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Sunday, December 9, 2012
December 9, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:04 PM :: 4297 Views

Auditor: HI-5 Program is Exposed to Fraud

HSTA: Contract Negotiations 'Most Productive in Months'

Ben Jay of Ohio State University accepts job as Athletics Director

Fights at Kealakehe HS Caused by Harassment of Micronesians

Hawaii Ranks 48th in Broadband Deployment

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

Tesoro: State’s Largest Refinery to Close?

SA: The eventual buyer of Tesoro Corp.'s Kapolei refinery, which the company has been trying to sell for nearly a year, will probably discontinue the facility's refining operations and convert it to an import terminal for refined products, according to several analysts.

The change could result in the loss of about 200 jobs. The refinery, which employs 244 workers, could be operated as an import terminal with about 15 percent to 20 percent of the workforce, according to analysts.

San Antonio-based Tesoro put the refinery up for sale in January, ending several years of speculation about what the company planned to do with the underperforming facility. The Tesoro plant, which has a production capacity of 94,000 barrels a day, is the larger of Hawaii's two oil refineries. The other refinery, operated by Chevron, has a capacity of 54,000 barrels a day.

Converting Tesoro's plant to an import terminal would ensure a continued supply of refined petroleum products, such as gasoline and jet fuel, analysts said. The switch could potentially result in lower costs for refined products, but that isn't guaranteed, they added….

David Isaak, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based oil industry analyst specializing in the Asia-Pacific region, said a major factor supporting the conversion of Tesoro's Kapolei refinery is the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, which will cut the demand for petroleum products in the future….

There is at least one group of mainland investors that has approached Tesoro about buying the facility and keeping it going as a refinery, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

A group of private-equity investors was trying to raise $160 million to acquire the refinery and gas stations, as well as an additional $360 million to finance crude oil inventory, according to the source, who requested anonymity. The investors, who hired retired Conoco Inc. executive Thomas O'Dell as part of their team, did not return calls or respond to emails seeking comment. O'Dell said by telephone that he could not comment….

Some in Hawaii's energy community have suggested that Tesoro's and Chevron's Hawaii operations could be combined and jointly owned by a consortium of energy companies and other stakeholders, similar to a structure used in New Zealand. New Zealand Refining Co., which operates the country's lone refinery, has five major shareholders including BP, Exxon Mobile and Chevron. The company also has about 3,600 private and institutional investors.

read … Nobody Knows What is Going to Happen

Now that Rail is Approved, Another Lane Is Suddenly Being Added to H-1 

SA: The state Department of Transportation will add a lane between the Stadium/Halawa/Camp Smith off ramp and Pearlridge exit. The upcoming work will be done in hopes of reducing congestion before the stadium off ramp during peak afternoon traffic, according to spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter.

About 126,000 vehicles per day travel on Moanalua Freeway in both directions. The $150,000 re-striping project will start today.

Two left lanes will be closed from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. nightly from today through Wednesday. The freeway’s two right lanes will close from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. nightly from Wednesday through Friday and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. from Friday to  Dec. 16 for re-striping work.

The additional lane, a 4,200-foot stretch, will be available to motorists by Dec. 20, weather permitting.

The number of lanes on that section of the freeway will increase to four from three and will each be 11 feet wide.

read … Re-striping to add Ewa-bound lane will partially close highway

Tax-and-spend Legislature is ready to hand out gifts

Shapiro: Revenues are up, interest rates are down and the state is running a surplus, but lawmakers say there might not be enough to avoid higher taxes to meet pent-up demand for state spending. Politicians are like dogs that never have enough toilet bowls to drink from.

State legislators are scheduled to receive 25-percent pay raises after a salary freeze they grudgingly accepted during the recession ends next year. They're the gift that keeps on taking.

read … Tax-and-spend Legislature is ready to hand out gifts

Abercrombie Half the Man he Used to Be

Borreca: It was the sort of audacious bluster that easily flows from Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Back in May 2011, during the annual Governor's Luncheon sponsored by the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, Abercrombie upped the promises for the island's beleaguered economy.

"My goal on Kauai next year is that everybody is working," Abercrombie said. "If they're not working on Kauai, it's because they don't want to work.

"I don't want the excuse there isn't work available," Abercrombie said, according to reports in The Garden Island newspaper.

Abercrombie then iced the deal with a vow that in just 18 months he would cut the island's 8.5 percent unemployment rate in half.

So now, a little more than 18 months later, how well is Abercrombie doing?

According to federal labor statistics, Kauai has a 6.5 percent unemployment rate. And half of 8.5 is 4.25.

So the rate of unemployment is down, not by Abercrombie's 50 percent, but closer to a 25 percent drop.

read … Bluster and Jobs

UH Fumbles Announcement of New Athletic Director

SA: He will be going from managing a $131.8 million annual budget for 36 sports — including an undefeated football team fourth in the AP rankings — to one of about $30 million for 21 teams, including a football program completing a miserable transition season.

Jay will leave a program that had an $8.3 million surplus to one coping with a net deficit of more than $11 million.

Still, UH fumbled the ball Friday while the media were awaiting announcement of the hiring. Jay was in Honolulu last week until Wednesday; he had returned to Ohio when a Columbus Dispatch reporter saw him at a pep rally Friday in Columbus, and Jay confirmed he had accepted the position in Hawaii.

So much for the UH's renewed pledge for more public transparency and disclosure, a process still anemic even after coming under fire in recent months by legislators and the public for its mishandling of university mistakes.

Despite Jay's solid professional credentials, it cannot be ignored that his current employer Ohio State is enduring a one-year bowl ban along with other penalties in response to allegations that eight football players sold memorabilia (to a multi-kilo drug dealer) in exchange for cash and tattoos. The Buckeyes will miss out on serious money due to the NCAA-imposed bowl ban.

read … SA Editorial

North Korea considers delaying rocket launch

AP: Commercial satellite imagery taken by GeoEye on Dec. 4 and shared Friday with The Associated Press by the 38 North and North Korea Tech websites showed the Sohae site northwest of Pyongyang covered with snow. The road from the main assembly building to the launch pad showed no fresh tracks, indicating that the snowfall may have stalled the preparations.

However, analysts believed rocket preparations would have been completed on time for liftoff as early as Monday. 

North Korea announced earlier this month that it would launch a three-stage rocket mounted with a satellite from its Sohae station southeast of Sinuiju sometime between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22. Pyongyang calls it a peaceful bid to send an observational satellite into space, its second attempt this year. …

In February, the U.S. agreed to provide 240,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea in exchange for a freeze in nuclear and missile activities. The deal collapsed after North Korea attempted to launch a long-range rocket in April. That rocket broke up seconds after liftoff.

Analyst Baek Seung-joo of the South Korean state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul said China must have sent a “very strong” message calling for the North to cancel the launch plans. 

“North Korea won’t say it would delay the launch due to foreign pressure so that’s why they say scientists and technicians are considering delaying it,” he said.

read … Rocket?

Hawaii Law Allows DPS to Temporarily Outlaw New Synthetic Drugs

Criminal chemists already have found a way to circumvent a new Hawaii law to crack down on synthetic drugs, but local authorities are fighting back.

Act 29, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in April, made it illegal to sell, buy or use nine families of previously legal synthetic marijuana and stimulants.

The law, which local officials say is among the nation's most proactive, curtailed public distribution of much of Hawaii's synthetic drug trade. But drug manufacturers and dealers soon began bringing to Hawaii another family of these drugs, which hadn't yet been identified as illegal but had similar characteristics to others covered in the law.

The latest version, called tetramethylcyclopropanoylindols, is similar to the previously banned Spice and is sold under names like Blue Kush and UR-144 mostly in "smoke shops" or similar stores. It's temporarily illegal under a special emergency order issued by the state Department of Public Safety in October, but officials will have to go before the Legislature again next month to pass a new law to get the newest family of dangerous synthetic drugs off the streets….

While it's nearly impossible to create a law that would control all versions of a synthetic drug, the department is able to temporarily label formulas considered a threat as Schedule 1 drugs, the category reserved for the most harmful drugs like Ecstasy that have no known medical use.

"Hawaii is very lucky," Kamita said. "The federal government can do this, too, but most other states envy our ability."

THE POWER to temporarily schedule drugs before they are written into law gives DPS and local law enforcement agencies the opportunity to respond to threats sooner, he said.

"The idea behind emergency scheduling is to save people from getting seriously hurt," Kamita said. "Once the Legislature is back in session, I expect that they will support us. They have been very pro­active."

read … Proactive Law

City selling vacant lots in Ewa as part of its revitalization plan

KHON: The result of it is that people who were needing housing will actually be able to get some lots are right next to a golf course," says Doug Chin, City Managing director.

This opportunity is the outcome of a city council decision to deny a request by the city budget and fiscal department to sell the properties in bulk.

The lots now up for individual sale are between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet.

Minimum bids start at $180,000.

Chin says the total sale of lots will bring in about $9 million dollars.

"This money that will be generated by the sale of the 57 Ewa Villages lots will go back into the housing development special funds so that the city can develop and promote housing in other places," says Chin….

The city says the property been zoned only for residential single family homes.

click here for more information:

read … Revitalization

Months After Priest Dies, Suit filed against Damien HS

MN: A Maui man is suing the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii and the religious order that runs Damien Memorial School on Oahu, under a new state law providing a two-year window for child sexual abuse victims to file civil actions, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred in Hawaii.

The man, referred to as John Roe No. 5 to protect his privacy, was 14 or 15 years old, after entering Damien as a freshman in 1986, when the sexual abuse began, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in 1st Circuit Court on Oahu.

The lawsuit identifies his abuser as Brother John Paul Medvit, who was a teacher at Damien during periods in the 1980s and 1990s. He died in August….

At least six lawsuits have been filed in Hawaii under the law temporarily lifting the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims to file civil actions, according to attorneys who were on Maui for a seminar Monday on Civil Justice for Victims of Crime in Hawaii.

Four lawsuits have been brought by former Damien students, said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. She said the organization "is urging all victims at Damien and other schools, churches, institutions, homes or elsewhere in Hawaii to come forward and get help while they have civil rights under the state's new 'window' legislation."

The law enacted in April expires April 24, 2014.

News Release: Abused in Hawaii

Full Text: Lawsuit

Read: Meet the Lawyers behind the Lawsuits

read … Isle man suing church, order under new law

Big Isle teachers join in protest

HTH: “We’re out here to make it known that teachers have been working without a contract. We had one placed upon us by the governor,” said Hilo High teacher Val DeCorte. “… We’ve been cut out of the process.” The first “work to rule” protest was held in mid-November at James Campbell High on Oahu, but quickly spread to schools around Hawaii.

“Eventually, every school in the state plans to do something,” said Wil Okabe, president of the HSTA.

More than 70 schools were expected to participate on Thursday.

read … Work to Rule



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