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Sunday, June 18, 2023
June 18, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:50 PM :: 2508 Views

$1B Budget Cuts 'Wise and Courageous'

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 17, 2023

A Dirty Problem

Is Las Vegas The End Of The Trail For Native Hawaiians?

CB: … The upcoming CNHA conference may be the moment when Native Hawaiians conceded that the future for Native Hawaiians isn’t going to be in Hawaii….

According to the 2021 American Community Survey, 310,000 Native Hawaiians live in Hawaii; 370,000 live in other states….

“We don’t want to lose our people, so I’m taking the bull by the horns to be the first Native Hawaiian organization out the door,” Lewis said.

Honolulu, last year’s host, is no longer the city with the largest Native Hawaiian population. It’s Los Angeles, followed by Honolulu and then Las Vegas….

read … Is Las Vegas The End Of The Trail For Native Hawaiians?

Molokai: Phone call to Governor Required to Deliver Baby

CB: … In most circumstances, a woman in premature labor would rush by car to the nearest hospital, where medical staff would try to suppress labor or, if it couldn’t be stopped, get ready to deliver the baby.

But Bettencourt-Pedro, 34, lives on Molokai, where women with complicated pregnancies must board a plane in order to give birth under the care of a doctor.

The island’s lone hospital doesn’t perform cesarean sections and it prohibits vaginal births for mothers like Bettencourt-Pedro who have a prior history of C-sections. Women who give birth at the 15-bed Molokai General Hospital sign up for an unmedicated delivery with little access to medical interventions if things go awry.

It was just before 3 a.m. when Bettencourt-Pedro’s husband whisked her out of his truck and into the hospital’s fluorescent-lit birthing room. Medical staff ordered an air ambulance to transport her to Oahu while a nurse gave her drugs to slow or stop her body from trying to push the baby out. 

Her contractions did not let up. And the state’s only air ambulance company had two other patients to move that morning before it could point a helicopter toward Molokai, just 26 miles southeast of the Honolulu medical hub.

Hours passed and, by dawn, still no air ambulance had arrived. The nurses tried to assure Bettencourt-Pedro that if worst came to worst she could push the baby out with the assistance of a midwife. But she remembers thinking she was going to die.

“It was scary,” she said. “I felt like I wasn’t being treated like a priority.”…

Hawaii has one air ambulance provider: Hawaii Life Flight. The private company usually operates seven fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter, responding to an average of five to eight calls a day.

But its capacity buckled last year on Dec. 15, when one of its planes crashed in the ocean, killing a pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. The company grounded its aircraft on every island except the Big Island, where a helicopter remained in service. 

Hawaii needed an immediate back-up plan to fly people from rural neighbor islands to the state’s big city medical centers. Gov. Josh Green issued an emergency proclamation the day after the crash to allow the state to use local military aircraft and temporary mainland staffing to keep Hawaii’s medevac service running.

Stranded on Molokai in the midst of the stand-down, Bettencourt-Pedro felt helpless. In Honolulu, an obstetrician-gynecologist waited at The Queen’s Medical Center for her to arrive. 

The sun had not yet risen when the doctor called Governor Josh Green and pleaded for help.

The governor, who worked as an emergency room doctor on the Big Island for years, was under no illusions: It was a dangerous situation.

If Bettencourt-Pedro remained on Molokai, the governor worried that she or her baby might die. He ordered the Army National Guard to send a Black Hawk helicopter to fetch her. 

“That was the scariest moment of all of the period where our life flight capacity was limited,” Green said.

The Army National Guard does not have an on-call flight crew, however, and it would take at least an hour to mobilize a Black Hawk to Molokai. So hospital leaders negotiated a faster solution: Mokulele Airlines, the only commercial air carrier servicing Molokai, bumped two customers off its fully booked first flight of the day. Those seats went to Bettencourt-Pedro and an accompanying doctor.

It was nearly 9 a.m. when Mokulele’s nine-passenger plane landed at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport after a 36-minute flight. Doubled over in labor pain, Bettencourt-Pedro could barely step down onto the tarmac. Paramedics strapped her on a gurney and wheeled her into an ambulance which took off toward Queen’s. 

Harlyn Pedro arrived through an emergency C-section at 10:42 a.m….

Hawaii Life Flight became the state’s lone air ambulance company in September when a second provider called LifeSave KuPono shut down. The company had operated for a decade with bases in Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo. Air Methods, the parent company, blamed the closure partly on inflation and low Medicaid reimbursements, which are sometimes so low in Hawaii as to barely cover the cost of care. …

(GENIUS-LEVEL IDEA: Pay them more and pay them on time.)

SA: Women in Hawaii not receiving adequate prenatal care

read … Health Care For Rural Islands Nearly Turned Tragic For This Expectant Mom

Rail: Mountain of missteps unprecedented in history of transit development

Shapiro: … Things went over the top when HART Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa said, “This time the stars are aligning. We are in the right place at the right time. … Yes, we struggled, and that’s always going to happen, but here we are.”

If she’s suggesting it was all worth it, that all’s well that ends well, it isn’t. Problems like this project has suffered aren’t “always going to happen.” In fact, its mountain of missteps is unprecedented in the history of transit development.

The $5 billion in rail overruns squandered by city leaders has tragically strained our ability to address Hawaii’s other pressing problems. If the city is going to win the public back, it must start with acknowledging what rail’s endless preventable mistakes have cost us and stop glossing them over.

And of course it means delivering a valuable public transportation option that justifies at least some of the cost. On this point we’re far from being able to say all has ended well.

It remains to be seen if the city agency that’s fumbled the operation of a fleet of TheHandi-Vans can ably run a commuter train. We’re far from knowing if the massive construction problems that plagued the first half won’t continue on the tricky final leg through the city center ….

read … With start of Oahu rail, city must fulfill promises

Hawaii LG Sylvia Luke Finds $50K To Cover Shortfall: ‘I Expect Better Of Myself’

CB: … Following a wave of public criticism, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke says that her office will likely avoid a previously forecasted budget shortfall that threatened to put her in legal jeopardy.

Her staff found money in the budget that she was unaware of previously, she said on Friday. According to Luke, the amount just so happens to be approximately the same amount she needed: around $50,000….

“Coming from a background of holding other departments responsible and accountable, I expect to be better.”….

Luke said she’ll make up the difference with reimbursements from the Department of Public Safety that her office is owed. The LG pays upfront expenses for her security detail and their travel expenses and Public Safety pays Luke’s office back, she said….

read … Hawaii LG Sylvia Luke Finds Cash To Cover Shortfall: ‘I Expect Better Of Myself’

Luke, Chang host fancy NYC, DC Fundraisers

CB: … Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke held a pair of fundraisers in Washington, D.C., during the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s “Hawaii on the Hill” event. On June 11, she reported hosting a fundraiser at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse downtown where the suggested donation was $500.

The following day Luke held a joint fundraiser with state Rep. Scott Nishimoto, who was also in Washington for the event, at the offices of Kadesh & Associates, a D.C.-based lobbying firm named after Mark Kadesh, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Suggested donation: $500 to $1,000.

Meanwhile, this just in, more info on state Sen. Stanley Chang’s June 13 fundraiser at a New York City penthouse, first reported by your astute Sunshine Bloggers last week. Property records show the place is owned by Evan Lushing. A quick internet search for Lushing turns up a former Harvard grad (like Chang), who wrote a satirical book about Facebook in which he describes himself in his author bio as someone who “holds a degree in Mathematics, wrote for the Harvard Lampoon, and is a bona fide YouTube celeb.”

Off and running: Chang and Luke aren’t on the ballot again until 2026. Same goes for Gov. Josh Green, but he’s already looking for kala, too….

read … It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Skyline!

Trump drove isle Republicans away; what about now?

Borreca: …  Hawaii’s successful GOP leaders take one look at the divisive nature of Trump politics and they leave.

The last period of local GOP stability ended in 2021 when party Chairwoman Shirlene Ostrov resigned after a senior party member used an official Twitter account to send tweets defending adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Ostrov had served as chairperson for four years.

Hawaii’s dissatisfaction goes back further, as the GOP lost two new stars as both Charles Djou and Beth Fukumoto both quit the party.

Djou, who briefly served as a Hawaii congressman from the state’s 1st Congressional District, said he was leaving the Republican Party because he was appalled by the hostility that had emerged in the Trump-era GOP. “I am most disappointed by the failure of the GOP to clearly and consistently condemn Trump’s childish behavior,” Djou wrote. “Sadly today, too many Republicans either applaud Trump’s tirades or greet them with silent acceptance.”

All this only extends the theory of the Hawaii GOP devouring its own young.

Former GOP state House leader Fukumoto quit the party, also saying that Trump politics drove her out.

“I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” she said in 2017. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our president’s treatment of women and minorities.”

Also following Djou’s departure, then-City Councilwoman Kym Pine said she resigned from the Hawaii Republican Party the day after Trump took office as president.

Having Trump as “a president that disrespects women so openly is something that I could not support any longer after giving birth to a daughter,” said Pine, whose daughter was a year old when Trump was elected. “I just went back to my Democrat roots where my family started on the plantation.”

Also leaving, although not because of anything Trump did, was Lynn Finnegan, a former state legislator and party leader.

Now voters see Trump pleading not guilty to 37 criminal charges after being indicted last week over his handling of classified documents — and must wonder why anyone would be linked to such a candidate.….

WE: Hawaii's 2024 House elections will see if voters stick with centrist wing of Democrat party

Cook: 2024 House Race Analysis: Hawaii

CB: The latest federal indictment of Donald Trump appears not to have hurt his polling numbers

read … Trump drove isle Republicans away; what about now?

20 Years Later: DLNR Begins First Land Transfer to Agriculture Department

HTH: … The Kapapala Ranch, encompassing about 31,000 acres in Ka‘u just north of Pahala, is the subject of a potential exchange between the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state Department of Agriculture as part of the fulfillment of a 2003 law aimed at ensuring Hawaii’s long-term agricultural productivity.

In 2003, Act 90 became law, which established a process whereby lands classified for agricultural use by the DLNR could be transferred to the DOA, which was deemed a more appropriate body to manage such properties.

However, because such transfers could only take place with the mutual consent of both agencies, relatively few transfers have taken place since Act 90 passed.

DLNR Land Division Assistant Administrator Kevin Moore told the Board of Land and Natural Resources in April that only 19,000 acres of more than 100,000 eligible acres have been set aside for the DOA.

“They have not been transferred either because the DOA doesn’t want them, or our department wants to retain their resource value,” Moore said, adding that the bulk of the eligible lands are consolidated in large pasture parcels tens of thousands of acres wide.

But the DLNR is changing its tune, albeit not necessarily by choice.

“Recently, due to increasing pressure from the (state) Legislature, the DLNR finds it needs to change its position so it can keep a driver’s seat for the whole issue,” Moore said in April. “Because if we continue to hold onto these lands … the Legislature would probably enact a law that says they go automatically.”

One of the first parcels to be transferred under this change in policy is the Kapapala Ranch, which the DLNR leased in 1975 to Gordon Cran, whose family has continued to run the ranch ever since.

At the BLNR’s next meeting on Friday, the panel will consider the transfer of about 25,000 acres of the ranch to the DOA, with the remaining 7,000 acres staying with the DLNR to expand the existing Kapapala Forest Reserve.

read … Kapapala Ranch land transfer deal could move 7,000 acres to forest reserve

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