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Friday, May 15, 2015
May 15, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:19 PM :: 4002 Views

Voting for 2015 Neighborhood Board elections ends tonight

Ige: Feds Secretly Declared Hawaii Health Connector 'Non-Compliant' in February

Robin Danner in DC: "I speak for Native Hawaiians"

There’s ‘No Sugarcoating’ Health Insurance Exchange Failures

Dog Bites? Hawaii Ranks 40th

Enviros Challenge Deep-Sea Mining Licenses

Court: State Cannot Place Tax Lien on Hawaii PEO Business Owned by Mainland Tribe

UH Faces Hearing before NCAA Committee on Infractions

Senate Boss Kouchi: Tough and Calculating Voice for Pro-Development Interests

CB: Kouchi operates behind the scenes, an expert dealmaker focused more on getting things done than grabbing headlines, according to lawmakers and others who have worked closely with him....

“Some thought he was a little too tough but he had to hold people’s feet to the fire and he never misrepresented himself,” said Furfaro, now the administrator of the county boards and commissions.

Tim Bynum, who served on the Kauai County Council with Kouchi for two years, said he is “very thoughtful and calculated.”....

Ruderman was assigned the Health Committee chairmanship, a position the Big Island grocer felt he was less qualified to fill. It’s unclear if that offer is still on the table.

At another point, sources familiar with the reorganization said Ruderman was offered the Human Services chairmanship, but the offer was quickly rescinded when he said he was going to talk it over with his cohorts. The post ultimately went to Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, who had chaired that committee when it was combined with Housing.

Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room physician on the Big Island, had chaired the Health Committee, but he has been relegated to majority floor leader, a minor concession to the Chess Club member.

Sen. Laura Thielen, the previous chair of the Water and Land Committee, was initially assigned to chair the newly created Health and the Environment Committee. At another point she was offered Environment and Ocean Resources.

She accepted the position of Health Committee chair, but then changed her mind after getting a bad feeling about the reorganization....

Senate leaders are expected to make an announcement by Monday about the reorganization.

Lawmakers and others have said privately that the real significance of the reorganization isn’t that Kouchi is president instead of Kim. It’s that members of the Chess Club who stood for greater government transparency and fair play, like Majority Policy Leader Les Ihara, have been booted for not adhering to the “good-ol’ boy” way of doing business.

They pointed at the Carleton Ching episode as an example. Gov. David Ige nominated Ching, a lobbyist for Castle & Cooke, a major land developer, to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Thielen held a two-day public hearing on the nomination, which led to a groundswell of public opposition and eventually the governor withdrawing the appointment. It was rough at times, but open.

That would more than likely not have happened with the new power structure in place. Members of the Opihi faction supported Ching and generally favor development interests. It’s more of a culture where things are decided privately and then announced publicly.

Kouchi got into politics in his 20s after coming back from college in 1982 and not seeing any opportunities for himself or his friends on Kauai. Many his age were moving to the mainland or extending their time in the military.

He decided to at least go down swinging before moving in search of a better future. Single and 25 years old, he ran for the County Council and won.

“When I was younger, in trying to create that economy, I was more favorable to development projects,” Kouchi said.

But after getting married and having two kids, he said his views have evolved. Creating jobs is still a top priority, but it’s important for him to do so with sound planning that protects the environment.

Kouchi, who chaired the council for 12 of the 22 years he served on it, lists his co-sponsorship of a charter amendment to create the Open Space Commission among his accomplishments.

Kouchi remains a self-described fiscal conservative. His campaign contributions include thousands of dollars from major land developers and the seed industry, one of the biggest employers on the west side of Kauai where he grew up.

His campaign finance records also reveal his support for fellow senators.

Kouchi donated thousands of dollars during the last election cycle to Sens. Clarence Nishihara, Maile Shimabukuro, Lorraine Inouye, Brickwood Galuteria, Roz Baker, Jill Tokuda, and Rep. Jimmy Tokioka.

He gave $2,000 last march to Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui for a fundraiser, plus another $1,000 in June.

Before the August primary, Kouchi gave $500 to Abercrombie and $550 to Ige. When Ige became the Democratic nominee, Kouchi gave him another $4,000....

He likened his style to that of a point guard in basketball. He tries to put people in the right positions and then gets them the ball....

read ... Old Boy Win

If Hawaii Dumps State Exchange, Supreme Court Could Block Subsidies

TH: Hawaii’s move to the federal exchange would leave only 13 states with state-based marketplaces. Already, about a half-dozen states, including Oregon and Nevada, have had to scrap their exchanges and move to the federal system because of funding and technological issues.

If Hawaii moves to HealthCare.gov, it would also mean one more state that could be affected by a Supreme Court ruling this summer. The case,King v. Burwell, questions whether ObamaCare subsidies are legal in states that rely on the federal exchange.

If the court rules against ObamaCare, as many as 8 million people could lose their subsidies — not including those in Hawaii. About 40,000 people are receiving coverage through Hawaii Health Connector, according to its executive director.

FOX: Hawaii’s $205M ObamaCare system on life support, critics fear ‘complete waste’

read ... The Hill

Star-Adv Runs Fluff Piece on Hostile Whale Sanctuary Director

SA: Q: What’s the difference in approach between the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine monument and the sanctuary?

A: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was established as a marine national monument by President (George W.) Bush, using an authority called the Antiquities Act — very different from the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. The president basically created a place where everything is prohibited, except that which is allowed by a permit.

Sanctuaries have everything that is allowed, except the very specific things that are prohibited, which is what we’re proposing. We have a few things (for which) we are trying to put protections in place, which is a very different model.

Reality: Feds try to get Kauai Protesters Arrested: "I want you to hit me"

Reality: Feds Grab for Control of 1,601 square miles of Hawaii Waters

read ... Fluff Piece

UH Manoa Faculty, Administrators Continue to Play Retaliation Games on Your Dime 

SA: The University of Hawaii has launched an internal investigation of UH-Manoa's chief academic officer over faculty and staff complaints alleging bullying and racist and sexist behavior.

Reed Dasenbrock, vice chancellor of academic affairs at Manoa since 2009, is accused of about 20 incidents in an April 6 memo signed by 22 faculty and staff members. The complaint, which is not being made public because it is part of an ongoing investigation, was sent to Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman last month.

The faculty members, part of a group called I Mua Manoa, accuse Dasenbrock of harassing and intimidating female employees, making racist remarks and denying resources to programs or units led by faculty who have objected to unfair treatment — allegations that Dasenbrock denies....

As chief academic officer, the deans of UH-Manoa's 15 schools and colleges report to Dasenbrock, as do some associate and assistant vice chancellors.

In all, nearly 4,500 employees work in units that report to Dasenbrock, who earns a $285,000 salary.

The I Mua Manoa group formed last summer in response to the firing of former Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple....

Philosophy professor Ron Bontekoe, who resigned Monday as chairman of the Manoa Faculty Senate's executive committee following comments he made to a Hawaii News Now reporter in defense of Dasenbrock, said Manoa's budget troubles have some faculty on edge....

read ... Your Tax and Tuition Dollars at Work

Obama Library Rejection Goes from UH Losers Bet to HCDA Foolish Optimism

Borreca: David Lassner, UH president, tried to paint a happy face, saying, "While we're not building that magnificent facility at Kakaako that we proposed, I think that there will be decades of benefit to the state as a result of putting in the proposal, getting on the radar and clearly attracting the attention of the president."

A safer bet would be to expect the brick-and-mortar Hawaii Obama Whatever to fade into Manoa's academic mists. You are likely to go broke betting on Obama Library Part Deux.

This is not all bad, because the Chicago park land sacrificed for the Obama edifice means that the under-appreciated but still gorgeous Kakaako Makai land reserved for the Hawaii Obama library can now go for a real park in urban Honolulu.

While there are no other specific plans for the eight acres of land next to Kakaako District Park, it is owned by the state and is not slated for development.

"HCDA owns that parcel and the rest of the Kakaako Makai park land. We're currently conducting an EIS for all the Kakaako Makai park land, as well as a master plan for active use facilities in Kakaako Makai parks," explained Lindsey Doi, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

While expecting the HCDA to just do the right thing with public lands under its control may be the definition of foolish optimism, there are some reasons to hope that the public agency can actually pull a park out of the deal.

"That parcel's use will be consistent with park uses," Doi said in response to an emailed query.

read ... Foolish Losers

OHA Gives Away $37.4M in 'Loans'

KGI: All told, 2,017 Malama Loans totaling $37.4 million have been distributed to qualifying Native Hawaiians across the islands. Kauai residents account for 101 of those loans, totaling $1.9 million, according to Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund Finance and Operations Manager Thomas Atou....

“Our financing is to support those who are in need of financing to help either with their business growth, prepare for their house to improve equity, improvement with education loans and to help consolidate their debt so they have more cash flow,” Atou said.

The program makes up to $19,999 available to qualified applicants, whose interest rate on the loans is 6.25 percent. To start or expand a business, the interest rate is 4 percent. The repayment period on the loan is seven years.

Of the Malama Loans awarded since April 30, 39 percent funded home improvements, 29 percent went toward debt consolidation, 24 percent were funneled toward businesses and 8 percent supported education, Atou said.

“The loans that we give out we hope to recover to keep the revolving door aspect of this going,” Atou said.

The money for the Malama Loan program comes from the NHRLF, which is administered by OHA through First Hawaiian Bank. NHRLF was created in 1987 as a self-sustaining program with repayments used to generate new loans for Native Hawaiians. The goal of NHRLF is to provide alternative funding to borrowers often denied traditional loan products and to provide these loans at rates and terms not available from other sources....

In addition to Malama Loans, OHA opperates two other lending programs. The Consumer Micro-Loan Program makes up to $7,500 in low-interest loans available to Native Hawaiian consumers experiencing temporary financial hardships due to unforeseen circumstances.

The Hua Kanu Business Loan Program makes between $200,000 and $1 million available to help Native Hawaiians expand their already established businesses.

read ... Gifts for Cronies

Feds to License Windfarm off Waikiki Beach?

IM: Ocean-based floating wind-generation facilities have been proposed AW Hawaii Wind LLC.

Each facility would consist of 51 floating eight megawatt (MW) turbines secured in place by anchors.

The Oahu South Project would be located approximately 17 miles south of Diamond Head in water depths of approximately 1,000 – 2300 feet.

The Oahu Northwest Project would be located 12 miles northwest of Ka`ena Point in water depths of approximately 2,300 ‐ 3,300 feet above an ocean floor plateau.

“The Southern area will be visible from Waikiki beach.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has scheduled its third BOEM/Hawaii Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting for Wednesday, June 3, 2015 from 9 am to 2:20 p.m.

The meeting will occur at the Homer A. Maxey International Trade Resource Center located at Pier 2, 521 Ala Moana Boulevard, near the makai end of Punchbowl.

The meeting itself is reserved for government conversations. BOEM and the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) will make presentations. At the end of the meeting the public can make comments.

RCN: Danes propose 816MW of wind floaters off Hawaii

read ... Crackpot Idea Funded by Your Tax Dollars

Paper Bags Will be Even Worse

SA: While seniors and others who ride the bus or walk will be hardest hit by the ban on plastic bags on Oahu, the increased use of paper bags will contribute to one of America's worst environment enemies, the paper industry.

Paper production is among the most resource-intensive and highly polluting of all manufacturing industries. It is among the largest users of water and energy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. It is fourth highest in emissions of toxic chemicals to water, and third in air pollution.

Although the environmental destruction is far away from Oahu, managing plastic bag litter through education and strong laws would be far better than contributing to the destruction of America's environment.

read ... Wisdom

Maui Small Businesses to be Hit with 600% Fee Hike

MN: On May 4, during the final week of budget deliberations, Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama proposed a 600 percent increase to the Commercial Ocean Recreation Activities (CORA) permit fee, increasing it from $500 to $3,000 per permit, based on a proposal he submitted April 27.

It certainly came as a great shock to the CORA industry and permit holders who were unaware this was even being considered, much less being brought up by the Budget and Finance Committee and voted on by council members without the affected businesses' knowledge of or participation in the process or discussion.

Many CORA operators have multiple permits, given a county change years ago where they were required to go from one permit to a permit for each activity and each park. One business noted that it holds eight permits as a result of the change and needs all eight permits for safety (due to weather conditions), avoiding overcrowding at particular areas and customer preference. The business would see its permit costs go from $4,000 to $24,000 a year, creating an unanticipated $20,000 hit this year and subsequent years if the rate increase passes. It is a cost that will hurt it and many other businesses.

read ... Fee Hike

Anti-GMO Idiots Demand Hawaii County Stop Buying Roundup

HTH: A grass-roots drive to reduce pesticide applications along the roadways is getting encouragement from Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, who said she’s suggested people come to the County Council meeting on Monday to testify about taking the products out of the county budget.

If people show up, it will be a relative rarity for the county budget that is often decided by the council with little public input. Next year’s proposed budget, at $438.8 million, is Mayor Billy Kenoi’s highest budget yet and 5.25 percent higher than this year’s budget. There are no proposed increases in taxes or fees.

The latest group, which is rallying on Facebook for signatures and testifiers, opposes the use of Roundup brand glyphosate and other herbicides and insecticides by county Department of Public Works employees....

“The budget is one opportunity for people to speak up,” Wille said. “There is a direct nexus between having funding and what we do and what we don’t do.”

She noted that a group recently came before the county to advocate lowest priority for marijuana prosecutions and were reassured there was no line item in the county budget for such prosecutions.

The council has until June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, to amend and pass a budget or the mayor’s budget automatically goes into effect July 1.

read ... Usual Suspects

Honolulu police officer, 41, arrested for alleged sex assault

SA: Police arrested last week a 41-year-old Honolulu police officer on six counts of sexual assault, but have not charged him as of Thursday.

The officer was arrested 6:10 p.m. May 8 on suspicion of four counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault. Police released him from custody about one hour after his arrest.

The Honolulu Police Department has restricted the police powers of the officer, who has eight years of service, said spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

read ... Another One

Homeless Wish-List for Legislature falls Short

AP: Hawaii needs to construct more than 27,000 affordable housing rental units over the next five years to meet demand. Adding in market-priced housing and homes for first-time buyers, the total need balloons to more than 64,000 units over the next five years, according to a recent housing study conducted for the state.

But the amount of money the Legislature ultimately granted for additional affordable housing through a mix of bonds and tax revenues was less than what advocates and Gov. David Ige had hoped for and could fund about 780 new rental housing units statewide in the next year....

Hawaii's affordable-housing developments are often financed by the Rental Housing Trust Fund, which provides low-interest loans to developers. Lawmakers approved $40 million in bonds for the fund, far less than the $100 million Ige requested. They also capped the amount of money going to housing from the conveyance tax at $38 million per year....

Funding for smaller projects was approved, including $1.7 million to convert a former juvenile detention center into a mixed-use residential and service center in Honolulu that could include 180 affordable housing units.

Legislators approved $10 million in bonds to do repair and maintenance to the state's public housing structures, which was far less than the $80 million requested by the Public Housing Authority.

The state's Housing First program, which helps the most vulnerable chronically homeless people get into housing, was granted $1.5 million in 2016. But that level of funding means services will be limited to Oahu, not neighbor islands, and the program received no appropriation for 2017....

One bright spot, advocates said, was the approval of a bill that would help homeless people who lose identification cards when encampments are raided. To get a replacement ID, a clergy person or service provider could provide a sworn statement that the individual lives in Hawaii, proof that is often difficult to obtain without a permanent address.

Advocates are hoping that the Legislature will do more next year to address barriers people face getting into apartments. Among the bills that died was one that sought to regulate application fees charged by landlords....

read ... Advocates say Legislature could do more to help homeless

26% of Homeless Have Serious Mental Illness

HNN: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 26% of sheltered homeless adults nationwide suffer from serious mental illness.

The Honolulu City Council has taken note.  The City Council is appropriating $300,000 for HPD officers to undergo training to better interact with those with mental health issues.

"When somebody is behaving erratically, maybe yelling or screaming, even being threatening, the police are the first there," said Marya Grambs, the Executive Director of Mental Health America of Hawaii.

Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read ... Mental

City’s sit-lie laws result in many warnings, but few arrests

KITV:  "The good news is these laws work without having to do arrests,” the mayor said Thursday in an interview with KITV4.  “A warning works. People stop doing the activity that's now prohibited under this law."

Last September, the mayor signed Bill 42 into law, making it illegal to sit or lie on a city sidewalk in Waikiki. After a period of educating the public about the new ordinance, police officers began actual enforcement. According to numbers provided by the city, officers in Waikiki issued 751 sit-lie warnings, 184 citations, but only three arrests.

Before Bill 42 was passed by the City Council and signed by the mayor, the Hawaii chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union raised concern, saying such laws unfairly target the homeless and threaten their constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment. However, Caldwell is satisfied the ordinances will hold up in court if they’re ever challenged....

Although Caldwell believes the city’s sit-lie laws are working, he's taking a cautious approach on their possible expansion. Bill 6, passed by the City Council last week, expands the area of a sidewalk beyond the pavement by 10 feet, and includes other streets that may not be considered business districts. The mayor believes that could provide ammunition to the ACLU.

"We want to do it properly,” said Caldwell. “We want to make sure that we're standing on the right side of the law, and we don't want to jeopardize our overall program."

The mayor has until next week Friday to decide whether he'll sign Bill 6 into law....

SA: Plan omits funds for homeless office

read ... Few Arrests

Farrington HS to be Model for Discipline Reform Statewide?

SA: But in promoting the worthy goal of keeping troublesome students in school, the board must work doubly hard to obtain the resources to achieve this aim — without raiding the regular-education budget — and do more to reassure school employees and students that safe learning environments will not be compromised.

Farrington High School, Hawaii's fourth-largest high school, offers a good model in this regard, with its intensive efforts to engage students and promote positive behavior so that fewer serious incidents occur. When suspensions are unavoidable, the school staffs an off-campus classroom that helps suspended students catch up and keep up with their schoolwork and develop and maintain the important routine of attending classes.

The result is not only lower suspension rates — which frankly can be achieved simply by ignoring student misconduct — but a truly better campus climate that makes it easier for all students to learn.

read ... Discipline

Bullying Gay Agenda into the Schools

CB: “I think momentum and public opinion is on our side,” said Canadian Mathew Bellhouse-King, co-chair of the political action arm of (gay power group misnamed) Equality Hawaii.... (and formerly of PREL!)

That mandate raised a number of concerns for agencies, said Rep. Roy Takumi, who chairs the House Committee on Education. For example, Takumi said, would the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations — which works with teens as young as 16 — have to train its staff in bullying prevention?

The legislation was modified late in the session to make the law apply only to agencies that work “primarily” with youths, Takumi said, but questions remained about where the threshold for that would be and which groups would fall under the law. The bill didn’t apply to private schools, he said.

The Department of Education also expressed concern that it would wind up being responsible for making sure other agencies were in compliance with the law, Takumi said.

There was no estimate of how much it would cost to implement the bill — which was deferred when it failed to get clearance from the House and Senate money committees.

But it’s technically still alive in committee and won’t need to be reintroduced next session.

“I think these are all issues that can be resolved,” Takumi said. “This is clearly not something that is going to go away, and I think there is a commitment on the part of stakeholders to make changes where they are needed.”

What will be different moving forward?

For a start, lawmakers hope to get a revised bill to the money committees earlier in the year, so there is more time to work out the details over appropriations, said Sen. Michelle Kidani, chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Bellhouse-King said Equality Hawaii will also be looking for additional funding sources to help support training and offset implementation costs.

Kidani said lawmakers should look at having one agency, such as the Department of Education, create a uniform bullying policy that all the other agencies can adopt — instead of leaving it up to each agency to craft its own policy.

“We needed a little more time,” Kidani said. “Going forward we at least have a place to start next year.”....

read ... Bullying

After Decade: Brand New Lahainaluna stadium sits idle, one of many DOE delays

KHON: KHON2 has told you about opening delays for a couple of big education projects: a library at Waialua Elementary and a field at McKinley High School.

Now, Always Investigating has uncovered another one affecting the entire West Maui community.

Lahainaluna stadium is the latest to face slow-tracked school project hurdles

What public school wouldn’t want a new library, athletic field or stadium?

Yet time and again, these signature projects run on for years longer than anticipated.

More than 10 years ago, a new stadium was envisioned for Lahainaluna High School on Maui. The project is finally just about at the end, but what’s holding it up from getting an opening day?

“We thought we would have our football games here,” said Lahainaluna principal Emily De Costa, “and that was exciting because we usually travel to the other side.”

That drive all the way to Wailuku and back was supposed to be pau last fall.

“That didn’t happen. Then we said maybe our homecoming game, and that didn’t happen,” De Costa said. “Then it was soccer and that didn’t happen. Then January, that didn’t happen. Now it’s May. We wanted graduation really bad, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

The Lahainaluna stadium is the latest school project that somehow got stuck in slow motion, similar to Waialua Elementary School’s library, which was four years in the making, and McKinley High School’s softball field, which took two years to build plus two years just to approve for use. 

(Math Problem: 2 years = 10% of projected lifespan of 20 years, thus 10% of the value of the CIP is wasted by the delay.)

The Maui stadium idea sparked 10 years ago with money flowing by 2007 and construction within a few years, but a projected opening day already in the past.

read ... DoE Delays

Gabbard, Takai Defy Obama Veto Threat, Vote for Republican Defense Budget

CB: The Hill reports that, “Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Friday passed a $612 billion defense bill in a 269-151 vote.”

Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii were among 41 Democrats who voted in favor of the measure, along with most Republicans. Democratic Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer voted against it.

read ... Say No to Obama, Vote Republican

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