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Thursday, April 10, 2014
April 10, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:41 PM :: 8456 Views

VIDEO: Looking Back at Neil Abercrombie 'Highlights' as Governor

Friends of Kewalos Rallies as OHA Development Bill Heads to Conference Committee

Hawaii gets better marks for new online transparency system

Auditor Updates Progress on Public Housing, Charter Schools

Auditor's Annual Report

Horner Accused of Christianity, but Homosexuals, Atheists Fail to Oust BoE Chair

HNN: About 100 people submitted testimony to the Senate Education Committee and most wanted chair Donald Horner out.

"We are in strong opposition to Pastor Horner's reappointment," said Carolyn Golojuch of Rainbow Family 808, a pro-gay and lesbian rights group.

Opponents say Horner's role as BOE chair conflicts with his duties as a teaching minister for New Hope Church's Diamond Head church. New Hope strongly opposed Hawaii's same-sex law.

"That clearly states or exemplifies a conflict of interest that should not be allowable in the BOE," said Kathryn Xian, executive director of Girl Fest....

But state lawmakers say they're convinced that Horner's personal religious views don't affect his job at the BOE. They voted unanimously to reappoint him.

"I have never at any point, ever, whatsoever felt he was trying to impose his religious views on our school system. And I assure you I would know it if here were trying to do it," said State Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Some lawmakers say they took offense at the personal attacks.

"I am very discouraged by a lot of the testimony today. I am an advocate of free speech but not false speech," said state Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai.

read ... Gay Agenda Continues

Hawaii Health Connector needs $4.7M next year

HNN: The head of the Hawaii Health Connector tells a panel of lawmakers that the troubled health exchange will need $4.7 million to be financially sustainable next year. 

Hawaii lawmakers also are hearing preliminary results of an audit of Hawaii's health exchange.  Acting State Auditor Jan Yamane says the Connector had spent $55.5 million by the end of 2013.

Click here for the report.

read ... $671 per Policy just for Overhead

Department of Human Services might handle part of Health Connector sign-up work

SA: The Connector's interim executive director, Tom Matsuda, told lawmakers at an informational briefing Wednesday that having the DHS, instead of the Connector, determine whether applicants can receive tax credits to help pay for health insurance is the best solution to improve consumer experience and cut costs.

Currently, an applicant seeking tax credits from the Connector is first routed to the DHS to see whether they qualify for Medicaid, the government insurance program for low-income residents.

Consumers were held up at that point because the DHS didn't collect information the Connector needed to determine tax credit eligibility and because the two enrollment systems were incompatible, the Connector said, causing a bottleneck in enrollments on the exchange.

"It's been a source of a lot of difficulty for both the Connector and DHS," Matsuda said. "We're hoping it (having DHS handle tax credits) will solve a lot of problems not just for us, but mainly the consumers."

The Connector, which is responsible for implementing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in Hawaii, collected more than 24,000 applications as of the March 31 deadline, but enrolled fewer than 8,000 people.

Acting State Auditor Jan Yamane also presented preliminary results from an audit of the Connector to lawmakers, citing the Connector had spent $55.5 million by the end of 2013, including about $35 million on information technology contracts, software and licensing. Most of that, nearly $22 million, went to embattled contractor CGI, which also built the problematic federal exchange.

Yamane said her office anticipates delivering a full audit report in late fall.

Best Comment: "The problem with government is they don't let failures fail. Let the damn thing die."

Background:  Hawaii to be First State to Dump Obamacare Health Exchange?

read ... Health Connector wants help from DHS

Dems continue Closed primary fight

SA: The Democratic Party of Hawaii has challenged the state's open primary as a violation of the First Amendment right to free association. The party wants to restrict primaries to party members and voters who publicly choose to affiliate with the party before the elections.

In November, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled that Democrats failed to prove that the open primary places a "severe burden" on the free association rights of political parties, because some parties might want all voters to be able to participate.

The judge also found that the party failed to present evidence that open primaries have invited crossover or independent voters to select candidates that have influenced the party's message.

The party has appealed Seabright's ruling to the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Democrats outlined their legal argument in a filing in late March. The state Attorney General's Office, which is representing Scott Nago, the state's chief election officer, has received an extension until late May to file the state's argument.

"We are looking for A. — if possible — a victory, B., if not a victory, then at least clarification of the ground on which the next fight has to take place," said Tony Gill, an attorney for the Democratic Party of Hawaii....

Dante Carpenter, the Democratic Party of Hawaii's chairman, said he had tried to get the Hawaii Republican Party and the Libertarian Party of Hawaii to support the legal challenge, but that the other parties were not interested.

Carpenter acknowledged that the legal principle the party is pursuing might be "hard to convey to the guy on the street."

PR: Open v. Blanket

read ... Dems continue closed-primary fight

Gut n Replace Bills Listed

WHT: The Hawaii Senate approved at least six bills that were either “gut-and-replace” or “Frankenstein” proposals — a term for bills that were revived from the dead, said Sen. Les Ihara....

In one maneuver, senators tacked two Senate bills — one of which died in the House — onto a barely related House agriculture bill, HB 2486. The additions suggest spending state money to develop programs on property owned by Dole Food Company in Central Oahu, according to property records....

One bill, House Bill 493, would have made it a crime to catch pet dogs or cats in a trap set out for bears.  (Bears in Hawaii???)  But when that bill moved over to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, lawmakers there dropped all the animal trap language and swapped in new rules banning the unlawful sale or trade of ivory from elephants, whales and other creatures. ...

A few other bills that changed include:

  • HB 482 was a bill about agricultural tax credits. It is now about creating a special fund to acquire land from Dole Foods Company. Status: Alive.
  • HB 1280 was about the way law enforcement officers serve papers and issue subpoenas. It is now a bill about creating a technology campus for first responders. Status: Alive.
  • SB 2435 was about using special fund money to buy land for agricultural production. It became a bill about genetically modified foods. Status: Dead.
  • HB 449 was a bill about financial disclosures of state commissioners and board members. It became a bill about ethical conduct of lawmakers and legislative staff. Status: Dead.
  • SB 451 was about including air carriers in the definition of a public utility. It became a bill about increasing the compensation of the chairman and commissioners of Public Utilities Commission and changing the way they appoint and hire personnel. Status: Dead.

read ... Gut n Replace

Acting state hospital chief lacks basic job requirements; responds to nepotism claims

HNN: The acting director of the troubled Hawaii State Hospital admitted Wednesday that he lacks the minimum educational qualifications to head the facility and was grilled about charges that managers manipulate the hiring process to unfairly hire some of their relatives.

Bill Elliott has been the acting administrator of the state's only public mental hospital for the last 13 months.  Elliott spent 19 years as its associate director, dealing with non-clinical aspects of hospital operations like personnel, budgets and facilities.

Senators then asked Elliott about what employees describe as "rampant nepotism" at the hospital and senators said seven managers have anywhere from three, four or five relatives each on the payroll....

For instance, Nursing Director Leona Guest has a daughter, son and two nieces working at the hospital, all of whom were hired after she started working there, employees said.

read ... Acting state hospital chief lacks basic job requirements

Secret Meeting at Devil’s Thumb to shape Hawai’i Energy Policy

IM: Rocky Mountain Institute asserted that the “teams will have the rare opportunity to work in a creative, focused environment away from the distractions of our daily lives.”

Rocky Mountain Institute proposed that the Hawaii Business Model Innovation team tackle three issues.

The first would be to develop a shared long-term vision.

The second would be needed changes to existing regulatory and business models.

The third would be the potential role of the utility and other service providers in that vision.

Attendees had to pay their own way to the Denver International Airport and also pay a registration fee of $650.

There were many other expenses including financing the gathering, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, meals, etc.

These costs were generously provided by unnamed sponsors.

Hawaii was represented by Blue Planet Foundation Executive Director Jeff Mikulina, Hawaii Solar Energy Association Executive Director Leslie Cole-Brooks, two regulators and three regulatees.

The two regulators from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission were Commissioner Mike Champley and Chief of Research and Policy Jay Griffin.

The three regulatees from HECO were President and CEO Dick Rosenblum, Senior Vice President of Operations Dan Giovanni and Senior Vice President of Customer Service Jim Alberts.

(Solar and Wind Scammers trying to Milk Hawaii for every penny before LNG drives electric bills down.)

read ... Secret Meeting at Devil’s Thumb to shape Hawai’i Energy Policy

Hawaii in forefront of public-private education partnerships

SA: The Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) has been actively engaged in such partnerships, and, with the support of community organizations and private foundations, has worked successfully with private schools to support a community of students from both rural and urban areas.

Punahou School's Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program and ‘Iolani's KA‘I program are examples of programs that have set a national standard.

PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) serves 300 middle and high school students, primarily from the Roosevelt, McKinley and Kahaluu districts, with a commitment over seven years to summer courses that offer them the opportunity to earn DOE credits. PUEO also provides individual mentoring by teachers and graduates throughout the school year.

‘Iolani's KA‘I (Kukulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani) program serves students attending neighboring Jarrett Middle School with a six-week academic enrichment program for six summers from grades 7 to 12. ‘Iolani administrators work with these students throughout the year to encourage academic engagement and leadership.

In both PUEO and KA‘I, most students will be the first in their families to attend college. Spurred by a McInerny Foundation-funded feasibility study to explore proliferation of these programs, Sacred Hearts Academy has made a commitment to implementing a similar program this summer.

The DOE is encouraged by these efforts to increase the engagement of private schools on behalf of Hawaii students. Community organizations such as the KEY Project, YMCA, YWCA, Lawakua and many others have lent their expertise in helping create learning experiences that are challenging, engaging and rooted in understanding the unique gifts of Hawaii's cultural landscape.

Our shared objectives extend beyond summer programs for students. Public and private schools are collaborating to create professional development opportunities and curriculum partnerships in academic technology, STEM education and graduate training so that private and public school teachers can share learning materials and events.

read ... Hawaii in forefront of public-private education partnerships

Neal Milner: Getting Better Political Coverage

CB: Here are a few things we can do to become less complacent and more knowledgeable.

Scholars need to develop a comprehensive knowledge base about Hawaii; journalists have to become more knowledgeable sense-makers; and people generally need to overcome predispositions that encourage bad information.

Without a body of knowledge about Hawaii, there is no way you can put political events into perspective.

We need empirically based research about how we live here and the way we think about politics. We need scholarship that puts these into an historical perspective.

We need public intellectuals who can speak with depth and authority — not bluster — about this place.

Social scientists and historians in Hawaii need to make this kind of work part of their agenda. It’s been years since this was even remotely the case. In fact the bulk of good and bad academic writing about Hawaii has come from the outside

In order to propel a renaissance in political inquiry we need the same fervent spirit of inquiry that has driven the Hawaiian cultural renaissance.

Surveys can be one important source of knowledge if there are enough of them to trace trends and if the raw data are made available to the public.

One way to do this is to have a media consortium pay for surveys, which is the way the venerable Field Poll works in California. Another way is to nest the polling operation within the university. For instance, Marquette University Law School sponsors a statewide polling operation in Wisconsin.

But building this body of work will take a long time with little immediate payoff. As a backstop, we can use the large body of national research on elections and voters.

read ... Neal Milner: Getting Better Political Coverage

Star-Adv Uses Hawaii's Poor Voter Turnout to Promote Same-Day Registration Fraud

SA: Explanations for why eligible voters are so disengaged range from the rosy view that folks are satisfied with the status quo to the grim outlook that citizens have given up hope of even trying to make a difference through the ballot box. Both extremes are incorrect. A U.S. Census report last year sheds light on general attitudes that are applicable here, too: 19 percent of the nonvoters surveyed said they were too busy to cast a ballot.

Coming innovations offer hope on that count. The state plans to offer online voter registration starting in 2016, a welcome step that may spur interest especially among younger voters. The state must couple this advancement with other online tools that reinforce the importance of exercising the right to vote, for young adults and new citizens eligible for the first time, and for older residents who fell out of or never developed the habit. In addition, a worthy bill moving in the Legislature would let voters register at absentee polling places by the 2016 elections and as late as Election Day by 2018; we hope this measure passes.

Background: PEW: Hawaii Voter Participation Drops Below 45%--Worst in USA

read ... Fraud

Ethics Board: Council Candidate can keep job Overseeing Elections

HTH: Maile David can keep her position as deputy county clerk while running for the County Council, the Board of Ethics voted Wednesday after hearing about certain “shields” that have been put into place to protect the integrity of the election.

David has pulled papers for council District 6, currently represented by the term-limited Brenda Ford. The district covers South Kona and Ka‘u. David, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2010 and 2012 before she became deputy clerk, is joined in the race so far by potential candidates Fred Fogel and Richard Eugene Abbett.

David said she has also discussed the issue with corporation counsel and the state Office of Elections, and she sought the opinion from the board to be sure she was in the clear in her candidacy.

County Clerk Stewart Maeda told the board that he has assigned another employee from the Clerk’s Office to be his backup at the elections control center. The Clerk’s Office oversees the Elections Division, its employees, voter registration and the conduct of the elections.

The Ethics Board voted 4-1 to write an informal advisory opinion saying it sees no problem with her continuing work while a candidate. Vice Chairman Bernard Balsis Jr. said the letter will voice the opinion of the majority, while also including the minority view expressed by board member Douglass Adams.

“Technically I can see that you’ve taken appropriate steps … to avoid a conflict of interest,” Balsis said. “The perception in the community may be different and I don’t know if there are any shields you can put up in terms of community perception.”

Adams disagreed, saying he was “less sanguine” about the situation than his fellow board members.

“Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, and anything we do to cast aspersions on that, we have to be careful what we do,” Adams said.


read ... Another Election Story from ... Hawaii County

Maui PD: ‘I was a vice cop… and a meth addict’

NYP: Allison Moore joined the Maui Police Department when she was 23 years old and quickly climbed the ranks to narcotics vice cop. By day, she conducted investigations into big-time meth dealers and partnered up with the DEA, flying on helicopters looking for illegal drug activity. But nobody knew that she had a secret — she was a meth addict herself. Moore’s memoir, “Shards,” comes out April 22. She tells The Post’s Kate Storey her tale....

read ... Maui PD

City Claims Two way protected bike lane Won't Jam up South King Street

KITV: The city is planning to put in a protected bike lane on South King Street by the end of 2014. The lane will start near Alapa'i street and go to University avenue.

The city says the proposed bike lane won't affect travel times for motorists. The city did a six-month study of the six lane road in 2013 where it temporarily turned one of the lanes of South King street into permanent street parking, bringing six available lanes of travel down to five.

read ... Jammed Up?

Hawaii LNG From Boron, CA

NGI: Newport Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. said it supplied 7,100 LNG gallons to the Oahu SNG plant. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) earlier this year approved the LNG shipments to the utility, a unit of Macquarie Infrastructure Co. (see Daily GPI, March 11)....

Although the source of the larger LNG shipments from the U.S. mainland has not been publicly identified, sources at Clean Energy have confirmed their company, which produces LNG at several facilities around the United States, was competing to be the supplier for the longer-term projects....

ean Energy's Brian Powers, vice president of LNG production, said natural gas "again has proven its versatility by meeting the fueling needs of Hawaii Gas in an economically and environmentally friendly manner." The LNG was produced at Clean Energy's Boron, CA facility.

read ... Clean Energy from California

Group to discuss methods of making city Age 'friendly'

SA: A citizens group tasked with finding ways to make Oahu more accommodating for seniors and others will meet Thursday for the first time.

About 100 business and community leaders are part of the Age-Friendly City Citizens Advisory Committee. They will gather at Ala Moana Park's McCoy Pavilion Thursday morning and split up into working groups to look into six areas where appropriate long-range planning can help seniors and others: outdoor space and buildings; transportation; housing; communication and social involvement; civic participation and employment; and community support and health services.

read ... Group to discuss methods of making city 'friendly'

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