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Wednesday, July 13, 2016
July 13, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:33 PM :: 3869 Views

CNBC: Top States for Business—Hawaii Ranks 49th

Ex-Rep Richard Fale Pleads No Contest, Fined $1000

Ige Vetoes Workplace Social-Media Privacy Bill

Star-Adv: Hospital payout veto should stand

SA:  Gov. David Ige may have boldly vetoed an exorbitant bill to provide extra severance and retirement bonuses for workers affected by the privatization of Maui County hospitals, but the $25 million compromise he’s offered up to legislators is still a raw deal for taxpayers.

Lawmakers will have to muster political courage Monday when they take up an amended Senate Bill 2077, which aims to provide affected hospital workers with a negotiated separation benefit — a package that in its current state totals $25 million — or let the veto stand. The Ige administration estimated the original SB 2077 would have cost the state more than $60 million, far too steep a sum.

Neither amount is acceptable to the public purse, though — and lawmakers must act boldly on behalf of all taxpayers by rejecting any further cushion for the 1,400 workers at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital. The state simply can’t afford the overly generous benefits….

IT’S UNCLEAR what SB 2077 will look like in its final form, but the inclusion of any additional payouts to workers would be ill-advised, setting an expensive precedent should the state decide to privatize other financially struggling public hospitals…

Related: Maui HGEA Payoff: Still $25M too Much

read … Raw Deal

Ige: HGEA Hospital Payoff Jeopardizes Tax-Exempt Status of ERS

KITV: …Governor David Ige called it unfortunate, that it was only last week that he learned that the bill jeopardizes the tax status of the Employment Retirement System.

The kink is that is allows workers to choose between a lump sum payment or early retirement benefit

"Clearly, losing the tax-exempt status is not something we can allow to have happen,” said Ige.

Lawmakers from both Houses hastily adjourned a 30- day special session to deal with the 11th hour dilemma.

The governor offered an amendment as a way to move forward.

It would appropriate $25 million to pay separation benefits, allow workers to purchase retirement credits and to continue the Hawaii Health Systems corporation to continue negotiating separation benefits for the hospital workers.

Lawmakers stood together.

They will not override the governor's veto but will instead rework the bill.

"The amendment of the governor has some merit and he has worked very had on that but we believe he has worked very hard on that but we believe it doesn’t go far enough," said House Speaker Joe Souki.

"We are here to work together to make sure the Maui residents are not impacted and hopefully we can reach an agreement where a smooth transition can occur. If it cannot it will continue to be run by HHHC," said Senate President Ron Kouchi.

Lawmakers plan to amend the bill to help settle the lawsuit by the United Public Workers Union and keep the transition to Kaiser Permanente on track for the Oct 1 deadline.

"The transfer will not be complete until the court gives its approval and that’s why this bill is so important. We need this bill to bring some resolution of the claims by the workers,” said Rep. Scott Saiki.

The conservative Grass Root Institute supports the Governor’s veto, and opposes what it sees as the unions money grab.

"The unions are trying to tack on an unnecessary and extraordinary salary and benefits package. Whether its $42 million or $25 million, the specter that this will add to converting to a public-private partnership will put a damper on this,” said Keli’I Akina.

read … Grassroot

Legislators Give Ige Six Days to Negotiate Union Hospital Shakedown

SA: …Lawmakers gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday for a special “override” session to consider Gov. David Ige’s veto of a bill to provide severance payments or retirement bonuses to workers at three Maui County hospitals, but quickly recessed without voting.

House Democratic Majority Leader Scott Saiki said lawmakers and the governor agreed to delay action on Senate Bill 2077 to give Ige more time to try to reach agreements with the public-workers unions in connection with the privatization of the hospitals.

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday to continue their deliberations on whether to amend the bill or allow the governor’s veto to stand….

State Finance Director Wesley Machida said workers opting for the severance payout could receive up to 50 percent of their base salary. For instance, a worker employed by Maui Memorial for 10 years who had a base salary of $50,000 could opt to take a $25,000 severance payout. Workers would be eligible for that payout even if they went on to work for Kaiser….

read … Union Shakedown

Djou: Police chief should step aside

HNN: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell two main challengers are calling for the police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife to step aside while a federal grand jury deacides whether they should face criminal charges….

former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou agree that Chief Louis Kealoha should put himself on leave during the federal probe.

If either wins, they'll likely inherit the long-running controversy surrounding Kealoha and his wife, Katherine.

In a recent interview, Caldwell reiterated his position that the chief and his wife shouldn't be tried "in the court of public opinion." …

Djou, though, worries trust in the police is at stake.

"If he was just Sgt. Kealoha, I don't think it would be that big of a deal," he said. "But the fact is, he is Chief Kealoha and he is overseeing the entire Honolulu Police Department."

The Kealohas are under investigation for potential public corruption and civil rights violations stemming from a family financial dispute. Numerous police officers who work under the chief, including both of his top deputies, have been called to testify behind closed doors before a federal grand jury.

The Kealohas have also sued the city and ethics commission repeatedly, even saying racism is behind the investigations….

CB: Candidate Q&A: Honolulu Mayor — Charles Djou

read … Djou

A Peek Inside The Corruption Probe Of Honolulu’s Police Chief

CB: When Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine, filed a lawsuit against the city’s ethics commission last month, they included more than 1,000 pages of exhibits that they believed would help prove that former staffers there had “conducted a series of unfounded, vindictive, unsubstantiated and illegal investigations” of the power couple.

The ethics employees named in the suit included former executive director Chuck Totto, who resigned last month under political pressure, and Letha DeCaires, a retired Honolulu police officer whose contract expired last year. DeCaires spearheaded the commission’s inquiry into the Kealohas over alleged corruption, abuse of power and civil-rights offenses stemming from a case involving the theft of the couple’s mailbox….

PDF: DeCaries Interview Transcript

read … a-peek-inside

NextEra Rejection Decision could come this week

SA: State Public Utilities Commission Chairman Randy Iwase said Tuesday he is hopeful the commission will announce a decision on the rejection of NextEra Energy Inc.’s $4.3 billion proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. this week.

“We’re really trying to get it out this week. I’ll see if we can,” Iwase said in a telephone interview….

Ige, who is opposed to the sale of HEI to NextEra, said he was appointing Gorak because he wanted someone whose ideas more closely aligned with his own. Champley and the third commissioner, Lorraine Akiba, were appointed by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Iwase was appointed by Ige. So Ige’s appointees are now in the majority.

read … Rejection

Ige Vetoes Far Fewer Bills Than His Predecessors

CB: Hawaii’s governor has vetoed 16 bills from the first two legislative sessions of his term. Former governor Linda Lingle has him beat – by a lot….

read … Vetoes

Suit challenges Vacation rentals enforcement

SA: A group whose stated purpose is to lobby and educate government officials, property owners, vendors and the public about the vacation rental industry is suing to invalidate the way the city enforces its bans on some bed-and-breakfast and transient vacation rental units.

Kokua Coalition, which does business as Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting, department Director George Atta, the Honolulu Zoning Board of Appeals and the city.

The lawsuit claims that city ordinances that spell out the procedures for enforcing the bans are unconstitutional in that they force property owners to prove they did not violate the law rather than require the city to prove they did.

The group also claims that Atta interprets the ordinances inconsistently and that his employees trespass to conduct investigations of alleged zoning violations.

According to the lawsuit, DPP investigators have entered private property from public beaches, walked onto and around dwellings and climbed over or entered through closed gates without permission or search warrants. The lawsuit also claims that DPP inspectors have harassed residents and their guests….

read … Suit challenges rentals enforcement

SB2559: New law could slash number of homeless beds in Hawaii

HNN: The governor opted not to veto Tuesday a measure that homeless shelters say will drastically cut the number of beds statewide.

The new law, which requires homeless shelters to make changes to their buildings to offer clients more privacy, was aimed at addressing complaints among some who said they wouldn't consider going into shelters because they felt cramped.

But homeless service providers say those privacy partitions will dramatically cut the number of people they serve. 

Shelter officials say at least 226 beds statewide are at risk.

Institute for Human Services, which operates Oahu's largest homeless service provider, could be hardest hit. Officials say the shelter could lost 192 of its beds, or about half of its shelter space….

On Maui, officials at the Family Life Center said the shelter is at risk of shutting down because of the measure. Maui's largest homeless shelter could have its capacity cut in half.

On the Big Island, plans to use bunk beds to double the capacity at two shelters run by Hope Services Hawaii have stalled. …

Mufi: State funds urged for IHS’ homeless outreach in Waikiki

read … Homeless

269 candidates vying for public office—5 Get Public Funding

ILind: View the list of candidates running in 2016 and their organizational reports which includes their committee officers such as their appointed chairperson and treasurer.

Nineteen (19) candidates are unopposed this year and ten (10) incumbent candidates have decided not to run for their seat. 145 or 54% of the 269 candidates running this year have filed the Affidavit to voluntarily agree with the expenditure limit set for their office and 39 or 14% of the 269 candidates running this year have filed the Statement to notify the Commission of their intent to seek partial public funding. View the list of Affidavit filers and the list of Statement filers.

So far this year, five (5) candidates have received a total of $17,685 in partial public funding. Future updates can be viewed on the “Public Funds Disbursed” page.

Also, 181 fundraisers have been held in 2016 with 63 of those fundraisers being held during the legislative session by legislators. View a list of fundraisers held in 2016 and an interactive chart of the same information.

read … Five

Next? Kauai Nearing Solar Caps

KGI: …Bissell said Kauai has achieved such a high level of renewable penetration during the daylight hours that the grid can’t physically take much more solar and KIUC is routinely reaching over 80 percent renewable penetration, with levels as high as 97 percent being achieved.

He contributed KIUC’s success to embracing “member-owned solar because we recognize it is part of the overall solution as we work our way toward 50 percent and eventually 100 percent of our power generated by renewable sources.”

He pointed out, as a cooperative, KIUC supports anything that members can do to lower their electric bills, while still maintaining the same quality of life.

“We are concerned with fairness amongst our members and certain solar incentives programs, rate structures, and tax credits may provide situations where one group of our members are being subsidized at the expense of others,” Bissell said. “The solar industry is rapidly evolving and the state government should periodically review the effectiveness of the various subsidy programs that are in place for the solar industry.”…

Iwase said the customer grid supply program had to be capped because the grid can only handle so much renewable energy, and the state should have a mix of renewable energy sources, including utility-scale projects. Utility executives have argued the power generated — which varies when it comes from wind or the sun — must match customer demand for the grid to be stable.

Kauai County’s utility uses plenty of solar energy both from utility-scale and distributed sources, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said.

“During peak hours during the day, they get very close to 100 percent of their energy being provided by solar,” Ige said. “The challenge is to really examine what kinds of caps and limits make sense, and then drive those caps as high as we can while maintaining grid stability.” ….

read … Solar Caps

Kenoi ethics saga drags on: Crony Board further delays complaints against mayor

WHT: The county Board of Ethics moved Tuesday to defer until November a complaint that Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of a county-issued credit card for personal expenses violated the Ethics Code, while a petition alleging the panel’s vice chairman is biased toward Kenoi and shouldn’t be allowed to hear the matter won’t be considered until next month’s hearing.

Both complaints were filed by Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland. The ethics complaint against the mayor, who faces an October trial on criminal charges, has been deferred since May 2015 for various reasons, including lack of quorum, scheduling issues and the criminal investigation into Kenoi’s alleged fiscal misdeeds.

Kenoi faces second-degree theft charges, three counts each of third-degree theft and tampering with a government record, and a single count of making a false statement under oath.

The mayor charged almost $130,000 on the card before it was revoked last year after local newspaper reports of him using the card to cover two hostess bar tabs in Honolulu totaling almost $1,300. Other charges included $1,200 for a surfboard and a number of large tabs at other bars and restaurants.

The mayor reimbursed the county for $31,112.59, about $9,500 of it after the newspaper reports examining his use of the pCard.

Richard Sing, one of Kenoi’s attorneys, asked the board to delay acting on the ethics complaint until the trial is finished.

“The trial is set for Oct. 10. It’s relatively firm as you can get at this time,” Sing told the board. “We expect it to take awhile. We expect selecting a jury to be quite a task. The more media coverage, the more outside discussion of this in any kind of form makes this process harder.”

Hyland, testifying by videoconference from Kapaau, asked the board to take up his long-deferred complaint immediately, expressing concern that “it will just die when the mayor leaves office.”

“After a year, I’m just trying to get the matter heard. And I’m afraid if you continue it, it will not be heard because Mr. Kenoi will no longer be mayor,” he said.

“… I would challenge anybody to point out any other ethics commission complaint that was continued until after a criminal trial was held. And the issue of poisoning the jury pool, they can ask for Mr. Kenoi’s case to be tried off-island, if they think that our jury pool is not pure.”

read … Running down the Clock

Dru Kanuha Ethics Violation Slow Walked by Laughable Hawaii County ‘Ethics’ Commission

WHT: A lingering ethics complaint against Council Chairman Dru Kanuha could be revisited next month, just a few days before the primary election.

The unresolved ethics issue is one reason Kanuha, who’s never had an opponent in his four-year political career, faces a challenger for his Kona council seat. Challenger Nestorio Domingo, 63, said Tuesday he’s emphasizing integrity in his campaign to give voters a choice. But he stopped short of criticizing the two-term incumbent councilman.

“I have some concerns with that,” Domingo said, “but I am running a clean campaign.”

Domingo, an engineer and retired chief warrant officer for the U.S. Navy who finished his career in civil service for the Air Force, said the concept of conflict of interest was “drilled into my mind,” making it second nature to avoid such situations.

Kanuha, 32, a graduate of Kealakehe High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in business administration, from the University of San Diego. When he returned to Hawaii, he worked a year with state Sen. Clayton Hee, (BINGO!) an Oahu Democrat, then moved back to Kona and worked for Kamehameha Schools in the land assets division (uh-huh).

The ethics complaint alleges Kanuha acted improperly when he accepted $536 in airfare from the Honolulu-based Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii on Sept. 11, 2014, and Nov. 10, 2014, prior to a bill he introduced to ban electronic cigarettes anywhere conventional tobacco cigarettes are banned. The resolution was introduced Oct. 14, 2014, and passed Dec. 11 that year.

It was the second bill in as many years that Kanuha sponsored on behalf of the coalition. The other one, in 2013, raised the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.

The Board of Ethics had deadlocked 2-2 on the complaint in April, and then postponed the issue until (insert excuse here) ….

read … Conflict of Interest



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