Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Legislation to Stop Obama from Arming al-Qaeda
Taxes Reaching Back into the Past?
All-time high for UH Manoa four-year graduation rate
Insiders Believe Akina Election Means No More OHA Mega Bucks for Waihee, Danner and the Fake Tribe
SA: …A new trustee — one who has long opposed the whole nationhood push — has been elected to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, where he has already aligned himself with the winning side in a turnover of leadership. These developments are already stirring controversy, on the board and among some beneficiaries, and more conflict is certain to ensue….
Akina, as a newly elected OHA trustee, voted with a 5-4 majority to name Rowena Akana as board chairperson on Thursday, ousting incumbent Robert Lindsey and sparking protest from Lindsey supporters.
Akina also is executive director of the nonprofit think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii; its website states that the group is “concerned that the state of Hawaii’s efforts to form and gain federal recognition of a race-based, sovereign nation are not in the best interest of Native Hawaiians nor the general population.”
Akina’s election has sparked an outcry from the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, which adopted a resolution at its convention asserting that he should either resign as OHA trustee or leave his post at Grassroot. (Translation: If you are against the Indian Tribe, you can’t be elected to OHA. LOL!)
His principal opponent in the election was 20-year incumbent Haunani Apoliona, who chaired OHA’s board for 10 years. Apoliona, a civic club member, agrees with the resolution. The philosophy of Grassroot runs counter to the mission of OHA, she said. (If the mission is create a fake Indian tribe and distribute as much money as possible to our friends.)
“The foundational question is if Kelii Akina has these principles he stands on … and that whole philosophy, from that position and his active personal involvement in attempting to undermine Native Hawaiians’ interests,” Apoliona added.
She pointed to the lawsuit, which has been dismissed because it became moot with the cancellation of the grant-funded delegate election to the convention, which was convened by unelected participants.
For his part, Akina emphasized that the plaintiffs agreed with the federal court, but emphasized that the case was dismissed without prejudice. In other words, if there is another constitutional conflict, he said, opponents will be back in court.
“When it comes to Hawaiian self-determinism, or the pursuit of independence or sovereignty, I encourage Hawaiians to get involved using our First Amendment right to express ourselves,” he said in an interview last week.
“But when it comes to using the funds of the public through a state office, we are limited and need to be certain we are adhering to the constitutions of both the state of Hawaii and the United States,” Akina added. “So that suit was about monies being used inappropriately by state agencies in order to pursue a private aim.”
On his campaign website, Akina said he is “completely committed to the protection of the primary Hawaiian entitlements as secured by law,” including the ceded lands and the Hawaiian homeland trusts.
“The priority for OHA needs to be the betterment of the Hawaiian people, and that means providing opportunities for housing, jobs, education and health care,” he added in the interview. “OHA’s own surveys show that their Native Hawaiian beneficiaries would rather funds be spent on those purposes than on pursuing nationhood.” ….
Last Chance to Cash In:
read … Get a Job
Feds to Order Shutdown? Al Hee’s Criminal Enterprise Funneled Thousands to Hanabusa
SA: Sandwich Isles Communications Inc., the politically connected Hawaii telecommunications company that provides services on Hawaiian home lands, is being warned that its Federal Communications Commission authorization to operate may be revoked….
Hee and company executives of Waimana and Sandwich Isles have donated more than $500,000 to Democratic leaders and the Democratic Party over the past 15 years, with some of the largest contributions going to the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, former U.S. Rep. and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
In addition to tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions made to Hawaii Democrats over the years, company executives also donated heavily to the Hawaii Democratic Party and Democratic Party organizations in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
When Hee faced sentencing on tax charges last year, supporters who submitted letters asking for leniency included former Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Mina Morita, former Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy, state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, former state Rep. Heather Giugni, and Bill Kaneko, an attorney and campaign manager for Abercrombie….
Last week the FCC announced it is imposing $76 million in federal penalties on the company for what it describes as “egregious misconduct,” and also ordered yet another investigation of the company’s finances. That new investigation will begin in 2017.
The commission also stated in orders last week that it may demand that Sandwich Isles repay money beyond the $76 million. The FCC said it is still trying to determine how much Sandwich Isles should be forced to refund the federal government for making “inflated and improper management fees” to its parent company, Waimana Enterprises Inc.
Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai issued a joint statement in the case saying the commission “speaks with a unified voice” in its decision to punish Sandwich Isles….
Sandwich Isles’ founder Albert Hee is now serving 46 months in federal prison for 2015 convictions on six counts of federal tax fraud and one count of corruptly impeding the Internal Revenue Service from calculating his actual tax liability….
Sandwich Isles also defaulted on more than $108 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is money the company borrowed from 1997 to 2001 to finance construction of its telecommunications network in Hawaii. A USDA spokeswoman said that agency is now working with the U.S. Department of Justice to try to recover that money in a case that is separate from last week’s FCC action….
Gov. David Ige said in an interview last week the Hawaiian Homes Commission should consider whether it is time to replace Sandwich Isles as the exclusive telecom carrier for Hawaiian home lands….
Sandwich Isles has received more than $249 million in federal Universal Service Fund subsidies since 2002, and the FCC orders issued last week allege that longstanding practices by Hee and his companies resulted in tens of millions of dollars in overpayments from the federal government to the company….
read … Embattled telecom firm sinks deeper into crisis
Rail: Bumbling DoTax $100M Calculation ‘Error’
Borreca: …it won’t be cheap. Recent calculations done by HART are putting the cost of delaying financing at $1 billion. That means HART’s train is creeping up to the nightmare scenario of paying $10 billion for a system estimated by HART to take 40,000 cars out of the daily commute.
Caldwell, however, warned that “based on the most recent cost estimates and revenue projections, the GET surcharge (the 0.5 percent tacked onto Oahu’s general excise tax to pay for rail) would need to be further extended beyond the current 2027 sunset date.” …
Some of the details are almost comical. For instance, the state Tax Department fumbled calculating how much money it should send the state. The base rate was $9 million off. But by the time “they” (HGEA at work) caught the mistake, it had already been factored into the projections. (This is the skill level we’re buying with our 10% override.)
“Since the error was included in the base projection period, its effect is compounded over the term of the Financial Plan. HART now has reduced the original GET surcharge revenue by $100 million to offset the impact of the remittance error,” said the report. (Ever notice how these ‘errors’ always work against you?)
The report also warns you haven’t even seen the worse parts of the construction delays and costs.
“The largest remaining contract is the City Center Guideway and Stations contract, which also includes the most complex utility relocations and the undergrounding of two major 138 kV circuits within a very narrow right of way. Constructability and resulting impacts on traffic and local businesses pose challenges to anticipated schedules,” said the HART report.
Caldwell’s rail line needs about 2 billion more of your dollars to be completed. The mayor wants to get the state to allow the city to keep the excise tax increase. The rail report modestly noted: “The City has various other funding opportunities that are available to add financial capacity if needed.”
Most of those “funding opportunities” involve you and your wallet or purse.
Pay today, pay tomorrow, for something you won’t ride until at least 2025.
read … Incompetent Morons
Will Legislators Give Caldwell His Tax Hike When He Has Done Nothing to Pay for Rail?
SA: …Borrowing significant amounts of money to pay for the rail project will saddle city taxpayers with a crushing debt for years, and is to be avoided if at all possible.
All of that said, the city does need to come up with its own revenue sources to add to the pot for rail — state lawmakers have chafed at the notion that Honolulu Hale would have no “skin in the game” for its own public works project.
Showing a willingness to shoulder some of the financial burden would be a good-faith gesture in the negotiations at the state Capitol — and it would also put pressure on City Hall and HART to ride herd on costs.
However, there is no skirting the fact that this would be supplemental funding, perhaps even money to be socked away for future operations and maintenance costs….
Big Q: What’s the best option for Honolulu’s troubled rail project?
Keep Ignoring This: Privatize: Honolulu Can See Its Rail Line Finished Without Raising Taxes
DoTax Funding: Grassroot Backs Suit Against 10% Rail Skim
read … Skin in the Game?
HMSA Pays Bonuses to MDs who get Rid of Sick Patients
SA: The state’s largest health insurer, with 3,000 doctors in its network, is changing the way it reimburses its primary care physicians to a fixed monthly rate for each patient in a practice, instead of paying them based on the number of patients they see and the number of services they provide….
“You’re being paid up front to care for patients, not for procedures, so that is administratively simpler,” said Dr. Stephen Kemble, a psychiatrist and internist who plans to retire in August due to the changes. “But it has an incentive to skimp on care and to avoid treating sicker people. To counteract that incentive they require detailed documentation and data reporting and quality measures. In other words, they give it to you in one hand and take it away in the other.” ….
The monthly amount paid to physicians is dependent on the number of patients they take care of, how sick these patients are, and the quality of the care that they provide, HMSA said. It is calculating initial physician reimbursements based on the doctor’s average total payments for medical services over a period of three years. Eighty percent of that is paid as a fixed monthly base payment. Doctors must earn the other 20 percent of their reimbursement by checking (very healthy) patients once a year to talk about their health and resources available. Payments can increase over time based on the quality and value of care delivered (or by cutting off sick people and dealing only with the healthy).
In addition, physicians who care for more complex patients with chronic diseases will be paid more than those who provide basic medical care.
If doctors do not accept the new model, they can either choose to go outside the HMSA network and forgo payment bonuses, or accept the existing fee structure with no increases and performance payments.
“HMSA’s new program allows doctors to increase the amount of pay they receive if they meet quality measures that were recommended by an advisory panel made up of Hawaii physicians,” the insurer said.
read … Get Rid of Sick Patients
Anti-Telescope Activists Compare Themselves to Gandhi
SA: …Pisciotta, a veteran of the TMT opposition, has now moved her activism to the hearing room of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, where the contested case against TMT is playing out.
At the U.N. conferences, the vernacular of Mahatma Gandhi became the accepted approach, she said.
“I can affirmatively state that there is an ongoing peaceful resistance in the indigenous movement,” Pisciotta said. “When you’re committing civil disobedience you’re standing up against an illegal law … we’re using our body to prevent the crime.”
(Or you could just pay me $50M a year rent.)
read … Greenmail Gandhis
Maui County park officials mull access fees
MN: Free entry for everyone at Maui County parks could become a thing of the past.
Last week, the county Cost of Government Commission heard a suggestion to charge park entry fees for visitors and businesses from Vice Chairwoman Annie Alvarado.
“I thought it was something we should have a discussion about,” she said Thursday at a regular commission meeting.
The commission is an advisory panel that reviews existing county procedures and recommends improvements. The Maui County Council would need to approve park entrance fees….
read … Fees Everywhere