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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
March 29, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:56 PM :: 1307 Views

All Talk, No Action: State’s Low Refugee Count Works Against Hawaii v Trump

Travel Ban: Hawaii Judge’s Ruling Based on Fake DHS Document

Taxpayer Return on Investment? Hawaii ranks 49th

Cover-up: How Wind Farms Hide Bird and Bat Kills

Hawaii Dithers while Telescope Prepares to Build on Canary Islands

Doubling Hawaii’s Food Production?

Trump Economy: Visitor Spending Increases 11.5% in February 2017

Sabotage in Store for OHA Audit?

Report: Big island Hotspot for ‘Premature Death’

Shortage of Homeless in Waikiki—Activists Terrified

TG: The homeless population has dropped by 83% over the past two years since a sit-lie ban went into effect, but some in Hawaii fear enforcement has gone too far….

Aguirre Dick used to spend the night in the streets and parks of Waikiki, the jewel of Hawaii’s tourism industry. But now, every evening, the homeless man must ride his bike three miles from the beach neighborhood and ascend the cinder slopes of a volcano to sleep – or risk arrest.  (He has to commute to his …uh… job as a bum.)

“The police told me get out of Waikiki, but they keep moving us around,” Dick said earlier this month. He was worried by rumors that police would move him on from his new sleeping place along the Diamond Head volcanic crater. “They’re trying to bury us.” (Or worse, make us accept shelter.)

homelessness in Waikiki was the number one complaint among tourists before the sit-lie ban, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority president, George Szigeti. “The sit-lie ban was needed in Waikiki,” Szigeti said, praising it for “virtually eliminating homelessness in most high-traffic areas”…..

According to a spokesperson at the Institute for Human Services, a nonprofit that operates the Waikiki outreach program, 288 people were permanently housed over the past two years, many of whom had previously declined help. And more than 200 individuals were flown back to the mainland through a repatriation program that offered partial airfare assistance for mainland transplants with verified plans to reconnect with family members. In total, more than 60% of the homeless people identified by Waikiki social workers were connected with housing options.

But some fear enforcement has gone too far. Honolulu police have issued nearly 2,800 warnings and about 590 citations in Waikiki since the sit-lie bill went into effect in 2014, city spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke reported last month. A recent survey of 88 US cities with sit-lie bans by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty singled out (whined about) Honolulu for its aggressive enforcement of sidewalk laws…..

(IF THEY CAN’T BE SEEN HOW CAN WE EXPLOIT THE HOMELESS TO MAKE AMERICANS FEEL GUILTY AND GIVE US MONEY?  WE NEED TO KEEP BUMS FRONT AND CENTER--OUT OF THE SHELTERS AND ON THE STREETS!)

And not everybody feels they should have to leave. “They put pressure on us to go somewhere else, but I got more right to be here than any (other) tourist,” argued Richard Gambino, 66, who has lived on the streets for seven years and said the law unfairly favors (other) tourists….

Last Friday, workers swept belongings from the sides of Diamond Head crater encampments into garbage trucks. Law enforcement officers watched to ensure homeless individuals remained outside the encampment, and away from Waikiki.

High on the slopes, empty dirt patches marked former campsites. Dick, the man who said he trekked up here every night to sleep, was nowhere to be found.

read … An Article Titled: “As Waikiki moves homeless out of tourist zones, some fear perpetual displacement”

Honolulu Rail: City Needs To Get It Together Or Give It Up

CB: In 2010, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally pulled the plug on one of the nation’s largest public infrastructure projects.

The Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project — an $8.7 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson river — was already under construction with $3 billion in federal financing already arranged.

But Christie, after learning that the project would likely cost at least $2.5 billion more than anticipated, decided it wasn’t worth continuing. New Jersey would have been responsible for the overrun, and Christie — shocking many — said he could not put the taxpayers “on what would be a never-ending hook.”

Sound familiar? …

Ulupono Initiative, an impact investment firm, recently released a study about how potential public-private partnerships could help rail. While such partnerships can’t “address the funding gap” — taxpayers are still on the hook for that, sadly —  they could help accelerate the project, eliminate costly delays and provide better budget predictability — all of which the current rail project desperately needs.

Ulupono’s suggestions might seem too little to late for a lot of taxpayers already fed up with rail’s ineptitude, but again, the tale of the ARC project in New York and New Jersey provides a helpful moral.

Governor Christie was lambasted when he decided to scuttle ARC, after all. Columnist Paul Krugman called the decision “destructive and incredibly foolish” since there was such an obvious need for the project.

But just because Christie pulled the plug on that specific project, with those specific funding terms, the idea and enthusiasm for a new tunnel didn’t go away.

Now, seven years on, there is currently a new Hudson rail tunnel project underway, one that dwarfs the initial plan as much as it improves it. Experts are calling the new plan (dubbed Gateway) a “better project” because it addresses less popular aspects of ARC, offers more cohesive solutions for commuters, and pulls in more stakeholders and cost sharers in more substantial ways.

The new plan is expected to cost more than twice what the original did, but there is already considerable excitement about it because the payout seems worth it (taxpayers will love and use what they’re paying for) and because the funders are all on the same page.

As the House moves forward with SB 1183 — or doesn’t — we’d encourage lawmakers to keep these lessons in mind. Because it’s not too late for Honolulu’s rail. It’s not too late to make it a project worth paying for, a project that inspires public confidence rather than scorn.

read … Privatize

Anti-Dairy Activism Exported to Maui

KE: …I think the dairy's floundering and missteps are more likely due to plain old ineptitude by its parent organization, Ulupono Initiative, than any grand plan to surreptitiously derail agriculture. Bankrolled by Omidyar's Ebay fortune, it represents yet another of his vanity dalliances aimed at shaping the sociopolitical climate of Hawaii. But like Civil Beat, the dream so often fails in the execution.

Shoots, Ulupono actually believes its goal for “more sustainable local food” can be realized by blowing $351,663 on do-nothing groups like Malama Kauai, the failed Utopian dream of another (though far less flush) tech entrepreneur, Chris Jaeb.

Even though it's funneled a pile of dough into so-called “sustainable” ag projects, Ulupono hasn't been able to appease the antis. Heck, the anti-ag folks on Maui even brought over Kauai's Friends of Mahaulepu to help them oppose an Ulupono-funded dairy there by protesting at a town hall meeting last night.

Ulupono has apparently failed to realize that conflict activism is a business model for some of these groups, so they ain't never gonna be happy….

read … Thanks, Pierre

Maui Hospital subsidies missing from budget

MN: State lawmakers said Tuesday that funds for the future operation of three Maui County hospitals under Kaiser Permanente likely will be returned to the budget, after the House Finance Committee removed it earlier this month, concerning hospital officials.

House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui said Tuesday that “there’s a general agreement between both sides” that funding for the hospitals would be restored in conference budget talks.

“They will be putting the money back in,” Souki said. “That’s not a problem. You have my word.”

The 2017-19 budget that Gov. David Ige put out in December made a number of funding requests for Maui Health System, the Kaiser entity set up to assume operations of Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals on July 1. Ige’s budget requested $38 million in operations subsidies for fiscal year 2018, which runs from July 1 to June 30, 2018; and $33.4 million in fiscal year 2019 .

It also asked for $10 million for Maui Health System’s working capital, which is the base funding that an organization needs before it starts operating. And, it included $9.5 million to compensate Maui Health System for the delay in transition, which was originally supposed to happen July 1, 2016.

But in the version of the budget it approved, the House took out the subsidies and the $9.5 million for delays. The budget passed the House on March 15 and was sent to the Senate. It will be heard in the Senate’s money committee, the Ways and Means Committee, at 9:30 a.m. today.

House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, Souki said that Luke had agreed to restoring subsidy money once in conference….

read … Souki: Hospital subsidies will return to budget

Hawaii Contingency Plan for Obamacare Repeal Becomes Christmas Tree Bill

SR: As Chair Roz Baker described it, HB552, HD1, SD1 is a “Christmas tree” bill that would also:

    Establish a minimum essential coverage premium supplementation trust fund to be administered by the Director of Finance.

    Create the “Medicaid Plus” program to be administered by the Dept. of Human Services. Available to residents with incomes between 138.5 and 250% of poverty, enrollees would be responsible for an as-yet undetermined cost share and be covered by a minimal array of Essential Health Benefits (EHB) that include ambulatory,  emergency, hospitalization, pregnancy, maternity, and newborn, mental health and substance abuse, labs, preventive, wellness, and chronic disease management and limited prescription drug coverage.  Medicaid Plus will also cover contraceptive and breastfeeding needs.

    Allow insurers to draw upon the supplementation fund to pay the difference between premium and enrollee shares.

    Impose a penalty on Hawaii taxpayers or their dependents who are uninsured for one or more months of the year to be paid into the trust fund.

      HB552 also seeks to retain other ACA insurance requirements, including dependent coverage by parents up to age 26, no pre-existing condition exclusions, no gender discrimination in premiums, and mandating the ten ACA EHB.

      read … Christmas Tree Bill

      Arakawa Commits Political Suicide

      SA: First, he angered the anti-­GMO club on Maui when he wouldn’t support an islandwide moratorium on genetically modified crops.

      But the vocal minority of ag-fearing activists are not an overwhelming political force in Hawaii. They might talk loud, write scary letters to the editors and share convincingly sincere videos on social media, but a politician can survive without them.

      Then, Arakawa insulted the rocks. The county project to restore parts of Iao Valley after last year’s devastating flood involved the removal of large rocks from the stream bed. Hawaiian activists were incensed at what they called desecration. Instead of striking a note of understanding and conciliation, Arakawa chose the nuclear option, proclaiming that there is no such thing as sacred rocks because the Hawaiian monarchy had declared Christianity to be the religion of the islands.

      Oh my (his) God.

      Arakawa later apologized. But he wasn’t done setting fire to his future.

      He then said he wants to close the county’s Waiehu Golf Course. Talk about political suicide….

      read … Suicide

      Hold Ige Responsible for Outcome of Superintendent Search

      SA: …Before 2011, three political bodies — school board, Legislature and governor — each had enough power to prevent either of the other two from achieving a singular educational vision.

      Besides impeding progress, this power allocation rendered it impossible for voters to hold anyone accountable for how well or poorly the education system functioned. As a former superintendent once put it, “When everyone is in control, no one is in control.”

      Since 2011, the governor appoints every school board member. So, for example, if voters do not like what is happening in the schools, they can hold Gov. David Ige accountable when he runs for re-election next year….

      Ige has made it clear that his educational vision is quite different. Instead of a top-down, one-size-fits-all bureaucracy (as he has described the current DOE), Ige has called for a schools- centered system in which those closest to the children play a larger role than do state-office bureaucrats in determining how best to meet the children’s needs.

      In the DOE that Ige has described, workers fit into either of two categories: those who work directly with the children, and those who support the work of those who work directly with the children. More specifically, a schools-centered system requires a substantially larger share of the education budget getting to the schools, and teachers not just allowed but encouraged to take risks and be creative in meeting the needs of their students.

      In addition to appointing school board members who share this educational vision, Ige formed a task force that is developing a blueprint for the transformation.

      It only makes sense that Ige and his school board appointees want now to hire a superintendent who will be not just knowledgeable and talented, but a proven change agent. Also, the new superintendent must be personally committed to transforming the existing DOE into a schools-centered system of education….

      read … Randy Roth

      DoE Fails to provide services to students with autism

      HNN: …Hawaii mental health professionals argue the state has failed to provide hundreds of students a treatment they're entitled to.

      Last August, a judge ruled the state violated federal law by not telling parents about a therapy known as Applied Behavioral Analysis.

      "It requires 35 to 40 hours a week of one-on-one interaction between the child and the therapist," said attorney Paul Alston.

      And he said there were two reasons it wasn't being made available: It's pricey and there are few qualified ABA therapists in Hawaii.

      Education officials declined to speak on camera for this story, but said in a statement that they've been providing the treatment based on student need…..

      The Department of Education "provides ABA services as it relates to the educational needs of our students. For those that require it as part of their individualized education program, the Department has and will continue to provide access to ABA licensed staff and providers," said assistant Superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy.

      But Kathleen Penland, of the Hawaii Association of Behavioral Analysis, said most families have been forced to seek out services on their own.

      In a statement, the state Department of Human Services said it supports "comprehensive screening and treatment for autism."

      "With regards to the August 2016 order, we appreciate that the court recognized the department's work over the last couple years to implement this kind of coverage, particularly for early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment services."

      Shannon Pucci's daughter Bianca was diagnosed with the autism when she was 2, and she's seen the benefits of ABA.

      "My daughter wasn't able to communicate very well. She didn't want to play with other children. She was almost in her own little bubble in her own little world," Pucci said.

      But with two years of ABA treatment, which was partially covered by the family's insurance, Bianca has thrived. …

      PDF: Court Ruling

      read … State struggles to provide services to students with autism

      HB1580: Bill to Abolish Gasoline to be Heard Friday

      SA: A House bill that would eliminate the use of fossil fuel vehicles on Hawaii’s roadways by 2045 hit a speed bump in the Senate on Tuesday.

      The Senate Committee on Ways and Means deferred HB 1580, which would establish the 2045 target. The bill also would set a short-term plan to both reduce fossil fuel use for cars by 5 percent and add more electric vehicle chargers before 2025. The bill is scheduled to be heard again by the committee Friday.

      State senators deferred the bill after receiving additional testimony on the measure….

      The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism filed testimony Tuesday opposing the target, saying it was “premature” to set a date for the goal. DBEDT Director Luis Salaveria said the department supports setting the near-term target of a 5 percent reduction in fossil fuel use for ground transportation by 2025.

      “DBEDT supports the ultimate elimination of fossil fuel in ground transportation and has dedicated resources to that objective,” Salaveria said in his testimony. “However, it is premature to set a target date of 2045 at this time. Effectively achieving 100 percent will require direction to, and coordination with, a variety of state agencies.”

      read … Abolish Gasoline

      Hawaii has no Definition of Fossil Fuel

      IM: If fossil fuels and renewable energy are both used to make biofuel, then some of the biofuel was counted as renewable by Hawai`i in 2003, but it is all considered renewable today! We increased our use of renewable energy simply by changing its definition.

      Hawai`i and HECO signed the Hawai`i Clean Energy Initiative in 2008, but waited until 2013 to define it.

      Today, “clean energy technology" is defined as “any commercially available technology that enables the State to meet the renewable portfolio standards, established pursuant to section 269-92, or the energy-efficiency portfolio standards, established pursuant to section 269-96, and approved by the public utilities commission by rule or order.

      House Bill 1580 would establish a “clean ground transportation benchmark framework, including a near term 2025 target supporting Hawaii's goal for the reduction and ultimate elimination of the use of imported fuels for ground transportation by 2045.”

      The bill asserts that "`clean ground transportation` means ground transportation that avoids fossil fuel consumption.”

      But what is fossil fuel? It turns out that fossil fuel is not defined in the Hawai`i Revised Statutes, nor in any bill this session.

      There was one attempt to define it last year. Representative Lee introduced HB 2575 written by Life of the Land. The bill would have addressed the electric utilities, the gas company, and ground and marine transportation….

      read … Hawaii has no Definition of Fossil Fuel

      Petition: Developers Stack HCDA Nomination List

      SA: …More than 100 concerned citizens have asked Gov. David Ige to reject a list of nominees sent to him by the City Council for filling two board seats on a state agency regulating development in Kakaako, following an unusual selection process last week.

      The group delivered a letter to Ige on Tuesday requesting that he return the list of candidates for the Hawaii Community Development Authority board to the Council’s Zoning and Housing Committee.

      The group acted after incumbent board member Steve Scott, owner of slipper maker Scott Hawaii, was not included on the list.

      Scott has challenged developers on issues at HCDA, and the three people nominated to take his place have ties to developers.

      Zoning and Housing Committee Chairwoman Kymberly Pine said Scott shouldn’t be recommended for consideration by Ige because he was nominated by only one Council member….

      The letter to Ige said the Council’s nomination process was flawed, arbitrary and ad hoc, and that it lacked public transparency.

      “We are disappointed that the Council failed to take seriously its responsibility to receive and recommend nominees,” said the letter, signed by 114 people, including HCDA board Chairman John Whalen, former HCDA board member Dexter Okada and Children’s Discovery Center founder Loretta Yajima.

      Other organizations endorsing the letter were Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Kakaako United, Surfrider Foundation, Friends of Kewalos and Kakaako Makai Community Planning Advisory Council….

      read … List of HCDA board nominees flawed, Ige is told

      Curb HTA’s secrecy before seeking audit

      SA: Pushing ahead with HR 130/HCR 202 would likely result in duplicating efforts, wasting time and money….

      Senate Bill 1084, introduced by Wakai, was prompted by HTA’s taciturn disclosure policies and increasing reliance on lengthy behind-closed-doors sessions, making it impossible for agency outsiders to fully evaluate spending. In January, state senators criticized the agency, which gets $108.5 million in public funds to market state tourism and oversee the Hawai‘i Convention Center, for refusing to provide unredacted budgets.

      Among the bill’s current provisions: HTA must provide unredacted budgets to the leaders of the legislative tourism and finance committees; closed-door meeting minutes must be available to legislators; and information about market plans and strategies discussed in closed-door session must be disclosed after execution. These would lift some of the fog enveloping HTA spending. But lawmakers should go further….

      read … Curb HTA’s secrecy before seeking audit

      Panic in Kona Coffee Fields as Trump Reinstates Program to Deport Illegals Who Commit Felonies in US

      HTH: A significant segment of Kona coffee farmers and the largely immigrant population they employ are unnerved by recent reports of increased U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement activity on Hawaii Island.

      ICE enforcement is likely to intensify more as President Donald Trump is retooling the agency with an arsenal partially dismantled by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

      That process began Jan. 25, just five days after Trump, promising to crackdown on undocumented immigrants, assumed office. He reactivated the Secure Communities program through Executive Order No. 13768. The Obama administration suspended the program Nov. 20, 2014.

      Secure Communities essentially boils down to information-sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

      State and local law enforcement entities already share information about arrested people with the FBI to determine criminal histories and discover outstanding arrest warrants in other jurisdictions. Secure Communities facilitates the sharing of that information with DHS to determine if those detained have legal immigration status.

      Throughout its history, which began in 2008, Secure Communities identified and led to more than 308,000 “criminal aliens” being removed from the U.S…..

      HNN: Immigration officials deny 'large scale' presence in Kona

      read … Rebirth of ‘Secure Communities’ program could be devastating

      HCR176: Urge VA to Improve Health Care in Micronesia 

      CB: …HCR 176 urges Hawaii’s congressional delegation to work with the VA to “develop a program or pass legislation” to provide Micronesian vets with access to high-quality medical care.

      Pacific Islanders from U.S. territories such as Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands receive full health benefits from the Veteran Affairs after serving in the military.

      The three Micronesian nations, however, are party to a treaty with the U.S. called the Compact of Free Association. Under COFA, residents are allowed to work and live in the U.S. indefinitely while the U.S. retains defensive control of the three nations.

      But the COFA nations are independent countries, and so even residents who served in the U.S. military are not eligible for VA benefits.

      In his testimony in support of the measure, Ron Han, director of the state Office of Veterans Services, said COFA veterans “deserve and have earned the right to quality health care.”

      Han explained that Title 38 of the United States Code, the section known as the Veterans Benefits and Service Members Civil Relief Act, should be reviewed for changes to permit the VA secretary to expend resources “to deliver direct care in foreign areas” such as Micronesia and other COFA nations.

      HCR 176 has bipartisan sponsorship: Democrats Ken Ito, Isaac Choy, Marcus Oshiro, Calvin Say and Jimmy Tokioka; and Republicans Bob McDermott and Gene Ward….

      read … VA Micronesia

      SB221 Red Light Camera—a Money-Loser for the State

      SA: Hawaii’s red-light camera proposal (Senate Bill 221) currently moving through the Legislature is horrific. One only needs to search online for “why red-light cameras don’t work,” to realize they pose legal, financial and moral issues.

      Taxpayers should be aware of states’ court decisions challenging the constitutionality of citations and read why many jurisdictions have cancelled programs and taken alternative actions to the problem of vehicles running red lights.

      If the goal of SB 221 is safety at intersections, a simpler and cheaper solution is to ask traffic engineers to extend yellow caution lights and adjust lights to create an all-red duration to bring traffic to a complete stop.

      If the goal is to raise revenues, the bill is misguided. Each camera is expensive. In Los Angeles, each cost more than $80,000 and 45 percent of tickets costing upwards of $500 each went unpaid. Ultimately, the program cost the city $1 million a year.

      read … Loser

      One Nesting bird delays multimillion-dollar project in downtown Honolulu

      KHON: …A nesting bird in the middle of downtown Honolulu is doing more than just attracting birdwatchers.

      It’s delaying a major project planned for the Capitol District Building, which is home to the Hawaii State Art Museum and other state department offices.

      At first glance, it looks like just another white bird sitting on a railing, but it has caught the eye of many area workers walking by.

      That’s because the bird is a white tern, and it’s protecting an egg that was laid on lanai’s railing.

      White terns are Native Hawaiian sea birds, which are considered threatened, so they are protected under state law. That means they can’t be disturbed when they are nesting.

      So what can be done now that one has nested outside the building?

      It’s a waiting game at this point, and it will take several months. The bird is perched on the third-floor balcony.

      A group called Hui Manu O Ku keeps track of these birds. It says while white terns are found in many tropical areas, the ones you see on Oahu are different….

      The building was scheduled for termite fumigation, painting and tile work — about $8 million of improvements. That will all have to wait until the egg hatches and the chick learns how to fly, which will take about four to five months.

      “Unfortunately, the bird is threatened, so we are not allowed to handle the bird or disturb it in any way. There’s hefty fines,” said Scott Young, Hawaii State Art Museum.

      The fines are actually $1,500, not that hefty considering it’s holding up an $8 million project.

      Young says the state is willing to wait it out: “It’s pretty crazy, but we’ve got to do what we have to do to be all one with the environment, right?”

      read … Nesting native bird delays multimillion-dollar project in downtown Honolulu

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