Primary Election Day Saturday Aug 13—Find Your Polling Place Here
Full Text: State, UPW Reach Maui Hospital Agreement
Papahānaumokuākea: A Model for Everything Wrong in Hawaii Politics
DHS Director Rachael Wong Leaving
Hawaii: How to Quit Paying Union Dues—Legally
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Maui Hospital: HGEA Issues Still Open
MN: …Baker said the Governor's Office still needs to resolve the issue with the HGEA, and she understands why Kaiser says it needs an agreement with both HGEA and the UPW by Aug. 26 before it can proceed with the hospital transfer.
"We don't want them (the HGEA) filing a lawsuit," she said.
Kaiser released a statement saying: "The state has an agreement with UPW as of today, and we are encouraging the governor to resolve the retirement and severance issues with the HGEA soon. We hope to begin operating the hospitals no sooner than Nov. 6."
House Speaker Joe Souki, a longtime Wailuku lawmaker, said: "We are very pleased that the parties have reached an agreement and the state is satisfactorily meeting its obligation to hospital workers. We are looking forward to seeing the hospital transition continue to ensure health care services to the people of Maui."
Maui Region Chief Executive Officer Wesley Lo said he was pleased to see a settlement and saw it as "a positive step towards a more sustainable model of health care for our community."
But Lo said hospital administrators' knowledge of the settlement is "vague."
"We have not been involved in any of the discussions, and have had to rely on the media for details on the negotiation," he said. "We still do not know how this settlement affects the HGEA and its members, or the status of the state ERS' complaint against the state and how all these factors will affect our ability to close."
Lo added that in the last three months since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction blocking the hospital transfer because of the UPW lawsuit, "our hospitals have been suffering through terrible uncertainty. Our staff and physicians have been taking care of the acute health care needs of a community with limited ability to mitigate issues. If it weren't for the dedication of our community's health care professionals, we would not have been able to survive. . . . It is imperative that we complete this transition as soon as possible."
In his news conference, Ige said the UPW agreement "provides certainty to people of Maui County that they will continue to have access to high-quality health care."
But he acknowledged that the agreement was specific to UPW employees, although he said the state was continuing to work to "resolve any issues with both the HGEA and UPW to move forward."
"There's a lot of work involved with the transition," he said. "I continue to say that this is the most complex transaction that the state has ever entered into, and we will continue to work through all the details required to ensure a smooth transition."
The state has asked the Internal Revenue Service to rule as soon as possible whether Senate Bill 2077 jeopardizes the state retirement system, he said, although he said the amount of time to get a determination from the IRS is "outside of our hands."
Ige reiterated that "I am not willing to put at jeopardy the pension system. . . . Tens of thousands of public servants are part of the ERS system. We want to be clear that any action does not put at risk that situation. We will work through and find a way to move forward."
Also, the employee severance and early-retirement measure is unfunded and would need to be funded by the Legislature for it to be implemented, Ige said….
read … Open
Primary: Little Drama—Don’t Expect Much Turnover
AP: Little drama is expected in the U.S. Senate race as incumbent Brian Schatz seeks his first full term. He was appointed to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in 2012….
For the U.S. House, former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is attempting to win back the seat she gave up to challenge Schatz in the 2014 special election. Her old seat opened up when Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, died last month….
Don’t expect much turnover in the Hawaii Legislature. There are 16 uncontested races in the state Senate and House, and all but one of the unopposed candidates are Democrats.
The lone Republican state senator, Sam Slom, was unopposed but will face a stiff challenge in November in a sole bid to keep the chamber from falling to one-party domination….
SA: Primary Election Endorsements
read … Today’s primary election at a glance
Many Democrats are running unopposed for Hawaii Legislature
AP: …There are 16 uncontested races in the elections for the state Senate and House, and all but one of the unopposed candidates are Democrats.
There also are eight races featuring only Democrats, and just one only-Republican race, which pits longtime Rep. Cynthia Thielen against a challenger….
The 51-seat House has only seven Republicans. In the 25-member Senate, lone Republican Sam Slom is running unopposed in his primary. He's likely to face Democrat Stanley Chang, a former Honolulu City Council member, in the November election.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Karl Rhoads is expected to win the primary for the seat that Democratic Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland is leaving. In the general election, he's likely to face Republican Rod Tam, a former councilman and state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of theft and falsifying records in 2010….
HTH: Hawaii County Council: Challengers hold their own with small donations
read … Democrats
Oahu Turnout Down: 93K Absentee Votes so far
SA: …Only 9,925 people took advantage of absentee walk-in voting on Oahu, the Honolulu City Clerk’s office reported Friday.
That’s a 12.9 percent drop from the 14,859 votes cast at Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale during the 2014 primary. In the primary of 2012, the last time Oahu got to vote for U.S. president and Honolulu mayor, 12,941 absentee walk-in ballots were cast….
The city had collected 83,106 absentee mail-in ballots out of 129,166 ballots that were sent out to Oahu voters by request, Takahashi said. Absentee mail-in ballots received by 6 p.m. Saturday will be counted. He advised those still holding onto mail-in ballots to not mail them, but to drop them off at any official precinct booth.
To match the 82.5 percent of absentee mail Oahu ballots cast in 2014, the city would need to see 22,572 more ballots received by 6 p.m.
Overall, 202,728 Oahu voters cast ballots in the 2014 primary, about 43.5 percent of those registered. To match that percentage of votes cast, a total of 210,138 people, out of 483,076 registered voters on the island, would need to cast ballots.
Primary election day voting at precincts across the state runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m….
read … Turnout
TMT hearings: Two months grinding slowly through dilatory motions as clock ticks
HTH: …Riki May Amano, hearings officer for the Thirty Meter Telescope contested case, will preside over another hearing Aug. 29 on pending motions, including a proposed protective order for Gov. David Ige and other state officials.
Amano met with parties in the quasi-judicial hearing Friday in the Hawaii Community College cafeteria and heard arguments on motions to dismiss the state’s legal counsel and restart the process with a new construction permit, in addition to other matters.
Amano, a retired judge, said she will conduct a site visit Sept. 26 to Mauna Kea, where the telescope is proposed to be built, and still intends to have evidentiary hearings in October.
Attorney Richard Wurdeman, who represents the original contested case petitioners (and knows time is on his side), argued the state attorneys advising the state Board of Land and Natural Resources and Amano are not impartial, citing their involvement in prosecuting protesters on the mountain last year. He said the state should hire outside legal counsel….
Wurdeman also argues a new conservation district use permit application should be submitted since the original document from 2010 listed TMT Observatory Corp. The observatory project is now under a separate entity, the TMT International Observatory….
The proposed protective order to be heard later this month would exempt Ige, BLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case and board member Stanley Roehrig from being called as witnesses. The hearing will take place at the HCC cafeteria.
The hearing saw its first fireworks Friday when Gene Tamashiro, who is not a party in the contested case, interrupted the proceedings to object to Amano’s decision to dismiss challenges to the United States’ annexation of Hawaii at an Aug. 5 hearing. She said she didn’t have authority to rule on such matters in these proceedings….
Time is on Anti-Telescope Side: Leaving Hawaii: Decision on New Site for Thirty Meter Telescope set for ‘Early 2017’
read … Call to dismiss state’s legal counsel among pending TMT hearing motions
Maui Anti-GMO Activist Jailed on Child Molestation Charges
HTH: A prominent Maui organic farmer (and anti-GMO activist), originally from Hilo, is charged with sexually assaulting four minor girls on Hawaii Island between 1998 and 2007.
Michael Martin Zelko, 57, of Lahaina was indicted Wednesday by a Hilo grand jury. The 13-count indictment charges Zelko with four counts of continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14 and nine counts of first-degree sexual assault.
All of the 13 offenses are Class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment under normal circumstances but prosecutors are using a law that allows them to seek life imprisonment with the possibility of parole for Zelko, arguing in the document “an extended term of imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public and the defendant is a multiple offender in that defendant may be sentenced for two or more felonies.”
A bench warrant issued with the indictment set Zelko’s bail at $1 million.
Zelko was arrested on Maui and returned to Hilo, where he was in police custody Friday. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Monday before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.
Zelko is well-known in farming and gardening circles and conducts workshops statewide, including a talk about cooperative integrated farming last September at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. A brief bio on the website of Maui’s Haliimaile Community Garden describes Zelko as “a farmer, teacher and consultant throughout Hawaii” and “past president of Hawaii Sustainable Ag Association, owner of Zelko Farms, Hawaii Agricultural Products and Services and MidPacific Nutraceuticals.” …
The youngest was 5 years old when the alleged sexual abuse started and all were younger than 10, according to the indictment…..
Google: Michael Zelko GMO
read … Former Hilo man accused of sexually assaulting minors
Government Contracting: Waianae boaters upset as pier goes unrepaired 8 months after collapse
KHON: Frustration continues for boaters at Waianae Boat Harbor.
The pier that collapsed nearly eight months ago remains underwater. A viewer told us to check into it through the Report It feature on our website.
We’ve been following the story since the pier collapsed, and when we spoke with state officials in May, they said work would begin by August at the latest.
But when we went back there Friday, we found nothing much has changed since our last story aired.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources told us back in May that it was waiting for a permit issued by the Department of Health. We then learned that the permit had already been issued the month before, but repairs could not start yet because the contractor was waiting for materials to be shipped from the mainland. DLNR then told us that work will begin by August at the latest.
We went to the office to find out why it still hasn’t started….
A spokeswoman emailed us a statement late Friday afternoon saying there is a high demand in the state for precast concrete channels, the materials needed to fix the pier. The supplier has a backlog of other orders. She added that the state is competing for locally produced materials, which are more affordable.
Boaters are hoping that the wait doesn’t go on much longer.
“The sooner the better for everybody it is difficult it’s an unsafe situation for us to be going across there it limits what we’re able to do,” said Winchester.
It’s not known when the state can get the materials, but the contract calls for the work to be finished by March 16, 2017….
read … Government Contracting
Bill 36: Uber Drivers Must Have Hawaii Drivers Licenses
SA: …Bill 36 was approved by the Honolulu City Council 8-1 on Aug. 3. Caldwell has until Thursday to either sign or veto the bill, or to let it become law without his signature. If he vetoes it, the Council would need six votes to override the action and make the bill law.
Caldwell is reviewing the bill, spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said. The mayor’s office has received more than 70 calls and 300 nearly identical emails asking him to veto the bill, he said.
The measure “would force Uber into an outdated taxicab business model full of red tape,” the company said in its email to drivers. “With the passage of this bill into law, thousands of drivers could lose their ability to make money and hundreds of thousands of riders could lose access to their preferred method of transportation.”
Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson said one provision in the bill, requiring that ride-hailing vehicles have permanent decals or other identifying marks, could deter many of its estimated 5,000 drivers from continuing to operate. “It’s not a step that does anything to improve public safety whatsoever,” Patterson said.
Another provision — requiring drivers to possess Hawaii driver’s licenses — could disqualify many of its operators, particularly those who are either members of the military or their dependents who retain licenses from their home states, she said….
read … Uber urges users to petition the mayor to veto bill
With Big Eco-Conference Coming, State Finally Agrees to Let City Clear Bums off Prime Ala Moana Real Estate
SA: …The pair’s long stay frustrated nearby residents and Waikiki advocates, including state Rep. Tom Brower and City Councilman Trevor Ozawa. The legal loopholes that allowed the pair to remain at the median came to symbolize government’s inability to break down the silos that have contributed to the spread of homelessness on the island.
“When government doesn’t want to clear things up, they throw up roadblocks. This isn’t a jurisdictional issue, it’s a leadership issue,” said Brower, who first complained to Gov. David Ige’s homeless team about the encampment on the traffic median in November. “Sadly, sometimes you have to shame the government into doing its job. Unless it’s a big high-profile event like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a conservation congress or they are filming ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ we don’t clear things up. Yet, when we want to do something and put our mind to it we can solve the issue of cleanliness.”
To Brower’s point, after months of inactivity at the median, Honolulu police and state Department of Transportation workers arrived at about 9 a.m. Friday and told the pair they had to vacate their encampment.
A right of entry agreement signed that day between the city and state cleared the way for the eviction. The city Department of Facility Maintenance crews now can enforce applicable stored property and sidewalk nuisance laws on state lands on Nimitz Highway from the H-1 West onramp in Kalihi- Palama to Richards Street and then on Ala Moana Boulevard from Richards Street to Atkinson Drive, including the Atkinson/Ala Moana traffic island.
“As you know, this traffic island issue has persisted because it is on state property,” said city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke. “DFM intends to conduct enforcement there in the coming weeks following additional service worker outreach efforts.”
Rayna Brown, a Waikiki outreach specialist for the Institute for Human Services, said the district’s unsheltered homeless clients also are bracing for added security related to the World Conservation Congress, a major international event taking place next month in Waikiki that may attract President Barack Obama as the opening-day speaker….
Kimo Carvalho, community relations director for the IHS, which runs the state’s largest shelter, said the same parties will make cooperative strides for the upcoming conference, but they’ll evaporate without concerted effort. “We hope to use this event as a launching point for more communication and cooperation between entities,” he said….
SA: Homeless Person Killed by Dogs
read … Don’t let the Enviros See This