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Thursday, September 22, 2016
September 22, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:44 PM :: 2788 Views

Cost-Effective? Hawaii Highways Rank 48th Thanks to HIDOT ‘Administrative Disbursements’

Dishonesty is Unsustainable

HIDOT Demands Money: Threatens to Cut off Lahaina

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 21, 2016

AG: Legislature May need to act on Suboxone for Drug Addicts

OIP Posts New Rules on Police Misconduct Records

Do you have suggestions for State Ethics Commission?

Maui Hospital: Senators ask governor to Reconvene Special Session

KHON: …Four state senators are calling on the governor to address ongoing uncertainty at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is being privatized.

It's a situation they say has life or death consequences if it isn't resolved soon.

"It is really the governor's job to get this done. If they don't get this done and people suffer, I'm sorry to say, but it's going to be on them," said state Sen. Josh Green (D-Kona, Kau).

The lawmakers want Ige to reconvene a special session to address unresolved concerns regarding severance packages and retirement benefits for the public hospital workers affected by the transfer to Kaiser Permanente.

In August, Gov. David Ige announced he and the union representing more than 500 Maui County hospital workers had reached a settlement over the transfer, but lawmakers say they have yet to see a signed deal.

They say speculation about what might happen is impacting the hospital workforce and jeopardizing medical services….

State Sen. J. Kalani English, whose district includes east and Upcountry Maui, says the Legislature stands ready to assist the governor with this complicated transition -- they just need to be called back into a special session.

He says lawmakers are willing to consider emergency funding if the hold-up is money. If it's a policy issue, he says they're willing to examine changes that may need to happen.

One issue that's come up, for example, is sick leave. Officials say an estimated 25 percent of the Maui hospital work force has been calling in sick daily.

"The law right now says you cannot cash that out, but maybe in this situation it may be one where we do an exemption. Instead of shorting the system -- in other words nobody is at work because everyone is using up their sick leave -- we'll say look, we'll buy your sick leave. We'll pay you cash for it, but do come to work," English said.

He added he and his fellow Maui delegation -- state Sens. Roz Baker and Gil Keith-Agaran -- are frustrated by the lack of communication from the governor's office. He says the administration hasn't even responded to their letter, which was sent on Sept. 6….

read … Senators ask governor to address uncertainty with Maui hospital privatization

Caldwell’s Homeless Hospital Merry go Round -- $4000 per Bum per Night

SA: Hospitals treated homeless patients 15,900 times last year, up from roughly 14,900 times in 2014, according to the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC). The Queen’s Medical Center tended to homeless patients 10,126 times in 2015, racking up gross charges of $89.3 million, HHIC data shows.

We do not know how much law enforcement, the Judiciary and other government, private and nonprofit entities spend each year managing our homeless population. But we know the number of homeless living on Oahu has increased every year since 2009 and with it, the cost of caring for them.

Honolulu service providers estimate that more than 30 percent of people living on the street are battling mental illness, substance abuse or both.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, costs associated with the chronically homeless ranged from $35,000 to $150,000 per person annually in 2014 while the annual cost of the alternative, permanent supportive housing, ranges from $13,000 to $25,000 per person.

More importantly, we realize that we need a viable alternative to the revolving door of ER visits, arrests and other interactions that do not result in a person receiving the care they need or the home they seek….

This summer we toured the facilities of Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) Crisis Solutions Center (CSC). The CSC gives Seattle’s first responders options instead of jail and hospitalization when they encounter a homeless individual having a behavioral or substance abuse-driven episode.

The CSC is designed to stabilize and support an individual in a non-confrontational setting while identifying and linking that person to services.

They serve any adult 18 or older experiencing an emotional and/or behavioral disturbance who agrees to accept help.

A mobile crisis response team, short-term diversion facility, and shelter services work together to manage incidents involving homeless. Participation is voluntary and the CSC is offered as an alternative to arrest or an emergency room visit.

In Seattle, the program cost per night of care amount to staggering savings for the community. It is $29 per night of DESC care, compared to $130 for jail, $2,000 for a psychiatric hospital, and $4,000 for an acute care hospital…. 

(Do the Math: $4000 / 29 = 138 times cheaper without Caldwell)

read … Caldwell is Expensive to Keep Around

Will HUD order Dysfunctional Caldwell to Pay Back Wasted Affordable Housing Money?

CB:  …it was deeply disappointing this week to learn that the city Caldwell wasted nearly $16 million in federal grant funds acquiring property at an above-market price or entering into contracts it shouldn’t have signed. Some of those actions were simply unnecessary, while others violated federal and city guidelines for expenditure of Community Development Block Grant funding….

“Wasted” isn’t our characterization, by the way. That’s how the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General described the city’s use of the funds. The city bureaucracy’s processes “created dysfunction, inefficiency” and waste, the IG said in its Aug. 26 audit.

In its haste to spend the grant monies in question in a timely fashion so as to comply with HUD requirements — a chronic issue for the city — it sometimes spent more than it should, got sloppy with documentation and record keeping and in one case approved a contract worth nearly $1.5 million despite the appearance of a conflict of interest.

As though the inefficient, wasteful use of critical resources weren’t enough, the city may now have to pay the money back. That may eat into available funding for affordable housing projects in the future and push the city even further behind on this pressing need….

read … Honolulu Has 16 Million Reasons To Reform Its Housing Programs

Espero: I will Push for Massive GE Tax Hike if Reelected

SA: …In 2015, rail officials told state lawmakers that a five-year extension would likely be enough to complete the project. However, the cash-strapped project is now short more than $2 billion needed for the 20-mile rail line to Ala Moana Center from Kapolei, according to the latest official estimates.

Fevella said though he supports rail, officials need to investigate if there is any extra money that could be put back into the rail system’s coffers. Espero said he plans to introduce legislation that would extend the surcharge to generate more funds to first complete the rail to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then use the remainder to fund state transportation projects.

read … Tax Hike

ERS rolls back assumed rate of return on investments

B: …The $1.9 trillion shortfall in U.S. state and local pension funds is poised to grow as near record-low bond yields and global stock-market turmoil reduce investment gains, increasing pressure on governments to put more money into the retirement systems.

With the Federal Reserve deciding to hold interest rates steady at its meeting Wednesday, the funds will continue to be squeezed by rock-bottom payouts on fixed-income securities just as stocks fall overseas and post only modest U.S. gains. As a result, pensions in Illinois, Missouri and Hawaii this year have moved to roll back the assumed rate of return on their investments, joining the dozens that have taken that step over the past two years….

read … Less Return

Laughing at You: Most UH executives getting pay raises

SA: Nearly 70 percent of the University of Hawaii’s 252 executives are set to receive merit-based raises under criteria approved earlier this month by the Board of Regents to expend more than $1 million earmarked for management raises.

The raises are designed to reward high-performing employees in executive and managerial positions, under a plan put forward by UH President David Lassner.

The methodology, which was endorsed by the board’s Personnel Affairs Committee, ties individual raises to performance, with those rated satisfactory or higher receiving a $2,000 boost to their base salary; those rated superior getting an additional 1 percent increase; and employees rated outstanding receiving an additional 2 percent raise. Anyone rated less than satisfactory is not eligible for a raise.

The resulting increases would boost the pay of 176 employees, according to a list of personnel actions included on the agenda for today’s Board of Regents meeting on Maui….

read … Your Tuition Hike Dollars at Work

Fishing Captain Knifed by Smiling Imp

CB: “How Fishing Interests Infiltrated Conservation’s Biggest Event” by Nick Grube is a good example of how one of Civil Beat’s smiling imps makes nice to Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council staff who are quite happy and open to questions. Then he does a hatchet job full of insinuations and half-truths.

Shame on us, we never learn, but then again if we’d remained imperious and silent, we’d still get knifed between the ribs….

read … Smiling Imps

Muslims Use Fishing Job to Get into USA, Demand Money

AP: Two Indonesian fishermen who escaped slavery aboard a Honolulu-based tuna and swordfish vessel when it docked at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf are suing the boat's owner for tricking them into accepting dangerous jobs they say they weren't allowed to leave.

Attorneys for Abdul Fatah and Sorihin, who uses one name, say in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday that they were recruited in Indonesia seven years ago to work in Hawaii's commercial fishing fleet without realizing they would never be allowed onshore. They have since been issued visas for victims of human trafficking and are living in the San Francisco area….

"I want to be compensated because of the suffering I felt on the boat and all the suffering I have endured after I got off the boat," Sorihin said Thursday through a translator at his lawyer's San Francisco office….

The lawsuit comes two weeks after an Associated Press investigation found around 140 fishing boats based in Honolulu, including Sea Queen II, were crewed by hundreds of men from impoverished Southeast Asia and Pacific Island nations….

Here's what Sorihin and Fatah say happened to them.

They signed contracts promising $350 a month plus bonuses. They borrowed about $300 to pay an agent in Jakarta. They flew from Jakarta to Singapore, then Sydney, on to Fiji and Pago Pago, American Samoa, an exhausting, 12,500-mile trip.  (The horror!)

Because docking is inconvenient and potentially costly, the fishermen had to swim from one boat to another before sailing to Honolulu to begin fishing…. 

a fishing line got wrapped around his finger….

Another time a winch cable snapped, cracking Sorihin in his shoulder; swollen and sore, he was allowed a two-hour rest.  A swordfish sliced his face as he pulled it aboard, according to the lawsuit…. 

They say the captain was verbally abusive and gave them only torn and worn-out gear….

They worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. without a food break. Then, after a meal and a few hours' rest, they'd fish some more. After a few trips, three relatives of the captain's joined them as crew.

"The captain's nephew kicked me with his feet to wake me up." Fatah said in an interview.

Although there was a toilet on board, they had to go to the bathroom in plastic buckets and baggies on deck. And the money, a few hundred dollars a month, just wasn't worth it.

After a few 20-day trips out of Hawaii, they began docking in San Francisco about once a month…. 

read … Two More Muslims Demand Money

HIDOT Tax Hike Scheme: “The devil’s always in the details”

WHT: …Without knowing how DOT plans to implement the program, it’s hard to say whether this is a good idea, said Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that monitors the state’s taxes and policies.

“Obviously, we need to maintain the roads and bridges and stuff like that,” he said.

But how the money will be collected is another question.

“The devil’s always in the details,” Yamachika said.

One advantage of gas taxes is they are effectively invisible, Yamachika said. It might be easier to pay a tax on each gallon pumped for users, rather than as a lump sump at the end of the year or the quarter when car owners are getting their safety checks.

“I don’t know about you, but when I get my vehicle (registration), it’s a bit of a sticker shock,” Yamachika said.

That’s one issue Oregon has dealt with when it began its test drive of a road use program July 1. There, each driver has accounts that accumulate the mileage cost, which is then paid. That’s done by a device plugged into the vehicle (Big Brother is Watching) that monitors the miles driven and fuel used….

The Tax Foundation said Hawaii drivers pay 74.4 percent of the cost of maintaining the roads through state and local fees, taxes and tolls. That is the highest percentage nationwide, followed by North Carolina at 63.3 percent.

The trial RUC program is projected to cost $19 million — although $11 million is the “in-kind” cost from odometer readings. An additional $1.5 million is from the state for policy design and test setup. The federal government is asked to pay $6.5 million, mostly for reporting and evaluation of the manual and automated reporting evaluation….

LN: Harpies Whine About Seawall

read … Devil in Details

HTA Conference: How Hawaiian Activists Can Cash in on Tourism

KGI: The Native Hawaiian culture and how its legacy continues to strengthen the experience of living in and visiting the Hawaiian Islands will be a major point of emphasis at the 2016 Hawaii Tourism Conference, Sept. 26-30.

The conference is being presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and hosted at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Kalani Kaanaana, HTA director of Hawaiian cultural affairs, said there are 10 conference sessions focused on how the Native Hawaiian culture is transforming the way people experience the Hawaii of today.

Kaanaana added that the Native Hawaiian culture is at the foundation of everything HTA does in promoting the Hawaii travel experience.

“The cultural traditions of the Native Hawaiian people are what makes our islands such a desirable and welcoming destination to travelers worldwide,” Kaanaana said.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience, which will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-S.D.)

“This bill will empower native communities to tell their own stories and build their own economic opportunities,” Schatz said.

The NATIVE Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibilities to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning. It would also provide Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and American Indian communities with access to resources and technical assistance needed to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity; spur economic development; and create good jobs.

read … Cash in

Kauai Anti-GMO Activist Supports Tourist Industry Harassment of Dolphins

KGI: The rules were proposed because dolphins are being harassed by tourists unloading from boats, mainly on the Big Island, into the sleeping habitat of the cetaceans….

Dolphins feed primarily at night, according to Higgins, and sleep through the morning and into the late afternoon.

The large number of people in the water disturbs their rest and is against the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act law against the harassment of marine mammals, according to NOAA.

Kilauea resident (anti-GMO activist) Felicia Cowden suggested increased education efforts instead of more laws, especially on Kauai because there “aren’t really any problematic areas” on the island.

“Do we have to run around and look for a problem that we’re not really experiencing,” Cowden asked. “When I think about money, it might be a good thing to make a video and put the financial effort into educating the visitors and residents.”

The public has the opportunity to comment on the NOAA draft environmental impact statement on the potential regulation until Oct. 23 and those comments can be made electronically at www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-2005-0226-0002 .

read … Tourism

Research Reclassifies Pigs as Indigenous

KGI: …“Scientists have long believed that Polynesians who came to Hawaii brought animals with them, including pigs,” said Kalena Silva, professor of Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies at Ka Haka Ula O Ke‘likolani, the UH College of Hawaiian Language in Hilo.

There’s also ample evidence that Polynesians who first came to the Islands knew what pigs were, he said, and thus they ended up in oral histories. Linderholm said it has long been “believed that the pigs were likely brought by famed explorer James Cook” when he landed in 1778 and made first European contact with Native Hawaiians. But the new DNA-marker analysis documents the pigs roaming wild in Hawaii today are direct descendants of the animals originally brought along by Polynesian ancestors of Native Hawaiians.

Lodge said pigs should not be vilified.

He thinks people who advocate that wild pigs should be eradicated ignore the animal’s historic role.

“Pigs, goats, sheep, deer, anything that is introduced to Hawaii, is considered to be invasive by those people, regardless of the fact of whether they were introduced for survival,” Lodge said….

read … Indigenous

UH Cited for 15 Safety Violations After Explosion

KITV: …It was back in March that an explosion seriously injured 29-year-old Thea Ekins Coward. The visiting researcher lost her arm.

The blast also caused a million dollars worth of damage.

Inspectors with the state's Occupational Health and Safety office have now cited the university for 15 violations. The fines total $115,500.

The violations classified as "serious" include failing to eliminate or reduce explosion hazards, as well as a failure to provide two exit routes from the lab.

It also noted the university did not conduct periodic in-house inspections and it lacked a written evacuation plan in the event of a chemical release.

The report also found UH failed to regularly review its Chemical Hygiene plan to protect its employees….

UHN: Strengthening culture of safety a priority at UH Mānoa

read … State cites UH for workplace safety violations stemming from lab explosion

Why Google’s Driverless Cars Should Go to Honolulu Next

TA: If the company’s not ready for snow, it should head to a sunny place where traffic problems and road safety are particularly bad….

read … The Atlantic

Many Remain Unemployed

HB: On a typical day, there are more than 2,000 Oahu job listings on Craigslist. So why are there tens of thousands of people in Hawaii who want to work but don’t even have a part-time job? Here’s why and what we can do to help them get back to work….

read … Unemployed

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