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Tuesday, August 30, 2016
August 30, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:42 PM :: 3528 Views

Kaiser: Union Stalling Pushes Maui Hospital Transfer Date to July 1, 2017

2 Years Late With Recovery Plan, Caldwell to Meet With Feds

State Agrees to $85M Foster Care Lawsuit Settlement

Hawaii Public College Tuition Up 136% More than Average Household Income

Molokai Ferry to Shut Down—Can’t Compete With Subsidized Airfares

Kolekole: Progress on Second Route out of Waianae

Sen Green: Unions Torpedoed Maui Hospital Negotiations after fake $1B Surplus Announcement

WHT: A breakdown in Maui hospital negotiations over the weekend could delay similar privatization plans for Kona Community Hospital….

Kona Community Hospital had hoped the Maui transition would have a year under its belt before the Kona hospital followed a similar path, likely with the Honolulu-based Queen’s Medical Center.

“We’d been asked to wait to see how Maui does, and now we’re being asked to wait a little bit longer,” Judy Donovan, spokeswoman for the Kona hospital, said Monday. “We were a little disappointed to hear the news.”

State Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, was disappointed, as well. A physician, Green has been working to get hospital deals in place as a way to improve care without draining state finances.

“By failing to launch this health-care transfer, the Ige administration has probably delayed all health-care reform by at least a year at our hospitals,” Green said.

Ige’s ill-timed announcement that the state has a $1 billion surplus inspired unions to ask for more during negotiations after they were just about complete, Green said.

“Kaiser has stepped up to the plate and done everything that has been asked of them to make the transition happen professionally,” Green added.

Kona Community Hospital in 2014 wrapped up an efficiency analysis by Huron Consulting Group with an eye to making itself more attractive to a public-private partnership and to increase physician retention. The group identified $11.6 million in savings, including $1.7 million in non-labor, $1.2 million in labor and $543,000 in clinical cost savings.

Prior to merging with Queen’s in 2014, North Hawaii Community Hospital retained Huron to help it identify ways to be more efficient in the face of an average $4 million in annual losses….

Kona Community Hospital intends to ask for the enabling legislation in January anyway, so as to be prepared when it can finally happen.

“We have to get the legislation passed,” Donovan said. “Until the Legislature says ‘yes,’ the path will be a little bumpy.”

read … Maui hospital stalemate bodes ill for Kona plans

Rail Insiders Use Meeting With Feds to Push Tax Hike Agenda

Borreca: While the World Conservation Congress is drawing President Barack Obama to Honolulu this week, perhaps the more important meeting will be in San Francisco, as all of Honolulu’s rail honchos meet to finally figure out what to tell the feds….

Hanabusa is cautioning that before the city can figure out how to pay for the estimated $1.5 billion in cost overruns, the city must first persuade the feds to give it the money to get to Middle Street.  (WRONG.  WRONG. WRONG.  To persuade the Feds, the City must present a plan to pay for the cost overruns.)

The meeting in San Francisco is a chance for Honolulu to figure out how to convince the feds that we are really going to finish the rail project and we have some reality-based plan for paying for it.  (Translation: They will use this to push for another GE Tax Hike.)

As Formby, who is just the sort of clear-eyed, straight-shooter you want on your team, (Translation: He takes orders from Kirk and Colleen) said: “We are looking vigorously at any and all funding mechanisms within the bounds of law (Translation: We want the lawmakers to hike GE Taxes again).”

Ignore This: Savio: Rail Can be Built Without Any Taxpayer Dollars

read … HART meets with the feds, hat in hand, options limited

As Clock Runs Down on TMT, Lawyers Debate Which Witnesses Anti-Telescope Lawyers May Call

HTH: State attorneys sought the protective order, which also would have covered BLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case and BLNR member Stanley Roehrig, after an attorney representing six parties in the contested case placed them on their proposed witness list….

The state attorneys argued executive privilege should prevent Ige and Case from testifying.

Roehrig, they said, should be dismissed since the board will have to decide the project’s fate.

Deputy Attorney General Harvey Henderson called it an “end run” to disqualify them from overseeing the approval process.

But questions also were raised about connections between Roehrig and a nonprofit operated by Keahi Warfield, who leads the pro-TMT Native Hawaiian group, Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities Inc. PUEO, formed earlier this year, is a party to the contested case.

“It’s more than just a casual relationship,” said attorney Richard Wurdeman, suggesting a conflict of interest.

Wurdeman, who represents the six petitioners who participated in the original contested case, noted Keaukaha Youth One Development, which Warfield operates, rents property from Roehrig.

Warfield told the Tribune-Herald that Roehrig was one of Keaukaha Youth One Development’s founders and the group leases property rent free from a trust belonging to Roehrig’s family.

He said Roehrig stepped down from the organization before joining the Land Board and he was not involved in forming PUEO.

Still, Warfield noted he considers Roehrig a “mentor” who showed him how to operate nonprofits.

“I’m not going to deny it either,” Warfield said.

Dwight Vicente, one of the approximately two dozen parties to the contested case, also weighed in on having Ige testify, but for different reasons than some other participants.

Vicente said he wants Ige to address his nationality. Because of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, he claimed Ige, who was born and raised in Hawaii, is a Japanese national.

“You can’t call someone governor who is not qualified,” Vicente said. “He’s a foreign national.”….

read … Tick, tick , tick, tick, tick ....

Election Reveals Limits Of Hawaii’s Biggest Labor Union

CB: …The Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents more than 42,000 state and county workers, endorsed the winner in most races.

But a closer look at the results shows the union had far greater success keeping incumbents in power — which constituted the vast majority of the 74 endorsements itannounced in June — than in its rare attempts to remove a Democrat from office or influence who should fill an empty seat.

“Union endorsements can be a big deal but they can be overrated,” said Neal Milner, a political analyst and Civil Beat columnist. “Union members don’t just look at the list and say I’m going to vote that way. What they can add is manpower — putting people out in the streets to canvas.”

One of the only examples of HGEA endorsing an incumbent who lost in the primary was Hawaii County Councilman Dan Paleka’s race against Jen Ruggles, who won by 7 percent.

When it came to picking who should fill open seats on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island, the results were split.

In the race to fill the District 29 House seat left open by Rep. Karl Rhoads, who ran for the Senate instead of seeking another term, HGEA backed Valerie Dionne. She finished last in the five-way contest that Daniel Holt won.

The union had a better outcome with its endorsement of Nadine Nakamura to replace outgoing Rep. Derek Kawakami, who is running for Kauai County Council. She easily defeated Fern Rosenstiel in the District 14 House race.

The union’s choice of Tommy Oi fell far short of winning against longtime Rep. James Tokioka, but HGEA’s pick of Tim Richards edged out incumbent Hawaii County Councilwoman Margaret Wille.

The union backed David Tarnas, a former two-term House lawmaker, in his attempt to unseat Rep. Cindy Evans, who was first elected in 2002. He came within 2 percentage points of defeating her, and said he’s definitely trying again in two years.

Tarnas said he appreciated the $1,000 donation HGEA made to his campaign and the limited ground support he received from a union worker assigned to his race and a couple other races.

But he said his race was less of a priority for the union, which was far busier on the Big Island helping Harry Kim become mayor and trying to install Moana Kelii, an HGEA union agent, in the Council. Kim won outright in the primary; Kelii finished second to Sue Lee Loy in a three-way race, forcing a runoff in the Nov. 8 general election.

Tarnas said there seems to be an assumption that the privatization of hospitals was a fundamental campaign issue, since his opponent supported a bill last year that let Kaiser Permanente take control of three state-run hospitals in Maui County and there has been talk of doing something similar on the Big Island.…

read … Mixed

Flooding: Will Caldwell Botch it -- Again?

SA: It’s the calm before the storm — or the two storms that are anticipated within days. The hope is that beneath this calm there’s also a fair amount of scurrying to be sure Oahu has done what it can to prevent the most calamitous damage that can result.

Some of that is the devastation to streamside properties caused by flooding, when storm debris chokes drainage.

Myriad stories of such troubles were chronicled in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Darby, which dumped an enormous amount of rain on the islands as it passed. One particular tale of distress was the focus of a story appearing Monday, by Honolulu Star-Advertiser writer Gordon Pang. That article captured the experience of Khamla Phonsouvanh and his family, who live on Umi Street near Kalihi Stream. Because debris effectively created a dam toward the makai end of the stream, the water backed up and flooded the family’s apartment complex.

The displacement of that household and the financial loss was replicated around the island. To the greatest extent possible, that can’t be allowed to happen again.

City officials and other authorities likely have their next chance to demonstrate they have the problem in hand this week, as Hawaii nervously watches the advance of two powerful storms. 

(Meanwhile Caldwell fled the island to be in San Francisco.)

read … Clean up streams to stop flooding

COBOL Blamed for Hawaii’s Materially False Bond Offerings

BB: Hawaii officials say they will upgrade an antiquated accounting system to ensure that the state won't repeat the violations it self-reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The violations stem from a failure to report in 2011 and 2013 bond offerings that the state was extremely tardy in completing comprehensive annual financial reports for fiscal 2009 and 2010.

Hawaii and Minnesota were the only two states among the 71 issuers that self-reported disclosure failures between 2011 and 2014 under the SEC's Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation initiative….

Hawaii Director of Finance Wes Machida is working to fine-tune corrections to accounting processes that began under his predecessor, Kalbert Young. The situation with the overdue CAFRs goes back two gubernatorial administrations, he said.

Machida's predecessor Young, who served under one-term Gov. Neil Abercrombie, was tasked with completing CAFRs started under Gov. Linda Lingle's administration. His department completed the2009 and 2010 CAFRs and worked hard to get the state back in the process of completing the audited financial statements within the nine-month time frame required by accounting standards.

The recession and resulting work furloughs were cited during Lingle's administration, along with an antiquated accounting system, for the tardiness of the CAFRs….

Though Hawaii has made improvements to its procedures that have enabled it to complete its CAFRs on time, Machida said there are still improvements needed to the accounting systems the state uses.

For instance, the state still uses software systems that use COBOL, an older coding language from which many users have moved away.

The accounting system was developed and implemented in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Machida said.

"That is really operating under a coding language that no longer exists – and it is hard to get coding language to support the system," he said.

State officials are working on a request for proposals to upgrade the antiquated accounting systems, Machida said.

Related: SEC Orders Hawaii to Cease and Desist—State Bond Offerings ‘False and Misleading’

read … COBOL

$150M -- DBEDT Comes up with new GEMS Scheme

IM: … DBEDT asserted in a filing dated August 26th that the failure of the GEMS program was beyond their control.

“Reasons this product was unsuccessful include: (1) uncompetitive PPA rates compared to other commercial entities targeting this market segment; (2) lack of flexibility regarding the equipment installed; (3) difficulty meeting the requirements of the tax equity partner; and (4) misaligned incentives for GEMS commercial PV deployment partners to source deals.”

DBEDT is proposing to lend $50,000 or more to commercial enterprises that want to displace most of their electricity bill with rooftop solar.

The DBEDT action takes effect 15 business days after their filing unless the Commission issues a ruling against the proposal. The four intervenors -- Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance, Life of the Land, and Blue Planet Foundation -- may file their thoughts in a timely manner.

“The [GEMS] Authority anticipates the types of entities that will benefit from this financing arrangement are organizations such as churches, social service agencies, charities, or small businesses that do not possess sufficient tax liability to capitalize on the tax credits granted through the purchase of PV systems.”

“Additionally, nonprofit multi-family projects and associations that administer apartments or condominiums can also benefit from this loan product. The energy savings gained by an association could result in a reduction of maintenance and common area fees for the association’s residents.” ….

Better Idea: Abolish GEMS, Eliminate the GEMS Rate Hike, Refund the Money

read … DBEDT Trying to Unload $150 Million

Hawaiian Electric Dumps Parr, Gives Chevron Monopoly

PBN: …In February, Hawaiian Electric submitted a new contract to the PUC for fuel supply from Chevron. The commission has yet to make a decision on it.

Hawaiian Electric said it expected to save about $22 million in 2015 as a result of its fuel supply contract changes including ending its contract with Par Hawaii and getting a higher volume of fuel from Chevron….

“We can’t extend beyond Dec. 31, because we entered into new contracts effective Jan. 1, 2017, which will result in savings for our customers,” Darren Pai, spokesman for Hawaiian Electric, told PBN. “If the new contracts are not approved, we would seek to rescind the terminations of the existing contracts.”

PBN reached out Monday to Par Hawaii and One Rock Capital, which is in the process of buying Chevron Hawaii, for comment.

read … Monopoly

Churches and nonprofits help ex-prisoners stay off the streets

SA: …After serving a five-year sentence for forgery, theft and counterfeiting, Michele Higa walked out of the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua on Friday with no cash, no identification, no place to call home and a “90 percent chance” of ending up homeless immediately upon release, according to WCCC’s warden.

But as soon as Higa exited WCCC as a free woman and put down the black garbage bag that contained her worldly possessions, she was greeted with hugs, a ti leaf-and-orchid lei and a ride to one of Waikiki Health’s clinics, where she got help getting her identification and medical insurance, followed by a ride to Waikiki Health’s Next Step Shelter in Kakaako.

“I’m glad to be free, and I’m glad I can contribute to society,” Higa said. “But I don’t know where I would have gone.” ….

read … Churches and nonprofits help ex-prisoners stay off the streets

Judge known for 'tough love' probation retires to expand program on mainland

HNN: Judge Steven Alm started HOPE -- Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement -- in 2004….

Related: Judge Steven Alm: Justice Reinvestment and the future of HOPE Probation

read … Judge known for 'tough love' probation retires to expand program on mainland

Another Day in the DoE

CB: …On his first day at Kaimuki Middle School, he said four or five school workers were sitting on benches around a picnic table during a break when a non-verbal student — not the one Hess was assigned to — knocked over the iced coffee of an educational assistant, spilling about half of it.

The educational assistant, who was standing behind the student, then took the remaining contents of the plastic cup, Hess said, and slowly poured it over the student’s head. As it streamed down the child’s face, he froze, then started crying, Hess said.

Hess said he was so disturbed by the incident that he told the student services coordinator and Bayada that he would not be returning to Kaimuki Middle School. In the meantime, he said he filed the required “sentinel report” with Bayada….

read … Another Day in the DoE

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