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Friday, July 08, 2016
July 8, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:53 PM :: 1382 Views
 

Leaving Hawaii: Decision on New Site for Thirty Meter Telescope set for ‘Early 2017’

Hospital Reform? Randy Perreira Says "F*** You"

One Month Since Launch of Djou Campaign

Djou Agrees to Eight Debates

Will Obama Give Honolulu a Pardon from Rail Jail?

Ige Signs Four More Bills Into Law

Significant Increases in Labor Law Penalties

Hemp: Hawaii’s ‘High’ Tech Future?

Judge Finds No Evidence to Support So-Called ‘Whistleblower’ Lawsuit Against Maui County

Does the Film Industry Need Taxpayer Subsidies?

Doubled: More contractors qualify for Slice of ‘Cool Schools’ bonanza

DoT Road Priority Blackmail not Blacktop

SA: The state Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to explain the abrupt U-turn it made in deciding to ditch long-awaited highway construction projects under its “Capacity Program” and focus instead on maintaining existing roadways….

there was a palpable sense of surprise among even lawmakers.

One legislator went so far as to describe the department’s new direction as “blackmail.” Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, who represents Puna residents, said: “This is extortion, I don’t see it any other way. … They’ve never talked about this huge disparity before until now, and I think this is payback.”

When Gov. David Ige’s administration pushed for an increase in the state’s gas tax, registration fee and weight tax this past session, there was little warning to the public that major highway construction projects would fall by the wayside if the increases weren’t approved. Ige’s proposals would have generated an extra $70 million a year for highway improvements.

Among the projects now deferred is one to enlarge Highway 130 on Hawaii island between Pahoa and Keaau. That project is not a luxury, but a necessity for safety since some 30,000 people rely on that roadway, which bottlenecks to one lane in each direction.

It’s disturbing that, according to San Buenaventura, the DOT implied in a discussion that if she didn’t vote in favor of the tax and fee increases, the Highway 130 project would be deferred.

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke is skeptical of DOT’s reasons for deferring such a long list of projects, especially with additional $37 million allotted.

“It’s kind of troubling and puzzling that DOT is now pointing to the failure of the tax bill … to delay the projects,” Luke said. “That cannot be right. There has to be another reason.”

It’s yet unclear whether DOT is holding these projects hostage to strengthen its position heading into next session, when the Ige administration is expected to reintroduce the tax- increase measures….

(Idea: Impeach the DoT Director)

read … Blackmail

Maui Hospital:  HGEA, UPW Members Play Games with Sick Leave

MN: …In a joint status report June 30 to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the state attorney general and the union stated that they were continuing "to engage in productive discussions regarding settlement." They requested more time since implementation of the transition involves "many moving parts" and will affect many entities that include Kaiser and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the union representing the majority of the hospitals workers.

Talks between the two parties have been going on for more than a month, brewing uncertainty among residents and hospital workers, stalling transition efforts and leaving the hospitals to deal with staff shortages.

"Probably one of the more complicated things is operating a hospital when you're in limbo and you don't know how long you'll be in limbo for," Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of current hospital operator, the quasi-public Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region, said Thursday. "You can't really do much of anything."

Ever since Ige signed an agreement in January allowing Kaiser to assume management of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital, the UPW has been working to put a stop to the switch.

The union filed a lawsuit that was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor in February. The union argued that the public-private partnership violates the U.S. Constitution by impairing a contract between the union and the state.

However, after the union appealed the decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction May 17 to halt the transfer.

The court issued an order June 17, allowing transition activities to resume as long as Kaiser and HHSC didn't change the public employment status, rights and benefits of UPW members, or complete the transition. UPW has about 500 members at Maui Memorial, about a third of the facility's workforce.

Lo said that the hospitals have been doing some cleanup and other preparations that use minimal resources while they wait. Kaiser has been working on recruiting specialists, credentialing future staff and training 23 recently hired nursing graduates from Maui, said Laura Lott, director of communications and public relations for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, on Thursday.

The hospitals have been struggling with staffing shortages. While some workers planned to retire or leave in anticipation of the transfer, others have been using up their vacation and sick days before they become private sector employees. On average, 50 workers are on some type of leave everyday, according to Lo. Hospital staff have been logging extra hours and relying on temporary workers, and finding permanent hires has been difficult with no timeline for the transfer.

As of June 15, there were 367 vacancies on a total staff of nearly 2,000 countywide…

read … Thanks, HGEA and UPW

State Education task group takes cues from HSTA Secretary-Treasurer

SA: While the state Department of Education has started work on the plan, Ige wants his ESSA team, using input gathered at the education summit and subsequent community meetings, to share “big picture” ideas with the Board of Education before Hawaii submits its plan for federal approval in the spring.

“I personally didn’t want to constrain the process, because I do think that education is bigger than the explicit federal law,” the governor said of his approach of assembling an advisory team. “There are so many decisions, so many opportunities, so many challenges that are outside of the core requirements of the federal law, that we’re going to talk about the big picture and what it is that we want to aspire to. And then we’ll figure out what it is that we need to do to meet the federal requirements.”

Ige tapped retired principal Darrel Galera, who spent nearly two decades with the DOE, including 13 years as principal of Moanalua High School, to lead his advisory team, which has been meeting privately on Saturdays in the governor’s office. Galera and other task group members say they admire Ige’s ambition.

“The law itself — it’s OK to me, because I don’t think we should be too excited about any federal law,” Galera said in an interview. “But it’s not the law, actually, because the governor didn’t say, ‘Let’s do the ESSA law.’ He said, ‘Let’s create a blueprint for Hawaii public schools.’ That’s way, way beyond the law. It’s about what is best for our students. That’s what excites me.”

Mililani High School history teacher Amy Perruso, who serves on the governor’s advisory team, said she’s hopeful the state will take advantage of the flexibility in the new law and rethink its standardized testing practices. “What we choose to do with new power around public education could change a great deal. So we could move away from the test-and-punish culture, from a compliance-based approach to education,” she said.

Perruso, who is secretary-treasurer for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, added that teachers and principals need more authority to act in the best interest of students.

“It has to do not only with moving away from testing, but really unshackling teachers….”

Link: NEWS CONFERENCE: A PREVIEW OF SATURDAY’S ESSA SUMMIT

read … Total Remake by HSTA, HGEA

Expert: Maybe Homeless Won’t be Political Football After Election

SA: …The LDS donation of $3,000 bought twin- and queen-size air mattresses for all of Next Step’s 159 single and family sleeping cubicles. With a 10 percent employee discount from the Fort Street Walmart, the LDS funds also will enable Next Step to replace all 159 air mattresses if they become damaged, said Mary Beth Lohman, director of marketing and development for Waikiki Health, which operates Next Step.

The donation was the result of a March visit to Next Step by Lloyd Pendleton, Utah’s former homeless coordinator, who’s considered a national expert on homeless reform, Lohman said.

Before he helped Utah reduce its homeless population by 72 percent in 10 years, Pendleton was in charge of the LDS humanitarian relief for Europe and Africa, and offered to connect Next Step with the church’s efforts so Next Step clients could sleep on something soft instead of a hard floor.

Reached in Utah on Thursday, Pendleton was happy to hear that the mattresses were being inflated and put to use. But Pendleton declined to accept any credit. “I just connected the dots,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Pendleton is still considering Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s offer to relocate to Hawaii to work on reducing the highest per-capita homeless rate in the country.

But his decision likely will be postponed until after this year’s mayoral election, Pendleton said.

“I want to be a means to help real changes,” Pendleton said. “It’s still a possibility. … There may be a new mayor, so that will change the dynamics….”

Pendleton April, 2016: "Homelessness has become a political football.”

read … Football

Waimanalo Gulch Developer’s Trashy ‘Liveability’ Award used to Boost Caldwell

Cataluna: …the press release essentially equates livability with how we handle our trash. The judges were especially impressed with HPOWER.

“H-Power has become critical to Honolulu’s municipal solid waste management plan, reducing Honolulu’s dependence on imported oil through annually displacing 700,000 barrels of oil and decreasing the demand on the island’s only municipal landfill.”

Um, OK.

Two things to give a bit of perspective:

HPOWER has been around for 26 years, so while it might have been innovative back then, it’s not exactly innovative now, and it wasn’t Kirk’s idea.

Also, 700,000 barrels of oil sounds like a lot, but in 2015, HPOWER provided 5.4 percent of the electricity used on Oahu. HPOWER isn’t exactly H-Powerful. Glad it’s there, but it doesn’t make you forget about traffic, homelessness and the cost of living.

But, as it goes with many awards, it all comes into focus when you realize who paid for the trophies.

The 37th annual Most Livable Cities awards were co-sponsored by Waste Management, a mainland company that operates the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill under contract with the city….

Big Q: Do you think Honolulu is one of the two Most Livable Cities in the U.S.?

read … Trashy

Rail Contractor Kiewit defies environmental laws, suit says

SA: In the latest whistleblower lawsuit to be filed in relation to Honolulu’s rail project, a former Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. manager alleges the firm failed for years to adequately follow environmental laws while building the line’s first 10 miles to Aloha Stadium.

Thomas Ho worked as an environmental compliance manager for the island’s rail project from 2009 until May 2015 when Kiewit fired him, according to a lawsuit filed last week in state court. Ho’s job was to ensure Kiewit adhered to noise and waste-disposal requirements as it built the westernmost elevated guideway around Farrington Highway, and that the firm’s crews worked properly in “ecologically sensitive” areas and sites with endangered species, among other duties.

The suit claims that local Kiewit supervisors repeatedly dismissed and downplayed his efforts to keep the firm compliant and that Kiewit violated Hawaii’s Whistleblower’s Protection Act in eventually letting him go.

Kiewit was supposed to have two such environmental compliance managers, with as many as three support staff members for each, but Ho was the only manager and his supervisor “continuously ignored” his requests to bring on more compliance workers, according to the suit….

read … Whistleblower

Hawaii: Coal and Oil Become Clean Energy When Political Insiders Profit 

IM: …coal, oil, propane, and natural gas are all considered renewable energy under specific circumstances in Hawai`i.

In Hawai`i, Act 95-2004 (SB 2474 SD3 HD2) asserted that biofuels and hydrogen can be considered part fossil fuel and part renewable energy.

“Where biofuels, hydrogen, or fuel cell fuels are produced by a combination of renewable and nonrenewable means, the proportion attributable to the renewable means shall be credited as renewable energy.”

Act 162-2006 (SB 3185 SD3 HD2 CD1) modified this common sense approach. The final version asserted that biofuels are 100 percent renewable energy no matter how they are made….

The definition of biofuel was changed so that Gay & Robinson could import Australian coal to convert bagasse into ethanol. The ethanol would be considered green energy….

Thus Hawai`i could achieve its 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045 by relying heavily on fossil fuel, and could revolutionize transportation by having an electric fleet powered by coal….

UD: Hawaii solar industry reports 39% drop in employment after the end of retail net metering

read … Hawai`i Clean Energy Requires Clean Definitions

Offshore Wind: Another Expensive, Untested Pie in the Sky Scheme for Hawaii

ICN: …Cost could still be a factor for projects in Hawaii. Those installations would require floating towers because the depth of the ocean makes driving pilings into the ocean floor unfeasible.. As of yet, there are no commercially operating floating wind operations in the U.S., but there are a few test sites operating off the coast of Portugal and Scotland.

Technology for floating windmills could be adapted from offshore oil and gas drilling platforms, Boren said. But he acknowledged that would be one of the most expensive ways to generate clean energy….

read … Hawaii is a Magnet for Scams

Zoning: Anderson out, Ozawa In

CB: Councilman Ikaika Anderson from Waimanalo has lost his post as head of the influential city Zoning and Planning Committee to Trevor Ozawa, the councilman representing neighborhoods stretching from Ala Moana to Hawaii Kai.

Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin issued a memo Thursday announcing the new leadership positions. The move came a day after the Council considered and rejecteda proposal that would have replaced Anderson with Ozawa as Council vice-chair….

read … Petty Infighting

CB: Honolulu Mayoral Candidates Trade Barbs Over Canceled Debate

Kauai: Developers, Tourism Interest Pay for Anti-Diary Farm Ads

KE: Friends of Mahaulepu (FOM) is ramping up the fear machine against Hawaii Dairy Farm as the deadline for commenting on the project's draft EIS nears.

Two new radio ads feature staged conversations between FOM board members Bridget Hammerquist and Eileen Kechloian, who level all sorts of false, frightening claims against the proposed dairy.

The first ad goes something like this: “How are things? Oh, they're not good, I'm really worried about Mahaulepu (mispronounced) Valley; all that manure, over 2 million pounds, going down that valley and into the ocean; they now admit they're going to pollute; oh, and the grass-fed, that's gone, too.”

Every single one of those claims is complete and utter bullshit….

Much of the money raised to fight the dairy has come from condo owners at Poipu Kai, which donated first $10,000 and then $40,000, and Jay Kechloian, a Seattle builder-developer who showed how sleazy he is by fighting design standards and an ordinance that prevented construction of two houses on substandard lots in that city.

Though this issue is typically framed as “protecting Mahaulepu,” it's really about protecting their own economic interests from a perceived threat. So do we let the self-interested few destroy a viable venture that can actually help create the local, diversified ag that so many of the dairy opponents are also screaming for?

KGI: Anti-Dairy Hype

read … Tourism Yes, Agriculture No

Smug Insiders Against Local Food: NW Hawaiian Isles Expansion

SA: Hawaii’s approach to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is carrying preservation to an extreme. Unless you are an academic in the marine field or a Native Hawaiian, you’re not welcome. This is inconsistent with the Hawaii Constitution that guarantees the people of Hawaii free and equal access….

read … Just for the Elite

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