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Sunday, November 18, 2012
November 18, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:17 PM :: 6254 Views

Growing Focus on Taxing Pension Income

Clayton Hee Wrote Act 208 to Enable Sen Green Help to Pill Pushers

SA: The city is disputing numerous medication claims from Automated HealthCare, citing inflated prices and other issues.

Writing to the city on legislative letterhead, Green, a Hawaii island physician and House Health Committee chairman, described the benefits of injured workers getting drugs directly from their physicians and urged the city to settle the dispute by Aug. 24.

Green called the city's settlement offer to the company unreasonable and indicated that Automated HealthCare had "graciously agreed" to accept a discounted amount to resolve the dispute.

Eight days later, the company donated $2,000 to Green's campaign....

Kondo told the commission and later the Star-Advertiser that had the ethics code not been amended, his staff would have made inquiries regarding the Green situation to determine whether the facts warranted a recommendation to the commission for opening a formal investigation.

But because of Act 208, there were no potential code violations to look into, according to Kondo.

Before the law was changed, legislators had a more narrow exemption to what is called the fair treatment provision in the code.

The exemption, which also is mirrored in the state Constitution, applied only when lawmakers performed their "legislative functions."

Relying on court decisions, the commission construed such functions to mean participation in committee hearings, floor debates, bill voting and other activities related to passing legislation, according to Kondo.

But when legislators crafted the bill to extend certain exemptions to task force members, eight words — "in the exercise of the legislator's legislative functions" — were deleted from the fair treatment provision.

Removing those eight words broadened the exemption to apply to all official actions taken by legislators, including constituent services, Kondo told the Star-Advertiser.

A complete exemption would mean legislators could misuse their positions to benefit themselves or others — and such action would not violate the ethics code.... 

The change to HB 2175 that created the broader legislative exemption was made by the Senate Judiciary committee at the final public hearing for the bill. (SJC is chaired by Clayton Hee) The committee adopted language developed by the Attorney General's Office, according to its report recommending passage of the bill....

The last time the Ethics Commission launched a formal investigation to determine whether a legislator violated the fair treatment provision was in 2006.

Senate Republicans had filed a complaint against then-Sen. Brian Kanno, accusing him of improperly using his office to try to influence a cruise liner to rehire a man (child molester Leon Rouse) who had been fired in 2004. The man had been accused of sexual harassment....

Had the Kanno incident happened today, the commission would be unlikely to pursue a case because of Act 208, Kondo said.

Related: Child molester back at work at Hawaii Legislature

Related: Oxycontin Contributions: Clayton Hee, Josh Green, Karl Rhoads and HB466, Oxycontin Contributions: Josh Green Helps Pill Mills Loot Honolulu County Funds

read … Act 208

Prosecutor: DoE Negligence in Abuse of Puna Girl Led to Multi-Million Dollar Sealed Settlement

HTH: The … case is the extreme abuse of a Puna girl in 2005. The girl’s caregiver, Hyacinth Poouahi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“That little girl was so close to death … that the medic literally threw up because the smell of death was on her when they got there. And her injuries were so horrific,” Damerville said as tears welled up behind his glasses. “The doctors in that case told me that it was the worst case of abuse they’d seen that the child actually lived. That case will always be with me. I tear up when I think about it.

“… The worst thing about it is that it was so needless, in the sense that if school authorities had made the phone calls that they needed to make, it didn’t need to have gotten that bad. There was a civil suit involved in it and the state probably paid millions. The actual settlement amount is confidential, but we have a system in place that if you suspect that a child is being abused, you call Child Protective Services. If a child is not in school, someone supposedly goes out and finds out why this child is not in school, not just accepting any lie a caregiver might give as to why the child is not in school.”

read … About the DoE

Star-Adv: Greenwood Wins, Time to learn from UH mess and move on

SA: The most distressing revelation here is that, rather than autonomy enhancing its professionalism, UH plainly remains a political creature.

While influential lawmakers and even the governor had Donovan's back, none of these supposed public advocates seemed concerned about repercussions on the public….

But this whole affair has exposed an unbecoming side of Greenwood's personality. Confidence is a desirable trait in any leader, but over the course of legislative hearings on the matter, the effect was one of an arrogant and defiant executive. And with the revelation of the $2 million exit bid, the adjective "grasping" could be added to the list, too….

Greenwood reportedly apologized to the regents during their closed-door meeting, but it's not just with them that some serious fence-mending must happen. She'll need to rebuild burned bridges with lawmakers, who now likely will scan budget requests with a jaundiced eye.

The trust needs to be restored first, and then lawmakers need to reciprocate by resisting the urge to micromanage. They really should have nothing to say about hiring decisions, for starters.

As the president moves past this spectacle and resumes her contractual duties, though, she should realize that the bar has been raised. The public that pays her salary deserves to see a change in direction: better oversight of expenditures, more effective stewardship of taxpayer resources and a genuine commitment to transparency.

read … SA Editors Trying to Make One Group of Fools Reform the Other Group of Fools

Lawsuit: Anti-Superferry Protesters to Challenge Constitutionality of Act 55

PPK Chairman Rich Hoeppner said his group — which is made up of an executive committee, working with two “top-notch” lawyers — is “revived, alive and well,” ready to fight what he describes as a “ridiculous” bill.

“Our goal is to raise funds to get this bill to the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of Act 55,” Hoeppner said Friday. “It is just total insanity what they are proposing … we’re going after this thing.”

Hoeppner, along with other opponents in the community, believes that the bill allows for large corporations to come to Kaua‘i and develop public lands with no accountability.

“The only way we are going to beat them is to go to court … just like we did with Superferry.”

Last September, Councilman Kipukai Kuali‘i introduced a resolution calling for the repeal of Act 55. Maui and Big Island county councils also passed similar resolutions….

On Friday, Kuali‘i organized a “sit-in” of concerned community members at the Moikeha Building to advocate for the repeal of Act 55.

Shapiro: PLDC puts public on hold as state admits other follies

Related: Enviros win 90% in Hawaii Supreme Court

read … Unconstitutional?

Rail TOD Will Drive Oahu Population to 1.2M

SA: "I think in most areas, particularly in the core urban areas, starting with Ala Moana, Kakaako, civic center, downtown, we anticipate that there will be population growth," he said. "In many of the areas in between — Iwilei, Kalihi, Lagoon Drive, Pearl City — without additional growth and residential development in those areas, probably very minimal growth."

The Hawaii Community Development Authority "is certainly looking down that road" of significant growth in Kakaako, OMPO's Gibson said. At the time of the prediction, HCDA had yet to reveal its plan for numerous skyscraper condominiums, but "we assumed pretty significant growth for that area."

But huge population growth is expected surrounding the western end of the rail, near what is now a fairly barren area near Kapolei: From 18,300 in 2007, to 51,300 in 2035 at Kapolei-Ko Olina-Kalaeloa; from 53,600 to 102,200 at Honouliuli-Ewa Beach; 15,600 to 29,900 at Makakilo-Makaiwa; and 11,900 to a whopping 46,700 at Waiawa-Koa Ridge.

read … Opportunities for profit

HECO: Hordes of Solar Scammers May Crash Grid Before Dec 31 Tax Credit Cutoff

LAT: Solar tax credits cost the state $173.8 million this year in foregone revenue, up from $34.7 million in 2010, prompting state tax authorities to announce this month that they will temporarily cut the tax credit in half, effective Jan. 1.

Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, which oversees subsidiary utilities on Maui and the Big Island, has warned that the explosion of do-it-yourself solar could threaten parts of the power grid with the possibility of power fluctuations or sporadic blackouts as the power generated by homeowners — unpredictable and subject to sudden swings — exceeded output from power plants in some areas.

So rapid is the growth that Hawaiian Electric at one point proposed a moratorium on solar installations, a plan that met with immediate outrage and was quickly withdrawn. But utilities are requiring expensive "interconnection" studies, such as the one the Lees had to do, in solar-saturated areas to analyze what impact a new unit is going to have on the utility system before it can connect to the grid.

"The last three months are turning into a madhouse of solar here on Oahu," Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg said. "We're doing everything we can to get in as much solar as possible, but there's a strong sense that we're kind of at a crossroads here in trying to deal with these issues."

The problem is especially pronounced in Hawaii, where each island has its own isolated power grid and can't quickly compensate with power generated elsewhere. The result, if not carefully managed, can be computer-killing power surges (in cases of excess generation), flickering lights, isolated blackouts or worse.

"It can crash the entire system," said Robert Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric.

Over the last few months, new rules have liberalized the standards for allowing solar connections….

read … LA Times

Kahuku Wind Farm Faces Long Recovery After Fire

CB: The 12 idle turbines that line Oahu’s North Shore probably won’t be back online for at least another year and repairs are expected to cost the Boston-based developer more than $8 million.

This is according to filings by HECO with the state’s Public Utilities Commission on Friday.

Meanwhile, First Wind isn’t getting paid by HECO since the wind farm isn’t producing any energy. The company took out a $117 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project.

The turbines have been off-line since August following a devastating fire that destroyed the wind farm’s battery storage facility. It was the third fire for the wind farm since going online in early 2011

Related: Lawsuit: Kahuku Windfarm May Never Get its Turbines Repaired

read … Kahuku Wind Farm Faces Long Recovery After Fire

Mililani Trask, Act 221 Scammers Grab for Geothermal Sandwich Profits

HTH: Geothermal development companies are trying to line up potential sites for a new power plant before a bidding deadline early next year.

So far, at least two have their sights on Puna.

Innovations Development Group, a Hawaii-based company, (Mililani Trask seeks to cash in) has identified property about two miles from Puna Geothermal Venture as a potential site, while a newly established company from Honolulu, Avalor Energy Corp., (ACT 221 Scammers) is considering leasing property near the steam vents on Highway 130, about two miles from Leilani Estates, according to a man who attended a meeting held by the company for nearby residents.

PGV Plant Manager Mike Kaleikini said the company is still considering whether to submit a proposal.

It has a contract with HELCO for 38 megawatts and has regulator approval for up to 60 megawatts.

read … about Progressives trying to keep your electric bills high

Maui County looking to cut solid waste, convert it to energy

MN: The department would lease approximately 10 acres of land next to the landfill to the winning bidder, who would be required to finance, design, build and operate the project. The county would make available all of its waste streams - including solid waste, green waste, sewage sludge and grease - and guarantee sending the waste to the facility for 20 years.

"This is an opportunity to convert what we take in at the Central Maui Landfill into some other form, whether it's converted to energy that can be sold to the electric utility, or some kind of biofuel or other fuel source," Miyamoto said.

The formal request for proposals - which was issued last week - follows a so-called request for qualifications in March that attracted some 70 interested parties.

Miyamoto said that the initial submittals included "a good mix of technologies," including gasification processes and producing methane as an energy source.

The department has said that an incineration facility - like the City and County of Honolulu's HPOWER facility that can burn up to 3,000 tons of waste a day - is an unlikely candidate for Maui's needs.

"Being that we're on the order of 450, 500 tons per day, I don't think that incineration will be the option that comes out the best just based on - it's too low of a scale," Department of Environmental Management Director Kyle Ginoza told the Maui County Council's Infrastructure Management Committee last month.

read … Waste to Energy

Upgrading HECO Plants to Combined Cycle Could Cut Energy Consumption in Half

SA: In the recent public meetings held across the state by the U.S. DOE for the Hawaii Clean Energy programmatic environmental impact statement, only demand-side efficiency measures — using less energy at end-use activities — were within the scope of achieving the 30 percent energy-efficiency portfolio standard.

This raises the question: Why is supply-side efficiency not considered, too?….

we can increase efficiency of conversion for power generation by upgrading the power plants run by our electric utilities.

The upgrade cost would not be a big issue here because:

>> Most of the existing oil-based generation units have to be upgraded to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will be implemented in 2015; and

>> Most of these units are 40-60 years old and require huge investments for refurbishment and maintenance for continued use. As such, we are missing the opportunity to increase generation efficiency.

We need to convert our old, low-efficiency steam-based power generation units into more efficient gas turbines or even higher-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) units, which can burn natural gas, diesel, jet fuel, or even fuel oil in extreme cases.

if Hawaii’s electric utilities were to install new gas turbines and convert their existing plants into highly efficient CCGTs, generation efficiency would increase from 30 percent to 50-60 percent. (in other words energy consumption is cut in half)

Such supply-side efficiency increase would save 20-29 trillion BTUs of energy for the same amount of end-use electricity

read … Some Common Sense

Demographics: Fukumoto -- Youth are More Open Minded

Borreca: Twenty-nine-year-old Beth Fukumoto, who briefly was chairwoman of the Hawaii GOP, just won election to the state House as a Republican, ousting 16-year Democratic veteran Marilyn Lee.

"The millennial generation does appear to be more Democratic-leaning, but they appear to be more open-minded, more able to split the ticket and not wedded to one political party," Fukumoto said in an interview.

"We can get the millennial generation more involved, but it has to be on Twitter and via Facebook," said Fukumoto, who got her master's degree from George Washington University.

If the Republican Party is to win over her generation, it will be with short information bursts.

"People's understanding now is in flashes, not long narratives," Fukumoto said.

Politics for the new generation may change and evolve as fast as you download a new app for your phone.

read … Open Minded

Demographics: OHA Cronies Panic over Kelii Akina Campaign

SA: Hawaii is experiencing (demographic) changes. While these changes are broad, the effects are also creeping up, specifically on the Native Hawaiian community.

One indicator of this can be seen in the recent election for the board of trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs….

In the race for the "at large" seat, one candidate in particular (Kelii Akina, who finished third) received campaign contributions from people known to argue for the elimination of OHA and other Hawaiian programs. The larger of the two contributions came from out of state. A third campaign contributor also reportedly helped finance a previous legal attack against the Kamehameha Schools….

For the Native Hawaiian community in particular, this year's OHA trustee election contest should raise several questions.

» Will this candidate — or a similar one — run in 2014 when there are three at-large seats up for election and where third place could likely be a win?

It is important for the Native Hawaiian community — and the larger statewide community — to understand the changes we are facing and prepare for those changes appropriately.

(Translation: OHA will back legislation banning out of state contributions to OHA candidates, perhaps OHA will seek a change in the at-large elections.)

Reality: OHA driving Hawaiians out of Hawaii (Irony: OHA is causing its own demographic changes)

read … OHA under attack by out-of-state interests

Overrun by Aggressive Naked Homosexuals, San Francisco May Limit Genital Exposure to ‘Fairs and Parades’

AP: City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places.

The ban represents an escalation of a two-year fight between a devoted group of nudists in the city's famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.

Supervisor Scott Weiner's proposal would make it illegal for persons over the age of 5 to expose their genitals. Exemptions would be made for participants at permitted street fairs and parades.

Weiner says he resisted a ban, but felt compelled to act after constituents complained about the naked men. The ban has sparked nude protests and a lawsuit.

read … About your future

Tulsi Still Unable to ‘Out’ Mike Gabbard as ‘Hindu’

HT: Fortunately, American karma yogis like myself don't need to give up our apple pie! When I was two, we moved to Hawaii from American Samoa. My parents were vegetarians, so I grew up eating lots of mangoes, bananas, coconuts, fresh vegetables, and spending a lot of time in the ocean with my four siblings. I was very shy and introverted. I even made my younger sister Vrindavan go with me to the grocery store to talk to the cashier because I was too shy!

My father was a Catholic who had gone to the seminary to become a priest, but quit when he decided he wanted to get married. By the time I was born, he wasn't very active in the church and, along with my mom, practiced mantra meditation. (Later on, dad started going to church every Sunday again, but still does mantra meditation.) We had the Bhagvad Gita and the Bible in the house. Because I was raised in a multi-faith family, I was forced to go deeper than just religious labels.

I spent time in my youth studying both the Gita and the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. I never felt I had to choose one over the other. Instead, I searched for the essence of these great scriptures. I gradually came to appreciate that God is my best friend. I directly experienced that I was only truly happy when I was using my life working for the well-being of other people. So religion, to me, is not about labels, it's about spirituality. It's about living out my personal relationship with God through meditation and prayer (bhakti yoga) and using my time and energy trying to be of service to others (karma yoga).

Reality: To Stop Mufi, Mrs Abercrombie Joins the Chris Butler Cult

read … Tulsi talking very fast

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