFA Benefits

Moody's: Warnings of a utility "death spiral" premature

Curing Medicare in the new Congress 

Group: University of Hawaii fiscal woes hurting students, faculty

Governor-elect pledges not to raise taxes (again)

HNN:  Governor-elect David Ige pledged Thursday not to raise taxes, just two days after winning the race for governor.

In a live interview on Hawaii News Now's Sunrise program, Ige said, “I'm committed to not raising taxes. I believe that we, the state has to live within its means. And people have asked me and I have told them. I really believe that we don't do a great job of collecting taxes already owed and that would be one of the things that will be a priority."

Ige has to begin putting together a cabinet of 41 directors and deputies before he's sworn in less than a month from now on Dec. 1.

"We are not looking at who they supported in the election. It's about finding the best leaders we can to move our state forward," Ige said....

Ige spent most of Thursday meeting with advisers at his Moiliili campaign headquarters, working on his transition plan, according to Lynn Kenton, his campaign spokeswoman.

The campaign plans to set up a website for people to apply for jobs in Ige's administration shortly, Kenton said....

Last Time: Photo: Ige's Broken No New Taxes Pledge

read ... Again?

Raise Barrel Tax? Red Hill Leaks are Latest Excuse

KITV:  Paying more at the pump isn't ever a popular plan (except with legislators and green energy scammers.)

But a 15-cent hike in the barrel tax is one of the ideas floated as a way to monitor the effects of any fuel leaks at Red Hill.   (Really?  Why would State funds be used to deal with a Federal problem?)

"If we don’t see an increase in these funds in some fashion, a large part of the work that we do in oil, chemical control and safety is going to be defunded," said Deputy Environmental Health Director Gary Gill.  The cash-strapped division of the Department of Health pitched the barrel tax hike since it hasn't been raised from the nickel set back in the 1990's.  (Idea: Give Gary a new job--pumping gas.)

But the military, which has a representative on the Red Hill task force called the idea inappropriate.  It’s representative shouldn't be asked to sign off on a state tax plan.  (Wow.  Sounds like amateur hour at DoH.)

read ... Latest Excuse to Raise Taxes

Overtime abuse allows some public employees to double, triple their salaries

KHON: Next time the state or city bring up budget cuts, remember this: More than $100 million a year gets shelled out in overtime alone.

What’s being done to crack down on this costly problem?

It’s not just the essential life-or-death services like police, fire or paramedics. Other departments plagued with chronic overtime costs appear to be in a losing battle, even when it appears some are gaming the system.

Stay on the ready in case a fire breaks out at Molokai airport and rake in six figures, more than half in overtime. Keep prisoners in line and behind bars, top $150,000 a year thanks to overtime. Pick up the trash, track $45,000 in overtime alone.

Always Investigating analyzed two years of payroll data for state and city jobs paid for by taxpayers. The state shelled out nearly $60 million last fiscal year just in overtime pay. The City and County of Honolulu was close behind even though the overall base payroll is much lower than the state’s — more than $50 million for the city alone, more than 9 percent of wages as overtime....

“When we talk about budget shortfalls, when we talk about ‘We need people but we can’t afford to hire them,’ well that’s part of the reason why,” Sen. Sam Slom (R-East Oahu) said in response our findings....

Top Overtime Jobs

  • Adult corrections officer IV: $52,536 base + $104,169 OT
  • Molokai airport fire lieutenant: $71,741 base + $74,103 OT
  • Kona airport fire equipment operator: $67,337 base + $61,251 OT
  • State hospital RN: $80,000 base + $40,023 OT
  • Adult corrections officer III: $46,548 base + $75,573 OT
  • State hospital psychiatric technician: $38,556 base + $27,272 OT

read ... Price of 'Work Rules'

Hawaii Payroll on 40-Year Old Computer

CB: The year? 2014. Somewhere in a windowless Honolulu office, five clerks process Hawaii’s $130 million payroll on a biweekly basis. Like underpaid artisans, they perform their work primarily by hand, with only the help of a COBOL application running on a 40-year-old VAX computer that’s barely kept alive with a mishmash of parts purchased on eBay. The clerks check and recheck their calculations, penciling department totals into paper ledgers.

That’s roughly 80,000 biweekly state paychecks brought to you by the quaint power of elbow grease.

read ... You must be high, tech.

4 Horsemen: Ige Conspires With Abercrombie, Cayetano, Waihee, Ariyoshi

KITV: “I did have a chance to speak with Gov. (Neil) Abercrombie on election night and he was very gracious, and they’re doing everything they can to facilitate the transition,” Ige said....

Ige praised voters for shooting down an amendment to allow state funds to pay for private Pre-K. He said there aren’t enough of them in the areas that need it most, such as the neighbor islands. He said he’ll be surveying schools to see which ones have classroom space and the budget to help with early childhood education.

“I did want to thank the voters of Hawaii for giving Shan and I this opportunity to lead,” Ige said.

Ige said he will be meeting soon with former governors Ben Cayetano, George Ariyoshi, and John Waihee.

read ... Governor-elect David Ige preps for transition into office

Ige Elected by 13% of Hawaii Residents

Borreca:  Hawaii plunged to establish its own new personal worst voter turnout record. Just 52.3 percent of registered voters voted.

The national ratings will come later, but expect the state to be exploring the nadir of voting....

Ige did it with 181,065 votes. That comes out to about 13 percent of Hawaii's entire resident population....

This is the first general election in Hawaii's history in which more people voted by absentee than by walking into a precinct on Election Day.

It was 26.7 percent absentee and 25.5 percent walk-in.

Almost the entire absentee vote was done by mail.

For those on Oahu who got a mail ballot, nearly 78 percent mailed the ballots back....

The Associated Press reports that the GOP controls 28 state legislatures and 32 governorships, the most in a century, but Hawaii still has fewer than 10 Republicans in the Legislature.

More worrisome to the local GOP is the repeated rejection of its two strongest candidates: former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou and former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

DN: Why People Don't Vote

read ... Low Voter Turnout

Attacks on Aiona Funded by K-Street Lobbyists

Boylan: ...Or the most washed-out picture of Duke Aiona ever taken on an 8-and-a-half-by-11-inch mailer. It’s accompanied by text that asserts that Aiona has “extreme views on women’s health issues.” Or on another mailer, that as lieutenant governor, he joined then-Gov. Linda Lingle in “recklessly cutting $100 million from our public schools and implemented Furlough Fridays.”

Duke, the lieutenant governor, did that? Lieutenant governors have the power to do — as Aiona has guilelessly admitted — nothing. And even if he did, the state was, after all, in the midst of the Great Recession....

The anti-Aiona stuff comes from Hawaii Forward; it shelters its funds at national lobbyists’ main street: K Street, Washington, D.C.

read ... K-Street Union Money

Souki Reelected House Speaker

PR: House Democrats, meeting privately Thursday afternoon, backed the Maui Democrat and House Vice Speaker John Mizuno.

Souki told reporters afterward that the House would likely release its roster of committee assignments next week. He confirmed, however, that Rep. Sylvia Luke will remain the chairwoman of the powerful House Finance Committee.

Souki said it would be difficult to continue to give Republicans three committee vice chairmanships, including the vice chairmanship of the House Finance Committee, now that Democrats are united behind him. Republicans also held vice chairmanships of the House Economic Development and Business Affairs Committee and the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee....

House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson has the votes to remain Republican leader, sources say.

Nov 1, 2014: Souki Prepares to Boot Republicans from House Leadership Coalition

read ... Reelected

82% Vote Against Abercrombie's Judicial Secrecy

CB: Which candidate or issue on the general election ballot drew the most support from voters statewide? ...It was the proposed constitutional amendment to require the public be informed whenever the Judicial Selection Commission, which screens candidates nominated to serve as state judges, approves a short list of finalists from which the governor, or the chief justice (in the case of District Court judges), will make their selection. The amendment will require that the list be publicly disclosed at the same time it is forwarded to the governor or the chief justice.

The measure was approved by 302,953 voters, or 82 percent of all those casting ballots. It drew 23 percent more votes than Senator Schatz, and got more than four times as many votes as Gov. Abercrombie received in his primary loss.

That’s important because the passage of this amendment was the final round of a very public fight that Abercrombie picked nearly as soon as he assumed office.

It started in January 2011, less than two months after the new governor was sworn in, when he nominated Sabrina McKenna to a 10-year term on the Hawaii Supreme Court. In a departure from the practice of recent governors, including Republican Linda Lingle, Abercrombie declined to release the names of other candidates on the list received from the Judicial Selection Commission.

read ... Secrecy

UH Bars Newly Elected Lawmaker from Teaching Music

HNN: "I'm concerned if I don't teach part time, teach music part time, that I might lose touch of who I am, and who people are" she said.

She's already filed grievances with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, but says so far, the Board of Regents hasn't budged.

"It was basically a written decision, nine pages sent to me, 'I'm so sorry, this is the way we decided to do it".

Tupola filed for arbitration after that, but it too proved fruitless. For now, she --like Keohokalole---is settling in to her new surroundings.

"I'm so overwhelmed right now. I just feel like my whole life just changed. I'm just trying to accept the change because I know it's good for me. It'd be great to work for UH, but it sounds like I'm not going to be able to."

read ... New lawmaker facing resignation issue

UH Hires Deadbeat Dad to Coach Men's Basketball Team

HNN: As the new coach of the University of Hawaii men's basketball team, Benjy Taylor is entrusted with a $2 million a year program.

But during his coaching career, the 47-year-old Taylor has amassed tens of thousand of dollars in debt, including $12,000 for back child support and a $30,000 outstanding bill with the IRS.

And the attorney for his former wife Wendy said Taylor wracked up $20,000 in additional expenses that she's got stuck with.

"It caused a big financial hardship. She's a single mother," said Thomas Collins.

"What I would like to see done is for coach to step up to the plate and pay the back child support that he owes."

UH Athletic officials said they were not aware of Taylor's financial problems because they only conducted a criminal background check when they hired him, not a credit check.  (LOL! Did they mail him $200K for a Stevie Wonder concert yet?)

Along with tax and child support problems, a Hawaii News Now examination of state public records shows that Taylor even had trouble paying his rent, despite earning more than $100,000 a year.

The landlord of a Date Street apartment sued Taylor last year in Small Claims Court downtown after he allegedly bounced two rent checks. Court records show that the apartment owner is still owed about $3,000.

SA: UH's leading private donor believes the key to excellence is focusing on faculty and students

read ... Future Administrator

GMOs: Precinct by Precinct Breakdown Maps Eco-Religion

ILind: ...Professor Emeritus Dick Mayer, who taught economics and geography at UH Maui College, compiled a spreadsheet to display voting data on the GMO initiative and kindly shared it.

Here’s one portion of his larger spreadsheet. It shows the percentage of “Yes” votes at each polling place in the county, organized by representative districts.

Quickly scan the data and you’ll see that the “Yes” votes ranged from 81% in Hana down to just 29% in Kaunakakai....

read ... Breaking down the GMO vote

Maui: Anti-GMO Idiots Assign Enforcement to Sanitation Department

MN: The passage of the GMO moratorium initiative will be challenged in court by Monsanto. The razor-thin comeback win by the "yes" side leaves the county with an interesting dilemma if it survives the court challenge. As of Wednesday, Mayor Alan Arakawa was still wondering how the county will enforce the moratorium. The ordinance accompanying the initiative suggests the Department of Environmental Management might perform the function.

But the county's website says there are only two divisions in Environmental Management - Wastewater Reclamation and Solid Waste Management. Where do GMOs fit in?

read ...  Notes on election

Kenoi Claims He Won't Run for Higher Office as Inouye Gang Beefs Up Staff

HTH: Augie T is the latest addition to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s staff.  The award-winning comic is now an executive assistant to the mayor, one of five top aides charged with handling various projects and public relations for the chief county executive....

Kenoi has also added another Oahu resident to his top team. Peter Boylan, 35, a former Honolulu Advertiser newspaper reporter who served most recently handling public relations for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s Democratic U.S. Senate campaign, joined Kenoi’s staff Sept. 16.

A slot became open in the top tier when T. Ilihia Gionson moved to county film commissioner. The public relations position Gionson held is budgeted at $73,000 annually. Other executive assistant slots run to about $93,000, according to the latest budget information.

Kenoi said Boylan’s five years of legislative experience as deputy chief of staff for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, will serve the county well.

The addition of two high-profile names to the mayor’s office isn’t a sign of political aspirations, Kenoi said. With two years left to his second term, Kenoi said he’ll be returning to his private law practice and teaching at Hawaii Community College once he’s term-limited out of office.

“I’ve made it clear. I won’t be running for office in two years,” Kenoi said. “I’m not leaving Hawaii County. This is my home. … There’s no other (higher) political office on Hawaii Island. So I’m done.”

Related: Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.”

read ... Know Them by What They Deny

New York Magazine digs into Hawaii media owner Pierre Omidyar, Civil Beat digs on buying nice things

PBN: Honolulu readers will be especially interested in the account of how Omidyar came to found Honolulu Civil Beat here in 2010. New York details its tumultuous early days and how the site fits in with Omidyar's now-global ambitions for aggressive, independent public accountability journalism, manifesting itself in First Look, where such journalists as Glenn Greenwald (Edward Snowden's scribe) seem to pursue muckraking and back-biting in equal measure. Since little is written with so much detail about Omidyar, I thought you'd enjoy the links.

Coincidentally, as we were passing around New York's profile in the office this week, a curious column appeared at Civil Beat, written by Deputy Editor Eric Pape. " Living Hawaii: One Big Reason We Spend So Much? Cars, fancy phones, private schools: We make choices that add a great deal to our cost of living and undermine our future." ....

what's with the repeated singling out of people spending money on "prestigious-sounding private schools?"

Pape's employer is a Punahou grad who feels so strongly about that private school that he paid for part of its campus. It's actually called the Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood. It cost $26 million. It is very nice, and very sustainable and opened the same year Omidyar launched Civil Beat.

None of which Pape mentions, in a column posted within hours of a national magazine calling attention to the Civil Beat founder's private school ties. Like I said — an eyebrow-raiser.

read ... A Study in Contrasts

Mounting legal trouble for Hu Honua bioenergy facility

HTH: Attorneys for Hawaiian Dredging filed the foreclosure suit Oct. 27 in Hilo Circuit Court, claiming Hu Honua has not paid the construction company the $30 million it settled a mechanics’ lien for in June.

The foreclosure action seeks to have Hu Honua’s leasehold interest in the property “sold in the manner provided by law,” with proceeds going to pay the settlement, plus Hawaiian Dredging’s expenses and attorney fees.

In its lien, Hawaiian Dredging sought about $35 million for unpaid construction bills for work on the plant — which, if completed, would burn wood chips to generate electricity.

The 25-acre site is the former Hilo Coast Processing Co. power plant that at one time burned bagasse, a sugar cane byproduct. The facility was later converted to burn coal.

The suit also accuses Hu Honua and co-defendants Island Bioenergy LLC and NIV LLC of fraudulently transferring Hu Honua’s assets in January in order for NIV to loan Hu Honua money despite Hu Honua’s insolvency. Island Bioenergy is described in the filing as “sole member and manager” of Hu Honua....

Sylvia added legal setbacks the company has experienced the past several months have had “a domino-type effect.”

Those include numerous liens by contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, and a lawsuit by Hawaiian Dredging, since resolved, accusing Hu Honua and Paragon Construction Consulting, a project crisis-management firm, of locking the contractor out of the site and committing industrial espionage, stealing Hawaiian Dredging computers with proprietary and attorney-client privileged information.

Hu Honua announced in February it had a new contractor, Performance Mechanical Inc. of Pittsburg, Calif.

The EPA in February also ordered the state Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch to modify or reissue the air pollution permit for the facility, taking into consideration factors such as pollutants that would be generated during start-up, shutdown and malfunctions in the facility, as well as by certain types of equipment such as backup generators.

read ... Biofools

Lawyers Find Loophole in city laws concerning One Waikiki bench

KITV: The bench on Kalakaua Avenue across the street from the Waikiki Circle Hotel is in the heart of the city's tourist hub.  The popular place to take a break is also the center of a loophole in the city's sit-and-lie and park closure laws.

Michael Natividad says he was cited for violating both the sit-and-lie law and the park closure law by sitting on this bench.

Honolulu police already said they'd dismiss the sit-and-lie ticket because it doesn't apply to public benches.  Now, KITV has learned that the bench isn't considered park of the park, so park closure rules don't apply either!

That means anyone sitting or lying on this bench is perfectly legal anytime.

But, that doesn't mean all benches are in the clear.  It turns out, makai-facing benches are considered part of the park and fall under park rules.

read ... Lawyers work to Keep Homeless, Homeless

UH Perfesser, PBS Aroused by Waianae Teenage Tranny

HNN: The 15-year-old Waianae High freshman was born as a boy named Royce, but decided in 7th grade to live as Raquel, challenging society's gender definitions. 

Dr. Milton Diamond of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society on the UH Manoa campus is (bla bla bla)....

PBS Hiki No is sharing "Raquel's World."  You can watch the story from episode 510 of "Hiki No" at this link....

read ... They Like em Young

Another Escape

KITV: Inmate Eric Fernando failed to return back to the Laumaka Work Furlough Center after work Thursday morning, according to the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

Fernando left Wednesday morning and he was supposed to return at 3:30 am Thursday. Sheriffs and HPD were notified.

read ... Escape

Sanctions Possible for Loss of Hawaii prison gang binder

AP: Prosecutors initially said the binder was found at Alakea Deli, a restaurant that Sierra said he hasn't patronized in months. He said Thursday that prosecutors have since informed him the binder was actually found at another eatery down the block, where he had stopped for coffee after long trial days.

"It is plausible ... that I may have been at fault for leaving it there somehow," he said. He added it wasn't done intentionally.

Kobayashi agreed it didn't appear intentional and said how it ended up there is beside the point.

"The point is it contained confidential information that if found by certain elements can result in significant and even serious, maybe even deadly, harm to others," she said.

It doesn't look like any of the documents ultimately landed in the wrong hands, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake said. But she said worried relatives of some witnesses have contacted her nonetheless.

read ... Sanctions

Water Commission accused of violating Sunshine Law

HTH: The state Commission on Water Resource Management is being accused of violating the Sunshine Law during site visits to the Big Island in September and October.

The Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference filed the complaint with the state Office of Information Practices late last month, saying the commission’s investigative meetings at county wells and national park sites should have been public. In its complaint, HLPC questions whether such investigatory functions are exempt from Sunshine Law requirements....

read ... Sunshine?

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