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Tuesday, December 2, 2014
December 2, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:27 PM :: 4225 Views

Full Text: Ige’s Inaugural Address

Ige Releases 11-Point 'Action Agenda'

Hawaii ranks 40th in economic freedom

Audit: 67% of 'Exempt' State Positions Vacant

Honolulu Ethics Commission: City Officer Under Investigation

VIDEO: Grassroot Institute Save Our Kakaako Interview

Auditor Slams State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

The True Cost of Speeding in Hawaii

Auditor: Hearing Aid Insurance Mandate Not Needed

Averting West Coast Port Shutdowns

Rep Gene Ward Interviews Gov Waihee

HECO Seeks 'Demand Response' Contractors

‘Green’ lobby pushes to extend lucrative tax breaks

Full Text: Lt Gov. Tsutsui Inaugural Speech

How Doctors and Lawyers Conspired to Bust Jimmy Pflueger out of Prison

CB: ...lawyers I have spoken with say if Pflueger dies in prison the state will be hit with a huge lawsuit for medical malpractice or for a civil rights violation under the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the “cruel and unusual punishment” of prisoners.

Attorney Richard Turbin says the state was correct to send Pflueger home, and if he were the state attorney general he would have done the same thing.

“It is not special treatment because Pflueger is wealthy but the right thing because the taxpayers stand to get hit for a large judgment if he dies in prison or if his health even more seriously declines, especially because (1) the state has been warned and (2) had admitted it does not have the ability to care for him,” says Turbin. (Sly lawyers racked up both of these points.)

“It has nothing to do with him being wealthy, many inmates are also given compassionate releases because they are deathly ill,” he says.... (And criminals die in prison all the time, too.  But not Jimmy....)

After he began serving time in the Kauai prison, (3) Pflueger was taken to the emergency room at Kauai’s Wilcox Hospital twice. (Great trick.  Remember to check in advance to be sure your buddy is physician on duty at the ER.) 

Prison officials will not talk about the specifics of Pflueger’s medical condition for medical privacy reasons but an earlier news report said he has a (4) leaking heart valve and other heart problems. (Leaked to the press, that is.)

And state Sen. Will Espero revealed that while in prison (5) Pflueger developed a new and serious stomach hernia that has not responded well to treatment. (Always helpful to have a Senator vouch for your hernia.)

The new condition combined with Pflueger’s previous heart trouble is what caused the prison doctors to worry.

(Now you know how to break out of prison legally in five easy steps.  Anybody can do this, right?)

read ... Lawyers, Doctors Conspire

Sovereignty Activist Gets 6 1/2 Years, Scammed 200 Native Hawaiians

SA: ...A federal judge said Monday a 44-year-old woman had built the trust of more than 200 fellow Native Hawaiians in carrying out fraud.

Mahealani Ventura-Oliver was "very educated about Native Hawaiian culture and history" and "sold herself as wanting to help Native Hawaiians," said U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright.

Instead, "she was defrauding Native Hawaiians day after day," he said, bilking them out of a total of $468,000.

Seabright sentenced Ventura-Oliver to 6 1⁄2 years in federal prison. He also ordered her to pay $424,534.68 in restitution to the victims.

Under the guise of a sovereignty group, Ventura-Oliver promised to help financially troubled Maui residents get out of debt.

"These were desperate people," Seabright said, "and particularly vulnerable on the eves of their mortgage foreclosures."

Many of the victims are seniors and lost their homes, which some shared with their extended families. Because of the stress and strain and losing their homes, some families had to split, and couples divorced, Seabright said.

A jury Oct. 21 found Ventura-Oliver and Pili­aloha Teves guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud offenses tied to a scheme by a group known as the Hawaii­loa Foundation.

Ventura-Oliver was found guilty of conspiring to use fake financial instruments, 15 counts of mail fraud, one count of money laundering, one count of conspiring to submit false tax returns seeking $1.5 million in refunds from the IRS....

read ... Just Another Sovereignty Mortgage Scammer

Star-Adv: Hawaii Not at a Turning Point Just Because we have new Governor

SA: Hawaii is not at a turning point just because we have a new governor and a new state administration.

Rather, Ige pointed out, "We stand at this point in history, with an opportunity to transform it into a turning point....

By emphasizing that we remain merely on the cusp of change, and that it will take sustained hard work to actually achieve the goals of improving public education and boosting the economy so that homelessness and hunger recede, to name just two of his campaign objectives, Ige succeeded in underscoring the public's essential role in good governance.

He fairly begged people to get involved, an earnest appeal most welcome in these apathetic times. "I ask each of you, each and every one of you, to join me in the process of governing," Ige said. "I ask you to find your voice and use it to not only choose your elected officials but to shape the issues that will shape our lives."

To that end, Ige promises an open, honest, transparent and inclusive government. The governor and all the state directors he hires simply must fulfill that pledge if Ige is to see the desired surge in voter involvement. Few things galvanize "the people" more than the perception that they have a voice, unless it's the later realization that their voices are being ignored. Ige must listen to the folks he's exhorting to speak up — or risk learning the same lesson Abercrombie did....

read ... Turning Point?

Ige Described as 'Very Collaborative' by Republican Leader

KITV: "A lot of people in the Legislature are excited to work with David Ige because he is very collaborative. Particularly for Republicans to make the case for best ideas and best policy, they may have greater resonance than one might have with other governors," said House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson.

read ... Collaborative

Rachael Wong selected as next DHS director

SA: Wong is the vice president and chief operating officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, the trade association for hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies and hospices.

She replaces Pat McManaman whose term ended in November.

Wong previously served as executive director of Kokua Mau (the state hospice and palliative care organization) and the Hawai'i Consortium for Integrative Healthcare....

The new director takes over at a critical time as DHS deals with the homeless crisis in Hawaii, expansion of Medicaid under Obama­care, and improving public housing and child welfare services.

The Medicaid program has run into trouble recently as DHS launched its $140 million automated Kolea system more than a year ago, which has yet to be fully functional....

read ... DHS Director

Louie Out, Hawaii To Get New Attorney General

CB: Ige will not keep Louie in his cabinet, and instead will be relying upon Russell Suzuki on an interim basis until a successor is chosen.

Suzuki was Louie’s first deputy attorney general for the past four years.

Ige told reporters at his first press conference that it’s been a challenge to fill certain cabinet positions in part because of the salary level.

Especially for the attorney general and budget director, Ige said the pay is “not commensurate with the private sector.”

It’s expected Ige will announce more cabinet appointments later this week, but that he will likely be filling positions well into January.

read ... B-Bye

Caldwell Signs Sit/Lie

SA: Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed a bill expanding the city's sit-lie ordinance into downtown Honolulu and 14 other business districts throughout Oahu.

Under the bill, people would be barred from sitting or lying down along public sidewalks from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily in specified boundaries in Chinatown, downtown Honolulu, McCully Moiliili, Kailua, Wahiawa, Ala Moana-Sheridan, Pawaa, two sections of Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Kapahulu, Waialae, Kahala, Aina Haina and Niu Valley and Hawaii Kai.

Tuesday is the deadline for him to act on Bill 48, which was approved 7-2 by the Honolulu City Council on Nov. 14.

A law that went into effect in September bans sitting and lying on public sidewalks in Waikiki 24 hours a day....

To see the final language of the bill and the maps showing the specific locations, go to http://bit.ly/Bill48FD1.

read ... Sit Lie

Ige Inherits UH Athletic Mess Exacerbated by Abercrombie

SA: Of particular interest is University of Hawaii athletics, considering the poor record in recent years of the highest profile and biggest breadwinning sport, football, and other issues.

There's the fast-approaching end game of an NCAA investigation of the men's basketball program, and the continuing conundrum of Aloha Stadium.

And, beyond UH, let's not forget about the NFL and the Pro Bowl (as much as some folks out there would like to).

Ige might wish these issues would take care of themselves, but they won't. He — and likely Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, who headed a sports commission under previous Gov. Neil Abercrombie — will need to step into a power vacuum and make some things happen — for the benefit of the entire state, not just sports fans.

read ... Further Review

DoE Budget in Six Buckets

CB: ...According to the Hawaii Department of Education website, budgeting is broken down into six “buckets” known as “EDNs.” The EDNs are known as EDN 100, EDN 150, EDN 200, EDN 300, EDN 400, and EDN 500. The total budget is comprised of $1.7 billion from federal and state moneys, as well as from other “special funds.”

So how are these funds divvied up to support student achievement and teacher retention and satisfaction?

EDN 100 is the largest portion of the budget, with 58 percent allocated for School Based Budgeting, which includes per pupil spending of $11,924, as well as money designated for Free and Reduced Meals, JROTC, ELL programs, Athletics, and Alternative Learning Centers.

Then comes EDN 150, which comprises 23 percent allocated for special education. Utilities are in the EDN 400 and take up 12 percent of the budget for school utility bills. According to the Department’s website, “The remainder of the budget is spread among EDNs 200, 300 and 500 for expenses such as instructional supports, statewide testing, administrative support (personnel, technology and fiscal), community programs such as A+ and adult education, complex area administration, as well as the Board of Education and Office of the Superintendent.”

read ... How DoE Budget is Broken Down

Kauai Council Liberated from Anti-GMO Quacks

SA: ...Two staunch opponents of a controversial and yet-to-be-implemented county law that regulates some pesticide use and cultivation of genetically modified crops will lead the new Kauai County Council.

Mel Rapozo was selected to serve as chairman of the Council at its inaugural meeting Monday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue.

The Council tapped Ross Kagawa to serve as vice chairman.

The Council includes returning members JoAnn Yuki­mura, Mason Chock and Gary Hooser and new Councilmen Arryl Kane­shiro and Kipu­Kai Kua­lii.

Jay Furfaro, who has served six consecutive terms and was elected Council chairman in 2010 and 2012, failed to garner enough votes in last month's general election to return to the Council. Tim Bynum, who served four consecutive terms and co-introduced Bill 2491 (now Ordinance 960) with Hooser last year, also lost his re-election bid.

Rapozo and Kagawa opposed the measure...

During Monday's meeting the Council confirmed Mayor Bernard Carvalho's appointment of Mauna Kea Trask as the new county attorney.

Last year Trask, then deputy county attorney, wrote a legal opinion on Bill 2491 that influenced Carvalho's decision to veto the measure. The Council overrode the mayor's veto....

Carvalho's inauguration ceremony also was held Monday at the convention hall. He easily defeated anti-GMO candidate Dus­tin Barca in the Nov. 4 election....

KGI: County leaders call for unity, but split arises over vote for council chair

read ... Rapozo, Kagawa take reins of County Council on Kauai

Underhanded Trick at First Sitting of New Hawaii County Council

HTH: ...the mood turned sour early on, when council members discovered the rules they had just voted on had been changed to allow committee chairmen the power to hold bills from their committee without consent of the bill sponsor. After the difference was questioned by Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan, the council pulled back the rules and approved them without the change.

Kanuha said he’d submitted the change as an amendment to be voted on by the council, but staff instead incorporated it into the rules package to be approved. (Quick IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

Wille, who had told fellow council members and the press that the rules were the same as those for the last council, was livid.

“I am very disturbed by this,” Wille said. “It was underhanded how it happened.”

read ... Underhanded Trick 

400 yards per Day: New Lava Flow Heads for Puna

HTH: The stream of lava, advancing up to 400 yards per day in a north-northeast direction, moved away from the flow pad over the weekend and is following a path that could take it either to Malama Market or even Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Which path it follows, if this new front remain active, remains to be seen.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveria said it is currently following a line of steepest descent that would take it to Malama Market and other businesses in Pahoa’s main shopping area.

But that path will also take it near another line of steepest descent, identified by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, that could divert the flow north of town toward HPP.

HTH: Pele on the move again

read ... She's Baaaack

Theft of Honolulu police chief's mailbox highlights family financial feud; trial to begin

AP: Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the federal mailbox-destruction case against Gerard Puana, the uncle of Police Chief Louis Kealoha's wife.

According to a criminal complaint, Puana tore the mailbox from its support post in June 2013, stuck it into a car and drove away. The mailbox was in front of Louis and Katherine Kealoha's former home in an upscale east Honolulu neighborhood.

Prosecutors say Puana stole the mailbox in an effort to access account records that were sent to the residence. The records were connected to a lawsuit that Puana and his 95-year-old mother, Florence Puana, filed against Katherine Kealoha over finances.

Katherine Kealoha is on personal leave as head of the career criminal unit of the Honolulu prosecutor's office.

Her husband has denied any special handling of Puana's arrest, even though six officers from a highly specialized crime reduction unit took part in the arrest....

Gerard and Florence Puana sued Katherine Kealoha in state court a few months before the mailbox was taken, alleging she took money they entrusted to her.

According to the lawsuit, Katherine Kealoha helped her grandmother get a reverse mortgage on her home to pay for a condo for Gerard Puana from an account they shared. There were disbursements of more than $513,000, but the apartment cost only about $376,000. Katherine Kealoha "has failed to account" for the difference, the lawsuit says.

Records in the lawsuit show expenditures for things like more than $2,000 for Elton John tickets, $4,000 for a Mercedes Benz lease payment and nearly $24,000 for her husband's police chief induction breakfast at the Sheraton Waikiki....

read ... Family Feud

Tracking New Projects in a Fast-Growing Kakaako

CB: Abercrombie's legacy includes permitting about 4,500 new residential units....

UHERO: Kakaako Construction Map and Statewide Housing Database

read ... Kakaako

Housing Advocates Reject Section 8 Mandate

CB: To some housing advocates, incentives aren’t enough. Shanna Smith, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, believes part of the solution is to have a local or state ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on source of income.

Hawaii lawmakers considered a similar bill as recently as last year, but nothing came of it. Representatives from the Hawaii Association of Realtors and the National Association of Residential Property Managers argued that the process of receiving payment through the Section 8 program is time-consuming and the law would be unfair to property managers.

Smith said that landlords could still reject people on the basis of poor credit or bad references, but denying vouchers outright is wrong. She said Honolulu should look to the eight states and numerous municipalities that have already passed such legislation.

“The City Council has to have the desire to address the housing needs,” Smith said, noting that the city and state have a legal obligation to encourage fair housing. “Who wants to be homeless during the holidays?”

Some housing advocates are doubtful that a mandate would work. Kauai County’s Section 8 program manager Sandy Kaauwai said that whether or not landlords accept Section 8 vouchers depends largely on the housing market, and questions whether an anti-discrimination law would be effective.

“What we don’t want to do is scare away any more possible landlords,” she said. “We want to keep them happy. I think if we try to force them to do something, it may backfire.”

Mollie Lowery, executive director of the nonprofit Housing Works in Los Angeles, is also skeptical of an anti-discrimination law, at least when it comes to Housing First programs. For her, the key is having good relationships with landlords.

“If you’ve already got a reputation among landlords that it’s bad news to take these kinds of people, then it’s hard to break that down because landlords talk to each other,” she said. “So you’ve got to somehow build a reputation to make it a benefit to take this subsidy.”

read ... Section 8

Paper Chaos in Auto Licensing

SA: ...Your inquiry reveals the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association's frustration with what its executive director, Dave Rolf, says is Hawaii's "needlessly cumbersome paper processing" for new car registrations as well as delays that dealers encounter in trying to process registrations in person.

However, city officials say it normally takes only two to three working days to complete dealer transactions, and often the turnaround is less than 48 hours.

"The bottleneck is with the dealers and not the city's DMV," countered Sheri Kajiwara, director of the Department of Customer Services.

But first, under Section 286-53(e) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, whenever a new-car dealer sells a motor vehicle, the dealer is required to attach a temporary number plate with a date that is 30 "working" days after the owner takes possession. That temporary plate is valid until the date listed.

Exactly what "working" days means is not defined, but if you took possession of your vehicle July 1, "8-31" would seem to be beyond the time frame specified.

When asked about the apparent discrepancy, Kajiwara said although dealers are aware of the law, some "continue to violate this legislation and issue temporary plates beyond the 30-day period."

read ... Another Day in the Nei

UChicago, UHawaii may partner for Obama library

CM: UChicago is in talks with the University of Hawaii to give it a virtual connection to a main campus located on the South Side of Chicago, according to Julie Peterson, the University of Chicago’s director of communications.

“Hawaii is imagining a digital connection. So they could envision the main facility being on the south side of Chicago, but then having a digital link to Hawaii, where there would be a presidential center that could be active and bring visitors who are there to understand the history of the President’s childhood, and certainly his early life, as well as create school programs and all kinds of things,” Peterson said. “They have been eager to talk to us at every stage. And we’ve been eager to talk to them as well.”

The University declined to elaborate on how exactly this connection would work, with University spokesperson Jeremy Manier only saying that UChicago is exploring a collaboration with the University of Hawaii. Officials from the University of Hawaii could not be reached for comment.

UChicago also explored a partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), but those talks have not resulted in a concrete plan. “I think as we move forward, depending on where the library goes, we’re happy to collaborate. I think it’s just not been really identified where that would be,” Mary Case, co-chair of UIC’s bid, said. “I think probably more around the programming that emanates from the museum and connecting with the communities. But that’s really as far as the conversations have gone at this point.”

read ... Partnership?

Dec 11 Deadline for Obama Library Application

ST: The four finalists for the library — the U. of C., the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Hawaii and Columbia University — face a Dec. 11 deadline for submitting bids to the Chicago-based Barack Obama Foundation. The bids must include details on how each site would be developed.

read ... Deadline

Small businesses, 3 colleges to benefit from energy efficiency projects

WHT: Hawaii Energy has selected applicants for incentive funds of up to $1.96 million for the state’s first energy efficiency auction. The applicants plan to help small businesses, restaurants, residents in smart-metered neighborhoods and educational institutions save energy.

Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program for Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui counties, launched the “Hawaii Energy Efficiency Auction” in August. The auction was an open call for contractors, developers, energy efficiency solution providers, energy service companies, energy vendors and property managers to submit qualified energy efficiency applications to receive funding for residential and commercial projects.

The auction was just one of many planned energy efficiency initiatives developed under the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission’s guidance to help electric ratepayers maximize energy savings.

read ... Auction

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