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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
April 29, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:00 PM :: 5167 Views

Lingle to Chair Djou Campaign Team

Special Interest Groups Can Hijack Hawaii's Elections if Late Voter Registration Bill Enacted

CATO: Minimum Wage Increase Not the Answer in Hawaii

Full Text: Taskforce Report Plans 'Refinery Closure Scenarios'

Kakaako: Ige Will Oppose Appointment of Kobayashi VP to HCDA

$52.4M CIP for Public Housing Renovation, DHS IT Planning

OHA Fails at 'Land and Power' Game

Borreca: "The story of the last 20 years has been land and how you use the power to control the land," said the late Cec Heftel, who represented Hawaii in Congress when the book appeared.

This week, watch what the men and women in power in Hawaii do. Their actions will be critically important to what Honolulu looks like for the next 20 years.

The most important move so far has been the lack of action to push forward an ill-conceived plan to allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to build condos on its property makai of Ala Moana Boulevard, even though residential construction on the property is against the law.

On Friday, the Senate shelved the last of three different proposals in conference that would have caused the land near the ocean to sprout high-rise towers.... (Translation: OHA will NOT become the path to profit for Hawaii developers.  As a result, Hawaiians are a little safer.)

Still up in the air is House Bill 1866 pushed by House Democratic majority leader Rep. Scott Saiki, that puts more controls on the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which is speeding along the development of Kakaako and also oversees the land makai of Ala Moana.

Abercrombie has until Thursday to decide if he will veto the bill.

The next act in this year's land-use drama is the appointment of Brian Tamamoto to an interim position on the HCDA....

And finally, if there were not enough players in this Kakaako shark pit, watch the post-session maneuvering with OHA and HCDA over Kewalo Harbor. HCDA gave interim approval to the Howard Hughes Corp. to develop and redo the harbor, which adjoins the Kakaako Makai land given to OHA. Hughes is already Kakaako's largest private landowner with 60 acres, including the Ward Centers.

read ... Now would be good time to update 'Land and Power'

HHSC Privatization Bill Killed by HGEA/UPW Controlled Legislators

WHT: A bill that would have authorized Hawaii’s semipublic hospitals to work with private partners won’t become law this year.

Senate Bill 3064, sponsored by Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, died late Friday night, when officials (No name flunkeys of HGEA/UPW) failed to release it.

The bill had made significant progress, Green said Monday.

“In spite of an incredible amount of consensus build, there still wasn’t political will (to pass the bill this session),” Green said.

Jay Kreuzer, CEO of Kona Community Hospital, said he was “devastated” by the bill’s abrupt halt, after months of progress in both chambers of the Legislature.

“We need to pull together a plan that’s more sustainable,” Kreuzer said. “Respectfully, the Legislature isn’t able to fund us at the level we need.”

It’s a catch-22 for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. hospitals, Kreuzer said. Legislators can’t find the funding to cover the hospital’s shortfalls, but also won’t authorize the hospitals to work with private partners who can help the hospitals grow and increase revenue.

read ... HHSC partnership bill falters at last step

DoE Sup't Pay Hike Bill Revived, Rules Violated for Re-Opened Conference at State Capitol

KHON: Last Friday was the deadline set by House and Senate negotiators to settle their differences in conference committee sessions. But so much attention was paid to a high-profile Turtle Bay measure that apparently some bills were overlooked – including 14 education measures. One would have funded early childhood education (HB2276), a bill that was heavily promoted by the Governor.... (and that one still didn't get passed today)...

Mindful of what happened, the House and Senate leadership on Monday signed a special agreement to have negotiators reconvene in a special conference session late in the afternoon on four measures: three education bills (HB1745 Charter school fees, HB1796 reduce use of restraints in sped classes and HB2257 Sup't Salary hike) and one bill that would grant tax incentives for manufacturers (HB2626) (Which didn't work out because DelaCruz refused to show up for Conference.)

“Reopening conference committee after the deadline is an extraordinary action,” said Rep. Scott Saiki, House Majority Leader. “But it was done because members of the House and Senate wanted to fix this.”

The special conference committee session reconvened at 4 p.m. Monday in Room 329. All four measures were subsequently approved.

The four will be placed on the agenda for final passage in the House and Senate on Thursday, the day the Legislature is set to adjourn.

read ... Education bills revived in rare conference at State Capitol

Today's Agenda: Nobody Wants  Wooley, Tamamoto

PR: State Rep. Jessica Wooley on Sunday sent an email to state senators offering to meet with them on her potentially troubled nomination as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

Wooley wrote that she had sent a similar email on April 4, but only three senators -- Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland; Sen. Les Ihara; and Sen. Russell Ruderman -- responded and agreed to meet with her.

read ... Political Radar

Dela Cruz Sabotages His Own Bill

PR: State House and Senate leaders extended a lifeline on Monday to HB2626 that would create a manufacturing tax credit....Rep. Clift Tsuji and other House negotiators were in Room 329 for the afternoon conference committee hearing and were ready to approve a new draft. But Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the lead Senate negotiator on the bill, chose to stay in his office....

Symbolically, House negotiators agreed to accept the last Senate draft of the bill, an unfinished product that has blank amounts for the tax credit and a defective date of July 1, 2050....

Sherry Menor-McNamara, the president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, which supported the tax credit, was among several people who appealed to Dela Cruz to show up.

Dela Cruz could not immediately be reached for comment, but he did tell people on Monday that he thought other bills should also have been given an extension from the Friday deadline on conference committee negotiations.

Sources said privately that Dela Cruz was also unhappy he had not been notified that talks on the manufacturing tax credit bill were being revived.

The House could potentially retaliate by going after one of Dela Cruz's bills. (Dole land exchange)

read ... Undone

Office of Healthcare Transformation to take lead role in Obamacare innovation waiver

PBN: the 2014 legislative session comes to a close, Giesting noted that discussions have switched gears to keep her office as is, for now.

“We will revisit the permanent structure in 2017,” she said. “It just got complicated, and there was particularly an interest in having us work on an Affordable Care Act innovation waiver that would be effective in 2017, with the idea being that we would be leading the innovation waiver task force.”

A separate bill—  House Bill 2581— has been advancing this session that would create an innovation waiver task force comprised of health care leaders who would develop a plan for taking advantage of the available waivers, which are intended to allow states to forge their own path toward implementing measures of the Affordable Care Act in ways seen fit for states’ individual markets. It too would be attached temporarily to the governor’s office and the bill proposes having Giesting serve as the chair....

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

read ... Transformation

Counties' haul of hotel taxes--A Piddling $10M Split 4 Ways

SA: The state's four mayors and County Council leaders failed in their full-court press to get the state Legislature to lift the cap on their share of hotel room tax revenues Friday, but they walked away with $10 million more for their troubles.

For each of the next two years, the counties will get $103 million from transient accommodations taxes, $10 million more than the $93 million annually they have received since 2011.

That comes out to $4.4 million more for Hono­lulu, $2.3 million more for Maui County, $2 million for Hawaii County and $1.5 million for Kauai County.

The new money will help a little, county officials said. But it's significantly less than what they had hoped for....

read ... Counties' haul of hotel taxes falls short of their goal

Contractor Lawsuit: UH Procurement Office Unprofessional, Causes Massive Construction Delays

CB: The company contracted to oversee various construction projects at the University of Hawaii is suing the school for more than $4.6 million over complications related to two projects, including $2.8 million for costly delays to the brand-new UH Manoa Campus Center.

The Campus Center complaint, filed in Circuit Court on Monday, comes on the heels of a separate lawsuit brought against the university by the same company, Honolulu Builders LLC, earlier this month. That suit contains similar allegations about another ongoing construction project, Hawaii Community College’s new Hale Aloha building.

Monday’s lawsuit basically accuses UH — specifically its procurement and capital improvement offices — of being unprofessional in handling numerous delays that held up the recently completed $47 million Campus Center Renovation and Expansion Project, which includes a $38 million fitness and recreation center. The center which was partially funded by student fees, opened earlier this month — more than a year later than planned.

read ... Contractor Suing University of Hawaii Over Campus Center Delays

Solutions to Tribal-Brained Inhumanity on Kauai

KE: Instead of seeking political “solutions,” which are typically more akin to a bandaid than a cure, what if we focused on practical solutions? What if we focused on shared values, instead of conflicting (and often shadowy) agendas?

Take, for example, the oft-promoted goal of reducing imports and increasing food security.

Under a political solution, people waste hours in the acrimonious dead zones of the County Council and Facebook fighting over a pesticide/GMO disclosure bill that does nothing to reduce pesticide use, promote small farms or improve the availability of land. Special interest groups fund opposing sides; money is wasted on advertising, lawsuits and jetting to other islands to protest or testify; conflict increases, divisiveness grows. Ideologies are bitterly defended, the community weakens and fractures. No food is produced, food security remains illusive.

Under a practical solution, folks mobilize for work days to clear, open and plant loi. People get exercise, learn useful skills, gain an understanding of land, water and culture, meet neighbors, build community and feel a sense of pride every time they look at that loi, or harvest from it. Money is invested in buying tractors, fixing water systems, securing leases. Healthy, indigenous food is produced....

People can work through differences of opinion and values, given a bit of empathy and some feeling for the long-range (both future and past). But not when they're running with the pack and high on the self-serving emotional rush of Good vs. Evil. Then their humanity goes cold, their brains turn tribal, and they become territorial.

read ... Tribal brained inhumanity

Kauai: Nude Beaches at the 'Precipice of Death'

KE: ...we are being given the exact same coastal trail we've been happily and safely using for years, though one alarmist termed it the "precipice of death."...

So why would anyone in their right mind want to encourage even more use, by pushing for vehicular access right to the bluff and a paved trail that would funnel people into a relatively pristine area with no bathrooms, no lifeguards and dangerous ocean conditions that have already resulted in numerous drownings and near-drownings?

Which brings us to a group that is small in number, but loud in voice. It includes Richard Spacer, whose sole agenda is nude beaches; David Dinner of 1000 Friends of Kauai, a membership-less group that doesn't do anything anymore except show up to say no to perfectly reasonable proposals; and Hope and Tim Kallai, who want to also squeeze a bluff top path out of Falko....

read ... More Details about what has happened to Kauai

Maui Meadows study finds that smart meters are safe

MN: A recent study tested five Maui Meadows residences that had opted to install smart meters in 2012 and found that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the devices is not enough to present a hazard to residents in the area.

"With the study, we found that the radio frequency that comes from smart meters is 5,000 times less than a cellphone to your ear," said Christian Rawson, a project manager with Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The institute partnered with Maui Electric Co. two years ago to secure $14.4 million to fund the South Maui pilot project that installed 91 smart meter devices at 86 Maui Meadows residences.

read ... About the Nuts Who still aren't convinced

Harassed by Crackpots, Kauai County May Seek Higher Signature Count for Ballot Initiatives

KGI: In the future, amending the Kauai County Charter via a citizen’s petition could be more difficult.

On Monday, the County of Kauai Charter Review Commission discussed, and later deferred for one month, a proposal that would quadruple the number of signatures required to petition an amendment to the charter from 5 to 20 percent of registered voters.

read ... Anti-Democratic

Ethically Challenged Developer Claims Vindication on Affordability at $699K

SA: The project's developer, Downtown Capital LLC, said that about 85 percent of the units in the tower known as Building B are being bought by local residents who meet moderate-income qualifications set by a state agency that approved 801 South in December under a workforce housing incentive program.

To date, buyers meeting income limits have signed purchase contracts for 347 of the tower's 410 units, according to Downtown Capital, a firmled by local affordable-housing developer Marshall Hung.

The results (allegedly) validate a claim by the developer that prices in Building B, which range from $352,000 to $699,000 for one- to three-bedroom units, largely are within the reach of moderate-income residents.

Background: Ethics complaint: HCDA Falsifies Kakaako Workforce Housing Affordability Formulas

read ... $699 is affordable?

State to pay $190,000 in suit over abuse of schoolgirls

SA: The settlement amount was recently added to legislation seeking nearly $3 million to satisfy more than 30 claims against the state. The bill is set for final approval before the Legislature adjourns this week.

The parties in the cases informed the court earlier this month that they had reached a settlement, but details were not included in court records at the time.

The federal lawsuits say the girls — who were between 7 and 8 years old at the time of the alleged abuse — were denied proper special-education services and that the abuse caused physical injuries constituting assault and battery as well as severe emotional distress.

The complaints describe alleged abusive acts during the 2010-11 school year against the girls, who all suffer from developmental disorders, including limited speech skills.

read ... Child Abuse

After Decade-Long Legal battle, Everybody Grabs for Slice of Substitute Teachers Backpay

KGI: ...recovering the over $4 million in accumulated legal fees over the past decade is still an uphill battle, according to Alston.

Because the lawyers worked on a contingency fee basis, the lawyers were paid by the teachers, as is customary in class action cases intended to produce a “common benefit” for the people who will receive damages.

In those cases, the customary “benchmark fee” is 25 percent of the benefit, and that is what was awarded by the court in the pending case for the substitute teachers.

According to Alston, state laws will allow the teachers to eventually recover some fees from the DOE.

Hoff feels impatient and wronged, having to incur legal fees and the interest he had expected on his delayed wages. He talked about a single mom who works two jobs, one as a substitute teacher.

“She was supposed to get $14,000 back for underpayments and thought she might be able to buy a new car,” Hoff recalled.

Carmen Legacy, who has been substitute teaching since 2000, voiced similar frustrations.

“I never looked online to research what I was supposed to be getting, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Legacy said. “But John (Hoff) told me, with interest, I was due to be paid $990.”

Her check was $430 for backpay after state and federal deductions. Legal fees also reduced her anticipated windfall.

read ... $990 - $430 = $560

Leapfrog: Hawaii Among Top 5 States for Hospital Quality

FPN: Maine has the highest percentage of top-rated hospitals, with 74% of its hospitals earning an "A" grade. Massachusetts was ranked second nationally, with 70% of its 64 graded hospitals earning the top grade. South Dakota, Illinois, and Hawaii rounded out the top five.

read ... safety improvements

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