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Friday, March 22, 2019
March 22, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:14 PM :: 2814 Views

How high is too high? What’s known and unknown about minimum wage increases

Hawaii PUC approves special rates for Al Gore's electric buses

Hawaii Sues Trump (again) Over Abortion (again)

HB942: Legislators Approve $60K Settlement After Failing to Force Churches to Promote Abortion

Salvage Contract for Failed Plastic Boom in Hilo Bay?

Micronesian official to plead guilty in bribery scandal

SA: … A government official from the Federated States of Micronesia is scheduled to plead guilty in U.S. District Court next month to conspiring to launder bribe money he solicited from a Honolulu engineering contractor.

Master Halbert is assistant secretary and safety inspector of FSM’s Division of Civil Aviation. His lawyer Myles Breiner said Halbert is on an unpaid leave of absence from his job pending the outcome of his criminal case.

Halbert has been off the job since his arrest last month in Honolulu….

According to a charging document federal prosecutors filed last week, it was in his capacity as an official in the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure that Halbert solicited and accepted bribes between 2006 and 2016 from Frank James Lyon, president and owner of Lyon Associates Inc., to secure $7.8 million in government contracts for the Honolulu civil engineering company.

Halbert is scheduled to plead guilty April 2. He is free on an unsecured $25,000 signature bond cosigned by his wife, but is restricted to Oahu. His wife’s family owns a condominium in Makiki.

His wife is the daughter of Peter M. Christian, the outgoing FSM president. Christian failed to retain his at-large senatorial seat in the FSM parliamentary elections earlier this month. The congress selects the president and vice president from the FSM’s four at-large senators.

Breiner says Christian lost the election in large part because of the scandal involving his son-in-law….

Background: Lyon Bribery Micronesia: Arrests Start at the Top

read … Micronesian official to plead guilty in bribery scandal

Homeless Activist Has Change of Heart

MN: … In this last month, I have personally experienced some events that have clarified that my rights and the rights of Maui citizens are being adversely affected by a few people who are making a choice to live a homeless lifestyle….

I am and will continue to be an advocate for those who are affected and victimized by homelessness; but with that being said, I need to articulate that even though I am an advocate for the homeless, I am not a proponent for those who have decided that they want to live the homeless lifestyle and will not accept available housing services….

Recently, Alexander & Baldwin provided farmland that includes warehouse and office space to Feed My Sheep. As we are excitedly working to update and make needed repairs to the buildings and the land, we discovered, hidden in the trees, a tent where squatters were living.

Our first action was to call the Maui County, Housing and Human Concerns Homelessness Department, who immediately called case managers from Family Life Center to go to the property to offer housing services. The caseworkers came quickly and were anxious to offer help. When they arrived, they realized that they already knew these people by name and for the umpteenth time kindly offered help finding a home, which was promptly refused as it had been so many times before.

Our next move was to call the Maui Police Department, who sent the Maui community police officers. These officers were extremely compassionate and professional as they talked to the trespassers and they were able to convince them to leave without incident, but when housing services were brought up they were again refused.

Now about the experience of our family business on Alamaha Street. Alamaha is in the Kahului industrial area. This is an area where many small, local businesses are located. On this street, a group of homeless decided to set up residence and live in their cars — all of whom had been repeatedly offered services.

The occupants of two of these vehicles would unashamedly and openly participate in drug activity while creating a pile of rubbish on the street and sidewalk right outside our family businesses’s front door! It was not only unsightly, but the smells were unbearable.

Customers were justifiably frightened and the business was adversely affected. MPD was called but because this was on public land and not private property, it was a much longer, difficult process to resolve. As explained to me by the community police officers, it is easier to resolve a trespassing issue on private land but when it comes to roads, sidewalks and public land, there are not enough clear legal lines for the police to follow. This is where changes need to be made….

read … Consider Oahu’s example for homeless who refuse services

$2.5M Program Gives Mainland Newcomers $500/mo for Rent

KITV: … Thomas Flores came to Hawaii two years ago with a sack of clothes and a simple dream, to find work and live on his own. "If the rent subsidy ends, a lot of people will end up on the streets or they will lack financial resources to pursue their dreams," Waikiki resident Thomas Flores said.  According to Thomas, that would've been him if not for the state's rent supplement initiative, a program that gives qualified residents up to $500 per month to help pay for housing…

The program's current funds are expected to run out later this year.

A bill at the Capitol would fund the program for another two years if lawmakers agree to the $2.5 million request….

"It also has changed me as an individual meaning I understand what aloha means. Regardless if you like an individual you always help them no matter what," Flores said.

The Senate Bill passed its first House committee Thursday. It has potentially two more committees to get through before funding can be released to the program….

read … Aloha Means $500 a month

State Sen. Donna Kim drops plan to cut 121 UH-Manoa faculty positions

SA: … “Our initial review focused on positions that had neither teaching responsibilities nor grant support,” said Kim, chairwoman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. “Given that the university’s own policy states that instruction is the university’s highest priority, that was a natural place to start.”

“However, we subsequently learned that 99 percent of the positions that UH initially gave us were positions that included retirements, terminations, leaves without pay, and sabbaticals. In one case, the individual had died. Fifty percent were temporary positions that were 100 percent federal/grant funded. Thus, all these positions were restored.”

“It goes without saying that we would have preferred if the university had provided this critical information at the outset. But in the end, this has been a very productive exercise.”

The Senate version of the budget calls for $30 million in cuts to UH over the next two years. It is not yet clear how much of that would be restored as a result of Kim’s reversal.

In addition to the 121 positions at UH Manoa, the Senate budget draft would permanently delete 100 vacancies in the 10-campus UH system. It also slices administrative support services by 20 percent, including accounting, payroll, facilities maintenance, legal services, research compliance and human resources.

House and Senate conferees met today to consider their competing versions of the budget….

read … Just a Negotiating Position

Ex-chief's request granted for lawyer in mailbox framing

KITV: …Honolulu's police commission has approved hiring a lawyer to represent a retired chief in a federal case that accuses him of using police resources to frame a relative.  Commissioner Steve Levinson says they approved the request Wednesday….

It's not clear how the decision will affect the federal taxpayer-funded lawyer the ex-chief already has. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

The commission rejected a second request for a lawyer to represent Kealoha in a case focusing on bank fraud, identity theft and other charges….

read … Ex-chief's request granted for lawyer in mailbox framing

Cue Progressive Freakout: Ige Turns To Private Prison Firm (other than UPW, Inc) For New Oahu Jail

CB: … “Members of my team have been actively researching financing options for a new jail on Oahu,” he told Civil Beat in an email. “We’re exploring public-private partnerships because we know we don’t have $525 million in public capital improvement program funding readily available right now.”…

In an interview last week, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said he believes the state may be preparing to lease space in a facility that would be owned by a private company, a plan he indicated he would consider supporting.

As of Feb. 28, the state was holding 5,360 inmates in facilities that were built to house 3,500, according to the Hawaii Department of Public Safety….

Moreover, on Tuesday, two state Senate committees deferred House Bill 1177, a measure that proposed the purchase of the Federal Detention Center, a 12-story building near the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, to ease overcrowding at state correctional facilities….

Senate committee members said little about why they killed the House bill, although Sen. Clarence Nishihara said the center did not offer a “rehabilitative setting.”…

CoreCivic is viewed as a prime candidate for a private prison because the state has a long-standing relationship with the Tennessee-based company….

(Really Obvious Question: How is a private prison any worse than a prison controlled by UPW?)

read … Ige Turns To Private Prison Firm For New Oahu Jail

Department of Public Safety and Reentry Commission complete plans for Convict Reentry

KITV: … The 2019 Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan was released at the beginning of the year and the Reentry Commission Strategic Plan was adopted May 2018.

“The Reentry Commission was established to work with PSD to monitor and review its reentry programs and to ensure that the comprehensive offender reentry system is implemented; to guide the work, a strategic plan was necessary,” Toni Bissen, co-chair of the Commission said.  “The key is to work together, only together as State and Community can we bring about reentry success in Hawaii, and the completion of both plans demonstrate the effectiveness of collaboration," Bissen said. 

The Reentry Coordination Office was created to address reentry efforts statewide and developed the CORP. The goal of the CORP is to build a successful and sustainable reentry process by ensuring the implementation, monitoring, and review of the comprehensive offender reentry system, while making recommendations for evidence-based improvements to existing programs and for additional, new programs and services. …

CB: State Withholds Names Of Inmates Transferred After Maui Riot

read … Department of Public Safety and Reentry Commission complete plans to implement reentry system

More is Less: Privatized Maui Hospital Recruits More Doctors Thereby Reducing Need for State Subsidy

MN: … In the past four months, Maui Health System has recruited five doctors, bringing the total to 11 new physicians since the Kaiser Permanente affiliate took over management of Maui County’s three quasi-public hospitals nearly two years ago….

The most recent doctors hired are two neurosurgeons, two trauma/general surgeons and one oncological surgeon, said Michael Rembis, chief executive officer of Maui Health System, which runs Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital….

A firm hired by Maui Health System to study physician need on Maui found that the island needs 100 more physicians over the next five to 10 years, Rembis said in an interview last year marking the one-year anniversary of the management change. He said then that a goal is to recruit 10 physicians every year.

On July 1, 2017, Maui Health System took over the management of the hospitals. Gov. David Ige said at the time that the 30-year contract would save the state $260 million over 10 years — though the state would still need to subsidize the hospitals initially….

Last year, the hospitals received $28 million from the state. Maui Health System is requesting $26 million for the next fiscal year, Rembis said, adding that each year the state subsidy goes down and Maui Health System will be asking for less….

Rembis said last year that keeping patients on-island will help Maui Health System wean off its reliance on state subsidies.

In the recent interview, he noted that with the new physicians, Maui County residents won’t need to fly to Oahu or the Mainland as much for medical care….

read … Recruitment of doctors continues as hospital adds five more surgeons

Electric Car Free Parking ‘Not Sustainable’

SA: … The state is building a new complex for rental car companies across from the United Airlines check-in, and while that is happening, those companies are using 895 parking spots in the Terminal 2 garage, Sakahara said. Those stalls, repurposed since November of 2015, are not among the 4,500 that are currently available, he said.

Another cause is the growing popularity of electric vehicles — which get to park for free. The usual daily cost is $18, airport rates show.

The conservative estimate is that between 10 and 20 percent of the airport’s parking is now used by electric vehicles, Sakahara said.

“It was initially implemented years ago when EVs were just getting started,” he said. “It was one of the perks to encourage people to buy alternative-fuel vehicles and try to get off fossil fuels.”

With electric vehicles getting more popular, more spots are being taken by airport and airline workers using them.

“It kind of puts us in a little bit of a conundrum,” Sakahara said, “because while the free parking is a very nice perk, it isn’t sustainable for the airports because as (electric vehicles) get more popular, more people are going to continue to park for free and we’re going to run into capacity issues more frequently like we’re seeing right now during busy travel periods.”

Another likely factor is that with Southwest Airlines entering the Hawaii market, even with just one route right now, the additional serv­ice “did spark a lot of interest from travelers, and it also served to lower prices on other airlines,” according to Sakahara.

“There seems to be more people traveling this spring break than previous spring breaks,” he said.

Big Q: Should electric vehicles continue to get free parking at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport?

read … Not Sustainable

Snorkel Rentals Kill: Two In Distress, One Rescuer Dead

SA: … In the first incident, one of the golfers, a 71-year-old man, saw a male snorkeler in distress about 50 yards from shore. Police said the man swam out to help the snorkeler but also became distressed.

Meanwhile, another snorkeler was in distress near the shoreline, the news release said. A second golfer was able to guide the snorkeler to shore, and the snorkeler left the scene before officials arrived.

Lifeguards arrived on scene and brought the 71-year-old distressed swimmer in the first incident safely to shore. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released, police said.

A chopper then arrived on scene to help locate the remaining snorkeler. Rescuers found the 46-year-old man unresponsive in the water and brought him to shore where they began administering CPR.

read … Snorkel Rentals Kill 

9th Circuit Hands Tool to anti-GMO Hypesters

HNN: … Earlier this week, a jury in San Francisco found that Roundup was a substantial factor in Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The judge in that case is overseeing hundreds of Roundup lawsuits around the country, including the Hawaii cases….

NW: TULSI GABBARD VS. MONSANTO: DEMOCRAT DOUBLES DOWN ON CALL TO BAN CONTROVERSIAL WEED KILLER LINKED TO CANCER

read … Mainland verdict linking Roundup to cancer applies to Hawaii cases

DoH: How Many Anti-Vaxxers in Your School?

CB: … The statewide rate of unvaccinated children for 2018-19, with some schools not yet reporting, is roughly 2 percent — about 3,900 unvaccinated students. In 2013-14, a school year that had more complete data, it was roughly 1 percent of all students, according to a Civil Beat analysis of the data.

Roughly 5.7 percent of students on Kauai had a waiver, 4.3 percent of students on Hawaii Island, 3.3 percent on Maui and less than 1 percent on Oahu, our analysis showed.

About 8 percent of charter school students, 2.6 percent of private school students, and 1.39 percent of public school students had waivers….

Schools are important locations in which infectious diseases can take root because, even when a large majority of students are vaccinated and the school achieves what public health experts call “herd immunity,” outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis can take root and gain momentum quickly if even only 10 or 15 percent of students are unvaccinated.

On Kauai during the current school year, six of 27 schools reported rates exceeding 15 percent of parents claiming a religious exemption to legally justify their children attending school without receiving vaccines.

A public health expert contacted Thursday night described the Kauai rates as extraordinary. The schools in question are, overwhelmingly, on the North Shore or East Side.

They include:

  • Alakai O Kauai Charter School,  with 130 students, 40 percent of whom are unvaccinated as a result of religious exemptions.
  • Hanalei Elementary; 252 students; 29 percent religious exemptions.
  • Kanuikapono Charter School; 207 students; 32.9 percent.
  • Kauai Christian Academy; 73 students; 21.9 percent
  • Kilauea Elementary; 312 students; 33 percent.
  • St. Catherine School; 116 students; 15.5 percent.

Statewide, only 10 other schools had religious exemption rates of 15 percent or higher. In Hawaii County they include:

  • Malamalama Waldorf School/Kinderhale, 95 students, 46.3 percent.
  • Kona Pacific private charter school PCS, 222 students, 37.4 percent.
  • Waimea Country School, 35 students, 16.1 percent.
  • Innovations PCS, 237 students, 16.9 percent.
  • West Hawaii Exploration Academy, 259 students, 16.6 percent.

In Maui County, schools include:

  • Haleakala Waldorf School, 245 students, 52.7 percent.
  • Roots School, 53 students, 41.5 percent.
  • Montessori Maui, 181 students, 35.4 percent.

In Honolulu City and County, schools include:

  • Sunset Beach Elementary, 403 students, 18.9 percent.
  • Myron B. Thompson Academy PCS, 519 students, 17.5 percent.

NOTE: The locations of high numbers of Anti-Vaxxers are areas with high anti-GMO activism and anti-Superferry activism.  Therefore tamping down anti-vaxxer idiocy parallels the reversal of regressive progressivism.  Maybe we could get all the unvaxxed kids on a fast large capacity catamaran and give ‘em the needle followed by a lunch made up entirely of GMO foods.  Then give them Frankenstein masks….

DoH: Anti-Vaxxers school-by-school Statewide

HTH: State releases statistics for immunization exemptions at schools

HTH: Flu cases on the rise

read … Kauai Tops State For Percentage Of Unvaccinated School Kids

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