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Wednesday, December 16, 2015
December 16, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:21 PM :: 4807 Views

Nai Aupuni’s "Oprah Theory Of Elections"

Grassroot: Nai Aupuni is undercutting its own efforts

Hawaii Ranked in Bottom Five States for Economic Freedom

Word with Ward: Portnoy, Kato Discuss Shield Law

Honolulu Is the 11th Best City for Singles

DoH Posts Interim Administrative Rules For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Study: Honolulu Lowest Per-Patient Health Spending in USA

Criminal Hee Claims ‘Food Allergies’ Should Exempt him from Prison—Sentencing Delayed Again

SA: Hee’s attorneys say he has food and environmental allergies that require him to take Benadryl daily….  (And they did this without laughing, thus justifying their hourly rates.)

Mollway received a letter from Waianae High School teacher Trevor LaTorre-Couch saying his students have been following the coverage of Hee and are concerned about the equity of the justice system.

“They do not understand why Hee, who siphoned off funds for resources that belong to all of us, should be granted leniency,” wrote LaTorre-Couch. “They cannot comprehend why our state leaders — namely, a senator — would cite long-running friendships as valid reasoning to grant leniency. If they found themselves in violation of a law, could they count on the same high-ranking government officials to write letters of support? And if not, why? Finally, if the legal system is built for individuals like Hee — wealthy and well-connected — might it also be prejudiced against them — working-class, unprivileged, living below the poverty line?”

Dec 3:  Politicians and pals of convicted criminal Al Hee push judge for lenience

read … Prejudiced?

"Nai Aupuni has the integrity of a Costco membership at this point."

HP: From the start, opponents have argued the election process is unconstitutional and racially exclusive. They say that Hawaii residents who don't have Native Hawaiian ancestry are being excluded from a vote that will have a big impact on their state.

In a statement Tuesday, Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the lawsuit brought an end to a discriminatory election.

“Now, in a desperate move to bypass their election, Nai Aupuni is undercutting its own efforts to even look like a democratic process," he said.

Akina added that like other Native Hawaiians, he is "appalled at the millions of dollars that have been wasted on this divisive and illegal effort" -- funds he said would have been better spent meeting Hawaiians' real needs, including housing, education and jobs….

Native Hawaiian community advocate Trisha Keahaulani Watson-Sproat, a vocal critic of Nai Aupuni, said taking away the opportunity to vote for delegates makes a mockery of any effort toward self-governance.

"I don't know how anybody is supposed to take any of this seriously at this point," she said. "I mean, it has the integrity of a Costco membership at this point."

read … Integrity

Ritte: “Bad Joke -- It’s not going to Work.”

AP: “Now there are no elections and it’s now become a self-appointed process (of) self-governance for Hawaiians,” Ritte said. “They’re not going to go out with a bang, but with a whimper, and it’s not going to work.”

Ritte was a candidate until October, when he withdrew his candidacy. As far as Ritte is concerned, however, the convention is rigged.

“The goal is to fight to bring everybody to the position where we are actually dealing with facts,” he said. “The fact now is that we are an occupied nation, according to international law. So you just follow the law — how do you de-occupy?”

Ritte said a new process is needed, one that’s open and “not rigged to make us become a self-governing entity under the United States of America.”

“It’s been a long process and now it’s turned into an embarrassing, bad joke,” he said. “Now it’s just a self-appointed group of people that’s created by some newly-formed nonprofit to create self-governance for Hawaiians.” …

State Rep. Kaniela Ing, a delegate candidate, said he’s not sure he’ll accept a seat at the convention.

“If we had known that signing up was a free pass to the table rather than a name on a ballot, the outcome and the process itself would have been completely different,” he said.

Suddenly taking away the opportunity to vote for delegates makes a mockery of any effort toward self-governance, said Native Hawaiian community advocate Trisha Keahaulani Watson-Sproat, who has been a vocal critic of Nai Aupuni.

“I don’t know how anybody is supposed to take any of this seriously at this point,” she said.

read … Bad Joke

Nai Aupuni Devolves into Embarrassing Circus

SA: “It’s embarrassing,” said Walter Ritte, the Molokai activist and former convention candidate who ended up renouncing the election in October. “This thing has been one disaster after another.”

Ritte and others contend that Na‘i Aupuni is part of a campaign to turn Native Hawaiians into a federally recognized American Indian tribe before President Barack Obama leaves office in early 2017. This end-run around the court, he said, falls in line with that thinking.

“They keep rushing this thing,” he said….

University of Hawaii professor Davianna McGregor, an Oahu candidate, said she thought it was a mistake to cancel the election and limit the convention.

“It would have been wise to ask for input from the candidates before taking a such a drastic step,” she said. “(The Na‘i Aupuni board is) not alone — they need to realize there’s a lot of creative thinkers out there who could help see them through the process.”

McGregor said she’s disappointed the ballots won’t be counted because it took courage for some to vote in the face of opposition.

What’s more, she said, she’s afraid there won’t be enough time to build a nation in 20 days.

Williamson Chang, a UH law professor and an “independence” candidate, meaning he wants Hawaii to be separate from the U.S., expressed disappointment with Tuesday’s announcement.

In an email, Chang said allowing all 196 candidates as delegates will result in overpowering the independence delegates. He said the majority will have its way in creating a government that meets the conditions for a federally recognized tribe.

“The clear message of this action by Na‘i Aupuni is to establish federal recognition at any cost, even if it requires violating previously settled terms and conditions of the process, ‘stacking’ the convention with their own representatives and completely ignoring” constitutional violations.

As for the Supreme Court, Chang said canceling the election is an ultimate “in-your-face” insult, defying the power of the high court under Article III of the U.S. Constitution and fraudulently avoiding the effect of its injunction.

Former Hawaii Attorney General Michael A. Lilly, an attorney for the plaintiffs suing Na‘i Aupuni, said the state has wasted millions on the process, from bankrolling the collection of names for the Native Hawaiian Roll to staging an election that no longer exists.

“And now after wasting $6.5 million of taxpayer funds, they decide to use delegates that no one elected to hold their aha. Who anointed them? This entire process lacks accountability and credibility,” Lilly said.

Clarence “Ku” Ching, a former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee who has been campaigning as an independence candidate on Hawaii island, said he’s not quite sure what to make of the new Na‘i Aupuni process, only that he’s ready to participate.

“It’s going to be interesting,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a circus, but anything is possible at this point. It should be the best show in town at least for a while.”

HI: Williamson Chang: Naʻi Aupuni’s annexation

read … Indian Tribe

Big Island Delegates May Take $4000 Bribe

HTH: …“I think Na‘i Aupuni made a very good decision to terminate (the election) because this law case may take years to come to a conclusion,” said Fred Cachola Jr. of Hawi, one of 32 Big Island residents who were running for seven delegate seats.

In that time, he said, momentum for self-governance would be lost.

“Time lost, enthusiasm lost — the feeling of Hawaiians not being able to determine a government for themselves,” Cachola said. “I think this gives us an opportunity.”

Delegate candidates were notified of the changes via email.

Candidate Kaipo Dye of Kurtistown said the decision to terminate the election process was unusual and that he was still considering its implications. His primary concern, he said, was “just representing the best interests now and for generations to come.”

Delegate candidate Lei Kihoi, who also is a Big Island representative on the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, thought that moving forward with the aha was a great idea.

“From my perspective, I feel that this is a private election and … it’s like any entity that’s private, and (Native Hawaiians) should have the right to assemble,” Kihoi said.

She said it was “highly probable” that she would attend the aha….

“Because of the logistics and the timing, I wonder how many of (the delegates) will actually attend,” Cachola said.

read … Delegates

Nai Aupuni: Dwindling Time Left for Tribal Cronies

HNN: … experts say an already very complicated process has only grown more challenging.

Rather than wait for a Supreme Court ruling on constitutionality, political analysts say Na'i Aupuni's decision to cancel its election but still hold a convention raises even more questions about the legitimacy of whatever they decide.

"If they did wait, they would reserve the democratic legitimacy that would come from a real election like they planned. On the other hand, it looks like they've moved to a more pragmatic solution which is that they want to have something tangible to present they want to have something to present to the community and by having all the delegates sit at least they'll be able to produce something in a timely fashion," explained Colin Moore, a Political Science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Delegate candidates agree there has always been uncertainty about what the 'aha would accomplish, but say what's important is that the discussion is taking place….

Some cite President Obama's dwindling time left in office as a likely factor in the decision to move forward with an attempt at self-governance….

read … Dwindling

New Lawsuit Challenges Nai Aupuni Blood Quantum

CB: Samuel Kealoha Jr., Virgil Day, Josiah Ho‘ohuli, Patrick Kahawaiola‘a and Melvin Ho‘omanawanui had sought to stop the election process….

In a complaint filed last month, they sought to limit eligible voters to people who are at least 50 percent Hawaiian.

Walter Schoettle, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview that he filed the complaint after the court rejected his effort to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit challenging the election process, Akina v. State of Hawaii.

“We’re trying to say it should be restricted to real honest-to-goodness Native Hawaiians and not less than one-half part,” Schoettle said….

read … DHHL Hawaiians Only

Honolulu Charter Commission Exempts itself from Ethics Disclosure, Plans Kyo-Ya Amendment

ILind:  the long list of proposals also includes some that raise large red flags….

In late September, a unanimous decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court overturned a zoning variance that would have allowed a new 26-story hotel-condo tower to be built within the protected shoreline setback along Waikiki Beach….just a month later, the city proposed a charter amendment to change the criteria for approval of variances, expanding the planning director’s discretion and effectively nullifying the court ruling….

If the proposal had been submitted as legislation to be considered by the City Council, it would likely have earned headlines as it moved slowly through the long legislative process. Instead, the proposal was submitted to the charter commission, where it sits largely unseen as Proposal #81 in a list of 154….

the commission’s meeting scheduled for Thursday, where 24 proposals are set to be “deferred indefinitely,” meaning they will be effectively killed.

According to the meeting agenda, the proposals being rejected “fall within the purview of another jurisdiction,” propose fundamental changes to city government, or call for dismantling the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, the agency in charge of the rail project….

The 13-member charter commission is made up of six members named by the mayor, six by the council, and one nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

Its members include top lobbyists representing large landowners and developers, two union leaders, a land use lawyer, a retired city administrator, former Gov. John Waihee and former state Sen. Donna Ikeda.

The current chairman, David Rae, is a retired executive and lobbyist for Campbell Estate and its successor companies. Rae has been identified as one of the lobbyists whose gifts of meals and entertainment to members of the City Council resulted in ethics charges and civil fines against council members Romy Cachola and Nestor Garcia.

Among the proposals pending before the commission are several dealing with ethics, including at least one that would roll back the restrictions on gifts to public officials and employees by lobbyists and others.

Proposal #153, submitted by commissioner Donna Ikeda, would narrow the gift restrictions, which currently prohibit any gifts where “it can reasonably be inferred” the gift is intended to influence or reward a city official for actions taken as part of their official duties.

The commission is subject to the state’s sunshine law, but a little noticed provision of the current City Charter exempts members of the Charter Commission from the city’s ethics code, including those parts dealing with conflict of interest, gifts and financial disclosures. After being advised of the exemption at one of their first meetings in back in March, the commission voted to delete the rule requiring disclosure of potential conflicts, although the rule had been adopted and followed by the last Charter Commission in 2005.

Much of the commission’s first several months were spent on organizational issues, including budget, rules and hiring a small staff. Then it turned to sessions reviewing the functions of the city’s major departments and agencies.

Unfortunately, the most recent minutes available on the commission’s website are from its July meetings. No minutes are available for the eight public meetings held since July, although the state’s sunshine law requires minutes to be publicly available within 30 days after the meeting….

Related: Charter Commission Agenda: Defer all ‘Proposals to Dismantle HART’

read … Under the Radar

Obamacare Deadline Extended 48 Hours

SA: Facing a record surge of With hardly any Americans applying for health coverage on HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration moved late Tuesday to extend the deadline by 48 hours for enrolling in coverage for 2016.

Consumers in the 38 states that rely on the HealthCare.gov marketplace, which includes Hawaii, will now have until 9:59 p.m. Hawaii time Thursday to sign up for a health plan….

read … Making it up as they go along

Health reform's escape hatch may be too narrow for states seeking to use it

MH: The Obama administration may have disappointed anyone banking on an Affordable Care Act provision allowing states to duck many of the law's federal mandates by finding homegrown ways to ensure affordable coverage.

Under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act, states can ask to opt out of most of the law's major insurance components—including the insurance exchanges, minimum benefit packages and the individual and employer mandates—but final guidance the administration issued late last week (PDF) included some significant barriers.

“States were looking at 1332 as a magic carpet, and with this guidance, what they got was a subway token,” said Katherine Hempstead, director of health insurance research at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The inclusion of the waiver authority in the law was championed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Wyden praised HHS last week for taking a step toward realizing the so-called State Innovation Waivers, which he said would “allow states to innovate while still achieving the objectives of the Affordable Care Act.”

But some stakeholders and policy experts say the agency included restrictions in its guidance that will make it hard for states to take advantage of the promised flexibility.

“Unfortunately, the guidance speaks more to what cannot be done than what can be done,” said Deborah Bachrach, a partner in the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and former Medicaid director of New York state….

Before HHS issued the guidance, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island had expressed some interest in seeking a 1332 waiver. A group of activists in Colorado, meanwhile, have secured a spot on a 2016 ballot for single-payer system, which would have to be implemented under a 1332 waiver.

The states in the best position to take advantage of the waiver authority may be the 13 that fully operate their own exchanges (Hawaii and New Mexico use HealthCare.gov).

read … Too Narrow

Kohala: Existing Pot Growers Demand Protection from State-Controlled Corporate Crony Marijuana

HTH: The state Department of Health on Tuesday released 63 pages of rules governing medical marijuana dispensaries, detailing the application process, security, quality control, auditing of records and operations for grow centers and dispensaries.

The rules are detailed, but they’re not enough to satisfy a group of Kohala residents who say their voices will be heard come Election Day, and possibly in the courts as well.

Jeff Coakley, president of the North Kohala Community Association, said rules requiring medical marijuana to be grown in an “enclosed indoor facility” are not enough to allay concerns about an increase in crime and the disruption of what currently is a quiet rural community. Coakley said the association is meeting with other community groups throughout the state and on the mainland, and might challenge the new law in court.

“Indoors, outdoors, suspended from the ceiling doesn’t really matter. What matters is they took away our right to vote on this,” Coakley said. “We’re trying to keep Kohala Kohala, and it is rural.” (Translation: We don’t want to be run out of the marijuana business.) …

The Hawaii County Council earlier this month passed a nonbinding resolution 8-0 asking the state Legislature to amend its law to allow counties more say about where the dispensaries and grow operations could be located. The resolution, sponsored by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, also asks the Legislature to remove the ban that starts in 2019 on patients assigning “primary caregivers” to grow their pot for them.

Wille also said rules requiring the marijuana to be grown in an indoor secured facility such as a warehouse or greenhouse aren’t enough to satisfy her or her constituents.

“It’s not that people can run into the field and get it, but that we’re here to grow food, and we have a serious drug problem,” Wille said Tuesday. “We don’t want this additional step.”

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, D-Puna, (another big marijuana growing area) a member of the conference committee that put the finishing touches on the bill, reiterated her earlier statements that the Legislature won’t be making big changes to the law during the legislative session that starts Jan. 20.

“The current view is we want to see how it works first,” she said.

Related: DoH Posts Interim Administrative Rules For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

read … Kohala

Anti-Dairy Obsessives at Kauai Meeting with Governor

KGI: Poipu residents showed up in mass and organized with cardboard signs in protest of the dairy by Hawaii Dairy Farms, which would eventually put about 1,800 cows on the Southside of the island.

Michael Coon, a marine biologist (sure, whatever) from Poipu, was one of those sign-holders. He said the dairy was the most important issue of the evening.

Mainlanders, George and Pam Valentini, who spend half of the year in Poipu said their main focus on Tuesday night was also the proposed dairy.

LINK: You, too can get a handy-dandy Msc diploma in only 6 months

read … Yes, Its Kauai

‘Deficiencies’ found in dengue effort—More Pesticide Needed, anti-Pesticide Activists Remain Silent

HTH: In its first assessment of the Big Island’s dengue fever outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the public health response has been adequate, but it also noted concerns with mosquito control efforts and staffing levels at the state Department of Health.

In response, state and county officials say they are expanding mosquito spraying in neighborhoods with confirmed cases and might bring in additional assistance from other departments….

He also recommended state and county workers switch from soapy water to larvacide when targeting mosquito breeding areas. Insecticides also are being used to target adult mosquitoes.

“Current efforts to reduce mosquito breeding sites may be insufficient to reduce mosquito populations enough to impact transmission because soapy water as a larvacide may be ineffective and it has proven difficult to achieve the 200-yard radius of control,” Petersen said.

Kawaoka said the use of larvacides is being reviewed.

He said the size of survey areas will be expanded, though that can be limited if a property owner doesn’t provide consent. Spraying near confirmed cases also will be increased from two or three times every three to four weeks to twice a week.

Petersen also noted concern about fatigue among Vector Control workers. Kawaoka said other county and state workers are being trained and can be used if needed.

WHT: 156 cases of dengue fever confirmed on Hawaii Island

read … Deficiencies

DOE tackling shortage of special education teachers

HNN: …The state has about 100 SPED teacher openings. It's been as high as double that number. Teachers leave because of the workload or other stressors and it's tough to recruit and retain new ones.

To temporarily fill special ed vacancies, the DOE uses emergency hires or other teachers who don't have special education backgrounds….

read … Special

Charter School Paying $110K/Month for Portable Classroom

HTH: …The portable classroom, which was previously used by Keonepoko Elementary during the approach of the June 27 lava flow in 2014, costs about $110,000 a month, Hutton said. To cover the added expense, the school is working to adjust its payroll.

“There may be a variety of things they can do,” Hutton said. “There may be some positions that are phased out. … One part of the funding charter schools receives covers all employee fringe benefits, which is a very significant amount. They also get federal dollars under Title I, II and III. And many schools augment those public dollars with a lot of private fundraising. Some schools are more successful at private fundraising than others.”….

read … $110,000 a month?

Criminal Al Hee Sentencing Delayed Until January 6

HNN: This is the second time a judge delayed his sentencing over conerns he won't get the healthcare treatment that he needs in prison.

Hee's original sentencing was set in October of 2015 after he was found guilty of diverting $4 million from his company to himself and his family.

His new sentencing is set for January 6.

read … Sentencing delayed once more

Kauai police chief explains body camera usage, despite union protest

HNN: …SHOPO, the police officers’ union, is fighting it. President Tenari Maafala says the union is in favor of the cameras, but adds that KPD is not complying with collective bargaining rules.

We’re sending him a notice that we’re aware that he’s implementing the policy contrary to what the law calls for and we’re putting him on notice that we respectfully ask that you cease and desist,” Maafala said.

SHOPO plans to file a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, and Maafala says there are still privacy issues that need to be ironed out.

“No matter what policy you put on the table, it will never be a hundred percent. We learn as we progress through,” Maafala said.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Department will be testing body cameras worn by its officers in the new year. A spokeswoman says the department is working on a policy and plans to conduct a pilot project next year.

Maui’s police department has received funding and is working on policies for the use of body cameras.

On Hawaii Island, a spokesman says the department continues to research the issue.

With other counties looking to get the cameras, the ACLU wants more assurance that privacy rights are not violated.

It sent us a statement saying, “There must also be safeguards in place to prevent individual officers from tampering with footage at their own discretion….”

read … Union Protest

Lawyer Targets Police After Arrest of Monk Seal Harasser – Caldwell Panders

HNN: …In an interview on Hawaii News Now's Sunrise program, Mayor Kirk Caldwell called the video "very disturbing."

"What you show on this video is way over the top in my mind in terms of use of excessive force," Caldwell said Monday. "Watching the videotape in and of itself is something that troubles me immensely."

"If I was the chief of police, I probably would put this guy on desk duty, take away his badge, his baton and his gun and say until this investigation is completed, we want you to sit at a desk," Caldwell added.

Sources told Hawaii News Now that immediately following the incident last fall, HPD temporarily re-assigned Wang to a desk job, but when the City Prosecutor’s office declined to prosecute him, the department put him back on the road.

The officer remains on full duty, but a police internal investigation is underway and for a second time, prosecutors are reviewing the case for potential criminal charges against the officer.  The case might be sent to a grand jury.

Rice's family said he suffers from bipolar disorder, has been homeless and spent time in mental hospitals in Hawaii and Washington state.  Rice is now living in a halfway house in Pearl City, his family members said….  (And now he’s finally gonna make the family some money!)

Totally Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read … Money Grubbing

Criminals, Thieves Cleared out of Kewalo

KITV: Surfers hitting the beach early at Kewalo's say they got a nice surprise. The growing homeless encampment had been cleared overnight.

"It's beautiful. We got our park back. You get to surf. You know, it’s nice I just hope it stays like this," said Roland Perrieira, a Kewalo regular.

Most of the areas were wide open and the tents gone. There were some tell-tale signs of the illegal campers.

Someone had hot wired a street lamp to steal power by attaching a power cord to run appliances, and there were still some areas of leftover trash. But for the most part, the large structures were gone…

The campers say there were at least three people arrested. Morishige believed those arrests were for outstanding warrants. Only a few of the homeless individuals moved back to claim their spots.

Morishige also declined to discuss plans for Kakaako, but those campers believe the crackdown is coming….

read … Beautiful

Hawaii Renters Among Most Cost-Burdened

CB: …Apartment List recently analyzed Census data from 2007 through 2014 to show which cities and states have the most cost-burdened renters – meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.

Hawaii has the second-largest share of cost-burdened renters in the country, the report found. In 2014, 57.5 percent of renters spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent – about a 4 percent increase since 2007.

Florida had the most cost-burdened renters with 57.9 percent. California was third with 56.8 percent….

read … Cost Burdened

State's unclaimed property pot exceeds $200M

HNN: The state has upwards of $200 million, just waiting to be claimed.

Since July 1, the state has received about $26 million in unclaimed property – everything from bank accounts that were never closed to long-forgotten stocks.

Over the same five-month period, the state has paid out about $4.8 million for 4,487 claims. (That's an average claim of $1,070.)

Scott Kami, administrator of the state’s Financial Administration Division, said he’s seeing more people filing for unclaimed property as awareness about the funds grows.

In the 2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the state collected about $29.5 million and paid out about $10.4 million….

there are some hefty unclaimed amounts, some in the tens of thousands of dollars, Kami said.

The largest claim paid in 2015 was $200,000 for insurance proceeds.

Want to see if you have any unclaimed property? You can use the state’s online search here.

read … $200M

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