Flags Fly at Half-Staff for Chief Warrant Officer Edward Balli
China Will Deploy Subs that Could Nuke Alaska or Hawaii This Year
Clayton Hee: “We give notice we cut you at the knees”
HI lawmakers: Obamacare exchange failures warrant state takeover
Epic Fail: Where Four State Health Exchanges Went Wrong
Schatz 93% More Liberal Than Average Senator
Taxes, Transparency, Initiative, Referendum, Recall, Children and More Supported by Legislative Minority
SB2153: Follow the Tax Credit Money
SB 2169: GE Tax Cut Would Help Working Families and the Poor
Another $19.1M CIP for HHSC Hospitals
Reagan Dinner Attracts Sellout Crowd
Today's Legislative Agenda
Only 3,614 Sign up for Hawaii Health Exchange
PBN: As of Feb. 1, 3,614 individuals had enrolled through the Hawaii Health Connector, out of the estimated 100,000 uninsured in Hawaii. Open enrollment ends March 31.
read ... Nobody wants Obamacare
Star-Adv: Reject DHHL's arrogant, shameful bid for secrecy
SA: An arrogant disregard for government integrity and the public trust is on full display in House Bill 2287, through which the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands seeks to conceal vital information about its operations.
It's shameful that Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who promised transparency in his administration, has included this bill in his legislative package, at the request of the DHHL.
Abercrombie's own Office of Information Practices opposes the bill, pointedly noting that sensitive personal information about lease holders and applicants the DHHL claims it is trying to shield with this bill is already confidential. Such information is exempt from disclosure under existing law. Moreover, the OIP, which administers Hawaii's open-records law, took the position that the bill's original wording was so broad that it would provide blanket confidentiality for many DHHL documents.
Given these facts, it's understandable that DHHL's critics are wondering what the department is trying to hide.
read ... DHHL Secrecy
Bill Would Exempt OHA Board from Open Meetings Law
CB: Senate Bill 2992, a short form bill set to be heard Friday afternoon, has a proposed draft that calls for this:
Exempts meetings of the Board of Trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs from Chapter 92, Part I, Hawaii Revised Statues, relating to open meetings.
HRS 92 Part I begins as follows:
Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest.Therefore, the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy – the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of governmental agencies – shall be conducted as openly as possible.
read ... Bill Would Exempt OHA Board from Open Meetings Law
OHA renews push to lift ban on residential development
KITV: In 2006, the opposition over the sale of Kakakako Makai lands to Alexander & Baldwin for luxury condominiums changed the way people looked at the waterfront.
But is it any different now that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs holds title to a good chunk of the prime real estate?
"We understand better than anyone, what constitutes bad development. So the first ones who are going to march against us if we don’t do this right, is our own people," said OHA trustee Peter Apo....
Bills to allow it to proceed with a residential development ask that OHA only hold a single public hearing before submitting plans to the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
But OHA's announcement comes as that agency is already under siege as bills to limit its authority are being heard this weekend
OHA is to begin a master plan process and will seek public input later this month.
SA: OHA vows to limit Kakaako build-out
read ... Meet the New PLDC
What Should Lawmakers Do With Hawaii's Development Authority?
CB: House Bill 1860 and House Bill 1861 would require more public notice about projects moving through HCDA and create an appeals process for HCDA actions and decisions.
Residents filed two appeals last year regarding two planned developments, the one at 801 South St. and The Collection. On Wednesday, HCDA voted to require residents who are appealing the approval of The Collection to show that they have just cause for bringing the petition. The agency hasn’t yet considered the petition from residents appealing the 801 South St. project.
Another bill, House Bill 1862, would require the agency to change its affordable-housing policies. The measure is in response to concerns from residents that new developments are creating luxury housing, rather than homes that are affordable for Hawaii’s workforce.
Right now, HCDA defines 'workforce housing' as affordable for people earning between 100 and 140 percent of an area's median income. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the median income for a family of four is about $83,000, about the salary of a senior teacher on the union-scale in Hawaii.
Saiki is also advocating for a measure, House Bill 1866, that would force the governor to fill the seats on the agency’s boards....
HCDA has a 9-member board for each district that it governs: Kakaako, Kalaeloa and Heeia. Four members of each board are the governor’s Cabinet members, and other positions have been vacant for months....
Additional measures, House Bill 1863 and House Bill 1867, would change the agency’s rules governing building density and heights. HB 1867 would also prohibit the agency from approving applications unless adequate infrastructure is available....
While many bills on the House side would curtail the HCDA's power, nearly half of the Senate has signed onto Senate Bill 3122, which would allow residential development on Kakaako’s waterfront, which is known as Kakaako Makai.
Sen. Brickwood Galuteria from Kakaako introduced the measure....
read ... What Should Lawmakers Do With Hawaii's Development Authority?
Federal judge to rule in Honolulu rail case ‘as soon as I can’
PBN: “I don’t think it’s good in this case to delay (a ruling) more than necessary,” Tashima said.
HART officials are worried that if the ruling doesn’t come soon enough, it could delay downtown property acquisitions HART said are needed to move forward on the project.
Nicholas Yost, an attorney for the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against HART and Federal Transit Administration seeking to halt the project, argued that HART’s study that found building a tunnel under Beretania Street wasn't a feasible option and was “arbitrary and capricious.”...
Robert Thornton, an attorney representing the city of Honolulu, countered that the alternative route would add $1 billion to the cost of the current route, and that it would adversely affect 52 properties, including 47 buildings and five parks....
Meanwhile, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on an appeal filed by the plaintiffs last year after Tashima ruled mostly in the favor of the defendants in December 2012. A three-judge panel heard oral arguments on the case on Aug. 15 in San Francisco.
KITV: Tunnel option for rail in hands of judge
read ... ASAP
Pre-K Initiative Requires $50M/year
Q: What about the religious preschools? Would they be eligible?
A: Yes, if they meet the state's requirements. If the constitutional amendment passes, we'll need to have administrative rules in place in order to be able to develop the contracts with private providers. We are in the process of working that out ... So technically everybody can participate, but some may select not to, depending on the administrative rules....
Q: I've read that in some states schools (affiliated with churches) secularize their curriculum in order to qualify (for the public funds). Is that a possibility?
A: Yes. It will be up to the programs to decide whether or not they want to participate under the state's rules. We have been engaging a number of the faith-based directors on what the expectations will be. ... Our goal is to engage as many people as we can and build a true mixed-delivery system. ... I think that's really the only thing that could work in our state, to build the capacity we need....
Q: So what are your projections five years out?
A: By school year 2018-19, we'd be able to create capacity and access for 85 percent of 4-year-olds in Hawaii. That would require about $50 million of state funding and continued funding from other sources, such as federal, parent, private foundation and special-education funds.
read ... Westerfield
Three Bills: Will Hawaii Lawmakers Pass the Charter Schools Test?
CB: Senate Bill 2516 would allocate general funds from the state to the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission that it could then distribute among charter schools for facilities projects.
Senate Bill 2517 would allow the charter school commission to request general obligation bonds from the state for various facilities needs, including design, construction and maintenance. The bill, according to Tokuda, “turns the tables” because it would give the charter school commission the ability to assign projects to the bonds, an authority typically reserved for the Legislature.
And House Bill 2576, which was introduced by Ito, would both create a special fund for charter school facilities and establish an income tax credit for people who invest in them.
read ... Will Hawaii Lawmakers Pass the Charter Schools Test?
Hu Honua Bioenergy replaces Hawaiian Dredging as contractor
PBN: Hu Honua Bioenergy has chosen a California firm as its new general contractor, replacing Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Inc., which is pulling the last of its workers from the planned Big Island biomass plant because it hasn't been paid by the renewable energy developer.
Performance Mechanical Inc. is already on-site completing phase one of its work, which includes assessing work performed to date with a second phase starting after that, Hu Honua Bioenergy officials told PBN Thursday....
Hawaiian Dredging recently filed a mechanic’s lien against the Big Island developer, claiming that it is owed a little more than $35 million.
“Once the dispute resolution process is completed, HHB believes it will be able to finalize its capital financing and resume normal operations with the various parties involved with the project,” Hu Honua Bioenergy said.
read ... Hu Honua Bioenergy replaces Hawaiian Dredging as contractor
Keeping pot, gaming illegal is police chief's plan
SA: A day after being reappointed to a second five-year term, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said the department will continue the fight against legalizing marijuana and gambling.
On Wednesday the seven-member Honolulu Police Commission voted unanimously to renew Kealoha's contract, 10 months before the end of his current term. The decision allows Honolulu's top cop to keep his post until November 2019. Kealoha, 53, said he plans to stay.
In an email response to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser question about upcoming challenges, Kealoha cited the installation of the new computerized dispatch and records management system, the recruitment of qualified officers and civilian employees, and the continued opposition to legalizing marijuana and gambling.
read ... Illegal
Blame Game: Sen English points finger at cops for enforcing his cellphone law
HNN: Hawaii's mobile device law forbids talking on the cell phone or texting while driving.
"We left it broad hoping that people would use common sense, including the law enforcement people. What has been shown is that they haven't," said convicted cocaine dealer Sen. J. Kalani 'Powdernose' English.
Drivers still ignore it. But English believes cops are also enforcing the law to the extreme, and it's clogging up the court system because every one cited must go to court (thanks to the way English wrote the law.).
"What the courts are saying is this is costing us millions of dollars in court time and court expense, as well as just back-logging the whole system," English said. (And so he blames the cops for his own error.)
Since the law went into effect last July 1, police officers statewide have handed out 7,184 citations for using mobile devices while behind the wheel. Officers with the Honolulu Police Department handed out 4,851 citations.
read ... Lawmaker calls cops "overzealous" in ticketing texting drivers
HB1804: Lawmakers advance bill that would criminalize lying to police
AP: Lying to police who are investigating a crime would become at least a misdemeanor under a bill state lawmakers are advancing.
Honolulu police officers told members of the House Public Safety Committee on Thursday that they support the measure because witnesses who mislead police can hamper investigations and can get innocent people thrown in jail.
"When you take investigations in a direction based on false statements, it costs us resources," Capt. Jason Kawabata said. "It's unfair to the victims of crimes."
Filing a false police report is already a misdemeanor in Hawaii. The bill, HB1804, which advanced out of committee, would make unsworn false testimony to police the same level of offense as the crime police are investigating, a misdemeanor at minimum.
Lt. Alexander Garcia told lawmakers the bill was based on a federal law. He said he was unaware of similar measures in other states.
read ... Criminalize
Health Savings Accounts to be Promoted for Hawaii LTC Savings
AP: Lawmakers on Tuesday considered SB2346, a $7.1 million Senate bill for elder care and education. If passed, it will put $4.2 million toward the state’s kupuna care program and $1.9 million toward the disability resource center. It will also pay for a $500,000 public education campaign to encourage Hawaii residents to plan for their long-term care....
By 2035, according to the bill, nearly a third of Hawaii residents will be older than 60. Hawaii’s private nursing homes are on average the most expensive in the nation, with a median annual cost of $145,000, said Bruce Bottorff, a spokesman for AARP Hawaii, which offered testimony in support of the bill.
“Governments are limited in the help they can provide,” Bottorff said. “Medicare is limited. It was never set up to handle long-term care.”
Yet many people in Hawaii assume they will be covered. A 2012 report by the Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission cited an AARP survey in which 29 percent of respondents in Hawaii said they expected Medicare to cover their long-term care.
read ... Health Savings Accounts Needed
Sierra Club Attacks HC&S Biomass Facility
IM: On January 15, 2014 Maui Electric Company (MECO) filed a request with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to extend and modify its Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S)....
The Sierra Club filed a Motion to Intervene on the “grounds that the proposed extension of MECO's PPA with HC&S will impact Sierra Club members' health, aesthetic and recreational interests.”
read ... Maui Sugar & the Sierra Club
HB2226: West Hawaii Reps Attack Small Business
WHT: DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation has applied for a federal permit to almost double the number of moorings at the bay and change the layout. This proposed action, according to the state agency, will remedy current moorings not federally unauthorized and addresses the need for more boat space....
House Bill 2226, introduced by state Reps. Richard Creagan, Cindy Evans and Nicole Lowen, would place a moratorium on the issuance of new commercial vessel permits in Keauhou Small Boat Harbor and adjacent offshore moorings involving ocean-related activities until the boundaries of an ORMA are designated and administrative rules on recreational boating activities and commercial vessel activities are adopted....
DLNR is seeking a Department of Army permit to reconfigure the existing layout of offshore mooring sites within Keauhou Bay. The bay contains nine vessel moorings for commercial and recreational use, which are secured by 16 anchors. DLNR wants to remove and replace all mooring structures and add seven new mooring sites, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District’s Jan. 17 public notice about the project.
read ... Typical Knee-jerk Reaction
Guilty plea expected in 200K Hawaii welfare fraud case
AP: Vaughn Sherwood, who also goes by the name Kevin Halverson, is scheduled to plead guilty in federal court Thursday.
He's accused of defrauding the government of more than $200,000 in welfare cash payments, food stamps, housing assistance and student tuition aid.
Defense attorney Marcus Sierra has said Sherwood doesn't live a luxurious life in a "little, dingy apartment." Sierra says the Mercedes is worth only about $3,000 and the sailboat is 40 years old.
A criminal complaint claims Sherwood continued to receive food stamps and medical assistance even though he had inherited more than $300,000 from his parents.
read ... Guilty Plea
Could this be the solution to America's probation problem?
AJ: Paradise on earth is how most people know Hawaii - white sandy beaches and coconut palms. But there are Hawaiians living outside the frame on the picture postcard.
The roughly 8 million tourists who visit the state each year attract a lot of property crime. Even an ocean away from the mainland, the methamphetamine market is thriving. The islands have jails and prisons, and plenty of people to fill them. But Judge Steven Alm is trying to bring his home state a little bit closer to the paradise people imagine.
To do that, he’s spearheaded an alternative probation program, one that delivers immediate consequences – often jail time -- for each and every infraction. The program is tough on crime, while also keeping people out of prison. And this double feat has made it a nascent darling in the world of criminal justice policy, with states across the political spectrum seeking it out as a model.
read ... HOPE Probation
KITV: Niihau could become a county onto its own under a bill written by Senator Clayton Hee. This is one of many hot button Niihau bills this session
read ... Niihau County?
Pastor sues Maui County over religious pamphlets distribution
HNN: For the second time in a year the Maui Police Department is embroiled in a first amendment lawsuit. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming they were on a public sidewalk passing out religious pamphlets in front of the Maui County Fair. They say they weren't shouting, blocking the way or forcing people to take anything. Still Maui police told them to leave.
Strat and Doreen Goodhue say they've passed out religious literature dozens of times on Maui without incident. But last October at the Maui County Fair they say two police officers told them they had to leave.
"He said because the fair had a permit that they had the right to control the park across the street, and the street and the sidewalk and they could decide who they wanted to be there and who they didn't," said Strat Goodhue, pastor and author. "We talked about do I have to move? And he said absolutely you must leave the area."
read ... First Amendment
Contractor warning came 5 months before brakes failed on ZipperLane
HNN: The contractor that runs the state's zipper lane on the H-1 freeway was warned to change the brakes five months before brake troubles sidelined a ZipMobile, causing a major traffic jam.
Red brake lights were everywhere and traffic was at a standstill on the H-1 the morning that a ZipMobile broke down January 17, so 4,000 car-pooling commuters could not use the Zipper Lane.
For the first time since they began service in 1998, both vehicles were down at the same time that day.
One was already out of service awaiting repair and the brakes on the other zip mobile locked up, causing the traffic mess, state transportation officials said.
Hawaii News Now obtained a manufacturer's inspection report of the Zipper vehicles done back in August of last year that recommended the brakes on the zip mobiles be changed.
read ... Contractor warning came 5 months before brakes failed on ZipperLane
Hawaii in World War II was civil rights black hole
Borreca: What is forgotten or overlooked or dismissed as a historical outlier is what happened to all of Hawaii during World War II.
Yes, the military came and the FBI took away Japanese-American citizens living in Hawaii, but mostly forgotten were the immediate declaration of martial law in Hawaii.
Civil rights were stripped away, the protections of the Bill of Rights dissolved and Hawaii was run by generals and other U.S. Army officers.
By the afternoon of Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Territorial Gov. Joseph Poindexter had signed over control of the Territory of Hawaii to Lt. Gen. Walter Short, the Army's commander in Hawaii.
Although there were promises from Short that martial law would be lifted "in a reasonably short time," it did not happen until October 1944.
According to a recounting by the Hawaii Judicial History Center, the martial law was all encompassing.
"All authority was turned over to the military, which proceeded to remove persons from militarily sensitive areas, set curfews, regulate night driving, censor newspapers and radio broadcasts, and regulate prices on everything from groceries to prostitutes. Civil courts were closed and the writ of habeas corpus was suspended," the center explained.
read ... Hawaii in World War II was civil rights black hole