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Wednesday, September 7, 2016
September 7, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:52 PM :: 5452 Views

OHA Chair Cancels appearances due to health concerns—or not?

Could you use an extra $500K? Can You Pretend to be a High-Tech Entrepreneur?

Nominations Open: Four Seats UH Board of Regents

Board of Education: Matayoshi ‘Exceeds Expectations’

Hawaii Paroling Authority Gets New Chairman

Homeless Rack up $324M in Ambulance Rides, Hospitalizations after Caldwell Cancels Program

SA: …Queen’s cared for homeless patients 10,126 times in 2015, resulting in gross charges of $89.3 million, according to research by the Hawaii Health Information Corp. That’s up from 9,301 patients and gross charges of about $80 million in 2014 and 6,958 patients and $54.8 million in 2013. Queen’s is on track to see an estimated 10,459 homeless visits this year with total gross charges of $100.2 million….  (100.2+89.3+80+54.8=$324M)

Adding to the cost of homeless care is that in many cases they are brought to the hospital by ambulance, which costs about $1,000 per transport.

The City and County of Honolulu’s Emergency Medical Services has been overwhelmed with the increasing number of calls for homeless.

One EMS worker estimated that paramedics sometimes transport 12 homeless people to the hospital in 12 hours, often for minor ailments, prescription refills and food, which do not warrant use of ambulance services.

On some days the number of 911 calls for homeless can average 50 percent to 70 percent of all calls, based on anecdotal evidence, the EMS worker said….

Five of the top 10 repeat 911 callers were homeless from January through May, according to EMS. The top homeless patient has called the ambulance 157 times this year.

“EMS is very familiar with the homeless patients who call us on a regular basis, and we do know them by name,” said EMS Chief Dean Nakano. “EMS supports working collaboratively with the hospitals and social serv­ice partners in an effort to address the needs of the homeless community, whether that be community paramedicine or a similar service.”

A community paramedic program intended to reduce overuse of ambulances by chronic 911 callers was shelved (by Mayor Caldwell) in 2013 due to a lack of resources intelligence. The program would have established two community paramedics who would have visited the top 50 callers and directed them to more appropriate care. Similar programs nationally have been shown to decrease the number of unnecessary 911 calls.

(Since Caldwell won’t do the job,) Queen’s has started a program to identify the top 25 repeat visitors, or “hyper users,” to get control over the expanding unpaid homeless bill by providing preventive services and follow-up care outside the hospital. The top 25 repeat visitors came to Queen’s an estimated 1,514 times. Gross billings for both hospital and physician costs totaled roughly $12 million….

Thanks to Caldwell, UPW is Milking it Too: UPW Scores Massive Pay Hikes After Disrupting Honolulu Ambulance Service

read … $324M is wasted by Caldwell's Stupidity

Feds: Hawaii’s Unused DoT Funds Could be Reallocated to Pay for Rail

HNN: "We would definitely need the Legislature's support in getting more of the general excise tax to be able to complete the build-out. There's really no other means to financing that I see, having served in the state Legislature and now on the City Council, that can really pay for what we need to build," said Manahan.

The GET surcharge isn't the only option, though.

In addition to extending the rail tax, officials are considering whether to ask the state to reduce the 10 percent they currently take off the top for collecting the surcharge. Council members are also looking into borrowing money -- through traditional bonds -- and firming up public-private partnership investments.

Every option is on the table, officials say.

"The FTA themselves asked the county to work with the state to potentially identify federal highway funds that the state already has. Perhaps some of that could be reallocated to the project," Martin said. "They want us to look in every possible corner for any type of additional revenue source."


read … Grab DoT Funds

More HPD officers facing charges in federal investigation of HPD chief, wife

HNN: A major development in the federal case against Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife could mean a grand jury indictment is close, legal experts say.

According to sources, federal "target letters" have gone out to several people connected to the chief and his wife, Katherine Kealoha.

"When you become a target, you're being told that you've committed a crime, and they're investigating you and they want you to come in and talk to them," said attorney William Harrison, represents one of those who received a target letter.

"It's very serious," he said, adding that he's made contact with the federal prosecutor and the FBI agents handling the case….

"It's pick a side cause we trying to be fair, but you get on the wrong side, this going come," Lawson said.

Both attorneys say it's unlikely that the Kealohas will get their own target letters. Usually, the main targets in a probe don't.

But both attorneys agree the Kealohas should now be concerned.

"When the federal government seeks an indictment they want to make sure they've crossed every 't' and dotted every 'i', they want a tight indictment," Harrison said….

ILind: More “target letters” sent by feds in police chief’s case

read … Investigation

Ige’s dreams for the future ignore today’s harsh reality

Cataluna: …David Ige became governor, threw off his wonky legislative practicality, slicked back his hair and reinvented himself as quite the futurist, setting out grand goals for Hawaii that, conveniently, he will not be responsible for reaching.

In a speech to world conservation leaders in Honolulu last week, Ige pledged to double local food production by 2030 by providing loans for farmers and more land for agriculture.

That’s awesome. It would be great to bite into a locally grown apple instead of some imported … Oh, wait, apples don’t grow well in Hawaii. Bad example. Well then, papayas. It would be great to buy a locally grown papaya. Oh, but the anti-GMO people have been waging war against local papaya growers who turned to (gasp!) science to outsmart a crop-destroying virus. OK, then milk! Locally produced milk would be so much more pono than buying stuff brought in from the mainland. Except the plan to put in a dairy on Kauai’s south shore has been met with vehement opposition and has sat, stymied, for two years.

This kind of starry “someday” thinking has played a part in the unfunny joke that is the Oahu rail project. All involved in support of rail were looking toward the future, when Kapolei is a bustling city hub and Ko Olina is a packed tourism hot spot in need of an army of service workers. The today stuff, the how-to-make-it-happen and how-to-pay-for-it practicalities, were treated as unanticipated surprises every time reality reared its problematic head.

And we all know how that’s working out.

And here’s Ige talking big about Hawaii’s utopian future while the leaders of tomorrow, the ones who will actually be responsible for making these declarations actually happen, are sitting in hot classrooms, stepping over homeless people to get to baseball practice and watching the actual Hawaii — not the fantasy Hawaii — get dirtier, more crowded and monstrously overbuilt. Meanwhile, real-life farmers and ranchers struggle for support from the state.

As the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Richard Borreca put it in a recent column about the governor’s prolonged bobbling of the Maui hospital mess, “How about if he just works to ensure hospitals on all islands are sustainable and all citizens can be treated without a flight to Oahu?”….

read … Ige’s dreams for the future ignore today’s harsh reality

Yes, the state should allow TMT on Mauna Kea

SA: PUEO is made up of highly respected native Hawaiian elders and is led by a proven leader, our president, Keahi Warfield. Other members are Patrick Kahawaiola’a, president of the Keaukaha Community Association; Bill Brown, president of the Panaewa Community Association; Mapuana Waipa; and myself.

But it is not about us, the elders, it’s about the youngsters. What kind of world will we leave them?

It’s about attitude. Like the Hokule‘a, we want to leave a legacy not of “No can,” but rather “Can!”

Will we listen to the thousand reasons why “No can”? Or will we find the one reason why “Can”?

Will we lean forward toward discovery? Can our people be the leaders in the world?

PUEO is bringing students to tour the various telescopes. PUEO is also working to make the voyaging canoe Hokualaka‘i seaworthy. We are reaching for an Earth-sky connection.

When the new UH telescope is functional, PUEO will have students operating it from Hilo.

On Sept. 24, PUEO will gather at Palekai in Keaukaha, Big Island. The university’s Department of Astronomy will set up booths so the young ones can see what is offered.

We can do this. President Barack Obama, leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, is from Hawaii. Professor Jennifer Doudna, who discovered the game-changing CRISPr gene editing technology, is a Hilo High graduate. Dennis Gonsalves, father of the GMO rainbow papaya, is from Kohala. The Hokule‘a is from Hawaii.

It’s about attitude. Will we choose to be victims or will we choose to be pioneers?

Pisciotta: Mauna Kea is the equivalent of Papahanaumokuakea (No mention of her $50M rent demand)

read … Yes, the state should allow TMT on Mauna Kea

Punatic Geothermal Hysteria Creates County Subsidized House-Flipping Profits

HTH: …The county purchased 12 homes since 2012, with another 25 withdrawing their application or not responding to the county’s offer, according to the Planning Department, which oversees the program.

The program is funded by the county’s share of geothermal royalties and allows residents who live near Puna Geothermal Venture to sell their home to the county for up to 130 percent of its assessed value.

It was initially created to allow residents who purchased their home prior to Oct. 3, 1989 — before PGV’s completion — to be relocated.

But it has since been made available to anyone who lives within a mile of the plant and expresses a desire to relocate, including if they purchased their home after geothermal production started.

The program was seldom used, with five purchases recorded prior to 2012 when increased concerns over geothermal power production renewed interest.

So far, the county has spent $3.4 million on relocations, including $2.7 million in the last four years, according to data from the Planning Department.

The average purchase price is $200,998.

Purchased homes are later auctioned, usually resulting in a steep discount.

The county has auctioned 12, with an average sale price of $51,154. Proceeds are placed back into the relocation fund.

Gamiao-Kunkel said he expects the remaining homes to be auctioned by April. He said buyers and sellers are prohibited from using the relocation program more than once.

Buyers have included people intending to flip the home for a profit, while others have been families looking to become homeowners for the first time, Gamiao-Kunkel said. One person has purchased three of the homes….

read … Punatic Hysteria is Profitable

Areas closed for rail construction may no longer reopen as businesses struggle to survive

KHON: …It’s frustrating for those behind the wheel that’s in turn causing businesses to fail at turning a profit, because drivers either don’t want to take a pit stop or simply can’t find an easy way to do so.

“Sometimes they come, but otherwise it’s a turn-off for them,” said Eva Baniqued with Alyssandra’s Lumpia Express. “There have been times this parking lot is empty. You can count the cars that come in.”

Now officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation tell us some of the left-turn lanes that have been closed while crews build the rail guideway may be closed for good.

Officials say they are no longer safe because of the placement of rail columns, and they’re conducting a study now to see if it’s safer to put in U-turns at certain lights.

When we’ll be able to see any changes? That remains unclear. Meanwhile, businesses are taking it day by day, penny by penny….

read … Rail Kills Businesses

Legislative Wish List: DoE Officials consider how to grab for $50M

SA: The Department of Education is considering a proposal to seek from legislators next year a $50 million boost in per-pupil funds aimed at helping public schools narrow achievement gaps between high-needs students and their peers.

The state’s budget director is asking state departments to submit preliminary budget requests this month covering the next two fiscal years. DOE officials Tuesday presented some of the department’s big-ticket items to a Board of Education committee, highlighting proposals specifically tied to student achievement.

Board members have been increasingly critical of the department’s efforts to close the achievement gap between high-needs students and their non-high-needs peers. Three sets of students are categorized as high-needs: English-language learners, those receiving special-education services and those considered economically disadvantaged. The groups collectively represent 58 percent of all Hawaii public school students.

The $50 million increase to the per-pupil funding pot is the largest of the DOE’s budget requests and represents a significant increase over past years. Other requests include $9 million over two years to expand early-college course offerings to all high school students; $2.4 million for preschool teachers and educational assistants; $845,000 for full-time liaisons to support homeless students; and $2.3 million for the department’s Office of Hawaiian Education.

“These are not fully vetted. These are a list of needs,” Amy Kunz, senior assistant superintendent and chief financial officer, told members of the BOE’s Student Achievement Committee. “This is a new process for us in bringing this into a transparent way of doing our budget, open up the dialogue and start the conversations.”

PDF: Schools chief again receives glowing performance review

read … Another $50M

BOE orders review of charter school panel

HTH: …The State Public Charter School Commission will undergo a performance review following a “pattern of well-founded complaints” from multiple charter school leaders, the state Board of Education decided at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

That decision came after a BOE committee spent seven months determining if a review was necessary. The charter commission also conducted its own self-review this summer, in which it concluded it was meeting most of its objectives and goals.

Despite the commission’s self-assessment, a review is still needed, the BOE committee said in meeting materials, because that self-evaluation did not “acknowledge or identify the root causes of the negative relationship between the commission and charter schools.”

The BOE committee is “primarily concerned with why there are consistently similar complaints from a large number of charter school leaders and why there is a seeming disconnect between the perceptions of these leaders and those of the commission,” meeting materials said.

Details about complaints were not shared with the public. However, at least two Big Island charter schools say they’ve experienced problems with the commission.

Leaders from Ka‘u Learning Academy, a second-year Naalehu charter school, alleged to the Tribune-Herald earlier this summer that commission staff did not return their phone calls or provide enough clarification after Ka‘u received a deficiency notice for reportedly missing payroll deadlines. Commission staff have also claimed Ka‘u turned down requests for help with finances and payroll problems.

Steve Hirakami, director of Pahoa-based Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences, told the Tribune-Herald last week he’s experienced a “lack of communication” with the commission and believes it lacks understanding about the history of charter schools.

“Sixteen of the original leaders are still at the schools out of 34 (schools total),” Hirakami said. “So that gives you a sense that there are (years) of experience out there, but nobody asks us. They all talk down to us, and it makes it really hard that way….

read … Assessment



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