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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
November 27, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:51 PM :: 6419 Views

Abercrombie: Nago's Incompetence Gives Me Excuse to Push for 100% Vote-by-Mail Elections

Matson Fires Shot Across Consumers’ Bow

$1536: Hawaii Average Mortgage Payments Second in Nation

Watchdog Report: Humane Society of the United States Shortchanges Hawaii Pet Shelters

Animal Liberation Nuts: Aquarium Trade a 'Dark Hobby', Aila Must Go

CNHA Pushes for Legislature, Feds to Dominate DHHL

Hawaii Supports Operation Outreach Afghanistan

Panicked, Desperate Doomed Nago fires Tomczyk

HNN: Tomczyk is the ballot operations section head, who is in charge of distribution and collection of ballots statewide.

An elections official since 1999, she's worked every Hawaii election since 2000. Her boss, Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, sent Tomczyk to the Big Island to run elections there Nov. 6 after the Hawaii County clerk had numerous problems during the Aug. 11 primary election. She was also sent to Hawaii County for the primary.

Sources said Nago asked Tomczyk to resign a few days after the general election because of the problems on Oahu. Tomczyk, an at-will employee without union protection, complied with Nago's request and quit, sources said.

Her last day with the state is Friday, a source said.

Hawaii News Now was not able to reach Tomczyk for comment and Nago said he could not comment because it's a personnel matter.

Some people within the election community feel Tomczyk is being made the scapegoat because she's being held responsible for two jobs on Election Day: running Hawaii County's election operations while also making sure ballot operations on Oahu ran smoothly. And she had all those responsibilities while when she was in Hilo for a week and a half leading up to and including Election Day, sources said.

"When you spread everybody thin, that's what happens. If Lori had been on Oahu, the extent of the balloting problems would never have happened," said one source familiar with elections operations.

Nago will testify Tuesday before his bosses on the State Election Commission as they look into what happened Election Day….

The commission's agenda for its 10 a.m. meeting at the State Office Tower said the panel will go behind closed doors into executive session to consider Nago's role in preparing for and conducting the general election.

The agenda also said the commission will "take action, if appropriate."

Asked if he's worried he will lose his job, Nago said, "Whatever happens, happens. It's up to the elections commission."

read … Scapegoat

Judge dismisses Hilo Election Boss’ defamation lawsuit

HTH: A 3rd Circuit Court judge on Monday threw out a defamation lawsuit against Hawaii County, County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi.

Judge Elizabeth Strance said she agreed with the county’s argument that Elections Division Administrator Pat Nakamoto could not sue the county for claims of defamation, defamation through negligence, portraying the plaintiffs in a false light, negligent investigation and negligent infliction of emotional distress because those claims arose from actions related to Nakamoto’s employment with the county….

Jung said a second defamation lawsuit, brought by Elections worker Shyla Ayau, is still pending.

At issue was information given to the media in January regarding a county investigation into drinking parties and a private business operation at the elections warehouse that led to Nakamoto’s termination.

She was later reinstated to her position. Martin said because Nakamoto was given her job back and received back pay, it was like she never stopped being a county employee.

read … Ridiculous Claim Dismissed

Chaos:  Abercrombie Budget Assumes no Federal Budget Cuts

CB: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The State of Hawaii is abiding by half of that adage.

The administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signaled that the biennial budget it submits to the Hawaii Legislature in December will assume Congress finds a way to fix the sequestration cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.

If left unaddressed, the state believes, the cuts would erase a total of $35 million to $40 million of federal support from more than 100 Hawaii government programs.

"Each of the departments in the state that receive federal funds, they've been talking with the federal agencies, but there's been very little insight because the federal agencies don't even have insight on where they would start these cuts," state Budget Director Kalbert Young told Civil Beat last week.

The sequester is one component of the so-called "fiscal cliff" now facing the country. (The other major piece is the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts.) Congress and President Barack Obama agreed in August 2011 to impose automatic across-the-board cuts to federal programs if negotiators were unable to shave more than $1 trillion in spending by January 2013.

read … A Plan for Legislative Chaos

DoE Stops Blaming Rain for Roof Collapse, Orders $1M for Inspections Systemwide

HNN: Structural engineers are trying to figure out what caused the Farrington High School roof to collapse and the state plans to make precautions to prevent another accident.

There's growing concerns about aging buildings at schools across our state. The Department of Education will inspect all school buildings similar to the collapsed auditorium.

Talk about lucky it happened on a Friday there was not school, because Monday there was a freshman assembly planned for inside and there would have been 500 kids sitting beneath the collapsed area.

The auditorium was built 58 years ago but the gravel tar roof with steel trusses had an engineering inspection 12 years ago. It also had a visual inspection just a few weeks ago.

That said the DOE will reprioritize to inspect all similar type auditoriums and cafeterias around the state to be sure this doesn't happen again. The inspection costs could be upwards of $1 million to contract engineers.

Farrington High School is no stranger to infrastructure problems. Damaged walkways, dangling wires and crumbling concrete can be seen around the campus. But it's also in the middle of renovations to bring buildings into the 21st century. The roof however wasn't on the priority list…

KHON: The 58-year-old auditorium got a new roof 12 years ago and was given a thorough inspection at the time. Matayoshi says state records show the roof life was 12 to 15 years.…the state says there is no indication clogged drains led to the roof collapse during Friday's downpour.

SA: Roof collapse prompts inspections

SA Editorial: School properties need inspections

read … Inspections

Aiea High School teachers protest no contract

KHON: The Aiea High School teachers were sign waving in front of the school at 7 a.m. this morning. They were protesting the failure of a contract agreement with the state.

The Hawaii State Teacher's Association returned to the bargaining table earlier this month in hopes of reaching an agreement with the state. But after receiving a 103-page proposal, they feel that that hope looks dismal.

CB: I Teach At Walmart

read … Aiea HS

Say, Oshiro Slipped PLDC Thru House

Borreca: The state House is currently being organized. The latest count has Maui Democrat Joe Souki announcing that he has the votes to become speaker on opening day. Rep. Calvin Say, the current House leader, said he is still in the running and his ally, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, said last week he still wants to organize the House without the GOP coalition that Souki is employing.

Hooser, however, noted that it was Say through Oshiro's Finance Committee who rushed through the exemption to the state land sale and lease laws.

"Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro, with the approval of Speaker of the House Calvin Say, waived the normal 48-hour public notice rule and gave Hawaii residents only 115 minutes public notice."

"The House Finance Committee essentially thumbed its nose at the Constitution and at the general public — claiming it held a public meeting yet making it impossible for the majority of the public to attend, or in fact to even know that the meeting was being held," said Hooser.

read … PLDC could trigger debate on home rule for counties

People still going to former HMC West ER a year after it was closed

KHON: "On the campus there's a dialysis center, medical office buildings, hospice and they're all still open but the actual hospital and emergency room is closed. For some reason today we had three different people show up there, tried to get into the hospital, and did not realize that the emergency room was closed," said Dr. James Ireland, Emergency Services Director.

All three called 911 after making the discovery.

The first call came in around 9 o'clock this morning. A 48 year old man was having chest pains.

Then another ambulance was sent at noon to pick up a woman, and then a third just before 1:30pm to pick up a 40 year old man.

"They said they didn't realize the hospital was closed. You know maybe they forgot or just never got the initial news," said Ireland.

Last December, the HMC West hospital closed in bankruptcy.

Many of the patients came from Ewa, Ewa Beach, and the Waianae Coast.

Now, the closest acute care hospital to those residents is Pali Momi Medical Center in Aiea.

read … Closed

Obama Cuts Hawaii Tsunami Warning Buoys 16%

CB: The tsunami warning buoys that ring the Pacific and alert Hawaii and others to impending tidal waves could lose $1 million in funding if federal budget cuts take effect as proposed.

The cuts represent a sizable 16 percent reduction from last year's budget and could mean that the federal government will cut back even further on maintenance trips to service the buoys.

"It may mean that our readiness drops a few percentage points from last year," said Michael Angrove, acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's tsunami program. "Hopefully not. Hopefully we're able to leverage other opportunities and we'll be smart about how we hit deployments. But the total amount that's been proposed is less than it was last year."

The U.S. maintains 39 DART buoys.

Last year's buoy maintenance budget was $8.6 million — smaller than the previous year, Angrove said.

The president's draft budget for fiscal year 2013 specifically addresses the DART program and spells out even deeper cuts to the program.

read … Tsunami

Personal income in Hawaii rose 9 percent from 2009 to 2011

PBN: Personal income in Hawaii rose 9 percent from 2009 to 2011, according to estimates released Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The increase was the same for the Honolulu metropolitan statistical area alone, according to the BEA, which said that personal income rose last year in all 366 MSAs for the first time since 2007.

Hawaii’s total personal income for 2011 was $59 billion, compared to $54.2 billion in 2009, an increase of 9 percent over the two-year period.

Honolulu’s personal income last year totaled $44.9 billion, compared to $41.3 billion in 2009.

Nationally, personal income grew an average of 5.2 percent in 2011, up from 3.8 percent in 2010, according to the BEA.

Per capita income — total income divided by population — rose 6.4 percent statewide in Hawaii to $42,925 last year, from $40,242 in 2009.

The increase was slightly higher for the Honolulu MSA, where per capita personal income rose 6.6 percent to $46,624 from $43,798 in 2009.

LINK: BEA Report

read … Cost of Living

Prosecutors: Federal Agent Fired Fatal Shot After A Night Of "Bar Hopping"

HR: A U.S. Marine, Alexander Byrd, was in the restaurant and “attempted to break up” the exchange between Deedy and Elderts, according to Futa.

Deedy "appeared intoxicated and was slurring his words,” Futa’s memo said.

“During the argument, (Deedy) told Elderts that he had a gun and he would shoot Elderts in the face,” the prosecutor said.

The two men grappled with each other and exchanged blows. After Deedy was knocked to the floor by a punch to the face, he drew his weapon and fired three rounds, said Futa.

One bullet “narrowly missed a customer” and struck a wall. The second hit another wall and the third struck Elderts in the chest, Futa said in the memo.

“At no time was defendant heard to identify himself as a law enforcement officer or federal agent,” the memo said….

Deedy declined to submit to alcohol testing after he was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries received during his fight with Elderts.

Elderts and friend Shane Medeiros had been drinking in downtown Honolulu before they arrived at McDonald's at 2:30 a.m., Futa said in her memo.

An autopsy showed Elderts was legally drunk and had used cocaine and marijuana before he died.

read … Deedy Case

Lilly: University of Hawaii Should Seek Counsel from Attorney General, Not Private or In-House Attorneys

HR: Under the Hawaii State Constitution, the Attorney General represents and provides legal counsel to all state departments. Accordingly, when I was in office, the Attorney General represented the University of Hawaii and provided the institution, and all other state agencies, with independent legal advice.

Many state agencies, such as the University, dissatisfied with that independent oversight and advice contrary to what it wanted to hear, sought to have its own in-house counsel.

Sometime after my tenure at the Attorney General's office, the University of Hawaii succeeded in acquiring its own in-house counsel, which, according to recent reports, comprises some nine attorneys. By any measure, that is a sizable law firm.

One problem with in-house counsel, is they tend to provide the advice the organization wants to hear - not necessarily the advice it needs to hear.

HR: Kim Chimes in: UH Should be dependent on Our Lawyers so we can control them

read … Use the AG

Upcoming public hearing for new Oahu aquarium collecting rules

News Release from DLNR: The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will hold a public hearing to adopt new rules that would establish requirements for the collection of certain marine life and its related net collecting gear for Oahu only. These proposed new rules would establish 1) a net length limit, 2) commercial bag limits for six species, 3) size limits on four species, and 4) no take of three species. Download draft Oahu rule, pdf file.

The public hearing will be held at 6:00 pm Wed, Dec 5, 2012 in the Waimalu Elementary School cafeteria, 98-825 Moanalua Rd, Pearl City.

read … news release

Jerry Brown on Solar: There’ll be indictments, bankruptcies, and deaths

LAT: An economic consultant hired by the county found that property tax revenue would be a fraction of the customary amount because portions of the plant qualifiy for a solar tax exclusion. Fewer than 10 local workers would land permanent positions — and just 5% of the construction jobs would be filled by county residents. And construction workers are likely to spend their money across the nearby state line, in Nevada.

Worse, the project would cost the county $11 million to $12 million during the 30-month construction phase, with much of the money going to upgrade a historic two-lane road to the plant. Once the plant begins operation, the county estimates taxpayers will foot the bill for nearly $2 million a year in additional public safety and other services.

Two of California's other Mojave Desert counties, Riverside and San Bernardino, have made similar discoveries. Like Inyo, they are now pushing back against solar developers, asking them to cover the costs of servicing the new industry.

"Southern California is going to become the home to the state's ability to meet its solar goals," said Gerry Newcombe, public works director for San Bernardino County. "That's great, but where are the benefits to the county?"

Desert counties also are anticipating costly shifts in land use, including the conversion of taxable private property into habitat for endangered species. Solar developers are required to buy land to offset the loss of habitat caused by their projects. Once the property is acquired, it cannot be developed, which reduces its potential for tax revenue.

Two of the largest solar plants in the world are under construction in San Bernardino County. But county officials are not sure if revenue from the projects will offset the cost of additional fire and safety services, which analysts say will amount to millions of dollars a year….

Gov. Jerry Brown has vowed to "crush" opponents of solar projects. At the launch of a solar farm near Sacramento, the governor pledged: "It's not easy. There are gonna be screw-ups. There are gonna be bankruptcies. There'll be indictments and there'll be deaths. But we're gonna keep going — and nothing's gonna stop me."

Full Text: Inyo County Report (begins on page 62)

read … Solar power plants burden the counties that host them

Turtle Bay eyes expansion in 2014

SA: The resort owner's impact statement outlines increases in weekend traffic and the finding of Hawaiian burials

read … The Next Big Fight





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