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Monday, November 19, 2012
November 19, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:20 PM :: 5681 Views

Feds Notify Congress of Intent to Sign Full Funding Agreement for Honolulu Rail

Pierre Omidyar: The Secret Empire of a Resort Developer

Greenwood Threatened to Expose Abercrombie, Say, Tsutusi: ‘Serious Violation of Multiple Laws’

Kim Committee to Demand 'Special Master' to Oversee Greenwood?

Fitch: Corruption, Inability to Sell Ansaldo Produce Negative Outlook for Rail Contractor's Parent Company

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted November 19

Joni’s Jones Act Plea

Lahaina: Is Halloween a Land Use Issue?

DataHouse Announces New President

Abercrombie to Propose Increased Minimum Wage?

SA: The state administration is considering legislation to raise the minimum wage, the first increase since 2007.

That would serve as an economic stimulus — those earning the least generally spend any increase in pay that they get. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now have a higher minimum wage than Hawaii.

While increasing it would be a good idea for a variety of reasons, it's only a small and short-term part of the solution.

More needs to be done to train Hawaii's workforce, giving more prospective employees the skills required of better paying jobs. The federal government needs to recalculate the assistance that Hawaii needs to achieve its workforce goals, based on the new poverty figures.

State labor officials said they haven't yet heard of any plans to increase Hawaii's share of federal funding for workforce development, but they are hopeful. That's because the formula used for calculating state allotments under the Workforce Investment Act includes economic disadvantage of the population as a factor, they said.

In the meantime there are other efforts being made to improve industrial training. Last year, the University of Hawaii's community colleges received $24.6 million in a grant from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training federal initiative

read … Fight poverty with job training

National Solar Expert: Hawaii Should Get Rid of State Tax Credits

CB: Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy and founder of SunEdison, says that Hawaii’s solar electric tax credits, which are costing the state tens of millions annually, are no longer needed.

“The challenge in Hawaii right now is that it is so much more cost effective to go solar than to stay on the grid. So everyone is rushing to (switch to solar),” Shah told Civil Beat. “It’s hitting the tax department pretty hard. So it’s time for the state tax credit to be eliminated so that it doesn’t affect them. The federal tax credits are more than enough to make solar pencil.”

read … Another Voice of Reason

Hawaii tax revenue increases 11%, Money Given to Solar Scammers

PBN: The state collected $412.7 million in tax revenue October, bringing the total, to-date, for the fiscal year that began July 1 to $1.76 billion, state tax officials said in a preliminary statement.

Hawaii's largest single category of tax revenue, general excise and use taxes, totaled $220.8 million in October, and $959.5 million for the first four months of the fiscal year, which was a 10.1 percent increase from the same period last year.

The transient accommodation tax, or hotel tax, was $117.3 million for the four-month period, which was 13.1 percent higher than the$103.7 million last year, reflecting the increase in visitor arrivals this year. The number of visitors to Hawaii during the first nine months of 2012 was 8.6 percent higher than the same period in 2011, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

State revenues grew 15 percent during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to data from the state Council on Revenues.

However, the Council on Revenues, at its Sept. 6 meeting, lowered the forecast for the current fiscal year to 4.9 percent growth from the previous forecast of 5.3 percent growth, and also slightly lowered the forecast for the 2014 fiscal year to 3.9 percent growth from 4 percent. The council attributed the declines in the forecasts to "a reassessment of the renewable energy tax credits."

read … Tax Revenue

After First Wind Farm Burns Down, Company Opens Another

KITV: First Wind says the 69 megawatt wind project will be able to generate enough clean and cost-competitive wind energy to power the equivalent of approximately 14,500 homes on the island.

At full output, it has the potential to meet as much as five to ten percent of Oahu's annual electrical demand and avoid the burning of about 300,000 barrels of oil each year.

The Kawailoa project is First Wind’s second project on Oahu and fourth in the Hawaiian islands.

As with its other projects on Maui and Oahu, First Wind developed a Habitat Conservation Plan for Kawailoa Wind, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The HCP is a wildlife conservation effort that includes research funding and actions to protect and minimize incidental harm to federally listed species in the vicinity of the wind energy project.

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

Read … Try, try again

Lind: Kondo Should Go After Josh Green

ILind: I would suggest the commission made a mistake in reading Act 208 as creating a general exemption for legislators.

They should take the opposite view and continue to enforce the more limited legislative exemptions, which would shift the burden of bringing a court challenge to any legislator wanting to move into previously off-limits ethics territory.

The key question–did the amendment to “fair treatment” really create a wholesale exemption for legislators? It’s hard to read that into the plain language of the statute, so this becomes a journey into statutory interpretation. Just what did the legislature intend this change to do?

The answer regarding intent doesn’t seem overly complex. Committee reports at each step of the legislative process said the intent was to exempt task force members from provisions of the ethics code in order to allow interested parties to be named to temporary committees or task forces making recommendations on technical or politically sensitive issues.

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

read … Get Green!

Hawaii Teachers Can't Strike, But They Can Do Only The Minimum

CB: Teachers intend to stop doing all the work they do on their own dime, limiting their hours to what's contractually obligated, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everything else that would normally get done won't on work-to-rule protest days, the first of which was last week at Campbell High School and a few other campuses around the state.

A growing number of schools plan to join in a similar protest Nov. 29, and teachers say the demonstrations will escalate in frequency to increase public awareness and put more pressure on the governor to give them a fair contract.

"We don't want to do this. We want to be with our students," Campbell High School social studies teacher Corey Rosenlee told Civil Beat. "But we've had two imposed mandates and it's not looking any better."

The teachers union couldn't strike right now even if it wanted to because HSTA has a case pending before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, he said. Until the board rules on that case, or the union withdraws its complaint, striking is off the table.

HSTA tried to get the state Supreme Court to force the labor board to rule, but that effort fell flat. The court denied the request, only directing the board and state to explain the months-long delay. The board responded, saying the law lets it take as long as it needs.

This may explain why some teachers are touting the work-to-rule protest as better than a strike.Joan Husted, former HSTA executive director, said work-to-rule protests are very difficult to do in general, especially the more stringent variety.

"It's very hard for teachers to say no to kids, to say, 'I'm sorry, this is my duty-free lunch,'" she said. "They often back away from work-to-the-rule because teachers say, 'We can't deny the kids their prom. We can't deny them their graduation parties.'"

This is the first time Husted could recall more than one school participating in a work-to-rule protest in Hawaii. So far, several schools throughout the state — Campbell High, Iroquois Point Elementary, Waipahu Intermediate Honokaa, Kaleiopuu, Kahalui and King Kaumualii elementaries, among others — either joined in Thursday's protest or plan to participate in the Nov. 29 one.

read … Work to Rule

Geothermal on Hualalai?

SA: The Puna Geothermal Venture plant on the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano has the only proven commercially viable geothermal resource in the state. However, in its draft request for proposals, or RFP, HELCO identifies four other areas with geothermal potential, including a spot on the slopes of Hualalai overlooking Kailua-Kona.

"Assuming new geothermal generation is added by one or more selected bidders in the Kilauea east rift zone and Hualalai, it is critical to note that there are significantly more HELCO system constraints associated with adding generation in the east region of the island compared with the west region," HELCO officials wrote in the draft RFP.

HELCO on Nov. 9 launched the process to select a bidder or bidders to supply up to 50 megawatts of geothermal generating capacity. That would be in addition to the 38 megawatts already provided to HELCO by Puna Geothermal Venture. A single megawatt can provide enough power to supply the energy needs of about 650 Hawaii island homes.

HELCO's 80-page draft RFP lays out specifications for the project and what potential developers will be required to deliver. The document includes a table laying out the geothermal potential for four areas on the island.

Of the total 1,396 megawatts of estimated generating capacity, more than half — 778 megawatts — is in the east rift zone, according to a consultant's study quoted in the report. The other areas are the Kilauea southwest rift zone, 393 megawatts; Mauna Loa southeast rift zone, 125 megawatts; Mauna Loa northeast rift zone, 75 megawatts; and Hualalai, 25 megawatts.

read … The rest of the article is about Mililani Trask

State Decides to Nickel and Dime Tourism

SA: Publishers of the free guides and brochures visitors pick up at Hawaii's airports may soon have to pay the state for the right to get their publications into visitors' hands.

The state Department of Transportation Airports Division's Visitor Information Program alerted publishers in March that nearly 50 years of free distribution would be coming to an end.

Officials "decided to develop a system to charge approved companies for the display of brochures or magazines in the airport racks," according to a March 20 memorandum from Glenn Okimoto, director of the Visitor Information Program….

"It's my opinion that the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation does have the legal right and authority to charge rental location fees for the distribution of free visitor information," he said, adding, "I think it's a terrible idea."

Instead of penalizing small businesses by taxing them more, eliminating deductions or charging additional fees, governments should help businesses grow to increase their tax revenue, he said.

"If any decent business owner worth his salt were in charge of those airport kiosks, they'd be doing everything they could to encourage businesses to produce (literature) that encourages the visitors to increase their spending by fully enjoying the island(s)," said Quine. "Charging money for distribution will only stunt the growth in visitor revenues, (so) I hope someone in our government is smart enough to realize that, in this case, charging any fee will result in damage to our economy."

read … Dime Holding up a Dollar

Tally of foreigners attending UH plummets as Tuition Increases

SA: International students attending Hawaii colleges contributed about $107 million in direct spending to the state's economy in the last academic year, according to a report released last week.

But despite Hawaii's multicultural environment, reputation for safety and proximity to Asia, the number of students coming here has steadily declined over the past six years, while mainland colleges are seeing more foreign student enrollment, especially by students from China.

The number of international students here dropped 26 percent, to 4,446 in 2012 from 6,032 in 2007, and their spending on tuition and living expenses is down from $123.8 million six years ago.

The decline coincides with a tuition increase for nonresident students at UH campuses. At UH-Manoa, nonresident undergraduate tuition nearly doubled, to $23,232 annually in the 2011-2012 academic year from $12,192 in 2006-2007.

read … Greenwood

Sale of Galbraith land on Oahu to state of Hawaii to close by year's end

PBN: The trustees for 1,750 acres of land in central Oahu owned by the George Galbraith Trust have agreed to sell the one-time pineapple fields to the state of Hawaii for $25 million.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal, under which the state will lease the land near Wahiawa back to farmers who grow vegetable crops such as broccoli and asparagus, is expected to close by the end of the year, according to Lea Hong of the Trust for Public Land, which is assisting with the transaction and has raised $12 million to match the state's $13 million for the purchase. The Journal reports that Bank of Hawaii (NYSE: BOH), which manages the trust for an estimated 600 heirs, declined to comment on the deal.

WSJ: Trustee for Hundreds of Descendants to Sell Inheritance to the State for Farm Use

Further details about the transaction can be found in the application submitted to the Honolulu’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund in 2010.

ILind: George Galbraith Info

read … Sale

Kid Escapes Hawaii, Becomes Successful Tech Entrepreneur

Forbes: Back in Hawaii, Christopher Bradley got to observe the health industry on a daily basis. He found that his father, a family physician in Honolulu, wasted a lot of time on medical records instead of focusing all his energy on helping patients, because there was no technology in place to solve the data problem.

For Bradley, that observation nurtured an idea of changing the health industry through technology. A computer science graduate student at NYU Poly, Bradley took his “Roadmap for Medical Care” to Poly’s Inno/Vention Competition last year. He won the first prize in April.

Since then, Bradley and his team have gone full speed with one ambitious goal in mind: disrupt the health industry from its source.

Bradley is one of many contestants that seek to upend giant industries through their innovation in this year’s NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge. There is an increase in healthcare services, fashion, media and entertainment, education, and life style businesses, according to Loretta Poole, associate director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

read … About How Tech Thrives Without Act 221



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