Full Text: Legislators Challenge Abercrombie over Morita Dismissal
February 21, 2014: Election Commission Releases Updated Candidate List
300 Republicans Celebrate Lincoln Day, Launch New YouTube Ad
Feds: Hawaii's High Energy Costs Drive Push for 'Clean' Energy
Does Hawaii Need An "Environmental Court?"
No Surprise: DoE Includes Tranny on Pono Choices Review Panel
Hawaii Health Connector Website: 41% of Defects Still not Corrected
SA: Four months since its launch, the Hawai‘i Health Connector is still struggling to get its main contractor, CGI Group Inc., to fix computer defects preventing many consumers from enrolling online.
The Connector's chief information officer, Anjali Kataria, told Connector board members at a meeting Friday that the nonprofit is focused on boosting the system's stability and performance to improve user experience. In many cases, consumers have spent dozens of hours trying to sign up through the online marketplace designed to match lower-income residents with subsidized coverage under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
"About 41 percent of the defects are still open from the go-live (the Connector's start date of Oct. 15), which is a high number," Kataria said. "It's been a long time now, it's been many months. We're being very aggressive about it. Everybody's got to play ball. We paid a vendor to do this. They bid on a contract in a competitive process. This is not something the Connector can fix."
read ... State still waiting for fixes
Shutdown of Coal Plant will Boost Electric Rates 3%
SA: The 180-megawatt plant in Campbell Industrial Park operated by independent power producer AES Corp. has the capacity to provide about 15 percent of the island's peak electricity demand. The cost to produce electricity at the AES plant is about 9 cents a kilowatt-hour versus about 23 cents a kilowatt-hour for power produced by the oil-burning plants that provide the bulk of HECO's electricity generation.
A similar temporary spike in monthly rates occurred a year ago when the AES power plant was taken offline for maintenance.
A bill for a typical Oahu household using 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month will rise to $217.36 in February from $211.22 in January, according to HECO. HECO is charging 34.7 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity this month, up from 33.7 cents a kilowatt-hour in January. In February 2013 the rate was 34.5 cents a kilowatt-hour....
Maui Electric Co. customers will see their rate rise to 37.2 cents per kilowatt-hour this month from 36.7 cents in January.
Hawaii island's residential rate will rise to 40.6 cents a kilowatt-hour from last month's 39.5 cents.
On Kauai the rate is unchanged at 42.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
read ... Cheap Coal
Hawaiian Electric executives 'earned' higher salaries in 2013
PBN: ...HECO President and CEO Richard Rosenblum earned a base salary of $617,000 last year, compared to $605,000 in 2012, according to the report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Meantime, Tayne Sekimura, senior vice president and chief financial officer, was paid a base salary of $312,000, a raise from $289,000 the previous year.
Dan Giovanni, senior vice president of operations, who was named an executive officer in 2013, was paid a salary of $255,000 and Stephen McMenamin, senior vice president and chief information officer, made $287,000 last year, compared to $267,000 in 2012.
Patricia Wong, senior vice president of corporate services, was paid a salary of $305,000 in 2013, compared to $296,000 the previous year.
Robbie Alm, the former executive vice president who resigned in August 2013 who still is a consultant for HECO, was paid $379,000, compared to $369,000 in 2012.
All six executives also received annual incentive payouts, including $526,262 for Rosenblum, whose total compensation for 2013, including stock awards and other forms of compensation, was $2.3 million, compared to $2.5 million in 2012.
read ... "Earned"
Alleviating Poverty Through Tax Policy Modifications
CB: The cost of stabilizing and assisting families to overcome the impact of poverty is staggering. The annual budget for the Hawaii Department of Human Services is close to surpassing that of the Department of Education and having the largest departmental budget in the state.
It’s time that we begin targeting poverty with efficient and effective strategies that will directly impact the level of poverty and its consequences throughout our island state.
Some of the best solutions available involve adjusting tax policies to directly infuse limited funding into low-income households while also improving the equity between the lowest and highest income households in the state. Largely as a result of the highly regressive General Excise Tax, which provides more than half of the state’s budget, households with incomes in the bottom 40 percent are currently paying 13 cents of every dollar in income toward taxes, while those in the top 20 percent are paying about 8 cents. The combined impact of the GET and relatively heavy income tax rates levied on our poorest residents has resulted in Hawaii being ranked as the fourth worst state in the nation for taxing people in poverty....
The total cost to implement these four modifications would be about $77 million. These expenditures would immediately strengthen the economic vitality of low-income households, begin reversing the alarming and growing rate of inequality by lifting thousands of households out of poverty, create a strong incentive for low-wage workers, all while avoiding the costly programs of health and human service programs aimed at alleviating poverty but are often too little and too late.
TFH: Can We Best Help the Poor by Making Their Lives Complicated?
read ... Alleviating Poverty Through Tax Policy Modifications
Perfect Timing: Anti-GMO Activists 'Honored' as ‘The Daily Show’ films GMO segment in Kona
WHT: Correspondent Al Madrigal and producer Ian Berger from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” were in Kona this week shooting a segment, Comedy Central spokeswoman Renata Luczak confirmed Friday. The popular program does a satirical take on the news.
“It’s a field segment and field pieces don’t have an exact air date. When they come back to New York, they’ll edit it and figure out when it will actually air,” Luczak said.
Luczak said she didn’t know what the subject of the piece was, but County Councilwoman Margaret Wille confirmed she was interviewed and the subject was the county’s ban....“I thought they asked good questions,” she said. “And they asked questions about what’s going on on Kauai and other islands — questions that I asked. What is the science here?....
“They made it a pleasure to do,” she said. “I heard that (Puna Councilman) Greggor (Ilagan) did an interview as well, but I don’t know that for certain.”
Ilagan was one of three councilmembers who voted against the ban — the others were Council Chairman J Yoshimoto and Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi. He was the subject of a Jan. 4 New York Times article titled “A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops.”...
Nomi Carmona of Honolulu, founder and president of the anti-GMO organization Babes Against Biotech, was also interviewed in Kona, as was Big Island singer-songwriter and native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and activist Hawane Rios.
“They’re hilarious. They have the sense of humor to come at it with what they call ‘sleazy GMO attorneys,’” Carmona said and laughed. “I deal with GMO lobbyists and GMO executives almost every day in the capitol, so I’m used to dealing with politicians under their influence and all this craziness. They told me I did an awesome job. The producer was screaming and spinning around. I guess he liked my answers. You’ve just got to fire back with those kinds of shows.” (The Daily Show eats fools like these for lunch.)
Carmona said the show’s host, comedian Jon Stewart, is “sadly, one of the most accurate national news sources, compared to mainstream news sources.” She said the show has touched on the GMO issue before, “calling attention to the idiocy of (pro-GMO) arguments.” ....
Like Carmona, Rios is a model on Babes Against Biotech’s fundraising calendar. She said she had “only a small part” in The Daily Show’s piece.
“I felt honored to be there to give my mana‘o as a Hawaiian from here, what I think about GMOs and what I feel about it,” Rios said.
She described the program’s interest in GMOs in Hawaii “perfect timing, because we need to get this issue out on a global scale because we have so many other issues, as well. Just getting one onto mainstream television is a big win for us because this is where we are as a people and what we do is gonna affect generations to come.”
read ... Just Wait til this Piece Airs!
SB2375: Anti-GMO Activists Attack Local Produce Bill
PR: Two years ago, the state Legislature and Gov. Neil Abercrombie approved a new law meant to help local farmers sell their products at retail outlets in agricultural districts....
But Howard Green, the owner of Green World Farms in Wahiawa, discovered a problem.
He said city planners told him they did not have to follow the new state law. The state Land Use Commission routinely adopts state laws on such issues, he found, but defers to the counties if county laws are stricter. He said he had to get a city conditional use permit and follow city rules on operations.
So Green, who is also an attorney, has sought to change state law, this time by cutting the Land Use Commission out of the mix and ensuring that state law would control when it comes to the retail sales of farm-related products on agricultural land.
Green has helped draft a bill, sponsored by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, that will be heard on Thursday before the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee, and the Senate Water and Land Committee....
Unfortunately for Green, there is another problem.
Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser has flagged the bill as a threat to a new county law on Kauai that regulates GMO and pesticide use and a new county law in Hawaii County that prohibits new GMO crops.
Hooser, writing on Facebook, has branded the bill “still another attempt by the chemical companies and their friends at the Legislature to take away our county authority to regulate their activity.”
Hooser’s theory has been spread by anti-GMO activists on social media and by an uncritical alternative press. (Style over substance.)
read ... Activists vs Farmers -- Again
Money grubbing Atheists Try Again for $1M from Hawaii Churches
CB: (After falling flat on their faces,) an amended lawsuit was filed yesterday against two of the Hawaii churches accused of underpaying the state in their use of school facilities.
(Atheists) Mitch Kahle and Holly Huber, who are realtors suing on behalf of the state, claim that One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu intentionally deprived public schools of about $1 million in underpaid rental payments and other charges.
The amended lawsuit stems from a high-profile case that was originally filed under seal last March and publicized last August but then dismissed in December because the lawsuit lacked sufficient detail, according to the judge. The original lawsuit included several New Hope Churches as defendants....
read ... Ca-Ching
1,900 Kiddie Porn Leads in Hawaii--Will Legislators Approve Funding to Investigate?
HNN: In a room in a downtown office tower, investigators with ICAC -- the Internet Crimes against Children task force - search for predators who consume, trade and produce child porn.
"They want to detect, identify, ultimately arrest and take out of circulation people who are doing harm to our kids, our families, our loved ones," ICAC alternate commander John Thompson said.
The mission is limited by money. ICAC operates on $230,000 a year in federal funds. There is no state funding.
"We need money for equipment to upgrade the technology, also to expand the number of personnel," Thompson said. "Right now there's only one commander, two investigators, and a part-time forensic examiner."
Compare that to 1,900 computer addresses in the state ICAC has identified as looking at child pornography. It's impossible for two investigators to keep up.
"These investigations aren't only sitting in front of a computer, they involve developing enough information to go and actually execute search warrants, make arrests. For that you need people," Thompson said.
Two bills in the state Senate seek to create a special fund for the task force. Senator Will Espero favors imposing a fee on all defendants who are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor. This would include all crimes, not just sex crimes.
Related: Child molester back at work at Hawaii Legislature (Again)
read ... Funding to Catch Molesters?
Law Prevents Police from Helping Mentally Ill Person
SA: For the past two weeks, Manoa residents have been warning one another about a man who drives a gold Toyota Camry behaving erratically near the Manoa Chinese Cemetery on East Manoa Road.
"It's a very hot topic and everybody's concerned," said Norman Wong, the coordinator of the Manoa Valley Neighborhood Security Watch. "People are afraid to walk the area because you don't know what the guy is doing."
In the latest incident, the man followed an older Nevada couple who gave a ride to a female University of Hawaii student to protect her from the man. In another incident on Feb. 7, according to emails from the neighborhood watch, he rushed at another man three times on East Manoa Road....
French, who suspects the man may have a mental illness, said she regretted that the three passes her husband made at the beginning may have triggered the man's reaction....
Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said officers have made contact with the man, but no criminal case has been opened. She said an earlier complaint involving the man was withdrawn, and officers have not seen him commit any crimes....
Police said officers unsuccessfully tried to get the man to accept help from social service agencies.
Another Example: Roosevelt HS Shooting: Failure of Mental Health Care System
read ... An Inhumane Police Prevents Forcible Treatment
Panel to scrutinize cost of government, Propose More Tax Hikes
WHT: The commission is chaired by Susan Maddox, executive team leader of the Waimea nonprofit Friends of the Future. Ashley Kierkiewicz, senior account executive for the communications company Hastings &Pleadwell, was named vice chairwoman.
But Hawaii County has actually made little progress on most of a long list of recommendations turned in by the former commission, which disbanded after submitting its report in July, 2011. That commission found itself stymied by collective bargaining agreements made at the state level that made it hard to implement policy changes involving county employees, which accounts for the lion’s share of the county budget.
That doesn’t mean county administration wasn’t listening. Several of the recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented.
Among those was a recommendation that the county work on collecting some $2.6 million in past-due hauler fees by requiring payments at the scale house. That’s now whittling away at overdue fees, while court actions have commenced on others.
The county has raised vehicle registration and weight taxes — another previous recommendation — as another way to raise money.
There’s a new Real Property Tax task Force that is going after other revenue sources. The 2011 commission had recommended the county require financial documentation to qualify for agricultural property tax exemptions and eliminate homeowners’ property tax exemption for unpermitted dwellings.
The administration has also been trying to implement a countywide technology management plan and make greater use of videoconferencing and other technology instead of travel.
read ... Cost of Government Increasing
Queen’s Medical Center shares patient data with Hawaii HIE
EHRI: The HIE allows patient information, including laboratory data, prescription information, and admission information, to be shared with participating providers in an effort to provide more coordinated care, reduce healthcare costs, and reduce unnecessary testing. Queen’s will be able to send data to state registries through Hawai‘i HIE’s Health eNet system....
Current Hawai’i HIE members include Medical Center; Hawai‘i Pacific Health, which consists of Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children, Pali Momi, Straub Clinic & Hospital and Wilcox Memorial Hospital; and the East Hawaii region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC), which covers Hilo Medical Center, Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua and Ka‘u Hospital.
PBN: The Queen’s Health Systems joins Hawaii Health Information Exchange for patient data sharing
read ... Patient Data Shared
Abercrombie Sets Aside 3900 Acres for Forest Preserve