After Appealing to Supreme Court, State Wins Right to Forcibly Medicate Psycho Killer
SB501: House Set to Vote on Bill Forcing Pro-Life Centers to Promote Abortion
City taxpayers in for bevy of tax, fee raises
SA: As expected, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposed assortment of tax hikes and fee increases is turning out to be a tough sell.
Two problematic proposals — a fee for residential curbside trash pickup and a bump in “per-gallon” automotive fuel tax — are already slipping off the City Council’s Budget Committee roster…..
Among the revenue raisers still under consideration are increases to the city’s motor vehicle weight tax; parking meter rates in Waikiki; nonresident admission to Honolulu Zoo; and increasing golf course fees on nonresidents only. Also, Caldwell’s proposed $2.45 billion operating budget for fiscal 2018 calls for tax rate increases for the hotel-resort and Residential A tax classifications, but holds the standard residential rate at $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed value….
Among the bills still moving is one that would lift the vehicle weight tax to 6 cents per pound from 5 cents by 2018, then to 7 cents by 2019. The penny hike on passenger vehicles would give city coffers an additional $25 million annually…..
All of this adds up to generating cash for basic services as well as the growing cost of salaries, pensions and other benefits for employees, which make up about one-fifth of the operating budget. Increases are expected in pay and benefits because most of the city’s employee union contracts are up for negotiation….
read … City taxpayers in for bevy of tax, fee raises
Dead in the Water: Bumbling Ige Petty, Political, Lacks Imagination
Shapiro: …Tsutsui is bailing from the state’s No. 2 job mainly because he’s bored.
He’s bored because Gov. David Ige has put him on ice with little to do, for reasons that appear political and petty….
Ige inherited Tsutsui from former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, whom he ousted in 2014; the two were in rival factions when they served together in the state Senate….
It’s not as if Ige couldn’t use the help, with many of his priorities dead in the water and poor relations with the Legislature.
For instance, the governor has barely moved the needle on his pledge to end homelessness in Hawaii by 2020 and build 10,000 new affordable homes by then….
Would the bumbling transition to privatized Maui hospitals have gone more smoothly if Tsutsui had been more involved on an issue of critical importance to his home island?
Ige looks especially bad following four governors — Abercrombie, Linda Lingle, Ben Cayetano and John Waihee — who gave their No. 2s meaningful portfolios….
Tsutsui has handled the snub with reasonable class, resisting what must be a powerful temptation to publicly bad-mouth Ige or go rogue while in charge during the governor’s frequent out-of-state trips.
That Ige can’t find something useful for his LG to do is but another example of his lack of imagination….
read … Ige ices out state’s No. 2 despite clear need for help
Homeless Tweekers Burning H-1: Officials ‘Concerned’, Urge ‘Mindfulness’
SA: …Below the H-1 viaduct Wednesday morning, a kiawe-fueled fire burned below thousands of commuters — a daily event that has some Oahu lawmakers concerned about the possibility of a disaster under Honolulu’s highways and bridges.
Uncounted fires — often fed by compressed propane and camping fuel — burn in illegal homeless encampments morning through night across Oahu.
Worries about fires beneath Oahu’s highways and bridges have grown after a homeless man in Atlanta was charged with arson and other crimes for allegedly setting a blaze on March 30 that triggered the dramatic collapse of a well-traveled section of Interstate 85, leading to gridlock.
According to media reports, Basil Eleby, 39, has limited mental abilities and an extensive criminal background. On March 30, Eleby allegedly put a chair on top of a shopping cart and set it on fire while smoking crack cocaine during the rush-hour commute.
The fire ignited construction materials that eventually triggered an explosion that brought down the elevated section of I-85. No one was injured.
Councilman Joey Manahan represents an area that includes the airport viaduct and nearby Iwilei, where he regularly sees fires burning amid wooden pallets and pressurized fuel containers.
“It is very dangerous,” Manahan said. “It’s a huge concern.”
“Underneath the viaduct, especially, I see people burning their garbage to try to dispose of it,” Manahan said. “These fires, if left unattended or if they haven’t been put out properly, can certainly spread throughout an encampment pretty quickly given the amount of pallets and other flammable materials and accelerants that we’ve found underneath the encampments at the Nimitz viaduct and in Iwilei.”
Following the I-85 collapse, Hawaii’s Department of Transportation reminded its inspectors and staff who work in offices and base yards below DOT bridges “to be mindful of identifying potential hazards during their daily operations.”….
Mindfulness. Yes, that’s the solution, LOL!
read … Concern grows over fires at homeless camps under roads and bridges
Red light cameras could soon be a reality in Hawaii, but major concerns remain
KHON: The Public Defenders Office opposes the idea. They say taxpayers would end up footing the bill for a system that couldn’t pay for itself….
Of course one common objection is how and when the cameras would take a photo….
Panos Prevodouros, Chair of the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UH says a typical yellow light is three seconds, followed by a full second of red. “But some places they allow you to take the three seconds but then once the extra second of all red comes up they give you a ticket, which is by engineering standard illegal so the possibility of cheating is very much there.”
According to AAA most red light camera studies do show reductions in traffic crashes, cutting down on t-bone type crashes.
But to go with that reduction, comes a rise in rear end collisions, and Prevodouros says the cameras don’t affect accidents caused by distracted driving, or people that are intoxicated. “So no matter how many threats you put with red light camera etc. that’s not going to solve it because at that time you’re not paying attention.” ….
read … Red light cameras could soon be a reality in Hawaii, but major concerns remain
State Can’t Come up with Enough Money for Affordable Housing
KITV: …“The State Legislature and the Governor have put money in the budget for affordable housing. The House and the Senate have both slashed the Governor's ask by half." Said Catherine Graham, Co-Chair of The Housing Now Coalition.
The set budgets from the two houses of Legislature aren't high enough to allow sufficient affordable housing to be developed.
“We’re asking people to call in their State Legislatures and please ask them to put in more money for affordable housing.” Said Graham.
Graham says at least 2,000 affordable rental units need to be built a year, in order to keep up with the mandate the Legislature gave last year….
read … Affordable housing advocates
Hawaii County Council Wants to keep Slush Fund
HTH: …in the past two years, several hundred small grants have been distributed through the program, covering a wide range of services or events, from parades to homeless shelter beds.
But some expenditures have a more clear public benefit than others. And not all go to providing services. (But they all go to buy votes!)
A Tribune-Herald review of grants since 2015 showed council members dipping into their Contingency Relief funds to provide $10,000 to help a lower Puna retreat center start a grocery store, $4,000 for an entry sign at the Hawaii Island Humane Society and $4,500 for tree trimming at an exotic animal sanctuary.
The nine-member council received $810,000 this fiscal year, or $90,000 each. Mayor Harry Kim is proposing to cut the funds in the next budget to zero.
The funds can go to any nonprofit or to a county department. Most go to the private groups through county agencies.
Council members Karen Eoff and Maile David provided the funds for the Humane Society sign and tree trimming at the Three Ring Ranch, an animal sanctuary near Kailua-Kona, from their contingency accounts in 2015….
HTH: Discretionary funds on chopping block: Mayor wants to eliminate program; council members defend it
read … Reelect Me Money
Doctor Shortage Grows Worse on Sister Isles
MN: While the shortage of doctors statewide has improved, it grew worse on the Neighbor Islands in 2016, including Maui County, according to a University of Hawaii report to the state Legislature.
And the lack of experienced medical care is not expected to improve anytime soon with retirement age approaching for 31 percent of Hawaii’s physician workforce, the Hawai’i Physician Workforce Assessment says. Within 10 years, 52 percent of doctors in the islands will be 65 years old or older.
In a similar report issued in January 2015, Maui County patients needed the equivalent of 385.7 full-time doctors, based on a census population of about 160,000. At that time, there were 305.98 physicians treating patients, leaving a shortage of 79.72, or 21 percent.
Late last year, that shortage was reported to have grown to 101.71 full-time doctors, or 25.3 percent. Maui County’s estimated population was increased to 165,386, generating a demand for 401.9 full-time doctors, but with only 300.19 available.
(Full-time equivalent figures for physician supply and demand are often fractions in the study because many doctors have multiple specialties or may serve patients on multiple islands, among other reasons.)
The overall statewide shortage was 500 doctors, according to the report.
The highest demand in Maui County last year was for primary care physicians, with the need put at 146.7 doctors. The report says there were only 112.32 doctors available at the time of the study, leaving a shortage of 34.38 physicians, or 23.4 percent.
The second-highest demand was for doctors practicing emergency medicine. The county’s need was put at 26.3 doctors, but only 14.9 were available, a shortfall of 11.4, or 43.3 percent.
In the specialty of psychiatry, there was a countywide demand for 22.9 physicians, but there were only 12.59 doctors treating mental health, leaving a deficit of 10.31, or 45 percent.
The university’s John A. Burns School of Medicine Area Health Center prepares the physician workforce assessment annually for lawmakers….
MN: Kaiser encouraging job applicants as July hospitals transition nears
read … Shortage
Hawaii Healthcare Leaders Still Hope National Republicans Will Save Them from Obamacare
SA: …Michael Stollar is president and chief operating officer of the Hawaii Medical Services Association…
HMSA has been running scenarios for what it would do in the event that the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” really does go down for the count.
For example, Stollar said, the company has mulled what would happen should the Republican campaign for its replacement, the American Health Care Act, eventually allows the sale of insurance across state lines.
“We’re not inherently against the sale across state lines,” Stollar said. “Our concern is around the rules and regs: Which state’s rules and regs would apply?
“But there is a fairly strong push to allow states the flexibility to do what they need,” he added. “Then we would hope they would kind of leave Hawaii the way it is.”
In Hawaii, “the way it is” includes at least a template that brings a little order to the confusion. Predating the ACA and the AHCA by four decades was the state’s Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires all Hawaii employers to provide coverage to workers putting in at least 20 hours a week…..
Also watching the health-care ebb and flow in the nation’s capital is Judy Mohr-Peterson, the state’s Medicaid program director who is also vice president of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
There were regulations finalized in the last year of the Obama administration that some of these directors would like to revisit, and the signals from the current administration is that there could be flexibility here, she said. These include rules about home- and community-based settings such as assisted living facilities and care homes.
“The rules are very prescriptive,” she said. “Medicaid programs across the country would appreciate some dialogue about those rules.” ….
read … Obamacare
Rate Hike Coming to Buy Surrogates to Produce Children for Homosexuals
AP: Mr Sean Smith and his husband paid more than $20,000 for a fertility procedure when they decided to have a child using a surrogate mother. They did not know at the time that if they were a heterosexual couple, they might have saved that money….
(Now the legislature is going to make you pay for it.)
SB502: Text, Status
read … Children Will Receive Training
SCR16: Private Sector Retirement Plan
SA: At age 61, Don Watt is trying to save money so he can retire.
He’s working for a property management company while living paycheck to paycheck in senior affordable housing. So there’s little money left over to put into a personal IRA, and his company doesn’t offer a 401(k) or IRA savings plan. Like 216,000 other Hawaii employees, about half of private-sector workers, Watts doesn’t have the option of deducting money from his paycheck to save for retirement.
The Hawaii Legislature is looking at taking the first steps to help people like Watt save and help small businesses provide a simple, inexpensive way to help their workers better prepare for retirement.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 16, SD2 would create a work group to look at ways the state can facilitate retirement savings. States already offer 529 college savings plans, which help parents build a nest egg for their kid’s college expenses. State-facilitated retirement savings plans would work in a similar way….
SCR16SD2: “Examine other retirement savings programs and incentives that include but are not limited to state-sponsored retirement savings programs in California, Oregon, and Maryland and private marketplace plans in Washington, Utah, and New Jersey”
read … Workers need better retirement path
Senate Votes: State to Invade Your Property Murder Your Cats and Trees
SA: Sponsors said albizia trees are the main species of foliage to be exterminated. State officials would give landowners at least five days’ notice before beginning eradication….
The Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization that specializes in animal welfare, opposed the bill because of concerns it might affect cat populations.
Peter Wolf, cat initiatives analyst for the group, wrote that the policies outlined in HB 606 “are not only direct threats to cats — owned and unowned alike — but also likely to have a chilling effect on sterilization programs used to effectively and humanely manage ‘feral’ cat populations throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”….
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on March 29 by a vote of 3-0, with two abstentions. The measure now goes to the full Senate…..
HB606: Text, Status
read … Invasive species land-access bill is headed for Senate vote
Politically Connected Dude Fights With Airport Security, Now Seeks Retaliation
SA: (HSTA member) Shawn James-Leavey … left his car — with hazard lights flashing — in a passenger loading zone at Kona International Airport on a recent Tuesday night to see his girlfriend off. When the Big Island resident returned to his vehicle roughly 10 minutes later, an armed security officer was writing a citation.
James-Leavey told the man he was leaving, jumped in the car and started it. But the armed man, who wasn’t in a police uniform but had a vest that said “airport police,” ordered James-Leavey to stop and reached inside the open window to grab the keys, according to the Big Island resident.
“I do not consent to you entering my vehicle,” James-Leavey said he told the armed man, pushing away his hand. “You are not a police officer. You are Securitas.”
The officer worked for Securitas Security Services USA, the private company that the state Department of Transportation pays $43 million annually for security at Hawaii airports.
“I didn’t treat him like a cop because he didn’t look like one,” said the schoolteacher, thankful that the situation didn’t escalate into a full-blown confrontation. “He looked like a security guard.”
James-Leavey is among individuals, legislators and union representatives who question the role that armed Securitas personnel play at the airports in the wake of the fatal shooting last month of a pet dog by one of those officers. The shooting occurred at Honolulu International Airport and is under investigation….
Best Comment: “what is the problem here! to me that guard did his job, the owners of the dog was wrong. this teacher on the big island was WRONG for leaving his car unattended and he acts like a lawyer, give me a f n break, hey kona teacher, you making a good role model for your students. you just taught your students that you don't need to follow the law you idiot. and you cry that the guard was doing his job. you just thought you are above the law and could just drive off, what an idiot.”
HGEA Police: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President
read … Political Connections Pay Off
Will Mauna Kea ‘World Park’ Be Enough to Buy off Protesters?
HTH: Mayor Harry Kim on Saturday continued to promote his vision of a Mauna Kea “World Park,” announcing that Gov. David Ige has lent his support to the mayor’s vision for the mountain and that he is “pursuing how this can be done.”
Although the plan is still light on specifics for the park itself, Kim said the first step is figuring out exactly how the park could become a reality.
“I do want you to know that the governor said that I can express that he is part of these missions,” the mayor told attendees at the International Lunar Observatory Association Galaxy Forum 2017. “He accepts these missions of what he would like to see of Mauna Kea.” ….
The park’s creation wouldn’t affect any potential development of the Thirty Meter Telescope, saying the issue is to make the telescope “fit into this vision.”
During a panel discussion, Doug Simons, director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, called Kim “the real deal,” saying that he immediately connected with the proposal and calling it “intrinsically inclusive.”
“And it’s exactly aligned with where I think we need to go with all of this,” he added.
Donald Straney, chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo stressed the importance of considering Mauna Kea holistically….
Reality: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money
read … Will This Buy off the Protesters?