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Monday, June 9, 2014
June 9, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:22 PM :: 3874 Views

Voter Registration Drive Set for Hawaii Catholic Churches June 21-22

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 9, 2014

The Surprising States That Have Greater Income Inequality

Hawaii Rated Worst State to Make a Living 2014

9th Circuit Demands Briefing on Bridge Aina Lea Suit

Debt: $35B in Tax Hikes Coming

CB: If estimates are anywhere near accurate, the ERS liability will grow to $9.6 billion over the next decade before it begins to shrink – but only if ERS investments pay off as hoped....

The EUTF estimates its unfunded OPEB liability alone is $18.1 billion — more than double that of the ERS — and is likely higher because EUTF data is more than two years old.

Combined, the outstanding debt for both pensions and OPEB is at least $27 billion. If the obligation had to be paid in full today, it would cost every resident of Hawaii about $19,230....

...no matter how much the ERS investments earn over the next 30 years, there’s virtually no chance they’ll generate anywhere near enough to cover the cost of providing pensions and eliminating the huge deficit the pension fund has run up. That means taxpayers will have to pay the bill — and it will cost them a bundle.

Current projections suggest taxpayers will have to cough up at least $35 billion just to put the pension fund in the black. That’s the minimum amount state and local government will be required to contribute between now and 2043 – payments that must be penciled in to every annual budget and paid out of already overburdened general funds that must also pick up the tab for police, fire and other community services.

Today, the magnitude of Hawaii’s growing pension obligations poses the very real possibility that state and local governments could be forced to reduce services or increase property and other taxes.

read ... $27B Hole?

145 Days: Hawaii VA Wait times Worst in USA

AP: Hawaii has the longest wait time in the nation for veterans to get their first appointment with a primary care physician.

Data on wait times nationwide was released Monday by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The data says new patients in Hawaii wait an average of 145 days to get an appointment at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center....

Excluding new patients, just 3 percent of Hawaii veterans waited more than 30 days for an appointment....

read ... 145 Days

Bishop asks parishes to conduct voter registration drive

HCH: In an effort to help more Hawaii Catholics fulfill what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls a “moral obligation” to vote, Bishop Larry Silva is asking local parishes to conduct voter registration drives during Masses over the June 21-22 weekend.

Voter registration forms will be passed out in the pews and Mass-goers who are not yet registered will be invited to fill out the forms following instructions given from the pulpit....

The registration drive is mandatory for all parishes.

“Hawaii has the lowest voter participation in the country,” Bishop Silva said.

read ... Voter Registration

Legislature Cancels $5000 Bonuses for Top Teachers in Struggling Schools

CB: Many of the top-notch Hawaii teachers who work with the state’s most struggling students will no longer get the annual bonuses they have long received as a perk for helping turn around underperforming schools.

That’s because a bill that would’ve renewed the incentive program died this past legislative session as a result of a procedural mix-up (that's the cover story) that derailed about a dozen education-related measures at the last minute. House Bill 2597 sailed through its hearings and was largely seen as a shoo-in, but lawmakers in charge of the state budget failed to approve it in their final deliberations....

Under the incentive program, teachers with certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards who were working in low-performing schools received the $5,000 bonus each year on top of another annual $5,000 stipend that’s given to all board-certified teachers. (The latter remains in effect.)

Reality: Ige's Dirty Deal With HSTA: Phony 'Procedural Mixup' Dooms Key Education Measures

read ... Mixup?  Ha!

Cayetano, Kaneshiro Back Clayton Hee for Lt Gov

HNN: Dozens of supporters, including former Gov. Ben Cayetano and Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, greeted the candidate at the headquarters in Nuuanu.

Hee said he hopes to bring change to the office and expand the lieutenant governor's role.

"I think the office is a lot of wasted resources in some ways," he said. "I think it should be a lot more useful. It should be a more vibrant and active role of the executive."

The longtime state senator and Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee is challenging incumbent Shan Tsutsui in the Democratic primary. Tsutsui was appointed to the office two years ago....Former television reporter Mary Zanakis is running as a Democrat.  (Lucky for Hawaii Zanakis will vacuum N Shore & Windward votes away from Hee.)

read ... Kaneshiro & Hee

HHSC Cuts Eliminate Urology Treatment

WHT: It so happens that my husband had dire need of her services beginning in January of this year. After an initial visit to the emergency room at Ka‘u Hospital, he was given an appointment with Dr. Lyric Santiago. Over the course of the next several months he visited her a number of times, and eventually underwent surgery. I believe she saved his life. At the very least, she enhanced his quality of life. At his last appointment, he was informed that she was being terminated, and that the only other urologist associated with Hilo Medical Center was too busy to take on any new patients.

PR: Schatz Pushes for more Obamacare Tax Credits

read ... Price of HGEA Job Trust

Drug Overdose Top Cause of Accidental Death in Hawaii

SA: The woman had been taking drugs prescribed by her physician. The teenager popped medication that was brought to a beer party.

The two were among 150 people around the state who died of drug overdoses in 2012. Most of the overdoses were unintentional.

The cases underscored a disturbing trend in the islands, one that public health officials still are struggling to address. Drug poisonings, or overdoses, have overtaken motor vehicle accidents in recent years as the leading cause of fatal injuries in Hawaii.

From 2009 through 2013, 773 deaths from drug poisonings were recorded in Hawaii, according to data released last week by Dan Gala­nis, the state Department of Health's epidemiologist for its Injury Prevention Program.

Motor vehicle accidents, which had been the top cause for many years, slipped to the No. 3 position, with 618 deaths over the five-year period, according to Gala­nis' data. Falls were the second-leading cause, with 685 fatalities.

read ... Drugs Kill

Hawaii Health exchange sets date for new director

AP: Spokesman Bobby Lambrix said that the board wants to have a permanent director in place by Oct. 1. He said the Oct. 1 goal is a soft deadline and could change.

Tom Matsuda has been leading the health exchange as interim executive director since December. He took the reins after former Executive Director Coral Andrews resigned.

Lambrix said that Matsuda has not publicly expressed interest in permanently staying on.

Connector Board Member Christine Sakuda said that the Connector board is drafting a contract to bring in a consultant to help with the search.

HC: Connector Updates for May 31, 2014

read ... Nobody Wants this Job

City Harasses Anti-Rail Handi-Van Supplier

SA: Soderholm representatives described what they saw as several minor details flagged by OTS inspectors after the vans arrived, including:

» A large quantity of Fiberglas shavings was found in an enclosed compartment of a van.

» A frame around a van's docking light near the bumper was the wrong shade of white.

» A protective metal skirt for a condenser was not painted white like the rest of the van exterior.

» Felt ledges supporting radio equipment above the driver's seat were of different widths by about a half-inch.

» Plastic screwheads on screws inside the van weren't fastened properly. "It took longer to write this" in the inspection report than for company employees to lock the proper screwheads in place, company President Denise Soderholm said Wednesday.

The Soderholms said they think the hold-ups may be politically motivated, in part because they supported former Hawaii Gov. Ben Caye­tano, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's opponent in the 2012 mayoral race, and they're staunch opponents of the rail transit proj­ect that Caldwell and other city leaders are pushing to complete.

read ... Your Tax Dollars not at Work

Schatz: Feds Should Loan Money to Honolulu for Transit-Oriented Development

BB: In the U.S. Senate, legislation introduced by Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz on May 1 would provide loans and credit lines to local governments that plan around mass transportation.

read ... More Debt

Political parties fight to manipulate voting times, locations

AP: Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin all have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days on which it’s available.

Meanwhile, Democratic-led legislatures have passed measures expanding early voting or instant registration in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota. And Democratic activists in Missouri are backing an initiative petition that could create one of the nation’s most expansive early voting systems.

The efforts all are born from a shared political assumption.

“For whatever reason, both sides seem to believe that increased early voting will help Democrats and hurt Republicans,” said David Kimball, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

read ... Any More Democrats Out there?

Hawaii one of only Five States With no Republicans in Congress

AS: Five states currently send all-Democrat delegations (senators and representatives) to Congress: Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Massachusetts (11), Rhode Island (4), and Hawaii (4).

Likewise, five states have sent all-Republican delegations to the current Congress: Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (5), and Wyoming (3).

read ... Usual Suspects

Styrofoam: Council Harasses Restaurants, Consumers

SA: ...polystyrene has a long history of safe use since it was first approved the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1958. Furthermore, it claims that modern polystyrene packaging insulates better, costs less and uses fewer resources to produce than alternative paper products.

The Hawaii Food Industry Association, Eddie Flores of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association testified in opposition to Bill 40. Flores says the bill would quadruple food container prices and said there is no commercial composting facility in Hawaii to accept the waste.

All the usual suspects have piled on ... At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, students initiated a ban of the use of EPS foam at campus food establishments in April 2013. The town of Kilauea, Kauai, declared itself a "Styrofoam-free community" as part of a campaign in April asking restaurants to voluntarily do away with the packaging.

Honolulu, if it passes the initiative, would not be taking the lead on banning polystyrene, by any means.  Nope.  We'd just be following  .... A polystyrene ban adopted in (drumroll please) Berkeley, Calif. (clash cymbals) , as early as 1988, and one went into effect in Portland, Ore., in 1990. Bans and restrictions on food packaging already are in place in more than 70 jurisdictions in Cali­for­nia, including San Francisco, as well as in Seattle and New York.

Best Comment: "Stanley Chang is a lightweight lawmaker who can't tackle the real issues that affect our lives. He's like a fly buzzing around your head that you want to swat away."

KL: More anti-Styrofoam propaganda

read ... Stop Harassing the People

Carol Fukunaga Proposal to Evict 309 Renters 'Needs to be Set Aside'

SA: Fukunaga issued another draft to drastically curtail the service to the 60 percenters by enforcing the distribution of rentals that was in place when the three projects were built. Several critics have rightly pointed out that there were no set-asides in the lowest group at that time, which effectively would displace 309 current renters.

That proposal was deferred on Wednesday and needs to be permanently spiked at the earliest opportunity.

At a time when various initiatives grappling with the city's housing and homelessness crisis are still in the earliest talking stages, the city should not be creating a whole new group of homeless families.

Perhaps someday, if the hoped-for goals of transit-oriented development are delivered, if the amorphous plans about housing the homeless ever do take shape, Honolulu officials will have the luxury of pushing more of its affordable housing inventory up-market. But that opportunity is certainly not before us now.

read ... Fukunaga vs the Poor

HECO Submits EA for Giant Kahe Solar Farm

IM: Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has filed their Kahe Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Project Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) with the City and County of Honolulu.

The Environmental Assessment asserts that the projected output of the facility “represents approximately 0.5 percent of Hawaiian Electric’s total electrical generation in 2012.”

TT: Don't Rely on Chinese-Made Solar Panels

read ... HECO continues to ignore alternatives

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