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Tuesday, February 11, 2014
February 11, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:26 PM :: 3442 Views

Senator Sam Slom Appointed to Special Investigative Committee

Hawaii In The Eminent Domain Spotlight

Abercrombie Creates Lucrative New Positions for Bhagowalia, Lieutenants

PUC Decision and Order in Decoupling Case

City Blames ORI for Failed HUD Negotiations

Abercrombie Chaos: State to be temporarily without health director

SA: Gary Gill, who Gov. Neil Abercrombie named as interim director after Loretta Fuddy died in a plane crash off Molokai in December, returned to his deputy director for environmental health administration post on Monday after the interim appointment expired.

Abercrombie said an announcement on a new director could come "very, very shortly." The nominee would serve on an interim basis until the state Senate could review the nomination. Department decisions will be handled by deputy directors in the meantime....

"So I'll make an appointment for consideration by the Legislature as soon as I possibly can. I 'm on it and we'll do this directly. The team is the team. And believe me -- that will continue apace. But we'll have a name down to the Legislature forthwith.  (And thanks for reminding me.  I've got short term memory issues, you know.)"

Last week: UPDATE: Did McManaman Quit Abercrombie Administration or Not?

read ... More Chaos

Forgetful Abercrombie Was Two Days Late With Supreme Court Nomination

SA: In 2012, two days after the constitutionally mandated 30-day time period had expired, (lazy forgetful pothead) Gov. Neil Abercrombie sent written notification to the state Senate that he appointed Richard Pollack to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

But in the notification, the governor said he had appointed Pollack at a news conference a week earlier (and forgot to send the official notice due to short term memory loss).

The notification is unusual because the practice has been for governors to send the written message to the Senate president within the 30-day period....

Asked why the governor didn't send the notification to the Senate before the 30-day deadline, the Governor's Office said there is "literally no deadline for a governor to send a message to the Senate about an appointment."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee, whose committee approved Pollack's appointment, said his guess is the notification wasn't sent earlier due to "an oversight."

Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waia­lua) said state senators discussed the matter and decided that Abercrombie's public announcement met the constitutional standard.

The Senate later unanimously approved Pollack's appointment. He is one of five justices on the state's highest court.

Abercrombie is currently considering his third appointment to the Hawaii Supreme Court. He received a list of six candidates from the Judicial Selection Commission on Jan. 27.

Under the state Constitution a governor must make the judicial appointment within 30 days of receiving the commission's list. That deadline falls on Feb. 26.

On May 11, 2012, the commission sent to Abercrombie lists for a vacancy on the Maui Circuit Court and another on the Hawaii Supreme Court. That meant the deadline for appointments was June 10.

On June 12, 2012, Abercrombie announced the appointment of Peter Cahill for the Maui circuit judgeship, but later that day said Attorney General David Louie informed him the appointment was two days late.

The governor acknowledged he should have made the appointment on June 10, 2012.

But on the same day he said he was too late on the Cahill appointment, the governor sent his message to the Senate.

It said in accordance with the state Constitution, "on June 5, 2012, I made the appointment, and announced the appointment at a public press conference on the same day, of Richard W. Pollack" to the high court.

read ... Bumbling Incompetents

SB2521: Clayton Hee Sneaks GMO Labeling Bill past angry Farmers

PR: Clayton Hee's scummy state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on Monday evening moved out a GMO labeling bill.

The bill, by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (a consistent source of really stupid legislation), is not that different from legislation that cleared the Senate Health Committee in late January. It would require food with genetically modified organisms offered for retail sale to carry labels starting in January. Violators could face $500 fines and one year in prison.

But the beauty ugly of the bill -- and the reason the Senate Health Committee and the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee held a joint hearing Monday -- is its referral. The bill does not have a referral to the Senate Agriculture Committee, where Sen. Clarence Nishihara, the chairman, is opposed to GMO labeling.

The bill -- if it passes the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday -- would go before the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Rosalyn Baker, the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, is skeptical about GMO labeling....

Best Comment: "Is there an adult who can stand up to these idiots?"

Text, Status: SB2521

Reality: Scientific American: Labels for Genetically Modified Foods Are a Bad Idea

read ... SB2521

Senate considers new take on partnerships for HHSC

WHT: A bill that would clear the way for public-private hospital partnerships in Hawaii is getting across-the-board support.

Testimony for Senate Bill 3064, which was scheduled for a Senate Health Committee hearing Monday afternoon, shows representatives from a number of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. hospitals are in favor of the measure, which would allow nonprofit hospitals already operating in Hawaii to partner with the state-supported facilities. The hearing was in progress as of press time Monday.

Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, said the bill addresses some of the concerns raised a few years ago, when a private health group from the mainland sought a partnership with Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kona Community Hospital.

The bill limits the partnerships to “only local partners, because we understand what their track record is” in Hawaii, said Green, who is chairman of the Health Committee.

The measure would require the nonprofits to maintain the HHSC hospital’s current level of services offered, or expand services, as well as honor existing contracts and employee benefits. In return, the state would cont

2009: Legislative Report: Convert HHSC to non-profit, dump civil service (full text)

read ... Partnerships

Behind the ballooning medical e-records cost

KHON: A system that’s supposed to revolutionize health care in Hawaii is costing the state’s taxpayer-supported hospitals more than double the originally projected cost at the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation — the quasipublic agency that runs the state’s primarily rural hospitals.

“We’re always at the legislature trying to find more money for our safety-net hospital system, said Randy Perreira, executive director HGEA, the state’s largest public worker’s union. “But at the same time it seems there’s a faucet running somewhere else that nobody’s trying to address.”

The faucet this time is the conversion to electronic medical records — a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act that’s proving anything but affordable for HHSC.

“Our original cost was in the $50 million range,” HHSC’s West Regional CEO Jay Kreuzer said. “It’s now $109 million.”

Background: HIT Apologia

read ... Electronic Medical Records

State contract issues lead to foreclosure process for residential care providers

HNN: Caring for the mentally ill or disabled patients 24/7 is no small task. It's even tougher when you aren't getting paid.

"It's very stressful for us. We don't want to be homeless and of course our residents, where are they going to go if they foreclose our house," said Lilia Fajotina, Alliance of Residential Care Administrators (ARCA) President and home care provider....

They are two of the 27 home care providers who say they haven't been paid since November and are now facing foreclosure on their homes which would also put the patients on the street.

"How can we survive if they don't pay us for three to four months? How can we pay our mortgage?" said Fajotina.

The state doesn't have enough space to house all the mentally ill people so they contract service out. Providers say they can get up to $5,000 a month depending on the patient, some of whom have killed people but were deemed insane. The State acknowledges they're often the people no one else will care for. Yet those providers and some case managers are the ones who haven't been paid.

Meanwhile: Abercrombie Creates Lucrative New Positions for Bhagowalia, Lieutenants

read ... State contract issues lead to foreclosure process for residential care providers

State paying $5 million for airport screening that airlines used to pay for

HNN: The state Department of Transportation is paying $5 million for a baggage screening contract at Honolulu International Airport that airlines used to pay for, Hawaii News Now has learned.

A committee of 21 airlines that use Honolulu Airport had been paying for and managing the screening of checked luggage for explosives under the contract.

But last year state officials in charge of state contracts determined the state transportation department was violating the state procurement code since the screening equipment is owned by the state. The procurement office said the equipment could not be used by a private entity without being sent out to bid....

"Our procurement system is so antiquated that it's forcing us to put out to contract something that was put out to contract something that was paid for the airlines' committee," English said. "An ancient procurement system that's based on paper instead of electronics, that's based on some very old rules, is forcing us to cover this $5 million shortfall." 

State airports officials are applying for an exemption from the procurement regulations that would allow the airlines to once again pay for and manage the checked-baggage screening system.

If they are unable to obtain a procurement exemption, Fuchigami said the state would start the cumbersome process of billing the airlines for each piece of luggage that's screened to help recoup some of the screening costs.

Meanwhile: Abercrombie Creates Lucrative New Positions for Bhagowalia, Lieutenants

read ... State paying $5 million for airport screening that airlines used to pay for

Killer of Japanese visitor could walk free Thanks to Abercrombie's Soft on Crime Parole Board

KHON: The man convicted of murdering Japanese visitor Masumi Watanabe could one day walk out of prison. The Hawaii Paroling Authority has scheduled a hearing that could change Kirk Lankford’s minimum sentence of 150 years, one of the longest minimum sentences set in Hawaii.

That possibility is devastating Masumi Watanabe’s family. It’s been nearly seven years since she died and her parents are still looking for closure. ”They’re still waiting for the daughter to come home,” said family friend Bob Iinuma. “Nothing has changed.”

Lankford was convicted of killing Watanabe and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 2008. The minimum sentence of 150 years ensured he would never get out of jail, but that could change.

“They’re not happy,” Iinuma said. “They’re confused. They thought it was set.”

read ... Killer to Walk

Forbes: Woman Criticizes Honolulu's Government, Has Her Protest Signs Bulldozed

Forbes: How people respond to criticism can reveal a lot about their character.  Some might try to debate or reason with those they disagree with.  Others prefer to ignore critics.  City officials in Honolulu take a different approach: They use a bulldozer.

Choon James is a successful real estate broker with over two decades of experience in Hawaii.  But the city of Honolulu is seeking to seize property she’s owned for almost a decade....

read ... Bulldozed

Legislators Consider Legalizing Hashish

CB: Senate Bill 2733 would legalize the personal use of marijuana “in a specified quantity,” require licensing to operate marijuana establishments and subject those establishments to excise and income taxes. It has a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Senate Bill 2358 would establish a civil violation for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana subject to a fine of not more than $100. It has a hearing Thursday afternoon, too.

A third, related measure redefines hashish as marijuana.

read ... Next, Crack

Lawmakers Consider Whether the Public Should Inhale .... or Not

HR: Hawaii has among the highest cigarette taxes in the nation at 3 dollars and 20 cents per pack, but lawmakers are proposing additional tax increases.

A Senate committee yesterday advanced a bill to impose an excise tax equal to eighty-five per cent of the wholesale price of any tobacco product sold after January of next year.

Another bill that heavily taxes electronic smoking devices could increase taxes on those products by as much as 85 percent.

read ... E Cig Taxes

Proposed legislation would crack down on Hawaii mortgage fraud, fake liens

PBN: Calling it “paper terrorism,” Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, said his bill would make it easier and less expensive to remove a fake lien or reinstate a valid one though sworn statements with the lieutenant governor’s office.

Senate Bill 2149 is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday morning before the Senate committees on Commerce and Consumer Protection and Judiciary and Labor.

“The Legislature recognizes that in recent years the Federal Bureau of Investigation has seen an uptake of fraudulent filings of financial statements and liens on the property of elected officials and other in various counties and states around the country for the purposes of harassment and intimidation,” the bill says.

Slom’s office said that such filings are often rubber stamped and need more scrutiny.

Last month, two Honolulu women were arrested and charged with filing false mortgage release documents.

read ... Mortgage Fraud

Bill targets home births

SA: Senate Bill 2569 would require midwives for the first time in Hawaii to be licensed starting next year and meet minimum educational and training requirements. In addition, the measure would limit home births to mothers with low-risk pregnancies and require providers to meet reporting requirements.

"This bill as it reads now would basically criminalize any person who is with a woman giving birth outside the hospital that is not a certified nurse midwife," said Summer Faria, 35, who is training to be a certified professional midwife, a different type of home-birth provider that is not required to go to nursing school or a midwifery program. "Most certified nurse midwives don't do home births. They're in the hospitals. We believe that birth is normal. The medical model sees birth as a potential problem."

The bill also would require the home-birth board to investigate complaints and take disciplinary action when necessary.

CB: Birth Rights: Mothers Cry Foul at Bill to Regulate Home Births

read ... Birth

Why Do Takai and Cabanilla Care So Much About Azerbaijan?

CB: Reps. Rida Cabanilla and Mark Takai, who traveled to Azerbaijan together last year on an $8,000 trip that was paid for by the republic, have co-sponsored legislation that’s been set for a hearing Wednesday.

  • House Resolution 13 recognizes the 22nd anniversary of the Khojaly tragedy which, according to the resolution, involved the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians in Azerbaijan in February 1992.

  • House Resolution 9 calls on the United States to strengthen its efforts to facilitate a political settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

The first resolution describes the tragedy like this: On Feb. 25 and 26, 1992, "Armenian armed forces accompanied by Russian military troops occupied the town of Khojaly in Azerbaijan and killed more than six hundred innocent civilians, including many women, children and the elderly; wounded more than one thousand civilians; and captured more than one thousand two hundred civilians."

Armenian-Americans and other critics are concerned the two lawmakers are trying to rewrite history in favor of Azerbaijan....

Cabanilla and Takai went to Azerbaijan in May to attend a convention sponsored by oil companies ....

read ... Azerbaijan

The Many Reasons Why a City or County Attorney Should Not Provide Ethics Advice

CE: A month ago, I wrote about some problems Honolulu's ethics program was having with the corporation counsel. The problems have continued. The big issue this last week has been the corporation counsel's provision of ethics advice. So far, the argument has primarily taken place in the form of memos.

The corporation counsel responded in an October 25 memo to questions directed to it by the city's EC in April and September. Then on December 2, the corporation counsel sent another memo, based on this earlier memo, to the mayor, managing director, and department and agency heads. The bottom line of both memos (attached; see below) is that the corp. counsel has not only the power, but the duty to provide ethics advice to all of the city's officers and employees.

read ... The Many Reasons Why a City or County Attorney Should Not Provide Ethics Advice

Judge Orders Release of Police Disciplinary Records

CB: On Monday, Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled that the Honolulu Police Department must release the disciplinary records of 12 officers who were suspended after committing serious acts of misconduct.

Sakamoto said police officers have no right to privacy when it comes to misconduct, which is the same thing the Hawaii Supreme Court had said in 1996 when considering the matter....

SHOPO has not yet decided if it will appeal Sakamoto’s ruling.

read ... Police Disciplinary Records

Judge to Decide on Releasing Deedy Trial Transcripts

CB: Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn will decide within 21 days whether to release transcripts of closed-door proceedings during the final hours of federal agent Christopher Deedy’s murder trial last year, which ended in a mistrial.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that Ahn must hold a hearing on Ahn’s reasons for shuttering various proceedings from public view. That hearing was this morning, but media attorney Jeff Portnoy was frustrated that Ahn still did not provide her reasoning for closing the proceedings to the public.

Instead, Ahn said discussing the reasoning for closing the proceedings would only release details in the still-sealed transcripts.

"She said it’s circular, but of course it’s circular," said Portnoy....

SA: Judge to decide on Deedy transcripts in 3 weeks

read ... Judge to Decide on Releasing Deedy Trial Transcripts

Iolani Palace vandal suspects appear in court

KHON: Drew Paahao, 21, and Koa Alii Keaulana, 30, were arrested for criminal property damage and criminal trespassing. Paahao is accused of kicking the glass door of the palace, causing irreparable damage. They have not been charged.

Both suspects appeared in court today on another legal matter, pleaded no contest to unrelated petty misdemeanor charges and were released this afternoon. When asked why she did it, Paahao responded, “because that’s my house. Yeah, that’s my house.” Those were the same comments Paahao made when she was first arrested Saturday morning.

SA: State plans to fine pair for damaged palace door

read ... Iolani Palace vandal suspects appear in court

Grid Modernization is a Multi-Edged Sword

IM: Virtual Net Energy Metering takes this one step further. The two meters do not have to be located in the same place.

For example, Costco in Iwilei has large numbers of solar panels on their roof. The newer Home Depot building is located right next door, has a flat roof located in a sunny area, and has not a single panel on it.

What if all of the utility customers being held in limbo were to install solar on the Home Depot roof? Home Depot would get free publicity. Those currently being screwed would get relief. The amount of PV electricity fed into the grid at the Home Depot site would be subtracted from the residential bills of the customers who installed solar at that site.

The Legislature is advancing bills that allow for this to occur. They would authorize “the public utilities commission to establish a Community-based Renewable Energy Program whereby electric utility customers may own portions of a renewable energy facility that sells energy to the utility, regardless of the physical siting or interconnection of the renewable energy system.”

SB 2934 was introduced by Senators Gabbard, Chun Oakland, Ihara, Ruderman, Ige and Taniguchi. HB 2141 was introduced by Representatives Lowen and Lee.

read ... Grid Modernization is a Multi-Edged Sword

Number of solar photovoltaic permits issued on Oahu drops 25%

PBN: Oahu’s solar photovoltaic industry continues to decline, at least when it came to the number of permits issued, as January showed a ninth straight month-over-month decline in this area, according to statistics compiled by Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar.

In January, there were 700 permits issued on Oahu, compared to 939 permits issued the same time last year, a drop of 25 percent.

The market seemed to have peaked in October 2012 when there were 2,433 permits issued.

GTM: Hawaii’s Solar-Grid Landscape and the ‘Nessie Curve’

GTM: How Much Solar Can HECO and Oahu’s Grid Really Handle?

read ... Solar Drop

Bill could restore funding cuts for high school sports

HNN: During the state's belt tightening six years ago the Department of Education's athletics budget was slashed by 30 percent -- about $4 million.

Some of that money was restored but public school sports are still feeling the pinch.

"We believe that it's in the order, the magnitude, of about $2 million," state Sen. David Ige said.

Ige thinks those funds can be found in the state's general fund to pay coaching stipends to about 1,000 assistant coaches who aren't being paid a penny, and to restore coaching positions at schools that cut them to deal with the deficit.

KITV: Athletics the key to succeed

read ... Restore Funding?

Patsy Mink's Legacy Guts UH Athletic Finances

SA: A friend who has lived here longer than most of us have been alive describes the state of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii as "dueling hypocrisies," entities that are supposed to work together to benefit the tax payers who fund them but instead mire themselves in empty rhetoric, gridlock politics and endless finger-pointing.

The UH athletic department is perfect by no means, but it is stuck in the middle, financially dependent on upper campus and the Legislature.

Those who say the athletic department should be "run like a business" obviously don't have enough familiarity with (Patsy Pink's signature achievement) Title IX, which, while designed to guarantee equal opportunity for student-athletes, also puts an incredible strain on the overall revenue-resources equation.

read ... Raw deal leaves UH athletics hurting

Retaliation is #1 as Discrimination complaints up in 2013

KGI: The number of discrimination complaints filed statewide increased in 2013, with retaliation as the most common suit against employers.

Nationally, those figures are down 5.7 percent, but in Hawaii they’re up 12 percent from 2012, according to data released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

The office reported 93,727 charges were filed nationally in fiscal year 2013, and the $372.1 million in administrative monetary recovery was the highest ever recorded.

In Hawaii, there were 358 EEOC charges filed in 2013, which is the highest since 385 were filed in 2009. In 2012, the state saw 319 complaints. Hawaii accounts for 4 percent of all charges nationally.

The statewide charges filed in 2013 included 112 race charges, 114 gender, 65 on national origin, 10 for religion, 15 for color, 155 for retaliation, 128 for Title VII (whistleblower) retaliation, 74 for age, 122 for disability, and four for equal pay.

read ... EEOC Report

These Maps Show The Geography Of Interracial Marriage

BI: Attitudes towards interracial marriage in the United States have changed over time. Marriages between people of different races are becoming more common — in 2000, 7.4% of all marriages were between spouses of different races, whereas in 2010, that figure rose to 9.5%.

Researchers at the U.S. Census bureau made a fascinating series of maps to analyze the geography of interracial marriages.

Read ... Marriage

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