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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
December 4, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:58 PM :: 4349 Views

Rail: The Final Vote

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted December 3, 2012

Hawaii: 78% of Teens not Working

Hawaii: 3rd Lowest Foreclosure Rate in Nation

Yap: Seabees Pitch in on Canoe Project

ICA Mandates 'Contested Case' for Water Disputes

Play by Play: Opening Day of Hoopili Litigation

Thielen: Cable Could Cost $16B, Kahuku Adds to Mass of Unused Turbines Littering the Land 

SA: Harsh reality shows that modern wind power has been contentious throughout the world.

Wind turbines are eyesores that often disturb the natural landscape, endanger wildlife and regularly need backup fossil fuel. Great Britain recently announced that it would halt most land-based wind projects.

The situation is exacerbated in Hawaii, where wind energy costs range from 20 to 28 cents per kilowatt hour — more than three times than in California. Fires at First Wind's Kahuku Wind Farm have led to turbines that do not work — adding to the mass of unused turbines that litter America's lands….

The addition of an interisland cable should also be cause for alarm. ABC News reported that according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the cost of an undersea cable is expected to be $16 billion — with "most" of the costs paid by the private sector.

read … Wave power, not wind power, is the way to go for Hawaii

Rail audit finds some flaws

SA: The audit by the firm PKF Pacific Hawaii concluded the financial statements for HART accurately reflect the finances of the agency, and found there were no material weaknesses.

However, the audit concluded the HART staff had classified sums as large as $518 million in the wrong categories for accounting purposes, and recommended the rail authority add staff and formalize its financial reporting process….

"As a newly formed agency, HART acknowledges its lack of accounting and financial reporting resources, and has placed a high priority on developing a qualified and experienced accounting staff" this fiscal year, she wrote in a letter acknowledging the audit's findings.

Arakaki said in an interview that HART was relying on an internal audit analyst and a part-time auditor last year, along with some additional help from the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services.

Since then HART has hired Ara­kaki and a new fiscal officer who will serve as accounting manager. HART is also recruiting another accountant, she said.

read … Nobody is Watching

Rail Injunction Hearing Looms

KITV: laid out in hundreds of pages of court documents is the case over one of the last hurdles before the rail project gets the unobstructed green light or gets bumped back to square one….

The city is hoping a judge will accept what's called its "record of decision," or its report saying it's complied with cultural, state and federal regulations and should be free to proceed.

If not, Dan Grabauskas said in court documents that it will result in "...the termination and rebidding of contracts," "...the loss of thousands of jobs," and essentially force the city to repeat its grant evaluation process which he said "...could take several years."

The FTA called for a "limited degree of further analysis" in specific areas of concern such as Mother Waldron Park and the area called the Beretania Tunnel Alternative, adding any corrections should be "left to the agency's discretion."

The federal government is also against an injunction calling that move a "drastic and extraordinary remedy."

KHON: injunction on rail could increase the cost of the project by $149 million

read … Injunction?

Souki announces new House leadership team

HNN: With the support of a majority of the House of Representatives, State Representative Joe Souki (District 8 – Wailuku, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Waikapu), announced his leadership team Monday.

Speaker-elect Souki will be naming Representative John Mizuno (District 28 – Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights, portions of Lower Kalihi) as the new House Vice-Speaker and Representative Gilbert Keith-Agaran (District 9 – Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville, and Paia) as the new House Majority Leader.

read … Calvin Who?

Cut spending or raise taxes is the choice at Legislature

Borreca: The good news is that the just-concluded Hawaii Tax Review Commission blinked on the issue of raising the general excise tax.

The bad news is that the now-expired commission produced enough reports, studies and white papers to give ammunition to anyone searching for a reason to raise taxes next year.

Unlike other tax commissions, a panel selected by the governor and approved by the state Senate, this group spent much of its time studying whether the state needed more money and then looking for ways to get it.

The commission's chief consultant, the mainland-based PFM Group, said Hawaii soon would face huge budget deficits, so it needed more money.

In something of an Alice in Wonderland moment, however, the consultants both readily admit that the state can't run such deficits and that it better get ready to pay for those deficits.

read … Cut Spending

Billionaire Movie Moguls Get Slap on the Wrist for Bribing legislators

CB: The commission forced the company to shell out $8,500 to the state, more than four times as much as was required in two other lobbyist law-related cases made public this year.

But it was a slap on the wrist for a company that has grossed more than $17 billion producing more than 200 movies, including Bridesmaids, Atonement and Despicable Me.

On top of paying the fine, Relativity Media was required to investigate which elected officials received its gifts and file an amended lobbyist disclosure. The DVDs were left on a table as free giveaways during a meeting with around 15-20 lawmakers, and the company said it “unfortunately did not keep track of exactly who took the boxes.”

Because each box of DVDs was worth between $100 and $360 and the company made 25 available, the gifts were worth up to $9,000. In its Sept. 27 lobbyist disclosure, the company estimated the cost of the DVDs at zero….

The commission's investigation showed that a total of 17 lawmakers received DVDs, although not all lawmakers were required to report the gifts because some were worth less than $200.

read … State Ethics Commission Resolves the Case of the Missing DVDs

Who Will Lead If Inouye and Abercrombie Leave Office?

CB: Democratic Party of Hawaii insiders are quietly beginning to talk seriously about the possibility that the state's top two elected officials may not seek re-election.

By most indications, Gov. Neil Abercrombie will run for re-election in 2014 and U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye will run for re-election in 2016.

In fact, both leaders tell Civil Beat that their intention is to do exactly that.

"I made an announcement several months ago, and I intend to keep that unless a truck runs over me," Inouye told Civil Beat Monday.

Abercrombie assured Civil Beat he was running for re-election, saying he could not accomplish in one term his ambitious New Day agenda. It includes working on food sustainability, clean energy, workforce housing and the state's unfunded liabilities in employee pensions and health benefits.

"I want continuity," he added. "I'm not running for anything else. I have no other agendas. So the rest of that political intrigue can take place around me."

But Democratic Party members aren't so sure.

In the case of Inouye, 88, there is growing concern he may not finish his current term. For Abercrombie, 74, there could be an intraparty battle over who should head the gubernatorial ticket, or he could decide not to run again.

(I read this entire article thinking that there would be a nugget of information somewhere within.  But there is nothing.)

read … A whole bunch of speculation

Hawaii Senator Leaving Office With Akaka Bill In Limbo

CB: "My problem," Akaka says, "it sounds kind of weird, but the reason I cannot pass it in the Senate is I have never been able to get it on the floor. And I really believe that if I got it on the floor, I could pass it. I can't even get it to the floor!"

(Translation: Sen John Kyl has saved Hawaii from the Akaka Tribe for over a decade by placing a ‘hold’ on the Akaka Bill every time it is introduced.)

He's proposed at least one version of the legislation in every Congress since. Here's what's happened to every incarnation, including those introduced by Hawaii's representatives in the House:

          Reservation for a Broken Trust?

          read … B-bye

          Star-Adv: Go Easy on Molesters

          Star-Adv: University of Hawaii law professor Carole Petersen and public administration professor Susan Chandler point in a 2011 paper to studies indicating that "registration and community involvement have done little (if anything) to increase public safety." They contend that public support of such laws are "largely due to misconceptions about the nature of sex offenders, their recidivism rates and the ability of sex offender registration to prevent crime."

          Enough experience with Hawaii's sex offender registration has occurred to consider changes. For example, requiring lifetime registration from all sex crimes, ranging from public exposure of one's private parts to serial rape, is unforgivingly sweeping. State lawmakers should propose legislation to attract extensive testimony about alterations that maintain vigilance for public safety — especially for Hawaii's youth — while balancing that against overzealousness in painting all crimes as equal offenses long after punishment has been served.

          read … Sex offender laws need to be refined

          Kihei Charter School’s 12-Year Success

          MW: What Maui public high school ranks near the top of all Hawai’i schools in reading and math scores?

          What K-12 school tests well above the national norms across all grade levels, has a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and achieves remarkable results for considerably less than the cost of other public schools?

          If you didn’t know it’s Kihei Charter School (KCS), you are not alone.

          The charter school’s presence isn’t conspicuous. Its decentralized classrooms are spread out in repurposed commercial space in Kihei at the Kihei Commercial Center and Lipoa Shopping Center, with three additional classrooms leased from St. Theresa Church.

          read … Kihei Charter School

          8 other schools so far that share Collapsed Roof truss construction

          KITV: Over the weekend, crews began clearing out some of the rubble so structural engineers with the private firm Kai Hawaii could get access to begin forensic tests on the metal trusses….

          The department has come up with a list of eight other buildings constructed around the same time that share the frame- truss construction of Farrington.

          The DOE says engineers are currently poring over plans for Hilo and Baldwin high schools on the neighbor islands, as well as Pearl City, McKinley, Kaimuki and Roosevelt high schools, and Wheeler and Central Intermediate schools on Oahu.

          Read … Substandard?

          BoE to Discuss School Bus Report Today

          The state Board of Education plans to meet to hear the findings of a report calling for an overhaul of Hawaii's student transportation program.

          The board will meet Tuesday in Honolulu.

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

          read … Bus Report

          HECO’s Smart Meter Hoax

          DN: In November 2012, Timothy Schoechle, Ph.D. wrote Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid.  It was published by the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy.

          Excerpts: “The United States’ utility system has grown fat and complacent, shielded by an indulgent regulatory system that has masked market realities, insulating utilities from the consumer.”

          “The smart meter is a canard—a story or a hoax based on specious and grandiose claims about energy benefits ostensibly derived from the promise of “two-way” communication with the customer.”

          read … HECO’s Hoax

          New Kauai prosecutor vows to rebuild relationships

          KGI: After thanking campaign chairs Dane and Frances Oda, Kollar acknowledged Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his wife, Regina, as well as the members of the County Council.

          “I can’t wait to get to work with you on tackling some of the problems facing our community,” Kollar said.

          The 39-year-old prosecutor steps down as a deputy county attorney to take the elected post. He thanked his former boss, County Attorney Al Castillo, and the deputy county attorneys for showing him “the true definition of teamwork, togetherness and what an office work environment should be like.”

          Kollar also introduced his team of deputy prosecuting attorneys who were sworn in earlier. His First Deputy is Kevin Takata, and the Second Deputy is Rebecca Vogt.

          read … Relationships

          Latest Trick: Blame Fishermen for Shark Attacks

          HR: We have double to triple the amount of spear fishermen using spear guns in the water today in Hawaii then we did only five years ago. It is a fast growing sport. Just talk to any shop that sells spear guns.

          Sharks are learning that people mean "free food". Sharks are attracted to the sound of a spear gun going off. They respond to this from a great distance.

          read … Shark Attacks in Hawaiian Waters May Be on the Increase Because of Spear Fishermen

          Pot Growing HPD officer's sentencing postponed until January

          HNN: In August,14 year-veteran Michael Chu pled guilty to growing, possessing and planning to distribute a substance made with the drug.

          He was supposed to be sentenced in federal court Monday, but the court needed more time to discuss the role his police issued gun played in the pot operation….

          Sentencing was rescheduled for Jan. 4.

          read … Another Day in the Nei

          $300K For Legal Help in HPD Discrimination Case

          CB: The lawsuit was filed in February 2010 by three police officers who claimed they were victims of race and gender discrimination.

          Sgt. Shermon Dowkin, an African-American, and Officer Federico Delgadillo, Jr., a Mexican-American, say they didn’t receive the proper backup during traffic stops, which put them in danger.

          In some instances,the lawsuit alleged, the two officers were ignored when calling dispatch for cover. This was in addition to racially derogatory remarks allegedly made by officers ranking as high as lieutenant.

          The third officer, Cassandra Bennett-Bagorio, a Caucasian, said she was retaliated against by the department when she supported Dowkin and Delgadillo’s claims.

          She claims she was injured after getting assaulted in a bar when responding to a call. The lawsuit alleged she didn’t receive backup on the incident.

          read … Another HPD Story

          Patient satisfaction up at HMC

          HTH: Overnight stays in a hospital are almost never a reason to celebrate, but patients say that Hilo Medical Center is succeeding in its ongoing mission to improve the experience for them.

          New data posted on the website show that HMC is forging ahead in its efforts to make its patients feel more comfortable, showing mostly significant increases for 2011 in all but one of 10 categories measuring patient satisfaction over the previous year. The percentage scores were compiled from a random sampling of 10 questions asked of patients who stayed in the hospital for at least one night in 2011.

          read … Ratings

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