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Thursday, December 11, 2014
December 11, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:15 PM :: 3375 Views

Top Chicago Labor Law Firm Takes Aim at Illegal Appointment of Brian Schatz

House Briefing to Look at UH Budget Request

Senate Briefing on ERS Financial Status

Active Lifestyle? Honolulu Ranks 24th

Obamacare Increasing Coverage, but Not Access to Health Care

Pension Fund Deficit: Still 26 Years From Solvency

CB: ...the state still has a long way to go — 26 years to be exact, based on the latest actuarial report for the Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System. And it’ll take even longer — until 2045 if everything goes as hoped — to make the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund solvent....

Rep Cindy Evans said she’s concerned that the state is sending out pension checks to people after they die because death notices aren’t timely, opening up an uncertain collection process....

State lawmakers pumped over $200 million into the fund over the past two years to start righting the ship. They also passed a landmark law in 2013 that requires the state and county employers to start pre-funding the system, moving away from the pay-as-you-go approach. Full funding is required by 2019, with gradual 20 percent increases working up to it over the next five years.

The state’s annual required contribution is $718 million for June 30, 2015, with a minimum OPEB contribution of $83 million, which represents 20 percent pre-funding. For 2016, when 40 percent pre-funding will be required, the state’s annual required contribution is expected to be $743 million, with a minimum OPEB payment of $164 million — far short of the $409 million that would be required that year to fully fund it.

This is the first year the legislative briefing has included both the ERS and EUTF, Machida said....

related: Senate Briefing on ERS Financial Status

read ... Pension Fund Deficit: Still 26 Years From Solvency

Ige to OHA: 'Focus on areas of common goals and common understanding'

SA: Among those in attendance was new Gov. David Ige, who said he looks forward to working with OHA and its leadership.

"There are many issues where there's complete alignment between what the Office of Hawaiian Affairs desires and, I think, what the people of Hawaii want," Ige said. "If we focus on those areas of common goals and common understanding, I think we can move all the people of Hawaii forward together."

read ... Much toil remains, OHA's CEO advises

OHA Trustees: Servant Leaders with High Standards?

WHT: Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees will be “servant leaders at our people’s table,” said newly elected chairman Robert Lindsey at an investiture of board members Wednesday in Honolulu....

“At the same time, OHA beneficiaries on Hawaii Island can take comfort in knowing that they too stand to benefit from the high standards that I expect my colleagues to apply to fulfilling our obligations to all of our beneficiaries,” he said....

More than 400 people attended the investiture at Central Union Church, a ceremony that was live-streamed on OHA’s website.

read ... High

Strategies for Clean Elections?

SA: ...While the landmark Citizens United ruling stands — as it will for the foreseeable future — it's more important than ever to require greater disclosure on campaign finance and to create viable, publicly funded avenues for new voices to enter Hawaii's political arena.

Fortunately, there are champions of "clean elections" remaining at the state Capitol, both in elected office and in advocacy groups waging the good-government fight. Common Cause Hawaii is one such group, and it is working with lawmakers to advance the cause.

State Rep. Kaniela Ing and state Sen. Les Ihara are among those who this coming session will call for a new formula to calculate how much money from the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund can support qualifying candidates. Currenty, it's too low to make public financing a viable option for most candidates.

That's one change that's long overdue. The public investment is worthwhile because it enables fuller participation in the political process by candidates who otherwise would not have a voice.

Among the other strategies that should be part of the conversation in the coming session is increasing transparency about sources of the money being given to PACs. A law passed in 2013 required the top three donors to a PAC to be listed; some are making the strong case that this roster should include more like the top 10, and that reports be required on a more timely basis....

Lim said Common Cause also would make another effort to promote its clean-elections "pledge," urging candidates to promise to match outside expenditures on advertising that benefit them with their own donations to charity. The concept is that outside PACs would have an interest in restraining their spending if it burdens their favored candidate personally.

Locally, congressional candidate Charles Djou challenged Mark Takai to take the pledge with him. That was a hopeful sign, although this initiative should be rolled out earlier in the election cycle....

read ... Reform can open electoral process

Not going to Rise? Hawaii Obama Presidential Community Organizing Center Proposed at Sea Level 

SA: "President Obama is part of our island family," said Gov. David Ige. "We humbly suggest that Hawaii is the best place to build his Presidential Center. With our rich cultural heritage, mature visitor industry, and Asia-Pacific ties, we believe we can help President Obama create an institution that will carry forward his important work on a global stage."

The Hawaii proposal consists of four principal program components: a K-12 Global Youth Leadership Academy; an action-oriented Convening Institute; a UH Center for Community Organizing; and an interactive, issues-based visitor center, according to a news release....

The proposal is being formally submitted by Ige, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, UH President David Lassner, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Takai and Hawaii's steering committee. (None of whom really believe in sea level rise.)

This statewide effort is also supported by a local advisory council and institutional partners that include the East-West Center, Hawai'i Community Development Authority (HCDA), state Department of Education, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and Punahou School. (All of whom have been lying to you about sea level rise.)

read ... Going to Drown

Aloha United Way fundraising with state described as unfair

SA: Allowing Aloha United Way to solicit donations from state workers gives the private charity an "unfair advantage" over other nonprofits and is inconsistent with the fair treatment provision of the state ethics code, the staff at the state Ethics Commission has concluded.

The staff has recommended that the Ethics Commission advise Gov. David Ige to replace Aloha United Way with a combined state-run campaign that would give state workers more discretion to donate to the charities of their choice.

Governors have long favored Aloha United Way for the state's workplace giving program. The Ethics Commission ruled in 1976 that community-wide support for AUW made the charity a "public business" excluded from the fair treatment provision of the ethics code, which prohibits state workers from granting unwarranted privileges to private interests.

Other private charities, such as the Hawaii Foodbank and the March of Dimes, have received similar consideration.

But the staff says the Ethics Commission routinely receives complaints from state workers about favoritism toward Aloha United Way, which acts as a fundraiser for more than 200 local charities. The nonprofit, which is in the midst of its annual fundraising drive, collected $9.1 million last year, including about $849,000 from its state campaign.

"In staff's opinion, the current AUW campaign creates an unfair advantage for AUW, excluding other organizations from fairly competing for employee contributions through the workplace giving program," the staff concluded in recommendations to the commission released Tuesday. "Staff believes this is inconsistent with the fair treatment provision of the statute."

The Ethics Commission will review the staff recommendations at a meeting on Wednesday....

read ... United?

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission needs to expand

IM: “Regulation’s open secret is that most utilities have more expertise than most commissions.”

“The utility’s knowledge about how to run a system, how to build a system, how to finance a system, even in the big States like California and New York, the utility’s knowledge exceeds the knowledge and the expertise of [Commission] staff.”

There is an asymmetrical information field where HECO has an enormous advantage in understanding the inner workings of the Public Utilities Commission through the transfer of gifts, employment and communication.

This gives the utility an edge over regulators and non-utility energy stakeholders.

In Hawai`i it is legal for a regulated utility to recruit employees from the Public Utilities Commission. The utility can offer higher salaries and better benefits.

There have been several high profile people moving through the “revolving door” from the commission to the utility.

MW: A Monopoly’s Always A Good Buy

read ... Revolving Door

Ige One of 10 Governors Elected Without Majority

PR: Eric Ostermeier, a research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs who writes the Smart Politics blog, found that it was only the third time in the past century that governors elected with a plurality hit double digits. All of those occasions have been since 2002.

read ... A vote for Mufi was a vote for Ige

Juror: 'Somebody Hired to Steal Chief's Mailbox'

SA: The jurors agreed that the surveillance footage was too unclear to identify the man seen hauling the box into a car. "It didn't look like him at all," Pascua said.

"It was kind of hard to look at the defendant and look at the video and say yes, that's him or no, that's not him," Gomes said.

It seemed peculiar to Pascua and Kekaula that the man in the video seemed to have an easy time removing the mailbox from its pedestal. It seemed as if the box had been previously unscrewed form the post, Pascua said.

"It only took him close to 20 seconds to take it off," Kekaula said. "This guy didn't look like no Hulk Hogan."

Based on what she saw, Kekaula said she likely would have found Puana not guilty: "I think someone hired that person to steal the mailbox."

read ... Jurors React 

Kauai Council to Vote on Anti-GMO Agriculture Tax Hike

KGI: The Kauai County Council will decide next week whether they want to override a vetoed law that would use lease rents, rather than fair market values, to calculate the real property taxes of biotech research land users.

The seven-member board, by a 5-0 vote, decided to revive the killed law during their meeting Wednesday, paving the way for a final vote on it to take place during their Wednesday meeting.

“I think he (the mayor) sums it up — it’s not a legal issue, it’s a policy issue,” Council Chair Mel Rapozo said before casting his vote. “From what I’m reading from the mayor, he basically believes that the bill conflicts with the state constitution, and I tend to agree with him. I will be voting to support the veto next week.”  

Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro, a project specialist at Grove Farm Company, was recused from voting on it.

read ... Anti-Agriculture

Anti-GMO Ex-mayoral candidate who defied laws guilty

MN: "This case is about the defendant disobeying the law and expecting special treatment," Deputy Prosecutor Terence Herndon told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. "He cannot simply follow his own rules or personal beliefs. That's just not how society works.

"He dared anyone who got in the way of his beliefs to catch him. He ran. The law caught up to him."

VIDEO: Video: Anti-GMO Maui Mayoral Candidate Runs from Cop, Gets Tazed

read ... About a typical anti-GMO Idiot

HPD officer indicted in sexual assault

SA: Deputy Prosecutor Lynn Costales told Perkins that Masagatani and the woman who reported being sexually assaulted were acquaintances. She said they went to a concert during which Masagatani made unwelcomed sexual advances, including trying to have her touch him inappropriately.

After the concert, she said, Masagatani took the woman to his home, where he sexually assaulted her.

Costales said the woman left Masagatani's home immediately and reported the incident to her boyfriend and police.

Police arrested the 30-year-old Masagatani on Aug. 2 at 3:45 a.m. at his home in Pauoa.

read ... Officer Indicted

Hotel Sneaks into Mayor Wright Redevelopment Plan

HNN: "You put a hotel in Mayor Wright and you're going to do what with all of these people. Are you going to implement low-income housing in that?" he said.

Hunt Companies, McCormack Baron Salazar and Vitus Group, which were selected by the state to rebuild Mayor Wright, said the concept is preliminary. The state says it will only consider it if developers greatly increased the number of  low-income housing units they plan to build.

"The likelihood of the hotel is very low," said Hakim Ouansafi, executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

"But in any business transaction we don't rule out every single thing. If the developer can build us a couple of thousand affordable units ... we'll certainly sit down and talk about it."

The developers plan to knock down all 364 units at the aging, crime-ridden project and build more than 1,200 low and moderate income homes and retail.

But the group still has to negotiate a development deal with the state, which could nix the idea of a hotel on the 21-acre parcel.

PBN: Honolulu's Mayor Wright Homes public housing redevelopment could include hotel

read ... Hotel?

Water Commission Balks at Federal Water Grab

WHT: ...After nine hours of testimony in Kailua-Kona on Wednesday, the state Commission on Water Resource Management delayed making a decision on whether to put the aquifer under its control. Instead, the body opted to extend an investigatory period until the end of May. In the meantime, the county and the National Park Service must collaborate to try to find alternatives to a state designation for the water source.

The Hawaii County Department of Water Supply must also provide the commission with an outline of how it plans to replace water sources, add transmission lines, improve infrastructure and make sure wells are properly spaced to reduce the risk of them taking too much water from around Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, which petitioned last year for state control of the aquifer.

The measures are needed to demonstrate that the county is being proactive in managing the resource and finding alternatives to some lower-level wells that have high chloride levels, commissioners said.

read ... Balk



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