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Monday, October 12, 2015
October 12, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:56 PM :: 4829 Views

Tulsi Gabbard ‘Disinvited’ from Democrat Presidential Debate

FULL TEXT: Report reveals details of AG investigation of Rep James Tokioka

Tsutsui: Ige Foolish to Ignore Me--I want to control Collective Bargaining

SA: ..."I said basically everything. I want to be there in all the Cabinet meetings and strategic meetings and when decisions are made,” said Tsutsui. “I’m not interested in cutting ribbons and shoveling dirt as being the primary purposes of this job.”

Abercrombie said OK.

Tsutsui went on to lead a sports development initiative, took on tourism and had a seat at top strategy meetings, and when the federal government shut down, Abercrombie, who was on vacation at the time, left him in charge of major decisions.

“Whatever he says goes,” Tsutsui remembers Abercrombie telling his chief of staff, Bruce Coppa, at the time.

Three years later Tsutsui finds himself largely sidelined under a new administration after Ige beat out Abercrombie in a historic political upset.

“I was involved in more strategic meetings; I was always involved in those things under the previous administration,” said Tsutsui. “Under this administration, probably not so much.”

Tsutsui said he has a lot that he wants to do, such as tackling the invasive red fire ant and coqui frog problems; taking on collective bargaining with state workers; making sure that federal dollars earmarked for Hawaii are actually being spent; and maybe even keeping an eye on Honolulu rail project change orders, which are driving up costs.

But in order to really be effective, he needs the governor to give him the power to tackle these problems....

One thing on Tsutsui’s agenda in the coming months is pushing for a bill in the Legislature that will change the election process for lieutenant governors. Instead of running separately, the governor would select a lieutenant governor as a running mate.

Otherwise “it’s like a forced marriage,” Tsutsui said — sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The bill would have to be approved by the governor as part of his legislative package....

“So for us, we got to make decisions, and the faster we make the decisions, the better. All we have to do is be right 6 out of 10 times and we make a lot of money,” he quipped.

Tsutsui said that there are things he would have done differently from the governor. For instance, he would have used executive powers to cut through all the red tape in trying to solve Oahu’s homeless problem, as opposed to Ige’s decision to convene another task force.

And he would have hired a chief negotiator to tackle the collective bargaining contracts with state workers. Ige chose not to hire a negotiator to save money.

“That was penny wise and pound foolish, in my humble opinion,” said Tsutsui, who argues that having a tough negotiator could in the long run save the state millions of dollars....

Tsutsui said he would not run against Ige in the next election. But he’s not ruling out a bid for governor in 2022 or even Maui mayor in 2018.

Flashback: Tsutsui For Governor, 2014?

More of this?  Not: Tsutsui: Ige Should Consider Halting Maui Hospital Negotiations

read ... Tsutsui yearns for bigger role

Rail Tax Hike Will Cost Family of Four $4000

CB: The city does not have enough available funds to finish the rail project. It has convinced the state Legislature and the governor to give Oahu the authority to extend the rail GET surcharge for 5 more years.

Now the ball passes to the Oahu City Council. Only it has the authority to actually extend the rail tax. The City Council has until next summer to raise the tax.

A five-year rail tax extension will cost every person on Oahu approximately $200 per year, according to the Tax Foundation....

Since we started paying the rail GET surcharge, the mood surrounding the project has changed. We are getting daily reports of problems associated with the project – contractor problems, ethics problems, business interruptions, financial concerns, worries about finishing on time, etc. And now the council must meet to consider extending the surcharge tax for five more years beyond the original 2022 end date.

($200 x 4 people x 5 more years = $4000)

read ... Tax Hike

HART: Ansaldo Understaffing of Rail project "unacceptable and inappropriate"

SA: Ansaldo Honolulu JV, the firm that won the largest contract in state history to deliver rail’s train cars and signaling system, recently understaffed key job positions at a “critical juncture” of the transit project, according to the agency overseeing rail.

The revelation coincides with a separate whistleblower lawsuit filed against Ansaldo earlier this month, in which a former top safety employee for the firm alleges that it cut corners on staffing needed to ensure worker safety.

“The absence of a number of key personnel at this time is unacceptable and inappropriate for a project of this magnitude,” Justin Garrod of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation wrote in a July 15 letter to Ansaldo, in which he flagged about 10 Ansaldo engineer and manager positions. Garrod, HART’s deputy director of Core Systems, monitors Ansaldo for HART. The agency “is concerned that the continued vacancies of key personnel and other important positions are affecting the (rail project’s) progress,” he wrote.

The city in 2011 awarded Ansaldo Honolulu a $1.4 billion contract to design, build, operate and maintain the future transit project’s driverless trains and operating system — what rail officials often refer to as rail’s “brains and the trains.” Garrod’s letter raised concerns about positions essential to designing, building and overseeing rail’s communications and traction systems that are either vacant or are covered by inexperienced staffers and personnel who either are “unavailable” to do the work or have been pulled away to other duties....

HART isn’t the only entity to raise recent concerns over Ansaldo’s staffing during rail construction. John McCaughey, who briefly served as Ansaldo’s rail construction safety manager this past summer, filed a whistleblower suit Oct. 1 alleging that the firm violated its contract with the city as well as state safety laws, and that it put its workers at risk of injury and death.

The firm had hired him in May to exclusively oversee safety at its rail construction sites, but once McCaughey took the job, Ansaldo repeatedly tried to pull him away from those duties to help instead with an audit unrelated to the project....

In July, Garrod said that HART was concerned about Ansaldo’s construction progress at the Pearl City operations center. A separate firm, Kiewit Kobayashi JV, is constructing the actual buildings that will house Ansaldo’s operations equipment. City officials last week touted the operations center’s near completion, saying the facility is about 80 percent built and hoping that pace can continue for the rest of the project.

This week HART board members are expected to consider, at a fourth consecutive meeting, whether to approve Ansaldo’s nearly $8.7 million delay claim.

Background: FULL TEXT: Whistleblower Suit Claims Ansaldo Padding Rail Contract

read ... Ansaldo Unacceptable

Ige: Secret Meetings, No Public Events for Weeks on End

SA: Last month, Gov. David Ige traveled to the Big Island to conduct official government business.

But the purpose of the trip or even who the governor met with is secret. The trip wasn’t listed on his public calendar, and when pressed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about what he was doing on the island, Ige wouldn’t say....

since assuming the governorship 10 months ago, Ige has fallen short on some of his key campaign promises when it comes to government transparency.

>> He promised to hold weekly press conferences, but scuttled the idea during his first weeks in office.

The governor has only held seven press conferences since taking office....

>> Ige also promised that he would require his department heads to hold at least four community meetings a year, including travel to the neighbor islands. But with less than three months left in the calendar year, he says his office is still working to set those up....

His public calendar, which he has decided to only post on his website, as opposed to distributing to the media weekly, as has been the practice of past governors, doesn’t provide much information about his daily activities....  During the first couple weeks of September and again this week, the calendar sometimes showed no events....

As protests swirled over Ige’s decision early in his term to nominate Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Ige struggled to swiftly respond to the criticism or satisfactorily explain why he chose Ching.

Ige later withdrew the nomination when it looked like Ching didn’t have the votes in the Senate to get confirmed.

The governor’s cool approach to addressing protests of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea also attracted frustration. The New York Times editorial board said Ige needed to step up and be clear about his views on the telescope, as opposed to pushing for more dialogue.

Ige has also been criticized by his own lieutenant governor, Shan Tsutsui, for not being more open about negotiations to privatize Maui hospitals. Tsutsui, however, said that he didn’t think the governor was trying to keep information from the public.

“Internally, when I meet with the governor, I know that he wants to (be transparent). That is just him,” said Tsutsui, who also worked for years with Ige in the Senate. “He’s nothing about secret meetings. That’s never been him and I know that. But I don’t know if (the administration) knows how to do it.”

read ... Behind the veil

Nai Aupuni Faces Oct 20 Court Showdown

ILind: A week from Tuesday, on the morning of October 20, lawyers representing opponents of the scheduled election to select delegates to a Native Hawaiian political convention will be in federal court in Honolulu seeking a preliminary injunction to block the election from moving forward. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, led by Keli‘i Akina, president and CEO of the conservative Grassroot Foundation, argue that the Hawaiian-only election violates several provisions of the U.S. Constitution by preventing non-Hawaiian from voting, and allegedly limiting eligible voters to those who agree with statements favoring Hawaiian sovereignty....

The outcome of the case could depend on whether the state’s involvement in authorizing, funding, and administering the election is sufficient to require it to be treated as a public election, as a matter of law.

Plaintiffs point out that the whole election process and apparatus was established by the state legislature and funded by OHA, a state agency, which they say is enough to make election laws apply....

Somewhat ironically, the view of the conservative challengers is consistent with views expressed by the more nationalist of Hawaiians, who reject the election and the convention as being creatures of the state and therefore by definition not truly independent.

Here are the main arguments on both sides, spelled out in a series of legal memos for and against issuing an injunction (links updated and corrected).

read ... Oct 20

Star-Adv: We Must Pay Lawyers to go through motions of pretending to Consider Rusting Offshore Wind Junk Farms for Waikiki

SA: Will Hawaii need giant (rusty) offshore (non-functional) wind farms to meet its ambitious goal of 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2045?

A new proposal to install wind turbines off the coast of Oahu has raised the question anew. One thing seems clear: If the state is serious about its energy goals, it’s inevitable that (rusty) offshore wind farms — which raise serious environmental, cultural and technical concerns (yeah.  like they don't work at all) — will need to be part of a comprehensive review (to pay underemployed 'experts' to figure out once again that salt water and turbines don't mix)....

AW Hawaii Wind’s plan has already been hit with a barrage of concerns from military, environmental, Native Hawaiian and other community representatives (who know this is yet another pipe dream foisted on Hawaii by tax credit schemers).

Reality: Rusting Windfarm Junk off Waikiki: Europe's Disaster Coming to Hawaiian Waters

read ... Offshore windmills part of energy debate

Europeans, Mainlanders Demand Hawaii Legislature Let Doctors Kill off Expensive Patients

PS: Each year, millions of Americans who suffer from terminal illnesses are unable to legally end their lives in a humane, comfortable way with the support of their families and doctors, because "dying with dignity" is only legal in five states. 

Translation: We want doctors to kill you off cheaply so our insurance won't be so high.  If you go along with it, then your life wasn't worth much anyway.

read ... 'Progressive' Legislative Agenda

Independent Audit of State IT Wasteland Needed

SA:  A recent editorial is based on a faulty premise and distracts from the real challenges in transforming the state of Hawaii (“State drops ball on IT review,” Star-Advertiser, Our View, Oct. 2).

The decision to bring in a third party to perform an information technology spending audit across all departments is the industry standard. Audits typically add more value and accountability when performed by an independent third-party.

The state Office of Information Management and Technology supported the resolution requesting the audit, calling it “necessary to make strategic decisions to meet our target of reducing recurring IT costs in future years.”

read ... Transform Hawai‘i Government Leadership Committee

Hawaii Island Electric Coop Rebuts NextEra Testimony

HTH: In his testimony, Mangelsdorf took issue with Aug. 31 testimony supplied by NextEra advisor John Reed, chairman and CEO of Massachusetts-based Concentric Energy Advisors Inc., who told commissioners that a cooperative utility would not be more cost effective than the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

“The economics of forming a new utility are very challenging,” he said. “The cost to acquire a utility often overshadows the new utility for decades. In addition to the high acquisition costs involved that are often multiples of book value, there is no inherent advantage of a co-op or (municipal utility) on the largest component of the customer’s bill — fuel mix. … In Hawaii, the advantages related to fuel diversity do not exist for a newly formed utility.”

Mangelsdorf’s testimony last week accused Reed of displaying a “striking ignorance” of the fuel mix on Hawaii Island.

“Hawaii Island has a diversity of fuel mix that would be the envy of virtually any electric utility company,” he said.

“In 2014, approximately 50 percent of all kilowatt-hours consumed on the island came from renewable energy sources. … HIEC, if it were provided with the opportunity, would gain immediate advantages from the fuel mix on the island and, as evidenced by (Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s) progressive and nimble efforts and achievements in integrating utility-scale (photovoltaic) and utility-scale battery storage, would be posed in the near-term, not waiting till 2045, to significantly increase the renewables fuel mix on Hawaii Island.”

CB: Can We End Our Oil Addiction With the Help of Electric Cars, Buses and Rail?

read ... Energy co-op debate continues

Homeless Moving West--Camp in Kalihi valley

HNN: Large homeless camps along the Kapalama Canal and in Kakaako are being swept away, but to where?

One of those places might be in Kalihi Valley, where area residents have complained about a homeless encampment next to Kalihi Stream, beneath the Nalanieha Street bridge. There, some homeless residents have strung up a large gray tarp....

"There's a big migration of homeless that are going toward the west," he said. "And since this is west from where they're at, they're coming to Kalihi, Kalihi Valley. You'll probably see them in Aiea, Pauoa."  (And then on to their ultimate destination--drumroll please--Keaau Beach Park--clash cymbals!)

Mizuno fears there will be more of these camps after the homeless were cleared from the Kapalama Canal -- where a fence was put up to keep campers out -- and Kakaako.

read ... Moving West

120 Airline Tickets to Fly Maui Homeless back to mainland

MN: The Family Life Center in Kahului has provided emergency shelter and housing for the island's homeless for more than three decades, but the nonprofit is considering a new approach to help those in need.  Instead of housing the homeless, the group is launching a new program that will fly them out of state.  The group has identified about 120 homeless people on Maui as possible candidates for the program.  And they'll have to make a contribution too.  Each person who qualifies will have to pay half the cost of their plane ticket.

The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association donated $25,000 to the project earlier this month.  Those funds will be able to help about 80 people fly back to the Mainland.   State officials estimate there are more than a thousand homeless people living in Maui County.

read ... Return to sender

Quota troubles for Hawaii’s longline fisherman impacts ahi prices

KHON: A government council says Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet is suffering a big economic impact because of quotas and that in turn means consumers are paying a high price at the market.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council says about one-fourth of the 145 longline boats in Hawaii haven’t been able to catch ahi, or bigeye tuna.

It says arbitrary quotas have them tied to the docks and accumulating debt.

The council also says the rest of the Hawaii fleet is being forced out of its primary fishing grounds in the Western and Central Pacific and have to travel farther into the Eastern Pacific....

“Not being able to find fish, coupled with the fact that you have to travel far, will always disrupt business and we have been seeing that on the auction floor when we’re not clearly having the optimum amount of seafood landed in Hawaii,” said auction manger Michael Goto with the United Fishing Agency.

The council says it will be part of meetings next week to strategize to have the U.S. commit to protect the Hawaii longline fishery.

Background: Hungry? Hawaii Bigeye Tuna Industry Reels Two Months after Being Shut Down by Quotas

read ... Prices Going Up

Another sad tale of airport maintenance woes

ILind: Honolulu Airport seems to suffer from chronic disrepair, lack of maintenance, and a lack of any ongoing apparent plan for routine repair and maintenance. Long term planning for big new projects? That seems to get done. But routine maintenance that would bring the airport into the same class as those of other major cities? Our State Department of Transportation has consistently earned failing grades going back decades.

read ... Another sad tale of airport maintenance woes

State completely drought-free for First time since 2008

SA: ...Maui’s Ulupalakua Ranch is now sporting a striking coat of green.

“I can honestly say I’ve never seen it like this,” said Sumner Erdman, the ranch’s president, who has worked on the lower slopes of Haleakala for 50 years.

Thanks to all the rain over the past few months, Hawaii is completely drought-free for the first time in 7-1/2 years.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update, issued Oct. 6 by the National Drought Mitigation Center, shows not one single place in the Aloha State suffering from drought — a condition not seen here since April 15, 2008....

read ... Free

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