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Sunday, March 18, 2012
March 18, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:30 PM :: 9566 Views :: Health Care

North Korea vows satellite launch, with rocket that could reach Hawaii

Shots Fired at Cayetano Banners Along Freeway

Yet Another Way to Spend Your Hard-Earned Tax Dollars

Hawaii GOP Announces Vote Totals, Presidential Delegate Allocation

Lava Tube Award: Abercrombie Keeping Public in Dark

UHERO: Abercrombie's CIP Plans Fizzled

Chicago Tribune: Romney's "island strategy" pays off in delegate race

York: Why do islands play key role in GOP race?

Abercrombie Appoints Insurance Execs to Control Your Health Care

SA: The federal law mandates that health insurance exchanges — envisioned as a one-stop shop where health plans compete and consumers compare medical plans — be operational nationwide by January 2014.

But Hawaii's program could be compromised even before it's established because local health plans that will compete on the exchange are also on its governing board, said Rosemarie Day, a national health exchange expert who helped develop the 2006 Massachusetts program, on which the federal legislation is based.

The state's largest health insurers, Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, as well as two others representing health plans, were recently appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the health exchange board. Abercrombie's appointees must be confirmed by the state Senate. A hearing on the nominees will be held Friday before the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee at 9 a.m. in Conference Room 229 of the state Capitol.

"It's an inherent conflict of interest. People are getting wise that this is really a bad situation," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP state director. "What's at stake here is transparency, ensuring there's no conflict of interest and that the consumers' interest is first and foremost."

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s picks for the permanent board of the Hawaii Health Connector:

>> Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
>> Robert Hirokawa, Hawaii Primary Care Association
>> Clifford Alakai, Maui Medical Group (Maui)
>> Gwen Rulona, United Food & Commercial Workers
>> Christine Sakuda, Hawaii Health Information Exchange
>> Joan Danieley, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii
>> Jennifer Diesman, Hawaii Medical Service Association
>> Michael Gleason, Arc of Hilo (Hawaii island)
>> Harris Nakamoto, HMA Inc.
>> Faye Kurren, Hawaii Dental Service
>> Clementina Ceria-Ulep, Faith Action for Community Equity

Kaiser Foundation: “The Interim Board adopted conflict of interest policies prohibiting members from voting on any matter which would ‘directly and substantially’ affect a business or private undertaking in which the member has financial interest, or a competitor of that entity.” (If they followed this, none of these clowns could vote on anything.)

read … Abercrombie the Corporatist

Lingle Questions Abercrombie’s Grab for Health Control

SA: Lingle said the national debate over whether to repeal the law has trivialized the discussion on health care.

"This overly simplistic, election-year question diverts attention from the real issue at hand: providing affordable, quality health care to as many citizens as possible," she said in a statement.

The former governor said the individual mandate raises constitutional concerns that are rightfully before the Supreme Court. She said the creation of health insurance exchanges by states has not been thought out. She said she fears that an independent payment advisory board, which is expected to contain Medicare costs, could slow patient access to medical procedures and lead to waiting lists for care.

She described the health care law as a "drag on job creation" because she believes costs are being disproportionately imposed on small and medium-sized businesses. She also, like Case, said the law does not address medical malpractice liability reform.

"On balance, I have serious reservations about the (law) as passed because it allows the federal government to force Hawaii and all other states into a one-size-fits-all program that is financially unsustainable for our state and nation," Lingle said. "While I believe we need to find bipartisan ways to provide health care to the small percentage of Hawaii's people who want and do not currently have health care insurance, it should not be done in a way that reduces the quality and availability of health care for the majority, as I believe this law will do."

Lingle, like Hirono and Case, has said she would have voted against the Blunt amendment. She said she supports broad access to contraceptives, provided that there are clearly defined exceptions for religious institutions, a position she believes is in line with the federal guidelines being prepared by the Obama administration.

Hirono, Case and Lingle also support an exemption in the law for the Prepaid Health Care Act, a 1974 state law that requires businesses to provide health insurance to employees who work at least 20 hours a week. The state law has put Hawaii among the top states for health insurance coverage.

While Lingle sidestepped the question of whether she would vote to repeal the federal health care law, many in her party have not, directly attacking the law as a prime example of government overreach under Obama.

read … Your only chance

Aiming at Pre-Determined Outcome Gay Marriage Plaintiffs hope to Face only Fuddy

HA: James Hochberg, a Honolulu attorney who also represents HFF, said his client wants to "vigorously defend" the state laws.

"Marriage is not a political plaything as those who demand its redefinition have treated it," he said last week. "HFF and ADF will continue to unapologetically defend marriage as the unique, life-giving foundation that created and sustains our civilization."

John D'Amato, the Hono­lulu lawyer representing the three plaintiffs, said they will strongly oppose the intervention.

D'Amato said the views of HFF and the defense fund show the "hostility" that gays and lesbians face daily. He cited a statement from the fund that says the "homosexual agenda" is attacking "God's plan for marriage."

"We deny the extreme views of the Hawaii Family Forum and the Alliance Defense Fund represent those of most Christians, let alone of most people in our state," he said.

(Irrelevant. The only question that matters is whether the ADF can and will present an honest and compelling defense of State law in lieu of the Abercrombie administration’s refusal. Also, will the Abercrombie administration’s double game—having the Health Dep’t defend against the suit, allow the Abercrombie admin a seat at the defense counsel table. The plaintiff’s counsel spells this out at the end of the article….)

D'Amato, the plaintiffs' lawyer, applauded the governor's position as "heroic" and "courageous." But he indicated that he was not willing to exploit it for a quick ruling in his favor.

He said he is not planning to request a dismissal of the suit against Fuddy, leaving only Abercrombie in the case to pave the way for a summary judgment declaring the state marriage law unconstitutional.

D'Amato said he wants to present expert testimony to support his case to establish a factual record to support the judgment. He said he also thinks Kay, the federal district judge, would want a trial on the issues.

"We're not going to win this by default," D'Amato said.

In addition, if Fuddy is dropped from the case, it would "open the door" for others to intervene, D'Amato said. (BINGO!)

D'Amato said he thinks Abercrombie will oppose HFF's request to intervene, but doesn't know what position Fuddy will take.

"We intend to make the case against the active state defendant," he said. (This is why Abercrombie administration is playing the double game. They hope to control both sides of the case and deliver a pre-determined result.)

SA: Administration's dual position on marriage law is unusual

read … Christian hui wants to defend state law

Star-Adv Attacks Cayetano for Releasing FTA Emails

SA Editorial: In a 2009 email, Joseph Ossi, an FTA environmental protection specialist, noted that the Environmental Protection Agency had asked why light rail and an improved bus system weren't among the alternatives considered in the city's environmental impact statement.

City consultants did weigh these options, however. In the course of examining alternatives in 2006, extensive public "scoping" meetings were held. An enhanced bus system was among the alternatives examined, along with fixed-guideway alternatives that included light rail.

Whether or not all the alternatives that already were rejected also needed to be in the EIS is among the issues in the lawsuit, so officials for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation have declined comment on that point.

But in selectively raising it, Cayetano fell short of presenting adequate context. (And that is Cayetano’s job????? No ‘context’ is a newspaper’s job, but the Star-Adv Editors are too busy telling Cayetano to shut up.) This certainly left many with the wrong impression that alternatives had not been considered, or the reasons why they were rejected. (SEE NEXT ARTICLE!)

Additionally, the information in the released emails was at best dated and at worst a complete distraction from conditions now. For example, he cited a 2006 email from FTA staffer Raymond Sukys to Ossi, saying that the FTA had issued an erroneous Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS, a document that was reissued the following year.

"I do not think the FTA should be associated with their lousy practices of public manipulation and we should call them on it," he wrote.

That assessment may have had a basis when it was written, but it does not line up with more current statements from federal officials.

(So SA should write an article with quotes from the other side making this point. Instead they attack an anti-rail advocate for making his case. When is the last time you saw a newspaper attacking anybody for releasing information? Newspapers are supposed to be advocates of openness and transparency.)

Similar: Star-Bulletin Editorializes against voter registration drive

read … Cayetano's rail tactics a disservice

ILind: S-A wrong in cheap shot at Cayetano and rail critics

 

ILInd: when the editorial calls out Cayetano for supposedly not “informing people responsibly,” turnabout is fair play.

So, Star-Advertiser editorial writers, exactly where in the huge library of reports did the city’s consultants evaluate the light rail alternative?

The S-A is certainly not the first to flatly assert that light rail was studied. But, as far as I can tell, they are wrong.

I’ve written about my search for the missing light rail alternative several times over the past couple of years (“What happened to the light rail alternative to Honolulu’s transit plan?“March 8th, 2010; “Round and round we go in search of the missing light rail alternative“, November 24th, 2011; and “What happened to the light rail alternative (redux)?“, November 21st, 2011).

I’ve heard lots of bluster in response, much of the, “harumph, harumph, of course it was studied, etc, etc.” variety. But, so far, no one has been able to cite page and verse where this alternative was examined and found wanting.

The Star-Advertiser says the “scoping” process did include light rail. To repeat:

An enhanced bus system was among the alternatives examined, along with fixed-guideway alternatives that included light rail.

Talk about cherry picking! What the S-A doesn’t tell readers is that the scoping studies actually identified light rail as a viable alternative that needed to be studied in the EIS along with other “fixed guideway” options.

read … S-A wrong in cheap shot at Cayetano and rail critics

Oshiro on Budget: Spending Billions and Getting Nothing is ‘Prudent’

SA: Creating jobs now is at the forefront of our plan for economic recovery. The construction industry suffered greatly through the recession. There is a backlog of repair and maintenance projects for state facilities in excess of $1 billion. Recognizing these facts, the House appropriated $2.4 billion in bond-funded capital improvement projects for the coming year.

We are working with the governor to upgrade our information technology capacity; $30 million was approved for statewide initiatives by the chief information officer to streamline state government and create higher levels of transparency and accountability. This includes $1.4 million for the Hawaii Broadband Initiative to fund pilot programs to increase the state's broadband capacity.

Beyond the budget, House lawmakers are focusing on a matrix of economic initiatives through emerging industries such as aerospace, digital media and renewable energy.

The state's financial future also depends on tackling long-term debt. As of July 1, 2009, the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) had a total unfunded liability of more than $14.5 billion, with the state responsible for more than $11.5 billion. The House Finance Committee started the process of setting aside monies toward annual required contributions, appropriating $50 million for this purpose in fiscal 2012-2013. Due to the complexity of the issue, we propose a study on how to implement reforms and improve the fiscal health of the EUTF.

SA: Lack of multiskilled workers plagues isle employers

read … Prudence

 

Gov. Abercrombie’s reversal on Ho’opili development may rebound to Lingle’s political benefit

ILind: Hey, what is the governor thinking? Here we are in the midst of an election year where one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats is up for grabs, and Gov. Abercrombie has staked out a position in support of a development that will replace 1,000 acres of prime Oahu agricultural land with nearly 12,000 new homes. (He’s thinking you are all drones who will vote for Mazie anyway.)

D.R. Horton’s Ho’opili development was opposed by the administration of former Gov. Linda Lingle, now the presumed GOP candidate for that said Senate seat. It’s also now opposed by former Democratic governors John Waihee and Ben Cayetano, along with environmental groups and others looking to preserve farm land.

Abercrombie’s support for Ho’opili creates lots of room for Lingle to claim environmental creds.

read … Environmental Creds

Ornstein: We never would have launched Go! if we knew….

Go!Mokulele has postponed fleet expansion and is still reeling from a $52.5 million lawsuit settlement with Hawaiian Airlines which it agreed to in 2008. Federal Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris had found Mesa liable for misusing proprietary information obtained from Hawaiian in 2004.

"I think it would be fair to say that we wouldn't have gone into Hawaii had we known that we would have a $52 million settlement hole to dig our way out of," Ornstein said. "But once that happens, what's done is done. It's an operation that makes sense; we've carved out a nice niche and put a lot of people to work, and I think over time it will be a good investment for us."

Ornstein said his original plan before starting Hawaii service on June 9, 2006, was to form a partnership and code-share with Aloha Airlines and an additional code-share with United Airlines. Code-shares allow airlines to sell seats on the others' flights.

"I did not expect to be in the marketplace with just two carriers, with just ourselves and Hawaiian operating the four main routes," he said during a recent telephone interview. "But we're there now, and I think we have had a very good response from the local market."

Ornstein said if the partnerships (with Aloha and United) had gone through, it would have been very successful for all parties.

"A partnership with Aloha not only would have increased their market share interisland, but we also were going to make a significant investment in Aloha, which I believe would have been used to upgrade their trans-Pacific fleet," he said.

But Aloha rejected the deal and the United talks fell through. Ultimately, 61-year-old Aloha shut down passenger operations. That cost about 2,000 employees their jobs — the largest mass layoff in state history….

At one of Aloha's third-anniversary parties last year, employees blamed a confluence of events for Aloha's demise, among them the high cost of fuel, the need for larger aircraft to fly to the mainland, the airfare war spurred by go! and Aloha's management…

While Kauweloa doesn't blame go! for the demise of Aloha, Forman, the aviation historian, calls it "unquestionably" a mistake that go! entered the market.

"The shareholders of go!'s parent company are now a hundred million dollars poorer, the lives of thousands of Hawaii families have been shaken and the interisland market is less competitive than before," Forman said.

Hawaiian — which has benefited from Aloha's demise and a smaller competitor in go! — declined to comment for this story.

read … How Hawaiian Killed Aloha

Hokulia CEO De Fries moving on

WHT: That first lawsuit, brought by Jack Kelly, James Medeiros, Patrick Cunningham, Michele Wilkins and Charles Flaherty, challenged the developers’ right to create a high-end residential subdivision on agriculture-classified land. The plaintiffs prevailed, leading to what De Fries said was likely the biggest blow to the project, which suffered a series of setbacks in the last decade.

Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra issued an injunction, shutting down the work for two-and-a-half years, until the parties settled in 2006.

“(The project had) $330 million already invested in the ground,” De Fries said. “There’s a handful of us who knew at that time the project had been damaged. Once you bring a system that immense down, the cost to remobilize is also immense.”

In essence, Ibarra told county officials they didn’t have the authority to let Anderson proceed with the project as proposed. Anderson was supposed to have known better, even though the county and state had been letting developers do just what Anderson proposed for decades, De Fries said. At issue was the use of land zoned for agricultural use that was not agricultural in nature, a practice, he added , the county allows still. While cultural concerns were cited and repeated in the community as the underlying factor in the suit, it was land use issues that framed the case, he said.

read … Hokulia

Thielen: Short-sighted bills endanger our environment

» House Bill 530 gives the Office of Planning the ability to grant or deny SMA permits and shoreline setback variances for state structures and activities; exempts certain state departments from the Coastal Zone Management Act; has the potential to exempt an undersea cable from environmental review; and specifies that state projects are not required to be consistent with county general plans.

» HB 2145 makes it state policy to identify certain key state projects, such as the interisland cable and fixed rail, with the intent to complete these projects by 2023. This bill doesn't specifically exempt such projects from environmental review, but it lays the groundwork for other bills specific to these projects which do allow for such exemptions.

The following bills exempt specific agencies and projects from review or permitting requirements: airport projects (HB 2154); Dept. of Transportation's Harbors Division (HB 2613); broadband projects (HB 2324, HB 2325 and Senate Bill 2235); geothermal projects (HB 2690); Dept. of Land and Natural Resources' Boating Division (SB 2381); secondary actions/DOT highway projects (HB 2611 and SB 2873); tentative subdivisions (SB 2335); development projects in the vicinity of rail and bus transit stations (SB 2927); and bridge rehabilitation (SB 3010).

SB 2785 establishes a regulatory structure for the installation and implementation of an interisland electric transmission cable system and associated on-island infrastructure. Essentially this bill is to enable an interisland cable to transmit an electricity supply from one island to another, so energy produced on one island can be sent to power a different island.

SB 2785 contains two key areas of language which would place the financial risk and burden on the ratepayers and entitle the electric utility company to recover capital costs through an automatic rate adjustment and cable surcharge, even if they elect not to complete the project.

read … Thielen

MECO Pushes Biofuel, Windfarm Scams

MN: Renewable energy will be a big part of Maui Electric Co.'s future, with plenty of room for serious investors and partners, said outgoing President Ed Reinhardt.

Near-term projects include plans to seek a developer to help produce between 20 and 50 megawatts of clean energy in two stages on 66 acres by the Central Maui Landfill, with either a wind farm or biofuel plant, Reinhardt said, adding that the company expects to release a request for proposals as soon as this month for the project, which would come on line by 2016 or '17.

"Biofuel: That's the future," he said. "The right thing to do is for us to get away from oil.

"Our goal is we want to stabilize the price of electricity," (at a rate even higher than this) he said. "We need to integrate the renewables and change the grid."

MN: Study requirements for solar systems frustrating for installers, homeowners

read … MECO Boss

Child Molester’s Advocate Pulls Papers for Re-Run At Lost Legislative Seat

MN: Former legislator (and employer and advocate of child molesters) Joe Bertram III will return to politics as a contender for the 11th House District seat he held for two terms.

Bertram took out nomination papers Tuesday for the race and confirmed in an interview that he intends to file as a Democratic candidate for the seat he lost narrowly to Republican Rep. George Fontaine in 2010.

Bertram said he's spent the past two years involved in community and planning issues, including advocating for the creation of a walkable "uptown" South Maui district in the area of the planned Kihei High School.

"I think people are going to see someone who is still actively continuing to pursue the things he was working on in the Legislature," Bertram said.

He said his top issues would be complete streets and safe routes to schools legislation, and sustainable economic growth.

The only other Democratic candidate to pull papers for the South Maui House race so far has been Boys & Girls Club of Maui Executive Director Colin Hanlon.

Fontaine said he was prepared for a possible rematch with Bertram, whom he defeated by 172 votes two years ago after mounting an unsuccessful challenge in 2008.

"I've heard at least two other people are going to pull, so who knows what's going to happen at the primary," Fontaine said. "If it happens to be Joe, that's fine. I don't think the issues have changed for either of us. I beat him once, and I think I can beat him again."

He said he would leave it to voters to decide whether he had been doing a good job representing them in the state House for the past two years.

read … Molesters’ Renaissance?

Media Flails About Trying to Explain Why Hirono’s Mailer is Different than Mufi’s

Borreca: Case is upset because Hirono sent an email to supporters that included a quote from an unnamed supporter:

"As one supporter recently said, ‘Mazie is the only candidate in this race that has overcome real challenges, the only candidate who knows how important a strong ohana is for success.'"

Hirono's mistake was to say "only," and Case pounded hard to make a point.

"Your ohana comment is just plain offensive. Are you saying your ohana is somehow better than mine, or that you appreciate them more than I do mine?" asks Case.

He continues to hammer away, saying, "Sure, where we came from and who we are is one part of the decision facing voters. But it looks like that's all your candidacy is about."

Hirono's statement may have been politically tone deaf, but not fatal. (Because we in the media are not choosing to make this into an issue like we did for our pal Neil.)

One of the Republican candidates, former Gov. Linda Lingle, also had a tough time of it. When asked about Case's objections to Hirono's statement, Lingle said she had been thinking the same thing.

"My reaction is similar to Ed's, but our backgrounds are different. Because of her comments, my own situation struck me right away," Lingle said in an interview.

"I haven't made an issue of it, but I know I am different because of it," Lingle says of living with her mother, who suffered from severe mental illness.

"I have a special feeling for mental illness and its effects … after seeing your mother taken from your home in a straitjacket, because people didn't know or understand what to do back then and then to say you are the only one who knows what it is like to have a hard time …," Lingle said.

Lingle lived in five different homes while she was a teenager. Her parents divorced, she lived with her mother until she couldn't care for her, then with her father, then her father and his new wife, then her grandparents, then finally an uncle and aunt who saw her through to high school graduation.

"All of it made me who I am. My high school years were not stellar, but I got into a good state university," says Lingle, who graduated cum laude from California State University-Northridge in 1975.

read … A bunch of excuses

Campaign Spending Commission looking into possible “criminal misconduct”

ILind: I’ve noticed this item tucked away in the “Executive Session” portion of recent agendas of the Campaign Spending Commission:

*Pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes section 92-5(a)(5)–To investigate proceedings regarding criminal misconduct in Docket No. 12-07 concerning a (unidentified) candidate’s failure to report contributions and expenditures as well as untimely deposits of contributions….

read … Campaign Spending Commission

RIMPAC's naval war games will feature high-tech arms

SA: Rim of the Pacific war games scheduled to start in late June off Hawaii will bring thousands of sailors, tests of a submarine-launched unmanned aerial vehicle and blue-laser underwater communications, and a "green" emphasis with the largest government purchase of biofuel in history.

Hoteliers are expecting an influx of business, with past RIMPAC exercises adding more than $40 million in contracts and spending on shore, the Navy said.

"RIMPAC will bring a much-needed boost to our economy and Hawaii is fortunate to host these exercises," said Jerry Gibson, area vice president of Hilton Hawaii. "We definitely will see a huge influx of patrons to our restaurants, lounges and retail shops during the exercises and we look forward to welcoming them in June."

David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises Group, said companies like his do several million dollars worth of business as a result of RIMPAC, but that business is unpredictable due to security concerns and limited information disclosed as to when ships will be at sea and in port.

Navaltoday.com reported that this summer's RIMPAC, from June 29 to Aug. 7, will have representation from Australia, India, Indonesia, Canada, Colombia, South Korea, Malaysia, Tonga, Japan and Russia. Russia says it will send a destroyer (the Bystry), a rescue tug and a tanker.

read … RIMPAC

CBO: Exploding debt under Obama policies

The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that President Barack Obama’s tax and spending policies will yield $6.4 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than double the shortfall in CBO’s own fiscal baseline — even after taking credit for reduced war costs.

Read … POLITICO


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