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Friday, December 12, 2014
December 12, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:46 PM :: 4362 Views

Hawaii Republicans Should Follow Lingle's Path to Victory

Is the HECO-NextEra Merger a Done Deal?

Hawaii 4th-Worst State for Small Business

Smart Growth v. Suburbanization Score is 0-1

National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Hawaii Tech Chief: Bhagowalia's Pie in the Sky Promise Not Likely to Materialize Anytime Soon Thanks to HGEA

CB: That transition — from research to execution — is aptly paralleled in the personalities of Bhagowalia and Kali.

Bhagowalia is a “big picture” thinker. A pie-in-the-sky kind of guy. He spent his first 18 months as CIO working almost exclusively on polishing the epic tome that is the 12-year transformation plan. He’s eloquent, forward-thinking, likeable, and garners heaps of positive PR wherever he turns. He makes Oprah-sized promises, like offering “1 Gigabit internet” to everyone in Hawaii — a promise that, according to Kali, is unfortunately unlikely to materialize any time soon.  (Yup.  It was all a bunch of hype.  Now they are telling you.  But wait 'til you find out that the entire plan hinges on the approval of HGEA.)

Bhagowalia is more of a dreamer than a doer, and he conveniently left the show before any real elbow grease was needed....

Bhagowalia, though high-minded, didn’t exactly leave the state with a glaringly obvious path to success.

For starters, the data centers are still decentralized and poorly maintained. And different state organizations, particularly OIMT and the Information and Communication Services Division (ICSD), which was the state’s central IT organization prior to the creation of OIMT, have clashed over roles and responsibilities, stifling potential progress. And many OIMT employees hired by Bhagowalia touted vague, executive-ish titles, with no explicit goals attached to their tenure. That’s a little like toting a bench full of competing coaches and calling it a basketball team.

Couple that internal discord with a core group of state employees who have experienced little to no change in their work processes for the last 40 years. They’re masters of arcane systems, but masters nonetheless. And the longer the arcane systems remain intact, the more resistant to change the state culture has become.

It’s a nearly untenable problem, alas, and a Henry-James-length strategy document can only propel Kali so far....

As Randy Baldemor, director of strategic initiatives, jumped on a plane to D.C. to congratulate his former boss Bhagowalia on his new position, Kali, according to one witness, “walked into the Enterprise Project Management Office and dismissed [Baldemor’s] entire staff, giving them one hour to pack their stuff and clear out.”...

...budgets are tight and not much tangible work is getting done. The brainstorming of methodologies and standards rarely moves mountains or replaces 40-year-old VAX machines.

...Kali’s vision for the execution of the strategic plan required less managerial overhead (something Bhagowalia seemed overly fond of)....

...Another initial and potentially controversial step in Kali’s execution of the IT plan is the reorganization of OIMT and ICSD. Kali is proposing to merge the two governmental groups into a single entity....

...Kali’s negotiating of the merger with Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) is likely a crucial first step toward unifying the state’s IT organizations and objectives, and will likely be the determining factor in either the success or failure of many of the aggressive goals set forth in Bhagowalia’s IT plan....

...It’s a do-or-die situation, and the newly elected Gov. David Ige should take it very seriously.  (Even if HGEA doesn't.)

“There’s kind of a failure window here,” Kali said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We’re so far beyond the end of life for some of these things that I give it two years before it’s irrecoverable data loss.”....

read ... A Journey Into the Basement With Hawaii Tech Chief Keone Kali

Cost of HGEA Behind Collapse of HHSC Hospitals

PBN: It's no secret about the funding shortfall HHSC faces. What's the issue here? Controlling expenditures by the regional boards?

Rosen: The real issues that are causing the shortfall are not because the regions have free rein or that the expenditures are not being controlled by corporate. The problem is … that the cost of providing the services continues to increase, primarily because the cost of labor, whereas the revenues that come into the hospitals are determined by the federal government and the payers. The hospitals do not have the ability to raise their income, nor do they have the ability to limit their labor expenditures. So, the subsidy that's been required by the Legislature is growing every year. That's not to say we could be more efficient and collect more in billing. There probably is more revenue that could be brought in, but it's not necessarily something that's been in control of the system. For instance, if you don't have modern systems, you can't maximize billing. If you look at facilities and their backlog of repairs, it doesn't exactly attract people to come and practice, so I believe the acute care hospitals are capable of growing without public subsidies but the circumstances in which they need to operate need to modernize.

PBN: The HHSC has said before that a public-private partnership is essential to its survival, but past attempts to get legislation passed have failed. What legislation do you intend to seek in the 2015 session?

Rosen: We do need to ask for funding because we don't want to see services cut. We also need to ask to be allowed to move forward in these public-private partnerships, so we don't have to keep coming back for the funding. Hawaii Pacific Health and Kaiser HPH aren't trying to make a partnership with Maui Memorial Hospital because it's a black hole. It's the contrary. They're capable of doing very well. When the Legislature sees the bill for what is needed and the choice is to keep providing this funding or allow the public-private partnership, I'm hoping we'll get it done this year.

read ... Linda Rosen takes on state-run hospital challenge

Hawaii DoT Claims Administrative Costs 'Only' $16,512 per Mile

KHON:  Potholes, cracks in the roads and uneven surfaces are problems the Department of Transportation is used to dealing with but in a recent study put out by the Reason Foundation, Hawaii ranked last in the nation in administrative costs per road mile.

So why are the numbers so high when we have so little to show for it?

Senator President Donna Mercado Kim said she couldn’t believe how high the number was.

“We contacted the reason foundation who put those numbers out and wanted to know how they arrived at putting us at that spot,” said Mercado Kim. “$90,000 is certainly an unreasonable number.”

That’s why she looked into the matter and found that some of the data being submitted by the Department of Transportation was different from what other states were submitting. Prompting the DOT to make some changes to the data.

“They went in and recalculated and amended the numbers,” said Mercado Kim.

After the changes were made the 2013 data still showed Hawaii with some of the highest administrative costs, moving Hawaii just a few places from the bottom of the list to number 46. The 2014 data was also reworked and showed a big change.

“Then went back in and amended further and now we’re down to number 31,” said Mercado Kim.

Which now puts us at $16,512 per state road mile. A significant difference from the original $90,000 per state road mile, but still higher than most.

Background: Hawaii $90K 'Administrative Cost' Per Mile of State Roads

read ... Lawmaker scrutinizes road repair costs

Hawaii takes small steps on $20B retiree liability

AP: Actuaries say the state has $8.6 billion less than it should have to pay its pension obligations to current and future retirees.

But its preparation to pay retiree health care benefits is worse. Hawaii's state and county employees have just 2 percent of projected retiree health care expenses set aside. The shortfall for retiree health benefits in Hawaii stands at $11.2 billion, according to an analysis by Gabriel, Roeder Smith and Co., an actuarial consulting firm.

By contrast, the state's pension plan is 61.4 percent funded, and that's considered low. A retirement fund is generally considered healthy if it's 80 percent funded, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

The plan is for the state to ramp up its contributions, eventually to $500 million a year, for retiree health care costs to become fully funded within the next three decades.

The state contributed $100 million in the fiscal year that ended mid-2014 and committed another $117 million to pay in the current fiscal year.

Gov. David Ige's administration is putting together the budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, when the state's contribution is slated to increase to $200 million and $300 million, respectively, said Kalbert Young, the outgoing state finance director....

In addition to Hawaii's eventual $500 million contribution for retiree health care costs, the state is also contributing about $600 million per year toward pension benefits, an amount calculated as a percentage of payroll ....

Sam Slom, the lone Republican in the state Senate and often a fiscal watchdog, credited Young for changes that put the state on a path to pay down its liabilities. But Slom's optimism was measured.

"We're still talking about a lot of billions of dollars here, and over a 26-year period, a lot can happen," he said.

read ... Small Steps

PBN: UH Chronically Dysfunctional

PBN: There isn't a key leadership area at the University of Hawaii that hasn't been marked by high-profile firings or resignations in just the past few years. Not the president's office. Not the board of regents. Not the athletic program. Not even significant academic and research functions.

Combined, the turnover cements the reputation of our state's only public university as chronically dysfunctional.

What is the cumulative effect of this on the value of the university? A publicly traded company with such endemic turnover would likely see its stock plummet. As a government agency, UH receives no such direct market feedback, quickly and easily quantified to the penny. As a government-backed monopoly, it enjoys a level of protection from the consequences of its own drama that few other enterprises enjoy.

read ... Monopoly

Kauai Audit report finds 'Discrepancies' in 80% of Vacation, Sick Leave Records

KGI: A set of annual audit reports found that Kauai County officials are still struggling to address longstanding financial and record-keeping deficiencies that were raised as red flags over the past several years.

”It’s deja vu,” Council Chair Mel Rapozo said about the results of the audit conducted by Honolulu-based accounting firm N&K CPAs, Inc. on transactions made during the 2014 fiscal year.

The trio of audit reports found five countywide issues, at least three of which appeared in previous audits of county finances, including inaccuracies in purchasing procedures and mishandled vacation and sick leave records.

Among the findings were repeated errors in the different manual processes used by departments to maintain and report vacation and sick leave records.

In 25 of the 60 records from six departments randomly selected and inspected by auditors, vacation or sick leave hours recorded in an employee’s leave log were not properly supported by their leave application forms. 

These discrepancies occurred in eight of the 10 records examined from the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs, nine of the 10 analyzed from the Department of Planning, and eight of the 10 records reviewed from the Department of Public Works.

read ... Problems

Hawaii’s new first lady will focus on education

SA: "I am going to be looking at a first lady's platform. It will be on education -- as to what form it will take, I am going to spend the next few weeks talking about it with different people." ...

After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in journalism and working for what is now Stryker Weiner & Yokota Public Relations, Inc., Ige was marketing director of Kapiolani Medical Center. Before switching to the classroom, Ige also earned a master's degree in business from Chaminade.

But having three children convinced Ige that teaching was her real passion.

"It was the combination of watching them learn and what it takes for a child to learn how to read. It is not a simple process and I was amazed at how much you can help a child learn to read. Once they can read they can do anything," Ige said in explaining why she became an educator.

As for state policy, even educational policy, Ige said she understands both her role and her expertise.

"As far as influencing policy, David is the governor and he and his staff will be setting policy.

I am not an elected official; I am first lady, wife of the governor, and so my role is very different -- not so much as a policy maker," she said, adding with a smile, "at the same time I am an educator and a constituent."

read ... Education

NextEra Personnel Already Placed in HECO Offices

IM: With the Nextera deal announced, HECO’s upper and middle management are facing a new and potentially greater threat. A glass ceiling will be imposed where leadership positions will be controlled from Florida.

Nextera has stated that no jobs will be cut in a two-year period following the one year regulatory process.

In the next three years HECO management may hunker down, strive to show why they should be kept on, appear stunned (deer-in-the-headlights) or look quickly for the few comparable jobs available elsewhere in Hawai`i.

Already Nextera is placing their people as monitors in various places within HECO.

Officially, it is called aligning the two companies. Unofficially it is letting HECO employees know who is in charge.

The Public Utilities Commission must continue with all of the HECO dockets on their plate since the Nextera deal may fail....

Nextera is large enough that they must have penciled out how to make money following the acquisition.

This probably involves laying off middle management, downsizing contracts with local law firms, outsourcing some positions, increasing the size of the Nextera lobbying force and entering new business arenas.

The importation of cheap liquefied natural gas (LNG) might give Hawai`iGas an advantage of HECO unless HECO were to seek to move in on the gas company with its own gas pipeline system.

Nextera has publicly stated bigger is better, and what more effective way is there for Nextera to become bigger, than attempting to overrun Hawai`i Gas.

The Public Utilities Commission must determine whether the sale is in the public interest....

One proposal that I heard and dismissed, and then heard again and again from totally different sources, is the idea that Nextera may try to gain support by spinning off one or more grids (MECO’s Moloka`i or Lana`i grid and or HELCO’s Hawai`i grid).

These spin-offs could become stockholder-owned, municipally-run or community-owned cooperatives. Communities and county governments should begin preparing today....

read ... Nextera is creating possibilities for the future of Hawai`i

Kewalos: OHA Lied About Kakaako Commitments

Q: The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs is involved in all this, too, right?

A: Yes. We’re involved with the Kakaako Waterfront Park side and OHA’s land side (on the Ewa side of the Kewalo Basin channel) because the result of our opposition in 2006 was the law that said you cannot build any residential and you cannot sell any public land in Kakaako Makai. That to me was one of the most important things that came out of our opposition. It not only stopped the A&B project, it also brought out this law that stands today.

But now that OHA got the land, after this law was created … (it) twice tried to ask for exceptions to the law (to build residential projects). So we resurrected the coalition again and put on our red shirts and we went to the Capitol. We had rallies on Ala Moana Boulevard, and we were able to stop it again — twice. …

Early on, when they first got the land, they told us they would follow the Kakaako Makai conceptual master plan as much as they can. …

Q: How is it being pushed to the side?

A: Because, like I said, first OHA said they’re going to follow it, but yet, … as soon as they got the land, they asked for an exception to that law. They did it twice, and they said they’re going to do it again, next year, so we’re getting ready for that now. Because once we lose that law, and allow them to build, then Kamehameha Schools will want to build, because they have all those car lots over there on Ala Moana Boulevard, on the makai side, and the floodgates will open and before we know it, the law is nothing, there’s no law, and everybody’s building, and it becomes another Waikiki, which is our worst fear....

read ... OHA Lies

Making it Up as they Go Along: Gay New Figures $19.3 for Hawaii

CB: Williams said that the benefit to Hawaii, which legalized gay marriage in late 2013, was estimated to be $19.3 million in spending, $800,000 in tax revenue and 61 new jobs.

Last month, consumer finance site NerdWallet released a study that estimated gay weddings could have a $26.6 million benefit to Hawaii in additional annual revenue.

read ... More Lies

Anti-GMO Activists Sinking in Moral Quicksand

KE: ...fear-mongering, misinformation, outright propaganda, scapegoating, polarization, a “with us or against us” mentality and over-inflating both the dangers local communities are facing and the efficacy of their actions.

And all the while portraying themselves as the good fighting the bad.

Just like the failed “war on terror,” their own campaign continues unabated, as evidenced by yesterday's attack on Kauai Charter Commission nominee Allan Parachini, who dared to question the anti's movement, and hysterical commentaries like the one written by Fern Rosenstiel in Civil Beat today.

Fern begins by blaming the seed companies for fear-mongering, while never taking responsibility for engaging in the very same actions herself. Just as anti-GMO leader Felicia Cowden never saw the irony in testifying yesterday against Parachini's appointment, saying he “should have participated in constructive, community building efforts” though the antis themselves never mastered that.

Introspection is not a strong suit among the anti-GMO/pesticide contingent, just as it isn't among certain Congressional apologists and CIA spooks.

Which is why they both keep finger-pointing, blaming and excusing their own bad behavior under the guise that their enemies are worse than they are, and anyway, the ends justify the means.

And all the while they're sinking in moral quicksand, even as they believe they're on high ground.

read ... Musings: Moral Quicksand

One Third of Hawaii Toddlers Not Immunized -- State Ranks 40th

SA: Hawaii has never ranked lower than sixth in the 25 years the Minnesota-based United Health Foundation has issued America's Health Rankings, and this year repeats at No. 1. With that track record, it is easy to grow complacent.

That would be a mistake, however, because embedded among the report's many highlights were continuing challenges and some surprising declines that require renewed attention.

Standing out among the areas of concern were the relatively high incidence of infectious diseases and the reported plunge in the immunization rate among toddlers. In the 2013 report, 80.2 percent of children in Hawaii ages 19 months to 35 months were counted as up-to-date on their vaccinations. This year's report puts the rate at 66.5 percent, a decline that sent Hawaii's ranking in the category from first to 40th.

Hawaii Department of Health officials say they cannot explain the reported decline, especially since they do not know the details of the methodology used or the data collected. Overall, America's Health Rankings 2014 relies on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, the Census Bureau and other trusted sources.

Background: Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

read ... Immunization

Council Gives Drunken Thief $250K

SA: The Honolulu City Council has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a man police pulled out of a car window and kicked in the torso, and $165,000 to the mother of a boy who cut his leg on an irrigation valve at a Liliha park....

According to court documents, a Honolulu police officer smashed the driver's-side window of the stolen vehicle Coles was in and two officers pulled Coles out through the window. One officer said he kicked Coles twice in the torso to get him to comply.

Coles was later convicted of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and possession of liquor while operating a vehicle.

Menor said city lawyers told him police have modified their procedures to avoid smashing car windows to make an arrest....

In the other case, Stormm Passi, who was 10 years old at the time of the November 2010 incident, slipped at Alewa Neighborhood Park and cut his leg on an exposed irrigation valve. The valve tore through muscle and caused a gash from his ankle to his knee, according to court documents.

Menor said the injury caused a long-term disability, and the boy is still experiencing pain.

He said the city opted for a settlement to avoid facing medical fees that could be larger than the settlement amount.

read ... Drunken Thief Worth More

Hawaii Loses 6100 Jobs to China

SA: ...Hawaii has lost 6,100 jobs to China and ranks 44th among U.S. states' employment losses, according to a new study.

The Economic Policy Institute reports that by far the majority of job losses are in manufacturing, and that all but one congressional district has lost net job opportunities since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001....

read ... 6100 Jobs

Lawsuit Filed Against Pohakuloa

HTH: Two Native Hawaiians are suing the Department of Land and Natural Resources, saying the state has breached its duty to protect ceded lands at the Pohakuloa Training Area.

The Hawaii Island residents, Clarence Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio, are asking a 1st Circuit Court judge to declare that the state has violated its trust agreement by allowing the military to degrade the land. They also want to prevent DLNR from negotiating an extension to its current lease or entering a new lease until the trust conditions are met.

Circuit Judge Gary Chang is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case at 3 p.m. today in Honolulu.

A 1964 lease agreement between the state and the U.S. government provides 22,836 acres at PTA until 2029, at a lease price of $1 for the duration of the lease. DLNR last year began working on a mutual cancellation of the lease and a new lease between the parties, according to court records.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., say the current lease requires the military to remove or deactivate any live ammunition and to dispose of spent ammunition and garbage on the land. Ching and Kahaulelio say they are adversely affected by the military’s actions at PTA as they engage in traditional and customary practices within and around the area.

read ... Pohakuloa

Department of Health, U.S. Navy at odds over recommendation for Red Hill tanks

HNN: The tanks in the Navy's Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility are constructed of quarter-inch steel covered with concrete. In January, one of the underground tanks leaked 27,000 gallons of jet fuel. The Health Department believes each tank should have another wall of protection.

"Should the interior wall that's holding the petroleum spring a leak, the petroleum will be contained within the outer wall and can be instantly measured and removed," Deputy Director Gary Gill said.

But Navy Region Hawaii's chief engineer said rushing to double-wall the tanks could lead to problems. It would be difficult to inspect a tank if it's enclosed.

"How do you manage accelerated corrosion which could occur if you had water or moisture collect in that space right now?" Capt. Mike Williamson said.

The Department of Health is leading a task force that's finalizing a report on the spill. The committee will recommend what should be done to minimize risk to Oahu's drinking water should another spill happen....

KITV: Navy’s new monitoring wells near Red Hill test positive for trace levels of petroleum contaminants

read ... At Odds

Abercrombie's Last Act:  Pardons Man convicted of violent Manoa home invasion

HNN: It was one of Governor Neil Abercrombie's final acts in office, granting a pardon.

Shaun Rodrigues, the so-called Manoa Home Invader, was convicted in 2004 of breaking into a home, tying up the owner and her daughter, and robbing them.

The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld the conviction but Rodrigues always maintained his innocence and civil rights advocates, including the Innocence Project, rallied to free him.

He served six years and in 2011, was paroled.  He was supposed to remain on parole until 2025.

But on December 1, just hours before the inauguration of a new governor, Abercrombie signed one order which commuted his remaining sentence and another order pardoning him for his crimes.

Former Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle questions the timing of the pardon.

"Beyond the eleventh hour, right up (to) the moment that you're leaving office. Why are you doing it then? Unless you've been putting it off and putting it off," says Carlisle, "And then the question is, why did you put it off this long?"

A list we obtained shows that Abercrombie has pardoned about 50 people in his four years in office, far fewer than his predecessors.

read ... Pardon

US Coast Guard, Police, Prepare for First Family's Holiday Arrival

HR: The now familiar signs that President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and First Dogs will be arriving in Hawaii for Christmas are appearing in the close knit beachside community on Oahu’s windward side.

On Wednesday, Honolulu police conducted roadside drills along the route the President’s caravan takes, from the H-1 Freeway beginning around the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam area, over the H-3 Freeway off-ramp and into Kailua.

On Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard officials went door-to-door, informing Kailua residents who live along the canal and ocean near the Obama rentals, that waterways will be closed to the public between Dec. 18 and Jan. 5....

read ... Holiday Arrival

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