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Saturday, January 6, 2018
January 6, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:33 AM :: 4083 Views

Tulsi Gabbard Hires Russian Agent to Keep Hawaii Media in Check

DLNR: West Hawaii Aquarium Fishing Permits Stopped Pending Environmental Review

HGEA Hospital Workers who let Saito Escape to Stockton are back at work after 1 Month Vacation

HNN: Chin also said that no employees at the Hawaii State Hospital have been "cleared" in the investigation into how Randall Saito escaped to California.  But they have been allowed to return to work, after 30 days of unpaid leave as part of their union's collective bargaining agreement. …

SA: Saito due to be extradited from California next week Upon his return he will be held in custody at the Oahu Community Correctional Center on the felony escape charge.  Should he post bond, Saito will be returned to the State Hospital.

Maybe his HGEA girlfriends/wives/exwives will post bond so they can be with him in their love nest at the State hospital….

VIDEO:  Hospital Reform? Randy Perreira Says "F*** You"

read … Back in the Game

Contractors Needed Because HGEA Members Make Dialysis Patients Wait for Months

SA: …In the scheme of state budgetary things, $150,000 doesn’t seem like much of a heavy lift.

That’s the estimate to hire six contractors to do needed inspections for three new kidney dialysis facilities now sitting idle, as well as another half-dozen existing facilities overdue for recertification. The inspections are necessary to ensure patient safety and to enable payments from Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs for seniors and low-income patients, who comprise many of the dialysis users.

Hawaii is seeing an alarming increase of patients in need of kidney dialysis treatment — 700 new patients a year — with diabetes, the leading kidney-disease culprit. That’s raised demand for dialysis treatment and facilities, but unfortunately, that demand has outpaced the state Health Department’s ability and manpower to certify the facilities for operation and reimbursement. There’s now a three-year backlog….

Inspections are done every three years on Hawaii’s dozens of dialysis facilities that treat some 4,000 patients, and the delay is expected to worsen as another 18 facilities come up for recertification in 2019.

So clearly, getting the current backlog squared, as well as the new idle facilities operational, would be a prudent outlay of funds — whether it’s an extra infusion from this Legislature or reallocation from within the DOH’s budget. Last year, the DOH paid $140,000 to contract six Arizona inspectors to complete delayed certifications for 11 dialysis centers….

VIDEO:  Hospital Reform? Randy Perreira Says "F*** You"

read … Need Contractors, not Government Employees

Your paycheck going up soon because of Republican tax cuts

AP: Millions of working Americans should start seeing fatter paychecks as early as next month, Republican leaders say, as a result of the recently passed tax law….

The massive Republican tax legislation, signed into law last month by President Donald Trump, kicked in Jan. 1. Billed as a huge benefit for the stressed middle class, it brings the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades, reaching into every corner of American society and the economy. The $1.5 trillion package provides … reductions for middle- and low-income individuals and families….

"In February, look at your paychecks, because you'll see the tax relief we delivered," said Rep. Kevin Brady, head of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

The Internal Revenue Service says employees could see "changes" in their paychecks as early as February. ….

Meanwhile:

read … Your paycheck may be going up soon because of tax cuts

Federal tax reform is unmasking high-tax states

TH: …Hawaii, for example, witnessed one of the strangest possible sights: a line of people desperate to pay their taxes early.

Because the new tax law caps the state and local tax (SALT) deduction at $10,000, Hawaii residents were lining up to pay their 2017 property taxes before the year’s end, in the hope that it would save them money. This was thanks to a statement from the IRS informing taxpayers that prepaying 2018 state and local real property taxes could be deductible under certain circumstances.

Though most people would save less than $1,000 dollars by prepaying, the folks standing in line in Hawaii said it was worth it — which leads to the deeper issue of what effect the federal tax changes will have on state competitiveness.

When it comes to singling out states with high marginal tax rates, most analysts like to point to California as the biggest offender. With its income tax rate of 13.3 percent on residents earning a million dollars or more, it definitely gives millionaires an incentive to live elsewhere.

But what many people miss about Hawaii is that it’s just become the state with the second-highest tax rate in the country — and losing its millionaires could wreak substantial financial havoc.

During the 2017 session, the Hawaii legislature reinstated an income tax rate of 11 percent on earners who make $200,000 or more. Though only about 2 percent of Hawaii’s residents fit into that category, they pay about 35 percent of the state’s income tax bill.

Many people ignore the SALT deduction because it doesn’t benefit them, nor will they be particularly affected by the new $10,000 cap. But those in the top tax brackets do use it. And now Hawaii — with its high cost of living, high regulation and high taxes — looks even more expensive than usual to top income earners….

read … Unmasking

12.5% Honolulu Water Rate Hike Coming

KHON: Another possible rate hike is in the works, this time from the Board of Water Supply.

It’s not yet clear how much rates could rise.

But board members will be meeting Friday to discuss the issue.

It’s been two years since rates went up, and a spokeswoman says the hike is necessary.

So how would the extra money be spent, and who could end up paying more?

A spokeswoman says the rate hike probably will not happen until next year. The extra money will go to fixing the aging pipes to prevent water main breaks…. 

Big Q: What do you think of anticipated Oahu water rate increases, by some 12.5 percent over five years?

SA: Water board anticipates 12.5% hike in rates in 2019

read … Board of Water Supply looks to raise rates

HDOT Airports Division: Still Pretending to Fix Leaky Roof, Still Making Excuses

HNN: …Last February, we shared video of what appeared to be a waterfall coming from the ceiling of Hawaii’s busiest airport.

Heavy rain streamed down walls, drenching luggage at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Last week Tuesday, we received video showing yet another leaky ceiling at the airport….

making those repairs hasn’t been easy.

Baggage claim E in the overseas terminal, for example, has nine pillars, and for each one, crews need to saw through four inches of concrete in order to fix a pipe.

Old drainage pipes are one of the reasons we’re seeing so much flooding during heavy rains. Transportation officials say there are tons of them, and most of them are very hard to get to.

“They’re all buried within the walls and columns,” explained DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara. “To go in and replace each and every one of them, one, would be very invasive, and would cause a big disruption to the operations, which we can’t just close down being a 24/7 facility, an airport.”

So why not just put a whole new roof over each of the buildings?

Officials say they do plan to replace the roof of the overseas terminal, but that won’t work over the Diamond Head and Ewa concourses.

“There’s vents, pipes. There’s equipment. There’s air conditioners. There’s a lot of things on the roof, so in some areas, we won’t be able to add a new roof to the existing roof,” Sakahara said.

The plan to fix the drains in those areas is different.

“You want to inspect the drains, and the ones that are cracked have the protective sleeve in it in order to prevent the leaks,” Sakahara said.

The second thing that’s causing leaks are old expansion joints. In one stairwell, we spotted discoloration from water constantly dripping.

One expansion joint is being worked on, but because the airport can’t close, it takes much longer to fix….

read … Excuses and Stories

The homeless village near Nimitz is almost open, and families are ready to move in

HNN: …Family Promise housing specialist Ashleigh Loa has been working with Ching since September. 

"They've put in a lot of work to be able to come here. We have taught them financial literacy, so when we're out and they're on their own, they'll be fine without our help," said Loa.

Rent for a two bedroom unit, including utilities, is $900 per month – about half what Ching paid at her old apartment.

"This is what I need. Especially being a single mom and struggling. It's hard," said Ching.

With packing already complete Ching plans to spend the next few weeks just focusing on work and preparing her children for the next chapter of their lives.

"I'm just so grateful and beyond blessed. My kids are grateful, too. I know they'll be so happy," said Ching.

When the village is complete, there will be a total of 150 homes – along with a daycare, a preschool center and a convenience store – all on site. …

PHOTOS: A plantation-style village for homeless families Nimitz

read … Village

Two hepatitis A cases on Kauai may be same strain as California Homeless outbreak

KHON:  The Hawaii Department of Health is investigating two cases of hepatitis A in Kauai residents.

Symptoms began in November 2017, and health officials say the strain of the virus in both cases appears to be the same one currently circulating in California….

The outbreak was identified in early March 2017, and prompted the San Diego County public health officer to declare a local public health emergency in September. The majority of the cases were among people who were homeless, used illicit drugs, or a combination of the two.

Localized data out of San Diego as of Jan. 2, 2018 puts the total number of cases there at 577 with 20 deaths and 396 hospitalizations.

Hawaii travelers to the mainland may become infected during their visit and can accidentally bring that infection home with them….

(Also California homeless may fly here with the disease.)

PDF: Click here for more information about hepatitis A and vaccination.

read … Homeless Disease

Workforce drug tests show marijuana use declining in Hawaii

PBN: Positive test results for cocaine, amphetamines and synthetic urine are up, with marijuana use dipping 4 percent in Hawaii compared to last year, according to year-end results released by Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc.

"I anticipated an increase in marijuana use when the medical marijuana dispensaries opened, but it hasn't appeared,” Carl Linden, scientific director of toxicology at Diagnostic Laboratory Services, said in a statement.

Linden said there was an uptick in positive marijuana results in the third quarter to 3.8 percent, from 2.8 percent in the second quarter, but it dropped to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The percentage of positive test results for cocaine rose during the year, starting at 0.2 percent in the first quarter and ending at 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, according to the laboratory.

Positive test results for cocaine year-over-year showed an increase of 67 percent from 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, to 0.5 percent in 2017’s comparable period.

The medical testing laboratory reported amphetamine use also increased by 57 percent, from 0.7 percent in 4Q 2016 to 1.1 percent in 4Q 2017. Opiate results were unchanged year-over-year with 0.2 percent in 4Q 2016 and 4Q 2017.

DLS reported the use of synthetic urine, used to mask drug use in tests, was up 33 percent from 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 1.2 percent in Q4 2017.

DLS’ quarterly sample size typically includes between 7,000 to 10,000 drug tests….

read … Dope not Trendy when Legal

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