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Sunday, November 25, 2012
November 25, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:03 PM :: 4470 Views

Sen Josh Green: Doctors Need Florida Pill Mill Company to Survive Financially

Ernie Martin: Cancel Nanakuli Park to Make Way for PVT Landfill

“OHA Under Attack from Out of State” is an Irresponsible Claim

Going Over the Cliff Will Mean Tax Increases

Johanson is Big Winner in Coalition

Borreca: One of the big winners of the coalition will be the new GOP leader, Aiea’s Rep. Aaron Johanson. At 32, Johanson was born the same year as the formation of the first bipartisan coalition in state politics, created by former Senate President Richard Wong.

That coalition lasted two years and ended when two of the GOP members, D.G. “Andy” Anderson and Pat Saiki, left to run for governor and lieutenant governor. But along the way, the two-year coalition included many of the leaders of today’s Democratic power structure, including Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The elevation of Johanson to GOP and also coalition leader should put him close to the top of the Hawaii GOP food chain, ranking as someone who can get things done. Already the coalition has netted the GOP three vice chairmanships, including a vice chair of the always powerful House Finance Committee.

The caveat in all this is that the coalition meal is actually still in the imu and won’t be uncovered until the 2013 Legislature’s opening day on Jan. 16, when all 51 House members will formally vote for speaker of the House.

Until then, Say and his allies still have the chance of luring away some of the Souki Democrats.

To complicate matters, however, Say is mostly disliked by the state’s public worker unions, who view him as someone who would take away union benefits. So if Souki has support from both the unions and the Republicans, he is likely to lead a most interesting coalition.

read … Big Winner

Progressives Whine About Dissident-GOP Alliance

ILind: after a campaign season in which holding the line against the GOP was considered important, or so we were all told, I’m having trouble cutting a lot of slack for the so-called “dissidents,” although I probably have more relations with those in the dissident camp than in the Speaker’s camp.

I hope that either Souki or Calvin Say are able to leverage the promise of those GOP votes to successfully organize within the majority party.

In the long run, or the broader view, I don’t think the bipartisan pose is in our best interest. That’s different from implying that Republican legislators shouldn’t be treated fairly. But I’ve always been unhappy about Democrats who save more venom for opponents within the Democratic Party than for their Republican opponents.

read … Reader questions House leadership coalition

Josh Green --  Pill Mill Money too Hot to Handle, Gives it Away

SA: State Sen. Josh Green said he donated $2,000 to two local medical charities to dispel any notion that he would give special treatment to a company that later contributed to his campaign.

Green, a Hawaii island physician and chairman of the Senate's Health Committee, said Wednesday that he donated the money to "avoid even the appearance of conflict."

Green made the donation after a Star-Advertiser story that disclosed that he received a $2,000 contribution from Automated HealthCare Solutions eight days after writing a letter on legislative stationery urging the city to settle a six-figure billing dispute with the company.

Though Green didn't explicitly take Automated HealthCare's side in his Aug. 9 letter, he called the city's settlement offer of 20 cents on the dollar unreasonable, and said the company had "graciously agreed" to accept a discounted amount. He asked that the city settle the dispute by Aug. 24.

The city is contesting bills from the Florida-based company, which assists physicians who dispense prescription drugs directly to workers' compensation patients and bills the patients' employers or insurers for the medication. Among other issues, the city is citing inflated pricing by Automated HealthCare.

In one example mentioned in an Oct. 29 response to Green, Managing Director Douglas Chin said the company billed the city $832.37 for a muscle relaxant that cost the physician $14.40 and that a local pharmacy sells for $57.65.

Shapiro: Goings-on at the Capitol don't pass the smell test

read … Lawmaker donates $2,000 to avoid a tag of favoritism

Hooser: Apologize for Corrupt PLDC, then Complete Repeal

Hooser: The Public Land Development Corp. (PLDC) was created by the Legislature in a manner that at best was unprincipled and at worst corrupt and illegal.

Those responsible owe the people of our state first an apology and then a complete repeal.

SA: People power still relevant

Related: Birth Of The Public Land Development Corporation – A travesty of the legislative process, PLDC: Abercrombie Capitulates to Protesters

read … No Interest in Abercrombie’s Talks

DOE: Give us the Money or No Computers for Kids

SA: Exactly how to bridge this gap is unresolved. The state Board of Education has committed to an investment in the Common Core, said Don Horner, the board chairman. These have been adopted by most states, which means students here will benefit from the development of relevant instructional resources across the country.

"In that process we are asking the department to examine the option of technology," he said. "The opportunity of investing in curriculum is also an opportunity to invest in technology."

And the DOE is gearing up for such an investigation, as well as a debate over the public school budget. A request for $42 million to fund the Common Core initiative over the next two years has gone up to Gov. Neil Abercrombie in preparation for the biennium budget. The proposal specifies the goal of providing every public school student with a laptop or tablet, such as an iPad, by 2015, and the money also would cover teacher training and buying the digital texts and other materials.

Exactly what will be bought is still up for discussion, but the funding request is being sent along as a placeholder.

Amy Kunz, DOE assistant superintendent and chief financial officer, said that although nothing is set in stone, the cost estimates were based on the idea of equipping all high school students with laptops and all younger students with tablets.

The first allotment of $14.25 million is for fiscal year 2014, with $22.25 million coming the following year, Kunz said, with the plan that savings accrued with the DOE's photovoltaic solar panels on schools will cover the remaining $6.25 million.

Hawaii public schools haven't been sitting completely on the sidelines through the digital revolution. Waianae and Nanakuli high schools got laptops through the New Tech High program, a facet of the DOE's Race to the Top education reform grant program.  (Translation: The DoE doesn’t need any new money to computerize learning.  This is just a budget maneuver for this session.)

And some schools made the leap entirely on their own. This is the fourth year that Benjamin Parker Elementary School in Kaneohe has issued laptops or netbooks (a smaller, Internet-enabled device) to each student in grades 2 through 6, said Kathy Kahikina, the principal. The school acquired them and replaces them when they break down.

"I think it's been positive for the kids because they can navigate the computer better," Kahikina said. The school found the money for the 200-plus computers, plus the in-house tech support.

read … Digital winds blowing--As Hawaii’s schools ramp up standards, discussion turns to one computer for each student

City Council schedules meeting to approve rail grant

HNN: "Adoption of the resolution to authorize the Full Funding Grant Agreement is an important step for the Council," said Council Chair Ernest Martin. " It is one of the most significant decisions that the Council must make to demonstrate support for the rail project."

All nine Councilmembers will meet Thursday to vote on the $1.5 billion dollar deal….

read … Rail Dough

 

Mitch Roth: First New Elected Prosecutor in a Generation

HTH: On Dec. 3, Mitch Roth will becoming Hawaii County’s first new elected prosecutor in a generation, having won a General Election nail-biter over county Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida.

The 48-year-old Roth takes over from Charlene Iboshi, who is retiring at the end of the month. Iboshi, a longtime first deputy, took over the office when former Jay Kimura, who served as elected prosecutor for almost two decades, retired in April 2011. Roth has been a deputy prosecutor for 19 years, five in Honolulu and 14 on the Big Island.

“I’ve worked in Honolulu, and I’ve worked here as a prosecutor, and I’ll say this: Our worst day here was better than the best days in Honolulu,” Roth said Tuesday. “We have a great family of people. I love the people in this office.”

He also praised Iboshi for her skill as a prosecutor, a grant writer and “a mother figure” to many who work for her.

“What I know about Charlene is that she has a heart of gold,” Roth said. “I may not always agree with her, but I know that she’s always had my best interest and the interest of those who work in the office and the office itself in mind.”

Roth will assume control of an office where numerous employees, including deputies, worked and campaigned for Ashida, while others supported his election bid. He said political patronage isn’t an issue, and he won’t ask for courtesy letters of resignation — a standard practice after elections in some offices. He did, however, say he asked employees to submit letters stating why they’d like to continue working there.

“One of the things I’ve asked the deputies to do is to give me a statement about their philosophy of what their job is,” he said. “I didn’t tell them my philosophy. My philosophy is that we’re doing God’s work to ensure justice. … I want us to do the best job we can, so the people of our community are safe and healthy.”

Mitch Roth announces Campaign for Hawaii County Prosecutor

Kimura Gets 20 Years in Maui Ponzi Scheme

read … Mitch Roth

Homosexuals Prey on Waikiki Street Kids

SA: This portion of Waikiki is ground zero for Hawaii's throwaway youth. Though it's hard to fathom, hundreds of young adults, teens and even kids as young as 10 years old live on the streets of Waikiki, which has the highest population of homeless and runaway youth in the state. Last year 625 homeless youths visited the Hale Kipa Youth Outreach drop-in center in Waikiki and used its services 2,489 times.

"When I tell people how many homeless youth there are in Waikiki, they never believe me. If you don't know what you are looking for, they don't stand out. But we typically see anywhere from 10 to 55 kids in Waikiki during an outreach night" said Lee Miya­shiro, a YO outreach worker and recovered drug user who counsels kids on the same streets where he abused crystal meth….

Some have drug-addicted parents. Others are drug addicts themselves. A few are struggling with sexual identity and transgender issues. Others are (after becoming) victims of sexual exploitation or sex trafficking….

"Conservatively, 99.5 percent of my clients are doing drugs," he said. "I figure the other half a percent is lying to me."

SA: Homeless no more

read … Kuhio Ave

New Hope Church moves out of auditorium it helped to fix

HNN: New Hope Christian Fellowship has used the auditorium for its weekend services for several years. The church says the auditorium was closed and condemned when it came in.

"It was unusable. It was infested," said New Hope founder and senior pastor Wayne Cordeiro. "So we cleaned it up, did some reconstruction, re-wired, brought in electricians, and made it useable as best we could. It's an old auditorium."

According to Cordeiro, New Hope has put in a lot of money over the years to maintain and improve the facility. Cordeiro also said the church had put in money to fix a major leak in the roof when it first came to Farrington.

"In in-kind donations, we have donated just over $1 million to the school," said Cordeiro. "In fact, we just put in $110,000 re-doing all the seats in the auditorium. That is now gone."

Earlier this year, New Hope told Hawaii News Now that it pays $200,000 a year in rent and $50,000 a month in utilities at Farrington. They make a $24,000 donation every year for the school to use as it chooses. They have also changed the once-condemned auditorium to be state of the art and had planned to add $300,000 in upgrades to the sound and lighting system.

Meanwhile, an army of volunteers was setting up and cleaning nearly 600 chairs in the high school gym, where Farrington High School administrators said services could be held this weekend.

KHON: There is a strong possibility the auditorium will be condemned

read … New Hope Farrington

Kauai Council mulls 500% increase to minimum Property Tax

KGI: “For 18 years I paid $25 for our tax rate,” Anahola resident Amanda Kaneohe said. “It seems that now, for whatever reasons … greed compelled to raise our taxes 500 percent, from $25 to $150.”

Kaneohe lives on Hawaiian homestead lands, provided by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to Native Hawaiians who have at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood quantum.

Additionally, the county on July 1, 2011, implemented a solid waste collection assessment fee, which is billed through the real property tax bill. To Kaneohe, the trash collection fee “is like a tax,” and increased her tax bill more than five fold. “We are paying $169,” she said.

read … 500% Tax Hike

‘Connections’—Charter School Employee gets Hearing Tuesday 

SA: The state Ethics Commission will hold its first contested case hearing since 1985 on Tuesday in Hilo in a case involving a charter school employee accused of representing both the school and his family business in financial transactions.

William Eric Boyd, administrative assistant at Connections Public Charter School in Hilo, is charged with violating the conflict-of-interest provisions of the state Ethics Code. State employees are prohibited from taking official action that affects a business in which they, their spouses or dependent children have a substantial financial interest.

A company owned by Boyd and his wife, Erika, provided lunches to students at the charter school for years under contracts awarded without competition. Boyd's duties at the school included ordering and buying school supplies and materials and approving payments by Connections.

Documentation filed in the case includes invoices or certificates signed by Boyd as "food service manager" for Boyd Enterprises that were submitted to the school for lunches. On campus, he signed to acknowledge receipt of lunches by the school and his signature appears on purchase orders from the school.

Boyd is also accused of ordering products, from digital camcorders to janitorial supplies, for the school from the Amway business owned by him and his wife, and then approving payments by the school to his wife. Another charge involves his family business using a booth rented by the school at the county fair.

read … ‘Connections’

Matson to Burn $400M on Jones Act Ships

SA: Honolulu-based Matson plans to spend $400 million in the next three to five years on two new ships that would improve operating efficiencies and significantly reduce the average age of its 13-ship fleet.

Matson embarked on its last ship renewal program a decade ago, and spent $500 million adding four ships between 2003 and 2006. Prior to that investment, the company had bought only one new ship in the prior two decades….

Because Matson operates directly between U.S. ports, federal law requires that ships on those routes be built in the country, which makes them considerably more costly compared with foreign-made ships that can operate between foreign and U.S. ports….

Matson, which has a roughly 66 percent market share in Hawaii’s ocean cargo market, also noted that one of its competitors, Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines, has a new ship under construction that would roughly double its service.

Pasha operates one roll-on/roll-off ship in Hawaii, and has a second ship being built plus an option to order a third ship. The second ship has a capacity of 1,400 TEUs and 2,750 cars, and is expected to be delivered next year. Matson has 13 ships but has used nine in service in recent years. If the local economy continues to grow and the construction industry rebounds significantly, Matson expects to put a 10th ship into service.

read … $400M that Comes out of Consumers Pockets

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