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Monday, January 14, 2013
January 14, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:26 PM :: 5826 Views

Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure?

Head Start: When the Government Fails Completely

Poll on Schatz Pick Looks Good for Abercrombie, Bad for Old Boys

CB:  Hawaii voters generally think Gov. Neil Abercrombie was right to pick his former lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, according to a new Civil Beat Poll conducted last week.

Voters were split between Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa when asked in a separate question who they would have picked between the three choices given to the governor. Very few supported Esther Kiaaina, now a state natural resources official….  Hanabusa had more support from younger voters, especially those under 30, while Schatz got his support from older voters, in particular those over 65.

Voters who identified themselves with the Democratic Party tended to support Hanabusa. But Schatz was the choice of independents and Republicans. People who identified themselves as being from union households were split nearly evenly between the two.

Schatz also tended to do better with people who were more highly educated and had higher incomes.

(Hence Abercrombie’s Support for Vote by Mail:  PEW: Vote-by-Mail Favors Old White Democrats)

But when asked if they approved Abercrombie's decision, 45 percent said yes while 36 percent said no. Nineteen percent were undecided.

What voters did disapprove of was the decision by Inouye's staff to release a private letter from the late senator to the governor urging him to appoint Hanabusa. That move is widely viewed as politically calculating and an effort to put pressure on Abercrombie to tap Hanabusa.

Abercrombie's approval rating is slightly higher than in recent polls, too.

(Translation: Old Boys have no future in the Democratic Party.)

LINK: Poll Internals

read … Boss Abercrombie a Winner?

Star-Adv Features Hanabusa’s Dirt Track Scandal, Doesn’t Mention Hanabusa

SA: A company that leases more than 35 acres from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to operate a racing facility in Leeward Oahu has been hit with more than $100,000 in property-related violations, is several months behind on its rent and is under investigation by DHHL for allegedly clearing land outside the parcel's boundaries and possibly damaging historically significant sites, according to public records and information from city and state agencies.

The actions targeting Save Oahu's Race Tracks LLC and its principal, George Grace III, have cast an unflattering spotlight on Kalaeloa Raceway Park and raised questions about the future of the island's only auto racing venue….

After signing a monthly lease with DHHL in August 2007, Grace over the next several years transformed the 38.7-acre parcel along Coral Sea Road into a venue that has featured stock car, drag and motorcycle races on dirt tracks. It officially opened in 2010. But along the way, his company has run afoul of government regulations and hit other rough patches.

Save Oahu's Race Tracks, or SORT, has been cited three times since 2008 for grading land or stockpiling dirt without a permit, including a May citation involving both infractions that still have not been corrected, according to city Department of Planning and Permitting records. As of last week the fines for the 2012 violations totaled more than $100,000 — and they increase by $750 a day until the violations are corrected.

In September 2010, SORT paid the city $4,390 in fines for a 2008 violation of stockpiling without a permit.

About a month later the city issued a second violation notice against the company for grading without a permit, but the case was closed several weeks later when a permit was issued, according to the planning department.

Just a few months ago, Grace was fined $10,000 by the state Department of Health after he refused to let inspectors and DHHL personnel onto the property in June to investigate possible solid and hazardous waste violations, including suspicions of illegal dumping, according to court records. The Health Department, concerned that evidence of possible violations could be removed or tampered with, went to court the next day and obtained a judge's order to gain access, the records show.

WHILE DEALING with those cases, Grace now has a DHHL investigation to contend with.

Darrell Young, a department spokes­man, said in a written statement that the agency is investigating complaints received last month alleging damage to significant historical sites and grading beyond the property boundaries.

Responding to Star-Advertiser questions, Young also acknowledged that Grace's company is four months behind on the $2,000 monthly rent for the 38-acre parcel and four months behind on the $500 monthly fee for water, or about $10,000 in arrears overall.

Asked whether his department has been satisfied with the performance of its tenant, Young wrote: "Like many struggling small mom & pop operations, there have been some tough times in which payment to the department has been delinquent. However, in most cases, SORT has done their best to keep their payments as current as possible with us.

"We have worked with them on occasion to address operational issues that have arisen."….

The Department of Taxation has a pending lien against another Grace company, Paradise Lua Inc., for more than $250,000 in back taxes dating to 2004, according to records at the Bureau of Conveyances.

 

All the stuff they left out: Fireworks, dirt, and stolen trucks: Colleen Hanabusa and the Honolulu Raceway Deal

read … Fines, probe, unpaid rent trouble auto racing park

Teachers Rally for 25% Hike in GE Tax

HNN: Teachers who organized the so-called "work to the rule" protests that spread to schools statewide are planning a rally at the State Capitol this week for legislation that the teachers' union says it does not support.

Organizers are pushing for what it calls the Penny for Education Act. "What this does is raise the GET (general excise tax) by one cent per dollar, and what this does is it really tries to solve the major problems of education in Hawaii," said organizer Corey Rosenlee, a teacher at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach. The proposals are similar to bills in Georgia and one that passed in California.

However, the Hawaii State Teachers Association posted on its Facebook page last night, saying "HSTA does not support the rally on the 17th because of the rally's message and intention. HSTA is focused on what is most important at this moment in time and that is winning a fair contract. The 17th rally is centered around a piece of legislation that was not written by HSTA and was not put through the proper channels of review and approval."

"All of our efforts will be, on the 17th, here at HSTA, in trying to resolve some of the issues in regards to teacher evaluation, and trying to make it fair and equitable for our members," said union president Wil Okabe.

The post drew dozens of comments from teachers and others. By Sunday morning, the Facebook post was scaled back a bit: "While HSTA does not support the legislative bill that the 17th rally is focused around, HSTA does not discourage teachers from having their voices heard."

"We encourage teachers to voice out their opinion because that's the democratic process, to be able to express themselves, and we encourage them to continue to do that," said Okabe. "However, as far as HSTA is concerned, we have to go through the protocols necessary by the organization."

Okabe also said while it has shown support for previous "Work to the Rule" rallies, it will be focusing on the contract negotiations on Thursday.

read … And HSTA Pretends Not to Support

Gabbard, DLNR Team Up to Push 10 cent Bag Tax

CB: Last year, efforts to gain dedicated funding from the Legislature failed. The department had hoped to secure about $11 million from a fee on disposable bags, but the bill didn’t pass. Gov. Neil Abercrombie provided $5 million out of the state’s budget, but it was a one-time allocation.

The department is again hoping to secure $11 million a year for at least the next 10 years this session, which begins Wednesday. Much of the money could either come from a new bag bill or an increase in the conveyance tax, Randy Kennedy, DLNR’s native ecosystem section manger told lawmakers.

“We are going to be working hard with our watershed partners and public supporters to convince the Legislature this year that we are worthy of that,” he said.

Watershed protection has had the strong support of Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

He told Civil Beat that he is proposing two single-use bag bills this session, one of which pays for watershed protection.

Under both bills, customers would be charged 10 cents for each single-use bag that is not already banned at the county level. Maui, Kauai and the Big Island already have bans on plastic bags. On Oahu, the county council passed a ban on plastic bags last year after the state Legislature failed to act. The ban doesn’t take effect until 2015.

Gabbard’s bills would apply to both paper and plastic and take effect January 2014. Most of the revenue from one of the bills would go to watershed protection. Retailers would keep 10 percent of the fees for the first year to support implementation costs and the Hawaii Department of Health would be paid $1.2 million for administering the program. The health department would receive 20 percent of the remaining balance for its environmental response revolving fund. The remaining 80 percent would go to DLNR's watershed program.

read … Tax Paper and Plastic

Money must be set aside for union contracts, and with Inouye gone, fewer federal funds will arrive

SA: The state will have to put aside money to cover new contracts with public-sector labor unions that expect raises now that the recession is over.

But several other policy questions could dominate:

» Early childhood education. The governor wants lawmakers to approve money to cover about 3,500 4-year-olds in fiscal year 2015 in state-funded preschool, a program that if successful could expand for a decade to serve all of the state's 18,000 4-year-olds. But lawmakers have reservations about whether the state can ensure quality and accountability to justify the costs.

» Budget reserves. The administration wants to replenish the state's hurricane relief fund and rainy-day fund and also begin to address the unfunded liability in the public worker health care fund with prepayments of more than $100 million a year. Lawmakers share similar goals but may be less aggressive in diverting such large amounts of money.

» Solar tax credits. Lawmakers will decide whether to undo or revise the administration's limits on a renewable energy tax credit that environmentalists and the solar industry argue are too restrictive and potentially illegal. The solar tax credit could cost the state about $174 million for 2012, up from $35 million for 2010.

» Public Land Development Corp. Lawmakers could repeal or substantially reduce the powers of the PLDC, which was given broad exemptions from land use, planning and zoning laws to develop public land and generate new revenue for the state.

» Election reform. The delay in precinct openings in Hawaii County during the August primary and ballot shortages on Oahu during the November general election may prompt lawmakers to push for greater state oversight of elections. The governor has called for all-mail elections.

» University of Hawaii accountability. The university's botched handling of a concert scam could lead lawmakers to reconsider the degree of UH autonomy and carefully scrutinize the university's budget request.

read … Contracts

More Human remains found during rail route survey

SA: The bones were discovered near the federal building on Pohu­kaina Street close to where other remains were earlier found.

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu of the Oahu Island Burial Council said initial indications were that the remains were a child's, likely from pre-Western contact times.

Wong-Kalu said it is the preference of those involved to allow the bones to remain where they were. She further said that Dan Grabauskas, executive director of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, has given his assurance that accommodations can be made to allow that.

read … Rail

Legalization of Assisted Suicide Opens Door to Abuse

CB: Civil Beat recently published a Community Voices article by Dr. Charles Miller called “Aid-in-Dying is Not Assisted Suicide.” In his article, Dr. Miller, founder of the Physician Advisory Council for Aid in Dying (PACAID), promotes what he euphemistically calls “aid-in-dying” in lieu of the generally accepted term “assisted suicide.”

Groups like PACAID attempt to obfuscate the moral and legal issues surrounding assisted suicide in Hawaii by using the euphemism “aid-in-dying.”

Discontinuing care that would otherwise extend a patient’s life is vastly different than taking affirmative steps to end life. Patients legitimately have the right to make end of life decisions such as when certain medical interventions are no longer appropriate….

Allowing or even requiring care providers to comply with requests for suicide opens the door to abuses of the worst kind and creates a bioethical dilemma for those who pledge to respect human life and dignity. It fails to address the underlying cause of suicidal ideation, which is clinical depression. Giving up on depressed people, even those at the end of life, is not, as Dr. Miller states, “an extension of compassionate medical care.”

How it is: Colette Machado: I look at Kalaupapa--Native Hawaiians will fight against Assisted Suicide

read … Janet Grace

Corporate Gas Consumers Organize Against LNG Exports, Fear End to Cheap US Gas

NYT: The issue is driven by fracking, which has lowered the price of a million B.T.U. of gas to the range of $3.25, down 75 percent from its recent peak. Gas with the same energy content as a barrel of oil now sells for about $18, one-quarter of oil’s price. And industry experts say they can convert the gas to a liquid, load it on a tanker and deliver it to distant markets for a price that remains far less than the world price of oil. Fracking, which involves injecting vast quantities of water and chemicals into underground shale formations to extract natural gas, has vastly increased gas supplies.
This has set off a rush to export. By Senator Wyden’s count, companies have applied to build plants that would liquefy and export 48 billion cubic feet a day, a huge amount; in comparison, the Energy Information Administration predicts that
daily consumption this year will be nearly 70 billion cubic feet….

For shale gas, produced by fracking, Peter A. Molinaro, the vice president for government affairs at Dow Chemical, “the words ‘game changer’ now seem insufficient.” His company has reopened chemical plants that it closed when prices here were high, and big industrial users have collectively planned $90 billion in new investments because of cheap gas, he said.

Dow joined Alcoa, Eastman Chemical, Nucor steel, Celanese and the American Public Gas Association to form a new group, America’s Energy Advantage to seek to limit exports….

On the other side, the American Petroleum Institute released an analysis saying that fracking in shale formations for natural gas and oil would produce jobs and tax revenue gains in areas that previously had little oil and gas activity.

read … Would Exporting the Natural Gas Surplus Help The Economy, or Hurt?

SA: Organize Circus hearings on status of pot

SA: Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana are following two states that have taken that step and are pointing to a recent poll indicating that such a move has gained support in Hawaii. These indicators reflect a growing trend nationally to accept the legal use of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. While it may not be time for Hawaii to jump on this bandwagon, it's certainly time for the Legislature to hold hearings on the issue and chart a way forward.

Voters in Colorado and Washington states agreed last year to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. Marijuana use violates the federal Controlled Substances Act, and the U.S. attorney in Seattle warned Washington residents after the election that "growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law." Since then, however, President Barack Obama has appeared reluctant to enforce it.

In a recent interview, Obama said the feds have "bigger fish to fry" than recreational users.

"It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined it's legal," he told Barbara Walters.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has said his committee will convene a meeting on state marijuana laws.

Hawaii is among 17 states and the District of Columbia that allow marijuana to be used by medical patients to reduce severe pain. Legislators, however, have refused to launch a medical marijuana dispensary as a pilot program.

The Justice Department has closed down privately operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado and California.

Needless to say, the conflicts in state and federal mandates only add to confusion over policy goals.

Now comes a poll taken in Hawaii in November and December by an "action group" associated with the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, which has favored legalization (and THAT changes everything!)

A related study by David C. Nixon, a University of Hawaii social sciences associate professor, underwritten by the action group, estimated that decriminalization would reduce enforcement costs by $12 million a year, and tax revenues, much like tobacco taxes, would total at least $11.3 million. Since 2004, marijuana possession arrests have increased by almost 50 percent and distribution arrests have nearly doubled, according to Nixon.

Competing Interest: Oxycontin Contributions: Clayton Hee, Josh Green, Karl Rhoads and HB466

read … Send in the Clowns

Kollar Focuses of Meth. Prescription Abuse

KGI: Kollar said a priority continues to be a high volume of property crimes, including thefts, burglaries, and car break-ins. He said many of the crimes are fueled by drug addiction.

“They tend not to be marijuana-related and are more often about prescription medications and crystal methamphetamine,” Kollar said.

Most of the crystal meth here does not originate on Kaua‘i, he said. Most of it is coming here in packages via boat or airplane.

“I don’t know of crystal meth currently being manufactured on Kaua‘i,” he said.

Because meth is cheap and concentrated, he said there are not adequate resources to maintaining security at the harbors and incoming freight shipments. He said a wise prioritization of resources would be to stop meth from coming onto the island and from keeping legal import of prescription medications from finding its way into the wrong hands.

read … Competing Against Marijuana

Seitz Claims Maui Case Limits Police Use of Tasers

SA: The case, which was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, in effect sets nationwide standards for the use of Tasers, the plaintiff's attorney says.

Maui police went to the residence of Jazel Mattos late Aug. 23, 2006, after a domestic disturbance call, but maintained she was trying to prevent her husband's arrest when the officer shot the 120-pound woman with the electric gun.

Mattos, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall, said she crumpled to the floor in pain similar to childbirth. The mother of seven said she couldn't move or open her eyes but heard herself scream.

She was charged with harassment and obstruction of government operations, but the charges were later dropped.

Her lawsuit was one of two cases decided in 2011 by a 10-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled that Mattos' claims of excessive use of force amounted to an allegation of federal constitutional violations.

The court found Maui officers were immune from the claims because the law on the use of Tasers wasn't clear at the time.

By holding that Mattos' claims alleged constitutional violations, the decision essentially placed restrictions on the use of the weapon by law enforcement officers, said Mattos' lawyer, Eric Seitz.

Maui County sought a review of the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court declined to hear the case.

Mattos' lawsuit was sent back to Hawaii on her other related claims. Her lawyers and Maui County reached the settlement and dismissed the suit in early December….

Law enforcement officers won't be able to claim immunity in the future because they now have a court decision that sets standards on the use of the Tasers, Seitz said.

Those standards include considerations such as whether the person is resisting arrest, the seriousness of the offense and other levels of force that police might use to subdue the person.

Seitz also pointed out the high court's refusal to review the decision.

"It is basically the existing law for the entire country," he said.

read … Nuisance Money

Deadly Venomous Snakes, Samurai Swords, Canon Ball and Chainsaw Among Items Seized by TSA

HR: In 2012, Transportation Security Administration officials discovered a gun in a hollowed out book at Honolulu International Airport, a knife in another book at Maui's Kahului Airport, live 40mm high explosive grenade at Dallas/Fort Worth, Seal Bombs in a carry-on bag at Seattle's airport, Six lbs. of black powder, detonation cords, and timing fuse at Grand Junction, and a disassembled gun and ammunition concealed in three stuffed animals at Providence TF Green Airport.

In addition, TSA inspectors found 1,543 firearms at 199 airports including 1,215 that were loaded.

read … Snakes not on a plane

Workers approve first Pacific Beach Hotel labor deal

HNN: Workers have overwhelmingly approved the first labor contract ever at the Pacific Beach Hotel, ending 10 years of labor strife that wound up in the courts.

Local 142 of the ILWU announced approval by more than 99 percent of workers, and a source in the union said only one worker voted against it. Voting was completed at the beginning of the weekend and announced Monday morning.

Workers ratified a four-year contract with immediate 5 percent raises for non-tipped employees and 13 percent total over the full term of the agreement, with smaller raises for tipped employees. All employees won fully-paid medical care including dental, vision and drug. and eight paid holidays instead of three.

The 43-year-old Pacific Beach Hotel, on Liliuokalani Ave., is one of the larger hotels in Waikiki, with more than 800 rooms.

Employees first signed a unionization petition in 2002. "For 10 plus years," the union said, "the workers endured mass firings, intimidation and other obstacles." At one point the owners hired Outrigger to manage the property, then, when a union agreement was near, dismissed Outrigger and created their own management company to be the outside management contractor, resetting contract talks to zero. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that there was effectively no difference between the new management company and the hotel itself.

Each time the management contractor changed, the hotel made employees reapply for their jobs….

The Pacific Beach Hotel specializes in Japanese trade and may have lost some of of that trade when the ILWU told Japanese labor unions what was going on. In 2008 the Japanese Trade Union Confederation endorsed a boycott of the hotel….

Most union hotels in Waikiki are represented by Local 5 of the UNITE-HERE union, including the former Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees union, while Local 142 of ILWU, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, represents most of the union hotels on neighbor islands.

read … Contract

Take Ben Cayetano’s Advice – Be True To Yourself

HR: In his speech, Cayetano advised us, “Be true to yourself, the voters can tell if you are being real.”

I told him that I had run in the 2012 elections as the Republican Candidate for State Senate District 12. I asked what he would advise future candidates who were trying to fight corruption and do the right thing.

He said “Become a Democrat.”

His comment gained quite a few laughs from his largely conservative, pro-business audience.

read … True?

Hawaii's Greatest Entrepreneur, Lex Brodie, Dies at 98

HR: Lex Brodie, one of Hawaii's greatest entrepreneurs and former member of the state Board of Education, died on Friday, January 11. The Kauai native, who founded the popular Lex Brodie Tire Company chain in 1961 and the business advocacy organization, Small Business Association of Hawaii (now known as Smart Business Hawaii), in 1976, was 98.

TR: 'Thank You, Very Much' - Lex Brodie, 98, Dies

KGI: Brodie leaves behind legacy of business with aloha

read … Hawaii's Greatest Entrepreneur, Lex Brodie, Dies at 98

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