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Monday, May 4, 2015
May 4, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:47 PM :: 4175 Views

Forgotten Honouliuli: Jack Burns, Police Spy

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 4, 2015

Best States for Working Moms: Hawaii Ranks 31st

Rigged: Kenoi to Appear before Useless and Pathetic Hawaii County Ethics Board Stacked with His Cronies

SA: The complaint against Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi over misuse of his county-issued purchasing card will go before the county Board of Ethics on May 13, when three Kenoi appointees will consider options against the mayor and his finance director.

The complaint was filed by Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland, 76, a retired jail administrator who wants to see Kenoi removed from office and put behind bars for billing taxpayers more than $129,000 in "pCard" purchases during his two terms as mayor beginning in December 2008.

Kenoi spokesman Peter Boylan said Kenoi expects to appear at the Board of Ethics meeting, scheduled for the County Council chambers in Hilo....

In his petition to the county Board of Ethics, Hyland called Kenoi a "common thief" who "has stolen thousands of dollars from the taxpayers."

Hyland wrote, "I want to see him spend time in prison for the felony offenses which he committed."

While it is up to the state attorney general to decide whether there's a criminal case against Kenoi, the three-member board has several options.

It can defer hearing Hyland's petition until the outcome of the AG's investigation.

The board, as it often does, might also discuss the petition against Kenoi and Finance Director Deanna Sako, whose office proc­essed Kenoi's expenditures, in executive session — meaning behind closed doors.

By law the Board of Ethics must notify the public on its agenda by Thursday whether it intends to go into executive session, said Rod Antone, Maui County spokes­man. To avoid an apparent conflict of interest, Maui County's corporation counsel is advising the Hawaii County board.

"They can go into executive session," Antone said. "But if they do, they will have to put their intention on the agenda."

Any decisions made in executive session would have to be announced in public.

Or the board can take a cue from Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, who cited a conflict of interest and asked the state attorney general to investigate any possible criminal wrongdoing by Kenoi.

The board's newest member, Kenneth Goodenow, a former Hawaii County clerk (and Kenoi supporter) who is also an attorney, declined to speculate on what the board might do May 13....  (Flashback: Goodenow tied to Hawaii County Elections Office Scandals)

"Where does the buck stop?" Hyland said. "We've got a prosecutor that doesn't want to prosecute, a corp counsel that doesn't want to counsel and now an ethics board that doesn't …"

Also Rigged: Crackpot Launches Doomed Petition to Recall Kenoi 

What nobody on Big Island is Doing: Carlisle: Only 2,100 Signatures needed to Impeach 'Repulsive' Kenoi  (The one thing with a real potential of success is being ignored, natch!)

read ... Stacked with Kenoi Supporters Just Like Council

Who is building rail?  Impossible to accurately assess potential influence peddling

SA: Of particular concern is the lack of information available about the hundreds, if not thousands, of subcontractors and consultants working on this now $6 billion rail project, which will include 21 transit stations stretching along the 20-mile route from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center and is scheduled to be fully operational in 2019.

HART is following state and federal requirements by mainly tracking the prime contractors awarded contracts, who in turn hire and oversee others — subcontractors — to do a large amount of the work. The state Department of Transportation manages its large-scale construction projects the same way.

By law, these government agencies are required to track only a limited set of subcontractors, including those who qualify under a disadvantaged business program and those who require special licenses. The idea is that the government focuses on holding the prime contractors accountable for their overall contracts, and the prime contractors keep the subcontractors on time and on budget, theoretically, at least.

A glaring problem with this approach is that the taxpayers paying for all this construction work are left with precious little insight into who is actually doing it, what exactly they are doing and how much it actually costs.

"Even the subs have subs," a HART spokeswoman said, acknowledging that the agency does not know how many subcontractors and consultants are involved in the rail project.

Hundreds or even thousands was the best estimate....

It's no wonder that taxpayers question the size of profit margins through each level of each prime contract.

The information gap raises other serious concerns as well.

For one thing, it is impossible to accurately assess potential influence peddling when the subcontractors are not identified and therefore their campaign contributions are not scrutinized.

Safety records of the subcontractors likewise are unknown to the public, as is an accounting of whether they are properly registered and licensed to do business in Hawaii, and are paying the required general excise tax.

This last point seems especially relevant because one reason the rail project ballooned beyond initial budget projections was that GET revenues to help fund construction came in lower than expected.

read ... Sunlight

Hospital strategy is unite or fail

SA: "Independent, free-standing hospitals are going to become dinosaurs," said Don Olden, chief executive officer of Wahiawa General Hospital, which is hoping to partner with Hawaii Pacific Health. "You've already passed the point where you're going to have stand-alone hospitals in Hawaii. You've already passed the point where they can survive anymore."

Chris Flanders, executive director of the Hawaii Medical Association, the professional physicians organization, said few hospitals today are making money.

"Hospitals are kind of limping around here," he said, adding that the push for preventive medicine to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital "isn't necessarily a good thing if you're a hospital."

The major hospitals on Oahu are exploring at least three potential acquisitions or partnerships, the most controversial of which is the privatization of the state-owned Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Clinic, and Lanai Community Hospital....

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has expressed interest in the past, and said Friday it is "looking at all options to improve care to the people on Maui."

Hawaii Pacific Health also is exploring the purchase of all or part of the financially struggling 160-bed Wahiawa General Hospital, while the Queen's Health Systems is in talks about possibly acquiring Kua­kini Medical Center....

read ... Hospital strategy is unite or fail

Hawaii has legacy of aloha for science

SA: King Kalakaua saw no conflict between honoring traditional practices and embracing new inventions. He not only brought back hula, but established ‘Iolani Palace as the first royal residence in the world to have electricity.

Astronomers at the University of Hawaii have already added significantly to knowledge of the universe, including the discovery of the largest structure in the universe, a series of galaxies including the Milky Way, given the Hawaiian name "Laniakea."

The message of aloha is now going around the world with the Hokule‘a. There is no reason why the message of aloha should not be sent into space as well.

CB: Haole Says Non-Hawaiians Have no Right to an Opinion about Telescope--Then Expresses one, LOL!

read ... Hawaii has legacy of aloha for science

The Jones Act, the Cost of Living and the Search for the Truth

CB: Hawaii Shippers’ Council President Mike Hansen says the Jones Act is plenty broke, especially for America’s only archipelago state. Hawaii should, he said, push the U.S. Congress to grant a partial exemption in order to bring down costs in the islands.

But Hansen makes clear how challenging he expects unshackling Hawaii from the Jones Act to be when he talks about the nexus of lobbyists, freight transport companies and related unions that enjoy such enormous benefits from the law that, “They will defend it to the death.” ...

Prominent politicians — including Gov. David Ige, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai — recently told Civil Beat they would all like to see reliable, objective and up-to-date data to measure the cost of the Jones Act for Hawaii. They even suggested that decisive new evidence could change their stance, despite the substantial campaign donations they receive from Jones Act-friendly elements.

So why isn’t a definitive study being done? ...

Hawaii isn’t Massachusetts, a little state flush with top-notch economists, well-resourced research institutions and plenty of private companies capable of examining such complex questions. There are just a few widely recognized research bodies that might be capable of taking on the Jones Act in, or for, the islands. The most likely prospects would be federal researchers, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, known as UHERO, or the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Rep. Takai, like several other people Civil Beat spoke with, believes that UH is the natural place for a Jones Act study.

UHERO — which is funded by a mix of private contributions, grants and contracts — seeks private funding sponsorships that allow “UHERO to actively engage the Hawaii community and inform stakeholders about the important tradeoffs facing Hawaii’s Economy, Environment and its People,” according to its website.

The Jones Act would seem to raise just such trade-off questions.

But UHERO’s Executive Director Carl Bonham, who is also a member of the Hawaii Council on Revenues, said his organization has “never done any studies for anybody on Jones Act stuff.”

Why? Bonham notes that he and his colleagues have discussed the idea of a study on the Jones Act, but they face capacity limitations. “There are two and a half of us who are actual UHERO faculty,” he said, explaining that the rest of the team is made up of research fellows “who basically work on what they want to.” There are also graduate students that the organization leans on heavily, he said.

The UHERO website lists 14 research fellows, five “affiliated researchers” and 10 graduate research assistants.

So far, Bonham said, none of the staff or fellows have shown enough interest in studying the Jones Act, and no one has come forward offering enough money to pay for it.

“If someone walked up and said, ‘Here’s $200,000 to study the Jones Act, yeah, we’d think about it,” the UH professor said. “I don’t know that we could do it, but we always listen when people want to propose this.” ....

SA: Matson first-quarter profit is a record

read ... Jones Act

Here’s One Doctor Who Isn’t Sold on Raising Legal Smoking Age to 21

CB: Electronic cigarettes have exploded onto the scene in the past few years, and have actually surpassed the use of tobacco cigarettes in the adolescent population. Although any use of nicotine can lead to addiction, the absence of the other known toxic chemicals in traditional cigarettes has led to the general belief that the risks of lung cancer and emphysema will not be dramatically increased as a result of e-cigarette use. The data is just not there to make any other conclusions, yet.

read ... Once Doctor

Media access bill falls

KE: Hawaii lawmakers failed to advance a bill that would have given media personnel greater access when covering natural disasters like the June 27 lava flow.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Hilo, who co-introduced the original measure on behalf of the Big Island Press Club and later resurrected it by having it inserted into a separate piece of legislation, said she was “disappointed” in the outcome and that the deciding factor was money.

Last month, however, at Inouye’s request, a Senate committee amended House Bill 1344 — a measure that, when introduced, solely aimed to mitigate hazardous situations by appropriating funds for two additional DOD positions — by inserting the media access provision.

A conference committee chaired by Rep. Gregg Takayama, D-Pearl City, and Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa Beach, killed the bill late Friday. Inouye said the reason was that a pair of money committees did not support allocating funds for the positions, effectively killing any chance the bill gets passed this year.

Inouye plans to revisit the issue in a year.

read ... Media Access

Hawaii’s Preschool Open Doors Funding May Continue

CB: When legislators worked out a last-minute agreement on Friday that might maintain current funding levels for Preschool Open Doors, it ended months of suspense for low-income parents and early childhood education advocates.

The negotiations to find $6 million for the program — which helps low-income families pay for preschool — came near the end of a legislative session that saw little action on early childhood education.

read ... Preschool

Admirable Activists

KE: On a recent blog post about activism — especially hobby activism — a reader left a comment that read in part:

Support those who are leading the fight for sovereignty, pono, aloha ʻāina, and cultural respect. Spend more time supporting and encouraging people instead of putting them down?

Actually, I was only putting down cause celebre and social media activists. Over nearly three decades of covering controversial issues in Hawaii, I've met a few activists I really respect.

read ... Musings: Admirable Activists

Soft on Crime: Courts Find Way to Get Dope Dealer off Hook

SA: The officers looked inside a back window and saw what appeared to be the barrel of a firearm with a silencer attached, sticking out from underneath a towel. The officers also noted the unit appeared in "disarray."

They called for backup and waited about 10 minutes for a third officer. All three officers discussed the situation and decided to enter the unit, where they found multiple marijuana plants and what appeared to be an indoor growing operation, court documents said.

No one was home at the time.

After he was indicted, Ramos-Saunders filed a motion claiming the search was illegal and requesting that the search evidence be suppressed.

At a hearing granting Ramos-Saunders' motion, Circuit Judge Glenn Kim said the three officers may have had probable cause "to get a search warrant, (but) not to enter the house without a warrant."

The state argued it was reasonable for the officers to believe someone was inside requiring emergency aid, such as an unconscious person injured by the gun or a person in a hostage situation.

The appellate court disagreed and said that police were not faced with any immediate danger to life or serious injury.

Handy tip for Legislators: Lets pass a bill to distribute free silencers to all drug dealers.

read ... Silencer

Feds Suggest Stranded Corinthian Students Transfer to Other Suspect For-Profit Schools

AG: The thousands of students stranded when the already diminished, for-profit Corinthian Colleges, Inc. closed for good last month are stuck in a bewildering, expensive, painful morass that the U.S. Department of Education is making worse.

The department published a list of comparable institutions suitable for transfer within a 25-mile radius of their closed Heald, Everest or Wyotech schools, in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Oregon and New York, which included for-profit schools under investigation by state and federal authorities.

SA: Thousands stage loan strike against for-profit colleges, charging trickery

read ... Suspect

Obama foundation to officially name Chicago home of Obama library May 12

ST: The Sun-Times has learned that on May 12 the Barack Obama Foundation will make the public and official announcement that the Obama library, museum and presidential center will be in Chicago.

The Sun-Times was the first to report, on April 14 and in subsequent stories, that the Obama complex would be coming to the South Side. Multiple sources confirmed on Monday that the Chicago-based Obama Foundation, led by Obama friend Marty Nesbitt, is planning an announcement event a week from Tuesday.

The May 12 announcement will be made on the South Side, the home of the winning bidder, the University of Chicago and will cap a process that started on Jan. 31, 2014 when the foundation was created.

read ... Chicago Sun Times

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