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Sunday, November 16, 2014
November 16, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:30 PM :: 3842 Views

The 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index

Hawaii Obamacare Exchange Enrolls Only 40 on First Day

AP: Hawaii’s health insurance exchange enrolled more than 40 people on the first day clients were able to sign up to be covered next year.

Another 60 applied for financial assistance to pay for premiums as of mid-afternoon, Jeffrey Kissel, the CEO of Hawaii Health Connector, said Saturday.

The insurance exchange expected to serve over 1,000 clients, either online, over the phone or in person by the time it closed for the day at 8 p.m....

A couple of returning customers needed help because the site had trouble processing a new address or other changed information....

Enrollment lagged below projections in the ensuing year, reaching about 10,000 people instead of the 100,000 to 200,000 some public officials predicted. The enterprise only collected about $121,000 in issuer fees instead of the $1 million it anticipated in its budget. That left officials asking for money from the state, which granted $1.5 million for the current fiscal year....

The exchange aims to enroll 130,000 people over the next four years by adding about 30,000 per year. This would allow it to break even between fiscal year 2018 and 2019. But under that plan, which critics call unrealistic, the entity still faces deficits of $7.7 million in 2016, $6.7 million in 2017 and $3.4 million in 2018....

read ... 960 Short of Goal

Gay Marriage: Har Wins, Abercrombie, Hee Lose 

Borreca: ...Gov. Neil Abercrombie, for instance, says his 2-to-1 loss to state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary was because he called that special legislative session to legalize gay marriage.

Talking to foreign journalists during an East-West Center forum in late August, Abercrombie claimed evangelical Christian voters were "admonished by their religious leaders" to vote against him because of same-sex marriage....

If you wanted to follow the string on a gay marriage backlash theory, you would also grab on to the defeat of former state Sen. Clayton Hee, who ran for lieutenant governor.

...one of the reasons Hee did not run for reelection to the Senate was because he had been the steersman for the same-sex marriage bill and was likely to face a loud, anti-gay (marriage) Republican, former state Rep. Richard Fale....

The other side of the coin is Kapolei Democrat Rep. Sharon Har, who opposed the civil union bill and last year's same-sex marriage bill and helped organize opposition to its passage.

She was rewarded with a Democratic opponent in the primary to punish her for voting against the Democratic platform, and for good measure, a GOP opponent in the general.

Har won both times....

Smart, hard workers like Har and Thielen are more about representing their districts than about a single issue, even a headline- grabbing issue like same-sex marriage.

If there is a political lesson, it is that shoe leather in the district trumps spotlights and bull horns every time....

(Thus gay marriage opponents can win every election and sweep the anti-nuclear-family elements from office--if only they would get to work on it.)

read ... Shoe Leather

Why Republicans Lose Even When Democrats are Losers

SA: One, Republicans don't offer attractive alternatives. Religious fundamentalism devalues a candidate's appeal. Whatever our faults, it can't be said that we're not broadly tolerant.

Two, Republicans are saddled by memories of the Lingle administration. The eight-year interruption of Democratic rule could have been productive, but wasn't.

Three, Republicans here cannot escape association with the anti-government, anti-immigration politics of the national Republican Party.

Four, Republicans are historically the party of the Big Five and the haole oligarchy.

Fifth, and not least, Republicans are not winners. Lacking a winning University of Hawaii football team, we can still be winners in politics by voting Democratic....

By voting for Democrats -- the politicians who gave us today's Hawaii -- we simply make matters worse.

We further implement the decline of the state, the degradation of the natural environment, and the destruction of our important institutions.

We have a government of and by the people that mainly benefits landowners, developers and corporate interests. Why can't it work for students, commuters, renters, the elderly and the impoverished in need of hospital care?

Furthermore, by voting for Democrats, who value testing regimes more than classroom teachers, we short-change future generations. Despite their talk, Democrats have not provided well for our children and our children's children.

Our votes for Democratic candidates place us in a quandary that doesn't encourage going to the polls or mailing back ballots.

We're caught in a voting dilemma. We want to vote for Democratic candidates. But when we do, we're simultaneously casting ballots for a worse Hawaii.

The Ainokea Party beckons....

read ... Commentary by Warren Iwasa

High Cost of Living Pushes Military out of Hawaii

SA: Like all of us who live in Hawaii, the cost of living is equally debilitating for the Army on Oahu.

Given the freedom to choose and the absence of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye's enormous influence, the Army would likely prefer its maneuver brigades be stationed somewhere it can better afford, and where it can actually conduct critically essential combat training.

Stationing combat maneuver brigades on Oahu, isolated from ready access to adequate training areas and located days and weeks away from essential strategic air and sealift assets, does little to serve the nation's defense strategy.

The situation begs the question: If the Army cannot train here, is not combat ready here, cannot deploy quickly enough from here and pays a fortune to be based here -- why is it here?

Related: 5% of Oahu Population Leaving

read ... High Cost of Living

In Harm's Way: Hawaii's Abused Children at Risk

FACE, PRP, Developers See Taxpayer Money in Low-Income Rentals

CB: ...at Saturday’s housing conference sponsored by the nonprofit group Faith Action for Community Equity....

Cathy Camp of Kamehameha Schools said the organization has been working to provide more affordable rentals through projects like the recently renovated Kolo Place, and Race Randle from Howard Hughes Corp. said the company is planning to develop a new rental project in Kakaako....

Stanford Carr, whose company developed the 204-unit low-income rental project called Halekauwila Place in Kakaako, said that at a minimum, developers need a subsidy of $100,000 per unit to build for people earning 60 percent of area median income or below. (That’s $40,260 for an individual or $57,480 for a family of four.)

Emphasizing the difficulty of financing affordable housing projects, Carr said he hasn’t yet received any money from Halekauwila Place and doesn’t expect to until February....

Gordon Chin, an affordable housing advocate from San Francisco’s Chinatown Community Development Center, agreed that taxpayers need to support low-income housing for it to become a reality.

“It needs to be a public commitment with public money,” he said.

Claudia Shay, executive director of Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii, said it once took her seven years to get the permits needed to build an affordable housing development.

Hawaii’s complicated permitting process is often frustrating for developers, especially when they are building low-income housing projects that rely on multiple funding streams.

Director of Planning and Permitting George Atta hypothesized that perhaps some applications are held up because DDP has inexperienced staff members who need more training. But he didn’t seem to really know why the process takes so long....

HNN: "When you try to build an affordable housing project in a community, you oftentimes run into NIMBY's who don't want you to build it there for many different reasons," said John White of Pacific Resource Partnership.

read ... Housing Summit

Free Arizona Memorial Tickets Sold by Managers

SA: Tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial that were supposed to be free were routinely distributed to tour companies that sold them with the knowledge of the memorial's management, according to reports the National Park Service didn't want the public to see.

A top manager, Frank Middleton, was described as being friends with the head of a tour company, playing golf with him -- and working only from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day, one report said.

When employees complained about the ticket practices, they were told "to mind their own business," the report said.

The reports shed new light on impropriety and a breakdown in leadership and communication at the USS Arizona Memorial, the most popular tourist attraction in the state, drawing nearly 1.8 million people a year.

A late 2013 park service law enforcement "briefing statement" looked at "improper tour ticket distribution" at the visitor center.

ETN: Ticket scam defrauding Hawaii tourists visiting USS Arizona Memorial

read ... Misconduct

Big Island Veterans Court Launches

HTH: One out of every nine incarcerated people nationwide are veterans, said Deputy Public Defender Ann Datta.

On Hawaii Island, there are approximately 15,654 veterans and 34 are on probation....

A new specialty court program is the latest solution to the problem and it comes with a team of partners ready to help those who served.

The Judiciary and dignitaries celebrated Monday the start of the Big Island Veterans Treatment Court, which offers a second chance for veterans charged with a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony. Speakers such as Ibarra described it is a place where respect is given, honor can be restored and justice served.

Part of a nationwide movement and founded on evidence-based principles, veterans treatment courts are a hybrid of drug court and mental health court. There are 104 veterans treatment courts in the U.S. and even more in the planning stages, Datta said.

Hawaii’s first-ever veterans treatment court started last year on Oahu, where there has yet to be a graduate, Ibarra said.

read ... Veterans Court

Hawaii County Water Board Unanimous in Opposition to Federal Water Grab

WHT: Hawaii County’s Water Board is in unanimous opposition to a move by the National Park Service asking the state Commission on Water Resource Management to give the area served by the Keauhou aquifer a state water management area designation.

Water Board members spent more than three hours in executive session Thursday working out the details to the argument that they and the county Department of Water Supply should remain the stewards of the water resources on the island.

The designation would require state permission for projects to draw water from an area including the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and all of West Hawaii from Makalawena to Kealakekua.

read ... Water Board

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