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Hawaii Suicide Bill Would Have Let Nurses Diagnose Fatal Illness and Prescribe Death Pills
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Police Reform Bills Still Alive in Legislature
CB: …a handful of reform measures are still alive after a Friday deadline that shed scads of bills from the upcoming legislative agenda.
Among the police measures that survived are Senate Bill 519, which would make it easier for victims of domestic violence at the hands of a police officer to file a complaint against their perpetrator to avoid the possibility of retaliation.
Two bills that would allow for more disclosure of county police officer misconduct are also still on the table.
Senate Bill 424 and House Bill 456 would change Hawaii’s public records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act, to allow an officer’s disciplinary records to be made public if that individual had been suspended twice in five years.
As it stands, county police officers are the only public employees in the state whose disciplinary files are afforded special protection under the public records law….
read … Hawaii Lawmakers Are Still Chilly To Police Reform
HPD Gets PR Plan, not Reform Plan
SA: A just-ended, one-year contract with a downtown public relations firm netted the Honolulu Police Department about a dozen training classes for top HPD officials, a departmentwide communications plan and a customized, seven-page “crafting your message” strategy guide.
HPD entered into the contract with The Bennet Group on March 18, 2016, in the wake of news reports about a federal investigation alleging corruption and civil rights violations that centered around then-Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. The investigation surfaced amid a spate of unrelated stories about indiscretions involving HPD officers.
Bennet received $106,121.22 for its work….
The five-page integrated communications plan does not discuss the Kealohas specifically, but acknowledges from the outset HPD’s general public- perception problems. “The reputation and conduct of the Honolulu Police Department is currently the subject of intense, focused attention — from the public, the media, elected and community leaders, and importantly, the internal audience within HPD itself,” the report said.
“HPD has suffered reputational damage as the public perception of ethical and behavioral concerns have been brought to the fore,” the report said.
The report said the issues have led to “waning morale” among both HPD’s sworn officers and civilian employees “as they continue to see negative portrayals of their profession in the public sphere.”
The Bennet contract ended March 20 and has not been renewed….
read … PR instead of Reform
Council Approves More Lawyers to Defend Ex-Chief
SA: …The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday approved payment of up to $10,000 to a private law firm to represent former Police Chief Louis Kealoha in yet another lawsuit against both him and the city.
In December the Council had authorized up to $150,000 be paid to three law firms to represent Kealoha in four other civil cases that name him (in his capacity as chief) and the city.
Resolution 17-75, approved Wednesday, states Chung & Ikehara ALC is being hired to act as special deputy corporation counsel to represent Kealoha in the case Kaahu v. City and County of Honolulu as a result of the conflict of interest arising from the ongoing lawsuit filed by the chief and his wife, Katherine Kealoha, against former Ethics Commission Executive Director Chuck Totto, the commission and the city.
read … More Lawyers
Assisted Suicide: Many Unanswered Questions
SA: …In the recent hearing on the issue, led by state Rep. Della Au Belatti, chairwoman of the health committee, we saw the committee members raise serious concerns about “medical aid in dying,” challenging those representing both sides of the issue. They asked difficult but necessary questions. There were many unanswered or unsetting responses that led to their decision to defer the bill.
One of the concerns focused on abuse of medical aid in dying, potentially sending terminally ill kupuna and others to their grave before they are even ready.
We heard there have been no “documented” cases of abuse from Oregon where the Death with Dignity Act has been in effect since 1997. Legislators saw through the fallacious reasoning, since Oregon does not require any documentation of abuse, and in fact destroys all records approximately one year from the publication in Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act Annual Report.
Another concern focused on death certificates, which requires physicians to document the cause of death. For those who have ingested lethal drugs to terminate their lives, Hawaii’s proposed law would require physicians to document that the terminal disease was the cause of death on these patient’s death certificates, not medical aid in dying.
Fortunately, physicians with their moral compass intact shared that they are not comfortable with being coerced into this type of blatant misrepresentation.
In this legislative session, we also see clashing values on different bills.
For example, there are bills concerned about the alarming rate of suicide in our state — by some estimates as often as one suicide every two days in Hawaii — and a desire to reduce suicides in Hawaii. At the same time, we see those promoting assisted suicides, claiming it should not be called “suicides,” even though depression is frequently the common denominator in these unfortunate incidents..
CN: Hawaii’s Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill Dies in Committee
read … Medicine and moral reasoning necessary for sound legislation
HB1281: Tell Homeless to “Get a Job’
SA: Anyone who’s been tempted to tell a homeless person to “get a job,” should consider House Bill 1281, which does the same thing — only more charitably.
The bill would create a pilot homeless work program similar to one called “There’s a Better Way,” launched in 2015 in Albuquerque and being considered by other jurisdictions….
HB 1281 deserves to advance for further discussion about how to fund the program. This should be a public-private enterprise, an approach that has shown promise.
Since the program began in Albuquerque, 1,759 day jobs were given to the homeless, with 226 people then connected with another agency for additional work. A total of 121,601 pounds of litter have been removed, and 418 city blocks cleaned, according to the program website.
And community donations to the program totaled $59,725.
read … Get a Job
Political Insiders Get Away With a No Comment
CB: …The ongoing traffic-ticket case, for example, has been ripening for more than a year, after Hawaii News Now’s Lynn Kawano raised the allegations that a top city prosecutor, Katherine Kealoha – who also happens to be the (now disgraced former) police chief’s wife – lied in court to help a business associate.
Kawano and Nick Grube of Civil Beat have kept working on this story, but look at your public officials – remember, you pay their salaries to represent you – who won’t even respond to Grube’s basic questions about the corruption charges: Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, prosecutor Kealoha and the officer originally involved in issuing the “ghost” ticket, Ty Ah Nee.
Along with canned statements, these “no comment” tactics are another way that public officials avoid uncomfortable topics until they eventually go away. The only force keeping them circulating is the interest of journalists and concerned citizens.
Here are a couple of other recent examples in which questions of significant public concern seemingly are being blown off by our elected or appointed officials:
Sophie Cocke, of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, wrote a public-health story recently that began with this jaw-dropping line: “On some islands, lead levels have spiked as high as two to three times the rate for children in Flint, Mich., at the height of that city’s lead crisis that sparked community outrage.” If true, this seems like it would be a national emergency. Shouldn’t we act on this information immediately?
How did sources in the story, who seem like they should be alarmed, respond? With bland statements, piles of stats and shoulder shrugs. The Department of Health, in these contexts, appears indifferent to our community’s health, as also outlined by Civil Beat’s Nathan Eagle in a story about animal-waste pollutants.
In the lead-in-the-water story, Cocke could get some statistics from the Department of Health but not much clarity from its representatives about what is being done (or not done) about the lead-poisoning threat.
A couple of state lawmakers, Rep. Della Au Belatti and Sen. Rosalyn Baker, even proposed bills that would have provided $1 million in funding for such prevention. But neither bill received a hearing.
Baker declined to comment on why, and Belatti pointed to a lack of effort and enthusiasm from the public agency. She said, “I think we need to rely on the Department of Health to raise the alarm.”
With that idea lingering, this story signed off without trying to pin down exactly who should be responsible and how urgently attention is needed. We’ll see if this topic falls back into a black hole of public ambivalence until some other event triggers its resurrection.
read … One Party System
Money Talks To Lawmakers During Legislative Session
CB: Numerous legislators continue to hold campaign fundraisers at the same time they’re making decisions on their benefactors’ issues…..
read … Money Talks To Lawmakers During Legislative Session
Condo boards brace for medical marijuana smoke complaints
KITV: Right now there are some 13,000 medical marijuana patients registered in the state and that number is only expected to grow as the state’s first dispensaries open later this year.
Many of those patients live in condominiums and apartment complexes.
Industry watchers say complaints about marijuana smoke are on the rise. Two years ago lawmakers tried to set the framework to balance out one person's medicinal need, with another's right to be smoke-free.
"The compromise is about allowing medical marijuana in other forms, except for smoking if there are other prohibitions about smoking in the building," said Rep. Della Au Bellati.
And that is why Associa Hawaii has been reaching out to its members on how best to manage smoking complaints…..
read … Condo boards brace for medical marijuana smoke complaints
New Suitor for Hawaiian Electric Companies?
IM: The Maui Arts & Cultural Center hosted the 4th Maui Energy Conference last week. Cheryl Roberto, a partner with Twenty First Century Utilities, spoke at the Maui Energy Conference. Many interpreted her speech as a public testing of the waters.
Should all or part of the Hawaiian Electric Companies be acquired by someone else? Only NextEra made a formal request to the utility. Many other entities have been hinted at, linked by speculation, put out feelers, made indirect approaches, and/or filed business registration forms in Hawai`i.
Last December we examined eleven companies that made the news, or were speculated about, as possible HECO suitors, now or in the recent past. Some confirmed that they had, or are, thinking about making an offer.
These entities were NextEra Energy, the Gas Company, the Lopez-run Philippine-based Energy Development Corporation (EDC), Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC), Ku`oko`a, an unnamed West Coast utility, a mysterious solar company, Warren Buffett, Twenty First Century Utilities (TFC), Princeton Energy Group subsidiary Ikehu Molokai, and Parker Ranch subsidiary Paniolo Power.
read … New Suitor for Hawaiian Electric Companies
Immigration Raids at Kona Coffee Farms
WHT: …multiple reports from association members of ICE agents conducting inquiries and/or operations in both North and South Kona.
“They entered at least three farms that we’re aware of and either attempted to serve administrative warrants or were just wandering around when they shouldn’t be without notifying the landowners that they were there,” she said.
Shriner added she was unaware if anyone had been seized by agents during the visits…
Industry concern over intensified immigration policies under the new administration stems from a depleted workforce threatening the profitability of coffee farming operations. Last year, Shriner said, 10-20 percent of the crop was left on the trees due to a labor shortage.
New immigration policy threatens to cut the workforce further, and it isn’t just undocumented immigrants who have begun to fear working in the industry makes them vulnerable.
“This fear not only harms the undocumented workers, it harms the documented workers we rely on so heavily,” said Shriner, adding that the majority of permanent and part-time coffee workers have legal status. “They’ll stop coming to work. They’ll stop showing up in the fields. They’ll stop coming over to Hawaii.”
Karina, 44, who asked to be referenced by only her first name, is an undocumented, Mexican immigrant who has worked in the coffee industry in Kona for the past two years. She lives with eight family members, speaks only Spanish and her job is her sole source of income.
Losing her employment could leave her life in peril, as she requires surgery for a health condition and does not have health insurance due to her undocumented status. In the summer of 2016, Karina was forced to hide among the coffee fields in which she works after co-workers informed her ICE was on the premises.
“We don’t have freedom due to our immigration status,” she said through a translator. “We live in fear every day. We feel trapped that we can’t go out in public for fear of being discovered.”
WHT was unable to reach the owners of the three farms ICE agents reportedly visited. But Angela Dean — president of Comunidad Latina De Hawaii, a nonprofit on Hawaii Island working with the immigrant and farm worker communities in a variety of capacities — confirmed the veracity of Shriner’s claims that ICE had been reported on three properties.
She said ICE raids and arrests are nothing new in Hawaii and aren’t relegated only to farming concerns….
read … Concerns mount over immigration crackdown
Oahu GOP Elects Brett Kulbis Chair
HNN: …Shortly before he was elected as the Republican Party's Oahu County Chair, Brett Kulbis urged fellow Republicans to rebuild the local GOP.
"Today, you have a chance to change the status quo ...and making our party great again," he said, borrowing a phrase from President Donald Trump. "Over they years, we have forsaken our county grassroots and have moved to an oligarchy, a small selected group of insiders who make the decisions for the rest of us." ….
Saiki said the party's new leadership has a lot of ground to make up. Republicans only have five members in the 51-member House and none in the state Senate.
"We've got to have candidates to win seats in the House of Representatives and you know we have no one in the Senate," she said.
Added University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Colin Moore: "I think there's plenty of room for a change here because they really have hit rock bottom with only five elected members," said Moore.
Rep. Andria Tupola, who replaced Fukumoto as House Minority Leader, said she hopes the party will now seek to broaden its base.
"As Republicans we're missing a huge gap. One is people around my age -- millennials -- getting younger people involved," she said. "And two, is being more relevant with local issue. I mean if our candidates and our party can be more relevant in things that happen in Hawaii then we can really start making a difference."
Tupola and retired U.S. Air Force officer Shirlene De la Cruz Ostrov are competing for the chairmanship of the state GOP at its annual meeting in May.
"I would like the see the party speak up against issues that affect us every day like soaring taxes (and) increasing regulations on small businesses," Ostrov said….
read … After Fukumoto's departure, Oahu Republicans elect new chair
Travel Ban: Trump Slow Walks 9th Circuit, Seeks Vindication in 4th