Report: HSTA not to Blame for All Delays in Race to the Top
Hawaii GOP Appoints New Executive Director
Obama Whispers Away America's Security
Banks to Pay only 20% of Mortgage Settlement
Giant radar returns to sea as N. Korean launch looms
SA: The Missile Defense Agency's big Sea-Based X-Band Radar tracking ship sailed out of Pearl Harbor on Friday — about three weeks ahead of North Korea's planned space launch.
Agency spokeswoman Pam Rogers said she couldn't discuss the radar's operations or whether it will be used to monitor the upcoming rocket test.
The towering radar tracker "is returning to sea to continue its mission as a part of the ballistic missile defense system," Rogers said Monday.
Where the radar will operate also is unclear, but it doesn't have to be near the Korean peninsula to track the space launch. Agency officials in the past have said the radar could track a baseball-size object flying through space on the East Coast while the SBX was on the West Coast.
read … Radar
Abercrombie’s Medical Plan: Iowa Senator Pushes Hawaii to Dump Psychiatrists off Medicaid
SA: The state terminated three Medicaid physicians who were prescribing relatively high amounts of potent psychiatric and pain drugs (maybe because they are psychiatrists???), while two other providers are under investigation by federal agencies, according to information provided to a U.S. senator. (This is the future of government run medical care. A politician seeking to score points pressures local authorities and nicks MDs out of business—and impoverished psych patients no longer can get their meds.)
The actions against the five physicians came to light in a Feb. 23 letter that Dr. Kenneth Fink of the state Department of Human Services sent to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been focusing on Medicaid abuses across the country.
Fink oversees Hawaii's Medicaid program, a state and federally funded health insurance program for low-income residents….
Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has been investigating whether doctors nationally have been bilking the Medicaid system by writing excessive prescriptions for drugs he describes as having high potential for abuse and fraud by providers and patients. He asked each of the 50 states to provide him with lists of their top prescribers for a variety of drugs, including Seroquel and Zyprexa (antipsychotics), Roxicodone (painkiller) and Xanax (anti-anxiety medication).
Because of their addictive properties, the painkillers often are abused by patients or are sought for resell on the black market. Some of the antipsychotics have been the focus of investigations in which pharmaceutical companies were accused of illegally promoting the drugs for unapproved uses.
Among other things, the data provided to Grassley showed that the top 10 Hawaii prescribers of Seroquel collectively wrote more than 5,000 prescriptions in 2008 -- the latest year for which statistics were available -- at a cost of nearly $1.4 billion to Medicaid. The top prescriber accounted for 810 prescriptions, while the 10th-highest one wrote 310, according to the data.
The top prescriber for Zyprexa wrote 581 prescriptions, billing Medicaid more than $330,000 -- the highest amount among the individual physicians on the seven lists. The 10th prescriber for Zyprexa wrote 140 prescriptions.
Some of the doctors showed up on multiple lists. The top Zyprexa prescriber, for instance, also was the top one for Geodon, another antipsychotic, and the second highest for Seroquel.
(These drugs are used to treat schizophrenia and bi-polar conditions. We’re going to have lots of lunatics running the streets without their meds thanks to the inevitable political interference in government-sponsored health care.)
read … State cuts doctors from Medicaid
New health board is off to an uncomfortable start
Borreca: “Last year it sailed through under the radar. No one paid attention, until now, that Hawaii just happens to be the only state whose exchange is set up as a nonprofit, exempt from any sunshine requirements,” said Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of the AARP.
The interim board, appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, applied for federal grants, got $14 million in federal funds, hired a director, lawyers and the inevitable computer team.
The problem is that Abercrombie named all the local medical insurance heavyweights to the team. So the folks from HMSA and Kaiser and Hawaii Dental Service would be deciding what plans to sell, whom to sell them to and for how much.
Stanton and others estimate that there could be more than 100,000 people using the connector to find medical insurance and it could bring in up to $300 million.
Last week the permanent board members, the same big insurance reps included, were approved by a Senate committee and appear headed for final confirmation.
At the same time, moving at counter purposes, the House is readying a bill that would forbid insurance reps on the board. The insurance reps could serve as advisers and make recommendations, but not vote.
Imagine if the state decided to set up a hamburger board that would proscribe how many and which hamburgers you could eat.
If the board’s majority was made up of McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box, any cheeseburger-loving soul would see that as a conflict. Especially if the burger boys set up the ethics rules guiding how the burger commission operated
Stanton calls the Hawaii move “untenable.” Consumers who could get stuck with a conflict-riddled board deciding their insurance future may call it more than that.
Read … New health board is off to an uncomfortable start
New Secret Weapon in Federal Anti-Rail Lawsuit in Honolulu: University Law Students
HR: Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit aiming to stop construction of the city’s $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail system have a new secret weapon in the fight against the project - energetic and enthusiastic law students.
Nine law students from the University of Hawaii have agreed to spend their Spring Break reviewing 155,000 pages of record the city and federal government turned over to the plaintiffs in recent weeks.
There are as many as 15,000 emails in the record, some of which were recently highlighted by former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano, one of 7 plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the validity of the city’s Environmental Impact Statement. Cayetano is running for mayor in 2012, and is critical of how his opponents, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, and former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, have overseen the project.
CB: Roth Writes FTA
HR: Cayetano Interview
read … 155,000 pages
Performance Evaluations front and center as RTTT Squad Arrives
CB: The assistant superintendent said performance evaluations are on everyone's mind.
The Legislature has bills pending that could effectively supersede any evaluation process agreed to through collective bargaining. Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said the union, which represents some 13,000 members, does not support the bill going through the Legislature.
While Schatz said the department has been excited about a pilot project for performance evaluations, he acknowledged "things haven't gone exactly how we've planned."
HSTA officials will be on the stand Tuesday before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board in a case over contracts.
KITV: Castle complex redesign project promises hope
SA: All the meetings with the federal team are closed to the public, and the state Education Department declined to release its agenda for the reviewers.
related: Report: HSTA not to Blame for All Delays in Race to the Top
read … Performance
Criminal UPW Boss Gary Rodrigues on the Loose in Honolulu, Looking for a Job
A federal appeals court has rejected another challenge by former union leader Gary Rodrigues who was recently released from prison after serving more than four years for conspiracy and embezzlement.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled today that an omission in the instructions to the jury that found him guilty was "harmless" and did not influence the panel in reaching its verdict.
Rodrigues, former state director of the United Public Workers union, was released from prison earlier this month, said Eric Seitz, his lawyer.
Seitz said Rodrigues is in Honolulu, settling in and looking for a job. (Maybe he could get a gig selling log cabin kits)
UPW Workers: Prisoner lapse is wake-up call
Read .. Rodrigues
Cyberbullying, Kiddie Porn on Legislative Agenda Today
CB: Senate Judiciary and Labor will meet to consider bills on computer crime and cyberbullying, and on providing standards for the selection of county ethics commission members ”to ensure their impartiality and independence.”
House Judiciary will meet to hear measures strengthening laws regarding child pornography and electronically transmitted images of nude minors, prohibiting use of mobile devices by commercial drivers and allowing limited scanning and retention of personal information contained in Hawaii IDs or driver’s licenses.
SA: Proposed law makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor
read … Bullying
Abercrombie Victory: No Plans being made for 2013 Pro Bowl
SA: A decision on a site for the 2013 Pro Bowl is not on the agenda at this week's NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., a spokesman said today….
No sites have been announced for 2013 and 2014 amid speculation that at least the 2013 game could end up in New Orleans, which is also hosting the Super Bowl. The 2010 game was also piggybacked with the Super Bowl in Miami.
read … No problem, we’ll just have a gay pride festival instead
Can Abercrombie be Held Accountable for his Actions?
CB: Hawaii has a structure of a very strong governor, compared to many other states. The constitutional setup that allows the governor to withhold legislative appropriations and "release" them at his or her convenience, coupled with open records laws that leave large gaps for work product and the nebulous "frustrating government function," allows the governor to operate with little to no public knowledge.
read … Can Hawaii's Governor Be Held Accountable for His Actions?
City Down to ‘only’ 150 Sewage Spills a Year
CB: …earlier this month, amid the second serious rain storm on Oahu in the last two winters, the system failed again, with three separate sewer overflows in just two days. An estimated 51,000 gallons of combined storm water and raw wastewater ran into a Windward Oahu stream on March 5, then at least 10,000 gallons into Palolo Stream and more than 30,000 gallons into Wailupe Stream the following morning….
Sewage has taken a lead role in the city's budget. For example, more than 57 percent of the $578 million Fiscal Year 2013 capital budget falls under the heading of "sanitation." The single biggest item is $148 million for a 10- to 12-foot-diameter conveyance tunnel between Kailua and Kaneohe that's capable of both transferring regular flows and also storing storm water runoff in the event of heavy rains….
"When we first initiated that litigation, we were having nearly a spill a day. And the main cause was poorly maintained sewage pipes that allowed infiltration as a result of rain events," Harris said. "We're not there yet, but it's night and day from where they were."
Steinberger said 250 sewage overflows per year was not unusual in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now, the number is down to around 150 per year.
Question: How many Sewage lines are leased to Sandwich Isles Communications? (see bottom of pg2 and top of pg3)
read … Despite Sewer Work, Storms Still Cause Spills
Higher Electric Bills Ahead: PUC Gives Go-Ahead to Biofool Scammers
CB: Life of the Land argued in part:
Some energy sectors such as air transport, and to a lesser extent, transportation, do not have the alternatives that the electricity sector has. Therefore any biofuels produced should be used in those sectors of the economy before they are used for electricity production.
You can read the decision here.
read … Biofool
Sex Offenders on the Loose
HR: Hawaii has about 3,000 convicted sex offenders of which 176 have not registered with the state as required, according to Joshua A. Wisch, Special Assistant to the Attorney General.
The Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center manages the central registry of sex offenders for the State of Hawaii and those convicted of certain sex offenses must register.
See the law here: Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 846E-2.
read … Sex Offenders
HPD investigates 100,000 missing police reports
HNN: In early February, the department discovered about 100,000 reports had not been entered into the department's computer system over a nine-year period, according to Capt. Andrew Lum, a spokesman for the department.
Sources told Hawaii News Now the vast majority of the missing reports involve misdemeanors and other less serious cases….
Other missing cases involve thefts, lost property, alarm calls or noise complaints, according to people familiar with the situation.
A HPD source said some officers have hundreds of missing reports and a few have more than 1,000 reports that were never entered into HPD's records management system.
"If it is found that an officer failed to submit a report according to policy, an administrative investigation will be conducted," Lum said in a statement to Hawaii News Now. "Corrective action could range from counseling and written reprimands to suspensions for more serious violations."
read … HPD Missing?
Ritte Demands Boat Visiting Molokai Hand over Cash
II. Fair Exchange of Value and Sharing of Wealth
1. Rotate the use of existing vendors, such as Vans and Tours. (Ritte gets cash)
2. All tours and activities must be escorted by local escorts. (Ritte gets cash)
3. Use existing Hotels and legal B&B for overnight stays (no sleeping on Ship). (Ritte gets cash for steering business?)
4. Use existing restaurants and eateries (no eating on the ship). (Ritte gets cash for steering business?
5. Donate to a Community Fund (not the Aha Kiole o Molokai) to be used for environmental/cultural protection and enhancement on Molokai. (Ritte gets cash)
And where does Ritte’s rent-a-mob come from? Paragraph 10 and 11 have the clue:
“Bridget Mowat said that as it stands now, only a few local individuals and businesses benefit economically from the yacht’s arrival.
“The whole purpose [of the yacht’s Molokai stop] is to boost local economy,” she said in support of a section of the guidelines.
Bridget Mowat is “State of Hawaii, Dept of Human Service, Income Maintenance Unit, Molokai Eligibility Worker III/Acting Supervisor” In other words, she is in charge of welfare for Molokai. As long as welfare is handed out by a Ritte associate, welfare bums will provide Ritte with a Rent-a-mob.
read … Aha Kiole Drafts Protocol for Passenger Boat Industries
Lawmakers question UH Manoa Chancellor's necessity
AP: The University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor's Office was approved in 2001 under a reorganization plan that wasn't supposed to increase UH's budget.
A decade later, the office's annual operating budget was $14.7 million and an additional $6.4 million in administrative costs have been incurred since it was established, according to a House resolution.
Representatives K. Mark Takai and Scott Nishimoto introduced the resolution, which asks the UH Board of Regents to look into putting Manoa back under the UH system president's purview. A House committee will hear it Tuesday
read … More Control for MRC Greenwood – Or one less Crony to Manipulate…decisions, decisions
Certified Hawaii CEO Fired – Was Allegedly Stealing from Homeowners Associations
SA: Certified Hawaii, which manages more than 500 local condominiums and townhouses, said it fired CEO Toni Floerke this month after she allegedly stole a total of between $50,000 to $100,000 from the owners association at three Oahu townhouses.
The money stolen from Kulana Knolls, Kekuilani and Aeloa Terrace will be replaced, said Carol Piering, spokeswoman for Dallas-based Associa, the parent company of Certified Hawaii. Associa has not yet filed criminal charges against Floerke, but might do so later, Piering said.
Floerke, a licensed real estate broker who has worked for Certified for 19 years, "misappropriated the funds by taking them from boards and Certified Hawaii and directly placed them elsewhere," Piering said….
Floerke … was the firm's principal broker and a notary for 16 years and became Certified's CEO in November 2007. Associa became the parent company of Certified Hawaii in 2006.
read … Certified?
What delayed news of theft by CEO of major property management firm?
ILind: Toni Floerke has admitted taking the money, according to a March 16 email to directors of around 500 condominiums managed by Certified. With a minimum of five directors at each property, that news was circulating among 2,500+ directors, and quickly spread through the property management and condominium association world.
But nothing was reported until a Star-Advertiser story this morning (“Condo management firm fires CEO after thefts“), a full 10 days after Certified announced the theft, and days after Certified began running vaguely worded full page ads touting their security and financial procedures as “the most secure in the industry,” and citing the company’s commitment to “practicing high ethics through challenging times.”
read … What delayed news of theft by CEO of major property management firm?
9th Circuit Voids Hawaii Foreclosure Sale
We hold that (1) the lack of public announcement did violate Hawaii's nonjudicial foreclosure statute, and (2) this defect was a deceptive practice under state law. Accordingly, we affirm the bankruptcy court's avoidance of the foreclosure sale.
read … IN RE KEKAUOHA-ALISA
9th Circuit Rules on Waikiki Coral Damage Fine
Lexology: Plaintiff's ship ran aground on a submerged coral reef off the coast of Hawaii. Plaintiff entered into an agreement with Defendant to salvage the vessel. The Agreement contained an arbitration clause providing that "Any dispute arising under this Agreement shall be settled by arbitration in London, England, in accordance with the English Arbitration Act of 1996 and any amendments thereto, English laws and practice apply."
During either the grounding of the vessel, or the salvage operation, the coral reef was severely damaged. As the owner of the vessel, Plaintiff was held liable to the United States government in excess of $15 million for the damage.
read … squabble over who is to pay the Eco-Lords
$65,000 to preserve WWII Japanese-American internment sites in Hawaii
ST: This project is part of a larger program of 17 grants across 11 states totaling nearly $2.9 million. With this year's grants, the Japanese-American Confinement Sites Grant Program, now in its fourth year, has awarded nearly $9.7 million in funds since Congress established the $38 million program in 2006.
“If we are to tell the full story of America, we must ensure that we include difficult chapters such as the grave injustice of internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II,” Salazar said. “The internment sites serve as poignant reminders for us - and for the generations to come - that we must always be vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”
The incarceration of thousands of Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, followed Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
“These places, where more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans were unjustly held, testify to the fragility of our constitutional rights in the face of fear and prejudice,” said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The National Park Service is honored to help preserve these sites and tell their stories, and thus prevent our nation from forgetting or repeating a shameful episode in its past.”
(Of course the history in Hawaii is completely different from the Democrat segregationist Stinson policy on the West Coast. But that is conveniently ignored.)
Related: Sneak Attack: Re-write of Pearl Harbor History Awaits Death of WW2 Veterans
read … Re-Writing WW2 History
Taro task force looking for members
SA: The Taro Security and Purity Task Force is seeking applicants to fill seats for Kauai and Hawaii islands representatives….
Submit applications by April 20 to the Taro Security and Purity Task Force c/o E kupaku ka ‘aina, 224 Ainahou Place, Wailuku, HI 96793 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Hi‘ilani Shibata 808-371-0452 or tarotaskforceHI@gmail.com.
Related: UH cared for HALOA for 104 years with no help from any activists
read … Taro Security?