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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
November 14, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:29 PM :: 6924 Views

Hanalei vs Omidyar: Update

Wind on the Wane: An Update on Recent Wind Project News

Charity Wraps Up Successful Listening Tour in Yap

Video: IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari, Head of Hamas Military Wing 

Developer’s Own News Site Says it Looks bad

CB: Ohana Hanalei bought the 122-acre property in 2007 for $75 million. The California-based real estate company wants to sell 34 residential lots along the ridge over Hanalei River and build 86 hotel units on 64 of those acres. The firm also wants to revitalize a 600-year-old ancient Hawaiian fishpond on the property. The land is covered with thick vegetation, save for a sprinkling of cement foundations from an abandoned hotel project in the 1980s.

The landowner's development team is Ohana Real Estate Investors (Civil Beat publisher Pierre Omidyar is the company's principal investor.) The company accepted an invitation from the Hanalei-to-Haena Community Association to make a public presentation and answer questions about the project Tuesday evening at Hanalei School.

About 400 people packed the elementary school's cafeteria, with many spilling out its doors. Some in the crowd, which ranged from keiki to kupuna, waved signs like "Hanalei Valley Stay Pono" as they strained to hear

Several people who testified wanted to know where eBay founder Pierre Omidyar was and learn more about his role in the project.

Eric Crispin, OREI vice president, told the crowd that Omidyar is the primary investor in Ohana Holdings, which provided the money to purchase the property. He said Omidyar is not a member of the management team or board of directors.

Swartman said Omidyar focuses his energy on his philanthropic work, such as the Ulupono Initiative, entrusting others to manage his investments.

"It's a fine line," said Crispin, who struggled to answer the question of why the property should be developed because of frequent boos and interruptions. "We do have a difficult task. We understand this. We also have a sense of kuleana for the property."

He said OREI is a development company, but defines success differently from others. Ultimately, Crispin said, the company wants to find a balance that is financially viable while respecting the environment and culture.

"The message that you don't want any homes on the ridge, we're not deaf. We hear that," Crispin said. "But this is zoned land. This has been previously developed. I see heads shaking, I understand you would rather have nothing, but to us, that's not viable."

"We've been fooled before," Kauai resident Nick Beck said to much applause.

read … Same as the old boss

Caldwell has much to do if he is 'to build rail better'

Shapiro: building rail better means more than just superficial changes to reduce the train's visual impact. If Caldwell is serious, it means:

» Changing the poisonous tone set by his predecessors Mufi Hannemann and Peter Carlisle in which those who raised contrary voices on rail were bashed by the administration and its army of PR consultants.

» Keeping his campaign promise that rail will be fully paid off by the end of construction from the city's half-cent excise tax and federal funds, with no "mortgage" left for taxpayers. This means not tapping the $450 million line of credit Carlisle pushed through or extending the excise tax.

» Fighting to get back the 10 percent of the rail excise tax the state is siphoning off for no good reason; this could provide the city a nearly $400 million hedge against inevitable cost overruns.

» Honestly addressing rail operating costs, which are projected to double the share of the city budget taken by public transportation, with an open community discussion of how we'll pay for it and of the impact on other city services.

» Correcting the imbalance on the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Trans­portation board, which Carlisle and the City Council filled with banking, development and labor interests that expect to feed off rail, with no representation from the commuting public.

» Ending the incestuous arrangement in which city Transportation Director Wayne Yoshi­­oka is an ex-employee of the main rail consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, where his wife still works. The transportation director should be seen as overseeing contractors for the city, not overseeing the city for contractors.

read … Building Rail Better

Sierra Club Earth Justice Claim it is Illegal for State to Reduce Corporate Welfare Handouts to Solar Wind Scammers

CB: But the Sierra Club and Earthjustice say the changes are illegal because they flout the legislative intent of the tax credit law which is to encourage more solar. They are considering filing a lawsuit over the rule changes.

“The Department of Taxation is allowed to issue rules but only if those rules implement the intent of the Legislature,” David Henkin, an attorney with Earthjustice, told Civil Beat. “The intent of the Legislature was to expand the solar industry. They wanted more PV to meet energy goals. They wanted more businesses and jobs to promote economic growth.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has become a focus of the criticism.

“Even if (Abercrombie) doesn’t like it, it’s not his purview to dictate what tax policy and clean energy policy is,” said Henkin. “It’s pretty shocking.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who oversees energy policy for the Abercrombie administration, did not respond to an interview request.

But even some in the solar industry say the environmental groups' concerns are off base.

“When the Department of Taxation issued (previous rules), without legislative direction, that allowed for two or more tax credits per PV facility, many in the solar industry applauded,” Marco Mangelsorf, president of ProVision Solar, said by email. “Now that DoTax is trying to bring some clarity and balance, some in the industry are getting hysterical. Can they have it both ways? Support DoTax when they like the rulings and clobber them when they don’t? Sounds hypocritical to me.”

And key lawmakers are also on the state agency's side. Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and Rep. Denny Coffman, chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, both said they think the tax department has the authority to issue the new rules.

The Sierra Club and Earthjustice predict that the new rules will reduce tax credit expenditures by 50 percent and some solar companies warn this could be devastating….

“I can assure you right now that the business climate in Hawaii is extremely cautious because the rules change every day,” Doug McClaflin, who directs alternative energy policy for Castle & Cooke, said during Tuesday's meeting. (Translation: Lanai is saved!)

He and other executives say that large projects that have been in development for years and had millions of dollars expended upon them could go under as investors get nervous or costs no longer pencil out. (Excellent News!)

HSEA, the state's largest trade group, and Mark Duda, representing the PV Coalition, presented two very different proposals at Tuesday's meeting that was convened by Gabbard.

Duda's plan calls for removing the cap on the tax credit and ramping the credit down during the course of the next several years. This would give investors and consumers security as to where the tax credit was going, he said.

But Leslie Cole-Brooks, executive director of the HSEA, argued that there should be no reduction. Instead, she said the cap on the residential tax credit should be raised to $12,500, from its current level of $5,000. She said that this would even the playing field for those with larger systems while making sure that the state's tax credit expenditures remained in check.

read … The Criminals Demand More Money from the Victims

Elections panel will address ballot shortage at meeting

SA: Commission Chairman William Marston said a memo Friday to the body from Chief Election Officer Scott Nago “will be the crux” of the discussion at the meeting.

The four-page memo includes a more detailed explanation of the series of circumstances that led to at least 70 Oahu polling places running short or running out of paper ballots on Nov. 6.

In the memo, Nago concludes the shortage of ballots “was the result of a deficient model used for ordering ballots, a failure to follow the safeguards that exist to modify the order or to reallocate existing ballots prior to Election Day and a failure to deploy additional ballots in a timely manner on Election Day.”

…the memo makes clear that the problems could have been avoided, even days before the election.

He said absentee mail-in and early walk-in voting was “not properly monitored in the days leading up to the general election.”

About 62 percent of Hawaii registered voters — or about 436,000 people — cast ballots, according to the state Office of Elections, compared with 66 percent in 2008, or about 456,000 people.

Memo: OE-350-12

Related: Election Sabotage: Is Jamae Kawauchi Kevin Cronin?

WHT: Yagong, Kawauchi lawyer used to be county’s

read … Elections panel will address ballot shortage at meeting

New Bishop Estate Scandal Needed to Displace Democrats

CB: For Linda, the reasons are different. Her initial support in getting into the Governors office came from a cobbled-together coalition of conservative Democrats, Independents and the small group that identify themselves at Republicans in Hawaii. She was able to provide a message that was counter to the feelings in the electorate at that time, that the Democratic Party was a corrupt machine because of their intricate links in the Bishop Estate scandal and an overall sense of disenfranchisement of the electorate in Gubernatorial races….

… the Republicans continually lost ground to the Democrats, who slowly but surely took back what they lost in the 1998 and 2000 races when the electorate was dissatisfied with their behavior in the wake of the Bishop Estate scandal.

So, with all this said, are the pundits truly correct when they have declared both Mufi’s and Linda’s political career in Hawaii pau? After evaluation, I would have to agree. To reverse each of their fortunes would require a landmark, politically earth changing event that would find them at, literally, the “right place at the right time” with positive press to reignite the positive passions of the electorate. Events like this come about once a generation if lucky, and more like once in a lifetime in Hawaii.

As for what an event like that would look like – just remember the intensity and passion exhibited in the Bishop Estate scandal of 1997-1999. Yes, it would need to be that big.

read … Pick a scandal

Greenwood asked UH Regents for $2 million payout in demand letter that was withdrawn

HNN: Greenwood's lawyer quoted Abercrombie's voice mail as saying, "if this issue is not resolved, decisively on Wednesday, by Thursday, you're going to be in the thick of a Senate investigation and all that entails. I don't think that's a good outcome."

Within two weeks of that call, the State Senate special committee on accountability scheduled special briefings into the failed concert.

SA: M.R.C. Greenwood's lawyer sent a letter to regents detailing inappropriate political "pressure"

KITV: Click HERE to read the letter from UH President M.R.C. Greenwood's lawyer to Regents

KITV: Man indicted in Wonder concert scam released -- Hubbard allowed to travel to South Carolina, Hawaii with monitoring device

read … HNN

Ruling to allow UH to proceed with telescope

MN: The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has reaffirmed its approval of a key permit for a controversial solar telescope to be built atop Haleakala, essentially giving the University of Hawaii the green light to proceed with the $300 million project.

On Friday, the board ruled in a contested case hearing dating back to December 2010, when the body approved a conservation district use permit for the project. That decision was challenged by Kilakila O Haleakala, which objected to the project's impacts to cultural and environmental resources.

The board said in its decision that the proposed Advanced Technology Solar Telescope - a joint project of the University of Hawaii and the National Science Foundation - is consistent with uses allowed in the state's conservation district.

read … Big Victory for Greenwood

UH Athletics Advisory Committee Members Forced To Report Finances

CB: Members of two special University of Hawaii committees have been advised they must file personal financial disclosures with the State Ethics Commission as the result of amendments to the state ethics code passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

In a separate move, the commission and UH officials have reportedly reached tentative agreement on a policy that will cut the number of administrators and athletic department employees eligible to receive complimentary tickets to athletic events.

Both matters are up for discussion by the commission at its meeting Wednesday morning.

Les Kondo, the commission’s executive director, wrote to members of an accountability task force appointed by the UH Board of Regents in the wake of the Stevie Wonder concert scam, and members of the Manoa chancellor’s athletic director search committee, advising them of the new disclosure requirement.

They are just the first of many temporary advisory groups likely to be hit by the change, Kondo said.

ILind: UH audit of athletics shies away from administrative freebies

PDF: Report Athletics Expenses 71 pages

SA: Suit against UH alleges retaliation

read … Hawaii Monitor

PLDC Hot Potato: Democrats Ask Sam Slom to Serve as Dela Cruz’ Committee Vice Chair

HR: "I thank both Senate President Shan Tsutsui, and Committee Chair Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, for their offer of bi-partian leadership and for their confidence in the sole Minority Senator," said Slom, who also serves as president of business advocacy group, Smart Business Hawaii, and heads Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation.

"I did discuss with both of them that at times I probably will find myself at odds with specific controversial legislative initiatives of the Committee, but, to their credit, they both said that they support more open discussion and better legislation."

Slom said Economic Development and Housing is a vital component in advancing Hawaii's opportunities. "While we may have differences, Chair Dela Cruz and I share strong opposition to any additional taxes on our beleaguered middle class, more business that will generate jobs and revenues, and a fair, efficient process for completing needed state and private projects that will generate more economic choices for all of our residents," Slom said.

read … First Time in 20 years

Farm Bureau, Building Trades Back PLDC

HNN: "There's a lot of bureaucratic regulations. But instead of trying to fix them. they're trying to bypass them," Surfrider Foundation Hawaii coordinator Stuart Coleman said.

"Some of what PLDC does is provide that financing mechanism to allow some of these projects to move forward, and to attract the private investors to come in and work with the state on building these projects," said Kika Bukoski of the Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council.

Farm bureau president Dean Okimoto supports PLDC. He said the state's idea of public-private partnerships could get bio-security facilities built to guard against invasive species.
"We have the land, but we don't have the money to build the facility itself," he said. "But there are private industries that would look at building it."

SA: New PLDC rules, same opposition

read … PLDC

OHA Opposes PLDC

MN: Many of those who testified against the proposed rules requested a repeal of Act 55, the legislation that led to the creation of the Public Land Development Corporation, and suggested amendments to proposed governing rules.

Among them was Jocelyn Doane who spoke on behalf of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. After consulting attorneys versed in native Hawaiian and customary rights and submitting suggested amendments, Doane claims, “there has been little changes in the rules that would ensure transparency, due diligence and accountability in PLDC projects; (ensure) community input on proposals that are carried out by the PLDC; and provide minimum standard information that the public will have so that they can meaningfully participate.”

Doane continued saying the rules did not support, “equal and transparent planning for all projects and culturally sensitive development projects.”

But not all of those who attended were opposed to the PLDC and its mission. Supporters included Sheldon Zane, president of Zane and Associates. With 20 years of experience in public-private partnerships, Zane said he thinks, “we ought to proceed at full speed in adopting the administrative rules.”

“My interest is really in having PLDC succeed and provide to the state the requirements that are critically needed to support our aging infrastructure. If we don’t have methods of financing our public infrastructure and capital improvements, we’re going to be faced with a crumbling infrastructure,” said Zane….

One outburst came from a Hawai’i Island kupuna Fumi Bonk who sat quietly while her daughter, Keiko Bonk read testimony on her behalf. When the younger Bonk turned to ask her mother if there was anything else to be said, her mother spoke loudly from her wheelchair before the two PLDC board members in attendance and three staff members at the table and said, “God damn you.”

read … Bonk!

OHA Cronies Grab for Business in Saipan, Guam, Samoa

ST: The Native American Contractors Association announced last week its support and participation in the Pacific Business Partnership Initiative, to help business leaders in Guam, American Samoa, and Hawaii to advance business policy priorities of the region.

"This is welcome news to our advocacy organizations and businesses here in the Pacific," said Billy Ornellas, vice president of the Native Hawaiian Economic Alliance. "Many Native corporations of Indian tribes and Alaska Natives are akamai (knowledgeable) with decades of experience in business, and delivering services to the federal government."

read … Pacific firms get support of contractors' group

Lanai COO's task to diversify isle economy offers hint to Ellison’s plans

PBN: We’re beginning to learn more and more about Larry Ellison’s vision for Lanai. It was quite telling that the Oracle Corp. CEO decided to hire Lanai native and Hawaii hotel industry veteran Kurt Matsumoto to oversee the island's business operations, which include the two Four Seasons resorts, the economic drivers of the Pineapple Island.

Ellison hasn’t said much about his plans for Lanai, only that he wants it to be a place for sustainability and renewable energy projects.

On Tuesday, Matsumoto, who just turned 55 last month, told PBN that he feels that it is important to diversify Lanai’s economy, which has relied heavily on tourism.

“It always has been a one-horse economy,” he said. “Part of my job is to try to understand how to diversify while not changing the character of the island.”

read … Matsumoto

Maui issues RFP for county waste-to-energy project

PBN: Maui County is looking for a developer to finance, plan, design, permit, construct and own a waste-to-energy project at the Central Maui Landfill in Puunene, the biggest of four county-run landfills on the Valley Isle.

The plan would include diverting nearly 500 tons of waste from the county landfill and turning it into energy that would have the capacity to power up more than 10,000 homes.

It would be similar to Oahu’s H-Power waste-to-energy plant, which just completed a $302 million expansion that began in 2009.

read … Waste to Energy

Rep.-elect Lauren Cheape's path to victory

The Hill: Hawaii’s political scene has a new queen. Last week Lauren Cheape, Miss Hawaii 2011, was elected to serve in Hawaii’s House of Representatives, representing the newly created District 45. It was the first campaign for the young Republican, who at 25 will be one of the youngest elected politicians in the state.

Cheape is the lone victor among the beauty queen politicians profiled on The Hill’s Congress Blog last month. She was also the only Republican beauty queen still in the race.

Cheape joins two other former Miss America queens currently serving at the state level: Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D), Miss Nevada 2002 (and third runner-up to Miss America), represents District 27 in Nevada’s Assembly; Tiffany Lawrence (D), Miss West Virginia 2006, represents District 65 in West Virginia’s House of Delegates. This was 34-year-old Benitez-Thompson’s first bid for reelection, following her 2010 victory. It is the second for Lawrence, 30, who was first elected to represent the 58th District in 2008.

read … The Hill

Proposed smoking ban in parks sparks controversy

HNN: Kemper Hardy is in Hawaii on vacation from Atlanta where there is a ban on smoking in public parks. He hopes the Honolulu City Council doesn't pass similar legislation.

"I hope it doesn't come that way because then you don't have the leisure to actually do what you want to do as far as pleasure in that regard," said Hardy.

Chang said, if the ban is successful the restrictions could be extended to beach parks across Oahu.

SA: No butts on beach smoking ban

read … Harass the People  

Organic Buyers: Smug or Stupid?

BIN: After grabbing some frozen chicken that allegedly once spent its life skipping through dandelions, we head to the checkout stand to show off our custom-made canvas eco-bags. Then, sticker shock.

Perfect health is pricey, it turns out. But should you feel smug, or stupid?

A recent study by Stanford University researchers found almost no nutritional benefits to eating foods classified as “organic” and few health benefits overall for those who choose to steer clear of non-organic food items.

read … Both!

Soft on Crime: Pimp Out on Early Release Gets 10 years

SA: Defense lawyer John Schum said Cocklin had a legitimate escort service and limousine business and that the women worked for him in that business.

"He was not aware of the fact that they were prostituting, (that) they were using his property, (that) they were prostituting out of the house that he was residing in," Schum said.

Murphy said, "The defendant is a pimp, there's no doubt about that. He tried to recruit the first victim into prostitution. When she refused he threatened her. He threatened to kidnap her. He threatened to cut her up and kill her."

And when the woman still refused, Cocklin showed her the prostitute who had a broken jaw and told the woman the same thing would happen to her, Murphy said.

Cocklin has a firearm conviction in California. He arrived in Hawaii after California officials granted him early release because of prison overcrowding.

His Hawaii case took more than three years to conclude because Cocklin claimed he suffered emotional distress after his cellmate at Oahu Community Correctional Center hanged himself and prison guards ignored his pleas to get out of the cell or to remove the dead body, then threatened him and refused to let him see a doctor.

read … 3 years already served, Out soon

JPAC Cost $500M a Year

SA: We were told that Vietnam-era operations are essentially complete. So instead of concentrating on recent conflicts, JPAC expends enormous resources attempting to locate remains in some of the world's most challenging geographies. (An aside: We no longer fight wars where we don't recover casualties; future JPAC missions are evaporating.) And that's the rub. JPAC largely seeks the remains of American heroes dead for 60-75 years or more. Not surprising, when it comes to casualties that old, it's often difficult or impossible to find living blood relatives. Even when found, octogenarian and nonagenarian survivors are long-reconciled that their loved ones didn't survive Korea or WWII. Other kin are too young to have known the dead service members. Indeed, while poking around recently at the Civil War Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md., I half-expected to see a JPAC team excavating there.

I don't disparage the work done by JPAC. But the cost is enormous. Our government runs trillion-dollar deficits yet persistently funds non-essential governmental operations like JPAC.

The need to identify increasingly ancient remains is becoming irrelevant in light of JPAC's seminal mission, namely to "bring home" remains of American dead to survivors. When survivors no longer care or exist, how much is this worth? By my estimates, JPAC's annual costs (including deferred and infrastructure costs) total between $500 million and a billion dollars.

After my tour, I shared my concerns with high-ranking military personnel and elected officials. A four-star general told me he appreciated my logic, but JPAC was "protected." By this he meant that JPAC's strong political support makes it "off-limits" to funding cuts.

read … Somebody committing political suicide 

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