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Monday, May 07, 2012
May 7, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:11 PM :: 10016 Views :: Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

DoH Explains How Taxpayers Fund Gabbards’ Song and Dance Routine

Federal Suit Threatened: UH-Hilo Violates Rights of Religious Student Groups

VIDEO: Molokai Mocks Senators who vote 'With Reservations'

Hawaii Nurse Elected International VP of Union Nurses Council

Hawaii a 'Harbinger' as Insurers Give up on Long Term Care

Death on the Job -- Hawaii Ranks 20th

Calvin Say Refuses House Override Vote to Block Tricare Tax

Sen Sam Slom: What a turn around from 2011. He is the most unpopular Governor in the U.S., has angered his union, environmentalist and special big business friends, many in his own Democrat Party and lost most of his initial staff, but still Governor Neil Abercrombie’s footprints are all over the 2012 Legislative Session. He was the clear winner.

The 60-day working session which began in mid-January, concluded on May 4. The Governor, who changed his strategy from a year ago, was everywhere during the Session. Highly visible, in hearings, in the House and Senate galleries and even sitting at the final conference table.

There has been a continuing and widening split between the House and Senate Democrats during the past year—they didn’t have Republican Linda Lingle to unite them—and the Gov took full advantage of this. The House (43 Democrats, 8 Republicans) was more than willing to work with him and to give him nearly all he wanted while standing stronger in the end to the Senate (24 Democrats, 1 Republican).

The House held out on the operating supplemental budget, dissed the Senate Democrat centerpiece $500 million CIP, battled for bills the Governor wanted and even got several extensions past Senate deadlines.

But what about the taxpayers? And small business? As is the usual case, they got no respect. There was nothing done to reduce any taxes, lower your costs of living or to give you more consumer choice, Government will make choices and “investments” for you….

An interesting event took place in the Senate on the final day. A bill involving the military Tricare program, passed unanimously in the Legislature, was vetoed by the Governor. The Senate, voted to over ride that veto, 25-0. However, Speaker Calvin Say never brought it up in the House and the veto stood. Since 1962, there has been only one override of a Democrat Governor’s veto: Governor Cayetano on the subject of age of consent. Republican Governor Lingle had more than 100 vetoes overridden in her eight years.

The Governor has until June 25 to release a list of any additional vetoes this year. His final action on all bills must occur by July 1. That is also the day Legislature would have to come back in session to over ride. Don’t bet on it.

Abercrombie’s veto of Senate Bill 2101.

Related: Tax Tricare? Senate Unanimously Overrides Abercrombie Veto of GET Exemption

read … No Respect

HB1967: Conciliation alternative to medical suits

SA: Doctors and the medical malpractice lawyers who sue them have been at each other's throats for decades, further burdening a medical profession already struggling to manage escalating costs and a shortage of doctors.

Any improvement in the medical malpractice climate would be welcome. The good news: The Legislature has passed House Bill 1967, which aims at handling potential cases of medical malpractice with civility and with the goal of conciliation. Representatives of both plaintiffs' attorneys and the medical profession have supported the measure.

The bill would revamp the state "medical claims conciliation" panels, which were authorized by lawmakers in 1976 to individually handle malpractice claims. They would be called "medical inquiry and conciliation" panels, to reflect the goal to "conduct proceedings in a non-adversarial manner consistent with the primary purpose of conciliation." The panels would focus less on potential litigation and more on inquiry, conciliation and settlement. Obviously, this will be easier said than done. There will continue to be a need for malpractice court cases. But with advocates on both sides willing to reduce them, there's hope.

Dr. Kelley Withy, a Mililani family physician, says such a change of attitude could play an important role in dealing with the increasing shortage of physicians in the islands. Hawaii has the equivalent of 2,860 full-time physicians caring for civilians but needs 3,500, according to federal guidelines. That is compounded by the state's shortage of nurses and physician assistants, says Withy, who headed this year's Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment team.

read … Tort Reform 

Hirono Apologizes for not Being Gay

MN: Lingle spokesman Lenny Klompus said that "just because Mazie Hirono repeats erroneous claims over and over again does not make them true."

He said Lingle is bipartisan and is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Governors' Council, and her support from the U.S. chamber comes from her "many positions, including those that help local businesses that are the backbone of our economy."

"The fact is that Governor Lingle's primary concern is for the people of Hawaii," he said. "If elected to the U.S. Senate, Governor Lingle will not go to Washington to work for the next president, whether it's President Obama or the GOP candidate. She will not go to our nation's capital to work for (Republican) Senators Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid. Lingle will go to Washington to represent and work for the people of Hawaii.

"If proposed legislation is good for Hawaii, Governor Lingle will be for it; if it's bad for Hawaii, Governor Lingle will be against it, no matter who proposed it," Klompus said.

Hirono closed her remarks by saying she would bring great diversity to the U.S. Senate as a woman - the first Asian woman ever elected to the Senate - and an immigrant and a Buddhist.

"When I said this at another forum, somebody yelled out, 'Yes, but are you gay?' And I said, 'Nobody's perfect.' "

read … Bipartisan or Bisexual—the choice is yours

Who's Giving Big Bucks to Our Senate Candidates?

CB: Linda Lingle is backed by Hawaii business executives like Ernest Nishizaki and Constance Lau, former U.S. senators John Danforth and Phil Gramm and several members of the hotel family Marriott.

Mazie Hirono has received the financial support of megastar Barbra Streisand, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, local legal eagles Paul Alston, Brook Hart, Gary Galiher and Jeff Portnoy and a consultant in Washington, D.C., named Linda A. Lingle. (No — not that Linda Lingle.)

And Ed Case received contributions from Kailua magnate Mitch D'Olier, Outrigger hotel executive David Carey and Hilo attorney Jay Kimura.

read … Who's Giving Big Bucks to Our Senate Candidates?

‘Grease Magnate’ Coming to Neil’s Birthday Party?

CB: Dinner and cocktails! At the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom! Since tables are going for $3,000 to $12,000 I can’t wait to see the menu! Do you think Neil will offer us only locally-grown food? Everyone knows Neil’s a big fan of “sustainability” and “food security.” Ho’opili notwithstanding.

And just think what luminaries are likely to show up! Do you think I could get to sit next to HEI’s Connie Lau? According to Forbes Magazine, she made just over $6.5 million in 2010 so I think she can afford a table. And what about my Castle and Cooke friends, David Murdock and Harry Saunders? I’m sure they would invite me to sit at their table. I read that David gave himself a hefty salary increase last year, $3.2 million up from $2.1 in 2009.

I bet Bio-logical Capital and Pattern Energy, the outfits sniffing around Molokai to profit from building hundreds of wind turbines (and lay cables to and from ... well, somewhere), have already signed up. Perhaps Bio’s CEO, Grant McCargo, great grandson of the Pittsburgh “grease magnate” who made a fortune selling out to Standard Oil in 1929, will get a table, maybe even invite Robbie Alm and Keiki-Pua to join him? Grant #3 probably has a little trust fund money to spend on Neil’s birthday. And Riverstone Holdings, parent company of Pattern Energy, that manages something like $17 BILLION in OPM (other people’s money)? I bet they could buy the ballroom.

I’m sure Dan Inouye will fly home for this. I heard just last week that Dan’s actually making all the decisions for Neil, and he’s really the one making all those appointments to various boards and commissions and what not. I didn’t believe it for a nanosecond, but Dan’s a nice guy, he’ll show. He could actually justify the trip by issuing some more “World War III” threats, to keep the rail going.

And wouldn’t it be fun to spend some more quality “listening” time with Mike Gabbard? I’m certain he’ll find a way to buy at least a small table, he went to SO much trouble to move the undersea cable bill straight to Neil’s desk so all those private equity people (Pattern/Biological/Riverstone, see above) can start finding ways to get richer by saddling us ratepayers with all the bills. Maybe Neil will even let Mike in for free?

Wow. I almost forgot the UNIONS! Especially the ILWU, they’ll want to send someone. I know some think they’ve lost their way lately, having strayed so far from the likes of Pedro Dela Cruz, who almost single-handedly made working for the plantations honest, well-paying work, but how about Bill Kennison? A division director who occasionally shows up on Lanai to whip up the few workers left who haven’t been laid off? His compensation only went up to $88,601 in 2010, from $71,432 in in 2003. I know this may come as quite a shock to the rank and file, that he is so underpaid, but maybe they can lend him the money to send their regards to Neil.

read … And who’s NOT coming!

Inouye Adopts Alaska Sen Begich

ADN: ADOPTED . . . Earwigs could be forgiven for wondering if something weird is happening to the time-space continuum. Mark Begich had a big fundraiser in Anchorage this past week at the Sand Lake home of Georgianna Lincoln and Chris Cook. He also lent his weight to a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party hosted by CIRI. Nothing unusual there, but the presence of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, waxing enthusiastic about Mark at both events, was a bit of a mind-blower. As all who worshipped at the altar of Uncle Ted know, Inouye and the late Ted Stevens were attached at the hip -- calling each other brother despite party differences, sweating at spas together, maybe even braiding each other's hair.

During comments at the Dem Party event, Inouye said he missed Ted. "He was my brother. But I have a new brother," he said. "I have a kid brother." It got a laugh from the crowd, but nothing like the laugh generated during an exchange with Georgianna at her event, as reported by an earwig who was there.

The two were exchanging pleasantries and talking about her Native art collection when Inouye said, "You know, Georgianna, I have one of those oosiks." To which Georgianna responded, "I have three."

Said Inouye, "Well, mine is 12 inches."

Without missing a beat, Georgianna looked over at Irene Inouye and asked, "Is that true, Irene?"

The VIP Democrats -- and some Republicans -- who attended reportedly raised nearly $100,000 for Begich's 2014 campaign.

Read … Adopted

ACT 51 Weighted Student Formula Robs Small Rural Schools

CB: The Weighted Student Formula is working for "probably 98 percent" of schools, the Hana principal said.

Paul pointed at Kilohana Elementary, Lanai High and Elementary, and Molokai Middle to explain the challenges.

Kilohana lost an estimated 25 percent of its budget in one year, Paul said, noting the school is extremely small and isolated on Molokai.

"Lanai and Hana are both small, rural, K-12 schools but Lanai is almost twice the size as Hana and probably reaches the magic number that will provide the necessary funding," he said. "I believe the K-12 schools that have 180 students in grades 6-12 have enough students to generate the funding for a full complement of staff. If you have less than 180 students in grades 6-12, you will have to rob Peter to pay Paul because the small number of students do not generate the necessary funding."

read … And creates pressure to close small urban schools

DoE, FACE Team up for ‘Community Organizing’

SA: In Kailua a volunteer-run "parent academy" was started last week to produce parent leaders who will work with schools to address problems.

In the Farrington High School complex, low-income parents have formed a coalition to learn about ways to get more involved -- and raise their concerns with teachers or school administrators.

And in the Kaneohe area, parents are being encouraged to be at the table for discussions about how to redesign schools to boost student achievement.

In the Farrington complex, meanwhile, the nonprofit Faith Action for Community Equity is working with mostly low-income parents to help them become more comfortable in interacting with their children's schools.

Late last year a coalition of parents was formed, and its officers were elected. The group plans to meet regularly to discuss key education issues, and a series of workshops will help parents think about ways that they can get involved.

"Our hope ... (is) these parents will feel that they have the power to make change," said Karen Ginoza, co-chairwoman of the education task force at FACE.

Ginoza said the coalition has about 15 active parents, while FACE has trained about 40 parents so far.

read … What excuse will the HSTA use next?

Honolulu 240 Ethics Complaints in Three Years

CB: Honolulu ethics officials say in the past three years, they've investigated more than 240 allegations of ethical misconduct by city employees. That's more than one complaint a week.

To help cut down on those numbers, the ethics commission has asked the Honolulu City Council to make it mandatory for the city's 10,000 employees to have ethics training….

Currently, ethics training is limited to a select group: elected officials, supervisors, managers, and board and commission members. Bill 40 would expand that requirement to all city employees.

The bill is headed for another public hearing next week and needs only two more votes by the full council to become law….

read … More than Once a Week

NYT Praises Hawaii’s Pedophile Law—Doesn’t Mention State Exempted Itself

NYT: Hawaii significantly strengthened its protections against child sexual abuse last month when Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a measure extending the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits filed by child victims. At least as important, it opens a one-time two-year window to allow victims to file suits against their abusers even if the time limit had expired under the old law.

Like similar laws in California and Delaware, the Hawaii measure recognizes some wrenching realities. It can take many years, even decades, before child abuse victims are emotionally ready to come forward and tell their stories in court. But by then, they may be barred from suing by the statute of limitations. For example, many suits against the Catholic Church have been blocked because the church’s covering up for pedophile priests made it hard for victims to come forward until long past the time limit for bringing civil claims. (NYT is only interested in pedos if they are priests.)

Hawaii’s new law allows child victims to bring suits up to the age of 26 (it was 20), or three years from the time the victim realizes the abuse caused injury. The law’s leading opponent was the Roman Catholic Church, which has been working hard to defeat statute of limitations reform across the country.

Conveniently ignored: Legislators Exempt State from Child Molestation Claims

read … NYT Editorial

Feds: Historic Preservation Division Still Falling Short

HNN: The federal government says a state agency in charge of overseeing historic sites in Hawaii has made progress, but is still falling short in fixing problems, including hiring enough staff to keep up with its duties….

Another problem cited by the National Park Service was the division's disorganized inventory of surveyed properties, and the fact that it's still in paper form. If you want to look up data on properties, inventory forms or designs, you have to go in person to the division office in Kapolei, where the data is stored in boxes, folders and filing cabinets.

"We have a library, and unfortunately you have to go to that library and manually look up things," Aila said. "We have plans to digitize that information and make it available to the public."

read … Shortfall

Breiner Endorses Takata for Prosecutor

HNN: Takata will be up against Keith Kaneshiro who is seeking an unprecedented fourth term as Honolulu prosecutor.

Defense attorney Myles Breiner pulled papers to run, but now plans to endorse Takata.

read … Takata

VA Investigates Punchbowl Marker Relocations

SA: Kari Cowan and her teenage son visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl's formal name, in December and discovered to their horror that Aaron Cowan's marker was not where it originally had been placed in 2005. The pair had no idea what happened.

"I was staring at where it was supposed to be and kept looking at my son saying, ‘What the heck is going on? It should be right here,'" Cowan recalled in a recent phone interview.

The fallout from Cowan's visit still is reverberating from here to Washington, D.C., and has heightened scrutiny of ongoing renovations at Punchbowl, one of Hawaii's most visited and revered sites….

Punchbowl admitted its error after the Star-Advertiser began raising questions, Cowan provided photos from 2006 showing her husband's marker in its original location and her congressman, also on the House committee, filed a formal inquiry at her request.

Philipps, director of the VA's Memorial Service Network, said his investigation also will include how Cowan was treated by the cemetery staff. She alleged that she was treated rudely, insulted and yelled at, which upset her son.

read … Mishandled

 

Hawaii Insurance Company Filings Not Available online

CB: There is no state insurance commission, but there is a state insurance commissioner. The documents filed by insurance companies are not available online, so people have to retrieve the documents in person, according to state Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito. Insurance company licensing records are available online, Ito said. For example, the public can search through a database to look up insurance licenses, which are available in real-time at (http://pahoehoe.ehawaii.gov/ils/app). Lloyd Lim, Health Branch administrator with the Hawaii Insurance Division, said some records may be deemed confidential, such as a business plan. While company financial statements are not on the state's website, people can access it online through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website, Lim said. Visit (http://www.naic.org/) for details. Former state Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt also said a lot of information is detailed in an annual insurance commissioner's report, which includes information such as financial details of insurance companies, profit margins, claims paid.

(This is interesting because Hawaii is one of the nation’s leading centers for Captive Insurance Companies which are formed by other companies or individuals to self-insure: LINK So a mainland financial analyst would have to travel 5000 miles round trip to pick up records from Hawaii instead of reading them online.)

See: Stupid Captive Tricks

read … ‘F’ Fail

AG Sues Bogus Online College

CN: Hawaii claims the Honolulu University Consortium, an online "college," falsely advertises itself as an accredited, degree-granting institution, and blew off a state order to cease and desist.

Hawaii's Office of Consumer Protection sued Honolulu University Consortium LLC in First Circuit Court.

HUC is the only named defendant, though the complaint refers repeatedly to HUC's managing member, Arthur O. Yamada.

The state says that Yamada formed HUC in June 2011, as a Delaware corporation, "in order to operate a Higher Learning Institution that is empowered to issue legal diplomas and grant degrees." But HUC was never registered as a foreign corporation in Hawaii, the state says.

Also in June 2011, Yamada opened an account at the commercial mail drop, in the name of Honolulu University Consortium. HUC registered a website in March 2011, the state says.

"The website was replete with false and/or misleading statements," the state says.

LINK: Pdf of Suit

read … HUC

VIDEO: Drowning off Kalapana, diver had to be taken to Pohoiki first

BIVN: The Hawaii County Fire Department says an alarm went out at 10:09 a.m. A fire dispatch says a dive boat transported a possible drowning victim back to the Pohoiki boat ramp. “CPR not performed due to limited occupants on vessel”, noted the report.

A helicopter landing zone was established fronting Kalapana Seaview Estates. The drowning victim was taken there by way of Chopper One’s billy pugh net, after being taken off the dive vessel in Pohoiki. The fire department says the man was dead on arrival.

read … Drowning

Castle out of Debt, Beginning Open Heart Surgery

All of our capital funding comes out of our corporate structure (Castle is owned and operated by a national nonprofit, Adventist Health). But it’s based on our earnings and our ability to contribute. For the first time in its history, Castle is completely debt-free….

The medical center is in the process of starting up an open-heart-surgery program. How did this come about?

We requested approval from the state earlier this year to start the program. A surgeon from Hawaii Medical Center East, who was displaced by its closure, asked us if we were interested in doing that. We submitted our (Certificate of Need) application to the state in January and we finished hearings in February. The program is now approved and we are in the process of hiring appropriate personnel and renovating the ORs. We hope to perform our first cases this year.

read … Out of Debt

Depakote: Lawyers Split $100M Settlement with 45 States, Hawaii Gets $1.2M

"The agreement marks the largest consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement ever reached," said Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Bruce Kim. "As a result of the states' investigation and this settlement, Hawaii will receive nearly $1.2 million and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories will be restricted from marketing the drug for off-label uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

News Release: Abbott Labs (ABT) Agrees to Pay $100M in 45-State Settlement

read … Sue em til they bleed


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