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Saturday, May 16, 2015
May 16, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:13 PM :: 3217 Views

Which States Receive the Most Federal Aid? -- Hawaii is 49th

CON: Hawaii Ranks #3 in 'Certificate of Need' Laws

Jones Act Ready for Retirement

Chris Butler Cult Tied to "Billion Dollar Drug Empire"

SNZ:  Using the protection of Parliamentary privilege he questioned whether Ti Leaf Productions Limited was "nothing more than a front for a religious cult or more importantly Mr Speaker, it is in fact an international drug ring"....

Patrick Bowler was drawn to the healthy living mantras of the Hare Krishna religion in the 1970s.

He became an adherent to Chris Butler's Science of Identity, an offshoot of mainstream Hare Krishna. He later became a master drug smuggler, earning millions of dollars as he trafficked hundreds of tonnes of hashish from Afghanistan and India to North America and Europe.

The Sunday Star-Times revealed last month how Bowler and fellow Kiwi Greg Timewell turned Federal witness in return for reduced sentences. When Timewell was arrested in 1995, he turned in his former mate Bowler,  and Timewell's testimony led to hundreds of convictions worldwide. Bowler was arrested in Switzerland and became a prolific informant, flying to Thailand, Holland and around as a DEA undercover operative, and risking his life on perilous assignments.

They were released from prison in the United States in 2010 after serving lengthy sentences, and their stories were revealed in the Star-Times last month.

SST: Revealed: the Kiwis behind a billion dollar drug empire

read ... Religious sect plans development in MacKenzie Basin

Marine Biologist: Self-Dealing Whale Sanctuary Staff Ignore Public

KGI: I attended the final public meeting for the NOAA sanctuary expansion plan and feel that the TGI article of May 8 did not accurately describe the tenor of the meetings or the frustrations the community felt at being intimidated by sanctuary staff.

The meetings were ineffective because, as Ms Chow shouted out to the audience that evening, “we are not going away,” despite community consensus in favor of no expansion. The government’s arrogance and defiance was reminiscent of Gov. Lingle’s Superferry meetings or Gov. Abercrombie’s PLDC meetings on Kauai, but the sanctuary meetings were definitely much more civil.

The sanctuary meetings were not about “a fair public process” as Ms Chow said. They were doomed to fail as the sanctuary disregarded the ocean users petition with over 7,000 signatures asking for no expansion of the sanctuary, but instead listened to the few hand-picked Sanctuary Advisory Council members promote their own projects incorporated in sanctuary expansion.

The Kauai ocean users information packet, which Ms Chow tried to stop being handed out at the meetings, is a well-reasoned summary of talking points opposed to the sanctuary expansion and it provided the community with help in expressing concerns in the intimidating government format of 3-minute public presentations.

I recommend that everyone email their comments about sanctuary expansion directly to both Gov. Ige (http://governor.hawaii.gov) and the sanctuary (http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov) so that the sanctuary cannot disregard them.

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

read ... Carl J. Berg,  Ph.D. marine biologist and former member HIHWNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council

Jump Sinking Ship? Two Quitting HART Board

SA: Bunda said he will leave the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors on June 30 to 'spend more time with family'....

The HART board will issue a call for nominations in July and then later hold a public hearing and selection process for Bunda’s replacement, according to agency officials.

Bunda’s departure comes as another prominent HART board member prepares to leave. Carrie Okinaga, the HART board’s former chairwoman, has been recommended to take a job as the University of Hawaii’s general counsel; she is slated to leave HART if she’s hired.

read ... Bunda to leave HART board

More Rate Hikes Coming: HMSA, Kaiser bleed $78M Thanks to Obamacare

SA: Hawaii Medical Service Association said more than $62 million in premiums collected will be used to pay an Affordable Care Act insurer fee to the federal government this year, in addition to $4.9 million in other costs related to the law, also known as Obama­care. The ACA fee insurers must pay the federal government jumped about 40 percent this year, HMSA said.

The insurer fee by law must be recorded at the beginning of the year and was "the primary reason" the health plan recorded a loss of $57.2 million in the quarter ended March 31, up from a $30 million shortfall in the year-earlier period, HMSA said....

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, which is both an insurer and provider, reported $11 million in Obama­care fees and taxes in the quarter and posted a loss of $7.8 million, up from a year-earlier deficit of $5.9 million....

read ... Thanks, Obama

Star-Adv: Stockholders can block Utility sale

SA: Some local shareholders may have grave doubts about the proposed takeover of a Hawaii institution by a Florida-based conglomerate that has no history of doing business in the islands. Small investors may worry that dividends they rely on for predictable income will decrease if the deal goes through. Their absent proxies may serve as passive opposition, not disinterest or lack of awareness.

Uncast shares count as "no" votes against the sale, just like the 8 percent of shares that have been voted outright against the sale so far. During the voting extension, shareholders who have already cast their proxies can revoke them, an option that one shareholder has publicly promoted, on the grounds that HEI needs to be more open with information about the sale's potential effects on shareholders, and because it is premature to decide while the Public Utilities Commission is in a relatively early stage of its own review.

IM: Buying shares to alter HECO-NextEra merger outcome

read ... Not Done

Bill 35: Another Property Tax Increase

SA: A bill moving through the Hono­lulu City Council would create a new property tax class for bed-and-breakfast establishments, transient vacation units and other residential properties that are rented for fewer than 180 days.

Bill 35 was among five property tax reform measures that secured preliminary approval from the Council Budget Committee on Tuesday. They will now go before the full Council for a public hearing and the second of three necessary approvals. The bills were among 13 proposals heard by the committee that were based on recommendations made by the 2014 Real Property Tax Advisory Commission.

A slew of B&B and TVU operators, many of them members of the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association, submitted testimony against Bill 35, warning that it would result in higher taxes that would put them out of business.

read ... Property Tax

Record Turnout in Neighborhood Board Elections

SA: The good news: Voting in Oahu's Neighborhood Board elections is up, surpassing a record for the number of digital ballots cast that was set in 2013.

The not-so-good-news: As of Thursday afternoon, with about a day left to vote, that record turnout stood at a whopping 9.5 percent.

More than 90 percent of eligible voters were sitting out on the decision to select grass-roots leaders who help shape city policy. Still, kudos to the more than 18,500 engaged citizens who cast their ballots. A government of the people, for the people, only works when the people participate.

read ... On-line Voting 9.5%

Pflueger completes so-called sentence

HNN: "His sentence was so light, it was worse than no sentence at all," said Tom Hitch, a Kilauea resident, who said he warned Pflueger many times about overfilling the dam.

"If it was my daughter that died, I'd rather he got nothing than such ... a blatantly insulting sentence, a thousand dollars and house arrest for every person he killed." ...

Hitch said that Pflueger didn't allow him on the property after 1999 and threatened him with trespassing charges if he did. Hitch said it Pflueger or one of his employees who filled in the spillway.

"I told Pflueger his filling in the spillway was dangerous and he told me to mind my own business. So I turned him into the county of Kauai," Hitch said.

"Then after the breach, he had the audacity to blame me, saying I did not go up there to control the reservoir height."

KGI: Pflueger 'punished'

read ... Crony Crime Pays

San Francisco Cuts Homelessness 50% by Building 3,000 Units

CB: San Francisco, notorious for its housing crunch, has managed to bring down the city’s chronically homeless population by more than 50 percent from 2009 to 2013 — but it’s been willing to spend far more than Hawaii on the effort.

In 2004, San Francisco set an ambitious goal of creating 3,000 new supportive housing units for the chronically homeless, and it expects to achieve that within the next few years. So far, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development there has committed more than $450 million to the cause.

read ... Housing First

People Who Actually Work for a Living Get off Street into Permanent Housing

HNN: When the Linn's finances ran out they became homeless but they never gave up hope.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always hope. There is always someone there to help you." Linn said.

For his family help came from the non-profit organization Family Promise.

"We were in shelters. We were getting fed. We were bathing. We were doing our jobs. We were working hard," Linn said.

They had a roof over their heads and resolve to turn things around.

"What we were able to do was save our money," Linn said. "We were able to get a deposit from Catholic Charities, which helped with the deposit."

It helped that the Linn's had employable skills.

But many homeless don't.

WHT: Another Homeless Camp Catches Fire

read ... About the Exception

UH athletics complex opens 2 years late; cost 60% more than first estimate

HNN: The new athletics complex at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is opening two years late and cost about 60 percent more than original estimates, partly because of higher construction bids in the improving economy (insert excuse here.)

"This was a gender equity issue in terms of needing it for women's sports here at the University of Hawaii. And we wanted to make sure that we had a great home for both our track teams, our cross country teams, our women's soccer and now our sand bows, the sand volleyball team," Jay said.

As other costs rose, including $1 million for new sewer and water lines, UH cut out the air conditioning planned for the second and third floors of the Ching complex, so press boxes, the announcer's booth and some meeting rooms have no AC.

"There were some things that were taken out in order to save some costs. But we're looking at right now, making sure we get this building right in the end," Jay said.

The $16.2 million final cost includes desks, chairs, tables and a public address system that still have to be installed in a meeting room, the press box and announcer's booth. So it's still not finished.

read ... Only 2 years late?  Somebody is slipping up.

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