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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
October 11, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:27 PM :: 11050 Views

AUDIO: Lingle Announces Senate Bid

Obama Sends South Korea Free Trade Agreement to Congress

Some Democrats worry Coppa is Tied to Development Interests

He will have to calm a staff shellshocked by the resignations of four top policy advisers, ensure state departments are operating effectively, and guide a famously combative chief executive toward a more productive relationship with the state Legislature….

Coppa, 58, has an extensive background in business and labor. He was an executive at E.E. Black Construction for 18 years and was executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership -- a bridge between the Hawaii Carpenters Union and contractors -- for 11 years.

He considers Bob Black, a conservative who led E.E. Black, as his mentor in business and Walter Kupau, the fearless business manager at the Hawaii Carpenters Union, as his mentor in labor.

"You couldn't be one-sided, because I was representing labor and management," said Coppa, a Democrat. "And so when you look at business -- it's more Republican, right? -- and then you have labor with the Democrats, so there was always that question of how do you come to the middle."

Some Democrats, however, have privately expressed caution about the ties Coppa and James Boersema, Abercrombie's new communications director, have to development and labor interests.

read … Coppa Plea

With Abercrombie floundering and Lingle preparing to Win Senate Seat, Borreca Reminisces About the Glory Days

When he retired in 1985 at the age of 59, Ariyoshi had won 24 straight elections and served three terms as governor.

Since then, his administration has been the standard that all other Hawaii governors are measured.

He and U.S. Sen. Daniel K., Inouye were the top political proteges of former Gov. John A. Burns, the architect of Hawaii's modern Democratic Party. While Inouye is was at the top of his game in Washington, Ariyoshi is was leading a new dialog and planning for a better state….

Earlier this week, Ariyoshi addressed the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii's policy summit meeting. After his speech, I talked to him about his concerns.

He was careful to say he would not judge or comment on Gov. Neil Abercrombie's performance. Instead, he urges Hawaii's people to renew their vision.

Ariyoshi, who urged the state to adopt its first state plan and accompanying functional plans, says that insistence on planning is needed now.

read … Dead Dreams of Old Boys

New PUC Commissioner up to his eyeballs in Green Energy Scams, Wants Rate Increase

(But you won’t hear that from Civil Beat) While Champley is not well-known among Hawaii’s broader business and government circles, he’s developed a following within the state’s tight-knit renewable energy sector where he’s viewed as a rare commodity in the islands for his extensive knowledge within the cross-sections of “clean energy,” engineering and the corporate boardroom.

“There’s no question that he understands the systems and he understands the policy issues and he understands the business of running a utility,” said Mark Duda, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association and a solar company executive. “He’s really bringing a vast store of knowledge to the job and that’s really important right now.”

Champley retired to Maui with his wife three years ago, after working for some 40 years in the electric utility business. He was a senior executive at DTE Energy in Detroit.

Since moving to Hawaii, he’s advised renewable energy companies in the state and worked as a consultant for the Honolulu-based Blue Planet Foundation which works to eliminate fossil fuel use….

“He brings decades of utility experience to the table, and this is important because if we hope to navigate this transition to clean energy it’s really critical to understand how investor-owned utilities work and what levers to pull to make change happen,” said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation. “He’s also sympathetic to the challenges and needs of the utility. So I think he can do it in a way that provides a soft landing for them or a smooth transition.”

read … Civil Beat’s Favorite

OIP to OHA — Again: Your Employees Are Public

In response to an open records request from Civil Beat, OHA asked Hawaii's Office of Information Practices to again weigh in on whether its employees should be considered "public employees" because the bulk of its revenue comes from ceded lands, which it says are not "public funds."

OHA made the same request last year and was told that it was not exempt from the law.

"Essentially their position has not changed, which would mean that ... the reasons we asked them for another review didn't hold any water from their point of view," OHA General Counsel Ernest Kimoto told Civil Beat.

"It is still important to us. You'll notice that in the lists we sent, I have segregated the trust-funded and general-funded (employees)," he said.

The bulk of OHA's money comes from revenues from ceded lands, which are held in trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians. The agency also gets funding from the state's general fund and from the federal government.

Even OHA employees who are "totally funded" by trust funds are also fully eligible to draw state health-care benefits and participate in the state pension fund. The OHA board is also elected by all Hawaii voters.

Last year, OHA said it had 145 employees, with 62 of those workers paid for with trust funds. This year, lists provided by OHA and marked "confidential" show that the agency has 150 employees — 93 are paid for with trust funds while 57 are supported by general funds.

read … OHA tries to act as tribe, fails again

Gabbard Gives Back Pay Raises, Oshiro buys support

Sen. Mike Gabbard, a Democrat representing parts of West Oahu, says he's returned more than $14,000 back to the state Department of Accounting and General Services since lawmakers salaries increased 36 percent on Jan. 1, 2009.

The pay increase had been recommended by a salary commission created by a 2006 constitutional amendment. The group can give lawmakers raises that the Legislature doesn't have to vote on. The commission in 2007 approved a series of raises that would amount to a 61 percent increase by 2014 — from $35,900 in 2008 to $57,852 in January 2014.

Gabbard said he didn't feel right about the timing of the raise in 2009, amid the deepening recession.

"It was really a very personal decision to give back the raise," Gabbard said. "Given that so many people had been hurting, I thought it was the right thing to do. I don't fault my colleagues — some had been in the position for many years and felt they deserved it."

Hawaii's 25 senators and 51 representatives earn the same annual salary of $46,273, with the exception of the Senate president and House speaker, who each earn $55,773 — $7,500 more.

When the pay raise first took effect, lawmakers saw their salaries boosted to $48,708. Following the 36 percent raise, legislators got a 5 percent pay cut effective July 1, 2009, brining their pay to the current range.

Gabbard initially was returning $748.78 each month to DAGS, along with a letter saying the amount was "attributable to the salary increase legislators received beginning January 2009." Following the 5 percent cut — which has been extended through December 2013 — Gabbard has been returning $393.16 each month.

Rep. Blake Oshiro, a Democrat representing the Aiea area, estimates he's donated about $5,000 annually to schools and other community organizations in his district.

read … Legislators

Castle & Cooke pushes again for Koa Ridge approval

The 5,000-home Koa Ridge development plan is headed back to the state Land Use Commission for the third time in a decade.

Developer Castle & Cooke submitted a new petition last week seeking LUC approval to urbanize 768 acres of farmland between Mililani and Waipio for the $2.2 billion project stopped twice by the Sierra Club.

In July a state judge halted the Koa Ridge project, ruling in favor of the Sierra Club. (Which is owned and operated by A&B)

read … One More Time

State's triage puts fewer kids into foster care

Human services workers find out which children are not in imminent danger and work with the family

read … Foster Care

SA: School closures need clear strategy

The state Department of Education has been engaged in a more productive review of public school facilities since changing the rules of the school-closure process two years ago and abandoning some of its more pointless, bureaucratic steps. It must be allowed to stay that course, once the overseeing Board of Education does a necessary review of its policy on school closure.

Ultimately the school board can't afford to return to the old, inefficient model of review. Previously, for example, a task force was set up to conduct the study of the underutilized school in question, the result being that the discussion became endlessly mired in lobbying by interest groups, none of them interested in closing any school, whatever the reason.

Since then, the work of studying schools proposed for closure has been left where it should have been all along: with DOE staff who have the best information at hand for preparing a comprehensive review of the situation — enrollment trends, hardships the closure could cause and the savings that could be accrued. This hasn't made proposals to close schools any less controversial, but it has at least produced useful information and enabled more timely decisions.

read … Strategy for Closure

Calvin Say does not remember ‘gifts’ received from Movie Mogul Lobbyists

House Speaker Calvin Say’s office responded quickly to the State Ethics Commission’s request for further information about meetings with representatives of Hollywood movie company, Relativity Media, during which gift sets of DVDs were distributed, but his response provided little information.

Say told the commission he does not recall any details of his meetings with representatives of the movie company, which spent over $200,000 lobbying for a bill that would have substantially increased tax credits for movie productions in the state.

Say’s letter to the commission, dated yesterday, was emailed to all legislators and House office managers with the suggestion that it might help shape their own responses to the commission’s inquiry. “Please feel free to use the responses as guidance,” the email said.

read … Forgettable Movies

Malama Solomon sues, Calls Military Personnel “Wrong Population Base” 

Big Island Democratic groups have filed suit against the state Reapportionment Commission arguing that the inclusion of non-permanent residents favors Oahu and denies the shifting of a state Senate seat to their island.

The lawsuit, electronically filed Monday with the state Supreme Court, challenges the new political boundary maps drawn to reflect changes in the state’s population over the past decade.

It asks that the current plan for apportioning the state’s 25 Senate seats be declared invalid and that a new plan be drafted.

“The final Senate plan is based on the Reapportionment Commission’s use of the wrong population …

The lawsuit was filed by Hilo attorney Stanley Roehrig, a former state representative, on behalf of Sen. Malama Solomon and members of the Hawaii County Committee of the state Democratic Party. Defendants are Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago, the Office of Elections and members of the Reapportionment Commission.

The “right” population: Malama Solomon’s meth connection

read … Democrats Demand Discrimination

Pro rail Union group pays for trip to DC

Three city officials and two members of the Honolulu City Council will travel to the Washington, D.C. next week to attend a conference on transit oriented development called Rail-Volution.

The entire cost of the East Coast trip, $17,500, is being paid for by Pacific Resource Partnership, a trade group representing 240 contractors and 6,500 members of the Hawaii Carpenters Union. PRP has been a staunch supporter of the city’s plan to build a $5.3 billion rail transit system as a way to create more construction jobs.

“I don't see it as a conflict of interest,” said Council Chairman Ernie Martin, when asked about the PRP gift.

read … Not a bribe, really

APEC SHAKEDOWN: Homelessness industry moves bums to Land owned by Hawaii Public Broadcasting

As Waikiki and the broader Honolulu area enter the final stages of gearing up for APEC next month, some are seeing a push of another kind.

"We ask our homeless clients, has anyone been bothering you or giving you a difficult time?" said Paul Oshiro, Waikiki Health Center Care-A-Van. "As far as APEC is concerned we've noticed that there is a push to I guess disperse homeless encampments or populations that have spread out."

"Hi APEC, welcome to Honolulu," said Michael Orchekowski. “What they call simply the bum's rush, in this case it's the bum's shove, they're gonna shove them aside and say hey we don't want you here."

Among the areas feeling the heat is an encampment near the Hawaii Convention Center area.

Marc Alexander, Governor Abercrombie's, coordinator on homelessness, told KHON2 the state, city and county of Honolulu, the Waikiki Health Center Care-A-Van program and the private landowner are "...working together to assist those who are homeless in that area and to take appropriate steps to ensure free and clear access to the public space."

The landowner is public broadcasting, whose CEO told KHON2 in a statement "PBS Hawaii is working on a plan with government officials to offer the campers alternative places to stay and we expect that the campers will move by the end of this month." (In other words, the shakedown is working.) 

CB: Honolulu Homeless Target Of Belongings Ban? 

Precisely as predicted: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

read … Shakedown

APEC Warmup: Occupy Honolulu movement grows but has some divisiveness

"I was following 'Occupy Wall Street' pretty closely and I knew I wanted to be a part of it and do something. And I was really excited when I found on the internet there was an 'Occupy Honolulu,'" said Molly Chlebnikow, Kaimuki resident.

The leaderless resistance movement met for the first time on Saturday in Chinatown.

The group doesn't have any specific goals yet.

In fact they spent much of the meeting debating over what the name of their group should be.

"There seems to be a significant problem here. I don't know if you guys are going to ever agree on one name."

And just like the people who are protesting in lower Manhattan, these individuals in Honolulu are driven by different goals.

"Personally I'm here to meet with other people who have recognized the system, the government and economic system in this country is not working the way they would like to see it working," said Megan Brooker, Makiki resident….

When asked if they have plans to protest during next month's APEC summit, this was the response: "Everything is in discussion. Nothing has been decided. As we move forward we'll promote what we need to promote, but nothing has been set in stone right now."

And that includes the group's name. They plan to continue that discussion Tuesday, meeting at the same time 6pm, and same place Magic Island.

SA: CEOs of Walmart and Boeing coming to isles for APEC summit

CB: 2001 Consent Decree Guides APEC Protest Rules

read … More APEC Preparations

Friends of Rod Tam Launch Website

But now a group calling itself "Friends of Rod Tam" have launched a web site to clear the former council member's name and show is not guilty of wrong doing.

It opens with a letter to the public: "This letter is authored by supporters of Rod Tam called "Rod Tam's Friends". Tam is unable to publicly speak freely about his court case allegations of petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges because he is represented by an attorney. The purpose of this letter is to clearly identify who is Rod Tam and to correct erroneous information on Tam's court case produced by the news media, who reports 2nd hand inaccurate and commentary information and is in the business to sell commercial ads through the reporting of news."

They call Tam an "advocate and practitioner of Democracy", "a fighter for open government and against government corruption", and an independent and a liberal who also is a "human services and civil rights advocate."

The group, that does not sign its letter, alleges the charges against Tam are "political."

The letter said: “Historically, people’s government advocates are crucified by false accusations, death threats and intimidation. Rod Tam has experienced the death threats and is now experiencing accusations and intimidation by prosecutors by using the legal court system against him. Show your support of Rod Tam by being at his court trial on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at the State of Hawaii’s District Court (1111 Alakea Street), 7th floor at 9:30 am."

Video Rod Tam in Action:

read … Friends of Rod Tam

State Civil Defense names interim vice director

Vic Gustafson who's been with State Civil Defense since 1996 is serving as the interim vice director.

For the past six years, he was the plans and operations officer -- one of four branch chiefs.

“I guess the biggest challenge is just keeping the momentum, it's a time of grieving for a loss of a leader, a leader who has been here for 12 years, people are kind of in a routine of what they need to do and how they need to do,” said Vic Gustafson.

read … Civil Defense

Gold Star License Plates Arrive In Hawaii

Mary Jo Brostrom fought back tears as she watched gold star license plate number 001being affixed to her family's Mercedes sedan.

Her son, Army 1st Lt. Lieutenant Jonathan Brostrom, had written to her from Afghanistan that he wanted to buy a Mercedes when he returned from his deployment. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. The family purchased the Mercedes to honor his memory. On Monday, the first of Hawaii's new Hawaii Gold Star Family license plates was presented in honor of Brostrom.

"My husband knew that the plates were coming out and he went and purchased the vehicle. So that's Jonathan's vehicle," Brostrom said.

read … Gold Star

Schofield Chopper Teams Train On Big Island

A combat helicopter squadron from Schofield Barracks will begin high altitude training on the Big Island Tuesday to prepare for its deployment to Afghanistan.

The training will last about three weeks. It will include landing zones on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

read … After months of EIS paperwork

Ocean View Residents Reject plan for Forced Relocation, Higher Taxes

Two aspects of the plan seemed particularly concerning to Stratton. One was the possibility of land being rezoned from agricultural to residential, which would increase her property taxes. That would be convenient for the county government, she said, because it would increase the county's tax revenues. Secondly, she didn't like the idea of homeowners being asked to sell their properties at higher elevations, away from a proposed town center, and in Lava Zone 1 hazard areas.

read … Consultant floats plan to move development toward highway

Eco-Study claims Hawaiians have Been Destroying Reefs for 700 years

The study points to a high rate of coral reef exploitation after the settlement of Polynesians on the islands more that 700 years ago that was later curbed after the domestication of land animals, which became the Hawaiian's main source of protein, around the year 1400. This, coupled with the Native Hawaiians employing their own conservation efforts, as well as deaths of large populations of Hawaiians due to the introduction of Western disease, in which Hawaiians had no immunity, helped coral reefs to periodically recover. Other economic and sociological changes that resulted in coral reef recovery included the re-direction of reef fishing labor to other pursuits such as whaling and trading.

The reefs then experienced a decline in the mid to late 1800s due again to overexploitation and land based pollution and other factors such as a change in Hawaii's economic social systems, demographics, and new technologies. The Hawaiian reef system since the late 1800s is experiencing a continued decline, with the exception of the time during World War II, when the reefs and beaches were closed to most human contact.

read … On the Reef

Hawaii Black Albatross Is Not Endangered, Agency Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - Protecting the black-footed albatross under the Endangered Species Act is not warranted at this time, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service….

The petition asked the agency to consider breaking the world-wide population into distinct population segments and consider individual listing of those segments if it found that listing the entire population was not warranted.

The agency agreed to recognize a Hawaiian Islands and Japanese Islands breeding populations as distinct population segments, but found that neither warranted listing as threatened or endangered under the act.

Click the document icon for this regulation and others.

read … If a species is too populous, just redefine it

Hawaii Ranks #2 in Marriages

Nevada is #1 with 40.9 per 1000, Hawaii has 17.9 per 1000….

read … Marriages

Coming Out Day: Hawaii LGBT activists force gay students, workers to become Activists too

This year’s celebrations follow a year that saw the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which banned gay men and women from serving openly in the military, a rejuvenated effort to combat bullying in schools, and enormous strides in Hawaii to push forward civil unions.

On Tuesday, the University of Hawaii at Manoa will celebrate National Coming Out Day with “Up and Out,” the theme of the Sixth Annual Amazing Ally T-shirt Day and LGBT Community Resource Fair at the Campus Center from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It university’s mission to foster a community that is free from harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz is scheduled to attend at noon, and will read a proclamation from the Governor’s Office.

Free T-shirts from the LGBT Student Services Office will be available while supplies last.

Co-sponsors of “Up and Out” activities on campus are Church of the Crossroads, Citizens for Equal Rights, Equality Hawaii, Dignity Hawaii, GLBT Caucus, Happy Unicorn Sparkle Club, Life Foundation, Pride Alliance, Pride at Work Hawaii, PFLAG, UH Mānoa Counseling and Student Development.

Later in the week, Pride at Work Hawaii will continue to spread the message of respect and equality with a film screening and a panel discussion featuring local LGBT workers.

The event, titled “Being Out At Work Hawaii,” happens on Thursday, October 13 (two days after National Coming Out Day) at 6:30 p.m. at the offices of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 142 (451 Atkinson Dr.) in Honolulu. The documentary Out At Work will be screened.

Related: The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

read … Turning a behavior into a political ethnicity






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