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Tuesday, November 11, 2014
November 11, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:12 PM :: 4531 Views

Big Island Launches Veterans Treatment Court

Honolulu Grants in Aid Deadline December 12

Employment Opportunities with the Hawaii State Senate

The Eminent Domain Angle In "Net Neutrality"

Abercrombie to Peddle Influence from Omidyar Operative's Condo

CB: ... Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is listed as the sole officer of a new company called Pacific Strategies LLC.

The business was registered with the state Oct. 3, about two months after Abercrombie’s re-election effort was derailed by state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary....

The company’s address, as listed in the state filing, is a condo unit in the Diamond Head Beach Hotel that’s owned by Eric and Nancee Crispin, both of whom have donated to Abercrombie’s gubernatorial campaigns — $100 in 2010 and another $100 this year.

Eric Crispin is vice president of Ohana Real Estate Investors LLC, a California-based company owned by Pierre Omidyar, the publisher of Civil Beat.

The company is behind a controversial development on the north shore of Kauai called Hanalei Plantation Resort.

Crispin said Monday that he doesn’t know anything about Pacific Strategies LLC.

“I’m not aware of any such business,” he said.

Asked if he is renting a condo to Abercrombie, Crispin said, “I’d rather not comment.”

(Question: Does Abercrombie have any influence to peddle?  Or is he just ripping off gullible cronies?)

read ... Abercrombie Omidyar Strategies

Hawaii GOP might want to reread Lingle's playbook

Borreca: So far, the failed local GOP has had two messages.

The first is that democracy works better with competition — so government would be better if the Democrats had competition, so vote Republican.

The second message had been, "Don't you just hate how expensive everything is in Hawaii and don't you hate paying so many high taxes?"

First, voters don't vote for someone because they want the Democrats to have competition.

Politics is not the Friday Night Fights; voters want to see their side win big.

The second GOP message is that life in Hawaii is terrible.

That message seems designed to appeal to people who arrived here three months ago and are still disbelieving the price of a gallon of milk.

The Hawaii GOP doesn't have to run a campaign based on saying Hawaii is a lousy place to live; there is another way.

Linda Lingle used it in 1998, almost won, came back in 2002 and won, and then perfected it in 2006 and won big.

After Lingle lost to Gov. Ben Cayetano 12 years ago, she went back to basics and grew the GOP. In two years Lingle added 4,000 new GOP members.

That wasn't done six months before the election; it was done two years ahead of time and that is how far out the GOP has to plan.

The second thing Lingle did was not lecture voters about high taxes, which by the way, pay the salaries for state workers who are reliable state voters and don't want their livelihood threatened. Instead, Lingle talked about how great we are. She talked about hope and how together Hawaii could be even better.

"It is time for everyone in our state to participate fully in planning Hawaii's future," Linda Lingle said in her 2002 inaugural speech.

read ... Keep Hope Alive

Maui Hospital Execs Call for Support of Public Private Partnership

MN: A standing room only crowd showed up to testify at an informational briefing and hearing on Maui focused on the state health system and district plans to address anticipated budget shortfalls.

The meeting was hosted by the House Committee on Health and was held at the Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria in Kahului.

During the meeting, Maui Regional CEO Wesley Lo with the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. said, “the Maui region is struggling now to grow revenues, because to grow revenues, you need either more beds–which we are pretty much running at capacity all the time right now.  On average we are at about 85% capacity.  Many days we are actually holding people in the emergency room.”

Lo continued saying,  “Also the other problem is, we have to borrow approximately $20 million to start the cardiovascular program–among other things–of which we pay back over $8 million.  We don’t have an investment capital grow new services, and to adapt to the Affordable Care Act, which is related to getting into the business of physicians.  If you don’t have the physicians, and physicians are retiring, you are not going to grow your revenues in the hospital business,” said Lo.

Maui Region Board chair Clay Sutherland was among those who spoke in support of a public private partnership saying, “We believe a partnership would bring the Maui Memorial Medical Center up to speed and avoid the growing pains and delays which would occur if we took on these challenges ourselves.”

“I have heard comments that a public private partnership might result in loss of control, loss of jobs, and have other negative effects within the health care system here on Maui,” said Sutherland.  “The board believes this is simply untrue.  Rather, expanding services would require additional jobs and steady employment to handle our increasing population and standard of care.”

MN: Hospital group likely could see $46.4M deficit for fiscal 2017

read ... Partnership

Maui: The Further Voters Are from GMO Fields, the More They Want to Ban Them

KE: With 52.7% of the registered voters casting ballots, the final vote on the anti-GMO initiative was 50.2% in favor, 47.9% opposed and 1.9% blank.

I took a careful look at all the precincts on Maui, and found the measure had strongest support in areas where GMO crops aren't even grown. But it was repeatedly rejected in communities that actually have GMO fields and workers. 

Molokai, with all its GMO acreage, overwhelming opposed the measure, while Hana, with no biotech, soundly supported it. Haiku — the largest precinct in Maui County, but with no GMO fields and a big population of newcomer mainland haoles — also voted overwhelming for the initiative, which pushed an initiative that was running pretty much neck-and-neck throughout the county over the top.

So we see the same dynamic playing out as it did in the Kauai elections, where voters on the westside soundly rejected anti-GMO candidates. And that dynamic is this: 

People who are not working in or even exposed to the GMO fields are all for banning and regulating them, while those who actually live nearest to and work in the fields have no desire to be “saved” from this alleged agricultural menace.

Sounds an awful lot like ye olde “white man's burden” colonial mindset, which was expressed so well by this comment, also left yesterday, in all its “sic” glory:

west side generations of migrant sugar and pineapple hordes were forced to drink the kool aid decades ago...they abide by what is told TO them. Theres no rationale or creative thinking...can't go against the machine,theres no popular advocay for a better way. anger in your face/kick your ass fuels the discourse as if its amazing dialogue. the poisons theyve lived immersed in taint the world thats bigger than them.they don't get they don't get it ...two steps removed. Defending against a psuedo enemy keeps them believing the nemesis is out there and not from them. The whole ploy of the corporations is to keep it that way. pawns line up quietly and dont question.

This is the underlying attitude that is driving much of the anti-GMO sentiment throughout the Islands and creating much of the polarization. It's incredibly offensive to the “migrant sugar and pineapple hordes” who actually built modern Hawaii, whose manual labor created, ironically, the economy that allows so many of the mainland haole anti-ag folks to now live in "paradise."

read ... Musings: A Closer Look

‘It’s a coup’: Baisa unseated as Maui council chair

MN: Council Member Mike White announced Monday that he will chair the Maui County Council in the next term, unseating current Chairwoman Gladys Baisa, who characterized her deposing as a "coup."

Council Member Riki Hokama is slated to take White's old post as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, said Troy Hashimoto, White's spokesman, on Monday. Council Member Don Guzman will serve as vice chairman.

White needed at least five votes on the nine-member council, which had to be confirmed through informal discussions with no more than four council members meeting at a time, per the Sunshine Law, to claim the chairmanship, Hashimoto said. White got six - Stacy Crivello, Mike Victorino, Elle Cochran, Guzman, Hokama and himself, he said.

read ... Coup

Big Fat Raises for Top Kauai County Officials

KGI: Raises may be on the horizon for some top county officials whose salaries have been frozen for nearly five years.

The county Salary Commission, by a 6-0 vote, approved a measure that would raise the maximum salary limit for 22 department heads by a total of $150,265. Salary Commission Chair Michael Machado was absent and did not vote on the proposed raises.

“Remember, there have been no raises for five years except for police and fire, so this would be a big step,” Salary Commission Vice Chair Randy Finlay said. “It’s pretty substantial.”

In all, the maximum salaries for 49 top-level county employees, which are set and reviewed by the Salary Commission each year, amounted to nearly $4.9 million this fiscal year. The proposed raises, meanwhile, would bump that amount to a little more than $5 million, if no changes are made by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. or the Kauai County Council.

read ... $5M wasted

Veterans Day Brings Reform to VA

SA: On the eve of the holiday, VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced a streamlining of the customer-service operation aimed at bettering access for the 22 million veterans it serves.

Improvement was a particular imperative in Hawaii because the backlog here was the worst. In January, it was taking 145 days for a new enrollee to start receiving VA benefits, but last week officials announced that wait time was cut to 35 days.

Hawaii VA Director Wayne Pfeffer also cited the good marks the region received on quality reviews, adding that the consolidation of VA services in single locations on Maui and Kauai is in the works. New or expanded quarters are being planned for VA facilities in Hilo and Kailua-Kona as well.

Congressional action has paved the way for a new Leeward Oahu ambulatory care center. And among the elements of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act is the creation of the Veterans Choice Cards, which give veterans access to private care if they can't secure an appointment within 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a VA health facility.

Other features of the law:

» Imposes new penalties for VA employees who falsify data regarding access to care or quality measures — a practice that the scandal unearthed.

» Enables independent and transparent reviews of VA programs, organizations and business practices.

» Authorizes VA contracts with the federal Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems to allow reimbursement of direct care services.

KGI: Three women veterans now with the VA recounts military careers

read ... Penalties for Falsified Data

State OKs Health Insurance Premium Hikes for Old People

SA: Health insurance rates for nearly 13,000 individuals will rise Jan. 1, while close to 33,000 people may be pleasantly surprised to see premium decreases.

The state Insurance Division has approved an average 9.2 percent rate hike for 9,600 individuals covered by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and 3.8 percent increase for 3,141 members with the Hawaii Medical Service Association.

Kaiser also got the green light to drop rates by 2.8 percent for 4,800 small businesses with roughly 26,200 members at the start of the year, while HMSA received approval to cut rates by an average 6.2 percent for 6,527 individuals.

The rates are for medical plans offered on the Hawaii Health Connector, the online insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, as well as policies outside the exchange.

"The 2015 rates reflect the market adjustment for (the Affordable Care Act)," said Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito. "It includes decreases for HMSA individual plans and Kaiser small-group plans, which are very uncommon. (Without) the ACA fees of 3 to 4 percent (insurers add to rates), the decreases would have been even larger."

In addition, health plans on the Connector are rated by age rather than utilization, meaning a business with an older workforce would get higher premiums than one with younger employees.

TH: ObamaCare architect: 'Stupidity' of voters helped bill pass

read ... State OKs health insurance rates

Housing First Delayed by Red Tape

KITV: Shubert-Kwock says the smell of urine and feces often permeates the area and shop owners can't keep up. That's why the new hygiene center for men and women is being greeted with open arms. According to the city's Facility Maintenance Director Ross Sasamura, the hygiene center will feature showers, a water closet and lavatories. He said renovations at Pauahi Hale should be done by the end of the year.

"It'll be ready to go," Sasamura said at a Friday news conference. "I'm not sure whether or not the service provider will be ready, but the facility will be ready, and as soon as the service provider is ready, it'll be ready too."

Safe Haven, which focuses on providing treatment to homeless people who are mentally ill, has signed a two-year lease with the city to move into Pauahi Hale. However, CEO Greg Payton says the nonprofit's move will likely be delayed until March due to legal issues.

"We have to have site control of the facility according to our contract with HUD, the city and other folks," said Payton. "And so, getting all those legal hurdles managed is going to take us a couple of more months."

Read ... Red Tape

$3.5 million deficit projected for UH Athletics Department

KHON: In the wake of another road loss by the UH football team, athletics director Ben Jay revealed how much the losing season has hurt the department’s finances.

Jay told the Board of Regents on Monday afternoon that he’s anticipating a $3.5 million deficit this year.

Jay says dismal football ticket sales and lack of fundraising are the major causes.

read ... $3.5M Deficit

State sues Hawaii County over aerial hunting

HTH: The suit, filed Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court by the Office of Attorney General David Louie, seeks to exempt state employees and private contractors hired by the state to eradicate feral sheep, goats, swine, cattle and axis deer from the 2012 county ordinance prohibiting aerial hunting.

The suit claims the county’s ban is preempted by state and federal law and that a state law that also prohibits hunting from airplanes and helicopters is not applicable to the state, its employees or hunters contracted by the state. The county ordinance is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine, while the state law makes aerial hunting a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The suit is asking a judge to rule the county’s and state’s laws banning aerial hunting “are not enforceable by the County against state contractors and contractors retained by the State” for animal aerial control operations. It also seeks an injunction barring the county from prosecuting those employees and contractors under county or state law....

Hunters, on the other hand, advocated for the aerial hunting ban, voicing concerns about the dwindling population of game animals in the areas open for hunting and a decrease in hunting areas for them. Hunters also describe the aerial hunts as wasteful, because the animal carcasses are generally left to rot after the shooting is done, although some have expressed a willingness to hike into remote areas to retrieve the meat.

Tom Lodge, chairman of the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission, said Sunday evening that by not abiding by its own law against aerial hunting, the state is “disrespecting one of its own rules, in my opinion.”

read ... State sues county over aerial hunting

Dope Pusher Cries after Feds take Drug Money

KHON: But the feds did walk away — with about $1,000 — and left a receipt: “Total of $1,012 U.S. currency. Two Ziplock bags containing green leafy substances, numerous small clear plastic zip bags, and numerous stickers with marijuana leaf print.”

KHON2 asked him: “Iit was drug money in the first place, what do you say to that?”

“They came in my house looking only for weapons. It wasn’t weapons,” the man said of the stash and cash. “They didn’t find no weapons, so why take my stuff?”

Civil asset forfeiture lets authorities do just that, even without an arrest or charge of any person.

read ... Dope Pusher Crying

4 years for ex-Halawa guard for meth smuggling

AP: He pleaded guilty in July to charges involving meth distribution conspiracy and receiving bribes. Damas told the judge he got drugs from the outside and delivered them to inmates inside the prison. He says he accepted at least $5,000 in bribes.

State Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz says Damas was fired from his job in April for bringing contraband into the facility.

read ... Halawa Meth od

Officers Pretend to Take Bribes, Bust Gambling Ring

HNN:  Investigators relied on an informant who pretended to assist the defendants and later became a shareholder. Authorities said that Pham also paid two HPD officers a total of $3,600 to have police stay away from gambling establishments, plus an additional $4,000 for an expected return of gambling machines that had been previously seized from his establishments. The officers only pretended to go along with Pham to assist the investigation, according to officials.

read ... Pretend

Rats, Roaches are Grade A

HNN: "Roaches, rodents are not a good sign anyway because again it shows a lack of cleaning procedures. But those are not the things that are gonna make you sick and those are not the focus of our inspections," said Oshiro.

Oshiro says inspectors look things like food kept at proper temperatures, personal hygiene and protecting foods from contamination. If a restaurant doesn't meet those standards, it won't pass. He says insects, rodents and animals fall under the "good retail practices" section and do not have a direct correlation to food borne illness.

"If we see cockroaches running around, we'll tell them to make sure that they get pest control operators or pay more attention to cleaning so they don't have a roach problem. But again, those are aesthetic violations and those are not critical violations that are affecting the placarding program," Oshiro said.

read ... Grade A

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