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Friday, August 5, 2016
August 5, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:38 PM :: 3678 Views

Hawaii: 41% of Children Dependent on Government

53% – Hawaii Headed in Wrong Direction

CB: …The first U.S. president from Hawaii has 60 percent of Oahu voters viewing him in a positive light, according to The Civil Beat Poll.

Obama is viewed negatively by 36 percent.

By contrast, Gov. David Ige’s positive and negative numbers are nearly identical — 41 percent and 42 percent respectively….

Nearly one-fifth of voters are unsure how they feel about Ige….

What’s interesting, however, is that just about the same percentage of voters (54 percent and 53 percent, respectively) feel the United States and Hawaii are going in the wrong direction….

Borreca: Early voters mostly OK with how Hawaii is doing

PDF: Details

read … Poll

UPW Delays Destroying Maui Memorial Hospital

MN: …That transition was supposed to take place on July 1, but the UPW got an injunction from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that put it on hold. The union argues that the plan impairs a labor contract between the state and UPW.

Frankly, it is hard to imagine what is going to be left of Maui's hospitals if an accord isn't reached soon. The board is studying contingency plans that could result in the elimination of many services - including obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral health and oncology services.

Those cuts may be necessary to save the hospitals from bankruptcy, but they would shove the level of Maui's medical care seriously backwards.

We have commended Maui Memorial Medical Center on the strides it has made in the last decade. The delay in the transition to the public-private partnership threatens to more than undo all those strides.

SA: Unconsummated hospital deal costs Kaiser $40M

read … UPW Delays

Optimistic that hospital settlement is within reach

MN: The chairman of the panel that oversees three Maui County public hospitals said Wednesday that he is "pretty confident" that a settlement will be reached between the state and the United Public Workers union "pretty soon" that would allow the transfer of operations to Kaiser Permanente to resume.

Avery Chumbley, chairman of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region board, made those comments after a meeting by the board Wednesday afternoon to start discussions about the ramifications of a public-private partnership between the Maui Region board, the quasi-public entity that runs the three hospitals, and Kaiser's Maui Health System falling through….

Things are "very challenging for us right now," Chumbley said Wednesday.

Should the public-private partnership fall through, Lo said the Maui Region would have to revisit its contingency plan, announced in March 2015 prior to the approval of Act 103 by the Legislature and Gov. David Ige. Those plans, which anticipated a more than $25 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, included cutting obstetrics, gynecology, behavioral health and oncology services and layoffs.

Chumbley added Wednesday that "if we lose money, I am fine with that . . . patient safety is foremost." However, the losses cannot reach the point of bankruptcy.

At the meeting, board members discussed the Maui Region's financial situation, forecasted revenues, the number of employees and "necessary adjustments," Chumbley said. He noted that only 18 percent of the Maui Region's revenue base comes from state funding; most of the funds come from Medicare/Medicaid and third-party insurers such as HMSA and Kaiser.

After speaking with Ige on Tuesday for about a half hour, Chumbley said, "I feel optimistic that the UPW and the administration will reach a decision pretty soon." He said that the governor "feels pretty confident" that his administration is pretty close to settling with the UPW….

WHT: Pharmacy closing over low insurance reimbursement rates

read … Chumbley optimistic that hospital settlement is within reach

Telescope Time Running Out: Flurry of Motions, Then Wait til October

HTH: …Participants in the Thirty Meter Telescope contested case have filed a flurry of motions ahead of today’s meeting in Hilo, from declaring Mauna Kea sacred to ongoing challenges to Riki May Amano’s selection as hearings officer.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Hilo YMCA, will be the first Amano held since June 17 when she increased the number of people and groups participating from seven to 25.

Aside from a site inspection on Mauna Kea, the proposed site for the $1.4 billion observatory, it could be the last meeting before the evidentiary hearing begins, possibly in October.

If the motions are any indication, there is still quite a bit to sort out….

Reality: Leaving Hawaii: Decision on New Site for Thirty Meter Telescope set for ‘Early 2017’

read … Running Out of Time

Tax Hikes Will Never be Enough to Pay for State DoT

SA: …Restating a mandate for the longer term: The Transportation Department must do a better job deploying available federal funds for capital improvements and repairs.

Failure to make optimal use of this resource prolonged the time now required to erase the backlog. That now compels the state to take this step, given the poor conditions of existing highways.

In a state where a relatively small taxpayer base must pay high costs of land and materials for construction, better financial management is crucial.

Ige vowed to ask legislators again next session to increase the state’s gasoline and weight taxes and the vehicle registration fee; a similar request failed last session.

But even if he succeeds in that uphill battle, the revenue yield won’t eliminate the problem. The typical motorist would pay about $83 more a year, which would increase annual funding for highways projects from $300 million to $370 million — not nearly enough for costly capacity- building projects.

For the more immediate term, the administration owes these taxpayers alternative strategies for reducing traffic congestion.

The DOT made a start in the right direction in June, announcing an expansion of hours for its high-occupancy vehicle and Zipper lanes.

Other lower-cost proposals have included the Farrington Highway westbound contraflow in Nanakuli, where a tow truck is stationed to clear stalled vehicles, and better monitoring through traffic cameras.

Ige has pledged to explore new opportunities for contraflow lanes in the interim years; he must be held to that promise….

Meanwhile: Ethics: Hawaii DoT Capital Improvements Director in Bed with Parsons Brinckerhoff–Literally

read … Never Enough of your money

Djou: HPD needs to get a handle on officer misconduct

CB: …Djou said the HPD needs to get a better handle on officer misconduct. The department has come under scrutiny over the past several years after numerous high-profile arrests of officers.

Legal settlements have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, including a $4.7 million payment approved by the Honolulu City Council this year to end a case involving racial and sexual discrimination within the ranks.

Honolulu’s police commission is the only form of citizen oversight of the department. But many have criticized the commission for being a toothless agency when it comes to reining in the most serious cases of misconduct. Questions have also been raised about whether the commissioners are doing an effective job of civilian oversight.

The commission handles citizen complaints about officers. Investigations into criminal conduct are usually performed by HPD’s internal affairs division. The commission also has the power to hire and fire the police chief.

Djou said the commission, which is made up of volunteers appointed by the mayor, doesn’t appear to be doing a good job policing HPD.

“It’s easy to dismiss if it was a one-time incident of police misconduct, but there have been so many recently that it’s becoming a pattern,” Djou said. “The police commission needs to do a better job of tackling this because if it doesn’t what happens is the public as a whole will begin to distrust the police department. … If you don’t take care of these bad apples promptly, quickly and transparently — and that transparency is where the problem is — you’re going to get problems.”

Most police commission decisions are made behind closed doors. The same is true of HPD’s internal affairs investigations. Rarely are details released about officers being punished for misconduct. The state’s public records law also shields most officers from having their disciplinary records released even if they were busted for egregious misconduct.

Djou said all the secrecy can give the public the perception that officer wrongdoing is being swept under the rug. But he also said that the city needs to be careful about releasing details about cops who get into trouble for minor infractions so as not to alienate those individuals or make them second-guess their decisions in the field….

read … Caldwell’s Inaction On Police Reform Draws Political Attacks

How Kirk Caldwell Blew Through $500K In Just 29 Days

CB: …The mayor’s re-election campaign spent more than $524,000 from July 1 to July 29, much of it for political advertising, according to state Campaign Spending Commission reports filed Wednesday.

The ad money went to all five broadcast TV stations and more than a half-dozen radio stations.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which has endorsed the Honolulu mayor’s re-election, received about $27,000 last month for print and online ads….

Caldwell trails former congressman Charles Djou by 9 percent in The Civil Beat Poll released this week.

The mayor may also have his own internal data fueling his media-buying spree: He paid nearly $28,000 in July to two companies for polling, including SMS Research & Marketing Services.

During the same period in July, Djou spent $263,500, with much of the money going to some of the same vendors.

The third major candidate in the race, former mayor Peter Carlisle, spent just under $29,000….

read … $500K

Prominent Democrat Donors Give to Djou

HNN: …State campaign spending records show that in July, the Republican raised more than $225,000 for the nonpartisan mayoral race.

That's more than three times the $68,000 that Mayor Kirk Caldwell received and the $56,000 raised by former Mayor Peter Carlisle.

"The fact that we have so many traditional Democrats coming on board helping us is a reflection that these issues facing Honolulu -- the mess with the rail system, this need to address homelessness -- stretches across party lines," Djou told Hawaii News Now.

The prominent Democratic donors include former Gov. Ben Cayetano's longtime backer, engineer Dennis Mitsunaga. He and his employees gave about $17,000.

Djou is "leading in the polls," said University of Hawaii political science professor Colin Moore.

"For the most part a lot of campaign donors want to back a winner." ….

read … Donors

Public-Private Partnerships And Their Potential For Rail

CB: After the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) agency revised its budget to $7.967 billion for the 20-mile Honolulu rail project, among the six options HART presented in May utilizing $1.14 billion less (the “gap”), Option 4 is the only option not about the rail route.

Under Option 4, HART shall issue public-private partnership solicitations for 21 rail stations (HART’s construction estimate is $900 million), and review developer proposals.

Here’s how a PPP has worked elsewhere in a similar circumstance. A California transit agency leased a rail station site to a developer, who built 135 condominium units (20 percent were “affordable”), plus 20,000 square feet of retail space. The private partner gave the agency a percentage of the project revenues, which paid rail station costs.

By leveraging private partner funds, the California project met the goals of decreasing taxes for rail construction and building housing (plus adding rail riders)….

read … Potential

Rail Sinkhole is Developing Sinkholes in Ewa

KITV: …get up on a berm right next to the guide way for rail -- and you can’t miss it.

"This started happening in 2015 when they started putting the pylons in," said Ewa resident Mike Lee, as he pointed out the sinkholes.

Lee said HART crews took a long hard look when large holes began appearing in an area where HART has an easement for rail.

From the air, you can see it's right next to the farmland where D.R. Horton plans its Hoopili project.

Back in September, HART crews filled in the holes with crushed blue rock. They brought in sandbags as protective barriers and installed netting to control the erosion.

"They went from three feet, to eight feet, in just a few months, and so they filled it up with blue rock. Now, we advance it to 2016. We come to check it out and that blue rock is sinking and holes are opening closer to the berm and next to the highway and deeper. So we are raising the red flag to say, you've got to look at this," said Lee.

Lee holds the belief there are underground caves throughout the Ewa area. But HART says its archeological and geo-technical studies found no evidence of caves or caverns….

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs surveyed the site last week and may ask for regular monitoring of the area fearing possible disturbance of underground cultural resources.

read … Sinkholes in a Sinkhole

OHA Chair Claims Papahanaumokuakea Has Nothing to do with Money, LOL!

CB: …Take our desire to be a co-trustee of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. If we are named co-trustee, Hawaiians will get a seat at the decision-making table of how the monument is managed.

Some will have you believe (have figured out) that we’re in it for the money. But there is no money to be made by OHA in Papahanaumokuakea. We will simply be able to help make policy decisions on activity in the monument…. (And if you think that making ‘policy decisions’ isn’t profitable, you aren’t thinking.)

Reality: PKF Report: "OHA Will Run Out of Funds"

read … Money

Eco-Lawyers Push Federal takeover of Hawaii Agriculture

CB: A nonprofit profitable environmental law firm is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the Hawaii Department of Agriculture‘s authority to investigate and enforce federal pesticide law.

Paul Achitoff, an attorney at Earthjustice, sent a letter to EPA officials Thursday citing the Agriculture Department’s limited staff and persistent backlog of cases since at least 2012.

Achitoff’s letter relied on information from the EPA’s annual reports on Hawaii’s pesticide program.

In the latest report, which covered Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015, the EPA criticized the state Agriculture Department for providing “short” inspection reports that “lacked critical information” and noted that the agency had a backlog of 700 inspection files, some of which dated back to 2008.

“This is a major concern, and has resulted in delays for both state and federal enforcement proceedings,” the EPA wrote. “Federal inspection reports should be referred to EPA at least quarterly per the cooperative agreement. Recent receipt of reports for inspections that occurred as early as 2012 were not received until 2015. Many of these cases were referred to EPA for enforcement action but were closed solely based on our statute of limitations.”

Scott Enright, director of the Agriculture Department, said the agency has improved since then and that the number of backlogged cases has dropped by 66 percent over the past year, from 750 to 250.

He said the department completed an action plan with the EPA in May for reducing its backlog further. The agency currently has seven pesticide inspectors and hopes to hire four more by the end of the year, Enright said.

read … Federal Take Over

Earthjustice has a great little scam going

KE: Earthjustice has a great little scam going.

First, it joins forces with advocacy groups and ideologues to frighten people about pesticides — but only pesticides used by agriculture. Then it encourages the fearful and misinformed to file countless complaints with the state Department of Agriculture.

Now it's asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to take over pesticide enforcement because the state supposedly isn't doing a good enough job in handling those complaints. Like the EPA, which operates out of California, will somehow do better?

EJ then sends its EPA request, which dredges up the Waimea Canyon School stinkweed incident and characterizes the Kekaha Ditch as an “open sewer,” over to Civil Beat.

EJ attorney Paul Achitoff knows his embedded reporter, Anita Hofschneider, will happily help him smear DOA by printing his bald-faced lie: "The public is at risk and the Department of Agriculture is asleep at the wheel."

No, the public is not at risk, and the DOA is wide awake. In fact, the DOA is doing everything that EJ demands. It's hired more inspectors, and is bringing on still more. It's greatly reduced its backlog of complaints.

But EJ isn't actually looking for results. It just wants to stir up shit and make DOA look bad after it and other anti-GMO groups have fricking buried DOA's small staff with their unrelenting demands and complaints.

Yet even as EJ asks the feds to come in and take over, it and its cohorts are crying for home rule. You just can't have it both ways, except in the world of smarmy rhetoric where Achitoff and his attorneys reside.

Sadly, this nonsense is costing taxpayers serious money, while EJ, etc. use these false complaints to solicit donations and file lawsuits that allow them to further fleece taxpayers by collecting legal fees, even if they don't prevail….

SA: Kent failed at being effective

read … Scam

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