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Tuesday, May 16, 2017
May 16, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:21 PM :: 1828 Views

Hirono to Undergo Treatment for Kidney Cancer

Peter Apo: ‘People can just make up stuff, and pronounce cultural claims with little or no validation’

Ikaika Anderson Land Use Facepalm

USNWR: Put the Jones Act Out to Sea

More Government Isn’t Puerto Rico’s Answer

Drug Use Per Capita: Hawaii Ranks 38th

One Party System: Politicians Bicker Amongst Themselves, The Status Quo is King

CB: …Fukumoto had by that time established herself as an articulate and effective representative of her swing district, standing as one of the Hawaii GOP’s bright lights. She had been drawn to the party not based on doctrine, but after envisioning the changes that were possible. It was easy to imagine her as a leader of a reinvigorated party, more Pat Saiki or Linda Lingle than Gene Ward or Bob McDermott.

So how did Democratic Party leadership respond to this promising young politician’s interest in switching over to the majority? Greet her with cupcakes and a welcome mat? Give her the good chair that rolls and doesn’t squeak?

No, they scheduled her for an interview. They needed to examine her, vet her, talk things over and ensure that her views were consistent with party doctrine. To be certain that she wouldn’t do something untoward, like criticize their party’s presidential choice. Despite the fact that anybody else is free to become a Democrat by simply filling out a card. Because an appreciation of irony is not as important in politics as one might think….

(Likewise) … the Senate opted to do the most pointless and petulant thing possible and booted Tokuda from her position as chair of WAM, a response that appears calculated to salve somebody’s bruised ego. They silenced an articulate and effective voice for fiscal responsibility, because she disagreed….

…Hawaii no longer has political parties in any real sense. The Republicans have withered to the point of irrelevancy. Their impulse toward opposition, so ineffective in resisting the majority party, is turned on each other. And the Democrats, having achieved unassailable control in the House and absolute partisan purity in the Senate, no longer have anyone to channel their defiance. Instead of benefitting from their monolithic control, they bicker among themselves.

At both ends of the spectrum, the exercise of political will has become so meaningless that those in control accept nothing less than utter obedience to orthodoxy. Under those circumstances, the public loses.

The most important debates take place in caucus, away from public view. Small groups of leaders embrace the power to make deals and bestow benefits, enforcing their decisions with threats of marginalization, if not expulsion. The status quo is king….

read … Cupcake

SB410: Did Hawaii Lawmakers Just Give Public Worker Unions Too Much Power?

CB: Hawaii lawmakers with little fanfare passed a bill this session that, if signed into law by Gov. David Ige, would fundamentally shift the power balance between the government and public employee unions here that have long held sway in Aloha State politics, opponents say. 

The measure, Senate Bill 410, seems innocuous enough. It’s a half a page long and only changes a few words in the state’s collective bargaining law, which can be found in Chapter 89 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which were first codified in 1970.

But officials from state and county governments across Hawaii have described these changes in terms like “hair-raising,” “insane” and “not acceptable.”….

“We look at it with complete horror and the public should too,” said Richard Thomason, the director of collective bargaining and labor relations for the University of Hawaii. “It’s throwing the keys to government away. Why it passed the Legislature is anybody’s guess.”

If SB 410 becomes law, Thomason and others critics say it will allow the state’s six public worker unions to control Hawaii government like never before.

Bad employees will be harder to fire, they say. Layoffs will be more difficult to execute. And even menial tasks — such as how best to clean a public toilet — could be subject to union negotiation.

“There’s going to be delay for everything and there’s going to be quid pro quo for everything,” Thomason said. “The first and foremost cost is that government is going to slow down even slower than it already is. And it’s already glacially slow.”

SB410: Text, Status

read … Too Much

If Property Taxes Are Raised For Rail, A Real Rebellion May Result

CB: Project numbers are still incomplete and in some cases nonpublic. It’s time for rail backers to level with taxpayers….

HNN: Council committee to vote on proposal that would increase parking rates in Waikiki

read … Level

Hawaii County: Massive Property Tax Hike to Pay for Council Slush Fund

HTH: The Hawaii County Council will get a crack this week at Mayor Harry Kim’s proposed $491.2 million budget and tax increases that go with it.

The spending plan takes effect July 1 and is 6.1 percent higher than the current budget.

While rising property values are helping to pad coffers, the county also is facing higher expenses, due in part to increased labor costs. On the revenue side, the county will see its share of the state’s hotel tax drop by about $2 million.

Tax rates would increase by 6.5 percent for each property class except affordable rentals to balance the budget, while two new age exemptions are proposed for seniors to ease their burden. The minimum tax would be raised from $100 to $200.

The county expects to collect an additional $36.9 million in property tax revenue in the next fiscal year. Of that, about $16 million is from an uptick in property values, with the rest from tax increases, according to the Finance Department.

The nine council members will get their chance to introduce amendments during a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Hilo council chambers.

As of Monday afternoon, two amendments had been filed seeking to increase the council’s contingency (slush) fund from $675,000 back to its current level of $900,000.

HTH: Kim seeks seven more employees

read … Public can weigh in on proposed county budget during hearing tonight

HMSA: $55.4M Saved Because of President Donald J Trump

SA: …the suspension of an Affordable Care Act fee for insurers greatly benefited the state’s largest health insurer.

The Hawaii Medical ­Service Association earned $25 million in the first three months of this year, according to first-quarter financial results set for publication today and filed with the state Insurance Division.

The positive return compared with a $30.4 million loss in the same quarter last year….

PDF: Hawaii AG Sues to Block Savings on ACA, Keep Insurance Rates Going up

AP: Hawaii among states making move in fight over health care reform

PBN: HMSA reports $25M Q1 gain absent ACA fees

read … Thank You President Trump

Struggling loan program cannibalizes successful energy initiative

SA: The state has taken money away from a successful energy program to give it to a failing one.

The budget of Hawaii Energy, a program that helped reduce electricity use by providing free or low-cost efficient appliances and other products, has been cut by about 26 percent in recent years.

Hawaii Energy has saved more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours, roughly $1 billion in energy costs, since it began in 2009.

Despite the success, Hawaii Energy’s annual budget has dropped by $10 million from its previous level of $38 million in part to pay for a newer energy program called Green Energy Market Securitization, or GEMS.

GEMS, which was created by the Legislature in 2013, raised roughly $150 million through a bond sale and was to have lent all the money for renewable-energy projects by the end of November 2016. To date the program has lent only $2.8 million, less than 2 percent of its funds. It has spent $2.9 million on administrative costs since inception, and interest payments during the 15-year life of the bonds will total $33 million.

Part of the GEMS costs is being covered by taking money from Hawaii Energy. The result is fewer energy efficiency programs….

“This (GEMS) is looking at providing $46.4 million to the Department of Education strictly on energy efficiency,” she said….

Translation: Gut a successful program to pay for a failed program (GEMS’) effort to shore up another failed program (Cool Schools).

read … Struggling loan program cannibalizes successful energy initiative

Project Delays: Why HIDoT is More Incompetent than UH and DoE

KHON: Airport management tells us the red tape that plagues their big projects affects the minor repairs too, and that they’re severely short-staffed.  (Translation: Create more positions so we can play solitaire on the computer, more.) We found other agencies face the same challenges for their buildings, but have been able to make some overhauls that ease the huge problem of keeping things in ship-shape….

“Part of it is we have a lack of staffing and resources,” said Jeff Chang, engineering manager for the DOT Airports Division. “Right now, we have a lot of vacancies. I think it’s on the order of 10 percent.” … (Translation: Create more positions so we can play solitaire on the computer, more.)

“Every dollar we spend has to get legislative approval,” Chang said. “It’s not down to they’re approving a certain part, but it’s down to a budget for spare parts, say, for restrooms or certain parts of the airport.”

Hiring, contracting, even buying spare parts with less red tape are among the reasons the DOT advocated for the formation of an airport authority to help projects big and small move quicker, but lawmakers did not pass it this session.

We asked for the airport division’s work order lists to get a sense of what takes the longest, and how the work flow goes from a reported breakage to a fix. They’re compiling the in-house lists, but meanwhile, they did send us contractual maintenance repairs they undertake with third-party providers when all sorts of different things break.

Click here to view the Airports Division’s maintenance projects and contractor list….

We wanted to know if other public facilities face the same problems. First stop, the University of Hawaii.

A few years back, we found a bunch of emergency call boxes inoperable for months, a slow work order process partially blamed at the time. We found out a lot has improved thanks to wider use of an online work-order submission and tracking system that costs less than $100,000 a year for the entire UH system statewide.

“I think it definitely helped us organize our work, so the organizing of the work helped us speed up response time and be a little more efficient,” said Blake Araki, director of UH Manoa Operations and Facilities.

Professors and staff can log right on and report what’s broken or bugging them. Out of 18,334 work orders on the Manoa campus alone since last January, health and safety ones are addressed within days. Four in 10 got wrapped up within a week, and 73 percent were checked off in four weeks. Just seven percent were still open.

Click here to view all work orders between January 2016 and March 2017.

We checked on the fix-it lists at the Department of Education too. We found more than 1,500 work orders are backlogged, but they take in 600-plus work orders a week. They have a target of no more than a few weeks’ lag time, worst case.

The DOE also has an online system like the university. Teachers can’t submit directly, but principals and office staff log in and often can get to their emergency fixes within hours. In a recent spot-checked week, all 57 second-priority “T-Calls” – urgent but not emergencies – were fixed within about 17 hours.

“It’s allowed for a lot more clarity in our performance. Things rise to our attention a lot faster,” explained Duane Kashiwai, administrator of DOE Public Works….

What you pay for: HIDOT Fails to Answer -- $78K Administrative Cost Per Mile

read … Why even the state’s smallest fix-its are facing big delays

Hawaii Government:  Six Years to Butcher One Pig

HTH: After years of planning and months of delay, the Hawaii Island Meat Cooperative has started processing local meat at its mobile slaughterhouse unit.

Regular operations at the unit began April 20 and are scheduled to take place once every two weeks.

The mobile slaughterhouse, one of about 25 in the country and the first one in the state of Hawaii, is considered an important component to the long-term goal of achieving food sustainability on the Big Island.

“It’s just one little piece of the infrastructure that supports the whole infrastructure,” said Teresa Young, cooperative business development specialist for the Kohala Center. “We’re trying to increase that production to have more meat that is produced here, especially for the smaller family farms. This will allow them to have more access to that.”

The mobile slaughterhouse project was set in motion in 2011 after the creation of a task force focusing on bringing more options for locally-raised meat to the island.

The co-op itself formed in 2014. A year and $500,000 in grants later, the mobile slaughterhouse arrived.

Butchers were hired in 2016, but the wait to secure a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified inspector to oversee operations was “much longer than anyone anticipated,” said co-op president Mike Amado…..

read … Government Takes Years

Papahanaumokuakea: Devotees of Eco-Religion Flood Comments

CB: The Trump administration’s review process for 29 national monuments, including the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, is sparking some outrage.

The official public comment period began Friday, and more than 15,000 comments about the proposal flooded into the federal government within the first four days.

Letters are running more than 100 to 1 against making any changes in use or boundaries of the 29 sites, all of which had previously been declared historically or environmentally significant….

Reality: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read … Religion

After Al Hee Associate Ousted from KSBE Trustees, 2 of 3 Nominees are Non-Hawaiian

HNN: …On Friday, the state Probate Court named produced a list of three finalists to replace former board member Janeen-Ann Olds (an associate of the criminal Al Hee): the list includes former Land Board director and HMSA executive Tim Johns, Disney Vice President Elliot Mills and outgoing schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

The issue, critics say, is that Johns and Matayoshi are not Hawaiian.

"I am so disappointed with it. And I can tell you ... that so are many of the alums, we're already discussing it," said native Hawaiian activist Mililani Trask, a 1969 Kamehameha Schools…..

read … Non-Hawaiian

After Death of Girl, Kauai Residents Organize to Evict Homeless Drug Addicts

KGI:  A recent flurry of activity on social media about illegal goings on in the Kalalau Valley has stirred anti-squatter sentiment on Kauai, and some are calling for a change in the area’s management.

“Looking for a group of positive-minded Kanaka who are willing to enter Kalalau with me to help cleanse our ‘aina of these trespassers taking refuge in lands of our own ‘iwi kupuna,” wrote one Kauai resident in a newly-formed Facebook group, “Kalalau Outlaws.”

Another Kauai resident wrote: “I hope all of the hippies squatting in Kalalau or planning on squatting have figured out that it’s time to find a new place to desecrate … you’re not welcome here. Aloha is not a sign of weakness, the party is over.”

The desire to uproot squatters from the Kalalau Valley isn’t new, but it was reignited after an April 27 vehicle crash in Kapaa that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Kapaa resident Kayla Huddy-Lemn.

The driver was Cody Safadago, 46, originally from Washington State, who was living in the Kalalau Valley before the wreck. According to court testimony, Safadago was driving a stolen car at least 88 mph in a 35 mph zone and had a blood-alcohol content of .248 (three times the legal limit) on that night. 

read … Locals want removal of Kalalau squatters

Numbers of homeless questioned

SA: If East Honolulu indeed had 129 fewer homeless people this year, Ward has no idea where they went.

“We offered shelter to 100 percent of them, and almost 99 percent of them said, ‘Thanks but no thanks. Not interested,’” Ward said. “That seems to be standard procedure. Where have they gone? Sit-lie probably pushed them out of Waikiki.”

read … Numbers of homeless questioned

Hawaii Criminal Dies in Las Vegas

HA 2009: …Tashii S. Farmer-Brown, who was charged with second-degree attempted murder in the incident, was taken to Maui Community Correctional Center and is also being held on a parole violation, according to police records.
The 32-year-old suspect from Kahului is also known as Tashi S. Farmer and Tashi S. Brown. He has nine convictions, according to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. His convictions occurred from 1996 to 2002.
In 2002, he was sentenced to a 10-year concurrent prison term for first-degree criminal property damage, court records show….

N3LV 2016: Mother of man who died in LVMPD custody: 'They killed my boy'

read … Soft on Crime

Hawaii Denies Gun Permits to Medical Marijuana Patients

OCC: Their data showed that 42 of the 328 denied applications were specifically for the applicants being “medical marijuana patients.” That is 12.8% of the denied permits. Only “mental health issues” had more denials at 69, or 21.0%.

They will, in fact, not allow a registered patient to obtain a permit for a full year after their medical marijuana card expires. The report states, “Former medical marijuana patients can successfully apply one year after the expiration of their medical marijuana approval cards.”

One of the reasons for the doubling of the annual rate of denied applications is a recent change in the federal form that is required by federal authorities. It now specifically mentions state legal marijuana, which it did not before….

read … Hawaii Denies Gun Permits to Medical Marijuana Patients

Planned Parenthood to Open Honolulu Abortion Superstore, Target Underage Girls

SA: …The more than 29,000-square-foot (that’s 66% of an acre) health center is set to open in June 2018 and will be at 839 S. Beretania St. The current Honolulu location, at 1350 King St., will remain open during the transition.

At the new building, Planned Parenthood will offer educational and outreach programs including middle and high school responsible sex education courses and parent-child communication programs. Planned Parenthood will continue to offer reproductive health care services, including affordable access to birth control, health exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, emergency contraception, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and abortion services….  (And whoever may be molesting these underage girls will not have to worry about being reported.)

Google for the Brave: Planned Parenthood Child Molesters

read … Underage

Hawaii v. Trump: What Would an “Objective Observer” Think of President Trump’s Travel Ban?

LF: Since January 2017, over two dozen judges have heard oral arguments concerning the legality of President Trump’s travel bans. At the outset, I was struck by how unprepared the government seemed, how contrived the written opinions were, and how unscathed the challengers’ arguments went. Tempora mutantur. But in arguments before the Fourth Circuit last week and the Ninth Circuit yesterday, a new phase of the litigation has opened up. The government’s arguments have become sharper, the judges have become more informed, and the weaknesses of the challengers’ case have been laid bare. I don’t expect the government to prevail in either circuit, but the foundation for a victory at the Supreme Court is already assembled.

The reasoning is straightforward. First, despite the many briefs chronicling President Trump’s indefensible campaign statements, pre-inauguration ramblings should not be considered in determining whether the stated national security justification for the order constitutes pretext. Second, a handful of ambiguous post-inauguration statements, including Trump’s declaration that “we all know what that means” on signing the executive order, will be insufficient to demonstrate to an “objective observer” an improper motive….

read … Objective

Kim Jong-un could soon have long-range weapons capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii

TS: …new satellite photos show North Korea’s nuclear missiles are MORE powerful than world feared and can hit US….

read … Soon

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