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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Bills that survived the 2nd Crossover deadline

April 13th, 2014 · Legislature, Politics

There’s less than two weeks before the legislature’s April 24 final decking deadline for most bills, which have to be in their final forms and ready for the last up-or-down votes by the full House and Senate. Joint conference committees are hard at work trying to hammer out remaining differences between House and Senate versions of bills that met the 2nd Crossover deadline and still have hopes of final passage.

Here’s a digest of all house and senate bills that crossed back to the originating body in time to beat that deadline. They are sorted by bill numbers, which link to status page for each bill. This digest was prepared by the Senate.

It provides a very good review of what’s still to be decided in the final two weeks of this 2014 legislative session.

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Kapiolani CC student newspaper to be shuttered in a few weeks

April 12th, 2014 · Education, Media

Here’s another entry for the “media is dying” file.

Kapiolani Community College is killing off its student newspaper, Kapi‘o, at end end of the current semester.

The decision was apparently made at the administrative level. While the name and online platform will still be used to publicize news selected by administrators and faculty, it will be without student involvement.

The news was announced the the Kapi‘o News Facebook page.

With heavy hearts, we are sad to announce that the Kapi‘o News has met its end.

On May 16 this student run campus publication will be departing Kapi‘olani Community College forever. This decision was made by the school administration who wanted to move Kapi‘o in a new direction. In the future, the Kapi‘o is turning into a place to post outstanding student work, and other events as deemed important by the school. This way a writing/editing staff is no longer needed. All decisions are going to be made by KapCC faculty and staff – therefore we will no longer be a student publication.

We are currently putting together a farewell issue to be distributed the week of April 28. We would like to share the thoughts of our readers and Kapi‘o alumni about the matter in it. If you are interested in being quoted, please respond to this post.

Thank you all for being wonderful readers of the Kapi‘o News.

The news has drawn a number of comments, like this one:

Robert Lopez That is terrible! I’m an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times and my first reporting experience was at Kapi’o. It all began there for me at KCC’s Diamond Head campus under Winnie Au … Is the student body planning to protest?

It’s a sad story, and a sad statement about education, journalism, news, etc.

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Mr. Duke welcomes you to another Feline Friday

April 11th, 2014 · Cats, Photographs

Mr. DukeIt’s been nearly four years since Duke was first diagnosed with feline diabetes. He’s been on twice-daily insulin injections since then. In a couple of weeks, he’ll be 12 years old. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well!

He sure looks good, although he eats way too much. He’s smart, too, and figures out how to sneak around and clean up the other cats’ food without me catching him. We have a constant contest. I try to pick up uneaten food, and he tries to eat it before I take it away. He probably wins more often than not.

His most recent surprising move has been to join in the defense against Black Cat. Now that Romeo has to stay inside, Toby and Duke have started looking around for Black Cat when they are outside. So far, no real fights have resulted. But they are definitely on guard when in the yard. Today’s Feline Friday has one photo of Toby under the stairs checking for unwanted visitors.

Other news…I’m holding off on starting Harriet on her prescription of anti-depressants. When I processed that these are really a drug, and once you start, you have to basically be weaned off of the drug over a period of time. That sounds like a drug of last resort, so I’m holding off to see whether any other approaches might work. I’m trying to pay more attention to Ms. Harry, and stepping in when she’s getting picked on. This weekend, I’ll be looking for some of that Fellway spray to see if it makes any difference in her case. In any case, on further reflection, I would like to stay off the more serious drug if it can be avoided.

In any case, all seven of the cats checked in for this week’s Friday fotos. Just click on the link below!

–> See all of today’s Friday Felines!

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Ethics law doesn’t support complaint against Rep. Luke

April 11th, 2014 · Ethics, Legislature, Politics

Supporters of outdoor recreation yesterday filed an ethics complaint against House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, alleging the lawmaker faces a conflict of interest because of her private employment as a personal injury attorney. But the state ethics law, on its face, doesn’t appear apply to Luke’s legislative actions.

At issue is SB1007, a bill that would provide access to areas the state has deemed too dangerous for public use. It is intended to provide immunity to the state in the event people are injured, but there are disagreements over how to best accomplish this. The bill was reported out of Luke’s committee with amendments that force it to a House-Senate conference committee.

The Star-Advertiser has an Associated Press story on the lawsuit today in its “breaking news” section.

AP reported:

The complaint alleges that Luke’s position as an attorney with the firm Cronin Fried Sekiya Kekina and Fairbanks created a conflict of interest when she considered a bill that could affect the state’s exposure to personal injury lawsuits.

The firm’s website lists “recreational accidents” as an area of expertise. When its investigators take a case involving such an injury, “improperly marked hiking or dirt bike trails” are among the features they look for, the site states.

To story fails to provide any more information to help readers assess the allegations in the complaint.

I haven’t found a copy of the complaint itself. But even a quick reference to the conflict of interest provisions of Chapter 84 HRS, the state ethics law, would have suggested the complaint, as described in the media, lacks legal basis.

Here’s the first part of the conflict of interest section:

§84-14 Conflicts of interests. (a) No employee shall take any official action directly affecting:

(1) A business or other undertaking in which the employee has a substantial financial interest; or

(2) A private undertaking in which the employee is engaged as legal counsel, advisor, consultant, representative, or other agency capacity.

The key here is that these prohibitions apply to specifically to “employees.”

Does that mean it also applies to legislators as well?

The definition in the statute makes clear that legislators are excluded.

“Employee” means any nominated, appointed, or elected officer or employee of the State, including members of boards, commissions, and committees, and employees under contract to the State or of the constitutional convention, but excluding legislators, delegates to the constitutional convention, justices and judges.

Only two conflict of interest provisions in the law apply to legislators.

(c) No legislator or employee shall assist any person or business or act in a representative capacity before any state or county agency for a contingent compensation in any transaction involving the State.

(d) No legislator or employee shall assist any person or business or act in a representative capacity for a fee or other compensation to secure passage of a bill or to obtain a contract, claim, or other transaction or proposal in which the legislator or employee has participated or will participate as a legislator or employee, nor shall the legislator or employee assist any person or business or act in a representative capacity for a fee or other compensation on such bill, contract, claim, or other transaction or proposal before the legislature or agency of which the legislator or employee is an employee or legislator.

Nothing like that appears to be alleged here. In this case, it seems, there are no conflict of interest standards in the ethics law that a legislator could violate in this kind of situation.

To his credit, Andrew Pereira of KITV reported the ethics complaint “faces an uphill climb.” That’s a bit of an understatement, I think.

As for the ethics complaint against Luke, it likely faces an uphill climb. Hawaii lawmakers are granted immunity for official actions taken while in office, which is codified in state statute as well as the Constitution.

According to Article III, Section 7, of the Hawaii Constitution, “No member of the legislature shall be held to answer before any other tribunal for any statement made or action taken in the exercise of the member’s legislative functions.”

This is one of those situations where a legally questionable ethics complaint is being used as a political weapon to undermine an adversary. It makes news, and incomplete reporting on the legal nuts and bolts of the issue will unfortunately leave many readers thinking to themselves that Rep. Luke probably has a conflict. That’s unfortunate.

Even as a political tactic, it likely will prove counterproductive for those lobbying for SB1007.

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Wanted! Collaborators on EDWARD SNOWDEN PROJECT

April 10th, 2014 · General

Markus Wessendorf, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at UH-Manoa, is soliciting participation in a unique collaboration, which he refers to as the “Edward Snowden Project.”

Wessendorf says he has been struck by how little “resonance” the Snowden drama has had locally, despite having “originated in the offices of Booz Allen Hamilton on Bishop Street.” So actions which have shaken international politics have curiously failed to shake things up here at home, where it all started.

Hence the “Edward Snowden Project.”

His email was circulating today on the Manoa campus and beyond. It’s a pretty provocative proposal.

I’m reprinting it in full here.

On Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 11:43 AM, Markus Wessendorf wrote:

Please forward this message to any students, faculty members, artists, journalists, activists, members of the intelligence community as well as anyone else who might be interested in helping to develop a devised theatre production on Edward Snowden’s revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance techniques…

===

In my role as a Professor of Western Theatre at the Department of Theatre and Dance at UH M?noa I also direct theatre productions and occasionally devise original work (for example, Uncle Vanya and Zombies at Kennedy Theatre in fall 2012). The next production that I would like to work on has the (preliminary) title The Edward Snowden Project, and it would be a devised—i.e., “developed-from- scratch”—documentary (or semi-documentary) theatre, performance, installation and/or multi-media piece that would run at Kennedy Theatre’s Earle Ernst Lab Theatre during the 2016-2017 season.

Throughout the past year I have been surprised at the little resonance that the “Edward Snowden story” has received locally (at least on a cultural level), particularly since it originated in the offices of Booz Allen Hamilton on Bishop Street. As a political as well as a media event, Snowden’s public exposure of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance practices was one of the most important events globally, and there is no end in sight as far as its national and international repercussions are concerned. Of course, any theatrical, performative or (post-) dramatic attempt to tackle the highly complex and abstract issues of digital surveillance and privacy confronts the problem of how to go beyond a merely superficial representation of these issues, of how to engage with these issues both critically and tangibly. As the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht stated in a different context in the 1920s: “[…] less than ever does the mere reflection of reality reveal anything about reality. A photograph of the Krupp works or the AEG tells us next to nothing about these institutions. Actual reality has slipped into the functional. […] So something must in fact be built up, something artificial, posed.”

The creative development of The Edward Snowden Project will proceed in three stages:
Stage 1: Development of a Dramaturgy (from now until December 2015)
The first step will be to develop a project dramaturgy and to gather and generate information and materials (interviews, public statements, letters, videos, policy documents, etc.) with an “interdisciplinary advisory committee.” Any faculty members, students and staff from Theatre and Dance, ACM, Art, American Studies, English, IT, LLEA, Philosophy, Political Science and other UH M?noa departments who would be interested in working on the project as well as community members with a stake in the topic (journalists, members of the intelligence community, local residents who knew Snowden, etc.) are welcome to join this committee. This committee will meet for regular dramaturgical “brainstorming sessions” until the end of 2015 and will also be involved in organizing a national conference on Snowden and the NSA (with public lectures, academic panels, etc.) that will accompany the production of The Edward Snowden Project in 2016-2017.

Stage 2: Devising a Performance Script (January through August 2016)
The second step will involve a smaller group—members of the advisory committee, local artists, interested theatre, art, film and creative writing students—who will devise a performance concept, scenario or script based on the ideas and materials generated by the interdisciplinary advisory committee.

Stage 3: Production of the Performance Script (in 2016-2017; exact dates TBD)
The third and final step will be the stage realization of the devised performance concept, scenario and/or script with UH students from Theatre and Dance, Art, ACM, IT, English (Creative Writing) and other departments during the 2016-17 season.

Even though I, myself, have a clear position on Edward Snowden and the NSA, I consider an “open tent” approach of major importance for the success of the project: both “sides of the fence” should be represented on the interdisciplinary advisory committee.

If you are interested in getting involved in The Edward Snowden Project by participating in the interdisciplinary advisory committee, or if you have any questions regarding the project, please contact me at wessendo@hawaii.edu.

I am planning to schedule a first informal meeting for anyone interested in getting involved in The Edward Snowden Project for the week of May 12 (i.e., Finals Week at UH).

Best,

Markus Wessendorf


Dr. Markus Wessendorf
Professor
Dept. of Theatre and Dance
University of Hawai?i at M?noa
1770 East-West Rd
Honolulu, HI 96822
Office: Sakamaki Hall A404
Phone: (808) 956-2600

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