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Wednesday, August 17, 2016
August 17, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:04 PM :: 3150 Views

GE Tax: Audit Shows Tourists pay only 14.1% of Rail Surcharge 

DBEDT Releases 2015 Hawaii Data Book Online

Telescope: Educational Opportunities beat Rent Seeking

AP: The president of a Native Hawaiian organization says building a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea will come with educational opportunities that Hawaii shouldn't reject.  (Education beats rent collection.)

Keahi Warfield is president of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities. He told the Rotary Club of Honolulu Tuesday that he believes there's a "silent majority" of the public who support the Thirty Meter Telescope….

Warfield says many people have thanked him for expressing a view that they're afraid to vocalize.

His group has been allowed to participate in an upcoming hearing for the $1.4 billion project….

A young girl told Warfield she no longer wants to grow up to be a scientist because of the debate, which has pitted family members against each other, Warfield said.

The group "is not about choosing sides," he said. Rather, it's about showing that culture and science can co-exist and guiding children from "preschool to Ph.D," he said. The group also aims to show that there are Native Hawaiians who support the project and have a deep connection to the mountain, Warfield said of his youth hunting on Mauna Kea and going up to its summit.

He pointed to Hawaii's high cost of living and students' lagging test scores as signs that training youth to be ready for high-tech jobs at the telescope is crucial for the state's economic future.

Many Rotary members stuck around after the presentation to chat with Warfield and board member Richard Ha, a farmer on the Big Island.

"I think there's a big opportunity for kids from here to tap into the science that's all around and in the Big Island," said H. Mitchell D'Olier, chairman of the Harold H.L. Castle Foundation, citing examples such as volcanology and marine science.

Related: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read … Pro-Telescope

Kenoi Copies Kealoha Strategy: Blame the Media for Grand Jury Indictment

HTH: Pretrial motions filed by lawyers representing Mayor Billy Kenoi in his felony theft case accuse the state attorney general’s office of leaking confidential information to a Honolulu television news outlet and claim the leaks were intended to prejudice the grand jurors who indicted the mayor and the prospective jury pool for his upcoming trial….

According to the filings, a Feb. 21 story by Hawaii News Now reporter Rick Daysog stating a plea deal had been offered to Kenoi and that it was being “mulled or considered” by defense resulted from “the leak of highly sensitive, privileged, and confidential information (that) originated from the Department of the Attorney General.”

Also mentioned was a March 14 story, also by Daysog, reporting the grand jury would meet March 23 that “revealed secret and confidential details regarding grand jury proceedings,” according to the documents. Among the details were the prosecution would “seek to demonstrate that Kenoi only reimbursed charges on his county purchasing card after he was warned or told to return the money; and … the Department of the Attorney General’s strategy was to select clearly wrong and easy to prove transactions for prosecution.”

One motion alleges “the Department of the Attorney General deliberately contaminated the proceedings” and asked for a dismissal of the indictment with prejudice — which means prosecutors cannot refile charges — citing the attorney general’s “intentional leak of privileged and secret information to its chosen media partner — Hawaii News Now.”…

Joshua Wisch, a special assistant to the attorney general, said Tuesday, “Typically, once something is being litigated, we generally restrict our comments to filings in court in any case.”…

The attorney general’s investigation started after Big Island newspapers reported Kenoi used his pCard to pay an $892 tab at Club Evergreen, a Honolulu hostess bar. Other purchases included a surfboard and a bicycle.

In total, the mayor tallied almost $130,000 in charges on the credit card between January 2009 and March 2015.

Kenoi reimbursed the county for $22,292 in personal charges between those dates. He later paid back approximately $9,500 more after the newspapers published their stories examining his pCard use.

A hearing on the motions is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 16 in Hilo….

Kenoi is scheduled for trial Oct. 10 in Hilo before Honolulu Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario. All Big Island judges who were on the bench when the mayor was indicted recused themselves from hearing the case….

read … Blame the Leak

Did HECO-NextEra Merger Proponents have Insider Information from PUC?

IM: …Richard Borreca reported on July 5, “NextEra supporters have been saying, off the record, that the vote was two in favor and one opposed to the merger and that by switching out Champley, Ige would get what he wanted: a PUC rejection of the sale.”

How would anyone without insider information know?

Ten days later, on July 15, the Commission ruled 2-0 against the merger with Gorak abstaining….

Mina Morita responded, “Yes, I agree with that, even though it came down to a 2-1 vote without Gorak`s participating. You know from indications, there appears to have been a majority decision to approve. But apparently that majority decision was never written up, when Commissioner Champley, was seated.”….

What Jay Fidell and Mina Morita appear to be implying is that they know that the vote was going to be 2-1 in favor with Commissioners Lorraine Akiba and Mike Champley voting to support and Char Randy Iwase in opposition. But when Gorak replaced Champley, the vote became2-0 against, with Iwase and Akiba opposing, and Gorak abstaining.

Thus Jay Fidell and Mina Morita must believe that Akiba was prepared to vote in favor but changed her vote to oppose. Why would a high-caliber lawyer with the legal knowledge and experience, suddenly switch sides? And how would Jay Fidell and Mina Morita have this knowledge?

read … Switch Sides?

HD44 Dems: Who’s Trying To Sway Elections Now?

CB: …On the eve of Saturday’s primary, he sent an email to state Rep. Jo Jordan relaying that he and other party leaders had sought to disqualify her principal opponent, Cedric Gates, because Gates had only registered as a Democrat at the same March preference poll where Sanders — and ultimately Vandeveer — won big.

Gates, a former Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board chair, defeated Jordan by more than 10 percentage points in the primary, making Jordan the only incumbent state legislator to lose a re-election bid in this year’s primary.

According to Vandeveer, even though Gates registered as a Democrat at the March poll, he “is not a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.”

“Although his attempted re-reenrollment in the Party during the Presidential Preference Poll in March 2016 appeared valid in our system for a short time, it did not conform to our bylaws regarding resignation from the Party,” wrote Vandeveer. “This re-reenrollment was not caught in a timely manner, which prevented any action through the Office of Elections, although it is doubtful that any meaningful change could have been achieved due to cost and the need for adjudication to take place in court.” ….

Vandeveer’s note to Jordan seemed more than just an apologetic communication from party chair to legislative incumbent. In it, he makes an explicit case that Gates’ candidacy ran afoul of party rules requiring that any candidate who resigns from the party to run as a candidate of a different party be barred from party membership for three years. Gates did so to run as a Green Party member in 2014.

That would mean Gates wouldn’t be eligible to run as a Democrat for another year, wrote Vandeveer. He said a lack of good party record-keeping and enforcement of party rules resulted, in part, in Jordan being “unnecessarily harmed” and apologized to Jordan “for what role the Party had in this failure.”

Jordan emailed Civil Beat on Sunday, asking for a correction to an article reporting that she had lost her primary race. “The truth is the Democratic Party lost a State House seat for their failures over a 2 year period and further clarification can be made by the Democratic Party Chair Vandeveer,” Jordan wrote.

I reached out to Jordan on Tuesday to ask whether she plans to challenge Gates’ nomination or take legal action against the party. I also sent a note to Vandeveer asking whether the party will support Gates in the general election, and whether Vandeveer sees any irony in this dispute, given that he is in his current role mostly because of his support of a presidential candidate who never became a Democrat.

Nothing from Vandeveer. But Jordan emailed that she is weighing her options.

The matter is closed for the Hawaii Office of Elections. According to Voter Services section head Nedielyn Bueno, anyone who wanted to challenge a candidate’s affiliation had until June 14 to do so, one week after the filing deadline of June 7. No one challenged Gates.

To be fair, Vandeveer is new in his role, and is dealing with a matter here that he inherited. According to his email to Jordan, Gates and Jordan have been in conflict for at least two years, and the party missed multiple opportunities to resolve what became a “protracted dispute.” Vandeveer also makes clear that his position was informed by party leadership and a “thorough analysis” by the party rules chair….

read … Who’s Trying To Sway Elections Now?

Raises for DoE Execs? BoE Defers Action

SA: A Board of Education committee deferred action Tuesday on proposed raises for 23 senior Department of Education executives, with some board members citing concerns about paying out across-the-board increases.

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi had proposed 4.5 percent raises for her top executives, including the department’s deputy superintendent, six assistant superintendents and 15 complex-area superintendents. The raises, which collectively would cost $143,250, were discussed Tuesday by the board’s Human Resources Committee.

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….

SA: Good teachers not in it for pay

read … No Pay Raise

Board of Education considering a special performance review of the state’s charter school authorizer

CB: …Members of a Hawaii Board of Education committee tasked with investigating the State Public Charter School Commission are recommending a more formal review of the agency’s performance after finding a “pattern of well-founded complaints” from charter school leaders.

The committee is “primarily concerned with why there are consistently similar complaints from a large number of charter school leaders and why there is a seeming disconnect between the perceptions of these leaders and those of the Commission,” it stated in a report.

The recommendation comes more than seven months after the BOE formed an investigative committee to decide if a review of the Commission was warranted. The full board is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation at a meeting in September….

The Charter School Commission used the criteria laid out in the BOE’s special review process to conduct its own performance evaluation this summer….

read … Commission

Ige reiterates opposition to LNG

PBN: “I continue to believe LNG does not have a future for electrical power generation,” Ige said during his “State of Clean Energy” speech at the 8th Annual Hawaii Clean Energy Day. “It will be a distraction to the core task at hand. We need to focus on renewable energy.”

(Translation: LNG would cut electric rates making it harder for you solar & wind schemers to make out like bandits.)

SA: Ige pushes to expand solar power to renters

read … Diesel is the road to the future

Candidates begin to file for District 1 special election

KHON: …Among the first to file was retired Air Force Col. Shirlene Dela Cruz Ostrov, who’s running as a Republican.

Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa also filed Monday….

read … Special 

Mother of Peter Boy now cooperating with investigators

HNN: It's the break investigators working the Peter Boy Kema case have been waiting 19 years for, the boy's mother is now cooperating with investigators.

Sources say, Jaylin Kema has been meeting with police and prosecutors for weeks and they are making significant progress into what happened to the 6 year old boy in 1997….

… It appears, months behind bars have had an impact on Jaylin who is isolated from the rest of the prison population for her own safety.

HTH: Kema cooperating with authorities?

read … Cooperating

Maui taro farmers prevail in water dispute with state

HNN: In 2003, John and Rose Marie Duey put a pipe in the Wailuku River to get water to their taro farm.

The ditch that watered the farm in Iao Valley was blocked, and a former state water commissioner gave them permission to install the pipe, they said.

"He said do not disturb the land or the river. If you can just put a pipe in there and get water then, go ahead," Rose Marie Duey said.

The pipe diverted 26,000 gallons of water a day, and for years presented no problem.

Until Tuesday, when the state Commission on Water Resource Management threatened to fine them $4,500 plus $1,000 a day for future violations if they didn't take out the pipe.

"I'm just a kalo farmer -- $4,500!" Duey said. "I think that should be fined against a large company, but definitely not a small kalo farmer like myself."

After hearing their story, though, the water commission reversed course -- voting unanimously to reject the fine and grant the Dueys a permit for their pipe. They also directed staff to develop an expedited permitting process for traditional farmers.

read … Water

Local Enviros Aim to Score Megabucks from Waikiki Eco-Funders Conference

SA: A coalition of 17 Hawaii funders of conservation projects issued a report today that says the state’s environment is under pressure and out of balance, and calls for greater attention to protection of drinking water, renewable energy and marine management.

The report by the Hawaii Environmental Funders Group also urges greater budget and manpower support for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and state Department of Agriculture, the agencies responsible for being stewards of Hawaii’s environment.

The report, titled “He Lono Moku: The State of the Environment,” was released today in advance of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress meeting in Honolulu, Sept. 1-10….

read … Gimme the money

Hawaii GOP: How many times does a party have to get skunked to wonder if there needs to be a Plan B?

HM: …One rare GOP bright spot is former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou’s candidacy for Honolulu mayor, but being a Republican is a deficit even in a technically non-partisan race.

How many times does a party have to get skunked to wonder if there needs to be a Plan B? But finding one has proven as daunting as finding money for rail. Surprisingly, the crisis facing the national Republican party may offer Hawai‘i’s GOP a way forward.

For decades, Hawai‘i’s Republican party has been out of sync with the national GOP. The forces and events that gave national Republicans passion and power over the past 50 years have passed Hawai‘i by. Reagan/Goldwater conservatism never took root here. Hawai‘i’s socially conservative religious groups haven’t been as influential as they have elsewhere. And the Tea Party here … what Tea Party?  …

But as Donald Trump’s polarizing antics throw the national Republican Party into disarray, they may actually offer Hawai‘i’s faction a teaching moment. Whether he wins or not, there will be a debate about the GOP soul….

Hawai‘i’s Republicans should jump on the chance to participate in that debate as a way to re-examine its own political culture. Otherwise, the party risks a future as a quirky footnote.

CB: Hawaii Teacher: Local Politics Are A Mystery To My Students

read … Hawai‘i GOP

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