Legislative Agenda: Small Business on Defense (Again)
One-Way Streets to Alleviate Dangerous Walking Conditions?
Lanai residents fed up with the awful service from Ohana Air
Ethics, HSTA Announce Agreement on School Trips
HGEA Wants Revenge on Ige for Maui Hospital Privatization—Demands Protection Money
SA: (Article written by Billy Kenoi operative Kevin Dayton.)
Much of the political buzz at the state Capitol in recent months has revolved around who might challenge Ige, who plans to seek a second term.
Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said the widespread speculation about Ige’s potential Democratic opponents suggests people perceive him as “weak, or at least politically vulnerable.”
…his political fate may depend on how successful he is at appeasing some key interest groups over the next two years….
A key issue for the Sierra Club in the years ahead will be the state’s role in preventing 18 massive fuel storage tanks under Red Hill from leaking into the county water supply, Townsend said. That will require more funding for the state Department of Health and leadership from Ige. “Gov. Ige’s going to have to prioritize that because we can’t rely on the federal government to do it for us,” she said.
Perreira described Ige’s decision to privatize three state-run hospitals in Maui County as “a huge failure.” The plan to turn those hospitals over to Kaiser Permanente to operate is the largest privatization effort in state history.
HGEA and the United Public Workers union have about 1,400 members at the Maui County hospitals, and the unions fought the privatization initiative in court and at the state Legislature. Ige says the Maui privatization will save the state $260 million over the next decade, but union opposition has stalled the changeover until next year.
“It was terribly mishandled, and it created nothing but anxiety I think for the community over … the gaps in health care that resulted from this botched transition,” Perreira said.
The privatization issue also exposed a surprising rift between Ige and members of the Legislature last year when lawmakers passed a bill to provide severance payments or retirement bonuses for the Maui County hospital employees whose jobs will be privatized.
Ige vetoed the measure, and lawmakers took the extremely rare step of overriding Ige’s veto. That vote marked only the second time since statehood that the Hawaii Legislature overrode the veto of a Democratic governor.
The confusion surrounding that veto override underscored a larger unhappiness with Ige among some lawmakers. While the Legislature met to consider the veto override, Ige was bargaining with HGEA to try to reach an agreement on the issue, and lawmakers felt they were left in the dark about those negotiations.
Ige served in the state House and Senate for nearly three decades, and some lawmakers had expected clear communication and close collaboration with his administration.
“I don’t get a sense that that is clearly working out,” said Blake Oshiro, a former state lawmaker who served as deputy chief of staff under former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Oshiro now works as a lobbyist.
It is also galling to some that Ige is proposing no raises for the public worker unions when the state had a record $1 billion budget surplus last year, and projects a cash surplus of more than $726 million this year.
The administration has proposed no raises for the next two years for HGEA, the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, and Perreira described Ige’s zero-raise proposals as “ridiculous.” …
A 1 percent increase in pay for employees in all of the 14 public worker bargaining units would cost the state about $76 million a year, he said, but those raises would also add $100 million to the unfunded liability in the public pension fund because pensions are linked to pay. The pension fund already has an unfunded liability of more than $8.7 billion. (Payoff to ensure reelection.)
read … Key issues, groups could decide political fate
Small Business: Obamacare Gone—The High Prices it Created Remain
SA: Nii said his annual employee health costs total about $50,000 to $60,000 a year, but the tax credits he receives under SHOP lower the costs to between $30,000 to $40,000.
“Pretty much anybody over 50 (years old) cost about $800 to $1,000 a month,” Nii said. “I love my employees. I want to give them health insurance as per the law of the state but if they don’t do anything to help me with the cost, then I can’t offer health insurance and I can’t offer full-time employment. I can only offer part-time employment. This creates an environment that pits business success against employees with full-time benefits. The state is forcing me to do this.”
SHOP provides health insurance for nearly 400 businesses that cover about 1,500 employees and their dependents. Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is the only health insurer that offers SHOP coverage.
The waiver does not apply to individuals and families who can still sign up for coverage through the federal health insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, until Jan. 31.
read … Thanks a Lot, Obama
Lizzie Warren Raises Money for Hirono to Fend off Primary Challenge from … (Gabbard?)
CB: …Hirono is up for re-election in 2018. Nathan Gonzales of Roll Call says the seat is “solid” for Democrats.
Friends of Mazie Hirono reported having $591,837 in cash on hand in the senator’s most recent filing (Sept. 30) with the Federal Election Commission….
read … Warren-makes-pitch-for-Hirono
Prosecuting Attorney Kaneshiro sworn in for 2nd term –Gives Katherine Kealoha A PROMOTION
KHON: City Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro was sworn in for his second term Monday, giving him four more years in office….
Kaneshiro acknowledged the scrutiny and discussed plans to build the trust back. What he did not discuss was Katherine Kealoha’s involvement in the HPD scandal, but did acknowledge changes that must be made to gain the public’s trust.
And he appointed Kealoha with a new role….
Called the “Tourism Prosecution Project,” the office will start what Kaneshiro calls an “intelligence-based prosecution strategy” based off what he called a successful strategy in New York City.
Deputy prosecutor Kealoha, also sworn in Monday for another term, will supervise the initiative, despite the fact that she is under scrutiny as part of a federal grand jury looking into allegations of corruption involving both her and her police chief husband.
“The federal grand jury has been asking for info that’s been in our office,” Kaneshiro said, information he refuses to disclose “’cause it’s our investigation.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is standing by the prosecutor’s office. “I think both police and the prosecuting attorney will continue to focus on the job in front of them. I don’t think they’re distracted by this. I do think it’s an issue that needs to be resolved, so that the general public can move on and focus on other issues.”
read … Not For Long
Kealohas in Second Attempt to Frame Puana?
CB: …In June 2013, two homicide detectives from the Honolulu Police Department were assigned to investigate a busted taillight at the Kahala home of their boss.
The car belonged to Police Chief Louis Kealoha’s wife, Katherine, a deputy prosecuting attorney for the city in charge of the career criminal division that takes on repeat offenders and parolees who violate the terms of their release.
She and her husband told HPD investigators assigned to the case that someone had broken into their garage and smashed the taillight using a screwdriver found in the back seat of the chief’s car. Officers dusted the scene for fingerprints and swabbed the screwdriver for DNA. The Kealohas wanted someone to be prosecuted.
The alleged break-in and vandalism occurred less than a week after the Kealohas’ mailbox was reported stolen.
But federal public defender Alexander Silvert says the taillight incident, which hasn’t been made public until now, appears to be another attempt to frame his client, Gerard Puana….
Silvert said he first learned about the burglary in December 2014, after a federal judge had declared a mistrial in the mailbox case. The mistrial came when Chief Kealoha inappropriately testified about what he described as Puana’s criminal past.
At the time, Silvert said he had evidence that police officers had falsified reports and mishandled evidence in the mailbox case.
Shortly after the trial, Silvert said said he received an anonymous letter saying there had been another attempt to frame Puana. The information appeared to come from an HPD insider who claimed to have specific knowledge of the burglary case….
PDF: Police Report of Burglary 6-23-13
read … Second Frame-up Attempt?
Caldwell Sworn in, His Cronies Take Control of Council
SA: Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor is expected to take the helm of the Council today, pushing colleague Ernie Martin out of a post he’s held since June 2011.
Councilman Ikaika Anderson is expected to remain as vice chairman, while Kymberly Pine is slated to become majority floor leader when the Council meets today after five of the nine members who were re-elected in November take the oath of office at noon.
Under new leadership, Joey Manahan is expected to replace Ann Kobayashi as head of the Budget Committee, Pine is expected to replace Trevor Ozawa as head of the Zoning Committee, and Anderson is expected to lead a combined Transportation and Planning Committee. The committee assignments are done by rule-making and don’t require votes today.
The new leadership is expected to be more hospitable to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who has clashed often with Martin, Kobayashi and Ozawa….
read … All Caldwell All the Time
Threat to Close Politically Connected Golf Course ‘A Departure from the Norm’
SA: …Now the city Department of Planning and Permitting is pressing for what may be the only practical solution: a plan from the golf course owners to provide for off-street parking for hikers, and to ensure better upkeep of the trailhead area. DPP has set an October 2017 deadline to deliver the plan, calling for progress reports at regular intervals.
Lacking such a plan, DPP officials have told the owner, HRT Realty LLC, that it could lose its permit for the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club.
This demand is a departure from the norm — which may be why the company apparently hasn’t felt compelled to provide even an outline of what it intends to do, if anything. City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents the area, said he’s tried unsuccessfully to elicit any proposals from HRT.
The trail itself is on state land, and nothing in the original permit conditions, issued for what was then called Luana Hills Golf and Country Club, mentioned responsibility for upkeep of the trailhead. It only required that access to the trail be provided.
read … Political Connections Don’t Pay Off?
Illegal Fireworks Death at Grace-Family Business
KITV: …Spencer's family and friends created a small, makeshift memorial where the accident happened this weekend. The tragedy happened at Pinky Tows on Komohana Street in Kapolei where Spencer and Medeiros worked.
Just before she died, Spencer posted video on Instagram of people ringing in the new year with firecrackers.
The Grace Family…owns Pinky Tows….
Honolulu Police say they opened an illegal fireworks investigation, but have not arrested or fined anyone in this case.…
read … Grace and Fireworks Again
Prohibition Makes Fireworks More Harmful
HNN: State Sen. Will Espero, who has introduced fireworks-related legislation in the past, said any effort to address illegal aerials should "start with our harbors."
Criminal Defense attorney Marcus Landsberg agrees, but says that's just part of it.
"We have to remember that when you make things illegal you lose all control to regulate it, there's zero consumer protection." Landsberg said.
The new emphasis on fireworks comes in the wake of a busy New Year's Day for first responders.
There were at least three serious incidents statewide, including one in Kapolei that left a woman dead and a man critically injured.
Meanwhile, fire officials the total number of fireworks-related incidents on Oahu hit 19, double the total last year.
That's all despite a fireworks ban on Oahu, which went into effect in 2010.
Under the law, importing illegal fireworks without a proper license is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years behind bars.
Espero said addressing smuggling is key to addressing the fireworks issue.
read … Prohibition Doesn’t Work
How Hawaiian Electric Company Rigs Need for Interisland Cable
IM: …The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) was asked, not to review all options, just on-shore wind and solar.
“To provide a more definitive analysis of the O`ahu resource potential, we engaged NREL to perform an independent analysis of the onshore wind and grid-scale PV potential on O`ahu.”
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities
HECO`s conclusion is that O`ahu can`t do it alone. The interisland cable is necessary. This is due in part to the fact that, utilizing all agricultural lands on O`ahu, including the vast North Shore acreage, it is impossible to produce a single pound of biomass, or a single gallon of biodiesel. Ocean energy, other than offshore wind, is also impossible. Nothing can block the need for the interisland cable.
To shore up support for the cable, HECO provided a map showing that the North Shore and Waianae will need solar covering virtually all open and agricultural space, and still O`ahu can`t meet the 100 percent goal without the cable….
read … Hawaiian Electric Company Rigs Need for Interisland Cable
Anti-GMO Circus Falls Short at Maui Council Organization meeting
MN: The dispute over who would lead the Maui County Council was unresolved as of 9:55 p.m. Monday, as council members were still deliberating after five hours of testimony that largely opposed Council Member Mike White’s bid to return as council chairman.
After a push to make Council Members Bob Carroll and then (anti-GMO convicted felon) Elle Cochran as chairperson both failed in 5-4 votes, Cochran nominated Council Member Don Guzman to serve as chairman….
The issue of who would serve as chairperson drew a standing-room-only crowd to the first meeting of the term, which began at 2 p.m. Monday, as around 75 testifiers called for new leadership and greater transparency from elected officials attempted to grab power for the anti-GMO faction which has 4 of the 9 votes on the Council.
Days after Nov. 8 election, White sent out a news release announcing that he would continue as chairman and that Carroll would serve as vice chairman. Residents and local organizations protested the announcement, saying it was a violation of the County Charter and the Sunshine Law for members to have decided on leadership before the council’s first meeting they had found an excuse.
Council members who said they had previously supported White in past terms said they lost trust when White announced he would continue as council chairman just days after the general election.
“I lost trust and I lost respect, period,” Council Member Elle Cochran said…. (Translation: I smell an opportunity here. This is better than teaming up with my boyfriend to rob tourists at gunpoint.)
“I’ve sat here very patiently all afternoon and I appreciate everyone coming out to have their say,” White said….
In December, (luxury real estate broker) Mark Sheehan of SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) Movement and SAFE (Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment) filed a (spurious) complaint with the Board of Ethics accusing White of violating the County Charter. He argued that White used the chair’s office, time and resources to issue a news release “declaring unequivocally that the Maui County Council had organized for the upcoming term and that he will again serve as Chair for the next council session.”
Last week, the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action filed a (spurious) complaint against White for discussing organization of the council without public notice or meeting. (Not a Sunshine Law violation.)
Sheehan followed by starting impeachment proceedings with the county (because it gets the clowns even more excited about this circus).
Corporation Counsel Pat Wong said Monday afternoon that, according to an OIP opinion letter, “the obligations of the Sunshine Law are not imposed upon an elected council member until he or she begins term of office,” which has been in effect since 2002….
read … Power Grab
Anti-GMO Hysterics “May Get Something Thru Legislature”
WHT: …“With really focused public pressure, we could really see something get through. The time is right,” said Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety.
Advocates are pushing bills to require companies to fully disclose when and where they’re spraying pesticides and to mandate buffer zones around schools and hospitals. Another proposal calls for the state and counties to stop using sprays containing glyphosate, an herbicide originally brought to market by Monsanto.
“I’m hopeful that we’re not going to wait for a bad event and see some terrible sickness (like hysteria?) in our state,” said state Sen. Josh Green (pandering to the loons in his district), an emergency room doctor who plans to introduce the glyphosate ban bill….
Rep. Chris Lee, (smelling campaign contributions from rich eco-haoles) who plans to introduce buffer zone and disclosure bills, called the new state initiatives “woefully inadequate.”
“There’s still zero transparency for the long-term cumulative impacts on various communities around the islands for what’s being sprayed and any impact it may be having over the long term,” Lee said. “And that’s something that we have a clear obligation above anything else to dive into, because it is health and safety and people have a right to know.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (doing its part for the hype) sought $5 million in fines from Syngenta (which will soon be overturned), saying the company violated pesticide rules on Kauai by letting workers without protective gear enter fields recently sprayed with a restricted insecticide. Syngenta said it takes responsibility but believes the agency is overstepping.
The case will go before an EPA administrative law judge (who will throw it out).
read … Mess Hysteria
Ige to Appoint HD2 Legislator Soon
HTH: “The governor has talked with each of the nominees to fill the late Rep. Tsuji’s seat,” McMillan said Friday in an emailed response.
“He recognizes the need to allow the new representative time to prepare for the upcoming legislative session and will be making an appointment shortly.”
The more complicated process to get a new regent in place means the appointee would unlikely be in place in time for the Board of Regents Jan. 12 meeting, where a committee is set to discuss the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s planned aviation program.
“The governor understands that the university plays a critical role in the community and is thoughtfully considering the candidates for the advisory council,” McMillan said. “He is planning to make appointments early in the new year.”
read … Ige promises action on Hawaii Island vacancies
Campbell Estate quietly dissolves
SA: …At one time, the portfolio included the vast expanse of West Oahu from Ewa to West Beach (now known as Ko Olina), the area that has seen the island’s biggest growth over the past several decades.
A probate judge in November gave approval to the final closure actions of the trust, and the company will be physically shutting down its downtown office for good in coming weeks.
Valued at $3 million at its inception, Campbell Estate held more than $2 billion in assets on Jan. 20, 2007, when the assets were distributed to Campbell’s then 33-surviving heirs in the process of dissolving the trust in accordance with Campbell’s will.
In addition to cash and property, most of the heirs received their distribution in shares in a newly formed successor company, James Campbell Co. LLC, and the formal shutdown of Campbell Estate over the next decade began.
Abigail Kawananakoa owned the largest share of the estate (12.5 percent), and maintains the biggest share of the successor company.
“It was imperative that the estate not be liquidated regardless of the personal financial benefits,” Kawananakoa said in a statement. “A successor entity was needed to continue the business as it had always been done or it would mean breaking promises to the community, losing important investment capital in Hawaii, the development of Lanikuhonua and the end of the vital support for the West Oahu charities.”
Four trustees and all 33 beneficiaries had to agree to the plan for the James Campbell Co. to become reality, she said….
read … Land and legacy: Campbell Estate quietly dissolves