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Thursday, May 21, 2009
May 21, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 AM :: 9772 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, World News

Bill awaiting Lingle's OK will decentralize public hospitals

House Health Committee Chairman Ryan Yamane (D, Waipahu-Mililani) said the bill, SB1673, will give the public hospital system "shock treatment," with a significant shift to a decentralized operation....

Key features of the legislation are aimed at giving the hospitals the flexibility to control costs similar to private hospitals, while providing for increased fiscal and management transparency.

HHSC regional systems -- established by legislation two years ago -- will have more autonomy and authority and can enter into public-private partnerships, legislators said.

The regional systems will be allowed to reduce, eliminate or expand services with community involvement in the decisions. The HHSC or any regional board also can negotiate for employees to change any collective bargaining agreement or items subject to collective bargaining.

The 15-member corporate board will be reduced to 12 members and reorganized by July 1, 2010, to improve regional representation.

Thomas Driskill Jr., HHSC president and chief executive officer, said the bill is "a very positive step forward. ... Health care is changing and we need to change with it so we can be here for the community in the future."

A notable omission is lack of funding for salaries in 2011 for Driskill or Kelley Roberson, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, respectively.

"The corporate structure will be less robust," Yamane said, suggesting it will be up to the HHSC corporate office to find money to pay the salaries.

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DBEDT expects recession to affect Hawaii through 2009

The department said in its latest quarterly economic report released Wednesday that it expects 1.6 percent decline in the state’s 2009 gross domestic product and a 2.1 percent decline in the average job count for the year.

DBEDT said the forecast for visitor arrivals is unchanged from the previous forecast — a decline of 5.9 percent for the year. Visitor expenditures are expected to be negatively impacted, down 7.9 percent.

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Rebels Head-chopping jihadis attack isle Marine mercy mission

Kaneohe Marines and Afghan soldiers were on a humanitarian mission last week dropping off 70 blue shopping bags of pads, pencils, notebooks and sketch pads donated by an Aiea company to schoolchildren in eastern Afghanistan when they were ambushed by insurgents.

No one was hurt in the ambush despite the patrol being pinned down briefly.

Heavy machine gun fire blanketed the patrol as the troops used smoke grenades and cover fire to escape the ambush in the Korengal Valley, which has a reputation as one of most dangerous areas in the country.

The start of Saturday's mission involving young Afghan schoolchildren and the insurgent ambush were recorded by an Associated Press crew that was embedded with the Kaneohe Marines and Afghan troops in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province, known as "the Valley of Death."

It was unclear what happened to the students after the patrol retreated, the wire service added.

Frank Tsukano, general manager of Hawaii Stationery, said he saw the AP video report on YouTube and recognized his company's blue bags.

"If you look closely at some of the frames, you can make out our name."...

"Two weeks ago, I got an e-mail from him (Farris) saying he was able to get them on a helicopter and taken to his remote base," Resta said.

After Saturday's incident, Resta said he got another e-mail saying the donations had been delivered and "they are fine."

RELATED: NYC jihadis busted attempting to blow up NY Synagogue and shoot down plane , more coverage

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Big Isle loses GM dealers (thanks, Obama)

Island Chevrolet has closed its Hilo and Kona dealerships on the Big Island, but not because it received a termination letter from General Motors.

"Everybody assumes that I got the letter. I didn't get a letter," said Alan Clark, president of Clark Automotive Group Inc., the dealerships' parent company.

The timing coincided, but Clark would have been closing anyway due to financial difficulties.

"I can't get a loan for a flooring line," he said, referring to financing from General Motors Acceptance Corp., or another lender, to buy cars to put on the sales floor.

Prior to his financing difficulties, the credit crunch, high gas prices and increasing unemployment sapped sales.

Clark had a buyer lined up who had "wanted to see what GM was going to do in the bankruptcy ... but when GM and GMAC wanted a binding buy-sell agreement by May 15," the potential deal fell through, he said.

"I've tried everything I could to get an investor in here; it's like foreclosure," he said.

Other dealers have stepped up, Clark said, "but GM hasn't taken them up on it," leaving the Big Island with no options for covered service.

TOTALLY RELATED: U.S. to Inject More Than $7 Billion Into GMAC, May Become Majority Owner

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Hawaii injunction blocks use of voting machines until rules set

Maui Circuit Court Judge Joseph Cardoza yesterday sided with five Maui residents who sued the state last July, arguing that the Office of Elections used voting systems guidelines without complying with the state's administrative rules. The residents also alleged the state transmits election results over telephone lines and the Internet without adopting administrative rules.

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Honolulu looking for new police chief

Correa, 63, who took control of the state's largest law enforcement organization in August 2004, had asked to stay on the job for another year. He remains chief until Aug. 27.

The search for Correa's successor begins immediately. The new chief will be selected from a nationwide search that will involve a written exam, series of interviews and how the candidate performs while managing a mock disaster.

RELATED: Correa Says Commission Clearly Wanted A New Chief, Co-workers and Union Officials React to Correa's Retirement

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SB: Look to gas tax to prod fuel efficiency

Really?  How can giving more money to something as inefficient as the State possibly be efficient? 

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Retaliation: Hawaii County auditor's funding could be slashed

Schrandt says the move comes just as she planned to hire an outside consultant to conduct an audit into possible waste, fraud and abuse in government contracts. With the reduced budget, she won't be able to make it happen, she said.

Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda, the sponsor of a budget amendment to remove the money, said Tuesday that he hadn't heard that Schrandt planned an audit into procurement.

Finance Chairman Dominic Yagong is reluctant to take money away from the auditor.
"When the voters voted to give that department the independence to make sure the county's business is all above-board, it just concerns me we would pull any the funding," Yagong said.
The audit Schrandt seeks would focus on operational controls, making it much different from the standard financial audit the county budgets $270,000 for each year.
Yagong said there is a perception that the county procurement process is being abused. He didn't cite examples.
But the recent disclosure that the county had sold a bulldozer for $52,000 and rented it back for $427,000 has raised eyebrows on the island, as has the county's use of a company other than the one that held a contract to apply road coatings.
More recently, Mayor Billy Kenoi yanked a bid request when someone complained the specifications were written to eliminate bidding by all but the current contractor, a company owned by a county employee.

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Hawaii County lines up five new workers

HILO -- Saying roads are being paved faster than the county can stripe them, the Finance Committee voted Tuesday to ditch its contractor and create five in-house positions to do the work....Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann questioned whether bringing the job in-house, having to buy materials and pay fringe benefits, would save money.
He especially questioned where the fringe benefits were accounted for.
"I'd sure like to see how that's going to happen," Hoffmann said. "Where is that money in the budget?"
Finance Chairman Dominic Yagong, the sole no vote, said he thinks Thiel is doing "an outstanding job." He just doesn't see the need for more employees.
"You're talking about a perpetual position forever and ever," Yagong said.

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