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Thursday, April 18, 2013
April 18, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:03 PM :: 4089 Views

Democratic Party Will File Legal Challenge Over Hawaii's Primary Election Laws

HSTA Membership Ratifies Contract

Audit Slams DHHL 'Lax Loan Management'

Obamacare Tax Credits Target 70,000 Hawaii Households

Property Seized by Mayor: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Guam Case

DoE Announces 2013 Graduation Dates

Democrats Closed Primary: Civil Beat Gets it Wrong

CB: "Should Gill and his party prevail, it seems that only Democrats would be able to vote for Democrats in a primary, Republicans for Republicans and so forth."

WRONG WRONG WRONG

When Gill wins, each Party will be able to choose the form of its Primary. (The fact that the State currently violates the associational right of the parties to choose the method by which they select their candidates is the basis of Gill's suit.) Democratic State conventions have voted to establish a closed Democratic Primary, but the Republicans will almost certainly keep an open primary which invites the participation of Independents and disaffected Democrats.  Hawaii will then have a choice between the Closed Party and the Open Party.

What is on the agenda of luxury resort developer Pierre Omidyar's website?  The Louisiana Jungle Primary.  Here it is, slickly packaged:

"So, yes, let's change Hawaii's primary election, but let's do it this way: Let voters pick any candidate for any office regardless of whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, nonpartisans or whatever.  It's the democratic way."

That sales pitch sounds pretty slick, and it should--resort developers have a lot of experience with slick sales pitches.  But for those in the reality-based community, here is a Wikipedia explanation of how the 1991 Louisiana Jungle Primary led to the elimination of the only honest candidate setting up a race between a crook and a KKKer:

Despite Republicans collectively attaining a majority of the support in the 1st ballot, the Democratic candidate Edwards won decisively on the second ballot. A factor in this seemingly anomalous result may have been tactical voting, which has been observed in some two-round electoral systems. On the other hand, a major contributor to Edwards' markedly increased vote may well have been the fact that Roemer endorsed Edwards prior to the second round. Additionally, Roemer had originally been elected to the governorship as a Democrat, having only changed his party affiliation in 1991. Under this system, party label is self-identifying, which means that David Duke was able to declare himself a Republican candidate without the consent of the Republican Party. Edwin Edwards' win is most likely attributed to the fact that David Duke was a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and thus was unpalatable to mainstream voters, in spite of allegations of corruption during Edwards' first three terms. Evidence of this exists in the unofficial campaign slogan "Vote for the Lizard, not the Wizard." Another bumper sticker cited by the Wall Street Journal is: "Vote for the crook, it's important." Polls had shown that Roemer could have defeated both Edwards and Duke if he had made it to the second round.

Here is a really good explanation of why the Closed Democratic party Primary will help Hawaii to find its way back to the two-party system:

"Those promoting this lawsuit see a small tent, with nice mirrors inside that reflect the same opinions as those in control. They fear the big tent, for it allows elected officials to think on their own. As it stands today, the Democratic Party as an institution will not increase its credibility by kicking people out. Young people will overwhelmingly reject membership that is so inflexible." -- Jim Shon

Related: Democratic Party Will File Legal Challenge Over Hawaii's Primary Election Laws

read ... Why Gill's Suit Should be Supported

Legislature Bows to HGEA, UPW: Condemns HHSC Hospitals to Bankruptcy

HTH: HHSC CEO Bruce Anderson said “The corporate board did request that the bill be restored to its original form, which was in support of privatization,” he added.  (Now count how many times the word "was" is used in the next paragraphs.)

Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the country. It owns 23 acute-care hospital and health care facilities in seven states and has more than 36,000 employees, according to its website. The company was looking to take over up to eight of HHSC’s properties, and began discussions with the HHSC board last summer, officials said.

Banner was initially interested only in Maui and Big Island hospitals, Chumbley told Stephens Media in January.

While semiautonomous, HHSC still relies heavily on state aid to keep its hospitals’ doors open. HHSC receives about $82 million in subsidies a year to fund all 14 public hospitals on five islands, Chumbley said earlier this year, adding a partnership with Banner could help wean the facilities off state subsidies.

Banner was looking at taking over Kona Community Hospital, Hilo Medical Center, Kohala Hospital, Ka‘u Hospital and Hoola Hamakua on Hawaii Island and Maui Memorial Medical Center, Lanai Community Hospital and Kula Hospital in the Maui HHSC region.

read ... Bill would create task force on public hospital takeover

OHA, Trask Team Up to Scam Geothermal Royalties

HTH: OHA’s Board of Trustees today will discuss whether to partner with Honolulu-based Innovations Development Group as it seeks to win a contract for providing up to 50 megawatts of geothermal electricity to island residents.

That deal would come with an investment of $1.25 million in the new power plant, assuming that the Huena Power Consortium, set up by IDG to bid on the next geothermal contract with Hawaii Electric Light Co., beats the competition. As a part-owner, OHA would get a share of the revenue that could exceed 20 percent of its investment, which would help fund programs for Native Hawaiians, said Patricia Madina Talbert, a legal adviser to IDG.

That would be in addition to the 20 percent of geothermal royalties OHA already receives.

Lets just skip to the comments: "I find it amusing that the Hawaiian activists who opposed geothermal development because of Hawaiian rights and culture are now leading the chase to suck money out of the "sacred" land. Makes you wonder about the validity of the opposition to many other common sense projects around the state. Greed conquer all guess."

read ... Precisely as Predicted

Hawaii lawmakers debate details of preschool plan

AP: Senators and representatives plan to meet Wednesday afternoon to work out the details of the proposals, which could still die if lawmakers can't come to an agreement.

The looming question is how much money lawmakers want to dedicate to the plan. Advocates say partnering with private early childhood education centers would be the best way to get the program under way. They want the state to spend $32 million for the next two years.

But neither the House nor the Senate has agreed to that amount....

Rep. Sylvia Luke, another conference committee co-chair, has said she is frustrated by the lack of clear communication from preschool advocates about the details of the plan. As chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, she didn't include money for the program in the House budget draft.

One bill would create a school readiness program for the 2014-2015 school year. Another bill proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the state to fund early childhood educational institutions. The third creates a full-fledged preschool program to start in 2015.

The conference committee is also mulling over several other education-related bills, including a proposal to give teachers a tax credit for buying school supplies and a bill to give the Department of Education more flexibility in school bus contracts.

CB: Hawaii Lawmakers Defer Decisions on Early Ed Bills

read ... Preschool Plan

Conference Committee: Fund Big Island prison

AP: Hawaii lawmakers have decided to fund the reopening of the Kulani Correctional Facility, along with positions and resources for several state departments including agriculture and health.

A group of lawmakers from both the House and the Senate met Wednesday night in a conference committee to announce the latest compromises on the state budget

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has pledged to reopen the Big Island prison and says it will add jobs to the Big Island economy.

Lawmakers also set aside money for doctors and health insurance, as well as services for the elderly and homeless. The budget included money for more elevator inspectors at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, as well as funding for education and the Department of Taxation.

Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, praised the progress and said lawmakers hope to wrap up budget discussions early next week. They plan to meet again Monday night.

But Rep. Sylvia Luke says despite the announcements, the budget is still in flux, especially given that lawmakers need to take collective bargaining agreements into account.

"Everything is still kind of on the table," Luke said. "The budget is still open for discussion and anything could happen between now and when we actually officially close the budget next week."

CB: Hawaii Lawmakers Clear Way To Reopen Big Island Prison in Budget Talks

read ... Incarceration, not Education

Conference Committee Members Named for Shield Law Bill

CB: They are set to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday in Room 325 at the Capitol.

House Bill 622 ... conference committee members for the bill are: Sens. Hee (chair), Shimabukuro (co-chair), Gabbard, Ihara and Slom; and Reps. Rhoads (chair), Belatti, Lee and Thielen.

read ... Conference Committee

City Council OKs ban on 'sidewalk nuisances'

SA: Bill 7 (2013) would replace the existing stored property ordinance, which allows the city to remove objects left on sidewalks if tagged 24 hours in advance.

Bill 7 would allow the city to summarily remove any items deemed nuisances. “Sidewalk nuisance” is defined in the bill as “any object or collection of objects constructed, erected, installed, maintained, kept or operated on or over any sidewalk, including but not limited to stalls, stands, tents, furniture, and containers, and of their contents or attachments.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he intends to sign the bill.

Both the current law and Bill 7 are opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and the group (de)Occupy Honolulu, who argue that the bill criminalizes homelessness and stifles free speech.

DN: Occupy Protected from Seizures by Federal Court Order

read ... Lawsuit Next

Marijuana Bills in Conference Committee Friday

From MCCHI: The Conference Committee assignments for both HB 668, HD 2, SD 1 (the transfer of the medical cannabis program to the Department of Health) and SB 642, HD 2, SD 2 (the medical cannabis program improvements measure) have been scheduled for Conference Committee for this Friday, April 19, 2:30 pm.  You can read the notice here: LINK  ...this is the farthest we all have ever gotten on any changes to Hawaii’s 13 year old Medical Cannabis Program....

Hawaii forms public LTCI study bill conference committee

LHP: Hawaii lawmakers may be getting closer to passing a bill that would require state officials to study the idea of creating a public long-term care insurance (LTCI) program.

State legislature leaders have set up a conference committee to reconcile differences between the state House version of the public LTCI study bill, H.B. 1 H.D. 2, and the state Senate version, H.B. 1, S.D. 2.

State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-Sand Island, the chairman of the Human Services Committee, will chair the conference committee.

Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-Tantalus, will be the co-chair.

A Hawaii long-term care (LTC) commission concluded in January 2012 that only a minority of Americans had ever had private LTCI coverage or were ever likely to have private LTCI coverage, and that the state should develop a public alternative that would be affordable enough to win broad public support.

he version the Senate approved, H.B. 1, S.D. 2, would have state officials commission a "feasibility study" and an actuarial analysis of a "limited, mandatory, public long-term care financing program for the state's working population."

The House version mentions that an actuarial analysis would be needed as the basis for imposing any mandatory tax. The Senate version specifies that the actuarial analysis should give an estimate of the size of the mandatory tax needed to implement a limited, mandatory public LTCI financing program.

read ... Long Term Care Insurance

New Immigration Proposal Is Mixed Bag For Hawaii Families

CB: According to a summary of the 844-page bill made available by New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Robert Mendez, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, the plan would speed the ability of families now waiting decades to bring family members to join them in the United States.

It would immediately allow the spouses and unmarried children of people with U.S. green cards to have their visas processed, accelerating waits that now average about two years.

The applications of the spouses and unmarried children of U.S. citizens are already processed immediately.

A major issue for Hawaii’s large Asian population, though, has been the sometimes decades-long wait by both U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring in siblings and married children and their families.

The Senate proposal would in the short term offer the prospect of those family members to immigrate to the United States much more quickly, but make it harder in the future for siblings and married children to join family members in the U.S.

As a result, a coalition of Asian-American groups on Wednesday expressed concerns about changes the bill would make in those kinds of family visas.

The bill also did not mention aging Filipino World War II veterans who had hoped to see a provision that would make it easier for them to have family members from the Philippines join them.

read ... Families

Atta to Recuse Himself from New Hope Zoning, Permitting Issues

KITV: The Honolulu City Council approved George Atta as the new director of the department of Permitting and Planning Wednesday.

But as recently as two months ago, George Atta's name was on a preliminary draft environmental review for the New Hope Leeward Church project  planned for Kunia farmland.

Atta was a principal of the company Group 70 International hired by the church.

He told KITV because of the conflict, he'll stay out of any decisions involving approvals.

“It will be left to my deputy, Art Challacombe to make the decision," said George Atta.

The church is currently revising its application to build a worship center and Christian school on agriculture land....

The church is looking to change the zoning on 48 acres, but maintains it will use only 14.7 acres for the footprint of its compound.

"It's kind of unusual, but for my selfish purposes, 150 acres of prime agriculture land is not a bad deal," said Natatani.

Nakatani says the church has ideas to put prison inmates to work farming the land.

read ... Atheists Watching Every Move

Lawmakers Ask City Council Members to Stop Development Plans for Hawaii Kai Preservation Land

HR: Rep. Gene Ward, R-Hawaii Kai, Sen. Laura Thielen, D-Kailua-Hawaii Kai, and Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, sent a letter on April 16 to the Honolulu City Council asking its 9 members to oppose development of the “Great Lawn”, a parcel 14-acre parcel in Hawaii Kai now zoned as preservation land.

read ... Preservation Land

Finmeccanica Consultants, Subcontractors to be Investigated

DN: Meeting on April 15, the Finmeccanica board approved the creation of a committee “entrusted with the task of singling out and proposing the criteria and behaviour required for a Group of global dimensions and present worldwide in the Aerospace and Defence sector, in order to comply with higher-aiming best practices,” the firm said in a statement.

The committee, which will report to the board, will be chaired by Giovanni Maria Flick, a former Italian justice minister, and will include Alberto Alessandri, a professor of criminal and commercial law at Milan’s Bocconi University; Vittorio Mincato, a former member of the internal surveillance committee at Italy’s Fiat car company; Giorgio Sacerdoti, a former vice president of the OECD Committee Against International Corruption; and Angelo Tantazzi, a former vice chairman of the London stock exchange.

Italian magistrates and Indian authorities are probing Finmeccanica’s sale of AW101 helicopters to India in 2010 amid suspicions that bribes were paid through consultants to secure the contract. Former CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who previously headed Finmeccanica’s helicopter unit, AgustaWestland, was arrested on suspicion on Feb. 12 as part of a probe and has been replaced by former CFO Alessandro Pansa. Orsi has denied all wrongdoing.

Finmeccanica said the board had decided to order an external audit of “the purchase by the Group’s companies of intangibles such as software, engineering and consulting services during the 2010-2012 three-year period. The first phase of this complex and articulate activity will be finalised by March 2014.”

Just Ignore This:  After Deadly Train Wreck, DC Metro Dumps Honolulu Rail Contractor Ansaldo

PBN: Finmeccanica, parent of Honolulu rail-car maker, forms an ethics board

read ... Maybe They Will Find Some

New details emerge in Marine Corps helicopter crash near N. Korea

MCT: Most of the Marines involved in Tuesday’s helicopter crash near the North Korean border were Hawaii-based infantry personnel, a military official said.

All 21 U.S. troops on board the CH-53E Super Stallion survived what’s been called a “hard landing” near a South Korean training range only miles from the Demilitarized Zone. Three Marines, including an enlisted crew member, and two U.S. soldiers remain hospitalized in stable condition, 1st Lt. Gregory Carroll, a Marine spokesman based in Japan, said Wednesday. He described the injuries as minor, mostly cuts and fractures.

read ... Helicopter Crash

Anti-GMO Activists Question Biofuel Grant

MT: According to King, Pacific Biodiesel has been told that the program has developed a feasible way of separating the oil from the algae, but, she says, "we're still waiting for a sample of the raw algae oil, which, by the way we have not gotten from any of the algae companies in Hawaii. We have a standing offer of $500 for the first gallon of raw algae oil we can get from anyone in the state of Hawaii," she added, laughing.

read ... Anti-GMO

Missile Defense: Hanabusa vs Gabbard 

CB: The president’s budget calls for reducing missile defense spending in fiscal year 2014 by $558 million to $9.16 billion. However, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s office says that it includes increases for Aegis  and THADD, systems that protect Hawaii.

Particularly important for Hawaii is that Aegis is slated to be complete and operational at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai in 2014.

Hanabusa had pushed for funding to develop the system, including writing a letter with Rep. Trent Franks, also a member of the House Armed Services Committee,  that said in part, As we continue to identify new threats across the world, it is important that we develop the best platforms for defense of our nation and our allies.”

read ... Hanabusa

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