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Friday, January 29, 2016
January 29, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:34 PM :: 2843 Views

‘Entire Process Corrupt’–Protests will Greet Nai Aupuni at Luxury Golf Resort ‘Aha

Guam Governor Endorses Ted Cruz for President

Where Do Americans Take Their Retirement Income?

If the state legalizes any form of gambling, federal law would allow Native American tribes to then buy property in Hawaii and build a casino

HNN:  Lawmakers say there's another worry. If the state legalizes any form of gambling, federal law would allow Native American tribes to then buy property in Hawaii and build a casino.

"That means we could not tax it. We cannot take any monies from it. We cannot control the zoning on it. We cannot control the future use of that particular land. And they can have their casinos 100 percent tax-free," said state Sen. J. Kalani English (D - Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kaho'olawe), the Senate Majority Leader.

Both the House and Senate measures have been referred to multiple committees, which means if they have any chance of surviving this legislative session -- they'll need to be scheduled for hearings in the next three weeks. So far, no hearings have been scheduled….

read … Lottery?

SB2938: Ige Pushes 19% Gas Tax Increase

PBN: The price of a gallon of gas in Hawaii may be dropping, but Gov. David Ige might send prices back up with a fuel tax.

This week, a new bill was introduced and past first reading at the Legislature that would raise the state’s gas tax from 16 cents to 19 cents per gallon. The bill would also increase the state’s vehicle registration fees and weight taxes, which would cost a motorist on average an extra $55 a year….

The money produced from the hike would go to the state highway fund (even though DoT is having difficulty spending its federal money right now.)

read … Tax Hike

Grabauskas: $3.7B = $5.2B and the Additional $1.2B is My Enemies’ Fault

SA: Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation…constructs the largest public works project in Hawaii’s history, in a climate where Honolulu has the highest construction costs in the nation….

the project’s cost figures must be clarified. The project costs have not increased from $3.7 billion to $5.2 billion. In fact, the $3.7 billion figure was in current 2006 dollars.

The $5.2 billion cost reflects those same costs, but in year-of-expenditure dollars — a more accurate and transparent way of viewing the cost, which is adjusted for inflation.

The recent cost increases that increased the project’s cost from $5.2 billion to $6.4 billion were due to lengthy legal challenges and delays, which resulted in our call for bids going out at a time when construction costs had risen dramatically….

read … HART Counting

Hawaii leaders are admitting that what used to be just problems are now catastrophes

Borreca: …Politicians across the mainland are feeling the pressure from voters fed up with minimal answers to major problems, and Hawaii leaders are admitting that what used to be just problems are now catastrophes.

For instance, the long-standing problem of long-term care is now so critical that the state public hospitals on the Big Island are cutting back care and forcing patients to move to facilities from Hamakua to Hilo. At the same time, the hospital system is asking for an emergency $21 million state subsidy.

If there is a mushrooming emergency, it is the state’s computer system. New glitches in the Department of Education’s payroll system were exposed this week that showed that not only was the DOE double paying some state substitute teachers, the department is keeping track of the salaries of its 22,000 employees on individual 5-by-8-inch index cards. All changes to DOE employees’ salaries are entered by hand on the cards.

Add to that new calls for electing judges, legalizing gambling and lotteries, plus raising taxes on gasoline and car fees — all making this a tense time for lawmakers….

read … Catastrophe

CDC: Hawaii Organics and anti-chemical feelings are ‘Unsurmountable obstacle’ to Dealing With a Zika Outbreak

CB: …“critical deficiencies” at the state Department of Health suggest possible challenges in responding should such an emergency arise….

From the Federal CDC Report—pg 4: Vector control may be particularly problematic in outbreak areas on the Island of Hawaii. Abundant man-made and natural (e.g., bromeliads) mosquito breeding sites, particularly considering the dense vegetation around households (see photos below), make it less likely that sufficient numbers can be eliminated or treated to significantly impact mosquito breeding. Considering the flight range of vector mosquitoes, a neighborhood wide approach to adulticiding will likely best reduce adult mosquito populations. However, the large distances between houses, dense vegetation, homeowner reluctance (many organic farms in the area and general opposition to chemicals), homeowner not at home, unoccupied homes, and large staffing and equipment requirements likely present unsurmountable obstacles to this approach….

read … Feds Say Hawaii Is Not Equipped To Deal With A Zika Outbreak

77,000 installed solar PV systems across Hawaii

IM: “The Hawaiian Electric Cos. have more than 77,000 installed solar photovoltaic systems on their grids across the state, which represents 17 percent of all of its customers, an executive from the Honolulu-based company said Thursday at an industry event.

The HECO Cos. also have 26,000 more PV systems that were installed or approved in 2015 alone, the most ever in one year trumping the previous high of 18,000 PV systems.”

Simply math shows that if the growth rate for solar installations continues to grow by 26,000 systems per year, and the Hawai`i population does not increase, then everyone would have solar in just 15 years.

read …  Hawai`i Energy Conference is discussing Inertia

HB2638 would limit tenants’ years in public housing

AP: State lawmakers are considering limiting the number of years people can live in public housing if they agree to an incentive program in advance, hoping to create more movement in a system with a years-long waiting list.

By accepting a seven-year limit, potential tenants on the waiting list would get priority to move into apartments. They’d have their monthly rent frozen at the lowest possible level, instead of tying their rent to income…..

HB2638: Text, Status

read … Limit

Forbes: Restrictions on Hawaii Marijuana Dispensaries will Leave Black Market Intact

F: …In Hawaii, dispensaries aren’t allowed to sell rolling papers or other paraphernalia that deviates from a medical patient approach. Vape pens and joints are not allowed. Edibles cannot be sold. Advertising is strictly prohibited. Product lines can’t be imported or exported to other Hawaiian islands. Maui wowie stays in Maui. That makes statewide brand awareness impossible and the state won’t allow a wholesale market.

License holders can operate two production centers and two dispensaries, but retail locations can’t be in the same location as a production facility. Each center is limited to 3,000 plants. What is unique about Hawaii is that grow centers aren’t allowed. Instead it will be grown on acreage where agricultural production is already approved, as long as it isn’t near a school or playground or a public housing project.

The applicants must have been a legal resident for at least five years and the entities have to be majority owned by Hawaiian residents. Each applicant must have at least $1 million and an additional $100,000 for each dispensary.

While many are pleased that the law will allow for dispensaries, the black market is expected to continue to thrive….

read … Restrictions

Lawmakers Defer Lower Blood-Alcohol Limit For Drivers, Approve Car Smoking Ban

CB: …Senate Bill 2053 was introduced by Sen. Josh Green, a medical doctor. It would lower Hawaii’s maximum BAC limit for drivers from .08 to .06 percent.

Of 34,152 drivers arrested for driving under the influence from 2011 to 2015, 12.6 percent had a BAC of below .08 and were released due to a lack of evidence, according totestimony from Derek A. D’Orazio, chief adjudicator, on behalf of the Department of Transportation….

Senate Bill 2083, which would nudge the entire state of Hawaii to join Hawaii County and more than 20 jurisdictions in the U.S. that already prohibit smoking in a vehicle where a minor is present, was passed by the committee on a 4-2 vote.

read … 0.06%

Prisons officials seek private partnership for new jail

KHON: State prisons officials said the $489 million cost of building a new jail on Oahu could be reduced significantly and constructed more quickly under a public-private partnership that's exempt from certain environmental requirements.

Meanwhile, the state prisons chief worries that chronic overcrowding could lead to another federal takeover of some prisons, a repeat of federal oversight of some facilities from 1985 to 2000….

State Rep. Gregg Takayama, chairman of the State House Public Safety Committee, said, "A private developer who'd build a facility and have the state lease it back, I think we have to thoroughly examine that possibility because of the possibility that it could save us millions of dollars."

Espinda said: "What we hope, of course, is that we're going to bring in multiple bidders with new and proven ideas that we can entertain, review and hopefully enter into an agreement."

Prisons officials are also asking to be exempted from performing an environmental impact statement or assessment for the new jail, since it's essentially expanding a current prison site at Halawa, not building on previously unused land.

That would save at least one year from the planning process, officials said….

Officials are also trying to re-start efforts to relocate the Maui jail, a project that has already racked up nearly $14 million in planning and design costs without any construction getting underway.

read … Private partnership

Privatizing Honokohau Harbor floated

WHT: …That sentiment, expressed by Hawaii Fishing and Boating Association Chairman Rick Gaffney, is the driving force behind a pair of House and Senate bills that would pave the way for privatization of Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

Kona Sen. Josh Green didn’t introduce Senate Bill 2464 because he has a specific vision for alternative management. Instead, “I wanted an open-ended discussion,” Green said.

The lack of progress in basic repair and maintenance of the harbor has been an ongoing issue, and served as the main impetus for the legislation.

The bill authorizes the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to transfer operation and management of Honokohau to a county or community-based board, public-private partnership, or private entity.

“You can’t even get basic pipes and cracks fixed unless you go through an enormously long and complicated process,” Green said of current management under the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, which falls under the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The counties are sometimes better at identifying and addressing needs at the local level, said Kona Rep. Nicole Lowen, who introduced a companion bill on the House side.

The sometimes inefficient and political nature of state management prompted Lowen to sponsor not only HB 2235 but also HB 1616, which increases the county share of the transient accommodations tax so the counties can fund lifeguards and emergency personnel themselves rather than appealing for state money.

“For certain things, local control is more responsive to the community,” Lowen said….

read … Privatizing Honokohau Harbor floated

Restore HMSA waivers ASAP

SA: …The Hawaii Medical Service Association, which insures 720,000 members statewide, nearly two months ago started requiring a Phoenix-based company called National Imaging Associates Inc. to provide preapproval of diagnostic imaging exams before coverage for them can be authorized.

These exams include MRI scans, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and some cardiac-related tests. In a story reported by Honolulu Star-Advertiser writer Kristen Consillio, doctors and administrative staffers on the front lines said the result has been delays of up to a few weeks between the time the tests are ordered and the time they often get approval.

HMSA executives emphasized that this general policy has been in place for several years, but added that many of its doctors had received waivers from that requirement, enabling them to order the tests readily. Effective Dec. 1, those waivers were canceled.

Although tests can be ordered without preapproval in emergency situations, they said, the tests aren’t always justified or effective in pinpointing the medical problem and needlessly expose patients to risks and drive up costs.

Since the issue came to light Sunday, HMSA executives have countered by saying that the policy change is temporary. It’s needed now to investigate why Hawaii doctors order these tests at a rate higher than the national average, said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, HMSA’s chief medical officer, adding that the company aims to begin reinstating waivers in a few months….

read … Preapproval

DLNR officer faces possible 20 years in rape case

HTH: A Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl on a Hilo beach faces a possible 20 years in prison if he is convicted under terms requested by prosecutors.

Ethan Ferguson was indicted Wednesday by a Hilo grand jury on two counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault….

The indictment states the 39-year-old Ferguson is subject to sentencing as “a multiple offender in that he may be sentenced to two or more felonies.”

CB: Women’s Caucus Wants To Alter Police Commissions, Create Standards Board

read …. 20 years

Security guards indicted for taking bribes at airport

HNN: …The four Securitas employees, Ruben Corpuz Alonzo, Ranie A. Ilagan, Gay Manicia Gatchalian and Euriphides Magalang allegedly accepted more than $3,000 in bribes from taxi and shuttle drivers.

In exchange, they would provide more customers to the drivers and overlook any broken rules or regulations relating to taxi and shuttle drivers.

If drivers did not pay the guards, the guards would harass them and drive away their customers.

"Today's indictments followed a months-long, complex undercover investigation conducted by the FBI in conjunction with Special Agent Investigators at the Attorney General's office.  Taxi drivers complained about certain officers at the airport taking bribes and showing favoritism to those willing to pay," said Attorney General Chin….

read … Bribery

FBI takes over theft, bribery case involving Maui officers

HNN: The FBI has taken over a theft and bribery case involving multiple Maui police officers, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Anthony Maldonado and Chase Keliipaakaua were arrested last October and charged with bribery and hindering prosecution.  Maldonado, a five-year veteran of the force, was also charged with theft. 

Sources say he made contact with a citizen in Lahaina and asked to see his identification. That's when he allegedly took more than $1,000 in cash from the man.

Days later, Keliipaakaua, a six-year veteran of the force, allegedly tried to pay off the victim to withdraw the complaint….

read … Bribery

Marines fired commander days before deadly helicopter crash in Hawaii

MT: The Marine Corps helicopter squadron reeling from the recent deaths of 12 colleagues saw its commanding officer removed from his job three days prior to the tragedy because senior officials determined he had failed to keep the unit operating at acceptable standards, Marine Corps Times has learned.

Lt. Col. Edward Pavelka was relieved of command Jan. 11, multiple sources confirmed. On Jan. 14, two CH-53E helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during a nighttime training mission about two miles north of Hawaii's Oahu island, where the aircraft were based....

read … Three Days

Billy Kenoi’s Chief Crony Announces Run for Mayor

HTH: …Lau isn’t required to quit his county job to run for the county’s top elected office. He decided to do that, he said, so he can concentrate full time on his campaign and to avoid any question of a conflict of interest.

Lau said he will continue the current administration’s efforts at being accessible and responsive to the community.

He denied that leaving the $119,000 position was a way to distance himself from Kenoi’s administration. The mayor’s pay is $132,000.

Lau declined to comment on what he thought of the controversy surrounding the incumbent mayor, but said he wasn’t concerned that political opponents may make a comparison with him and Kenoi, who is currently under investigation by the state attorney general and board of ethics for misuse of his county pCard credit card. Kenoi is term-limited after eight years and leaves office in December.

“How people think of it is how people think of it,” Lau said. “How people want to compare it with the current administration or any other administration, that’s up to them. I’m just focusing on my own canoe, my own campaign and what I’m planning to do.”

Lau’s own pCard use has been pretty straightforward, according to records.

It’s not known who will replace Lau as Kenoi’s managing director, or who will supervise the West Hawaii office, where Lau worked until Wednesday. Kenoi, in a text message, praised Lau for his seven years of service. He said resigning was Lau’s decision.

“We will miss him in our administration because Wally is a good man,” Kenoi said. “He is humble (translation: one of my gang), kind, intelligent, and hard working. We wish him well.”…

BIVN: Wally Lau Announces Run For Hawaii County Mayor

read … More of the Same

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