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Monday, June 17, 2019
June 17, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:43 PM :: 1148 Views

After Lying to Legislature OHA Shoots Messenger--and Misses

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 16, 2019

Economic Well-Being of Children: Hawaii Ranks 34th 

Splitting Oahu Into More Counties Might Not Be A Bad Idea

CB: …there have been calls off and on through the years to divide Oahu into multiple counties – say, for example, a Kailua County and a Honolulu County….

To say that the centralized municipal government running Oahu is out of touch would be an understatement. We need responsive government right in the community where things are happening and where every person is a stakeholder.

Dividing Oahu into smaller counties would immediately give more power to the residents in each area and give people a reason to get involved. More importantly, it would put more tax money back into each community, as every part of the island could essentially determine what level of taxation would be appropriate for the government services needed there.

If Kailua residents want stricter regulations concerning vacation rentals or the environment, a Kailua county government could adopt them without inconveniencing residents in places like Pearl City or Waipahu. Government should always be scaled and appropriate for what people in each region need, rather than serving as a one-size-fits-all monopoly enforcer.

This also would reduce the power of special interests who often play a game of electoral checkers by stacking our City Council with people fixated on a single niche policy. With multiple counties, elected officials are more accountable to smaller populations whose ire against government non-responsiveness or indifference can be felt more palpably….

read … Splitting Oahu Into More Counties Might Not Be A Bad Idea

Contributions grow as vacation rental bills advance

SA: … A campaign fundraiser held last fall for Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson was hosted by vacation rental platform giant Airbnb at its downtown San Francisco headquarters….

A Honolulu Star-Advertiser review of campaign finance records over the last 2-1/2 years shows that Council members have received contributions both from major donors who support and would benefit from the bills, and from heavy hitters who oppose and would be negatively affected….

Councilman Tommy Waters, who beat incumbent Trevor Ozawa in April in a court-ordered do-over election, benefited from union political action committee AiKea Unite Here doling out more than $150,000 in campaign ads that supported Waters or opposed Ozawa….

The Committee to Expand the Middle Class, Supported by Airbnb Inc., has contributed to the campaigns of six of the nine current Council members. Anderson has received $4,000, the maximum allowed during a campaign cycle.

Hawaii campaign financing laws say anything of value given to a candidate must be reported as a campaign contribution.

An Airbnb spokesman said the space used for the Anderson fundraiser is simply part of the company’s office space and is not leased or rented out, and so its use as a campaign venue has no monetary value.

Since June 2017 the Committee to Expand the Middle Class also has contributed to the campaign committees of Council members Carol Fukunaga ($4,000), Ann Kobayashi (2,500), Kymberly Pine ($3,500) and Heidi Tsuneyoshi ($2,000).

The political action committee also contributed $2,500 to the campaign of former Councilman Trevor Ozawa during his 2018 run, and then an additional $4,000 during this year’s special election campaign.

Executives with Capitol Consultants of Hawaii, among Hawaii’s most powerful lobbying firms, have been lobbying on behalf of Airbnb. Headed by President Bruce Coppa and founder G.A. “Red” Morris, the group has donated to all current Council members except Kobayashi and Tsuneyoshi.

But vacation rental proponents argue that all pales in comparison with the $152,218 that the AiKea PAC spent on a media blitz that praises Waters and disses Ozawa.

The PAC is funded by Unite Here Tip, Local 5’s New York-based parent organization, as well as Ironworkers for Better Government and the Bricklayers Local 1 Political Action Committee. Federal campaign law allows a so-called super PAC to spend as much as it can to support or oppose a campaign so long as it does not coordinate with a campaign and does not contribute directly to a candidate.

A number of major hotel chains have also given money to Council members’ campaigns since the beginning of 2017.

The Outrigger Hotels PAC has given to Anderson ($2,000), Brandon Elefante ($2,000), Fukunaga ($1,900), Kobayashi ($2,800), Joey Manahan (2,000), Ron Menor ($1,000), Pine ($2,000), and Tsuneyoshi ($1,000). The PAC also gave Ozawa $3,000 while Outrigger Hotels Hawaii gave Waters ($1,000).

Park Hotels and Resorts or Park Intermediate Holdings, both affiliates of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, gave to Anderson ($4,000), Elefante ($4,000), Fukunaga ($4,000), Kobayashi ($4,000), Manahan ($4,000), Menor ($4,000), Ozawa ($4,000) and Pine ($4,000) but not to Tsuneyoshi and Waters.

Benchmark Hospitality, affiliated with Turtle Bay Resort, gave to Anderson ($500), Elefante ($500), Ozawa ($500), Pine ($500) and Tsuneyoshi ($500).

All three have supported legislation regulating vacation rentals but also lobbied unsuccessfully to fight Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s hike in hotel-resort property tax rates.

The Resort Group, the company that’s developing Ko Olina Resort, has been quiet publicly during the vacation rental discussion. But it would also benefit from stricter regulations. Several Ko Olina executives, headed by developer Jeff Stone, have contributed to Anderson, Manahan, Ozawa, Pine and Tsuneyoshi….

read … Contributions grow as vacation rental bills advance

Kealoha Trial Resumes—New Lawyer joins Defense

HPR: … Katherine Kealoha's current attorney, Cynthia Kagiwada, said co-counsel Earle Partington isn't taxpayer-funded. She declined to say who is paying for him or if he's working pro bono. Partington couldn't immediately be reached for comment while the trial was in session.

Partington stood as U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright introduced him to the jury. Seabright instructed the jurors not to consider the addition of a new lawyer when deciding on their verdict.….

read … Kealoha Trial Resumes

Honolulu and D.C. could soon join global warming-litigation craze

LNL: … several governments - including the cities of New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Baltimore and Boulder, Colorado; one state, Rhode Island; and counties in California and Washington - have filed suit against oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP.

The plaintiffs have hired private lawyers (mostly at Hagens Berman and Sher Edling) on contingency fees and allege the companies knew from the 1970s that the extraction of fossil fuels had a direct impact on the climate. They want the companies to pay for the cost of mitigation of rising sea levels and other impacts associated with climate change.

Federal courts have thrown out two actions taken by New York City and jointly by San Francisco and Oakland. They are appealing.

In the California case, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, found that the issue of climate change “deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case."

But these setbacks have not deterred other officials from considering action, with Washington, D.C. recently publishing a request for bids from attorneys to act for the city in an action specifically naming Exxon.

Honolulu is also reported to be considering action….

Exxon has detailed what it believes is a concerted campaign to drag it and other companies into the courts. On its website, the company dates this campaign to a meeting of environmental activists and class action lawyers at a conference in La Jolla, California, in 2012.

Activists wanted to "use litigation to gain access to internal energy industry documents on climate change, in hopes of creating scandal that would force a settlement similar in scope to the one reached with Big Tobacco," the website states.

One of the first was taken by then-New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who (before resigning amid scandal) pursued Exxon, claiming it misled investors about its knowledge of how much man-made emissions had an effect on the climate.

This was denied by Exxon, which, in one brief to a New York Supreme Court, described Schneiderman's complaint as one "filled with inflammatory, reckless, and false allegations" of an “ongoing fraudulent scheme” and “sham” business practices.

In what is continuing litigation, last week New York Supreme Court Judge Barry Ostrager in Manhattan dismissed a number of Exxon's defenses in the case, including that Schneiderman was involved in "official misconduct" as part of an "activist agenda." Its remaining defense centers on the accusation the attorney general singled out Exxon and acted in bad faith, according to a report in Bloomberg…..

Honolulu is hosting the United Conference of Mayors later this month and into July. Climate and the alleged responsibility of fossil fuel companies is either on the agenda or among the resolutions to be voted on….

read … Honolulu and D.C. could soon join global warming-litigation craze

Potent pot, vulnerable teens trigger concerns in first states to legalize marijuana

WaPo: … Though the legal purchase age is 21 in Colorado and Washington, parents, educators and physicians say youths are easily getting hold of edibles infused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component that causes a high, and concentrates such as “shatter,” a brittle, honey-colored substance that is heated and then inhaled through a special device.

Each poses serious risks to adolescents’ physical and mental health.

“Underage kids have unbelievable access to nuclear-strength weed,” said Andrew Brandt, a Boulder, Colo., software executive whose son got hooked while in high school….

With some marijuana products averaging 68 percent THC — exponentially greater than the pot baby boomers once smoked — calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency rooms have risen. In the Denver area, visits to Children’s Hospital Colorado facilities for treatment of cyclic vomiting, paranoia, psychosis and other acute cannabis-related symptoms jumped to 777 in 2015, from 161 in 2005….

“Horrible things are happening to kids,” said psychiatrist Libby Stuyt, who treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health impacts of high-potency marijuana. “I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety.”…

… Washington’s latest Healthy Youth Survey showed 20 percent of eighth-graders and nearly half of seniors “perceive little risk of regular marijuana use.” Many teens consider it less risky than alcohol or cigarettes.

As more than a dozen states from Hawaii to New Hampshire consider legalizing marijuana, doctors warn of an urgent need for better education — not just of teens but of parents and lawmakers — about how the products being marketed can significantly affect young people’s brain development.

The limited scientific research to date shows that earlier and more frequent use of high-THC cannabis puts adolescents at greater jeopardy of substance use disorders, mental health issues and poor school performance.

read … Potent pot, vulnerable teens trigger concerns in first states to legalize marijuana

Kupuna Caregivers Program a Test Run for Long Term Care Insurance

C: Nearly a decade after federal officials discarded a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would have provided Americans with long-term care insurance benefits, two states — Washington and Hawaii — are experimenting with taxpayer-funded plans to help older residents remain in their homes.

Washington state’s ambitious plan, signed into law in May, will employ a new 0.58% payroll tax (or “premium,” as policymakers prefer to call it) to fund a $36,500 benefit for individuals to pay for home health care, as well as other services — from installing grab bars in the shower to respite care for family caregivers.

Hawaii’s Kupuna Caregivers Program, which was initiated in 2017, is also publicly funded, but state budget allocations limit enrollment and benefits. It provides up to $210 a week for services when family caregivers work outside the home at least 30 hours a week.

Other state policymakers are closely watching both experiments because, as seniors account for a greater proportion of the American population, the need for long-term care will increase….

read … States are experimenting with ways to help seniors age in their homes

Guam Abortions Reduced 99%

CNA: … There have only two or three Guam women given abortions in Hawaii since last year, and none was an elective procedure, an OB-GYN and University of Hawaii professor told the AP.

Guam's public health department received reports of an average of 246 abortions annually between 2007 and 2017. Since the 2018 retirement of Dr. William Freeman, none have been reported.

The Pacific Daily News reported that the territory is in need of more foster families. It said a recent bill introduced to improve foster care noted that in May, there were 270 children in foster placement, and 37 licensed foster families….

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, a former nurse who took office in January, recently expressed her wish to expand abortion access in the territory, but no doctors on the island are willing to perform abortions. The territory's last abortion doctor retired in June 2018.

The island's government is also offering waivers and discounts for contraception through a public health clinic….

(NOTE: Nobody noticed this problem for a year.)

GPDN: Residents split on Adelup's recruitment of abortion doctor

read … Down by 99%

State lawmaker wants to take away licenses from drivers with 2+ violations in a moving vehicle

HNN: … Wakai says he doesn't think there will be much opposition to the idea because drivers who obey the rules would have nothing to worry about. Non-profit group Hawaii Bicycling League talks about ways to keep pedestrians safe. It says driving is a privilege.

"People who are gonna choose to make bad decisions and put others at risk, there needs to be enforcement to get them to comply," Daniel Alexander, Hawaii Bicycling League said. …

read … State lawmaker wants to take away licenses from drivers with 2+ violations in a moving vehicle

The state’s first Veterans Summit aims to bridge generational boundaries for the benefit of all veterans

CB: … The first Hawaii Veterans Summit is scheduled for June 21-22 at the Hawaii Convention Center. The summit provides an opportunity to explore programs and benefits, as well as connecting veterans with more than 50 different veterans groups, potential educational outlets, employers and mental and physical health providers.

The summit is currently sold out at 500 veterans. Organizers suggest verifying attendance before going ….

read … Generation Gap: Older Vets Seek To Hand Off Advocacy To Young Vets

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