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Monday, August 1, 2016
August 1, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:46 PM :: 3676 Views

Walk-in Voting Begins Monday Aug 1

On Rail, Caldwell Stonewalls Council, Legislature, and Feds

A Dream and a Vision

1853 Hawaiian Mission to Marquesan Cannibals

Papahānaumokuākea Expansion Public Meetings

‘Pretend School’ – 625 Teacher Vacancies Statewide

SA: Hundreds of teaching positions across Hawaii’s public schools remain unfilled as the new school year gets underway today for more than 180,000 students.

The Department of Education says 100 teacher vacancies were filled over the summer, leaving 625 positions as of last week that need to be filled for the 2016-17 academic year. The highest vacancies are for teachers for middle and high schools, followed by elementary teachers and special-education teachers.

And that number is likely to climb in the coming months. New hires in recent years have topped 1,000 teachers….

Rosenlee said schools are forced to use substitute teachers to help fill the gap.

“What we do then is we put in substitutes, and these substitutes do not need to have any content knowledge of the area they’re teaching,” he said. “We have tens of thousands of kids every day going to what I call ‘pretend schools.’ We pretend they’re getting an education, but they don’t have teachers. … Just because you have an adult in the room doesn’t make them a teacher.” …

data for the 2014-15 school year show that of the 785 teachers hired in school year 2010-11, 60 percent were still employed five years later, marking the highest five-year retention rate in at least a decade. And for the just-completed 2015-16 school year, the average DOE teacher had put in 13 years of service….

read … School begins with big teacher deficit

Tighten Rail’s Leash

CB: Federal Transit Administration officials have given the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and the City and County of Honolulu until the end of the year to put forth a new proposal to finish the Honolulu rail project as currently planned or complete a shortened route.

It’s not what the feds wanted. The FTA initially laid down an Aug. 7 deadline, but Mayor Kirk Caldwell asked for a reprieve for the financially embattled project until next summer, to allow the Legislature to consider rail’s options in its 2017 session.

The FTA was in no mood to be generous, as its terse July 21 letter to Caldwell underscored….

keeping city leaders and HART on a short leash involves their revised financial plan, which must be on the table by mid-November to clear the local consideration-and-approval process in time for year’s end submission to the FTA.

Though that’s earlier than they wanted, they owe it to voters to make the plan public earlier still, by mid-October, to give voters sufficient time to consider it prior to the election. By then, per the FTA’s letter, the city and HART will have already submitted an interim plan that will include “immediate milestones and deliverables.” …

read … Voters Must Tighten Rail’s Short Leash

Most Homelessness Money Goes to People on Verge

SA: …In April the state awarded a $4.7 million contract to Aloha United Way to distribute the funds and bolster efforts to combat homelessness over the next year with immediate help for sheltering the homeless or assisting families at risk of homelessness.

The $4.7 million was intended to be evenly divided between Hawaii’s homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, said Cindy Adams, president and CEO of AUW.

As of July 22 AUW had distributed $852,069 of the state’s $4.7 million.

Thus far, 78 percent of the money went to 281 families to keep them in their homes — providing one-time payments for rent, or deposits for security or utilities, said Norm Baker, AUW’s chief operating officer. Only 22 percent of the money so far has gone toward housing for 81 homeless households.

The majority of the 1,163 people benefiting from the funds — 72 percent — are on Oahu….

The trend “has been fairly consistent,” said Adams. “The split is so heavy on the prevention side.” 

read … People in houses get aid money

High Cost of UPW Prisons Behind State’s Soft on Crime Approach

KGI: During a recent budget meeting, Kollar told members of the County Council that some of his office’s conviction rates had gone up — between 86 percent and 94 percent, with property crimes being the highest — while other rates had remained steady. He also said the office closed 479 misdemeanor cases in 2015.

To properly evaluate the prosecutor office’s performance, County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said Kollar should include the reduced penalties received by the offender into the “cases closed” statistic. He asked how Kollar would know whether those misdemeanors were as charged or if they had started as felonies. Rapozo told Kollar to start keeping better statistics on plea bargains.

“I am not happy at all with these plea bargains. I am not happy with these victims that I have heard from that have said they have not been adequately represented,” Rapozo told The Garden Island. “That is something that I have shared with the prosecutor. At the end of the day, I can only hope that these cases had been looked at better. There are plenty of options, before you plead a case down from a felony to a misdemeanor.”

The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney received 318 domestic violence cases in 2015 and charged 155 of them as abuse of family or household member, according to the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Public Access Website.

Twenty-eight of those cases were felony abuse cases and 128 were misdemeanor cases. About 46 percent of the cases charged were plead down or had reduced sentences, according to Hoohiki statistics. Twenty-eight cases were dismissed altogether.

Another 20 percent of cases are still pending in circuit court, according to Hoohiki statistics.

Plea bargains are sometimes a necessity, Kollar said.

The Kauai OPA recently reached a plea deal with 44-year-old Ray Kuna Harada, who pleaded no contest to three charges — one count for each case — including one count of assault against a law enforcement officer, bail jumping and an amended charge of first-degree terroristic threatening, reduced from first-degree robbery. The charges are all C felonies. The state dropped two class A felonies and a class B felony.

Members of the organization Citizens Against Thieves called the prosecutor to ask about the plea bargain and why it had agreed to the terms. Kollar said the key witness lacked credibility.

“It’s easy to take a ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ approach, but frankly it is impossible for our community to incarcerate its way out of the problems we face,” Kollar said.

The average cost to house inmates in Hawaii is $140 a day, which includes health care, administrative costs and corrections program services such as education, job training and their food, said Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for Department of Public Safety.

read … High Cost of UPW Prisons

Caldwell’s Sewage Incompetence

CB: About a year ago, government “miscommunication” apparently allowed more than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage to flow into the waters of Waikiki, and the surrounding areas, during a storm. The director of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, Lori Kahikina, offered a lame excuse (one of the pumps was off-line), and a half-hearted apology. She promised to prevent further spills by improving departmental communication.

Instead, after Darby, here she was in front of cameras again, trying to explain how just a“small” spill happened this time, when about 10,000 gallons of sewage poured into Waikiki….

That doesn’t even account for the additional 50,000 gallons that poured into the waters in Kailua and elsewhere around Oahu.

Kahikina’s comments reek of indifference and incompetence (and of employing incompetents)….

read … Caldwell

Dying To Cross The Street In Honolulu

CB:  We are plagued by pedestrian fatalities, and better-engineered intersections could reduce the carnage.

read … Engineer

Petroleum supplier wants to deliver clean energy

SA: “A good sailor does not yell at the wind about which way it is blowing or argue about it; he adjusts his sails,” Yates said. “That’s sort of what we’re about. We’re not going to be in a position of arguing where the state wants to go with its energy policy. We’re going to adjust our sails so we can be a relevant player in delivering that energy….

Shem Lawlor, clean-transportation director at the Blue Planet Foundation, said the organization applauds Par Hawaii for committing to be part of Hawaii’s transition to fossil fuel-free transportation.

“We look forward to working with all energy providers, including Par Hawaii, to help make this critical transition happen,” Lawlor said. “The future of transportation in Hawaii will include more options for getting around and will be connected, shared and fossil fuel-free.”

One goal of the state’s clean-energy initiative, laid out in 2011, is to displace 70 percent of petroleum-based ground transportation fuels by 2030.

Adding to the state’s goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy for power generation by 2045, Hawaii lawmakers introduced a bill last session that proposed to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for energy, including transportation. The bill didn’t make it out of the session….

Roughly half of the fuel products Par Hawaii makes are jet fuel and diesel; a quarter is gasoline; and a quarter is for utilities and marine transportation.

Yates said the company is already lowering the amount of diesel fuel oil it produces and sells to the state’s electrical utilities.

“That, over time, will go away,” Yates said. “It has already lessened.”

Liquefied natural gas is one fuel resource Hawaiian Electric Co. has said it plans to use as a bridge fuel for the state to get away from petroleum and closer to its goal of 100 percent renewable resource use for power generation.

The use of LNG was included in the electrical utility’s 30-year power plans; however, the utility recently withdrew its application to use LNG after state regulators rejected its sale to Florida-based energy giant NextEra Energy Inc.

When asked about using LNG in Hawaii, Yates said the company would be open to the idea.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out, not suggesting that we are, but we are open to what the needs of the state are in the future and how we can evolve to meet those.”

read … Clean

Solar Dirty Energy Complain Waianae neighbors

HNN: It's the second largest solar farm planned on Oahu and a major contributor to the state's clean energy goals. But neighbors say the Waianae Solar photovoltaic facility is one of the dirtiest they've seen. They said that dust generated from the construction site has inundated their homes, entering through their windows and air ducts and coating their floors and furniture.

"We have to clean our sheets constantly. It's really gross. We're constantly wiping down the living room, the windows, the screens ... caked. We have to shoot the dust down (off exterior walls with a hose) all the time," said Waianae resident Dynasty Tupulua,

At nearly 200 acres, Waianae Solar will generate enough electricity for thousands of homes when its completed at the end of the year. It's being developed by Eurus Energy America, whose partners include Japan's Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The project also lies next to the Kamaile Academy, a Hawaiian focused public charter school that serves about 1,000 students. Tuesday is the first day of class.

read … Dirty Power

Public Hearing: Big Island Windfarm Wants to Kill Endangered Species for 20 Years 

WHT: …The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Hawaii Gateway Energy Center, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii.

Tawhiri Power LLC (Tawhiri), the Pakini Nui project proponent, operates an existing 21-megawatt wind energy facility at South Point with 14 turbines and associated power lines. The facility has not previously operated under an HCP and associated incidental take license. Tawhiri has now prepared an HCP and is requesting a 20-year incidental take license.

As of March 2016, two endangered Hawaiian hoary bat fatalities have been observed at the facility. Tawhiri has determined the incidental take of four endangered species could occur from continued facility operation: Hawaiian hoary bat, Hawaiian petrel, band-rumped storm petrel and nene.

Lalamilo Wind Company LLC, the project proponent, has prepared an HCP and is requesting an associated 20-year Incidental Take License.

read … Incidental Take

Want a Copy of the Constitution? Now, That’s Controversial!

NYT: …On Constitution Day — the day delegates signed the document, Sept. 17, 1787 — a student Army veteran at Modesto Junior College in Fresno, Calif., was prevented from distributing copies and told to make an appointment to use the “free-speech zone,” a small, remote area available only certain hours of the day (three states now prohibit public colleges from designating only certain areas as free-speech zones). Likewise, at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, student members of Young Americans for Liberty, a national libertarian group, were ordered back to their table after handing out copies.

It’s hard to imagine that such activity could rise to the level of infraction, but both are cases FIRE filed suit over, and settled for a combined $100,000….

read … Constitution Day Coming

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