Thursday, June 13, 2024
Hawaii Daily News Read

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
January 23, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:09 PM :: 4799 Views

FULL TEXT: State of the State Speech

Summary of Bills Repealing the PLDC

HI-5 Fraud Shows DoH Cannot be Trusted With Soda Tax

McDermott: Early Education Proposal Inadequate

Johanson: How Will We Pay for All These Initiatives?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted January 22, 2013

WaPo: Sting operations reveal Mafia involvement in renewable energy

Kahuku Windfarm Loan Timed to Boost IPO, Avoid Jail 

No Sugar For You

Sen Sam Slom: Governor Neil Abercrombie, in his 3rd State of the State speech at the Capitol yesterday, enthusiastically said the economy is improving (NOT!), construction has rebounded (NOT, NOT) and so government should spend more. Besides his pushing government early learning and backing away from his PLDC, he again is advocating a tax on sugary beverages -1¢ per ounce - to save obese kids. Actually, it has nothing to do with the fat, it is more money for the state and less responsibility for parents in Hawaii. The fat is in the budget. The Gov proposed a $1.50 increase in Hawaii's minimum wage law (To $8.75 and hour) an increase in the Conveyance Tax, a tax on bags, making the petroleum barrel tax permanent and more "investment" of your money in HIS government programs. Most interesting was the end of his speech where Abercrombie rejoiced at Democrats receiving election victories of "60%, 70% or more majorities," indicating they have a mandate to raise your taxes and increase debt. He forgot to mention that only 52% of registered voters even bothered to vote.

read … Slom

Abercrombie's Jeopardy Challenge: What Is Uninspiring?

CB: Import liquefied natural gas! Fund early childhood learning! Preserve collective bargaining! Raise the minimum wage! Protect our watersheds!

The first proposal is opposed by powerful environmental groups, the second will likely take a back seat to K-12 funding, it's not clear how much union pay raises will cost the state in the third case, the fourth matter will run into a lobbying onslaught by small businesses and the fifth may require hiking conveyance taxes on high-end property purchases and paying a 10-cent fee for single-use checkout bags….

The problem with the governor's speech is that it was delivered in such lackluster fashion, and it may hurt the chances for garnering support for his favored legislation….

…the governor's address, given Tuesday in the Hawaii House of Representatives chambers, was flat. There was no oomph, no zip, no passion. The governor "read" the speech mechanically….

A primary point of Abercrombie's State of the State is that Hawaii confronts "a situation of political Jeopardy," meaning that in the game of Jeopardy "everyone already has the answers; the challenge is to figure out and frame the right questions. We are so busy telling each other what the answer is, so certain we already know what needs to be done, that we can ignore the questions behind our pronouncements."

Abercrombie, of course, has not always lived up to these ideals. Just one example: His recent — and mocking — dismissal of critics of the PLDC and of importing LNG….

"I love legislating," he said, in a funny voice that elicited a few chuckles from the chamber.

read … They are laughing at him

Spending Would Rise Nearly $1 Billion Under Gov. Abercrombie's Legislative Proposals

HR: If Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie gets his way, the state would add about $1 billion in new and reclaimed programs and personnel in 2014 and 2015.

If his proposals are enacted by the Legislature, island consumers will pay more at the grocery store when they check out, more when they buy a soda, more at the gas station when they fill up their cars, and more at the end of the month when their electric bills are due.

In addition, new homebuyers will see a hike in the state conveyance tax for properties over $2 million, and those wanting to put solar panels on their home will get less of a credit than consumers who went solar before them.

The governor unveiled these and other new spending and tax increase and tax credit readjustment proposals during his 2013 State of the State address at the Hawaii State Capitol on Tuesday – his third such speech since taking office in 2010.

While legislators offered the governor polite applause during his 50-minute speech, some of his ideas received a lukewarm response from both Democrat majority and Republican minority leaders.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, D-Moanalua, promised the Senate would “work collaboratively” to formulate and frame the right questions to address the challenges facing the State, but she did not outright embrace the governor’s ideas.

Instead Kim said: “While we will consider the new initiatives the Governor mentioned in his State of the State address, we must reevaluate and reassess what we have in place to achieve our purposes more efficiently and effectively.”

WHT: Governor sets aside funds for Waimea agriculture program

KGI: In Abercrombie’s 5,956-word State of the State address, Kaua‘i was only directly mentioned once

read … Spending

Governors List Leans Toward the ‘Wish’ Category

SA: Problems remain, however, and the governor is taking appropriate steps following the decision by Tesoro Corp. to close its Hawaii refinery, leaving in operation only Chevron's Corp.'s refinery, which some experts expect to close in a few years. Hawaii's goal is to receive 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by 2030, and Abercrombie recognizes the importance of an interim choice of liquefied natural gas from the mainland.

Hawaii Gas, a subsidiary of a New York-based conglomerate, wants to begin shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Honolulu Harbor at prices cheaper than the cost of refined oil, but it is opposed by environmental groups as a departure from the goal of renewables. Abercrombie points out that LNG is available now and will reduce energy costs. Meanwhile, he says he will create a task force to examine the issue in the short and long terms.

At the same time, Abercrombie is proposing changes to the system of renewable energy tax credits that now "principally helps those with the capital means to pay upfront for a system" that typically costs thousands of dollars. That change is greatly needed to allow as many residents as possible, regardless of income level, to join in use of clean energy.

Abercrombie also is asking the Legislature to approve major expenditures in the state's school system. One would provide each student with a digital device, such as a tablet or laptop, over a three-year period. The Department of Education is asking for $42 million over the next two years to pay for them. At this early stage, given other competing programs on the governor's list, this leans toward the "wish" category.

Abercrombie also called for assurance of all 4-year-olds' attendance of preschool that "must be accessible, affordable and voluntary for families." That has been estimated to cost $28.2 million a year, allowing children of low-income parents to attend free while higher-income parents would pay on a sliding scale. Again, a good concept — but practical questions remain: How such a network would be set up; how it would fold in parental involvement to optimize and sustain success; and where the millions of dollars would come from.

One source of state revenue proposed by Abercrombie, which would require a 10-cent fee for single-use checkout bags, generating $15 million, is sure to spark debate. All the counties already have approved bans on plastic bags except for certain specialty items; Honolulu's ban takes effect in July 2015. Another suggestion by Abercrombie would be to increase the conveyance tax on high-end property transactions, but those rates already are significantly progressive, ranging from a dime per $100 for properties of less than $600, to a dollar per $100 for those $10 million or more.

read … Optimism welcome but choose wisely

FACE Backs Call for 3rd Highest Minimum Wage in Nation

CB: We at FACE salute Governor Abercrombie for raising the issue of an increase to the state minimum wage. Faith Action for Community Equity is a faith based community organization made up of 50 churches, temples, and social service agencies on both Oahu and Maui. We work on a range of issues all of which come from the membership of the organizations that make up FACE. Over the 15 years we’ve been around we have often found ourselves working on issues of fair and equitable pay. So I am excited that Labor Department Director Dwight Takamine and the Governor have started a conversation about raising the minimum wage. Former Senator Takamine has always been a thoughtful person, who cares about regular people and I am glad that he is the person Abercrombie chose to chart the policy on these issues for the state. As a pastor ministering to a mixed economic community I see firsthand the pressure that inadequate pay puts on families and I know that they need to be raised up.

PBN: Abercrombie’s state-of-the-state agenda includes plans for minimum wage hike

HNN: Gov. wants to increase minimum wage to $8.75

SA: Workers favor, businesses wary of bill to raise minimum wage

SA:  $8.75 would make it the third-highest in the country, following Oregon's $8.95 and Washington's $9.19.

read … Predictable

Why Should We Take Rep Awana to Court?

CB: She just started her fourth term in the House, so she can’t claim ignorance to state campaign finance laws.

Awana has $15,000 in her campaign account, so she can afford the $6,800 in fines she owes.

It’s a waste of the public’s tax dollars to leave the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission no choice but to take her to court to enforce its order.

Awana didn’t even contest the violations that have piled up since 2008 for filing false reports and failing to keep records….

But what happens? She gets promoted to majority floor leader, so maybe we’re missing something.

CB: Hawaii State Rep. Karen Awana Owes Thousands In Overdue Fines

read … Why Should We Have To Take A Lawmaker To Court?

Mayor right to call out state on skimming city's rail tax

SA: The state has pointlessly added an extra 10 percent to the cost of a commuter train that was already the most expensive public works project in Hawaii history.

The kickback goes into the state general fund to pay for programs statewide, meaning a levy paid only by Oahu taxpayers funds services in all counties….

Much resistance to ending the skim comes from neighbor island lawmakers, who understandably enjoy having Oahu taxpayers pay for services in their counties.

You can't blame them for taking care of their constituents. The question is, When will Oahu legislators take care of their constituents and demand that these tax dollars return to their intended purpose?

read … Skim, Kickback

Lobbying Reform Is A Tough Sell In Hawaii's Legislature

CB: Dan Mollway, who served as the Ethics Commission’s executive director from 1986 to 2010, said Hawaii’s lobbying law could be improved if it weren’t for legislators standing in the way.

“The resistance is just overwhelming,” he said.

Mollway cited as an example his effort to get a bill through the Legislature that required lobbyists to complete a third annual disclosure report, due mid-session. Although he was eventually successful in getting it passed, he said, “it took heaven and earth to get done.”

One of the only significant changes to the lobbying law over the past 10 years was made in 2001, and that was to lighten the penalties for wrongdoing. Then-Gov. Ben Cayetano signed a bill that decriminalized violations of the lobbyist law.

The ethics commission supported the bill at the time because it increased the statute of limitations to three years and theoretically made it easier to enforce the lobbying law.

But a decade later, the commission is still trying to fix what Kondo said he considers an oversight that happened when the law was changed. A package of proposals the commission approved in December includes a measure that would make it easier to find someone guilty.

When lawmakers changed the law by making violations administrative instead of criminal, they kept language that said violations must be willful. The commission wants the Legislature to delete the word willful.

read … Reform

Greenwood Goes to Washington During Inauguration on University’s Dime

HR: University of Hawaii President MRC Greenwood flew to Washington DC last week to attend inaugural festivities and meetings with Hawaii's congressional officials.

fter a whirlwind of events that included promoting the idea of a Presidential Center at the University dedicated to President Barack Obama, Greenwood went to the Obama's inauguration on Monday before returning to Hawaii on Tuesday.

Greenwood's travel is sponsored by the University, but spokesperson Lynne Waters said the cost cannot be made public until Greenwood completes a travel report.

Just hours before Greenwood left for Washington DC, she was under fire at a Senate Ways and Means hearing for her lack of transparency and initiative as well as the University's excessive spending, which is contributing to students' tuition rising by as much as 141 percent over 10 years.

read … Greenwood Goes to Washington

State Spending on Higher Education Rebounds in Most States After Years of Decline

CHE: Hawaii dropped 7.4% 2008-2013 but increased 0.2% 2012-2013.

read … Hawaii Follows Pattern

Big Cable Scammers Threaten to Hike Prices if We Do Not Knuckle Under

CB: The RFP — the state’s most ambitious energy request — has generated intense interest from energy developers.

But companies hoping to bid have just been waiting, with repeated delays in the RFP approaching a year.

Cable equipment is already in high demand as more projects are being developed worldwide.

A recent industry report on submarine electrical cables found that the current supply chain can only accommodate about half of the proposed undersea cable projects worldwide. About 70 projects are in the planning stages through 2016.

“Cables that do not get their place in the production line will face increased costs that could easily push projects over budget in these difficult financial times,” the The report by Pike Research says. “The result could be higher energy costs….”

Darren Kimura, CEO of Honolulu-based Sopopy, a solar thermal company that's planning to bid on the RFP, said that his project costs have gone up 25 percent to 30 percent since HECO released the initial draft of the RFP months ago.

As of now, Kimura said that the project is no longer attractive to investors. As the economy has recovered, construction costs have gone up, and state tax credits have been scaled back.

“Based on what we thought back then, and the costs going up and the tax credits going down, what we are seeing is that it is out of the money right now,” he said.

Kimura said that three of his seven investors pulled out last year.

“They just said ‘no way,’” said Kimura. “That’s super spooky for me. Investors not being there when you need them to be there, that is a really bad situation.”

read … Delay In HECO's Energy Plan Is Driving Up Costs For Developers

Gabbard elected as DNC Vice Chair

KITV: The Democratic National Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to elect Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to be Vice Chair of the party for the next four years.  Congresswoman-elect Tulsi Gabbard carried a photo Wednesday of 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe on behalf of the Hoe family at the groundbreaking for the ceremony for the Vietnam Memorial Education Center in Washington.

SA: Gabbard embraces opportunity as DNC officer

read … Gabbard

Pro-life group marches to protest Roe v. Wade

KGI: The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, did not pass quietly on Kaua‘i, as pro-life supporters demonstrated on Kuhio Highway near Kukui Grove Center.

“This is an infamous day in our history, but we need to change the way we deal with our brothers and sisters who don’t believe in what we are doing,” said Kin Borja, president of Aloha Life Advocates in Honolulu. He was on Kaua‘i to mark the event with the coalition of Christian organizations called Kaua‘i Right to Life.

Some cars responded with honks, Borja said, and some offered undignified gestures instead.

read … Abortion

Harry Kim: Repeal Act 97, Help Me Kill Geothermal

H247: What does Act 97 do?  Allows geothermal exploration and development in all state land use categories: conservation, urban, rural, and agricultural….

read … Anti-Geothermal Activist

Indian team eyes slice of Hawaii telescope

TI: Indian astronomers have asked the Union government for $140 million (Rs 750 crore) to join an international plan to build the world’s most advanced telescope on the top of a volcanic mountain in Hawaii.

India hopes to contribute 10 per cent of the $1.4 billion for the thirty-metre-telescope (TMT) planned by an academic consortium from the US, China, Japan, Canada and India, members of the consortium said today.

Astronomers expect the TMT will allow them to observe the most distant and faintest galaxies at the edge of the known universe, look for planets around distant stars, and understand better the origin of the solar system. Scientists say India’s proposed 10 per cent contribution is the same as China’s and will amount to less than the cost of two modern combat jet fighters.

JJ:  World's largest Optical Telescope to be developed by Five-Nation Consortium

read … India

Hawaii Woman Steals Benefits from Wounded Iraq Vet

KPLR: Cabanting, an Army gunner, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a road-side bomb explosion 6 years ago in Iraq.  He later developed MS.  His mother said his battle never ended.

He was living in a veteran’s home in Hawaii.  His mother said a woman met and married him there, then took control of his benefits, as Dennis languished and his condition worsened.

‘He was drooling.  He didn`t make any sense.  He couldn`t write.  He could only make ‘x`s’.  He was very spacey. It just wasn`t my son,’ Najar said.  ‘She had been taking anywhere from $4000 – $6000 a month, and squirreling it away into a private account for herself and Dennis is living on $200 a month in a VA home… he didn`t go anywhere.  She bought herself a new truck but Dennis couldn`t go with her because it wasn`t wheelchair accessible.’ 

read … ‘Wife’ Not Named in Story

Man's homicide by police officers results in wrongful-death lawsuit

SA: The wife of a Nana­kuli man who suffocated while being restrained by police is suing the city and the police officers who restrained her husband.

Aaron Torres, 37, died Feb. 20 after three Hono­lulu police officers handcuffed, shackled and held him face-down on the ground.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office said Torres suffocated, and classified the case as a homicide. The autopsy also said Torres had cocaine in his blood and that a contributing cause and significant condition in the death was his history of chronic cocaine abuse.

read … Homicide

HSTA Pahoa Teacher: Evaluations Based on Pseudo-Science

CB: Could that possibly be the question with which teachers will be evaluated if the state Department of Education — in current negotiations with the teachers’ union leaders — affirm this “framework” for evaluation?

Teachers are being set up to be evaluated on classroom management by their level of caring for their students using a rubric designed by Charlotte Danielson. It is currently being piloted at Pahoa High and Intermediate School as part of the restructuring process at the school, as it races to the top.

This teacher is disheartened. The art of teaching is once again being tossed into the wild world of pseudo-science, corporate jargon, and meaningless language.

In this case, “care” is being used as a term to describe the performance of a teacher in the classroom.

read … Hawaii Teacher: To Care or Not To Care?

(Latest) Bomb threat sparks high security at Keaau school (again)

HTH: Hawaii County police are investigating a handwritten bomb threat found earlier this month in a Keaau High School restroom.

“It said, ‘There’s going to be a bomb at KHS 2/15/13. Hint: It’ll be in a locker,’” Principal Dean Cevallos told the Tribune-Herald on Tuesday.

In a letter sent home with students on Friday, Cevallos explained to parents that the school has taken on additional safety and security measures as a result of the threat.

In a phone interview Tuesday, he said that the new measures will become permanent fixtures in the school’s ongoing policies.

“As you go forth, certain things get put into your stepping stones,” Cevallos said. “This is one we have to say is in our face. We cannot lighten up. Now we’ve been threatened, so we’re going to be doing things differently.”

As of Thursday, he said, no bags or backpacks are to be left unattended on campus.

“Any unsecured bag found on the campus will be subject to search,” he wrote in the letter. “Please reiterate to your child the importance of keeping their belongings on them at all times or secured in an assigned school locker.”

The school will conduct random searches of lockers, he said.

read … Ain’t got but one idea between them

9-11 Truthers, Sovereignty Activists, Defense Bar, Leading Democrats and Convicted Felons Demand that New Prison be as Resort-Like as Possible

H247: There were about 100 people gathered for the hearing and although nobody directly spoke out against the facility reopening there was concern as to the programs offered for inmates.

The group Ohana Ho‘opakele submitted testimony to create a Pu‘uhonua (a place of sanctuary, peace and safety) where all inmates can heal in a wellness center instead of a traditional prison setting. Several people cited the disproportional large percentage of Hawaiians incarcerated in Hawaii’s prison system and the need for an alternative rehabilitation method.

Other issues dealt with the possibility of continuing the livestock program at the facility, the need for substance abuse programs and using the inmates to train specialized detection dogs that the state could sell.

The facility had been leased to the Hawaii National Guard for the Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

There will be another public hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday (Jan 31) at the Keaau Community Center.

read … About the people in power here

Occupy Degenerates into Just Another Homeless Camp

SA: First, let's remember that the "Occupy Honolulu" protest group settled in part at Thomas Square because it was deemed a protest zone during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.

I have to confess when they first settled in, they were a pretty articulate and respectful group. I think that an organized social protest has a place in our civic life; indeed it can be an indication of a vibrant culture.

I also was not too upset because, initially, they displaced a group of aggressive homeless people who at times harassed museum visitors. The Occupy folks seemed like the better option.

Over the last months, the situation has changed. The active, articulate group of political protesters is now an encampment of homeless people, some of them struggling with untreated mental health and drug dependency issues. I note that they simply reflect ills in our community.

read … Just Another Homeless Camp

 

NFL to decide by April whether to keep Pro Bowl

PBN: The National Football League will be watching the quality of play at Sunday’s Pro Bowl game in Hawaii before making a decision this spring about whether to continue the league’s annual all-star game, NFL officials said Tuesday.

The future of the game, which pits the top players from the American Football Conference against the best from the National Football Conference, is in question after last year’s shootout that was panned for its poor play. The AFC won that game by a score of 59-41. And following that game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he could cancel the game if play doesn’t improve.

read … Abercrombie Can Still Kill It

Striped Marlin Stock Assessment Peer-reviewed and Released

NOAA: The Billfish Working Group of the International Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) has issued a new stock assessment for striped marlin in the North Pacific. A detailed report of the analysis was authored by U.S. members of the scientific working group as a PIFSC Internal Report and peer-reviewed by a trio of independent experts.

The Internal Report was tabled and adopted this week as an Information Paper at the Billfish Working Group meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is available on the ISC website. Reports by the peer-reviewers are posted on the PIFSC website.

QUICK HITS:


Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii