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Thursday, November 1, 2012
November 1, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:49 PM :: 5296 Views

Civil Beat Poll -- 56% Democrats

Hawaii Adjusted Income Lowest in USA

3rd in Nation: Hawaii Pays $1436 per Household for Gov't Pensions

Hurricane Sandy, Tsunami Scare Expose State Catastrophe Debts

Grand Theft Aina: Sierra Club Launches PLDC Repeal Drive

Hawaii Accounts for Nearly 3% of US Electric Car Sales

Hawaii County Releases Absentee Voting Totals

Abercrombie Accuses: Sierra Club: “Verbal Assault, In the Dirt Politics”

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has supported the PLDC for its potential to develop partnerships with private businesses for schools, housing, long-term care and early childhood education, described the Sierra Club's "grand theft aina" slogan as a "verbal assault."

"Excuse me, grand theft? Do they think that's cute? Do they think that helps enlighten anybody?" the governor asked. "It's clearly the kind of in-the-dirt politics that I guess some people think is a way to gain favorable public opinion."

Abercrombie said the motivation behind the PLDC is to help the state generate revenue. "What do they have mind?" he asked. "When is there going to be something coming from the Sierra Club other than saying ‘no' to whatever it is?"

The PLDC, which has broad exemptions from land use and county zoning laws and construction standards, has yet to develop a single project. The agency has scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 13 on new draft administrative rules.

The initial draft was criticized as inadequate at public hearings last summer that were dominated by calls from environmental, progressive and labor organizations to repeal the law.

Abercrombie has said previously that he would veto a repeal. But he gave himself more tactical leeway Wednesday.

"We'll have to see how all that plays out, in terms of vetoes or anything," he said. "I don't think we're anywhere near that."

Shapiro: Abercrombie accused the Sierra Club of "verbal assault" for describing his Public Land Development Corp. as "grand theft ‘aina." By that standard, the way he used to lob around the F-bomb as a legislator would have qualified as "terroristic grandiloquence."

read … Verbal Assault

Abercrombie: PRP Causes Public to See Politicians as Sordid Criminals

KITV: "As Democrats we do not need nor have any association with these attack tactics," Abercrombie wrote. "We have not sought anyone's assistance and no other group speaks for us," he went on. "We reject these actions as an insult to Democrats and Republicans alike."

Asked Wednesday if his letter was the result of the Pacific Resource Partnership media blitz against Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano, Abercrombie did not hesitate.

"It's not the only one that's involved in negative campaigning," Abercrombie said of PRP, "But there's no doubt in anybody's mind as to what constitutes attacking people's personal integrity.

Abercrombie, who made it clear he's speaking out in his capacity as the head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said he's concerned about how negative campaigning will impact the next generation of politicians.

"What it's really a question of is whether that kind of approach really demoralizes the voting public, (and) makes it seem as if even the desire to serve in public office is associated with some kind of sordid, even criminal activity," said the governor.

read … Pandora's Box Wide Open

Poll Shows Djou Gains 3% over 2010--Pollster Admits 8% Skew Towards Hanabusa

CB: A survey of voters across the state between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26 showed both Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard on track to keep Hawaii's two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives blue. Hanabusa's edge was 54 percent to 43 percent among 657 likely general election voters in the 1st congressional district, while Gabbard's lead was 73 percent to 15 percent among 562 voters in the 2nd congressional district. The margins of error were 3.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.1

Hanabusa's 11-point advantage is up from the 49 percent to 44 percent lead Civil Beat found in the first post-primary-election survey of the race conducted Sept. 26 to Sept. 28.

For Djou, there's not much time left to turn things around and not much flexibility left in the electorate.

Hanabusa held a 55 percent to 45 percent lead among the third of respondents who said they'd already voted; early walk-in voting began Oct. 23, around the same time absentee mail ballots were delivered to voters. Only 3 percent of voters surveyed were still undecided, and 93 percent of Hanabusa voters said they would definitely back her versus 7 percent who said they were only leaning toward her.

Of those who said they voted for Djou last time, 94 percent indicated they plan to support him again. Of those who said they voted for Hanabusa last time, 92 percent said they'll do so again. The reason, then, that the margin has widened from the 6 percent victory in November 2010 to 11 points in the survey is that 54 percent of respondents say they voted for Hanabusa in 2010 versus 40 percent who said they voted for Djou in 2010.

One interpretation of that inconsistency between actual results and the retrospective poll results is that ... (drumroll please) the sample has too many Hanabusa supporters (clash cymbals).

But part of the explanation is that (insert excuse here)

Actual 2010 General Election Results: Hanabusa 49.6% – Djou 43.6%

CB under sampled Djou voters by 3.6% and oversampled Hanabusa voters by 4.4%. Total skew 8% towards Hanabusa. The real story is that Djou gains 3% compared to 2010.

read … They Admit it

Prosecutor Kaneshiro's Campaign Gets Help From 82-Year-Old Felon

HR: An 82-year-old convicted felon with a long and checkered history in the travel business here donated nearly $4,000 worth of travel benefits to the political campaign of Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, a Hawaii Reporter investigation shows.

Walter “Jack” Kitagawa donated travel coupons that were raffled off by the Kaneshiro campaign in a fundraising event, said Carol Nakamura, Kaneshiro’s executive assistant.

Nakamura said she knew nothing more about the donations or Kitagawa and directed questions to him. Requests for comment left at a telephone number supplied by Nakamura were not answered.

Kitagawa was convicted of forging Hawaiian Airlines boarding passes in 1991, was fined $10,000 and sentenced to five years of probation.

In 1985, Kitagawa was convicted of a series of felony gambling offenses and ordered to serve a year in jail and five years of probation, court records show.

In 1998, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, headed at the time by now-Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, attempted to seize Kitagawa-owned computers and computer programs that were used by another travel agent, James “Jimmy” Lee, in a $600,000 theft case.

Honolulu Advertiser: Travel agency CEO had court record

Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Customers swarm travel firm for refunds

read … Just Another Day in the Nei

Colleen Meyer Prepares to Defeat Clayton Hee on N Shore, Windward

SA: Former state Rep. Colleen Meyer is seeking election to the state Senate, challenging incumbent Clayton Hee in a reconfigured district that now includes Waialua, Hale­iwa, Sunset Beach and Pupukea.

Meyer could benefit from a strong turnout by Mormons in Laie for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the presidential race. Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Meyer, an independent businesswoman, could also do well in a portion of the newly constituted Senate District 23, which includes Haleiwa town, Sunset Beach and Pupukea, where there is a lot of business activity.

Meyer said she's against rail transit….

Hee acknowledged that he supported the law authorizing the city to raise state taxes on Oahu for the rail project….

read … How it is

Beth Fukumoto Prepares to Defeat Marilyn Lee in Mililani

SA: (Skip 12 paragraph campaign commercial for Marilyn Lee)

Fukumoto, 29, said she wants to address residents' traffic woes by making sure money in the state highway fund is used to improve roads and not raided for other projects. As director of research for the House Minority Caucus at the Legislature, Fuku­moto headed a project to keep track of procurement, permitting and construction processes of road projects to ensure efficiency by the state Transportation Department and other agencies.

A main problem, she said, is that there has been a lack of compromise and communication among lawmakers to address issues that include how to best alleviate traffic gridlock.

"We're not getting things done because we're not talking to each other. All the community wants is to just fix traffic," Fuku­moto said. "It's frustrating."

It comes down to getting a fresh perspective, she said. "Sometimes you need a fresh eye to look at a problem," she said.

She said she decided to run for the House seat to address fiscal accountability and transparency. "Within the last two years, we didn't see a significant improvement in the state, in economy and government practices," said Fuku­moto, adding that there has been mismanagement of funds. "To me that's really problematic. We need to increase transparency and need to get people in there to be more hands-on."

This is the second time Fuku­moto is running for a House seat. In 2010 she was defeated by Rep. Ryan Yamane to represent District 37, which covers Wai­pahu and Mili­lani.

Fukumoto worked as chief of staff for state Rep. Gene Ward before she became research director for the House Minority Caucus.

"I have the energy and experience to be able to really be hands-on at the Legislature," she said.

Fukumoto has lived in Mili­lani since she was a child. She recently married David Chang, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party. They reside in Mili­lani Mauka.

read … A Long Time Coming

Congresswoman Patt Saiki Endorses Tiffany Au for State House District 26

TA: Former Congresswoman Patt Saiki announced her endorsement for Tiffany Au, Republican Candidate for House of Representatives in District 26 (Downtown, Kaka’ako, Ward, McCully), today, October 31, 2012.

“Leadership and courage is what Tiffany has and I know she will fight to grow our economy, keep taxes low, reform education and take good care of our seniors. Tiffany Au is the kind of leader Hawaii needs now, and I ask your vote for her on November 6th. Mahalo,” says Patt Saiki.

Patt Saiki is a former Congresswoman, appointed Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and teacher.

Tiffany Au is the Republican candidate for State House District 26 (Downtown, Kaka'ako, Ward, McCully). Ms. Au was born and raised in Downtown, Honolulu and is a graduate of Sacred Hearts Academy and Grinnell College. Her past civic experience includes working at the L.A. Catholic Worker, Department of Labor, and serving as the Hawaii representative for the Henry Clay Student Congress and Voice of Democracy contest. Most recently, she has worked at the Capitol for Representative Corinne Ching after working in the media and marketing field. She is also currently the 2012 Narcissus Queen on behalf of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Read … www.VoteForAu.com 

Ballot Question: Senior Judges Provide Great Opportunity for Politicized Decisions

SA: Question 2: "Shall the chief justice of the state Supreme Court appoint judges who have retired upon attaining the age of 70 years as emeritus judges, permitting the appointed judges to serve as temporary judges in courts no higher than the court level they reached prior to retirement and for terms not to exceed three months per each appointment?"

Under the state Constitution's mandatory retirement provisions, a judge's appointment to the bench ends at age 70, a requirement that the Star-Advertiser does not support.

However, that is now settled; six years ago, voters rejected a proposed amendment to repeal that mandatory retirement clause.

At least this provision would enable the Judiciary to tap the service of retirees (Moon? Town?) who are still capable to fill vacancies in the interim while the process for selecting a permanent replacement moves forward.

Just Ignore this: FBI probed judge in Pali trial

read … Shoot the Moon or Go to Town

Slom: Two Noes on Honolulu Charter Amendments

KITV: Sen. Sam Slom says those nonprofits should have to prove their case, not just get a handout.

He is also against an amendment allowing the council to designate money collected from a specific activity, such as fuel taxes for road maintenance or camping fees for campsite improvements.

"There's always been a concern by the public that fees keep getting raised, but services are not delivered. It's an opportunity to get what you pay for," said Martin.

"You lose a lot of control and you will spend more money. I'm urging no," said Slom.

Read … No – No

Secrecy Shrouds Abercrombie Tower

SA: The state agency that decides on development of Kakaako has revealed competing plans for a 650-foot residential tower that would be by far Hawaii's tallest. Information that had been concealed were released last week to the public, an encouraging first step, but myriad more details will be needed in order for citizens to render informed support or concerns.

The plan for 690 Pohukaina St. is huge. The tower would be far taller than Hawaii's present highest — the 438-foot First Hawaiian Center building. The Hawaii Community Development Authority has the power to exempt projects from the city's 400-foot quasi building lid, and it has plans to allow development of numerous other structures between Restaurant Row and Ala Moana.

HCDA has scheduled a Nov. 20 hearing to receive testimony in response to competing plans by Ohio-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. and Australia-based Lend Lease, both with experience in Hawaii development. The public should note that the just-released proposals could change by Nov. 16, the deadline for the developers to submit their best-and-final offers. The agency's board is expected to choose a winning plan on Dec. 13.

Public access to the plans submitted by the two companies at this point is encouraging after HCDA indicated initially that they would not be accessible to the public until December or January. Now, conceptual designs can be viewed at hcda-public-consultation.org — but important details such as the housing-affordability mix, justification for exceeding height limits and commercial-community space will be the critical factors beyond the futuristic visuals.

read … Shiny Objects to Distract

DoE to Provide Big Payoff for Solar Leasing Scammers 

SA: In what could become the largest solar power project of its kind in the nation, the Department of Education is proposing to install photovoltaic panels on every public school in Hawaii over the next five years in a bid to cut electricity costs and move the state closer to its renewable energy goals.

Officials also believe the proposed system, which would require little to no upfront costs from the state, will eventually be able to generate surplus power with profits that could go back into schools.

In the first year of implementation alone, the DOE estimates it could cut its spending on electricity by as much as $5 million.

Within five years the DOE hopes to have slashed its $47 million annual power bill in half, and believes a number of schools will be able to get most of their energy needs from solar power.

The plan comes as the DOE is spending more on electricity, even as its energy use declines.

In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, DOE schools and facilities used 147 million kilowatt-hours of electricity at a cost of $38 million.

By 2011-2012, usage had declined by nearly 11 percent — to 131 million kilowatt-hours — but the DOE's electric bill had climbed 24 percent to $47 million….

Elias Ali, principal of Radford High, one of the schools in the Oahu pilot program, said his campus is already looking into opportunities to weave the solar panels into the curriculum. "There is a potential beyond being a money saver," he said.

Like the pilots under way, Hawaii's statewide plan calls for signing a master power purchase agreement with a vendor for a 20-year period, after which time the panels will probably need to be replaced.

Ignore This:

read … State plan puts solar in all public schools

UHERO Claims Wind Farms Good for State’s Economy

SA: "Adding 400 megawatts of wind generation to HECO's renewable portfolio standard would serve as a hedge against 'potentially rising and volatile fuel prices...'" But locking in high electric prices for wind energy will be a burden on the state if oil and natural gas prices decline. Given the sharp drop in natural gas prices over the last decade, and the stability of oil prices over the last 5 years it is reasonable to question the assumption that higher oil and gas prices are inevitable. Another question: Why pay for high cost low reliability wind electricity when ultra-cheap geothermal is available. Another question: Did UHERO amortize the wind farms over 10-20 years? Is 10-20 years of erratic electricity worth $1B for a cable?

read … One-Sided

12 Cultural Practitioners Observe Rail Excavations

HNN: While road crews dig trenches and sift sand and dirt for bones from ancient Hawaiian burials, two observers wait and pray.

"These are all test plots. Every one we treat as if it was a burial site," Kahu Umi Sexton said.

Sexton and Kahu Manu Mook are with Aloha Aina. The Hawaiian cultural practitioners watch the rail digs to ensure proper protocol is followed. When bones are found, digging stops.

"I do my puli (prayer). I do my conch shell. I call the heavens to look down and bless us, this very sacred place, and bless everyone, and what's happening here," Mook said.

Aloha Aina has twelve members. They call themselves the twelve disciples. They go out in pairs, standing side-by-side with archaeologists and contractors working on the survey.

"We're going to be with them on every dig, on every hole," Sexton said. "Anything that they do we'll have a cultural monitor with them, with the archaeologist."

Sexton and Mook won't say how they feel about the $5 billion rail project. But they will say they are there for their ancestors and the workers.

"We put tea leaves around their area, on their machines," Mook said. "We pray for them also because they have to go home safe. They have to deal with it."

Sexton said so far they have observed at more than 100 digs along Dillingham Boulevard and in Kakaako.

LA Times: Honolulu rail project up in the air, again

read … Practitioners

Suit against PRP might expose secret donors

Shapiro: Legal precedent would seem to give mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano little chance of winning a defamation lawsuit against Pacific Resources Partnership for falsely implying he gave state contracts for bribes when he was governor.

Both the U.S. and state supreme courts have set an extremely high bar for proving libel and slander — especially for public figures — and few cases have succeeded.

But even if he loses the lawsuit, Cayetano could still make a little dent in the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision if he succeeds in smoking out PRP's donors in its relentless campaign against him, which could reach $3 million.

In Citizens United, the court opened the floodgates to special-interest money in our elections by allowing business and labor groups to spend unlimited amounts on behalf of candidates without disclosing the source of the money. (Actually CU did not mandate secrecy. The secrecy exists because there is no law requiring disclosure.)

read … Ugliness

Tulsi Gabbard Looks Forward to Taking Oath on the Bhagwad Gita

IAN: This past Sunday, October 28, Gabbard shared a much smaller stage – the living room of local community activist Vijay Pallod – and shared the story of her pursuit of a career as a public servant even before she graduated from college. But what they wanted to hear most about was her religion and the practice of her faith as a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

She won the six-way primary, and has turned the final race from a 45% deficit to a 70% heavily in her favor, with a victory almost certain. She looks forward to taking her oath on the Bhagwad Gita!

Neither one of Gabbard’s parents is Indian nor has any Indian ancestry, but her white mother Carol became a Hindu and later her husband, a Catholic Samoan, followed suit. “They gave all their children staunchly Hindu names,” Gabbard explained, “and raised us as Hindus and vegetarians.”

As Ramesh Bhutuda (Rishi’s father) expressed in the luncheon meeting this past Saturday, “After much thought, I have concluded that our children are not just Indo-Americans, but Hindu Americans first, so that they can understand the spiritual values that we hope to inculcate in them.” He, like the other 50 or so people in the room, saw in Gabbard a ray of hope, and appealed for them to support her generously.

read … Tulsi Gabbard’s Run for Congress Carries with it Many Hindu Hearts

Democrat Operative Nikki Love Quitting Common Cause

ILind: I will be stepping down from the position of Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii by the end of the year.

As you know, I love this work and I care deeply about Common Cause issues, but I’ve decided I’m ready for a change. It has been an amazing 5 years since we first re-launched CCHI in 2007. Thank you so much for ALL your great support over these years! Your support has helped revitalize CCHI from a completely dormant chapter to a very busy one at the legislature, in the media, and in the community.

I plan to continue to be very active with CCHI as a volunteer, board member, or another role. As you know, there are so few of us working on these critical democracy issues, so I look forward to continuing to serve the cause in whatever way I can.

Related: Hawaii media suddenly converts Abercrombie to Episcopalian

read … Nikki Heat

PLDC Still Does Not Commit to Follow Laws

EH: Frankel told the PLDC board that the public distrust stems from a lack of candor. To date, the PLDC has not said whether it will comply with statutes regarding the Conservation District, the state Land Use Commission, and the coastal zone management law.

“Will PLDC comply with Chapter 183, 205, 205A? Why don’t you tell the public?” he asked.

“It’s not absurd for the public to have fear” about inappropriate development, Frankel added, since, even without PLDC involvement, the City and County of Honolulu is entertaining a proposal by developer Andy Anderson to build a hotel on city-owned park land in Hale`iwa, on O`ahu’s North Shore.

“There’s litigation over it,” Frankel said.

read … PLDC ADOPTS A STRATEGIC PLAN, AMENDS RULES FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS 

HMSA, Kaiser to raise premiums 

SA: Premiums for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.’s dominant Medicare Advantage plans will rise to $143 a month from $129 a month for about 25,000 members on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island. The benefit packages remain largely unchanged.

Hawaii Medical Service Association is raising rates for its Akamai Advantage plans, which cover 28,100 Medicare members. Monthly premiums for HMSA’s Akamai Advantage Select Plus will rise to $34 from $30; to $65 from $54 for its Akamai Advantage Preferred plan; and to $21 from $7 for its Akamai Advantage Assured option. The company’s two zero-premium plans remain unchanged.

read … Medicare Advantage

Geothermal Plant Pushes Back Against Luddites

HTH: Puna Geothermal Venture, criticized for around-the-clock drilling earlier this year, plans to take extra steps to reduce its noise impact.

The geothermal plant in Puna, operated by Ormat Technologies, will install sound barriers around a drill the next time a well is constructed, said Paul Thomsen, Ormat policy and business development director.

Additionally, sound walls, already used around parts of the plant, will be expanded and a “hospital-grade muffler” will be placed around a truck-mounted drill to be used for well maintenance next month.

“There’s going to be almost no noise,” Thomsen said of the work that will occur around Thanksgiving.

“I doubt that anyone is going to hear it.”

The additional sound-proofing efforts come as PGV faces criticism for a drilling project that lasted 24 hours a day from March through July, and was loud enough to awaken neighbors used as an excuse by the neighboring marijuana growers….

Others said they think the noise limit of 70 decibels for the plant should be reduced. Thomsen said PGV usually stays well below that level….

County Council chairman Dominic Yagong introduced legislation to prohibit geothermal well drilling at night, though whether or not it would apply to the plant, which has at least one existing permit for additional geothermal production, remains murky.

A public hearing on the bill will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility. The council will take testimony but no action until its Nov. 9 meeting, Yagong said.

If approved, the bill would limit drilling that occurs within one mile of a residence to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

PGV opposes the bill, saying stopping drilling for half the day would create safety issues and lengthen the projects. Its attorney has also raised questions as to whether it could apply to the plant since it has a permit from the Windward Planning Commission to expand geothermal power up to 60 megawatts.

It currently produces 34 megawatts.

Yagong said he agrees that legalization can’t be retroactive

read … Geothermal

Star-Adv Daily Circulation Up 6%

SA: ABC reported that the Star-Advertiser's average daily circulation of 224,973 includes 125,722 print copies, 29,932 digital editions and 69,319 branded editions, while Sunday circulation of 170,298 includes 140,517 print copies and 29,781 digital editions.

"ABC takes the total distribution of our branded editions and divides by 5 for an average daily circulation, thus the 69,319 for those editions," said Dave Kennedy, senior vice president/marketing for Star-Advertiser publisher Oahu Publications Inc.

Since the Star-Advertiser began its online premium content subscriptions in August 2011, "we have increased our Star-Advertiser daily print circulation by more than 6 percent, and our Sunday print circulation is up more than 4 percent," Kennedy said.

The circulation data reflect the period from April through Sept. 30. ABC reports newspaper circulation figures twice a year.

Cumulatively, ABC found that average weekday circulation for 613 daily papers shrank 0.2 percent, while 528 Sunday papers' circulation grew 0.6 percent.

read … More Circulation with Less Reason 

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