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Thursday, June 2, 2016
June 2, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:57 PM :: 4690 Views

It’s not just for the birds--GM mosquitoes could stave off Zika in Hawaii

Financial Solvency: Hawaii Ranks 45th

Nailed for Cronyism, DoE forced to Reopen Bidding on $100M Cool Schools Bonanza

Education Week: Hawaii DoE Graduation Rate 82%

ESSA 2016 Hawaii Education Summit

Deconstructing the Kaka‘ako Makai Parks Master Plan

New Judges Appointed for Oahu, Big Island

Caldwell ‘Disappointed’ With Council Budget

Former Lt. Gov. Aiona pulls papers for three different races

KHON: …Former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona Jr. pulled papers Wednesday for three different seats.

With just days until the June 7th filing deadline, Aiona pulled election papers for the seat being vacated by Congressman Mark Takai, who chose not to run for re-election to focus on his battle with cancer.

He also pulled papers for state Senate District 20, as well as papers for Honolulu Mayor…

read … Duke Aiona

Lei Ahu Isa For Congress

CB: …Lei Ahu Isa is running to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

A former state legislator and current trustee with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Isa said she filed her papers Wednesday.

She said she’s running “by requests of my beneficiaries. I will not have fundraisers, nor ask for campaign donations. I want to be the ‘Billy Beane’ of politics and be a game-changer.”…

Isa’s OHA term is not up this year.

PBN: Hanabusa Running Too

read … Bill Beane

Hanabusa Should Resign From HART Board

CB: Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is expected to announce Thursday she’s running for the seat she held for four years prior to Takai. She faces an immediate choice regarding her service on the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which sorely needs the leadership of someone who can focus exclusively on its billion-dollar woes….

Hanabusa gave up the CD 1 seat when she chose to challenge U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in 2014….

the stakes for Hanabusa’s leadership on that board grew considerably, when she confirmed that federal transportation officials’ revised cost estimates indicate the rail project could cost as much as $8.1 billion. That’s nearly $3 billion more than the project’s original estimated price tag, and some say costs could grow even larger.

In fact, Federal Transit Administration officials have now signaled for the first time that they’d be willing to discuss less costly alternatives to the currently planned rail route.

Clearly, HART’s governing board and executive leadership have serious and complex work to do in coming weeks….

Whoever wins the Democratic primary is unlikely to have a cake walk through the general election. Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, who held the seat prior to Hanabusa, is also behaving like a possible candidate, particularly on social media, where his #Djou4HI hashtag is already circulating. Djou lost to Takai in 2014 by fewer than 4 percentage points.

Attempting a run for Congress and attempting to run the HART board simultaneously virtually assures that one of those jobs will be shortchanged….

Reality: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Resign

City Council approves $6.8B cap on rail spending

HNN: After hours of debate, City Council members agreed Wednesday to cap spending for the Honolulu rail project at $6.8 billion, a total that will likely mean the project's scope will have to be scaled back.  (We’ve seen this play before.  We know how it ends–with a tax hike.)

Martin had initially proposed cutting the route, but pulled back the proposal in favor of the cap.

The cap comes after months of hand-wringing over the rail's skyrocketing project costs.

Some council members say the hardest hit will be Leeward Oahu residents, who have the longest commutes.

"It's not about the courage to say no. It's the courage to fight for communities that have been neglected, lied to and disenfranchised and not taken care of for decades,"  Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine said.

When the FTA's new estimate was released in May, HART board Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa acknowledged it may mean a shorter rail route.

"If we change it any way we're going to have to look at ridership numbers," Hanabusa said. "It's not something we can do in isolation."

The current plan calls for a route that connects West Oahu to Ala Moana Center. Many are now calling for the project to instead end at Middle Street.

read … Kabuki

Budget Funds Massive Tent Cities in Every Council District

SA: …Council Chairman Ernie Martin said that Bill 15, the capital improvements budget, includes more than $20 million in funding aimed at helping the homeless, the bulk of which comes in the form of $18 million, with $2 million for each Council district under the heading “community revitalization initiative.”

The funds are to be used for “land acquisition, lease, development, and/or renovation of facilities for urban rest stops, navigation centers, workforce/affordable housing, and other community-focused projects initiated by community stakeholders in partnership with state housing development agencies or qualified nonprofits.” (Translation: Massive festering homeless tent cities.)

Martin, in a statement after the vote, said “every community on Oahu is dealing with homelessness but the particular issues differ by Council district, and the members need to take the lead by coordinating with the community stakeholders and city administration to execute a plan acceptable to all.”

An additional $3 million was included for an Iwilei hygiene center — $2 million in capital funds and $1 million in operating money — pushed by area Councilman Joey Manahan, and $400,000 for a mobile hygiene center initiative.

The Council, however, rejected Caldwell’s request for $470,000 to set up a new, eight-person asset development and management division to focus on acquiring and developing properties, primarily for affordable housing.

Without that staffing, the administration has insisted, it will be much harder to accomplish the homeless initiatives proposed by the Council. In his own statement following the budget votes, Caldwell said, “The Council once again cut all funding for staff urgently needed to purchase affordable housing and get homeless people off our streets.”

Last year the Council rejected Caldwell’s proposal for seven positions in the existing Office of Strategic Development that was also designed to acquire and develop properties….

read … Tent Cities Everywhere

Homeless Tent City Grows Along Ala Wai Canal

SA:  …Residents say dozens of tents and structures have gone up along the Ala Wai bike path area that leads into Waikiki.

The encampment is spurring safety concerns. Last month, a jogger in the area needed care after getting a fish hook stuck in his lower leg.

Employees in the area say homeless have been leaving behind trash, and causing trouble.

Side Street Inn restaurant Operations Manager Robbie Acoba said they've had to relocate their electrical boxes because homeless were using them (to charge their laptops and cellphones).

State homeless officials say outreach workers know about the encampment and have worked with people staying there….

Video: Bum Fight at Hawaii Homeless Tent City

read … Growing homeless encampment in Kapahulu spurs concern

Sen Jill Tokuda Drives 1000s of Homeless Back out onto Streets – Will Ige Sign SB2559?

HNN: …Under a measure being reviewed by the governor, homeless shelter officials statewide say they'll be forced to cut the number of homeless beds they have -- and potentially turn people in need away.

The measure, approved by legislators in the last legislative session, would require homeless shelters to make changes to their buildings to offer their homeless clients more privacy.

The bill, which was strongly supported by state Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda, was aimed at addressing complaints from some homeless about the tight sleeping arrangements in shelters.

But some homeless providers say the measure would mean they'd have to serve far fewer people.

Usually, demand for beds at the Family Life Center homeless shelter in Kahului is so high, there's a lottery to get in. If the privacy bill becomes law, the shelter will have to cut the number of beds it has by more than half….

Across town, Maui's largest homeless shelter had a similar story.

"I would have to eliminate at least 50 percent of the residents or more who are currently staying here," said Monique Yamashita, CEO of Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers.

Under the measure, only one person would be allowed on each bunk bed and several rows would need to be removed to make space for partitions.

"If we had to put a permanent partition in this studio it would reduce the space and capacity of the studio. It wouldn't be a viable option," Yamashita said.

On the Big Island, plans to expand the the Hilo and Puna shelters run by Hope Services Hawaii have stalled due to uncertainty over the bill.

"We always have 100 percent occupancy for our single men and always have a waiting list. Our intent was to use bunk beds and double the capacity," said Director of Operations Janice Ikeda.

In addition, the shelter could lose 16 beds.

But it's the state's largest homeless shelter on Oahu that would be hit the hardest.

Officials at the Institute for Human Services say they would lose more than half their beds. 

At the women's shelter the total number of beds would be slashed from 80 to 40. The men would lose 126 of their 200 beds.

High demand would force the shelter to revert to a lottery system. IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell says that only drives clients away….

Gov. David Ige has until June 27 to decide if he's going to sign the bill. There's no word from his office on which way he's leaning.

SB2559: Text, Status

read … Shelters

Victory: Tax Hikes Fail on Kauai

KGI: Spending plan does not include increased GET, vehicle weight tax…  The Kauai County Council unanimously finalized the $189 million fiscal year 2016-2017 operating budget Wednesday.

It was notable that the council was able to approve a budget without a General Excise Tax increase, said Councilman Gary Hooser.

“Overall, we passed a good budget and did it amicably,” he said. “I’m most proud we were able to do this without raising taxes.”

But Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the tax increase should have been part of the budget because (insert excuse here) ….

read … Victory

Maui Organic Initiative Undermines Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

MN: I find the May 18 front-page story "Self-sustaining organic farm envisioned" extremely disturbing. It totally undermines liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the biggest principles in the founding of the United States.

First of all, it undermines the right of private property by insisting that the government obtain the land through "eminent domain." ….

Even more disturbing is that this initiative takes away the right of the people who would farm that land to use it in a manner of their choosing. It requires organic farming. In a free society, people have the right to choose what methods of labor they use to produce goods. Hard and fast science shows no advantage or disadvantage of organic farming over traditional methods. Yet, it only takes a browse through the grocery store to see that organic crops are much more expensive than traditionally grown foods.

It is time for the people of Maui to see that the groups behind this and the GMO initiative reject freedom and demand we live as they would have us live….

read … Initiative undermines U.S. founding principles

Kahuku Wind turbines murder 29 rare bats – want permission to kill more

SA: The number of endangered Hawaiian hoary bats killed by spinning wind turbines on an Oahu wind farm is on pace to far exceed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projections.

The limit for accidental bat deaths, known as incidental takes, over a span of two decades at Kawailoa Wind LLC was set at 72. But in less than four full years of turbine operation, the death count is already approaching the halfway mark.

The number of hoary bat deaths has been confirmed at 29 since operations got underway at Kawailoa in November 2012. The facility is on the North Shore on land owned by Kamehameha Schools….

Wildlife service spokesman Brent Lawrence said the owner plans to seek an increase in the agency’s acceptable limits for hoary bat deaths….

In an effort to reduce incidental takes, the wildlife service said a limit of 11 mph for turbine wind speed from March through November has been expanded to nearly year-round….

Among bat species, Lawrence said, hoary bats seem to be most affected by wind turbines. He said the agency suspects that certain habitat characteristics in Kawailoa could leave the bats especially vulnerable, compared with other wind turbines in the state….

read … Murder

2-Year Average Wait for Sunshine Law

WHT: …Eighteen months later, there is still no answer from the state Office of Information Practices on whether the Commission on Water Resource Management violated the Sunshine Law during Kona site visits in 2014.

Turns out, this kind of wait is the norm.

An office which has historically struggled with a backlog of cases has still not taken up the matter. The case was one of 113 that remained unresolved as of April, according to OIP. The number represents a drop from the 151 outstanding cases measured at that month the year prior.

The complaint lodged in October 2014 by the Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference alleges that CWRM’s investigative meetings to county wells and national park sites in September and October of 2014 should have been open to the public.

“(The) appeal is pending, and will be addressed after older pending files, consistent with our first-in-first-out policy,” OIP attorney Jennifer Brooks said.

The office has the responsibility of administering the state’s open meetings law, and its opinions are enforceable in the courts. The office has been rendering opinions on incidents which occurred two years ago on average….

read … 2 years without Sunshine

Hawaii’s lack of mental health care forces teens from state

WHT: …Often, the state Health Department ends up sending severely mentally ill children and teens to the mainland for treatment, away from the support of friends and family.

Aron, now 18, was in and out of Hawaii psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment centers for years. Yet he continued to struggle with mental illness, sleeping as little as two hours a night and sometimes still becoming violent.

But once he was sent to Kansas for treatment, things started getting better.

“The great thing is, my son is finally making progress in therapy and school,” Callahan said. “The sad thing is, he has to be on the mainland to do so.”

Hawaii showed improvement after being placed under the so-called Felix consent decree, which followed a 1993 lawsuit filed on behalf of disabled Maui student Jennifer Felix. The lawsuit alleged the state broke federal laws that required it to provide services to mentally ill students.

After that, the state Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, which oversees teens and children with severe mental illness, underwent massive changes, said Lynn Fallin, deputy director of behavioral health for the state Health Department. The division built up clinical staff to provide direct services for kids while navigating health care changes in the Affordable Care Act, Fallin said.

But gaps in services remain. The state has no secure residential treatment facilities and has only two psychiatric hospitals for teens, both on Oahu.

Up to 38 kids were sent out of state for treatment following the Felix consent decree, Health Department data shows. But as services increased in the state, that number dropped to fewer than 10 per year. Over the past couple of years, however, it increased again to the mid-20s….

Outreach workers and mental health providers say the lack of community-based mental health services is becoming as bad as it was before the federal lawsuit. Meanwhile, Hawaii has one of the highest teen suicide attempt rates in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There were a lot of services with the Felix decree, but they’ve been cut back,” said Robert Collesano, director of Mental Health America of Hawaii’s Maui branch. “They’re slowly inching up, but it’s nowhere where it used to be.”

This leaves suicidal or mentally ill teens waiting for hospital beds and struggling to find care with a shortage of psychiatrists, Collesano said.

Meanwhile, before teenagers with more severe problems can be sent to specialized programs on the mainland, they get stuck in programs that aren’t fit to treat their disorders. These teens go through an average of three treatment programs before they’re sent out of state, according to Fallin of the Health Department.

“They have to exhaust the state resources first, and sometimes they may not be the absolute correct fit,” said Jennifer Patricio, an attorney at the Hawaii Disability Rights Center….

read … Mental Health

Obamacare: Hawaii residents' protected health information stuck in limbo for months

PBN: A former Hawaii Health Connector contractor claims to be holding on to Hawaii state residents' personal health information in what appears to be a favor to the state government, which has failed for months to give the company direction on what to do with the sensitive data.

According to a letter obtained by Pacific Business News, the now defunct Hawaii Health Connector and the Hawaii state government — which assumed its functions in December — have failed to respond to CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc.’s request for guidance on how to either deliver or destroy the information. The “protected health information” is required to be available for federal government authorities for 10 years.

“Despite our numerous requests, and the importance and sensitivity of such data, we have not yet received instructions from the state of Hawaii or the Hawaii Health Connector with regard to disposition of the Protected Health Information,” wrote Eric McFadden, vice president and general counsel, in a letter to the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. “CGI has no interest in holding on to such sensitive data given that our contract with the Hawaii Health Connector ended in December 2015.”

CGI Technologies became a subcontractor for the Hawaii Health Connector on Oct. 25, 2014. In a lawsuit filed in 1st Circuit Court, the company asks that it be reimbursed $367,000 for work conducted between October and December 2015.

read … Hawaii residents' protected health information stuck in limbo for months

Pro Bowl: Bumbling HTA Wishes for Do-Over

AP: …Leslie Dance, the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s vice president of marketing and product development, told the Associated Press that the agency has thought about hosting a preseason game. Mufi Hannemann, the president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said he wishes Hawaii would have come up with a package for the NFL that included both keeping the Pro Bowl and regularly hosting preseason games.

The NFL has hosted preseason games all over the world, but in recent years the league has shied away from that, and it would probably be a tough sell to get teams to disrupt their training camp schedules to take on the travel involved with a preseason game in Hawaii. It sounds like a long shot that any NFL game will be played in Hawaii any time soon….

HNN: NFL: Pro Bowl’s departure unrelated to funding, stadium

read … a long shot

NextEra Deadline Tomorrow and PUC Couldn’t Care Less

SA: Public Utilities Commission Chairman Randy Iwase said Wednesday his agency will likely issue a decision this month on whether the state’s largest electric utility will have a new owner.

Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. announced in December 2014 its plan to purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries — parent company of Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, Maui Electric Co. on Maui and Hawaii Electric Light Co. on the Big Island — for $4.3 billion and set Friday as a deadline for closing. After Friday, either party can walk away from the deal although if NextEra walks, it would have to pay HEI roughly $95 million.

Iwase said the PUC, which can grant final regulatory approval for the deal, isn’t pushing to meet the deadline set by the companies.….

AP: NextEra-Hawaiian Electric deal faces 'walk away' deadline

read …  Its Over Tomorrow

HECO Customers Keep Paying Vig On Unused $144 Million in GEMS Fund

EH: For a short while earlier this year, it looked as though the $144 million in the state’s bond-financed Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) account might actually get used. Among the bills in the legislative package of Governor David Ige was a proposal to lend $100 million of that to the Department of Education. The money, he said, was to achieve his goal of cooling 1,000 classrooms by the end of the year.

To many, this seemed to fly in the face of the very rationale behind the GEMS program….

read … Keep on Paying

UH Prof of Medicine Debunks Kauai Pesticide Study

KE: It's becoming clear why the Joint Fact Finding report on Kauai agricultural pesticide use is such a muddle. Consider the belief system that drove it, as articulated by facilitator Peter Adler to the state Board of Ag this week: “Everyone is entitled to their own facts.”

Ah. No wonder we see high school science projects given the same weight as those conducted by professionals. But if facts are equal to beliefs, what is the value of a fact-finding process?

Too bad we weren't warned about the limitations of such a process before the state/county signed on to this $175,000 project:

Yet joint fact-finding is not appropriate for every conflict scenario. Where there are drastic power differentials, extreme mistrust or hatred of the other side, or volatile social/political concerns, joint fact-finding may be impossible. The process must involve a relatively even playing field so that one side cannot dominate the fact-finding efforts.

So then why did Adler stack the group with those who favored Bill 2491?

Meanwhile, experts shared numerous concerns with Adler and the JFF, but their comments were never incorporated into the group's final report.

Consider this critique by F. DeWolfe Miller, MPH, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii. First he takes apart the health monitoring proposals:

These recommendations were clearly made without professional epidemiological consultation and are typical of many other communities in the US and elsewhere in the world who have tried to link various health outcomes to some geographic marker as a proxy for some kind of potential environmental hazard. There is an abundance of literature on this subject.  An example of a local study is by Kirkham (1987)[1].

Linking health outcomes (cancer/BD) to zip codes is not recommended for two reasons. One is statistical. There will not be enough events per zip code to reach “statistical significance”, especially in Kauai.  In spite of this, there seems to be an irrational obsession with using zip codes for various useless data mining endeavors.

Even if statistical significance could be achieved, zip codes are not exposures. They are zip codes. Exposure to environmental hazards – in this case pesticides - has to be demonstrated and linked directly and quantitatively to an individual or individuals.

Linking cancer, birth defects or other health outcomes geographically is called by epidemiologists  “ecologic study designs”. Inferring the results from ecologic studies, i.e. from groups (zip codes for example) to individuals is termed an “ecological fallacy” and is by definition, flawed.  Investigation of birth defects is in the arena of research that should be separately funded though peer reviewed funding sources such as NIH.

The Hawaii State Department of Health should not be bound by this recommendation….

read … Musings: Silencing Critics

Ag Department Bureaucracy Slows Zika Research

SA:  …As an island state straddling travel routes crossing the globe, Hawaii is even more vulnerable. As counterintuitive as this sounds, bringing the infectious agent to the islands under strictly controlled conditions ultimately would provide the best public protection.

State officials have been slow to take necessary action toward this end, but fortunately, on Tuesday did so at last. The months ahead will prove critical in the pursuit of a vaccine that could rid the population of this fearful threat.

The state Board of Agriculture voted unanimously Tuesday to allow University of Hawaii scientists to import the Zika virus to enable vaccine trials to be conducted. This will permit the researchers to take part in the search by companies and scientists around the world for a means of controlling the virus, lowering the risk of a pandemic.

The UH team has sought a permit to import the Zika virus for seven years, but inexplicably, the state Department of Agriculture failed to act until department staff issued a report that urged the board to give its approval….

This is only the first hurdle for the UH scientists, who still must secure funding for the vaccine research. Research team principals have applied for grants from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and should hear back about their funding requests in about three months….

Meanwhile: $500M: Obama Raids Zika Budget to Finance UN Climate Change Fund

read … Zika spread adds urgency to UH race for vaccine

Hawaii Holds 29 Trannies in Prison

CB: The state currently houses 29 transgender inmates — all of them at facilities corresponding to their gender at birth.  (But there could be many, many more if self-declared trannies are allowed to party with the actual females.)

(Really Obvious Question: Why are all the billionaires obsessing over trannies?)

read … All transgender inmates now behind bars are housed in prisons matching their birth gender

Kealoha’s Failure to Act Caused $6M Lawsuit

HNN: …In 2008, a review board made up of high-ranking police officers recommended that a police lieutenant be suspended for using racial slurs against an African-American officer and a Mexican-American officer.

But the recommendation to suspend the lieutenant was apparently ignored by then-Police Chief Boisse Correra for a year and by his successor, Chief Louis Kealoha.

Lawmakers say had the lieutenant been suspended in 2008 and been removed as the supervisor for those officers, further legal claims of retaliation could have been prevented.

But that's not what happened.

Instead, two years later, a third officer got involved after she reported hearing the same lieutenant make insensitive comments.

She also claimed the lieutenant and others retaliated by withholding her back-up while responding to dangerous calls. She was injured on the job and is permanently disabled.

State Sen. Will Espero, who has been a vocal critic of HPD leadership, said he's appalled by the suit -- and the department's failure to act….

read … Kealoha

State Spends $3.1M on Toilet Paper

KHON: Digging through the state’s purchase records, we found two recent contracts for $1.5 million and $1.6 million for what is supposed to be about a year’s worth of toilet paper, paper towels and toilet seat covers (here and here).

We found out the combined $3.1 million purchase will supply public schools, state offices, state parks and state facilities like airports.

read … Toilet paper, other restroom supplies cost taxpayers millions of dollars

After Burning $444M, Kahoolawe Out of Money

HNN: …the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission and community advocates are looking for ways to fund the rest of the cleanup so they can bring back native wildlife and use the island as a Native Hawaiian educational center.

It's no small effort. Restoring and then replanting the entire island could take decades and cost billions of dollars, despite about $400 million spent between the commission and the Navy since 1994, the agency said. The commission also has depleted a $44 million federal trust fund since the state gained control of the island in 2004.

read … $444M

After 22 Years of Abject Failure, County-Owned Ag Park May have First Tenant

HTH: …Hawaii County could soon have its first tenant at the Kapulena Agricultural Park since seeking farming leases in 2012.

The Hamakua County Farm Bureau is proposing to lease 441 acres for cattle grazing, according to a resolution the County Council’s Finance Committee will consider today.

Ranchers who are part of a “grazing entity” would be able to use the land, according to the resolution.

Glen Sako, agricultural specialist with county Research and Development, said between 180 and 200 head of cattle likely will be located at the ag park.

The property is located mauka of Honokaa-Waipio Road.

The Farm Bureau’s lease would last for 10 years with an option to renew for another 10-year term. The cost would be $1 a year.

The county previously teamed up with the Farm Bureau to have cattle clear some of the 1,739-acre property, acquired in 1994 in lieu of taxes from Hamakua Sugar Co., in preparation for farming.  (Yep.  They’ve had this for 22 years.)

So far, the county hasn’t been able to secure other farming tenants.

Sako said large amounts of ironwood trees are a hindrance….  (That’s what happens when the government owns ag land.)

read … 22 years of Total Failure

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