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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
February 28, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:17 PM :: 15742 Views

Revised 2012 Reapportionment Plans Posted Online

Hawaii: NRA Instructor Liability Bill Granted Hearing

National GOP race sparks interest in Hawaii March 13 caucus

Borreca: The Democrats go to vote for Obama, or Obama, or maybe Obama, on March 7 in their presidential preference poll. The Republicans hold theirs on March 13.

There is more information about the specifics at the Hawaii Democratic Party website at The GOP website is….

Here in Hawaii, however, the GOP caucus is hoping that any interest will all be for the better.

"There is a lot of great momentum. It is a brand-new concept," reports Hawaii GOP Chairman David Chang, who has been traveling the state speaking to GOP members in preparation for next month's caucus.

The four candidates — Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum — all have campaign leaders in Hawaii.

The Hawaii GOP will have 20 delegates to the national convention and the caucuses will apportion the votes among the candidates. There are 17 delegates at stake because the party chairperson, national committee man and woman are considered "unpledged super delegates," meaning they are not bound by the March caucus results.

read … March 13 Vote

Ed Case: I’m No Conservative

ILind: I was surprised by a phone message yesterday morning from Senate candidate and former Congressman Ed Case. He wanted to respond to my post here on February 13 concerning the endorsement of Case by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

His response follows. Case also provided a copy of a letter addressed to Hawaii Democrats from his campaign coordinators presenting their summary of his record.

read … I’m a liberal too!

New Honolulu Rail Chief Was Late, Over Budget on His Biggest Project

CB: Daniel Grabauskas' largest construction project as chief of Boston's transit system was more than 30 percent over budget and a year late.

But the rail line had hit plenty of bumps before Grabauskas was in charge and the Honolulu official heading the committee that hired him says that the fact he was able to complete the project is a "testament to his ability to lead and execute."

Grabauskas is the lone "finalist" to become executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which is responsible for building the city's proposed 20-mile, $5.2 billion system. The 10-member HART board has already reached "consensus" and a vote to confirm him is set for Thursday.

CB: Fed Advice on Creating Rail ‘Safety Culture’

read … New Honolulu Rail Chief Was Late, Over Budget on His Biggest Project

Hawaii Pacific Health Exec: Low Reimbursement, Lack of LTC Beds Behind HMC Crisis

CB: First of all, reimbursement for medical services in Hawai‘i is inadequate to cover the full costs of physician, hospital, and post acute care. In spite of a higher cost of living in Hawai‘i, we have the third lowest commercial health care premiums for family coverage in the nation. To make matters worse, government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid cover only 75% and 77% respectively of actual costs of hospital care.

Another pressing issue for acute care hospitals in Hawai‘i is the lack of skilled nursing and long-term care beds. Some of these private facilities will argue that beds do exist but what’s not being said is that those beds are for patients who have private insurance or the financial means to cover the cost of care. For Medicaid or Medicare patients, reimbursement for long term care does not adequately compensate for more complicated cases. Since these patients have no where to go, they remain in an acute care bed that could be used for a patient that is critically ill. Medicare does not pay any additional money to the hospital for additional days spent by the patient waiting for a long term care placement and Medicaid pays approximately 20%-30% of the cost of those additional waitlisted days. By continuing to care for these long-term care patients, acute care hospitals in Hawai‘i lost approximately $72.5 million for 2008….

The closure of the HMC hospitals should serve as a wake up call for all of us in the state. There are numerous bills in the legislature this year to address the reimbursement shortfalls and patient wait listed issues. In addition, we all need to focus on improving access, quality, patient satisfaction and efficiencies to create a health care network in Hawai‘i that is truly sustainable….

Finally, the growing community of West O‘ahu deserves to have a community hospital that continues the legacy of care established by the Sisters of St. Francis more than 80 years ago. Hawai‘i Pacific Health is committed to that effort. Should we be given the opportunity to acquire the facility, we expect to invest up to $20 million in renovations and technology upgrades and plan to have the emergency room, imaging services and at least one inpatient floor open as soon as practical.

Related: Abercrombie Doubles Down on Policies Which Killed HMC Hospitals

read … The State of Health Care in Hawai‘i

Tax Credit Fight: Hawaii Solar Energy Leader Voted Out

CB: Mark Duda says the vote last week to remove him from the organization's leadership was because of an internal conflict over the board's position on state tax incentives for solar projects.

…Rep. Pono Chong has been the most prominent advocate in the Legislature for cutting back on state tax credits. He criticized the credits in October in an interview with Civil Beat, saying that the $30 million to $40 million expended annually by the state on the incentives was coming at a time when the government was taking people off of Medicaid and the Department of Education was looking at cutting bus service.

He has called for capping the annual state expenditures on tax credits.

This legislative session, Chong has proposed two bills targeting the solar industry, House Bill 2417 and House Bill 2121. HB 2417 would close what some say is a loophole that allows a single homeowner or business to take advantage of multiple tax credits on a single rooftop array. HB 2121 would prohibit developers who install systems on government buildings from taking the tax credits.

Mark Duda got the boot as solar contactors fight to bring order to the solar tax credit system.

Here is what this is all about:

read … Hawaii Solar Energy Leader Voted Out

SB2111: Legislators Debate How to Give Millions of Dollars to Hollywood Moguls

SA: The goal is to find the right combination of incentives and support to grow what some lawmakers hope can become a billion-dollar industry in Hawaii.

"I don't think we're doing enough," said state Sen. Pohai Ryan (D, Lani­kai-Wai­ma­nalo). "I think it's a major industry. I think it could be bigger than tourism."

Ryan spoke at a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing Monday, where members discussed a multifaceted bill intended to attract more film, television and digital media productions to Hawaii.

A significant difference between Senate Bill 2111 and existing motion picture tax credits is a new emphasis on job creation. (The Teamsters Production Unit needs a cut!)

Five other states require production companies to hire a minimum percentage of local residents in order to qualify for tax breaks.

Totally Related: Driver for 'Lost' pleads guilty

read … Taxpayer Cash for Capital and Labor

Legislator: HI Tech Tax Credit Scammers Only Want Things, $1B in Tax Credits Could Have Gone to Affordable Housing

Jay Fidell: One legislator…"cautioned" the (HI Tech Scammers’) Alliance from making "personal attacks" on legislators, then launched into the following intimidation:

"Your industry has a reputation of only wanting things from the Legislature and not working with us on the things we need your help on. Legislators have given your industry $1 billion in tax credits which could have gone to helping our homeless issue, paid for affordable housing, upgrades to our schools, etc. We were highly criticized for doing this." (EXACTLY RIGHT!)

Some legislators still say they won't read (our) email, much less (our) posts. (GOOD!)

The Alliance already has had a positive effect in this session. It's also likely to raise awareness and leadership and embolden tech candidates to seek office or appointment. Hopefully, it will outlive the session and lead to the formation of political action committees and even a tech political party. (Because neither party wants to give them the time of day.)

The Alliance will need to have structure beyond the anonymity of social media. Indeed, a charter is being drafted (, and the discussion has been expanded to consider leadership, fundraising, a tax exemption, you name it.

Online, the fickle finger of fate writes and moves on. (NOPE! Gonna keep writing about you, until you refund the $1B.)

Howard Rheingold wrote "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution" in 2003. Smart mobs are social groups driven by connective technologies that allow them to coordinate actions and adapt to changes and challenges, just as in the Arab Spring, (a bunch of head-choppers who overthrew assassins) Occupy Wall Street (bunch of homeless socialists) and flash mob entertainment in Times Square. (So they admit that they are The Mob.)

CB: Vitality of Honolulu Tech Visible at Unconferenz

read … ACT 221 Scammers are The Mob

Hawaii House Democrats Consider Establishing a State Bank

HR: The bills being considered include:

HB2103, PROPOSED HD2 - RELATING TO THE BANK OF THE STATE OF HAWAII would "direct the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to draft legislation to establish a state-owned bank. The bill would also require the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to establish and operate a 'mortgage cleansing' program to assist the homeowners of foreclosed properties."

HB1033, PROPOSED HD1 – RELATING TO PUBLIC FINANCE which would establish "an independent Clean Economy Bank of the State of Hawaii to provide financing and risk management support for clean energy projects that help to lessen Hawaii's dependence on imported energy."

HB1840, HD1 - RELATING TO STATE-OWNED BANK would establish a task force to "review, investigate and study the feasibility and costs of establishing a state-owned bank. If enacted, this measure begins the process of identifying the needs within the community for a state-owned bank."

HB304 PROPOSED HD1 – RELATING TO STATE FINANCES would allow the Department of Budget & Finance to enter into agreements with other bond issuers to pool bond allocations. The bill authors said if a state bank were established, it could take advantage of low-interest financing of 'green projects' and broker multi-state projects, putting Hawaii in a position to serve as a national and international finance center.

read … Hawaii House Democrats Consider Establishing a State Bank

Gambling gets another lease on life

ILind: a new hearing notice has been posted for a joint hearing of EDT and WAM, “pending” a joint re-referral. I suppose this indicates a deal has been struck to approve the new referral. Those not familiar with the insider rules may not recognize that a joint referral is different from a double referral. With a joint referral, the two committees act together, rather than consecutively, allowing them to meet the First Decking deadline.

There’s also another way to view it. The bill has a very general title, “Relating to Gambling,” although it is aimed only at establishing a study commission. It’s the kind of convenient title that would technically allow entirely new language to be substituted later, keeping the possibility of a more active pro-gambling bill to pop up again. More to watch for.

read … Gambling gets another lease on life

House Finance to Hear Bills Exempting Government Projects from EIS, SMA

ILind: HB 1813 HD1 – (introduced by SAY) exempts any state or county Capital Improvement Project (CIP) from the counties Special Management Area permitting process. Under the SMA process counties assess and regulate development proposals in the SMA for compliance with Hawaii’s Coastal Zone Management program objectives and policies. Public participation in the SMA process is critical and would be eliminated should any of the anti-SMA bills pass. Click for text.

HB 2613 (governor package) exempts all work involving submerged lands used for state commercial harbor purposes from permitting and site plan approval established for lands in the conservation district. Click for text.

HB 1893 (introduced by SAY) exempts all state and county projects from Chapter 343 EIS review process regardless whether the state or county land is within (A) a historic site, (B) a shoreline area, or (C) Waikiki. Each project does not (A) require a land use map change of a county general plan, development plan or community plan, (B) reclassification of land by the LUC our county, (C) a zoning variance or (D) an amendment of any rule of the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Click for text.

HB 530 proposed HB 1 (Yamashita, Chang, Har) – creates a new SMA process for state projects for counties to grant or deny a SMA use permit.

HEARING: Tuesday 2/28 House Finance Committee

read … Another “Bad Bill” alert

One in Eight Spikes Pension

SA: About one in eight state and county employees engages in what is called "spiking" of overtime work during the final three years on the job to boost retirement income. The pension benefits from that chicanery can be enormous, but public disclosure of individual cases is prohibited. Also, a new investigation shows that 1,470 local government retirees receive $70,000-plus in pensions annually, but there is virtually no public information on what departments they worked in or what jobs they did to earn such lucrative retirements on the public dime. At the very least, such details should be disclosed so potential abuse can be tracked and, if needed, brought to a halt.

Government auditors and Wesley K. Machida, administrator of the state Employees Retirement System, have given recent overviews of how the system has been abused via "spiking."

And in an investigative report Monday, the Star-Advertiser's Rob Perez revealed how nearly five dozen county and state retirees are bringing home pensions of more than $100,000 annually, far above what most active public employees are making on the job. At least 20 new retirees in 2008 and 2009 drew pensions that exceeded their base pay, according to the system. The questions that need answering is whether, or how much, these retirees spiked their overtime during their final years of employment; and in what areas they worked and at what salaries, to determine if there are patterns of pay abuse among certain agencies.

An examination of the state retirement system from 2008 to 2010 found that 670 of the 5,000 members who began retirement during those years had engaged in spiking overtime hours in their final years of employment. That added nearly $40 million to the retirement system's unfunded liability needed to pay for promised benefits, according to Machida.

How does a county or state employee average a $50,000 salary over 25 years or so, rising to an average of slightly more than a $56,000 base salary in the last three years, retire with a pension more than double that amount? All he has to do is put in enough overtime and other non-base pay to reach a total of $200,000 each of those three years, and the pension could reach $120,000, Machida told legislators.

read … Make pensions sensible, public

House Finance to Discuss EUTF Fixes

CB: House Finance will meet to discuss a proposal for a constitutional amendment that allows the Legislature to deposit excess general fund revenues into a fund for pension benefits and “other post-employment benefits” for state employees.

There are also quite a few bills regarding the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, including one that eliminates Medicare Part B reimbursements for employee-beneficiaries and spouses of employee-beneficiaries hired after June 30, 2012.

Another measure provides for the automatic deposit of general excise tax revenues into the EUTF “until such time that the trust fund’s unfunded actuarial accrued liability is fully amortized.”

read … EUTF

Bank of Abercrombie on Wednesday Agenda

CB: That bill proposing a state-owned bank is up for a hearing this week before House Finance.

The bill seemed doomed having gotten a triple referral to Economic Revitalization and Business/Housing, Consumer Protection and Commerce, and Finance. It cleared the first two and is scheduled for Finance at 11:30 Wednesday.

House Bill 2103 would set up the bank

read … And Takamine too!

After Burning Treasury, Obama Proposes Cuts to Tsunami Warning System

SJ Mercury News: Less than a year after surging waves from a Japanese earthquake battered the California coast, causing $58 million in damage and wrecking the Santa Cruz and Crescent City harbors, the Obama administration is moving to reduce funding for the nation's tsunami warning and preparedness programs.

The White House's proposed 2013 budget would cut $4.6 million from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for tsunami programs that were expanded after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed at least 230,000 people.

Among the proposed cuts: a reduction of $1 million for America's network of 39 high-tech buoys in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The buoys confirm if tsunamis are heading toward the

U.S. and provide crucial details such as the height of the waves and when they'll hit land.

read … About the wonderful Success of Obamanomics

City Cuts Horse Ranchers out of Ag Tax Rates

KITV: He said he recently learned that starting next summer, the city no longer considers horses as livestock, keeping farmers and ranch owners who board horses from receiving large agricultural tax incentives.

"Right now if you dedicate your land to Ag, you only pay tax on 1% of its value and if we cannot dedicate our land to agricultural, we will pay 100% taxes. That will be a killer," Martinez said.

Martinez added the increase in taxes alone is enough to wipe out the island's ranching community.

"You won't have the rodeos, you won't have the horse shows; an entire economic industry here," said Martinez.

Down the road at Circle Z Ranch, owner Debi Roblin says without the agricultural tax breaks she couldn't afford to maintain the horse stables.

Read … If only they were Hi Tech Horses

Haleakala Findings Released

EH: The hearing officer appointed to address the petition for a contested case over the Land Board's permit for a new telescope to be built atop Haleakala has released his recommended findings.

read … Environment Hawaii

Insurance Exec now Claims to have ‘Discovered’ that Assisted Suicide is Legal in Georgia

Q: the second argument I hear is about the sanctity of life, often based on religions grounds. Also, some concern that this may lead to — not eugenics — but that some how we would weed out the people in society that are weak and infirm, and that they might be subject to this kind of law.

A: And then the impact on vulnerable populations ... I think that it was a legitimate concern. It was a question. And that's why we have "laboratories of the states." And that's why it was good that Oregon has been so fastidious in its reporting all these years. Because now we have almost 15 good, solid years of meticulous reporting. And it was absolutely clear that vulnerable populations are not impacted at all.

(Now we have a research target to measure the impact on ‘vulnerable populations’. Who will step up?)

(After reiterating the lie that assisted suicide is legal in Hawaii, Lee claims to have ‘discovered’ it is legal in Georgia) …lo and behold, we just discovered a few weeks ago that aid in dying has been legal in Georgia since 1994. And it came to light actually in the context of a criminal prosecution of some behavior that was assisting in a suicide. But the statute that the legislators crafted in 1994 actually had two parts. They wanted very much to keep their flamboyant mavericks — Kevorkian-type people — in check, but they also wanted to be protective of personal and private end-of-life decisions.

So, they put two components in the bill. One was to commit an act and the other was to speak of it publicly. The attorney general actually argued before the Georgia Supreme Court that if a private conversation between a patient and his physician ended up in a life-ending medication prescription, that that was perfectly legal in Georgia. And so, we've had a completely kind of unregulated practice in Georgia since 1994, and it hasn't risen to public consciousness.

read … More dissembling

Smart meter installation rolls out

KGI: Since KIUC announced its decision to roll out the $11 million program — with the cost split in half between the co-op and the federal government — controversy has developed over potential health hazards and members’ exclusion in the decision-making process. (They’ve developed a concern over ‘radio frequency radiation.’)

KIUC Chief of Operations Mike Yamane said at a recent Kaua‘i County Council meeting that the meters would only be on for split seconds each day, and that thousands of studies have shown no ill health effects from smart meters. Informational flyers distributed by KIUC tells its members the meters are safe.

“It’s industry spin,” Kauakahi said. “They only talk about the positive aspects.”

Yamane also said at the council meeting that if a resident is at home at the time of installation and does not want the meter, KIUC workers will not install it.

Each building at Lihu‘e Elderly Gardens has about eight units. All meters for each building are installed on a wall outside a single unit located at the end of the building.

Resident Peter Ibanez said he told KIUC workers that his neighbor, Eileen Costa Brum, did not want a smart meter on her unit. The workers complied, but Costa Brum’s unit is at the end of a building, and KIUC workers went ahead and installed at least six other smart meters just opposite Costa Brum’s bedroom wall.

Costa Brum said she wasn’t happy about sleeping with so many smart meters a few feet away from her.

“I’ve been here for 12 years, and I want to live another 20,” she said. “I want to yank that off my wall.”

Kauakahi said KIUC has not installed smart meters on his building yet, but when they do, he’ll have about eight meters opposite his bedroom wall.

“Regardless of how low the emission is, I’ll have eight meters on my wall,” he said.

KIUC will hold its monthly board meeting today at 3 p.m. at the utility’s Pahe‘e Street office. Smart meters are not on the agenda.

The co-op will hold an informational meeting on smart meters April 12.

read … Smart?

Military readies to open Tropic Care Kauai

KGI: The Tropic Care Kaua‘i program is an exercise in rapid deployment under the Innovative Readiness Training program, Bal said.

During the groups’ two-week stay on Kaua‘i, they will offer free health care services seven days a week at three different sites — the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji for Westside residents, the Kaua‘i Community College nursing facility for the central area and All Saints Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a for Eastside and North Shore residents.

“Clinics will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., including the weekends,” Tommy Noyes, who is in charge of publicity for Tropic Care Kaua‘i, said.

read … Tropic Care

Nine Weapons Confiscated from Marijuana Church

The first of 13 co-defendants from The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry pleaded guilty in federal court Monday and has agreed to cooperate with the government in the drug-trafficking case against founder Roger Christie and other ministry members.

Michael B. Shapiro, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute 284 marijuana plants.

"I sold 3 1⁄2 pounds (of marijuana) to Roger Christie. I also offered him three quarter-pound (quantities of marijuana)," Shapiro told U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi.

Shapiro was arrested by county and federal law enforcement officers along with Christie and 12 other Hawaii island residents on July 8, 2010….

Authorities said Christie had been under investigation for two years, and during that time federal and county law enforcement seized 2,296 marijuana plants, nine weapons, 33 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $21,000 cash and four properties.

Christie has maintained that use of marijuana was for religious purposes as sacrament, the cultivation and enjoyment of which is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the First Amendment.

read … Church of Cash, Drugs and violence

Faleomavaega’s Sister to Run for Governor of Am Samoa

AP: The sister of American Samoa’s nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives is so far the only woman running for governor of the U.S. territory.

Delegate Eni Faleomavaega’s sister Salu Hunkin-Finau announced her candidacy over the weekend. The last time a woman ran for governor of American Samoa was in 2000.

She is running against Lt. Gov. Faoa Aitofele Sunia, American Samoa Development Bank President Lolo Moliga, retired High Court Judge Save Tuitele, businessman Tim Jones and former territorial Attorney General Afoa Moega Lutu.

read … Family Monopoly on Power


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