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Friday, December 30, 2011
December 30, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:40 PM :: 8105 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Obama Admin, Heritage Foundation Look Toward Consumer Incentives in Medicaid Reform

Hawaii has Nation's Highest Mortgage Balances, Payments

FTA: No Commitment on Federal Funds, Rail Demolition May Begin

State Senate to Censor Senators’ Online Comments

EPIC FAIL: None of DoE High Schools, only One Middle School Meets Requirements of 180-day law

SA: The amount of instructional time secondary students in Hawaii receive varies widely depending on where they live, from a little more than four hours to more than five hours per day on average.

Policymakers say that information and more outlined in a new Department of Education report underscore the need for more uniformity in school schedules.

The study also found that none of Hawaii's high schools and just one middle school -- Waiakea Intermediate -- meets a 2014 mandate that secondary schools offer at least 51/2 hours of instruction, on average, each day.

» Waiakea Intermediate, the lone secondary school meeting the mandate, offers 1,690 minutes of instructional time per week (or 40 minutes more than the minimum).

» Highlands Intermediate has the shortest instructional day among middle schools, with 1,305 minutes per week. It will have to add 69 minutes per day in instructional time.

In the report, the DOE estimates that meeting the 2014 minimum could cost as much as $50 million per year, a price tag advocates and Tokuda took issue with since some schools have come close to meeting the mandate, apparently without extra resources. (That’s what this is about: The DoE is using its own failure, illegality, and incompetence to shake more money out of the Legislature. Failure is thus rewarded.)

read … Abercrombie’s DoE is a Joke

Oral Arguments in Hawaii State Reapportionment Challenge Set for January 4

HR: The state Reapportionment Commission Chair, Retired Judge Victoria Marks, and her project manager, delivered the commission's final report and 2011 reapportionment plan prepared by the 2011 Reapportionment Commission to Hawaii lawmakers today.

In an email to lawmakers, David Rosenbrock, project manager, warned the plan may change because two parties are challenging the 2011 reapportionment plan in the Hawaii Supreme Court.

"The commission may issue an amendment to the Final Report and Reapportionment Plan based on the outcome of the legal challenges to the plan," Rosenbrock said.

Oral arguments set for January 4, 2012 before the Hawaii Supreme Court….

To see the proposal, log on to the commission’s web site at http://hawaii.gov/elections/reapportionment and see more at http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Redistricting_in_Hawaii

read … Reapportionment

More Financial Troubles: Wahiawa General Had Been Prepared To Cut Jobs, Hours To Stay Afloat

KITV: The emergency room staff at Wahiawa General normally sees an average of 7 ambulance transports a day.

But numbers provided to lawmakers by the city, show that number almost tripled one night last week just after the two Hawaii Medical Center hospitals closed their ER's.

That extra ER business and added admissions came in the nick of time, because the Wahiawa facility was preparing to eliminate some jobs and trim hours for other staff….

Olden had already approached two of its unions, the International Longshoreman and Warehouseman’s Union and the United Public Workers about how best to do that….

"When we can’t admit a patient into the med-surg unit or telemetry, or the intensive care unit then they have to stay in the ER, and the ER gets plugged and they have to go on divert," said Olden.

Olden's not sure not sure what percentage of new patients are HMSA or lower paying Medicaid and Medicare, but business is up 10 to 20 percent, so for now the layoffs have been averted.

"So if you have a good mix of HMSA and Medicare you are much better off, if but if you have a high mix of Medicaid, the state funding for reimbursements are just not adequate," said Olden.

Read … Wahiawa General Hospital Averts Layoffs

HART Chair Carrie Okinaga's New Gig: First Hawaiian Lawyer

CB: Okinaga, who until July 1 was the city's top attorney, told Civil Beat Thursday she starts her new day job on Tuesday — at First Hawaiian Bank. She'll still moonlight as chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors.

First Hawaiian Bank, of course, is the home of Don Horner, another member of the HART board. First Hawaiian Bank is one of the largest landowners near the rail project. Civil Beat reported that First Hawaiian Bank owns 36 acres within half a mile of the rail line, placing it in the top 25.

Now, First Hawaiian has two of the main voices on the 10-member board.

Okinaga said Horner "definitely suggested" she look to work at FHB but didn't pull strings on her behalf. She delayed her start date until after he retires from his position as First Hawaiian CEO, (he’s still Chairman of the Board)effective the end of this year, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest…. (This is normal. The CEO arranges his retirement to suit you when you take a new job, right?)

First Hawaiian's parent company, PNB Paribas, has ties to Finmeccanica, and Horner did not disclose the link at that meeting or any others. Blogger Ian Lind pointed out the connection in September.

(The other big conflict of interest is the fact that First Hawaiian is a major buyer of State/County bonds which finance rail and the DoE. This conflict explains why the State and Counties build so much and maintain so little.)

read … Carrie Okinaga's New Gig: First Hawaiian Lawyer

Hawaiian Electric blending news and advertising

ILind: In the brief excerpt being broadcast, Alm defends record high electric bills as simply the product of global competition for fuel in the wake of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, which has resulted in a turn away from nuclear power plants in Japan and elsewhere. He follows this with a plea for quick approval of the company’s renewable energy projects, while viewers might not know that many of those initiatives have been collapsing under the weight of their own internal problems.

To the casual viewer, the interview could easily be understood to be legitimate news content…. 

Viewers are also referred to the the company’s web site where the full interview is available.

read … Hawaiian Electric blending news and advertising

Energy Efficiency? Hawaii Spends $117 per Capita and Reduces Electricity Usage only 1%

CB: Dela Cruz referred Civil Beat to data from the Energy Services Coalition showing that Hawaii ranked first — not second — in the country for the amount of money the state had invested in energy efficiency per capita. The data traces back to 1996.

She said that "we now need to correct it — we are not second, we are first."

She is correct on that score. But the data she cites doesn't pertain to energy savings. It looks at how much the state government has invested in energy efficiency contracts for such things as retrofitting lighting and appliances in buildings. (Indeed, Hawaii has excelled in this area, spending $117 per capita. That's 3.7 times the national average.) ….

Michael Chang, Hawaii Energy's deputy program manager, did pull a study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that shows that nationally, Hawaii came in second — behind Vermont and Nevada which tied — in electricity savings in 2009. This is the latest data available. (Abercrombie took office at the end of 2010.)

Hawaii reduced its energy consumption by about 1 percent, according to the report. Chang said the data was well documented, but pointed out that other factors such as cooler temperatures and downturns in the economy can reduce electricity use.

Related: Under Lingle State Saved $20M in Electricity Costs, Abercrombie Claims Credit

read … Inefficient efficiency

State-Run Superferry Bill Coming Back

MN: Nearly three years after the Hawaii Superferry suspended its operations, state Rep. Joe Souki hopes to restart discussion about an interisland ferry system with legislation he introduced earlier this year.

House Bill 1239 would establish a Hawaii state ferry system, along with a special fund to pay for the program, opening the door for a public or private operator to "ferry people and cargo between the islands." The bill stalled in the state Senate this year, but it has been carried over to the 2012 legislative session….

"If you look at other places around the country - Alaska, Washington state, North Carolina or coastal Texas - where there are substantial ferry operations, those are run by government entities.”….

(Enlightened, conscious, and progressive snob) Irene Bowie, executive director of Maui Tomorrow, which opposed the Superferry, said she was closely watching Souki's proposal but that her group wasn't against an interisland ferry system on principle.

Maui Tomorrow's top concerns would be for any system to undergo a "true environmental review," and show that it could operate successfully without harming wildlife or the environment, she said.

"The Superferry was loaded with problems," she said. "A different kind of ferry system is something I think everyone would consider."

(Bowie is for a government run superferry, against a private run superferry. Bowie is for a superferry when the Gov is a Democrat like her, against a Superferry when the Gov is a Republican.)

read … Rep Joe Souki 

A five-course meal at Honolulu's priciest restaurant after golf with his hooker-loving buddy

UK Daily Mail: President Obama is clearly not roughing it as he plays a lot of golf between trips to the beach with his wife and two daughters.

But as the commander-in-chief teed off at the Ko’olau Golf Club yesterday, the one thing more eye-opening than his handicap is who he golfs with.

With him at Ko’alau was Robert 'Bobby' Titcomb, a close friend of Obama’s since high school, who was arrested in a prostitution sting

HNN: Obama vacation home up for sale

read … Hookers and Obama, Titcomb

Hawaii churches fight civil unions law

KHON: But the churches, Emmanuel Temple, the House of Praise and Lighthouse Outreach Assembly of God, say the law does not allow them to refuse to rent their facilities for same-sex ceremonies. If they do, it's a violation of state law. That's where the churches say their rights are being violated.

"The attorney general is going to respond by 10 p.m. tonight and then I'm going to be allowed to file another response up till 8 a.m. tomorrow and then the court's going to decide whether to decide the matter on the briefing or whether to take additional oral argument," said Shawn Luiz, the Plaintiffs' Attorney.

CN: Hawaii's Civil Union Law Greeted With Lawsuit

HNN: 2 churches sue the state, look to stop civil unions

CB: Two Hawaii Churches Seek To Block Civil Unions

read … Will Gays be able to Force their way into Churches?

Occupy protesters pushed out of Thomas Square

HNN: "Occupy" protestors were forced out of Thomas Square after a two month stand. Police marked a boundary last night with a white dot to keep the area open to others.

When the protestors didn't budge, officers moved in and cleared out the camps. The area within boundaries will be closed from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am like other City and County parks.

HNN: Honolulu's "private property / public places" law not yet enforced

read … Clean at last, Thank God Almighty I’m Clean At Last – Thomas

Occupy Hawaii Island Movement Plans Protest Near Pelosi's Posh Hawaiian Hotel

HR: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, may be in the right place at the right time to protest with the Big Island branch of the movement, Occupy Hawaii Island.

The former House Speaker is once again spending her holiday at the exotic and luxurious Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu in Kona on the island of Hawaii. The hotel web site says the resort is a tropical paradise with a spa, beachfront dining, fashion boutiques and a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. According to West Hawaii Today, she spent previous Christmas holidays in Kona at the same hotel in an elaborate presidential suite that rents for $10,000. Her spokesperson has not disclosed which suite Pelosi is staying in this year, saying such personal information is not released publicly.

Pelosi's trip coincides with a planned protest by the Hawaii Island occupy groups near her hotel.

Jim Albertini, a well known community organizer, who has held several local protests, writes on his blog: "I just got a report from Kona. There are about 30 private half billion dollar jets parked at the Kona airport. I'm up for a drive over to protest at Kukio and possibly other 1% gated communities just north of the airport. Any others interested in joining me? The 1% pay only a little more to park their jet as it costs us to park our cars overnight. Something is wrong with that picture."

In an email to supporters this week, Albertini confirmed he organized a protest with "all Hawaii Island Occupy groups" this Saturday, December 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the road just south of the Four Seasons/Hualalai Resort.

read … Occupy Pelosi

City Completes Survey of Thomas Park, Occupy is Camping in Park Illegally

CB: About a dozen tents were arranged at the corner of Ward and Beretania as recently as Wednesday night. Occupiers might think they’re on the sidewalk because they’re set up on concrete, the survey seems to imply they’re actually in the park and can be evicted as soon as tonight.

CB: Occupy Eviction Happening Tonight, 10PM Moron doesn’t know what a survey is: “I think it’s awfully convenient that the new zoning is basically exactly on the line of where our camp is located.” --- Meagan Booker, Occupy

read … Morons who didn’t get the message from MoveOn.org to go home

Should property tax exemptions for Hawaiian Homes lessees be ended?

ILind: I don’t agree with the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by a group of non-Hawaiians demanding to receive the same exemption from county real property taxes granted to those living on lands leased from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The case is just another in a string of cases seeking to end all legal preferences of any kind to Hawaiians or other minorities, and should not be taken up by the high court. A basic description of the case, and links to key documents, can be found at the InverseCondemnation blog.

On the other hand, although I am part-Hawaiian, I share the view that those on homestead leases should be paying their fair share of county expenses.

Related: Supreme Court ruling shields Hawaiian Homelands and ceded lands revenue

read … Should property tax exemptions for Hawaiian Homes lessees be ended?

PBN Looks Towards 2012:

Will Obama Pay if Iraq Spirals?

AFP: …rising sectarianism and instability bubbling up after the US exit could undercut Obama's hopes to use the withdrawal as proof of sound national security judgment.

"The question of the moment is not: 'Who lost Iraq? but rather, Is Iraq definitely lost?" wrote Frederick and Kimberly Kagan in the Weekly Standard.

"It certainly seems so."

read … Yes, he will


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