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Thursday, December 6, 2012
December 6, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:23 PM :: 3972 Views

Hawaii 2013: State, Federal Taxes to Top 50%

Fiscal Cliff: $480M from Hawaii Kupuna

Hawaii Collects $186M/year from Big Tobacco

HSTA Claims 'Work to Rule' Protests Legal

Is Opposition to Genetic Engineering Moral?

Reapportionment Case to be Considered Jan 14

WHT: The lawsuit, filed by an Oahu group that includes three veterans and state Rep. K. Mark Takai, contends the state Reapportionment Commission violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when it removed nonresident military and students from population counts that determined district lines.

A three-judge federal panel is scheduled to hear motions from the plaintiffs and the state at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 in Honolulu. Each side wants the court to rule for its side based on its arguments about the agreed-upon facts and law without having the case go to trial….

In addition to denying equal representation to military and students, the state’s plan also violates the Equal Protection Clause by creating districts that don’t have approximately the same number of people in each one, Thomas said.

The Supreme Court has presumed a plan is unconstitutional if districts are 10 percent larger or smaller than the ideal population, which is derived by dividing the total population by the number of districts. Hawaii’s new Senate districts have a 42.2 percent deviation and House districts have a 21.6 percent deviation, Thomas said.

“(Previous case law) does not allow Hawaii to deny all usual residents legislative representation because it deems them not to be ‘permanent’ using standards that are vague, underinclusive, and based on assumptions, and admittedly do not result in a plan even coming close to one based on population,” Thomas said in his Oct. 1 court filing. “The most obvious impact of the 2012 plan is that it deprives Oahu residents of a Senate seat.”

The state Attorney General’s Office is preparing for the case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s already gotten permission to retain a “well-regarded U.S. Supreme Court practitioner who specializes in constitutional law as it pertains to reapportionment,” according to a request for exemption from state procurement laws approved in October.

read … Reapportionment

Honolulu Prosecutor: Recidivism is Going to Go Up Because of Abercrombie

CB: What specifically are you going to do over the next four years to address the overcrowding of Hawaii's prisons?

Definitely not release inmates….

When I was director of Public Safety, what I had proposed was that there were a lot of private companies that wanted to come and build a facility in Hawaii at no cost to the state. The only thing that they wanted from the state was an obligation that once they build the facility, we would send the inmates to the facility and pay the lease-rent, which was not very high. And there was an option for the state to purchase after 10 years. They would hire locally to staff the prison, so we had that in place. But the governor did not want that, (Gov. Cayetano) wanted the state to build it. That's why we went to the Legislature and got initial monies for planning and design to start up the new prison here in Hawaii. That never got off the ground.

(Gov. Abercrombie) wants to bring them back. And the rationale is he wants to reduce the cost of incarceration. So he wants to bring them back and release them, or release the amount of people that he brings back, and that's going to reduce the cost of incarceration. Yeah, it will. It might initially reduce the cost. But you got to release them first to have the cost go down. And if you don't have any programs to release them to, I can tell you the cost is not going to go down. The cost is going to be expended other places. Cost to victims, cost of law enforcement, cost to prosecute cases, you're going to have more of that. The recidivism is going to go up.

Some of these guys are not pro-rehabilitation. They just want to do the time and get out. Others, when they come up for parole, they tell them, 'I don't want to apply for parole because what am I going to do? I got parole. I don't have a job for me. I don't have a place to live. I don't have any visible means of income. Why do I want to get out there and make it tougher when I can stay in here and got a roof over my head, three meals a day, and I get free medical, free dental.' That's why some guys don't want to be paroled. So you can't force them to go on parole. The job market has got to improve. You got to have jobs for them. And before you get jobs for them, you got to get jobs for the regular community, right?

You cannot just kick them out on parole and expect them to succeed; it's a lot of adjustment. It's not easy. You got to have programs out there for them, you got to have assistance for them when they go out there. There's got to be some place where they can fall back on when they're having difficult times.

read … Firepower

Council vote allows city to tap $1.55B for rail

SA: Council members passed the resolution by an 8-1 vote, with Councilman Tom Berg the lone vote in opposition.

Carlisle, who leaves office in the next few weeks, made a rare appearance before the Council to express thanks for the support.

"Before the end of the month I will be going once again to D.C. and it will be ultimately with the effort to try and make sure that I can sign that little thing that will get us $1.55 billion, which is going to be circulating through the economy and do all sorts of wonders for the future that we have," he said.

"It's always been our hope to have a lean, clean, smart city in the future that has opportunities for people to stay living here in Honolulu and opportunities for us to grow as a city," he added. "This is going to be the vehicle that will allow us to do that."

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials expect to sign the grant agreement sometime after Dec. 19….

Council members Joey Manahan and Ann Kobayashi voted "with reservations," with Kobayashi expressing concerns on the overall cost of the system.

read … Rail Funds

Martin Reelected Council Chair

PR: According to a resolution submitted to the city clerk, Martin would retain the chairmanship, with Councilman Ikaika Anderson serving as vice chairman and Councilman Breene Harimoto succeeds Romy Cachola (who was elected to the state House) as floor leader.

The resolution, dated Dec. 5, was signed by the seven sitting Council members who will be returning next year, including the newest members, Councilman Joey Manahan, who was sworn-in last month to succeed Cachola, and Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, who took the oath of office last week in filling the seat vacated by U.S. Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard.

Councilmen Nestor Garcia and Tom Berg, who did not sign, said their good-byes to the Council on Wednesday as members met for the last time in 2012 (their terms end Jan. 2). They are being succeeded by Council members-elect Ron Menor and Kymberly Pine.

read … Chair

The teachers union and state resumed negotiations Wednesday

KGI: “We believe there is a shared responsibility for student learning and achievement,” he said. “Teachers are on the front lines every day and meeting their responsibility. Students have a responsibility for doing their best work. Parents have a responsibility to provide support. And, the governor has a responsibility to provide the financial support for teachers to help students learn.”

So far, Okabe said Gov. Neil Abercrombie is not living up to that responsibility.

The teachers union and state resumed negotiations Wednesday.

Related: HSTA Claims 'Work to Rule' Protests Legal

read … Negotiations

DoE: Procurement Changes, IT, Bell Schedules tied to Bus Audit

CB: L'Heureux said lengthening the procurement process could help create a secondary market. For instance, a new company may be dissuaded from bidding because the turnaround time to be up and running is not long enough to be able to set up shop in Hawaii.

Another tweak to the procurement rules L'Heureux said the department can do without legislative help deals with price- versus performance-based models.

He said if the department is required to pick the lowest bidder on any contract, it can't factor in the value of that service. For instance, it may have to go with an old bus that shouldn't even be on the road when for only a bit more money the department could get a newer bus with modern safety features.

Tokuda cautioned that even minor revisions to the procurement law can take years to implement.

"The p-word can sometimes be a bad word over here at the Legislature," she said.

Tokuda also asked about bell schedules. She sponsored a bill last session to standardize bell schedules throughout the state.

Originally introduced for academic reasons, staggered bell schedules are often considered as a way to reduce student transportation costs. If properly aligned, one bus could make more trips, thereby increasing efficiencies. School officials have estimated potentially saving millions of dollars by changing bell schedules, but the teachers union has fought the legislative effort.

L'Heureux said the department doesn't currently have the data to recommend any changes to bell schedules. Part of the transportation program's shortcoming is not knowing how many students are getting on what buses and when.

"Are there efficiencies to be gained there? You betcha," he said.

The department has estimated that 35,000 students take the bus, but L'Heureux said he doesn't have a lot of faith in this number because it was gathered using the department's 30-year-old pencil-and-paper tracking method. Implementing modern route tracking technology is something he said he plans to do over the next year.

Ammon said it could be that 35,000 students are eligible, but only 25,000 ride the bus on any given day.

read … Designed to Fail

Schatz to be Acting Governor

PBN: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie will undergo minor shoulder surgery on Wednesday, his office said.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will be acting governor while Abercrombie is out, according to an advisory from the governor's office.

Abercrombie's next scheduled public appearance is on Friday evening, when he is scheduled to speak at the Hawaii National Guard birthday commemoration event at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

Dec 18: Gov Abercrombie to deliver commencement address at Hawaii Pacific University

read ... Acting

Report: North Korea Could Launch Rocket By Next Week

Yonhap: Officials at South Korea's state weather agency forecast no precipitation at the launch site between Dec. 10 and 22, although it will be cloudy. That means the communist nation can go ahead and fire the rocket.

The planned launch will be the North's second launch attempt under current leader Kim Jong-un, following a failed launch in April. The young leader took power following his father's death last December.

On Monday, North Korea notified the U.N. shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization, about the launch.

Coordinates provided by Pyongyang showed the rocket's first stage would fall into the Yellow Sea between the Korean Peninsula and China, and the second stage drop-off would take place off the Philippines.

CBS: Could Re3ash as far as Los Angeles

read … Yonhap

Obama gives Akaka "props" at tribal nations conference

HNN: At the closing session of the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama gave a "shout out" to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka who was attending the conference as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

"I want to give a special shout-out to Senator Danny Akaka, who has been such a tireless advocate for Native Americans throughout his career," President Obama said to applause. "You know that Danny is going to be retiring this year, and he's such a great friend. And as a Hawaiian boy, I've got to give him a little special props. (Laughter.)"

PR: Crooks, Cronies Begin Buying Inaugural Tickets

read … Laughter

Ohio State official seen as top candidate for UH athletic director

SA: Ohio State senior associate athletics director Ben Jay is said to be the leading candidate to fill the athletic director's position at the University of Hawaii, according to several people who have met him at UH.

But there was no indication today whether UH-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, who is overseeing the hiring process, will pick Jay or the other finalist, University of California-Berkeley deputy director of athletics Solomon "Solly" Fulp.

UH had listed Thursday as the deadline for naming a new athletic director. A spokeswoman for the Manoa Chancellor's office declined to say whether an announcement would come today or Thursday.

People who have met the candidates said Jay, an Ohio native, "came across very well" in meetings and benefited from "wide experience."

Jay has had oversight of finance at operations at Ohio State since 2006, according to the school's website.

HNN: Cal AD Voices Support for UH AD Finalist

read … Athletic Director

Greenwood Puts Her name on Cancer Center

HR: A $50,000 donation to the University of Hawaii Cancer Center from UH President M.R.C.Greenwood and her longtime partner, Patricia Johnson, has earned the couple prominent recognition at the front entrance of the new center.

On the entry wall above a koa bench seating area are raised metal letters which say, “M.R.C. Greenwood and Patricia R. Johnson Family.”….

Other individual benefactors have given even more generously to he center and will be recognized elsewhere at the facility, Strelow acknowledged.

Strelow was unable to respond to questions submitted yesterday about why Greenwood and Johnson were given the first and quite prominent place of recognition

read … $50K Recognition?

HELCO to Convert Generator to BioMess?

HTH: Biomass fuel could eventually replace oil at one of Hawaii Electric Light Co.’s power plants, HELCO President Jay Ignacio said Tuesday.

Ignacio told about 25 people attending a meeting in Hilo on how the utility will meet the future energy needs of the Big Island that moving to biomass is an “option” for its power plant in Puna.

“Part of our strategy going forward is to convert those units that use oil,” he said while addressing the crowd. He said the utility has reconfigured its oil-burning plants to operate below capacity.

After the meeting, Ignacio said that option is still in the conceptual stage. The utility, he said, is waiting for Hu Honua Bioenergy to get off the ground before deciding whether to pursue it.

“We don’t want to go out and start to compete” with them for supply, he said.

WHT: HELCO Mulling Energy Future (Clue: Everything except geothermal.)

read … No Combined Cycle Here, eh?

Eco-Faddists Launch Campaign to ban Spear Fishing

WHT: A proposal to make West Hawaii the lone area in the state to ban scuba spearfishing sparked contentious debate at a public hearing in Kona that was still going at press time Wednesday.

The fishing technique, already banned in Australia, would be outlawed in area waters by a West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area rule, part of a Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources’ proposed rule changes and amendments package.

Leonard Torricer, who said overall he was against the package, asked that the practice not be banned entirely. He suggested creating areas where scuba spearfishing would be allowed — similar to what has happened with aquarium collecting — or a no-sale list for certain species. Others suggested similar ideas, like prohibiting spearfishing at night.

“Don’t ban it and stop local people from feeding their families,” said Torricer.

However, others, such as Big Island resident Steven Thompson, said the ban was needed because the practice “is not a sport — it is a slaughter, especially at night when some species are asleep.”

read … Getting the Mob Riled up

Wailuku Main Street won’t comply with subpoena

MN: The subpoena of the more than 2-decade-old organization asks for items, including this year's bank statements, minutes of board of directors and board committee meetings, all correspondence or electronic mail communications between the organization and its accountants or certified public accounting firm auditing the organization's financial statements along with copies of email this year between any officers or directors of the organization, including the executive director.

On Friday, in the state's reply to the association's contentions, supervising state Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones of the Tax & Charities Division said, the records and testimony sought by the AG's subpoena are "relevant and not privileged."

On Aug. 30, the state attorney general's Tax & Charities Division issued a report detailing its several-monthlong inquiry of the association that has received more than $2.2 million from the county since 2002. The association has been primarily funded by Maui County.

The report cited nepotism, lobbying in violation of its grant contract, conflicts of interest, inaccuracies with its IRS Form 990, little evidence of program services and a "terribly confused" structure of governance, among other issues. It also called for the removal of then-Executive Director Jocelyn Perreira as well as conducting some review and revamping of board functions and bylaws, among other measures. (Archetypical Hawaii nonprofit.)

Since the report was issued and its county funds frozen, the organization said that it was forced to downsize and laid off its entire staff. The association vacated the Main Street office in Wailuku.

In an Oct. 26 letter, the county informed Cannon that the organization's outstanding $243,000 grant had been terminated.

MN: Judge to WMSA: Obey the subpoena

read … Contempt

CommPac Adds Fale

SBH: Communications Pacific (CommPac) has hired Erin Kealoha Fale as a senior account executive and David Lato as an account executive.

"As our community building and corporate communications work grows, we've been looking for some additional people with very special skills," said Kitty Lagareta, CommPac CEO.

Before coming to CommPac, Fale served as chief of staff for state Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson. Earlier, she worked as an account coordinator in the Venice, Calif., office of the international public relations firm Ketchum.

Before joining CommPac, Lato was Easter Seals Hawaii's grants program administrator, where he helped secure and manage more than $12 million in grants from government, corporations, local foundations and trusts. Earlier, he worked at Community Links Hawaii, where he administered $3 million in grant funds for a project targeting at-risk and vulnerable youth through digital media. He also worked in public relations at AlohaCare, where he spearheaded community and stakeholder outreach.

read … Jobs

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