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Friday, August 22, 2014
August 22, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:07 PM :: 4841 Views

Ige Cancels: Will be only Candidate Missing from First Gubernatorial Forum

Overlooking Wreckage, UH Regents Claim to Take Responsibilities Seriously

Duncan Announces One Year Delay in Teacher Evaluations

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Puna Voting

Hawaii Marine instills ‘Ohana spirit during Afghanistan deployment

OHA Cronies Claim 2000 Statements of Support for Tribal Recognition

Federal Recognition: What Happens Next?

Hawaii Requests Presidential disaster declaration for Iselle

Race to the Top? Former DOE Chief Procurement Officer sues department

HNN: As the Department of Education's chief procurement officer, Andrell Aoki managed over $100 million in contract awards each year.

But in March, the Mililani resident said the DOE fired her because she questioned the legality of several multi-million dollar contracts relating to the DOE's "Race to the Top" program.

"There was just tremendous pressure to get these race projects completed, pushed out so that we can start expending other race funds," she said.

"I do believe we wasted a lot of federal dollars."

In a lawsuit filed in state Circuit Court, Aoki alleges that her supervisor, DOE Chief Financial Officer Amy Kunz, took steps to fire her after Aoki opposed a nonbid contract issued to a New Jersey firm.

That firm, the Danielson Group, provided training for teacher evaluations but Aoki said other companies were qualified to bid on the work.

Aoki's suit, filed by local attorney Roman Amaguin, also alleges that the DOE illegally awarded a multi-million dollar contract to manufacturer Lenovo for laptop computers.

KITV: Can you pass a Common Core 5th grade math test?

read ... Former DOE official sues department

Did Health Connector Sign Multi-Mullion Dollar Contract to Fix Website--or Not?

SA: Minnesota-based UnitedHealth said in a document obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that its Optum unit, which provides information and technology services, was awarded the Hawaii exchange contract.

CGI said it was invited to bid on the contract but declined.

In a document UnitedHealth drew up for Honolulu hotels seeking housing cost estimates for employees, it said anywhere between six and 70 workers would need accommodations from August to May to work on the Connector contract. UnitedHealth asked for a response by Aug. 12.

"UnitedHealth group was awarded the Hawaii Exchange contract and will be sending employees to this area for an extended period of time to manage this piece of business," the document said.

Despite UnitedHealth's statements to the contrary, Tom Matsuda, the Connector's interim executive director, said he has not yet selected a new contractor to revamp the Hawaii exchange.

"We are evaluating proposals but have not made a final decision and, to be clear, there is no contract with any new vendor," Matsuda said....

"It's like pulling teeth from a chicken trying to get information from them," said Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai), adding that the Connector hasn't held CGI accountable for its lack of productivity. "The taxpayers and elected officials should continue to be frustrated with the lack of specificity and how much this is actually costing. It's exasperating that you just can't get an easy answer."

read ... UnitedHealth signs pact to repair state exchange

Star-Adv: Time for Gubernatorial Candidates to get Specific on Health Connector

SA: One encouraging prospect: All of the candidates seeking to be the state's next governor seem inclined to find a better, more economical way of serving the uninsured....

The urgency for such efforts increased last week when the Hawaii Medical Service Association withdrew from a major element of the exchange, the part that offers health insurance plans for small businesses, providing tax credits to make them more affordable. This leaves only Kaiser Permanente serving the small-business market -- which is where many of those currently uninsured are found....

Even more important is the work of a task force lawmakers authorized to take advantage of an opening in 2017 for an "innovation waiver" -- approval for an alternative insurance delivery system. Beth Giesting, the state's health-care transformation coordinator, said the group would convene soon and have a report for the Legislature before the next session.

Matsuda said that whatever "innovation" is created for 2017, the law still requires it to perform basic functions, such as determining eligibility for financial assistance, allowing comparison shopping and enabling enrollment. Without further changes in the law, it won't be as easy to jettison parts of the ACA as some politicians suggest.

Still, the political will to find a better way for Hawaii -- one suited to our unique environment -- is essential. Now the politicians must come up with specifics for how they intend to pursue that goal.

read ... Specifics

Borreca: Kinder, gentler Mufi moves forward

Borreca: ...One of his first commercials, heard last week on the radio, is an apology of sorts for his past take-no-prisoners political style.

"I have also learned a lot while being out of office," he says.

"Campaigns can be humbling experiences. After each one you ponder and reflect on the lessons learned. I realize I must be more sensitive to others as we work through complex challenges ...

"Given another chance to serve, I promise compassionate and collaborative leadership that is respectful and responsive to the wishes of the people," Hannemann says.

In an interview, Hannemann explained that he felt he needed to square up with the voters early on....

read ... Inouye's Borreca Helping Mufi, hmmmmm

Anti-GMO Activists Commit Massive Campaign Spending Violations

CB: The nonprofit group behind the Maui County ballot initiative known as the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for Keiki and the Aina (SHAKA) Movement has been placing ads in local papers and sharing information online to help raise awareness of the initiative. In less than three weeks, it has raised more than $18,000.

Donations have been pouring in since the group’s fundraising campaign ... was launched July 28, including an (ILLEGAL) anonymous $9,000 donation pledged Wednesday. The group is hoping to reach $100,000.

But the organization hasn’t registered with the Campaign Spending Commission, despite a law that requires any groups that spend or receive at least $1,000 to influence a ballot initiative to register within 10 days of the initiative being certified. The Maui County Clerk certified the bill June 6.

Luxury Realtor Mark Sheehan, one of the leaders of the SHAKA Movement, said during a phone interview Wednesday that he wasn’t aware of the commission’s requirement to register.

read ... About a bunch of violations 

Kauai Shivanized

KE: While reading an article about anti-GMO activist Vandana Shivain the current issue of The New Yorker, I suddenly understood what had happened to little Kauai: We were Shivanized.

The “take no prisoners, no co-existence, us against them” mindset; the disinformation campaign; the strategy of attacking and ostracizing critics; the characterization of the seed companies as “pure evil;” the messianic call to “expel them from your islands,” starting with Kauai; the war terminology, and most especially, the fear-mongering — it all began with Shiva at her Jan. 17, 2013 Kauai talk sponsored by Hawaii SEED.

As acclaimed reporter Michael Specter makes clear in The New Yorkers, that's Shiva's schtick. As part of her ongoing “pilgrimage,” Shiva unceasingly trots the globe saying stuff that ranges from not quite true to outright false, viciously attacking anyone who disagrees, simplifying the complex issue of food and agricultural production down to a single simple solution: If we just return to organic farming, eliminate any seed created in a laboratory, ban all fertilizers, everything will be OK.

Except, as Specter points out, it won't.

read ... Shivanized

'UH is broken' after Apple's firing

HNN: As University of Hawaii president David Lassner and the Board of Regents listened, testifiers vented their frustration over a lack of information on the firing of former Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple.

"We will continue to call for investigations into the firing of Chancellor Apple," student Bret Polopolus-Meredith said.

"We just have no answers. It's very frustrating because you continue to talk to them. You continue to ask them questions. But all they tell you is it just happened," student Ryan Mandado said.

Many of the students and faculty who signed up to testify at the regents meeting at Windward Community College said they don't trust Lassner or the board.

"They can't articulate a reason because they have no reason. The reasons why he was removed are hidden and they're afraid to actually admit those reasons," UH associate professor Bob Cooney said.

"Words cannot express the disappointment for the blatant disregard of the voice of the students, faculty and community," ASUH president Steven Nishihara said.

read ... Fire Lassner & Regents

Commission to discuss Hawaii primary election held day after tropical storm damaged Puna area

AP: The Hawaii Elections Commission will be discussing the recent primary, which involved closing two precincts because of storm damage and then giving those voters a makeup election a week later.

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago is expected to provide his review of the primary at a meeting Friday. The public will also have an opportunity to comment.

SA: Lawsuit asks that anyone kept from the polls by Iselle be allowed to cast a vote

Related: ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Puna Voting

read ... Election Commission

Family Court judge wants to treat juvenile offenders before it's too late

SA: ...there was certainly nothing to compare with the childhood and adolescent experience of the kids who came before him in more than 19 years on the Family Court bench (Browning spent about nine months handling civil cases before that).

Some had made one or more attempts at suicide. There was drug use, often starting in the pre-teen years. Many had endured, he said, what could only be called trauma at home. Browning added that what most of them needed was not incarceration but treatment, in an effort to stave off the behavior that would turn them into a real threat to society who belonged in prison.

Last year he co-chaired the Hawaii Juvenile Justice Working Group, as part of a reform effort supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Last legislative session the group backed a bill that aims to cut the number of youths incarcerated by more than half in the next five years, directing more resources ($1.26 million so far) to early-intervention and treatment programs.

read ... R Mark Browning

Child Molesters to Go Free?  Electronic enticement law challenged as unconstitutional, vague

KHON: A law that prohibits sexual predators from going after children online is being challenged as unconstitutional.

The electronic enticement law makes it illegal for adults to communicate online with anyone under 18 years old and then meet with them with the “intent” of committing a felony, such as a sexual act.

Defense attorney Victor Bakke argued in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court Thursday that the law is too vague, because how do you prove “intent”?

According to a criminal law professor, the law as it is written is too vague. But is it’s vague enough to make it unconstitutional? Probably not.

The Electronic Enticement Statute took effect in 2002, and the Attorney General’s office says there have been 42 cases prosecuted statewide.

read ... Electronic enticement law challenged as unconstitutional, vague

PUC Uses Hurricane Shutdown to Hide Secret Docket

IM: In anticipation of the potential threat of Hurricanes Iselle and Julio hitting Hawai`i, some offices closed down on Thursday, August 7 and did not re-open until Monday, August 11.

One such office was the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission. That closure affected normal business practices.

Usually each day, but not on August 7, after closing their office, the Public Utilities Commission Data Management System sends out an email blast to everyone who has signed up to receive their daily blasts.

The Data Management System *DMS) sends out a Daily Activities Report (DAR) which lists all documents filed at the Public Utilities Commission that day including all new applications and all Decisions and Orders.

The blast got lost. The computer shut down Thursday and didn't come on-line until Monday morning. The blast was never sent out.

Meanwhile last April the Public Utilities Commission rejected the HECO Companies Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) Report. The HECO Companies were given 90 days to fix the mess.

The HECO Companies must replace their deficient three-utility RP Report with individual HECO, MECO and HELCO Power Supply Improvement Plans.

The deadline is August 26.

Historically the utility would file an application to request PUC approval of something and potential parties would have 20 days to file Motions to Intervene.

But Order 32257 embedded in the August 7 blast proposed a different process....

The Public Utilities Commission added anti-lurking language in their Order opening this docket.

The commission observes that the review to be conducted in this docket will address detailed technical issues concerning the power supply systems of each of the HECO Companies. Potential intervenors or participants are cautioned that they should be prepared to address these issues in depth and to meaningfully participate in the discussion and resolution of same.”

By luck one person asked the Public Utilities Commission Chief Council about the HECO Companies August 26 deadline to file their Power Supply Improvement Plans. That person found out that a docket was already opened.

That chance meeting led to the coconut wireless discovering the existence of Docket No. 2014-0183 which was opened by the PUC on August 7. The deadline for  filing Motions to Intervene is next Tuesday.

The proceedings will probably have two levels of confidentiality, one for material restricted from the public such as sensitive transmission and financial data, and a second level of sensitive data which can only be viewed by intervenors who are non-competitors of the HECO Companies.

IM: Watchdogging Hawaii Energy Policy

read ... Hurricane Trick 

HART Considers Renewal of Grabauskas' Contract

KITV: Grabauskas was hired in April 2012 at a salary of $245,000 per year. With housing and transportation allowances, his annual salary stands at $287,000.

The CEO's three-year contract is set to expire next April and the HART board deliberated his new contract for more than two hours behind closed doors....

He has earned a $35,000 bonus the past two years after glowing reviews of his job performance.

read ... HART board starts talks for rail CEO's new contract

Hunger in Hawaii a growing problem

HNN: A recently released report on hunger in America includes statistics compiled by agencies from all 50 states. The Hawaii Food Bank submitted information for inclusion in the report, which is released once every four years.

Over the past four years, the number of people annually served by the Food Bank has risen from 183,500 to 287,000....

62% of respondents said they had to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities.

SA: Do you or anybody you know use Hawaii Foodbank or other food pantry? -- 13% 'yes'

read ... One Fifth

Combat Gear Blurs Lines Between Cops and Military, in Ferguson and Hawaii

CB: The islands have received tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Homeland Security since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, fueling purchases of military-style weaponry.

read ... Invasive Species

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