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Sunday, December 20, 2015
December 20, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:36 PM :: 3749 Views

How Christmas Came to Hawaii

The Racial Spoils System Invents a Tribe for Native Hawaiians

HRC: Hawaii Counties Not Gay Enough

UH Manoa #1 in Eyes of Chinese Communists

GEMS: Gets Everyone’s Money Swiftly

Lawsuit: OHA Paying Lawyers Millions of Dollars to Evade Sunshine Law

Roth and Heen: …A state statute implies that OHA is not a state department or instrumentality of state government by declaring a “duty and responsibility of all state departments and instrumentalities of state government … to cooperate with and assist wherever possible the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.” ….

But another statute includes in OHA’s purposes that it serves as a “public agency.” And many courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have called OHA a state agency, or treated it as such, at least for selected purposes. Various state agencies have done the same, such as when the Office of Information Practices treats OHA as being subject to state sunshine laws applicable to governmental agencies.

It is conceivable that OHA does not fit neatly in just one legal category, but such a unique status would all-but-guarantee legal confusion and unending litigation.

Two ongoing lawsuits illustrate this point. The first is called Akana, and the second, Akina.

The Akana case began several years ago when one OHA trustee, Rowena Akana, sued the other eight OHA trustees for allegedly violating the state’s Sunshine Law in connection with the trustees’ 8-1 decision to acquire the Gentry Pacific Design Center for use as OHA headquarters. Trustee Akana also claims that the other trustees and OHA’s staff regularly impede her ability to carry out her trusteeship….

Legal fees in the Akana case are probably approaching a million dollars and could easily be double that by the time a final judgment has been rendered and all appeals concluded. Never mind that neither side is likely to pay or receive any monetary damages, or be removed from office.

Such seemingly pointless cases will continue for as long as OHA’s legal status is in doubt. And the stakes in most such cases could be quite high.

If OHA were a trust, such as any of the alii trusts, the exact nature of Akana’s duties would be clear and the attorney general would have standing to seek Akana’s removal ….

Also if OHA were just such a trust, Hawaii’s sunshine laws would not apply….

In the Akina lawsuit, a group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians have raised constitutional questions about a Hawaiians-only election that would pave the way for a Native Hawaiian constitutional convention. The defendant, Na’i Aupuni, pushed the case into legal limbo this past Tuesday by canceling the election and expressing a desire to have the case dismissed. The plaintiffs may or may not resist a dismissal. In any event, legal issues raised in the Akina case are fundamental to OHA’s legal status.

If OHA is a state agency, there would be obvious legal problems if it were to be directly involved in an election that placed race restrictions on candidates and voters. If OHA is not a state agency, its direct involvement in such an election would not necessarily be unconstitutional….

must read … What is OHA?

Na‘i Aupuni convention unlikely to craft anything credible or legal

SA: There are two teams in this game — one is the state of Hawaii and the other is the Obama administration. Pitifully, though, they’re both on the same side pushing one agenda: federal recognition for Hawaiians whether we want it or not….

The voter registry used for this purpose was pieced together like Frankenstein from multiple lists. Kanaiolowalu, a state-mandated registry that cost millions, was intended to gather 200,000 names, but only managed to get 19,000….

The process moved quickly, most likely in an attempt to outrun blowback from Hawaiians opposed to federal recognition. In the haste, even the ballot itself was worthy of a few lawsuits for voter fraud. One example is the duplicate names appearing on the continent’s ballot, allowing some candidates to receive two votes from one ballot.

But Na‘i Aupuni trudged on….

Then, Na‘i Aupuni’s side of the game fell apart when the court made the injunction permanent.

It seemed as if it was officially over. But like the zombie apocalypse, Na‘i Aupuni would not go gently. On Tuesday, it arose from the judicial ashes, brushed itself off and declared that all 196 candidates are now invited to be delegates. That’s right, 196 unelected, (mostly) unvetted, inexperienced wannabes with no legal or professional experience will sit down and chisel their profound thoughts about the lahui into a constitution.

What a circus.

Truly, that’s what it is, a circus with sideshows and freaks.

How can such an outrageously corrupt process be taken seriously? Even if they manage to create the illusion of legitimacy with their mockery of a constitutional convention, any outcome will likely be rebuked by the public and invalidated in the courts. Who stands to benefit from this mass distraction?

Simultaneous to the Na‘i Aupuni fiasco, the other team, President Barack Obama’s Department of Interior (DOI), is planning a rule change that will allow him by executive order to confer federal recognition on any Hawaiian entity (or circus)….

the Obama administration turned a deaf ear to the Hawaiians who lined up and testified during those weeks, with 99 percent of them opposing federal recognition….

We are expected to stay quiet as a handful of our people try to surrender our sovereignty to Uncle Sam.

The Atlantic: Can the Constitution Govern America's Sprawling Empire?

SA: Tribe Broken Down Again

read … Anna Keala Kelly

Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus -- So far, GOP’s nominee for president is anyone’s guess

Borreca: Hawaii Democrats and Republicans hold their own presidential primaries next March.  (GOP Tues March 8Dems Sat March 26)

Already, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump have paid their $5,000 nomination fee and submitted the needed paperwork to be on the Hawaii GOP ballot. Democrats have not yet started accepting nominations.

In 2008, the Democratic caucus was a spirited battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, drawing 37,000 Democratic voters to the night meetings. But then in 2012, just 1,350 bothered to cast a ballot for the foregone conclusion of nominating Obama. The caucus excitement in 2012 belonged to the GOP, which proved that holding its first presidential caucus was a success because it attracted more than 10,000 voters, with Mitt Romney winning 44 percent.

Rohlfing said many of the GOP presidential candidates are popular in Hawaii, but so far no one is racing ahead.

“There is no natural front-runner, like when Romney was considered to be ahead,” Rohlfing said.

With many high-profile, but not unifying candidates, Rohlfing said, it increases the chances for a convention of some uncertainty when the national GOP meets July 18 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Democrats’ meet starts July 25 in Philadelphia.

How Hawaii goes, Rohlfing said, is “anybody’s guess” because with no visible local campaigning as of yet, “it is wide open.”

Despite former Vice President Richard Cheney’s 2004 Halloween night campaign appearance at the Hawaii Convention Center, the national scrimmage for Hawaii’s four electoral votes has been less than “a spare no expense” battle. But with dreams of a brokered convention in the offing, who knows what will make a GOP candidate a winner in 2016….

read … VOTE Tues March 8, 2016

Ige Budget Constrained by Act 268

SA: When Ige unveils his administration’s supplemental budget on Monday, the possibilities for exciting new programs or projects will be limited by Act 268, a groundbreaking law he helped craft in 2013.

The new law requires the state and counties to bank hundreds of millions of dollars each year to pay for future public worker and retiree health benefits. The law’s impact on the state budget has already been substantial, and will increase in coming years.

In the fiscal year beginning July 1, Act 268 requires the state to set aside $245.8 million to provide health coverage to public worker retirees and some of their spouses in the decades ahead. That is in addition to about $360 million the state will have to pay to provide health coverage next year to public workers and their families, and retirees and their spouses.

The combined cost to the state for health coverage and for the set-aside for future health coverage obligations will continue to grow in the years ahead. According to a 2013 report by a state actuary, the combined cost of about $600 million next fiscal year will increase to about $720 million the following year, and to about $850 million the year after that.

Those annual state health care costs are expected to top $1 billion in fiscal year 2024, and will be a financial burden for a long time….

Ige has also begun to sketch out an ambitious agenda for his administration, and most of his initiatives will require cash.

Homelessness and housing are among his top priorities, and he hinted that a new effort to modernize one or more of the state’s correctional facilities may be highlighted in his State of the State address to lawmakers next month.

He mentioned improvements he wants to make in the state’s mental health systems and said he plans to increase funding under the weighted student formula to boost the budget for public schools.

He stressed the importance of modernizing the computer system that serves the state Department of Taxation. The state has already committed $32 million to the latest tax system computer modernization effort, and the department says it needs another $27 million.

Ige also wants a new financial management system for the state Department of Accounting and General Services, calling it a “very high priority” because it is needed for critical tasks such as tracking federal grants. That system is expected to cost $15 million.

In addition, he has to cope with perennial issues such as the urgent requests for help from the state’s network of public hospitals. The Hawaii Health Systems Corporation often requires state subsidies of $100 million per year to cover its losses, which the hospitals say they need to continue operating….

As Explained: Act 268 Hawaii Unfunded Liabilities Plan: Pot of Gold for Corrupt Union Leaders

read … Squeeze

NextEra hearing delayed Until February

HTH: Members of the public and members of the state Public Utilities Commission will have to wait two months for the conclusion of the final evidentiary hearing regarding the proposed NextEra Energy purchase of the Hawaiian Electric companies, after testimony ran longer than the allotted time.

The PUC called for a recess Wednesday after 12 days of testimony and questioning because the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu is booked for another event. The hearings tentatively are scheduled to resume during weekdays at the Blaisdell Center from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 1-10….

SA: Right to have a monopoly elevates need for openness

read … Delay

Hawaii reading scores improved after ‘preschool to third grade’ initiative

SA: …We relied on data from more than 190 elementary schools and nearly 99,000 students between 2008 and 2014. We found that the more years students spent participating in the initiative, the more likely their reading scores were to have improved by third grade.

The initiative targeted schools in five areas where reading scores were lower than the state average. In 2008, the year before the initiative began, third graders in P-3 schools were 11 percentage points less likely to be proficient in reading than those in non P-3 schools. As of 2014 — the program’s seven-year mark — the Hawaii state reading assessment showed that the gap in reading proficiency between P-3 schools and those that had not been exposed to the initiative had narrowed by 4 percentage points….

read … P-3 Initiative

States Are Struggling To Keep Medical Weed Safe

BF: With no federal standards to guide them, fewer than half of medical marijuana states require safety testing of cannabis….

CB: Struggling To Keep Med Pot Safe

read … Buzz Feed

Church opens Work Farm for the Homeless

KITV: A farm in Waianae is growing more than crops. About 35 people are farming the land and getting a helping hand….

From Hawaii Cedar Church in Kalihi, to their ministry in Waianae, this food donated by 5 Minute Pharmacy will help feed families who have fallen on hard times. 

"We might be in tents, but with all the help and support that we get. it's all good," said Alfred Cordeiro, farm resident.

This food is free and rent at the farm is free, but not much else. Residents here earn their keep as they try to turn their lives around.

"You don't just stay there and sleep. They have you working a few hours a day, but you can also go out and look for jobs on your own," …

"Any homeless who like to come to Waianae and stay there and work there, he said they're invited," said Young-min Kim, Cedar Church, Kalihi.

CSM: How cities are trying to end homelessness

read … Work Farm

Bill 85 Requires Taxi meters for Uber, Lyft

SA: …“I’ve never seen them trying to put (ride-hailing) under the same rules as a taxi,” said Harry Campbell, who operates therideshareguy.com blog and podcast. Campbell, based in California, monitors national trends and regulations involving Uber, Lyft and similar services.

Dave Sutton, spokesman for the national Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association’s whosdrivingyou.org initiative, agreed.

“I haven’t seen any legislation” that so absolutely levels the playing field, “with the exception of New York City,” Sutton said.

Bill 85, introduced by City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, would expand the definition of taxi companies to include any entity that “functions as an intermediary between the passenger for hire and the taxicab or taxicab driver, and receives a portion of the consideration paid … regardless of whether the intermediary performs its function entirely or in part using any form or type of technology.”

Kobayashi described the bill as a consumer protection measure. However, Bill 85 would make other changes to taxi regulations as well. Cab drivers would be able to charge new fees, and taxi rates could double at night, for special events and on holidays. The adjustable rates would be similar to “surge” pricing charged by Uber.

The bill would also require Uber and Lyft cars to be equipped with dome lights and taximeters, and would prohibit drivers from using a GPS to calculate distance and determine fares….

On several occasions, Uber and Lyft have responded to increased regulations by pulling out of markets, leaving angry drivers and customers to complain to politicians.

read … Same Level

Aloha Stadium study waiting on direction from Gov. Ige

SA: The Aloha Stadium Authority is waiting for direction from Gov. David Ige to see how it should proceed with a state-commissioned study designed to determine the future of the aging 50,000-seat facility.

The unpaid nine-member panel was overseeing the fifth phase of an eight-phase study surrounding the 41-year-old stadium when the governor said Dec. 11 he favored maintaining the current facility rather than building a new one….

read … Ferd’s Words

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