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Tuesday, February 17, 2015
February 17, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:33 PM :: 5819 Views

SB992: Creates Tribal Judiciary, Places 12,000 Hawaiian Children at Risk

Full Text: Rail Cost Engineer on 'Billion Dollar Mile'

I Mua Manoa Proposes UH Budget Sustainability Plan

Feb 20: Last Chance to file for Neighborhood Board Elections

In Hawaii, The State of Liabilities, The Cost of Rail is Just the Beginning

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 17, 2015

House Violates Public Notice Rules for Transsexual Birth Certificate Hearing

Ige's Appointment for DLNR Deputy Resigned to Avoid Financial Disclosure Report

IM: Kaluhiwa explained how he got the job offer. As a maritime lobbyist he wanted to become Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation with a focus on Harbor Development. When offered the DLNR position he said, “I wasn’t sure if I had a conflict in myself for the job.” ...

Over his lifetime Kaluhiwa performed as a musician around the world and held three non-managerial positions. As Deputy DLNR Director he noted, “A Lot of the day-to-day management of the agency will fall to me.”

Kaluhiwa thinks of himself as a leader not a manager and his role is to inspire the 800 DLNR employees....

Last spring Kaluhiwa was appointed to another state entity.

“Last April I was appointed by Governor Abercrombie with the Agribusiness Development Corporation and I was technically confirmed for that position and I was on the board for about two months. I actually never attended a board meeting. Never met any other board members for that matter.”

“I didn’t want to disclose my personal finances to the Legislature. I didn’t have a problem with the public. Because I’m a registered lobbyist with the maritime industry I didn’t feel it’s fair to disclose my personal finances to the Legislature.”

Kaluhiwa was concerned that Legislators would ask him for money.

Kaluhiwa was one of several Abercrombie people to resign when the law passed last summer to have financial disclosure forms for key agency leaders released to the public.

read ... Talk Story with Carleton Ching and Kekoa Kaluhiwa

Ige's DPS Deputy Nominee Placed Kulani Warden on Unpaid Leave, Then Quit Job

HNN: The Department of Public Safety has placed Ruth Forbes, the warden at the recently re-opened Kulani prison on the Big Island, on unpaid leave in a personnel investigation, sources told Hawaii News Now....

At the end of last month, sources said the state put her on leave without pay in an investigation into whether she created a "hostile work environment." ...

Sources said Forbes, who just a few years ago was named the Public Safety Employee of the year, has filed a grievance through her union, the HGEA.

The union said the state failed to follow proper procedure when it did not give Forbes any specific list of charges against her at Kulani, and also failed to explain to her why her presence at the prison would jeopardize the investigation, sources said....

Espinda said he has “fast-tracked” the investigation into Forbes at Kulani.

"It is ongoing at a feverish pace and without giving a specific time line, I certainly hope that we get something resolved for the people on the Big Island within the next three to four months," Espinda said.

After 30 days without pay, Forbes will go back on the payroll until the investigation is complete.

Some prison personnel investigations have dragged on for a year or more, with employees continuing to be paid all that time.

Unpaid leave is usually reserved for employees accused of serious wrongdoing, such as a prison guard who was arrested for drug dealing....

Forbes was removed from her job by Shelley Nobriga, during Nobriga's brief, one-week tenure as deputy director of corrections in late January and early February.

Nobriga stepped down from her post after employees complained to the state Ethics Commission that she would be reporting to her former boyfriend and father of one of her children, Espinda, who now heads the department. Employees also complained Nobriga oversaw her current partner, Scott Harrington, the current warden of Waiawa prison, who is the father of another child. Nobriga went back to her former position, handling legal matters for the department.

Espinda faces confirmation from the State Senate in the weeks ahead.

Some former and current employees have told State Sen. Will Espero, who chairs the Senate public safety committee, that they plan to testify against Espinda, saying he lacks the management style to oversee the public safety department.

read ... Retaliation?

Espinda Critics "Sissies, Assassins, Cowards"

CB: Nolan Espinda, the governor’s nominee to run Hawaii’s prisons and the State Sheriff Division has been on the job only six weeks but already he’s churned up the ire of shadow critics, whom I consider cowardly. They have been sending the same anonymous email to the governor, state senators and news reporters.

Under the nom de plume “Concerned PSD Employees,” the sissies have also sent emails in the past to blast former Public Safety Director Ted Sakai.

Since we don’t know the names of the critics — maybe it’s just one person — it is difficult figure out his or her or their motivation.

Sen. Rosalyn Baker says, “To try to do character assassination under the cloak of anonymity is wrong. We have no opportunity to vet the criticism, no one to whom to ask questions. It is character assassination without any kind of accountability.”

Most of Hawaii’s 1,300 prison guards are hard-working professionals, but state prison operations have been hindered for decades by a dedicated bunch of bad actors.

They are the prison guards who regularly call in sick when they are perfectly healthy. Their absences require the inmates’ family visits to be cancelled.

And they cost taxpayers money. Other corrections officers have to be brought in cover the “sick” guards’ shifts, costing millions of dollars in overtime pay.

Since Espinda took over the job Jan. 2, there are been no cancellations of family visit days due to “sick outs” at Oahu prisons, not even on Super Bowl Sunday.

read ... Working Overtime

Health Connector Bungles 3,000 Applications, Those Without Insurance Forced to Pay 2% More Income Tax

SA: The Hawaii Health Connector said about 13,356 residents signed up for Obamacare coverage in the three-month enrollment period that ended Sunday.

That compares to roughly 2,100 sign ups during the six-month open enrollment last year, said Jeff Kissel, executive director of the exchange created by the Affordable Care Act to enroll people in health insurance.

Kissel added that an estimated 3,000 applications in process were delayed due to glitches with the Internal Revenue Service and other federal data hubs the Connector uses to verify income. In addition, there are still some paper applications yet to be processed.

"Because they were experiencing congestion we had some delay, but our system functioned the whole time," he said. "As long as they got in process before midnight (Sunday), we're not going to turn them away before they complete the process. Our objective is to get everybody enrolled who wants to be enrolled."

For those unable to get through to the call center or enroll online, they may still have a chance to get coverage on a "case-by-case basis," Kissel said....

Residents with incomes above federal poverty and do not obtain health coverage face an IRS penalty of $325 per person or 2 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

read ... $100K income = $2,000 Obamacare Tax

Regents Spend Hours Discussing Arnold's $1.4 M Golden Parachute

SA: Arnold filed a grievance Feb. 3 over terms of his contract, according to officials. He has claimed UH owes him more than $1.4 million for his Oct. 28 firing under terms of the 2011 agreement. UH, which said it paid him through the June 30 conclusion of the annual $344,000 contract, disputes the contention that he is owed an amount equal to its accrued value.

Committee chairman Jeff Portnoy said, "there was no action taken by the committee" Monday, characterizing the session as an ‘informational meeting" with the university's outside counsel, William McCorriston. "We were not asked nor did we take any action, even to make recommendations," Portnoy said.

Seven members of the committee, along with UH President David Lassner and Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman, attended Monday's campus meeting.

The committee is scheduled to make a report to the full board Thursday.

James Bickerton, Arnold's attorney, said, "I think if they are actually reading the papers and thinking about the issue they will understand why Coach Arnold has a valid claim."

Arnold's grievance is said to be in the first step of a four-step process and could be headed to arbitration if the parties do not reach an agreement.

read ... BOR Committee unable to resolve Arnold's contract

Rail art should recognize those who forged this mess

Borreca: Artists could start with former Mayor Neal Blaisdell, who in 1966 first suggested a mass transit rail line. Of course, former Mayor Frank Fasi would be included for his work, first in the 1970s and then in the 1990s to bring rail to Honolulu.

And with Fasi, give all the members of the Honolulu City Council their own memorial pillar.

Former Councilwoman Rene Mansho gets one for her vote to kill Fasi's first transit plan.

Then there would be a former Gov. Linda Lingle column, maybe two, because upon becoming governor she called for a tax for a Honolulu transit system and then changed her mind and opposed the plan.

That scheme was sold to the Legislature in 2005 by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who certainly deserves his own concrete column.

The Legislature's 2005 edition would give us 76 more columns for the members' votes for and against rail.

Don't forget the nine-member City Council that then approved the transit plan.

Also getting two columns would be Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who worked on the plan as Hannemann's managing director and then as candidate for mayor who promised to control costs.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano should get his own column for being a consistent voice of protest against the heavy-rail plan. The late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye should have a nearby column because Cayetano and Inouye were bookends in the build-it-or-don't-build-it argument.

If Honolulu builds rail without bankrupting Hono-lulu, we will have permanent reminders of whom to thank.

And if the project fails and goes broke, well, for a very long time, we will know who to blame.

read ... Rail art should recognize those who forged this mess

HB631: Gender is an Opinion, Just Ask for a Change on Birth Certificate

SA: Under current law a person needs to have had a sex-change operation before the Health Department may consider issuing a new birth certificate.

House Bill 631 would allow an individual to ask the state Department of Health to issue a birth certificate changing that person's gender designation by submitting "a statement from a licensed medical or social service provider attesting that the current birth certificate record does not align with the birth registrant's gender identity; and that in the provider's professional opinion the birth registrant's gender designation should be changed accordingly."

The House Health Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Wednesday.

Transgender advocates describe the bill as a leap toward equity for a community that is still widely discriminated against, while opponents of the measure argue that the law change would make it too easy to change what is an official, historical and legal document. Several state agencies, meanwhile, expressed procedural concerns.

Rep. Chris Lee (D, Kai­lua-Lani­kai-Wai­manalo) is t­he bill's lead author....

Linda Hamilton Krieger, chairwoman of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, said in written testimony that allowing only those who've had operations to obtain new birth certificates is "a limitation that is immaterial under current legal and medical definitions of gender identity."

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, interim president of Hawaii Family Advocates, submitted written testimony against the bill, which the group contends is too liberal in allowing who can provide the statement that a birth certificate is not in agreement with a person's gender.

Eva Andrade, executive director of Hawaii Family Forum, said her organization is not against amending birth certificates, but contends the new documents should show that there has been a change.

"We do not see why the state would have an interest in promoting false identities and/or the recreation of an historical fact thereby creating situations that could potentially promote fraudulent representation by someone looking to dissociate from their past," Andrade wrote.

The departments of Attorney General and Health submitted testimony raising procedural concerns. The Health Department said a person seeking a new birth certificate should have to petition the court instead of simply obtain a statement from a licensed medical or social service provider.

"A court order removes the burden for DOH staff to make a judgment on the authenticity of the proposed statement from a licensed medical or social service provider and the qualifications and credentials of such providers," the department said.

Meanwhile: House Violates Public Notice Rules for Transsexual Birth Certificate Hearing

read ... Trannies Certified

Babes Against Civility: Environmentalism Poisons Itself

CB:  Babes Against Biotech and some other Maui County groups risk undermining their own environmental cause.  Most working and middle class voters are not experts on toxics, soil science, or human health risks. These voters therefore have to consider who is making claims and demanding changes. Anyone who steps into the public arena should expect to be judged not just on the content of their message, but also on the way they personally behave. It’s the only insight the rest of us have into their character; it’s our only clue about whether they can be trusted.

The recent attack by letter and article on one of the applicants for Mele Carroll’s House seat, as reported in Civil Beat, is hardly the worst breach of public decorum by anti-Monsanto zealots, but it is sadly symptomatic. Here is someone who is not a public official, who is only being interviewed for a short list, who has no opportunity to respond, and who still has every private citizen’s right to sue for slander. And yet this person was publicly tarred as a “Monsanto plant,” accused without evidence of carrying out a secret agenda for a seed corn company....

Any corporation or developer who really does want to push through big, environmentally destructive projects in Hawaii would surely like nothing better than for Hawaii’s environmental movement to debase and discredit itself.  Hopefully the mature and respectful majority within the environmental community will take steps to rein in their zealots, before they trigger a backlash which puts our fragile island environment even more at risk.

Background: Maui Democrats Nominate Two Protesters and a Farmer for HD13 Vacancy

read ... Babes Against Civility

Star-Adv: Aquarium Compromise Relies on Science over Emotion

SA: In amending the bill, legislators wisely relied heavily on scientific evidence rather than giving in to the emotion of the highly charged topic. It is indeed important to protect the present and future health of Hawaii's fragile marine ecosystems, and valid information indicates this goal can be achieved short of an outright ban on aquarium fishing.

Years of marine research, including a recent survey conducted for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, have found that current industry practices do not adversely affect West Hawaii fisheries, where most aquarium fishing in the state occurs.

Furthermore, the new rules proposed in the latest draft of House Bill 873 are intended to limit the industry's growth, not to promote it.

read ... Current industry practices do not adversely affect West Hawaii fisheries

House bill aims to set buffer zone on wind turbine projects

SA: Lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill Wednesday that would set a buffer between residential or business properties and wind turbines.

House Bill 1384 requires a buffer of three-quarters of a mile between properties and any wind turbines, keeping turbines from being built near a residence, school, hospital or business.

While lawmakers said the measure is necessary to keep residents safe, wind project developers and renewable energy advocates worry the bill would stop renewable energy development....

The Blue Planet Foundation, a clean energy nonprofit, whined that wind turbines and property lines were not properly defined in the bill.

"It is really restrictive and vague," said Jeff Miku­lina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation.

"Clean energy options should not be prematurely taken off the table," said the Hawaii-based nonprofit in a testimony. "At a minimum, regulations governing wind turbines should take into account variations in equipment and communities, rather than imposing a blanket ban."

read ... Buffer Zone

Care Home Industry Uses Love Story (Again) to Loosen Hawaii Laws

CB: Hawaii lawmakers were fed a familiar love story on Valentine’s Eve at the Capitol, a true tale of an elderly couple separated by a state law regulating care homes.

If the Legislature would just tweak the statute, lawmakers were told, the two could live out the rest of their days together at a home in Kaneohe with the help of nurses who live on site.

A similar tale was told five years ago. A loving couple, separated by legal restrictions on the composition of care homes, needed a legislative fix. They got it, despite objections from state agencies responsible for regulating the industry.

Care home operators are trying to pull off the same feat this legislative session. They’ve found their anecdotal couple, lined up friendly lawmakers and are working to change regulations over opposition from state health officials who are worried about the industry turning its back on those most in need in order to make more money....

The law the industry pushed through in 2010 didn’t just help an old loving couple. Hundreds of care home operators stood to benefit financially from the change, which let them accept three people in each adult residential care home, or ARCH, instead of two.

It’s a similar situation this year. The industry is using an elderly couple as the impetus for the state to relax restrictions on community care family foster homes, or CCFFHs, that could mean thousands of extra dollars a month for each operator.

The state currently lets this type of home have up to three clients. Two must be on Medicaid and one can pay out of his or her own pocket.

House Bill 600 would flip this by allowing two private-pay clients and one Medicaid recipient, which could leave the poor with fewer places to go for long-term care — something health officials highlighted and supporters of the legislation acknowledged.

read ... Again

SB199 would help fund police cameras

SA: Senate Bill 199 would provide a total of $2.7 million over the next two years to the state's four county police departments to buy cameras for officers and vehicles, if the state allocation is matched with county funding. State funds would not be released unless matched dollar for dollar.

SB 199 requests the following matching funds to be set for fiscal year 2015-2016: $700,000, Hono­lulu; $250,000, Hawaii County; $250,000, Maui County; and $150,000, Kauai County.

The same amount would also be appropriated for the counties for the following fiscal year.

read ... Bill would help fund police cameras

Tulsi Gabbard: ‘Mind-Boggling,’ ‘Troubling’ Obama Won’t Recognize ISIS Islamic Ideology

BB: In an appearance on “On the Record” on the Fox News Channel on Monday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) reacted to the weekend’s events with ISIS and explained it was important in her view for leaders to recognize what is the motivating force behind ISIS actions.

“I think it’s important for us to learn what’s — from what’s happening here,” Gabbard said. “It’s important for the leaders of our country to recognize the opportunity that exists here. Number one, to look at the fact that this execution in Libya, the presence of ISIS continuing to grow in their strengthening and in their territory in Libya specifically would not have happened if our leaders, both in Congress from both parties and the administration had not organized amend led the charge to attack and overthrow Kaddafi. This goes to the core of the problem here. You and I have talked about this before. And that is we are not recognizing who our enemy is. And what is driving them and the result of that.”

Host Greta Van Susteren replied to Gabbard by pointing out that President Barack Obama has been reluctant to tie these atrocities committed by ISIS to the tenets of radical Islam.

“You are recognizing who it is,” Van Susteren said. “I’m recognizing who it is. Everybody is. It’s for some reason the president won’t recognize who it is. He is the commander-in-chief. So it’s a little bit of a problem we have you know, if our commander-in-chief won’t.”

Gabbard acknowledged it was troubling that Obama wasn’t willing to do so, as Van Susteren said. But she also took aim at her colleagues that were outspoken about the regime change in certain rogue countries like Libya and Syria, which she said is what has led to the rise of ISIS.

“Yes it’s mind-boggling and it’s troubling,” Gabbard added. “I would point to leaders in our Congress who were the leaders and drivers in this overthrow of Kaddafi in Libya, putting us in the position that we are in today. And these same people are also continuing to push for this same type of overthrow to occur in Syria, with Assad, which would, again, play out in the same way that we have seen. Not only in Libya, but also in Egypt as well as in Iraq. This is where the danger lies — is by not clearly identifying the enemy the ideology, radical Islamism that’s driving, we continue to find ourselves waging war against people we are not waging war against the United States.”

read ... Gabbard Slams Obama

Hawaii County Overtime Abuse, County Vehicle Abuse Reported (Again)

WHT: Among the top findings:

• Feedback the commission received indicates there is a perception that county vehicles may be misused. To address this, the commission recommends development and implementation of a uniform computer mileage tracking system for all county-owned vehicles.

• Due to the amount of feedback from employees (generally anonymous) about overtime and a perception there are instances of abuse, commissioners felt it was important to understand current department policies related to overtime....

Many of the recommendations were also proposed by the previous Cost of Government Commission, which issued its report in 2011.

The county has made little progress on most of a long list of recommendations turned in by the former commission. That commission found itself stymied by collective bargaining agreements made at the state level that made it hard to implement policy changes involving county employees, which accounts for the lion’s share of the county budget.

That doesn’t mean county administration wasn’t listening. Several of the recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented.

Among those was a recommendation that the county work on collecting some $2.6 million in past-due hauler fees by requiring payments at the scale house. That’s now whittling away at overdue fees, while court actions have commenced on others.

The county has raised vehicle registration and weight taxes — another previous recommendation — as another way to raise money.

The County Council has been grappling with recommendations by the 2011 commission to require financial documentation to qualify for agricultural property tax exemptions. A proposal to eliminate homeowners’ property tax exemption for unpermitted dwellings hasn’t progressed far, however.

read ... Only the Tax Hikes Are Enacted

Students, teachers will need patience during Common Core test transition

MN: Starting this spring, all students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will begin taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This assessment will be one data point that educators can use to gauge student learning.

Admittedly, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a huge shift for teachers and students. While some may feel overwhelmed, everyone needs to be patient during the transition and understand that we are asking our students to demonstrate their understanding and apply it at a high level. Common Core is asking us to develop flexible, efficient, critical thinking members of our society, and I see this only as a positive thing.

read ... Patience

When can you record a conversation at work to prove discrimination?

AOLN: The issue of whether you can record a conversation at work is tricky. My column Can I Secretly Record A Conversation At Work? is one of my most popular columns ever. Since you're in California, you're in an all-party consent state, which means all parties to the conversation must consent to be recorded. Other all-party consent states include Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Hawaii is a one-party consent state, but it requires all-party consent if the device is installed in a private place.

read ... Maybe

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