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Thursday, November 6, 2014
November 6, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:49 PM :: 5021 Views

Kim Announces Senate Leadership Team and Committee Chairs

Hell Bent--One Man's Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob

Farmers Heading to Court to Overturn 'Flawed' Maui Anti-GMO Ordinance

Keli'i Akina: Anatomy of an OHA Campaign

Hawaii Premature Birth Report Card -- 'C'

Abortion Ads Unanswered: "Error of Major Proportions" by Aiona

AP: Saiki had hoped voters would see the value of sending a Republican to Congress so Hawaii's delegation wouldn't be entirely of people from the minority party. The message didn't get through as well as she would have liked, she said.

Sam Slom, the GOP's sole state senator, said the power and clout of unions hurt the party, as did the Republicans' own failure to field candidates for many seats in the Legislature.

Republicans also need to aggressively define themselves, instead of allowing others to define them.

He said it was a "tactical error of major proportions" for the Republican candidate for governor, James "Duke" Aiona, to not respond to attacks regarding his stance on abortion and his role in cost-cutting measures that closed public schools on "Furlough Fridays" during former Gov. Linda Lingle's administration.

Saiki said the Republican Party can offer fresh, innovative ideas to old problems like the high cost of food, housing and gasoline and high taxes. Democrats can't resolve these problems because of their connections with big business, unions and other special interests, Saiki said.

"There are a lot of moderate Democrats in this state that might be Republican in other states, but you put an 'R' behind your name and there's still a stigma here," Ward said.

read ... Failure of Major proportions

Observers point to the state's one-party politics as a cause for record low turnout

SA: Increasingly indifferent voters and a state where public life is overwhelmingly dominated by one political party contributed to a record-breaking low turnout rate of 52.3 percent in Tuesday's general election, according to several experts who spoke to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday.

The experts also said Republicans James "Duke" Aiona, a candidate for governor, and Charles Djou, the 1st Congressional District nominee, could have benefited immensely from higher voter turnout Tuesday.

Of 706,890 registered voters in Hawaii only 369,554 cast votes, or roughly 52.3 percent of voters. The previous low was the 52.7 percent in the 2006 general election, which was also a nonpresidential election.

Traditionally, political observers believe presidential elections lure higher numbers of voters because people want to play a role in selecting the president.

"I don't think it's just one thing here," said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii political science professor. "The classic answer here is that the elections aren't particularly competitive, the Democratic Party is dominant, and the incumbents almost always win." To the last point, Moore noted that only one incumbent lawmaker, state Rep. Karen Awana (D, Kalaeloa-Ko Olina-Maili), was defeated Tuesday....

Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, said the fact that the Democratic Party of Hawaii has dominated state politics for the past 60 years plays a key role in voter apathy, especially among younger adults here.

"The current system, I feel, tends to benefit incumbents, who happen to be Democrats," she said.

On the other hand, younger Republican-leaning Hawaii voters may be disillusioned by the Democratic dominance and conclude their votes don't matter.

Hawaii Republican Party Chairwoman Pat Saiki said the explanation for the continued low turnout is multi-faceted. "Perhaps there is an atmosphere here of complacency, the feeling that this state is so dominated by one party, and that party makes all the decisions," Saiki said. "So the attitude is 'So, why vote? The same people are going to get in anyway.'"

She blamed the influence of super PACs -- political action committees that can make unlimited expenditures either for or against a candidate so long as there is no coordination with a candidate's campaign -- for contributing to low voter interest. Lack of balanced and fair reporting by local news organizations, whether deliberate or not, also contributes to voter apathy, she said.

Republican campaigns in major races, including Djou's bid for the 1st Congressional District seat and Aiona's gubernatorial bid, would have been more competitive with a higher turnout, Saiki said.

The outcomes "absolutely would have been a lot closer," she said, adding that more voters could have made a difference in Djou's battle with Democrat Mark Takai, who will take a seat in Congress after defeating Djou by 6,941 votes.

HM: James “Duke” Aiona Reacts to Losing Hawai‘i Governor’s Race

read ... One Party Politics

Milner: Conservative groups are today’s most successful populist organizers

CB: I am regularly amazed and disappointed at what people who oppose Christian social conservatives or the Tea Party assume about how these organizations work.

(To understand how the Tea party works, read Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson’s excellent book, “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.”)

Whether you like it or not, conservative groups are today’s most successful populist organizers. Deal with it. Don’t wish it away with misunderstandings based on your ideological opposition.

read ... Neal Milner

Ige Has No Plan--26 Days to Appoint New Administration

HNN: Governor-elect David Ige has less than one month before he takes office on December 1, so he has plenty to do before then.

"This is probably the shortest transition period in the whole United States,” said John Waihee, who served two terms as Hawaii's governor from 1986 to 1994. “He's got one month to put together his administration or at least the framework for it."

Ige will need to assemble a transition team to help him decide who to hire for 41 director and deputy director positions in 16 state departments.

Ige also must decide how many political appointees from fellow Democrat Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration will remain in their positions or be assigned different jobs in his administration....

The governor's office has a staff of 35 political appointees, including policy and communications personnel, along with eight staffers spread throughout the neighbor islands. The governor also has the power to appoint dozens of executive assistants and other full-time employees, as well as volunteer members on state boards and commissions as the incumbent members' terms expire....

State law says the governor must submit his budget to the legislature just three weeks after he takes office, on Dec. 22, meaning most of that proposal will be Abercrombie's budget and Ige's administration will have to propose some changes when lawmakers convene in January....

Ige's campaign spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said the campaign spent all its efforts on getting him elected, so now his campaign must immediately begin working on the transition.

read ... 26 Days

Usual Crooks, Cronies Donate to Ige

CB: Ige, the Democrat who is the governor-elect, raised about $2.2 million, when you factor in his late contributions as of Nov. 3. For a guy that was heavily out-raised and outspent during the primary election — Gov. Neil Abercrombie had a roughly 10-to-1 advantage but still lost — Ige showed some fundraising chops in the general election.

Indeed, his contributors include the very kinds of people that gave so generously to Abercrombie, including lobbyists John Radcliffe and Red Morris, contractor Dennis Mitsunaga, developer Duncan McNaughton, Roberts Hawaii executive Robert Iwamoto Jr., Hawaiian Electric executive Constance Lau and UH administrator Amy Agbayani. Lots of union money came his way, too.

Oddly, Ige also received money from the Marijuana Policy Project PAC out of Washington, D.C., which supports state and federal candidates who support legalizing medical marijuana. Maybe they don’t know that Ige has never smoked pot and doesn’t want it legalized.

read ... Usual Suspects

Where does Ige stand on Hawaii's energy issues?

PBN: He has said that the biggest issue is getting Hawaii to 100 percent renewable....

When it comes to LNG, Ige said he would support it as a bridge fuel as the state moves closer and closer to integrating more renewables.

"LNG would provide relief, [but] not a long-term commitment," he said. "LNG will require leadership from the governor's office. [LNG] can't be forced upon the [Hawaii Public Utilities Commission]. We [also] need to have more [energy] options."

Ige previously told PBN in an email that if he wins the general election, his position on the undersea cable would be that the need for the project, should be driven by individual energy needs assessments for Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties.  "The undersea cable project was initiated as a result of Honolulu County's energy needs, [and] I have stated many times that each county should determine the most suitable matrix of energy sources for its needs and unique environmental considerations," he told PBN.

read ... Cronies Looking for Payout

Hawaii One of Only Three States With Dem Governor and Delegation

CM: They are among only a handful of states that still have a Democratic governor and totally Democratic congressional delegation after a Republican tsunami washed over the nation on Election Day.

The only other true-blue states (besides Connecticut) now are Delaware and Hawaii. (Vermont’s gubernatorial race is still up in the air.) Maryland, the Old Line State, could not hold the line against the Republican tide; and Massachusetts, for long considered a liberal Democratic bastion, also elected a Republican governor.

read ... The Connecticut Mirror

Hawaii Loses $12.3B in Federal Funding, More Losses to Come

KHON: ... “What we’ve been able to do over the last couple of years is make the case that investment in Hawaii is in the national interest, whether it’s in our maritime and port infrastructure or in defense,” he said.

But according to usaspending.gov, Hawaii’s federal funding has dwindled in recent years from $21.5 billion to $9.2 billion.

Hawaii Pacific University professor and political analyst John Hart believes those numbers will continue to drop with the GOP taking over the senate and two Democratic senators representing our state.

“Will it mean less money for Hawaii?” KHON2 asked Hart.  “Absolutely...."

“I think that there’s a silver lining. There’s a great opportunity for us to become less dependent upon federal funding,” said Kelii Akina with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii....

KITV: Schatz Babbles Incoherently About Ending Gridlock

read ... Schatz and Hirono are Useless

Star-Adv: Maui GMO vote Should Not Stampede Elected Officials into Labeling GMOs

SA:  Lawmakers at both the Maui County and state levels must not misread this week's vote on Maui's genetically modified organism initiative. Its passage doesn't make it a winning public policy, so officials must take care to avoid acting in ways unsupported by the scientific and legal analysis....

The GMO subtext of the competitive races, for Maui and Kauai council seats, also is far from clear. Results were mixed. There were candidates out in front as advocates and opponents who did well, so there didn't seem to be any clear conclusion to be drawn there.

Further, the historic low voter turnout gave an edge to the "yes" cohort, plainly the most motivated to head to the polls. That at least limits what can be inferred about the broad population.

The bottom line on Maui, where the GMO battles were most intense this election cycle, is that the debate split the community in ways that will persist for some time. In the midst of that division, it's incumbent on the state's leaders to avoid any knee-jerk reactions or pandering overtures to curry favor with the majority vote....

Apart from the legal uncertainty, the initiative's shortcomings, and the illogic of the muddled movement, should give Hawaii leaders pause:

» The initiative raises concerns about the impacts of agricultural chemical use. But while better oversight of agricultural pesticides and herbicide is needed, there's already been a court ruling confirming that this falls within the jurisdiction of the state.

» Small farmers are likely to be affected by this measure, as well as the corporate agrochemical companies that are its primary target.

» Lawmakers should not take the initiative as a signal to enact labeling laws for GMO products, which already have been shown to conflict with federal jurisdiction over interstate commerce.

» Above all, the science does not support a Draconian restriction of this sort. GMO crops have been demonized primarily as an emotional rebuff to corporate farming and research, and the control exerted over seed patents.

National Geographic: GMO Food Critics See Losses at Ballot Box—and a More Hostile Congress

read ... Science Will Trump Quackery

Molokai, Lanai Voters Reject GMO Ban nearly 2-1

MN: The rural island of Molokai may have the most to lose in this decision, where Monsanto is the island's largest employer. On an island with limited economic opportunities and already the highest unemployment rate in the state, the initiative's passing was a sobering reality for many of the 240 employees who depend on Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences subsidiary Mycogen Seeds for a paycheck.

"Voting 'no' would have meant preservation of our family," County Council Member Stacy Crivello, who holds the Molokai seat, said after preliminary results were released Tuesday. "I cannot speak for Maui, but Maui has spoken for us . . . I know it's going to be a struggle."

A tally of ballots cast in Molokai's four precincts revealed that the majority of the island's residents opposed the measure. Some 1,581 residents voted against the initiative, with 864 voting in favor.

Crivello said the two seed companies were the only two large, private employers remaining on the island, after the exodus of pineapple companies, the closing of Kaluakoi Resort on the west end and the shutdown of Molokai Ranch in 2008.

"Pull the corn seed rug out from beneath these workers and they will have no way to pay rent, mortgages, children's education or utility payments. That is a fact," Crivello wrote in a Maui News Viewpoint.

For the month of September, 15.6 percent of the island was unemployed, more than three times the state average of 4.2 percent, according to the latest statistics from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

read ... More Intelligent Than Maui

Kauai: Anti-GMO Holdovers Block Repeal of 960

KE: The Maui GMO moratorium vote wasn't 24 hours old before mainland-based Center for Food Safety took credit for “our victory” — with a fundraising appeal soon to follow — and Monsanto announced it will sue to block the measure.

It's almost like it's scripted....

Just like the testimony at yesterday's Kauai County Council meeting, where Mel Rapozo — despite being the top vote-getter by a mile — had to pay serious penance.

His sin? Introducing a bill to repeal Ordinance 960 — the pesticide/GMO regulatory law overturned by federal Judge Barry Kurren, and now on appeal — on the common sense grounds that since it's invalid, it shouldn't be on the books.

His punishment? Listening, for more than two hours, to a woman talking about her intermittent vomiting, another sharing her profound disappointment at encountering a McDonald's when she came to “find” herself on Kauai, a guy telling about his brother on the mainland who has Parkinson's, etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile, Nomi “Babes” Carmona admonished him to “listen to his constituents.”

“What makes you think I didn't listen to my constituents?” asked an incredulous Mel, who picked up 13,147 votes, while 2491 sponsor Gary Hooser got just 8,257. “Did you see the election results? I am listening to my constituents.”

As I listened, I was struck, as always, by this observation: How, exactly, do you deal with people who utter complete nonsense as fact? ...

In the end, JoAnn, Gary, Tim and Mason Chock voted to reject the repeal bill. After all, they reason, the county's legal fees on appeal are capped at $12,000. Chump change.

Except if you lose, and are ordered to pay the other parties' costs.

read ... Musings: Scripted

Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor is Co-Producer of Giant Drug Induced Rave Party

HNN: It was the largest Electronic Dance Music party, or EDM, in Hawaii. (Co-sponsored by "Liquid E Motions" hint, hint....)

An estimated ten thousand people Ecstasy & GHB buyers attended the Love Festival (photo gallery) on September 27 at Kakaako Park.  (They like weed too, but its medicinal.)

Hawaii News Now has learned, one of the key producers was Deputy Prosecutor Jon Riki Karamatsu.

His boss, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro did not know that Karamatsu was involved until weeks after the event. And sources say, Kaneshiro was not happy.

"I'm not somebody who's a big proponent of rave parties in general," says former Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, "They tend to have problems with alcohol and drugs (no kidding?) and I can't imagine somebody who is a professional in the prosecutor's office endorsing that kind of behavior."

Karamatsu is proud of his involvement. His blog provides a running tally of all his convictions and has pictures of him on stage during the Love Festival. (It Seems Legal if the Protection Racket is In Full View.)

Karamatsu says this was his first time helping to produce an event like this. He says he was helping the organizer, who is a friend.  ("Majority partners and founders of the Love Festival Hawaii, DJ Reza of Go Ventures and DJ G-Spot of Double-O-Spot," says JRK.)

Karamatsu's name is on the state permit as the emergency contact. (Translation: He provided protection.) He says in addition to helping with the permit, he helped get 155 people to work security and made sure three ambulances were stationed there.  (Translation: He made sure lots of police got a cut.) 

Karamatsu is a former state lawmaker from 2002 - 2010. He was convicted of driving while highly intoxicated in 2007 and so naturally he began working for the Prosecutor's Office in 2007.

read ... Its Legal if the Protection Racket is In Full View

Support reforms to cut administrative burdens on doctors

SA: Health care in the U.S. suffers from severe over-management.

Recent studies have documented high administrative burdens for American doctors and hospitals. The average U.S. physician spends a sixth of his or her time on administrative tasks that are not integral to patient care, and this is worst for psychiatrists, internists and family practitioners — the very specialties for which we have the worst shortages....

Since the introduction of managed care in the 1990s, the number of doctors in the U.S. has about doubled, while the number of administrators has increased more than tenfold, to the point that there are now far more administrators than doctors.

Spurred by the Affordable Care Act, doctors and hospitals are reorganizing into large systems, and hospitals and insurance plans are buying up physician practices all over the mainland, supposedly to improve care coordination and efficiency of care. Actual results are showing the opposite. Large systems bring higher administrative burdens for doctors and raise the total cost of care.

Pay-for-performance is the latest scheme to micromanage doctors, but the complexity of health care means the validity of "quality" measures is very low, and financial incentives reward the wrong things and encourage gaming of documentation to satisfy "metrics." ...

Hawaii's health transformation initiative has so far been focused on developing "Accountable Care Organizations" and implementing pay-for-performance schemes, relying on federal health care innovation grants. These efforts are getting us nowhere in the quest for the "Triple Aim" goals of improved quality of care, improved population health and reduced cost. Once the grants run out, we are left with administratively complex and costly reforms that can't work.

I hope our next governor will realize the futility of this approach and support reforms that reduce administrative burdens on doctors and empower them to do what they were trained to do: manage the care of their patients based on their professional training balanced with specific knowledge of each patient's unique illnesses and circumstances.

Instead of pay-for-performance, physician pay should be incentive-neutral, freeing doctors to focus on the best interest of their patients....

read ... Stephen Kimble

Teacher: Ige Should Appoint Teachers to BoE

SA: During the campaign, the candidates voiced rhetoric about a less top-down approach and more teacher voice. This is music to any educator's ears. But how will this be rendered into practical solutions for individual schools and our state? With so many new top-down mandates, if teacher voice is not part of the discussion at the statewide level, then any school-level needs will be lost in the shuffle of statewide obligations.

For example, one of the greatest responsibilities of Hawaii's governor is to appoint the Board of Education (BOE) members. Presently, only one of the 10 members is a former educator. The BOE, the group tasked with developing policy for the Department of Education, seems like a likely place to begin with increasing the amount of teacher voice on a large scale. Don't just talk about teacher voice; put this into direct action by bringing more educators to the table, starting with the BOE.

Without teacher voice prominent in the dialogue surrounding state initiatives, an unaddressed status quo continues in the dialogue about what is best for our keiki in schools.

As educational practitioners, teachers are living and breathing the Common Core Standards each day with their students. Let us bring teachers to the table to hear about the strengths of our school system, as well as the challenges we face. Let us determine what works and what does not by soliciting the voices of those who are in the classroom day in and day out.

read ... HSTA

Report: Provide Cheaper Housing, More Rental Units in Kakaako

CB:  The Hawaii Community Development Authority may change its rules to ensure there's more affordable housing in fast-growing Kakaako.

read ... HCDA Plan

HCDA Considers Changes to Affordable Housing Rules

SA: One major recommendation is to tweak an existing HCDA rule requiring developers to make 20 percent of units in large new residential projects available at below-market prices.

Currently, these so-called "reserved housing"units must be affordable to households earning from 100 percent to 140 percent of Honolulu's annual median income, which based on HCDA calculations equates to $57,820 for a single person or $82,600 for a family of four at the median income, and $80,948 for a single person or $115,640 for a family of four at the 140 percent level.

The recommended tweak would reduce the qualifying income level to 80 percent to 120 percent of the median income, which ranges from $46,256 for a single person to $66,080 for a family of four at the 80 percent level and from $69,384 to $99,120 for the same family sizes at 120 percent.

The committee also recommended that the requirement to produce reserved housing be triggered for some commercial projects and any residential project with 10 or more units. Currently, the requirement is triggered on any residential project on land parcels of 20,000 square feet or bigger.

read ... HCDA Changes

After Ige Wins, UH Decides to Burn $5.2M on Inouye Center

SA: One year after the University of Hawaii agreed to slow down hurried plans to build a center to honor the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, university officials want to spend $5 million to complete the design phase of the project, which could break ground in a year to 18 months.

The Board of Regents Planning and Facilities Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend for full board approval a $5.2 million increase to the design contract for the planned Daniel K. Inouye Center for Democratic Leadership to be built at UH-Manoa.

The money would be added to an initial $500,000 in private funds that has been used for a conceptual design, and would come from state funding already authorized by the Legislature for the project. 

(Translation: The Inouye gang is baaack)

read ... $5.2M sought for center's design

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