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Sunday, February 25, 2018
February 25, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:01 PM :: 5397 Views

Teachers Union Grabs for Billion Dollar Slush Fund

Conversion Therapy Successful: Democrat Queenmaker Golojuch may Throw Race to Chin

Borreca: …Ing said Chin has gone through some political conversion therapy of his own.

“To see my conservative opponent finally just all of a sudden change his worldview after preaching anti-gay, anti-woman sermons for so many decades, it just seems disingenuous and opportunistic now that he’s running for Congress,” Ing said.

(Convicted thief Michael 'Bitchbear' Golojuch Jr, himself an ex-Republican), chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus, said he has been advocating for gay rights for decades and has developed “a pretty good BS detector and I know when politicians are feeding me a line.”

(Meet your new party boss.  Aren’t you …uh… proud?)

Although the caucus has not yet made an endorsement, Golojuch has met with Chin and said he has a record of support for gay rights.

“I wish that his church was in support of gay rights, but again it is his church and his religion; and he has a track record as AG to actually go out of his way to support LBGTQ issues. He led the coalition of states in support of the nondiscrimination policy of Colorado (gay marriage case now before the Supreme Court). He didn’t have to do that to lead that battle. He has supported transgender members of the military, he took that one and he didn’t have to,” Golojuch said.

(Translation: I enjoy making the Christians bow before MY altar.  Ing can't do that for me.)

Even as Honolulu managing director, Chin signed the proclamation authorizing Pride Week, Golojuch added.

That kind of support is going to make it difficult to put Chin into some anti-gay box, and that strengthens his campaign for Congress….

read … Conversion Therapy

Samuel Wilder King: OHA audit compels voters to oust CEO, trustees

SA: …The final audit of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) produced by the Office of the State Auditor makes one thing clear: It is time for the incumbent OHA trustees and Chief Executive Officer Kamana‘opono Crabbe to step aside or be voted out. Trustees Keli‘i Akina and perhaps Leina‘ala Ahu Isa should be spared the voters’ wrath because they only arrived recently, but the rest of the trustees and the CEO should take the hint and move on. 

The audit’s findings, largely undisputed by OHA, were jaw-dropping. The trustees owe Native Hawaiian beneficiaries the highest duty under law — a fiduciary obligation. The trustees apparently have so little an understanding of this obligation that the audit recommended training for the trustees in the same.

Even after OHA had a chance to respond, the auditor still found it necessary to point out that OHA’s response was “silent on the core issue of the report: the trustees’ misunderstanding of their individual and collective fiduciary responsibilities to the beneficiaries of the trust.”

The trustees and the CEO have presided over an organization that spent 26 percent of its fiscal 2016 budget on staffing (not including overhead expenses and OHA’s limited liability corporations, or LLCs). Charity Navigator rates typical nonprofits a 10 out of 10 if they spend no more than 15 percent on administration (commonly called the “expense ratio”); 7.5 percent for grantmaking organizations like OHA. An organization with an expense ratio over 25 percent would score a 2.5. A grantmaking organization with OHA’s expense ratio would score a 0.

In 2015-2016, OHA spent nearly double on non-competitive, unbudgeted grants and CEO sponsorships ($14 million) than on competitive grants ($7.7 million). The issuance of these unbudgeted grants often violated OHA procedures or were made over the objections of OHA’s staff. It seems the trustees and the CEO were disbursing trust funds to people who happened to know the right person to ask, not people who had been vetted through a competitive process.

To top it off, all but two of the trustees seem to have been walking around handing out cash directly to beneficiaries. Since 1991, the trustees have received a cash payment at the start of the fiscal year that was supposed to be used for expenses. Today that amount is $22,000. Some trustees apparently commingled these funds with their personal funds. That is insane….

read … Sam King for Trustee?

Telescope Will Decide on Quitting Hawaii in April

HTH:  …The TMT International Observatory board of directors, representing the five partner countries, is expected to decide in April whether to stay in Hawaii or move to Spain’s Canary Islands.

The nonprofit organization based in California says Maunakea remains the preferred location for its cutting-edge telescope, though several years of delays from protests and legal challenges have made its future here uncertain. Appeals of its sublease and land use permit are being heard by the state Supreme Court.

Sanders said the $1.4 billion project has received a land concession for a mountain on the island of La Palma and a hosting agreement. The environmental review process for that site should be done by the end of the year. He acknowledged the organization expects a legal challenge in Spain as well, though the project expects to prevail.

“There will undoubtedly be some legal challenge,” Sanders said, regarding the environmental impact statement. “It’s an environmentally sensitive place.”….

read … Gone Soon

HART Trick Focuses Discussion on How to Extend Rail Rather than Whether to Extend Rail

SA: 5 plans to take rail past Ala Moana face a host of obstacles…. 

(The best option—not extending rail—is not even considered.  See how this works?)

…Council members said they were baffled by the complexities involved with the Ala Moana rail station and the possible routes to UH.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said voters who supported the project in a 2008 amendment to the Honolulu City Charter expected a route that would go from Kapolei to Ala Moana and even Waikiki. “I don’t know why there’s no planning,” she said.

Kobayashi questioned how the city Department of Planning and Permitting allowed for development approvals for the Manaolana project to be processed and then later approved by the Council.

“Planning for such a huge project you’d think would be pretty much done,” Kobayashi said. The delays have created a series of empty lots along the Kapiolani corridor, she said. “We look like a Third World country with all those empty lots.”

Mayer, who joined HART about a year ago, said he and others at HART share the Council’s frustration.

“The only thing I can say is that it appears the majority of the focus has been in getting to Ala Moana,” he said. As a result, discussion of corridor preservation and a later full alternatives analysis of a possible extension haven’t been done yet, Mayer said….

PDF: HART Presentation

read … Purposeful Redirect

Public-private pacts for rail pursued?

SA: …I envision for our project a comprehensive design-build-finance-operate and maintain approach, which incorporates the portion of the rail project that we have already built, and also possibly includes long-term operations and maintenance and, very importantly, capital asset replacement, in a long-term partnership with the private sector.

To that end, HART has teamed with Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors LLC to examine the potential for delivering the remainder of the Honolulu rail project with what’s known as a P3, or public-private partnership.

As part of this review, HART and the city hosted an industry forum on Feb. 13-14 and invited some of the key international P3 firms to Honolulu for a two-day conference held at the Blaisdell Center. The turnout was tremendous.

More than 70 companies participated, including those from Japan, Spain, the U.K., Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Several of them asked for one-on-one meetings with HART staff…..

(This will allow HART to say ‘we tried’ next time taxes are raised.)

HART and the Ernst & Young team will now further assess the information gathered at the forum and come up with a finding and a recommendation in the next few weeks about whether a public-private partnership for completion of the Honolulu rail project is worth pursuing….

read … Public-private pacts for rail pursued

Lawmakers pretend to recover salary overpayments to HGEA, UPW members

SA: …The state as of Dec. 31 was still trying to reclaim balances on nearly $1.4 million in salary overpayments mistakenly made to public employees over the years — some stretching back as far as the 1990s.

The figure includes the full amounts that were overpaid to any employee who still owes the state money. The outstanding balance across state departments was about $394,700 as of Dec. 31 after amounts recovered through installment payments and amounts referred to the Attorney General for collection are deducted.  (Notice none of these ‘deductions actually involves collection of money?)

Monthly balances in 2017 ranged from a low of $387,542 in November to a high of $613,883 in March, according to data from the Department of Accounting and General Services, which administers the state’s payroll….

Most of the overpayments happen when employees call in sick or take vacation when they don’t have enough or have exhausted their paid leave. State employees earn 21 sick days and 21 vacation days a year. Other reasons include being paid after termination or resignation.

“The problem is we have automatic salary payments. You automatically will get your paycheck every two weeks unless notified otherwise,” Kim (D, Kalihi Valley- Moanalua-Halawa), the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 2598, said in an interview.

“So when you use up all of your leave but you take sick leave anyway or go on vacation, the system doesn’t pick that up. When the payroll goes in, you get paid the full amount,” she said. “When the system realizes, ‘Oh, this person doesn’t have leave,’ now the system realizes that they overpaid you.”

Individuals who no longer are employed by the state account for more than half the amount still owed, or 53 percent of the outstanding balance.  (Translation: Never gonna get it back.)

SB 2598 would require state departments to deduct overpayment costs from their annual budget requests (after inflating them by the same amount) to the Legislature and require departments to place employees who exhaust their sick leave on a manual payroll system.  (Uh-huh.)  An earlier provision that would have allowed the state Employees’ Retirement System to garnish the pensions of retirees who owe the state for overpayments has since been removed from the bill.  (See? Told you this was fake.)

read … Lawmakers looking to deter, recover salary overpayments

Ige administration wants to parlay False Missile Alert into tens of millions in new spending

Shapiro: …>> The Ige administration wants to parlay the terrifying goof into potentially tens of millions in new spending on emergency management. The price of paradise is heavily weighted with the cost of stupidity.

>> The “button pusher” who sent out the bogus nuclear warning is contesting his dismissal and has an attorney angling for a payout. Hey, it worked for Louis Kealoha.

>> The attorney, Michael Green, said the emergency drill was run like a circus and “all that was missing were clowns and balloons.” There’s always a personal injury lawyer ready to supply those….

SA: Fix HI-EMA first, then seek $2M

read … No shortage of folly from false missile alert

How Global Warming Hype Makes Housing More Unaffordable

WHT: …Climate scientists at Stanford University project that in a worst-case scenario, rainfall across the Hawaiian Islands might decrease as much as 50 percent by the end of the century.

Other projections are less dire, but Rick Bennett, Ph.D., chairman of the Hawaii County Environmental Management Commission, said in a meeting with the Hawaii County Council Tuesday that based on the work done at Stanford, no scenario exists in which rainfall doesn’t drop significantly in coming decades….

(IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

And a reduction in rainfall, he added, is inevitably accompanied by a more limited supply of fresh water. Conservation and reuse, then, will be paramount to state and county efforts to maintain an adequate supply of drinking water in the years ahead.

According to Act 141, signed last summer by Gov. David Ige, a crucial element of this endeavor “…is the timely adoption of amendments to the state building codes, which include the Uniform Plumbing Code, to encourage (expensive) water resource conservation, improvements to water distribution systems, and recovery of used water.”… (Thus making the cost of construction that much higher.)

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials updates the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) every three years and released the 2018 version in August. But because of adoption hurdles and timetables, some of which have been addressed by Act 141, both the state and the county have lagged behind.

Neal Tanaka, mechanical engineer III with the Department of Public Works Building Division, explained to the council Tuesday that Hawaii County is currently operating on its adopted version of the 2006 UPC. Based on timetables, the county won’t amend and implement the state-adopted 2012 plumbing code until 2020.  (Fortunately for Hilo & Puna residents on catchment in 200” of rain per year.)

read … Up to code: Bureaucracy hinders water conservation policy

SB2188: Tax Housing to Pay for Housing

SA: … A key Senate committee has approved an increase in the state conveyance tax on sales of (so-called) high-end homes to raise an additional $56 million a year for development of affordable housing (and a bunch of other stuff).

The tax increase would apply to sales of homes worth $2 million or more, (many of which are really apartment buildings in disguise) and the proceeds would be handed over to Hawaii’s four counties to (waste while pretending to) increase the supply of affordable housing by buying properties, building more units, or making grants to nonprofit organizations to develop housing.

The counties also would be allowed to use the money to develop infrastructure such as roads or sewer lines to serve affordable housing projects under Senate Bill 2188, which won tentative approval from the Senate Ways and Means Committee Friday.

Condominiums and single-family homes worth more than $2 million are already subject to a conveyance tax ranging from 50 cents to $1.25 per $100 in sale value.

The new tax would be set at 1 percent of the sale value, and would be in addition to the existing conveyance tax….

(With inflation, more and more homes will be taxed.)

read … More Unaffordable

Underlying motives fuel pesticide bills

KGI: …In the session that’s just a couple of weeks old, 29 pesticide-related bills have been introduced, but many use stealth techniques to attack the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in addition to further restricting pesticide.

That’s one less than during the last session, though it’s not really progress. Some of the new ones have made it through at least one committee.

In their bill titles, many seek to ban one pesticide, in particular — chlorpyrifos — or require greater disclosure of pesticide use or creation of pesticide buffer zones.

But down toward the bottoms of many of these bills comes the language for which they are really intended. They seek back-door bans on GMO farming by creating requirements for growing crops indoors or requiring a “moratorium” transparently intended to be permanent. They seek to impose pesticide buffer zones that would remove thousands of acres of land from cultivation, without offering evidence to support the scale of such buffer zones.

One of them, Senate Bill 2874, starts out saying that “Hawaii has become a location of increasing commercial agriculture operations that utilize genetically engineered crops.” That’s true, as far as it goes, but it ignores two realities. One is that there is no body of legitimate scientific evidence that GMO crops are anything to be scared of. But more important, bill language in much of this legislation also seeks to rein in large-scale “commercial agricultural operations” of any kind which, ironically, Hawaii needs more of, not less…..

SB: Usual Suspects with Usual Blither SB3095

read … Underlying motives fuel pesticide bills

Audits Help Maui County Solve Problems

MN: …At the last Maui County Council meeting, a unanimous vote was taken to begin a performance audit of the Maui County Department of Liquor Control.

Following recent news coverage and abrupt changes in liquor rules, Council Member Yuki Lei

Sugimura requested an audit with a focus on reviewing the operations and processes of the department….

The liquor department audit comes on the heels of three other ongoing council-initiated audits.

An audit of the Department of Fire and Public Safety, conducted by California-based Citygate Associates, focused on reviewing operational standards and taking a deep dive into the fiscal management of the department.

The auditors will present their findings to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee in mid-March.

This past summer, Council Member Stacy Crivello requested an audit of the county’s Department of Transportation. Conducted by RSM International, the audit is tasked with reviewing public transportation options, including fixed route, paratransit and human transportation services.

The county spends nearly $20 million annually on public transportation. Therefore, understanding how duplicative services can be minimized while ensuring route expansion and basic operations are conducted in the best possible manner will be very beneficial.

The final report is anticipated to be completed by mid-March.

With the departure of Danny Agsalog as director of the Department of Finance, the County Charter requires the council to conduct an independent audit of any accounts within the control of the director. The audit is being conducted by N&K CPAs Inc., based in Honolulu.

A full presentation of the audit’s findings will also be released in mid-March…..

read … Council identifies ways to streamline government

State experiencing a shortage of nurses

KGI: …With a severe shortage of nurses in Hawaii and throughout the country, some hospitals are finding it challenging to fully meet the medical needs of their communities.

“There are a lot of shortage of nurses on our island,” said Jennifer Mariano, human resources specialist with Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. “It’s been difficult to find qualified candidates with experience, even with people at the entry level as well.”

The Westside hospital, along with others across the state, are having difficulty recruiting for specialty-type positions, such as those with experience working in the emergency room and intensive care units.

The Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and its sister hospital, Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, together have about a dozen openings for full-time licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, part-time per diem and on-call positions. Wilcox Medical Center also has a need for registered nurses, specifically in the field of perioperative services.

“It’s been an ongoing battle for us to recruit nursing staff,” Mariano said….

read … State experiencing a shortage of nurses

HB2739: Star-Adv Pushes for Suicide Squad to Flood Testimony

SA: …Legalizing medically assisted death has been a divisive issue in Hawaii. During the 2017 legislative session, a bill that was a top priority for the Democratic Party passed out of the Senate but was later tabled by the House Health Committee. The measure was strongly opposed by …advocates for the disabled….

The joint committee hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the state Capitol auditorium….

Most Accurate Comment: “Yes, let's make a law to allow us to get rid of dead weight and added expenses.”….

Related: Honolulu GOP: Assisted Suicide Corrupts Practice of Medicine

read … Suicide Squad

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