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Sunday, December 01, 2019
December 1, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:10 PM :: 1621 Views

OHA Policy Should Not Discourage Trustees from Speaking Out

OHA Seeks Volunteer Board Manager to Oversee LLC

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 30, 2019

TANF: $281M Federal Money We Haven’t Spent

Kaiser at risk of Bankruptcy?

SA: … Ron Vance, the new president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Hawaii region, painted a dire financial picture to employees in a recent memo, which detailed the reality that the health plan is losing “substantial amounts of money every year,” continues to “fall behind our competition on affordability, access, convenience and member experience” with “no plan to achieve sustainable growth.”…

“For more than 60 years, Kaiser Permanente has been at the forefront of patient-led care in Hawaii, but changes in the market have challenged the way we operate and conduct business,” he said in the letter. “As a result, our finances have been trending in the wrong direction for some time.”

“We have no clear path to a positive balance sheet — and without this, we won’t be able to continue delivering the kind of care and service our patients and members expect and deserve,” he added….

The health plan recorded a staggering year-to-date loss of $88 million in the third quarter and is projecting a loss that “could be substantially higher” in 2020, Vance said.

“This is unsustainable,” he said, adding that Kaiser’s national program office has had to lend the region nearly $400 million over the past several years.

In its attempt to achieve financial sustainability Kaiser has delayed about $370 million of maintenance and capital projects, Vance said, adding that the backlog and building for the future could cost more than $2 billion….

“It costs more to purchase health care policies from us compared with our competitors. And the difference can be significant,” he said. “This is not how we want to serve our community. We need to reduce our costs and improve our margins so that we can fulfill our mission of offering high quality care at an affordable, market-competitive price.”…

Paul Tom, president of Benefit Plan Solutions, an employee benefit consulting firm that works with large employers and trust funds covering about 50,000 employees and their dependents, said other health plans have become much more competitive than Kaiser in recent years. That’s due in part to Kaiser members not being able to get the doctors of their choice and appointments in a timely manner…. 

SA Editorial: Kaiser members worry

PDF: Letter to Kaiser employees

read … Kaiser president bemoans insolvency in memo

Future Windfarm Proposals Doomed by Community Opposition?

SA: …Utilities and policymakers now must examine whether the state’s green-energy goals are within reach.

Regulators are already starting that process by ordering a management audit of Hawaiian Electric. Co., which is the right stance at this stage….

Current events suggest there could be more vehement opposition to projects — especially wind energy.

That’s become clear enough with the heated protests mounted against Na Pua Makani, the Kahuku windfarm project that’s already begun the construction process for eight turbines nearly 570 feet tall, cited as the tallest in the nation….

The windfarm opponents may have adopted the stance of the Mauna Kea “kia‘i,” but haven’t yet enjoyed their success. AES has managed to get its turbines transported to the site, whereas the telescope consortium still awaits any official act to clear access to the TMT’s summit location.

Still, the combination of blockades, convoys and other high-profile demonstrations appears to have raised the threshold of what demonstrations might be expected of projects seen by the community as intrusive. AES still could face legal hurdles, though it is pressing ahead, despite any potential risk of a work-stoppage.

Should there be wind projects in the final list of HECO’s large-scale push for green energy, however, their proponents might not have the same resolve.

Wind has figured in the utility’s Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP), a blueprint filed with the Public Utilities Commission charting specific actions through 2021 to speed green-energy conversion as required by state law, by 2045. The document notes plans for 157 MW of grid-scale wind projects in the overall mix.

HECO also has gone to the PUC with a request for a roughly 4.1% rate increase…

Big Q: What are the chances of Hawaii making its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045?

read … Renewable energy faces new hurdles

Ige: Lets Give More Pay Hikes to HSTA

HPR: Hawaii Gov. David Ige has scheduled a Tuesday press conference to announce his support for pay differentials for certain teachers in key hard-to-fill areas, specifically special education, rural schools and Hawaiian language immersion….

The BOE is scheduled to review the proposed pay differentials in a special meeting Thursday at 9:30 a.m. followed by a general meeting of the board where the increases are up for approval, at 1:30 p.m. in the Queen Liliuokalani Building, 1390 Miller St., Room 404. 

In a letter to BOE Chair Catherine Payne, DOE Superintendent Christine Kishimoto detailed the vacancies  facing the department in the shortages areas.

Special education is a particular challenge for all states, Kishimoto noted. "Hawaii is no different, and it has been experiencing shortfalls in Special Education teachers for over the past decade years," she stated.

For the school year 2019-2020, there were 154 special education teaching vacancies. The department is seeking approval to provide an annual shortage differential of $10,000 for each qualified and licensed special education classroom teacher. 

(‘Licensed’ is the key word.  Why? Click here and find out.)

The estimated cost of the proposal covering 1,691 special education teachers for FY 2020 is $8,455,000. The estimated cost for FY 2021 is $16,910,000. …

read … Governor, DOE Seek Pay Increases To Keep Teachers In Special Ed, Hawaiian Language

Counties Adopting 2020 Legislative Wish-List

HTH: … the 2020 HSAC Legislative Package…

• Extend a homeowner’s tax credit to replace cesspools with a sewer system to June 30, 2021. The proposed bill also eliminates the requirement that eligible cesspools be within 500 feet of a shoreline, stream or wetland or are shown to impact drinking water supplies.

• Lower the blood alcohol concentration for the offense of driving while intoxicated from 0.08 to 0.05.

• Expand the use of the transient accommodations tax collected on hotels and short-term rentals to maintain county beaches and parks.

• Increase the state registration fee on rental cars from $1 to $2 and allow counties to add their own fees up to $10 to be used to dispose of abandoned vehicles.

• Allow counties to require applicants registering motor vehicles to pay all outstanding charges for towing and disposal on abandoned vehicles under that person’s name before registering another vehicle.

• Give counties more control to regulate tobacco products by repealing the state’s peremptory powers.

• Allow counties, rather than the state, to set district boundaries on developments of 15 acres or less. … “I am hearing next year’s legislative session will focus on affordable housing and homelessness, so the proposed update is timely and would help streamline the affordable housing development process,” ….

• In addition, a bill that has come up annually for the past three years but has so far not made it through the Legislature is one that would exempt lifeguards and the counties from liability in lawsuits as long as they didn’t arise from gross negligence.

read … Council to consider 2020 state priorities

Off-the-grid Maui DHHL homestead marred by conflict

SA: … a growing tension that has engulfed this tiny off-the-grid homestead of about a dozen households scattered over 75 lots. The homestead is situated on a portion of more than 22,000 acres owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, all in the shadow of Haleakala.

  • 75 – Homestead lots
  • 11 – Lots with full-time residents
  • 18 – Lots with structures but no full-time residents
  • 46 – Vacant lots

Multiple controversies have stoked anger, frustration and division within Kahikinui, the only homestead in DHHL’s 203,000-acre land trust in which leases were issued for raw land and management of the area was placed in the hands of homesteaders.

The appointment of an outside company to eradicate Kahikinui’s invasive cattle, deer, goats and pigs, which are harming a vital upland forest, has given rise to accusations of improper carcass dumping and shutting out beneficiaries who long led the effort to deal with the animal problem. After one recent cattle harvest, roughly 50 cut-up carcasses were discovered dumped in a remote section of Kahikinui….

Tempers also have flared over the way the homestead association is managing the area, pitting a small group of full-time residents empowered to make decisions for the community against lessees who don’t live there but use their lots. Some lessees say their voices are being ignored and that the association board lacks transparency in governance. Some say they have suffered retaliation for speaking up.

Another flash-point erupted when DHHL recently signaled that it would begin enforcing a long-ignored requirement of the Kahikinui leases — establishing full-time residency. Although 75 leases were issued in 1999, with a requirement to become full-time residents, the vast majority of leaseholders don’t live there….

DHHL says 46 of the 75 lots are vacant, and 18 others have structures on them but not full-time residents.

The documents that lessees signed in 1999 included a provision that they had up to 6-1/2 years to become full-time residents. But that provision largely went unenforced — until now.

At a tense Oct. 30 meeting with beneficiaries, the department outlined a series of deadlines that Kahikinui’s non-resident lessees must meet regarding proposed dwellings. They have to submit building plans by mid-December, begin construction by April 30 and become full-time residents by April 30, 2021.

Some lessees, however, already are talking about taking DHHL to court, according to Sterling. “They’re saying (the department) will never take our land away,” she said.

The agency is pushing for compliance in part because demand for pastoral lots on Maui has increased substantially since the Kahikinui leases were issued 20 years ago….

Ka Ohana by-laws say only full-time residents can vote on association matters.

Blossom Feiteira, an association founding member who helped write the by-laws, said that provision was included to prevent outsiders from making decisions that the residents would have to live with and were not in the best interests of the community.

But the non-resident lessees noted that the two board members who resigned last month, Feiteira and Kapeka Vares, did not live in Kahikinui yet were able to vote on board matters….

Napua Hueu, who has publicly criticized the association and DHHL over their Kahikinui oversight, said she has the support of multiple lessees who are reluctant to speak up for fear of retaliation. Hueu said she experienced the retaliation personally.

She filed a police report in July alleging that an association board member keyed her car while it was parked at a Pukalani market.

In August prosecutors charged Angel Kamaka with second-degree criminal property damage, according to court documents. The case is pending….

Not Mentioned: Kahikinui windfarm

read … Off-the-grid Maui homestead marred by conflict

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