UPDATE: Galera Quits, BoE Resumes Search for Superintendent
Grassroot Institute Urges Caution in Light of New Revenue Projection
Race-based voting overturned in Guam — after six years
House Finance Committee Proposes Budget
Hawaii One of Seven Best States for Telemedicine
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 14, 2017
What are the Financial Benefits of a University of Hawaii Education?
Hawaii's case against Trump's travel ban, debunked
Musical Chairs: Takumi of Pearl City will now be in charge of Laughing at Anti-GMO activists
CB: After hours of closed-door wrangling, three House chairmanships are changed in a move opposed by at least nine lawmakers….
Some of McKelvey’s colleagues told Civil Beat over the weekend that some members were upset about his not consulting with them before pushing certain bills out of his committee, including a pesticide regulation bill last week….
McKelvey, a Maui Democrat, (HD10 Lahaina—deeply infested with anti-GMO activists) will now chair the Higher Education Committee. He replaces Justin Woodson, who moved to head the Education Committee.
Longtime Education Committee Chair Roy Takumi (HD35 Pearl City where there are no anti-GMO activists) takes the place of McKelvey chairing the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee….
Nine members voted “no” on a voice vote to make the changes: Republicans Cynthia Thielen, Andria Tupola, Gene Ward and Bob McDermott, and Democrats Sharon Har, Jimmy Tokioka, Isaac Choy, Sam Kong and Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say…..
read … McKelvey Booted From Chairmanship In Rare Mid-Session Shake-Up
House Shakeup Also Related to Superintendent Search?
SA: …In an effort to help ensure a fair search process, Kidani has introduced two resolutions (Senate Concurrent Resolution 140 and Senate Resolution 61) that urge the BOE “to restrict any person from applying for the position of superintendent of education if that person was a member of the Board of Education while the search and hiring process was developed or initiated.”
Rep. Roy Takumi, (AJA old boy crony of Ige) who had been the longtime chairman of the House Education Committee until a reorganization Monday, said he had hoped the BOE would use the break to restore public confidence in the process.
“It’s good that Board of Education hit the pause button,” Takumi said. “The real telling thing was when the Harold Castle Foundation took back their $50,000. That was highly unusual. They just felt that there was a perception that the process wasn’t quite transparent, it wasn’t quite open, and a lot of people have raised questions. This delay allows the board, hopefully, to reaffirm that they are committed to a process that is beyond reproach.” ….
MN: Last year Woodson had asked to lead the Education Committee, but the position wasn’t available at the time, he said. With the recent developments, he now heads an important committee that focuses on kindergarten to 12th-grade education…. Woodson said “I would like to see about ways in which we can better support our teachers.”
Galera: DOE needs a new leader, but I won’t apply
read … Shakeup
Crooked Charter School Principal Gets off Even Easier
SA: A state judge Monday dismissed a misdemeanor tampering charge against Myron B. Thompson Academy Principal Diana Oshiro, three months early.
Oshiro, 67, pleaded no contest in June to accusations that she authorized and backdated leave authorization forms for her sister, elementary school administrator Kurumi Kaapana-Aki. Instead of being sentenced, Oshiro was given the opportunity to avoid conviction by submitting to probationlike court supervision for a year.
The charge was to be dropped if she stayed out of trouble for that year….
Kaapana-Aki had pleaded no contest to tampering and felony theft. She has to complete five years of probationlike court supervision before she can have the charges dismissed but can ask for early dismissal after 2-1/2 years.
She was accused of working at her other job as a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant while on the clock and getting paid for her elementary administrator position.
read … Soft on Crime
Other Liberal States See Hawaii v Trump as a Joke—Join Washington v Trump Instead
AP: More than a half-dozen states trying to block President Trump’s revised travel ban moved forward Monday with a pair of lawsuits while the government asked that the order be allowed to take effect this week.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, joined in his lawsuit by heavily Democratic Oregon, California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, asked for a hearing with a federal judge in Seattle before the administration plans to implement the ban Thursday on new visas for people from six predominantly Muslim nations.
A hearing in a separate lawsuit by Hawaii (which the others want no part of) already has been scheduled for Wednesday….
In Hawaii, which is alone in its lawsuit, the U.S. government asked a federal court Monday to deny the state’s request to temporarily block the ban from going into effect.
A judge will hear arguments Wednesday, with the heavily Democratic state claiming the new order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students. Ismail Elshikh, a plaintiff in Hawaii’s challenge, said the ban will prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting.
The government says Hawaii’s allegations that the ban will negatively affect tourism and universities are pure speculation. It also says neither Elshikh nor his mother-in-law have been harmed because she has not been denied a waiver for a visa to visit the United States….
read … Intended to Fail
Dems Wish They Were Trump
AP: … "(Trump) had this message about fairness and unfairness that should be the bread-and-butter of the Democratic Party," Pete Buttigieg told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. "(Democrats) had fairness as a theme kind of stolen from us, I think, with devastating effect." ….
read … Democrats Wish They Were Trump
State Revenue Forecast Drops By $250 Million
CB: In the coming weeks Hawaii lawmakers will be wrestling (dealing) with ways to cut roughly $250 million from the state’s overall budget for the next two years thanks to lower than expected general fund revenues.
The state Council on Revenues on Monday lowered its general fund growth forecast to just 2.5 percent (from 3 percent) for fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30, and adjusted it down to 4 percent (from 5 percent) for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The council slightly increased the forecast to 4.5 percent (from 4.4 percent) for 2020 to 2023.
The panel of economists, accountants and others who meet quarterly to make their projections, which Gov. David Ige’s administration and the Legislature rely on to develop the state spending plan. General fund revenues for 2017 are now projected to come in at about $6 billion….
This was the council’s second consecutive quarterly where it downgraded its general fund growth forecast. In January, the council dropped its 5.5 percent expected growth rate for 2017 to 3 percent.
The council’s next meeting is in May, when it could adjust its forecast again.
read … State Revenue Forecast Drops By $250 Million
Hawaii among states with highest individual income tax collections per capita
PBN: Hawaii ranks No. 10 among states with the highest individual income tax collections per capita, according to a new study by the Tax Foundation.
The independent tax policy nonprofit listed Hawaii above the national average when it comes to state individual income tax collections per capita, with an average of $1,389 for fiscal year 2015. The national average is $967….
For the full report, click here.
KITV: Hawaii's tax withholding rate among the highest, study shows
read … High Taxes
Young Parents Stay Broke until Kids Reach High School Age
KGI: …More than half of Kauai’s students who eat school lunch receive free or reduced-priced meals.
Kauai’s mark of 52.7 percent is near the state average, 46.5 percent, according to the state Department of Education. In some cases, this is the only hot meal a child eats each day….
On Kauai and Niihau, nearly 50 percent of students eat school lunch. Reduced rate lunch is 40 cents, compared to the normal $2.50 for younger students and $2.75 for high schoolers.
“Not all families take advantage of it, but usually the participation rate is pretty high. It can be up to 80 or 90 percent participation for kids until high school, where it drops to 20 to 50 percent with the meal program,” Kishia said.
But free and reduced meals aren’t just for families and children living in poverty.
Subsidized lunches are available to children from families that earn up to $51,708, for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Meanwhile, families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents….
read … Subsidized Meals
Bills Dealing With Homeless Health
SR: …Senator Josh Green introduced a resolution that would have declared homelessness a medical condition in order to use Medicaid funds to help cover housing. The resolution did not pass but does build upon a national movement of linking housing to health. California’s and Washington’s1115 waivers address housing for the homeless population.
However, Green’s SB2, which requires the auditor to assess the impact of using Medicaid funds to provide coverage for the treatment of homelessness, passed unanimously though the Senate.
Another of Green’s bills, SB7 is still alive and would require the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health to pursue efforts to use federal Medicaid funding to provide the chronically homeless with housing services.
Out of Hawaii’s homeless population, 18 percent is considered chronically homeless, meaning they have a disabling condition and have been continuously homeless for at least one year or have experienced at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the last 3 years….
The legislature found that The Queen’s Medical Center lost more than $10 million in 2014 and 2015 caring for homeless patients. One unsheltered patient reportedly received treatment over 12,000 times during that period…..
Two more bills, HB527 and SB347, aim to offset health care costs and improve access to care with the creation of two mobile clinics to serve the homeless population….
read … Legislators tackle homeless health in Hawaii
Twenty First Century Utilities still interested in Hawaiian Electric, source says
PBN: …A source close to the situation tells Pacific Business News that Twenty First Century Utilities officials have had recent meetings with energy industry stakeholders in the state.
Rhoades Alderson, spokesman for Twenty First Century Utilities, told PBN that the company is actively in the market for regulated utilities that it can help transform into customer-centric networks of clean, low-cost, universally-accessible energy.….
“There have been a number of folks testing the waters who have been around for the last six months, perhaps in anticipation that NextEra would be denied,” state Rep. Chris Lee, D-Kailua-Waimanalo, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, previously told PBN….
read … Interested
Amid federal probe, wife of former police chief demoted at city prosecutor's office
HNN: Katherine Kealoha will no longer be the Division Director of the Career Criminal Unit at the city Prosecutor's Office.
Multiple sources confirm Kealoha will be demoted to team leader, one step below her current position.
She will be supervising fewer people and have a smaller role in decision making….
Katherine Kealoha's demotion takes effect at the end of the month. While it lowers her status, it does not affect her salary.
(Translation: Prosecutor is subsidizing her with an easier job so she can concentrate on finding the rats.)
read … Half-Way Measures?
Another Day, Another Crooked Cop
KITV: A military spokesperson said Le was arrested trying to shoplift multiple bottles of high prices fragrances.
He also had several credit cards and ID cards that didn’t belong to him.
Lee was said to have been found using his brother's military identification card.
He is charged with six felony counts.
They include second degree theft, forgery, third degree identify theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, credit card theft, and unauthorized use of confidential personal information.
The case was turned over to HPD since Le is a civilian and not in the military or in the reserves.…
KHON: The victim’s husband said Le opened a credit card under his wife’s name. Neither he nor his wife knew Le, who now lives in their former residence.
read … This is really getting ridiculous
$1M a Year to Dump Toxic Waste on Hawaii
KE: We've been hearing a lot recently about the “poisoning” of “paradise,” by which is meant Hawaii, using a term typically employed in tourism marketing.
After witnessing a slew of videos, “fake news” articles, misinformed “infographics,” inflammatory social media memes, biased workshops, poorly written legislative bills, demonstrations, media commentaries and Facebook rants, I'm beginning to think it's true.
Except the cause isn't, as has been claimed, agricultural pesticides. It's the mainland-based movement that is orchestrating this fear-mongering charade with the sole goal of destroying GMO seed production in Hawaii.
This movement is led in the Islands by the Center for Food Safety, which spends nearly $1 million per year on its Hawaii office. With lobbyist Ashley Lukens at the helm, it pumps out a steady stream of propaganda aimed primarily at spreading misinformation and fear….
We saw it most recently with the Hawaii House deliberations on HB 790, a broad and vaguely worded bill that would require agricultural pesticide disclosure, give counties authority over pesticide regulations and allow citizens to sue farms over pesticide applications.
After much jubilation as the bill moved through committees, the antis realized it was going to fall. That's when they turned vicious.
Kauai Rep. Dee Morikawa, whose district includes seed farms and the people who work for them, was honest about the bill's shortcomings. In a recent comment on this blog, she spoke of the attacks she suffered when she “spearheaded the death of this bill:”
I have just exposed myself to the Public about my position on HB790, through the local newspaper and wouldn't you know, I get ridiculed through comments and social media, not to mention the terrible phone calls and threats. Elected officials don't want to expose their positions, on this issue, because of this. I don't even look at Facebook anymore, because it hurts. After working for the County for 35 plus years, I chose this path because I wanted to help my community with policy and funding that would make for a better lifestyle. When I first introduced the disclosure bill in 2013, I was the hero, except that it wasn't good enough to this group. I'm glad that the good neighbor program was developed and that the study came out and I felt that here forward we could start to establish policy that would be workable by the Departments involved. I, unlike Mr. Hooser, do not believe in shoving policy at entities that cannot accomplish it. I dig deep within myself and ask, do I want to do this...then I realize that if I don't, who will fight against these fear-mongering people.
Maui Rep. Angus McKelvey tried catering to the antis, yet he still suffered their wrath….
Link: Frogs in a Wheelbarrow
read … Toxic Dump
More DOBOR Harassment Defeated
WHT: …On Monday in district court, Deputy Prosecutor Kori Weinberger said the prosecution moved to dismiss with prejudice because Pagett was in compliance with the insurance and the charge leveled against him by the Department of Land and Natural Resources didn’t apply.
For about 30 years, Pagett has been hosting biathlons, a swim/run event that is free to the public. They take place once a month.
Pagett was cited for operating a regatta, marine parade or boat race without a permit.
On Dec. 25, Pagett, 53, was advised prior to the Doc Ferren Hall of Fame Biathlon, the final race in the annual Frozen Pea Production event series, that a permit was necessary to hold the event. Peaman, according to the criminal complaint, told officers that he understood a permit was needed, but “it does not apply to him.”
After giving race instructions and holding the biathlon, in which more than 150 people took part, officers issued Pagett the citation for violating Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 13-244-19, which deals with authorization for staging a regatta, marine parade, boat race or exhibition….
Mitch Roth, Hawaii County prosecutor, said Pagett was not a boater and a regatta is not a swim meet.
Prior to enforcing rules, Roth said, the prosecutor’s office has instructed DLNR to contact them to see if citations they wish to issue apply.
“They arbitrarily make decisions where there shouldn’t be,” Roth said of DLNR….
read … ‘Peaman’ citation dismissed