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Saturday, January 27, 2018
January 27, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:20 AM :: 4270 Views

Judiciary Drops arrest warrant over refusal to speak English--Announces New Hawaiian Language Interpreter Policy

Ward: Fire Employees who do not Cooperate with Missile Alert Investigation

Hawaii Fishermen’s Alliance and Aquarium Fishery Team Up To Save Industry, Protect Environment

TOTE Places Hawaii Plans on Hold, Cancels Ship Purchases

Hawaii: More Anti-Gun Bills Introduced

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Fires, Vandalism, Crazies on Loose: Legislators Want to 'Build a Wall' around State Capitol Building Overrun With Homeless

KITV: …In a corner of the Hawaii State Capitol, near one of the elevators, Rep. Tom Brower (him again?) witnessed a man (who Brower alleges is not a Legislator) light a fire right in a doorway.

It burned for minutes until it eventually went out.  (But Brower’s political career just keeps burning.) 

Brower says this is just one anecdote displaying the fact that security at the Capitol needs to change.

“We see a lot of evidence of vandalism, whether it’s the elevators or bathrooms at the State Capitol, and at times, there are people that may have a mental condition (other than registered lobbyists) that often come to the Capitol and disrupt meetings or come straight into our offices and disrupt our work environment,” he said….

House Speaker Scott Saiki says it’s time for a security update at the Capitol, and introduced a bill that would change things drastically.

“For public safety purposes, we wanted to include all of the alternatives to make the public aware of what it would take to secure the Capitol,” he said.

Security improvements would include controlled access points with guards on the rotunda and chamber levels, along with fencing and barriers around the capitol grounds. There would also be new screening for weapons and contraband, and an increased security presence.

All of the underground public parking would be moved across the street to Kinau Hale.

“There are some extreme proposals, such as closing the underground parking lot to the public and relocating public parking next door, also creating barriers around the State Capitol so that cars can’t drive up into the Capitol area,” said Saiki…..

read … Security changes under consideration at Hawaii State Capitol

Fence Will Not Keep Lunatics in Asylum if HGEA Members Given Keys

SA: Officials are considering a 12-foot-high perimeter fence for the sprawling Kaneohe campus, estimated at a whopping $17 million to $24 million — even though it’s unclear what, if anything, will be done to first improve serious staffing problems and porous operations within the hospital….

The public is eagerly awaiting results of the attorney general’s investigation into Saito’s escape. But galling details have already emerged from court documents: hospital surveillance video showed Saito retrieving a bag filled with clothes from a combination-locked cabinet, then walking off campus through a combination-locked gate. He had more than $6,000 in cash, two fake ID cards and two cellphones; he had flown from Oahu to Maui on a chartered small plane before departing to California. More than a handful of hospital staffers are under investigation….

At this point, forcing the state to buy a $17-$24 million fence is only buying a false sense of security. More efficient, cost-effective measures should come into play first. And unless and until internal hospital operations improve, even the best-built barricade will be rendered useless, and wasteful, if patients can get to combinations or keys to the locks.

read … Rethink new State Hospital fence

Education in Hawaii—The Unions are The Problem

PBN: …Gov. David Ige’s state of the state address touched only briefly on specifics about education reform, but undeniably, most of the address was about improving Hawaii so that young people don’t feel they need to leave for the Mainland. Said Ige, “With my three children on the Mainland, I know firsthand how hard it is to have them an ocean away.”….

The top solution for Ige, mentioned first in his address to signal its importance, is education, saying:

“I also promised to empower our schools so they can focus on 21st century skills and critical learning. In meetings around the state, community members, teachers, staff and principals expressed frustration about top-down mandates and a one-size-fits-all approach to schools. And so, with more than 3,000 parents, teachers and community members from around the state, we created a new Blueprint for Education. This blueprint for change is now in the hands of new DOE leadership.”

With all due respect to the good intentions of the 3,000 parents, teachers, citizens and the governor, the announcement feels anticlimactic. Why? Because we’ve heard virtually the same words from every governor since the 1980s. The name of the Big Idea changes — anyone remember SCBM, School-Community Based Management, to cite just one example? — but, whatever the name, each promised to finally solve the same problems of underperforming schools, top-down management, one-size-fits-all solutions, demoralized teachers, alienated parents and the kids struggling to compete academically against their peers nationally.

I can’t think of a single business that would survive one or two such cycles before being eaten alive by their competitors, ditched by investors or abandoned by consumers. A business that wanted to thrive would ask itself, why don’t these reforms stick?

Of course, it’s not a business. Before it is anything else, before it does anything else, public education in Hawaii is first and foremost a unionized government bureaucracy.

What if that is actually the problem?

Two economists at Cornell University, Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willen, released a bombshell of a study this month, using decades of data on the real and lifelong impacts that the structures of education have on their students. Briefly stated, if you attended unionized public schools, especially if you’re a man, you will make less money than if you had attended a non-unionized public school system….

Radical change seems needed, but the last truly radical reform that I recall coming from a Hawaii governor was Ben Cayetano’s offer to school principals — give up the union protection of HGEA, go on performance contracts instead and you’ll get a hefty raise.

I certainly will never forget their answer.

“No.”

Safety before accountability, for the workers in the system. That’s at the core of why no reform takes hold, because no one in the system really has to change what they’re doing….

Reason: The Effects of Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector

read … Unasked questions about education in Hawaii

Will Chin’s Political Lawsuits Force End to National Injunctions?

NLJ: …A federal appeals judge is offering a solution to increasingly criticized nationwide injunctions—and it isn’t to end or restrict them.

Judge Gregg Costa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, writing in the Harvard Law Review blog, suggested that any case seeking a nationwide injunction be steered to a three-judge panel with direct review by the U.S. Supreme Court, just as is done today with challenges to election districts.

Republican and Democratic administrations have chafed at nationwide injunctions that thwart implementation of their policies. Challengers strategically seek to file their suits where a potentially sympathetic district court judge sits.

During the Obama administration, a Texas district judge shut down the administration’s program for undocumented parents of children who were U.S. citizens. And federal trial judges in California and Hawaii blocked the Trump administration’s travel ban and the government’s wind down of an immigration program for so-called Dreamers.

The justices may reveal what they think about nationwide injunctions by the end of the current term. The Trump administration’s U.S. Department of  Justice has asked the high court to answer whether the nationwide injunction against the president’s latest travel ban is excessively broad.

In Trump v. Hawaii, which will be argued in April, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco tells the justices that the injunction in this case “continues a deeply troubling trend in the lower courts of entering relief that extends well beyond the parties.”

read … Federal Appeals Judge: Don't End Nationwide Injunctions. (But Here's a Plan for Them.)

Thanks to Republican tax Cuts, Your Utility Bills will be Going Down

HNN: On Friday, the PUC issued  an order requiring 46 regulated utilities to document and explain the amount of money they're saving under the new tax structure, which reduces their federal income taxes by 40 percent….

The order could affect the bills of hundreds of thousands of consumers and some of Hawaii’s largest companies, including:

  • The Gas Company
  • Young Brothers
  • The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative
  • and Hawaiian Electric Co.

Earlier this month, HECO said its 460,000 customers will see lower bills as a result of the tax cut.

But the company said the amount of the reduction is still being analyzed. Currently, HECO pays about $200 million in federal and state income taxes….

read … Thanks to the federal tax overhaul, your utility bills could be going down soon

One Year Under Trump: Hawai‘i Republicans

HPR: HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports Hawai‘i Republicans are feeling a lift….

(…skip five paragraphs on the Trump inaugural crowd size dispute, then…)

Ostrov:  I’m a military person.  We have ISIS almost defeated in only eight months, people don’t talk about that.  The Dow is at record highs.  Here in Hawai‘i there are several companies that have, because of the tax cuts, put more money into the pockets of American families.  As a conservative woman I look at those things.  As a daughter of immigrants I look at the immigration policy.  I like it.  I like it a lot.  Our laws should be respected.  We are a country of rules and laws that should be respected.  If we don’t respect the laws that are in place today, then what are we? ….

Ostrov:  The immigration, the strong defense, the way we are transforming the judiciary back to interpreting laws and not having activist judges legislating from the bench.

Ostrov says there’s a new brand of Republicans coming out, people more libertarian in nature who are fiscal conservatives, and socially liberal, who feel comfortable with this new Republican national leadership.

Ostrov:  We just had an open house this weekend, half the people we’ve never seen before, signing party cards.  So we’re excited that there is a new energy.  I think people are glad to see a little bit of tax relief for sure.

For five years, anyway, though under the new tax plan, corporate tax cuts are permanent.  Ostrov contends high taxes are the cause of Hawai‘i’s high cost of living.  She published an editorial on the subject last week….

read … One Year Under Trump: Hawai‘i Republicans

Hawaii health policy and prospects for the 2018 legislature

SoR: …the forecast doesn’t include a lot of effective health policy action.  Governor Ige, facing a serious primary challenge and little confidence from his erstwhile legislative colleagues, provided a State of the State speech that most panned as insubstantial.  It certainly lacked attention to health care, although, arguably, the emphasis on issues that would make Hawaii a more livable place – schools, jobs, and the environment – would support better health status.  Not incidentally, Hawaii lost some 13,500 residents in fiscal year 2017 who moved to more affordable states with better economic prospects.  30,000 have left since 2014-15….

The leadership of the state House, which re-organized at the end of 2017, continues to be challenged by factions and may have a hard time moving a disciplined agenda.  The shortage of Republicans in office (5 in the House, 0 in the Senate) doesn’t mean that Democrats have an evident common purpose.  It is also a truism that controversies are avoided in an election year.  One likely area of agreement is thwarting any policies coming from Washington.  The Governor’s biggest State of the State applause line came from drawing a distinction between the values of Hawaii and those of the Trump administration.

Health care and coverage issues always get a lot of legislative attention but will the legislature be able to address the priorities of the health care industry?  As confirmed at the recent State of Reform conference in Honolulu, Hawaii’s health care leaders have the following interests:

Health care cost growth:  The Insurance Commissioner is increasingly strident with his prediction that insurance premiums will top $14,000 per person within 8 years. Since Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act requires employers to cover the great majority of the premium, escalating health care costs result in wage trade-offs in a state where worker pay already falls short of the high cost of living.  This is a tough one for health policy makers in a small state with little control over big cost-drivers….

Payment reform that supports population health with special concerns for homeless individuals:  Med-QUEST is trying to address this issue but it isn’t clear how the current conservative CMS will treat Hawaii’s waiver application or proposed amendments.  Addressing population health issues through the health care system is tough since standard clinical interventions don’t influence the socio-economic factors that affect health status.  Expect legislative attention in this area to focus on homelessness….

read … Hawaii health policy and prospects for the 2018 legislature

Surveillance footage during false missile alert won’t be released, because it doesn’t exist

KHON: … Rep. Gene Ward called on the governor to release surveillance footage from inside Hawaii Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

But we’ve learned no such footage exists.

The state Department of Defense says there are cameras outside the building, but there are no cameras inside that show employees and day-to-day operations.

Now, Ward wants to know why cameras were never in place for such a critical agency.

“If there are no tapes, why would there be no tapes, and what can we do to make sure we have transparency?” he said. “I’m very concerned that the person, the man who did this, is not cooperating, so we probably need tapes now more than ever to see what the guy was doing who will now not cooperate with federal investigators.”

Ward says even though cameras aren’t inside the building, he’d still like the outdoor footage to be examined.

We asked a department spokesman if cameras are being considered following the investigation. As of now, he says, there hasn’t been any discussion of doing so…..

read … Surveillance footage during false missile alert won’t be released, because it doesn’t exist

Enviro Pressure: Honolulu City Council defers decision on sending useless recyclables to H-Power

WD: The Honolulu City Council's public works committee delayed decision on a proposed resolution that would have allowed recyclables to go to the H-Power waste-to-energy facility and save an estimated $4 million, as reported by Hawaii News Now….

multiple environmental groups testified at the Jan. 24 meeting in favor of waiting to review a comprehensive waste management strategy for the island of Oahu. A draft of that plan is expected by November….

read … Recycling

Dairy Spends Thousands to Satisfy Anti-Dairy Activists

HTH: Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s director is no longer offering to help pay for expanding environmental quality tests near a dairy farm accused of polluting gulches in Ookala.

Scott Enright told residents at a public meeting last March that he would use his contingency funds to support follow-up inspections or additional soil and water tests following complaints.

He’s since backed away from much of that offer, citing the lawsuit filed by a group of residents that accuses Big Island Dairy of violating the federal Clean Water Act. Enright said he’s still willing to support oversight efforts done by the state Department of Health, though a spokeswoman said that department is not planning any more water quality tests at this time.

Enright said that decision was based on advice from state attorneys and that he thinks those tests, which would have included monitoring of marine waters for pollution, will be done as part of the lawsuit anyway. The department leases state land to the dairy.

“It’s gotten complicated with the legal action, is the short of it,” he told the Tribune-Herald earlier this month…..

Since the lawsuit, the dairy stopped growing corn on the property and planted grass to reduce erosion and runoff. Corn is grown elsewhere on the Hamakua Coast as cattle feed for the dairy.

Wastewater is sprayed over the fields as a fertilizer, a common practice for dairies.

Meanwhile, DOH says the dairy has installed a new wastewater treatment plant for its milking and bottling facility, and is awaiting final inspection.

The plant is designed to handle a flow of 10,000 gallons a day, said Janice Okubo, DOH spokeswoman, in an email.

She said waste will enter an “equalization basin” and be treated with a dissolved air flotation unit followed by a biological secondary treatment.

Okubo said the department’s clean water branch will conduct periodic unannounced inspections as part of its “ongoing enforcement oversight.”…

read … Ag chief backs away from funding offer

More illegal tour operators are heading to Mauna Kea

KITV: …"Taxis, guys going up in unmarked cars being sly about it, and tour operators who think no one can stop us so we're going," Rob Pacheco, tour operator said.

Tour operators are becoming a problem, according to the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

Eight tour companies have permits but those inside the industry say many more continue to make their way up the mountain illegally.

"I don't see why we can't stop two wheel drive traffic going up the mountain today," Pacheco said.

Pacheco has a permit. He pays roughly $50,000 per year to operate there.

He and others say Mauna Kea's Rangers need more authority enforce rules to prevent the added traffic from tarnishing the mountain….

"Probably the greatest thing that's happened on the mountain was the rangers," Pacheco said. …

read … More illegal tour operators are heading to Mauna Kea

16 Months Later Collapsed Wind Turbine Parts Arrive

MN: …The trucks will carry tower sections, blades and a nacelle, officials said in a highway advisory for motorists. The parts are scheduled to arrive at Kahului Harbor at 4 p.m. Sunday, said Lisa Briggs, manager of government and community affairs for Sempra Renewables.

“This will allow time to prepare for unloading” on Monday morning, she said.

Plans call for unloading the blades in the morning and the tower components in the afternoon.

The parts are to replace Auwahi’s turbine No. 4, which crashed to the ground on Oct. 2, 2016. Since then, the wind farm has been operating with seven of its eight turbines….

(Usually they don’t bother to replace these, but with Maui paying more than 20 cents per kwh its hard to resist—or not laugh)

An investigation of the October 2016 incident showed that the nacelle on turbine No. 4 detached because of a failure of the yaw bolts that secure the nacelle to the tower.

“When the root cause of the failure was determined, all bolts that fasten the nacelle to the tower for each turbine were replaced, and new inspection procedures were introduced.”  (Translation: More failures could be expected.)

WIKI: “The yaw bearing is the most crucial and cost intensive component of a yaw system found on modern horizontal axis wind turbines.”

read … One Down

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