Honolulu Rail: From $4.6 B to $8.6 B In Eight Years. Now What?
Caldwell Lays an Egg
Kapolei & Pearl City HS advance to 2017 VEX World Robotics Championship
Maui Hospital: Ige Proposes Changes to Pension Formula
SA: …One of the changes planned by the administration would provide a greater benefit to the state if it accelerates its payments into the Employees Retirement System pension fund, which now manages total assets of about $14.5 billion.
Another proposal would establish new procedures and requirements for the state to follow during “disassociation,” when public facilities or services are privatized and large numbers of workers sever their connections to the public pension fund.
Lawmakers last year authorized the privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital &Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital, and the state reached an agreement in January to have Kaiser Permanente operate all three facilities. It would be the largest privatization in state history, and Ige has said it would serve as a model for similar hospital transfers on Hawaii island.
The first proposal would encourage the state to pay down its pension obligations more quickly. That proposal would allow the state to calculate the pension system’s unfunded liability in a new way that separates the state pension obligations from the obligations of the three counties.
State Budget Director Wes Machida said the Employees Retirement System currently is a multi-employer plan with pooled funds, which means the state’s and counties’ pension obligations are calculated as a whole.
If the state were to increase its payments into the fund to more rapidly pay down its pension obligations, the counties would see their obligations reduced as well, even if they did not make similar accelerated payments, Machida said….
Big Q: Do you agree with a new state policy to bank a “rainy day” fund equal to 10 percent of annual treasury collections (about $680 million)?
read … Ige urges state pension changes
Jury Stacking Begins in Kenoi Trial
HTH: …“What you see and read in the media is not always accurate,” Del Rosario said more than once.
One woman told the court Kenoi has been “almost convicted in the paper already.”
“We don’t really hear the other side of it,” she said.
Another woman was even more adamant.
“Frankly, I think this is a waste of taxpayer money because he paid it back,” she said. “As long as he paid it back, I think it’s OK.”
Both will be brought back for another round of questioning by the lawyers.
Asked by the judge what she learned from media accounts, a third woman replied, “I learned that the defendant was out partying and using government money, and that it was illegal.”
She was dismissed from further jury duty after saying she didn’t think she could put what she’s been exposed to and her reaction to it aside.
read … Headed for Acquittal
2016: Hawaii Sets New Records for Voter Registration and Voter Apathy
SA: …By Monday’s deadline to register to vote in November’s general election, more than 740,000 people had registered to vote across the islands. Among the biggest races on the ballot are for U.S. president and Honolulu mayor.
By comparison, 706,890 people registered to vote for the 2014 general election, while only 705,668 people registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election.
But Hawaii set a record for voter apathy in a primary election in August, when only 34.7 percent of registered voters bothered to cast ballots. In all, 251,959 people voted.
People who missed Monday’s deadline can still register to vote at early walk-in voting locations statewide, including Honolulu Hale, during a new “late registration” period from Oct. 25 through Nov. 5.
Then, in 2018, Hawaii plans to switch to so-called “same-day registration” to allow people to register and vote on Election Day….
read … We’re #1
How easy is it to rig an election?
Borreca: …So exactly how easy is it to rig an election?
Every state has its own set of rules, but in Hawaii, the stumbling block for those wanting to jimmy an election is the voter’s Social Security number.
Scott Nago, state elections officer, said no one can vote without registering and registration requires a valid Social Security number.
And yes, it has to be your Social Security number.
“We then bump it up against a driver’s license. If it’s fake, it gets flagged,” Nago said in an interview.
Every precinct has a poll book with the names of everyone registered to vote; that’s what you sign when you vote in person.
If you vote by mail, the elections office compares signatures. If they don’t match, out it goes and Nago and company call the cops.
“We manually look at the signature of every mail-in ballot,” Nago said, adding they are investigating getting a computer scanning system….
There have been several big cases in the past.
In 1983, then-state Rep. Gene Albano and his wife were arrested and found guilty on 90 counts of election fraud.
He was sentenced to five years, but was given a minimum term of 18 months by the parole board.
He was paroled before his minimum term was up because of good behavior and eventually given a pardon.
Hawaii’s big glamour vote fraud case occurred in 1982, when former University of Hawaii law school student Ross Segawa and several fellow students illegally registered voters in order to help his state House campaign.
Segawa was convicted of 10 counts of election fraud, criminal solicitation and evidence tampering. Segawa served 60 days.
Former state Sen. Clifford Uwaine was convicted of illegally conspiring to help Segawa. Uwaine got three months in the slammer.
Segawa also got a pardon; Uwaine did not.
read … Rigged Elections
Danner Using Homeless in Latest Scheme to Take over Hawaiian Homelands
HNN: …Hundreds of Native Hawaiian homeless people could be housed in accessory dwelling units with the help of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, a new Hawaiian Community Assets study says.
(Clue: All of this is part of Robin Danner’s scheme to take over DHHL by flooding it with people who are not 50%.)
"On Hawaiian Homelands, there's trust lands with zero acquisition cost that would allow us to invest the dollars in vertical improvements versus spending money on the land itself," HCA Executive Director Jeff Gilbreath said.
About one-third of Hawaii's homeless population is Native Hawaiian.
HCA, a financial counseling and community lending institution, said the units could be affordable rentals that would move many homeless Native Hawaiians into housing.
HCA President Michelle Kauhane believes DHHL has enough funds to build the accessory dwelling units….
The DHHL has been reviewing the rental and ADU option for some time now, specifically to review Administrative Rules for both options," DHHL communication officer Paula Aila said.
She said the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act states a lessee "may be permitted, with the approval of the department, to rent to a Native Hawaiian." The renter must have 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood.
"This would provide guidance on a rental program for DHHL," Aila said.
Kauai homesteader Kipukai Kualii said the rentals would in essence be businesses.
"Hawaiian Homelands was not just for residents and agriculture and pastoral, it was also for businesses," he said. "It's something that Department of Hawaiian Homelands has not been addressing."
Gilbreath said as community groups educate families to help them get into housing, "we need the housing stock so that the families can move in and build up."
He added, "While other organizations are permitted to serve all Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians to meet the need for Housing, the DHHL is obligated to serve Applicants of 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood and lessees already living in homes on the homesteads."
Reality: Final Interior Dep't Rule Allows OHA Hawaiians to Steal Land from DHHL Hawaiians
KHON: Native Hawaiian Convention opens in Waikiki
read … Homeless
Who serves the public better, bureaucrats or entrepreneurs?
MN: …The annual operating budget for the city of Sandy Springs is only $106 million, a fraction of what it costs to run the comparatively sized Maui County at $732 million per year. The town has a $45 million surplus, and zero public debt and unfunded liabilities for pensions and health care benefits.
According to Keli’i Akina, Ph.D, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii,“Public-private partnerships save money and increase efficiency. That’s why Maui’s hospital transition to a public-private partnership may save the health care system from collapse, and bring new benefits to Hawaii’s people.”
Porter said of Maui’s public hospital transition, “A hospital is really like a mini-city. So if you’re talking about contracting for services, it’s no different from what we’ve done . . . it’s so do-able.”
Of course, in Sandy Springs, hospitals have always been run by private companies. “We’ve never even heard of a publicly run hospital,” said Porter….
read … Public-Private
How Hawaii Companies Pay To Party It Up With Public Officials
CB: …The Hawaii Congress of Planning Officials drew about 340 people to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on Sept. 21-23.
The conference included a number of events that would be expected at a gathering of government officials, like speeches, panel discussions and workshops. Kauai County, which hosted the conference, described some of the perks of attending on its website and in a program for the event.
There was a drawing where prizes included three Apple Watches and a two-night stay at the Four Seaons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Attendees could also win an unspecified prize for best costume at a reception on the first night of the conference. Several meals were included with the conference as well as a yoga session, an event described as “pau hana popcorn and libations” and another called “casino and karaoke night.” “Mahalo” gifts to speakers and presenters included Koloa Rum and Anahola Granola, both Kauai companies.
For an extra fee of $100, attendees could also sign up for a Na Pali boat tour, which included transportation, sea cave exploration, snorkel equipment, flotation devices, snacks, lunch, drinks and towels. A five-hour group tour by the same company typically costs $140 per person for adults.
For $85, they could golf at the resort’s Poipu Bay Golf Course, which included green fees, golf cart and lunch. Regular rates at the course run from $135 to $250.
Sarah Blane, a spokesperson for Kauai County, said attendees paid their own way to the conference and that the event came at almost no cost to taxpayers “with the exception of staff time and office supplies used for registration.”
But the funding was offset through corporate sponsorship from major builders, developers and land owners, including D.R. Horton Hawaii, SSFM International, Alexander & Baldwin,R.M. Towill Corp. and Kamehameha Schools.
Registration was open to the public at a cost of roughly $400 per person, according to Kauai. Companies could sponsor the conference at tiers starting at $1,000 and rising to $5,000. Blane said the sponsors helped offset the cost of the conference while registration fees and sponsorships paid for the use of the facility, meals, materials and travel expenses for speakers and presenters coming from the mainland….
KITV: Transgender sexual assault case delayed again
read … How Hawaii Companies Pay To Party It Up With Public Officials
Delphi Technique Used to Manipulate Kalihi Community Planning Meetings
CB: …everyone else at her particular round table seemed to be from architecture firms or consulting groups. She found the format of breaking into small groups and engaging in regimented activities more intimidating than inviting….
The meeting’s stated objective was to collect community feedback. But Galacgac felt neither she nor the teacher next to her got the chance to share their thoughts on the redevelopment project.
“If they say this is a reflection of what the community wants, it’s not the community,” Galacgac said….
Some attendees at a recent meeting to discuss the future of the Oahu Community Correctional Center voiced similar concerns. Again, they had to provide feedback in small groups rather than one large discussion….
At the meeting on Sept. 29, Kalihi state Rep. Romy Cachola didn’t wait to break down into small groups. He interrupted the mayor to ask how the city would pay for the project.
“No rail money is going to this project,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell responded. “This is money coming from the sewer fund to rebuild the sewer system, it’s coming form other operating funds and CIP (Capital Improvement Plan funds).”….
(Translation: This redevelopment scheme is a benefit to developers you will be paying for in the form of higher water and sewer bills.)
Amanda Ybanez, vice-chair of the Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Board, felt the emphasis on activities restricted discussion.
“I want organic conversations,” Ybanez said. “Not these cookie-cutter ideas and concepts, prefabricated ideas with agendas attached.” …
“I kind of got pissed off and walked out,” Cummings said in a later interview. “(The meeting) was about getting people’s signature so they could show they’re getting input from the community.”…
LINK: Delphi Technique
read … Do Officials Really Want To Know What Kalihi Residents Think?
Civil Beat: Lets Flood Hawaii With Newest Opiate
CB: Make it easier for physicians to prescribe Suboxone. Successfully treating (selling new drugs to) opioid addicts often requires (something masquerading as an) anti-addiction medication, and Suboxone has been shown to offer significant advantages over other drugs, such as methadone. It’s less likely to cause an overdose, and it doesn’t have to be administered in a clinic.
But Hawaii law is so ambiguous regarding Suboxone that the head of the Hawaii Narcotics Enforcement Division recently threatened to stop doctors from prescribing it, touching off a panic among health care professionals who treat (hoped to feed the latest) addiction (Pt 2 of the plan for your life: Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll). Attorney General Doug Chin fortunately intervened with an opinion that doctors could continue to treat patients with the drug.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration already requires eight hours of training and education before doctors can get a waiver allowing them to prescribe Suboxone. That ought to assure (fool) lawmakers that sufficient care is being taken with this drug so that they can eliminate the confusion over its legality.
NYT 2013: Addiction Treatment With a Dark Side
NYT 2016: Addicted to a Treatment for Addiction
read … Selling Drugs
Report: Thousands of Hawaii runaways in danger of being trafficked
HNN: A national group that tracks runaways says nearly 2,500 children in Hawaii are in danger of being exploited at any given time….
"The internet has created this virtual world where you can order somebody, sell somebody," said Kaleo Schneider, education coordinator for non-profit Hoola Na Pua, which seeks to stop sex trafficking. "I see the grooming in the schools. In fact. there were a few cases on the Leeward side of the island where girls were leaving campus."
According to the National Runaway Safeline, there are nearly 4,000 runaways reported every year in Hawaii. Many are victims of sexual or physical abuse at home….
Tammy Bitanga was sexually abused as a young child, from the age of 4 "until I realized that's not what families do."
When she was 13, she told someone what was happening and was placed in foster care. It wasn't long before she met the man who would become her pimp.
"I kind of got boyfriended into it," she said. "I got trafficked in Waikiki and from there I got sent to Alaska to work inside a massage parlor. I was 15 at the time."
Hoola Na Pua is seeking donations for its new treatment facility, and hopes to raise $4 million by year's end.
To make a donation or for more information, click here.
read … Runaways
Presidential Vote? You Have Alternatives
CB: …Earlier this year I noted how Libertarian Gary Johnson had qualified to be on Hawaii’s ballot. He and running mare Bill Weld are on the ballots of all 50 states.
Well, Green Party candidate Jill Stein is also on the ballot. She and running vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka are on 44 ballots.
There is also a fifth choice: Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley. They are the ticket for the Constitution Party.
read … Alternatives
DoT Orders Falls of Clyde to be Sunk
TN: A LAST chance to save the Scottish-built historic sailing ship the Falls of Clyde appears to have failed as Hawaii’s transport department is preparing to take the vessel out of Honolulu harbour and sink it.
Launched in Port Glasgow in 1878, Falls of Clyde is the last remaining iron-hulled four-masted sailing ship in the world. It has been declared dangerous by the Harbors Division of the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (DoT), which has rescinded its permit to reside in Honolulu harbour.
Despite a campaign to save the ship by its owners, preservation society the Friends of the Falls of Clyde, what appears to be a final decision has been made and though it is not yet fully certain what will happen, it appears likely that the 138-year-old ship will be towed out of the harbour and sunk to become an attraction for divers.
Last-ditch appeals to try and preserve it are being made by campaigners in this country, who have called on MPs and MSPs to get involved even at this late stage.
The ship is the only survivor of the once-renowned Falls line, of which there were eight ships built by Russell and Company at Port Glasgow.
Falls of Clyde sailed round both Capes and to every continent except Antarctica before it was eventually sold to an American shipping company, and then plied the sugar trade route between California and Hawaii.
read … Sunk
Honolulu firefighter injury report rate higher than national average and rising
KHON: Neves said out of 26 water-training reports over the past 12 years, eight were serious enough to sideline workers from the job during recovery. As for helicopters — just a few years of helicopter-specific reports were compiled — just one incident, the Sept. 2 fall, was on the books from 2014-2016….
The number of injuries reported has more than doubled since 2011, from 143 to more than 300 last year, and it’s pacing even higher for this year so far.
The chief says that’s due to their volume of work and reporting rules.
“Even if you have a slight twinge in your arm and it may result in nothing, we require you to fill a form,” Neves said.
The union blames training for much of the increase. Lee says Rapid Intervention Training (RIT) sessions this year, which were widespread exercises involving almost all operational staff, caused many sprains and strains….
according to the U.S. Department of Labor, public-sector fire protection injuries happen at an average rate of 12.1 per 100 firefighters. Honolulu’s rate stood at 23 per 100 for the last full calendar year.
“Two-thirds of them result in no lost time. It’s just a precautionary form that someone filed,” Neves said.
We also looked at how many injuries put workers off the job to get well. Honolulu tracks below the national average rate for lost-time work injuries –- at a rate of 5.6 per 100 compared to the national average of 7.6 per 100. The lost-time case-count hovers around the 50s and 60s and shows no specific trend in either direction….
SA: Union, fire chief must cooperate for safety’s sake
read … Injuries