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Thursday, February 27, 2014
February 27, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:19 PM :: 2677 Views

Matsuda: Fate of Prepaid Health Care Act Depends on Hawaii Health Connector

LA Times: Hawaii Health Connector Refused to Cough up Secret Budget

HI leaders worry military cuts will compromise Pacific security

Auditor: 11 Special Funds Do not Meet Criteria

Health Connector May Convert itself into Telemarketing Business to Make Money

HTH: The Health Connector’s board is considering leveraging its information technology platform and the contact center to provide other services, as possible ways to make more money .... (Privacy issues here?)

read ... Telemarketers

Health Connector Abandons Enrollment Goals, Seeks new Funding Sources

PBN: Its current revenue model, which is supposed to be self-sustaining for an estimated $15 million annual operating budget once federal funding dries up at the end of the year, involves a 2 percent fee assessed on participating insurers for all plans sold through the Hawaii Health Connector.

But that won’t even allow the Hawaii Health Connector to break even, Matsuda told lawmakers, with strikingly low enrollment at just 4,467 individual enrollees of the estimated 100,000 uninsured pool in Hawaii and 456 employer applications on the small business portal. Those numbers are the latest available as of Tuesday.

Matsuda has been working internally and with other legislators and stakeholders on figuring out revenue generating ideas or cost reductions that could help the nonprofit state-run online health insurance exchange stay afloat, and while he is still focusing on boosting enrollment in the short-term, he and others agree that is not the only answer.

“The market dynamics in Hawaii are not right for an online marketplace of this type and there is little chance of the Hawaii Health Connector becoming self-sustaining under its current board-approved revenue model,” Matsuda said in a statement....

read ... Discussions shift from enrollment to innovation waivers

How Abercrombie, Schatz Can Win Easily

MW: ...the Hawaii Poll of 642 registered voters – conducted between Feb. 1 and 11 by Ward Research – showed Abercrombie ahead of his largely unknown and grossly underfunded primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige, 47 percent to 38 percent, with 14 percent uncertain. And in a general election rematch against announced Republican Duke Aiona, Aiona is favored by 48 percent to Abercrombie’s 40 percent, with 12 percent on the fence.

“How can?” you ask. “Can,” responds the certified political scribbler. “Can easily.”

Abercrombie inherited Hawaii’s version of the Great Recession from Linda Lingle. Like Lingle and other governors across the country, he had to ask public sector unions to sacrifice themselves on the altar of fiscal prudence. His administration made unions a “final offer.” Abercrombie told some interests he was “not their friend,” but their governor.

Unions don’t forget. Hawaii State Teachers Association recently endorsed Ige for governor.

Then there’s same-sex marriage. In 2011, Abercrombie signed a civil unions bill similar to the one Lingle vetoed in the waning months of her second term. Last fall, he called a special legislative session to consider same-sex marriage, then signed posthaste a bill that legalized them. Liberals, like this one, applauded Abercrombie. But social conservatives simmered. They, like union members, don’t forget....

Both Schatz and Abercrombie have full campaign treasuries. Schatz will use his to make himself better known; 25 percent of those polled had either never heard of him or didn’t know enough about him to render an opinion. Abercrombie will buy plenty of advertising to keep Ige, Aiona and maybe even Mufi Hannemann at bay. The governor’s re-election campaign may even commission a poll or two.

read ... Easily

Complaint Filed Against Hee for Acting Like Hanohano

PR: Lela Hubbard, a Hawaiian sovereignty activist, has complained to the state Senate President's office that she was treated rudely by state Sen. Clayton Hee at a Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee hearing on Tuesday.

According to several witnesses and a video recording by KITV, Hee asked Hubbard to stay on the topic of a bill on the potential development of state Office of Hawaiian Affairs land in Kakaako. Hubbard wanted to talk about Kanaiolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Role Commission effort....

Hubbard, however, has sought an apology through the Senate President's office and wants Senate leaders to consider taking action against Hee.

PR: Mahaoi

read ... Double Standard

Measures on food labeling appear doomed

SA: "There just doesn't seem to be consensus on a way to move forward, so it's highly unlikely," said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D, West Maui-South Maui), chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

Baker and other senators have raised doubts about the state's legal authority to require GMO labeling, because the federal government regulates food.

"I don't think it's going to happen," said state Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D, Waipahu-Pearl City), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sen. David Ige (D, Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he would defer to Baker and Nishihara, whose committees have jurisdiction over the issue. Ige has previously said that he does not support a state GMO labeling requirement.

Some senators said privately that there may not be the necessary votes on the committees even if the bills were heard.

The Senate would still have the option of taking up a GMO labeling bill that the House passed last session, although that move would be unexpected.

The House could also amend a related Senate bill that will cross over next week to keep the issue alive.

Rep. Jessica Wooley (D, Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe), chairwoman of the House Agriculture Committee, who favors GMO labeling, said Wednesday that she is not ready to give up.

"The time is not yet here where the door is closed," she said.

read ... Anti-GMO Fail

House Defers Minimum Wage over Tip Credit

PR: The state House Finance Committee on Tuesday evening deferred a minimum wage bill after a hearing in which the tip credit was the most significant source of debate.

Rep. Sylvia Luke, the committee's chairwoman, said the House would wait to see how the Senate Ways and Means Committee handles a minimum wage bill on Wednesday morning. Much of the focus in the minimum wage debate has been on the Senate, which had pushed for a higher tip credit last session that ultimately prevented an agreement on a minimum wage increase.

But Luke also said she wanted more time for all sides in the debate to review a new concept relating to the tip credit. Luke and others have suggested a "poverty threshold," where the tip credit would not apply unless a worker reaches a certain income trigger. Luke said it could ensure that low-income workers would at least get paid the minimum wage.

Restaurant and other business interests concerned about the tip credit appeared open to the concept. Some business owners have recommended making the tip credit a percentage of tipped income -- such as 20 percent -- instead of a fixed amount.

As Explained: Flawed Minimum Wage Hike Advocacy Will Cost Hawaii's Poorest Workers $7M this Year

read ... Trigger

Effort to Save Oahu Residents From Rail Failed Despite Valiant Effort

HR: Circuit Appellate Court and the Hawaii Circuit Court ruled simultaneously against us in our attempts to save O'ahu's residents from elevated rail along the waterfront.

Our preliminary decision is that there is little likelihood of prevailing in any further legal action. Therefore, the rulings conclude our legal fight.

read ... Valiant Effort

Can the Legislature save HECO?

IM: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman Jon Wellinghoff gave the keynote address at the National Summit on Integrating Energy Efficiency & Smart Grid held in Washington, D.C. last October.  --  “Ultimately, utilities are going to have to adapt or die”

U.S. utilities have a creeping sense of impending doom and gloom. The international accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers conducts an annual survey of global utility leaders. The latest survey found that “90% of North American utility executives believe that there is a high or very high likelihood that distributed generation will force utilities to significantly change their business models.

Hawai`i businesses are starting to resist rate increases. In 2012 two major business groups, the Big Island Community Coalition and the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce turned out in force to oppose HELCO’s rate increase and to suggest that a decrease should be approved by the PUC.

ILind: A quick look at Hawaiian Electric’s institutional investors

read ... Can the Legislature save HECO?

Council committee scraps Caldwell's $20M Garbage Tax

SA: A plan by Mayor Kirk Caldwell to start charging Oahu property owners $10 a month for trash pickup was shot down by the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee Wednesday....

... the Caldwell administration will now need to scramble to make up the anticipated revenue by Friday, when it is slated to submit its budget for next year to the Council.

read ... Scrap Garbage Tax

Caldwell wants Honolulu to spend $25M to encourage transit oriented development along rail line

PBN: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants the city to spend $25 million to encourage neighborhood development along Honolulu’s proposed rail line, he said Wednesday during a State of the City speech that touched on transportation, infrastructure and homelessness.

Caldwell, in a speech before a crowd at the McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park, said that when he met President Barack and Michelle Obama (who?) during their annual Hawaii vacation, the first lady said to him, “I hear you’re building rail. That’s going to be a game changer.” LOL!

To that end, Caldwell wants to spend $25 million to fund a rail-related Transit-Oriented Development plan. Of that, $20.3 million would go toward streets, land acquisition for bus and rail hubs, multimodel studies and “catalytic” projects at the Pearlridge and Kapalama stations. The rest would go toward planning.

read ... It it is Such a good idea, why the need for $25M in Promotional Expenses?

Honolulu Mayor wants significant increase in programs for homeless

HNN: "I'm getting more and more letters from our visitors," says Caldwell, "That means someone who visited here, got upset, went home, and instead of unpacking, doing their laundry, and getting back to work, took time to find out who the mayor was, what his address was, and to write him a letter.  And that's deeply troubling."

The Mayor says he wants to increase funding for programs that address the homeless population, in particular, a new program called Housing First.   The budget for the inaugural year was just one million dollars, Caldwell wants to increase it to almost 19 million next year.

"Housing First is about getting the homeless into housing immediately without requiring that they be clean and sober.  These are the requirements many homeless people are simply unable to meet," says Caldwell.

Rick Egged of the Waikiki Improvement Association says beefing up Housing First could have an immediate impact on the tourism industry,  "In Waikiki, we have a high proportion -- like 80% -- are people with drug abuse or alcohol abuse issues or mental health issues and they're the hardest to find housing for because they don't want to obey rules."

"We're optimistic, very optimistic," says Kelly Joseph of Wakiki Health.  She says the program has been successful in other cities because it targets the homeless who are often the most difficult to get off the streets.

"This is taking (that) individual and providing housing and then providing support services," says Joseph.

read ... Homelessness

Kauai Councilman Scores $250K Settlement from Former Prosecutor

HNN: Legal experts said the settlement is significant because prosecutors are usually immune from such lawsuits.

"For the county to give up their immunity defense and settle for a sum of that amount is a good indication that not only did they not have a good case but they would be punished even more," said defense attorney Victor Bakke.

"It's a large amount for a settlement."

The deal comes after several highly-publicized misconduct incidents under Iseri-Carvalho's watch.

In 2012, the county paid an undisclosed settlement to one of Iseri-Carvalho's employees for workplace harassment.

And just last year, a judge threw out a theft case against an aide to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

Iseri-Carvahlo's office pursued the charges, even though she didn't have enough votes from a grand jury to indict the woman.

"This is not an isolated complaint against Ms. Carvahlo. She's been accused of misconduct on a number of levels," Bakke said.

The former prosecutor could not be reached. According to court filings, Iseri-Carvalho did not take part in the settlement negotiations.

The lawsuit was partly based on tape recordings that were made by Iseri-Carvahlo's former first Deputy Jake Delaplane.

In them, County Planning officials admitted that the case against Bynum was for political reasons. They also joked about committing perjury if they were caught, Bynum's attorneys said.

KGI: County may release civil suit details -- Rapozo wants public to know more on Bynum action

read ... Kauai to pay more than $250K to settle wrongful prosecution case

Poll — Voters Want Higher Minimum Wage, Reject Legal Pot

CB: Increasing the wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $9.25 is something that 68 percent of statewide registered voters agree on. Just 23 percent rejected the idea....

But 59 percent of respondents said they do not want the Aloha State to follow Washington and Colorado in allowing residents to smoke marijuana.... Only one-third of voters feel it's time to get legally high....

read ... Poll Results

Should Hawaii Let Public Schools Raise Money for Private Nonprofits?

CB: Hawaii lawmakers want to carve out an exception in the state Ethics Code so public schools can continue raising money for nonprofit organizations — if it’s educational.

Teachers were advised in December to stop encouraging students from participating in the Macy’s “A Million Reasons to Believe” promotion because state employees aren’t allowed to use public resources for private business activities, which generally includes supporting or promoting charities.

Senate Bill 2423, up for a critical vote Thursday, would let schools and classes partner with nonprofits under certain circumstances....

Background: Atheist Ethics vs Santa: Teachers, Students Cannot 'Believe', 'Make a Wish'

read ... Should Hawaii Let Public Schools Raise Money for Private Nonprofits?

Many Oahu Schools Miss Basic Food Safety Checks

CB: More than one out of every five public schools on Oahu failed to comply with federal school food safety regulations in one or more of the three past academic years, according to data from the state Department of Health.

Specifically, the schools were not inspected by state health officials twice annually in at least one of those years —the minimum number of checks required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the national school lunch and breakfast programs.

read ... DOH fails DOE?

Tax Foundation of Hawaii opposes proposed electric vehicle tax

PBN: The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 2324, which would require owners of electric vehicles to pay a $60 annual fee that would go into the state’s highway fund.

The bill says that the owner of a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle who drives 12,500 miles a year will typically pay about $140 in state and county fuel taxes, while owners of electric vehicles pay substantially less in taxes....

“While the measure states that the proposed fee is an interim solution until a suitable mechanism can be implemented, it should be remembered that once a fee or tax is adopted, it is difficult to repeal,” the foundation says. “Once it makes its way in the door, it can be expected to increase in subsequent years.”

(Here's an idea.  Instead of taxing electric cars, just subsidize them less.)

read ... Taxing the Tax

Sovereignty Activist Loses Neighborhood Board Committee Chairmanship

HPI: The basic dishonesty of advertising an event as open to all views but then conducting it as one-sided propaganda was amplified by the dishonorable behavior of spokesman Kioni Dudley. He advertised the first forum as being sponsored by the neighborhood board of which he is a member, when in fact the board never agreed to sponsor it. Here's the flyer advertising the first forum: http://tinyurl.com/lhsl7rj

In a highly unusual action, the neighborhood board held a special meeting at the Kapolei civic center at the same time as the first forum was being televised live from the Kapolei High School cafeteria. The board reprimanded Dudley for falsely publicizing his forum as being sponsored by the board. They did not merely remove him from his committee chairmanship because of his abuse of their trust -- they completely abolished his committee! The official minutes of the neighborhood board special meeting make fascinating reading: http://tinyurl.com/ojqrx48

read ... Ken Conklin

Liquefied natural gas could play key role in isles' energy transition

SA: Hawaii potentially could import up to 2 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year as part of a move to replace costly fuel oil with a less expensive energy option, a top state official said Wednesday during a presentation at an international energy conference in Singapore.

Richard Lim told participants at the ninth annual LNGA Conference that the biggest demand for liquefied natural gas in Hawaii is for power generation, marine and ground transportation, and industrial uses....

Lim mentioned Pearl Harbor as well as Kalaeloa Barbers Point as potential locations for an LNG import terminal. He said the state expects bulk shipments of LNG to begin by 2018 that could be used for power generation. Lim cited the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, which estimated LNG demand in Hawaii ranging from 1.2 million metric tons to 2.1 million metric tons a year, depending on several variables.

read ... Liquefied natural gas could play key role in isles' energy transition

Trask Geothermal Scammers Demand Meeting 

PBN: The attorney for Huena Power (IDG), one of the companies looking to develop a 50-megawatt geothermal project on the Big Island, has requested a meeting with stakeholders, including Hawaii Electric Light Co. and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, to address the delay in the awarding of a contract for the project, which some say would cost up to $200 million.

“It is further recommended that the proposed meeting occur within the next 15 days, in order that each and all of the deficiencies of the [request for proposals] itself, the RFP process, timing of the issuance of the RFP and the purported deficiencies in the several proposals to be identified and hopefully rectified, in order to ensure the benefits of geothermal be accurately represented in HELCO’s April [Power Supply Improvement Plan],” William Milks, counsel for Huena Power, said in a letter to the PUC this week.

The PUC ordered HELCO to submit a power supply improvement plan by April 21, which may provide the utility the opportunity it needs to depart from its earlier justifications to increase geothermal capacity in the near future, according to Milks.

HELCO was expected to award the geothermal contract last August or September.

In late December, HELCO said that all bidders failed to submit a qualifying bid and that selection would be delayed indefinitely, with none of the submitted bids sufficiently meeting both the low-cost and technical requirements of the geothermal RFP.

IM: What is holding up Big Island Geothermal Development?

read ... Geothermal

Bill to allow online gun registration makes headway despite police opposition

GC: SB2938, would set up a statewide online registration process that would allow those who are registering a new gun to avoid the current multiple trips and hours of waiting involved.

Introduced by Sen. Will Espero (D-D19), it passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday afternoon with a 12-0 vote.

“If Hawaii Rifle Association leadership believed that Hawaii’s registration law could be repealed at this time, we would push for such,”  Dr. Max Cooper, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association told Guns.com Wednesday.

“Presently, support of SB2938 to diminish the burden imposed by the registration process on law-abiding gun owners seems more pragmatic,” Cooper continued.

The bill would require the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General, in collaboration with the county police departments, to establish a statewide online firearms registration process by July 1, 2015.

read ... Progress

Drone bill could affect Maui missing women search

KITV: The families of the two missing Maui woman are now turning to drone technology to look for their loved ones. But if some lawmakers have their way, those high tech eyes in the sky will be grounded.

A message on the "Mowatch missing person Moreira Monsalve" Facebook page begins with, "If anyone has a drone and would like to help us for a couple of hours..." It is the latest in the search for Monsalve, otherwise known as Mo, who has been missing since Jan. 12.

"I would think I am capable of looking at a space that you can hike. 2 or 3 people, it would take them a day. I can do it in five minutes," says Harry Donenfeld.

Donenfeld lives on Maui and owns multi-rotor Maui. He sells and uses drones and he is using his equipment to help look for Mo and another missing Maui woman Carly "Charli" Scott.

"In the case of Charlie Scott, we're looking over cliffs that are a couple of hundred feet straight down. Not accessibly by water, so the only way to get them is this way," said Donenfeld.

Unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drones, are becoming a common site in Hawaii skies. But if Senate Bill 2608 becomes law, many drones will be grounded.

read ... Price of Paranoia

Judge finds accused rapist mentally unfit for trial

SA: In the restaurant case Honolulu police said Navas entered the Mililani Shopping Center business on May 7, 2010 after it was closed, grabbed the woman and carried her to the back storage area where restrained and sexually assaulted her.

The woman told police Navas slapped her so hard he knocked out one of her teeth. She said Navas gagged her with a towel and repeatedly raped her. She escaped after two hours and ran for help.

Police found Navas in the restaurant with plastic bags he had filled with restaurant merchandise. He was half-dressed and told police he went to the restaurant to buy it. He also told them he was Roger Moore 007, Bruce Lee, former Gov. George Ariyoshi and others.

read ... Another Mentally Ill Person Who Should have been Institutionalized Long Ago

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