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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
August 23, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:26 PM :: 9603 Views

School-by-School Hawaii State Assessment— How did your school do?

Is Disney Lost in Hawaii?

Gallup: Hawaii Leads Nation in Well-Being

US Supreme Court will soon decide whether to hear Hokulia Bypass Case

Is Video First Sarah Palin 2012 Campaign Commercial?

Selecting from Secret List of Nominees, Abercrombie appoints Mizuno UH Regent

Stimulus? Abercrombie CIP Contract Awards Drop by 86% from Lingle

Abercrombie launches into his pitch for $1.4 billion in state construction projects….

The only problem is there really is nothing new about this "New Day" plan; spending money for construction is what the state does.

In fact, former Gov. Linda Lingle back in 2008 announced an even bigger construction stimulus plan, $1.8 billion….

Saito designed a program, dubbed the CIP strike force, to hurry along the approval and awarding of construction projects, when Lingle was governor. In just the category of "speeded up" projects, the Lingle administration had $1.9 billion in the pipeline and had $874 million in projects actually under way with shovels in the ground during her last term.

Actual construction projects awarded to actual contractors is a good way to see what's moving. The DAGS public works website shows that $41.6 million was awarded in calendar year 2009, $69.4 million was awarded in 2010, and so far $5.2 million has been awarded this year under Abercrombie. ($5.2M is 7% of $69.4M If the figure is for a half year then Abercrombie is running only 14% of Lingle’s CIP spending.)

read … Nothing New

Subpoenas: Abercrombie, UHPA battle HSTA in Court

Whether all those subpoenaed will be called to the witness stand is unclear. Motions to revoke subpoenas for the governor, legislators and others have been filed and are scheduled to be heard starting Thursday.

In its motion regarding Abercrombie's subpoena, the state argued the governor has executive privilege and that others involved in negotiations with the teachers union could provide adequate testimony.

The state also said labor board filings suggest "the purpose of the subpoena is to seek the testimony of the governor not only regarding proposals exchanged between the parties, but also pre-decisional internal communication and deliberation done by the administration."

A motion to quash a subpoena for University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Executive Director J.N. Musto has also been filed. Musto said that he has "absolutely no idea what they want to question me about."

UHPA added friction to the conflict last week when it sent an email to its members questioning the actions of HSTA in calling other unions' leaders to the witness stand, creating "unnecessary drama" and making arguments that "jeopardize the rights of public sector unions, including the right to strike."

HSTA has argued it cannot strike with pending cases before the labor board, something UHPA disagrees with. HSTA has also said other public workers have gotten better contracts at the expense of teachers.

HSTA did not return calls Monday for comment on its witness list, but it told its members Friday that UHPA's email suggested "we are wrong to exhaust our legal options." It added, HSTA will "exercise every legal right we have … and fight with every ounce of energy we have." (Best Comment: “Hopefully HSTA will exhaust all of its funds, and disappear.”)

UHPA: HSTA Leaders see Conspiracy by Other Unions?

read … Quash HSTA

Abercrombie seeking Self-Discipline, More Fake News conferences

ILind: Kate Stanley will take over the inside game. As for the rest, more “discipline” is the answer! That explains the contrived speech with no questioning to divert attention from “the message.”

And what message are we talking about? What audience? Clearly, if you want to move your bills next session, lecturing legislators sitting in the audience isn’t the way to get it done. The intended audience here was clearly the public, hence the live streaming, although I wonder just how many people would have stopped what they were doing to wade into the stream. The news media did their assigned job of regurgitating key points without much in the way of critical interpretation.

I think what the public needs is a regular press conference where the governor can get the hard questions, not fake events with canned and disciplined messages.

To date, probably the most memorable Abercrombie press conference was the fake one back when he announced a tentative deal with the HSTA. The fake news conference setting was admitted in response to questions from Civil Beat. They don’t get much more disciplined than that!

read … Governor seeks discipline

Ratepayers push back, Water Board postpones vote on rate hike

Costs would jump twice next year by nearly 10 percent each time, and continue annually through summer 2015 - bringing the water portion of the bill from just under $40 a month to more than $66.

"That will unjustifiably burden hotels, hospitals, farmers, large families and the elderly," says Milton Imada, a retired Board of Water Supply employee….

"What you dictate here, it changes lives financially," says Kennaie Hicks, a farmer.

"Who would have ever thought that water and sewer would have surpassed insurance, electricity, personnel cost and all others," says Emory Bush of Hawaiiana Management Company….

"The deputy is exaggerating the urgency and monies needed for repairing water infrastructure and maintaining water pumps which is the normal nature of the water business and should have been allotted for in the short and longterm budget," Imada says.

SA: Jane Sugimura, president of the Hawaii Council of Community Associations, said many residents in the townhouse project she lives in have been delinquent in maintenance fee payments. She said a water rate hike would shift the burden of paying maintenance fees to other unit owners and shareholders.

read … Board of Water Supply postpones vote to raise water rates

Ansaldo could face $560M fine over Lack of Contractor’s License

Ansaldo wasn't licensed as a contractor in Hawaii when it first bid on the opportunity to design, build, operate and maintain the city's rail system — an apparent violation of state law.

Two firms that would have worked with Sumitomo, a losing bidder, have filed complaints against Ansaldo with the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

If the Italian firm is found to be in violation of state law, it could have to pay as much as $560 million — yes, you read that right, million — as a penalty. Even worse, the company's license could be revoked.

Full Text: Complaint Against Ansaldo Honolulu

Related: Troubled Honolulu rail Contractor owned by Gaddafi--Libyan Revolt causing Financial Losses

read … Ansaldo

Rail Project Has Honolulu in a Tizzy

Oahu is in an uproar over plans for a 20-mile-long rail system that citizens groups say will spoil views and despoil protected cultural lands. Media and interest groups have conducted polls that they claim show the public opposes - or favors - the railroad, and just about all of them claim their opponents' polls slanted the results….

read … Tizzy

Maui Affordable Housing Project half empty, residents terrorized by Felons on Management Team

Forty per cent of the units at the state’s Honokowai Kauhale affordable housing project on Maui – 71 of 184 apartments - have been vacant for extended periods of time ranging from months to more than five years, according to interviews and property records.

Although the shortage of affordable housing on Maui is acute, the management company at Honokowai Kauhale has told the state that that there is no waiting list of applicants to live there…. (And here’s why….)

Some residents, who asked not to be quoted by name, say they live in fear of property manager Lisa Faleafine …

Auwae and Kaihewalu cruise the grounds in a small gas-powered vehicle and have master keys that grant them access to all units in Honokowai Kauhale, Ishikawa and residents said.

Auwae, Faleafine’s boyfriend, was sentenced in January 2000 to a 20-year prison term for his role in a drug-related plot to abduct and murder two Maui residents…. (So naturally he is now back out on the streets)

Kaihewalu, 36, has been convicted of burglary, robbery and firearms charges…. (So naturally he is now back out on the streets)

Faleafine’s father, Lui Faleafine, headed the corporate predecessor of Realty Laua. Her brother, Robert Faleafine, is now chief executive of Laua and past manager of the state’s largest public housing project, Kuhio Park Terrace/Kuhio Homes, in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu…. (And now you know why they have pull.)

In June, Realty Laua agreed to pay $225,000 to settle federal and state lawsuits alleging discrimination in the treatment of disabled residents at Kuhio Park Terrace/Kuhio Homes…. (Runs in the family)

Lisa Faleafine made news in 2002 when residents of a Kona public housing project she managed for the state joined forces with Big Island prosecutors and public interest groups to publicly air evidence of squalid living conditions and mismanagement at the complex…. (So she was rewarded with a new contract to do more of the same on Maui.)

read … Maui Affordable Housing Project In Disarray

Substitute Teachers' pay delay will cost state more

The department underpaid thousands of substitute teachers in violation of a 1996 law requiring that they be paid the same per diem rate as a certain class of full-time teacher (those with a bachelor's degree but no advanced training). From 1996 until 2005, substitute teachers' hourly pay rose by 11 percent, while pay for their full-time class equivalents increased by 40 percent. Part-time teachers — those limited to 17.5 hours a week at about $20 an hour — were similarly underpaid….

The Abercrombie administration should require that settlement of the case be included in the state's yearly education budget, like it or not. State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, seems to recognize that obligation. "This has been an ongoing issue," she told the Star-Advertiser's Mary Vorsino. "We do need to settle these particular issues. It's not going to go away."

Deduct it from this budget item: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

read … Substitutes

Autism Lawsuit Against DOE Could Cost State "Millions"

A much-delayed lawsuit concerning the Hawaii public school system’s treatment of two autistic girls in the mid-1990’s is set to go to trial in October and could cost the state “millions of dollars” in damages for each of the girls, according to public records.

Long delays in the case are attributable to rulings by an octogenarian federal court judge, Manuel Real, whose erratic courtroom behavior and quixotic legal decisions have brought him repeated rebukes and reversals from his appellate court superiors….

“Judge Real has presided over this case twice now, even though the case was originally assigned to him through his temporary assignment to the District of Hawaii,” the 9th Circuit wrote. “Accordingly, we direct the Clerk of the United States District Court for Hawaii to reassign this case to a different judge.”

The lawsuit is now before U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi and is set for trial in October.

read .. Autism

Secret Report Criticizes Hawaii Juvenile Detention Home

From excessive use of isolation to discipline youth to woefully inadequate supervision of staff, the report paints a disturbing picture.

Authored in 2009, the report focuses on one facility — Hale Hoomalu on Alder Street in Honolulu, which was closed last year.

The detention home — the only secure juvenile detention facility that served youth statewide — has since been relocated to the new Kapolei judiciary complex. The report, whose findings have not been reported until now, was produced by an investigative committee that included public defenders, law enforcement, academics, detention home staff and others.

Civil Beat obtained a copy marked "DO NOT DISTRIBUTE" from the judiciary, along with an 11-page response detailing some of the steps that have been taken to address the report's findings.

Read the 2009 report: Hale Hoomalu Self Assessment Aug 2009

Judiciary Response: Judiciary Response to Self-Assessment

read … Juvenile Detention Home

Judge suspends restitution in Aloun Farms case

Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway granted a request Monday by federal prosecutors to suspend $48,000 in restitution payments by a man who pleaded guilty to a felony charge related to Aloun Farms bringing in 44 Thai nationals to work at the Kapolei-based agricultural business.

Federal prosecutors asked earlier this month for suspension of payments by Matee Chowsanitphon, the middleman between Thai recruiters and Mike and Alec Sou of Aloun Farms, which hired 44 Thai nationals in 2004.

Related: Human Trafficking: Did the US DoJ Purposefully lose the Aloun Farms Case?

read … Restitution

Honolulu Deputy Medical Examiner leaves State, won’t return calls

At least eight criminal cases, including two murder cases, are on hold because the deputy medical examiner has moved to Virginia and has neglected to return phone calls, court officials say.

A state judge issued a material witness order Monday requiring former Deputy City Medical Examiner Gayle Suzuki to testify in an upcoming murder trial.

"I'm hoping reasonable minds will prevail and that a judge in Virginia will be able to mediate this matter and persuade Dr. Suzuki to cooperate with the state of Hawaii," said Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario.

He called Suzuki's lack of cooperation unjustified and unreasonable….

Del Rosario issued the material witness order and said he might issue an arrest warrant if Suzuki does not appear on the new date.

read … Deputy medical examiner's move delays trials

Abercrombie to announce broadband Internet initiative today

The governor is scheduled to hold a media event for the plan at the University of Hawaii at Manoa today.

He’ll be joined by Richard Lim, the director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, as well as representatives from Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Hawaiian Telcom and other companies.

Related: Cayetano on DBEDT Pick: “Dobelle thought Richard Lim was trying to intimidate him”, Broadband to be Trojan Horse for Big Wind Cable?

read … Broadband

Is Hawaii Ready For a Stock Exchange?

(Some questions answer themselves.)

The Hawaii Legislature adopted SCR 134, to form a working group to investigate the feasibility of a locally-focused stock exchange. It would be chaired by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, and include the Securities Commissioner and representatives from the investor community. A nonprofit corporation, to be known as the Hawaii Exchange for Local Investment, would administer the exchange. Considerations are securities laws and regulations associated with the formation of a local investment exchange, the appropriate agency to regulate it, the criteria for listing enterprises on the exchange, and indemnification.

(Translation: The Act 221 scammers are looking for a new scam.)

read … No

HUD Secretary Hawaii-Bound

The city is still waiting on an official letter from the federal government about its management of a troubled nonprofit at the center of a probe that could result in the loss of nearly $8 million in grant money.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should send that letter this week, but has been delayed because local staff is preparing for the arrival of HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in Hawaii.

Read more at DC808 … here.

CNHA Senate Committee Roundtable Off The Record?

Here's how the agenda describes the roundtable: "Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Roundtable Listening Session — The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is hosting a roundtable listening session to hear from Native and Tribal leaders on the topic of 'Accessing Capital in Native Communities.' All are welcome, this is a no cost convening hosted by the SCIA Chairman Daniel K. Akaka and SCIA Staff Director Loretta Tuell." ….

She then says: "If there are any members of the press in the audience — and we'll find you out when we go around and do introductions — if you want to get a quote about something that is said, you can talk to any of these people out in the hallway."

How is it that a congressional committee can host a roundtable with federal agencies represented at the table and have it be off the record? And why wouldn't Native Hawaiian organizations want the public to understand the financial challenges their community faces?

Some of the bigwigs at the table included representatives of the following agencies and national organizations:

And this isn't the first time a reporter has been un-welcomed. At a previous convention, one reporter had his recording equipment confiscated.

Indian Country Today: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Holds Roundtable Listening Session

read … Akaka Off The Record

Hanabusa: ‘I Can Defend My Record’

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has yet to announce whether she’ll run for re-election in the U.S. House or challenge fellow Congresswoman Mazie Hirono for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but Hanabusa is already in campaign mode.

That’s partly because former Congressman Charles Djou, who wants to unseat Hanabusa, is going after her. Djou claimed Hawaii’s Democrats on Capitol Hill “vote lockstep” with their party….

Hanabusa voted with a Democratic majority 95 percent of the time between January and August.

Responding to: Djou: Hawaii isolated, vulnerable due to lack of Bi-Partisan Delegation

And then there’s that OTHER record:

read … Hanabusa: ‘I Can Defend My Record’

No Town Hall, Hirono Hides from Constituents

POLITICO reports that most members of the U.S. House of Representatives are not planning to hold town halls during the long August recess.

"Only 40 percent are scheduling open town hall meetings," according to survey takers. "It's a sad sign of the state of affairs when our elected officials don't have time to meet with their constituents."

The survey says that Colleen Hanabusa will hold a town hall this month, but that Mazie Hirono will not.

Staged Event: Hirono Hosts Fraud, Foreclosure Education Seminar

Flashback, 2009: Hirono Townhall on Kauai: Health care myths busted

read … Hirono Hides

WRONG: Solar project ‘will save taxpayers money’

Maui County awarded contracts this month to install at least 1,000 solar panels on the rooftops of county facilities on Maui and Lanai.

The winning contractors are Haleakala Solar of Kahului (installer), Gen-X Energy Development of Haiku and NexGen Energy Partners of Boulder, Colo., (developers) and Bosch Solar Energy Corp. of San Mateo, Calif., (supplier).

The county will provide the rooftop locations, while the contractors will install and set up the solar power systems at no upfront cost to the county. County Energy Commissioner Doug McLeod said the county will pay the solar contractors about half of what it currently pays Maui Electric Co.

In the first year of the agreement, the county will pay 14.7 cents per kilowatt hour for solar power, compared with the 28 to 29 cents it now pays, he said. During the 20-year power purchase agreement with the solar contractors, the price will rise 2.5 percent per year. The average price over the extended agreement would be 18.5 cents, McLeod said.

Using conservative estimates, the county could save $50,000 per year in electricity costs, he said.

(And how much in State and Federal Tax Credits are being given away in exchange for $50K/year? The article doesn’t say.)

read … Solar Scam

Pre-APEC Homeless Sweep Under Freeway Uncovers Elaborate Structures

A group of about 90 people descended on an area known for a chronic problem with homeless. State transportation workers along with prison work crews moved in with dump trucks and other heavy equipment.

They didn’t expect to see elaborate structures that the homeless devised to make living under the freeway more comfortable.

"There was a constructed home with insulation and air conditioner unit and a generator hooked up," said state transportation spokesman Dan Meizendahl. There were loft-like cubicles made of wooden pallets and accessible by ladder. There was a lot of rubbish including beer bottles as well as lots of televisions and moped and bicycle parts, as well as propane tanks and unsanitary conditions.

read … Homeless sweep

Turtle Bay Resort plans to scale back expansion plans

The owners of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore plan to build only 25 percent of the 2,500 new hotel rooms originally outlined in a 1985 master plan, according to a supplemental environmental impact statement preparation notice filed with the state.

The new master plan outlined in the document calls for a 60 percent reduction from a 26-year-old EIS that planned for an expansion of 3,500 hotel and residential units at the 858-acre resort.

The supplemental EIS was required after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in April 2010 that the original EIS only addressed environmental impacts within the timeframe of 1985 to 2000, and that because of the change in timing the project was an “essentially different action.”

read … Turtle bay

Maui Oceanfront Inn could be sold to pay creditors

The 88-unit hotel, which has another 22 years on its state land lease, is just the latest in a series of Hawaii hotels to face resale, said Bankruptcy Trustee Joseph Toy, president and chief executive officer of hotel consultancy Hospitality Advisors LLC.

During the last several years, Hawaii's hotel industry has seen a fair amount of sales, management changes and debt restructuring as owners sought to come out of a period where revenue declines where much steeper and faster than anticipated, Toy said. Hawaii's hotel industry lost 30 percent of its revenue per available room and 15 to 20 percent of its occupancy and average daily rates from 2006 to the 2009, he said.

read … Another Bankrupt Hotel

Public Land Development Corporation Cancels First Meeting

The Public Land Development Corporation, established by Act 55 of the 2011 Legislature, had to cancel its first scheduled meeting because it did not comply with the state's Sunshine Law. The meeting was set for August 22 at 2:30 p.m. Environment Hawai`i learned of it just a few hours in advance of its scheduled start. A call was made immediately to the state Office of Information Practices, alerting it that the meeting, if held, would be in violation of Section 92-7, HRS, because no agenda had been mailed to members of the public who had requested such notice. By law, agencies must provide such notice to anyone requesting it, as Environment Hawai`i had in mid-July. OIP attorney Jennifer Brooks discussed the issue with staff at the Department of Land and Natural Resources and with a deputy attorney general handling DLNR issues. (The PLDC is administratively housed within the DLNR.) Less than an hour before the meeting was to start, the DLNR notified Environment Hawai`i that the meeting had been tentatively re-scheduled for Monday, August 29. The agenda for the cancelled meeting called for the five-member board to discuss hiring of an executive director and staff and possible rules, among other things. For more information on the PLDC, see the lead item in this month's cover story. It and all other back issues are available through the Archive page on our website, www.environment-hawaii.org.

CB: Hawaii Development Corp. Trips Over Sunshine Law

read … www.environment-hawaii.org

Consumer Advocate Challenges Abercrombie’s Embrace of Obamacare

Rafael del Castillo, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year, is part of a group expected to meet with the governor today regarding a new law.

The law, formerly Senate Bill 1274, is intended to conform Hawaii's Patients' Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Act with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Del Castillo, an attorney, has argued that the law actually repeals important consumer protections against managed care abuses.

"Remember, the SB 1274 fight is far from over," del Castillo said in a weekend email. "The repeal can be repealed."

Castillo: What about health care reform?

read … Prepaid Act

Catch a fish, fill out a form

Starting this year, commercial fishermen must report to the DAR all bottomfish catches within five days of each trip – a substantial change from previous years, when for-profit fishermen were required to submit a monthly bottomfish catch report.

Officials said the changes will allow the DAR to collect more accurate data, which will help them better manage Hawaii’s fisheries.

However, some local fishermen feel their livelihood is being overregulated….

Commercial fishermen aren’t the only ones facing changes this year. While recreational fishermen are still required to report bottomfish catches to the NOAA within three days of each trip, the cost of a two-year non-commercial bottomfish license increased from $24 in 2008 to $41 this year. When NOAA started the licensing program two years ago, they expected about 5,000 applicants statewide – but only issued about 100 permits, according to Kawamoto. The cost increase makes up for the lack of applications, he said.

read … Deep Seven

Museum opens at former Wyo. internment camp

Heart Mountain was one of 10 relocation centers built across the U.S. in response to President Franklin Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, authorizing the mass removal of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast.

Three months earlier, in December 1941, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was a boy fixing his tie in the mirror, preparing for church, when the local radio station broadcast the news: Pearl Harbor was under attack.

"I took my father and went out in the street and looked down toward Pearl Harbor," Inouye said. "You could see black puffs in the air. Three aircraft flew over, gray in color, with the Rising Sun on the wing. At that moment, I knew that my life had changed."

Inouye served as an officer with the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Germany, eventually winning the Medal of Honor for valor in battle.

When he returned home, wearing his uniform, medals pinned on his chest, Inouye was refused service at a restaurant. The proprietor said they "didn't serve his kind" — never mind his Medal of Honor.

Like so many other former internees who attended the Heart Mountain ceremonies, Inouye didn't let his physical and emotional wounds alter his future. He became Hawaii's first congressman in 1959 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

He helped to win passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, a law that acknowledged the injustice of interning Americans of Japanese ancestry during the war and established reparations.

"It wasn't easy for America or any country to come out and say it did something wrong," Inouye said. "Very few nations are strong enough to admit wrong. America is strong enough, and we did so."

read … Inouye

WaPo Looks at 1911 DoE rules from Territory of Hawaii

As the new school year starts, I thought it would be fun (admittedly I sometimes have an odd view of fun) to look back at how school districts operated a century ago.


read … School rules in 1911: What do you recognize?


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