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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
January 8, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:59 PM :: 4286 Views

Tesoro Obeys Abercrombie, Drops Dead

Lloyd’s List endorses U.S. Build exemption for Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico

Education Reform: With a ‘C-’ Hawaii DoE Scores 7th in Nation

Hawaii Ranks 2nd in Drowsy Driving

Governor Appoints Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran to State Senate

Ruff Times: Tsutsui to Challenge Abercrombie in 2014?

Hawaii Students Join Global Kick-off of New FIRST Robotics Season

BoH CEO Peter Ho Appointed to Federal Reserve Board

DoE: HSTA is Partner in Teacher Evaluations

CB: The headline “Can Hawaii Kindergarteners Flunk Their Teachers?” implies a flawed system in which teachers are set up to fail. This is simply not the case.

The DOE shares Hawaii State Teachers Association’s (HSTA) vision for “A Quality Teacher in Every Classroom.” In fact, HSTA has participated in DOE’s statewide discussion about how to achieve this most important goal for our students and Hawaii’s future.

The EES that is being piloted this school year in 81 schools, is a multi-tiered system based on supporting and developing the professional teacher. Students’ test scores are only one part of it. Other metrics include classroom observations, student surveys, student growth data and student learning objectives.

On Hawaii Island for example, in the Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex area, seven of nine schools recently achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) – a first for that complex area of schools. AYP is a distinction earned by schools that reach academic achievement benchmarks in several areas, including test scores. Raising the bar for our students raises the bar for our teachers, too.

read … HSTA Part of the Team?

Souki, Down to 25 Thanks to Abercrombie, Preps for Democratic ‘Slugfest’ Tomorrow 

Borreca: At 80, Souki might be mulling over his retirement, but he is instead prepping for Wednesday's meeting of all 44 House Democrats.

Souki is calculating that at the meeting, he will be able to solidify his hold on the state House and return as speaker.

Souki wants to start pushing the Democrats to organize for the coming legislative session, "but we need to get through the slugfest first," he says.

According to Souki and his fellow Democrats, there are already the 26 needed votes among Democrats for Souki to win the speakership, but Souki started his climb back to power by organizing with the seven House Republicans in an unprecedented coalition. Now Souki says he won't disavow the early GOP support.

While the state Senate once briefly operated with both Democrats and the GOP holding leadership positions, the state House has never been run by both.

"I believe the results of bipartisanship will be better for the state. They will still find candidates to run against us and we find candidates to run against them, but I think this can soften the arguments from the GOP," Souki said.

What has not been discussed in all the political muscle-flexing are the issues that will change with the Souki Democrats cleaning out the Say Democrats.

Even Souki admitted he has not had time to hold a caucus on a majority policy platform.

SA: Abercrombie’s Promotion of Keith-Agaran Forces Souki to Rely on Republican Votes for 26 member Majority (Note: Abercrombie has spoken favorably about alliance with the Republicans.)

read … Fight first, plan later

Souki: Say in Denial, Playing Office Games

CB: Souki said he thinks Say is taking the change very hard and is being difficult with the office relocations because he is "kind of in denial."

"Whenever you take power away from people, they don’t want to lose what they have," Souki said. "It's difficult."

…as speaker emeritus, he wrote two memos last month directing the acting chief clerk and House sergeant-at-arms to coordinate the relocation of 10 representatives’ offices.

Say responded by flexing what’s left of his speaker power. In a Dec. 27 letter to Souki, Say says he directed the clerk and sergeant-at-arms to not move House members from their currently assigned offices until he instructs them to do so.

“Please do not assume or attempt to exercise any duties rightfully belonging to the Speaker of the House,” Say wrote. “I remain the Speaker until a replacement is approved by resolution.”

Souki said the last-minute scramble may require extending the session.

“By taking the position that you will not authorize any transition, I will have no alternative but to extend the legislative session by one to two weeks to prevent havoc created by this delay,” Souki wrote in a Dec. 28 memo to Say. “I request that you reconsider and work with me to allow for a smooth opening of the upcoming legislative session.”

Souki's current office is much smaller than the speaker's, which has a conference room and a comfortable waiting area. He's quite confident he will be moving there too, having changed his voicemail, online bio and even the nameplate on his office door to read "Speaker Emeritus."

Say said in the end it really doesn’t matter where a lawmaker does his or her work.

“It’s not the office that makes the person; it’s the person that makes the office,” Say said.

SA: Promotion of Keith-Agaran to Senate Takes Democratic Vote from Souki

read … Like Little Children

Kaiser, HMSA Jacking Up Rates for Self-Employed before State health Exchange Takes Over

SA: Health insurance premiums for about 14,400 individuals covered by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii jumped 9.7 percent on Jan. 1.

The state Insurance Division said Monday it had approved Kaiser's rate increase for individuals but is still reviewing a separate 5.3 percent proposed increase for 155,000 members covered under 5,200 business groups….

Meanwhile, Hawaii Medical Service Association boosted rates by an average 8.8 percent for 13,000 individuals renewing health insurance policies Jan. 1. HMSA's medical premiums for roughly 78,000 people covered by 90 large businesses with 100 or more employees rose at the start of the year by an average 1.2 percent — the lowest rate increase in more than five years. Rates for the bulk of HMSA's more than 700,000 members covered by small-business policies are adjusted in July.

Individuals and small businesses may see relief next year from higher-priced medical insurance policies when Hawaii's first health insurance exchange takes effect Jan. 1….

"I would think that's a good thing for the little guy because competition should bring down prices," Lopez said. "Every little bit helps."

read … Obamacare Profiteering

UH short-changed some students on aid, audit says

HNN: A UH audit found in 2011, Leeward Community College short-changed two of ten students auditors spot-checked and didn't pay the two a combined $1,282 in Pell grants for which they qualified….

The same audit double-checked financial aid at Kauai Community College and found three of ten students were short-changed in Pell grants for a total of $2,479 in 2011.

read … Short-Changed

Honolulu Ranks #4 in Traffic Congestion

SA: Honolulu is the fourth-most traffic-congested city in North America, according to the third congestion index by navigation device-maker TomTom.

Traffic is worst in Los Angeles, Calif., and Vancouver, Canada, each with a 34 percent congestion level; San Francisco was ranked third at 33 percent; Honolulu was No. 4, at 31 percent, and Seattle was No. 5, at 27 percent.

The full index is posted online www.tomtom.com/congestionindex .

read … #4

Hawaii Open Records Agency Barely Makes a Dent in Backlog

CB: The Hawaii Office of Information Practices (OIP) reduced its backlog just by just six cases in the 2012 fiscal year, leaving 78 pending cases on its list — some of them years old, according to the office's director. During the 2010 fiscal year, the office cleared 37 cases from its backlog.

OIP, which administers the state's public records and open meetings law, says the slow progress is due in part to staffing shortages and a major uptick in requests for assistance.

The office received 253 more requests for assistance during the 2012 fiscal year than it did the year before, a 31 percent spike, according to its recently released annual report.

read … Hawaii Open Records Agency Barely Makes a Dent in Backlog

Kakaako Pledged as Site for Obama Library

HNN: "We still have a lot of work to do but I do like our chances and we have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the President and his team," said AJ Halagao, Chair, Hawaii Presidential Center Inaugural Gala.

Beyond the golf and shave ice which we know the President likes Hawaii is also the gateway to Asia and a place to get work done. The state already has an eight acre $75 million piece of land in Kakaako in mind.

"We're setting aside the land. We're priming the University and various institutions to be ready to partner with him when he's ready to begin the formal process," said Robert Perkinson, University of Hawaii Professor and Obama Presidential Center Initiative Project Director. "It's a place he can recuperate and rest and recreate but it's also a place where he can carry on important work."

read … Money

BluePlanet Solar Scammers Churn out On Bill Financing Report

PBN: On-bill financing, popular in other areas across the U.S., is a mechanism where a utility company includes the repayment for an energy efficiency or renewable energy project on the customer’s monthly bill.

Utility shareholders, ratepayers or third parties provide the project funds.

To read the full report, click here.

read … On Bill Financing

Oahu Firearms Owners Wait as Long as Nine Hours Over Three Visits to Obtain Registration, Permits

HR: Oahu firearms owners are increasingly frustrated with long lines at the registration desk at the main Honolulu Police Station. Hawaii's firearms registration laws are among the strictest in the country, and mandate gun owners must register firearms within 72 hours of purchase.

Firearms owners can spend more than nine hours in line over three visits to obtain a permit for a firearm and register it, according to Dr. Max Cooper, a legislative liaison for the Hawaii Rifle Association, with rules differing for handguns and long guns.

Kailua resident Daniella Stoffi waited in line for 6 hours on December 23 to register her firearm, even though she got there at 5:30 a.m. to ensure she was one of the first. She was surprised to see several others had arrived before her beginning at 3:30 a.m

read … Mindless Bureaucracy

Public Hearings Scheduled on Kulani Prison Reopening

BIN: The inmates to be housed at Kulani would be those who are within two to four years of parole or release.

According to an assessment done last year, only minor repairs to Kulani’s 45-acre campus are needed to reopen the facility, much of which could be done with inmate labor. About $600,000 will be needed to replace necessary equipment and carry out upgrades to utility services, the EA said.

Reopening the prison will likely require approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, a state conservation district use permit and county building permit.

The state is looking to reopen Kulani by 2014.

(No mention of the school being closed to make way for the prison, eh?)

read … Incarceration, not Education

Common Cause Picks New Exec Director

News Release: Lim most recently worked as development and advocacy manager for the YWCA of O’ahu, where she directed and oversaw the fundraising operations for the association’s three branches. Her primary responsibility was to develop and execute fundraising events, campaigns, and manage grants. She also developed and implemented the YWCA of O’ahu’s new advocacy initiatives.

Currently, Lim serves as: board member for the League of Women Voters of Hawaii (LWVHI) as the Voter Services Chair and LWVHI’s coordinator for the “Democracy Under the Influence” discussion series; commissioner on the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women; and member of Hawaii People’s Fund’s grantmaking committee. She also volunteered as a youth mentor and civic engagement campaign leader for Kanu Hawaii. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 2012, Carmille was recognized as one of Pacific Business News’ Forty under 40, and as an Outstanding Young Filipino by the Hawaii Filipino Junior Chamber.

read … Lots of Liberals to Choose From

Carl Bonham on Insights on PBS Hawaii

UHERO: Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham participates in Insights on PBS Hawaii's 2012 Year in Review panel. With host Dan Boylan, panel guests take a look back at top stories from 2012, covering topics such as rail, the election, education, tourism, and more…

Link … Watch

Japan: Pro-Nuclear Party Sweeps National Elections

CB: …the prolonged shutdown was costing Japan 50 trillion yen or $300 billion per year.

The shock of the extra cost of purchasing oil and coal to power generators, the decontamination project at Fukushima and the huge clean up from the tsunami has sent Japan into a recession.

The recession became official just days before national elections on December 16. That announcement was bad timing for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which was trounced by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

During the campaign Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new prime minister, made it clear that his party favored a return to nuclear power. Now Abe is going a step further, this week reversing a campaign pledge of his party that opposed building new plants.

In an interview with the national network TBS, his first interview since taking office, he said, “They will be completely different from those at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. With public understanding, we will be building anew.”

Japan’s new, independent nuclear regulatory agency plans to announce new safety standards in July. The new agency is showing signs of being tough on issues like seismic safety and aging plants. Still power companies like Tepco (which has 13 remaining reactors) and Abe’s government hope to restart many of the dormant plants after the announcement.

A chastened return to nuclear energy seems a certainty in Japan.

(Even after Fukushima, Japanese voters are too intelligent to fall for anti-nuclear hype.)

read … Pro-Nuclear Party Sweeps Election

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