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Saturday, January 19, 2013
January 19, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:10 PM :: 4877 Views

'VSE Corp' Blamed in Deadly Waikele Bunker Explosion

'School Quality Survey' seeks parent feedback

DoE Asks Feds to Transfer School Repair Funds from Kamaile Academy to Deaf-Blind School

HB9: Rep. Cynthia Thielen Seeks to Repeal PLDC

Six Hawaii Colleges Make ‘Military-Friendly’ List for 2013

Public-Private Partnerships Could Keep State Park Gates Open

Hawaii Supreme Court to Hear Another Shoreline Case

UH System Enrollment Drops 2.3%

Abercrombie Administration Cuts General Assistance Payments Again

Hawaii National Guard Trains Afghan Police in Zabul Province

40th Annual March for Life Saturday, January 26

Boylan: Abercrombie is the Next Inouye

Boylan: Occasionally individual politicians can dominate as well. Nationally, the two Roosevelts, Republican Teddy and Democrat Franklin, defined the political eras in which they held office. Locally, Jack Burns and Dan Inouye exercised enormous influence over Hawaii’s democracy, both as office-holders and party leaders.

Neil Abercrombie may do the same. In the last year alone, his supporters helped the inexperienced Tulsi Gabbard upset former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann for the 2nd District congressional seat, and Abercrombie himself appointed his 40-year-old lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, to the Senate seat vacated by Inouye’s death.

Add his early championing of Obama’s candidacy for president in 2008, his surprise return from Washington to win the governorship in 2010, and his signing of the civil unions bill, and Abercrombie can claim political prescience unmatched by anyone on Hawaii’s current political landscape.

Then consider the political loyalists Abercrombie has gathered with his seemingly endless appointments of legislators to cabinet and sub-cabinet posts, which in turn has allowed him to name people to replace them in the state House or Senate. It goes on and on and on, and will contribute mightily to his reelection campaign two years hence.

Parties may weaken, caucuses may splinter, but wily old pols and their many appointees will prevail.

read … The Handiwork Of A Wily Old Pol

HB 150 Legalizes Marijuana While SB 330 Bans Tobacco in Public Housing

KGI: House Bill 150…provides for the “licensing of marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, safety testing facilities and retail stores.”

On the other side of the scale, Senate Bill 330, introduced by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-23rd District, proposes to implement an incremental smoke-free policy to ultimately achieve 100 percent smoke-free public housing projects and state low-income housing projects.

Medical marijuana, however, would still be allowed at these facilities. The bill’s current version calls for the law to be implemented by July 1, 2015. SB 330 passed first reading Friday.

Far from home and into bars and nightclubs, smoking could be making a comeback.

SB 324 proposes to permit smoking back in bars and nightclubs, as long as they have a liquor license and post “smoking permitted” signs. The bill blocks counties to pass an ordinance that would prohibit or restrict smoking at bars and nightclubs.

In the bill’s current version, the changes would go into effect as early as July 1, 2014.

SB 324 passed first reading Friday. It was co-introduced by Sens. Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th District, and Mike Gabbard, D-20th District.

Souki Gets Some Love: The Weed Blog

read … Tobacco Illegal, Marijuana Legal

Ihara Doesn’t Support His Own Gun Control Bill

WHT: …semi-automatic … rifles … would also be prohibited under Senate Bill 219.

Introduced by Democratic state Sen. Les Ihara, the bill would make possession a class C felony and allow for extended sentences if used in a crime.

The bill is the most extensive of any of the proposals, and it’s not likely to get much traction.

Ihara, who represents Oahu’s 10th District, introduced it on behalf of a constituent but is not supportive of the proposal, according to his staff. He’s the bill’s only sponsor.

CB: Pro-Second Amendment Rally is Racist

AP: Rallies against stricter gun control draw hundreds

read … No Hope for Gun Control

Hawaii Firearms Owners Plan Saturday Rally in Support of Second Amendment Rights

HR: Second Amendment advocates in Hawaii are pushing back. They will join a nationwide movement this Saturday, January 19, at noon at the Hawaii State Capitol in support of the right to keep and bear arms.

Eric Reed, national organizer for Guns Across America events and owner of Gun Control = More Crime, said: “Our goal is to unite gun owners behind a singular message of protecting our Second Amendment rights.  We hope citizens will become more vocal and active politically in regards to any changes in gun control laws.”

Attendees will have the chance to sign a petition that will be delivered to US Senators.

Details: www.facebook.com/GunsAcrossAmericaHawaii

read … Rally

Union Urges Teachers To Take Personal Days To Testify

CB: The Hawaii State Teachers Association is asking its 13,000 members to take personal days in the coming months to testify before the Legislature and Board of Education….

The union released a “toolkit” today that tells teachers when they should wear certain bracelets and how to effectively talk to lawmakers and other decision-makers. Check it out here.

Price: Both Sides Must Make Concessions

CB: Sen Pres. Promises to Fix DoE’s ‘Many Challenges’

read … Personal Days

Giesting: Affordable Care Act isn’t likely to bring down insurance premiums

WHT: Anderson said one challenge to treating patients over the computer, for example, has been the need for a doctor to be credentialed at a given hospital to treat a patient there. Medicaid has recently revised its rules to allow doctors who have credentials through The Queen’s Medical Center, for example, to work at some of Hawaii’s rural hospitals, he added.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t likely to bring down insurance premiums, at least not any time soon, state Healthcare Transformation Coordinator Beth Giesting said. But she said she does see ways costs could decrease.

“Emphasizing the primary care aspects, care coordination, using technology for things like telehealth and monitoring” and finding ways to end duplication of work within the system could help, Giesting said. “There are some studies that say 30 percent of all of our health care is completely wasted. Even if we could save half that, that is hundreds of millions we could save in our system. We need to fix our delivery system and change the way we deliver care.”

read … Now They Tell Us

Obamacare is Based on Community Organizing Model

Zunin: HMSA has adopted this proven model and tied it to electronic medical records in an effort to ensure optimal efficiency and positive outcomes. Providers are paid a small amount per member per month based upon which of three levels of participation they maintain in the patient-centered medical home program. There is also a nominal incentive offered quarterly for quality care and an annual share of any cost savings that HMSA may enjoy as the result of provider compliance with the patient-centered medical home platform.

Indeed, HMSA has been pleased with the economic and clinical outcomes of the patient-centered medical home, but the effort to optimize efficiencies in health care reform is far from complete. While patients who participate in a well-run patient-centered medical home may experience better health outcomes, the overall cost of health care is still driven up by those who do not. Substantial resources are still spent on inappropriate emergency department visits and avoidable readmissions to the hospital. Chronic disease management, which usually requires a range of providers, still lacks optimal coordination of care. Specialists have yet to be included in the model.

Though the patient-centered medical home has jump-started provider health care transformation, there are calls for a more comprehensive, system-wide solution — one that is now under construction. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece legislation for health care reform, authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to create a Medicare Shared Savings Program which contracts with Accountable Care Organizations. This initiative is designed to promote accountability for a defined patient population and to encourage investment in infrastructure and redesigned care processes for high-quality and efficient service delivery.

Accountable Care Organizations typically bring together independent primary care practices, medical specialists and hospitals to collectively care for a designated population and, if done successfully, share in the benefits. Throughout the nation, hospital groups and providers are beginning to organize. It is even conceivable that large patient-centered medical homes sponsored by the independent physicians associations will partner to achieve highly effective Accountable Care Organizations.

read … Independent doctors groups see rise in responsibilities

Obama breaks isles' mystique

SA: He added that Obama doesn't just see the islands as a place to relax, but as a model for multicultural harmony. "He has remarked on various occasions," Perkinson said, "if the rest of the world were like Hawaii, we wouldn't have the sort of problems we have."

SA: Obama’s re-election is a “confirmation from people that it wasn’t just a fluke, that he was meant to be here.”

read … Obama is You, You are Obama

1,100 Morons Gather to Hear Anti-GMO Cult Leader in Lihue

KGI: The Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall was standing room only as more than 1,100 people showed up Thursday night to hear a presentation by environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

“Your island is truth speaking to the world,” Shiva told the crowd to thunderous applause.  (Translation: You are enlightened, conscious and progressive. You are superior.) 

Joining Shiva as part of a three-day Hawai‘i SEED Tour was environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell and Hawaiian rights activist Walter Ritte of Moloka‘i.

“Dr. Shiva is like the Dalai Lama of Agriculture,” Ritte said (Translation: Monsanto has refused my cash demands.)

Up next was performer Makana, who played a modified version of his “We Are the Many” anthem advising the crowd to “Occupy GMO.” (Translation: Chop down more papaya trees.)

“We delivered sacks and sacks of fertilizer to the Afghans and now they are making bombs.” (Translation: Modern farming techniques created al-Qaeda and if you believe this, you’re dumb enough to believe the rest of this anti-GMO crap.)  

“Food is a waste system. It wastes the Earth, it wastes communities, it wastes potential, they ship it thousands of miles in trucks. Bees usurp pollen, weeds steal sunshine … everyone is a thief in their world because they are the thieves,” Dr. Shiva said (Translation: All food production is immoral.  So just stop eating and die.  I’m pretty well-fed though.)

Reality: The Future of Fraud

read … About a Social Climbing Exercise

Environmental Activist Apologizes for Years of Opposition to GM Foods

SLATE: I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.

As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.

So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.

read … Wisdom

Organic Cultists, ‘Green’ Energy Scammers Grab for Barrel Tax

SA: There is solid public support for revamping the state's tax on oil imports so that more of the revenue is used to support energy and food security as originally envisioned, according to a survey released Friday by the polling firm OmniTrak Group Inc.

Of those surveyed, 78 percent said they "agreed" that the $1.05-per-barrel tax should be restored to what had been proposed before state lawmakers in 2010 voted to divert the lion's share of the funds to help balance the state budget.

"Hawaii residents clearly support the return of the ‘barrel tax,'" according to the survey, published in a semiannual OmniTrak report called "The People's Pulse."

read … Out of your pocket, into theirs

Ethics, campaign spending packages introduced

ILind: The State Ethics Commission’s package of bills has been introduced. There’s a bill to strengthen conflict of interest provisions by extending them to certain relatives not presently included.

There’s a bill prohibiting nepotism….There’s a bill to clarify financial disclosure requirements for members of state task forces, and to require public disclosures by members of major boards and commissions. Another bill would eliminate the requirement that violations of the lobbying law be determined to be “willful” before any penalties can be imposed.

There are more modest proposals from Campaign Spending Commission.

Amends the campaign finance law by: (1) defining “matching payment period”; (2) correcting statutory references; (3) changing report filing deadlines; (4) specifying noncandidate committee reporting requirements for contributions made; (5) requiring the identification of the candidate supported or opposed by an independent expenditure; and (6) increasing the amount of allowable expenditures made by a publicly financed candidate for the office of prosecuting attorney.

More Info: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/main.aspx 

read … Ethics?

Bob Jones Plan for the Future: Gay Marriage and No Pensions

Bob Jones: We had a chance to have a spaceport and space academy on the Big Island, but people shot it down as intrusive.

The train is called intrusive. Apparently more cars, more subdivisions and more strip malls are not.

And wouldn’t you say, given the trend nationwide, it’s time for us to make this a same-gender marriage state?

Also, shouldn’t we drop those public employee funded-pensions for future hires in favor of 401(k) or annuity plans? We’re $21 million underfunded, and making that up seems hopeless.

And as Marcus Oshiro of the state House Finance Committee said: This is not the year for public worker pay raises, and they are not likely.

read … How Many People Can Oahu Handle?

Greenwood: 108% Tuition Increase a “Good Bargain”

HR: Hawaii’s only state taxpayer supported University, the University of Hawaii, increased tuition by 108 percent from 2006 to 2012, and over the next five years, tuition will rise again by 33 percent.

While many students are struggling to cover their tuition, books and fees, University President MRC Greenwood dismissed the price of admission, and deemed the increases “modest” at a Senate Ways and Means hearing on Thursday. Greenwood, who at times was contentious and argumentative with Senators, called the University “a good bargain."

“When you say 108 percent (increase), it does sound very large. We actually look at the dollar amount because that is what people pay,” Greenwood said. “Please understand Senator, nobody likes to raise tuition. In order to be able to sustain the staff we have and get the courses we’ve got, we have no choice.”

Senators “begged to differ” noting local students have already endured tremendous hikes, with tuition for a general undergraduate student climbing from $4,522 in 2007 to $9,404 in 2012.

read … Priced Out of Admission?

State breaks ground on Halekauwila Place

KITV: The project will be a 19-story tower near Mother Waldron Park -- next to a lot slated to be the tallest high rise in the state.

But this project will be limited to those making 60 percent of the area median income.

That works out to $42,000 for a single household and $65,000 for a family of four. That equates to studios. One-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedrooms that equates to  just under $1,000 for a studio  to $1,500 for a brand new three bedroom townhouse," said Carr.

The groundbreaking comes just as the governor has acknowledged he is looking to the legislature to take a second look at the Public Land Development Corporation that aims to fast track projects similar to this one.

read … HCDC

Hawaii residents react to recent chill in the air—Oddly Fail to Blame Global Worming

KITV: Lower-than-normal temperatures and humidity levels forecast to linger….

Read … Stop Global Cooling

Prospects of an all-geothermal isle unlikely

WHT: “Some folks believe there could be as much as a thousand megawatts, maybe even more on this island,” said Michael Kaleikini, Puna Geothermal Venture senior director for Hawaiian Affairs. “The only proven resource is on the east rift zone.”

Ignacio said worries about reliability will keep HELCO from pursuing 100 percent geothermal-generated energy.

“To go to 100 percent, I’m not that optimistic and that comfortable,” Ignacio said. “The proven resource is in the east rift zone, tucked away in one part of the island. Put all generation in one particular location, natural disaster can cut you off from the island.”

But HELCO is pursuing more geothermal energy. Ignacio said the company will soon issue a request for proposals for 50 megawatts of geothermal energy.

read … About the people keeping your electric bill high

Regulators OK Hawaiian Electric power-purchase agreement for H-Power expansion

PBN: Hawaii regulators have approved the power-purchase agreement between Hawaiian Electric Co. and the City and County of Honolulu for the H-Power waste-to-energy facility expansion, which boosted capacity to about 73 megawatts.

Click here to download the PUC’s entire ruling

read … About Real Alternative Energy

State, Activists Join Forces to Win Right of Trespass

MN: Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza approved Wednesday an agreement between Public Access Trails Hawaii and the state of Hawaii to join forces in ongoing litigation to reopen the Haleakala Trail to hikers.

Landowner Haleakala Ranch Co. opposed the move, which makes the state Department of Land and Natural Resources an ally of the plaintiffs instead of a defendant in the public lands access case.

read … Trespassers with an Excuse

Obama Stuck With 16% Spending Reduction on Defense

Reuters: Spending caps that Obama signed into law in 2011 will make it difficult to boost investment in education, scientific research, transportation and other areas that he says will help the country retool for heightened global competition and rapid technological change, budget experts say.

Because those caps won't keep pace with inflation and population growth, the government will effectively have 16 percent less to spend in these areas by the time Obama leaves office in 2017, according to White House estimates.

That could constrain college loans, preschool education, job training and other programs that Obama says will boost national competitiveness….

…the caps cover the 36 percent of government spending that is set annually by Congress. Known as discretionary spending, this category covers everything from the Defense Department to the National Endowment for the Arts.

read … Finally Out of Money

Reduction puts size of Oahu forces in flux

SA: The Army is studying the possibility of cutting 8,000 soldier and government civilian positions at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter in a postwar environment of tightening budgets, a move that would remove $391 million in income annually from the local economy.

The scenario was announced Friday by the Army as it contemplates eliminating a minimum of eight brigade combat teams and realigning other units at 21 installations to trim its active-duty strength to 490,000 from 562,000 by fiscal 2020….

Under the scenario envisioning a loss of 8,000 soldier and government civilian positions on Oahu, an additional 831 military service contract jobs would be cut and 1,496 other jobs would be lost indirectly as a result of reduced demand for goods and services, for a total potential loss of 10,327 jobs.

 

read … Don’t Worry, Dan Inouye Will Fix This….

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