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Sunday, September 06, 2015
September 6, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:15 PM :: 3184 Views

New UH Policy: Rape is just another Violation of Political Correctness

The State of Fathers in the State of Hawai‘i

Hawaii Free Market Solutions to Homelessness & Affordable Housing

Statewide immunization rates for HPV lagging

What Should We Be Asking of the HECO Merger?

Revealed: How Telescope Fits in to OHA's Ceded Lands Cashflow

HTH: ...Lease payments from the TMT International Observatory are rolling in, but that won’t necessarily mean more funds for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which receives a share of revenue from Mauna Kea and other ceded lands.

While construction remains on hold due to protests, the nonprofit corporation behind the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope has paid $429,041 since July 2014 to the University of Hawaii as required by its sublease covering 6 acres below the mountain’s summit.

Eighty percent of the payments benefit UH’s Office of Mauna Kea Management, tasked with protecting natural and cultural resources, while the remaining 20 percent is sent to OHA as its pro rata share of ceded lands established by the state in 1980. Ceded lands are former crown and government properties the United States took control of following annexation in 1898.

Despite those payments, the state agency established to benefit Native Hawaiians will not receive a boost in its budget because of a 2006 state law and executive order that set OHA’s revenue from these lands at a fixed $15.1 million each year.

State agencies still are required to send 20 percent of their ceded land revenue to OHA, as the university has done quarterly, but the office must transfer payments exceeding the amount set by lawmakers into a holding account managed by the state Department of Budget and Finance.

If payments come in below $15.1 million, then OHA receives the difference out of the same account, assuming it’s not empty, or other sources, such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ general fund.

This was meant to resolve, at least temporarily, the issue of ceded land payments, which has been the subject of several lawsuits and multimillion-dollar settlements.

From 2006-12, that appears to have worked in OHA’s favor as the transfers from other agencies ranged between $10.6 million and $14.5 million per year, yet the office still received $15.1 million annually, according to OHA.

But during the past three years, OHA says it has returned nearly $7 million as ceded land payments rise, which it attributes to better reporting from other departments.

It expects that trend to continue.

“It is clear from the public land trust revenue reporting in the last few years that $15.1 million is less than 20 percent of the total public land trust revenue; therefore, it is likely that OHA will need to return excess funds to the state this fiscal year,” the agency said in an email to the Tribune-Herald....

Unless the 2006 law is changed, OHA could see no benefit from the first telescope on Mauna Kea...to pay more than $1 a year in rent....  (BINGO!  Now you know what the OHA-funded protests are about.)

Precisely as Explained: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read ... OHA funds for TMT lease in holding

DLNR Expects Mauna Kea Land Transfer before Legislature Convenes

SA: ...While the TMT issue ultimately will be decided in court, Case said DLNR is working with the University of Hawaii to transfer back to the department the upper 10,000 acres of Mauna Kea except for the core, 500-acre astronomy footprint.

In late May, Ige announced the intent to return all lands not specifically needed for astronomy to full DLNR jurisdiction -- and Case, who has a background in real estate law, is moving the process along. DLNR is hoping to get the pieces of the transfer in place by the fall, she said....

read ... 10,000 Acres

State lawsuit weaves a tale of graft, political cronyism

Shapiro: ...To press its case with the former governor, Ciber hired lobbyist John Radcliffe, a longtime political associate of Abercrombie’s who played leading roles in his 2010 campaign for governor, his fundraising and the transition committee that helped Abercrombie pick his Cabinet.

Abercrombie’s chief of staff, Bruce Coppa, got involved in the dispute and political appointee Audrey Hidano was assigned to oversee the Ciber project....

Kudos to Ige for his willingness to air the dirty laundry of Democratic Party heavyweights to recover public funds that state attorneys believe were lost to political cronyism.

But the legal action so far is limited to Ciber Inc. and seeks no civil or criminal sanctions against public officials who allegedly facilitated the raid on the state treasury.

How is this not public corruption if the facts alleged in the Ciber lawsuit stand up as the case moves through Circuit Court?

If the attorney general can’t find a legal basis to go after the public officials involved, Ige and the Legislature need to take it as an imperative to toughen our anemic ethics, bribery and lobbying laws.

read ... Graft, Cronyism

Public Favors Electric Co-op, Opposes Government-Owned Utility

SA: At this time, what do you think is best for Hawaii’s energy future?

  • D. Utility co-op (46%) - 955 votes
  • A. Stay with HECO (23%) - 482 votes
  • B. Go with NextEra (16%) - 329 votes
  • C. Government-owned utility (15%) - 289 votes

Total Votes: 2,055

Read ... The Big Q

Coop?  Public Ownership? Former PUC Chair Speaks Out

IM: ...over 40 state and county legislators called for evaluating public utility alternatives to the NextEra takeover of the Hawaiian Electric Companies. Morita shifted her focus from the Governor to Legislators on September 4.

“As these politicians spew their ‘beliefs"’ - and that's just what it is, rhetoric not based in critical analyses or an understanding of utility operations or regulation - they create an unstable regulatory environment and business climate which has the potential to send up red flags and wreak havoc on HECO's ability to finance its operations with or without the merger.”

“I guarantee it's just lots of big talk and just more studies.  These people have very little understanding.”

"A particular ownership model … [may] hinder it with decisions based on politics and the need to weigh competing interests rather than fact, technology, economics and best practices.”

The state and county legislator’s press conference was covered by numerous television, radio, newspapers and bloggers who asked questions at the press conference and then sought out individual interviews. Morita felt this was insufficient and suggested ten questions they should have asked.

“Yesterday's press conference held by some politicians need some good follow-up questions by journalists.”....

read ... Former Hawai`i Legislator, Former PUC Chair Speaks Out

Borreca: Ige, NextEra Not Listening to Each Other

Borreca: Sometimes there is a failure to communicate, and sometimes just no one is listening.

As the $4.3 billion proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric by Florida-based NextEra Energy chugs along, there is a feeling that the power company and the regulators are moving on separate tracks.

Recent comments by Gov. David Ige and the huge mainland power company show that neither is listening to the other.

Last week, in an exclusive hour-long interview with Kathryn Mykleseth, Honolulu Star-Advertiser energy reporter, Ige outlined what he wanted from a power company and how NextEra didn't fit that model.

"We are looking for a partner in the electric utility that really embraces 100 percent renewable and, I think, more importantly, changing the business model from the traditional electric utility to what would work in a fully distributed generation renewable future," said Ige....

The NextEra side of the debate is that distributed energy must equal a sustainable business model, said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Hawaii, during a meeting with the Star-Advertiser last week.

Gleason argued that having the power company run a big solar generation plant with acres of solar panels is much more efficient than having everyone put solar on their roofs.

Rooftop solar is not going to get Hawaii to 100 percent renewable energy under any calculation, Gleason said.

read ... Not Listening to Each Other

'Value-based' payment a threat to Hawaii health care

SA: ...Thanks to our Prepaid Health Care Act, we had the most cost-effective health care system in the country, with broad risk pooling, comprehensive benefits, no deductibles and low co-pays, and relying largely on small independent physician practices paid with fee-for-service.

Prior to the ACA, we had the best benefits, the lowest per-capita Medicare spending, and among the lowest health insurance premiums in the country.

Believing it to be the root of the problem, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is pushing to replace fee-for-service with "value-based payment." Doctors and hospitals are to be paid "up-front," with bundled payment for an episode of care or prepaid care for an insured population.

Unlike with fee-for- service, the incentive under "up front" payment is to minimize "volume" of services.

To counter the perverse incentive to minimize necessary care, the ACA demands that physicians computerize and provide detailed documentation to measure and reward "quality."

"Value-based payment" also creates a perverse incentive to avoid poorer, sicker, more complex patients whose care would likely cost more and might bring down quality metrics.

The ACA provides for risk adjustment, transferring money from plans with healthier to those with sicker populations, but this, too, requires detailed data from doctors on diagnosis and severity of illness.

Risk adjustment formulas are complex and easily gamed, and we are already seeing extensive "up-coding" of diagnoses by doctors, hospitals and health plans to maximize payment....

read ... 'Value-based' payment a threat to Hawaii health care

Organizers cancel Children and Youth Day event at state Capitol

KHON: "There is a concern about the liability that may be involved, as well as the use of the state resources," Sen. Suzie Chun-Oakland told KITV.

Complaints about the use of state workers to plan the event and the use of lawmakers’ discretionary funds caught the attention of the state ethics commission.

Last September,  the House Speaker Joe Souki and then Senate president Donna Kim would not recognize it as an official legislative activity.

They warned Sen. Suzie Chun Oakland and Rep John Mizuno that "legislative allowance funds should not be used," and cautioned about "affording an organization special privileges and resources not offered to other groups."

"That's where we need clarity. If it’s a state event, that's one thing. If it is not, we need to make sure we transition everything well. So, we don't jeopardize the event in the future," Chun-Oakland said.

But it's too late for this year.

Chun-Oakland ran into problems when a nonprofit she was counting on couldn’t meet state insurance requirements.

The senator broke the news to vendors and nonprofits attending a luncheon at St. Andrews Church Friday.

“I think people are disappointed because it has been an event since 1994. It is what it is. So hopefully, by next year all the kinks can be worked out," said Marsha Robinson from the Learning Disabilities Association. 

Governor David Ige's office released a statement late Friday saying: “While the administration supports activities and events that benefit children and youth, some very significant questions have been raised recently that must be addressed. And at this point, this is not a state-sanctioned event."

read ... Organizers cancel Children and Youth Day event at state Capitol

Child-abuse list at heart of a lawsuit filed against state agency

SA: DHS is accused of failing to tell people when they are put on the registry....

read ... Child Abuse List

Oahu Beset With Commuter Chaos

SA: Oahu has become a place so beset with commuter chaos that a day with no scheduled road work and no surprise road closures is rare and almost shocking. There’s the rail construction on the west side, the god-awful lane closures for resurfacing on H-1 near Aiea, the never-ending cycle of road and sewer and tree work on Kalanianaole, and all manner of torn-up streets on the Windward side. Farrington Highway through Nanakuli and Waianae is in a category all by itself. Add to the scheduled work random stuff like the oil spill on H-1 earlier this week, rain showers that make Oahu drivers freak out and ride the brakes, and “Hawaii Five-0” shutting down part of H-3 for filming. (A TV show is not worth shutting down the H-3. Sorry, not sorry.)

read ... Purposefully

Researchers are trying again to help you take your medicine

WaPo: ...In Hawaii, another project, the $14.3 million “Pharm2Pharm” experiment, seeks to connect doctors and pharmacists who dispense medication to patients leaving hospitals with community pharmacists who will continue giving out those medications as those people resume their daily routines.

Community pharmacists often complain that they have no idea which medications their patients are taking, especially when they leave hospitals with new ones and can’t guard against dangerous interactions.

“It’s not uncommon that they’re on dozens,” said Karen Pellegrin, director of continuing education and strategic planning for the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. That total includes prescription medications, but also supplements, herbals and vitamins that patients take on their own, she said....

read ... The Washington Post

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