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Tuesday, December 29, 2015
December 29, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:56 PM :: 4205 Views

Green Party v Nago: ‘Mistakes were made, Election Office Fell Short’

Hoopili: Is the State Prohibited from Rezoning "Potential" Important Ag Land?

Obama Vacations Cost Nearly $500K per Day

Survey Designed to Push for Long Term Care Insurance Mandate

Top High School Teams to Compete in Lifesmarts Hawaii State Championship

Hawaiian Humane Society restores services under city contract

Lifting US Oil Export Ban could substantially change Jones Act dynamics

Bill to drop American Samoa flight fee reaches Senate

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona appears to set stage for mayoral run

HNN: Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona is being openly critical of the mayor, but has stopped short of announcing a 2016 run for the city's top seat.

On Monday, Aiona said Mayor Kirk Caldwell has failed to address key city issues, including homelessness.

"I think he's handled that terribly," he said, adding, "I wouldn't be considering a run for elective office if I didn't believe that we could get the job done."

Aiona called Caldwell's approach to the homeless crisis a "hodgepodge" that lacks strategy.

"He's not working with the Council. He's supposed to be working with the state but yet I now see a duplicity of services," Aiona said….

Political analysts think so, in part because voters are familiar with the former lieutenant governor.

"I think Duke has a great chance. He has tremendous name recognition. He'll be able to tap into a deep donor base," political analyst Colin Moore said.

But Aiona would also be entering what's expected to be a crowded race.

Other potential challengers for Caldwell include former City Councilman and U.S.Congressman Charles Djou, Council Chairman Ernie Martin, and former Mayor Peter Carlisle.

Aiona lost twice in his Republican bid for governor. But the mayor's race is nonpartisan, so he may not be burdened with running as a Republican in a state dominated by Democrats.

"Maybe it might be better running in a nonpartisan race," Moore said, "because then they will really truly focus on Duke Aiona the person as opposed to Duke Aiona the Republican."

read … Aiona for Mayor

Loophole: Legislators Made marijuana dispensaries tax free

AP: …Rep. Della Au Bellati says the way the law is written, dispensaries may be able to set up in special zones that are eligible for tax breaks. She says the Legislature didn't intend to give tax breaks to dispensaries.  (Uh huh.  Sure.  Legislature often gives out accidental tax cuts)

An official from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism says dispensaries may be eligible to apply for the tax breaks.

Bellati says the state needs the tax revenues to fund oversight and regulation of the industry….

Eligible companies that are set up in enterprise zones don't have to pay general excise taxes for seven years. They also get substantial breaks on state income taxes. The purpose of the enterprise zones program is to help agriculture, manufacturing, information technology and other specific types of businesses create jobs where they're most needed….

Every county has enterprise zones, and dispensaries would be eligible for the zone's tax breaks if they meet all the relevant criteria, said Luis Salaveria, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

"They could apply, yes, and there wouldn't be anything we could do to stop them," Salaveria said….

read … Tax Free Dope

Hawaii County to Hire Dopers for 97% of Jobs

WHT: After being sued for requiring drug tests of prospective employees, the Hawaii County Department of Human Resources is changing its rules and modifying which successful applicants will be screened for drug use before being hired.

The department has scheduled a public hearing for 3 p.m. Jan. 19 in County Council chambers in Hilo for input into the rule changes, which can be found at www.hawaiicounty.gov/human-resources/

The change removes two provisions: one that requires a prospective employee to pass a pre-employment controlled substance drug test, and one that requires the employee to attest that during the previous three years the prospective employee was not convicted of any controlled substance-related offense.

The county, however, will continue screening employees defined as “safety-sensitive,” such as police officers, and positions regulated by the federal Department of Transportation. That’s about 3 percent of county employees.

read … Dopers on the Job

Crushing Defeat for so-called ‘Innocence Project’ as Federal Judge Rejects Tweeker’s Effort to Re-try Murder Conviction

CB: A convicted killer from Maui will remain behind bars after he was unable to convince a federal judge he was the victim of a vast conspiracy to keep him locked up for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra issued a ruling saying that Taryn Christian was unable to prove any “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” in a case that has spanned nearly 20 years….

Christian’s attorney, Gary Modafferi, was unavailable for comment Monday. Neither was Maui County Deputy Corporation Moana Luty, who argued the case on behalf of the state.

Modafferi has said that he likely would appeal an unfavorable ruling. The Hawaii Innocence Project is also working on the case with Modafferi.

Read Ezra’s ruling here:  Ezra-Ruling (PDF)

read … Innocent Tweeker, Yeah

Giant New Year’s Party Moved to Accommodate Homeless Tent City

HNN: It's one of the biggest New Year's Eve parties in the state. And for the past three years it's been at Kakaako Waterfront Park.

Not this year, though. The event's organizer says it had to be moved because of the homeless problem in Kakaako.

The New Year's Eve Party of the Year attracted more than 7,000 people last year, who turned out to enjoy music, food and fireworks.

Organizer Mike Galmiche, of Galmiche Entertainment said he's been in conversations with the Hawaii Community Development Authority for months about the situation. Finally, he says, he was forced to make the change. The event will be held at Aloha Tower instead….

read … Homeless are #1

Lack of Recycling Centers May Drive Homeless out of Rural Locations

SA: The number of beverage container redemption centers on Oahu has dropped significantly this year as the price of aluminum plummeted by about 22 percent.

The state said 21 redemption centers have been shuttered, including 18 in the past three months. Most of those centers belonged to Reynolds Recycling.

Hauula resident Marvin Iseke said he recently met a homeless man who had pedaled a bicycle more than 8 miles from Punaluu to Kahuku to redeem bottles and cans for recycling because the redemption site in Hauula was closed. Iseke said the Kahuku site is now closed too, leaving the closest site to Punaluu in Kahaluu, 11.5 miles away.

“That’s quite a distance. It’s a serious matter,” Iseke said. “A lot of people who go to have the bottles and cans redeemed are homeless. A lot of them rely on that extra money to buy food drugs.”

read … Drug Money

Oil Still Accounts for 71.3% of Hawaii Electricity—Dropping Prices Panic Green Energy Profiteers

SA: The bill for a typical household using 500 kilowatt-hours on Oahu is $131.47 — 85 cents less than what customers paid in November. It is less than 1 percent lower than the typical bill in November when Oahu customers’ costs declined $4.63 on average from October prices to $132.32.

The decrease is largely due to lower fuel prices, according to HECO, the state’s largest utility provider with service to Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii island.

“Changes are due to fuel and purchased energy costs,” HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said. “As noted last month, these remain the lowest levels in more than five years for Oahu and Maui and in more than six years for Hawaii island.”

The price per kilowatt-hour on Oahu decreased to 24.2 cents this month from 24.4 cents in November. But despite the consecutive five-year low, Hawaii still has the highest electrical rates in the nation due in part to the state’s dependence on imported oil for most of its power.

Hawaii’s price of electricity is more than double the national average, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Isle residents paid an average of 28.2 cents a kilowatt-hour in October while the national average was 12.7 cents in the same month.

In 2014, oil made up roughly 71.3 percent of the energy mix of HECO and its subsidiaries. HECO imports oil mainly from Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Other states use natural gas, hydro¬≠electric power, coal or nuclear power, which keep costs low. Currently, 22 percent of the electricity needs of HECO’s customers are coming from renewable energy, such as wind farms and solar.

read … Bad news for Scammers

State regulators roll back the net-metering electricity scam

WSJ: Solar energy is no longer in its infancy, but the industry is refusing to grow up. See the tantrum the government-funded industry is throwing at Nevada’s rollback of its net-metering subsidy.

Last week the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted to sunset the state’s net metering program, which compensates customers who remit excess solar power generated from their rooftop panels at the retail rate of power. The retail price is about two times higher than wholesale because it also includes transmission, delivery and grid maintenance costs.

More than 40 states have net-metering programs. The principal beneficiaries have been solar-leasing companies like SolarCity and SunRun, which install solar panels at no upfront cost to customers, pocket the sundry government subsidies, and then rent the panels at rates that typically escalate by about 3% annually but are initially lower than power from the grid. Homeowners can shave 20% from electric bills.

Sounds like a great deal—but there’s no free green lunch, and non-solar utility customers must underwrite this hidden subsidy. Nevada’s utility commission estimate that non-solar ratepayers—who tend to be lower income—subsidize each solar user in southern Nevada to the tune of $623 per year. Most of this flows to solar-leasing company investors such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

In short, net metering is regressive political income redistribution in support of a putatively progressive cause. Several states including Hawaii, Arizona and California have recently proposed changing their net-metering policies to reduce the cost shift. In October the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission cut by roughly half the rate paid to new solar customers after finding that the subsidy was unnecessary to encourage solar adoption.

Nevada’s regulators went even further….

GT: A Schism in Solar Advocacy Spending and Strategy

read … Scam

Alt-Energy Schemers Publish new Rent-a-Poll

HNN: The Blue Planet Foundation worked with a market research expert to survey over 600 residents from across the state and found 57 percent of residents "definitely" support a significant undertaking to make Hawaii completely energy independent by 2040.

The figure has gone up from 47 percent from a similar survey conducted in 2010….

The survey also showed that 81 percent of Hawaii residents are either "very" or "fairly" concerned about climate change….

Statewide, Hawaii residents voiced strong support for various sources of renewable energy: 86 percent strongly support solar, followed by wind (63 percent), ocean energy (62 percent), geothermal (48 percent), hydroelectricity (48 percent), biofuels (31 percent), and biomass (24 percent). Overall, Big Island residents voiced the most support for all these sources of renewable energy.

Only 5 percent of Hawaii residents think we should use the cheapest energy, no matter where it comes from. Meanwhile, 95 percent said price should either be balanced with other factors like protecting the environment and securing local energy (49 percent) or that price is less important than other factors (46 percent)….

About 1 in 3 Hawaii residents said that they were thinking of buying an electric vehicle.

Of the prospective EV owners, 53 percent had not yet purchased one because of perceptions about price, while 35 percent were concerned about access to charging infrastructure. Maui residents expressed the highest level of interest. Some 36 percent of Maui residents are thinking of purchasing an EV.

read … Need Results? Rent a Poll

Upheaval at KITV

CB: The turmoil arises from New York-based Hearst Television selling KITV to California-based SJL Broadcast Management earlier this year.

SJL is the same company that bought KHON, the Fox affiliate, in 2006 and implemented a plan calling for cost-cutting and automation.

SJL’s upheaval at KHON resulted in massive job cuts and resignations, including the walking out of General Manager Rick Blangiardi. He now leads Hawaii News Now, which is the news department for three stations: CBS affiliate KGMB, NBC affiliate KHNL and MyNetworkTV affiliate KFVE.

Others stayed at KHON, including longtime anchor Joe Moore. But he made clear his views on his new bosses.

“It’s clear to almost everyone at the station that our new owners are destroying KHON,” Moore told what was then called the Honolulu Advertiser. “Their barbaric downsizing plan will severely cripple our ability to present relevant news and public service programming.” ….

SA: TV stations may be lost to Hawaiian Telcom’s customers

read … KITV

Former med student sues University of Hawaii for sex harassment, termination

PBN: A former University of Hawaii medical school student has filed a lawsuit in 1st Circuit Court against the school and one of its directors claiming she was dismissed from the school after filing a complaint about sexual harassment.

Yun J. Jiang of Surrey, Canada, alleges that she was wrongfully terminated on June 26 by the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine before completing her medical degree.

Jiang claims that she was dismissed from medical school right before completing all her coursework for graduation in retaliation for complaints that she was sexually harassed by Director of Student Affairs Richard Smerz.

UH medical school Dean Jerris Hedges was also named in the lawsuit for allegedly “refusing to investigate the sexual harassment and ignoring the allegations and complaints” ….

read …  Suit

Dengue Fever Case Count Holds At 181

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