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Friday, April 4, 2014
April 4, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:55 PM :: 5094 Views

Djou: I’m In!

Slom Slims Budget: "If we don't change our course, we are headed for fiscal disaster"

‘Diverse’ population cited as factor in Hawaii’s failing health exchange

Hawaii State-Local Tax Burden Drops to 20th

HGEA to Do UPW’s Job While UPW Watches

This CEO Made a Political Donation, Then Lost His Job Because Liberals Didn't Like It

CB: 8 Reasons Why Djou Might Win

  1. Djou has the most congressional experience.
  2. Hawaii may want a Republican voice in D.C.
  3. He's a military veteran.
  4. Pat Saiki is the GOP Party Chair.
  5. Djou has run before.
  6. Djou is an appealing candidate.
  7. Djou loves his country and his state.
  8. Djou has a memorable last name.

SA: 'Dysfunctional' government actions motivate Djou's run for Congress

HR: Former Hawaii Republican Congressman wants to reclaim his seat

KHON Video: Djou announces bid for 1st Congressional seat

AP: Djou enters race for 1st Congressional District seat

read ... Djou Wins

Hanabusa: Hawaii Should Get Obamacare Exemption

HNN: Matsuda said during the hearing. “The issue for us, on the revenue side, is that because of the Prepaid Health Care Act, virtually all small businesses in the state already have insurance for their employees, so there’s very little incentive for them to leave a system that they’ve been accustomed to for almost 40 years. So I think it’s incumbent on us, looking at that marketplace reality, to try to reduce the cost of the operations of our system as much as possible.”

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) is not a member of the committee, but was given special permission to participate because of Hawaii’s involvement.

“I believe we need to look at other ways to immediately address the fundamental issue of how the Affordable Care Act can work with our Prepaid Health Care Act,” Rep. Hanabusa said. “I have long said that we need to make maximum use of the exemptions the ACA makes available to Hawaii. I do not believe the Hawaii Health Connector has pursued those exemptions effectively, and that is something I hope they will address immediately.”

Matsuda says he is looking to apply for an exemption from the ACA under Section 1332, which provides for State Innovation Waivers, but that will not be available until 2017.

“While it has been estimated that Hawaii has 100,000 residents without insurance, the expansion in Medicaid coverage will only leave about 33,000 eligible for coverage under the Connector,” Rep. Hanabusa said. “But even if every one of those residents signs up for insurance through the Connector, it cannot sustain itself, and Mr. Matsuda acknowledged today that the Hawaii Health Connector will never be financially sustainable under the current model.”

NYT: State Officials Cite Technology Problems on Health Insurance Sites

LAT: Leaders of troubled state exchanges say they won't need U.S. bailouts

read ... Exemption

University Wins Funding for UHPA Contract After Settling With Mitsunaga

Borreca: 2009 the state's budget was unbalanced by $2.1 billion. After trimming the budget, in 2010 the budget was another $1.2 billion off.

In 2011, because the Council on Revenues said the economy was still tanking, the budget was $1.3 billion off.

Those were the times of no money.

Back then, the union for the University of Hawaii professors still scored with a new contract that temporarily cut salaries by 6.6 percent, which was restored in 2011 with an included pay raise. Their pay was then raised 3 percent in 2013 and another 3 percent in 2014. This was agreed to back when other unions were just taking pay cuts.

So it was understandable that the Legislature's 2011 conference committee on the budget wrote that it "believes the negotiated collective bargaining agreement may be overly generous."

This next part is important. The committee said, "The university is fully responsible for funding these costs," and that, "The University of Hawaii should not request that cost items associated with its six-year collective bargaining contract with UHPA be supported by general funds (money from taxes)."...

At the same time, UH and the Legislature discovered that UH had ignored maintenance for decades and needed more than $400 million in repairs....

Missing Details: Mitsunaga Names Names, Slams UH for Favoritism Towards Kobayashi

read ... How things look depends on status of your budget

City Council Unveils Budget Priorities, Ernie Martin Moves to Kill 'Housing First'

CB: The Honolulu City Council is proposing to reallocate $41 million in the fiscal year 2015 capital budget to fund a range of projects. This would cut into some of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s top priorities, including his homeless initiative....

the most contentious topic was the City Council’s planned reduction in funding for Caldwell’s Housing First program, which aims to get more homeless people off the streets and out of shelters and into permanent housing.

The Caldwell administration wants to spend $18.9 million to acquire buildings to house homeless people who are currently in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu and on the leeward coast. The mayor wants an additional $1.5 million to administer the program.

But the City Council proposed cutting $5.2 million of the housing funding and the entire $1.5 million allocated to administer the program.

About $4.2 million of that funding would be shifted to the Family Justice Center, which assists victims of domestic violence.

Housing officials stressed public opinions surveys showing that helping the homeless is a top priority of local residents, coming second only to addressing traffic problems.

But Kobayashi said it is too early to fund the homeless initiative, noting that the Department of Community Services has yet to identify any buildings to purchase or lease.

“We don’t want to just have money hanging and there is no plan," Kobayashi said.

Pamela Witty-Oakland, director of the DCS, countered that it was a “chicken and egg” problem. Without any financial commitment from the City Council, it’s hard to negotiate housing deals, she said.

She expressed her frustration, saying “I think we just disagree on the process.”

"I think we need to spend money up front."

Witty-Oakland also raised objections to the $1.9 million inserted by Councilman Ernie Martin to fund arts and culture organizations. She said her department doesn’t have the staff to administer the grants.

read ... Budget

HHSC partnership bill headed to committee

WHT: Senate Bill 3064 would allow HHSC to transition one or more of its regions to the control of a nonprofit corporation “to implement a more economically efficient system of health care delivery in the communities being served.”

What that means, says Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, who introduced the measure, is that HHSC would finally be able to work with private hospitals to become more streamlined in how they offer care and address staffing needs. But to protect current HHSC employees, the bill also includes measures that guarantee existing contracts would be honored.

That measure, and another requirement from the original bill, that the private partner maintain all services the hospitals provide, to ensure even nonprofitable forms of care remain available, both moved forward with the House’s amended version, Green said.

“The House has made some amendments, which are pretty good overall,” Green said Thursday.

Included in those changes is the creation of a negotiating team to help with the transition from publicly run to a private partnership, he said. Green would like to see the public and the medical community represented on that team, and will introduce a measure to that effect while the bill is in conference.

He would also like to see his preference that any partner be a health care organization with a long history of providing care in Hawaii be strengthened in the legislation.

“We’re working with the attorney general to make sure anybody who bids has a long history of treating our community,” Green said, adding he would like to see HHSC hospitals partner with either The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii Pacific Health or Kaiser Permanente.

read ... Health system partnership bill headed to committee

Job Security: Dept of Ag Hid Fire Ants for 3 Years

SA: Hee, in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, said Enright disclosed that little fire ants had been in Waimanalo for three years. He said that he found it troubling that the department had not notified the public.  (They had to wait for a while until the problem became big enough to justify creating positions.)

Contacted later Wednesday, Enright said he told the senators that a "small" infestation was discovered in the state Agricultural Lots in Waimanalo less than a week ago and, based on a preliminary inspection, it is estimated the infestation is 2 years to 3 years old or older....

He said a multiagency team will scour the area Thursday to determine what level of infestation exists. "We will come up with a plan for eradication and implement it quickly," he said.

While Enright said he was confident the infestation will be eradicated, it could take a year or more.

Speaking before the Senate on Wednesday, Hee said there are several nurseries near the infestation, and consumers could spread the pests to other parts of Oahu after purchasing plants at the nurseries.

"The Department of Ag needs to explain to the public how it's in the public interest to keep little fire ants in Waimanalo a secret," Hee said. "They need to explain how it's in the public interest to not quarantine every one of those nurseries that are in the immediate vicinity of the fire ant infestation."

Hee said it is "shameful that the Department of Ag would not put the public's interest first on issues like this."

HTH: Bill funds Big Island fire ant containment (Ca-Ching!)

HNN: Three Coqui frogs captured on Oahu at separate locations

read ... Creating Positions

Romy Cachola Headed to Jail for Abuse of Council Expense Account?

HNN: Longtime state lawmaker Romy Cachola is facing a new investigation into claims that he abused his taxpayer funded car allowances.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the city Ethics Commission began its probe several weeks ago after the state Campaign Spending Commission opened a separate investigation into the Kalihi Democrat's use of campaign funds to buy a Nissan Pathfinder.

The Ethics Commission's inquiry covers the period when Cachola served in the City Council. He now serves in the state House.

A review of his monthly expenditure reports shows that he received $13,000 -- or $250 a month -- in city car allowance between 2008 and 2012.

That's in addition to $50,000 that he billed his campaign to purchase the SUV in 2008 and pay for gasoline and car insurance over a five-year period....

Watada said Cachola's car expenses appear similar to the abuses that resulted in jail sentences for former City Councilmembers Rod Tam and Rene Mansho.

read ... Headed to Jail?

Kakaako Buyers are Foreign or Mainland Investors

PBN: Chris Benjamin, president and chief operating officer of Alexander & Baldwin, one of Hawaii’s largest private landowners, says that 80 percent of the buyers at its 43-story, 340-unit Waihonua at Kewalo condo, which is sold out, are locals.

“Most of them will be owner-occupants,” Benjamin told a group of Hawaii business professionals on Thursday as one of the featured speakers at a Hawaii Economic Association luncheon. “Lots of [them] will rent out their units.”

He says that 10 percent were Mainland buyers with the balance being Asian buyers.

But it’s a different story at another condo project with ties to A&B.

The 23-story, 206-unit ONE Ala Moana luxury high-rise being built atop the Nordstrom parking garage at Ala Moana Center may have a much higher percentage of Asian buyers, from the 30 percent to 50 percent range, said Lance Parker, senior vice president of acquisitions and dispositions for A&B’s subsidiary, A&B Properties Inc

SA: OHA wants a plan for Kakaako land

PBN: Building boom begins to slow down

read ... Who's Buying in Kakaako

173 Parcels: Buying the rail line is high priority for HART

PBN: They are the owners of 173 pieces of land that lie in the path of Oahu’s elevated-rail mass-transit system. The City and County of Honolulu eventually will own that land, either through negotiations or the power of eminent domain. As Bill Cresenzo reports in today’s cover story, it already has taken ownership of 23 pieces of property, spending $42.3 million.

Why is the city still buying land for a fixed-rail project that began several years ago? Why would the city even begin building a $5 billion mass-transit system without first owning the property in its path?

PBN: Sitting in the train’s path: Landowners seek best deals

read ... Buying the Rail Line

Big Cable Electricity Costs 50% More

IM: In 2013-14 several solar companies have offered HECO solar electricity on O`ahu starting at 15.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

DBEDT supports the inter-island cable which can bring Maui renewable energy to O`ahu for a cost of 21-22 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The cable boondoggle is being pushed for political reasons.

IM: Who Delays Energy Projects?

read ... Big Cable = Rate Hikes

Hee, English Toy with Portnoy as Regent Nominations Considered

PR: Sen. Brian Taniguchi (D, Makiki-Tantalus-Manoa), the chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, said all of the nominees were well-qualified to serve on the Board of Regents, which oversees the university.

Sen. J. Kalani English (D, East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai) and Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua) complained, however, that some of the nominees did not reach out to them about their confirmations.

English and Hee had particular criticism for Portnoy, a former member of the state Judicial Selection Commission, who is familiar with the confirmation process. Portnoy, who often represents the news media -- including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser -- was critical of an English bill last session that was meant to protect celebrities from paparazzi and had clashed with Hee over a bill that would have extended a shield law to protect journalists from disclosing sources.

Hee said he cited the oversight not because he thought he was important, but that the job of regent was important enough that the nominees should have consulted with all senators.

English and Hee voted against Yuen, Portnoy and Tagorda. Sen. Malama Solomon (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo) also voted against Portnoy. Putnam -- who had sent a letter to Hee regarding her nomination -- was confirmed unanimously.

KITV: UH West Oahu wastes $10K bottling its own water

read ... More Games from the Usual Suspects

Term Limits Keep Honolulu Councilmembers on the Move

Boylan: Something about the Honolulu City Council makes its nine members want to leave it....

“There are only nine of us on the council. We’re more involved with each issue, and we’re held more accountable.”

That keeps the nine busy indeed.

Adds Menor, “The council’s where the rubber meets the road. Literally. We deal with roads, buses, barking dogs, garbage collection. The volume of phone calls and emails is far greater here than when I was in the Legislature.”

If council service is so fascinating, why do they leave?

The meeting of opportunity and ambition, for one. Open congressional seats seldom come along. In 2012, Tulsi Gabbard, less than two years into her first term on the council, ran for the open 2nd District congressional seat – and won. Thus, congressional bids by Anderson, Chang and Manahan in 2014.

And term limits. Councilmembers are limited to two four-year terms. Two years hence, Harimoto is out of office. Ige’s open state Senate seat, should Harimoto win it, offers him the opportunity to serve, well … until he wants to run for governor.

read ... Honolulu City Council’s Revolving Door

Star-Adv: Use ACLU Suit to Keep Religion out of Preschools

SA: The organization seeks a declaration that Preschool Open Doors is unconstitutional, as well as an injunction to require safeguards preventing the use of public funds on religious observances and instruction....

As Hawaii's early-education officials advocate for the passage of the constitutional amendment this fall, they surely will have some trepidation about the ACLU case and its impact on the preschool access expansion....

But the ruling itself also can provide the court's guidance on structuring state-subsidized preschool instruction in private classrooms.

It should be possible to preserve educational quality while still respecting constitutional boundaries.

Ignore this: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read ... Religious Freedom?

Inmates' religious rights suit is valid, judge rules

SA: U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi has ruled that a lawsuit brought by eight Native Hawaiian inmates alleging a violation of religious rights can proceed to trial.

The ruling issued Monday by Kobayashi clears the way for a trial that could affect the way prison administrators handle Native Hawaiian religious practices.

The lawsuit was brought in 2011 against the state Department of Public Safety and its contractor Corrections Corp. of America, which houses in Arizona about 179 prisoners registered as Native Hawaiian religious practitioners.

The prisoners allege they were denied daily worship practices that included "sacred items." One of the sacred items includes the use of amulets to impart spiritual power and protection....

"We think we're on the right side of history here," Manley said. "We take great comfort in the fact that the law is quite protective of religious practices."

read ... Religious Freedom

Life Without Limbs Founder Nick Vujicic Tells Kids to 'Stand Strong,' Find Their Purpose

GH: "You guys are in a lot of pain," he told the kids. "All in all, you have a very high rate of people wanting to give up."

When he mentioned giving up, he was speaking of those considering suicide.

'I felt alone in my fear of bullies,' he writes in the intro to his new book, available April 15. He said he later came to realize he was not alone, and he wants to remind others of that, as well.

The minister, who's shared his inspirational message in over 50 countries, describes how to turn bullies into motivators.

'Bullies want to abuse you. Instead of allowing that, you can use them as your personal motivators,' he writes. 'Power up and let the bully eat your dust.' ...

Nick told the students in Hawaii how who was teased and bullied by other kids at school. 'I was deeply depressed when I was eight years old,' he said. 'I went to my mum crying and told her I wanted to kill myself.' At age ten Nick, tried to drown himself in the bathtub but luckily he didn't succeed. Vujicic points to his faith and his family as helping him through it all.

read ... Gospel Herald

Kauai New Age 'Energy Healer' Convicted of Rape

KGI: McFadden was an energy healer who became lost in a self-believed ability to heal people, Jajich said. He is now pursuing other work and re-connecting with his faith.

County Deputy Prosecuting Lisa Arin said the defendant’s statement at trial and throughout the proceedings were that he didn’t do anything wrong. Arin asked the court for the maximum 10-year prison sentence for the safety of the community.

“The defendant failed to acknowledge his wrongdoing, failed to express any true empathy for his victim, and thus he is likely to reoffend if not required to successfully complete the sex offender treatment program while still incarcerated,” Arin said.

At trial, Arin said the defendant held himself out as a person offering to help the victim during a difficult time when she was vulnerable. The victim testified during the trial and Arin said it was obvious to the courtroom she suffered trauma from the violation.

read ... About Their Religion

Juvenile Escapees Lead to Windward School Lockdowns

KHON: The search for two escapees from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility continues Friday morning.

According to police, the two 17-year-olds escaped at about 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

The search area winded all the way up to the Pali Highway.

read ... Another Day, Another Escape

Timeline: Deliberate Fear-Mongering Behind Kauai Anti-GMO Bill

KE: It began in 2012, when Hawaii SEED started working with the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) to conduct “drift tests” in hopes of finding evidence that pesticides were indeed blowing in the westwide wind.

Except it didn't work out as they'd hoped. According to the minutes of a Jan. 20, 2013 SEED Strategy Meeting “Pesticide: Break‐out Group Report Back,” which were widely circulated:

The Hawaii SEED drift monitoring project is NOT yielding the kind of info to move this work forward. This project will be closed.

In other words, they weren't finding anything damning. So they decided to shift their strategy:

Next steps:

1. Collaborate with others who are testing for pesticides in water, blood, soil, animals (die‐off like urchins) and look for allies like surf riders, dept of fish and wildlife, health department. Strategy: pressure OTHERS to do the testing

2. Door‐to‐door or public surveys: Target native Hawaiians , moms, Ag. Laborers, middle class

Goal: Tell the story of epidemic sickness in Hawaii that may be related to pesticides.

Use this as ammunition to pressure health department into addressing the effects of pesticides statewide.

Working group: Jeri [Di Pietro], Kawai [Warren], Mike [Broady], Dustin [Barca], Patty [Valentine], Lorrin [Pang], Brittany [Beers]

And voila, that's exactly what they did. They set about telling westsiders a story of “epidemic sickness” — even though no epidemic sickness has ever been documented — except they bagged the “may be related to pesticides part.” Instead, they claimed, unequivocally, that pesticides were making westsiders sick. Because it's so much easier to get folks frightened and riled up when you tell 'em something fer sure bad is happening, even if you're just making it up to advance your own political agenda.

It wasn't long before we started hearing, right on cue, the horror stories of illness, suffering and death, the unsubstantiated claims of elevated rates of birth defects, asthma, cancers, rare congenital diseases — though curiously, I've yet to find any evidence that health professionals ever reported these worrisome trends to the state Department of Health or any federal agency for further investigation.

The very public airing of these complaints in letters to the editor and on the airwaves of KKCR, which wholeheartedly embraced the propaganda campaign, coincided with Councilman Gary Hooser's introduction of Bill 2491. Yes, he was part of that January 2013 Hawaii SEED session, too.

read ... Feasting on Fear

Mass Hysteria: 6 DoE Schools Evacuated This Year After 'Noxious Odors'

CB: Today’s incident marks the sixth Hawaii public school this academic year to report strange smells in the air, many of them prompting evacuations and nausea symptoms among numerous students.

The most recent incident happened in early March at Manoa’s Noelani Elementary School.   Before that, it was Hawaii Kai’s Kamiloiki Elementary School and Ewa Beach’s Kaimiloa Elementary, Pohakea Elementary and Campbell High schools in late November.

FAQ: Facts About Dihydrogen Monoxide

read ... Mass Hysteria

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