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Friday, December 25, 2009
December 25, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:41 PM :: 11909 Views

Not Fooled: Hawaii parents waiting on details of plan to reduce furlough days

"This has been such an up and down negotiation, with days of celebration and then days of disaster," said Jo Curran, a parent from Hawaii Education Matters. "I would like to say I feel great, I feel positive, but how can you when you don't even know what the agreement is, really?" ...

Marguerite Higa, a parent with Save Our Schools Hawaii, the group that held a rally at the state Capitol on the first furlough Friday, said education officials should not remain mum about the details of the agreement.

"I'm glad that they are making progress. I think it's imperative that the kids get back to school on furlough days. But it's disappointing that there is no transparency in this process," Higa said.

RELATED: Furlough settlement: HSTA-DoE to submit new ransom demands to Legislature

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Hawaii's growth rate has stayed low because 10 people leave Hawaii every day

Hawaii's estimated population reached 1,295,178 this year, up 7,697 from the previous year, largely due to more births than deaths. There was a net inflow of 4,033 new residents from foreign countries, but a net outflow of 5,298 local residents to the mainland.

(The term "net outflow" is the difference between the number of Hawaii locals moving to the mainland vs the number of mainlanders moving to Hawaii.  By quoting this number, the Star-Bulletin masks the fact that 33,108 locals have left socialism behind to move to the Mainland since April, 2000.  (That's 3,679 per year for 9 years -- just over 10 per day)  Hawaii population has increased by 5,843 since April, 2000 solely because of foreign immigration and Hawaii birth rates.


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"Hope" for future is best gift of all (Obama mentioned only as a tourist attraction)

(After a year of Obamanomics, "Hope" comes from signs that America may yet recover from Obama)

All of this improvement will come too late to rescue Hawaii's state and county governments from continued problems in achieving balanced budgets. The Lingle administration has tried to cope with a $721 million deficit in this fiscal year and faces a projected $509.5 million in the red in the coming fiscal year.

But the recovery signs give hope. In that spirit, it is crucial that leaders — indeed, all of Hawaii's decision-makers — tamp obstructionist egos and make smart choices going forward. (Swipe at anti-Superferry protesters.  But this "tamping of egos" will turn back to "stroking of egos" when growth begins again.)

One plum opportunity appears to be the tentative agreement between the teachers union and the Department of Education to reduce the number of Furlough Fridays in the year ahead. If approved, it would give education a needed boost, and help Hawaii families cope while awaiting economic recovery.  (Even though nobody is telling us what's in it)

WHT: Struggling economy top story of year

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Kulani plan is outlined

In July, state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Robert Lee announced his hope that the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy would open in January at the old 7,200-acre prison site located about 20 miles south of Hilo.

(And after decades of chanting "education, not incarceration liberals are mad as hell that it is actually happening.)

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Nonprofit status seen as cure for ailing state hospital system (Driskill retiring?)

Using one of the recommendations from Maine-based Stroudwater Associates, Sen. Joshua Green, vice chairman of the Senate Health Committee, will propose that HHSC be reconstituted to a 501(c)3, thereby ending the system's status as a state agency and moving employees from the current civil service system to a traditional benefits package. This change would take place no later than July 1, 2011....

"Civil service costs last year were 21 percent over other private, not-for-profit hospital costs," Green said. "The moment we change to a 501(c)3 we'll save at least $61.5 million annually."

(HGEA will fight this tooth and nail as evidenced by...)

Rep. Robert Herkes, D-Puna, Ka'u, South Kona, North Kona, said there needed to be more time to look through the report, and give HHSC's board an opportunity to manage its organization.

"It's not possible for HHSC to be revenue neutral," Herkes said. "One of the things that is absolutely essential is that the consultants and the (HHSC) board determine what the role of each of the hospitals is."

Herkes went on to say that Kelley Roberson, HHSC chief financial officer, and Thomas Driskill Jr., HHSC president and chief executive officer, were leaving at year's end and the board would be bringing in new leadership. Herkes said the Legislature should work with the new leadership rather than "running over them."

Driskill was unavailable for comment, but West Hawaii Today was referred to Avery Chumbley, HHSC corporate board chairman, who confirmed that Roberson would be retiring, but added that Driskill had not made an announcement concerning a possible retirement.

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SB: Seniors and hospitals win big in reform bill (yes this is a "news" story)

The biggest winners in Hawaii from federal health care reform are likely senior citizens and hospitals that serve a large share of low-income people, according to supporters.

But a local Republican official predicted that island families will feel the impact with skyrocketing medical insurance premiums.

(That is the outline of typical Democrat media propaganda:  Article tells us all how wonderful the Dems latest boondoggle is--then quotes the Republicans who are against it. Now here it is in detail.)

The bill includes an amendment by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka that would permanently restore a Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital allotment that will "provide additional funding to the state of Hawaii to permit a greater contribution toward the uncompensated care costs of hospitals that treat the uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries," Akaka said in a statement. Hawaii, one of two states not permanently enrolled in the program, would receive more than $100 million for the local health care industry over the next 10 years.

Hawaii hospitals lost $114 million on Medicare services and $78 million on Medicaid/Quest service to low-income and uninsured people, according to a November report to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

State Republican Party Chairman Jonah Ka'auwai said the legislation is "loaded with more government, tax increases and higher health care costs," adding, "The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate families with private insurance will see their premiums increase by as much as $2,100 a year because of the bill."

In a written statement, Ka'auwai said the plan proposed by House Republicans would have reduced premiums by as much as 10 percent. "Instead of voting for these common-sense and cost-reducing measures, Democrats rammed this government-run health care program through Congress when Americans don't want it and our country can't afford it."

(And here's the capper--the Obamacare bill is just like the Civil Rights Act of 1965)

Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz said Senate approval of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "was the single most important vote on domestic policy in decades and marks real progress towards health care for all Americans."

Akaka News Release: Senate Healthcare Bill Includes $100 Million for Hawaii Hospitals

REALITY: Senate's Gift to America: A lump of Obamacare

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FINAL HARVEST: Sun sets on ML&P cultivation of pineapple

Fieldworkers picked their last pineapples Wednesday as Maui Pineapple Co. ceased operations after 100 years of farming.

About 285 Maui Pine workers are being laid off in the shutdown, with their last official day of employment Dec. 31. Another 133 employees were expected to be offered positions at Maui Land & Pineapple partner companies.

Some remained hopeful a startup company would take over Maui Pine land, equipment and operations to continue pineapple farming on Maui and hire back some of the laid-off workers.

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Drug trial of HPD officer postponed ("negotiations")

Court officials in Las Vegas said officer Shayne Souza was granted the continuance for further negotiations in the case.

Souza had been scheduled to go to trial on the charge Nov. 18, but was granted a continuance until Dec. 16. On that date, a second continuance was granted, this one until Jan. 28.

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Djou elected to chair search panel for new city auditor

Djou said in a news release that the search committee hopes to make its selection on the next city auditor by the end of February. The nominee will be subject to council confirmation.

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Salary rules limit potential new prosecutor, deputies

(Deputy Prosecutor and Corp Counsel salaries are fixed to a percentage of the Elected Prosecutor's salary.  If Kimura retires, they all get a big pay cut.  This of course is designed to create an automatic reelection committee for any sitting prosecutor--because a new prosecutor starts at a lower scale meaning a big pay cut for all the attorneys, but Kimura is asking it be changed before he leaves.)

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KHON not fazed by cable-Fox flap

Negotiations between Time Warner Cable and the Fox Sports network over programming fees are going down to the wire and if the two sides don't come to an agreement by Dec. 31, many popular Fox channels may no longer be carried by the cable giant.

That could mean Time Warner Cable subscribers on the Mainland will not be able to tune into college bowl games, NFL football and popular programming, such as "American Idol" and "24," beginning Jan. 1. The nation's second-largest cable operator has about 13 million subscribers and operates Oceanic Time Warner Cable in Hawai'i.

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After a year of destruction, Obama and family return to Hawaii


After a year of destruction and waste, President Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia arrived back in Hawai'i this afternoon for the holidays.

SB: Obamas arrive at Kailua beachfront house

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