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Thursday, November 29, 2012
November 29, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:49 PM :: 4244 Views

DOE Releases Two-Year Race to the Top Performance Report, Okabe Complains

Leeward HSTA Proposes 'Quality Teacher in Every Classroom Act'

Abercrombie's Experts Announce 'Expectations' for Children's Behavior

Hawaii Most Expensive Homes in Nation

Hawaii: One Third of Young Adults Live With Mom

Hawaii Hospitals Ranked: Only Queens is Grade 'A'

State Auditor Marion Higa to retire at end of year

HNN: Higa is stepping down about halfway through her third eight-year term. Under the law, deputy auditor Jan Yamane will take over as acting auditor.

"You can't replace Marion," said Yamane. "I mean she's been with the office for so long, remembers every little detail all the way back over the 40 years."

Yamane herself has been in the state auditor's office for ten years….

Yamane would like to succeed her boss, but it will be up to the legislature to pick a new state auditor. She realizes Higa will be tough act to follow.

read … Yamane Next?

Iwase Proposes Commission to Enact $17B in Tax Hikes

CB: The Hawaii Tax Review Commission will recommend that Hawaii create its own version of the Simpson-Bowles commission to address a projected multi-billion dollar budget shortfall that is anticipated in the next decade.

That recommendation for a Hawaii fiscal reform and others will be formally presented to the Hawaii Legislature Friday, completing the commission's work.

What lawmakers decide to do with the report is up to them.

But Randy Iwase, chairman of the Tax Review Commission and a former legislator, hopes the Legislature will take substantial steps now to head off an estimated $3 billion cash shortfall for the state by 2025, or $17 billion as measured on an accrual basis.

"One of the values this report provides is it brings to public light how severe the shortfall is," Iwase said Wednesday as the commission wrapped up its business at a downtown Honolulu boardroom. "And hopefully, putting sunshine on it will cause people to act."

read … It helps if you drape it in Gravitas

Fiscal Cliff: UH Suddenly Has to Pay DoD $200K/year for Biosafety Lab Lease

HNN: A plot of land the University of Hawaii thought it was leasing for a dollar a year will now cost more than $200,000 a year….

The UH had previously worked out a deal with local army officials to pay a dollar a year for the two-acre property. But three weeks ago, Army brass in Washington, D.C. increased the rent to $218,000 a year.

The increase is on top of the $2.2 million in annual operating costs that the UH will have to pay for the project. UH officials, so far, have not budgeted the added operating costs.

The UH Board of Regents voted unanimously today to pass the lease proposal but several members expressed concerns about having enough information about the lab's costs.

SA: Some UH regents look askance at biosafety lab plan

read … Defense Cuts Ricochet

 

Fiscal Cliff: Marines to Cut Force by 20,000

NCT: …economic woes and the winding down of more than 11 years at war have pinched military budgets. The Corps is shrinking by 20,000 Marines, to 182,100 and scraping to repair or replace battle-worn equipment.

More tough trade-offs lie ahead if nearly $500 billion in defense cuts already in store are doubled under the budget control law triggering “sequestration.” If Congress can’t find a solution, virtually no Marine program will be untouchable, Amos said.

Amid combat and budgetary strains, the Corps is also undergoing deep social change. After navigating the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” restrictions that prevented gay troops from serving openly, the armed forces now are focused on expanding opportunities for women and reducing sexual assault.

CB: Democrats, Media Deicide Fiscal Cliff is just a ‘Slope’

read … NC Times

Star-Adv Joins Call to Change Regents Selection Process

SA: Hawaii's Democratic 2006 Legislature undermined then-Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's authority to appoint University of Hawaii regents six years ago, and Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie is understandably frustrated by the lingering muzzle. Legislators should admit the mistake, which has contributed to a feeble regents board, and move to undo the damage….

Creation of the screening committee clearly was caused by partisan politics and now carries the danger of nonpolitical mismanagement and potential harm to UH. Next year's Legislature should concede as much and return it to the voters for erasure.

(Doing the right thing for the wrong reason.)

read … Retaliation

Calvin Say: PLDC Was a Senate Idea, I Will Consider Repeal

SA: The PLDC was a Senate initiative, about which the House initially was not enthused. The House recognized that, if enacted, the PLDC would not produce economic or job growth immediately. A new bureaucracy, administrative rules and public land optimization plan would have had to be established before any actual project groundbreaking.

Thus, the Finance Committee chairman and House leadership did not feel SB 1555 should move forward, and so a public hearing was not scheduled for it. The failure to hold a hearing would have killed the bill.

There was, however, great interest from SB 1555’s introducer to keep the bill alive. Consequently, I approved a waiver for a hearing on short notice for SB 1555 (and seven other bills). My point is that the waiver for SB 1555 was not unprecedented or premeditated by the Finance Committee chairman and me to avoid public input.

SB 1555 was subsequently passed by the Legislature and signed into law.

Now, approximately 12 to 18 months later, the PLDC is a target for repeal because opponents apparently feel it has the potential for inappropriate development and environmental harm.

The PLDC has not yet adopted administrative rules or the public land optimization strategic plan as required by law. The PLDC is not nearly ready at this time to pursue the development of any public project. Thus, I feel that call for the repeal or amendment of the PLDC law is premature.

Opponents have been very vocal about the broad exemption authority granted to the PLDC (which does not include an exemption from the environmental review process). This exemption provision was inserted into SB 1555 at the suggestion of a testifier from outside the House. The exemption was meant to avoid delays due to the land use and building approval process.

I do not believe that the PLDC would abuse the exemption authority. The PLDC knows that exempting any public project over extreme opposition would be counterproductive and ultimately self-defeating.

More important, the PLDC is subject to the environmental review process, and the environmental effects from an exemption would be disclosed during the review.

Despite my current defense of the PLDC, I am willing to consider amending or even repealing the PLDC. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources chairman has indicated he will engage in discussion with PLDC opponents and others to resolve differences.

If the effort results in a recommendation for amendment or repeal, I will take the recommendation seriously.

read … Who’s Left to Defend PLDC?

PLDC: Abercrombie Tries to Co-opt ‘Usual Suspects’

Oi: Just after turkey day, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called a PLDC time out, asking the agency to put a hold on work for its revised draft of rules.

The new rules got a hearing on Oahu, but in a move disrespectful to neighbor island residents, the agency had no plans to take the sequel on the road, perhaps because the councils of all three counties had passed resolutions calling for the law’s repeal.

Abercrombie two months ago argued that talk of repeal was premature, saying the law should be put in practice first to see how it works, which would be akin to throwing a cat into the ocean to see if it can swim. 

At that time, the governor also took swings at PLDC opponents, calling environmental groups and Native Hawaiian representatives, among others, the “usual suspects” who demand their “imprimatur” be on every piece of legislation.

“When I see people out there saying ‘We get to decide,’ what do they mean?” he said. “The legislators ran for election. I ran for election,” he added, suggesting that they are the ultimate deciders, forgetting that he got his job with votes from many of the people who question PLDC’s value.

Someone must have reminded him, though. Post-Thanksgiving, the governor said he will listen to what the “usual suspects” have to say.

He and Dela Cruz have sought to focus discussion on the agency’s procedures and operations when the law is at the center of conflict.

Abercrombie’s newfound consciousness, however, still turns on rules.

read … Leading PLDC defenders finally bow to public outcry

Student Transportation Consultant To Brief Ed Board on Secret Report

CB: Management Partnership Services is on the Board of Education’s Tuesday agenda.

Public testimony will be allowed, but the final study MPS submitted last week to the Department of Education hasn’t been released yet. A DOE spokesperson said Wednesday that the AG’s office is still reviewing the report.

read … Student Transportation Consultant To Brief Ed Board

Hawaii Ethics Commission: Charter School Workers Are State Employees

CB: The Hawaii State Ethics Commission ruled Tuesday that Connections Public Charter School administrative assistant Eric Boyd is in fact a state employee — and therefore subject to the state ethics code. It will rule separately, as soon as next month, whether he violated the state ethics code on multiple counts.

"The commission's ruling removed any doubt that anyone had that people who work at charter schools are state employees subject to the state ethics code," Ethics Commission Executive Director Les Kondo told Civil Beat Wednesday evening. "Hopefully for the future it's well settled now that an interpretation has been made by the commission."

Boyd's attorney, Ted Hong, had argued that his client was not a state employee and therefore not subject to Hawaii's ethics code.

If the commission had found in his favor, it could have opened the door for charter schools throughout the state to make their own rules on ethics. And as Kondo has said, it would have put in question other Hawaii laws that govern state employees.

Hong has said the case highlights and threatens the independence of charter schools. He said charter school employees must have a certain degree of autonomy if the system is going to succeed.

The contested case hearing this week was the commission's first in 27 years. The two-day, quasi-judicial hearing wrapped up Wednesday in Hilo.

HTH: Vendor goes before ethics panel

read … Ethics

Blame the Victim: DoE Finger Pointing Begins over Farrington Roof Collapse

SA: New Hope said Wednesday that the only re-roofing work it did was in 2001.

John Tilton, New Hope Oahu executive pastor, said he did not know whether the auditorium’s entire roof or just a portion was resurfaced when workers applied a pitch-and-gravel surface in 2001. He said the church hired a licensed contractor to perform the work.

Tilton said the church did all its repairs after getting approvals from Farrington High’s principal or DOE facilities personnel.

“There was no structural work done, but more getting the auditorium cleaned, getting things that needed to be repaired, repaired,” Tilton said, adding that recent work was largely aesthetic — new seats, curtains and lighting, for example.

L’Heureux said his office has no records of New Hope conducting any major repairs to the auditorium, including the 2001 re-roofing work.

He also said that the church should not have been allowed to make any structural changes to the auditorium, including resurfacing the roof.

Under a long-standing administrative rule, any work that involves changing a facility’s structure, plumbing or electrical system cannot be conducted by an outside party and must be performed or overseen by the DOE, L’Heureux said….

But he said there has been confusion about the rule, and he is attempting to amend it to make it clearer. He also regularly reminds principals and complex area superintendents about what kind of work, such as painting or landscaping, can be done or paid for by outside organizations.

Al Car­ga­nilla, who has been principal of Farrington since 2010, said that with any improvements New Hope planned to make, “they would let us know and we would run it through (DOE) Facilities.”
He said  DOE maintenance crews handled some of the repairs.

L’Heureux said the last time the DOE resurfaced the 1,100-seat auditorium’s roof was in 1985.

The trusses are original.

(be sure to read the comments from atheists salivating at the chance to blame New Hope)

read … No good deed goes unpunished

Kalaeloa Solar Farm Sold

NC: SunPower Corporation ( SPWR ) has sold its Kalaeloa solar farm to a consortium of buyers including D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. ("DESRI") and Bright Plain Renewable Energy, L.L.C. ("BPRE").

Based in West Oahu, Hawaii, Kalaeloa solar farm has a power generation capacity of 5-megawatt ("MW"). SunPower started construction of this project in July 2012 and intends to complete it by the end of full-year 2012. The electricity generated from the plant will be sold to Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. ( HE ) under a 20-year fixed-price agreement.

News Release 

Read … SunPower Sells Solar Asset

Hawaii’s two largest banks increase their market share

PBN: First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of Hawaii increased their share of Hawaii’s financial services market this year, according to data from the FDIC.

The state’s two largest banks had a combined market share of more than 68.2 percent as of June 30, compared to 66.6 percent in 2011, according to the FDIC.

The banks’ combined market share has gained more than seven percentage points in the past three years — First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of Hawaii (NYSE: BOH) had a combined market share of 61 percent in 2009.

read … Duopoly

HI moves toward state health insurance exchange

LGI: The state of Hawai‘i continues to move steadily toward its goal of aligning with the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010 to provide cheaper and simpler health insurance choices to residents, after beating by two weeks the deadline to submit to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a blueprint application for a state-based health insurance exchange.

“We are working proactively as a team to ensure that all Hawai‘i residents will have access to high-quality health care and insurance coverage in a seamless, efficient and fair system,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie says in a recent press release from the Hawai‘i Health Connector.

Hawai‘i Health Connector is Hawai‘i’s online health insurance exchange, established as a nonprofit organization in 2011 by the state Legislature through Act 205.

In June, Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to declare its intent to have a state-based health insurance exchange consistent with the federal Affordable Care Act.

read … Obamacare

Disparity for Native Hawaiian-Pacific Islanders with HIV/AIDS

HNN: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports Native Hawaiian-Pacific Islanders are 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV - compared to Caucasians.

And UH researchers discovered HIV-infected Native Hawaiians are three times more likely to be hospitalized - leading to health disparities among our indigenous population.

read … HIV/AIDS

Project to transcribe Hawaiian language newspapers finishes up

HNN: More than 6,500 volunteers helped transcribe 16,000 pages of historic Hawaiian language newspapers that the Ike Ku'oko'a Initiative is transferring into an electronic format, which the public will be able to access over the internet.

The material will be available online within a couple days. To find it, head over to http://papakilodatabase.com/main/index.php or http://nupepa.org/.

read … Hawaiian

Witness in case against officer held after arrest on drug charges

SA: A key prosecution witness in the federal extortion case against former Honolulu police Maj. Carlton Nishimura will remain in custody after her arrest Friday at Honolulu Airport on a charge of possessing methamphetamine….

…the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in court documents it received an anonymous tip from a male last week who said Crisolo was going to Las Vegas on Friday. The tipster said Crisolo would be carrying a large amount of cash that she was going to use to buy methamphetamine and then return to Honolulu….

When the officers stopped Imose at the airport Friday morning, the DEA said she was carrying $4,300 in cash — 35 $100 bills in a billfold and $800 in her purse. They also said a glass pipe and 9 grams of methamphetamine were found in her purse….

As a condition of her pre-sentence release, Crisolo was prohibited from traveling outside Hawaii without court approval.

U.S. District Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway had approved Crisolo’s travel to Las Vegas for Nov. 23-30 to attend a data processing conference related to her job.

Crisolo attended a similar conference in Las Vegas last November with court approval.

read … Tweeker

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