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Thursday, August 11, 2016
August 11, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:32 PM :: 4104 Views

Hunting, Farming & Fishing Association backs candidates who “help feed Hawaii”

Ige: Obama Administration Turning ESSA into NCLB

UH community colleges most affordable in the nation

Hawaii Section 8 Waiting List Opening for First Time in Decade

79,395 Absentee Votes Cast on Oahu

SA: …As of Wednesday, there were 483,076 Oahu residents registered to vote in the primary, up about 3.5 percent from the 466,533 registered in 2014, City Clerk Glen Takahashi said. There were 461,896 registered in the 2012 primary, the last time there was a Honolulu mayoral election.

But with only one business day to go, only 7,700 people had voted at either Honolulu Hale or Kapolei Hale, Takahashi said. That’s significantly fewer than the 14,859 absentee walk-in votes cast in 2014, and the 12,941 cast in 2012.

Some 5,200 people would have to show up at the two sites today to match the 2012 absentee walk-in total, Takahashi said. “That would be extraordinary, I think,” he said.

Meanwhile, the number of absentee mail-in votes cast appears to be rising. There were 129,166 mail-in ballots requested, of which about 71,695 had been returned as of Wednesday, Takahashi said. In 2014 there were 117,821 mail-in ballots requested, 97,231 — or about 82.5 percent — of which were returned.

“We’re creeping up there,” he said. “We’ll see what the final number is.”

The 2014 primary election on Oahu was the first one in which more people voted absentee instead of on election day. Of 202,728 total votes cast, 112,009 votes, or 55.2 percent, were absentee….

read … Absentee

Ige: Telescope Like a Movie I am Watching 

HTH: In responding to questions about TMT, he said at the community meeting that he felt like he arrived in the “middle of the movie.” He was elected in 2014 following the project’s initial review.

Ige also said he had no intention of calling out the National Guard during protests and is considering ways to make the review process for similar projects more centered around dialogue.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve been accused of being on the verge of calling out the National Guard,” he said, “when there really was no instance or information that I would do so.

“I don’t know where this misinformation starts.”

HTH: State seeks to protect Ige from testifying in contested case

read … Telescope

Proof of Hawaii Brain Drain: Hanabusa ‘One of our top public thinkers’

AP: "There is no question that she is going to be elected," said John Radcliffe, retired co-founder of lobbyist firm Capitol Consultants of Hawaii. "She's very competent, well-liked, and I think people in Hawaii know her to be one of our top public thinkers." 

Wow.  Just wow.

Think for Yourself:

read … Thinker

Chief asks to be represented by private attorneys in police misconduct cases

HNN: Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha wants the city to hire private attorneys to defend him in a series of lawsuits alleging police misconduct.

Kealoha is named in at least half a dozen of those suits and city lawyers are defending the chief and the officers.

But in a letter to the city, Kealoha's attorney Kevin Sumida said those lawyers are in conflict because they also represent the city in Kealoha's lawsuit against the city Ethics Commission.

"We demand that your office immediately withdraw as his counsel and appoint independent and separate counsel to represent him," Sumida wrote.

Sumida's letter prompted a judge to put a hold on one of the civil cases.

That case involves North Shore resident Jonah Kaahu, who was beaten by police officers back in 2012.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor also referred the question of the apparent conflict to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorney conduct.

The same apparent conflict exists in several of the most notorious police misconduct lawsuits, including a game room beating case and the baton beating of a man bothering monk seal….

City lawyers said they will hire special attorneys to defend the city in the Kealoha ethics lawsuit, but that it's too early to say how they'll handle the brutality cases.

read … Not Worth Defending

Entrepreneur Flees UH After Trying to fix Bureaucratic Black Hole

PBN:  Entrepreneur and venture capitalist William K. “Bill” Richardson is leaving the University of Hawaii 21 months into his job after helping to revive a struggling department and gaining an insider’s perspective on how the university’s giant bureaucracy operates.

“The bureaucracy is hard to understand until you see it up close,” he told me last week.

Health issues are prompting Richardson’s departure as interim director of the UH Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development, the department charged with commercializing innovations by faculty and staff.

OTTED, housed in a maze of small offices beneath Sinclair Library on the Manoa campus, had gone without a director for a decade and was underperforming by nearly everyone’s standards when Richardson took over on Dec. 1, 2014. As a member of the private sector, he had been one of its biggest critics and took the job at the urging of colleagues from the business community.

Richardson went into the job believing the missing ingredient was the connection between the private and public sectors. But he learned early on that the perception of OTTED within the university also was a major problem. It was seen as a “black hole” sucking in money without much to show for it, he said.

In the fiscal year ending before he took over, it generated just $145,000 in revenue. Under his leadership, revenue more than tripled to about $450,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Richardson also learned early in the job that his lofty expectations for the department were beyond his reach, at least in the short term. He had envisioned six to eight officers, up from four, and a place among the top universities in commercializing innovations.

“I quickly found that they weren’t up for major changes,” he said of UH administrators. “They were up for incremental changes.”

He turned to what he calls Plan B, which included a working relationship with Arizona Technology Enterprises, the technology transfer arm of Arizona State University. UH could use AzTE’s database and give it 3 percent of any revenue that it generated….

read … Bill Richardson leaves UH

Tax Credit Schemers Seek $3M from Taxpayers so they can buy themselves 70 Teslas

SA: Blue Planet Foundation said Wednesday the nonprofit is working to deploy an electric vehicle-sharing pilot program on Oahu.

Shem Lawlor, Blue Planet Foundation’s clean transportation director, said the organization will file an application at the end of this month seeking $3 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Energy to support the project, which will deploy roughly 70 EV car-sharing vehicles and an equal number of charging stations across 15 to 20 properties in Honolulu for a three-year pilot program.  (After 3 years, the battery needs to be replaced, hint, hint….)

($3M / 70 cars = $42,857 per car.  Tesla Model 3 = $35K.)

Lawlor said the nonprofit submitted a concept paper in July to the Department of Energy and was encouraged to apply for the funding. The organization will know whether it will be awarded the funds by January. If funded, Blue Planet Foundation said, the pilot is expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2017….  (Tesla Model 3 deliveries begin in late 2017.)

SA: Obama might return to Hawaii to talk at conservation summit

read … About Why You Pay Taxes

Barrel Tax Slush Fund for Green Energy Schemers

IM: A recent column, “Intrigue at Hawaii Energy Policy Forum”, raised questions about this publicly-financed closed club.

Hawaii Energy Policy Forum was founded in 2002. The Forum advocates for policies at the Legislature but is not registered as a corporation with the State, nor have they registered as lobbyists. Their web site is outdated. They spend money but there is no record of any budget. The Forum has around 40 members but the members do not see budget items.

The Forum has started releasing, at least internally, information about their finances and operations.

The Forum, largely representing the governmental, utility and commercial energy sectors, receives most of its funding from the State Barrel Tax, which is passed on to consumers in the form of higher gasoline and electricity costs.

Although the Forum is a place where regulators, legislators and utilities discuss active energy policies, the meetings are largely closed to the public and to the media….

The financial amounts just below $25,000 and $2,500 enabled HEPF not to have to go through the state procurement process…..

read … Slush Fund

The price of democracy; how much does it cost to hold an election?

KHON: …“We estimate that it comes to a little bit more than $1.5 million per election,” said chief election officer Scott Nago.

So where does the bulk of that cost come from? Nago says look no further than that computer you slide your ballot into after marking your votes.

“The biggest expense comes from the voting systems themselves, provided by the vendor who also tabulates the ballots. That’s about $855,000,” Nago said.

Nago says the electronic systems are designed to help people with disabilities vote independently, and are federally required.

The good news is the cost or printing the ballots is included in that $855,000 sum.

What’s not included is the cost of shipping the ballots across Oahu and to the neighbor Islands.

“The shipping of ballots, we estimate it to be about $100,000 and that includes the shipping to the neighbor islands as well as the delivery and collecting of ballots on election day with the cabs,” Nago said.

The final large chunk of cash goes to the people making sure the elections go off smoothly.

While the Hawaii Office of Elections employs about 30 people, all of whom were busy Tuesday preparing informational packets to be delivered to all the precincts statewide, there are also roughly 4,000 volunteers.

The term “volunteer” can be used somewhat loosely as each one of them earns a stipend for their service.

“One of the bigger expenses is the $415,000 for election day officials and that includes their stipend… a range of $85 to $100-something, and also we spend about $75,000 for supplies at the polling place. Another big chunk is $150,000 that goes toward voter (education). That also includes our legal requirements to print the election day proclamation in the newspaper, so we spend a lot of money there too,” Nago said….

read … Price

No Science Behind Papahanaumokuakea

CB: While a petition with 1,000 or 100,000 signatures may merit the initiation of a decision making process on an issue like monument expansion, it is does not constitute real scientific evidence in support or opposition to it. Neither does a Civil Beat endorsement.Neither does a “1,500 Scientists Can’t Be Wrong Petition.”

Failing to understanding this distinction precludes having an informed voice on the issue, and as I witnessed at the meeting, the pro-monument camp seems to embrace some very uninformed opinions and worse, mistakes these opinions for scientific justification.

The pro-monument speakers included a number of high school, college and graduate students. Several speakers identified as being conservationists and scientists. Some cited their experiences in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the marine pastimes they enjoy and their commitment to helping to ensure long-term sustainability for the world’s oceans. None of them cited any peer reviewed research that demonstrates how a ban on longline fishing from 50 to 200 miles off the Hawaiian Islands would achieve any of their objectives.

For so many speakers that identified themselves as being scientists, students of science and even professors of science, I was dismayed at the lack of scientific evidence presented by any of them.

It pains me to see pseudo-scientific rhetoric wear the guise of real science and be lended credence in a public forum. It’s disheartening to think that our students, their teachers, politicians and news outlets are so eager to take a stand on an issue without understanding more than one side of it or even initiating a process by which to be able to thoroughly understand it.

This isn’t about conservation vs industry or greed vs sustainability. This is about setting a precedent for how we manage our public resources. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Not everyone’s opinion though, no matter how many people hold it, should become policy without due process.

read … Expanding Monument Would Set A Dangerous Precedent

GMOs Lead Fight Against Zika, Ebola And Next Unknown Pandemic

CB: The shadow of the Zika virus hangs over the Rio Olympic Games, with visitors and even high-profile athletes citing worries about Zika as a reason to stay away (even if the risk is probably quite low). The public’s concerns are a striking example of the need to rapidly combat emerging infectious diseases.

In the fight against Zika, public health experts have turned to what may sound like an unlikely ally: genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Consumers are used to hearing about GMOs in food crops, but may be unaware of the vital role GMOs play in medicine. Most modern biomedical advances, especially the vaccines used to eradicate disease and protect against pandemics such as Zika, Ebola and the flu, rely on the same molecular biology tools that are used to create genetically modified organisms. To protect the public, scientists have embraced GMO technology to quickly study new health threats, manufacture enough protective vaccines, and monitor and even predict new outbreaks….

read … Can Anti-GMO Activists Save the Sacred Mosquitoes?

Anti-Solar Protests Begin on Big Island

CB: An outdated and overpriced tariff scheme. An entrepreneur who exploited loopholes in a law intended to benefit small farms. And a residential community that is seething over the prospect of more than two dozen photovoltaic arrays, intended to generate more than six megawatts, scattered across a rugged landscape that ranges from near desert conditions to dense ohia forest.

These are just a few of the elements that have combined to create a controversy over a renewable energy project in the remote subdivision of Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos (HOVR) in the Kau district of the Big Island.

The solar projects were approved years ago as part of the so-called Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. The intention was to give owners of small, “shovel-ready” renewable energy projects, including those on certain agricultural lands, a way to sell power to Hawaiian Electric utilities without having to engage in lengthy negotiations over terms of a power purchase agreement.

Beset by a host of problems, the FIT program has stalled out, for the most part. As of last year, just over 20 megawatts of FIT renewable energy had been installed, out of the 80 MW allowed statewide. No new FIT applications have been filed in years.

read … Anti-Solar Protests Begin on Big Island

Can Civil Beat Sink Any Lower?

IM: …Just when you think journalism can't sink any lower at Civil Beat, it does, with “reader rep” Brett Oppegaard telling us that comments are a form of “citizen journalism.”

Now that's a scary thought, if some of the cuckoo comments that come through my in-basket are any indication.

What's more, according to Brett, journalism isn't just a profession. It's “an ideology, and a way of being in the world, and understanding the world.”

Is that the sort of rubbish he's teaching his students at University of Hawaii? But then, it seems at least some of them are wise to his silliness, given their comments — excuse me, their “journalism” — on

Smart guy, but inept teacher. Lectures in monotone for long periods.

[A] lot of times goes on long, irrelevant tangents that no one really listens to.

Indeed. Or as a journalist friend observed:

Anyone who uses the affected “dear reader” in their copy deserves to be slapped. Hard. And then ignored.

Which is likely what Civil Beat editors plan to do when it comes to Brett's admonishment:

If any person wants to express themselves in any media form, they have the right to do that. But if they are going to participate in journalistic discourse, they have basic ethical obligations, and one of those obligations is to disclose all significant conflicts of interest.

That would require Civil Beat to disclose that Pierre Omidyar — its funder, founder and editorial board member — is funneling large sums of money through the Hawaii Community Foundation to groups whose spokespersons and agendas are prominently featured in its stories. To wit, Center for Food Safety, Surfrider, Blue Planet Foundation.

Yeah, it gets a little messy when you're a billionaire social engineer with a penchant for starting vanity presses and people like me call you out….

read … Sinking

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