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Saturday, November 8, 2014
November 8, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:51 PM :: 3622 Views

Ige Administration Accepting Job Applications

Hawaii Clinton Operative Tied to $500M Emerald Fraud

Veterans Day Parade Hilo, Sat. Nov 8

Kona Planned Parenthood Abortion Facility Loses Lease, Must Close

Waipahu Rail Development -- Zoning Meeting

Aegis Combat System Goes Two For Two In Latest Flight Tests off Kauai

Operating Loss? How Hawaii Corporate Income Taxes Compare

After Defeating Preschool Amendment, HSTA Wants Public Preschools

AP: Teachers association President Wil Okabe suggested that the Good Beginnings Alliance's Children's Action Network, which campaign spending records show received $500,000 from Kamehameha Schools and $350,000 from the Omidyar Family Trust, pump some of that money into legislation that would allow for a public preschool system within the state Department of Education.

Zysman asked: Will the union mobilize its teachers to fight for preschool, especially when they're faced with other pressing issues such as pay and classroom air conditioning?

"I've never seen HSTA have early education as a priority," she said.

But they both agree that what happens next largely depends on the administration of Gov.-elect David Ige, who was against the proposal to amend Hawaii's constitution that prohibits public funds paying for private educational programs. One reason for his opposition is that private preschools aren't in the communities that need them the most, Ige said.

Okabe said he'd like to see Ige restore the public school system's junior kindergarten, which was eliminated this school year. It would simply be a matter of changing back the birthdate requirements for when children can enter kindergarten, Okabe said.

But Ige said Friday it's not that simple.

"There are lots of issues involved with that," he said. "You know, to change the entry age again after just changing it is another huge, huge disruption to the process. So you know we have to make that assessment about whether there will be value in changing the entry age at this point after we've gone through that whole process."

A priority of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's failed re-election campaign was to offer state-funded preschool to Hawaii's 17,000 4-year-olds using a combination of public and private preschool options.

But the state attorney general pointed out the constitution's prohibition, which led to the ballot question. Hawaii is the only state with a constitution that bars public money paying for private preschool.

read ... Backers of defeated Hawaii preschool measure say campaign raised awareness

50MW Power source and cost for rail transit still unresolved

KHON: People close to the Honolulu rail project including federal advisers have flagged electricity as a major unresolved matter and cost risk for rail. Whether HART or HECO end up paying, either way folks on Oahu are picking up the tab.

Honolulu’s rail project has been touted as a high-tech electric-powered feat of engineering. And it needs a lot of that power — 30 to 50 megawatts. That’s about a third to a half of what an Oahu power plant puts out, or about 15,000 homes at peak energy times.

“When we have heat waves like in the summer they (HECO) told us to conserve. How are they going to find the extra power for the train when it becomes operational?” said UH engineering professor Panos Prevedouros.

HECO said in a statement: “We’ve been working with the city and HART to assess the energy needs of the project. Based on our analysis, we expect to have enough resources to continue meeting the energy needs of all our customers.”

Always Investigating asked over and over how much it will cost and who has to pay for it, but HECO wouldn’t give specifics and even HART doesn’t yet know.

read ... Electricity

COFA Deal Forces Micronesians onto Obamacare Exchange

SA: In the wake of the legal decision, the Hawaii Department of Human Services announced temporary emergency rules that rightly keep state-funded health coverage intact for up to 120 days. During this transition period, affected residents must sign up for new health plans through the Hawaii Health Connector. It is essential that outreach to the COFA population during this period be consistent and dogged, through all possible channels, including government agencies, nonprofits and other affiliated groups.

The coming changes will affect the healthiest members of this population. Noncitizen children and pregnant women and aged, blind and disabled individuals will continue to receive medical coverage at their current levels, uninterrupted, according to DHS. It is important to preserve aid for these most-vulnerable groups.

read ... The Only Way to get anybody to sign up

City May Scrap Plan for Sand Island Homeless Camp

CB: The costs of appeasing state concerns about potential soil contamination may not be worth it, Ember Shinn, the city’s managing director, said Friday....

Further, the city had hoped to cover a portion of the 5-acre lot with recycled asphalt to contain any contamination, but the Health Department is now concerned about the chemical composition of the asphalt and is pushing for the area to be covered with crushed coral instead, said Shinn. That could cost another $40,000.  (People who sleep on the street can't sleep on crushed up bits of street.)

“We are kind of staggered at that expense,” she said. “And of course nobody can sleep on crushed coral, so we have to put some sort of pallet or other surface over that to make it more comfortable.”

Those extra expenses increase the overall project cost to about $1 million — money that may be better spent elsewhere, said Shinn.

Asked if the city was looking to scrap the project entirely, Shinn said, “I can’t say that isn’t a consideration. I cannot say that we aren’t worried about that because the price tag is almost a million dollars now and we think that we can do a lot more with $1 million.”

“We are looking at all of the different options to spend $1 million now,” she added.  

Background: Homeless tent cities: Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu?

read ... Price of Environmental Regs

ORI off HUD's Hook, Caldwell Ordered to Spend $2.9M on Stuff the City Was Paying for Anyway

CB: The HUD agreement is significantly more lenient than past federal demands. Not only does the city not have to repay any HUD funds, but HUD has eased restrictions on how ORI uses its HUD-funded facilities....

The $2.9 million that the city will expend on HUD approved projects include some of Caldwell’s top priories.

The city will use $1.4 million on a new fire station in Hauula. Of that, $1 million will go to design and planning costs. Another $400,000 will go to pay Choon and Mark James for property they own that the city condemned for the fire station.

The city already offered the Jameses $521,000 for the property, its fair market value, according to documents. The additional $400,000, agreed to by the Jameses is to avoid ongoing costly litigation and to allow the project to move forward.

The city will also use $567,000 to staff a new Strategic Development Office, which will manage city properties, including low-income housing and units for the homeless.

Another $930,000 will go toward renovating Pauahi Hale in Chinatown, which has housed low-income tenants. Mental Health Kokua is taking over management of the building. About half the units are expected to serve mentally ill homeless clients. The city will provide 24-hour public restroom facilities in the building, in response to ongoing community concerns that the homeless are relieving themselves on the streets because of a lack of facilities....

Under an agreement with HUD, ORI must ensure that the Wellness Center serves 50 disabled clients daily. ORI will have to comply with this requirement for only five years, down from the 20 years initially stipulated by HUD.

HUD found that Camp Pineapple was being marketed as cabins for weddings, fundraisers and corporate retreats in violation of federal rules, according to federal documents.

However, HUD has agreed to remove any requirements that ORI comply with grant guidelines for how the facility is used, said Shinn.

“It’s a ... win for ORI...” she said....

SA: City gets to shift funds for projects

read ... $2.9M Spending

Mufi to Take Over HTA?

SA: Candidates the Hawaii Tourism Authority might consider to replace Mike McCartney as president and CEO include David Uchi­yama, HTA vice president of brand management, former HTA Board Chairman Ron Williams, Mufi Hannemann, who was recently defeated in his run for governor but has served as Hono­lulu mayor and past leader of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, and Alfred Grace, president and CEO of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

read ... HTA

Honolulu VA Pretends to Cut Wait Times

HNN: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz calls the new 35-day wait "progress." But he wants it verified.

"We want to make sure that these data are accurate and what they're telling us is true. But if it is true this is a very encouraging start," he said.

In June, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called for VA Pacific Islands director Wayne Pfeffer to resign.

read ... VA Wait

Nepotistic Charter School has More Money Trouble

HNN: Halau Lokahi Public Charter School is facing a financial shortfall after Kamehameha Schools declined to provide nearly a quarter of a million dollars in funding.

After the school ran out of money last year, Halau Lokahi stopped paying rent and staff wages ended up to be more than $400,000 in debt.

Executive Director of the State Public School Charter Commission Tom Hutton explained that the commission decided to approve a new financial plan for the school for the new school year, but had a few requirements.

"They approved a new financial plan but they required that the leadership of the school be changed, the governing board be replaced, and the principal be replaced," Hutton said.

Kamehameha Schools does their funding through Hoolaki Like, which supports Hawaiian-focused charters, but this time, it didn't come through.

According to the Star Advertiser, M. Waialeale Sarsona, director of Hoolako Like, explained that when collaborators do not fulfill their responsibilities under their contract with Kamehameha Schools, their eligibility for future funding is jeopardized, as is the case with Halau Lokahi....

The school is scheduled to report to the State Charter School Commission next week, where the commission will review the school's new plan and determine what action to take....

read ... Nepotism Underfunded

Honolulu police officer indicted for third-degree sex assault

KHON: Officer Kramer Aoki was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with third-degree sex assault, a class C felony.

A grand jury indicted him Thursday for that offense.

Aoki is assigned to District 2, Wahiawa.

He’s been a HPD officer for six years and because of the investigation, his police powers have been removed.

read ... Indicted

Measuring Voter Turnout in Hawaii

DN: There are two main approaches to measure voter turnout. Both have serious defects. The most common way is to calculate the number of ballots cast as a percentage of registered voters. This approach has serious problems. Some states keep names on their voter rolls even if they have not voted in several years. This "dead wood" on the voter rolls makes turnout look bad. Some states actively encourage voter registration. Hawaii has made it very easy to register to vote via self-affirming Wikiwiki voter registration forms, motor voter registration, etc. Some states recruit voters in the high schools. Reliance on the traditional measure of voter turnout penalizes states who make voter registration easy.

The second approach, adopted as a way to (try to) overcome these problems, is to calculate turnout as a percentage of the "voter eligible population" (VEP). They use US Census data to determine the number of residents over the age of 18, minus the number of incarcerated felons. This overcomes problems caused by voter suppression, or voter registration suppression, which varies from state to state. This is the approach used by a George Mason University study which has appeared in news accounts. This methodology grossly under-reports Hawaii's turnout, because we have the highest percentage of non-resident military in the whole country. Our "VEP” is over-inflated by about 100,000 people, well over ten percent! No other state comes even close. Any news account which say Hawaii has the lowest turnout in the country relies upon this study and reflects lazy reporting.

There have been "solutions" proposed in the past for increasing turnout in. In 1978, the Hawaii constitution was amended to eliminate the partisan closed primary election. Advocates promised this would encourage turnout. The first election conducted on this basis was in 1980. Turnout had been declining prior to and after that "solution" was adopted. A second "solution" was to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. While this did increase the number of voters, it lowered voter turnout as a percentage of registered voters, as young people vote in much lower numbers than middle-aged and seniors.

Same day voter registration would appear to less likely to screw up the voter turnout percentage, since people would become registered voters and actually VOTE rather than just inflate the registered voter rolls. But I remain skeptical that it will actually do much to change who votes or boost the actual turnout over time. Younger voters and tenants are more likely to benefit from it. But even once they get registered, younger voters and tenants rarely vote. SO it appears their low rates of participation are not likely to change much with SDR. Also SDR will increase the workload at polling places, as well as the work of collecting and processing those forms. This, at a time when the Office of Elections in Hawaii, but also in virtually every locale across the country, is already overburdened on Election Day. Saying we will support more funds to pay for these extra costs is a nice, but empty gesture.

read ... Measuring

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