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Friday, November 9, 2012
November 9, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:23 PM :: 5102 Views

Full Text: New DoTax Rules on Solar Tax Credits

FULL TEXT: Fraud Indictment for Stevie Wonder Concert

Full Text: 2012 Hawaii Career Ready Study

Spirit of LIFE 20th Anniversary 2012 Gala Celebration

NRA President to Speak in Hawaii

'Green' Energy: Hawaiian Electric, ASB Rake in the Bucks

Non-Candidate Committees 35% of Total Election Ads

CB: Total ad buys this week amount to about $210,000, according to Civil Beat's most recent review of the public files. Total post-primary TV ad spending was about $8 million. Total ad spending for the entire election season was more than $13.8 million. Non-candidate political committees have accounted for 35 percent of that money, or about $4.8 million.

PBS Insights: Election Wrapup

read … Under the Influence

Next PLDC Hearing Tues 10:30AM

CB: The last time the state Public Land Development Corporation held public hearings on controversial new rules for the agency hundreds of people showed up at meetings all over the state to demand that the PLDC be abolished.

Another hearing on another version of those rules is scheduled for next week in the same small Honolulu meeting room that forced an overflowing crowd out of the room. And the Tuesday hearing has been set for 10:30 a.m., a time agency critics say is aimed at ensuring as few people as possible will be able to attend.

“I think it is pretty obvious by what they are doing, that they really don’t want a lot of public input,” said Robert Harris, executive director of the Hawaii Sierra Club.

read … PLDC

Rail Spending Peaks next year, Only a Fraction of Jobs Materialize

SA: The annual construction budget for the Hono­lulu rail project would peak at $1.34 billion in the 2014 fiscal year under a new spending plan given preliminary approval Thursday by a committee of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Construction spending on rail was originally supposed to peak this year, but HART officials delayed most building associated with the project and increased the construction spending planned for the years ahead in the wake of an Aug. 24 decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court….

The city predicts the $5.27 billion rail project will create thousands of much-anticipated jobs to boost the ailing construction industry, and the 2010 rail environmental impact statement projected that job creation would peak this year at more than 17,000 jobs.

In fact, city contractors report that only a small fraction of those jobs have been created so far because of permitting delays and the August court decision that halted construction.

The HART committee also gave tentative approval Thursday to a $21 million operating budget for the coming year that reduces spending on HART operations by about $152,000.

However, the proposed new operating budget would increase spending for legal costs related to the rail project. The proposed budget for legal costs would grow to $1.7 million next year from $1.2 million this year.

read … Next Year

Incompetent Hawaii Election Officials Failed to Deliver Absentee Ballots

CB: Sometime in late September, I filled out and mailed in applications for absentee ballots. The City Clerk’s office tells me that they “generated” absentee ballots on October 2. “Generated,” a bureaucrat said, meant they stuffed the ballots in an envelope to prepare them to be mailed. The bureaucrat confirmed that they had the correct address to which the ballots were to be sent to reach me.

The bureaucrat, however, could produce no evidence that the ballots were ever mailed. After I arrived at my destination in Burke, VA, no ballots were in sight. I then sent an e-mail message to the Office of Elections on October 24. They answered promptly but passed the buck to the City Clerk-Elections Division. That included a telephone number and a fax number.

I faxed the City Clerk on October 26 to say that I had not received the ballots and repeated the pertinent information, such as my Honolulu address and the address in Burke where I could be reached, and asked that the ballots be sent as soon as possible. I believed that something in writing would be more effective than a phone call. But the City Clerk’s office neither did me the courtesy of a reply nor sent the ballots.

I was away from Burke for several days but as soon as I returned I called the City Clerk’s office to find out what had happened on Nov. 5. I was given nothing but lame excuses that the post office was to blame or the bad weather caused by Hurricane Sandy was to blame. That would have been laughable had not we been prevented from voting at all.

read … More Election Screw Ups Under Scott Nago

Wonder Blunder exposed much that is wrong at UH

SA: You gotta feel for that AD search committee. Good luck finding someone capable who wants to jump into this cluster of chaos that has gotten so crazy people are just numb to it already.

Potential NCAA violations! Ho hum. $1.3 million in freebie tickets! Meh. Hey, they caught the thiefs! Big deal, wake me when they fire the prez….

Too bad there's no solace to be found on the football field. The athletic department's popular breadwinner is 1-7 with no sign of short-term relief (some would say long-term, too).

The department is hemorrhaging money like a '75 Dodge Dart leaks oil, but that's the least of it.

State senate investigations. Audits. Shoddy bookkeeping, questionable expenditures. Lawyers for the lawyers. Board of Regents changing its own scoreboard from 15-0 to 11-4 with no public explanation. Autonomy in jeopardy. Did I mention the NCAA?

All because of a little con job. Well, not "all" and not "little" ... the kindling was always there at Manoa, it just needed a spark. And $200,000 isn't chump change, at least to those of us who work for much less than that in a year. ... But, still ... Wonder Blunder, my how you have grown in just four months….

We'd heard Inouye was some kind of ally of UH president M.R.C. Greenwood, (DUH! Greenwood was Inouye’s pick) and that was confirmed with his letter, lauding Greenwood and asking she be allowed to keep her job.

Political wise guys tell me this is about Inouye taking a shot at Gov. Neil Abercrombie as much as it is about concern for his alma mater and trying to save UH from another big-bucks buyout….

Donna Kim, Slam Slom and the rest of the state senate snipers aren't done; they have an open hearing Nov. 19 to release a preliminary report of their findings.

"For Senator Inouye to say how wonderful (Greenwood) is, that's fine. For the governor to say we've had enough hearings, that's fine," Slom said. "We're just looking for positive changes and solutions because a massive outpouring of people in all stations of life wanted us to."

read … Wonder Blunder exposed much that is wrong at UH

Ward: We Were Right, Lingle Was Wrong

Borreca: In October, voters heard Lingle's campaign manager Bob Lee disparage a soon-to-be-released poll.

"Hawaii News Now in coordination with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser will release a heavily skewed poll showing Governor Linda Lingle far behind her opponent Mazie Hirono.

"They will report a 22-point difference between Gov. Lingle and Mazie Hirono. We know that is simply outrageous and completely out of step with the on-the-ground reality," Lee said.

The criticized poll showed Democratic Rep. Hirono beating Republican Lingle 57 percent to 35 percent.

The official result from the Tuesday election was Hirono with 61.6 percent to Lingle with 36.8 percent.

Back in October, the Lingle campaign argued that "our nationally renowned pollster, who has conducted nightly tracking throughout the last three weeks and uses historically accurate demographics, shows our campaign in a dead heat."

The pollster, Jan R. van Lohuizen, with Washington, D.C.-based Voter/Consumer Research, said in a memo quoted by Lee that the media poll had 60 percent Democratic response and their own poll had the Democratic percentage at 44 percent.

Ward, however, argues that her poll does not ask those polled to say if they identify as Republicans or Democrats because "we all hate labels and we hate to label ourselves."

Instead, Ward's poll at the end of the questions asks, "Which party do you usually find yourself voting for?"

It consistently returns 60 percent of those polled saying they usually vote for Democrats.

read … Borreca

Time Running Out for TMT Telescope

HTH: For those who are wondering, 623 days have passed since the Board of Land and Natural Resources, meeting in Honolulu, approved a conservation district use permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope and ordered a contested case hearing.

Four hundred and six days — 13 months and one week — have elapsed since hearing officer Paul Aoki concluded the seven-day long hearing in Hilo, filled with hours of mind-numbing testimony and cross-examination. He’s kept a low profile since, despite rising anxiety on both sides of the $1 billion telescope proposal.

“They (Aoki) tend to take a while because they tend to be very thorough and consider everything that’s been presented to the hearing officer,” said Deborah L. Ward, spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, no relation to the Deborah J. Ward who is a petitioner in the TMT case.

In astronomical terms, the photons that left the sun’s surface on the day of the BLNR hearing, Feb. 25, 2011, are 40 percent of the way to the nearest star.

When the BLNR moved to approve the University of Hawaii’s CDUP for the telescope on that day, it also slapped on two conditions that appear to be headed for conflict with each other. One is that construction of the TMT must begin within two years of the meeting — in other words, by Feb. 26, 2013. The other condition was that construction may not begin until a final decision is issued on the contested case hearing. The board may have to modify its original approval at a coming meeting in the next few months.

2008: Telescope: The Shakedown begins

2009: Thirty Meter Telescope Selects Mauna Kea -- Let the looting begin!

read … Telescope

 

Ruling in trade dispute brings refunds to solar companies 

SA: A small group of local solar energy companies that paid import duties retroactively on photovoltaic panels shipped from China will have their payments refunded as the result of a ruling issued Wednesday by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

In a two-part ruling, the commission upheld duties on imports from Chinese manufacturers who were found responsible for harming the U.S. panel industry by dumping solar products in the United States below cost. However, the federal trade panel rejected a U.S. Commerce Department finding of "critical circumstances," which would have made the penalties retro­active.

The second part of the ruling was welcome news for Marco Mangelsdorf, a Hawaii island PV installer who testified against the retroactive tariffs at an commission hearing last month in Washington, D.C. Pro­Vision Solar, owned by Mangelsdorf and Douglas Bath, paid the Commerce Department about $138,000 in duties for a shipment of panels from a manufacturer in Jiangsu province.

"This is beyond fantastic news," Mangelsdorf said. "I'll never know what effect, if any, going to Washington and telling my story to the commissioners had on the outcome. But it gives me the feeling that one small business owner speaking up can make a positive difference."

All six members of the commission voted to support a Commerce Department decision to impose anti-dumping duties of up to 250 percent on imports of Chinese-made solar products. The commissioners voted 4-2 against making a determination of critical circumstances.

read … Tariff

Caregiver’s certification revoked after death

HTH: The department’s Adult Protection Services unit on Sept. 24 revoked the Hao Kuni Street Community Care Foster Family Home’s certification following the death of Oscar Ramos on Aug. 13, said Hawaii Police Department Area II Criminal Investigations Section Lt. Gerald Wike. No property on the street identifies itself as a care home and police have also declined to release the caregiver’s identity or address.

“Once the investigation is complete, we will refer the case to prosecutors for review,” he said about the case’s next step.

Big Island police initiated on Nov. 1 a manslaughter investigation in connection with the death of the 82-year-old man after they had conferred with prosecutors.

On Aug. 13, Kona patrol officers responded to a report of an unresponsive resident at a care home on Hao Kuni Street. The man was taken by ambulance to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:58 p.m.

An autopsy subsequently determined Ramos died from aspiration of food, which occurs when food block’s a person’s airway. A manslaughter investigation was then initiated.

After police consulted with the DHS’ Adult Protective Services, detectives focused on the level of care provided. DHS, via a separate investigation, revoked the caregiver’s care home certification on Sept. 24.

read … Elder Abuse

Hawaii targeted for Commune Hotels & Resorts expansion

SA: New York-based Commune Hotels & Resorts has announced its intention to expand to Hawaii, as well as other key markets including London, Miami, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The expansion of the 46-hotel chain will be led in part by newly appointed CEO Niki Leondakis. No timetable for the Hawaii expansion was given.

The luxury boutique hotel brand was formed in 2010 following a merger of the parent companies of the 33 Joie de Vivre Hospitality hotels and the 12 luxury Thompson Hotels….

Website: www.CommuneHotels.com

Owner: Billionaire John Pritzker

read … Hawaii targeted for Commune Hotels & Resorts expansion

Galbraith Estate to be Site of Next Ag Park

» The first harvest of the Kunia Ag Park was an occasion marked by a public tour Oct. 26.

The park is the first public-private partnership allotting parcels for small-scale farmers. Chili peppers, peanuts, ulu and taro were among the first crops yielded by the land, provided by the partners Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, Island Palm Communities and Monsanto Hawaii.

» Another partnership, involving the state Agricultural Development Corp., the nonprofit Trust for Public Lands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, is entering the latter stages of planning for the cooperative management of the former Galbraith Estate, 1,720 acres of former pineapple lands north of Wahiawa.

The acreage soon will include a preserve around the historic Kukaniloko birthing stones site, large-scale cultivation and smaller farms.

read … Ag Park

Obama 2012 = Bush 2004?

RCP: One of the more intriguing narratives for election 2012 was proposed by political scientist Brendan Nyhan fairly early on: that it was "Bizarro 2004." The parallels to that year certainly were eerie: An incumbent adored by his base but with middling approval ratings nationally faces off against an uncharismatic, wishy-washy official from Massachusetts. The race is tight during the summer until the president breaks open a significant lead after his convention. Then, after a tepid first debate for the incumbent, the contest tightens, bringing the opposition tantalizingly close to a win, but not quite close enough.

The Election Day returns actually continued the similarities. George W. Bush won by 2.4 percent of the popular vote, which is probably about what Obama’s victory margin will be once all the ballots are counted. Republicans in 2004 won some surprising Senate seats, and picked up a handful of House seats as well. The GOP was cheered, claiming a broad mandate as a result of voters’ decision to ratify clear, unified Republican control of Congress and the presidency for the first time since 1928. As Bush famously put it, “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” 

Democrats, like Republicans today, were despondent. Aside from having a president they loathed in the White House for four more years, they were terrified by what seemed to be an emerging Republican majority. John Kerry had, after all, hit all of his turnout targets, only to be swamped by the Republican re-election effort. “Values voters” was the catchphrase, and an inordinate number of keystrokes were expended trying to figure out how, as Howard Dean had memorably put it before the election, Democrats could reconnect with “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

read … Bizarro 2004

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