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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
December 19, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:31 PM :: 4400 Views

Hanabusa will apply for Senate vacancy, Case Considers Special Election Run

Democrats Pretend to Open Selection Process

$1.55B -- Feds Sign Full Funding Agreement for Rail

Hawaii's Sudden Economic Tsunami

Earmark Ban Helped Inouye Drive More Money to Hawaii

Inouye Successor Will Face Election in 2014

Green Energy and Rail Get an 'F'

Hawaii's Future: California Solar Power Adds $1.3B to Non-Users' Costs

Wonderblunder: Greenwood Thanks University for 'Patience as we Process all the Confusion'

Hawaii County: In Election Cases, Time Deadlines Matter

Feds set no-go zones for Obama vacation

Slom: Without Inouye, Abercrombie Budget Doesn’t Balance 

Sen. Sam Slom: Senator Inouye always brought home the bacon for Hawaii. Those days are over. Hawaii's next congressional delegation will be brand new with little seniority and clout. It was often said that Inouye was Hawaii's second leading industry. Despite calls years ago to prepare for a Hawaii without Inouye, and to improve the state's hostile business climate, nothing has been done. The full impact will be felt next year.

Abercrombie Budget On Monday. Governor Abercrombie released his two year fiscal operating and CIP budgets. Bottom line is he is calling for a 7% increase in spending next fiscal year, followed by an 11% spending increase. Not sustainable. The money is not there and without Senator Inouye it will only get worse. The Legislature convenes January 16 and will massage the $7 billion budgets.

read … Economic Impact

Inouye to be Buried Sunday

KHON: Tentative plans call for Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye to be remembered in a ceremony Friday in Washington, D.C. and laid to rest Sunday at Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu….

CB 12-19-2012: Akaka Spokesman: ‘We Had No Idea (Inouye) Was That Sick’

read … Memorial Plans

Vermont Maryland Grabs Appropriations, California Judiciary, Intelligence?

PB: A Democratic source tells CNN that the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee chair held by Inouye will now be taken over by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Leahy is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a seat that will now be taken over by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
The Judiciary committee has oversight on gun control laws, a cause that Feinstein has fought for.
It is not clear who will take over her role as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
With Inouye's death, Leahy becomes the most senior Democratic senator, the President Pro Tempore.

UPDATE: Maryland Grabs Appropriations

read … Mad Scramble for Power

Transit funding ceremony 'bittersweet' two days after Inouye's death

HNN: Hawaii's Congressional delegation, top U.S. transportation officials and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle signed a funding agreement Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol that guarantees the federal government with provide Honolulu with $1.55 billion in funds for its rail transit project.

Among those in attendance was Irene Inouye, the widow of Sen. Dan Inouye, a champion of the rail project who died on Monday….

Inouye's staffers wiped away tears as speaker after speaker spoke of Inouye's devotion to rail and of the bittersweet nature of the event, since it was held just days after his death.

Even with looming federal budget cuts, officials said Honolulu can expect all of the federal funding coming over the next several years. The federal government never has gone back on similar full funding agreements with other counties, cities and states in the past, officials said.

HuffPo: Hawaii's Train to the Future

read … Inouye’s Last Pork Project

Hawaii Medical Information Exchange Reaches 50% of Providers

GHIT: Hawaii was one of the last states in the U.S. to adopt Direct secure messaging services, said Christine Sakuda, executive director of the Hawaii Health Information Exchange, but in the past few years, providers and physicians on the state’s seven islands have embraced electronic health record systems, through a mix of public and payer incentives.

Prior to 2010, there was not much information exchange among providers in Hawaii. Sakuda estimates that about a quarter of the state’s 1,200 primary care physicians had EHR systems when the HIE was launched in 2010, as the state-designated entity through the Office of the National Coordinator cooperative agreement program.

“Now that number is closer to a full-third to half. There’s been a lot of progress made,” she said, with meaningful use and HITECH Act grants.

The Hawaii HIE recently went live with secure messaging using the Direct Project protocols, and it is starting to help fill a gap in Hawaii’s unique health system, linking the smaller islands to the hospital hub of Honolulu. The HIE has about 400 users on the Direct messaging system and in its next phase plans to focus on interface development and sharing clinical summaries.

Hawaii HIE is also piloting a HISP to HISP connection with North Hawaii Community Hospital, which is on the main island, about 200 miles from Honolulu, with the Aetna-owned IT vendor Medicity.

“When you layer on the meaningful use incentives and the growing sophistication of EHRs, there’s some progress in the EHR space here,” Sakuda said.

Hawaii has a population of about 1.3 million, and Saduka said there’s a consensus among the state’s healthcare industry that only one statewide HIE is necessary, if it’s interoperable with other regional networks.

read … Information Exchange

PUC Gives Abercrombie Campaign Co-Chair Lucrative Airport Biodiesel Contract

CB: Under the three-year agreement, Pacific Biodiesel will annually supply between 250,000 gallons and one million gallons of biodiesel produced locally from Hawaii-sourced feedstock.

Pacific Biodiesel:

CBS News Nails Abercrombie for giving multi-million dollar earmarks to campaign donors

Abercrombie defends $3.5M earmark after being nailed by CBS

read … PUC Gives Abercrombie Contributor Lucrative Airport Biodiesel Contract

Elections Commission Investigation Into Ballot Shortage Almost Pau

CB: The commissioners' meeting Tuesday was expected to include a report on the subcommittee's findings concerning the ballot shortage, but instead just included a public assurance that the investigation is ongoing and details may be shared next month….

Commissioners Danny Young and Zale Okazaki, who together comprise a special two-person subcommittee tasked with investigating the debacle, said Tuesday that they need to interview one more person off-island before their work is complete….

Young considered the investigation "97 percent" done, adding that no decisions have been made as to what actions should be taken concerning Nago's role….

"In the last meeting, there were several people who had an outcry of dismissing or looking for who was at fault and dismissing them from their position," Young said. "Our intention is not looking for dismissal, but to find out where the fault is and then from there decide what the consequences should be."

Young said the primary motivation for calling the meeting this week — instead of the first week of January as planned — was to assure the public that the commission is not letting the issue slide.

"We are investigating this to its fullest," he said. "We want the public to know we are on top of this."

But when Chair William Marston asked the subcommittee if it could share any of its findings with the public at this point, Okazaki said not until the investigation is finished.

The commissioners met behind closed doors for more than an hour to discuss the subcommittee's work thus far. When they returned in open session, Marston said the commission will wait to deliberate on the findings until its next meeting in January….

Part of the subcommittee's investigation happened during Tuesday's meeting when commissioners learned that Nago has been wearing two hats for the past two years.

Nago has worked in the counter center operations section since he joined the elections office in 1998. When he became chief elections officer in 2010, he maintained his role as head of the counting center operations.

He told the commission that having the dual role is perhaps unprecedented, but that will change by next election. Nago said he has been grooming Aulii Tenn to take over the section head position by the next regular election in 2014 so he can just focus on his duties as chief elections officer.

The commissioners seemed surprised to learn Nago has been doing both jobs and didn't fully accept his explanation.

Okazaki questioned why it has taken Nago two years to either train someone up or hire someone new to do the sections head job.

read … Election Commission

Sunshine Law Gives Power to Lobbyists, Bureaucrats, Staff

… when the Honolulu City Council used a series of one-on-one meetings to reach agreement on a reorganization plan that was then put to a final vote in a public meeting, the state supreme court issued a 2008 ruling that “serial communications” can’t be used to circumvent the sunshine law’s requirements. Board and commission members are now warned against taking part in any one-on-one conversations outside of public meetings in order to avoid the “serial communications” trap.

The unintended consequence of this aggressive interpretation of open meeting requirements has been the further empowerment of lobbyists and bureaucrats.

Lobbyists are the biggest winners. The sunshine law restrictions don’t apply to lobbyists, who are free to fill the communication vacuum. So while elected and appointed board members can’t discuss issues with each other except in public meetings, lobbyists are free to work the corridors of power, offering technical advice and political perspective in ongoing attempts to shape policies in ways that benefit their paying clients.

The law gives a similar advantage to staff, whether personal staff of elected officials or the staff of public agencies. Board members can’t talk to each other between public meetings, and are dependent on staff either as intermediaries to facilitate information sharing, or directly as policy advisors.

read … Darkness at Noon

Hawaii one of Only Two States Without Independent Oversight of Property Tax Assessments

HTH: A report by the International Association of Assessing Officers takes Hawaii County to task for insufficient internal controls, oversight and cross-checking of property assessments, issues that could lead to inequities in how much taxes property owners are paying.

The 99-page report, the outcome of a $40,000 study requested by the County Council, makes 40 recommendations to address potential shortcomings in the current process.

West Hawaii residents have long complained about what they see as tax inequity.

Property owners in just two West Hawaii County Council districts — North Kona’s District 8 and Kohala’s District 9 — pay more than half the county’s property taxes, while Districts 1 through 6 — Hamakua, Hilo, Puna and Ka‘u — contributed about 5 percent each to the total tax burden, according to a Stephens Media analysis of property assessments used to determine the current county budget.

The report notes that Hawaii is one of only two states that does not have an independent oversight body, such as the state, over the counties’ real property assessment procedures.

HTH: Property tax task force postponed

read … Control lacking on assessments?

Occupy Honolulu Gets Temporary restraining order against Raids

DN: On Wednesday, December 12th, members of (de)Occupy Honolulu filed a lawsuit against the City & County of Honolulu, Wesley Chun (Director & Chief Engineer of Department of Facilities Maintenance), Trish Morikawa (County Housing Coordinator), and Sergeant Larry Santos (Honolulu Police Department), over deprivation of civil rights during raids on the encampment, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai`i. On Monday, December 17th, a Temporary Restraining Order has been issued, until the Preliminary Injunction hearing in a month, dealing with raids of Thomas Square. All defendants have either quit their jobs or retired since the last raid at Thomas Square, the day before Thanksgiving.

(This is aimed at stopping homeless sweeps)

read … Homelessness Industry

Ewa Development Plan on Agenda

News Release: On December 19, from 7-9 P.M., at Kapolei Hale, our office will host a public discussion on the Ewa Development Plan- Bill 65. This blueprint for developing the Ewa Plain is paramount to all of us that live, work, and play in the region of Ewa/Kapolei. The MidWeek's West Oahu Islander publication covered the topic - and I recommend that if you are interested in future development for the Ewa Plain, to please read that article by clicking here.

read … Tom Berg

DoE News: School Committee Chair Convicted on Kiddie Porn Charges

HTH: The former chairman of Hilo Intermediate School’s School Community Council was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail and five years probation for possessing nude photos of a minor.

Circuit Judge Glenn Hara is allowing 58-year-old Ken Fukushima to serve his jail time on weekends

read … Soft on Crime

 

 

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