How Christmas Came to Hawaii
Duke Aiona: What's Next?
Is OHA a Criminal Enterprise?
142 Candidates File for Neighborhood Board Elections
Hawaii Supreme Court Confirms Election Contests Are Tough
"Peace on Earth and good will toward men" Can Guide Policy
SA: After such a tumultuous year that seemed drenched in negativity — the mid-term elections, Honolulu's police chief, University of Hawaii leadership, GMOs, homelessness — optimism and good cheer can wither on the vine. Cynicism seems the more appropriate response. It is not....
When we debate vexing public issues, we should keep our common interest in mind, because success depends on it. The common holiday refrain, "Peace on Earth and good will toward men," is not a seasonal trope. It's a practical aspiration, one that can guide public policy.
For example, one of the best ways to promote peace and good will for all is to advance the interests of those who can't protect themselves, our neighbors living on society's economic margins....
Those working hard to establish Housing First for the homeless need an engaged community, not a cynical one. So do those tackling other issues, whether it be the good name of the Honolulu Police Department, the University of Hawaii's budget woes, our new political leadership or anything in between. It's important to remember that these matters are not abstractions from an ivory tower. They are the police officer who comes to your aid, the UH student signing up for classes, the lawmaker who acts on behalf of you and your neighbors....
Bob Jones: "Many of us simply drop that 'under God' phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance."
read ... Merry Christmas
Ige Looks at Budget, Contracts and Ends extra Xmas Eve, New Years Eve holiday
HNN: ...Gov. David Ige is breaking years of Christmas tradition and will not give state employees a free end-of-the-year holiday this year, just a few weeks after taking office.
The new governor, who campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, is sending a strong message to both state employees and state taxpayers on Christmas Eve.
Ige spent Christmas Eve morning working in his office on the 5th floor of the State Capitol. If they didn't cash in a vacation day, many fellow state employees had to work on this Christmas Eve as well, because Ige ended previous governors' tradition of granting them an extra day off either on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.
"There is a real cost for a holiday and it's about more than $11 million. And really what is in the best interest of the taxpayer?" Ige told Hawaii News Now in an interview Wednesday....
Ige said his message to state employees is simple.
"They have very good benefits. They are entitled to 21 days of vacation. We would encourage them to really look at the holidays and make the decision about whether they want to have time off. And utilize their benefits," Ige said.
State employees who refused to be identified said they are upset about losing the extra holiday, because it's something they've come to expect for many years and they just found out about the new policy late last week.
In a memo to state department directors and deputies Dec. 18, Human Resources Director James Nishimoto wrote, “We urge each department to be as liberal as possible in approving employees' requests to utilize vacation or other paid leave during the holiday season, as operations permit.”....
Ige said it's not a good time to be loose with money.
"The fiscal reality is that over at least the next three years, we, based purely on obligated legal requirements, non-discretionary spending, we will be spending more than we are expected to take in," Ige said.
The budget Ige submitted to the legislature this week relies on carried over savings from previous years to balance the budget for the next two years, even though the state will be spending more money than it is taking in.
"I applaud the governor. The governor is representing the taxpayers," said State Sen. Sam Slom, the State Senate's only Republican. "There are so many benefits already given to those of us in office or working for the state. We should be grateful for what we've got, enjoy that and support the governor in hopefully turning the fiscal situation around because we are facing some very difficult problems. Every little bit helps."
“The politicians that are giving time and all that, it's not their time, it's not their money, it's the taxpayers,” said Slom, a member of the Senate Ways and Means committee that Ige chaired for the last three years. “He recognizes that.” ....
read ... Cut Out Xtra Holiday
Trevor Ozawa Questions Rail Cost Overruns
KITV: ..."I'm going to make sure we're not wasting taxpayers' money, that's first and foremost," he said.
Ozawa also stated he has grave concerns about the city's rail project, which is projected to go 10 to 15 percent over budget according to an financial analysis released last week.
"Seven hundred million dollars over budget? Let's talk about it (and) let's figure it out," he said. "Maybe we need a timeout and we need to figure what's going on?"
Ozawa is a supporter of the city's controversial sit-lie ordinances that are supposed to keep sidewalks clear of the homeless. However, he wishes the city had its Housing First program up and running before passing the new laws.
read ... Grave Concerns
New program helps homeless veteran reunite with family on mainland
HNN: The homeless veteran is taking a one-way flight back to the mainland, taking advantage of a program through the Institute for Human Services.
"I'm so excited," he says, as he walks past the bunk beds at the men's shelter in Iwilei.
Thompson came to Hawaii and had a steady job. He worked in the film industry for many years but when the recession hit, he lost that job and turned to alcohol. He got divorced and addiction eventually led to him losing his savings and his apartment. He became homeless, sleeping along the Ala Wai.
But when he got an infection from the Ala Wai earlier this year, the hospital referred him to IHS.
"When he came here, it was suggested to him that maybe he wanted to connect with his family," says Connie Mitchell, the Executive Director at IHS, "His sister was happy to hear from him."
So happy, Thompson's sister agreed to pay for the one-way ticket to Texas.
Thompson is the first to use IHS' relocation program....
He's expected to be in Texas about 5 o'clock Christmas morning. His sister will be there to pick him up.
NBC: Photos of Homecoming in Dallas
read ... Ticket Home
Wearing of body cameras proposed for officers
SA: The Kauai Police Department could become the first law enforcement agency in the state to use body cameras next summer.
The department plans to buy 141 cameras for $134,000 and begin using them by June or July, Police Chief Darryl Perry said....
Police departments in Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii island are researching the possible use of body cameras.
Police will present their plans to the Kauai County Council at a Jan. 7 special meeting....
read ... Body Cams
Pothead Cop Breaks Sentencing Agreement, Gets Less Time Anyway
SA: U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Chu in January 2013 to eight months in jail followed by two years of court supervision. Mollway later reduced the jail term to seven months because she said she made a calculation error when she handed down the eight-month sentence.
Chu completed his jail term in November last year and has completed more than half of his two-year period of supervised release.
Earlier this month, his lawyer asked Mollway to end the court supervision in part because he continued to assist the government after he was sentenced.
The federal prosecutor agreed that Chu should be rewarded for his post-sentencing assistance.
Chu also told the government that he had unauthorized contact with his co-defendant girlfriend, Athena Sui Lee, after they had both pleaded guilty and were awaiting sentencing.
Mollway agreed Tuesday to shorten Chu's period of supervised release by six months. She refused to end Chu's supervised release completely because she said had she known about Chu violating the terms of his pre-sentence release by contacting Lee, she would have handed down a longer sentence.
read ... Pothead Cop
Hawaii is one of two states to avoid upcoming Medicare penalties
PBN: Hawaii's decrease in hospital acquired conditions (HAC) rates have made it one of two states in the nation to avoid a Medicare penalty, according to a new list released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Thanks to a rigorous statewide initiative, all Hawaii hospitals will avoid a 1 percent penalty reduction to Medicare payments, while 721 other hospitals across the nation will face the penalty in the upcoming federal fiscal year.
The 1 percent reduction in Medicare payments is mandated by the Hospital Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, given to hospitals in the worst performing quartile of national HAC rates.
"The ambitious goals of the initiative were to reduce hospital acquired conditions by 40 percent and reduce preventable hospital readmissions by 20 percent over a three-year period," Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO George Greene told PBN. "Success in the program was reached through the day after day efforts of hospitals, from leadership to the quality departments, infection preventionists, and doctors and nurses working each shift."
Hospital acquired infections in Hawaii hospitals was 40 percent lower than expected by national data in 2013. That includes a 77 percent lower rate of central line-associated blood stream infections and a 41 percent lower rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections than national data projected....
read ... 48 States Get Cuts
Lower Bills Coming: LNG to be Approved by Dec 31?
IM: The Consumer Advocate is automatically a party in every Public Utilities Commission regulatory proceeding.
Governor Ige is currently interviewing people for the position of Consumer Advocate.
Meanwhile the holdover Consumer Advocate just delivered a holiday special.
Back on October 16, 2014, The Gas Company, LLC, dba Hawaii Gas filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission requesting a landmark first-of-its-kind approval for the large-scale importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG)....
Hawaii Gas wanted the entire proceeding from beginning to end (with a final Commission decision) to be completed in a mere 11 weeks....
On Monday December 22, 2014 the Consumer Advocate filed a statement with the Public Utilities Commission and hand delivered a copy to Hawaii Gas....
“Based upon the unique circumstances of this proceeding, the Consumer Advocate...does not object to the Commission issuing an interim decision and order by December 31, 2014.”
read ... Lower Bills Coming
Kauai Charter school community meeting slated
KGI: A new K-8 charter school proposed to open on Kauai in the fall 2016 school year will have a community meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at All Saints Gym, 4-1065 Kuhio Highway in Kapaa.
The event will feature free food and entertainment while teaching people about the proposed school, iLEAD Kauai.
Info: 439-6411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
read ... Charter School