Full Text: 2012 HSTA Legislative Endorsement Questionnaire
DHS Proposes Merging Medicare, Medicaid
Health Exchange Launches First Stage of Computer Program to Control Your Health Care
Senate Likely to Shift Republican Even Without Lingle Victory
Waipahu Man Among Four Hawaii Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
SA: The four Hawaii soldiers who died in Thursday's Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan have been identified, Stars and Stripes reported.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, 27, of San Diego Calif., Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray, 25, of Waipahu, Army Spc. Dean R. Shaffer, 23, of Pekin Ill., and Army Spc. Chris J. Workman,33, of Boise, Idaho, died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when their helicopter went down in Helmand province, the newspaper said.
At least two of the soldiers, Shaffer and Workman, were previously identified by family and friends as being Hawaii-based.
All were with the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment out of Wheeler Army Airfield, Stars and Stripes said.
The newspaper had a reporter at a combat memorial for the four soldiers at Kandahar Airfield today and said it drew hundreds of soldiers who filled the seats inside and spilled out of a fabric clamshell structure.
Viray was described as a native Hawaiian and "push-up king" who entered into a competition with another soldier to do 1,000 push-ups in the shortest amount of time.
read … Afghanistan
Sierra Club: Unlike Lingle, Abercrombie Hasn’t Met a Farm He Doesn’t Want to Pave
Sierra Club: (The Star-Adv) editorialized that, despite such shortcomings, the LUC should OK Murdock's mega-sprawl if he conserves land elsewhere — citing state Agriculture Director Russell Kokubun's comment: "There is much land to be used for agriculture."
Unlike the previous administration, the Abercrombie team is fast building a record of such irresponsible statements; it hasn't met a farm it doesn't want to pave. But if we're going to arrest the course of the last 50 years, which has left us growing just 8 percent of the food we eat, we cannot afford to lose one more acre of food-growing farmland….
Oahu needs new homes. But Koa Ridge is a stupid way to build them that flies in the face of modern planning. It's miles from the rail project, where we're investing $5 billion to relieve future congestion and to create a corridor of high-density housing to avoid more sprawl projects like … Koa Ridge. To permit this scheme to proceed will undermine the entire premise of our once-in-a-generation investment (in Rail).
And this paper's excuse for supporting Murdock's sprawl is factually incorrect: Koa Ridge is not one of "the last big master-planned housing projects that were mapped into directed-growth plans a generation ago." The scheme was added to the growth plan only in 2001, following intense Murdock lobbying….
So maybe it's time to tear up the master plan and opt for a model that meets today's needs. Let's build smart-growth projects within the urban corridor and keep the country country. Put the 5,000 homes where they belong: in the city. And kill Koa Ridge.
(So this is A&B and KSBE trying to develop Kakaako vs Castle and Cooke trying to develop Koa Ridge. Koa Ridge will promote the development of nuclear families, Kakaako will promote singles.)
read … Abercrombie worse than Lingle
Carlisle Demands Council Approve $450M credit line for ‘Unforeseen’ rail ‘Catastrophe’
SA: Mayor Peter Carlisle's administration has formally asked the City Council to approve a $450 million city-backed line of credit that could be used to complete the rail line in the event of a "catastrophic, unforseen event" that causes the project to run out of money.
The city is establishing the line of credit to appease the Federal Transit Administration, which last year warned the city the rail financial plan "must be further strengthened" before it will agree to commit $1.55 billion in federal funds for the project.
In a Dec. 29 letter to the city, FTA Regional Administrator Leslie T. Rogers said the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation "should demonstrate the availability of additional revenue sources that could be tapped should unexpected events such as cost increases or funding shortfalls occur."
read … City asks $450M credit line for rail
SB2927 Contradicts Grabuskas’ Call for Rail Transparency
SA: That's why it's disconcerting that the Legislature is considering Senate Bill 2927 which, among other elements, establishes the "transit-oriented or main-street development program" that would have the effect of streamlining the planning process for developments around the stations. The danger here is that the public voice would be brushed aside in the name of efficiency.
read … SB2927
Case Decries Sierra Club Endorsement of ‘Endless Partisan Warfare’
Case said the question is which Democrat can provide effective leadership over the next generation in the Senate.
"That won't be achieved through endless partisan warfare and inaction," he said in an email Sunday.
The Sierra Club's endorsements were an issue in the last competitive Senate campaign in Hawaii. The environmental group chose not to endorse in the 2006 primary between Case and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, when drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was one of the main policy differences between the two Democrats. Akaka supported drilling as a means of economic self-determination for Alaska Natives. Case opposed drilling.
The Sierra Club endorsed Akaka in the general election over state Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe), an environmental attorney who opposed drilling and has among the strongest environmental records in the state.
read … They Back Lazy Mazie
Case Burns Money While Hirono and Lingle Save for Fall
CB: Hirono does face a serious primary challenge from former Congressman Ed Case. But he has fallen behind in his ability to raise significant campaign funds, collecting about $138,000 this last quarter. He reported about $211,000 cash on hand as of March 31.
While Case has spent much of his political wad on TV and other advertising — nearly $150,000 this last quarter alone, the report shows — Hirono and Lingle have been spending money mainly on raising money, paying out tens of thousands of dollars to fundraising consultants and for fundraising solicitations and events.
Hirono paid Media Strategies and Research of Denver just over $100,000 for "media buys" and Lingle spent about $26,000 on online ads. She benefitted from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's independent campaign supporting her, a series of dozens of TV spots in February that cost the chamber nearly $250,000.
read … Hawaii's U.S. Senate Candidates Raise Big Bucks But Are Spending Frugally
Green Energy Scammers Seek to Cover Ford Island Runway With Solar Panels
SA: The issue again raises the question on Ford Island — sometimes called the Gettysburg of the Pacific for its role on Dec. 7, 1941 — as to what should be preserved for history's sake and how…..
Plans by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific call for up to 27.5 acres of photovoltaic panels on the runway but not on the adjacent taxiways. The panels would carry 2.5 megawatts of capacity, according to a U.S. Pacific Command PowerPoint slide.
The Navy eventually came back and indicated the PV wouldn't be quite as seamless as it had originally thought, and that "the panels would have to be elevated, they might have to be tilted, they would have to be screened, they would have security fencing and that, in fact, it would not look like a historic runway," Faulkner said.
"So that's when the discussion changed, because then it wasn't about defining the runway, it was just, ‘Can we put PV here?'" she said.
A similar plan by the Hunt Development Group to install photovoltaics on the Navy's old Ewa Field runways at Barbers Point was ditched after historic preservation concerns were raised there. The 5.91-megawatt solar field now is being pursued adjacent to the runways….
Star-Adv Editorial: Solar panels can work on runway
Ignore this: 49% Waste: Inspector General Slams Hawaii Navy Solar Projects
read … Gettysburg
HB2275 / SB2466: Hospitals Step Up to Make Medicare, Medicaid Work
Healthcare Ass’n of Hawaii Pres: Why did the HMC hospitals close? In large part, for financial reasons. The revenue local hospitals receive for patient care does not cover the costs of care. One major contributing factor is underpayment by Medicaid; Medicaid currently reimburses only about 70 cents for every dollar spent. To give you a picture of how this affects local hospitals: 20-30% of their patients are typically on Medicaid. As not-for-profit entities, it is the responsibility of hospitals to take care of patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
Hawaii’s public and private hospitals collectively lost roughly $83 million in uncompensated care in 2010 due to non-payment for care and underpayment by Medicaid. More than 285,000 of Hawaii’s residents are enrolled in Medicaid—one in five Hawaii residents—so losses due to treating Medicaid patients are substantial.
The problem of underpayment from Medicaid is not unique to hospitals. The situation is even more prevalent for long-term nursing facilities, where an average of 70% of patients are on Medicaid. Nursing facilities currently lose $7-8 per Medicaid patient per day.
Looking forward, how can we avoid more facility closures? Given the economic climate, we can’t rely on the State to be the financial savior for health care facilities or services. In a statewide collaborative effort, hospitals and nursing facilities gathered together to come up with a new way to stabilize our fragile health care system. As a result, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) introduced two pieces of legislation we believe will improve Medicaid payments by drawing down additional federal funds. The proposed Sustainability Programs (HB2275 for hospitals and SB2466 for long-term care facilities) are similar to models being implemented in 47 states. The sustainability programs require no State money and no taxpayer money.
Providers (hospitals and nursing facilities) acted proactively and are taking on all the risk by putting up their own funds to make these programs work. Further, they are willing to give our financially distressed State 5% of the assessed fee to account for costs of administering the program. The HAH-sponsored bills will generate at least $2.5 million in new revenue to the State and $17.5 million in general fund savings.
If these programs were in existence, would they have saved the HMC hospitals? We can’t be certain because of other factors in HMC’s case. It is clear, however, that the facilities would have remained open longer, and that they would have been much more attractive to potential buyers.
Related: DHS Money Grab Threatens Hawaii Hospitals, Nursing Homes
read … Medicare/Medicaid Reimbursements
Patients pay Annual Fee to Get 30 minute Doctor Visits
SA: Schiff, who has been a primary care physician for 28 years and has about 2,500 patients, is among the first Hawaii doctors to shift away from conventional primary care to what is known as "concierge medicine," where a smaller number of patients pay an annual fee — usually between $1,500 and $1,800 — for better access to their physician.
Concierge medicine is gaining momentum nationwide. Patients who can afford it are treated to unhurried office visits and individualized wellness plans.
The annual fee is not covered by health insurance….
Schiff recently signed on with Florida-based MDVIP, whose doctors are required to reduce their practices to no more than 600 patients to provide personalized care — from exercising to grocery shopping with patients to educate them on how to make good choices and live healthier lifestyles.
His 10-minute routine office visits will increase to a minimum of 30 minutes and give him more time to get to the root of a symptom.
(As the State imposes more cuts on MD care, more and more patients will be willing to pay extra to access real care. This is the inevitable black market which always emerges when socialists squeeze the free market. Their next move will be to try to ban this, thus creating a genuine black/illegal marketplace in medical care.)
read … Just Like Europe
Four-Time Child Rapist Gets Probation
A state judge sentenced this morning a man accused of raping an underage girl and beating up the girl's brother who tried to intervene to five years of probation.
Thomas Kamaka Jr., 43, pleaded no contest to four counts of second-degree sexual assault in February in a plea deal that allowed him to avoid any time behind bars….
Deputy City Prosecutor Lisa Demello said the plea deal means the defendant will have to register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life and spared the victim, who is younger than 14 years old, from having to see Kamaka again and testify against him in court.
read … soft on crime
Another man stabbed outside of Mayor Wright Homes
SA: Sunday's stabbing occurred outside of Mayor Wright Homes before 3 a.m., police said. The unknown suspect used a "dangerous weapon" then fled on foot, police said….
Police called Thursday's stabbing of a man who had just parked his car in front of the public housing complex an "unprovoked attack" that left the victim with two stab wounds to his cheek and two stab wounds to his shoulder blade. It occurred just before 2 a.m., police said.
On Jan. 27, a 32-year-old man died from stab wounds and three others were seriously injured.
On Sept. 10, 2011, police arrested 21-year-old Takson Krstoth for the fatal stabbing of TJ "Tipuk" Mori, 24, after an argument at the complex. Krstoth is awaiting trial after being charged with second-degree murder.
read … Ouansafi’s Problem
Bugs, Snakes, and Mosquitoes Feature in This Year’s Pitch for More HGEA Make Work Jobs
SA: Hawaii has a history of non-native animals and bugs that established a foothold and then spread, from the mongoose, which has helped drive native birds to the brink of extinction, to a Central African beetle that is destroying coffee crops.
In the past few years, Hawaii has made big cuts to its team of inspectors who check shipping containers and keep an eye on tourists' luggage. The number of inspectors fell from 95 people in 2009 to 50 last year. Since then a few additional positions have been filled, but there hasn't been enough money to come close to previous staffing levels.
read … Annual Tradition
Techie Creates Online Campaign Finance Database
CB: The raw data exists. But the information isn't presented in a useable format for the public's benefit on the state Campaign Spending Commission's website.
Legislators are worried about the cost of making it better and campaign finance officials are concerned about just how hard it would be.
While politicians have been talking, local techie Jared Kuroiwa has built an interactive searchable database — in his spare time, for free.
"All the data and everything they get from campaigns and noncandidate committees, they already have it online and present it," Kuroiwa said. "The problem is that it's not in a way that's useable. I wanted a presentation that's a little cleaner, showing how money's being spent and where the money is going."
By day, Kuroiwa is Oceanic Cable's senior programmer for Interactive TV. "Yes, I have a full-time job," he says.
He estimates it took about five weeks, at a rate of four hours a day, to write the code that pulls data from the commission's existing site and spills it into his site.
read … Doing the job Government Will Not
State Audit Information Often Withheld from Public
CB: The state audit reports are accessible online as electronic pdf documents. The information is typed, detailed and several pages long. Hard copies may also be obtained from the office. For instance, the audit report of the procurement card program is 50-pages long and available on the state auditor's website as a pdf document, according to Honolulu Civil Beat. However, some audit documents were withheld from public disclosure such as management letter and advisory reports containing confidential information, according to political blogger Ian Lind.
read … Can Citizens Access The Auditor's Reports?
Louie takes a Slap at Clayton Hee, Borreca over Kakaako Deal
SA: We recognize that some believe OHA should have gotten more. But there are also people who think that the state should have gotten more, or gotten a better deal. A good compromise often engenders some dissatisfaction on both sides.
Mr. Borreca, citing only one named source and no actual facts or data, grossly mischaracterized this new law and its positive impact for native Hawaiians, as well as all the people of Hawaii.
The governor, OHA, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly, the 22 senators and 47 representatives who voted fully in favor of the bill on final passage, and countless others, recognize that this is a good deal — and one that was a long time in coming.
(The only people who didn’t benefit were native Hawaiians and taxpayers. But OHA trustees and Abercrombie’s cronies in HCDA made out like the bandits they are. Clayton is just POed because he’s been cut out of the action even since he was ousted from OHA.)
read … Sumg About their Profits
Enviros Brag About Ending Traditional Hawaiian Cultural Practices
SA: In ancient Hawaii plovers were a food source. Men, women and children caught the birds with snares tied to palm-size rocks called kolea stones. A thin groove ran down the center of each stone. The hunter tied one end of a string around the groove and the other end to a narrow bone sharpened at both ends with a grub skewered onto it. When the plover swallowed the bone, it lodged sideways in the throat, and the bird was toast.
Late in the 19th century, plovers were a popular topping for toast. "Plovers on toast" was featured on both breakfast and dinner menus at Iolani Palace.
In the early 20th century, Hawaii hunters shot plovers with abandon until the government imposed a limit of 15 plovers per hunter per day. Still, the kolea were overcome, and in 1941 Hawaii banned all plover hunting. Today all migratory shorebirds (and seabirds) are protected by state and federal laws.
Since they gained protection, plovers have gradually increased in number in the islands. No one knows their pre-human population, but researchers speculate that plover numbers in Hawaii today might be higher than they ever were.
read … Delicious Kolea you can’t eat
Hawaii banks report more lending, Profits
KHON: Hawaii's two biggest banks report higher profits, but also more lending, a change that could prove critical to accelerating the state's economic recovery.
Bank of Hawaii reports a $44 million first quarter profit, up $5 million, or 12 percent, from the same time last year. Assets shrank slightly, to $12.8 billion. Lending grew 5 percent, the bank said Monday.
First Hawaiian Bank reported on Friday it earned a $53 million profit, up $1 million, or 2 percent, from the same time last year. Assets grew to more than $16 billion. Lending grew 3 percent.
News Release: BoH Reports First Quarter Results
read … Hawaii banks report more lending
Hawaii teams win awards at world robotics meet
SA: Five robotics teams from Hawaii public schools won awards in the 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship in Michigan over the weekend, where a Volunteer of the Year award also was presented to Hawaii participants.
Hawaii teams were not among the Tournament Championship Alliances, nevertheless, other awards were presented to the "Hawaiian Kids" (Team 359A) from Waialua; to Searider Robotics (Team 3685B) from Waianae; Kohala Middle School (Team 4119A) from Kapaau on Hawaii island; to Highlands Inter Robotics Teams 394 and 394B from Pearl City; and a Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Art Kimura and Renee Kimura from Hawaii.
read … Hawaii teams win awards at world robotics meet