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Monday, September 02, 2019
September 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:04 PM :: 1059 Views

Can Tulsi Gabbard Protect India's Government from Sanctions?

2019 Report: Fixed Wireline Broadband Speeds in Hawaii

Reopeners: Will State, Counties Boost Lowest Public Employees Pay to $15/hr?

SA: … State lawmakers … weighed but failed to pass a bill to establish a minimum wage of $12.50 an hour for employers who provide health coverage to their workers, and the floor wage of $15 per hour for employers who don’t provide health coverage.

The two-tiered proposal was dropped after the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations warned that it would create legal complications in connection with the state’s Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires employers to provide health coverage to any employee working at least 20 hours a week….

(The real purpose of the two-tier system was to avoid legislating a raise for UPW and HGEA in the middle of contract reopeners.  If all public employees get a raise to over $15/hr there would be no need to make an illegal $12.50/hr exception for employees who receive health benefits under prepaid.  So the real question posed by this Star-Adv editorial is will the State and other counties follow the HGEA Honolulu pattern outlined below.  It would be nice of then to spell it out, but they never do.  That’s why you are reading Hawai’i Free Press.)

read … Editorial: Hawaii’s workers could use a raise

DHHL Loans--Bumpy Kanahele pushing $400M Grift: AG Debunks Latest Round of Phony Political Hype

SA: … Representatives of Na Po‘e Kokua, a Hawaii nonprofit, say it was their group’s actions in the early 1990s that forced Bank of America to make the commitment after they uncovered discriminatory loan practices on Hawaiian home lands.

They now want the bank to pay a penalty of upward of $400 million to Na Po‘e Kokua, which they’ve quantified as the lost opportunity’s cost. That money, says Ian Chan Hodges, who is assisting the nonprofit, would then be used to build homes on Hawaiian home lands. They also want the bank to fulfill its $150 million lending commitment.

However, an Aug. 5 internal memo from state Deputy Attorney General Ryan Kanaka‘ole to Maui County Deputy Prosecutor Peter Hanano indicates that the state isn’t in a position to pursue the bank.

“As far as any changes on the issue re: BoA’s $150M Commitment. There have been no changes in our position — that there are no legal bases for the state to pursue BoA on its past pronouncements regarding loans to native Hawaiians,” wrote Kanaka‘ole….

Bank of America officials estimated in 1994 that it would be able to make 400 loans annually averaging $125,000 over the course of three to four years, according to a Honolulu Advertiser story from the time.

But bank officials told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last month that they encountered challenges: DHHL lacked the volume of available lots and homes to make the loans in sufficient quantities; beneficiaries sought out loans from different banks; and sometimes beneficiaries couldn’t meet the qualifications set by the federal government for specialized loans on DHHL lands.

Federal Housing Administration 247 loans were set up specifically for Hawaiian home lands, where beneficiaries acquire 99-year leases rather than fee-simple properties. The loans are easier to qualify for than in the general market, and there is little risk for the institution making the loan because it’s backed by the federal government.

“Years into the process, we looked and said we are not getting the volume that we hoped for and we wanted to achieve,” said Dan Letendre, a lending and investing executive with Bank of America.

Letendre said bank officials worked with DHHL to find other ways to satisfy the commitment, which included providing millions in construction financing to build new homes. They provided startup funding and financing to a Native Hawaiian-led nonprofit called Hawaiian Community Assets which worked with beneficiaries to help them qualify for FHA-247 loans, including improving their credit scores and saving money for a down payment. The bank also continued to make its own FHA-247 loans.

In total, Bank of America made about $13 million in FHA-247 loans.

HCA officials have confirmed that Bank of America provided startup funding and helped originate another $45 million in FHA-247 loans.

In a 2007 letter to Bank of America, former DHHL Deputy Director Ben Henderson formally acknowledged that the bank had satisfied the $150 million commitment….

Brandon Maka‘awa‘awa, vice president of Na Po‘e Kokua, said he wasn’t satisfied by Bank of America’s explanation….

read … State won’t pursue bank on $150M loan commitment to Hawaiian Home Lands

Espero: Child Molester probation sentence a travesty of justice

SA: The decision to not give former police officer Teddy Van Lebergerhe prison time for sexual assault of a minor is one of the worse judicial decisions in recent years (“Former Honolulu police officer gets probation in sex assault of 5-year-old girl,” Star-Advertiser, Aug. 27).

Even though the prosecutor, judge and parents of the victim agreed to the sentence, it is sending the wrong message to perverts and pedophiles in our community. These criminals need to be incarcerated, and held accountable for their evil deeds.

Probation is a slap in the face to the victim, and coddles the offender. How dare the justice system allow such a travesty to occur. The public is outraged at this foolishness and nonsense. Laws need to be changed and made stronger to protect our children and families….

read … Will Espero

Concerned parents say HPV vaccine shouldn't be mandatory for school immunization

KITV: … "It helps fight infections particularly affect men and women who are sexually active but the important part is it actually protects young people even before they're sexually active," Courtney Tanigawa, ARNP, Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center, said.

It's usually given to keiki between age 9 to 14. Starting next school year, it'll be required for students 7th grade and older to have the two doses. Dr. Christina Wang says it's a great way to stay protected because of its 97 percent effectiveness….

"It's not something we have to worry about having an outbreak with. There hasn't been an outbreak among adults. I doubt they'll be an outbreak with my children who are not having sex," Lindsey Yost, a concerned parent, said.

Another parent, who's also a registered nurse, says she's concerned by the results from the shot's clinical trials. One result reports almost 250 out of about 10,000 participants, that's almost 2.5 percent of women aged 9 to 26 felt severe health effects like autoimmune diseases. She says those risks outweigh the benefits. 

"Parents should be able to say no. Every other medical intervention were afforded informed consent and the right to decline if we decide that the risk benefit analysis ratio isn't right for us," Carla Favata, RN, Hawaii for Informed Consent member, said….

Related: DoH: New school immunization requirements

read … Concerned parents say HPV vaccine shouldn't be mandatory for school immunization

Water panel OKs permit to remove some EMI diversions

MN: … The state water commission has given East Maui Irrigation Co. the go-ahead to to take down the next series of stream diversions that it once used to transport water to the central valley to feed sugar cane crops.

On Thursday, the state Commission on Water Resource Management approved a permit for EMI to remove and abandon 11 diversions on the Honopou, Hanehoi (Puolua) and Pi’ina’au (Palauhulu) streams.

“I think we all should understand that this is a work in progress,”commissioner Paul Meyer said. “It’s very difficult if not impossible to try to put four corners on an extensive and very involved project like this. And I think we need to count on the staff and commission to continue to follow the situation as it evolves and as the work is completed.”

The approval is the latest step in a long process to remove the many diversions that EMI’s parent company, Alexander & Baldwin, relied on for more than a century to draw water from East Maui streams for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. operations in Central Maui.

In June 2018, the commission ordered full restoration to 10 of those streams and limited or no diversions for another seven streams. A&B divided the restoration work into four categories, each requiring extensively more work in order to restore stream flow, commission staff explained earlier this year.

Categories 1 and 2 each include 15 diversions that A&B plans to abandon. Category 3 includes 11 diversions and category 4 includes 29 diversions that A&B already has stopped using but needs formal permitting to abandon.

EMI Operations Manager Mark Vaught said Thursday that Category 1 is almost done and will likely be finished by the end of September. Category 2 will start after and is projected to be finished by March 31. (It has a permit but needs a final check with the state Department of Health, Clean Water Branch before field work can start.) Work on Category 3 will take place from March 31 to September 2020. A&B officials cautioned that this was an “optimistic”timeline.

The permit that the commission approved Thursday was for Category 3….

read … Water panel OKs permit to remove some EMI diversions

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