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Thursday, November 13, 2014
November 13, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:50 PM :: 4740 Views

House Announces Committee Chairs, Leadership

9th Circuit Rejects Gun Control Group Intervention in Hawaii Concealed Carry Case

Sen Sam Slom to Retire as President of Smart Business Hawaii

Hawaii a Low-Debt State for Students

Court: State Must Release Financial Disclosures for Boards

CB:  A Hawaii judge has granted Civil Beat's request for a preliminary injunction, forcing the Ethics Commission to release financial information filed before July 8.

read ... Disclose

HHSC Hospitals: Marry Us or Divorce Us

MN: Two private health care companies - Kaiser and Hawaii Pacific Health - have expressed an interest in partnering with MMMC to ensure its vibrancy and continued growth.

The issue is pressing because HHSC projected a $150 million deficit this year and the Legislature voted to fund only $105 million of it. In a couple of years, MMMC's shortfall alone could reach $48 million. Services will have to be cut....

The state has a choice: Either commit to the marriage and fully fund HHSC or allow its members to find other partners. Maintaining the status quo will result in death by a thousand cuts.

Maui Time: Trade Us or Play Us

read ... Divorce

Will Supreme Court Mandate $25M /year for DHHL?

While the Hawaii Supreme Court already has dinged the state for failing to provide sufficient funding to operate the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the debate now turns to what constitutes sufficient funding.

Is it $25 million, for instance, over the current two-year budget cycle, as DHHL argues?

Or is it an amount far lower than that, as the state administration maintains?

Arguments on what constitutes adequate funding highlighted a court hearing Wednesday on a motion brought by Native Hawaiians who have sued the state over the funding question.

They also have sued DHHL, saying it has failed to aggressively seek sufficient amounts, as mandated by the Hawaii Constitution, from the state administration over the years.

The gap between what the agency has requested and what the Legislature appropriated has been huge for at least the past couple of decades, with lawmakers approving far less than what was sought.

In the current budget cycle, for instance, the Legislature appropriated only $9.6 million to cover DHHL operating costs, rather than the $25 million sought by the department.

read ... Budget Mandate

GMOs: The Debate Moves to Court Where ‘Facts Cannot Be Faked’

CB: This past week saw a vote to ban Genetically Engineered crops (GE) in parts of Hawaii. The people who pushed for the ban were very active with “information.” But how accurate was the information?

If one looks at the global consensus on GE crops it is very clear world experts all agree on the safety of GE crops and food derived from them. Even European research agrees on the safety:  “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies.”

It was claimed GE crops threaten organic crops. But when the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association took Monsanto to court over such claims the false nature of this claim became apparent. No organic farmer has ever been sued for trace amounts of GE showing up in their organic crops. No organic farmer in North America has ever lost certification for trace amount GE in their organic crop.

Unfortunately this is just one of the many myths about GE crops that became part of the debate leading up to the vote.

MN: Won’t be joining the witch hunt against Monsanto

read ... Courts Spell Doom for anti-GMO Insanity

Seeking local ruling, Maui anti-GMO group files suit

SA: The group responsible for putting a moratorium on genetically engineered crops on the Maui County ballot launched a pre-emptive strike against agricultural giants Wednesday by filing a lawsuit in Maui Circuit Court.

Honolulu attorney Michael C. Carroll, representing the Shaka Movement and five of its leaders, said the group wants the measure's legal standing determined in a local court rather than federal court, where a judge has already ruled against one local anti-GMO law and is weighing the legality of another. 

"We feel the Maui court is in the best position to decide on this issue," Carroll said. 

Handy Legal Tip: Courts will not consider a hypothetical cause for action

read ... Idiots Without a Cause for action

Will Rep Clift Tsuji Save Agriculture from Anti-GMO Punatic Sen Ruderman?

CB: Ruderman is a Big Island businessman who owns a chain of organic food stores and has been outspoken in his opposition to GMOs. He replaces Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who routinely killed GMO bills without so much as a hearing.

Tsuji will take the reins from Jessica Wooley, who supports stronger GMO regulations but stepped down from her House seat last year to head the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He was named Biotechnology Industry Organization’s legislator of the year in 2010 for his support of the industry, which has given him thousands of dollars in campaign contributions....

Conflict of Interest: Organic Profiteers: 15% Sales Boost from Anti-GMO Hype

read ... Senate Lineup

Gary Hooser forced to Quit Abercrombie Admin After being Caught Attending Law School on State Time

KE: It looks like the GMO stalemate is likely to continue at the state Legislature, where Sen. Russell Ruderman, a second-term Big Island lawmaker and health food store owner, will square off against Rep. Clift Tsuji, a powerful longterm legislator, as chairs of their respective agricultural committees.

So once again folks will waste time, money and jet fuel in a futile effort to get GMO labeling and moratorium bills passed. But not all is lost. The failed campaigns will allow Center for Food Safety to keep its name in the media and its funding appeals going strong.

And anti-GMO lobbyist Nomi “Babes” Carmona can keep slurping at the activist funding trough, blowing money donated by the earnest and befuddled on her own petty vendettas — like buying up domain names for me, Joni Kamiya-Rose, Chuck Lasker, politicians Malama Solomon and Clarence Nishihara, Monsanto's Fred Perlak and Pioneer's Cindy Goldstein, along with gmogroundzero, gmofreeoahu, omggmowtf and my favorites, boobs against biotech and boobs against biology. Just in case any of us are in doubt....

Continuing on the subject of overblown egos, Gary Hooser was told to pack his bags and beat it after it was discovered he was attending classes at UH law school while getting paid to run the Office of Environmental Quality Control, according to a source in the guv's office. So Gary resigned and was elected — and just recently re-elected — to the Kauai County Council, where he's now running the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action — his own private political machine — and still attending law school.

Upon hearing the news, a friend asked, “How'd he get into law school?”

(Here's another question: Why is he still allowed in law school?)

read ... Musings: On This and That

House Republicans Divided 4-4?

PR: House Majority Leader Scott Saiki will remain in his post, as will Rep. Sylvia Luke, the chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, and Rep. Karl Rhoads, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Clift Tsuji will replace former Rep. Jessica Wooley as chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Tsuji, who opposes labeling genetically modified foods and has been honored as biotech legislator of the year by an industry group, will have to work with Sen. Russell Ruderman, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who owns a chain of natural food stores on Hawaii island and favors GMO regulation....

Last week, House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson had the support of five of the eight Republicans to remain leader. But Rep. Feki Pouha, a freshman, has pulled his support of Johanson.

read ... House Lineup

Governor's Salary to Hit $158K

SA: David Ige will be paid $146,628 annually after he takes office as governor in December, while Shan Tsutsui, who will remain lieutenant governor, will be paid $143,028.

Their salaries will increase each July 1 until 2018 under raises recommended by the state Commission on Salaries in 2013: to $149,556 and $145,884, respectively, in 2015; $152,544 and $148,800 in 2016; $155,592 and $151,776 in 2017; and $158,700 and $154,812 in 2018.

Ige will be able to live in Hale Kia'aina (House of the Governor), built as the governor's residence in 2002. Although Linda Lingle was the first governor to live in the new home, built behind Washington Place, outgoing Gov. Neil Abercrombie came up with the name.

Washington Place, the former home of Queen Liliuokalani that had served as the governor's home, is now preserved as a museum and used for official events. It also is available for private rental (see bit.ly/11feyBg).

read ... For Rent

Aiona campaign wraps up its business early

ILind: The committee submitted its general election report to the Campaign Spending Commission covering the final election period (October 21 through November 4) on November 7, just three days after the election and nearly a month before the December 4 filing deadline.

The campaign reported raising $303,063.74 in those final weeks before the campaign, and spent $344,303.90. On election day, the Aiona camp reported a surplus of $105,199.98 and no expenses waiting to be paid.

That final surplus amounted to 6.3% of the total $1,659,429.45 in contributions raised throughout the election period.

read ... Aiona campaign wraps up its business early

Gay Wedding Impact for Hawaii? $26.6M not $217M

CB: Consumer finance site NerdWallet has a new study out that estimates gay weddings could have a $26.6 million benefit to Hawaii in additional annual revenue.  The study, released Wednesday, is based on data from Gallup and U.S. Census records.

Remember This? $217M: Fake Bribe Offered to Hawaii for Fake ‘Marriage’

NW: Study

read ... They Lied, Surprised?

Sit Lie ban expansion vote delayed until Friday

HNN: But businesses say their livelihood is also on the line.  The Lum Sai Ho Tong temple and organization has been on River Street more than a century, but says the homeless have brought more thefts, vandalism, and drugs and less business.

"This is actually survival. At this point we are at our wits end because we constantly have to be concerned about these things," said Howard Lum, Lum Sai Ho Tong and Chinatown Community Center Association.

The law that bans sitting and lying on sidewalks passed for Waikiki.  Now the council is considering expanding the ban to other neighborhoods in Moiliili, McCully, Ala Moana, Hawaii Kai, Aina Hina, Kahala, Waialae, Kapahulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Wahiawa and more sections of Chinatown and Downtown.

Business owners and the visually impaired support it.

"I don't like the idea of them laying on the sidewalks and not the bus stops because I end up tripping on them," said Rose Poe, who supports the sit lie expansion.

"The presence of people who sit and lie on Chinatown sidewalks is a major negative impact to our business," said Allen Stack Jr., who supports the sit lie expansion.

"I don't care if you're homeless or not we all have to obey the laws," said Barbara Armentrout, who supports the sit lie expansion.  "In a way I think homeless sometimes thing I'm entitled to this, well everyone else has a job, they're entitled to being able to walk along the sidewalk. They're entitled to walk into a restaurant without someone sleeping right in the doorway."...

read ... Sit-Lie

More Details on How Refusal to Force Homeless to Accept Shelter Kills

CB: Even scratches left untreated can turn into serious infections for people who live outside and rarely — if ever — see a doctor.

In October 2012, the Honolulu Emergency Services Department launched a program to reduce the number of 911 calls it received from “frequent fliers,” more than a third of whom were homeless and suffered from mental illness.

According to EMS data from that time, 50 people made 1,200 calls to 911 in the first nine months of 2012. The year before, one man called every other day. Officials estimated that the callers cost the taxpayer-funded health care system at least $3 million a year for ambulance response and trips to the ER.

read ... Cause Death on the Streets

City Gives $16,400 to Occupy to Make them Go Away

SA: The protest group (de)Occupy Honolulu and two of its members are receiving $16,400 to settle claims against the city tied to the controversial sidewalk nuisance ordinance.

The Honolulu City Council approved the plan 7-1 Wednesday. Councilman Ikaika Anderson voted "no" while Chairman Ernie Martin was absent.

Most of the settlement, $14,400, will go to pay legal fees of those bringing the federal lawsuit. The remaining $2,000 is compensation to Cathy "Sugar" Russell and Terry Anderson for items seized for violating the ordinance in September 2013 but later could not be recovered.

The settlement allows the city to continue enforcing the ordinance

read ... Nuisance Money

HSTA Nagasako Ousted over Bungled PAC Spending?

SA: Holck started his new job Wednesday, but the union, which represents some 12,500 public school teachers, said Nagasako will stay on through Jan. 5 to help with the transition.

Some union insiders have said privately that Nagasako stepped down because of a possible campaign spending violation connected to the union's fight against a proposed constitutional amendment that voters ultimately rejected.

The union — which opposed the move to allow public funds to be spend on private preschool programs — initially began funding an advertising campaign against the amendment through its political action committee, or PAC, which is funded by member dues. PACs, in general, make or receive contributions and make expenditures to influence the election of political candidates.

That posed a problem because PACs are subject to state campaign contribution limits, meaning the HSTA wouldn't have been able to accept a $275,000 contribution from the National Education Association to fight the preschool amendment.

The union subsequently pulled a TV ad it paid for using PAC money, while a group of retired HSTA officers formed a so-called ballot issue committee, which can take in unlimited contributions exclusively to lobby for or against any question or issue appearing on the ballot.

That committee, For the Future of Our Keiki, reported a single contribution: the $275,000 from the National Education Association, its national affiliate, according to campaign-finance reports. It spent a little more than $134,300 between Aug. 10 and Oct. 20, mostly on TV and radio ads against the amendment.

read ... Know them by what they deny

New Hawaii Co Prosecutor Mitch Roth Re-opens Peter Boy Investigation

KHON: Over the years, police continued to revisit the case and earlier this year, Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth assigned a Deputy Prosecutor to take another look too and the combination appears to be paying off.

“The police are out there, they're reinvestigating, there are some new leads that are coming out,” says Roth.

He would not detail the new leads but says they are promising.

“I'm very excited about it. It's been a long time,” he says.

“We're tying up some loose ends,” says Lieutenant Gregory Esteban of the Hawaii Police Department's Criminal Investigation Section, ”We're working closely with the prosecutor's office, we're exchanging communication… there were additional follow-ups that were recently completed."

read ... Peter Boy Case

Abercrombie pardons fewer criminals than predecessors

HNN: As of Sept. 22, Abercrombie pardoned 33 people since he took office four years ago. The final number may rise since he can still pardon people until he leaves office on Dec. 1.

That's far fewer than Republican Linda Lingle, who over two four-year terms pardoned 132 people, 55 of them in her last year in office alone.

Fellow Democrats Ben Cayetano and John Waihee also pardoned significantly more people than Abercrombie during their two terms. Cayetano had 204 and Waihee granted 115 pardons. In his last year in office, Cayetano pardoned 78 people, more than double the pardons Abercrombie has granted in the last four years.

In a statement, Abercrombie said, "My work as a probation officer instilled in me a respect for and commitment to the pardon process as followed in Hawaii. It is not a question of numbers, but thoughtful consideration case by case."

Records showed most of Abercrombie's pardons were for non-violent crimes such as theft and promoting dangerous drugs. But there were a few assault cases.

Most of the pardons were for crimes decades old, from the 1970's, 80's and early 90's. The oldest pardon approved by Abercrombie was for a theft case from 1958, a crime that happened the year before Hawaii became a state.

read ... Governor pardons fewer criminals than predecessors

MCCC ex-guard indicted for sexual assault on the run?

HNN: A former Maui Community Correctional Center guard, who is accused of sex crimes, is believed to have fled to Guam.

The Maui prosecutor's office is working with U.S. Marshals to track down James Siugpiyemal, 41, who faces five counts of sex assault against a female inmate....

The video was shown to a grand jury which indicted Siugpiyemal on October 24th. But the state Department of Public Safety said that Siugpiyemal resigned on October 8th. Breiner thinks someone tipped him off.

"I trust the Maui prosecutor's office. I would like to trust the U.S. Marshals to do their job. The sad part is this gentleman should never have been allowed to leave the state."

read ... Another Guard

Water Commission: Meetings not subject to Sunshine law

HTH: If public meeting laws were applied to the scientific investigations of a board trying to make a determination on public policy, they would create “unworkable and absurd conditions.”

So argues the state Commission on Water Resource Management in its response to an allegation it violated the Sunshine Law during site visits to West Hawaii this fall. The commission is poised to determine whether to pursue a state water management area designation for the Keauhou aquifer. It faces a challenge from the Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference alleging it violated Sunshine laws during non-public visits to county well sites and Kalaoko-Honokohau National Historic Park in September and October.

But the commission argued the state Water Code calls for an investigative process that is exempt from open meeting laws.

“HLPC seeks to convert every step into an occasion for public testimony,” CWRM wrote in a Nov. 10 response acquired by West Hawaii Today in a public records request. “That is not the process the Legislature created in the Water Code. It is unworkable.”

Given the backlog, it may be more than a year before the state Office of Information Practices renders an opinion on the complaint ....

read ... Water Commission: Meetings not subject to Sunshine law

Pasha Will Refurbish Horizon's Ships

PBN: "After closing, we plan to start the process to upgrade and refurbish the Horizon vessels in keeping with our commitment to environmental responsibility and stewardship," Emily Sinclair, a Pasha spokeswoman, told PBN via email. "We anticipate that these improvements will allow Pasha to provide even higher quality service to our valued customers."

Hull told PBN that the Matson transaction is "contingent on the Pasha and Horizon transaction closing, which is subject to review by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission."

Specifically, the transaction will undergo antitrust examination under the Hart-Scott-Randino Act of 1976, Hull said.

Right now, according to Hull, Matson has three arrivals in Hawaii per week, Horizon has two and Pasha has one every other week.

Pasha is also adding a second ship in early 2015, Sinclair said.

"Pasha now represents only a very small percentage of the shipping volume between the Mainland United States and Hawaii," Sinclair said. "Through this transaction, Pasha will grow into a significant competitor and provide a viable alternative to Matson on these routes."

read ... Matson didn't consider Horizon's Hawaii operations due to anti-trust concerns

Chevron Hawaii to receive bids from prospective buyers this month

PBN: ...any possible buyer would have to fork over quite an investment to bring Chevron's Kapolei refinery, the smaller of the two oil refineries in Hawaii, up to par with environmental regulations, the source said.

"So whoever buys it, will have to invest in that at a cost of $200 million or $300 million," the source said. "There's a range of outcomes. Someone could buy the entire system."

Hawaii Independent Energy, the subsidiary of Houston-based Par Petroleum (NYSE: PARR), which bought Tesoro Hawaii's operation last year, including the largest oil refinery in the state, through a spokesman declined to say if it is interested in buying Chevron Hawaii.

read ... Chevron

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