Reject the Tribe: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu Public Meetings
Bumpy Kanahele Quits Aha–Cites Clandestine Manipulation
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 16, 2016
BBC: Use genetically modified mosquitoes on Big Island
Ige Appoints Kai Kahele to Senate
Ige Joins ‘Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future’
After Bribery Indictments, State Airport Division Extends Contract, Increases Pay
KHON: The state has hired the private company Securitas to provide security at all of Hawaii’s airports for at least three more years, despite recent allegations of bribery.
The state says the new contract takes effect this week.
Last month, four Securitas officers were indicted for accepting bribes at Honolulu International Airport….
The state Department of Transportation says it’s been happy with the job Securitas has done at the airports for the past 12 years.
The state was paying Securitas $37 million a year to secure all 11 airports. The current contract pays the company $43 million….
read … State extends contract with Securitas, despite bribery allegations
Aha 2016: “Everything’s going to plan — we’re going to be Indians.”
SA: …“As I see it, we need to get a constitution completed,” Oahu attorney Keoni Agard implored the assembly Friday afternoon.
The aha spent most of the day Monday forming committees on constitution-writing topics: preamble, rights, executive authorities, legislative authorities, judicial authorities and drafting.
Last week, during the convention’s second of four weeks at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club in Maunawili, the body adopted a purpose statement that calls for drafting governing documents to create a Native Hawaiian government….
The convention also elected a leadership team to take over from the moderators originally hired by the Na‘i Aupuni board.
The chairman is Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee, president of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association’s Oahu Region and the policy and planning chairman for the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. The vice chairman is Anthony Makana Paris, a research analyst from Papakolea.
Meanwhile, critics continue to condemn the gathering as a state-engineered ruse designed to prop up a puppet government, undercut the independence movement and seize title of the state’s 1.8 million acres of ceded lands. Foes on social media have portrayed the participants as traitors, co-conspirators and dupes.
On Saturday a group describing itself as a coalition of 21 community organizations and sovereignty groups tried to steal some of the aha’s thunder by announcing its own “Aha Aloha Aina” meetings on Oahu, Hawaii island and possibly Maui.
The goal of the two-hour meetings Feb. 23-26 is to “reaffirm our independence,” to resist and oppose Na‘i Aupuni’s claims to be the representative voice of the Hawaiian people and to reject the U.S. Department of Interior’s attempt to federally recognize Native Hawaiians as an American Indian tribe, organizers said.
“They keep saying it’s self-determination but it’s not. It’s state-funded,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale, a leader in a group known as Protest Na‘i Aupuni. “They’re nonelected, self-appointed delegates making decisions on behalf of Hawaiians. It’s scary.”
Veteran Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte, who previously renounced his Na‘i Aupuni candidacy, unsuccessfully tried to attend the closed gathering at least three times during the first week. He said he has now decided to preserve his energy to fight whatever emerges from the aha.
“We know what it is. We’ve got to be ready for it,” he said, adding that “everything’s going to plan — we’re going to be Indians.”
Kanahele, who on Monday held up three un-cashed per diem checks that he described as bribes, said he suspected the process would be manipulated but was hoping to work against those forces from inside the aha….
read … Indian Tribe
State government wages war with itself over DHHL
Borreca: It is not yet a constitutional crisis, but just wait, because the state of Hawaii is at war with itself.
The hostilities were triggered by last year’s ruling by Circuit Judge Jeanette Castagnetti, who said that the Legislature “failed to appropriate sufficient sums to the Department of Hawaii Home Lands for its administrative and operating budget.”
Having the courts tell the state administration or governor to clean up its act is not an act of war, but the courts went further by directing the state to give DHHL $28 million.
The judge ordered the Legislature to do that because the state Constitution says it is supposed to provide “sufficient funds” for run and administer DHHL.
Now one of Gov. David Ige’s own departments is publicly battling the governor, and the House and Senate Democratic majorities have jumped into the fray with their own lawyer. All parties are expected in court Wednesday as they fight for and against the state court ruling….
read … State government wages war with itself over DHHL
SB2496: All Absentee Voting System—Romy Cachola’s Dream
CB: The bill calls for phasing in all-mail elections, starting with Kauai. In the 2018 primary, Hawaii and Maui counties would transition to the new system. By the 2022 primary, all-mail voting would be statewide….
Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, one introducer of SB 2496, said the bill would make voting easier for those who can’t leave their homes, such as the disabled or elderly.
Will They Be Safe from This? …
In all-mail voting under SB 2496, ballots would need to be mailed in or dropped off on Election Day or sooner to deposit-only locations. Voter service centers, which could issue replacement ballots or provide more accessible voting equipment, would be open on Election Day in each county to receive ballots or assist voters with special needs.
Voters would also be allowed to request an electronic ballot, which could involve faxing or an online delivery system, if a mail-in ballot had not been received five days before the election.
This isn’t the first try at all-mail balloting in Hawaii.
Similar efforts failed last year. Also in 2015, one bill was introduced that would have made Nago responsible for increasing voter turnout, while another would have gone so far as to levy $100 fines registered voters without a valid excuse for missing an election….
read … Romy Cachola Plan
House Bills Take Aim at Profligate UH Administration
CB: House Bill 1685 would require the university to seek approval before paying anyone more than twice what the governor makes.
House Bill 2193 would give lawmakers the right to vote down any tuition increases.
House Bill 1801 would make $4 million in cuts to executive salaries to pay graduate assistants.
House Bill 1612 would put the Hawaii Community Development Authority in charge of the “non-education related development” of lands owned by UH West Oahu.
read … House Higher Ed Leader Takes Aim At UH
Hawaii attorney general files to dissolve Hawaii Health Connector
PBN: Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin has filed a complaint in 1st Circuit Court seeking to officially dissolve the defunct Hawaii Health Connector, citing that its assets are being "misapplied or wasted."
The complaint, which was filed late Wednesday, requests judicial dissolution of the former state health insurance exchange, and asks that the court appoint a receiver for the remaining charitable assets of the exchange….
"The Connector is insolvent, in that its liabilities exceed its assets," according to the complaint. "The plaintiff requests an order judicially dissolving the Connector because it can no longer carry on its activities and its assets are being misapplied or wasted ... and [requests] a court-appointed receiver [to] wind up the affairs of the corporation; pay creditors to the extent the corporation has remaining assets or funds to do so; and take such other actions that the receiver deems prudent." …
Following a series of layoffs, the Connector officially ceased operations on Dec. 4….
Four of the five voting directors of the Connector have resigned, except for Catherine Awaken Colon, an ex officio voting member. Former Connector Director Jeff Kissel resigned in early December. the Connector's office, located at 201 Merchant St., is vacant, according to the complaint.
Gov. David Ige's deputy chief of staff, Laurel Johnston, told PBN in a recent interview that multiple former Connector vendors await payment.
"We don't have the money to pay them," Johnston said. "It's a bunch of [vendors] and it's more money than the Connector has."
"By having my office file for the dissolution, we'll have a court-supervised dissolution that will protect the public interest in the remaining funds held by the [Connector] and ensure fairness to creditors of the corporation," Chin said….
According to a PBN investigation, less than half of the Hawaii population now covered by the Affordable Care Act actually used the Connector to purchase health insurance….
Flashback: Auditor: Hawaii Health Connector Sent $21.6M to a House in Virginia
read … Thanks for the memories, Neil and Barack
Hawaii 20% Short of physicians
HTH: …The latest data show Hawaii actually gained four physicians in 2015, bringing the state total to 2,806. That’s unusual because the last few years the state has typically lost physicians each year, largely because of doctors reaching retirement age.
However, as the population in Hawaii grows, demand for doctors increases by about 50 each year, so “this actually represents an expanding shortage of physician supply versus demand,” reads the December report prepared by Kelley Withy, the primary investigator with the Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment Project.
The demand for doctors statewide stands at 3,310, meaning Hawaii currently has 20 percent fewer physicians than it needs.
But on the Big Island, the shortage is even more pronounced. Estimates put Hawaii Island residents’ needs at 286 specialists, but currently only 137 are available. That represents a shortage of more than 52 percent.
Looked at as a percentage of the demand, some of the island’s most badly needed physicians include those in pediatric specialties including cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology and rheumatology. There are no doctors with those specialties currently working on the island, while just under three are estimated to be needed.
Orthopedic surgery also is sorely underrepresented. The demand on Hawaii Island currently stands at 14.6 doctors, with only 4.2 working here….
2015: Report on Findings from the Hawai‘i Physician Workforce Assessment Project
read … Assessment
Marijuana Bills not Moving in House
HTH: Home-growers can breathe a sigh of relief: A bill that would have prohibited patients from growing their own medical marijuana is essentially dead.
The measure, HB 1680, had not been heard by the House Committee on Health by Thursday, which was the filing deadline for bills referred to at least three committees.
Four other bills relating to medical marijuana met a similar fate — none will be heard this session unless re-referred, which is unlikely.
read … Languish
Amendment would limit county oversight of geothermal
HTH: A bill amendment to be introduced in the state Senate today would undo Hawaii County’s nighttime drilling ban for geothermal power projects and further restrict — if not entirely prohibit — efforts by counties to enact similar regulations. (Thus making geothermal electricity cheaper.)
The proposed amendment to SB 2535 says that the state shall have exclusive authority over geothermal regulations unless it delegates that power to counties, according to a copy of the draft provided by Sen. Lorraine Inouye.
The original version of the bill, also introduced by Inouye, would restrict county regulations to geothermal operations that exist within a mile of homes.
Inouye, a Democrat representing North Hawaii, said she is trying to make geothermal regulations consistent throughout the state and wants to prohibit laws she says conflict with geothermal resource permits approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. Geothermal heat is considered a state resource.
The county’s drilling restrictions adopted in 2012 would be one such regulation to be overturned under the proposal, she acknowledged….
Totally Related: HELCO geothermal plan’s strict requirements nixed deal
read … Freedom from Anti-Geothermal Ignorance
‘Revealing Emails’ May Emerge in Big Island Geothermal Docket
IM: HELCO selected Ormat’s Moana Geothermal Project as the final winner in the geothermal RFP. For several months the two sides negotiated on the proposed power purchase agreement.
Some have asserted that Hu`ena Power was the “1st runner-up.”
On February 9, 2016 Hu`ena Power filed a complaint (docket number 2016-0027) with the Public Utilities Commission. The next day Ormat announced that negotiations with HELCO had failed and that Ormat was withdrawing from the process.
One observer asserted that “Intervenors should not be allowed to participate. This docket is just between HELCO, Hu`ena Power, and the PUC.” The commenter also asserted that perhaps revealing emails would emerge, such as the famous NextEra "snack" email which was exposed by an intervenor.
read … Economics of Additional Big Island Geothermal Questioned
Reports to the Legislature Hidden
ILind: Every year, state agencies and departments are required to file reports prior to the opening of the annual legislative session on a myriad of topics.
You can find a list of all these reports. From the main capitol website, click on the link for “Reports and Lists,” and then search down the list to find “Reports to the Legislature.”
Here’s the problem.
Although it is described as a list of reports, it actually is a list of the letters of transmittal when the reports were submitted to the legislature. There are no links to the actual reports….
So what appears at first glance to be a timesaving list of reports posted on the capitol website, turns out to be quite frustrating. You will undoubtedly find reports of interest, but getting to any one of them takes several additional steps.
I did eventually find an copy links to reports from certain agencies.
read … Reports to the Legislature
Homeless Tent City Sprouts on Diamond Head
CB: Cottrell said up until recently the division conducted periodic sweeps on Diamond Head, first posting notices to tell the homeless they were illegally camped and then clearing out personal items and trash the homeless left behind.
But, says Cottrell, “Now we can’t just say, ‘Get out of Dodge!’ If we take the possessions of homeless, we have to store them. Before disposing of anything we must clearly delineate what is property and what is rubbish.” (Thanks, ACLU)
Cottrell says the last time the Parks Division made a large scale sweep of the homeless encampments on Diamond Head was at the end of 2014. He says since then enforcement officers have been doing random patrols on Diamond Head, asking illegally camped people to leave….
When I mention to Morishige that the homeless at Diamond Head we met seemed uninterested in being relocated to shelters or apartments, Morishige said he believes most homeless people, even the most hard-core homeless, want help….
SA: Planned ‘sweeps’ are posted on city website so Homeless can find them on their computers
read … New Tent City, Thanks to ACLU
Veterinarian to Challenge Anti-GMO Councilmember
HTH: Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, an attorney seeking her third two-year term, now faces a potential opponent. Herbert M. Richards III, a Waimea veterinarian and fourth-generation rancher at Kahua Ranch, pulled nomination papers Feb. 10. Known as Tim, Richards is on the mayor’s Agricultural Advisory Commission.
Richards, who’s never run for public office before, said he’s definitely running. After a half-dozen years on the Agricultural Advisory Commission, which has worked on solid ideas to improve agriculture in the county, it’s time to help put those ideas into action, he said.
“It’s time for the most logical next step and the next step is the County Council,” Richards said. “I’m keenly interested in agriculture in our county and have a passion for the Kohala area.”
He said agriculture, and its affiliated issues of water, energy and transportation, would take center stage.
Wille said having competition doesn’t worry her. In fact, she said, it’s healthy for the county.
“In a way, it helps me have somebody to contrast,” Wille said. “I think it makes it where people get more interested and involved in the whole process. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and let the voters decide.”
The outspoken Wille — one of the most, if not the most, prolific sponsors of substantive bills on the Council — is a lightning rod for strong support and opposition. In 2014, her race became the costliest council race in county history with the infusion of more than $100,000 by a Honolulu super political action committee.
That year, she was the leader in a three-way primary contest and ended up winning with 59.5 percent against a well-financed Ron Gonzales in the general election. The super PAC Forward Progress, a Honolulu pro-construction group, contributed more than $100,000 supporting Gonzales or opposing Wille. Wille’s supporters, meanwhile, challenged Gonzales’ residency, forcing him to use valuable campaign time defending himself before the county clerk and the Board of Registration.
read … Challenge
HECO bills drop again thanks to Fracking
SA: …Low fuel prices continue to have a ripple effect on Hawaiian Electric Co.’s electrical bills as customers are set to see nearly a $2 discount in February from January’s electrical bill.
The bill for a typical household using 500 kilowatt-hours on Oahu will be $127.47 this month, $1.87 less than what customers paid in January. The price per kilowatt-hour on Oahu decreased to 23.4 cents this month from 23.8 cents in January. The February price is the lowest in more than six years, HECO spokesman Darren Pai said Monday.
Oahu residents’ electrical bills are nearly 15 percent lower than they were last February….
read … Anti-Fracking Enviros are protesting Against Lower Electric Bills
Atheist: Conservative President May Mean More God-Friendly Military
MN: …The head of a watchdog group waging a decade-long fight to ensure the constitutional wall between church and state remains in place impose atheism in the U.S. military said he's concerned a more conservative president may embolden commanders who prefer a more God-friendly military….
read … Atheist
NextEra Merger News: