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Tuesday, March 7, 2017
March 7, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:40 PM :: 3637 Views

Hawaii Lawmakers Censor Pro-Lifers Defending Free Speech

DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President

Three Political Parties to be Removed from Hawaii Ballot

Congress Repeals Obama’s Blacklist of Federal Contractors

Darrel Galera Resigns BoE so Ige Can Appoint Him Superintendent

Deadline to Apply for State Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions Extended (again)

NOAA: How are Coral Reef Fish Doing in Hawaii?

Where Are Honolulu Rail’s Latest Financial Records?

CB: Many of HART’s numbers have been incorrect, incomplete and inconsistent. Now some of them are nonexistent….

With respect to Honolulu’s rail project, errors and inconsistencies have been found in ridership “raw data” projections, the monthly FACTs newspaper ad, HART’s monthly progress report, its most recent draft business plan and even at least once in a Project Management Oversight Committee report as well as other documents.

Given the amount of errors I’ve discovered, I felt it important to follow up on projections that were brought up during a Feb. 15 joint Senate committee hearing regarding Senate Bill 1183. SB 1183 and its drafts deal with funding rail construction, and the projections that were mentioned go out to 2047.

On Feb. 24, I sent HART a request for the summary and details of the 2047 projections. On March 3, I was informed that my request cannot be granted, because the “Agency does not maintain the records.” In about 10 years of requesting documents, this is the first time my request was turned down for this reason.

The mayor and HART representatives were questioned by senators about these projections, and I recently discovered that HART did provide the summary projection to Sen. Les Ihara on Feb. 15. (See council communication D-092(17).) According to HART’s response to my request, however, they apparently no longer have that record or the details underlying the projections….

read … Where Are Honolulu Rail’s Latest Financial Records?

US DOT Demands Audit Before Funding High Speed Rail

WSJ: …The Obama Administration may have left town, but its legacy lives on across the country in Sacramento. So congratulations to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for putting a stop to some dubious grant-making for San Francisco Democrats by a former Obama official in another imbroglio for California’s bullet train.

Last month Ms. Chao said she is delaying indefinitely a $647 million federal grant for the Caltrain commuter service that former Federal Transit Administration chief Carolyn Flowers approved two days before President Obama left office. Ms. Flowers now works at an engineering company that is a contractor for the Caltrain project. Last week Governor Jerry Brown sent a letter to Ms. Chao begging her to release the funds pronto. “Can we discuss this on the phone?” he asked in a handwritten note.

California’s 14 House Republicans have asked Ms. Chao to withhold the federal cash until an audit is completed on California’s misbegotten bullet train. An internal Federal Railroad Administration analysis in December found that the train’s first segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley is running 50% over budget….

Ms. Flowers decided to help her progressive friends in San Francisco on her way out the door by fast-tracking the federal grant for Caltrain. Now she’s returned through the other door to collect a piece of the cash. Sacramento is America’s western swamp….

read … Chao’s Choo-Choo Stop

Star-Adv: Reveal spending for IUCN meeting

SA: Hawaii played host to what was broadly seen as a successful event last September: the World Conservation Congress presented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Yet for all of the fanfare this event generated — from the runup to the Waikiki gathering of some 10,000 participants, to the projects underway as a result — state leaders are in the dark about one important element: expenditures.

State lawmakers allotted $8 million to support the conference, a sizable investment deserving some careful analysis. With the Legislature in session, now would be an opportune time to present it in full public view.

The issue was raised last week by state Rep. Ryan Yamane, who chairs the House Water and Land Committee. Yamane said he has been unable to get needed details on the spending, after learning that some of the money went to local environmental groups enlisted to help. Specifically, he said, he wants to see agreements spelling out how the payments of public funds to the groups was supposed to be used, as well as information on where the money went.

Yamane, who represents Mililani, Waipio and Waikele, added that “we have been asking for that information.” But the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the lead agency for the state as hosts, counters that DLNR was never asked for a complete accounting. Yamane “has suggested that he has questions,” said DLNR Director Suzanne Case, “but we have never had any request for information or known exactly what his questions are.”

Without getting lost in the weeds of who asked what of whom, suffice it to say that a full accounting is reasonable.…

Cox called September’s conservation conference “a really high-powered party at the expense of the taxpayers of Hawaii.” That may be a dismissive assessment for an event that ultimately raised Hawaii’s profile in the global environmental discourse and added fuel to some local initiatives as well.

But if Hawaii leaders want to replicate this kind of event, it’s crucial to have a clear-eyed review of the state’s effort and use of taxpayer dollars — and how they could be improved.

Totally Related:

read … Reveal spending for IUCN meeting

Lawmakers out of touch with voters

SA: Lee Cataluna’s column hit a home run for the middle-class voters (“Voices of working folk have grown eerily quiet,” Star-Advertiser, March 5).

The locals in Hawaii are squeezed so tightly with different forms of taxes, fees, regulations and mandates. What she failed to mention was the aftermath of the quiet anger. Our local government continues to think that we will dish out the kala because we love our home and our relatives enough to robotically work (sometimes two jobs) and pay taxes while our elected officials happily spend.

They are so out of touch with their constituents they are unable to see the societal ebb and tide. The wealthy are moving into Hawaii while the locals are moving to the mainland, to states that do not have income tax. The minority loudmouths are suppressing the locals, who will either quietly move away or cause a tectonic shift in the 2018 election….

read … Lawmakers out of touch with voters

Calling Out The Anti-Science Denialists

CB: The future of Hawaii agriculture hangs in the balance this legislative session.

Having lost in the courts the battle over whether county governments even have the jurisdiction to regulate genetically modified crops, anti-science advocates have moved to state government, hoping there to revive the “genetic modification (sic)” Salem Witch Trials. These people oppose genetics, the science.

Now, with the sugar industry gone and Hawaii’s largest agricultural activity, the corn seed industry, shrinking from the recent global commodity price collapse, anti-science advocates seek its annihilation and that of all modern agriculture.

Since they can’t deny that transgenic modification yielded their diabetes medicine, a vaccine for Ebola, revival of Hawaii’s papaya industry, a 90 percent reduction in U.S. corn insecticide use since the 1990s, and not a single instance of adverse human health or environmental harm documented in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature, ever, they have to just wing it. They need a new object for their obsession: pesticides…..

read … Calling Out The Anti-Science Denialists

Let Wailuku Drown: Anti-GMO Councilmembers Vote Against Funding for Iao Valley Flood Control

HNN:  …Councilwoman Kelly King, who made the allegation during an interview on Hawaii News Now Monday morning, says political threats were leveled against her and Councilwoman Elle Cochran, who also voted against the emergency funding.

"I was threatened by (David Goode, director of the county's Department of Public Works) after money was not approved," King said. "He came up to my desk and said 'Well, this is going to hold up the Kihei projects.' And sure enough, they are following up with his actions. …

"Without the reimbursement of funds, the department can't afford to do emergency work that needs to be done in our community, such as the two that were mentioned in South Maui, or any other district for that matter. It's a statement of fact."

read … Maui councilwoman claims retaliation by mayor's administration

Lead is a Real Problem—But Anti-GMO Pesticide Hysteria Gets the Funding

KE: … A lot of Hawaii kids are testing positive for exposure to high levels of lead. Yes, lead. The nasty heavy metal that impairs brain development in keiki, and causes health problems for people of any age. As the Centers for Disease Control reports: No safe level of lead exposure has been identified….

here we have a documented serious health problem that seems to be disproportionately affecting children on Kauai and the Big Island.

Yet Hawaii legislators aren't talking about giving more money to HEER. Instead, they're advancing a bill that would spend $3 million on implementing the Joint Fact Finding report on pesticides — even though not a single child has been documented with any exposure to seed company pesticide use….

read … Musings: Get the Lead Out

Bill would strip Hawaii gun owners of 2nd Amendment rights

SA: …If signed into law, SB 898 will allow confiscation of firearms and ammunition if a law enforcement officer suspects that an individual could be a danger to themselves or society. Simply put, a confiscation warrant can be issued if the court is merely presented with probable cause, at which point law enforcement will arrive at the individual’s home to search and seize all firearms and ammunition — with no notice or warning. Only after confiscation will another hearing occur, this time to decide if that person will lose their Second Amendment rights for life.

Perhaps most disturbing is the absurdly low evidentiary standard used in obtaining the warrant and at the subsequent hearing. To confiscate a firearm, the court only needs a law enforcement officer’s claim that an individual is dangerous. To then permanently prohibit an individual from firearm ownership, the court only needs “clear and convincing” evidence — a far cry less than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” required for criminal conviction….

read … Bill would strip Hawaii gun owners of 2nd Amendment rights

Sewer hookups slow Accessory Dwelling Unit approvals

KITV: …The passage of the accessory dwelling unit law a year and a half ago was supposed to kick-start construction of badly needed housing units on Oahu, but it doesn’t seem to be moving as fast as some would like.

City records show that a home on Booth Road was one of 35 properties rejected this year, because it doesn’t support added capacity for waste water.

Sewer hookups in older neighborhoods like Pauoa are the reason why close to 300 applicants were turned down.

The city said 268 didn’t get past the sewage review, but 916 did….

read … Sewer hookups slow Accessory Dwelling Unit approvals

HSTA Protests Slow Negotiations

BIN: …Hawaii’s public school teachers, parents and students across the state will participate in  “Schools Our Keiki Deserve Sign Waving and Walk-in” before school begins, and then walk into classrooms together on Tuesday, March 7.

They intend to call attention to the fact that key members of the state’s negotiating team have not been present at contract talks, impeding both sides from fully discussing important items….

read … Public School Teachers to Sign Wave Before Tuesday Classes

Hawaii County: Usual Suspects Rake in Big Bucks

HTH: Two close associates of Mayor Harry Kim joined his administration as contract hires after turning down full-time jobs.

Former County Councilman and state legislator Andrew Levin, who served as executive director during Kim’s prior administration, has a $16,000-per-month contract through April 21 as a legislative assistant. He’s charged with coordinating legislative oversight and lobbying for county priority issues at the state Legislature.

Stanley Nakasone, who retired in 2013 after 45 years with the Department of Public Works, has a $10,000-per-month contract through April 28 as a civil defense emergency response trainer. In addition to training personnel, Nakasone is charged with updating procedures and working with Public Works and the Department of Parks and Recreation, which oversees emergency shelters.

Kim said Monday he asked Levin and Nakasone to join his administration, but both declined. The second-best course of action, he said, was to add them temporarily during the transition.

The two are especially important to his administration because he defunded one of four executive assistant positions to help balance the budget, he said.

read … Profitable

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