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Wednesday, May 20, 2015
May 20, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:33 PM :: 3570 Views

2015 Neighborhood Board Election Results

A-1 A-Lectrician Case: 9th Upholds Hawaii Election-Finance Laws

84% of Hawaii Rural Roads Poor, Mediocre

Hawaii Ranks Fourth for Senior Health

Hawaii: Report Looks at the State of Preschool

NELHA Transparency? 'Continues to Struggle with Sunshine'

Ige Signs Rain Tax Bill

KITV: Salivating, Honolulu's Mayor Kirk Caldwell calls the taxing option a tool.   He supported the taxing measure pointing out that federal regulators point to runoff as the  major  source of pollution in our streams and ocean.

"So if there are things we can do to show the Environmental Protection Agency that we are dealing with our water runoff after a storm in a better way we will do it. (So we can use this as an excuse to raise taxes.) Right now, we don’t see that pressure to do it, but the legislature has given us that tool to in case we find we need to make that necessary," Caldwell said.

In recent years, the EPA fined the state millions of dollars for failing to manage runoff from airports and highways and from discharges into harbors.

Other mainland cities are struggling with tax equity issues between commercial and residential properties.

One Honolulu lawmaker questions how a rain tax can apply to someone in Ewa, where it's dry-- to someone living in a rainforest.

"Are you going to pay equal to someone who lives in Wahiawa or Manoa where it rains every day or every evening. How are you going to do this?,” said Rep. Gene Ward.

Ward called the measure a middle-class killer, wondering how the counties can be fair to those living in both apartment high rises and single-family homes.

"It has either cement driveways, sidewalks or other things that are covered, or roofs that are going to create runoff and the real problem is, I don’t know how they are going to implement it," Ward said.

While the city doesn't have a plan in hand to slap residents with the storm water fee, take note -- in some states the rain tax was repealed after push back from residents and businesses.

The monthly fees imposed in some mainland cities ranged from $5 to $10 dollars a month for homes --to hundreds or thousands of dollars for shopping centers, schools and airports.

read ... Rain Tax

Barrel Tax Expanded to Drive Up Electricity Rates--Star-Adv Complains it is not Enough

SA: In the midst of passing a bill strengthening Hawaii's push away from fossil fuels — the goal now is to produce all the state's energy from renewable sources by 2045 — lawmakers also approved a carve-out for coal, the most polluting energy source of them all.

With the passage of Senate Bill 359, the "barrel tax" on petroleum products is being extended to include fossil fuels in general, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well as synthetic gas and propane. However, the original version of the bill also included coal, which prompted protests from AES Hawaii Inc. The company produces about 20 percent of Oahu's energy by burning coal at its Campbell Industrial Park plant.

HJ: The Inconvenient Truth

read ... Rate Hike Coming

Trapped Under HGEA, 90 to be Laid off from Big Isle Hospitals

HNN: Nearly 90 employees will be laid off and some services will be cut at Hilo Medical Center, Ka'u Hospital and Hale Ho'ola Hamakua because of a projected $7 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1. The hospitals comprise the East Hawaii Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, the state funded hospital system which is facing a $50 million shortfall overall for fiscal 2016.

Planned closures include Home Care Services, which provides homebound individuals both chronic and transitional nursing care, and one wing of adult inpatient psychiatric care at Hilo Medical Center. Service cutbacks will reduce the number of long term care beds available at Hilo Medical Center, Ka'u Hospital and Hale Ho'ola Hamakua. Additional cuts will be necessary in many departments and in total 87 people, or approximately 7% of the total workforce, will lose their jobs as a result of these planned closures and cutbacks.

The region's estimated shortfall is the result of higher costs and lower reimbursement rates incurred while servicing a fast-growing population of more than 100,000 people who live in a vast and mostly rural 2,000-square mile area. The hospitals are the safety net for many in the community who are uninsured and have no other healthcare options. Approximately 75% of the East Hawaii Region's reimbursements come from Medicare and Medicaid/Quest and they do not cover the cost of care.

WHT: Green: Hospital partnership, new ER possible

read ... Thanks to HGEA

More Escapees Not Charged:  Lawmakers question state’s inmate work furlough program

KHON: Always Investigating previously revealed that many work furlough walkaways aren’t getting punished for escaping.

Turns out, the same trend is true for inmates who actually make a break from a higher-security facility.

Most on the Department of Public Safety’s list of escapes are work furlough walkaways, and one of those who started with a furlough getaway was later accused of a much more violent escape.

We went through the prison escape list line by line, merged it with every escape case in court and found more than 40 not prosecuted yet.

One name on the court list stuck out, 2012 furlough program walkaway Ryan Jeffries-Hamar, a felon with 51 arrests and 17 convictions.

He’d been given work furlough, but decided to run away from a drug test and wasn’t arrested until a month later. That got him kicked out of furlough, and a charge of escape in the second degree.

But within months, authorities say Jeffries-Hamar teamed up fellow inmate Jarvis Higa and staged a violent breakout from Hawaii Community Correctional Center. Officials say they punched and dragged a corrections officer, stole a staffer’s car and got away.

Jeffries-Hamar was convicted for escape in the first degree while Higa’s case is still dragging on years later.

Also awaiting charges: Daniel Skelton. Authorities say he crawled through the shower ceiling and out an unlocked gate at Oahu Community Correctional Center. Sheriff’s nabbed him a year ago, but Always Investigating discovered he has not yet been charged.

We checked and the attorney general’s office says the investigation is done and the case is being reviewed for possible charges.

read ... Furlough

UH pays Shrink $200/hr to Analyze Demented Deans

HNN: The University of Hawaii Manoa has paid an executive coach $200 an hour to work with new deans and other administrators, a move that's come under fire as a questionable use of funds when the flagship campus is millions in the red.

UH officials defended the executive training as an “industry standard.”

A UH Manoa spokesman said the campus has spent at least $52,000 over four years paying psychologist and executive coach Carol Gallagher to work with new UH deans, chairs of departments and other administrators.

Some UH colleges spent additional money hiring Gallagher for more sessions, in what UH Spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said is a good investment.

read ... $52K to learn to be a Dean, LOL!

TMT collaborators moving forward with project

WHT: Aside from the ongoing standstill atop Mauna Kea, those behind the Thirty Meter Telescope are moving forward with the $1.4 billion project.

“While construction of the observatory itself has been halted, the project has not been canceled,” TMT International Observatory Board Member Michael Bolte said in an email.

During the downtime, Bolte said TMT has been talking with community leaders to find a path where the parties can move forward together.

“That said, other areas of the project have been moving forward as planned as instruments and other technologies also take time to design, build and test,” he said.

In India, workers are fabricating the telescope mirror support system, TMT said Tuesday. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. In California, the primary mirror and mirror control system are in final design, while Japan has produced more than 60 special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and continues design of the massive telescope structure....

read ... Moving Forward

Green: Fundraising Drives 'Environmentalist' anti-GMO Strategy

KE: ...I can't count how many appeals I've gotten from groups using the plight of the honey bees to raise money. Not one of them proposed restoring habitat, offering farmers subsidies for pollinator zones, reducing the practice of trucking bees all over the nation to pollinate crops or educating people not to fear bats and bees.

Nope. It was all about we gotta ban neonics, so send us the money to do it. And now that the Prez has come out with a comprehensive plan, they can't embrace it because that cuts into their fundraising.

It's so disheartening to see so many “green” groups use this strategy, which undermines any sort of compromise or cooperation.

Sadly, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has taken her cue from these groups, sending out an email asking her constituents to oppose a bill that would prohibit state and local governments from adopting GMO labeling requirements. Oh, and while you're at it, kick in a little dough for a campaign contribution, OK? Because even though I'm your elected official, with generous perks and salary, I won't do anything on your behalf unless you make it worth my while....

read ... Musings: Chasing the Green

Mayor to OK Ho'opili rezoning bill

SA: Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to sign a rezoning bill Wednesday for the contentious 11,750-home Ho‘o­pili project in West Oahu, but opponents say their fight is far from over.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments next month on an appeal of the state Land Use Commission's approval of the project, which reclassified the 1,554-acre site to urban from agricultural use.

Caldwell, in an opinion piece appearing in the editorial section of Wednesday's Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser, said he will sign Bill 3 as approved unanimously by the Hono­lulu City Council because Ho‘o­pili's new homes will help ease Oahu's serious housing shortage.

"We all agree that we are in a real housing crisis," Caldwell wrote, noting that a recent study said there is a need for more than 24,000 new units and that most of those units will need to be priced within range of those in low and moderate income levels. At least 30 percent of Ho‘o­pili's units, or 3,525 homes, must be affordable to families making no more than 120 percent of median income. Federal housing guidelines for 2015 list the median income for a family of four on Oahu at $114,980.

Caldwell: Ho'opili: A strong step in the right direction

read ... Hoopili

City administration ignores homeless, except in Waikiki

SA: ...When the Waikiki "sit-lie" bill was under consideration, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Waikiki business community were in lock-step to get the bill passed expeditiously. The City Council did ultimately pass the bill with the understanding that the Waikiki homeless would move into shelters or to a transitional center on Sand Island.

​Now, the Sand Island project may never happen, and many homeless remain unsheltered. By the administration's own data, about 40 people have found shelter since the Waikiki sit-lie ban went into effect. Most of the homeless have instead migrated to other areas of the city, causing the Council to expand the sit-lie provisions to Chinatown, Kakaako and other business districts. The forced migration to urban areas has reached crisis proportions in areas such as the Kapalama Canal, Aala Park, Makiki-McCully and airport viaduct areas.

The influx has visibly affected businesses and residents in the urban core and the Council passed Bill 6 in response — but now the mayor appears reluctant to sign the bill. From the Council's perspective, the sit-lie protections enacted to assist Waikiki's businesses should apply to all Oahu businesses and public walkways.

​The Council acknowledges that the sit-lie bill is not the answer to homelessness, and will continue to press for the creation of shelter and permanent housing in order to make these sit-lie measures truly effective. For fiscal year 2015-16, the Council appropriated nearly $50 million to give the administration options to develop affordable housing and launch the Housing First initiative.

The Council is looking to bolster those amounts by another $32 million for fiscal 2016-17, but funding is not the only obstacle we need to overcome. There is an apparent lack of urgency from the city administration to commit to building sufficient new shelter space and providing the case management and other support services our homeless need....

read ... City administration ignores homeless, except in Waikiki

Handi-Van: "It's as bad as its ever been"

KITV: I'm fed up with the talk. I'm fed up with the crap that you give us 48 dozens of Handi-van riders have been driven to dissatisfaction. They met with transportation officials this morning at the state capital to say enough is enough. It's time to fix the problems. When is this going to be done? When is the deadline? ... It's as bad as it's ever been. The service provides more than a million rides a year to Oahu’s older population and transportation officials admit it has been plagued with problems.. Among the gripes: Trouble making reservations and long delays waiting for a ride. Barbra Armentrout depends on the Handi- van every day. She says a move late last year to upgrade the Handi-vans reservation system continues to frustrate passengers.

read ... Fed Up

Insurer Sticks Patient With Bill Over Labor Negotiations

HNN: On March 8 Sumner and Tina drove their son to the emergency room at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. Little Miles was 17 days old and he was sick.

"I woke up in the middle of the night to change his diaper and he had blood in his stool." Tina said.

The family's health insurance is with HMAA.

"Randomly, I was assigned to a different doctor who I wasn't covered with because of their labor negotiations," Sumner said.

The negotiations he's talking about are between HMAA and Emergency Medicine Physicians (EMP). The doctor assigned to Miles case is with EMP, a company HMAA considers not to be in its network.

"Because of their dispute we're not covered," Tina said.

HMAA paid for the emergency room visit but not for the doctor. EMP told the couple it owes them $871.73.

read ... Contract

Officer Pleads Guilty: 'I lost my temper'

HNN: "I lost my temper," Honolulu Police Officer Vince Morre told a federal magistrate judge Tuesday morning when asked why he attacked two men in a game room.

Morre, a 9-year veteran of the force, pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of both men. ...

"When people see that,  that trust and confidence in the department has been decreased," says HPD Chief Louis Kealoha, "But... I hope it reinforces our commitment to the public that whenever things like this happen we're going to investigate it and we're going to take swift and serious action that this won't happen again."

Morre faces 10 years in federal prison for each of the two counts.  He will be sentenced in August. 

He is resigning from the police department.

read ... Guilty

Second U.S. Marine dies from injuries sustained during MV-22 Osprey crash at Bellows

HNN: A second U.S. Marine has been pronounced dead following a fiery MV-22 Osprey crash at Marine Training Area Bellows on Sunday, military officials confirmed.

Family members and sources close to the victim identified him as Matt Determan and said he died Tuesday from injuries sustained during the crash, which also killed 24-year-old Lance Corporal Joshua Barron and injured 20 others.

At least two of the Marines who were injured in the crash remained hospitalized in stable condition on Tuesday, according to a Marine Corps. spokesperson.

read ... Bellows Crash

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