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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
December 9, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:51 PM :: 7341 Views

Legislative leaders want teachers to back the governor's proposal before lawmakers return

Both Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say have said the Democratic majority is willing to go back into a special session to pass a bill to provide money to turn furloughs into instructional days, but Say has added that before the House will return, the Hawaii State Teachers Association must show that the teachers are in agreement with the changes either through a formal vote or a straw poll....

Wil Okabe, HSTA president, said the union is not agreeing to Lingle's proposal.

"We've offered viable solutions and options (TAX INCREASE, TAKE HGEA's SHARE) to the governor to end the furloughs, which she has so far rejected. But we are continuing to work with parent groups and other stakeholders to find a solution, and hope the governor will begin to show some flexibility," Okabe said...

Say has already said that the administration and the teachers have until Dec. 31 to put something before the Legislature.

HSTA EXPLAINED: HSTA using furloughs to keep “Race to the Top” dollars—and reform--out of Hawaii schools

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ADV: Government must improve fiscal efficiency

The state's airports division has at least 54 contracts still on the books that are well beyond their expiration date — some contracts have been lapsed for at least 10 years — leaving about $6 million sitting encumbered and unused.

(Anytime the Adv writes a headline so boneheadedly obvious, the question is: What are they peddling?  Here is the answer:)

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, chairwoman of the Ways and Means committee, complained that it's difficult to track spending because state agencies all use different, often outmoded, accounting systems. Kim rightly suggests ultimately upgrading and unifying accounting systems across all agencies to help policymakers follow the money and make better budget decisions.

In the meantime, it's the responsibility of state officials to keep a closer eye on their procurement and spending practices.

That includes the Legislature, which should strengthen its oversight to questionable spending through aggressive use of audits when necessary.

These days, there's no room to be casual with the public's money. There simply isn't enough of it.

(Fascinating.  While the Adv draws attention to the piddling amounts in the Airport contracts--pointing finger of blame back at Lingle Admin--here are some much more pressing examples of wastefulness they are choosing to ignore:

SB: Airport upgrades overdue for takeoff

REAL WASTE ADV WANTS YOU TO IGNORE: DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior" 

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Ariyoshi: "We can no longer rely upon the growth of tourism"

Some tidbits from the latest Democrat puff-piece by Democrat Borreca at the SB:

As Hawaii marks 50 years of statehood, Ariyoshi asks high school students how they want to prepare for the next 50. Yes, he acknowledges Hawaii's feel-good buzzword "sustainability" -- but also asks, sustainability plus what?

He doesn't like Hawaii being overdeveloped, he is not a fan of those who want to diminish the state Land Use Commission, grumbling that the law has been "extensively subverted" and the commission stacked with those tied to development, from corporate lawyers to contractors and construction union heads.

At the same time, Ariyoshi urges the state "to act boldly" and start buying land, ramping up the roads and sewers while "holding developers to modest profits" to build affordable housing.

And while he recognizes tourism as the only private business economic engine we have left, Ariyoshi says "we can no longer rely on the growth of tourism."

With the experience gained as Hawaii's longest-serving governor, 13 years, Ariyoshi asks teenagers to "look at what kind of business comes to our community, what do we want to keep." (And who is Geo Ariyoshi--or anybody else--to decide "what to keep"???)

RELATED: Hawaii 42nd in Small Business Survival  (How did we get up to 42nd?)

ARIYOSHI VISIT'S HIS "PROTECTOR": Big Island Rancher Larry Mehau Hosts Community Rally for Sen. Akaka

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First Wind offers plan for second Maui site

The project is expected to provide an estimated 70,000 megawatt-hours of electricity a year to MECO, enough to power about 7,700 average Maui homes (using 750 kilowatt-hours per month).

Like Kaheawa I, Kaheawa II will also come with a battery energy storage system, which would allow excess power to be stored overnight for use during peak periods.

The life span of the wind farm is about 20 years.

First Wind is also hoping to break ground on a 30-megawatt wind farm in Kahuku on Oahu's North Shore next spring.

FIrst Wind backed destruction of Molokai Ranch with $50M: Molokai Ranch: Protesters to Cash in with Takeover

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Manpower: Only 6% of Honolulu employers to hire in Q1  (and this is the good news)

From January to March, 6 percent of the companies interviewed in the Honolulu metro area plan to hire more employees, while 14 percent expect to reduce their payrolls, according to the survey from Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN). Another 75 percent expect to maintain their current staff levels and 5 percent remain uncertain about hiring plans.

“Compared with the previous quarter when 10 percent of companies interviewed intended to add employees, and 21 percent planned to reduce staff levels, area hiring levels appear to be slightly stronger,” said Manpower spokesperson Kanani Iaea, in a statement.

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Study says rail will increase pollution

By 2030, a rail system could pump 28,000 tons of harmful pollutants into the air....The study does concede that rail could control pollution during rush hour but not during off hours.  "Eighteen hours of the day it is actually a heavy, heavy polluter because there is no rider-ship," Prevedouros said.

Wendell Cox: The Honolulu Rail Line: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Evaluation

ADV: Rail plan's 'green' claim disputed

SB: Pollution from rail feared

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New chief says officers might have to fill in for furloughed employees

The impending two-day-a-month furloughs of civilian employees at the Honolulu Police Department may require sworn officers to fill in, new Chief Louis Kealoha said yesterday.

SB: Chief planning cuts to staff, services

RELATED: Washington Monument Gambit

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Hawaii nonprofits reeling from cuts as they slash staff, services

Lillian B. Koller, director of the state Department of Human Services, said 2008 results would coincide with 12 percent across-the-board cuts to federal welfare grants to nonprofits that were mandated by the state Legislature. Those cuts began going into effect in May 2008.

Lawmakers restricted DHS to spending $22 million less than it wanted so it could keep a substantial reserve fund, Koller said.

Nonprofits that argued against the cuts in 2008 "were right and I was screaming right beside them," Koller said.

The restriction in spending of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds remains in effect. But Koller said her department has not cut any state funding for contracts with nonprofit social service agencies between the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years.

While DHS is the second-biggest state department after the Department of Education, state agencies such as the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Department of Health and others that contract with nonprofits could have reduced their funding, Koller said last night.

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UH Students protest budget cuts

The students are asking lawmakers to restore at least $50-million of the $198-million when the legislature convenes in January.

Senator Norman Sakamoto, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, came down from his office to talk to the students.

He agrees that the cuts will hurt the university, but says money is so tight he cannot make any promises on restoring funds.

The UH administration and faculty have also expressed concern about the negative effect the cuts will have on the quality of education offered at UH

ADV: UH students say cuts unfair 

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Draft report for water strategies in Central Maui to be discussed

The most promising strategies for increasing the supply include northward basal groundwater well development, eastward basal groundwater well development, Na Wai Eha surface water treatment, desalination of brackish groundwater and maximization of conservation and use of recycled wastewater.

RELATED: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water , Lingle: Will agriculture survive Maui water diversion?

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Renaming Hawaii beach park for Obama not a slam dunk idea  (Cult of personality rejected by public)

"You want my honest opinion? I think it's stupid," said Kevin Calai, 40, a Kane'ohe laborer. "Magic Island's always been Magic Island. What significance is it going to be as Barack Obama Beach Park? Why change what doesn't need to be changed?"

Calai said he voted for Obama, and could see the name change proposed down the line.

Darryl Pang, 48, an 'Aiea information technology worker, said Magic Island has too much significance and history to go through a name change. He recalled attending 50th State Fairs as a youth.

"It just wouldn't be the same," Pang said. "I have no problem with Obama. Personally, I like the guy."

Shay Marcus, a 45-year-old Makiki food and beverage worker, said renaming the park after Obama would be "a terrible idea."

"He's president, but I don't know if he deserves that honor yet," Marcus said. "If he's successful ... or if he passes unexpectedly, then maybe as some kind of tribute. Because he's still in office, that's kind of corn-doggish."

Hale'iwa carpenter Kanoelani Kalanui, 49, said he grew up in Kalihi and recalls when Magic Island first became a beach park.

"Magic Island is Magic Island," Kalanui said. "Maybe they can have the transit system named after him."

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4 routes identified for undersea cable

The state has identified four potential routes for an undersea electrical cable that could deliver energy generated by wind farms on Moloka'i and Lana'i to homes and businesses on O'ahu.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism also said it has narrowed its estimates for the costs of the undersea cable to $800 million and $1 billion.

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Affordable-rental $2886/mo project gets a lift

The project would be available to residents earning 80 percent to 140 percent of Honolulu's median family income, or $76,100 to $111,020 for a family of four at this year's median income.

Under present affordability guidelines, rents could range from $1,331 to $2,886.

As part of the financing arrangement, up to 136 of the units would be made available to tenants for purchase as leasehold condominiums under a rent-to-own program. Purchase prices could range from about $350,000 to $500,000 for a family of four, though median incomes and interest rates at the time of an initial five-year purchase option period will determine prices.

(That's affordable???)

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