January 10, 2009

Poinography November 2005 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 1:32 pm



Manslaughter conviction overturned – fetus not “person”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:59 pm
Extensive coverage today of the ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court to overturn a manslaughter conviction against a mother who had used methamphetamine during her pregnancy that led to an infant to die shortly after birth. The Advertiser piece is here, and the SB has two pieces, one on the ruling and another focusing on the political fallout. The Advertiser piece has a useful sidebar with succint summaries of the reasoning behind the majority opinion and two concurring opinions. The full texts of the majority opinion and the two concurring opinions are available online.

After reading the opinions, it would be wrong to call this an “activist court” ruling. The Court overturned the manslaughter conviction because the elements of the offense are delineated in plain language in the penal code and the facts of this particular case do not satisfy all the elements of the offense.

Those who are upset with the decision now have no recourse but to attempt to amend the elements of the offense or the legal definition of “person.” Those amendments are likely to fail, if they are even introduced or given a public hearing.

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New law and/or OHA may help preserve Waimea valley

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:58 pm
The Waimea valley condemnation saga is becoming even more difficult to understand. Today in the Honolulu Weekly (online next week) Catharine Lo provides a very helpful flowchart of how it all might proceed. However, that flowchart already needs to be revised due to the new possibilities discussed in the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin today. Suddenly we learn that OHA might be willing to step in (if the City asks them) and that the new Legacy Lands law may provide a way for the State to help acquire the property for preservation.

It’s all pretty complicated to discern where these new ideas would fit into the timeline/flowchart. The good news is that it seems that everybody (well, at least everyone who has publicly voiced an opinion) prefers to preserve the valley. The big question remains: what will it cost?

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Weighted student formula flawed by too many amateur opinions, says BOE

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:31 pm
The membership of the Committee on Weights, the body assigned the task of reallocating per-student funding to DOE schools under the Weighted Student Formula, is the topic of this SB story. The Board of Education (and pretty much everyone else) was not comfortable with the formula that emerged on the first try, so the BOE seeks to reform the Committee and see what alternative formula may emerge. I had previously commented on what I consider to be the flaws of the formula here.

Amid pressure to resolve the funding picture so schools can plan next year’s budgets, the board last month approved the so-called weighted student formula, which will cause a shift of money that largely benefits big, urban schools at the expense of those in poorer rural districts.

The formula bases school funding on the needs of each individual student and was devised by a Committee on Weights, comprising mostly teachers and other education professionals. Membership was determined largely by Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto and Dr. Randy Hitz, dean of the University of Hawaii’s College of Education.

The law establishing the committee requires it be reconvened annually to modify the formula, if needed.

Board members yesterday indicated that while some committee members may remain, they were keen to see a greater preponderance of experts able to foresee the ramifications of funding changes.

“The board feels that community input is good, but we want to feel comfortable with people who really know what they’re doing,” Knudsen said.

Community members such as parents and representatives of the Lingle administration and the business world comprised roughly half of the committee’s members.

There may have been a more tactful way for Knudsen to show her disapproval of the current Committee membership, but whatever. By that same law, the decision to establish a 41-member Committee on Weights was originally suggested by the Superintendent and the Dean of the UH School of Education, so it is curious that “the experts” want more community input whereas the BOE wants less community input… This apparent arrogance can only fuel the ire of the Governor and others who favor disbanding the statewide BOE.

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HCDA has its “A” challenged again

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 12:06 pm
The SB has a very interesting piece about a new Kakaako Neighborhood Board resolution that addresses issues raised by the Kakaako Makai re-development proposal. There is a lot of opposition to the residential component of Alexander and Baldwin’s proposal that the Hawaii Community Development Authority selected as its preference.

In its resolution, the neighborhood board focuses not on A&B, but the HCDA. The board asks Lingle and the Legislature to delay any action on the project until the following have been completed:

an environmental impact statement of the project;
a “full review of the adequacy of HCDA’s process of using community input prior to issuing RFPs;” and
a revision of HCDA rules revoking the agency’s power to approve high-rise buildings.
The neighborhood board’s resolution came just weeks after U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie asked the Legislature to dissolve the HCDA, charging that the Kakaako plan fails to “take into account our ordinary hard-working people of Hawaii.”

Nancy Hedlund, the neighborhood board member who introduced the resolution, said the HCDA failed to give the public a fair chance to participate in the creation of the request for proposals, or RFP, which defines the project’s scope.

“Nobody I talked to knew of any opportunity to be part of any public meeting before an RFP was issued,” she said.

Hedlund also criticized the inability of citizens to see the various proposals before the HCDA selected one. Hedlund acknowledged that the HCDA subsequently made A&B’s plans available, but she said “that was after the decision” to choose A&B.

Daniel Dinell, executive director of the HCDA, said the agency held numerous monthly public meetings as it confected its plan for Kakaako and encouraged citizens to submit comments by e-mail and other methods. He said state law forbade the authority from revealing proposals until the HCDA had selected one of them.

Minutes of an earlier meeting held by the neighborhood board back in January show that Dinell attended the meeting and informed members that the HCDA was issuing a request for proposals for the project; Hedlund had not been elected to the board at the time.

The neighborhood board is an advisory entity and lacks the power to decide what comes of the Kakaako Waterfront project. That power is technically held by the HCDA, but it is unlikely that the project would move forward over objections of the governor and Legislature.

Lingle and House Speaker Calvin Say did not respond to requests for comment.

“Confected its plan?” Wow, evidently Dinell has been studying his vocabulary improvement lists. Heh.

Kidding aside, why not ask the Senate President, too, if the Governor and Speaker were unwilling or unavailable for comment?

Furthermore, now that the HCDA has selected the A&B proposal, is Dinell now willing/able to reveal the other proposals that were not selected by HCDA? Do the proposals all include a (much-maligned) residential component because it was specified in the request for proposals? A&B’s spokesman hints as much. If so, then A&B may be taking heat for simply following the customer’s directions.

Last, the article is also interesting insofar as it announces that A&B is adjusting their plan and will have a new proposal ready by January. Is it allowable under the procurement system for A&B to modify the plan without any competition? At some point it seems like the other developers should get a chance for a bite of the apple, too. Just because A&B had the “best” publicly-unliked plan, it does not follow that they should have the only shot at suggesting a better plan.

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Privacy of boy accused of sex assault irks police and prosecutors

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:35 am
I’m not going to become a “crime beat” blogger, but there are comments in this Advertiser story (about the juvenile facing trial for sexually assaulting the girl at Beretania Community Park) that have obvious political implications.

Officials with the prosecutor’s office, police department and the court said they were legally prohibited from publicly discussing whether petitions were filed, what charges might have been named in the petitions or how many of the boys had charges filed against them.

Honolulu police spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii would not comment yesterday about the status of the boys. He forwarded all questions to the city prosecutor’s office.

“The statutes prevent us from either confirming or denying whether a petition was filed,” said Jim Fulton, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

The information vacuum created by the law highlights the conflict between protecting the privacy of juveniles accused of crimes and what the public can learn about these cases.

Among those who have pushed for more disclosure is City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle. While he declined through a spokesman to comment on the Nov. 22 incident, in the past he has asked lawmakers to open up juvenile criminal records and proceedings.

“In terms of public safety, it matters not whether the chronic or violent offender is a juvenile or an adult,” said Carlisle in testimony given to the state senate committee on judiciary on March 25, 1997. “The safety of the community is still endangered if the public is unaware of the presence of a chronic or violent offender. For this reason, we believe that in the balance between the juvenile’s rights to privacy and the community’s right to safety, the balance should be tipped in favor of disclosure.”

Juvenile cases are confidential by law, said Marsha Kitagawa, spokeswoman for the state Judiciary, and anyone receiving confidential information about juvenile cases is asked to immediately report it.

State statutes prevent the release of any court record from a juvenile case unless the minor is 14 or older, the case has already been adjudicated, and the offense was a class A felony, which would include murder and first-degree sexual assault, she said.

First, kudos to Peter Boylan if he actually took the time to research the legislative history of this matter and found Carlisle’s remark from 1997. Well done. If Carlisle provided the text of that 1997 testimony to Boylan, well, then it’s less impressive but still a useful part of this story.

Next, how many juvenile cases have been adjudicated against minors over age 14 for class A felony offenses? My guess is that there have been few such cases. Carlisle raises a good point about public safety, but there is an argument to be made for privacy of juvenile offenders, too, yet the article only contains grumpy lamentations about that possibility. If that 1997 hearing was typical, then I’ll bet there were comments from the Public Defender explaining the benefits of privacy for reforming a youthful offender and the huge handicap any reformation effort would have if the offense committed as a juvenile was to follow the youth into adulthood.

If the population of violent juveniles is small, then any population of “incorrigible” violent juveniles is almost certainly smaller. The policy decision to disclose information about youthful offenders should not be based on a few worst-case scenarios. Especially before the defendant is actually convicted (i.e. “adjudicated,” in family court jargon) of the offense.

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Chief Justice Moon speaks on judicial independence

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:01 am
The two Hawaii County dailies share a story about a talk at UH-Hilo by the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Ronald Moon. An actual transcript of his remarks would be nice, but the story gives at least an idea of some of his themes. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald account is here, and the West Hawaii Today version is here.

Moon referred to a Harris poll this year that asked citizens to identify the three branches of government. The correct answer was executive, legislative and judicial.

“One fourth of the respondents believe the three branches are Republican, Democratic and Independent,” Moon said. That would be funny, he said, if it weren’t so serious.

“What does such widespread lack of understanding foretell of the future of our democracy?” Moon asked. “We are really presently in a crisis situation.”

He said the remedy is for public schools to require classes about the U.S. Constitution, as they did in past generations.

I agree. It’s pathetic that immigrants studying to gain their U.S. citizenship are required to demonstrate a working familiarity with the U.S. Constitution, yet many who were born as U.S. citizens and educated in the U.S. would fail the same test.

“I’m not saying that you shouldn’t criticize judges’ decisions,” he said. “Constructive criticism is warranted when it’s based upon facts and information.”

What alarms Moon is that often the criticism is based on “no information, misinformation and pure emotions.”

Hawaii’s judges are appointed rather than elected. Changing that “would have a chilling effect on judicial independence,” Moon said, because a judge worried about being voted off the bench might pay more attention to public opinion than what is legally correct.

Judicial independence is incorrectly considered by some to be synonymous with “judicial activism.” The subtle difference is lost on that crowd, many of them actually seek an “activist” court with a different (perceived) bias.

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Djou’s sidewalk study bumps into reality

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 1:05 pm
Today the Advertiser editorializes to caution against any rush to regulate street performers in Waikiki because of the sensitive legal issues the regulations will raise if they are too restrictive of free speech. They ran an article yesterday that mentioned a study by Karl Kim (on behalf of the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association) on sidewalk congestion. Councilmember Djou’s staff informed me that the report is available on DocuShare.

Well, what is online is not the actual study, but rather a “summary of the key findings.” Probably as close as you and I will get to the real thing, since I also asked Kim and the WBID for a copy of the report—and they forwarded my request to Djou.

Anyway, it’s interesting. Did the reporters actually read this study (it’s only 7 pages long in the form provided), or did they just take Djou at his word that the study supports his bill?

First, I was surprised to learn that some of the sidewalk space in Waikiki is actually private property. The study collected data at 16 different imaginary “screens” across the sidewalks. The average width of the public sidewalk at these 16 screens is 13.03 feet, however the average width of the total sidewalk at the screens is 24.56 feet. Thus, public sidewalks account for only a little more than half of the total sidewalk width.

Second, Table 2 on page 6 does not seem to support the conclusions drawn by Kim nor the Bill drafted by Djou. The report says:

Table 2 contains the impacts ofstreet performers at these 16 locations. Notably, the LOS deteriorates significantly in virtually all of the sites, except for site 1, which remains at level of service A even with street performers. Based on the flow rate estimates, at 13 ofthe 16 sites, the LOS falls to F. Two ofthe 16 fall to a D level. The extent to which theV/C ratios exceed a value of 1 also indicates how much ofan impact the street performers have on sidewalk level of service. A comparison ofV/C ratios in Table I and Table 2 serves to demonstrate the effects ofstreet performers on the crowded sidewalks ofWaikiki.

LOS = Level of Service, a measure of the sidewalks capacity to maintain a flow of pedestrians at some arbitrary “adequate” speed. The value is given a letter grade, A thru F. [until the DOE takes over, haha]

Those “LOS F” grades are taken from the rightmost columns of Table 2, which refer only to the public portion of the sidewalk. Pedestrians do not make a distinction between the public and private portions of the sidewalk, so the columns to the left, containing the data for the “walkable sidewalk” are more relevant. Their own data for the “walkable sidewalks” show that, in the presence of street performers, the 16 “LOS A” flow rate grades (without performers) are reduced to:

7 remain grade “LOS A”
5 become grade “LOS B”
1 becomes grade “LOS F”
2 become grade “LOS E”

Those 2 “E” grades are spurious, because the reasearchers chose two “screens” where the total walkable sidewalk is only 3 feet wide. As if any street performer would choose such a narrow spot to perform…

I could further quibble with the methodology of the report which apparently modeled a single kind of “performance” and then applied the same model performance to each “screen.” But that critique is not even necessary, because even with the study in its current form I don’t believe the data support the legislation that Djou is trying to advance.

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Djou seeks probe of transit study sub-contractor swap

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:55 am
Honolulu Councilmember Djou has asked for a federal investigation into how a sub-contractor was removed from a large consulting job regarding the City’s mass transit plans and replaced by another sub-contractor with ties to the Mayor. The Advertiser has the story here, and the SB piece is here. Background can be found in this recent post (where there are a few interesting comments, too).

Djou’s request for an investigation stems partly from a complaint by two public relations executives whose roles as subcontractors in the study were reduced in favor of a supporter of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Djou said that he is asking the inspector general to recommend “corrective actions” if the investigation turns up errors in how the contract was handled. He said the remedies could range from the city having to rebid the contract to the DOT pulling the federal funding.

Either of those actions would be a big setback for the project. Already the Council is nervous that the GET surcharge may be in place before a plan is chosen, any further delay would make that scenario much more likely. Interestingly, the Advertiser piece implies that Djou is more concerned or worried about those possibilities, whereas the SB suggests he is actively seeking them.

A Hannemann spokesman said the contract award is legal.

“It’s unfortunate that Councilmember Djou has taken it upon himself to call for an unneeded and unnecessary investigation into a legally awarded and totally above-board city contract,” spokesman Bill Brennan said in a written response.

Brennan said that Djou is still upset that he was unable to “drum up” opposition to defeat the tax increase to pay for a new transit system. “There is no dark cloud, no inappropriate behavior, no possible corrupt conduct hanging over any part of the process by either the city nor contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff,” Brennan said.

Djou said he is asking for an investigation into the contracting process, but stressed that he is not alleging political corruption against the mayor.

Djou doesn’t need to make those kind of allegations. Ms. Lagareta has instigated that line of thought and, now that the story is being widely scrutinized, the smell of corruption is certainly in the air. Heh.

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Gov’s opposition to Bottle Bill reflected in audit findings

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:21 am
Plenty of coverage today for a new audit released by the State Auditor. She finds insufficient accounting practices to even complete a fiscal audit, and makes many critical findings about how the Beverage Container Deposit Program has been managed. The SB has a piece, the PGN has an article, and the Advertiser piles on with a story, too. The report really takes the Lingle administration ot the woodshed, but only the SB piece really makes that clear. There is no doubt in reading that PDF where the Auditor places the blame.

A long time ago, I posted that it seemed the Governor was dragging her feet because she wanted the program to fail. Well, if her goal was to frustrate consumers and foment opposition to the program then Lingle may have succeeded in spades. However, if the second part of that strategy was to convert that consumer frustration into ammunition for her re-election and to discredit Democratic legislators, then she may have overdone it. This audit charges that the Governor had plenty of time to prepare for a more orderly program and failed to act.

The audit said some of the redemption centers, especially on the Big Island and Maui, are “exceptionally well run.” Others, mainly on O’ahu and Kaua’i, have numerous problems.

To help with program oversight, the Health Department is hiring a solid waste coordinator as well as two inspectors who will join three already on staff in an effort to ensure operators do a good job.

The bottle law is scheduled for re-evaluation in August, including a review of its reserve fund that holds about $16 million. Other efforts to improve the program seek to require grocery stores to redeem containers.

Interesting that the redemption centers on Kauai have numerous problems. Kauai is the district of the champion of the Bottle Bill, Representative Morita. I’m just saying…

As for the effort to require grocery stores to redeem the containers, the response letter (pp. 71-72 of the audit) from Senior Policy Advisor, Linda Smith, would seem to indicate that the Governor supports that requirement. Good luck getting the retailers to sign on to that idea, though. Other than Foodland, retailers seem to hate the idea, as far as I can tell. Will the Legislature make the amendment over the retailers’ opposition?

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Possible primary challenger to Abercrombie

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 2:08 pm
I’ve never heard of the man (and, other than a few authors and academics who share his name, neither has Google) but there apparently is a new Democratic candidate that intends to run against Neil Abercrombie in 2006 for the Urban Honolulu seat at the U.S. House of Representatives.

His name is Rihard “Noah” Hough. His website is here. He has posted a whole range of position statements on his website and also mentions that he will begin a blog. He has certainly taken on a big challenge, if he’s legit.

Who da guy? Is he for real, or is this another “Harbin for Governor” spoof?

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Safe and sober house established at former site of drug dealing

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 12:58 pm
I noticed this SB piece about a safe and sober house that is trying to open in Waimanalo. The system needs many more of these types of places, as they are very beneficial to reduce relapses for addicts (and that, in turn, reduces prison overcrowding).

Mekia Street resident Janice Paoa said the neighborhood did not find out about the foundation’s plan until after it started moving into the home. She also questions whether it has the proper government approvals to operate there.

“We were never notified about it; we were never approached about it,” Paoa said.

Hauki said the foundation wants to apologize for not asking the residents first and is planning to walk through the community to talk to them. It is also planning a community meeting before the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board’s next meeting in January.

She said the foundation has been active in the community and assumed it had its support.

“We don’t want to hurt their neighborhood. We want to work with them,” Hauki said.

She said the foundation is seeking a zoning variance from the city but does not need a state Department of Health license because no medication will be administered at the home.

Even if the foundation had approached the community, Paoa said the home rented by the foundation is not the right place for recovering substance abusers.

“You have active drug dealers living in the house. That won’t work,” she said, adding that police have raided the home at least four times in the past five years.

It’s hard to fathom why we periodically see these community-based homes that don’t build enough trust within the neighborhood before they announce their presence. The state faced the same problem a while ago with a home for youthful sex offenders in Pearl City. This isn’t rocket science; the neighbors don’t like to find out about these places in an “oh, by the way” message.

That said, I think the idea of putting a clean and sober house into a house known to have been involved in drug trafficking is definitely worth a shot. Consider the alternative, leaving the home as the turf of the drug users. There is obviously a risk that the recovering addicts/residents could be tempted back into drug abuse if the existing crowd remains an influence, but the possibility of reclaiming the known-problem house and putting it to a good use is too tempting.

Pam Rodrigues lives next door to Kekahuna. She said she has nothing against the foundation or safe and sober houses. But she said she still sees drug sales happening in front of the house and fears it will continue after the foundation moves in.

Hauki said reports of drug sales there concern her because the purpose of a safe and sober house is to provide an environment away from that kind of activity.

She said the foundation has the support of the Guardian Angels and will ask for their help to discourage drug dealing there.

Honolulu Police Department spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii said, “If the people know that there’s drug dealing, they need to call us.”

It should not require the Guardian Angels. If the safe and sober house goes forward, it would not take very many 911 calls to Captain Fujii before any drug dealing moves away from the area. Honestly, I don’t understand the reluctance to give this a try. It might be the only place where a safe and sober house is seen as the better neighbor than the prior occupant.

UPDATE: A reader has reminded me via the comment form about a 2005 law requiring that a public informational meeting must be held before the County may issue a permit for a safe and sober home.

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In loco censoris

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:25 am
The SB editorializes today to voice its opposition to the UH censorship of student government letters to students. Nearly the entire editorial was previously mentioned here last week, but it’s good to see the additional buzz.

I’m still very curious to learn how the censorship came about. These letters were sealed inside envelopes addressed to individual dorm residents. How did the Housing office become aware of the content of the letters before they were delivered? Did they monitor the ASUH meetings (without voicing their concerns there?) and then simply assume that the bulk mailing from ASUH was going to contain the “misleading” information discussed at the meeting? Alternatively, did the Housing office (with the complicity of the Campus Mail system?) tamper with sealed letters to determine the contents and then confiscate the whole lot after they found “error” in the message?

Grant Teichman, the student body president, said security guards have abused their authority by conducting searches of students and “asking for girls’ phone numbers.” On several occasions, he said, guards have searched grocery bags and coolers and pushed students around.

Such allegations deserve a robust debate about students’ privacy rights and the university’s security responsibilities. That debate cannot take place when the university chooses to censor students in their mailings.

The debate that follows should be about more than dorm room searches and security. It should also include an inquiry to clarify who, or what policy, allowed for censorship of campus mail.

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State forgives Aloha tax debt

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:00 am
The Advertiser business section reports that the Department of Taxation has forgiven over $1M in taxes owed by Aloha Airlines. The airline is plodding through bankruptcy may have never been able to pay in full, according to DOTAX.

Aloha, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in December 2004, is seeking approval from dozens of creditors, including the state, to emerge from bankruptcy protection in January. The airline declined comment on the agreement to reduce its state taxes.

Aloha paid about $5.6 million in state corporate income taxes and $1 million in general excise tax in a one-year period, according to a December report commissioned by the airline titled “The Importance of Aloha Airlines to Hawai’i’s Economy.”

Lowell Kalapa, president of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii, says the state is taking a good risk by helping Aloha. If Aloha ceased flying to the Neighbor Islands, the consequences “would be tragic” for the local consumer, Kalapa said.

Kalapa added that the state’s budget currently has a surplus, and the amount that’s being forgiven is relatively small compared to the large tax credits that are being given to high-tech companies and developers, such as Jeff Stone, whose $1 billion development at Ko Olina will be financed in part by a 10-year state tax credit of $75 million.

“I think that a million dollars is not all that bad if the state can give $75 million to Jeff Stone,” Kalapa said.

Excellent points by Mr. Kalapa. What have the taxpayers gained from those high-tech and Ko Olina tax credits? What have they cost?

It would make sense to list tax credits and tax forgiveness amounts in the same manner as that idea for an online tax database I mentioned last week. How often does DOTAX forgive outstanding taxes? How much have they forgiven in total? Which companies and individuals have directly benefitted?

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State may cast off small boat harbors to counties

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:32 am
The Hawaii County dailies both run a story about the possibility of counties assuming control of small boat harbors from the state. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald version is here, and the West Hawaii Today article is here.

Land Board Chairman Peter Young said it has become apparent to him and others in the Gov. Linda Lingle administration that the state is not an ideal manager of small-boat harbors. “It is a local concern, best suited for the counties and the communities they are in,” he said.

“You need to ask, why are our harbors under state management when they are under local or private control in so many other jurisdictions?”

The state also recently held a round of discussions regarding rate increases, which would rise anywhere from 40 to 64 percent during the next two years, depending on if the Legislature chooses to approve a pair of capital improvements projects operations.

While some were against rate increases, others who attended the meetings said they would not mind higher rates, but expected upgrades to the harbor in return.

[Hawaii County Councilmember] Isbell said local control would allow fees to be invested back into the harbor, rather than put into a fund that is used to improve other facilities across the state. “It has to be the potential to be a great facility,” said Isbell. “And, with local control, it also has the chance to make money.”


Isbell said two of the other three counties – Maui and Kauai – are sold on the idea, but Honolulu has been silent.

Last May, Young said Mayor Alan Arakawa is interested in assuming control of Maui’s facilities, which operated at an average profit of $400,000 during the past three years. Kauai Mayor Brian Baptise has also expressed recent interest despite annual losses of $340,000 over the last three years.

Young said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann hasn’t decided either way despite $800,000 surpluses during the last three years.

It’s hard to imagine the Counties doing a much worse job than the State. Many of these small boat harbors are embarrassingly pathetic. In the past, private operators have approached the state with offers to manage the Ala Wai harbor but were rebuffed after harbor users organized in opposition. So this effort, with privatization as the fall-back option should the counties decline to assume control, is an interesting new twist. Clearly, the state doesn’t want to struggle with the decrepit harbors (and harbor users) any longer.

In May, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources floated a proposal to turn over its 21 harbors, 50 boat launch ramps, 19 piers and 2,122 moorings and berths to the four counties.

The procedure DLNR used, however, seems very peculiar. I searched around on the DLNR and Boating Division websites for the text of that May proposal and was unable to find it. I think that this type of change would require legislative action, so the fact that the Administration proposed it, and now some of the Counties are already considering it, before the Legislature ever authorized the handover is very odd.

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Another possible silver lining for Hawaii Dems

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:35 am
Consider this paragraph from a recent Slate piece about Representative Murtha and the Bush administration response to his call for a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

This is what happens when a party goes into campaign mode without a single opponent. With no specific person to target, the Bush administration ends up taking on all members of the opposition at once. The White House plugged Murtha into an indiscriminate and undifferentiated rapid-response machine and it didn’t work. Finally, Democrats have reason to be happy that they have no clear leader.

Hmmm. Earlier today I mentioned the scenario where there is no Democratic candidate for the 2006 Hawaii governor race. Swap a few names from the above paragraph and apply it to Hawaii:

This is what happens when a party goes into campaign mode without a single opponent. With no specific person to target, the Lingle administration ends up taking on all members of the opposition at once. Plugging opponents into an indiscriminate and undifferentiated rapid-response machine will not work. Finally, Democrats have reason to be happy that they have no clear leader.


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Kim and thoughts of asymmetric campaign warfare

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:56 am
Borreca’s SB column today serves to pour cold water on the unannounced-but-anticipated Harry Kim campaign for Governor. Numerous sources echo the big challenge Kim would face.

“He is going to need every single Democratic vote, because Lingle runs close to being a Democrat herself, plus the economy is good and she hasn’t made enough enemies to lose,” one campaign operative says.

I said as much earlier, but as time goes on there may be an angle forming that Kim could exploit. Kim’s low (self-imposed) campaign donation limit is probably the only way to use a very late start to his advantage. Indeed, swearing off big donations may be the only viable option left for a Democratic candidate as the campaign approaches. They can’t raise more money, so instead they could try to make a virtue out of raising very little money. Fundraising apostasy, I know, but what else can they do at this point?

The resulting (and, again, it has become all but inevitable) underdog status could go a long way if the Lingle advertising becomes as pervasive as most people predict it to be. Especially if Lingle’s ads are slick and the Democratic candidate’s ads look very bare-bones, “local” and sincere. The Democratic message would hardly matter (Lingle has co-opted much of it anyway); the delivery style and their relative infrequency could be the strongest message Democrats could strive for, at this point.

That said, I’m curious to know how Kim campaigned in Hawaii County. By what factor did his opponents outspend him? How did those opponent campaign?

The comments in the column about Kim’s relative obscurity and the observation about his rural style and how that might not speak to voters in urban Honolulu are well taken. But Kim is what he is. Lingle won from Maui, but it took her two tries.

At some point the Dems have to consider (if they haven’t already) the scenario of foregoing the 2006 Governor race. Donors and volunteers could instead be directed to the legislative races and long-term party building effort. However, if there is no Dem candidate, the Republicans would also be freed to focus the campaign on legislative races. Thus, it would be better for the Dems to run a candidate for Governor if for no other reason than to force Lingle and the Republicans to expend at least some of her funds and campaign effort on her own re-election.

Comments (2)
Dog for ????

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:51 am
Today was a pretty thin day for blog-able news, so I had time to read a bit wider afield. The SB has a feature story about Duane Chapman and his upcoming wedding to Beth Smith. I may be the only person in Hawaii who has not seen their television show, but I have met the two (ever-so-briefly) at the Capitol (years before the television show) when they were lobbying for, if I recall correctly, changes to process server fees.

Surprisingly, there is a political angle to this story, so I feel like I can post about it without a turf battle with Talk Stink (where they have finally overcome computer hardware woes). No slick cartoon here, though, sorry.

But its all part of a larger plan. “I want Dog to be the sheriff of Honolulu, out with the old and in with the Dog,” Smith says.

Chapman says he has even higher political ambitions, but declines to specify. Helping revamp the justice system is high on his list, though. “I love the police here and most of the judges. I’m at a place where people are now listening to me. I’m the poster child for rehabilitation.”

Well, unfortunately for Smith, there is no single person with the title “Sheriff of Honolulu” because the State Department of Public Safety provides Sheriffs to the whole state. These officers are all known as deputy sheriffs. So far as I know, there is nobody with the title of “Sheriff.” If there is such a person in a leadership role with that distinct title, he or she keeps an unusually low profile. Just like Chapman. Not.

As for Chapman’s higher ambitions, those are fun to ponder. Honolulu Prosecutor would seem the political office most in keeping with the tone of his comment and with his personal, uh, expertise. Peter Carlisle certainly could not play the “tough guy” card on Duan Chapman. Heh.

Comments (1)

Bronze Stars awarded to MCBH Marines

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 10:21 am
For the most part, I have few complaints with the Honolulu print media coverage of the Hawaii military units as they deploy worldwide and conduct operations in our state. Today, while reading the latest edition of the Hawaii Marine newspaper (a weekly that goes online each Friday), it became clear that they missed what I consider a story very worthy of wider play.

Four Kaneohe-based Marines were awarded Bronze Stars (with Valor devices) this past Monday. Even better, these were not posthumous awards. One of the Marines is even listed as hailing from Hawaii, and still both dailies missed the story. Sigh. I don’t know if it was a failure of the Marine public affairs office to publicize the event or a dubious editorial decision, but it’s a big oversight either way.

The Marines ? Capt. Jer Garcia, from Honolulu; Staff Sgt. Ralph Scott, from Tallahassee, Fla.; Sgt. Michael Chambers, from Lexington, S.C., and Cpl. Alexis Ayala, from Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. by way of Morganton, N.C ? were presented their medals in front of family, friends, and about 1,000 fellow Lava Dogs by 1/3 commanding officer, Lt. Col. James Bierman, and 1/3 sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Michael Berg.

The awards were earned in Iraq. As you’ll find if you read the rest of that PDF, these Marines and the rest of 1/3 are all training vigorously to deploy again to a combat zone; this time to Afghanistan.

Some would say, (and, in fact, the award itself does say), that Scott did a lot more than what he was merely asked to do. For example, Scott (along with Chambers) ran into an open field, under heavy enemy fire, to save two Marines who were pinned down ? one of them severely wounded.

?Staff Sergeant Scott grabbed two M16s ? his own and mine ? put one in each shoulder, and covered me while I carried the wounded Marine to safety,? said Chambers, recalling that fateful day in Fallujah where he served as Scott?s platoon sergeant. ?He took baby steps, slowly backing up, never even flinching when the rounds were impacting all around him. I mean, the impact from the rounds were right on him, dirt and debris was flying all over his body from the near misses, and he just calmly kept firing both weapons at once, making sure that the wounded Marines were protected. We made it, and both those Marines are alive today because of his actions.?

In fact, all 14 of the Marines on that particular mission survived, though 10 received the Purple Heart for their wounds. Chambers was one of them.

Garcia, Scott and Ayala each also received the Purple Heart during Operation Iraq Freedom II.

Garcia and Ayala?s battlefield bravery was similarly striking. Garcia?s citation, in part, reads, ?With complete disregard for his own safety, he exposed himself to enemy rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun fire as he directed his unit?s fire against insurgent forces. Despite receiving a shrapnel wound to his eye, he remained on the battlefield, refused evacuation and continued to lead the company in prosecuting the destruction of enemy forces.?

Like Garcia, Ayala was also wounded, and, according to the citation, displayed extreme valor under enemy fire, ?Ignoring shrapnel wounds to his hands and face and with complete disregard for his own safety, he ran through the enemy machine-gun fire and pulled the first Marine out of the impact zone. He again plunged head-on into the hail of bullets and assisted in carrying the second wounded Marine out of the line of fire.?

That is pretty compelling heroism, in my opinion. However, there was no story there, apparently. Luckily the base newspaper saw fit to cover it. Perhaps when yet another member of 1/3, Sergeant Rafael Peralta, is finally awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (for which he has been posthumously nominated) the dailies might take note… I will.

Comments (2)
Mayor prefers Waimea settlement offer or private $ instead of risks of trial

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:13 am
Another kink in the Waimea valley condemnation process. There will be another Honolulu City Council vote on December 7th to “approve” a committee report that followed a vote in favor of a settlement proposal. The Advertiser has this story, and the SB has a piece here.

It’s clear that the Waimea Valley issue is a contentious one for the City Council. Yesterday, five of the nine council members requested that the proposed legal settlement be discussed in a special meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 7, the same day as the council’s last scheduled meeting of the year.

That is the deadline for the city to take action on the settlement offer or prepare to go to court for a trial scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 13.

Councilman Charles Djou, a key backer of the compromise, said that after Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz expressed reluctance to schedule a vote [on the acceptance of the committee report], council members pushed for the special meeting to make sure a vote was held.

Dela Cruz, who represents the North Shore area that includes the valley, was among the four members voting against the compromise in a committee vote last week.

“I voted ‘no’ in committee. I’ll probably be voting ‘no’ on accepting the committee report,” Dela Cruz said yesterday. If he did not poise [the acceptance of the committee report] for a vote, Dela Cruz could kill the settlement offer by inaction.

So much for Dela Cruz being the powerful Council Chair, eh? The five supporters of the settlement have shown some moxie.

The bigger news from these stories is that Mayor Hannemann has announced that he won’t approve “an open checkbook” for purchasing the valley.

“I just hope that those that would want the city to preserve this will recognize that we’re not in a situation where we have deep pockets, and there’s an unlimited amount of money that would pay for this. I’m hoping that there’s some kind of balance that will come out.”

The solution that the Mayor hints at is private funding. I am assuming he means a land trust, such as The Nature Conservancy. Would any deep-pocket benefactors be interested? It would be a good idea to find out before December 7.

What if the City went to trial to see at what amount the judge values the property? Could the City then voluntarily halt the condemnation process if that price is found to be too high? If that were possible and actually happens, who would control the valley and what could be done to/with the valley by the owners and by those who want to see it preserved? i.e. is there a fourth option beyond “settlement,” “private funding,” and “pay up” that could protect the valley from subdivision and eco-tourism schemes?

Comments (0)
Aerial banners may be flying a bit higher than City argued

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:53 am
I took note of the SB editorial today that argues that the Honolulu ban on aerial billboards challenged earlier this week may succumb to federal law.

Jon Van Dyke, special deputy corporation counsel, says he is “pretty comfortable” that the city will prevail, citing a previous 9th Circuit ruling that upheld the city’s ban on aerial advertising. However, at that time the Federal Aviation Administration’s handbook said planes flying lower than 1,000 feet must “understand and obey local and state ordinances that may prohibit or restrict banner tow operations.” The court took notice of that courtesy.

Following the 2002 ruling, the FAA struck that provision from its handbook. A spokesman said the agency “wanted to make it perfectly clear that the FAA still retained sole authority over airspace.” Federal law allows aerial advertising.

For this reason, the editors argue:

Federal legislation might be needed to keep the skies free of offensive images.

Hmmm. I notice that they don’t mention federal legislation to uphold a total ban on aerial messages, but rather to ban “offensive images.” With this Congress, this President, and this Supreme Court, do they think that type of legislation is very likely to be passed and to withstand Constitutionality challenges? I don’t.

I can only interpret this editorial to mean that a “non-offensive” aerial banner would be acceptable to the editors. The definition of pornography is slippery enough, delimiting “offensiveness” would be even more tricky. The editors should continue to feel free to censor advertisers within their own newspaper, but I’d rather the government stay out of the business of declaring what banners are “offensive” in the public airspace. We’ll never agree on the definition.

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Senator English pays $1000 to settle Ethics probe

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:26 am
The SB has a story that seems to bring to a close the Ethics complaint against Senator English regarding his inability to account for some state-supplied airline vouchers and his free trips on interisland “air ambulance” flights.

State Ethics Commission documents show English deposited $1,000 into the state General Fund on Wednesday, when the settlement was reached.

Under the agreement, English does not admit to any “willful misconduct” or “violation of statute.”

I wonder if the Ethics Commission agreed to settle the case because leaks made by their private investigator compromised thier ability to formally resolve the matter with a ruling that could survive an appeal?

Now that the Ethics charge is pau, I wonder if the Campaign Spending Commission finished investigating this case. I can’t recall if I’ve heard of that or not…

Comments (0)
Curious correction

Filed under:
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:24 am
Today I noticed a correction was published in the West Hawaii Today to a story that was the topic of a post I wrote yesterday. At first I thought they were going to retract the sentence mentioning “recall or impeachment” of County Council members, but no, it was only to clarify a quote.

A story published Thursday incorrectly stated that Claudia Woodward-Rice was encouraging people in all nine council districts to find new leaders. Woodward-Rice says she was referring only to the Hamakua and Hilo districts.

Interestingly, I did not notice a correction notice in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald website, even though they ran (almost) the same story which included the statement of Woodward-Rice.

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Morality and development: to build or not to build?

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:02 am
I had been watching for this piece in the Haleakala Times after I learned that they had sent someone to cover a recent debate held at the Seabury Hall school cafeteria on Maui. The school has a new debate club that sponsored the event. Pretty cool stuff, kids! The formal debate featured Charlie Jencks, Maui Chamber of Commerce Chair and realtor Lance Holter, President of Sierra Club?s Maui Chapter. The question debated was the title of this post (and the article).

Jencks repeatedly emphasized the importance of building luxury homes.

?Our budget in Maui County is approximately $400 million a year, ok? Property tax is almost 45 percent of that revenue. So it?s important we have a good property tax stream,? he said. He compared a house in Kahului with four fulltime residents to a house in Wailea with two part time residents.

He said the Wailea house pays five times the amount of property tax as the Kahului house and has less demand for county services. ?It doesn?t take a computer to figure out that?s a gain for the county in terms of revenue and less cost on roads, sewer, water, schools and parks,? he said.

Holter?s response was that a luxury home uses resources and is a tremendous waste of energy.

?And to me, it?s abhorrent because if you consider what 10 homes for the teacher, the fireman, the policeman, the nurse, the librarian, the engineer, the County Planner ? all the nuts and bolts of our society ? would generate in tax revenue, it?s the same amount that the development community talks about, but would help create a healthy society,? he said.

?For 30 years we?ve been promised that if we invest our capital in resorts and luxury development, that this would benefit our residents,? said Holter. ?We?ve created an economy whereby our local residents need two or three jobs to survive.?

Jencks makes a point that probably resonates pretty well with those tasked with drafting County budgets, so any affordable housing initiative needs to at least consider that fiscal impact. Holter’s claim that luxury homes use more resources is unexplained and, in the form it is reproduced in this piece, I don’t understand it.

Jencks surprised me a bit by allowing that the impact of development has divided Maui. Although it would have been pretty hard for Jencks to deny the growing evidence and maintain any credibility…

?We created a cultural separation and maybe to some degree a class separation,? he said. But there was a need for the county to generate revenue for infrastructure, as the society changed from agriculture to tourism.

?I don?t believe government is good at building homes,? Jencks said. ?I prefer and believe in market forces. Government has to get out of the way and let the private sector build product. There is no new product coming on board.?

Holter disagreed.

?Market forces have not worked on Maui. We?re a sensitive small economy ? the market is not going to provide affordable homes. Everybody wants to live on Maui,? he said. ?We need to intervene, just like you would with an addict.?

All this spontaneous(?) talk of “product” and “addicts” and “intervention” is thought-provoking. Usually the term “intervention” is associated with the demand side of drug abuse, i.e. the user/buyer. With affordable housing requirements, the intervention is associated with the supply side. Think for a while about what that might mean.

Comments (3)
Reaction to the reorg of Hawaii County Council

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:35 am
More evidence of the dysfunction at the Hawaii County Council in two (almost) identical articles in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and the West Hawaii Today.

Before breaking for lunch, the council postponed action on the committee reorganization until it received an Office of Information Practices (OIP) opinion on whether having Planning Committee co-chairmen was a Sunshine Law violation.

Once the council reconvened – with the press and most of the public absent – Hilo’s Donald Ikeda put forth a motion to reconsider the reorganization.

“If we wait for the results from the OIP, or if we call for a public hearing, which was the alternative, then we will go through this whole thing all over again,” said Virginia Isbell, of South Kona. She added it was possible to get an OIP opinion Wednesday afternoon.

Since the meeting had not formally adjurned, the afternoon reconsideration (after most of the audience had left) of the motion made before a lunch recess is arguably not a Sunshine Law violation. That said, it could have been a politically costly parliamentary manuever.

Woodward-Rice, Kona residents Ray Chaikin, Dr. Lois-Ellin Datta, Brenda and Larry Ford, Jerry Schneyer, and Bill Sanborn, of Waimea, all thought the matter was postponed until council members’ Dec. 7 meeting in Kona.

“It was very obvious they were going to put it off for a couple of weeks and we saw no reason to go back (to the council meeting via teleconferencing from the Kona council office),” Larry Ford said. He said he feels “frustrated” and “a little dejected that no matter how many people testify, they appear to be wanting to do what they want to rather than listen to the testimony.”

Chaikin said the council reconsideration after lunch was an attempt “to avoid dealing with the public’s anger.” Schneyer called the move “bait-and-switch,” while Datta and Sanborn said they were “surprised” and “disappointed.”

Datta said she wants to know what Isbell was thinking by aligning with the east side representatives for the reorganization.

Chaikin said West Hawaii residents are “very upset” with Isbell and “they can’t understand why she is doing what she is doing.”

The voters are growing ever more frustrated with the Council, if these quotes are a good barometer of public opinion.

Then, I noticed the one difference between the two published versions of the article. The (Hilo-based) Hawaii Tribune-Herald did not run this sentence which is found near the end of the West Hawaii Today piece:

Schneyer said he knows of no recourse short of a recall or impeachment.

Maybe that omission means nothing, but maybe it suggests that the Hilo editors did not want to plant that seed in readers’ minds. The reason being that since many Hawaii County residents think that Hilo controls policy to the detriment of the rest of the County, if people followed through with the idea Hilo could lose its disproportionate influence. Hmmmm.

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UH-Manoa student government to discuss a response to censorship

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:05 am
The SB has an expanded version of the AP story about letters from the UH-Manoa student government addressed to student residents of on-campus housing that were refused delivery by the campus mail system. I still can’t find any written policy online that might justify this kind of censorship.

Contrary to the [ASUH] letter’s assertions, [UH housing office interim director] Camara’s letter [to ASUH] said that guards have the right to enter dormitories for many reasons, including to check room conditions, search for missing property and make sure students are complying with health and safety regulations. Camara also wrote that school policy requires students to present identification when asked by a guard.

“This is greatly concerning as it is critical that all residents be in receipt of correct information to ensure their health and safety,” Camara wrote.

She’s right about the guards authorization to enter dorm rooms. However, is it a requirement of school policy that female students also present their telephone numbers to security guards?

But [ASUH President] Teichman said even if that was the case, the university should not be allowed to confiscate letters.

“This sets a really dangerous precedent for student government. If we speak out against the administration, are they going to censor us every time if they don’t like what we have to say?” he asked.

Teichman said he knew of at least three cases in which school guards asked for girls’ phone numbers and several in which guards searched grocery bags and coolers, pushed students around and entered rooms without warning.

Teichman said the mailing of the letters together with a cover sheet he wrote were approved by the school’s 40-member student government. The student government has nearly $500,000 in its budget, and mailing letters is a common procedure that has never been subject to school oversight, he said.

The envelopes were given to the school’s mailing office on Tuesday, said Matt Gerhardt, a student senator. He said the school treats campus deliveries like regular mail, “but in this case they chose not to.”

Teichman said student senators were contacting lawyers and that they would meet on Dec. 6 to decide what to do next.

Unless the letters were sent as an unsealed mailing, how did the housing office come to know the content of these letters? Did they (and do they now) have a policy of, or any authorization for, opening pieces of mail that they have been entrusted to deliver?

With that much money in their budget, ASUH ought to consider appropriating $1100 for re-sending the letters via the USPS. Let the housing office try to censor that.

Comments (2)
Momentum commission hears from small crowd of 10%-ers

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:15 am
I’m a bit confused by this PBN article about a “Tuesday” videoconference meeting to solicit public input for the Economic Momentum Commission recommendations. What’s confusing is that I think this meeting happened almost two weeks ago, and the EMC website fuels that theory, too. So why the long delay in publishing this article? Weird.

Anyway, here’s the bulk of the PBN report:

Turnout was low for the meeting, which spanned 10 sites at various University of Hawaii locations on six islands. Approximately 20 people showed up to the meeting at UH-Manoa where commission Chairman and First Hawaiian Bank CEO Donald Horner presided. About 70 seats were reserved by the public for the meeting at the rest of the locations. Organizers did not keep a count of how many actually showed up, but said that it seemed like more than had reserved seats.

One participant asked how the commission planned to improve job training and whether it would provide tax credits for businesses that offer internships. Commissioners said the details of implementing the proposals hadn’t been worked out yet.

Is a proposal with no details a proposal, or is that more like a concept or goal?

Others questioned how the commission would deal with the shortage of affordable housing and whether the state’s major landowners had committed to building more. Commissioners replied that landowners had made a commitment.

That’s encouraging news. Which landowners and what parcels of land?

One attendee called the commission’s proposals good but “rather timid” and asked whether it had considered any bold initiatives.

“For too long Hawaii has been polarized by 5 percent on the far left or 5 percent on the far right,” Horner replied. “The 90 percent in the middle who pay all the bills and work everyday … they’re the people carrying the load, but they’re not the people down at the Legislature lobbying.”

He said it is the commission’s job to speak for them and that the proposals will help the vast majority of Hawaii’s people.

So, I’ll take that dismissive response as a “no, we did not consider anything bold.”

This is another manifestation of the tension between the necessity for public involvement in our representative democracy, and the lamentation that the democratic process is too often hijacked by those who actually get involved. Funny that Horner seems to pull that 90% figure out of thin air, since Woody Allen is known for saying “90% of life is just showing up.”

Comments (0)

Unsolicited consultant has a great idea – for a price

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 4:00 pm
Senator Hooser has a curious post at his blog that, among other topics, includes this strange anecdote:

Had a most peculiar conversation with a constituent yesterday. It seems this particular constituent (a well established long time business man in the community) has an “idea” that would alleviate traffic and save the State of Hawaii millions of dollars in the process.

The catch however was that the fellow with the idea wants to be paid for it…before he tells anyone about it. He said the idea was so great, he was not willing to tell me what it was or discuss it with anyone until he had a written agreement with the State agreeing to pay X amount of money…should they choose to implement and use his idea.

After discussing with him the challenges of getting the State to agree to pay an undermined amount of money for an undetermined idea of undetermined value, I told him that this was a very unusual request…and I had never heard of the State doing this type of thing…and that I would give it some thought as to how it might be approached…but that the governor was probably in a better position to act on this request than myself. He agreed, thanked me for listening and said he would continue the conversation with people he knows who might have the ear of the governor.


It would appear this constituent is a bit unfamiliar with the mechanics of the “consuultant” industry. First, he should patent his idea if he is so worried about others cashing in on his scheme. Additionally, he could choose to discuss this idea with potential customers only after having them sign a non-disclosure agreement. If the customer is persuaded that the idea is as good as he claims it is, then the two parties could dicuss licensing the patented idea to the customer and negotiating a price. Then it could become another proposed item for the next budget bill and the idea could fight for funding against all the other spending proposals.

[blink] Nobody can seriosly expect payment simply to be made privy to an idea of unproven utility or value. What a clown!

That said, I am now very curious what the idea is. I’ll offer $10 and I will sign a non-disclosure agreement. Heh.

Comments (0)
UH-Manoa students concerned over blocked mail delivery

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:41 am
I didn’t see this AP story among my usual sources, but I did hear it mentioned (actually “read” might be more accurate) on KHPR this morning. I eventually found it at KPUA Hawaii News.

The story is interesting on two levels:

First level: What kind of “mail” are we talking about here? E-mail? Intra-campus mail? U.S. Postal Service mail? I’ve sent an email to the ASUH president mentioned in the article to find out, but he apparently actually has a life and may be enjoying his holiday this morning. …or maybe UH blocked my email, too, haha.

If it was sent as email, then I would be surprised (and, frankly, disappointed) that the Housing office could have persuaded the IT staff to block those messages. It’s a university-owned server, so it would be technically possible, but only if they knew in advance of the email. Once email is in the delivery queue it is almost instantly delivered and removing the delivered message from all those e-mail inboxes would be a less trivial (and even more objectionable) matter.

If the message was sent by the free intra-campus mail system, then it’s pretty clear how delivery could have been blocked.

However, if the ASUH mailing was sent to students as postage paid U.S. mail and UH officials (somehow) blocked delivery, then I’m certain that is a crime.

Interim housing director Janice Chu Camara told the student government that the letters contained several “incorrect or misleading’’ statements.

Orwellian, much? So, to be clear, what UH policy allows the housing director to censor communication from the elected student government to the students? Follow up the ASUH letter with your own letter if you must, but to simply block delivery of the “incorrect” letter is not how to demonstrate respect for the leader of a democratically elected body representing your “customers.” Is this evidence of a rogue bureaucrat, or did somebody senior to Camara direct/authorize this action?

Second level: What of the campus security searches and “asking for girls’ phone numbers?” The Housing official does not dispute those allegations, so far as I can tell from the brief report. Is this part of some sort of anti-drug effort, USA Patriot Act sneakiness, Freeman Guards booty call, or what?

UPDATE: I just heard back from the ASUH President, he’s away from his office and couldn’t provide me a copy of the letter yet, but he does confirm that the letter was sent via campus mail.

Comments (1)
CommPac challenges city contract

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:15 am
A small media dogpile ensued after a press release from Communications Pacific announced that they are challenging a City decision that resulted in CP losing a sub-conractor job that was to be part of the mass transit project analysis. There are articles in PBN, the SB, and the Advertiser.

I can see why they are fighting, since publlic relations consultants may be the only businesses to actually make any money off of this likely-to-fail process. Oh, and lawyers will profit from the affiliated discord throughout the whole evolution, of course. Heh.

The story has a little extra zip due to the incestuous political connections on all sides. The CEO of CP is a well-known ally of the Governor. All three stories make that fairly clear, although the (no author attributed) Advertiser piece is only obliquely forthcoming about it. The sub-contractor that replaced CP is run by a known ally of the Mayor. The SB and PBN mention that, but the Advertiser does not. Finally, only the PBN piece quoted the part of the City’s response where they claim that the lawyer representing CP is married to the State Deputy Comptroller in the department where the complaint was filed. Enough intrigue for you?

I would not be surprised if the state Procurement Policy Board declines to take any action, since, as the Procurement Office explained, the law does not allow the PPB to “exercise authority over the award or administration of any particular contract, or over any dispute, claim, or litigation pertaining thereto.” CP instead argues that they are only asking for a general opinion on the practice of substituting sub-contractors and not for a ruling on their particular contract.

Even if the PPB does nothing, this is a small victory for CP since they have raised what seems at first glance to be evidence of cronyism. The mass transit project will involve enough controversy on the substance of the debate. This type of controversy over the process of the debate is not going to help supporters of mass transit.

Comments (2)
Hawaii County Council is reorganized (again)

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:23 am
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald runs an interesting account of the Hawaii County Council meeting that resulted in a vote to reorganize the committee chair assignments. This after several weeks of wrangling and false starts. The action replaces a committee with co-chairs with a committee with one chair, and made a few swaps of chairperson posts.

During the morning session, North KonaCouncilwoman Virginia Isbell said it was a Sunshine Law violation for Hoffmann and Pilago to co-chair the committee.

“Having co-chairs is illegal,” Isbell said.

“It’s not illegal,” Lincoln Ashida, the county’s top civil attorney, told the council. However, Ashida said he called the state OIP during the morning session and was told the practice is not advisable.

“I believe it creates an appearance of impropriety,” Ashida added.

Nice. So the Sunshine Law is in favor of consolidating the already considerable powers of committee chairs instead of dispersing that authority? Even with a “Chair and Vice Chair” arrangement I strongly suspect that the two councilmembers would be in contact with each other before meetings to set their agenda and thereby deciding which issues will ever see the light of a public hearing. Is that type of consultation “improper” or even illegal, too?

Although he did not allege any wrongdoing, Ashida cautioned the council that having two lawmakers introduce legislation could possibly violate the Sunshine Law. The practice could be considered committing to vote a certain way, which the Sunshine Law prohibits, he said.

He noted the OIP has ruled that serial communications – council members speaking to each other, one after another, about a particular subject – puts the co-chairmanship into question since, if the two councilmen discuss something amongst themselves, they cannot speak to another council member about that subject until it is taken up in a public meeting.

Another unintended outcome from the Sunshine Law, if it is true that legislation may only be introduced by a single lawmaker. I’ll tell you this much, it would certainly make life easier for the primary introducer’s staff who have to try to track lawmakers down in search of their signature on a bill as co-sponsor. A “one introducer only” policy would also quickly make it pretty clear who are the creative, thoughtful, lazy, and/or vain legislators.

Pilago and Hoffmann both recalled that on Oct. 18, after the County Council defeated another committee reorganization attempt, Higa called both men and vowed he would
put forth a resolution calling for a committee leadership reorganization.

Pilago questioned whether Higa violated the Sunshine Law by calling both councilmen that night to discuss reorganization. The OIP has previously ruled that as many as four council members can speak privately about council reorganization. Pilago still wanted an OIP opinion.

Aw, come on, already… yawn.

Comments (3)
Maui councilmember arrested for DUI on Kauai

Filed under:
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 6:37 am
The SB appears to have scooped the Garden Island News and the Maui News in running this story about Dain Kane, a member of the Maui County Council.

Kane, who served as Council chairman for two years and is now Budget and Finance chairman, has been mentioned by political observers as a possible candidate to challenge incumbent Mayor Alan Arakawa in 2006.


Maui voters are forgiving of drunken-driving convictions. Former Councilman Wayne Nishiki won re-election handily in 2002 despite two drunken-driving convictions in about four years.

Nishiki said he was embarrassed and apologized to the community.

Nishiki didn’t run for Mayor, though. This could be a big obstacle if Kane attempts that mayoral campaign.

I suppose it is possible that the Kauai police beat reporter did not recognize the name, and the Maui police beat reporter doesn’t monitor the Kauai blotter… still, kinda embarrassing for those two papers I’ll bet.

UPDATE: Jimmy (the reader who never leaves his email address) points out in a comment that the Maui News has the story today. Well, I guess the MN editors gave the webmaster the holiday off, because I don’t see anything from Thursday on their webpage…

UPDATE 2: The Maui News story is here. Nothing there that the other stories didn’t have.

Comments (6)

MPD theory in search of data

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:06 pm
A Maui News article demonstrates the woeful level of science literacy that is too common in the media.

The crash was the second this year in which motorcyclists have been critically injured on Maui roads, said Lt. Jeffrey Tanoue, commander of the police Traffic Section. Five motorcyclists have died in other crashes on Maui this year ? four of them since Oct. 11.

The number of motorcycle fatalities this year is the highest that Tanoue can remember.

?All of a sudden, we have a rash of motorcycle crashes,? he said. ?There may be more motorcycles on the road because of the gas prices on the rise and people are looking at cheaper alternative methods of travel. With more motorcycles, there may be more inexperienced drivers.?

While the motorcyclist in the latest crash was licensed properly, police said that wasn?t the case in two of the recent fatal motorcycle collisions.

A 36-year-old Haiku man had no valid driver?s license when his motorcycle hit an oncoming pickup truck while overtaking in a no-passing zone on Hana Highway at the Hookipa Beach Park exit on Nov. 12, police said. A 24-year-old Wailuku man had a learner?s permit that doesn?t allow operation of a motorcycle after sunset when his motorcycle was hit by a car on Kahului Beach Road at Kanaloa Avenue at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, police said.

Okay, the statistic is worrisome, but the lack of curiosity from the reporter is also disappointing. How many of the four motorcycle fatalities since October 11 involved riders who were not motorcyclists (legal or illegal) before the gasoline price cap law? Correlation != causation.

Well, I suppose I should be thankful that at least the Maui Police Department did not theorize that Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Pakistan caused these motorcycle fatalities… and at least the story included a sage recommendation to enroll in the MSEP course.

Comments (1)
Another online database idea

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:42 pm
Okay, now here is a very serendipitous chain of events:

The Hawaii sex offender website goes live and is hugely popular.
Too late to matter, Representative Harbin is discovered to have a history of tax problems that (allegedly) would have dissuaded the Governor from appointing her to replace Ken Hiraki.
Recently two more online databases went live that publicize the names of those convicted of traffic violations and other offenses.
Yesterday I ponder “non-residents” who may be evading their Hawaii taxes and are going undetected and/or unprosecuted.
This leads to…

Today I notice a story (and a background piece) from Wisconsin about an online database intended to shame taxpayers who owe more than $25,000 in back taxes and to thereby pressure them to pay up.

Wisconsin’s new law requires the posting of everyone who owes more than $25,000. This group collectively owes $578 million, or 75% of all unpaid taxes.

Separately, on the same Internet site, will be a list of the top 100 offenders who owe the most in unpaid taxes. Those 100 scofflaws – 67 businesses and 33 individuals – owe $27.58 million.

Officials said that the law prohibits them from releasing the names of the scofflaws or their counties of residence until Jan. 3, but they can release the amounts they owe now. One individual taxpayer about to be named on the Internet owes $1.68 million; and one company owes $2.79 million.

“We’ve done things backward in the past: How much each taxpayer paid in taxes was public information, but delinquency was protected information,” Lasee said in a statement.

“Now that’s changed. If you don’t pay your taxes, we get to know that.”

What’s good for criminals should be good for these deadbeats, no? This could be a fun sideshow if anybody cared to introduce similar legislation in Hawaii.

Comments (0)
3-part town in Olowalu not described by newspaper

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:34 am
Another article today about another plan, and again the plan is not well-described. The Maui News article about Olowalu is more about reactions to the plan than it is a description of the plan. The article also seems to further stoke the cult of personality surrounding the visiting planner, Mr. Duany.

I did a post about his first visit, and it sounds like the three subsequent meetings have been more substantive and productive. Of course, not having attended the meetings and based only upon this article, I can’t really tell that for sure.

The audience of at least 380 people was quiet and attentive during the two-hour talk by planner Andres Duany, a marked change from the meetings? noisy start last week in which protesters shouted down scheduled speakers and took over the stage.


The orderly atmosphere Monday was underscored by the presence of six uniformed police officers hired by the developers.


While protesters held signs from the audience ? ?A Community Based on Theft? and ?Aloha Also Means Goodbye? ? they did not interrupt the proceedings. Some walked through the audience handing out leaflets stating that the land could not be developed because it was owned by the Hawaiian kingdom.

Developers Bill Frampton and David Ward maintain that the owners of the project area have clear title to the land.

I’m not sure what to make of that. It sounds as if there is (or will be, if the project proceeds) an organized effort to challenge the “clear title” they currently hold on the area. Even if the effort fails, it might take a while to resolve it in the courts.

I wonder if the final plan will adhere to his earlier vision of people living and working within this sef-contained community. I still just don’t see how that possibility “pencils out.” If that fantastic aspect of the plan isn’t there, then this Olowalu community will be sprawl. Another flavor of sprawl with compact lots and novel architecture, but still sprawl. The residents will get up every morning and drive off to work somewhere else, and, while they are out, they will probably do their shopping somewhere else where they can transport the goods back home using their cars.

Comments (1)
Impact fees – a variation on the concurrency theme

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:04 am
Hawaii County has contracted with some consultants to consider going beyond their existing system of “fair share requirements” to a formalized impact fee system. The two Hawaii County dailies have the story, from Hilo and from Kona. For a nice change, each paper actually wrote their own report…

This is related to the concurrency topic I posted about earlier, but I see one key difference: Concurrency requires the infrastructure to be provided at the same time as the development, whereas impact fees paid to the County are purported to fund the infrastructure but it would still be up to the County to actually expend the revenue and provide the infrastructure—at some unspecified time.

Had residential fees been assessed on half of the building permits issued in the last five years, $10 million per year could have been collected, planning consultants with Duncan Associates and Helber Hastert & Fee told County Council members Monday.

If all developers were charged non residential road impact fees, the county would receive $12 million per year, consultants said. They proposed a county-wide fee calculation, but with an east-west collection system, “so the money collected on one side of the island is not spent on the other side of the island.”


But while the county has assessed $74 million in fees since the early 1990s, it has collected just $3.6 million, according to the Planning Department’s figures. Developers also paid $15.2 million by donating parks, installing traffic lights or doing other voluntary improvements, the costs of which were credited to their impact fee debts.

The $55.2 million balance has not been collected because the rezoned land has sat idle. The fees are not due until the affected landowners receives final subdivision approval or plan approval, which occurs just before building permits are sought, Yuen said.

The Councilmembers quoted in the article are uniformly interested and, it would appear, will be supportive of the impact fee when a bill comes before the Council (predicted to be in the spring). No comment was solicited from developers, although the consultant said the impact fee ordinance would provide the developers with a “level playing field” and a Councilmember said that he thought developers could live with the fees.

With this fresh in my mind, I took a look to see what impact fee(s) Honolulu demands. All I see at the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu is a single ordinance designated “impact fees for traffic and roadway improvements in Ewa.” If that is actually the only impact fee Honolulu has established, then it is easy to see why continuous growth in Central Oahu is outpacing the traffic infrastructure. Further, related to my above theory comparing concurrency to impact fees, how much money has Honolulu collected as impact fees for traffic and roadway improvemetns in Ewa and how much has been expended in that region?

Comments (0)
Kauai residents support civic pride – shocker!

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:25 am
A very frustrating article in the Garden Island News today. The headline is “Opposition MIA at Kilauea plan meeting.” After reading the article, I would amend that headline to “Description of plan MIA in news article.”

The draft Kilauea Town Plan was developed because of the realization by residents that there exists little or no land in the town core that could be used for urban development.

The plan, if adopted, will allow town residents to develop their own identities, giving a sense of civic pride and place to residents young and new, residents and county planners agreed.

The county-funded draft plan, with recommendations by members of the Kaua’i County Planning Commission, will move to members of the Kaua’i County Council for action, once approved by commissioners.

If the document is approved, the draft development plan for Kilauea is likely to be implemented.

There was no opposition to the plan at yesterday’s public hearing.

It is as if the reporter simply can’t accept the fact that maybe, for once, a planning process has listened to the community and produced a plan that the community supports. Shocking, I know, but the possibility is real.

That said, I suspect that the plan is a bit more specific in its recommendations than simply to “allow residents to develop their own identities, [give] a sense of civic pride and place to residents young and new.” (Hey, what about the old residents?)

If the plan is really that vague, who would ever oppose it?!

Anyway, the article lists a lot of the community concerns that emerged as the plan was being created. It would have made perfect sense to note which of those concerns have been incorporated into the draft plan…

Comments (1)
Fox applicant opposes HCDA plan for Kakaako waterfront

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:31 am
A short missive from from one of the applicants to finish Galen Fox’s House term can be found in the Advertiser Letters to the Editor today. The letter is nothing special; Sue-Ako (the woman I just briefly mentioned yesterday) is against the HCDA plan to allow A&B to redevelop Kakaako.

The creation of the Hawai’i Community Development Authority was well-intentioned. Thanks to its efforts, Honolulu residents now have balanced recreational options between large, open spaces at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park and thriving shops at Victoria Ward Centers.

It is unfortunate that the HCDA’s grand vision has deteriorated into unnecessary and unwanted development.

Overwhelming community opposition should be sufficient reason for the HCDA to scrap its plans for the massive A&B development.

Kristi Sue-Ako

The letter is interesting, however, for the possible repercussions it could lead to. First, for her selection to the House seat, and second, for what she might do to stop HCDA once in office. Temper that second item a bit, since Sue-Ako would be a no-seniority freshman Republican.

Bigger picture, I wonder if there will be any applicants for the vacant seat that make the short list and support the HCDA plan. Does the Governor (who ultimately makes the appointment) support the HCDA plan? Hmmm.

Comments (1)
Campus blotter

Filed under:
— Doug @ 8:15 am
From a regular Ka Leo column.

Tuesday, Nov. 15

1:52 p.m. – A suspicious man followed a student to her Manoa area home. He was described as a 5?10? Caucasian man in his late 40s with long, blond hair. Campus Security checked the area but was unable to locate him.

After the earlier unsolved gang rape and a string of sexual assaults, this is more alarming than it might usually be.

On the lighter side:

Wednesday, Nov. 16

4:05 a.m. – Campus Security found a man lying on the ground near Maile Way. He was drunk and thought he was in Kalihi.

Provide your own punchline, if you must. Heh.

Comments (0)


Filed under:
— Doug @ 11:37 am
I’ve had a request to make it easier to find posts that have new comments. There is a WordPress “recent comments” plug-in that can do that, and I may download and experiment with it in the near future.

For now, however, if you look above the Sitemeter counter you’ll find that there is a RSS feed for comments.

Any other “admin” type of suggestions, complaints, comments, or (stroke my ego) praise? Please, speak up.

Comments (3)
Why Michelle Wie may decide to leave Hawaii

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:16 am
Another interesing PBN story today speculates that her new multi-million dollar endorsement contract and potential for large tournament winnings may “force” Michelle Wie to reside in some other State.

[High income] taxes are a reason many high-net-worth people in Hawaii – even those so well-known in social circles they’re practically considered kamaaina – have established legal residence in states with lower tax rates or no income taxes at all.

Legally, a person who spends 200 days a year in Hawaii is considered a resident. The Ladies Professional Golf Association runs tournaments from February through December, and even with a relatively light schedule, it’s unlikely Wie would be in Hawaii much of the year, making it easy to claim a residence elsewhere.

For most wealthy people with second and third homes, the challenge is staying out of Hawaii at least 165 days a year. But the state tax department says it has never prosecuted anyone for trying to avoid Hawaii taxes by claiming a legal residence elsewhere.

Still, some wealthy people with legal residences elsewhere keep logs on the exact number of days a year they are in Hawaii in case they’re challenged, said Carroll Taylor, a Honolulu lawyer who specializes in estate planning and wealth transfer.

“That means that they have to be out of here for nearly six months in the year,” Taylor said. “They will live in Hawaii half the year, and Nevada half the year, and when they file taxes it’s as a Nevada resident.”

Two comments:

Who are these “practically kamaaina” high-net-worth people who establish legal residency elsewhere? It’s a pretty broad accusation to make without any evidence.

Why have there been zero prosecutions of those trying to avoid Hawaii taxes by claiming a legal residence elsewhere? Seems to me that the potential recovery of owed taxes would easily exceed the legal expense.

About 2.5 percent of Hawaii taxpayers earn more than $200,000 a year, but they contributed about 20 percent of the $956 million in income tax collected by the state in 2002.

Neither Wie nor her parents could be reached for comment. But the 16-year-old golfer did publicly hint at her anxiety about paying taxes now that she is a professional. When she recently announced her decision to turn pro, Wie spent part of the news conference talking about the tax form she received in the mail.

Since Wie is a minor with another year and a half at Punahou School before she graduates, her legal residence would be wherever her parents live.

“So, she’s probably locked into Hawaii for a couple of years,” said Taylor, the tax attorney.

Poor thing.

Beyond Wie’s case, the article goes on to describe how certain high-net-worth people could find Hawaii attractive if their incomes are lower (e.g. retirees), or if other possible places to live have high sales and/or property taxes.

Comments (4)
Aerial banner ban argued at appeals court

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:56 am
A panel of federal appeals court judges has heard arguments in the challenge to the Honolulu ban on aerial banners. The SB has the story here, and the Advertiser has a brief blurb within this collection of shorts.

I haven’t seen the banners, since they are illegal, but I have seen the trucks a few times. They have graphic images of aborted fetuses on the side, and I can only assume that the aerial banners would be similar. The trucks are clearly political speech, in my opinion. To call the anti-abortion message “advertising” as the City does, is absurd. Frankly, I believe that the ACLU should be representing this group in court.

The city’s ordinance prohibits aerial advertising but has exemptions for self-identification, trademark and trade insignias because the FAA has authority over that, [City counsel Van Dyke] said. For example, Aloha Airlines is allowed to have its name on its aircraft, and Goodyear on its blimp.

The center contends that the FAA has exclusive province over airspace and that any state or local law that conflicts with it is federally pre-empted.

The center has flown the banners – some as big as 50 feet high by 100 feet long – from aircraft in 19 states and has authorization from the FAA to fly in every state, Muise said. Honolulu is the only county that prohibits it from doing so, he said.

Van Dyke said the city prevailed in a nearly identical case in 2002 when the 9th Circuit upheld a Honolulu federal judge’s ruling denying a challenge to the city’s ordinance by SkySign International.

“So we feel pretty comfortable the SkySign opinion resolves that issue in the county’s favor,” he said. SkySign, which used a helicopter at night to tow an electric sign 8 feet high by 36 feet long, also sued the city after the City Council banned its flights.

Maybe. The 2002 ruling would seem to clearly dispose of the federal pre-emption claim, but does not speak directly to the free speech topic so far as I can tell. I am going to assume that SkySign was advertising some commercial product on their banner, since that opinion doesn’t specify the nature of the message on the banner. The political content of the anti-abortion sign deserves stricter scrutiny by this appeals court, in my opinion.

Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I support the pro-life message, I’d have written the same post if the pro-choice activists were fighting to tow an aerial political banner. The larger issue transcends any position taken on a banner. Does this mean I think the Outdoor Circle and the City Council went too far in banning all billboards, even to the point of excluding political messages? Yes, I think they have.

Comments (1)
Republican Idols

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:09 am
Another slightly quirky post from the GOP Hawaii blog today. Notable for its mention of a possible replacement for Galen Fox:

What was particularly encouraging to see, were so many young people – who will undoubtedly be the generation to which the torch of the Republican Party is passed onto. Kristi Sue-Ako was one of the youngest – and is an applicant for the 23rd District representative. She was an aide for Senator Gordon Trimble during the legislative session but is better known now as the treasurer for the lieutenant governor’s campaign of James Aiona. She graduated fairly recently from Wellesley College.

We shall see if Sue-Ako makes the short list from which the Governor will choose Fox’s replacement…

The next paragraph gave me a chuckle:

The Republican Party more than the Democrats, is the party of opportunity for young people – so if you know someone young in spirit and interested, the world is wide open to them. Public office undoubtedly appeals most to those who like being in a highly visible position – and well-known. Surely there must be a few American Idol types – who could shift their focus to a forum that offers a much greater possibility for lifelong meaningful involvement, limited only by their own creativity and dedication.

Maybe to find these folks the Republicans should have a “Aermican Idol”-style casting call at Aloha Stadium. Or, for that matter, maybe the Dems could find a candidate for Governor using a similar strategy. haha.

Finally, the maybe-shouldn’t-be-public exchange that comprises the first “comment” at that post reveals a hint of dysfunction at the GOP grassroots level. The guy wants to step up and volunteer and actually meets with the Executive Director—and yet there is no follow-up? Hmmm.

Comments (0)
Waimea Valley deal passes early test – whatever it is

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 9:52 am
Both Honolulu dailies run stories about the Honolulu County Council vote that brings them closer to accepting a settlement as they try to condemn Waimea valley. The Advertiser piece is here and the SB piece is here.

In his committee report following yesterday’s vote, Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, whose North Shore district includes Waimea Valley, said the committee “finds that it is in the best interest of the city to settle this lawsuit in accordance with the basic terms transmitted confidentially to the city on Oct. 26, 2005, subject to conditions intended to address concerns discussed by the Committee of the Whole with their attorneys.”

The report does not detail those conditions. It was clearly a difficult vote for Dela Cruz, who is bound by legal constraints to not discuss the matter publicly. He was joined in voting against the settlement by council members Garcia, Ann Kobayashi and Barbara Marshall.


The vote came after three meetings over three days among the nine members of the council that stretched for more than six hours.

Although details of the settlement were not disclosed, it was clear from testimony at the special meeting that potential development of portions of the valley for homes or an eco-camp were the focus of the opposition.

Djou said he expects the details of the proposal to emerge before the final vote.

I am not a lawyer so I don’t know if this may be SOP, but could these people be any more secretive? There hardly seems any point in reporting that a vote was held if the substance of the vote is not adequately described. Councilmember Djou “expects” the details before the final vote. Well, we should hope so…

META: I have had my first bad experience with DocuShare as I am unable to find the Committee of the Whole report referred to in the articles. Anyone with insight and a link to that, please post a comment.

Comments (1)
Congress OKs harbor funds

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:24 am
I noticed a short PBN piece that reports on some federal money coming to Hawaii to improve ports for ferry service.

Congress has given final passage to an appropriations bill that contains $7.5 million for Hawaii and Alaska to improve ferry infrastructure.

In Hawaii, the money will make it easier to provide harbor facilities for Hawaii Superferry or any other ferry service.

If these federal monies are used to improve the harbor facilities for the Superferry, then that may trigger an EIS that the opponents were unable to obtain for the project from the State when the Superferry was believed to be funded only with private and State funds. ??

Just wondering.

Comments (1)
Pro-UARC bloggers vent

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:15 am
Hilo blogger Andrew Walden has a pro-UARC op-ed in the Advertiser today. He takes the UH Faculty Senate to task for the resolution recently passed in opposition to the UARC. Walden’s main argument is that, “opposition to UARC is not about the specifics of the UARC proposal; it is based on opposition to the military and opposition to America.” He argues further that UARC opponents are infringing on the academic freedom of UARC supporters.

Like the Advertiser editors, Walden laments that the Faculty Senate vote was not conducted by a secret ballot, even though the Sunshine Law does not allow for that type of vote on policy questions. Strangely, Walden calls the 18 Senators who opposed the resolution “brave,” but not the 31 Senators who supported the resolution after rejecting a motion for anonymity that would have concealed their (alleged) anti-American, anti-military motivations. Indeed, had the vote been conducted by secret ballot (as Walden would have liked) and the results were 31-18, then Walden’s entire argument would be, at best, a theory as to how the vote split along his farcical pro-Churchill/pro-UARC schism. Heh.

Yesterday, Grant Jones posted about the Faculty Senate trying usurp authority from the BOR. While it’s true that the BOR could ultimately reject the resolution passed by the Faculty Senate, it was the BOR that referred this matter to the Faculty Senate for their consideration in the first place. Their charter assigns these duties and authority to the faculty:

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa Faculty Congress is composed of all
Manoa faculty members. The Senate is the agent of the Congress and will act
for it on all matters not referred directly to Congress. The Congress and
its Senate will act for the faculty on all matters of Manoa-wide concern.
The authority of the Faculty Congress and Senate on academic decision
makingdecision-making and academic policy development is derived from and
consistent with Board of Regent’s policy Section 1-10.

The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental academic
areas as curriculum content, subject matter, and methods of instruction and

Walden concludes:

The UH Board of Regents must reject the UARC protesters’ stated goal of making the university a monolithic anti-American institution and instead cast its lot with solid scientific research, academic freedom and ideological diversity by approving the UARC proposal.

The Senators opposing the UARC are not the same anti-UARC protestors who occupied the UH-Manoa president’s office in May, as much as Walden would like us to conflate the two. The Faculty Senate has not “stated” any goal of making the university a monolithic anti-American institution. Walden seems to be riffing on the “Iraq War = 9/11? lie. His mind is made up, but I don’t think his flimsy argument will persuade the BOR to defy the Senate.

Comments (2)

Concurrency legislation forthcoming for Hawaii County

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:50 pm
Today in the West Hawaii Today there is an article that follows up on the “concurrency” concerns of West Hawaii residents (previously discussed here). The earlier article had Council Chair Higa urging the West Hawaii Councilmembers to propose some legislation. Now, it seems, that will come to pass. South Kona Councilmember Isbell is drafting a concurrency bill for consideration.

The concurrency concept – ensuring that necessary infrastructure is in place before development occurs – is said to have originated in Florida in the 1980s. Florida initiated a statewide concurrency law in 1985 and Washington followed suit in 1990, with concurrency as the objective of its Growth Management Act.

Yuen said concurrency will help mitigate the deteriorating quality of life occurring with West Hawaii growth, but is not in itself the solution.

However, he added, “the traffic situation will get worse in West Hawaii and it will probably not get better than it is today – at least as along as 20,000-plus people per decade decide to move to this island.”

With concurrency, a community defines the level of congestion it is willing to tolerate and builds the capital facilities needed to maintain that tolerable level of congestion. If growth occurs at a faster rate than the capital facilities can be built, a concurrency ordinance orders development stopped – until the infrastructure catches up.

Typically concurrency ordinances have focused upon transportation concerns.

Yuen said if concurrency were applied to housing in West Hawaii, it would in effect be a moratorium, claiming that would make the housing crisis worse and, in turn, compound traffic congestion.

“We decided we were not going to apply (concurrency) to rezonings involving housing,” Yuen said of Mayor Harry Kim’s administration.

“We need workforce housing closer to where people work. A moratorium won’t stop them from being on the road, it stops them from obtaining housing closer to work,” Yuen said.

The article is using comparative adjectives without making the antecedent clear. When the article summarizes Yuen’s comments as, “if concurrency were applied to housing in West Hawaii, it would in effect be a moratorium, [Yuen claims] that would make the housing crisis worse and, in turn, compound traffic congestion.”

Here’s why it matters: Traffic congestion would be compounded compared to what?

It’s one thing to argue that concurrency (and a moratorium) would make traffic congestion worse than existing traffic congestion. It’s another thing to argue that concurrency would make traffic worse than if there were development without improvements to the transportation infrastructure.

It is hard to refute the argument that the housing situation would be exacerbated if a concurrency ordinance were, in fact, to lead to a moratorium. Thus, any legislation needs to be carefully tailored to give a significant preference to affordable housing development and to impose significant concurrency requirements on any other form of development.

If this bill advances, it will be interesting to watch it with an eye to how it might play on Oahu. In particular, I’m thinking of the parallels to Central Oahu where sprawling new developments are already in the pipeline and the H-1/H-2 merge is already insufficient.

Comments (0)
Slow-growth forecast for prisons not so curious

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:16 am
An interesting Advertiser piece about a new forecast for Hawaii prisoner population. The report shows a slower rate of growth in the coming years, but does not explain how this might occur.

Carlisle, who as Honolulu prosecutor oversees most state criminal cases in Hawai’i, said he finds the state’s prison population projections “curious.”

“Well, I can guarantee you that I have no intentions of putting fewer criminals in jail if there are criminals out there to put in jail,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle said he can’t see how the slow-growth projections could come true unless there is a sudden drop in the state population or in the number of criminals, or there are dramatic changes in state criminal law that result in more offenders being set free.

Carlisle said suddenly relaxing criminal penalties doesn’t seem likely because “that doesn’t seem to be the environment that we live in. Plus, I don’t think it’s something that you could sell to the voters very easily.”

Factors that caused the rapid growth in the prison population in the 1990s included mandatory sentences for some drug offenses, and tough parole policies that sent more parole violators back to prison.

Well, I can think of three ways the slow-growth projection could come true:

Most crimes are committed by young males. The next few years might reflect a demographic shift and a decline of the population of men at the most crime-prone age span.
The state may actually make some progress in treating substance abuse (both inside prison and in the community). This could see inmates paroled sooner and fewer parole revocations.
Continued federal budget cuts could result in substantially fewer convictions associated with the “war on drugs.”
The future projections were developed by Carter Goble Associates, a consultant the state hired to update the corrections master plan. The company studied the historic growth in the state’s prison population and developed projections for the future that it used to calculate how many additional prison beds would be needed in the years to come.

Carter Goble concluded the rapid growth in the men’s prison population from 1990 to 2003 will be halved in the next decade, dropping from the historic 11 percent average annual growth to only 4.8 percent growth per year from 2004 to 2013.

Why are consultants providing these figures? The state has it’s own program to calculate a projected prison population, and, unlike the consultants, the Sentencing Simulation Model will tell us what variables they use in their forecast and which variable(s) are key to the change in growth rate (if any). The misuse and neglect of this program really irks me. Carlisle himself sits on the Corrections Population Management Commission and actively supported the SSM, so I am surprised (and disappointed) that Carlisle did not look for a second opinion from a source closer to home and easier to evaluate.

If you’re feeling cynical, it’s easy to conceive of why a consultant such as Carter Goble would consistently underestimate the population growth rate: they are in the prison devlopment business. If they give low population projections it helps their business insofar as the recipient of that advice, if they act on it, is likely to need more “consultation” services in the future. If the consultant were to give an accurate (or inflated) forecast the customer may actually build the right amount (or even a surplus) of prison space. Prison developers make more profit on a per-project basis, than they do on a per-bed basis in any one project. Thus, it is much more profitable for these companies to suggest and build a string of medium-sized/inadequate facilities than a single huge/adequate facility.

Finally, Carlisle made this comment:

Carlisle wondered if the state might encounter a phenomenon he called “Ice II” ? where some other illegal drug suddenly becomes popular in Hawai’i in the way methamphetamine did years ago, triggering a surge in arrests and convictions. That could lead to unexpected growth in the prison population.

“It seems to me that it’s likely that there will be some new horrible drug that’s going to raise its ugly face at some point in the future,” he said.

…so we might as well prepare to fight a yet-to-be-seen drug using the same failed strategies that we employ in the fight against methamphetamine?

Comments (1)
UARC contract to be revised—will there be another Faculty Senate vote?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:04 am
The Advertiser relies again on an AP report about the fallout of the UH Faculty Senate resolution in opposition to a UARC. The SB does not run the piece this time, however.

Gary Ostrander, vice chancellor for research and graduate education, said university lawyers are reviewing the contract for a Navy University Affiliated Research Center to address concerns of faculty leaders who voted against the proposed military partnership on Wednesday.

Ostrander said the proposed contract’s language will be clarified to show opponents of the center that the partnership is a good investment that will benefit the school.

“You are dealing with the federal government … and often you will run into situations when one set of rules and regulations appear to be in conflict,” Ostrander said Thursday. “I think everything is covered, but we are attempting to make it clear and more explicit.”

James Tiles, vice chairman of the Faculty Senate, said the vote against the center could be overturned if 100 professors sign a petition by Saturday asking for a vote of all Manoa campus faculty.

“When the senate does something that is clearly at odds with what the faculty at large want to see happen, there’s this mechanism,” he said.

See, here is why it would be interesting to know by name which Faculty Senators voted to oppose the UARC. If Tiles voted in favor of UARC, then this quote would sound like a plea for a silent majority of supporters to organize a petition. If Tiles was opposed to UARC, this sounds more like a neener-neener-neener. Heh.

Ostrander’s comment is more important, in my opinion. It sounds as if the contract might be amended and the revised contract will be put before the Chancellor, the President and the BOR. This would provide those folks an escape route; a way to recommend approval of the amended UARC contract and at the same time argue that they are not disregarding the clearly expressed will of the Faculty Senate. These quotes from Konan and Sansone only strengthen that possibility:

UH-Manoa interim Chancellor Denise Konan said she had “deep respect for faculty on all sides of this issue.”

In a statement, she promised to take all perspectives into account when deciding whether to recommend the center to interim President David McClain.

Marti Townsend, a graduate who is a member of a coalition of professors, students and community members opposing the center, said she is waiting for the school to follow the faculty’s recommendation to stop negotiations with the Navy.

“We are very excited,” she said. “We fully expect that this contract will be withdrawn. We are going to move on.”

But oceanographer Francis Sansone said he remains hopeful the school will persuade professors to approve the center.

“Every case that I’ve seen where objections have been raised they’ve been answered pretty adequately,” he said. “I firmly believe that the president and the administration are a group that could be trusted to carry out those modifications.”

In other words, the Faculty Senate vote conducted last week may not have have any significance if this sly flanking manuever is in fact underway. However, if Konan makes her recommendation to the President and BOR after the Faculty Senate is allowed to review and vote again on any revised contract, then that would be a fair outcome. That is what should be done if UH wants to maintain the respect of the faculty.

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DOE to be tempted by marketers’ lucre again

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:32 am
The SB reports here that the Board of Education will again consider a proposal to sell their captive students audience to advertisers. The two members proposing the idea, Garrett Toguchi and Randall Yee, say “it’s different” this time because the ads would be limited to school property outside of the classroom and would be public service announcements.

Toguchi and Yee argue that schools are already awash in not-so-subtle corporate messages, contained in everything from corporate-sponsored reading campaigns to teacher awards and even school decorations.

“If you go into schools, you’ll see Disney characters or Winnie the Pooh images or what have you. Does that make a child want to buy that product? It probably does,” Toguchi said.

“But what’s interesting is the school pays to have that stuff in there, not the other way around.”

They hope to gain more traction among other members by omitting any mention of product advertising in their proposed amendment to the board’s commercialization policy.

The amendment would allow paid advertisements in schools but not in classrooms. Ad content would be restricted to messages consistent with the “mission and educational goals” of the state school system, such as anti-smoking ads or other public service announcements promoting healthy lifestyles.

“If we can make money for schools and promote positive behavior, we think it’s worth looking at,” Toguchi said at a recent public meeting to promote the idea.

Toguchi said rather than distracting schools from the education mission, a steady revenue stream could reduce the amount of time school principals must put into raising much-needed additional funds.

He says he has received “quiet support” from some school principals.

Principals desperate for funds are not going to be reliably rational decisionmakers on this topic. Nor, it seems, are Toguchi and Yee. This “advertisers are only here to help you” approach is the classic strategy used to get their foot in the door, and the softest targets for that pitch are, of course, under-performing schools facing budget troubles.

That has certainly been the case with Channel One, a “free” satellite news service to schools that comes at the cost of 2 minutes of advertising for 10 minutes of non- (or less-) commercial content. Advertisers love this, because they are guaranteed a known (large) population of their target demographic every day. Students can’t simply turn the channel or choose not to watch.

The advertising is not restricted to television. The possibilities extend all the way down to logo’ed novelties and banners.

?As budgets get crunched, schools are starting to look for different ways to raise revenue,? Martel says. ?Signage is definitely one option that school administrators are looking at. There?s a good opportunity here for signmakers to create all types of different signs, from vinyl banners to channel letters to directories.?

Like Martel, signmakers across the country are beginning to recognize the vast opportunity in catering to in-school advertisers. That?s because schools are beginning to recognize the vast opportunity in catering to marketers. According to a U.S. General Accounting Office report, in-school advertising has become a growing industry, with marketing professionals increasingly targeting school children.

?Exclusive contracts with soft drink companies can net a school about $35 per student each year,? says Mike Roumph, vice president of D.D. Marketing in Pueblo, Co. ?Soft drink marketing programs can bring a school district up to $300,000 in revenues. Somebody has to make the signs.?

There’s money to be made in this new “market” and the marketers smell it much like sharks smell blood in the water.

360 Voice?

An in-school advertising program reaching students in Kindergarten through Grade 8. The large-scale poster format features engaging, fun and easy-to-consume educational content alongside advertising messages. 360 Voice delivers the hard-to-reach tween demographic throughout the school day, when no other media can reach them.

Some might say that I’m caricaturing these ideas as being so overtly evil. Perhaps. For a more even-handed treatment of the debate (from which Toguchi and Yee may have actually cribbed one side from), see this link of the pros and cons of in-school advertising. My mind is made up, and is summarized by a sentence from that Consumers Union piece:

Selling or providing access for commercial purposes to kids while they are captives in the classroom is a perversion of education.

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Akaka for Governor?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 4:32 pm
I took late notice of Borreca’s Sunday SB column about two anonymous emails sent to Democrats.

Two things before I comment: First, if anybody would care to anonymously post these two emails in the comment part of this post that would be greatly appreciated. Second, if anybody with a bit of Internet Protocol savvy has the full header info for one of these emails it could be possible to determine the source if the sender was sloppy about his or her anonymity.

The speculation is that at 81, Sen. Dan Akaka, who is almost 100 percent assured of re-election next year, should consider either stepping aside or coming home to run for governor.


If Akaka is running for re-election, others say, “It makes strategic sense for Hawaii to have a new freshman senator … and start building seniority now.”

The e-mail and the speculation then list all the usual suspects – Reps. Ed Case and Neil Abercrombie, former Gov. John Waihee and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Also in the mix would be former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga and former Honolulu City Councilman Duke Bainum. Even Sens. Colleen Hanabusa, Ron Menor and Donna Kim earn a mention.

The other rumor figures that Akaka should come home and run for governor. An opening in the Senate would lure Lingle into the race, where she would probably be matched against Case and might lose.

Hmmm. The first idea, so far as I can interpret Borreca’s exegesis from the emails, is that Senator Akaka should simply drop out of politics altogether or should be defeated in the Democratic primary(?) to “have a new freshman senator … start building seniority.” Now that would be a bloody primary race, for sure. Would Governor Lingle campaign for the Republican spot on that senate race? I can’t think of a reason why she would not.

The second idea, of Akaka running for Governor, is a bit more interesting because it would also, of course, fulfill the first idea at the same time. Would Lingle abandon the governor seat to run for the open Senate seat, thereby all but assuring the gubernatorial victory to Akaka? Fun scenarios to ponder, but I think the emails greatly underestimate the attraction elderly senators have to the tradition of dying as members of the Senate…

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Credit union on Maui will try developing affordable housing

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:29 am
There is an encouraging story in the Maui News about the Kula Credit Union and their proactive attempt to create opportunities for their members to obtain affordable housing. They propose to build a complex for seniors on a parcel of land owned by the credit union.

When asked how the community could be assured that the project wouldn?t be sold for speculation, [former mayor and now KCU president] Cravalho minced no words.

?We ain?t selling nothing!? he declared.

A strong proponent of keeping Maui housing in Maui hands, Cravalho also said the project would be aimed at fulfilling the needs of current residents. To achieve that goal, renters would need to be members of the credit union or live or work within the credit union?s field of membership, which is within 10 miles of the Kula Post Office, ?as the crow flies,? said Cravalho.


Recently, the Kula credit union has been taking a more active role in trying to help solve Maui?s affordable housing crisis. The firm has the first right of refusal on the proposed affordable units of the Hale Mua project in Waiehu. Hale Mua has been approved by the county, but still must get its OK from the state Land Use Commission.

Cravalho said there are other ideas in the works, including the possible development of a 10-acre parcel in Kula for working families. That project is a few years down the line. To help individuals attain ownership who might not be able to afford a down payment, Cravalho said he?s thinking of a program that would allow residents to rent the units at first, but then, after so many years, turn a high percentage of the rent paid into that elusive down payment.

?I think we have a variety of approaches,? he said. ?We need to find the doggone answers on how we can do it.?

Wow, what a great use of the credit union’s capital! Banks often talk about “reinvesting in the community,” but, as non-profits, the credit union is a logical place to look for this type of low-return leadership that for-profit banks might shun. The details of this particular senior housing project are less interesting to me than the larger theme: a credit union assuming a leadership role to fulfill a community need. I hope government and the credit union will be able to nurture this idea so it may be perfected and then spread to other credit unions.

Politically, it’s also not a bad effort for the former Maui Mayor to be associated with if he were ever to consider running for elected office again…

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Bridges and harbors; not a smart mix

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:11 am
It’s pretty rare for my biggest avocation, sailing, to garner any political attention, so I feel compelled to at least point out this SB article about the concerns raised by owners of sailboat moored at Kewalo Basin about a proposed pedestrian bridge across the mouth of the harbor.

“There are areas around the world that have been energized by these kinds of bridges,” [HCDA Executive Director] Dinell said. “I’m not suggesting that Hawaii needs to copy (Redding,) California. But the point is, a bridge can be much more than a functional structure; it can make a statement about the present and the future.”

Sailors are less concerned about this lofty vision than whether they’ll simply be able to get their boats in and out of the harbor.

Some said the idea seemed so ill-conceived that they suspected it would never fly.

“I figured it was a pipe dream myself,” said Kelly Faulkner, owner and captain of the Royal Hawaiian catamaran, whose mast rises some 60 feet off the water, or about 15 to 20 feet higher than the 40 to 45 foot height of the bridge as it was originally planned.

The effectiveness of a drawbridge only goes so far, said James “Komodo” Speight, first mate on the Emeraude, an 80-foot sailboat whose 110-foot mast makes it the tallest in the Kewalo Basin harbor.

“What happens when it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and there’s a storm and we can’t reach the harbormaster (to open the drawbridge)?” Speight said. “I think the A&B people are flexible enough to say, ‘The bridge is a bad idea.’”

SAILOR SIDEBAR: If Emeraude has ever been sailing in the last several years, I certainly haven’t seen it. What a sad waste for that impressive boat to sit tied up so much…

It seems that Dinell is far more defensive about the bridge idea than the developer, A&B. I don’t think the idea will fly, although I suppose it could be possible to have the bridge cross the harbor somewhat more mauka and thereby leave space for a row or two of slips for the taller vessels on the makai side of the bridge.

Perhaps Representative Harbin will take a page from Representative Cabanilla’s playbook and suggest a toll tunnel under the mouth of Kewalo harbor. Heh.

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Resolution needed in Kaka’ako

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:42 am
There is an op-ed in the Advertiser about the Kakaako Makai redevelopment proposal and the growing political resistance to the current plan to incorporate high-rise condominiums in the scheme. It’s begins like this:

It often seems that any big project in Hawai’i eventually becomes a political battle:

H-3 Freeway? Kapolei Second City? Tearing down the old Alexander Young Hotel for a new office building and park? Housing at Sandy Beach or Waiahole Valley?

You get the picture.

Perhaps this was only included as an objective observation, but if it was intended as a lamentation (as many readers of the article would view these issues) consider the alternative: less (or no) public participation in making big decisions. Which is worse for the community? I think the examples listed in the piece (H-3, Kapolei, etc.) demonstrate that resistance to big projects has accomplished good things for all of us, whether you agree or disagree with the outcome of any particular example.

It appears that the apartments are the spark point for opposition. Opponents sketch dire scenarios of a wall of high-rises, mostly occupied by the affluent, that would wall off the remainder of the area from the public.

Yes, opponents say, there will be parking, public access and public facilities. But surrounded by pricey condos and trendy shops, they will not feel welcome.

The authority makes a strong case that the apartments are critical because, without them, there simply won’t be enough money to develop envisioned public facilities, including a performance amphitheater.

Proposals to convert the entire area into a public park are unrealistic, they argue. The state hardly has the money to maintain the parks it now owns, they say, citing the huge but sadly under-maintained Sand Island Park as an example.

Might it be possible to allow A&B to carry out the residential component at some other less-controversial location (perhaps not even in Kakaako Makai) as a way to recover the expenses of developing the waterfront shops, marina, parkland, and so on at Kakaako Makai? It could make this a win-win scenario, especially if the deal involved A&B building a larger number of affordable units in areas where they are most needed, instead of a mix of a handful of affordable and four handfuls of market-rate units in this particular spot.

The notion that the project needs to “pencil out” from exclusively within its own boundaries seems unnecessarily arbitrary and short-sighted considering that nearly everyone would acknowledge the need for more afordable housing in every part of the island. “Work, live, play, learn” is very popular with the urban planners, but it is less popular with the public. I am sympathetic to that concept, but it’s unfortunate that this particular attempt to implement the philosophy had to begin at this prized location.

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Party People

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:39 am
I noticed that the cover story at the Maui Time Weekly addresses the lingering question of what it means to be a Democrat in Hawaii (I’m not sure how long that link will be valid) I had raised a similar question here and there has also been an op-ed by Representative Schatz on a related theme. The MTW piece suggests that the Party stands for something, but the members of the Party often do not reflect the stance of the Party.

?We have a lot of [party] resolutions,? said Maui County Democratic Party Chairman Ian Chan Hodges.

?Almost every local elected official has gone against one or two or even a dozen. If you look at the party, Maui County and statewide, the party leadership is quite progressive. There is somewhat of a disconnect between the leadership and elected officials.?

For a longtime Democratic activist like Dick Mayer, ideological times are tough.

?I?m frustrated,? said Mayer, a Kula resident and activist who in 2004 collected and edited all the resolutions of the Maui County Democratic Party. ?For whatever reason, there?s a lack of familiarity with the resolutions. Those are the expressions of large numbers of people who participate in the conventions. I would much rather see candidates take those resolutions and translate them into actions.?

According to Ian Chan Hodges, party officials are beginning to focus on getting state legislative officials to put more emphasis on party resolutions and even turn some of them into bills.

?The grass roots people put hours and hours and days and weeks into those resolutions,? said Shay Chan Hodges, Ian?s wife and Hawai?i Democratic Party Central Committee member. ?That definitely needs to be respected.?


What exactly the national Democratic Party stands for these days is open to debate. For instance, Senator John Kerry (D, Massachusetts) seemed to campaign for President in 2004 by both supporting and opposing the war in Iraq. But on a more basic level, progressives like Ralph Nader and Huffington point to the party?s addiction to corporate contributions as poisoning whatever pro-worker, pro-environment, pro-peace platforms the party once held dear.

?There?s a need for funding to run campaigns, and the funds are all in the hands of big corporations,? said Mayer. ?All Democrats running for office are thinking they need large amounts of money. Unions are diminishing in power. It?s what?s happening to the American political scene. And it?s getting much, much worse. The need to pay attention to people by both parties is diminishing.?

The upcoming 2006 elections will be different for the Hawai?i Democrats. For the first time they have no ?annointed? candidate running for Governor. The current Governor, Republican Linda Lingle, has already amassed such a tremendous war chest of contributions that most Democrats refuse to take her on.

Too be fair, “straying from the Party line” is not limited to Democrats; Governor Lingle is considered a RINO by some Republican Party activists. Anyway, it is too bad that the MTW doesn’t reach a wider audience where it might generate more debate. I’d be very interested to hear the response of Democratic politicians to the criticisms made in the piece.

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Pick first, look at alternatives later

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:42 am
The SB has an article today that is a follow-up to the concerns raised by the Honolulu City Council earlier that the mass transit GET surcharge would go into effect before the Council had chosen the “locally preferred” project to pursue. The article reports that there has been a change in timing, and now the Council will have a “preferred alternative” before the tax begins.

[Honolulu’s Chief Planner for transportation] Hamayasu said the city originally was going to do both the analysis of transit alternatives and the draft environmental impact statement at the same time.

“This is the most efficient way of doing it,” Hamayasu said, because the city would have produced one document for both studies.

But that would have meant that the Council would not be able to pick a system until early spring 2007.

Now, the city will complete the alternatives analysis first and then finish the draft environmental study after the Council picks its preferred transit alternative.

The EIS process is a bit convoluted, but I found the administrative rules for environmental review to be helpful. From what I can tell (see subsection 11-200-17), the format of a draft EIS necessitates having a single proposed project and then within the document the alternatives are discussed. Frankly, I don’t see how a draft EIS could have met the requirements of the EIS review if the draft simply listed all the possible projects as alternatives. Consider part F of that subsection:

The draft EIS shall describe in a separate and distinct section alternatives which could attain the objectives of the action, regardless of cost, in sufficient detail to explain why they were rejected. The section shall include a rigorous exploration and objective evaluation of the environmental impacts of all such alternative actions. Particular attention shall be given to alternatives that might enhance environmental quality or avoid, reduce, or minimize some or all of the adverse environmental effects, costs, and risks. Examples of alternatives include:

1. The alternative of no action;
2. Alternatives requiring actions of a significantly different nature which would provide similar benefits with different environmental impacts;
3. Alternatives related to different designs or details of the proposed actions which would present different environmental impacts;
4. The alternative of postponing action pending further study; and,
5. Alternative locations for the proposed project.

In each case, the analysis shall be sufficiently detailed to allow the comparative evaluation of the environmental benefits, costs, and risks of the proposed action and each reasonable alternative. For any agency actions, the discussion of alternatives shall include, where relevant, those alternatives not within the existing authority of the agency.

So what, you might ask.

Well, as I see it, weighing all the alternatives using that level of thoroughness before selecting the “locally preferred alternative” is the smartest way to proceed. The Council, in this haste to move before the tax surcharge begins, could well end up picking the alternative that the draft EIS shows to be most problematic. Then what? The City will be under huge pressure to proceed, and so we can expect that the final EIS would be accepted by the Governor and the Mayor just to get on with it.

A project this expensive and so important to Honolulu is worth the extra effort to do it well.

That said, so far as I can tell, the environmental review process does not seem to require that the best alternative is selected for any project, only that the alternatives are compared in public. Thus, if decisionmakers choose to proceed with a bad decision it’s allowed, so long as they properly document the extent of their error. Heh.

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Aw, nobody reads the sports page…

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 6:50 am
Yesterday in my mail was the “Island Weekly” (an amalgamation of news and feature articles from the past week of the Advertiser). While eating dinner I absent-mindedly browsed through it and noticed an article about a new transfer student named Ahmet Gueye who will play as a UH Warrior mens basketball forward. It’s a repackaging of this Advertiser story.

That Gueye is playing NCAA Division I basketball in Hawai’i is an accomplishment already.

He grew up in Dakar, Senegal, which is a country in west Africa. Soccer is the country’s No. 1 sport, so he did not try basketball until he was 13.

“Some of my friends wanted me to play with them because I was tall,” Gueye said. “But I was more into soccer when I was young. Once I started basketball, I fell in love with it.”

Unlike some other parts of Africa, Dakar is civilized. Gueye said he received a formal education and was raised in an urban home with his two brothers and a sister.

“We had a humble life, but my parents gave me what I needed,” he said. “It’s not a poor country, it’s developed.”

“Developed,” I can live with. But to distinguish Senegal as being one of the “civilized” parts of Africa? Wow, were the editors asleep at the switch? What a gratuitous comment to include in a sports article.

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Silver Man (a mime) is too loud?

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:44 am
The SB has a brief piece reporting on the Honolulu City Council committee vote in support of a bill to improve pedestrian safety restrict street performers. As of this writing, the history of that bill does not show if there were any dissenting votes yesterday. The bill will be heard by the full Council for third reading on December 7.

“The impact of the street performers is significant,” said Karl Kim, University of Hawaii professor of urban and regional planning, who presented findings of a study he did for the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association.

“Clearly, the sidewalks were not designed for this function,” he said.

Clearly, in the minds of the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association the sidewalks were designed solely to efficiently route customers directly between member businesses. The presence of people stopping and enjoying themselves on the sidewalk brings these businesses less revenue and could set a dangerous precedent by demonstrating the possibility of enjoying a trip to Waikiki without going broke. Gawking is free.

Kathy Wong, store manager for the Waikiki Louis Vuitton store, said performers do not help businesses, and they cause excessive noise.

“What we find on the corner of Kalakaua and Lewers is that the street performers impede pedestrian traffic in the front of the store and into the store,” Wong said.

They don’t help business, so they must go! Heaven forbid that free speech might inconvenience her obscure “mom and pop” handbag shop that every year manages to just scrape by…

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Acerbic editorial gives Harry hell

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 11:12 am
Earlier this week we heard the “Hawaii County can’t afford to lose Kim” angle in a letter to the editor. Today the West Hawaii Today has the first editorial (that I can recall, at least) that speaks disparingly of Mayor Kim as a candidate for governor. After deriding Kim for a list of problems on the West Side, the editorial concludes:

What we got was not, “Give ‘em hell, Harry,” but “What the hell, Harry?” – a nice guy who didn’t want to alienate anyone, make waves or take the lead. No leadership, no accomplishment. Nothing.

Now, imagine if you dare, this same leadership at the helm of the Hawaii ship of state. Mutiny, anyone?

Ooof. I have no idea if this editorial is an accurate barometer of the public sentiment for Kim among the West Hawaii voters, but the timing is not so good for Kim as he ponders a run on the Democratic ticket.

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Another attempt to add to prison capacity begins

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:48 am
The SB has an article by Borreca about the release of budgeted planning and design money to replace the Oahu Community Correctional Center and to add a drug treatment prison to the DPS system. The Advertiser has a similar story, too.

Lingle said $1.475 million would go for planning a replacement to OCCC’s Kalihi facility and $1 million toward building a state-run drug treatment prison.

The drug-prison plan would include “a treatment-based correctional program to assess the delivery of all treatment and other services to be provided to inmates from the point of entry to their eventual departure from the correctional system,” Lingle said in a written release.

Frank Lopez, state interim public safety director, said the drug facility would be for 466 inmates. The study would also look for a site, Lopez said.


Yesterday, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, Judiciary Committee chairwoman, suggested that the state consider patterning a new OCCC on the federal detention center near the airport.

“People don’t realize that the building next to the airport is a federal detention system, not another hotel,” Hanabusa said.

“Whatever we build, it should be a vertical model with the high-tech capabilities of the federal center.”

Two things:

At this point in the game, i.e. before the planning is even begun, DPS Interim Director Lopez says that the drug treatment prison would be for 466 inmates? Not 500 inmates, not 400, but 466. Either that is artificial precision, or it suggests to me that the State may have already selected a plan and just needs to find a site to build it. If that’s true, then show us the plan.
The Federal Detention Center was very expensive and, as ugly as some hotels might be, I don’t think the people of Kalihi would mistake it for a hotel or be thrilled with the high-rise option. Furthermore, if the plan goes forward, where will OCCC inmates be housed during the demolition/rebuilding period?
Those issues aside, the action is long overdue if Hawaii ever intends to reduce our need to send prisoners to the Mainland.

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Sour grapes and secret votes

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:10 am
A queer editorial in the Advertiser today about the UH-Manoa Faculty Senate vote to oppose the UARC proposal.

What is strange about the editorial is that after several weeks of watching the various county councils debate the merits and demerits of the Sunshine Law, the editors suddenly suggest that the Faculty Senate vote should have been conducted by means of a secret ballot.

The vote was taken by a show of hands, when any recommendation on such a controversial issue should have been decided instead by ballot. For those who might favor the plan, it would have been tough to truly vote your conscience in a public show of hands, with protesters, some of them colleagues holding signs opposing the project.

I’ll leave aside the fact that any secret ballot would have been illegal.

Then the editors argue that a vote by ballot would have been more credible. Huh? If I were to criticize the vote it would be that it should have been conducted on a rollcall basis, so every member of the faculty (and the public) could know exactly how each Senator voted on the issue. The newspaper even ventures the possibility that Senators were cowed into voting against the resolution simply by the visible and vocal opposition at the meeting. Please. If that’s true, then the commitment of those Senators to support the UARC was pretty darn thin.

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DOH to publish pandemic preparedness plan on Tuesday

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:36 am
Both Honolulu dailies have stories about the forthcoming plan to prepare for a flu pandemic. The Advertiser piece is here and the SB piece is here.

Hawai’i, reacting to the worldwide fear of avian influenza, wants to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs that could treat one quarter of the state’s population after an outbreak.

Vaccines for the H5N1 virus that cause the flu are still under development, but public health officials believe existing antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza, which treat flu symptoms, are the best available option.

The Lingle administration announced yesterday that it will ask the state Legislature for $15 million next session for the stockpile and for a data management system that would track the spread of any outbreak in the Islands. President Bush has proposed a $7.1 billion national plan to combat avian flu that encourages states to stockpile drugs to cover at least one quarter of their populations, which in Hawai’i is about 300,000 people.

At first glance this sounded terrible (who decides which 300,000 people get the help?!), until I realized that antiviral drugs are for people who are already sick, unlike vaccines which are intended to prevent the patient from contracting the disease.

Chiyome Fukino, the director of the state Department of Health, said health officials recognize they could be spending money on drugs that could be useless against avian flu.

“I think everyone is concerned about that. But the reality of it is, it is what we have,” Fukino said. “The fact of the matter is that it is much better to have something available that might work, than to not have anything at all.”

That’s certainly debatable—at this point. From a medical point of view, if the pandemic occurs and these antiviral drugs are ineffective I would not characterize that as better than nothing. Indeed, it would be equal to nothing, $15M of nothing. From a political point of view, the public expects government to “do something,” even if there is no guarantee it will work.

I’m not a doctor or a public health expert. There’s been miles of column-inches written about this possible pandemic, but one article that stands out in my mind was in Foreign Affairs this summer.

On March 24, 1976, Ford went on national television. “I have just concluded a meeting on a subject of vast importance to all Americans,” he announced. “I have been advised that there is a very real possibility that unless we take effective counteractions, there could be an epidemic of this dangerous disease next fall and winter here in the United States. … I am asking Congress to appropriate $135 million, prior to the April recess, for the production of sufficient vaccine to inoculate every man, woman, and child in the United States.”

Vaccine producers immediately complained that they could not manufacture sufficient doses of vaccine in such haste without special liability protection. Congress responded, passing a law in April that made the government responsible for the companies’ liability. When the campaign to vaccinate the U.S. population started four months later, there were almost immediate claims of side effects, including the neurologically debilitating Guillain Barr? Syndrome. Most of the lawsuits – with claims totaling $3.2 billion – were settled or dismissed, but the U.S. government still ended up paying claimants around $90 million.

Swine flu, however, never appeared. The head of the CDC was asked to resign, and Congress never again considered assuming the liability of pharmaceutical companies during a potential epidemic. The experience weakened U.S. credibility in public health and helped undermine the stature of President Ford. Subsequently, an official assessment of what went wrong was performed for HEW by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a Harvard professor who is currently president of the Institute of Medicine.

Fineberg concluded:”In this case the consequences of being wrong about an epidemic were so devastating in people’s minds that it wasn’t possible to focus properly on the issue of likelihood. Nobody could really estimate likelihood then, or now. The challenge in such circumstances is to be able to distinguish things so you can rationally talk about it. In 1976, some policymakers were simply overwhelmed by the consequences of being wrong. And at a higher level [in the White House] the two – likelihood and consequence – got meshed.”

Fineberg’s warnings are well worth remembering today, as scientists nervously consider H5N1 avian influenza in Asia. The consequences of a form of this virus that is transmittable from human to human, particularly if it retains its unprecedented virulence, would be disastrous. But what is the likelihood that such a virus will appear?

Fineberg’s conclusion is what worries me. Have the public health officials and politicians made the right decisions this time? I dunno.

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So much for “containing” the ice problem

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:33 am
Rather unfortunate timing for U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo to find this announcement of a 2/3 cut in federal funds to combat methamphetamine use in the West Hawaii Today. Kubo, you might recall, recently gave a speech where he was cautiously optimistic that the “war” on methamphetamine was, uh, entering a new phase.

A federal grant that helps Hawaii authorities combat methamphetamine use was cut by two-thirds under a bill that Congress completed on Wednesday.

Hawaii was allocated $2 million for its methamphetamine response program, a decrease from the $6 million it received last year and $4.5 million granted in fiscal year 2004.

The program supports enforcement and prosecution of meth users and dealers, as well as treatment and education efforts.

Hawaii also receives money from other federal sources to combat “ice” production and use. It was not immediately clear what impact the reduction in the response program might have in the state.

Other initiatives used to combat meth nationally took cuts such as the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, program. It received $478 million in the legislation, a $120 million decrease.

Well, if you prefer to look for a bright side, it was previously claimed that the law enforcement success against methamphetamine traffickers had had the effect of raising street prices for the drug, which led to more property crimes committed by addicts reacting to the changing market. So, perhaps there will now be a correlating decrease in property crime as the feds reduce their spending on this problem and street prices fall in response.

Comments (2)

Faculty Senate passes resolution opposing UARC

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:07 am
Both Honolulu dailies run an AP story about the UH Faculty Senate vote in opposition to the proposal for UH to become a Univeristy Affiliated Research Center with the Navy. The Advertiser article is here, and, if you prefer the SB, they carry the same piece here. The student newspaper Ka Leo has their own story, with more detail than the dailies.

Faculty Senate Member Noel Kent called the vote a tremendous victory. “The faculty has defended the integrity of the university. I’ve been here for 33 years and I’ve never been prouder of our faculty than I am today,” Kent said.

Before senate began their debate, Ad hoc Committee Chair Sara Rutter presented the findings from outside counsel.

A member of the Faculty Senate moved to have a secret ballot to vote on UARC. But 38 senators opposed the movement and 12 were in favor, voiding the motion.


The Faculty Congress could overturn the decision of the Faculty Senate with a two-thirds vote, but to trigger a referendum, a petition consisting of 100 faculty member signatures is needed within 10 days.

I had to do a little searching to discover that the Faculty Congress includes every member of the UH faculty. Also, the charter I found says that petitioners have 14 days, not 10 days, to gather 100 signatures, but whatever. I don’t think it is likely that this vote would be overturned, even if 100 signatures were gathered in time.

“Now that the faculty has voted and they have opposed the UARC, it is up to Chancellor Konan to heed the advice of the Faculty Senate and oppose UARC in her recommendation to the Interim President,” said Martha Townsend, 2005 Graduate of the UHM Law School, said. “Now the energy of our efforts to explore openness and trust and dignity in our university is now focused at Denise Konan.”

Konan had no comment after the vote. It will be interesting to see if she actually defies the Senate.

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Youth facility guards being re-trained in use of force

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:45 am
The Advertiser has another piece today about the latest episode of the Legislature’s investigation of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

Administrators had been subpoenaed last week to testify under oath but the subpoenas were lifted before yesterday’s 6 1/2-hour briefing because some of the administrators also may have to testify in court in connection with the ACLU’s lawsuits. Lawmakers wanted the administrators to be able to speak without worrying about potential legal issues.

Staff at the facility, speaking under oath, told lawmakers last week that the physical abuse against wards has subsided but that verbal and psychological abuse continues. A pediatrician and a registered nurse practitioner also said their complaints about abuse were largely ignored by Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration.

Lillian Koller, director of the state Department of Human Services, challenged that claim yesterday, telling lawmakers she twice responded in writing to a complaint from the nurse. The nurse, Linda Hadley, said afterward she did not recall receiving anything from Koller, but Koller showed a reporter copies of her letters.

Wait a minute, Hadley was under oath. Koller was not. Good thing, otherwise it would be clear that one of the two were lying under oath, no?

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-50th (Kailua, Mokapu), demanded to know why leaders of United Public Workers, the union that represents the guards, had not been called to testify. Although administrators said they have made progress with the union on changes at the facility, Thielen said the union has not been asked why it has defended violent guards.

“Why is the union not across the table answering questions?” Thielen asked.

Luke said during a break that union leaders had been invited to testify but did not respond and were not subpoenaed. She said she would ask the union ? and the ACLU ? to appear at any briefing following the Justice Department’s conclusions.

Well, it’s about time someone on the joint Committee realized that a key player was not participating. After Ian Lind’s article in the HW, it would seem that many legitimate questions need to be asked of UPW. The week after that piece ran Lind was criticized as being anti-union in a letter to the HW editor and Lind has responded this week in an entry on his blog.

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Raucous opening for Olowalu workshops

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:14 am
The Maui News has two articles about the series of meetings to discuss development at Olowalu. The first describes a “raucous” meeting, and the other piece profiles the visiting “New Urbanism” guru who has assumed a leadership role in the process. There is also a website on the topic.

But after vocal opponents had a chance to vent, the tense mood turned as planner Andres Duany assured the crowd that he understood their anger, and that while his model couldn?t solve ?ancient wrongs,? it could be a step toward addressing more recent community problems.


More than 420 people packed the King Kamehameha Country Club in a standing-room-only crowd.

The audience quieted down and even nodded in agreement as Duany criticized American planning processes that had made communities less livable for everyone.

?There are people here who are not Hawaiian who are just as angry,? Duany said. ?There?s something fundamentally ill about the way things are going here.?

He said the community-planning process he would lead for the Olowalu developers would emphasize a ?village? design that would be walkable, with a small footprint, lots of green space, and mixed affordable and market-priced housing.

When a critic shouted out that Hawaii was not part of America, Duany?s response got him a cheer from the crowd.

?This may not be America, but your entire planning process is American. This will be an opportunity to use a planning process that is not American for once.?

I smell a co-optation in the works. What is “not American” about this planning process? Duany doesn’t really spell that out, but as these meetings progress he will have a chance to demonstrate the difference (if any).

In the piece that profiles Duany there are many rarely-heard observations that speak to the tricky problem of how to fight suburban sprawl.

It isn?t that Duany?s ideas haven?t had lip service since 1990. At least since development picked up after the doldrums of the mid-1990s, hardly a project has been presented to the Maui Planning Commission that wasn?t described as ?pedestrian-friendly.?

But Mauians haven?t gotten out of their cars yet. The number of passenger vehicles in Maui County, 112,205 as of the end of 2003, is about 12,500 more than the number of licensed drivers, 99,716, in that year, according to the 2004 Maui County Data Book.

Duany sums up his design principle as ?compact, connected and complete.?

That means that residences are mixed in with commercial buildings (often apartments over shops) and that almost all services and jobs needed are within walking distance.

Wha? If there are any jobs (much less almost all jobs) within walking distance of Olowalu that pay enough for any of the employees to actually buy a unit at the new Olowalu community I’ll be stunned, frankly.

People are so dissatisfied with the suburban model of building and its associated traffic hassles, he said he thinks that ?many very good people are opposed to development.?

In reaction, they decide ?growth must be stopped.?

He added, when addressing the council, ?You know what happens to affordability.?

On Maui, it is a matter of broad opinion that ?dignity? requires housing on large lots. Leaders as diverse as former Mayor Elmer Cravalho and Native Hawaiian teacher Ed Lindsey have testified on that theme at various times.

Duany said he thinks not. If communities are properly designed, he says, ?People love to live (in town) at a great deal more density.?

Design is key. One way to keep housing prices down, he says, is to build residences with poor livability.

?You can help (affordability) by doing bad design,? he says.

Which creates a quandary. ?If you do a good job, people bid it up,? and it stops being affordable.

He does not have an answer to magically take care of that. Everywhere you look, he says, you are faced with tradeoffs.

So which will Olowalu be, then, a good design or affordable? Heh.

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PUC in no hurry to tweak gasoline price cap formulae

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:48 am
I’ve almost given up reading the weekly articles about the wholesale gasoline price cap going up and down. Luckily, I chose to read this update from SB because, after the usual announcement and the all-but-boilerplate ’supporters say/opponents say’ the article had this:

Meanwhile, two participants in the state’s gasoline market have asked for and received more time to file proposals to adjust the cap.

The PUC solicited proposals last month from Chevron, Tesoro, Shell Oil, the Hawaii Petroleum Marketers Association and the state Consumer Advocate on suggestions for adjusting the price cap formula.

Specifically, the PUC is seeking proposals for creating different profit margins at various steps in the gasoline supply chain, a concern that has been raised by legislative Democrats who have criticized the PUC’s implementation of the price cap law. The commission also is seeking proposals on how the law should address upcoming ethanol blending requirements for gasoline.

Industry parties faced a Nov. 1 deadline to submit proposals, but the PUC granted a one-month extension to Shell and the HPMA after both said they needed more time to analyze the effect the price cap law has had on their operations.

The PUC approved the extension in a letter to the industry parties earlier this month.

Lisa Kikuta, chief researcher at the PUC, said there was no time line for analyzing proposals and making recommendations.

Well done, Reyes. I was beginning to wonder if the media had forgotten about this. I am still curious if the various proposals submitted to the PUC will be considered public documents. Also, since Chevron, Tesoro, and the Consumer Advocate did not ask for extensions, does that mean they have already submitted their responses? What did those three propose?

The longer this formula amendment process is stretched out, the less time any policy change by the PUC (if any) will be in effect before/during the 2006 legislative session. When the 2006 session begins there will surely be calls to amend and to repeal the law. Having sparse or zero public data will result in those debates being more political than substantive. What a surprise.

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Native Hawaiians seek cultural trademark for art

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:17 am
An article in the PBN about the beginning of an effort to trademark Native Hawaiian cultural traditions to protect traditional handicrafts from cheap non-Hawaiian knock-offs.

A trademark could help protect craftsmen like Makaiau, according to Leighton Chong, a Honolulu attorney specializing in intellectual property.

“It’s time for some acknowledgment of Native Hawaiian cultural arts,” Chong said. “Otherwise, it won’t thrive, it will die out.”

To prevent that from happening, Chong, who is part Native Hawaiian and a partner in the law firm Godbey Griffiths Reiss & Chong, is volunteering his time to work with members of Hale Kuai, a Native Hawaiian producers cooperative, to study models for using a cultural certification trademark, which certifies the authenticity of cultural arts products.

The group recently received a $74,000 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The Hale Kuai study group plans to make recommendations by the middle of next year for a model cultural certification trademark program and will determine whether to seek state legislation to enforce the trademark.

Chong maintains that in order for a culture to remain intact, practitioners must be able to practice their arts and pass on their knowledge to younger generations. However, such a culture often attracts imitators who flood the market with fakes, most of them cheaper.

For example, a kukui nut lei, handmade by polishing the nuts, takes many hours of work and might be priced at $50 to compensate the craftsman’s labor. However, a similar lei made in the Philippines may sell for $5 to $8 in tourist shops. Plastic leis made in China cost even less.

“So even when the materials are natural, if they’re harvested in countries where labor is cheap, it makes it impossible for Native Hawaiians to compete,” Chong said. “They can no longer afford to make these cultural arts and must take a day job to subsidize their cultural activities.”

Over time, he said, the artists may quit their craft and stop teaching the younger generation.

I’ve bought some things from the co-op and know someone closely involved with it, and, while the prices were not cheap, I would hate to see the crafts die out because of inexpensive competition. The article did not mention it, but Hawaii recently saw the enactment of a 2004 law to protect lei and jewelry made of Ni`ihau shells from imitators.

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Mayor forces hand of Council Chair

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 11:11 am
A SB piece reports that the deal to preserve Waimea Valley may be falling apart and could lead to development in the back of the valley.

Part of the proposal appears to call for the back of the valley to be subdivided into eight parcels for development of about a half-dozen homes. Attractions Hawaii, owned by Wolffer, however, would have to obtain other government agency approvals. Under the proposal, part of the valley would be used by Attractions Hawaii as a ecological camp for tourists.

Councilman Charles Djou, chairman of the Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, said it would be fiscally responsible for the city to agree to the settlement.

“I think this is the least worst solution. It allows the city to retain control of the front portion of the valley and it preserves it … without shelling out more money,” Djou said.

Sure, “least worst” if Djou’s primary/only concern is the immediate monetary impact. We can infer that he is resigned to (or supports) the long-term development of the (proposed) subdivided parcels in the back of the valley.

In a rare move, Mayor Mufi Hannemann is calling the City Council into today’s special meeting as the Committee of the Whole to consider the settlement offer. Hannemann said in a letter to the Council that the Council must act before December to satisfy a court deadline.

Hannemann’s move came because Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who represents the district that includes Waimea Valley, refused to place the settlement offer on the agenda for Council consideration, his colleagues say.

“Obviously I’m not comfortable with the settlement,” Dela Cruz said, declining to comment further.

[Councilmember] Kobayashi said, “He is very much against any real commercialization (of the valley). He doesn’t want any attractions or rides.”

But Kobayashi said that she is also concerned about keeping the valley in its natural state.

The article does not specify how great the fiscal impact might be if the settlement offer is declined. The City already has $5.2M riding on the deal to purchase the land for preservation as a park. If Dela Cruz had thought he had the votes to reject the settlement offer, then it would seem logical that he would have scheduled a hearing for the Council to consider the offer. He did not schedule a hearing, thus, Dela Cruz may not have the votes to reject the settlement offer. That’s one theory.

In any event, this is a small test of the Council leadership strength of Dela Cruz.

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Again with the cell phone ban

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:50 am
The idea to regulate cell phone use by drivers that died at the Lege is easily accomplished when you may govern by fiat memorandum. Take that, Sunshine Law. haha. A SB piece repots on a new cellular telephone ban for drivers on Army posts.

The policy memorandum was signed on Nov. 7 by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, whose jurisdiction covers Army posts that include Schofield Barracks, Tripler Army Medical Center and Fort Shafter.

Stefanie Gardin, Army spokeswoman, said Mixon’s cell phone ban centered on “safety.”

“Every day, thousands of soldiers and civilians are on our streets,” Gardin said. “Whether they’re drivers or pedestrians, they have a right to the safest environment possible. The new cell phone policy helps ensure their safety by limiting additional distractions to motorists.”

The policy applies to military personnel as well as to civilians, visitors and contractors who are allowed to drive on Army posts. Under the Army policy, violators will lose their driving privileges.

“First, that does not mean an individual would lose access to post, only that he or she would no longer be able to drive on post,” Gardin said. “Second, loss of driving privileges is not necessarily the maximum punishment, but it is one of the more severe punishments.”

Is there a history of cell phone use causing accidents on Army posts? As far as I know, the military is not required to report accidents that occur on base to State officials or the media. (While I’m on that subject, did you ever notice that you never read about traffic offenses [DUIs, in particular] involving officers; it’s always the enlisted men. HPD/MP cover-up, or are officers all angels?)

Unfortunately, Senator Hanabusa is incorrect about the most recent legislative effort to require hands-free devices for motorists using cell phones on public roads.

Earlier this year, the Senate contemplated a similar ban, but would have allowed the use of hands-free devices. However, cell phone companies and others opposed the ban and no legislative action was taken.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) said yesterday that the bill is not dead and “will be heard again next year. It is still alive, especially after that accident where a person was text messaging while driving.”

The history of that bill clearly shows that Hanabusa, as Chairperson, recommended to hold (kill) the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 6, 2005. The recommendation passed, and the bill is dead. If the Committee had wanted to “table” the bill Hanabusa could have deffered decisionmaking indefinitely.

I happen to support the concept just because I hate the way cell phones seem to give many motorists verbal diarrhea, but the data for the “safety” argument premised upon the phone being a distraction are pretty flimsy and selective.

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Ethics complaint added to impeachment effort

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:15 am
Following up on the Hawaii County impeachment effort I posted about a while ago, there is this West Hawaii Today article. The allegations are that a marijuana eradication program was not reviewed before additional spending was authorized for the program. The citizen who initiated the impeachment effort, Roger Christie, now has an ethics complaint in mind.

Christie claims the council members should not have voted on Oct. 18 to have taxpayers or Christie pay their legal fees should council prevail in the impeachment lawsuit.

Christie claims it was a conflict of interest for County Council Chairman Stacy Higa and council members James Arakaki, Donald Ikeda, of Hilo Pete Hoffmann of Kohala, Fred Holschuh of Hamakua, Virginia Isbell of South Kona, Angel Pilago of North Kona and Gary Safarik of South Kona to vote for the reimbursement of their legal fees.

Based upon my understanding of ethics regulations, I don’t give that ethics complaint much hope, but for this to become an issue the impeachment lawsuit would have to be defeated anyway. On that topic:

The county charter requires mandatory program reviews every four years when state and/or federal funds are received for any particular county program.

The police department receives $472,500 every year from the state and federal governments for marijuana control.

Bob Jacobson, representing Puna, Ka’u and South Kona, is the sole council member not listed in the impeachment because of his opposition to the program.

Only [Mayor] Kim has been served with a copy of Christie’s impeachment complaint. Kim’s attorney Andrew Wilson responded Nov. 3, denying wrongdoing on Kim’s part, asserting Kim is not responsible for mandatory program reviews.

Honolulu attorney David Minkin offered pro bono legal services to the mayor and council members, but said none has taken him up on the offer as of Monday.

Christie said he won’t serve council members with his complaint until after the ethics issue is resolved. The Board of Ethics meets Dec. 14.

Yeah, whatever. Cut to the chase, will the underlying impeachment lawsuit be heard in court? When?

Notice that there is no possibility mentioned of the Council simply conducting the program review and thereby making the grounds for the impeachment lawsuit moot… Is the Hawaii County Council really so reluctant (or obstinate?) to speak about the program openly that they will risk impeachment? Very odd.

Comments (1)
Kim as cannon fodder

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:49 am
I have already briefly considered this angle, and I don’t know if I take it too seriously, but there was this letter to the editor in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today:

I’m a bit amused by those politicians in Honolulu and their endorsement of Harry Kim for the governor’s race. Do they think we Hawaii Islanders are hicks?

I voted for Harry. I’m proud (well mostly) of the work he has done for our island, and I would vote for him again whether for mayor or governor, BUT I know a setup when I see one and these endorsements are a BIG Honolulu setup.

Former Gov. Cayetano say’s Kim is “the one man that can beat Lingle,” and Abercrombe said pretty much the same thing after he declined to run.

The Democrat leadership knows Lingle will be hard to beat – nearly impossible with her popularity, campaign war chest and Harry’s lack of name recognition statewide.

Their thinking is, why not convince some “out-of-towner” like Harry to run since none of the Honolulu powerhouse candidate want to risk losing.

To them, if Harry loses it’s no big deal. And since that is Lingle’s last term, guess who will be ready to run without competition in 2010 – the Democrat powerhouse candidates IN HONOLULU and just maybe Abercrombie? Can you say sacrificial lamb?

Harry is no dummy and definitely is no fool. He’s our mayor and a darn good one.

Chuck Frendo

Hawaiian Shores

Hmmm. I wonder how much of that sentiment is about on the Big Island—and on Oahu. However, if the “sacrificial lamb” strategy were really in effect among the Democrats, we’d see Cayetano and Abercrombie pushing former HPD Chief Michael Nakamura to run. Heh.

Comments (2)
Advocates for homeless encouraged by “strategic plan”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:29 am
Another Advertiser article in the weeklong focus on homelessness. This one with an upbeat theme, but not much in the way of justification for the optimism.

Sandra Miyoshi, homelessness programs administrator for the state Housing and Community Development Corp., told a group of more than 100 people, ranging from government officials to homeless individuals, that a new council of service providers has developed a strategic plan to end chronic homelessness with the full support of Gov. Linda Lingle.

The chronically homeless, those with serious mental and drug- or alcohol-abuse problems, make up the most visible part of the homeless population and are considered the most difficult cases to move off the streets.

Miyoshi said specific goals have been established by the Interagency Council on Homelessness and will be overseen by government agencies.

“We have so many plans out there, and sometimes it gets frustrating when nothing actually comes of them,” Miyoshi said. “Priority one is to improve data collection and to increase the political will to support positive change.”

So what is the plan? I mean it’s great that the Governor supports it, but what is it? What are the specific goals? Let’s have a look.

The goals:

Provide well-managed and financially viable rental housing where people are proud to live.
Improve the quality of life for residents and encourage upward mobility along the continuum of housing.
Increase the inventory of housing for working families and the elderly and preserve the inventory of existing affordable units.
End chronic homelessness in the State of Hawaii.
Develop and operate an effective organization.
The plan is 13 pages long, so I will focus on the fourth and fifth of the listed goals.

To increase the inventory of housing for working families and the elderly and preserve the inventory of existing affordable units, HCDCH plans to promote mixed income and mixed use housing developments; to increase utilization of rental financing programs; and to increase HCDCH gap equity financing. I have almost no idea what that all jargon means. They also plan to restructure the real property portfolio; to utilize developable state lands for affordable rental housing; and to partner with counties to integrate resources, such as developer fees to satisfy affordable housing conditions, to develop affordable rental housing. That is also pretty vague, but at least sounds encouraging. Finally, they plan to refinance HUD-assisted, privately owned affordable rental units to preserve affordability. Again, I have only a vague idea what that means.

To end chronic homelessness in the State of Hawaii, HCDCH plans to move people from transitional shelters to permanent housing within 12 months; to expand permanent housing opportunities for the chronic homeless through construction and rent subsidies in integrated settings; to increase supportive services through outreach, stipend, and grant programs; and to collaborate with public and private community partners to prevent homelessness and provide early intervention.

All of these strategies have ways to measure their performance, but no baseline figures are present in the plan. Those data may be available somewhere else on the HCDCH website, I didn’t try to gather them.

It will be worth watching to what extent Governor Lingle includes in the Executive budget funds to carry out this plan, and to what extent the Legislature supports, exceeds, or reduces those budget requests. Talk is cheap.

Comments (2)
Newspaper wants to see secret court records

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:25 am
The Advertiser has been involved in a freedom of information case against the Honolulu Police Department for several years, and tomorrow there will be another court hearing on the matter. In a journalistically tricky assignment, one of their own staff reports on the upcoming hearing. Right off the bat, it is interesting because the high-profile legal counsel originally involved have become City Corporation Counsel and Hawaii Attorney General.

The dispute has been going on for so long that the police chief who led the fight to keep the records closed ? Lee Donohue ? has been out of office for 16 months. And an attorney who began the case suing Donohue has since changed jobs and now represents the city, which is fighting The Honolulu Advertiser to keep the police records secret.

That attorney, Carrie Okinaga, represented Honolulu Police Department detective Kenneth Kamakana when he sued Donohue, the Police Department and the city in 2000. Kamakana alleged that he was punitively transferred and placed under criminal investigation by HPD after reporting to the FBI about alleged wrongdoing in the department’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit.

Okinaga disqualified herself from the Kamakana case after Mayor Mufi Hannemann named her corporation counsel, the city’s top civil attorney. Another of Kamakana’s attorneys, Mark Bennett, is now state attorney general.

Clearly, Detective Kamakana was a connoiseur of soon-to-be-powerful lawyers. Heh.

At stake is media access to court records that may show misconduct by the HPD. The federal government is now siding with the City and against the Advertiser, since they participated in the earlier investigation with an assurance that it would remain confidential.

The city has been represented by a private law firm led by local counsel Jerold Matayoshi. Matayoshi was traveling yesterday and unavailable for comment.

But in written arguments filed with the Court of Appeals, Matayoshi said the city was not trying to “cover up wrongdoing” but trying to protect information that has been traditionally kept from the public. This includes “the names of current confidential informants, names of businessmen and others who some police officers believe may be linked to organized crime, and confidential personnel information.”

Portnoy said, “The newspaper has never been interested in getting the names of undercover police officers or information like that. The interest is in records that the city has attempted to keep secret because their release would be embarrassing or show misconduct by law enforcement personnel.”

This all seems a bit strange. If Detective Kamakana had not accepted a settlement then all of these files would have been filed in open court, or rulings on an item-by-item basis could have been rendered on the admissibility and need for confidentiality of the informants, businessmen, officers, etc. The $650,000 settlement bought the silence of Kamakana, but it should not also buy the secrecy of the entire episode.

Shouldn’t it be possible to redact all the names and still be able to determine if the files show any wrongdoing by the police?

On the other hand, if the courts find that these confidential settlement agreements don’t mean anything, then the courts should expect more cases going to trial and the increased costs associated with everything that entails.

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In land of aloha, homelessness unacceptable

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:02 am
A sobering op-ed from Senator Hooser in the Advertiser today. Hooser writes about recent encounters he has had while providing aid to homeless people along the Leeward coast.

As a member of the Joint House/Senate Legislative Affordable Housing and Homeless Task Force, I know there are many affordable-housing initiatives being proposed by the state and local governments. In addition, numerous private developers have projects under way now that will result in the construction of thousands of affordable-housing units statewide during the next few years.

While it is uncomfortable and expensive for many who are stuck in overcrowded and overpriced living conditions, most of our residents can wait a year or two or three until the development of new, more affordable housing catches up with the market.

However, the homeless cannot wait; they have nowhere to go and need our help today. We cannot simply throw these people away nor can we sweep them further and further out of sight. Help for those at the very bottom of the housing food chain must come first and it must come quickly.

It’s a good reminder for people like me who keep banging on the affordable housing issue, for sure.

Two questions for Senator Hooser:

Where can we learn more about the privately-developed affordable housing projects currently under way and what are the proposed state and local initiatives?
What does the Joint Task Force propose for homeless solutions once the candlelight vigil is comeplete?
People love to think of helping the homeless at the abstract, candle-holding, “raising awareness” level. Proposals to locate a shelter too close to their own neighborhood altogether changes the attitude for most of them, however. For that reason, developers should have to provide (or support) a certain amount of homeless facilities in development projects in order to get permit approvals, just as they now must provide some minimal amount of “affordable” housing in each project.

History has shown that by simply counting on the generosity of the community and on the efforts of a few over-burdened non-profits we will never make much of a dent in this problem.

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Momentum panel sets up multi-island meeting

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:17 am
The Economic Momentum Commission is going to try a novel method of gathering public comments in the form of a statewide video teleconference, according to this PBN story. These meetings are often very hard to run in a productive way, but can be a useful tool. I’m a bit concerned that, because few people in the general public have much experience with it, the techonology may get in the way of the conversation, instead of promoting it.

They are banging the bushes pretty hard for people to attend. I received two different emails announcing the event from on-campus email listservs I subscribe to.

The 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting will originate from:

* UH-Manoa Kuykendall Hall, Room 201;
* Kapiolani Community College, Naio Building Room 207;
* Leeward Community College, Business Education Building Room 103;
* Windward Community College, Hale Akoakoa 113 (HITS studio);
* Kauai Community College, Learning Resource Center, Room 122;
* UH Center at West Hawaii, Building 4, Room 3;
* UH-Hilo, Media Services Room 344;
* Maui Community College, Kaaike Room 105A;
* Maui CC Molokai Education Center, Room 103;
* Maui CC Lanai Education Center, H.I.T.S. Room.

The commission also plans to hold additional public meetings around the state.

If you can’t make it to any of the meeting sites, you may also rank the recommendations by using this link. If anyone attends the videoconference, please leave a comment to report on the experience and the content of the meeting.

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Abercrombie steps into Kakaako Makai fray

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:35 am
I was a bit surprised that neither Honolulu daily reported on the rally last Saturday at Kakaako Waterfront Park. Today, however, I was even more surprised to read accounts of a Monday press conference held by Congressman Neil Abercrombie. They report that Abercrombie not only opposes the A&B development proposal, but also calls for the Hawaii Community Development Agency to be abolished. The Advertsier story is here, and the SB piece is here.

Yesterday Abercrombie said the Legislature should repeal the law that established the agency, and that improving Kaka’ako should be overseen by city planners and the City Council.

Abercrombie said his main reason for calling for an end to the agency now is because he said it has neglected to address mass transit planning, for which he is seeking federal financing.

Daniel Dinell, Hawai’i Community Development Authority executive director, said the agency incorporates the city’s transit plan into Kaka’ako’s master plan, but that the city is transitioning from its former bus-rapid-transit idea to another form of mass transit.

“There is no (city) transit plan we can incorporate into our plan, and when there is a transit plan, we will happily incorporate it into our Kaka’ako master plan,” he said.

Dinell said the agency last week met with city transportation officials and the city’s transportation consultant to discuss route alignments. “We work very closely with the city,” he said.

Dinell also said he doubts that Kaka’ako would have much affordable housing or necessary infrastructure to support development that has occurred over the past 20 years if the agency had not been created.

He said the agency has spent $208 million to improve substandard infrastructure in the area, created 1,388 units of below-market housing and increased park space from 2 acres to 45 acres, including Makai Gateway Park where Abercrombie held his press conference.

I think there is more to this. Dinell seems to have a pretty good reason for not incorporating a transit plan—there is none to incorporate! But, even if we accept that the transit parts of the plan were flawed, Abercrombie’s “death sentence” punishment for HCDA seems, at first reading, to go overboard.

Meta question: is “below-market housing” the same thing as “affordable housing?” The terms are used interchangeably here, but without a definition I tend to conceptualize “below-market” as prices between market- and affordable.

Borreca’s piece in the SB lists the same achievements, but the tone is a bit less flattering for the HCDA.

The HCDA is run by a 16-person board, with 11 responsible for Kakaako and the remaining five voting on plans for Kalaeloa, the other area under HCDA jurisdiction.

The authority includes four state Cabinet officers and seven persons appointed by the governor. Of those seven, three come from a list from the City Council.

Dinell said the public can appeal rules prepared by the HCDA and environmental assessments, but there is no way for the public to halt an HCDA project.

“We are governed by state law, and we had input from two community groups,” Dinell said.

The public just loves to be reminded when bureaucrats say it is “my way or the highway.” If only that were true. The Lege giveth, and, if the public opposition is loud enough, the Lege may taketh away.

Both articles mention Abercrombie’s opposition to the original formation of HCDA in 1976, and the Advertiser piece provides the better context of why he now wants it abolished:

Abercrombie said the agency created by the Legislature in 1976 has never been accountable to area residents and has failed its mission to make Kaka’ako a more vibrant place for people to operate small businesses, live and enjoy recreation.

“What we were supposed to do down here was have our small-business people … housing for ordinary folks … and recreation,” Abercrombie said at a press conference yesterday in Kaka’ako Makai Gateway Park. “That’s what was supposed to be down here in Kaka’ako.”

Neither paper provides much insight as to the basis of Abercrombie’s original opposition to the HCDA formation. Did Abercrombie predict, back in 1976, that the HCDA would “never [be] accountable to area residents?” If so, then Abercrombie may be having an “I told you so” moment; Mr. Dinell seems boastful of HCDA unaccountability judging by the comment in Borreca’s piece!

This has the potential to change the dynamic of the debate quite a lot. It may shift from a consideration of the pros and cons of A&B’s plan to a discussion of the very survival of HCDA. In that scenario, HCDA may feel they need to throw A&B’s plan to the wolves in order to save the Agency itself.

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Blogger: User Profile: Galen Fox

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— Doug @ 10:55 am
Welcome to the clown show, Galen.

Looking forward to more posts from you… Heh.

UPDATE: Gee, it sure didn’t take long for that blog to vanish. Aww, shucks.

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Queue of issues to resolve before any lines of ferry passengers form

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:44 am
There is a long list of issues to be resolved before the Superferry begins operations at Kahului Harbor, according to this Maui News article. The company still maintains that they will resolve the problems before ferry service begins.

Many of the issues sound like they could be resolved in theory, the question is if the political will to resolve them will be there when the proposed solutions are offered.

The so-called “passenger terminal” along Kaahumanu Avenue will probably be, initially, a tent, a modified trailer or a temporary “sprung” structure (a more robust type of tent with an aluminum frame and material covering).

When asked about restrooms, Garibaldi told The Maui News that the company was still “working through details on that,” but [Senator] Tsutsui said he was informed that portable toilets will be brought in.

“You?d like to see a permanent passenger terminal and permanent restrooms,” said Tsutsui. “Not a canopy and portapotties. They?ve just rushed this whole thing. If you?re going to do something like this, do it and do it right. We don?t want them to go belly up so no one else will ever want to do something like this again.”

[Maui County] Planning Director Mike Foley said his office has received no plans from Superferry officials, but he believes that county permits are required, even for a tent.

“We require an SMA (special management area permit) for surfing events when they put up a tent and portapotties at ?Jaws? for a weekend,” said Foley. “This (Superferry) isn?t for a weekend, it?s for months. That would give the fire department and building codes department the chance to review these so-called temporary structures.”

The state must get SMA permits for airport projects, said Foley, so he assumed that harbors wouldn?t be exempt from review, but he still hasn?t seen plans for a 30-foot bridge that will be built over a drainage channel near the pier for the Superferry?s roadway.

Foley added, however, that he was most concerned about the traffic impacts at the intersection of Kaahumanu and Puunene avenues as well as at the end of Pier 2 where Superferry passengers and cars could be in the same vicinity as the forklifts and top loaders of Young Brothers that can carry 20- and 40-ton loads.

Garibaldi shared those sentiments ? and vowed to make sure that everything was safe and smooth.

“Our whole intent is to provide an adequate and safe amount of space so the Superferry can operate safely in the harbor and co-exist with other users,” he said.

Well, there is not a lot of time for Garibaldi to explain how he proposes to do that. Now that he has his funding lined up, he will no doubt use the “it’s too late to slow down” rhetoric if his proposals are not embraced and adopted.

What is going on with passenger terminals at the other outer-island ferry destinations? Honolulu Harbor has a fancy terminal all ready to go, but I haven’t heard a peep about any other port than Kahului. Are the other ports ready to go, or do they also require additional infrastructure and logistical work?

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ACLU unwilling to collaborate with Djou

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:58 am
From the Letters to the Editor in the SB today:

ACLU was consulted about pedestrian bill

On Wednesday your editorial said it “would have been prudent to include the ACLU in (my) consultation” on Bill 71, my proposal to increase pedestrian safety in Waikiki [sic!]. I respect your right to take a position on any issue, but I do want to point out a factual error.

I was “prudent” and did in fact “include the ACLU” in my consultations on Bill 71. I personally met with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Hawaii executive director, Lois Perrin, on Oct. 24 in my office. This was more than a week before I introduced my bill, and I specifically asked for comments, input and suggestions from the ACLU on my measure.

My office also repeatedly called Perrin asking for comments on Oct. 31 and again on Nov. 2. I further understand the Corporation Counsel’s office solicited but never received any comments from the ACLU on Bill 71.

Finally, I e-mailed Perrin, again soliciting input from the ACLU. The ACLU, however, refused to provide any comment or offer any suggestions to my measure. Indeed, the only response my office received from the ACLU was that it had not even read my bill. Despite the fact that I gave the ACLU the courtesy of reviewing my proposal more than a week and a half prior to introduction, the ACLU stated it wanted the measure delayed but gave me no assurance that it was interested in working with my office toward any resolution.

Charles K. Djou
Honolulu City Councilman
District IV (Waikiki, East Honolulu)

In other equally-unexpected news, the NAACP failed to assist the Ku Klux Klan in a revision of Klan bylaws, and NARAL has declined repeated invitations to march in an Operation Rescue parade. [Satire, of course.]

On the substance of the letter, good on Djou for calling the SB onto the carpet for sloppy editorializing.

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One more HYCF hearing to go

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HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:45 am
An editorial in the SB today suggests that the joint legislative committee investigating the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility follow up on comments made by the agency director.

Prior to the hearings, Sharon Agnew, executive director of the state Office of Youth Services, told the Star-Bulletin’s B.J. Reyes that her office was challenged with the task of moving through a “very complex and very detailed” state system.

Only six of 22 policies on such issues as use of force and suicide prevention have been approved in the past three months by the two labor unions that represent workers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa, a strong labor advocate, points out that such consultation is not required by their union contracts. Administrators should be called upon to explain those problems when the committee completes its hearings this week.


However, I still think that the State should not have this opportunity (okay, they’re being compelled, but they will spin it as best they can) to get their message out at the hearing tomorrow without the union taking a turn to explain their side—under oath. I can easily imagine the arguments each side will use, but it will more quickly become apparent if the relationship between the two is dysfunctional if they are both in the same room talking about the problems (and proposed solutions) at the facility.

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Parvin Fellowship has educated many who now paper over the truth

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— Doug @ 8:24 am
This is arguably outside the scope of Hawaii politics, but I want to comment on an Advertiser op-ed piece that praises a journalism student exchange program with China at UH-Manoa. It was contributed by a former editorial writer for the Advertiser who was involved in starting the program.

I was not a journalism major (if that wasn’t obvious already, ha ha), but I was enrolled in a Journalism 101 class in the mid-1990s at UH-Manoa. There were also a handful of these Parvin exchange students from the staff of the China Daily enrolled in the class (apparently sandbagging in 100-level courses to pad a G.P.A. is a Worldwide academic scam, heh).

There have been some painful moments at the UH program, including, I am told, one quiet defection and many hours of handwringing as the entire class of 1989 considered how it might protest the bloody Tiananmen debacle. But the Parvin program continues to play a unique role in forging stronger ties between Hawa’i and China.


Most of the Parvin fellows have come from China Daily (with an average daily circulation of 200,000), with others coming from the national Xinhua News Agency (akin to America’s Associate Press, except that it has 10,000 employees), the People’s Daily (at one time China’s most important ? and the world’s largest ? newspaper) and several journalism schools.

Teachers and administrators involved with Parvin fellows have never sought to convert them in any overt way to a different system or way of thinking. But it’s important to appreciate the far-reaching effects of the Parvin Fellowship on newspapers in present-day China.

For instance, 16 former fellows at the China Daily have been promoted to department directors or vice directors. Three of them are on its editorial board, and Zhu Ling, who was a fellow in the first class in 1980, is now editor-in-chief. Yu Jiafu, from the third class, is director of the Foreign Affairs Department at Xinhua.

Too bad this piece did not say how those “hours of handwringing” in 1989 ended.

To fulfill a very open-ended final group project I convinced a few other students in the class that having these China Daily reporters in our midst would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast Chinese coverage of Tiananmen and coverage from the rest of the world. Hamilton Library has their newspaper on microfilm, so we could show overhead projections (remember those, in this age of Powerpoint?) and Sinclair Library had some archival television news coverage of the deadly confrontation from 1989.

Needless to say, the project went over like a turd in a punchbowl.

Nobody asked a single question after our presentation, and, since we had time to kill, I took the initiative to ask the China Daily visitors how they could explain the way their paper whitewashed the incident (and still was in denial about it at the time of the presentation, by the way). Nothing but stink eye. The professor broke the uneasy impasse by calling on the next group to begin their presentation.

I went to visit the professor after the fact and complained that shaming them and letting these people sweat is probably the only leverage people from outside China, who allegedly care about human rights, have against those who would paper over these crimes. The professor acknowledged that fact, but said that some of the “journalists” were afraid to speak up in class because some of them had confided to her suspicions that at least one of the exchange “students” may be a government informant.

Nice. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, or however that bromide goes…

In that light, news of the promotions awarded to the alumni of the exchange program is not a cause for great celebration, in my opinion.

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Speaker and Minority leader grilled by community “editors”

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HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:58 am
There’s an embarrassment of riches in this partial transcript of a Q&A session involving the Advertsier’s “Community Editorial Board” and Representatives Say and Finnegan (Speaker and Minority Leader, respectively). Highly recommended reading.

Minimal partisan bickering, and some (relatively) rhetoric-free discussion of infrastructure, long-term care of the elderly, homelessness, over-development of Waikiki, the influence of State workers, adjustments to the tax code, military impact, obstacles before the DOE, single-payer healthcare, and how to deal with a budget surplus.

Whew! Almost makes me wish I were a member of that Board…

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Rusti still waitng to move in

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:25 am
Just five days after running a longer article, the Advertiser has a piece with no new information to report about Rusti the orangutan.

It would seem, however, that the article, and in particular the sidebar, is riffing from my earlier post where I did a bit of anthropomorhism to jest about “Rusti as a Honolulu resident” in comparison to non-homeowner homo sapiens.

At this point, I think when Rusti finally moves in I must go to the zoo to visit him and Violet. Maybe they’ll put Rusti’s old place on the market as a “cute efficiency, great location near beach, diverse neighbors, secure, yet airy!” haha.

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The economics of LG’s crusade against tailgaters who drink

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:08 am
The hardcore tailgaters at Aloha stadium are not happy about the Lt. Governor’s campaign to ban alcohol in the stadium parkng lot, according to this Advertiser report. Alcohol will still be sold inside the stadium by the sole-source vendor who holds the concessions contract.

Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona has spearheaded the alcohol ban and called it a “monumental statement” for public safety and curbing underage drinking and alcohol-related misbehavior at the stadium. Aiona said UH fans can still enjoy tailgating without the alcohol.

“I think for the people who have alcohol as a main dish, it will impact them,” said Aiona in an earlier interview. “You can still tailgate at Aloha Stadium. The menu item that is going to be deleted is alcohol, but other than that, I think all the main items are going to be there ? the teriyaki chicken, and the meat, the musubis and everything else.”

Aiona added, “The fun and the laughter can still be there.”

Keith Takeda of Pearl City said the proposal would hurt attendance. Except for the Sept. 3 USC game, Hawai’i has not drawn more than 26,000 to a home game this season.

“People are looking for any reason not to go to the game, more than reasons to go to the game,” Takeda said. “With this proposed alcohol ban, I can see that affecting those people, and people jumping off the bandwagon. They’ll stay at home and drink in the garage with the pay-per-view.”

KFVE is paying UH $1.7 million annually for the right to televise UH sports, including football, for the next three years. The money is split between the station and UH, but the terms have not been disclosed.

Interesting to think how KFVE could profit from this policy if it drives tailgaters to become part of the pay-per-view audience. I had not considered that. That final sentence, however, is sure confusing. KFVE splits a payment to UH with itself? Wha? Perhaps the article is speaking of the pay-per-view revenue being split, that’s my best guess. More to the point, why have those terms not been disclosed? UH is part of State government and we should be allowed to know what kind of deals they have made with our money.

If a no-alcohol tailgating policy kills attendance even further and the Warriors continue to struggle through a rebuilding process, then KFVE might actually lose money on the pay-per-view deal. Landing further ESPN commitments for next season could be tough, too.

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Sites expose local kids to free speech

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:38 am
An alarmist Advertiser article about the risks of children using the Internet for personal interactions outside of parental supervision.

“It’s kind of scary to find as we are doing more and more of these presentations (at schools) that 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds are chatting with people online and actually meeting them,” said Deputy Attorney General Kristin Izumi-Nitao, a member of the Hawai’i Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Schools are well aware of the problem with MySpace and other Web sites ? the Department of Education has been blocking students from mature material, noneducational blog sites, instant messaging programs, chatrooms and peer-to-peer file sharing programs for about a decade. But since schools have no control over what students do off-campus, the problem persists.

“Obviously, we cannot do anything about it if they do it from home,” said DOE telecom director K. Kim.

Imagine that, people having conversations online and then actually turning off their computers and communicating face-to-face. What could be more terrible for society? This must be stopped! heh.

Beyond that, is this blog “educational,” or am I being censored by the DOE? I will try to reach Kim and find out. If you read this blog from a DOE computer accessible to a student (or are yourself a student) leave a comment, please.

No, on second though, you had better not, that might be dangerous. I could be a sociopath, for all you know…

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Pacific Century Fellows; ne plus ultra networking

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:21 am
A laudatory op-ed in the Advertiser today about the Pacific Century Fellows program. The .org website mentioned in the article is wrong, the .com address linked here is correct.

Pacific Century Fellows keep their regular day jobs in Hawai’i, but also begin their year at a November rural-hotel weekend retreat and come together each month for a daylong program that explores aspects of the islands.

Those special “days” ? bused field trips for adults, as one participant called them ? include serious talks with Hawai’i leaders in business, government, criminal justice, education, agriculture, the military and nonprofits.

They also might go on night patrols with the police, talk with the homeless and their advocates, or ride a nuclear submarine. Governors often have the fellows to dinner. Every year they visit a Neighbor Island.

Besides interaction and enrichment among the fellows, the emphasis is most often on enhancing their sense of community service and giving back.

Sounds fascinating, who are these fellows?

Fellows, who usually range in age from their late 20s to early 40s, are selected in a daylong process by an independent 18-member volunteer committee that requires unanimous approval in each case. The “classes” of fellows have ranged from 19 to the current 32; there are three times as many applicants as those selected.

Besides looking at leadership potential, the judges work at getting diversity in the classes. The new, eighth class of men and women, for example, includes university officials; a TV executive; a city prosecutor; a couple of architects; two military people; young officials from nonprofits; a labor leader; a mid-level banker; a top manager from Maui County, a state legislator and other government officials; various business people; and several private attorneys.

Hmmm. It doesn’t sound very diverse economically, it seems pretty clear that the fellows in this class are all professionals. Apparently “leadership potential” is only to be found in people already on the well-worn track to become leaders. The cynic in me sees this as another feather in an ambitious persons’ cap and a chance for the existing powers-that-be to meet and assimilate their potential replacements.

Nah, I’m just jealous. Ha ha.

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Petroleum industry data collection is seen as next step

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:07 am
Yesterday the legislative history website was not cooperating with me, so I did not comment on this SB editorial that calls for further scrutiny of Hawaii oil refiners.

The Federal Trade Commission has begun an investigation of possible price-gouging following the hurricanes. Congress needs to increase its oversight of the oil industry to prevent future abuses.

Likewise, oversight is needed at the state level to determine whether oil companies used the gas cap to take advantage of mainland price increases following the hurricanes that should have no market effect in Hawaii, which gets its crude oil from Asia and Alaska. The Legislature should resurrect a bill that died in the last session to create a watchdog system of monitoring and reporting on the petroleum industry.

That bill is HB 863 and it is sitting in conference committee, still technically alive. However, it has a bit more history than most other bills in legislative limbo. This bill was where Senator Kim, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, wanted to insert a provision to reserve for the Governor the authority to initiate the gasoline price cap law. Senator Menor would not give prior concurrence for that amendment.

The bill may be less politically prickly now that the gasoline price cap is already in play and Kim’s amendment would be moot, but it is easy to deduce why legislators did not schedule a single conference meeeting on this bill last year.

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East v. West tension thawing?

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:36 am
The hip-hop world is not the only place where there is a long-standing East Coast v. West Coast struggle underway. As a West Hawaii Today piece illustrates, Kona residents frequently voice concerns that the County government in Hilo is unresponsive to their concerns.

This particular article is a slight twist on that theme, as it focuses on Council Chair Stacy Higa of Hilo. Higa’s message to Kona is that if they want something, they need to have the West Side members of the Council introduce the idea—and he will support it.

Higa said he would support a concurrency ordinance calling for infrastructure to be in place before development occurs. He acknowledged that none of the council members have pitched such an ordinance in the first year of the council term, despite concurrency being a buzz word in their campaigns.

“A concurrency law to me should be done by each district. What good would a concurrency law be in other districts that are willing to work with substandard roads?” Higa said.

“If people want a moratorium for Kona, fine. I will support that, but not a law with far-reaching impacts on other districts. If you want concurrency in your district, fine, I will support it, but I don’t want far-reaching ramifications for other districts,” he said.

Higa at first suggested the onus is on those council members to make a pitch for concurrency if they want it for their individual districts; he hasn’t made the pitch in the last year because he doesn’t want concurrency for his Hilo district.

As the council leader, Higa has the ability to introduce a measure in order to call attention to it.

“I tried to do it. But the members – what good is it for me to impose my will for Kona? You have elected officials over there. Tell them to float what they need and we’ll support it,” he said.

In the end, it seems that the reporter may have badgered Higa enough to convince him to introduce the idea himself! Impressive.

Some comment from the West Side Councilmember who (allegedly) campaigned on concurrency would have been useful in this article. The omission is hard to explain.

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Kubo claims he will “contain” methamphetamine problem

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:09 am
The Hawaii County dailies have identical articles today about a recent speech by U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has it here, and the West Hawaii Today has it here.

“Our status on the war on ice is we’re definitely making a difference,” Kubo told members of the Rotary Club of Kona during a meeting at the Royal Kona Resort. “If we continue with this trend, in three years we will have the problem contained. Not controlled, but contained. But it’s going to be a long, hard battle.”

When Kubo became Hawaii’s U.S. attorney in 2001 by appointment by President Bush, Hawaii was considered the methamphetamine capital of the nation, with an estimated 30,000 users, Kubo said. In 2002, almost half of all males arrested in the state tested positive for ice and Hawaii had the highest amount of thefts and larceny committed in the nation. And four years ago, the Big Island began rivaling Oahu as the top destination of ice from Mexico and California.

“Things didn’t look good in 2002,” Kubo told the group. “It got to the point where crime was so high, we became known as the ice capital of the United States. We were frustrated on how to attack this problem.”

The plan of attack became to more aggressively prosecute individuals arrested for ice distribution, forcing them to federal court, instead of state and local courts, taking away the possibility of probation for distribution offenses.

“They are getting straight hard time in federal penitentiaries on the mainland,” Kubo said. “There’s no probation, no parole.”

I noticed that Kubo did not compare those grim 2001 and 2002 statistics with the current situation. How much have things turned around on his watch? The number of methamphetamine offenders has Kubo sent to federal prison on the mainland is not mentioned either. Finally, based upon these types of statistics, how will we know when Kubo has “contained” the methamphetamine problem?

But with all the eradication efforts comes some side effects. The price of ice has gone from $25,000 to $30,000 a pound in Hawaii, which Kubo views as a successful byproduct of the squeeze on distributors. But some believe that the rise in ice street prices has also caused an alarming surge in property crimes, particularly on the Big Island.

As a U.S. Attorney, prosecuting property crimes is not Kubo’s problem, of course. Who will “contain” that situation?

It should come as no surprise that these property crimes correlate to drug prices. Attacking the supply side of the methamphetamine problem and ignoring the demand side can only exacerbate the situation.

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Honolulu government bungles free Wi-Fi access

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 7:47 am
I thought the era of dubious dot-com business ideas was behind us, but a PBN story seems to indicate that lame internet business ideas will stagger on.

Much earlier in the life of this blog I wrote about Mayor Hannemann’s cryptic comments concerning wireless access downtown. I sure hope this is not the best he can do.

Wireless Internet providers such as Skywave generally charge users for Internet access, but Skywave plans to offer free access to sponsored Web sites, starting with the City and County of Honolulu Web site. Wireless Internet, commonly referred to as Wi-Fi for wireless fidelity, allows wireless Internet access using radio signals.

In addition to the city Web site, users also will be able to view sponsored sites. Right now that list is short and includes businesses where Skywave has wireless Internet access points, better known as hot spots.

Eventually, Skywave hopes to convince more sponsors to sign on and allow free access to their Web sites. These free sites will be part of what the company calls the open-sky model. The plan is to give users a taste of free Internet and then convert them to paying customers.

That is completely lame. Does the City think that people are actually going to be happy when they find a “free” Wi-Fi access point at Kapolei Hale and then discover that they can only look at the City’s website—and a bunch of advertising?! That’s ridiculous.

What did the City get out of this? A few hundred dollars worth of wireless routers and tech support would be enough to give visitors to City Hall real access to the entire Internet.

The partnership with the city allows Skywave to put wireless Internet access points at city locations, including Kapolei Hale, at no charge. The project is merely a test and will be re-evaluated next year to see if Skywave can expand its wireless access points to more city locations, said Skywave co-founder Joshua Beil.

Skywave is banking on healthy advertising support to continue the growth of its wireless Internet network, but also is in the midst of its Series-A round of financing for additional support to build up its network to attract those advertisers. CEO Carnet Williams declined to say how much the company is looking to raise.

Current coverage areas include parts of downtown Honolulu and various shopping centers across Oahu. Skywave also is awaiting approval of its Qualified High Technology Business status making it eligible for state Act 221/215 high-technology tax credits.

If ever a business model should fail, I hope this is one. Not exactly the proudest moment for Act 221/215, either.

I’m almost sure that the Capitol has free Wi-Fi, but I could be wrong and it may only cover the legislative chambers and not the rotunda and hearing rooms. Somebody at the Public Access Room would know for sure, but they are not open at the moment.

In any case, the Capitol and City Hall should both have free Wi-Fi. It just makes sense.

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Kauai developers surveying residents about affordable housing

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 7:03 am
Some hope for affordable housing on Kauai might be possible. The SB has a piece today about a new public-private effort to hurry along the process.

A group named the Kauai Housing & Traffic Solutions Coalition is made up of executives from Grove Farm Properties, Princeville Resort, Kikiaola Land Co. as well as representatives from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the state Department of Transportation.

The group took its first steps recently, mailing housing surveys to Kauai residents. The survey, which is due back by Tuesday, will help the mayor and his coalition create a plan to develop affordable housing, Baptiste said.

“We really need the community’s help with filling out the survey and returning them by the deadline,” Baptiste said. “The information gathered from the survey will support the landowners and developers in their efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing for Kauai residents.”

The coalition plans to use the survey to decide exactly how many affordable-housing projects should be built, expected to be about 1,000. Then the landowners and developers plan to schedule community meetings for input from the public on their affordable-housing plans. Groundbreaking on the new units could be as early as October, said Mary Daubert, county public information officer.

Surveys are due back by Tuesday?! Good luck with that. Most direct mail surveys go straight to the rubbish. A telephone poll may have been a better idea, but so be it.

I wonder how the survey questions are worded? If you are a reader from Kauai and could let me know, that’d be great. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I am a bit skeptical of developers discussing affordable housing to an extent that goes beyond the minimum amount necessary to gain approval for market-rate housing developments.

Comments (0)

“Jarhead” review

Filed under:
— Doug @ 7:09 pm
I’m not going to make a habit of reviewing movies, but one of my more persuasive and less influential readers insists that I review this move. Al, this is for you. Spoilers ahead!


Comments (1)
Strange rulings on legal defense fund donations

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 12:50 pm
The Hawaii Couty Board of Ethics and the State Campaign Finance Commission have both cleared Hawaii County Councilman James Arakaki of complaints arguing that donations made to Arakaki’s legal defense fund should be considered campaign donations. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has the Board of Ethics story, and the SB has the Campaign Spending Commission angle.

This is an interesting development to juxtapose against the other campaign finance post I wrote earlier today. If the HR piece is accurate, there the Commission was exploring looking beyond the campaign committee’s funds when collecting fines for campaign contribution violations. In this case, however, it seems the Commission is blind to the obvious nexus between the legal defense fund and the campaign of Councilmember Arakaki. So, which is it? All the candidate’s funds are properly under the jurisdiction of the Commission, or just the campaign committee money? If the Commission (or the Legislature) plans to amend the policy (or the law) in order to recover fines from outside resources of the candidate, they should also take a look at the “non-campaign fund” issue a bit more closely at the same time.

Councilmember Arakaki freely disclosed the donations on his required annual gift declaration form, which is commendable. Thus, my point is not to accuse him of getting away with something, but rather to question the policy leading to the rulings of the Board and the Commission. If this sort of thing is okay then what is to stop candidates from setting up “mortgage downpayment” funds or “send Junior to college” funds and then proceeding to shake down accept from their campaign contributors additional donations? Again, Arakaki’s legal defense fund is only indicative of my larger concern, another example would be large contributions to extravagant inaugural ball celebrations. These contributions are apparently unregulated, yet they provide ways for big donors to buy favor with powerful politicians. Indeed, helping a politician out of a personal jam would arguablly do more to gain his or her favor than making the maximum allowed campaign contribution.

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Democrats need strong leader, says Green

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 12:06 pm
The Advertiser has an op-ed today from UH-Manoa political scientist Ira Rohter. His piece catalogs what he perceives to be the problems in the Hawaii Democratic Party and the implications for the 2006 governor race.

It’s similar to Schatz’s piece from a while ago, and Rohter makes several vaild points. However, it is curious that the newspaper did not disclose Rohter’s leadership role in the Green Party of Hawaii. There is a link at the GP website to Rohter’s personal webspace that contains this op-ed and other writings (including the full-lenght version of his fun Karl Rove satire).

To the extent the Green Party is widely known, Rohter’s role is far from a secret, but it would be useful for the readers to be reminded of his background when considering his argument. The Advertiser would not, I hope, publish an op-ed from Brickwood Galuteria and identify him as a “broadcaster,” for example.

Comments (3)
Youth home staff speak out under oath

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:44 am
Both Honolulu dailies file reports about the sworn testimony taken yesterday at the Legislature from members of the Hawaii Youth Correctinal Facility staff. The Advertiser account is here and the SB piece is here.

The seven-hour informational briefing was the third of four planned by House and Senate lawmakers to examine issues at the facility ahead of the next session. Lawmakers questioned facility administrators in the two previous briefings and subpoenaed several staff members who testified yesterday under oath. Administrators will be asked more questions, under oath, at a final briefing Wednesday.

Sharon Agnew, executive director of the state Office of Youth Services, and Kaleve Tufono-Iosefa, the facility administrator, have said the administration inherited many of the problems at the facility and is making progress in establishing new policies that will improve conditions. Others sympathetic to the administration have suggested that the briefings are political, a chance for Democrats to capitalize on the Justice Department investigation and the ACLU lawsuits to attack Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

“Most of it didn’t come as a surprise to me because I’ve lived it daily for 2 1/2 years,” Agnew said of the testimony yesterday. “It’s not that things are being ignored, but that we have to be very cautious about how we handle the issues that are presented to us, and in cases where serious incidents are reported, I do not discuss the procedures we go through in invoking a criminal investigation. Juvenile records are confidential, and so even if somebody reports an incident to me, I will not likely report back to them the actions that are being taken, because it could hamper an investigation.”

I don’t know who has been subpoenaed, but I expect that next Wednesday the administrators will attribute the most egregious problems to collective bargaining trouble, and I further suspect that the UPW will not be subpoenaed or appear at the briefing to refute or to answer that argument.

The administration sympathizers who describe these hearings as political are correct. However, without such hearings there would be no way for the public to or the Legislature to ensure that these issues are explorerd in the open. If the ACLU and DOJ were to settle out of court with the State these matters could be brushed under the rug again. Investigating these allegations and insisting on humane treatment of inmates is something worth being “political” over, in my opinion.

Regarding Agnew’s last statement about the confidentiality of juvenile records: Peter Kema, much? If paralyzing confidentiality regulations need to be addressed (as DHS did after the Kema shame), then that is one of the positive “non-political” outcomes that might emerge from hearings such as these.

Comments (1)
Hawaii County Council to try reorganizing again

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 11:06 am
More of the ugly reorganizatin struggle at the Hawaii County Council as described in this West Hawaii Today article. Last month a reorganization by task force was killed, so this month Council Chair Higa has introduced a resolution to reassign several committee assignments.

Regarding the switch of Jacobson’s and Safarik’s committee chairmanships, Higa said, “Bob is the lightning rod in the way he is too biased toward that department, referring to the Department of Environmental Management.

“The council needs to be independent (from the administration). They shouldn’t be advocating, lobbying” for a particular department,” Higa said.

He noted that Safarik did “a good job” when he was the environmental management committee chair in the last council term and “I wanted to see if he will accept that task” of serving as environmental management chair again.

Higa reasoned it is fitting for Jacobson to chair the public safety and parks and recreation committee because he has “an open space and conservation passion.”

Wow, that has to be sitting well with Big Island environmentalists… Higa openly argues that Jacobson was too strong an advocate, as if it is unacceptable for the executive and the legislative branch to share common goals and priorities and to work to attain them.

Higa’s pitch for a reorganization of committee chairmanships comes within days of his return from Taiwan with James Arakaki, of Hilo, Holschuh and Ikeda, and mainland China with Arakaki.

It also comes on the heels of last months’ committee leadership reorganization effort. A task force comprised of council members Arakaki, Holschuh, Isbell and Ikeda – said to have formed to probe the various committee leaderships – recommended that Hoffmann, Jacobson, Pilago and Safarik be removed as committee chairmen and replaced with themselves.

Of course, the Councilmembers never spoke privately about this particular reorganization resolution during the Asia trip. Such a private conversation would be illegal. Instead, they probably spoke about the general topic of reorganization, since that is okay.

Comments (0)
Squeezing blood from campaign committee stones

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:43 am
An interesting post at the Hawaii Reporter suggests that the Campaign Spending Commission is exploring ways to force former candidates whose committees received illegal campaign donations to surrender the full amount of ill-gotten money even if the campaign committee treasury of the candidate is empty.

Hawaii law mandates the Campaign Spending Commission collect the funds. But the problem is these politicians have spent most of their campaign funds, including the funds collected illegally through what commissioners call “false name contributors,” where donors use the names of family members, friends or employees or when they reimburse others for contributions to a candidate, in order to circumvent campaign spending limits. The Commission now has to consider other ways of recouping the money owed including litigation to liquefy their personal assets.

The illegal funds were discovered by investigators with the state Campaign Spending Commission through an extensive examination of Hawaii?s “pay to play” system.

Nearly 100 of Hawaii’s corporations were exposed by these investigators for collectively illegally contributing an estimated $1.5 million to the campaign of Harris and hundreds of thousands of dollars more to the campaigns of Cayetano, Hirono and Apana.

These corporate donors were fined thousands of dollars and ordered to appear at Campaign Spending Commission hearings to negotiate a settlement agreement. Any fines collected are directed to the Hawaii Election Fund, which funds the operation of the Campaign Spending Commission, including future investigations, and to pay for the campaigns of candidates who seek matching government funds.


The commission’s newly appointed executive director Barbara Wong was not prepared to comment on the Commission?s plan to recoup the money. Wong says, “We are just beginning to look at that and formulate a plan and have not made a decision at this time. Whatever we do for one, we will do for all.”

Fines are not how I would expect Election Fund money for government matching funds to accumulate, but it is appropriate if you give it much thought. I was going to investigate the campaign spending law myself for this post, but for some reason my usual online HRS source and the Commission website are not online. Maybe some scheduled maintenance for the State network? I dunno.

While this sounds like a good idea, I would expect some to argue that recovering monies owed by a legal entity (i.e. a campaign committee) from the personal assetts of the candidate is a tricky precedent to make. Corporate officers involved in large bankruptcy cases would certainly be nervous if this type of strategy were followed and suddenly their own personal assetts were at risk of going to creditors, for example. The argument would be about the chlling effect on the economy and the dimunition of risk-taking, blah blah blah. There’s a good reason why these assets are held separate and that is why they go after candidates who are found taking campaign committee money for personal use.

Finally, I can’t resist this jab:

A number of corporate heads admitted they were vying for government contracts, concession rights or zoning changes that ultimately had to be approved by the politicians they contributed to, leading Bob Harada, the recently retired executive director of the commission to nickname the underground system, “pay to play.”

Wow, for somebody that GIH recently feted at a banquet in his honor, they sure have forgotten Bob Watada’s name quickly…

Comments (1)

Another preview of HPT interview of Cayetano

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 12:04 pm
The Hawaii Reporter has an account of a yet-to-be-aired Dan Boylan interview of former Governor Ben Cayetano for Hawaii Public Television. How they were able to see the tape before it aired is unknown. Borreca has already commented on the show, too, so perhaps there are media copies of the show floating around in advance the public airing and these are not “bootleg” versions. (Is Boylan’s show taped before a studio audience? If it isn’t already obvious, I don’t watch television.)

Anyway, according to the HR account, it sounds like Cayetano made some interesting comments. This one, in particular, grabbed my attention.

Cayetano dismissed the prevalent rumors that he would run for governor again or that his wife Vicky Cayetano is running for city council, state senate, mayor or governor, saying the further both of them get from politics, the happier they are. He says Vicky considered running for office after her supporters encouraged her to do so, but she instead is focusing on expanding her successful laundry business.

Prevalent rumors? I’ve heard the Cayetano will run again “buzz” exactly once, and it wasn’t from anybody I consider credible.

I also noted that on the issue of taxes HR compares Cayetano favorably to Governor Lingle. Similarly, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim is given the RINO treatment by HR, in aniticipation of his bid against Lingle.

Comments (5)
Hawaii County Council kills idea to seek Sunshine Law exemption

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 10:37 am
The Advertiser has an article that confirms the previous indications that the resolution to seek an exemption from the Sunshine Law would fail at the Hawaii County Council. It is a bit strange that there was no Hawaii county newspaper coverage even though they mentioned the upcoming meeting yesterday. Go figure.

With this vote, all four county councils have pulled back from the idea (for now).

Hawai’i County Councilman Angel Pilago, the Big Island’s representative in the counties association, said last week that the push for the exemption came from the Kaua’i and Honolulu councils, which have locked horns with the Office of Information Practices over recent rulings on the sunshine law. The OIP interprets and enforces the state’s open-government regulations.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said yesterday that the proposed resolution wasn’t intended as a way to cut back on open government.

“What it’s saying is if we get the state law changed, then the council would institute its own rules,” he said. “It could be the same as it is now or it could be stricter.”

He said the problem is with OIP director Les Kondo.

“We’ve been working under the law or with the law ever since we’ve been in. But since the new director came in, the interpretation has been extreme,” he said.

Kondo said yesterday that if the county councils “have issues with particular parts of the statute, they should address them rather than say, ‘We’re exempt completely.’

“The statute is not perfect; there’s room for some adjustment. There may be things that my office might even support.”

He said there is a high degree of misunderstanding about the law. It not a violation, for example, for two or more council members to discuss general topics, such as development, over lunch or a golf game, he said. But it’s a violation if they discuss specific development projects that might come before the council.

“It’s the specific issues that might come before the council that they can’t discuss,” he said. “The purpose of the statute is to give the public the chance to participate.”

With all due respect to Mr. Kondo, the distinction he makes in his hypothetical does not clarify the matter much. I fail to understand how a private conversation involving a few councilmembers about the “general topic” of development could be of much substance and at the same time not have any influence on “specific issues that might come before the council.” I don’t think his example will provide any guidance to councilmembers. It’s an arbitrary morass. When does a “general” conversation become too specific?

Kondo did say he is willing to discuss, and could possibly support, amending the Sunshine Law. If the councils (as a group, or separately) take him up on that it could become interesting.

Comments (1)
Kewalo development plan opposed 2 to 1

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:12 am
Both Honolulu dailies cover the Senate briefing I had mentioned earlier about the HCDA plans for Kakaako. The Advertiser piece is here and the SB article is here. If the developers or the State had any defense of the project, the articles don’t make much mention of it. A few other supporters are quoted, but the opposing testimony dominated the briefing and the coverage.

League of Women Voters spokeswoman Jacqueline Parnell said the project would actually improve public access to park land.

Clustering shops, apartments and parks together is smart growth and “makes us a vibrant city,” Parnell said.

If the Legislature amends the plan to forbid housing, Parnell said, no one will develop the land, which now includes an old boatyard, an abandoned tuna cannery and a yard for city dump trucks.

“You can live with what there is now … or you give the people the park they want financed entirely by public funds,” Parnell said.

From the quotes in the article it would seem that a few legislators are questioning the sale of state lands. The legislators quoted did not speak of any specific opposition to the condominiums being included as a part of the re-development. Could that mean the legislators support some sort of lease-hold alternative? This is unclear.

Finally, I have received more details about the Saturday rally I had mentioned in that previous post:

Meeting Place: Point Panic area of Kaka`ako State Waterfront Park
Date: Saturday, November 12, 2005
Time: Informational Meeting: Noon until 2 PM
Kanikapila-Pa`ina-Beach Day Activities: Music, BBQ, games, throw nets, spearfishing, beach cleanup and grounds weeding contests: 10 AM-Noon and 2PM ’till dark

The Hui o Malama Kaka`ako Paka, an ad hoc umbrella group hosting all of the users groups active at Kaka`ako Waterfront Park and adjacent shore waters, invites all interested parties to a listening session, beach day and rally to show support for public access to, and the protection and rational use of, our few remaining, precious shoreline lands in the Honolulu urban core. At about Noon representatives of Alexander and Baldwin and their public relations firm, Communications Pacific will make a presentation of their vision of how our park and adjacent properties should be developed. . .and they have asked to hear how we, the owners and users, believe these valuable public lands should be managed for us to use now, and for generations to come.

Please bring your friends and family and your group’s colors, tents, banners and tables and chairs, BBQ, fishing nets and diving gear, games, toys and musical instruments.

Point Panic’s own Mike and Malissa Ka`awa, Wayne Takamine, and Brother Ernie Cruz will perform some special Kaka`ako songs for us and we will join them in some well known songs of the `aina aloha (Kaulana Na Pua, Hawai`i Aloha and others). Memorabilia will be available and donations will be accepted to fund the Save Kaka`ako Makai Legal Defense Fund.

If needed, shuttle pickup trucks will be available to help you bring your gear from your parking space to the Makai parking area.

Sponsoring groups include: Hawai`i State Bodysurfing Association, Point Panic Bodysurfing Club, the Surfrider Foundation, REDWINGS Memorial World Championships Events Committee, CTS Foundation, Friends of Kewalo Basin Park, The Lehano Ohana, The Wong Ohana, Pipelilne Classic Bodysurfing Championships, The Takamine Ohana..

BACKGROUND: The Kaka`ako Makai area is 36.5 acres of public land around Kewalo Basin-Kaka`ako Waterfront Park-Kaka`ako Gateway Park that includes the last available open shoreline area of Honolulu and is directly adjacent legendary surf and bodysurfing spots that include Kewalo’s, Point Panic, Incinerator’s, Flys and Mamala. For many years state has been planning to redevelop the site makai of Ala Moana Boulevard as a recreational and low-level, locally managed, commercial area. However, recently the Hawai’i Community Development Authority has been considering a proposal from Alexander & Baldwin to build luxury retail stores, high end restaurants, three 20-story high-rise residential leasehold condominium towers with 947 units (that will cost more than $800, 000 each), and a pedestrian bridge. A&B insists that public access to the shoreline will be protected and, indeed, enhanced with additional public parking, but we’ve all seen how promises for access get treated in areas like Waikiki and more recently at Ko`olina. This could very well mean added air, water and sound pollution, parking hassles, lots of traffic, and crowds on the beach and in and around the water. . .and massive, un-anticipated collateral commercial activity feeding on the planned luxury enterprises.

There is a remote chance that there will be a real dialogue when the two sides meet on Saturday, but I am not optimistic anything will be resolved without a legal fight. The HCDA is, as the article notes, semiautonomous. Where does the Governor weigh in on this? The Mayor? I haven’t noticed either of them out in front, so perhaps they are being cautious to see just how deep the opposition runs and/or how the Legislature reacts.

Comments (0)
Two more online crime databases go live

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:37 am
Ian Lind posted about this already, but today the Adveriser has an article about the two new websites to search judiciary records. For traffic-related offenses go here then follow the “Court Connect” link; for criminal offenses go here. That second site requires you to set up an account and leave your name, billing address(?), and email address.

There is no charge to browse the system, but to view results and print up a certified copy will cost $13.

Not true. After you create an “eHawaii account” the eCrim (who thought of that stupid name?) site announces:

You have one more small step to complete before you can access eCrim.

In order to confirm your identity, we require a one-time $1.00 charge to a valid credit card (or a subscriber account with eHawaii.gov).

Please click ‘continue’ below to pay the one dollar to start using eCrim.

The eHawaii.gov site has a very slick “Live Help” tech support chat function. Here’s the transcript of my chat:

doug: I think I just created an eHawaii.gov user account, but when I try to use the new HCJDC online search it says I need to pay $1 since I don’t have a “subscriber account.” What is the difference? How do I get the subscriber account? What does THAT cost?

You are now speaking with Shelly of eHawaii.gov – web tech support.

Shelly: Aloha!

doug: Aloha. Can you answer my questions?

Shelly: You need to pay the $1 to verify your identity

Shelly: You do not need to become a subscriber to our site, the cost of that is $75.

Shelly: All ecrim will charge you is $1

doug: Why does it matter what my identity is? The info is public, isn’t it?

Shelly: one moment

doug: [crickets chirp]

Shelly: Sorry I wasn’t sure of the answer so I had to find out. It is an HIC policy…if you don’t want to verify your identity you can just go down to the HI criminal justice data center directly.

Shelly: You will need to pay the $1 to get access to the site though

doug: Okay. Perhaps you should have told the media about this fee. The articles say that it is free unless you want to view the record and print.

doug: Aloha.

Shelly: Sorry about the miscommunication, have a great day!

Shelly: Mahalo

So if you don’t have a valid credit card, you’ll have to appear in person at the King Street office or the main police station to see the data. Basically, you can’t look at the data anonymously. Maybe that is good. I dunno.

The [almost] free “browsing” at eCrim only returns a simple count of results. Without paying you will not learn the nature of or the specific charge the person was convicted of. You could then follow up at the sex offender database to rule that type of offense out (or in).

By the way, none of those traffic offenses with similar names are actually me. Heh.

Comments (2)
USMC turns 230

Filed under:
— Doug @ 8:31 am
Happy birthday to all fellow Marines. Semper Fi.

My enlistment ended back in 1993, but I still remember this date better than I do birthdays of my own immediate family. You be the judge if that’s pathetic or impressive, haha.

I plan to go see “Jarhead” tonight in celebration of the occasion. I enjoyed Anthony Swofford’s book very much, so there’s always the risk of something lost in translation. The vernacular and jargon employed by the troops was so spot on in the book that it gave me goosebumps.

There are a few gratuitous pictures from my former squadron after the break. The unit was based at Kaneohe, but is now disbanded [sniffle].


Comments (3)

Harbin popping up all over

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:08 am
The Advertiser has another article today about the ethics allegations anonymously levelled against the House Speaker. The concerns I had raised previously about this possibly being a smear are addressed in the article.

Dan Mollway, the executive director of the ethics commission, confirmed that the commission received the complaint yesterday. It was dated Nov. 4 and copies also were sent to the news media.

Mollway said confidentiality rules prevent him from discussing any details about the complaint but said Restoring Ethics in Government did not identify itself beyond its name. The commission does not consider a complaint formal unless it is signed and verified by a notary public, but can investigate anonymous complaints or issues that may arise through the media.

“We will investigate this,” Mollway said.

Much of the confusion, and I was part of it yesterday, is the loose use of the term “complaint.” Complaint does not equal “charge” when the complaint is anonymous. Until Mollway finishes his investigation of the information provided anonymously there can be no formal charge against the Speaker. That would explain why Say was unable to respond to the initial request for comment; he was unaware of any confidential investigation and has not been charged with anything.

Then, almost out of nowhere, Representative Harbin is pulled into the story.

State Rep. Bev Harbin, D-28th (Iwilei, Downtown, Makiki), had asked the commission for a ruling on whether the e-mail was proper before the complaint was filed. Harbin said she received a copy of the survey anonymously and asked both Say’s office and the commission whether it was appropriate for her to fill it out given the reference to re-election campaigns.

Harbin, who has been under pressure to resign her House appointment over tax problems and misdemeanor criminal convictions, said she has no idea who is behind the complaint. She said she asked for the ruling because she wanted to be sure to avoid any ethical trouble.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Harbin said.

“She wanted to be sure to avoid any ethical trouble.” Heh. Better late than never.

Kidding aside, did Harbin get a ruling from the Commission? Looking through the formal and informal advisory opinions at the Ethics Commission website, it would appear that no opinion has been rendered on Harbin’s query.

Harbin says she came to know of the email survey by an anonymous source, that she promptly asked the Ethics Commission for a ruling, and then an anonymous complaint was filed against the Speaker. But that fortuitous sequence of events is purely random, she explains. Occam’s razor has not become that dull, has it? If Harbin had nothing to do with this it would paint her as the lone ethically pure “Democrat” in the House. [gag]

Now, ask yourself, who (or what party) would benefit most from creating that impression?

Comments (1)
Kona company making affordable houses quickly

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:53 am
I almost can’t believe the SB piece about a new Kona-based prefabricated home company. Can this be true? What’s the catch?

Aloha Aina Homes executives say it takes two nights to transport a home to the Discovery Harbour subdivision – with half a home moved one night and the other half the second night.

“It was tough to figure out how to do the first one,” said company President Alan Dickler. “It’s not so hard now, but we made the commitment to move them at night, and the first one took four and a half hours.”

The company plans to deliver 30 three-bedroom, two-bathroom, factory-assembled, steel-tract houses to the subdivision near South Point.

The 1,215-square-foot modular homes sell for $340,000 fee-simple, about half of what a house would sell for closer to Kona.

The houses come with a covered front lanai with white railings, ceramic tile floors, vaulted ceilings, decorative molding and two-car garages.

The company builds the homes in 30 days at its new $2.5 million factory.

“The purpose is to build affordable homes, and get them up quickly,” Dickler said.

Is that 30 days for each home, or 30 days to build all 30 of these homes? Are these things for real, or are they oversized mobile homes? Some pictures and third-party structural engineer assessments would sure be nice. I don’t find any website for the Aloha Aina Homes company, unfortunately.

These homes would easily fit onto an inter-island barge…

Comments (1)
Hawaii County Sunshine Law exemption opposed by Council Chair – sort of

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:37 am
After failing on Oahu and Maui, today the Hawaii County Council will consider their resolution to seek an exemption from the Sunshine Law, according to a Hawaii Tribune-Herald story. Apparently there are not enough votes to pass the resolution, despite the Councilmembers’ frustration with the requirements of the Law (as interpreted by the OIP).

North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago, representing Hawaii County as HSAC vice president, voted in October for the state’s council members to take up the resolution which, if all four county councils unanimously approve it, will be addressed by the Legislature at its session in January.

The state Legislature exempted itself from the Sunshine Law when enacting it in the 1970s.

Pilago said he voted in favor of the HSAC legislative package that included the Sunshine Law exemption for county councils because he believes the majority of the Hawaii County Council favors such an exemption.

Pilago has been unable to identify which colleagues support the measure.

Which is good, because to identify those colleagues he would have needed to break the Sunshine Law. Heh.

Meanwhile, Higa on Monday said, “(Pilago) must be reading my mind,” and that he didn’t tell Pilago he was in favor of exempting county councils from the Sunshine Law.

Pilago, Councilman Pete Hoffmann of Kohala, and Councilman Gary Safarik of Puna, have all said they will vote against the proposed Sunshine Law exemption when it comes up Wednesday. Donald Ikeda of Hilo said he is in favor of open government, but didn’t make a commitment to voting down the exemption proposal.

All four councilmen expressed similar sentiments made by Higa on Monday. They support the Sunshine Law but believe the Office of Information Practices’ (OIP) interpretation of the law – specifically OIP head Les Kondo’s interpretation of “serial communications” – is impending their ability to conduct the public’s business.

So, in the end, it seems that the Council does not want to take any political heat for requesting an exemption, instead they want the interpretation of the Sunshine Law to be relaxed to allow them to meet with each other to discuss Council matters (but not votes) in private. Not likely. Do they actually think that Kondo is going to back down? Unless the Sunshine Law is amended by the Legislature, those OIP rulings are not subject to appeal and are as good as law.

Comments (2)
State money for County roads in limbo

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:22 am
The SB has an article today expanding upon the topic of State money earmarked for County highway upkeep. I had previously commented on the issue when it was mentioned in Kauai, but the SB makes clear that the issue is statewide.

Lingle said that when the Legislature approved the funding last session for the county road subsidies, it did so without changing the language in the law to allow for the money to be expended on county roads.

She said she will go back to the Legislature next session to rectify that.

“As part of my 2006 legislative package, I will be submitting a bill to permit the State Highway Fund to be able to expend the $10 million appropriated for the fiscal year 2005-2006 to assist the counties in their efforts to improve their roads,” Lingle wrote.

Hannemann said he hopes that the Legislature will take up the issue at the start of the session so that the city will be able to use the money before it expires. “I hope they can address it early on,” Hannemann said.

Lingle notified the counties and the Legislature after receiving a formal opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office that said it wasn’t legal to transfer the money.

Deputy Attorney General Randall S. Nishiyama’s opinion said corrective legislation needs to be enacted before June 30, 2006, when the funding would expire.

It would have been interesting to ask for some comment from State DOT Director Haraga about this proposal to share these monies and the impact it might have on State highway maintenance. Also, I am curious if Lingle’s bill will propose to eliminate the restriction outright, or if the bill will only provide a one-time exemption for these appropriations. If the restriction is completely eliminated then the legislature would have to expect regular County pleas for appropriations from the fund, pleas which may or may not sit well with lawmakers if the economy were to slow down and the highway fund to shrink.

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Shinseki lectures to big crowd at UH

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:06 am
I had considered going to the lecture by Eric Shinseki yesterday, and now I wish I had gone. The Advertiser has this (thin) account of his talk and some of the reaction to it.

Wong and Perkal were among the standing-room-only crowd of 600 who attended last night’s lecture by Shinseki at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa’s Campus Center Ballroom. The topic for the first in the UH Distinguished Lecture Series was “Challenges in the effective use of force,” but Shinseki didn’t stray from public comments he’d made before, not even during the hourlong question-and-answer session that followed his presentation.

His message is about duty and carrying out orders once the decision is made to fight. “In our form of government, the decision is made by the president and Congress ? and the uniforms have to follow instructions,” said Shinseki, who refers often to combat as “blunt trauma.”

“When he spoke, he spoke as a soldier,” Perkal said. “Politicians make the decisions and soldiers do what is needed. We’re here (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and can’t pull out. We’re fighting an unpopular war, just like Vietnam.”

Shinseki appears comfortable in front of an audience and has a sense of humor.

I have zero evidence, but I still suspect he is being courted (and is considering) to run for some high-profile office as a Democrat. If that is true, then his lecture could have been interpreted in an entirely different light. That’s why I wish I had gone.

Shinseki’s quip about President Bush not calling him for his advice, and the quotes of a graduate student referring to Shinseki as an apologist for empire are both pretty good political outcomes for the nights work if he were trying to position himself as a centrist Democrat.

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KIUC controversy leads to resignation of reporter

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:46 am
According to one of the letters to the editor in the Garden Island News, the reporter who had been covering the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and the expenditures of the members of the Board has resigned. Previously the paper had apologized to the KIUC and the readers about the coverage, and subsequently the Board fired back in an op-ed.

In response to the letter, the editors say that they (and the new corporate owners of the paper) were not pressured to change their KIUC coverage. The letter writer argues that the reporter had no choice but to resign once it became clear that the editors did not back his reporting.

In another letter today (in the same link), the Board’s op-ed response is itself called to question. It’s going to be interesting to see how agressive whatever reporter assigned by the paper to report on the KIUC will be.

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Senate to be briefed about Kakaako plans

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:52 pm
There will be a joint Informational Briefing before three Senate committees on Wednesday about the A&B propsoal currently before the HCDA regarding the redevlopment of State lands in Kakaako. HCDA, A&B, and members of the public have been invited to present information to the Senators of the Water, Land, Agriculture; Business and Economic Development; and Tourism Committees.

Also, I have received word that this Saturday at the Point Panic end of Kakaako Waterfront Park there will be a rally of park users who are very concerned about the HCDA project. The event is to begin at noon and will feature live music. In addition to the kanakapila, there will be comments from (and perhaps responses to) the HCDA, A&B, and representatives of the growing and increasingly-vocal groups that use the park. The groups consider the proposed condominiums to be incompatible with preserving the area as a place for working-class local people to enjoy the ocean with their families.

A&B wanted public interest and comments on the project, well, they are getting a deluge of it this week…

Comments (0)
BOE looks into Sunshine Law exemption, too

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:07 am
An interesting scoop from the Maui News who had a reporter at the recent BOE meeting at Maunaloa Elementary School. Even though the Maui County Council has basically dropped the idea, the BOE was inspired by the debates at the Honolulu and Maui Councils to discuss at their next meeting the possibility of seeking their own exemption from the Sunshine Law.

[BOE Chair] Harimoto told The Maui News that the Sunshine Law can delay matters and impede board efficiency. For example, sometimes urgent matters arise, and, to comply with the law, Board of Education members must wait a month before they can discuss the situation. By then, it?s sometimes too late.

?How responsive can we be if we?re like this?? he asked.

Harimoto said the Board of Education has also had difficulty deciding what it can and cannot discuss and when it can do so because of differing legal opinions on the Sunshine Law from the state Office of Information Practices and the board?s state attorneys.

Harimoto said he has no intention of suggesting that Board of Education members discuss how they would vote on an issue outside of a meeting.

?We don?t want to make back-room decisions,? he said. But ?I think we should have a chance though to discuss ideas or bounce ideas off of each other.?

Harimoto said he supports the intent behind the state Sunshine Law, but he has sometimes felt like a dictator when he oversees board meetings. ?I often have to cut people off and tell them we can?t discuss things if they?re not on our agenda,? he said.

I’ll be curious to learn what “urgent matters” have been bungled because of Sunshine Law delays. If there are good examples they would certainly help to make his case better than a simple assertion. For a more concrete example, in this recent Hawaii Island Journal editorial (which has some insightful analysis of the dysfunction at the Hawaii County Council, by the way) I read of this rather pathetic situation:

After the Oct. 19 dustup about the committee chairmanships, there was a suggestion that the council have a retreat, a healing session, an attempt at ho’oponopono, at which members could be open about their feelings and possibly get on better grounds with each other. As this is written, that prospect seemed unlikely, partly due to open meetings laws, but, if it could be done legally, it would be a good idea and something this council could use.

That’s just tragically funny if it is true that ho`oponopono is in violation of the Sunshine Law. It would seem to be a prefect remedy, but it can’t be done effectively in public.

Comments (3)
Harbin plans to run for House seat in ‘06

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:38 am
A feisty news conference yesterday in the office of Representative Harbin. The Advertiser was there and so was Borreca of the SB. She is not going to go softly into the night.

“Now I’m mad,” Harbin said. “Everybody turned their back on me, including the governor. I said I would do this for a year just to give the district a chance to get to know its new leaders.

“We, in my age group, we are done. We screwed this place up big time. We need new young leaders. And I want to give this district a chance to find its leaders. But everybody has been so busy destroying me, who in their right mind is going to run for this stinking office?”

I’m missing her point, if there is one. If she wants to give the district a chance to find its leaders, she should not run in 2006. Several people “in their right minds” intend to beat her like a drum in the primary.

Harbin, a small-business advocate who joined the Democratic Party so she would be eligible to replace Hiraki, said she would stay with the party and run as a Democrat next year. But she said she would be the Democrats’ “worst nightmare.”

Harbin said she might change her mind about running if a young leader emerges who wants to represent the Iwilei, downtown and Makiki district. Collin Wong, a young Republican computer consultant who came within a few hundred votes of Hiraki in 2004, said yesterday he plans to run again next year. He said Harbin should step down so voters could make their choice without the distractions that surrounded her appointment.

Heh. Distraction is an understatement. Wong’s race is going to be fighting an uphill battle as many voters already have suspected that Wong was the intended beneficiary of Lingle’s devious-turned-bungled appointment of Harbin. It’s possible that Wong would go down in the crossfire from voters trying to punish Lingle, instead of finding himself in a more conventional race against a more established and respected Democrat emerging from the 2006 primary.

Harbin suggested that if a new Republican or Democratic politician wants to run, “you tell them to come see me, come work for me during this session and if you can do it, it is all yours.”

But when asked if she would run to represent the 28th District (Downtown-Kakaako), Harbin said: “As it is right now, yes, I will.”

Tom Brower, communications director for the state Democratic Party, said it would not be appropriate for Harbin to run.

“Constituents may interpret this as inappropriate at this time. Usually, the incumbent has worked the session before declaring for re-election,” Brower said.

Yes, “usually” that is the case, ha ha.

Harbin may have a hard time finding staff, even with her strange suggestion of “allowing” any potential staffer that demonstrates an aptitude to run for her seat in 2006. No politician needs to audition or gain her approval to oppose Harbin, of course.

Comments (2)
Ethics complaint filed against lawmaker Say

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:11 am
The Advertiser has a brief piece about an ethics complaint filed by a committee calling itself “Restoring Ethics in Government” alleging violations by House Speaker Calvin Say. The piece only partially quotes one sentence and summarizes the rest of the allegations, so it’s hard to judge what it might entail.

The committee claims Say’s office sent an e-mail survey to House Democrats in June asking them to identify bills that passed, or did not pass, during the session that might be helpful during their re-election campaigns.

“The correspondence promises that resources will be consolidated and used to assist Democratic legislators ‘with better research and media communication services,’ presumably for a campaign purpose,” according to a copy of the complaint that was given to reporters.

Hmmm. The text of the email would matter quite a bit, but it is not divulged. The committee alleges that this communication was, “presumably for a campaign purpose.” Without reading the actual email it’s hard to say. The House Majority and Minority Staff offices routinely draft summaries of each legislative session for their respective caucus members to refer to and/or disseminate to their constituents. Typically most of the so-called “district newsletters” sent by legislators to their constituents (at state expense) feature that kind of content. Those newsletters are pre-screened by the House Clerk’s office and only those not considered to be campaign materials are allowed to be sent using state postage funds. One of the definite perks of incumbency, for sure.

The committee did not identify itself beyond its name. Several people at the state Capitol and Dan Mollway, the executive director of the ethics commission, said they had not heard of the group before yesterday.

According to Title 21, Chapter 5, of the Administrative Rules, the complaint (if in fact one exists) must have been signed. Otherwise, the Commission may initiate charges upon anonymous information (or other information not under oath) only after a confidential preliminary investigation to test the validity of the alleged facts.

It would seem, then, that the complainant (representing the committee) must have signed something that would reveal their identity if anyone bothered to inspect the records at the Commission. Further, I’m puzzled as to who provided a copy of this complaint to the media. Was it the Commission? If so, then the failure by the reporter to determine if the complaint was based on anonymous information or if it was based on a signed complaint is a bit sloppy, especially given the novelty of the anonymous committee making the allegations. The fact that the media learned of the complaint before the respondent (Say), and the fact that Mollway said he doesn’t know who the group is, raises my suspicions further.

If the media learned of the complaint through a tip from the complainant, and yet the complainant retains their (or was granted) anonymity, it may well be that the Commission is still conducting its confidential preliminary investigation and may find (indeed, may have already found) the allegations baseless and decide (or has decided) that no charges are to be filed. In which case this anonymous committee, with the witting or unwitting assistance of the media, has just publicly smeared the House Speaker.

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Rusti’s new home price is just over the Oahu median

Filed under:
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 8:07 am
A nice article in the Advertiser today with very encouraging news about Rusti the orangutan at the Honolulu Zoo. Like many others looking for housing in Honolulu, Rusti needed a lucky break, some generous friends and relatives, and, finally, a roomate to be able to “swing” the deal.

The 25-year-old Rusti is owned by the Los Angeles-based Orangutan Foundation International, which has paid nearly half of the $625,000 for his new digs. The foundation had transferred Rusti to Honolulu in 1997 after he moved from a private zoo in New Jersey that was considered unacceptable.

Even though people have been talking about moving Rusti out of his “temporary” cage for eight years, various plans to move him fell through until last year, when private donors joined with the city.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the public-private support for Rusti is making his new home a reality.

“I think Rusti is a prime example of what we need to do to make the zoo a first-class facility,” he said.

After the solitary kind of life he has led, Rusti has become a symbol of sorts that people want to reach out to.

“Rusti has become our folk hero,” Hannemann said.

Not many other 25-year-old Oahu residents could afford a median-priced new home of their own (especially 25-year-old artists who have been incarcerated for seven years in solitary confinement). It obviously pays to be a “folk hero.” Heh.

Comments (0)

Get rid of newspapers – wha?

Filed under:
HI State Politics
HI Media
— Doug @ 9:48 am
A while ago while looking at the Hawaii GOP website I noticed that they had added a blog. Great! I quickly added it to my blogroll to remind myself (and you, the readers) to check it periodically. Now, after reading it for a while, it’s clear that it is not what I had expected it to be.

I had expected a slick site with gratuitous “liberal” slurs and partisan cheerleading. There actually is not much content of that sort, and the blog is far from slick—it is a plain vanilla blogspot offering. The blog is, however, home to some seriously zany posts. Curiously, the editor comments on most of his own posts, and writes those comments in the same rather erratic and rambling style as the original post. What’s more, the editor’s comments may or may not even have anything to do with the topic of the original post. Weird stuff. For some reason the comment spammers have also taken up residence at the blog (often to humorous effect) and the editor makes no effort to delete the spam. [trust me, culling out spam comments can become a big task…]

Do check it out—while it lasts.

Anyway, with that preface, have a look at the intro of this recent post.

High Cost of Living? Unnecessary Waste and Consumerism? Unnecessary Fuel Consumption?

One of the easiest solutions for all of the above, if not actually a panacea, is to cancel your newspaper subscriptions. Once one does that, fully 90% of the problems in one’s life will disappear immediately. The sole function of today’s newspapers, is to create problems even when they don’t exist – because they make a living exploiting them.


I’ve been critical of the media lately, but let’s not kid ourselves. Without newspapers I would have no “raw material.” The media need to expand their coverage of local politics, not fold up their tents and leave it all to the bloggers.

The fact that the blog is (or certainly could be perceived to be) endorsed by the Hawaii GOP is puzzling. Do the folks at the party office even read it? This gentleman should absolutely keep on blogging in whatever form he wants and is fully entitled to publish his opinions, but it may be sending unintended messages to the public if he is the Hawaii GOP blogger.

But for now, so far as we know, he is.

Comments (4)
Kauai considers tinkering with gas taxes

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:01 am
A wide-raning article in the Garden Island News about the debate over lowering County gasoline taxes, offsetting the revenue loss with State highway funds, and the impact on fuel conservation policy.

Approval of the county tax reduction on a gallon of gas would result in the loss of $1.2 million from the county’s Highway Fund, which is used to fund resurfacing and road-building projects.

To make up for the loss, council members also looked at two bills that would essentially recognize the lost income, and transfer $1.2 million in unappropriated surplus funds to the county Highway Fund.

Those funds are limited. The current un-audited estimates of the county’s General Fund reflect a surplus balance of about $3.7 million.


The council members also want to give the tax break because they were expecting $2 million in state finds for the county’s Highway Fund.

Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro, who heads the council’s Finance and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, said members of the state Legislature appropriated funds to each island for road maintenance and repairs.

“When we proposed the tax break, because of the fluctuations in gas prices in past weeks, we thought it would be a good time to give residents a break,” Kaneshiro said.

Kaua’i County’s share of the state funds was about $2 million.

The problem, he says, is that the funds have not been released by Gov. Linda Lingle.

Laurie Yoshida, the governor’s liaison on Kaua’i, said members of the state Legislature approved legislation that would fund county road projects from the state Highway Fund.

She said it is her belief that a state law stipulates that money coming from that pocket of funds can only be used for state road-improvement projects, not county ones.

“She (Lingle) has not released the funds because of the legality of releasing state funds for county projects, and this matter is now under review by the state Attorney General’s office,” Yoshida said.

State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, told The Garden Island that he is disappointed the Republican governor has not released the $2 million.

“It is my understanding there are some legal questions,” Hooser said. “The Legislature has the opinion that it is permissible to release the funds to the counties,” Hooser said. “But the governor’s legal advisor is not so sure.”

Councilman Jay Furfaro, who heads the council’s Economic Development Committee, said the latest word is that the money won’t be coming at this time.

I searched the appearances of “highway” in the state budget but I did not notice the $2 million dollar appropriation in question. I can understand the governor’s reluctance to release these monies, but really can’t comment on the topic without more information. Off the cuff (and according to this) it seems that a good argument can be made that the state highway special fund is explicitly intended for State highways, however it is not clear if County highways are defined as part of the State system. After all the gas taxes are deposited and appropriated to state highway projects, the Kauai folks may be “net donors” or “net benifitors” from the state highway fund, I just don’t know. That loss/benefit more than likely changes from year to year, too.

A citizen came to testify before the Committee with a variety of other suggestions instead of a straight gas tax reduction. His motivation hinged on the fact that lowering the gas tax ignores the environmental advantages of more fuel efficient vehicles. The Council seemed open to his ideas, but no firm decision was made.

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Gasoline prices fall slowly, oil refineries post profits

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:07 am
An article in the PBN describes how Hawaii’s gasoline prices are not falling as fast as the mainland gasoline prices are falling. The law has a built-in lag to dampen radical price swings, so the slower price decline is at least partially to be expected. That subtlety means little to motorists, of course. The article concludes with some tantalizing market data:

Tesoro Corp., owner of one of Hawaii’s two oil refineries, reported Thursday that its quarterly profits more than tripled, to $226 million from $65 million a year ago, as tight supplies and high pump prices sent revenue soaring 53 percent to top the $5 billion mark. The company doubled its usual dividend. Tesoro owns no refineries on the Gulf Coast

Chevron Corp., which owns the other Hawaii refinery, reported on Oct. 28 that it took an estimated $600 million revenue hit from Gulf Coast refinery, but still logged third quarter profits of $3.6 billion, up from $3.1 billion a year earlier.

Too bad those quarterly profits don’t reflect any state-by-state revenues, i.e. what are the Hawaii losses or profits due to the gasoline price cap law.

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Kakaako park users organize against HCDA plan

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 7:51 am
More unfavorable media coverage about the Hawaii Community Development Plan to develop Kakaako Makai into a live, work, learn, play community. The latest in the SB today, adding to the earlier Advertiser story.

Some members of the association have already testified against the project at a meeting held by the agency in September. Members also voiced their opposition at recent neighborhood board meetings. [Park association president] Iwami said he and other members plan to meet with A&B Properties’ Chief Executive Stanley Kuriyama.

In a written statement, officials of A&B Properties said, “We are very aware that this group of park users has concerns and we would like to be able to tell them directly about our proposed plans and to immediately respond to their questions and concerns.

“We have already assured other park users that free and ample parking will be provided to recreational users of the project, that surfing conditions will not be altered, that public access to the ocean will be maintained and that the project in fact welcomes their continued presence.”

Daniel Dinell, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, also issued a written statement yesterday that stressed that “Kewalo Basin Park is not part of the development area.”

“The authority was successful in building the park, restrooms and amenities enjoyed today. These will remain in the future. Of particular import, is that the existing free public parking will be maintained. In fact, the plan is to provide more parking and public access as the project’s goal is to welcome and encourage people to enjoy Kakaako and the parts of waterfront now inaccessible,” Dinell said.

House Speaker Rep. Calvin Say, Councilman Rod Tam and Rep. Bev Harbin, who represents Kakaako, spoke at the meeting yesterday.

Harbin, who has been involved in the Kakaako Improvement Association, said the association unanimously voted in 1999 for no residential structures on the makai side of Ala Moana Boulevard on state-owned land. That has not changed, Harbin said.

Did Representative Say and Councilmember Tam say anything substantive? Representative Harbin is , uh, probably not the strongest ally for the park association, but Say and Tam certainly have more juice.

I think A&B may not be helping to sell their proposal by telling the surfers that there will be more parking and public access in the area after the development. More parking also means more surfers. Maybe this group is different, but surfers generally prefer to keep their favorite spots obscure and exclusive.

Comments (1)

Are the voters “tough on crime?”

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:40 am
A thought-provoking Borreca column in the SB today explores how politicians discuss and divulge the criminal past (and present) of politicians.

Galen Fox had the dumb luck to be arrested while out-of-state. Had he been in Hawaii the media would have been all over him and, at the very least, Fox probably would have lost the House Minority Leader post (if not his seat in office) many months earlier than when he ultimately resigned as Leader and almost a year earlier than when he finally resigned his office (i.e. last week, upon conviction).

The Governor knew of Fox’s arrest a short while after it happened, according to Fox.

The “let them have due process first” argument would carry a lot more water if the politicians, the public, and the media did not have such a fascination with so many other arrests. It is (correctly) considered fair game to publicize the names and alleged crimes of anyone arrested and awaiting trial for robberies, assaults, drug trafficking, or indeed any other offense. We must not and will not abide with a legal system operating in secrecy. That requirement for transparency is why non-politicians are not afforded the same obscurity that former-governor Cayetano, Governor Lingle, and Senator Bunda believe is properly granted to politicians awaiting trial. Those three imply in the article, or even say it outright, that the governor’s discretion after the arrest of Galen Fox was the proper course of (in)action. That is a prinicpled civil libertarian response that I can live with.

Avoiding the glare of publicity after an embarrassing arrest is a natural urge. There is, of course, nothing criminal about keeping ones mouth shut after the proper authorities have already made an arrest. The media are quick to run arrest stories because the public has a nearly insatiable appetite for them (the more high-profile the defendant and/or sordid the crime, the better), but it is unfair to create and uphold any artificial distinction about which defendants are worthy of anonymity and the untainted due process it affords.

It will be for the voters to decide if they value “protecting due process” as much as they value prompt notification if their elected leaders stand accused of crimes. I would venture that many voters (and, if the “tough on crime” campaign rhetoric is to be believed, many Republican voters, in particular) only give weak lip service to the “innocent until proven guilty” credo. So, to the extent that hypothesis true, I think Lingle has reason to be worried. The public can’t fire the media, but Lingle is exposed.

The interesting Mark Jernigan anecdote in the article is indicative of at least one district where the public were willing to weigh the whole candidate—even one with a criminal past—when the candidate himself was forthright.

Comments (3)
State to consider restricting new golf courses to non-potable irrigation water only

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 11:34 am
I have been keeping an eye on the water availability and development clash on Maui. Now, according to this Advertiser story, we learn that in addition to the Maui activity there will be an effort at the Legislature next session to scrutinize water permitting decisions, too. This after the Waiawa golf course received a water permit that will allow them to irrigate using drinking water until a non-potable source becomes available.

State Rep. Brian Schatz, D-25th (Makiki, Tantalus), said golf courses should be a low-priority use of potable water. He is planning to introduce legislation next year that would prohibit golf course development unless nonpotable water is used for irrigation.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply rules require use of nonpotable water for large landscaped areas such as golf courses, parks, schools, cemeteries and highways, but only if a suitable supply is available. Sources of nonpotable water are brackish water from coastal wells and recycled wastewater.

The City & County of Ho-nolulu has only a single treatment plant ? the Honouliuli Water Recycling Facility ? capable of providing reclaimed wastewater certified for use in areas commonly used by the public. The facility provides 3.6 million gallons of irrigation water daily to six golf courses in the area and will be providing water to the Navy and Haseko golf courses.

The benefits of using recycled water include significantly lower charges: 40 to 55 cents per 1,000 gallons for golf course irrigation vs. $1.98 per 1,000 gallons if potable water is used.

Schatz said his proposal is a response to last week’s decision by the state Commission on Water Resource Management to allow Waiawa Development LLC and landowner Kamehameha Schools to pump 1 million gallons of drinking water per day from the Waipahu-Waiawa aquifer on O’ahu for irrigation of two 18-hole golf courses. The golf courses are part of a 3,700-acre master-planned development of up to 12,000 homes.

It’s going to be pretty hard for golf course developers to argue that it makes sense to use potable water for irrigation. But the article gives us a taste of what that argument will be:

David McCoy, president of Waiawa Development, part of the Gentry Cos., said it’s unreasonable to institute a blanket ban against all golf courses that do not have access to nonpotable water sources. He said water use should be considered case by case, depending on the condition of the aquifer in question.

In the case of the Waiawa development, the water commission’s decision was logical, he said.

“There isn’t a problem at (the Waipahu-Waiawa) aquifer,” McCoy said. “The water’s just sitting there, so why not use it?”

The commission said the aquifer has a sustainable capacity of 104 million gallons per day, with 56 million gallons per day in use now.

Mikulina described using groundwater for golf course irrigation as “ridiculous” and short-sighted.

“They are narrowly looking at golf course needs today and not looking at the entire project, which will require many, many millions of additional gallons of water,” he said. “The larger scheme is: What are the other needs in Central O’ahu?”

Irrigation of new golf course developments has become a concern on the Big Island as resort projects spread across the dry Kona coast. Hawai’i County water official Glenn Ahuna said requiring use of nonpotable water for irrigation is a good idea, when it’s available.

He said it’s more cost-effective for the counties than using drinkable water, although perhaps more costly to developers to maintain separate systems for potable and nonpotable water.

I’m curious how the sustainable capacity for an aquifer is determined. There must be an interaction between development and the rate that an aquifer refreshes itself. Thus, with more homes, pavement, storm sewers, fertilizer runoff, etc. it would seem likely that the potable water available in an aquifer would be made less sustainable at the same time as the demand was increased by new development. There are probably no historical data on the topic of sustainable aquifer capacity, otherwise we could look at the before and after effects on potable water supply associated with other big developments and/or golf courses (e.g. Mililani, Waikele, etc.).

Fighting to maintain the availability of low(er)-cost golf course development is going to be a hard sell. It would also make sense for Schatz to consider incorporating the proposed Maui “show me the water” condition into his new bill so that the idea could have statewide effect, but maybe the Maui proposal will instead provide a good pilot project for the State to watch.

Comments (0)
Politics of wellness

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 11:34 am
It was mentioned in a Saturday piece in the SB, and now today I notice both Big Island dailies have stories about Mayor Harry Kim’s trip to the mainland for a check-up on his heart. The West Hawaii Today story is here, and the nearly identical Hawaii Tribune-Herald article is here.

I didn’t bother to post about the Borreca piece yesterday, but I’m inclined to think that these disclosures may be a strategic signal or an innoculation for the political chatterati (myself included). While not trying to downplay the medical necessity and prudence behind his exam, there are a few political uses it could also have.

First, if Kim decides to run for Governor an encouraging result for this exam would defuse any attack on Kim that questions his fitness to serve, or would at least allow him to fire the first shot before that attack.

Second, if Kim decides not to run, it would be another justification he could cite in his decision to serve out his term as Mayor.

Sadly, heart disease is so common that almost no candidate over 40 could honestly campaign on the presumption that they would be immune through their term based upon their present state of health. Political work is stressful and time-consuming, making it difficult to exercise and eat well.

Comments (0)
BOE becoming provincial like the Legislature re: CIP priorities

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:32 am
An excellent Maui News article by Claudine San Nicolas describes a recent Board of Education meeting where CIP priorities were argued and ultimately stonewalled.

The Board of Education?s Committee on Budget and Fiscal Accountability recommended approval of the revised CIP list after the panel received word from Gov. Linda Lingle?s administration that it would release the $100 million once a priority list and implementation plans were submitted.

The DOE revamped its list, making its top priorities at statewide schools items like cesspool removals and the dismantling of architectural barriers to accommodate students with disabilities. In reprioritizing, though, the DOE moved up $765,000 in design money for a new Baldwin library on the CIP list from 30-something to 17 on Thursday night. At No. 17, the library was within the first $100 million to be approved for this year?s capital improvement projects.

Meanwhile, $700,000 in planning money for a high school in Kihei was listed at No. 151.

Cochran, a Paia resident elected by constituents on all Neighbor Islands, attempted unsuccessfully to get the Kihei design money pushed up to priority No. 33 and within the $100 million allocation. After failing to get the Kihei project added toward the top of the priority list (she, too, was short one vote), Cochran persuaded five other board members to join her in not approving any of the priority projects.

This is an interesting development, especially considering the earlier debate over the practice of legislators who lobby for low-priority capital improvement projects to benefit schools in their own districts at the expense of higher priority projects elsewhere. The BOE is now engaging in similar tactics.

[BOE member] Ching said he agreed that South Maui needs a new high school, but he said a vote to move it up on the priority list would make it difficult for him to explain to his Oahu constituents why he didn?t try to reprioritize CIP projects in their area. Ching also said he wanted to support the Department of Education?s recommended list of priorities, which keep health and safety as top priorities.

?I think we have to follow our own matrix,? Ching said.

Matsumoto said the board would not be entertaining shifting CIP priorities had it not been for the state Legislature, which often sees lawmakers appropriating money for school projects not on the DOE?s top priority list.

?Here we are doing what the Legislature is doing,? Matsumoto said. ?I don?t like to be guilty of the same sins as the Legislature.?

Ahu Isa, a former legislator from Honolulu, said the DOE?s capital improvement project priorities change every year for various reasons, so Cochran?s attempt to insert the Kihei high school planning moneys is not unprecedented nor is it unusual.

Precedent and frequency do not necessarily signify a good policy, of course. Heh.

Because of the dispute, no priority list was passed out of committee and the release of the CIP money for any DOE project will be delayed until the dispute is resolved. The BOE could next take it up on November 17.

Comments (0)
Dog not well

Filed under:
— Doug @ 7:53 am
I am waiting for the veteranarian’s office to open in a few minutes so I can have my chihuahua, Holly, checked out. She is almost 14 years old and since she woke up early this morning she can’t put any weight on her right rear leg. Now she is becoming lethargic. Last night she seemed perfectly normal.

I am worried. She’s been through a lot. Breast cancer at age 6, a stillborn litter at age 2, and most recently cataracts are taking her vision away.

She takes priority over the blog any day.

UPDATE: Back home with the dog. The vet thinks she may have strained her hip but can’t find anything more severe than that. He gave her a pretty agressive stretching and massaging and she can now stand again and move about. Kinda. It is a little less pathetic than earlier, but it is depressing for me because I can tell she is uncomfortable. He also gave me some some anti-inflammatory meds for her and I’ll hope for the best. No more allowing Holly to sleep on my bed with me for now, since jumping down from there may be how she hurt herself. Maybe I’ll sleep on the floor…

Thanks for the kind words.

Comments (3)

KIUC fires back at Garden Isle News

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 3:45 pm
The plot thickens in the story of how the Garden Island News has been covering the actions of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board. Earlier this week the newspaper admitted some errors in how the story had been covered. Now, however, the KIUC is whacking the editors while they are down in this response piece.

The board’s response describes board expenditures as accounting for less than 1% of a member’s utility bill. They slam the newspaper for not mentioning the fact that the expensive battery system (and the travel to see other locations where batteries are in use) may in fact reduce rates for the members. They note that the “real story” about KIUC is the cost of fuel and the boards efforts to wean the island off of oil-fired power. They explain the vehicles, the home for the president, and a fancy gas grill expenditures in a much different light than the newspaper had, calling them “assets” owned by the rate payers.

The paper had no response.

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Affordable housing and expensive estates at Hana Ranch meeting – maybe

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 3:31 pm
Another interesting story in the Haleakala Times, this one about a community meeting in Hana where residents are concerned and feel left in the dark regarding a big real-estate deal underway.

This would be just another case of developers proceeding with zero or haphazard community involvement, except it seems that developers had reassured Hana residents almost five years ago that they would keep them informed. So the allegations go at the Hana Ohana website.

Adding to the intrigue is the mention of some celebrities involved.

Dan Omer, Chief Operating Officer for Hana Ranch partners, was then able to give a prepared presentation which included the facts about the land purchase, number of cattle the ranch owns, how many employees it has, water issues, invasive species eradication, vision statement and goals.

He also named the people who comprise the Hana Ranch Partnership; many found it interesting that not one of them lives in Hawai?i. They are: The Ronald Getty Trust and its trustee, Honorable William A. Newsom; Roy and Susan O?Connor; Susan Miller and Elon Gilbert; Jim Miller and Shiwei Gao of Berkeley; Joseph and Victoria Cotchett of San Francisco; Shea Halligan of South America and Gavin Newsom, Judge Newsom?s son and Mayor of San Francisco.

Omer also discussed Oprah Winfrey?s purchases in detail and said that in the next few weeks she will purchase either two or three additional parcels. He talked about how Hana Ranch Partners have improved the community by donating 100 acres for affordable housing, saying that in order to make this financially feasible they would be looking into eco-tourism, growing koa and bamboo and ?strategic land sales,? a term which he didn?t clearly define.

An audience member expressed concern, saying ?What does that mean? What happens when Bill Gates comes and wants to buy and develop everything available? That?s what everyone is here for, to find out whether there is any guarantee of stability for the community.?

The Mayor of San Francisco? Oprah Winfrey? Wow.

The story even has a potential villain, with the involvement of developer and Akaku television agitator, Everett Dowling. Like the skeptical residents, I wish there was more known about the project, because the article raises many more questions than the developers had answers for.

Comments (2)
Maui landlords propose new vacation rental regs

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:23 am
The Maui News has this article announcing a proposal submitted by the Maui Vacation Rental Association to the Maui County Council that the group says would “have a positive effect on the supply of affordable housing.”

This comes after the repeated criticisms that vacation rentals are taking much-needed properties out of the rental market for residents, the Association is offering six ideas in the hopes of beginning a discussion of regulating their businesses.

[One] of the proposals would change the definition of a long-term rental.

According to the association?s legal adviser, the statutory definition is six months. Yet many landlords either rent from month to month or after an initial lease expires do not renew it. Either, the association believes, is a violation of the letter of the law.

So it proposes to make month-to-month rentals for residents legal.

I am no expert on this part of the law, but I fail to see how diluting the definition of long-term rental to such an extent will have a positive effect on the supply of affordable housing. It would seem to me that a landlord (even landlords who presently rent to residents) would be likely to list a property on the vacation rental market during peak tourism times and only allow residents a chance to rent it month-to-month during the off-peak times. Furthermore, as the rental market gets hot, a month-to-month lease would allow the landlord to rapidly raise the rents and price the lower- and middle-income tenants out of the market. If I am missing something fundamental here, please set me straight. What would be the difference between a vacation rental and a long-term rental, if this definition were adopted?

Another proposal would forbid construction of new housing expressly for vacation rental use.

Same basic concern, if “long-term rentals” are to be re-defined as month-to-month, how would it be possible to identify housing built expressly for vacation rental use?

The proposal that would have a direct hit on the pocketbooks of vacation rental businesses would be the one to increase the county?s real property tax on dwellings used for vacation rentals. The association recommends that the additional revenue be used to finance infrastructure on land designated for affordable housing.

Hmmm. A hit on their pocketbooks? Any increased tax would be passed directly on to the vacationer, wouldn’t it? It could also have the perverse effect of taking modest properties with lower base assessments (which I would expect are the existing rentals that residents might be able to afford) out of the residential market to be rented “long-term” (i.e. month-to-month, if the definition is changed) to vacationers, in this way avoiding the higher assessment or minimizing its effect.

I would not expect the industry to propose new regulations that would take their properties off of the vacation rental market, so in that regard these proposals are not unexpected. They are underwhelming solutions, nonetheless.

Comments (1)

Neil is no dummy

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 12:14 pm
An editorial at the SB and a report on KGMB both address the lack of any declared Democratic candidate for Governor. The KGMB piece focuses on the campaign funds accumulated by Lingle and the effort to maximize contributions before new laws restrict out-of-state and contractor donations.

“Some people have said, ‘Well, the governor has all this money piled up,’ and all the rest of it. That kind of thing– it’s going to work against her,” [Congressman] Abercrombie said on Monday.

“We got a new law coming up here in January where we get rid of all that special interest money. I expect that’s going to be a big issue. My view would be she should turn all that money back. That’s under the old law, we’re starting it fresh. On January 1, she shouldn’t spend a nickel of that money,” he said.

Today, Lingle fired back.

“Well, I thought the congressman made a very silly remark,” she said before reporters. “He gets such a large percentage of his money from out of the state and what he’s saying is I should follow some different law. My campaign follows the law to the letter. And to suggest that we should give money back we raised under the law is just silly.”

Silly? The voters will have to decide that. Comparing her own re-election race to a Congressional race (which fall under different contribution law jurisdictions) is a bit sketchy, but whatever. Congress clearly deals with issues on a national basis and allowing contributions to candidates for Congress from the entire nation is certainly more defensible than allowing contributions from outside the state to local candidates who do not deal with issues of national significance.

Don’t think for a second, though, that if the tables were turned the Democrats would forego the contributions received from out-of-state before the end of the year. To that extent, Abercrombie’s comment is a cheap shot.

Though Republicans can be forgiven if they engage in a bit of schadenfreude, having suffered the same vacuity for decades, the Democrats’ lack of an aspirant isn’t good for voters.

Just as in years past when the heavy grip Democrats had on state politics discouraged diverse viewpoints, having no one to provoke discussion or challenge the incumbent’s ideas for governing shortchanges citizens.

The congressman did not succumb to the temptation to take on Lingle even though he contends she is beatable. His reason, he said, is that his 15 years of seniority in the U.S. House are too valuable to give up. That is at odds with Abercrombie’s statement to the Star-Bulletin’s editorial board in March that he would certainly seek a seat in the Senate should there be an opening.

I’m not so sure that with a Democratic candidate there would be much substantive discussion or challenges of the incumbent’s ideas for governing. Fiery rhetoric and obscene levels of campaign spending? For sure. What is good for ad revenues may also “shortchange citizens.”

The editors are a bit unfair to Abercrombie in trying to skewer him for offering his seniority as an explanation as to why he will not challenge Lingle for governor while not considering losing his seniority as an impediment to running for Senate. (In either case, Abercrombie would be running against Lingle, heh.) I think Abercrombie (barring a fratricidal primary) would easily win the Senate race. His 15 years at Congress would automatically put him far ahead of most freshman Senators, even if technically his “seniority clock” would be reset. His network of contacts and political allies would not disappear, rather that circle would almost certainly expand. If a Senate seat opens and Abercrombie does not run, that is when the SB should scold him. His jumping into this race, at this late date and in this fundraising situation, would be worse for Hawaii residents (of both parties) than sacrificing nominating some less-valuable Democrat to oppose Lingle.

It also occurred to me that this would be a perfect year for a third-party candidate to make a strong run without being accused of “splitting the ticket.” Any Libertarians, Greens, or independents willing to step up? Even if they (almost inevitably) lose, it would certainly permit a much more substantive debate and examination of the incumbent’s ideas for governing. At the very least, third party candidates would certainly get a better hearing than they would in any other year.

Comments (1)
Waiawa water permit application left little room for choice

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Honolulu Politics
— Doug @ 10:58 am
Lawrence Miike, a member of the Water Commission, echoes my comments about how the decision to approve a water permit for a Waiawa golf course came about in a letter to the Advertiser editors.

Your Oct. 27 editorial concludes that the water commission is not operating with a clarity of purpose and must take a broad, comprehensive look at how drinking water can be managed in the future. The underlying issue in the controversy you cover is whether the state water commission or the counties should decide what kinds of land developments are to proceed.

Managing our freshwater resources are unavoidably linked with land-use policies. The constitutional amendments of 1978 called for a state water commission, but the initial bill in 1987 was opposed by the counties as an intrusion on their powers. The subsequent Water Code requires that applications for a water-use permit conform to county land-use and development policies, but county planning and approval of developments currently proceed under the assumption that water will be available, and the issue comes to a head when developers come before the water commission to request water-use permits.

Ideally, the counties would prioritize proposed water uses, and the commission would rely on that prioritizing in its decision-making.

The Water Code actually calls for such state/county planning, but its purposes have not been achieved, partly because of the difficulty counties have in making those types of decisions and partly because of the lack of funding by the state Legislature for the commission’s planning responsibilities.

The commission’s policy is that water should be put to its best use, but it also must approve water-use permits if the proposed use is reasonable and beneficial and there are no practicable alternatives.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game—so to speak.

I think the permit is a bad idea (and I’m doubtful that the golf course is “beneficial”), but I’m still inclined to agree with Miike’s explanation that the Commission’s decision on that permit application is only a symptom of the larger problem. With no real plan, the Commission is nevertheless ordered to carry out a plan. This is what we should expect, until legislators get a sensible plan in place and/or developers throttle back.

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Challenges to law make for tricky AG terrain

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:41 am
An interesting intersection between the civil rights lawsuits regarding HYCF and the challenge to the policy of disqualifying out-of-state applicants for government jobs. The SB has a brief article explaining the argument.

“Damage from the pre-employment residency requirement runs not just to plaintiffs … but also to the public interest of Hawaii’s residents because (agencies) are unable to fill positions that are necessary for a well-equipped government,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said in a court motion filed yesterday. The motion seeks a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the residency requirements until the issue can be decided by the courts.

In July the ACLU sued the state and the City and County of Honolulu on behalf of two Florida men who said their applications for various state and county jobs were rejected solely because of the residency requirements. The federal lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, contends the residency requirements are unconstitutional and penalize nonresidents.

Attorney General Mark Bennett has said he believes the state law, upon which county hiring policies are based, is constitutional and that he will defend it, but he acknowledges the issue is an “open question” that never has been definitively decided by the courts.

City officials have declined comment on the lawsuit.

I did some posts (here and here) on this topic already, so I won’t rehash all that again.

However, the comment from the AG in this latest article raises this question: can the AG pick and choose which laws he will defend? I am not a lawyer, but I’m thinking the answer is “no.” Here’s why:

In HRS § 28-1 it is clear that the AG must take the case since the State is named as a defendant. The question then turns to how aggressively the AG chooses to defend the State. In some cases the AG finds it to be in the best interest of the State to settle before trial. However, that would leave the underlying challenge to the law unexamined in this case. For that reason I would be surprised if the ACLU would accept a settlement, but perhaps the two plaintiffs would be satisfied if they were offered jobs and the residents-only policy remained in place. In that situation, without plaintiffs, the ACLU might have no case unless the class-action survives(?).

Let’s assume that no settlement is reached and the lawsuit goes to trial. The AG took an oath to uphold the laws as they are written, so it seems to me the AG has no choice but to defend this law even if it doesn’t make sense.

What does that mean for laws that are (in the AG’s opinion, or in fact) constitutionally dubious? The AG also swears an oath to uphold the Constitution, so does it follow that he or she must not defend (or should personally initiate a challenge to) any law that he or she considers unconstitutional? The laws were written by the Legislature, and legislators may remove the AG at their pleasure (cf. Bronster). It certainly makes it less likely that an AG would be a zealous constitutional watchdog…

If you want more hypothetical political intrigue, consider the scenario where the law challenged by the plaintiff may have been enacted over the governor’s veto or the scenario where a governor’s veto (not overturned) has thwarted the passage of a law that would have obviated the lawsuit (neither scenario is analogous to the instant case). Those scenarios would make for some interesting cabinet meetings, to be sure.

Uh, after all that, it seems I have no real point to make here. But I find it interesting, and it’s my blog.

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Tanonaka sentenced to 3 months in prison

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:32 am
Both Honolulu dailies have stories about the sentencing of former journalist and Republican LG and Congress candidate, Dalton Tanonaka. The Advertiser piece is here, and the SB article is here. Tanonaka is to serve 3 months in federal prison and pay a $10,000 fine.

Although admitting mistakes were made, Tanonaka fell short of saying his actions were deliberate.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Tong argued Tanonaka displayed an “ongoing pattern of deception” that spanned two election campaigns. He said Tanonaka lied to the bank and lied to the U.S. House of Representatives when he filed false documents.

Tong said Tanonaka also lied to the leader of the Republican Party here. He pointed to an e-mail Tanonaka sent to Gov. Linda Lingle in July 2003, two months after Tong said Tanonaka was hired as a consultant for an unnamed koa tree grower.

In the e-mail, Tong said, Tanonaka wrote that the firm was seeking approval from the state to farm and harvest koa trees on the Big Island. Tanonaka, who was to receive $10,000 a month from the firm, was urging approval of the project. He also told the governor in the e-mail that he had no financial interest in the company, which Tong said was a lie.

“It showed what I suggest was an attempt to lie on his part,” Tong said. “He went to the governor, he used his personal relationship and disowned any kind of financial interests in the transaction, giving her what was a very misleading impression.”

Tong said the governor did not act on the e-mail and the project was not approved.

A cynic might ask if the Governor did not act on the email a) because she had a genuine concern for protecting koa forests, b) because Tanonaka does not, in fact, have a personal relationship with Lingle, or c) because Tanonaka told her he had no financial interests in the transaction. Heh.

In 2004, the state fined Koa Timber and Hawaii Forest Preservation $149,430 for illegally harvesting koa and ohia trees on land in the state conservation district. The companies later withdrew their application.

Could the answer to the cynical question be “a”?! Go figure.

Tanonaka, a former newspaper reporter and television anchor for CNN International and CNBC Asia, ran as a Republican. He lost to Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona in the 2002 primary, and to U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie in the 2004 general election.

Sam Aiona, chairman of the Republican Party of Hawai’i, said he felt sorry for Tanonaka and his family, but said Tanonaka will have to “live with the decision.”

“It goes to show you that no one running for office or in office is above the law. Candidates are held to a higher standard and this is the result of that,” Aiona said. “People make mistakes whether they’re Republican or Democrat and they are held accountable for their actions.”

After that banal platitude, here’s where the follow-up discussion about Galen Fox should have begun. Oh, well… Maybe when Fox is sentenced in January we’ll finally get that line of questioning.

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Lege subpoenas HYCF staff

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:10 am
The SB continues to report on the HYCF legislative investigation. The latest development is the subpoena of staff and supervisors to appear before the committees on Tuesday.

Those being called before the committee include the facility’s top administrator, two consultants, two medical officials, two youth corrections officers, and five social workers.

Subpoenas were being served yesterday after they were approved by Senate President Robert Bunda and House Speaker Calvin Say.

“They’re primarily for employees, to ensure that there is no retaliation” against them for testifying, said Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, one of the chairs of the committee investigating conditions at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

“In the committee’s mind, it’s best to issue the subpoenas,” she added.

While I’m glad that the subpoenas were issued (the testimony will be more credible and, frankly, the media and public may choose to pay more attention), I am not so sure that subpoenas will “ensure” that there will be no retaliation. When corrections officers are accused of wrongdoing it is common for their colleagues to “close ranks” when subpoenaed. Those officers who don’t keep their mouths shut (or lie) face threats of retaliation. Retaliation is a legitimate concern, but it’s a separate issue that will have to be dealt with if it arises.

I’m also curious now if the UPW will provide legal counsel for those members subpoenaed, and what impact that presence (or absence) would have on the proceeding.

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Maui Council defers water-development discussion

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:49 am
The Maui County Council is taking a slow approach to the bill that would tie (some) permit approvals to the availability of water, according to this (slow-loading!) Maui News article. I had previously discussed this here. The article suggests that the meeting was running late and so action was deferred, not that the idea is being shelved.

Anyway, the concluding paragraph is interesting reading for people (like me) who are unfamiliar with how developments proceed on Maui:

The Department of Water Supply stopped issuing water meter reservations to developers in Central and South Maui in 2003, shortly after the Iao aquifer was designated for state management. Since then, water meters have been issued to projects on a first-come, first-served basis, and only to projects that have completed infrastructure and are capable of hooking up to the system.

First-come, first-served may be “fair,” but it is not even close to what could be called “planned.” Given Maui’s exploding median price for a home, I expect that the projects most likely to be at the head of the water meter reservation line are not the “affordable” homes. If that is true then lack of water could become another impediment to developing affordable housing. Hopefully the bill can (or already does?) make an accomodation for that. The Maui County website appears to be offline today, or I’d check myself.

Comments (0)
Students win grant to build ROVs

Filed under:
— Doug @ 8:14 am
Pardon me while I have a science dork moment: The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has this story about a cool opportunity for the students at Kealakehe High School.

Kealakehe High School teacher Larry Rice was awarded a $9,500 grant to design, build and pilot an operational Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle, which will collect water samples off the Kona Coast.

While Rice’s students have built some simple ROVs in the past, the grant money will allow the students to build more elaborate vehicles that they can operate in the ocean, Rice said.


“It’s a fairly encompassing project,” Rice said. “They’re doing some engineering, physics and a little chemistry. It’s an integrated project.”

The students will also conduct fish counts, observe what kind of marine life is in the tested areas and document their work over time.

The project will begin in January, at the start of the new quarter, and will involve about 125 students who will be grouped into teams of five. Rice said they will build five or six underwater ROVs, each costing about $500 or $600.

The grant is from the Toshiba America Foundation. Congratulations to Rice for winning the grant and bringing this excellent opportunity to the kids. I’m sure they will find the experience exciting and it will make science and engineering come alive for everyone involved. These students will get a taste of a very interesting career opportunity, too.

I hope those involved in the project launch a website when it gets going, or at least send out press releases.

Comments (0)

Lingle changes the subject

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 11:17 am
Governor Lingle remains tight-lipped about her decision to not disclose the arrest of then-House Minority Leader Representative Fox when she learned of it. Thus, there is very little new information in the articles about Fox at the Advertiser or the SB today.

There’s not a heck of a lot anyone can do to force the discussion, but perhaps reporters could take to regularly asking the Lingle administration “do you know of any elected officials awaiting trial at this time?” Heh. Otherwise potentially embarrassing things might continue to slip their minds when it comes time to speak before the public.

There’s the predictable outcry from the Democratic Party, but it is already sputtering. If another arrest ever takes so long to surface in the media as this one did, you can bet that if it involves a Democrat and high-ranking Democrats were aware of it and said nothing the Republicans will go berserk.

Not much more to say on that front, but there is still some meat on this bone:

John Breinich, chairman of the Ala Moana-Kaka’ako Neighborhood Board, said the area now has essentially no representation at the Legislature. “With Galen Fox’s resignation, and the lack of confidence in Bev Harbin because of her clouded past, our area is without effective legislative input from the community,” he said.

“Galen was an excellent representative, always listening to the community, and worked hard to make it a better place. He will be missed, and we are very concerned about how our community will have effective input during the next year until the election to select our representatives.

“The Ala Moana-Kaka’ako area is the fastest-growing part of Honolulu, and we need effective representation. Unfortunately, our area has now been hit with two high-profile changes in our representation, and care needs to be taken that our needs are addressed in filling this new vacancy.”

I had not considered the geographical coincidence of the two resignations affecting adjacent districts. As a longtime incumbent from the area Fox did not have many strong challengers in his primary races. According to the Office of Elections records, Fox was unopposed in 2004 and 2002, had token opposition in 2000 and 1998 (from Raymond DeFlavis) and in 1996 beat out three opponents. So the bench may not be very deep as the Governor begins her search for a Republican replacement. As for Representative Harbin, all signs point to her being ignored at the Legislature and then defeated at the polls, so that part of Downtown could suffer this year, too. What about Senator Trimble? Yeah, right. Who?

Comments (1)
Lipstick on the private prison pig

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:17 am
Kudos to the Advertiser and Kevin Dayton for this encouraging news about how Hawaii has incorporated some sorely missing leverage into the contracts with mainland private prison operators housing Hawaii inmates.

Under the new contract, the state will pay $51.90 per day per inmate to house women at Otter Creek. State prison officials estimate it costs an average of $105 per day to house an inmate in state-run facilities in Hawai’i.

The new contract allows the state to impose “liquidated damages” on the prison operator if the operator does not provide the proper number of residential drug treatment beds.

It also allows the state to impose financial penalties if the contractor does not have the required numbers of corrections officers, educational staff workers and treatment providers, [DPS Acting Director] Lopez said.

[DPS official] Kimoto said the Otter Creek prison is still in a “state of transition” after receiving its first Hawai’i women inmates in September, and there are no inmate programs for the Hawai’i prisoners there. Under the new contract, the prison has until the end of January to get all of the required programs running, she said.

The proof will be in January, of course, but this idea is long overdue. I’m curious as to how punitive the “liquidated damages” and “financial penalties” for failing to provide the programs will be. Hopefully the penalty will be calculated on a per-inmate/per-day basis, otherwise the facility may provide a handful of women occasional access to these programs (or officially hire guards, but short-staff the facility anyway) and claim compliance with the contract. My other concern is that, unless the penalty is punitive enough, the pervasive “bottom-line” mentality of CCA might compel/allow them to budget for the penalties as an acceptable part of doing business.

Comments (0)
Public support thin for Kakaako plan

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:58 am
Developer A&B is getting very little public comment, and even less public support for their Kakaako redevelopment plan, according to this Advertiser piece. They are trying to spin it as best they can, but I suspect that the HCDA can see right through that effort.

Of responses received from the hot line and Web site through October, A&B said 15 respondents expressed support, while 50 opposed some or all of the project. Another 50 expressed opposition at the meetings.

Meredith Ching, A&B vice president of government and community relations, said the 100 objections represent less than 5 percent of the 2,100 people who sought out information on the hot line or Web site.

Please tell me that A&B is not using hits on their website as a proxy metric for how many people are “seeking information” on the project and, by extension, interpreting the lack of comments from most visitors as a lack of opposition. Heck, I did a few hits on their website just drafting this piece, and I did not comment, yet it does not necessarily follow that I support (or oppose) the proposal.

A&B proposes developing 36.5 acres of state land around Kewalo Basin with 947 condo units, a hula amphitheater, farmers market, restaurants, stores, marina improvements and the pedestrian bridge.

The company said the plan’s most controversial element ? the condos ? is needed to pay for public elements like the amphitheater, which is projected to cost $12 million to build and will operate at a loss.

$12 Million dollars to build an amphitheater? Aren’t we talking about an open-air roof, a stage, some restrooms, and landscaping? I can’t believe that it would cost even close to that much money. Scale back that amphitheater design to something more modest (or, better yet, arrange a public/private partnership) and there would be less need for the market-rate condominiums.

Or, HCDA could just blow off all the opposition to the condos and approve the project in its current form anyway. Time’s a wastin,’ considering the short timeline the agency wants to keep.

Comments (2)
Hawaii County ponders a lobbyist

Filed under:
HI State Politics
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:23 am
I noticed a novel proposal from Hawaii County briefly mentioned in the West Hawaii Today.

Also in the Public Works and Intergovernmental Relations committee, council members will discuss the administration’s recent pitch to hire a lobbyist for the 2006 state Legislature.

An Oct. 17 letter Mayor Harry Kim wrote Council Chair Stacy Higa said the County of Hawaii lobbyist would monitor bills of interest to keep county employees informed so that arrangements can be made for them to travel to Honolulu to testify. The lobbyist could also deliver testimony on the county’s behalf, Kim suggested.

Managing Director Dixie Kaetsu said the person would be paid an estimated $10,000 for the legislative session.

Okay, perhaps it isn’t truly novel, but I don’t recall any other lobbying before the Legislature on behalf of a County being carried out by a contracted (i.e. non-government employee) lobbyist. It raises some interesting questions, in any case.

Would the lobbyist deliver testimony from the Mayor or the Council? What if the Council is not unanimous in its position and/or opposes the Mayor on a particular issue?

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Maui housing policy sketched out

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 9:09 am
The Maui County Council has backed away from a bold affordable housing proposal and are now looking at a a less agressive policy. The Maui News story describes many of the (tentative) features of the policy but doesn’t delve much into why the earlier proposal was shelved.

Nothing was determined as to what ?affordable? would mean in terms of family incomes of those who might want to buy. Typically, developers proposing affordable projects offer units between 80 percent and 120 percent of the median annual income for a family of four ($49,880 to $74,820). But committee members have been leaning toward widening that scope to help those with lower incomes qualify as well as those in the ?gap group? who earn too much to meet the affordable requirements, but too little to be able to purchase market-priced homes.

Committee member Charmaine Tavares said lawmakers need to seriously look at who would benefit from the new law. A few weeks ago, Tavares proposed requiring that 80 percent of all residential projects be affordable with units reserved for families earning between 50 percent and 160 percent of median income, a wide range that would have appealed to many of Maui?s residential population now struggling to pay rent or find a home.


The draft policy?s 30 percent designation for affordable units would be dictated if the housing were built on the same site as the entire project. For off-site affordable units, the amount would increase to 40 percent. A cash-in-lieu formula would cost developers 50 percent of the average selling price for the market homes.

Although details weren?t discussed, the draft policy also would include concurrency and in-perpetuity clauses, meaning that affordable homes would be built at the same pace as the market units and that they would remain affordable into the future.

Other than the rejection of Tavares’ earlier offer, this plan sounds like it is largely on the right track. No mention, though, of the permitting concessions the Council intends to offer the developers on this front:

Last month, developers working with council members on drafting a housing policy indicated they could support the 30 percent assessment as long as the county?s cumbersome permitting system were revamped.

Finally, I concur with this comment from an A&B consultant:

The meeting began with Mercer ?Chubby? Vicens asking lawmakers to accumulate statistics regarding the realistic base costs of construction. Vicens, a consultant for A&B Properties who was speaking on his own behalf, also said community members need to speak out on what kind of housing they want ? 4,500-square-foot lots or bigger lots that would give their children a backyard to play in.

Construction costs need to be part of the affordable housing debate. Previously a County official had suggested an average construction cost of $200,000, but without providing any data to support the suggestion.

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Robert Rees, columnist, civil liberties advocate RIP

Filed under:
HI Media
— Doug @ 8:43 am
Sad to hear of the passing of Robert Rees. The two Honolulu dailies each run obituaries detailing his many years of work on behalf of civil liberties and his tenacious role as a government watchdog. (Advertiser and Star-Bulletin obits)

I never met the man, but I always took time to read the many columns and investigative reports he penned and, in its heyday, I listened regularly to his “Talk of the Islands” radio show. His death leaves a gap in the Hawaii media, and for that I will miss him. His legacy will be the Davis Levin First Amendment Conference, which was his inspired gift to all of us.

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Comment problem

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— Doug @ 6:03 am
I found this in my comment queue today:

Doug – when I type in your comment box, the right margin shoots all the way to the right and disappears under your blog roll, so that I can’t see part of what I’m typing. I don’t have this problem with other sites – any ideas on how I can get around this?


Without knowing your OS/browser combination, it’s hard to say.

Anyone else having this problem or know of a solution?

Until then, one workaround would be to compose your comment in a text editor and then cut-and-paste into the comment form.

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Mum’s the word

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 1:47 pm
I just listened to the mp3 version of Rick Hamada’s “Talk Story with Linda Lingle” show from Wednesday morning.

At the 27:00 point of the show they discuss Galen Fox in response to a taunting caller.

Hamada: “Did you think that at any point it was appropriate to disclose any of this information to the public, or should Galen have disclosed it initially upon his arrest or do you believe that things played out as they should have?”

Lingle: “Well, Rick, as I’ve told all the media yesterday, I don’t have anything more to add on the subject at this time. Galen has done a good job for his district as his constituents have said continually in the paper. Galen is a friend of mine, I wish him well. I’m very sad about this situation. I think he did the right thing by resigning. I expressed that to him that I believed it was the appropriate thing to do, but that the choice was his. I just don’t have anything more to add on the subject.”

Will the local media allow the Governor to simply stonewall on this topic? We shall see.

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Collateral damage of Fox resignation seems possible

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:35 am
The “how did the story stay under wraps for 11 months” aspect of the Galen Fox arrest, trial and conviction is beginning to emerge today. The two Honolulu dailies each have stories (Advertiser and SB), but KITV is actively following the story, too.

KITV has the most damaging coverage:

Fox told KITV that he informed the governor’s office shortly after he was arrested 11 months ago. Lingle’s spokesman told KITV 4 she found out about it then. Then the spokesman called KITV Tuesday night and said he was mistaken. He said people in the governor’s office knew about the arrest, but the governor did not.

Fox talked to the governor about it again the day after his conviction.

House Republican leader Lynn Finnegan said she only heard about it as a rumor a few days before Fox’s conviction.

“My intention in finding out about the conviction was to go public with it, but I gave him some time to bring it to light with us and decide what he was going to do from there,” Finnegan said.

Fox announced his resignation just hours before Finnegan had scheduled a meeting with him to talk about it.

Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings learned of Fox’s charge a few weeks ago from an anonymous caller.

“Why didn’t you do anything about this?” KITV reporter Denby Fawcett asked Hemmings.

“Because it is not my duty, because the person asked me not to do anything, but just to be apprised of the information and to keep it anonymous,” Hemmings said.

Hmmm. The “governor’s office” knew, but not the Governor. In my opinion, either Lingle’s staff are rank amateurs unable to see the significance of the arrest, or the Governor must have known. Choose one. In a perfect world, Lingle should have then announced (or leaked to Hawaii Reporter, ha ha) the arrest and could have made some sort of comment along the lines of “guilty until proven innocent, yadda yadda.” However, with the 2005 legislative session about to start the Governor the gonvernor’s staff must have considered the value of having this powerful leverage over Fox for the next few months and the negative effect of exposing the House Minority Leader (the closest thing to a powerful ally that Lingle has in the Lege) to probable replacement.

At least the governor (almost) has one layer of deniability for why she didn’t react sooner. That would be one more layer than the two minority leaders, Senator Hemmings and Representative Finnegan, have. Finnegan claims she had known only for a few days and was about to meet with Fox when he resigned. Hemmings freely admits that he heeded an anonymous caller’s advice to do nothing and keep the knowledge secret. Genius!

It would seem that Fox will appeal this decision, because he maintains his innocence and believes he was “whacked” by the court.

On the advice of his attorney, Fox declined to comment yesterday on the statements the woman gave in court or to the FBI. He maintains he is not guilty despite the judge’s verdict.

At the time he touched the woman and yesterday, Fox said he “absolutely” believes he wasn’t doing anything wrong. “I was unaware at the time it constituted a chargeable offense,” he told the Star-Bulletin.

He said he continues to have faith in the American judicial system, “but I got whacked.”

I can’t imagine what the basis of an appeal by Fox would be, if any appeal is in fact planned. The trial was a classic “he said, she said” case and the judge found the victim to be credible. Barring some as-yet unknown procedural gaffe, I think the conviction will stick.

Fox said yesterday he had wanted to serve out the remainder of his two-year term next year but did not plan to run for re-election even if the conviction had not become public. He said his legal case did not influence his decision to step down as minority leader in May. He also said his divorce, which he was going through at the time of the incident, did not play a role.


Lingle did not publicly ask former Rep. Brian Blundell, a Maui Republican, to resign after he was arrested last year on suspicion that he groped an undercover police officer. Blundell ran for re-election and lost, while the charge was settled after he agreed to therapy and other conditions.

Maybe the third time a Republican is arrested for a sex crime the Governor will react differently? …if her staff tells her about it or the media finally get wind of it before the next election. Heh.

This may be the first chink in the “Lingle is invincible” armor. The story is not likely to just go away.

Comments (3)
Economic Momentum Commission one step closer to pau

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:44 am
The Economic Momentum Commission is keeping to its schedule and has released about 3 dozen recommendations (with more recommendations here) and solicited comments from the public. There are excerpts and reactions in the Advertiser, the SB, and PBN.

In a preivoust post last month, I took a longer look at the earlier stage of the process. This time around some of those ideas have fallen away (such as the recommendation to repeal the gasoline price cap law), while other ideas have been refined. If you’re in a hurry, the Advertiser piece has a nice bullet-point sidebar to summarize what happened.

I’ll beat my affordable housing horse again and point out this encouraging part of the recommendations:

The Commission supports the work of the HCDA in the proposed development at Kaka?ako, Oahu. The projected $650 million project will transform the dilapidated Kewalo Basin area into a new vibrant community that offers live/work/play ?mix-use? design (Smart Growth). It calls for increased public shore access, an expanded small boat marina, a local farmers market, and an open amphitheatre to showcase Hawaiian music and hula. This public/private partnership could serve as a model for future planned developments. However, future models should place greater emphasis on affordable workforce housing.

For example, the Commission recommends HCDA in cooperation with the City & County of Honolulu develop and execute a plan for the development of an affordable community at Kalaeloa, Oahu (Barbers Point). The potential 500-acre development site should be similar to Kaka?ako ? a public/private partnership for a master planned community to include mix-use live/work/play design, a convenient connector to the planned mass transit system, and have ample green open space. All homes would be for owner-occupants and sold at prices that are ?workforce affordable.? The Kalaeloa model should be developed as a potential prototype for other planned public/private partnerships throughout the state in order to offer our citizens affordable housing.

Okay, maybe now Councilmember Apo’s new committee will have a ready-made banner to operate under. Along these lines, I read about a development in Hawaii Business Magazine that uses a novel form of leasehold transactions to keep the costs down and the homes affordable. …of course, if the military comes back to Kalealoa with a carrier group, this idea is DOA. But I like the concept and it could be applied elsewhere.

The last thing I want to point out is that the EMC website has a page of “resource materials” that other wonks might want to explore.

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Beware of low prices

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:53 am
Gasoline price cap going down again next week, blah blah blah, says a SB article today. The Governor’s comment is what caught my eye:

Gov. Linda Lingle said she expects motorists to be pleased by the price drops, but she continues to have concerns for gas station owners.

“When the price starts to drop, and the cap is artificially low on the wholesalers, it could put people out of business,” Lingle said. “It could create shortages, and that’s when the concerns would really start to pile up.”

Wha? The gas station owners can sell the gasoline at whatever price they like.

As I said before, if any wholesaler is truly in danger of going out of business the law provides them an opportunity to speak up and at that time the PUC can adjust the formula. They’ve done so once already. Furthermore, the PUC is carefully considering adjustments to the formula to ensure that the jobbers won’t operate at a loss and, at some point(?), the reports submitted by the oil companies to the PUC may provide some indication of how this law has impacted their business.

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Employee grudges and civil rights collide

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:40 am
The SB was the only paper to cover the joint legislative hearing yesterday concerning the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. The article does not report what the administration told the legislators, instead focusing on the legislators’ concerns with the pace of reform.

[Senator] Hanabusa questioned why there have only been six new policies enacted since the ACLU’s August 2003 report.

Administration officials including [Executive Director of the Office of Youth Services] Agnew, facility Administrator Kaleve Tufono-Iosefa and special projects director Etene Taimalelagi said they are implementing reforms and working on policies and procedures for personnel within the framework of union contracts.

“Inherent in the state of Hawaii there’s a process to do that,” Taimalelagi said. “All I was saying is that we have to respect that process and we go through the steps so that we can get a good policy going without any mishaps or any grudges or anything.”

As expected, the administration is trying to spread the blame to include the union. What happens when this union-management negotiation process bumps up against preserving the civil rights of the youth inmates? A lawsuit happens.

Hanabusa criticized the administration for taking too long – three months – to consult with unions on the proposed policies when it is not required under the workers’ collective-bargaining agreement.

She also noted that the preceding administration had been working on new policies and procedures and questioned why those officials were not consulted when the new administration began its oversight of the youth prison.

Tufono-Iosefa said: “What’s real important for us is really building a good foundation with our stakeholders, and the union is one of our stakeholders.”

Will the union be participating in these legislative hearings as a “stakeholder?” If it turns out that the negotiation process is the crux of the problem, then the legislature would be wise to widen the scope of the investigation to include that topic in the debate. The alternative is to allow the federal court to take the facility out of State control.

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Gas Taxes vs. Oil Company Profits

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 8:15 am
Grant Jones at his new blog, The Dougout (heh), has a post that includes an interesting chart of oil industry profits and gasoline tax revenues. It’s an interesting chart, but it does not tell the story it claims to.

The chart actually shows that since 1993, the time of the last federal gasoline tax hike, gasoline tax revenues have been more or less level at around $60 billion. From 1993 forward, however, oil industry profits have been bouncing around, but always positive and trending upward. The chart stops in 2004, which is too bad, because just recently a single oil company (Exxon-Mobil) had profits in one quarter of $9.92 billion. The industry-wide total profit for 2004, according to the chart, was about $40 billion. This means that if Exxon-Mobil were to maintain this level of profit for an entire year they would, by themselves, make nearly as much profit in 2005 as the entire industry did in 2004.

The premise of Jones’ post seems to be that oil industry profits are not objectionable—-until they exceed gasoline tax revenues. Well, we’re on the way to that situation.

Clearly, something is going on. Here’s one possible explanation.

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Representative Fox resigns in shame

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 10:31 am
It seems that everyone, to some extent, covers the sudden resignation of Galen Fox. There are stories at the SB, the Advertiser, the Hawaii Reporter, the PBN, and, I was surprised to see, a few details omitted by all the Honolulu sources were included in an AP story that ran in the Sacramento Bee, of all places.

This certainly puts his decision to resign from his post as Minority Leader in a new light. I had posted previously (here and here) that his resignation from that post was in reaction to his politics and dissent within his caucus after the 2005 session. That may have been coincident with his replacement, but it would seem now that it wasn’t the whole story, since his arrest was in December 2004(!). How did he keep it under wraps so long? There’s a mystery for you…

Anyway, as an interesting peek into the heads of the various editors, compare how these sources describe the offense, ranging from so vague as to be useless all the way to salacious.

Pacific Business News version:

Rep. Galen Fox, R-Waikiki-Ala Moana, has resigned from the state Legislature effective Dec. 1 after being convicted of a federal offense that reportedly occurred on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

Hawaii Reporter version:

Fox, who was in office for a decade and served as House minority leader for 5 years, was accused by a 27-year-old woman of inappropriately touching her on a Dec. 18, 2004 flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. He will not be required to serve jail time.

SB version:

Fox, 63, (R, Waikiki-Ala Moana) was convicted of sexual battery, a misdemeanor, in an Oct. 20 nonjury trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He was charged Dec. 18 after a 27-year-old woman accused him of putting his hand between her legs while she slept on the flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles, according to court documents obtained by KITV.

Advertiser version:

According to Fox’s attorney , a woman sitting next to Fox on the flight accused him of inappropriately touching her while she slept. The woman confronted Fox when she awoke and she complained to the flight crew. Since the incident happened during a flight, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, where the plane landed, handled the case.

“It was one of those sad things. I think she didn’t understand that he was just, you know, being friendly with her, not in an obscene way or anything, and she misinterpreted it to be making a sexual advance,” Braun said. “And it became a whole hullabaloo on the plane and the whole thing.”

Sacramento Bee version:

Fox appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle in January. He was convicted in a non-jury trial of abusive sexual conduct, a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

“The woman testified that she was asleep, and she woke up and Mr. Fox’s hand was in between her legs and the zipper of her pants was down, and that’s essentially the gist of the case,” said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

According to a court filing, Fox admitted to reaching over to touch the woman and that he should not have been touching her. But he denied details of the woman’s account of what took place aboard the roughly five-hour flight.

“She said things about what I did that were just absolutely untrue. And I said, you know, what I thought had happened. And the judge ruled in her favor,” Fox told television station KITV.

Just being friendly? No need for a hullabaloo? Sheesh.

I’d like to add, however, that Hawaii Reporter was the only account that included this context:

Fox is the third Republican in the last year who was convicted of a crime. Last fall, then-Rep. Brian Blundell, R-Maui, was convicted of sexual assault in the fourth degree for fondling an undercover police office in a Waikiki restroom. And a few months ago, Dalton Tanonaka, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and congress, plead guilty to federal charges related to his campaign finances.

Given their open scorn for Fox when he gave up his Minority Leader post, I did not expect that amount of even-handedness from Zimmerman. Well done.

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Abercrombie stays put

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:47 am
Congressman Neil Abercrombie will defend his U.S. House seat in 2006 instead of running for Hawaii Governor. His remarks are available at the Hawaii Reporter. The two Honolulu dailies, of course, are all over the announcement. The Advertiser has a story and the SB has this article.

After he finished his statement, the comments from Abercrombie and others in these articles are notable:

Abercrombie said Lingle, while popular, is not unbeatable. “I think her support is an inch deep,” he said.

Brickwood Galuteria, the party’s chairman, said the party is not alarmed that no Democrat has entered the race. He said the party has worked to solidify its base and reach out to Democrats who may have drifted when Republican Lingle won in 2002. “We will not let that happen again,” he said.

There’s a man who should be polishing his resume. Galuteria is “not alarmed.” What it would take to alarm him, well, we can only wonder. Contrast that assessment with this one from the SB article:

“They are back to square zero,” said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii political scientist.

“To sum it up: They are screwed. It is one thing to think you are going in as the underdog, but it is another thing to think that the race is so wrapped up that it isn’t even worth a fight,” Milner said.

Actually, that SB piece is just full of savory bits of political candy. Yumm.

Brickwood Galuteria, Democratic Party chairman, says although Democrats lack a candidate, the party is ready.

“We have sought to reconnect some of our disconnects that we saw with our own legislators and the party and critical constituencies like labor,” he said.

“We would really appreciate someone emerging so we can make our plans. But, once a candidate does emerge, we will be fully equipped to come to the table,” Galuteria promised.

Poor guy, but what can he say? He’s reduced to mouthing meaningless consultant-ese jibberish. If Galuteria doesn’t find somebody, uh, I mean “if no candidate emerges” (love that passive voice, yeah?) he may as well run for governor himself, get thrashed, and then fade away—because after this development the predictable alternative is that the party dismisses Galuteria next November.

What a clown show this has become!

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Legislature’s investigation of HYCF begins

Filed under:
HI State Politics
— Doug @ 9:15 am
The SB has a helpful piece about the first of three scheduled hearings that will be held today. The Legislature will be investigating the status of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility, with a focus on the most recent DOJ and ACLU allegations.

“I’m hoping that these hearings that the Legislature hosts are very open – that the people from our staff are given an opportunity to lay out what we have achieved and what remains to be achieved,” Lingle said yesterday. “The early indication, however, is that it was going to be a lot of politics.”

I would interpret that to mean that the Governor hopes her staff will be allowed to present a slick show (I’ll even venture a guess that it will involve PowerPoint slides, heh) and then to dodge substantive questions. Any responses to legislators’ questions may be even less forthcoming, though, if the administration staff are put under oath:

[Senator] Hanabusa, who also was a co-chairwoman of the Felix hearings, said the youth correctional facility briefings will be similar, with lawmakers having the ability to subpoena witnesses and have them testify under oath.

“It’s very interesting in how different it is,” she said. “All of a sudden you will have administrators who will admit – because they are under oath – that they don’t know, which is something you rarely hear them say when they’re before you in committee.

“They admit that they do not know, or they admit that they have no solutions, so we’ll see where this one takes us.”

Hanabusa said she is hopeful the hearings will help prevent another consent decree.

Lingle said she does not believe federal court intervention is necessary.

To that end, I would think that this investigation (if it results in additional reforms), might also serve to minimize the risk of a consent decree. If the governor believes that “some progress” obviates the need for federal intervention, then it’s less of a surprise that she “looks forward” to this investigation, which could lead to “more progress.”

Administration officials have said they are implementing reforms and working on policies and procedures for personnel within the framework of union contracts. Officials also are focusing on diversion programs to reduce overcrowding at the youth correctional facility by keeping young offenders out of the prison system altogether.

This is akin to what I had wrote previously, when I was riffing from Ian Lind’s HW feature. If there are reforms that are stymied by the union contract then I would hope that the investigation will present (and question) the union’s opinions of what should be done at the facility.

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No water source = no permit, says Maui proposal

Filed under:
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:29 am
Too late for Oahu, where the Waiawa devlopment looks set to be awarded a water permit, but the Maui News has an interesting piece that describes a new proposal to make some developments on Maui contingent upon a l”ong-term, reliable” source of water.

Council Member Dain Kane, who proposed the bill, said he hoped it would prevent builders from investing time and money in projects when water may not be available.

The Department of Water Supply frequently advises council members and planning commissioners that it cannot guarantee water for individual projects that are seeking zoning, community plan or subdivision approvals.

“We probably have more developments on the books . . . than there is water,” Kane said.

The proposed rule would apply to large developments, not “family subdivisions,” he said. When it reviews the bill, the council will determine how large a subdivision must be to be affected.

I can understand the political reasons why Kane proposes to exempt “family subdivisions,” but if those subdivisions are going to need water, and they will, then I don’t see how quantity should be an issue.

But Maui Contractors Association President Charles Jencks thought the bill wasn?t necessary. No sensible developer would invest in a project without being sure water would be available immediately or in the near future, he said.

“They?re planning well in advance, looking at what?s available in the public system, looking at their options for private systems,” he said.

While county water is now in short supply, it?s still a “reasonable assumption” that new sources will come on line and adequate water will be available in the future, because that?s the county?s job, Jencks said.

Wha? “That’s their job?!” ha ha. No matter Jencks’ opinion of the powers and the job of the Council, it can’t simply legislate new water sources into existence indefinitely. When there’s no more water, there’s no more water.

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Rare public apology in Kauai editorial

Filed under:
HI Media
Neighbor Islands
— Doug @ 8:16 am
I had been following the articles in the Garden Island News about the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board members’ spending habits, but I really did not know (or care) enough about the issue to say anything meaningful here about it. Today, however, the GIN editorial is notable for its public self-criticismm of how they handled the story.

The editor acknowledges that the right questions were not always asked, the paper lost sight of the bigger picture, and they failed to cover previous KIUC meetings that could have given them insight into the questions the newspaper published about the board expenditures.

The current adversarial relationship between key figures at KIUC and The Garden Island hurts both organizations and, ultimately, the members and readers we serve.

This newspaper hopes that both organizations want the same thing ? an efficiently-run utility co-op that has the highest standards of integrity.

We got caught up a bit in the line-item matters, the “how much,” instead of the all-important “why.”

There are still some unanswered questions we will continue to strive to get the answers to:

. Are they as cost-conscience as they could be in spending member money?

. Could they give even more money back to members in rebates if they are more responsible with expenses?

The questions we ask are in search of the truth.

Responses the newspaper has received from readers about the ongoing KIUC series of stories have been over-whelming in their support of our inquiries. That’s not to say we haven’t received complaints. We’ve had those as well, including those questioning our motivations, our ethics, and concerns that our reporting has been unfair to those involved.

The issue as we see it isn’t about what our money is being spent on, but rather the lack of communication with the membership about that spending. Perhaps as members we have to own our lack of proactive involvement with our co-op. That’s got to change. We’ve elected the majority of the board at KIUC, so each one of us as members has to take the responsibility of holding these elected officials accountable.

Editorials like this you don’t see very often, so I thought I’d point it out. Now we’ll see if the reporting on the KIUC topic continues and/or changes its tone.

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