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Sunday, August 14, 2016
August 14, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:07 PM :: 5026 Views

Primary Races: Full Statewide Results here

Hawaii Budget: Taxes on the Horizon

The Little Engine that Could?

Thought of One Party Senate Gives Democrats Pause

AP: …There are currently only seven Republicans in the 51-seat House. In the 25-member Senate, lone Republican Sam Slom ran unopposed in his primary. He'll be challenged by Democrat Stanley Chang, a former Honolulu City Council member, in the November general election. If Chang wins, the state Senate will have only Democrats.

The prospect of an all-Democrat state Senate gave even some Democratic voters pause Saturday.

"I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but I'm still definitely a fan of a two-party system," said Rich Turbin, 70, a lawyer who lives in Kahala. "Sen. Slom, he's a man of integrity, and he's been playing a very important role."

Ian Murakami, an 18-year-old a senior at Punahou High School, said a one-party Senate might be a good thing.

"I feel like if there's a lot of diversity, it will block them from getting things done, kind of like what's happening in Washington," Murakami said.  (Punhou standards declining?)

Read … One Party State?

Democrats Lose Incumbent to ‘Candidate Who Should not have been running as Democrat’

SA: …Former Waianae Neighborhood Board member Cedric Gates has ousted Rep. Jo Jordan from her House seat representing Waianae, Makaha and Makua in the Democratic Primary. Gates secured 52 percent of the votes to Jordan’s 42 percent, with all precincts reporting.

The Hawaii Democratic Party said late last month that Gates was actually not supposed to run as a Democrat on the ticket because he had run in 2014 as a Green Party candidate, which should bar him from the party for three years. However, party officials said they didn’t notice the error in time.

Gates told the Star-Advertiser last month that he hadn’t been notified by the party of the ban. Furthermore, he said that he confirmed with the Democratic Party on May 27, the day he filed election papers, that he was an active member of the party.

He is expected to remain listed as a Democrat on the general ballot as he faces Republican Marc Paaluhi.

read … Still Running?

Hawaii Turnout Sets New Record Low – 34.7%

SA: …Hawaii set a record low for voter apathy in a primary election on Saturday, when only 34.7 percent of registered voters bothered to cast ballots. In all, 251,959 people voted.

The previous low for a Hawaii primary election was set in 2008, when 36.9 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Some 246,070 people voted in that primary….

Saturday’s primary election offered little excitement for voters, with the contest for Honolulu mayor serving as the marquee race that Milner and others considered more of a referendum on Honolulu’s troubled rail project.

“There really weren’t many compelling races at all,” Milner said. By itself, he said, the mayor’s race “didn’t have the buzz to turn out a lot of people.”

On Saturday, there were 16 uncontested races in the state Senate and House, and all but one of the unopposed candidates are Democrats.

Both political analyst Dan Boylan and Colin Moore, a University of Hawaii political science associate professor, contend that hard-core supporters and opponents of Honolulu’s rail project likely voted in the mayor’s race.

But the low turnout showed that voters had little other interest.

“This primary is all about rail,” Moore said. “It’s a referendum on rail, for sure.”

In the 2008 primary election, only 246,070 voters cast ballots, and 95,042 voted by mail or in early walk-in balloting.

While Boylan expects the number of voters to jump in November’s general election, Moore said he believes they’ll be turned off by the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Moore expects that November’s voter turnout in Hawaii will be “extremely low. There are unfavorables for both (Clinton and Trump), and I think there’s a lot of people who won’t vote at all.”

This year’s presidential election is based on “fear,” Moore said, and studies show that “fear makes voters stay home.” ….

read … Low Turnout

Anti-GMO candidates stumble in Hawaii

KE: Anti-GMO candidates took a tumble in many Hawaii races, while others face a tough fight in the general.

On Kauai, Councilman Gary Hooser lagged at ninth place in a race that will elect seven members to that panel. He ended the primary with just 5,035 votes….

Despite spending more money than any other Kauai Council candidate, Hooser won less than half the votes collected by top vote-getter Derek Kawakami, who returns triumphantly to the Council after serving in the state House.

Hooser, who spent much of his war chest on the primary, faces a grueling bid to retain his seat. He's trailing sixth-place newcomer Arthur Brun by 1,035 votes and seventh place candidate Mason Chock by nearly 600 votes. JoAnn Yukimura took eighth, raising doubts as to her future on the Council, as well.

Hooser scored well in the Hanalei and Kilauea precincts. But he began to lose ground in his home region of Kapaa and totally tanked on the westside, where the seed fields are located.

Democrat Nadine Nakamura is poised to assume Kawakami's 14th District House seat after trouncing challenger Fern Rosenstiel. Despite support from the Center for Food Safety PAC, Rosenstiel took just 32.6 percent of the vote.

Rosenstiel was one of four candidates directly associated with Hooser's HAPA — and all of them failed. Rosenstiel attended HAPA's Kuleana Academy, a candidate training program, as did Tiare Lawrence, who narrowly lost her run for a Maui House seat.

Meanwhile HAPA Board members Ikaika Hussey and Kim Coco Iwamoto were soundly defeated in their respective bids for Oahu state House and Senate seats.

Oahu Rep. Ken Ito easily beat contender Patrick Shea, who was endorsed by the anti-GMO crowd….

On Maui, anti-GMO candidates Richard Abbett and Alex Haller failed to unseat Rep. Joe Souki and Rep. Lynn Decoite, respectively….

read … Anti-GMO candidates stumble in Hawaii

Massive Pay raises sought for DOE execs

SA: The state Department of Education says it’s seeking 4.5 percent raises for more than 20 senior executives to help with (their profits), and to keep up with (profitable) raises awarded to school principals.  (One hand washes the other.)

The increases collectively will cost about $143,250 and cover the department’s deputy superintendent, six assistant superintendents and 15 complex-area superintendents, according to a proposal the Board of Education is scheduled to consider at a meeting Tuesday….

The Board of Education is authorized under state law to set the salaries for these positions, without exceeding that of the superintendent, who earns $200,000….

Big Q: Do you support 4.5% pay raises for top Department of Education execs, to keep pace with principal/teacher raises?

read … Mo Money

Crumbling Capitol building Symbolizes State of the State

Borreca: …the Capitol is a poster child for piecemeal repair and upkeep. The ceilings on the chamber level continually ooze water. For the first six months of his term, Gov. David Ige stepped around two garbage cans set up in the public hallway to catch the drippings.

Upstairs, the smelly, algae-choked reflecting ponds reflect the image more of a sewage treatment plant than a symbolic link to our blue Pacific home. There has been much talk about removing the ponds, placing them with flower beds or sculptures, but because the building is on the national historic register, you can’t just call in “Yard Crashers” to do a renovation.

The newest indignity is on the top fifth floor, where the famous curved, open roof is leaking. The latest coating was done in 1982. Long gone are the glorious skylights that poured sunlight onto the lanai because they also leaked. Now the whole ceiling, according to a state report, is suffering “weathering, splits and tears and separations at the roof seams … the ceramic tile mortar bed and welded wire fabric is deteriorating.”

Also, that beautiful blue mosaic tile that mirrors our clear skies is falling out and while emergency repairs replaced the missing pieces with blue tile, it is neither the same original blue, nor are the replaced tiles consistently blue-hued. They are many blue-colored tiles, more mismatch than mosaic.

The state’s solution is no more blue tile.

“The blue tiles will be removed and replaced with a blue textured plaster finish … these improvements will help to prevent future potential problems,” the report said, adding that the upwardly curving ceiling is “very difficult to access.”

Alan Downer, State Historic Preservation Division administrator, said there is an obvious safety issue and “the cost to replace the tile would be prohibitively expensive.”

“We have been discussing material, treatments and colors to eliminate or minimize any effects to the character of the Capitol,” Downer said.

Basically, the state is taking down the sky and putting up mud.

As one historic preservation professional noted: “So the state is currently working to obliterate both the sky and the ocean references at the center of government.”

read … Mud

Ethics: Union Lawsuit May Lead to More Free Golf for Procurement Department

SA: …In recent months the Ethics Commission has run into a few roadblocks, and the road ahead is far from clear. A state judge sided with the teachers union when it challenged ethics advice that effectively grounded teachers from traveling free as chaperones on educational field trips they arranged with tour companies.

Circuit Judge Rhonda Nishimura issued an oral ruling in June faulting the commission for issuing advice that affected all teachers without first getting public input, rather than simply advising the individual teacher involved. Gluck said he could not discuss the case because it is still in court and Nishimura has not yet issued a written decision.

Some observers have suggested the ruling could also affect other broad advice issued by the commission, including its guidance to state employees that they not accept invitations to functions worth more than $25 unless there is a legitimate state benefit.  (Free Golf Baaayyybeee!)

“Any time a court is ruling on our statutes or our powers, we are certainly taking that to heart,” Gluck said, but he declined to speculate on the ruling’s impact….

read … New state ethics chief stresses continuity

Waikiki Eco-Conference Seen as Opportunity to take more from Fishermen, Hunters, Farmers

SA: …The proposed expansion of Papahanaumokuakea, the national marine monument, has sparked a heated debate. It’s a topic that interests President Barack Obama, who, according to some reports, may join the roster of speakers.

On balance, the supporters of the proposal make the stronger argument, that global warming and other dire environmental threats intensify the need to protect this marine zone.

But policymakers must be on guard against tipping the balance too far.

For instance, the report lists among Hawaii’s unsustainable conditions its status as the only coastal state that doesn’t mandate saltwater fishing licensing. That level of control would find far less popular support and would be difficult to maintain, given Hawaii’s marine history and its recreational and subsistence fisheries….

The report rightly highlights other areas in which Hawaii could do more to preserve what’s enviable about its natural environment.

A few examples:

>> Too much revenue is diverted to general expenditures from a barrel tax intended to underwrite energy and agriculture projects.

>> The state still hasn’t implemented a permitting system that’s strong enough to manage the state’s precious water. That supply is anything but infinite, especially considering the decreased rainfall of recent decades.

>> Hawaii must adequately fund its land-management and agricultural efforts. More robust agricultural inspections, for example, would provide the gatekeeping against invasive species crossing between islands or entering the state altogether….

read … The Enemy Gathers

Hawaii—2nd Highest Concentration Of EVs Per Capita

IEV: The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s released some interesting data about plug-in electric vehicle density in the U.S. (as of 2015).

In rank of EVs per 1,000 people, California is second to none with 4.68 plug-ins per 1,000 people.

Hawaii comes in at #2 at 2.94 persons per thousand, while three more states exceed 2.0: Washington (2.32), Georgia(2.2), and Oregon (2.04).  Of note, without its $5,000 EV credit Georgia’s number is pretty much stagnant.

Three other states exceed 1 per 1,000 persons owning a plug-in: – Vermont (1.67), Colorado (1.09) and Distric Of Columbia(1.01).

Worst of the pack?   Good old Mississippi….

read … California is #1

Hawaii Cult Leader Sexually Abused Male Followers

SA: …The documentary “Holy Hell” provides an inside look into the Buddhafield, a cult formed in West Hollywood, Calif., in the 1980s that relocated to Oahu about 10 years ago. The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and counts Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto among its executive producers.

Director Will Allen joined the “guru-based society” led by The Teacher — real name Jaime Gomez and also known as Michel Rostand by his followers — when he was 22 years old and remained with the group for two decades as its de facto videographer and Gomez’s personal assistant before leaving in 2007.

“Holy Hell” includes interviews with other former members who discuss the cult’s brainwashing methods, “groupthink” mindset and alleged sexual abuse that happened under the guise of spiritual enlightenment. While followers comprised both men and women, Allen said Gomez singled out young homosexual men for sex.

The film also provides a glimpse of what life was like through footage from that period and includes an on-camera confrontation with Gomez in Waikiki….

read … Gay on Gay Violence

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