Big push to overturn Citizen’s United

money-politics-illustration

Fresh off a Hawaii win, gubernatorial candidate David Ige lived up to his name and in a David and Goliath move, defeated Big Money funded Neil Abercrombie despite being outspent 9 to 1.  But Ige is the exception.   Corporate funders and the immensely wealthy few are bankrolling PACs and campaigns causing their influence to permeate lawmaking.  Since the Citizens United ruling, corporations are running unchecked through the U.S. political landscape.

Polling  shows that getting rid of Big Money in politics is a motivating issue for voters this election cycle. Today, the Senate is voting on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.   Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s mission is to counteract this overwhelming corporate influence derailing our democracy:

“Democrats can excite voters this November by campaigning boldly on big ideas like expanding Social Security benefits, holding Wall Street accountable, reducing student debt, and passing major political reform. Across the country, candidates in blue, purple, and red states are demonstrating that campaigning on public financing of elections and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United is the way to excite the electorate — and win elections. Campaign finance reform will be an issue on the campaign trail in 2014 like never before, and today’s vote helps fuel the fire.”
– Adam Green, PCCC co-founder

The PCCC is also working with Lawrence Lessig and his Mayday PAC (the PAC to end all Super PACs) which supports candidates of any party dedicated to reforming campaign spending. PCCC members have contributed $200,000 in small-dollar donations to MayDay PAC, which ran a $150,000 independent expenditure to help Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) win his primary against a more conservative opponent last month.

Gallego is running on reforming campaign finance:

“Corporations are not people and their ability to swing unlimited anonymous funds into our elections has a corrosive affect on our democracy. We need to overturn Citizens United and start holding corporations accountable for trying to hijack our elections.”

The MaydayPAC describes itself thusly:

The MaydayPAC is an independent political action committee (“superPAC”) that aims to elect a Congress committed to fundamental reform in the way political campaigns are funded by 2016. The PAC will operate in both the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. In 2014, it will pilot the idea of a superPAC pressing for fundamental reform, by running independent campaigns in 5 districts across the country. If successful, the PAC will organize a much larger intervention in 2016, with the objective of electing a majority of Congress that has either cosponsored, or pledged to support, fundamental reform of the way elections are funded.

MayDay PAC polling shows that the issue of Big Money campaign spending unites voters of all parties who agree that politics “is rigged for the rich and for corporate donors,” and that they are more likely to vote for a candidate with solutions to this.  In a low turn-out election year, this can be a powerful motivator in getting supporters to the polls.

Hawaii’s senator Brian Schatz, fresh off a squeaker of a primary says:

“Nothing should be more powerful in our democracy than your vote. But Citizens United and the unchecked corporate money it unleashed are taking that power away. Corporations are not people and they shouldn’t be granted the same rights. We need to overturn Citizens United to make sure the voters and not corporations are in charge of our elections.”

According to PCCC a vote on a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United will come to the floor of the Senate today.  Hawaii senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono have said they will support the amendment.  Do your senators support it?  Call them right now and urge them to sign on.

Reprinted from DailyKos

Posted in Stupid Supreme Court Decisions

Sierra Club endorses David Ige and Shan Tsutsui

ShanDavid

Today the Sierra Club announced that they are endorsing David Ige and Shan Tsutsui for Governor/Lt. Governor. This is not the first time the Club has endorsed Tsutsui who was endorsed by the Sierra Club every time he ran for the legislature.

The Sierra Club praised both candidates:

. “We have confidence that Senator Ige will move Hawaii toward a more sustainable future when he is elected governor. He supports efforts to modernize Hawaii’s electrical grid and facilitate increases in rooftop solar.”

The Sierra Club has been particularly concerned about HECO’s  roadblocks in the way those wanting to install rooftop solar, so one can understand why they would endorse an engineer who understands grid issues at a deep level.  Sierra Club praised Shan Tsutui for his long record of sincere caring for residents’ quality of life:

“Shan Tsutsui has a deep understanding of what makes each island unique, and has always been there for us.  Whether it’s combating invasive species or making a more liveable community for working families, his actions come from his own heartfelt values.  He is especially good at bringing all sides together and crafting solutions that are a win for everyone.”

According to Civil Beat:

“The Sierra Club chose not to endorse a gubernatorial candidate for governor in the primary, a clear snub of Abercrombie, who some have criticized for not being sufficiently sensitive toward environmental issues and more inclined to side with developers.”

Ironically, in 2010 the Sierra Club had campaigned hard for Abercrombie against Mufi Hannemann, going so far as to create  MufisMess.com detailing Hannemann’s failings.  According to one person who campaigned for Abercrombie, speaking on condition of anonymity, “Little did we know we were trading one pay-to-play candidate for another.”

What Civil Beat did not mention is that in a fit of pique after being passed over for endorsement, Abercrombie appointed three candidates to the Land Use Commission guaranteed to send the Sierra Club ballistic:  a Realtor (formerly with A&B Properties) and two construction union officials.  Immediately after the appointments were announced a petition asking the Senate not to confirm the interim appointments was launched.

Given the wide margin of Ige’s primary win over Abercrombie (despite being outspent 10 to 1), it appears voters are fed up with Abercrombie’s abrasive politics.

Both Ige and Tsutsui are low-key, competent men with long track records of getting things done in ways that bring the community together.  Both are also “hand-on” rather than delegating work and decisions to advisors as Abercrombie did.  Both have reputations for being calm and level headed.

They’ll face Republican Duke Aiona, supported by the religious right and independent Mufi Hanneman in November.

Posted in Governor

Maui voices were heard: Tivoli Faaumu new Police Chief

TivoFaaumu

Apparently public outcry against business as usual at Maui Police Department was heard by the Police Commission and acted upon.

Tivoli Faaumu has been appointed the new chief.  Faaumu has been described as “fair” and “an excellent leader” by the rank and file of MPD.

Hana Hou Magazine has an article about Faaumu here.

Read more at MauiNow

Watch Faaumu address issues of communication and trust head on.

Posted in MPD

HECO Plan to cripple….er….triple solar by 2030

bill-problemHECO got their revised “Electric Power Supply Improvement Plan” into the PUC just under the wire.  They laud it as “tripling rooftop solar by 2030″ but solar installers I’ve spoken with say it is more a plan to “cripple rooftop solar.”  Improvement might be just a little bit of an overstatement.

HECO proposes raising the connection fee from $18/mo to $51/mo for existing customers and a whopping $71/mo for new rooftop solar customers.

That immediately changes the payback period from 3 1/2  years to 4.5 years.  The payback period is the time to recoup one’s investment via utility bill savings.

But wait!  It gets worse!

HECO wants to charge an interconnection fee to new rooftop solar customers of $1,500 per KW installed.  Since the average system is about 5KW, this means that in addition to paying for the PV system, the customer will have another $7,500 tacked on to their bill!

Now the payback period is looking more like 14 years.  That’s such a lengthy payback that very few people will even consider installing rooftop solar.

So tell us, HECO, just exactly how will quadrupling  the payback period result in tripling the amount of installed rooftop solar?

But wait!  There’s more!

HECO wants to abandon net metering.  With net metering a customer essentially sells at retail but loses any excess generation over a year.  So they really are selling at some number under retail price of electricity.  What HECO wants is to buy the energy at wholesale and sell the customer at retail.  This alone increases the payback period to 8 years.

What happens when it becomes too expensive to install solar while connected to the grid?  The “Utility Death Spiral” begins.  In that scenario, it becomes cheaper to go off grid with battery backup than to pay utility bills.   As more and more customers go off grid, it becomes more expensive for those left on the grid.

HECO might think that making renewable energy more expensive than abandoning the idea of rooftop solar will prevent it from participating in the death spiral but it is more likely to accelerate it.  A better plan would be to calculate the monthly connection cost to be less than the customer would pay for battery backup and not pile on extra charges that encourage customers to go off grid.

This “Death Spiral” is not advantageous to society.  It is cheaper over-all for customers to be able to install rooftop solar and use the grid for backup.  An interconnected utility can supply backup at a lower cost – especially if they invest in pumped hydro to store excess generation and return it during low generation times.

Even if we discount the interconnection fee and the loss of net metering, the $71/mo cost of connection for new customers is getting quite close to the cost of a battery backup system.  When we pile on the interconnection fee and end net metering, there’s absolutely no reason for a customer of HECO not to go off grid.

Posted in HECO

MPD: Fairer for officers. More tranparent for public

Picking a new Maui chief of police is an opportunity for improvement – both inside and outside the department.  Response to our last article has been informative but unfortunately off the record.  So this will serve more as an opinion piece expressing the consensus of these off-the-record contacts.

Making MPD a better place to work: Read more ›

Posted in MPD

ACLU files suit to prevent certification of election

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Big Island residents Frances and Merrill Lathers, Cassandra Wylie, Brad L. Coffel, Kathleen Walker, and Andrew Leo alleging that the State Office of Elections should have allowed two other precincts (04-03 and 04-04) the opportunity to vote at a later time as they did with precincts 04-01 and 04-02.

The first thing that jumps to mind is that Colleen Hanabusa, having made the political calculation that filing to contest the election results would make her even more unpopular, is using these folks as a front to accomplish the same thing.

This does not appear to be the case. Read more ›

Posted in Colleen Hanabusa

Hanabusa finally conceeds…sort of

Reprinted from DailyKos

The Star Advertiser is reporting that Colleen Hanabusa will not contest the election results that showed Sen. Brian Schatz winning by just over 1,700 votes.  However, there’s no party unity.  No graciousness towards her opponent.  Just a whiny complaint.

“A big Mahalo to our volunteers and supporters for your hard work, sacrifice and most importantly, for your trust,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “We would not have gotten as close as we did without the love and Aloha you poured into our campaign. I will forever be humbled and inspired by your support.””Though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process. I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts. I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard.”

“It is time for me to finish my work in the Congress and reflect on the last 16 years of my life in public office. I always wanted to give back and make things better for the people of Hawaii by creating opportunities for the next generation to thrive. I can move on from this election knowing I listened to the people and fought hard for the right to represent them, honorably.”

Hanabusa’s ambition led her to abandon her HI-01 House seat to primary senator Brian Schatz.  Mark Takai (D) (endorsed by the Progressive Caucus, Vote Vets and the Sierra Club) will be facing Republican Mark Djou (R) in the general for Hanabusa’s old seat.

Posted in Colleen Hanabusa Tagged with:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls For Demilitarizing Police

tulsi2013Honolulu – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today called for demilitarizing of American police.

“The increasing use of military equipment, weapons, and tactics against our own citizens is unacceptable and must stop.”

said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of two tours of duty in the Middle East and a captain in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

“The military-style response of the Ferguson, Missouri police is but the latest of numerous such incidents across America.”

Read more ›

Posted in Police state

MPD – A Chance for Change Being Bungled

Maui Police Department, despite many outstanding officers, has a past of bad administration that has gotten the department in hot water with the courts. It looks like the Police Commission has no taste for changing this.

When Chief Gary Yabuta retired  July 30, 2014, residents were optimistic that the Police Commission would appoint an educated chief dedicated to cleaning up the corruption in the department.  Corruption and bad judgement that includes: Read more ›

Posted in MPD

Ferguson causes Hawai’i to rethink arming police with military weapons

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga) plans to introduce a bill to stop militarizing police departments around the country with surplus Pentagon equipment.  Hawai’i folks have started a petition asking Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hi) to sign on. Read more ›

Posted in Police state

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