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Thursday, August 21, 2014
August 21, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:43 PM :: 4575 Views

It was 55 years ago today we added the 50th state

Hawaii’s largest insurance provider pulls small business plans from health exchange

Hawaii Gets Mixed Reviews on Policies to Prevent and Fight Cancer

Saipan Gets better Representation than American Samoa

Djou Has 3-1 Fundraising Lead

CB: Funding will be a factor as they try to attract thousands of potential voters in the 1st Congressional District — a socially, culturally and economically diverse area of Oahu that ranges from Kapolei and Pearl City to Honolulu and Hawaii Kai.

Djou, 44, has the most campaign cash on hand with almost $440,000 as of July 20. He’s been able to stockpile money after sailing through the Aug. 9 primary without a serious competitor.

As a result, Djou has an almost three-to-one financial advantage over the 47-year-old Takai, who spent more than $500,000 to beat six other Democrats in the primary.

Donations are pouring into both camps....

If Djou wins, it’ll mark the first time Democrats have lost a CD1 race in a regular election since 1986, when Republican Pat Saiki dominated Mufi Hannemann.

“It would be a real coup for the Republicans,” Milner said. He added that the national GOP would make a big deal about a Djou win and use it to play into identity politics as Republicans try to broaden their base beyond mostly white voters and appeal to minorities.

read ... 3-1 Lead

Poll: 41% Aiona - 34% Ige - 15% Hannemann 

HNN: In the latest Hawaii News Now/Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll, Republican Duke Aiona is the front-runner in a three-way race with 41 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat David Ige with 34 percent and independent Mufi Hannemann with just 15 percent.

Aiona believes Hannemann will take voters away from Ige.

"In this case, Mufi is not Frank Fasi. Mufi Hannemann is a Democrat that's not happy with his party," Aiona said.

Aiona believes voter turnout will be low and for that reason his campaign is focusing on getting his supporters to show up on election day.

"You know the primary has a 41 percent voter turnout. The second lowest I believe in state history," he said.

"I believe the general is going to be the same way so what does that mean? You gotta get your votes out."

(NOTE: The poll was taken in July--before the Primary)

read ... Aiona Still Ahead

State admits 2,079 tax bills bogus

SA: The state said on Wednesday it mistakenly sent 2,079 balance-due notices in May and June to residents who paid their tax bills on time.

The erroneous bills, first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on July 25, caused concern among taxpayers, many of whom thought they owed more money and sent in additional checks.

At the time of the first newspaper story, the state Tax Department said it was unable to determine how many bad notices had been sent. On Wednesday the department released that number along with an explanation as to what caused the problem.

The erroneous bills were sent "due to delays in posting payments made by April 20th to taxpayers' accounts," said Mallory Fujitani, Tax Department spokeswoman.

"Delays in posting payments to taxpayers' accounts primarily occur when a taxpayer makes a payment by paper check," she said. "Processing a paper check takes substantially longer for the department to post compared to electronic payments."

During the months of January to June, the Department processed 691,273 paper checks and cash, she added.

read ... DoTax Still Can't Get it Right

Prosecutor investigates police shootings independently

SA: In its Aug. 13 editorial, "HPD transparency, oversight lacking," the Star-Advertiser says an independent agency should investigate shootings by Honolulu police officers.

This, in fact, already happens every time a police officer employs deadly force.

During his first term in the 1990s, Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro established protocols for independent investigations by the prosecutor's office into police-involved shootings that resulted in death. He restored this practice in 2010 when he returned to the office.

The Honolulu Police Department supports this procedure and has cooperated fully with the prosecutor's office. Police notify Kaneshiro immediately after a shooting and allow him unrestricted access at the scene. Accompanied by an investigator from the prosecutor's office, he examines evidence, takes photographs, interviews witnesses and gathers his own set of facts....

Kaneshiro also believes the people have a right to know why an officer was not charged in a deadly-force incident and the office now has a policy for doing so.

Disclosure statutes prohibit law enforcement agencies such as the prosecutor's office from disseminating what is known as "non-conviction data." This is meant to protect the privacy of persons involved in cases in which no criminal charges were brought. Unlike records that are filed in court and become public documents, this information can only be shared with other law enforcement agencies or the persons themselves.

While this restricts the nature and amount of information it can release, the prosecutor's office believes there is a pressing need to strike a balance between personal privacy and the public's right to know. By providing a timeline of events and citing the statutes that justify a police-involved shooting, the office strives to be as transparent as possible while still abiding by disclosure laws.

read ... Investigation Independent?

Anti-Aquarium Obsessives Pleased by Abercrombie Defeat

TE: "With Abercrombie out, it's a safe assumption that Bill Aila will not be appointed as head of DLNR", Umberger says. "And we can only hope that the new governor will put someone in the position who has a more favorable view of Hawaii's coral reefs."

read ... The Ecologist

Election Review this Friday

SBH News: The State Elections Commission meets Friday at 10 a.m. on the 2nd floor of the Leopapa State Office Building to discuss the Aug. 9 primary election, the Aug. 15 special election and the November 4 General Election and to review the actions of Chief Elections Officer, Scott Nago. Didn't like the recent election procedures, or the 800 missing Maui ballots disclosed 6 days after the Primary, or the rushed special voting in Puna?  What about the unconstitutional release of partial voting results before all precincts had voted or recall the gaffes during the 2012 election by the head of Elections? Then come this Friday morning. This is not a partisan issue. I'll be there. I have argued for changes for more than four years. They've not come. There must be accountability for poor performance. The integrity of our voting process is at stake. Join me!

read .. SBH News

HMSA is first health plan to join Hawaii Health Information Exchange

PBN: The agreement between the two organizations allows HMSA to use Hawaii Health Information Exchange’s network to transfer patient lab results to providers through the exchange's network.

“Our partnership with the Hawaii HIE has the potential to significantly improve the quality of care our members receive,” Hilton Raethel, HMSA's executive vice president and chief health officer, said in a statement. “Providers will have lab data readily available enabling them to make better diagnoses, provider better care options, and eliminate the unnecessary costs associated with redundant testing.”

With the recent addition, the Hawaii Health Information Exchange is now sharing data with 13 hospitals, laboratories and HMSA. Christine Sakuda, the exchange's executive director, said that other exchanges across the country are ahead of Hawaii because they have more participation from health care providers. But she said a deliberate approach is better to protect the privacy of patient data....

Other health care organizations using the exchange include Castle Medical Center, Hawaii Pacific Health hospitals, The Queen’s Medical Center, and Diagnostic Laboratories of Hawaii.

read ... Privacy?

Rates Coming Down? HECO Inks LNG Deal in British Colombia

PBN: Hawaiian Electric Co. has reached an agreement with a subsidiary of Canada’s largest private utility to undergo a key liquefied natural gas process that could help lower its customers’ bills, a spokesman for the Honolulu-based utility told PBN.

The agreement with Fortis BC Energy Inc., is for liquefaction capacity in British Columbia, Canada, under controlled rates approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

Liquefaction turns natural gas into LNG, a cold liquid that takes 600 times less space than gas.

The agreement is subject to approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and will require other regulatory approvals and permits. It can also be assigned to the selected bidder for HECO's supply of LNG, according to Peter Rosegg, spokesman for the state’s largest electric utility....

Hawaiian Electric believes that LNG affords a unique opportunity to reduce customers’ electric bills and improve environmental quality.

Background: Hawaii and U.S. Territories aim to increase fuel diversity with LNG imports

GT: Green Energy Scammers say no to LNG (Quick IQ test: Are you surprised?)

read ... Hawaiian Electric strikes deal with Canada's largest private utility

Expectations high for HECO energy plan

HNN: Hawaiian Electric will not discuss its energy transition plan before it's filed with the Public Utilities Commission. Hawaii News Now has learned it will include five "major pieces" that deal with improving power supply and adding capacity for more rooftop solar.

The PUC rejected HECO's submission in April and ordered the company back to the drawing board.

"There's been enough time," said Colin Yost of solar company RevoluSun.

He said the solar supplier has more than 300 contracts for rooftop solar waiting for HECO's go-ahead.  The filing deadline is Tuesday.

HTH: Punatics Hyping Geothermal Health Scare (again)

read ... Expectations high for HECO energy plan

Unions to Host Superferry Conference

TGI: ...The first Hawaiian Inter-Island Ferry Conference to explore pros and cons of Hawaiian Inter-Island Ferry systems is scheduled Oct. 6 in Honolulu.

Recent online polls showing 80 percent in favor of ferry service prompted the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, and the Master Mates and Pilots, to organize six speakers at the five-hour town hall meeting.

“This will be a chance for people to address their concerns,” said Randy Swindell, MM&P port agent. “We just want to get the discussion started and to try to get the inter-island ferry service resumed over here.”

The hurricane events are another example of the need for additional craft to quickly move equipment and resources from island to island, he said. The Superferry would also mean more jobs and create revenue for local economies— and create competition for the airlines.

“When there is no competition then the sky is the limit,” he said....

A Honolulu Star Advertiser poll in June recorded 1,586 votes to support pursuing the return of the inter-island Superferry, including an EIS — against 230 no votes....

The Inter-Island Ferry Conference will be from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Pier 19 Ferry Facility. Neighbor island residents, mayors and county councils are also invited to attend or provide feedback.

To attend contact Hawaii residents are invited to submit a viewpoint, pro or con, by Sept. 22 to Call 808-523-8183 for any other questions....

read ... Superferry?

Ex-Homeless Spills Beans: We Just Drank and Smoked Weed

KDS: The 35-year-old actor recently posted a major throwback photo on his Facebook account showing a younger self beside his humble abode- a van.

The van which had a noticeable Scooby-Doo design painted on it used to be his home when he moved to Hawaii after dropping out of just one semester of college....

In an interview with The Independent, Chris recalled his life back in Hawaii saying:

"It's a pretty awesome place to be homeless," he said.

"It would be different if I lived on the streets of Chicago and ate garbage from a dumpster. We just drank and smoked weed and worked minimal hours, 15-20 hours per week, just enough to cover gas, food and fishing supplies. You know, it was charming time."

Working as a waiter at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in Maui was the future Star-Lord's only source of income, but it was also a stepping stone for him in getting a career in acting he would now love.

read ... The Truth

State revises upward its growth forecast

SA: Hawaii's economy is expected to grow faster this year than previously forecast after inflation remained mild during the first six months of 2014.

The state revised upward its growth forecast on Wednesday and projects Hawaii's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, to rise 2.6 percent  this year, up from 2.4 percent in its May forecast, according to a quarterly report released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

Honolulu inflation for the first six months of 2014 was up 1.1 percent over the year-earlier period and the state now expects inflation to be up 1.5 percent this year, which is lower than the 2.1 percent projected in its earlier forecast.

Hawaii's real (inflation-adjusted) personal income growth also was revised upward. The state now expects it to rise 2.6 percent, up from 2.1 percent in its May forecast.

read ... Abercrombie Gone, Growth Returns

Students, faculty call on regents to Fire Lassner, Reinstate Apple

SA: University of Hawaii at Manoa students and faculty called on the Board of Regents to reinstate fired Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple at a Thursday meeting where the board was later expected to approve an interim replacement.

Twenty people signed up to testify at the meeting, held on the Windward Community College campus. The majority said they have lost trust in UH President David Lassner and the board for the way Apple's firing was handled -- without input from students or faculty....

At Thursday's meeting, some called for Lassner to resign, others want an investigation of the firing, and others warned that the regents are losing credibility for not reversing the decision.

"You've got a whole bunch of people here asking you to do something. I hope you hear us," said university astronomer Jeff Kuhn. "We the faculty have lost confidence and are embarrassed by the administration's actions. ... Many of us reached a tipping point with the Apple affair."

Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, senior professor at Manoa's Center for Hawaiian Studies, said Apple's termination has made UH the laughing stock among research universities across the country. ...

If you don't reinstate him, people are going to start calling for all your resignations," she said, drawing loud applause and cheers from the crowd.

read ... Fire Lassner & Carbone?

UH athletic director still expects a $1.48 million loss despite

SA: The University of Hawaii athletic department says it is targeting a 5 percent cut on operational budget line items in an attempt to help rein in its projected deficit for the current fiscal year.

The 5 percent reduction does not include salaries, benefits or "areas impacting our student-athletes," said athletic director Ben Jay, adding the actual amount was still being figured.

Even with the reductions, Jay told the Board of Regents Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics that the 21-team department envisions a deficit of $1.48 million for the fiscal year that closes June 30, 2015....

SA: UH athletics need community support

read ... UH Athletics

Lawsuit: Tranny Demands $300K After State Keeps Him out of Ladies Room

HNN: A transgender woman who has filed both state and federal discrimination complaints because she was not allowed to use the women’s restroom at her his state office for years said Wednesday she’s now the victim of retaliation from co-workers.

(Quick IQ Test:  Can you change a Y chromosome into an X chromosome?)

A judge Wednesday ruled against the state and did not force Kelli Keawe, 50, to settle her his Circuit Court lawsuit which will likely cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Keawe, a transgender woman, filed suit four years ago against the state because she claimed for nine years she has not been allowed to use a women's restroom down the hall from her his office at the Hawaii Paroling Authority, where's she's an office assistant.

"They automatically told me I'm not allowed to use the female restroom. I have to use an unmarked bathroom," Keawe said.  (The horror!)

Instead, Keawe said state Public Safety Department officials told her him to use two unisex restrooms that have since been designated for the disabled at the Public Safety headquarters complex at 919 Ala Moana, near Ward Avenue....

State officials began allowing Keawe to use the women's restroom in late April, after nine years of her complaints and that's when she said she began to suffer retaliation in her his workplace.

"Messing my desk. Turned into trashing my desk, turned into hiding my work assignments," Keawe said.

State officials called those charges "baseless" and a July 9 letter from Public Safety Director Ted Sakai found there was “no evidence to substantiate any” of her 10 allegations of workplace retaliation complaints....

Mr. Hina Wong-Kalu, who heads Kulia Na Mamo, a transgender advocacy group, was in the courtroom to show Keawe support.....

(Reality Lesson: Sexual orientation is a choice, gender is not.  Learn this.)

Meanwhile: Tennessee teen suspended for saying ‘bless you’

read ... Coming to a Ladies Room Near You

Former Maui mayoral candidate Waikiki to be freed

MN: Loo appeared frustrated in court, especially after both Lowenthal and Cook could not exactly remind Waikiki on the record what his requirements were while on supervised release.

Loo then thumbed through Waikiki's court files and read the requirements for Waikiki in open court.

Prior to Waikiki's latest arrest after the candidate forum, police issued an all-points bulletin for him. He was being sought on the warrant and for a second-degree theft investigation. Waikiki had also been reported missing by a friend who reported last seeing Waikiki at Paia Bay on June 24.

On July 15, Waikiki was among six mayoral candidates who appeared for a 90-minute debate that was broadcast live on Akaku: Maui Community Television.

Two plainclothes police officers were waiting outside the meeting hall where the debate was held.

read ... Waikiki to be freed

Affordable Housing: 50,000 units needed

HNN: Well, we finally know how many housing units are needed to keep up with demand in Hawaii just in the next two years: 50,000.

That's a staggering amount and nobody knows if we're close to meeting that goal, according to those at a state and house leadership briefing last week.

What became clear at that briefing is that nobody is tracking the overall number and nobody is being held responsible for coming up with a plan.

For example, there are 43,000 applications to build homes on Hawaiian homelands and a 10,000-application waiting list for Hawaii public housing. Public housing is already at 98 percent occupancy....

What's considered affordable? If your household income is $64,000 you shouldn't be paying more than $1,600 a month in rent or mortgage.

read ... Local Connection: Affordable Housing

HEMA report shows 260 Big Island homes damaged in Iselle storm

KITV: The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says that 260 Big Island homes were damaged from Tropical Storm Iselle....

According to the state, just over 1,400 people showed up to Hawaii county disaster recovery centers. 903 people reported some type of damage from the storm.

FEMA also wrapped up its preliminary assessment regarding damage to individual homes. It won't release those numbers until the governor makes a formal request for assistance from the United States President.

If the president were to give a disaster declaration, new centers for help would open.

read ... Iselle

Organic Store 'Accidentally' Raised Prices as Iselle Approached

HNN:  Whole Foods took heat for its prices charging nearly $30.96 for 12 bottles of 1.5 liter Hawaiian Isles water and $28.56 for 12 bottles of 1 liter water. (Its organic water.  It costs more.) However the store announced on Twitter it was typo on the signs. It should have said $15.48 and $14.28 respectively. The store also said the registers were ringing up the correct price. (Happens all the time.  Totally understandable. Uh huh....)

The state received 103 calls and emails about price gouging.  The Hawaii Better Business Bureau fielded 87 reports.  So far there have been no confirmed cases of gouging.

read ... Its Usually this High

New law toughens penalties for domestic violence — but is it right?

KHON: House Bill 1993 makes it a felony if someone abuses a household member in the presence of a child who is under 14 years old.

Previously, it would take a third offense within a year to make it a felony. The new law also increases the probationary period from two to four years.

But questions are arising over the consequences if a child has to testify to help prosecute the case.

KHON2 spoke with someone who witnessed domestic violence as a child, a prosecutor, and advocates for the victims. They like the intent of the law, but putting it into practice brings a lot of uncertainty.

Lydia Pavon repeatedly witnessed an abusive relationship since she was five years old. “He made it a point that we witnessed it. If he did it at night, then he’d wake us up and have us line and watch what was happening,” she said.

read ... New law toughens penalties for domestic violence

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