Political Correctness Has Peaked
Another Candidate Withdraws from Nai Aupuni Election
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 2, 2015
APA: Homosexual Rape of Military Personnel 15 Times Higher Than Reported
EUTF: Zombie Pension paid to Dead Man for 20 years, no Prosecution
KHON: Millions worth of taxpayer dollars have been shelled out in the form of payments and benefits to people who aren’t even alive, and few agencies are taking advantage of a low-to-no-cost system that could stop those overpayments sooner.
From pensions to property tax exemptions, even parking placards, payments and benefits that should stop when someone passes away are often passing on to the living....
the state retirement system has been crosschecking state death records monthly since December 2014, with the help of the Department of Health’s vital statistics branch Office of Health Status Monitoring through something they call “death matching.”
We asked what the DOH found when matching up deceased records with the ERS recipient list.
“Initially we found a lot of deaths that we had (still receiving checks),” said state registrar Alvin Onaka, “but on average now we’re finding 10 deaths per month.”
That’s 10 per month that weren’t previously reported to the pension fund by the family or survivors, out of the 1,400 or so retirees who pass away in Hawaii each year. ERS pegs about 150 cases that add up to the half-million overpaid.
“It could be anywhere between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars,” Machida said....
Last year, the FBI and state Labor Department, using a different approach, caught and prosecuted two people who for years collected hundreds of thousands of their dead parents’ payments: Lynsie Katherine Williams for more than $400,000 of her dad’s workers’ compensation payments, and Steven Splater for more than $200,000 of his mom’s disability checks. They both did time in federal prison.
The Department of Health ran its death match of the state’s retiree health system or “EUTF” and flagged a name that had passed 20 years ago and was still getting benefits. The state attorney general’s office says they have no active criminal case for that one....
In the past couple of years, two were found guilty of theft after state prosecutions for taking thousands of dollars’ worth of dead people’s continuing pension payments: Cynthia Namaka for more than $3,000, and Harold Robertson for more than $5,000. They each had to pay restitution and do community service for punishment....
Sometimes it’s not money out, but too little money being billed to taxpayers who owe, that’s costing the government.
“We worked with real property tax. We started with City and County of Honolulu, and I think on our first run of those who were claiming 65-year-old-and-over exemptions, we found 4,000 of their enrollees had expired.”
”One of our early adopters was the people who issue the (disabled parking) placards,” Onaka added. “They submitted a list and we were able to provide them with those who should not be using those placards because they were dead (and the relatives didn’t turn them back in).”
PDF: ERS pension overpayments to the deceased
read ... State matching program that could catch payments to the dead rarely used
“It seems to be fixed" -- More Candidates Withdraw from Nai Aupuni
SA: ... at least three candidates have withdrawn from the election, saying they refuse to participate in a flawed and unfair process, and a grass-roots campaign continues to try to undermine the effort.
The ultimate fate of the convention may still be decided in court, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers an appeal to a judge’s ruling that allowed the process to move forward....
A spokesman for Na‘i Aupuni on Monday said a handful of people called to report trouble with online voting. In response a “vote now” link was set up on the front page at naiaupuni.org.
Veteran Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte Jr. of Molokai announced his withdrawal from the election last week, describing the process as rigged and rushed to meet the nation-within-a-nation proposal supported by the Obama administration.
Following suit are candidates Scott Parker, a Kamehameha Schools Kapalama campus vice principal from Maui, and Judy Moa, owner of an insurance agency on Hawaii island.
Moa said Monday that she’s found too many Hawaiians confused and ill-informed about Na‘i Aupuni,and that the effort appears to be misleading people into believing they can have self-determination and self-governance.
“It seems to be fixed — it really does,” Moa said.
In an email, Parker said he’s had trouble communicating with Na‘i Aupuni and representatives from Election-America, the contractor overseeing the election.
“The inability for Na‘i Aupuni to be transparent on this entire elections process concerns me a great deal,” he said.
A group calling itself Protest Na‘i Aupuni continues its social media and grass-roots campaign to discourage participation in the election. They argue that the effort is a scam to create a puppet nation to undercut the independence movement and take away Hawaiian lands.
A website has been launched at protestnaiaupuni.com, and a “Protest Na‘i Aupuni Community Meeting” will be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at Hauula Elementary School....
Related: Another Candidate Withdraws from Nai Aupuni Election
read ... Withdraw
Hawaii Obamacare Reenrollment Falling Apart After Just Two Days
SA: The state hit a bump in the road Sunday and Monday as it began to shift Obamacare enrollments to the federal government’s health insurance marketplace.
“We’re having big problems getting people who don’t have good language skills enrolled. What was a 20-minute process on our exchange normally, now it’s like hours,” said Jeff Kissel, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, the state-based health insurance exchange, which is assisting residents signing up for Obamacare coverage. “It’s a nightmare.”
Sunday was the day Obamacare coverage in Hawaii switched to the federal marketplace, healthcare.gov, from the Hawaii Health Connector. Kissel didn’t have enrollment numbers as of Monday afternoon.
All of the roughly 40,000 Hawaii residents who got health insurance through the Connector must re-enroll on healthcare.gov. The Connector policies will not be automatically rolled over to the federal exchange. If a policyholder does not re-enroll, coverage will end Dec. 31.
The 150 local Connector outreach workers were having problems because federal rules don’t allow state-based exchanges transitioning to the federal marketplace to actually do the enrollment for consumers.
“They (Hawaii Obamacare policyholders) have to be enrolled either online or through the federal call center,” Kissel said. “We’re literally sitting right beside them. We’re coaching them because there’s so many cultural as well as language differences.” ...
“The concerns we have are for … primarily (the 8,500) people from the freely associated states of Micronesia who have cultural and language differences and other challenges,” Kissel said.
read ... Already a Disaster
Ethics? Bogus Star-Adv Story Used to Turn Opinion Against Ethics Enforcement
DN: The October 31, 2015 Star-Advertiser headline (Rule Would Ban Outside Pay For Teachers) is wrong, even if you can figure it out. The story itself is wrong. And it’s unfortunate that readers are led astray—the paper needs to make amends.
Meanwhile in Honolulu: Ethics Comm., Stacked by Caldwell, Sets Special Meeting to Fire Totto?
read ... Setting the Stage to Protect Corruption
Fake Indian Tribe: 'Mahalo to Radicals, now get out of our way'
CB: As we mahalo the “radicals” for their important work in heightening awareness of our indigenous rights, it is now time to begin the process of healing ourselves and our relations to those with whom we now share Hawaii. It is time for the hard work of reconciling our past, present and future to begin.
read ... Step Aside
$55M for Hawaiian homes still not spent
SA: The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has a backlog of more than $55 million in unspent federal housing funds for Native Hawaiians, and President Barack Obama’s administration finally stopped the flow of additional housing funding last fiscal year under the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program.
The state had been receiving $13 million a year in federal funding under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 for housing for Native Hawaiians on Hawaiian homelands.
That funding was reduced to $9 million in federal fiscal year 2015 and was wiped out entirely in the current fiscal year, according to records provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development....
Niniau Simmons, NAHASDA manager for DHHL, said the department had a $75 million backlog when she joined DHHL in 2012, and has reduced it by investing in infrastructure to prepare for the construction of 117 homes in Kealakehe in North Kona on Hawaii island, and about 100 homes in Kapolei. HUD money will also be used to install infrastructure for 40 lots in Kula, Maui.
Those projects are expected to account for nearly $30 million, and additional NAHASDA money will soon be spent on actual home construction at those sites, Simmons said.
DHHL was without a NAHASDA manager for about 18 months starting in 2011, which contributed to the backlog, she said....
That backlog in federal housing funding and two similar backlogs of unspent federal funds for transportation projects and drinking water infrastructure will be the subject of a hearing Thursday by the state Senate Ways and Means Committee....
The Thursday hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. in Room 211 of the state Capitol....
read ... Hearing
Care Homes Not Subject to Surprise Inspection
CB: Health Department officials say they want to stop giving care home operators advance warning of inspections. But they have no plan to change that policy.
read ... No Surprise
How much does UH lose by firing Norm Chow? -- $325K plus
KHON: While the university never disclosed Chow’s salary, Chow himself once said his base salary is $500,000....
Chow is guaranteed full pay through a 90-day period, plus a $200,000 termination fee for the fifth year.
(1/4 of $500K = $125K+ $200K = $325K minimum payout)
SA: UH football program needs more support
read ... How much does UH lose by firing Norm Chow?
UH paid $1.4M to design West Oahu building, then $2.5M to re-design it
HNN: UH spent $1.4 million for John Hara and Associates to design the administration building that was supposed to go on a parcel of land near the school’s main entrance. But UH dropped the structure from its initial construction five years ago, even though the plans were fully completed and the city had granted a building permit for construction to begin, because the project was running out of money and had millions in cost overruns.... (Apparently these geniuses have never heard of design-build.)
When UH later asked state lawmakers for money to build the administration building and another classroom and lab complex for various allied health programs such as physical therapy, geriatric and respiratory care, Meisenzahl said legislators told them to combine the two.
So the UH spent another $2.5 million hiring a new architectural firm – KYA Design Group -- to design a new building on the same spot....
read ... Another Day in the Nei
PUC Allows Gas Co, Coop Into NextEra Hearings
IM: “'The commission granted Hawaii Gas intervener status based in part on how the gas utility' s stated interests may be affected if the commission approves the proposed transaction.’ Such stated interests include Hawaii Gas ‘interest in continuing to participate in the development of state-wide LNG delivery infrastructure to facilitate Hawaii's clean energy future and serve all Industries.’”
Similarly, the Commission granted party status to the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative which stated that its interests included “exploring the potential merits of a cooperative ownership structure for electric utility service."
The Commission asserted that its Order establishing the Statement of Issues “evidenced a broad interpretation.”
The Statement of Issues included
Whether the Proposed Transaction is in the public interest?
Whether approval of the Proposed Transaction would be in the best interests of the State's economy and the communities served by the HECO Companies?
Whether the Proposed Transaction, if approved, will enhance or detrimentally impact the State's clean energy goals?
Whether the transfer, if approved, would potentially diminish competition in Hawaii's various energy markets and, if so, what regulatory safeguards are required to mitigate such adverse impacts?
Hawaii Gas is a competitor to HECO and Nextera and has an alternative plan to import liquefied natural gas.
Whether an electric cooperative or municipal utility makes sense “is relevant to assisting the commission in adjudicating” whether NextEra’s acquisition is in the public interest.
Therefore the Commission clarified that discussions on LNG, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives are part and parcel to the merger proceedings.
read ... Part n Parcel
Homelessness Industry: Follow the Money
HB: Dozens of local charities work with homeless people. All have boards of directors and staff. Most have an office and equipment, like a bus or kitchen, to maintain. And almost all face the same need to raise funds and provide services. Sometimes it gets to be too much.
The people who work or volunteer for these nonprofits are usually resilient, optimistic people trying their best, but the morass of homelessness can get to them, and even they ask, “Is this really the best way to do this work? Is there too much duplication of effort? Would it be more effective to just give the homeless money for rent?”
read ... Follow the money
Honolulu Takes "Most Overpriced City" Title
KITV: Forbes Magazine marks the median income in the islands at $82,600 dollars, but only 35 percent of residents are able to buy a home.
Groceries come in at 55 percent above the national average.
Utilities nearly 78 percent above the average and transportation at 26 percent above.
read ... Overpriced
Property Tax Cap for Kauai?
KGI: A property tax cap scrubbed from the books two years ago could make a comeback....
If passed, any future tax increase would be limited to the most recent actual cost of living increase as reflected by the Consumer Price Index....
read ... Tax Cap
Hawaii Homes Become Affordable when Land Cost factored Out
MN: To keep prices down, Na Hale takes the cost of land out the pricing through a "sustainable lease agreement." The nonprofit group owns the land, which will keep the property affordable, and the buyer owns the house....
Building homes on leased land was the original plan for Na Hale, but the Great Recession that began in late 2007 dried up mortgage credit and created high unemployment and large numbers of foreclosures, the announcement said.
As a result, Na Hale turned to rehabilitating foreclosed homes that were abandoned and becoming neighborhood eyesores, said Andersen. The nonprofit has been able to place 30 families in three- and four-bedroom homes, with two more poised to close.
Most homes sold for under $300,000 and many were sold in the mid- to upper-$200,000 price range. The next free Na Hale homebuyer seminar will be held Nov. 14 at the Cameron Center. Registration begins at 8:45 a.m. with the program running from 9 to 10 a.m. For more information or to sign up, call Na Hale at 244-6110.
read ... Affordable
‘Ghost 911 Calls’ Are A Growing Problem
CB: The phone company says the copper wires may have shorted because of dampness and condensation. When moisture gets into copper wires the resulting electrical short can send out pulses to the telephone company’s central exchange, which can kick off 911 calls. I know that sounds weird but Hawaiian Telcom says it happens.
The repairman disconnected the old copper connection and we have been free of phantom 911 calls ever since....
Statistics from the first nine months of this year, show that HPD has been responding to an average 12,152 phantom 911 calls a month....
read ... Ghost
Moped rider sues city over bike track berms
HNN: Travis Iseke claims in October, 2014, he left his apartment on his moped. It was around 3:40 in the morning when he pulled into the left lane on South King Street.
"I was trying to merge right and boom!" he said.
Iseke, 44, claims he ran into a berm the city installed for its protected bike lane. He said he was thrown from his moped, suffered a concussion and fractured his clavicle and spine. Now he's suing the city.
"They put the curb up. They didn't paint it white or yellow. They just kept it black so it blended in with the color of the asphalt," attorney Richard Turbin said.
read ... Moped rider sues city over bike track berms
Former Kaiser High principal asks for named to be cleared
KITV: Sosa was at the top of his game.
In 2013 he was named "Principal of the Year," and while in Washington DC to receive the award for he got a call NOT to return to his school.
"It's just wrong on several fronts. They put me on leave. They said I was under investigation for fraud and then they never talked to me, said Sosa.
Sosa recently told the Board of Education:
"I spent the next three months wracking my brain. What could I have done that could be construed as fraud? I had been banished form my school. I felt humiliated, angry, worried and isolated."
To this day Sosa doesn’t know what the specific allegations against him were.
He said the attorney general office called his lawyer this past August saying it planned to take no action in the case.
"It just went into this black hole. The real problem is they put these people on these leaves and they dragged it out. I am not the only one this has happened to,"
He is asking the school board for help to clear his reputation...
"I am asking for a letter that says, I didn’t do anything wrong,"...
Sosa believes Matayoshi is abusing her powers. He points to a 10- day directed leave process that she has granted unlimited extensions. Sosa said the ordeal not only ended his career, but has sent a deep chill across the system.
read ... Former Kaiser High principal asks for named to be cleared
Obama Ignores Hawaii's Useless Congressional Delegation
Borreca: In a interview on CNN, Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said the U.S. has no authorization.
“The U.S. and the CIA should stop this illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of (President Bashar) Assad and should stay focused on fighting against who the enemy really is, the Islamic extremist groups,” Gabbard said.
Last year Schatz and Hanabusa were battling for the late Daniel K. Inouye’s Senate seat, a race that Schatz won. Both strove to distance themselves from the worsening Middle East situation. Hanabusa insisted the war was folly and that Obama should change policies; Schatz was equally dismissive, saying during a 2014 Kauai speech, “We do not have the ability to influence matters on the ground in a productive way using the United States military and we should stay out.”
As it now appears, the past and present Hawaii delegations were both correct, and unable to influence the White House.
read ... Unable to Influence