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Monday, January 28, 2013
January 28, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:57 PM :: 4996 Views

Survey: Honolulu 3rd Least Affordable Housing on Earth

Over 1000 March for Life in Honolulu

SB1319: Sen Chun Oakland falls for Bogus “Road Pollution Filter”

Gallup: Obama Job Approval Jumps 8.1% in Hawaii

Abercrombie Administration Assisted Acquitted Waianae Toilet Bomber 

SA: Critics of the way the department is handling the lease believe George Grace III (the acquitted Waianae toilet bomber) is getting special treatment because of all the second chances he's getting and a lack of any recent move by DHHL to evict him.  (Think the Star-Adv is finally going to mention the numerous ties between Grace and Hanabusa?  Not!)

They also cite the involvement in the case of Bruce Coppa, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's chief of staff.

"I feel (Grace) is getting preferential treatment, absolutely," said Evelyn Souza, who with her husband initially partnered with Grace and his wife to develop the raceway. The couples eventually had a falling out, and the Souzas no longer are involved with the operation.

Shortly after becoming chief of staff in October 2011, Coppa met with Grace and DHHL officials to try to get the two sides to resolve long-standing issues, Abercrombie spokes­woman Louise Kim McCoy said in a written statement. Coppa did not know Grace at the time and did not agree to or commit to anything with Grace, she added.

Grace had called Coppa to complain about permitting, stockpiling and historic preservation issues he was having with DHHL and other agencies, McCoy said.

Grace received no preferential treatment, and Coppa did not provide any direction to DHHL on how to handle the various issues, McCoy said. After the meeting, Coppa, who works with all state agencies and the public and receives numerous requests for help, asked DHHL to keep him informed about the matter, she said.

That same day, Coppa toured DHHL properties in the area.

Michelle Kauhane, who attended the 2011 meeting as DHHL's then-deputy director, acknowledged that it was unusual for the governor's chief of staff to come to Kapolei to meet with a DHHL lessee. But she said Coppa did not provide any pressure on how to deal with Grace (this is standard denial phraseology used over and over again) and supported the way she was handling the case.  (Of course Coppa’s presence IS pressure.)

Related: Fireworks, dirt, and stolen trucks: Colleen Hanabusa and the Honolulu Raceway Deal

read … Coppa Mentioned, Hanabusa Ignored

Tesoro Shutdown, Jones Act Will Drive Up Jet Fuel Prices, Hurt Tourism

Bloomberg: Asian jet fuel shipments to Hawaii are poised to triple as Tesoro Corp. shuts the state's biggest crude processing plant, helping lift refining margins from the weakest level in close to five years.

As many as three jet-kerosene cargoes, or about 600,000 barrels, may be shipped monthly to Hawaii from Asia in the second quarter, compared with an average of one a month last year, according to a Bloomberg News survey of six traders and refiners. Jet fuel was at its most expensive level relative to diesel in two months on Tuesday in Singapore…. 

That offers an opportunity for Asian processors from GS Caltex Corp. to Formosa Petrochemical Corp. to boost exports, while threatening to push up costs for carriers just as international air travel is showing signs of picking up.

Asia is the most likely source of any additional imports because of legislation that restricts shipments from the U.S. mainland, according to Al Chee, Chevron spokes­man for the Hawaii refinery. (Jones Act kills American jobs.) The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act, requires products transported from one U.S. port to another to be carried by vessels flagged and built in the country. 

The law "adds a lot of costs" to fuel brought from the U.S. West Coast, Chee said. "It's a fair amount of cents per barrel, so it's probably not a surprise that imports are generally coming from foreign sources, and generally from Asia."

Hawaii is already supplied by Asian jet fuel because the market, even with both refineries running, is short, according to Dave Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates, an independent oil consultant in Irvine, Calif. "That lost Tesoro volume will also be imported mostly from Asia," he said. "This is going to boost prices."

read … Bloomberg News

Just the Beginning: Navy Plans Layoffs, Cuts Repair Work in Hawaii

SA: The Navy said it plans to cut some temporary workers in Hawaii in the spring, cancel a $35 million repair job on a Pearl Harbor destroyer and reduce base support and modernization by $75 million as part of at least $110 million in savings it says it needs to reach in Hawaii alone due to a federal budget shortfall.

Nationwide cuts were announced last week by Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, and include laying off 1,121 temporary workers in the third and fourth quarters to save $30 million; freezing civilian hiring to save $70 million; and deferring "new start" research and development to save $263 million.

Virginia would be hit with at least $1.4 billion in cuts, according to the Navy. California would see a $681 million reduction in spending, and the Pacific Northwest is scheduled for at least a $339 million impact, among the cutbacks.

Late last week the Navy was still determining where the 1,121 layoffs of temporary workers would occur….

The Navy is making cuts "starting now, to ensure we can fund ongoing deployments and other mission-critical activities," Greenert added. The other military services are taking similar steps.

Cancellation of the $35 million repair job to the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Chafee would mean a loss of work for the private shipyard workforce on Oahu and its supply chain, said Iain Wood, president of the Ship Repair Association of Hawaii and chief operations officer with Pacific Shipyards International.

"We're obviously very concerned as an industry," Wood said.

The Navy specified cutting the Chafee work, but other jobs could take a hit.

"It could mean more than just that big repair availability," Wood said. "There could other small jobs (lost)."

Pacific Shipyards also manages the inactive or "mothball" fleet, which could be affected as well.

Defense News: U.S. Navy: Sequester Means Strike Groups Could Stay Home

read … Cutbacks, Layoffs

How Dare You Let the People Vote! Gays Practice ‘Discipline’ on Democrats

PR: Gay Democrats are again pressuring state Sen. Mike Gabbard over his opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a statement on Sunday, the party’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus said it was “extremely disappointed in the vigorous way in which Senator Gabbard is working at cross-purposes with the Democratic Party of Hawaii, the governor and the president regarding marriage equality.”

Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) has introduced a bill that would put the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment in 2014.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii’s state central committee upheld a reprimand against Gabbard in 2009 for actively opposing a civil unions bill, undermining the party’s platform in favor of equality and civil rights.

“We hoped that the reprimand Senator Gabbard received from both the Oahu County Committee and the Democratic Party of Hawaii would have made Senator Gabbard realize that he cannot work against the party platform,” Eileen McKee, caucus representative to the state central committee, said in a statement.

read … Bondage

Disclosure, Not Censorship is Answer to Citizens United

CB: “We don’t want to restrict the right of free speech of citizens of Hawaii just because the U.S. Supreme Court made what many believe to be a massive mistake,” Marie-Iha told the Judiciary Committee at a legislative hearing Friday.

The 2010 ruling lets corporations and unions support and oppose candidates and issues without having to disclose where the money came from. Millions of dollars were spent in Hawaii in 2012 by political action committees who benefitted from the decision.

The AG’s office and Rhoads agree the Supreme Court ruling was a mistake. But they have drastically different takes on how to address it.

Marie-Iha encouraged Rhoads and others concerned about the impacts of the Citizens United decision to back proposals pending before the Legislature that would increase disclosure. She said these bills would increase the public's knowledge of the money being spent by super PACs and other campaign committees.

“There are ways to shine a light through the money that Citizens United has unleashed onto the elections,” she said.

Rhoads wasn’t sold on the objections to his bill from the AG’s office. He asked Marie-Iha in a few different ways why his proposed legislation wouldn’t work, but she shot him down every time.

(So we can vote on free speech but we can’t vote on gay marriage.)

read … Rhoads Gets What He Deserves

Smart Growth ideas will guide transit-oriented development

Jessie Souki: We brought together various city and state, private and community stakeholder representatives to discuss ways that state agencies can leverage transit-oriented development (TOD) to maximize benefits.

Whatever you think about the Honolulu rail project, the fact of the matter is that there is a significant amount of state-owned land within a half-mile walking distance of the proposed transit stations. What does a future with rail and state properties around it look like?

We asked state agencies to consider their roles as major property owner, largest state employer and service provider. The recommendations in the report are based on those interagency discussions.

The report encourages using a Smart Growth approach….Nowhere in our report do we recommend planning, permitting or environmental exemptions of any kind (save it for the conference committee to write those in)

Public-private partnerships (PPP) are merely one method for delivering public projects that allows a public entity to share in the risks and rewards of public projects with the private sector.

Related: 'Complete Streets': Will Kakaako Become Another Waikiki?

Related: Report: State Office of Planning to Become Super-PLDC

read … TOD

Eco-Lawyers Answer Callies

In order to avoid the maxim about "a lie told often enough becomes the truth," we'd respectfully like to respond to Professor David Callies's drumbeat argument that the Hawaii Supreme Court somehow unfairly sides with community groups in cases involving the environment and development. (See, for example, Hawaii Developers Facing Tougher Requirements).

While Callies is entitled to his own opinion, it deserves mention he speaks not as an unbiased law professor, but rather as an advocate who has filed numerous unsuccessful court briefs on behalf of big landholders and corporations. He's represented the developer 1250 Oceanside Partners for its infamous Hokulia project; the Land Use Research Foundation in opposing traditional and customary Hawaiian gathering rights and the public trust in water resources; and the Hawaii Developer's Counsel in the Turtle Bay matter — just to name a few of his clients.

Callies accuses the Court of ruling disproportionately in favor of groups like Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and Hawaii's Thousand Friends, who “generally sue when development permits are granted anywhere.” This cartoonish view is far removed from reality.

Environmental organizations are primarily grassroots nonprofits with limited resources. They can afford to pursue only the worst violations. Of the countless permits and approvals being granted all the time, only a handful are challenged. The high success rate shows the Hawaii judicial system is doing its job, not that it’s corrupt or biased.

Ignore this: Hokulia Settlement Exposed

SA: A great deal for Waikane Valley

read … Uh-Huh

Mini-PLDC On Agenda Today 

AP: PUBLIC SCHOOL LANDS: The Senate Committee on Education will consider a bill Monday that allows the state to lease public school land to increase revenue.

Meanwhile some do not notice: Legislators May Be Listening to Voters About PLDC

read … Hawaii Legislature Agenda

Election Commission: No Report on Election Failure, No Punishment for Nago

KITV: This is just the beginning. This is not enough," said Commissioner Danny Young, who was part of a two-member task force charged with getting to the bottom of what happened.

Young said he interviewed several elections managers and said more training, regular evaluations and standard operating procedures will be implemented.

But it may be a tough sell to voters still stunned by a major election blunder.

"I think people will remember this the next time they vote. I don't think people will have forgotten," said Allen.

Young said they didn't prepare a formal report because they didn't know what to expect in their inquiry, so they weren't sure how to format a report around it.

Slom called a lack of a report "totally inappropriate" and says an independent study of what went wrong still needs to happen.

Read … No punishment for Nago

Kaiser Higher Rates, Fewer Nurses

SA: Kaiser Permanente Hawaii plans to eliminate nearly one-quarter of its clinic registered nurses, replacing some of them with lower-skilled licensed practical nurses and medical assistants.

The state's largest health maintenance organization is proposing to cut at least 47 registered nurses in primary care positions at some of its 18 clinics statewide as part of an extensive "redesign," Kaiser said this month in a memo obtained by the Star-Advertiser.

The HMO boosted rates Jan. 1 by 5.3 percent for 155,000 employer-sponsored plan members and 9.7 percent for roughly 14,400 individuals, in addition to raising monthly premiums for 8,950 seniors on Medicare. Kaiser offered contract buyouts to 280 nurses late last year and now plans to issue layoff notices Feb. 4, according to nurses familiar with the situation.

read … Kaiser

Maui's Hopes to Turn Its Trash Into Energy Could Be Dashed by HECO

CB: Maui wants to burn solid waste to generate electricity, which would also keep the county landfill from filling up. More than 100 companies have expressed interest in bidding on the "waste-to-energy" project, but the county can't move forward because Maui Electric Co., part of the Hawaiian Electric Co. which dominates island power generation, won't commit to buying the power, county officials say.

This month, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa criticized the utility for holding back the county’s plans and not doing enough to try to lower electricity rates for residents.

“When we can go to a RFP and get 111 companies to bid on taking trash to energy, and Maui Electric won’t accept all of that firm power, and they are resisting it, then it is time to really hold their feet to the fire,” he told Akaku, Maui's community television station. “They are charging this community roughly four times that what is paid on the continental U.S. — four times more. And we are offering options to be able to lessen that cost."

MECO has shown a reluctance to add the power as a replacement for oil-powered generation.

In a letter to state regulators last year, MECO president Sharon Suzuki said that the utility didn’t need any more power until about 2019.

And even then, it's not clear if MECO intends to retire any of its generators.

Suzuki wrote that the additional firm power would “allow MECO to possibly replace existing oil-fired generating capacity." (emphasis added)

Despite the lack of commitment from MECO to buy power from a waste-to-energy plant, the county still hopes to have such a facility up and running by 2017. A winning bidder could be announced as early as April, according to Ginoza.

The county would pay the winning bidder to burn Maui’s trash. But the waste-to-energy company would also need MECO to buy its power.

There’s a chance that the utility will only buy a percentage of it, said Ginoza, which would likely kill the project.

“Curtailment is almost a deal breaker for a project like this,” he said.

McLeod said that the utility had previously estimated that the power could be curtailed 12 hours a day.

read … Curtailed

Nightclub Owner Arrested for Assaulting NFL Player, Has 6 Felonies

SA: According to police, Miske struck Williams, who was in Hawaii for today’s Pro Bowl, in the head with a dangerous instrument, reportedly a Champagne bottle, during an altercation. The incident took place at Miske’s M Nightlife nightclub at Restaurant Row….

Miske, who is also the owner and president of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, has an extensive criminal history that includes 10 convictions, six for felonies, dating back to 1993. (Question: Why does this guy have a liquor license?)

In 1995, Miske was convicted of fraudulent use of a credit card and three counts of theft and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $5,300 in restitution.

Five months later, he was found guilty of kidnapping, felony attempted assault and speeding, and was sentenced to five years’ probation, assessed a $105 fine and ordered to pay $625 in restitution.

In 2006, Miske was convicted of third-degree assault related to an altercation with a high school student and was sentenced to a year of probation. The student was also granted a petition for an injunction against harassment from Miske. (Of course he is out on the streets.)

Photo: NFL Star Trent Williams BANDAGED UP After Hawaii Bar Fight

read … Soft on Crime

HB72 Deferred: Would Protect the 99% Against Harassment by ‘Occupy’ Lawyers

DN: HB72 is listed as “deferred.” At the link above you can see testimony from the ACLU, Life of the Land, and several individuals against, along with testimony supporting the bill.

read … Occupy Harassment

For Advocate: ‘Work of Dying’ Presents Uncomfortable Questions about Assisted Suicide

ILind: In a recent comment, one person asked: ” Without sounding insensitive, am wondering if your experience has affected your views on end of life choices, including assisted suicide.”

Short answer, not really. It has strengthened my general support for Death with Dignity legislation. But it also raises the question of when and how a person’s wish to die with dignity would be fulfilled.

In my mother’s case, even after her personal physician and a hospice doctor said she was not expected to live more than six months, she told us that she was not dying, despite the hospice diagnosis. And as long as she wasn’t dying, she would not have taken advantage of a system of physician-assisted death, although I think she would have wanted to have that option. Then her health quickly deteriorated in the past couple of weeks. She now realized she is dying and even said at least once she had already died, but she was now in a mental fog and would not have been capable of exercising her right to die with dignity. Would the responsibility of fulfilling her wish fall on us? If she had gotten an end-of-life prescription, would it have been our job to administer it?

read … ILind

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