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Wednesday, November 25, 2015
November 25, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:25 PM :: 3481 Views

Stop Na’i Aupuni Plaintiffs File Appeal with Supreme Court

Nai Aupuni: Eleven Candidates Listed Twice on Ballot

Telescope: OHA Playing Both Sides

Matson Admits Rate Hikes Caused by Expensive Jones Act Ships

Consumer Complaints: Hawaii Among Most Open States

Hawaii Health Connector Sold only 8,802 Individual Obamacare Policies—Total

PBN: Of the 37,800 Hawaii individuals who have signed up for Affordable Care Act insurance plans, just 46 percent of them signed up through the Hawaii Health Connector and only 8,802 of them had paid for their plans as of June, according to a PBN analysis….

According to Kaiser, 43 percent of its insurance customers used the online exchange to buy health coverage. Approximately 7,300 individuals bought insurance through the Connector, while another 9,500 individuals signed up for Affordable Care Act compliant plans directly with Kaiser, off the exchange….

the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ most recent report published in September shows effectuated enrollment in the Aloha State reached 8,802 as of June 30 this year.

That means just under 9,000 of the roughly 17,000 individuals that signed up through the Connector actually paid for their coverage, as of June. The CMS count does not include individuals who have selected a plan but haven't paid for coverage….

The Hawaii Medical Service Association’s individual rate will increase by 27.3 percent, as approved by the state insurance commissioner last month.

Kaiser had its individual health insurance rate hike of 34.4 percent approved in October.

Both issuers have justified their rate increases by pointing to pent up demand for services from people that lacked insurance in the past and other Affordable Care Act-related fees, and expensive specialty drugs.

read … Fewer than Half

Pesticides, GMOs may be acceptable to fight dengue

SA: The cries against the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops in Hawaii have been vehement, strident and, at times, overwrought.

No chemicals, no GMOs. None at all. Never.

To some this comes down to a moral choice, as simple as good vs. evil.

What a strange turn it is, then, to hear some of the same voices calling for the widespread spraying of pesticides, specifically near schools, to combat the spread of dengue fever borne by mosquitoes on theBig Island.

Last week a list of schools to be sprayed was made public. Nobody made protests signs and chanted angrily at the morning drop-off lines. In fact, people were relieved. Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Colin Stewart quoted a Hilo parent at a public meeting asking, “Does it last? With all the rain that we’re getting, does it wash away? How often will it be sprayed? We want to know how kids are being safe in school. You know, we have to leave windows open, it’s hot in the rooms, we don’t have air-conditioning units here. So, the kids are outdoors a lot. And we want to make sure the campuses are safe for them to be at during the school day.”

State Sen. Josh Green, a Kona physician, introduced a bill in the last legislative session to establish buffer zones near schools and hospitals where pesticides may not be used. Last week he called for the National Guard to be deployed to spray for mosquitoes.

“Obviously, acute and focused spraying of an insecticide during a health care crisis is totally different than the chronic use of concentrated pesticides on test crops year round. Everyone understands that,”Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua-Kona) said in an email. “Concerns about containing the active outbreak of a potentially deadly disease with targeted spraying to prevent it from becoming endemic, outweighs therisks.”

Meanwhile, though this has not been discussed for Hawaii, dengue in both China and Brazil is being fought by the release of genetically modified mosquitoes. In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to approve the experimental use of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help stop mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquitoes there have built up resistance to various insecticides. The alternative is to release genetically modified male mosquitoes that will mate with the females and produce offspring that die before reproducing, thus reducing the mosquito population.

Sometimes, class, science is our friend….

read … Suddenly Acceptable

600 Opt out of Nai Aupuni Election

HPR: Out of about 90,000 OHA registrants about 600 have opted out….

NT:  Will there be any election oversight? 

WM:  Yes, by CW Associates.

read … Rough Waters for Na’i Aupuni Elections

It’s time to get serious about shortening the rail

SA: …rail seems bound to drown under its own weight.

Way over budget, beyond its original timelines and having already destroyed local communities, rail is an out-of-control monster.

Citizens’ letters plead for our politicians to “stop the rail.”

Incredibly, the sad argument for continuing rail is, “Unfortunately, we are too far along to stop now.”

Susan Lai Young’s commentary was an astute response to this mess (“Massive spending on rail transit harms honest taxpayers,” Island Voices, Oct. 29): “Someone in your newspaper should do a chronology of the scandals surrounding this very large and very white elephant. Go way back to the misrepresentations and promises of the original rail pitch … to the lobbying by special interests, to the questionable contract awards to favored donors, to the endless cost adjustments, to the ethics violations … to the suffering of those in the construction zones.”…

read … Get Serious

How Crappy Sewers Make It Hard To Build Housing In Honolulu

CB: When developer Serge Krivatsky thinks about where to build his next housing project in Honolulu, he doesn’t look to Moiliili.

That’s not a knock on the urban neighborhood, which is right by the University of Hawaii and only a short bus ride from downtown Honolulu.

Lots there are generally zoned urban too, which means Krivatsky wouldn’t have to plow through the long process needed to rezone land.

But Krivatsky considers the neighborhood completely off the table  — because it doesn’t have enough sewer capacity.

It’s not just Moiliili — the lack of upgrades to the wastewater system is one reason why developers have built relatively little housing throughout Honolulu to meet a growing demand….

read … How Crappy Sewers Make It Hard To Build Housing In Honolulu

Maui Mayor Rejects Tent Cities in Favor of Mini Prefab Units

MN: …In a presentation to the Maui County Council during a special meeting called by Arakawa on Tuesday, he and his staff suggested that the reusable, expandable and connectable Spacemax Shelters be placed at the Maui Family Life Center in Kahului and Ka Hale A Ke Ola's sites in Wailuku and Lahaina. All three agencies are already in the business of assisting and housing the homeless.

The $1.8 million includes building costs and operations as well as shelters for people's pets. Each site would house 64 people.

The shelters can be secured and were recommended as the best option - over using tents and another type of shelter - to temporarily house the homeless until more permanent housing can be found. In an initial presentation to the council, Arakawa proposed various shelter options and temporary shelter sites….

read … Victory

Consumer Advocate: Four Year Rate Moratorium Allows NextEra Rake Hikes

IM: The Consumer Advocate noted that a much needed rate case would lower rates, but the rate moratorium proposed by NextEra would maintain high rates. In addition, during the rate moratorium, NextEra actually proposes to raise numerous surcharges that would raise rates further.

The Consumer Advocate asserted that NextEra used “speculative” cost estimates that are “clearly exaggerated,” an ownership model that is “likely to expose Hawaiian Electric customers to new and unreasonable costs,”  the use of “backdoor rate increases,”  and the use of “speculative cost estimate savings.”

NextEra would increase risk to ratepayers while they “conveniently avoid discussion of financial drawbacks.” Then there are the problems of cost shifting between NextEra’s 900 regulated and unregulated subsidiaries and a “lack of corporate transparency.”….

read … State asserts HECO-NextEra merger based on speculative and exaggerated savings

Solar Groups: HECO Plan Makes it Hard to Sell Batteries

SA: In its proposal, HECO laid out its plan for an optional time-of-use rate program for customers on Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Under the time-of-use proposal, customers who opt in to the program on Oahu would pay 11.04 cents per kilowatt-hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 36.20 cents from 4 p.m. to midnight and 13.68 cents from midnight to 9 a.m.

The solar and clean-energy organizations said the proposed time-of-use rate program has the potential to cause problems.

The groups said the rates should encourage photovoltaic owners to use more energy midday, but that customers who are a part of the new solar program that credits solar owners 15 cents for the excess energy sent to the grid might be incentivized to do the opposite. The joint filing said that if the time-of-use rate is lower than what the customer would be credited, the customer paying the 11.04-cent rate would allow excess energy to be sent to the grid instead of using the energy or storing it in a battery and exporting it later in the evening.

The groups said the credit for exported power from solar systems should match the rate customers pay in time-of-use because it would encourage solar customers to buy the necessary equipment, such as energy storage systems, to send back excess energy when the grid needs it most. The groups also said that crediting customers the same amount that they would pay using time-of-use would be easier to understand….

read … No Incentive

HART: We’ll Deal With Electric Bill by Putting Solar on Station Roofs

HNN: Rail officials unveiled a new sustainability strategy that includes commercial-scale rooftop solar, electric vehicle charging stations and energy efficiency retrofits at its stations.

During a meeting of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's board, staffers said they are seeking a developer that would invest millions up front to build a solar photovoltaic system then sell the energy back to HART at a cheaper rate.

But some board members questioned whether the rail system will save even more money if it built its own solar system.

"Why wasn't PV incorporated into the building design from the get go," HART Chairman Don Horner asked.

"Why did we have to add it, you know what I mean. We paid good money to have an energy efficient building."

Dan Grabauskas, HART's CEO, said solar was originally part of the plan back in 2011 but was shelved to save (capital) costs. (LOL!)

(And now they’re taking it off the shelf to pretend to reduce operating costs.)

read … Sustainability

Kauai Police release body cam video that exonerates officer, as battle with union continues

HNN: …Kauai Police Officer Hanson Hsu, pulled over a man, after a report that he was involved in an earlier domestic dispute and theft.

Officer Hsu is wearing the device and notifies the man several times that the event is being recorded.

The woman who called 911 admits on the video, to lying to the dispatcher about being punched and says she just wanted her purse back.  The purse  was in the vehicle the man was driving.   Police seized the vehicle which agitated the woman.  Turns out, police say they found drugs inside.  That case is pending.

But days later, the man who was pulled over, accused Officer Hsu of violating department policies.  It was this body cam video that quickly squashed what could have been a long internal affairs investigation.  And, KPD went after the man, for making a false police complaint.

"We want people to know, that if they make false reports like this, they won't get away with it," says KPD Chief Darryl Perry….

read … Body Cam

Parents face long waiting lists at licensed preschools

HNN: At Seagull Schools downtown campus more than 500 families are on the waiting list to get their children into the preschool.

"There's a limited amount of spaces available every year. The waiting list is much bigger than being able to place everybody," campus administrator Lisa Uyehara said.

Families can spend up to two years on Seagull's waiting list. Meanwhile, hundreds of families are waiting to get into one of Kamaaina Kids 20 preschool locations.

"Our waiting list has grown over the last couple of years, especially this year," operations director Buffy Owens said.

There are several reasons for the growing wait times at popular preschools.  More working parents are trying to get their kids into preschool, and children who don't meet the state's age for entering kindergarten are staying in preschool a year longer.

"Some of the child care centers have said they've had to push the number of three-year-olds they can serve back because they're trying to serve the four- and five-year-old children," said Dana Balansag, childcare administrator with the Department of Human Services….

read … Preschool

Hawaii rehab centers see influx of older meth addicts

HNN: …Emergency rooms are seeing more patients fitting his profile, and the state Department of Health reports that the number of people over 50 going to rehab for meth has nearly doubled over the next five years.

"Two years ago it started being way more noticeable," said Alan Johnson, president of Hina Mauka treatment center.

"Usually it's between 50 and 75 years old.  But we see a few people between 75 and 85. I believe what we have is a crisis of chronic illness in the United States here.  So many people are having pain issues.  Some elderly people are turning to drugs to manage their pain," said Johnson.

Higaki said he was in his 20s the first time he used meth. His mom had just passed away. Higaki eventually lost his apartment but managed to get clean on the street. He was sober well over a decade when he decided to try it just once more at age 52….

read … Meth

Debacle: Failed Program Means Years of Waiting for Ala Wai Boat Harbor Upgrades

SA: Once touted as a model for public-private partnerships, the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor development has become a case study on failed policy that has resulted in the developer filing for bankruptcy and the state unable to cancel the lease.

Boaters — and the state — have waited six long years with nothing to show for it, and must wait now even longer for Honey Bee USA Inc. to emerge from bankruptcy protection….

It took several years just to come up with a 65-year lease that commenced Jan. 1, 2014.

There were numerous starts and stops, including community pushback on Honey Bee’s first $9.7 million proposal, the more than doubling in cost of its revised plan and losing its major financier in July 2014….

The missteps made in the public-private partnership have ultimately left a mess of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor. It could take months, if not years, for Honey Bee’s bankruptcy issues to be resolved, and even in the best-case scenario, it will be years before marked improvements are made at the boat harbor, the gateway to Waikiki….

Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Bill Lofquist rightly described the situation as a “debacle” and a source of frustration.

Boater Bruce Lenkeit said the Honey Bee fiasco is “another example of the state not knowing what the hell it’s doing.” Lenkeit said the failed development has caused unnecessary hardship for boaters, which is ironic since the development was supposed to help, not hurt, boaters….

read … Debacle

Gun Control Nuts Cite Hawaii as Example for America

TT: According to a data calculator maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii’s rate of gun homicide clocks in at just 0.62 victims per 100,000 people. (The rate for the United States as a whole is 3.99, a nearly sevenfold difference.) Hawaii boasts one of the country’s lowest suicide rates, which have been shown to increase when a gun is kept in the home, and just 20 percent of the state’s suicides are committed with firearms — nationally,guns are responsible for a little over 50 percent. A study from earlier this year also assigned Hawaii the lowest prevalence of non-fatal firearm injuries in the 18 states it measured. Whether intentional, accidental, assault-related, self-inflicted, or indeterminate, these incidents consistently occur at far lesser frequency in the Aloha State.

Yet even as it records such comparatively low rates of gun violence, Hawaii’s gun dealers have enjoyed an enormous surge in sales in recent years. A study relying on 2013 data determined that 25.8 percent of Hawaiians are gun owners — a national low, but up significantly from the statewide rate of 9.7 percent recorded in older data. The state’s rate of legal gun ownership is also reflected in numbers tallied by its permit-to-purchase and gun registration systems, and the trends are eye-opening. According to data released this year by the state attorney general’s office, gun permit applications across Hawaii increased by 298 percent between 2000 and 2014. Over the same span of time, the number of registered firearms spiked by 355 percent. Some observers wonder whether the state may now be home to more guns than people.

Put together, the numbers point to a conundrum. Research shows that higher rates of gun ownership lead to higher rates of violent crime. How has the Aloha State avoided the correlation?

The answer begins with one way in which Hawaii differs from many of its continental cohorts: As the number of guns in the state has increased, Hawaii’s legislators have enacted some of the strictest gun safety measures in the country.

read … Billionaire Bloomberg

Thanksgiving Celebrated in Hawaiian Kingdom Before it Became Official US Holiday

KL: Historians can tell you that, in the United States, President Abraham Lincoln officially made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 after years of unofficial celebration.

Few, however, know that the holiday was observed by royal decree fourteen years earlier in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

What drove the Kingdom to celebrate one of the most American holidays?…

Christianity and literacy were both widespread thanks to the work of missionaries from the nation's East Coast….

In a decree, the King declared Dec. 31, 1849 "a day of public thanksgiving to God, for his unnumbered mercies and blessings to this nation," an announcement in the government-run newspaper The Polynesian said….

read … Thanksgiving

As Muslims Kill More People, Progressives Respond by Stepping up their already-frequent Reminders of How Superior They Think They Are

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