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Friday, March 16, 2012
March 16, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:58 AM :: 8896 Views :: Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Molokai Cheers as US Senate Kills Windfarm Tax Credit

Hawaii Republican Caucus Count Finalized

GOP caucus breathed new life into isle politics

Borreca: Hawaii may not be going all GOP, but after Tuesday's caucus night, Reagan would find a lot more of the GOP here than previously expected.

For a political party that was heading for the endangered species list, earlier this week the Hawaii Republican Party pulled in about 10,000 voters for its presidential caucus night….

This is the first time that the local GOP trusted its members enough to just let them vote for candidates in a presidential primary. Loosening the leash appears to have done wonders for building party membership.

"We are alive and well," reported the new GOP Hawaii party chairman, David Chang.

Veteran GOP Rep. Barbara Marumoto happily reported a party caucus meeting that was "upbeat and excited." For a party that at times seemed to be mostly the home of sore losers and ideological diehards, talk of upbeat, positive and spirited meetings is a sea change of gale-warning proportions.

Four years ago it was the Democrats with the passion play primary battle.

It was a great fight, with many different parts. Here in Hawaii, Democrats found 37,000 willing to stand in line and vote….

Last month, Hawaii Democrats drew about 1,200 to vote for President Obama's re-election campaign.

If 2008 reignited the Democrat's fervor in Hawaii politics, then the 10,000 in the Republican Party this year have their hand on this year's ignition switch.

(The rest of Borreca’s column is about how those 10,000 Republicans can help Democrats Ed Case and Ben Cayetano. No mention of Charles Djou or Linda Lingle. This is an amusing attempt at re-direct.)

read … Nice try, Richard

HHSC to Buy HMC East?

SA: The hope is that new ownership for HMC-West will ultimately close the gap, and that a plan to assimilate HMC-East into the state's Hawaii Health Systems Corp. will fill a persistent need for long-term-care beds.

But in the meantime, the state must provide a kind of bridge back to stability, and legislation proposed to accomplish that deserves a renewed push from the public.

Two of the measures come up for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. today before the Senate Committee on Health, room 229:

  • » House Bill 1953 would allot unspecified grants to boost the on-call availability of emergency medical and ambulance services on the Leeward Coast and in Ewa, and to support emergency-room services at Wahiawa General Hospital, which has been put under particular pressure in the current crisis.
  • » HB 609 would appropriate funds to enable the HHSC to hire staff for a repurposed Liliha facility formerly operated by HMC.

Across the State Capitol, in a 9:30 a.m. hearing before the counterpart House committee, comments will be taken on two other related measures:

  • » Senate Bill 2939 would provide the backing for renovating HMC-East by authorizing up to $80 million in special-purpose revenue bonds. The bond authorization is for St. Francis Healthcare System, which proposes to partner with HHSC on the long-term facility.
  • » SB 2958 would appropriate funds to implement a new bone marrow transplantation program, replacing the one that had been operated at HMC-East.

read … HMC East & West

Patient load puts squeeze on Oahu medical centers

SA: "Nothing has changed in two months. Things are not worse; they're just not better," said Toby Clairmont, emergency services director for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which represents Hawaii's hospitals and other health care providers. "The workload is very high, and we don't expect (the situation) to improve until an emergency department opens on the west area of the island to replace Hawaii Medical Center."

The closures have caused not just emergency rooms to swell, but hospital populations in general.

Clairmont said the closures exacerbated a situation caused by the lack of long-term care facilities on Oahu. Many patients who belong in long-term care are instead staying in acute-care hospital beds, he said. In turn, people in emergency room beds who should be transferring to overnight acute accommodations are sometimes staying in ERs, thus backing up the system, he said.

At the Queen's Medical Center, the state's largest hospital, the nightly population has been about 7 percent higher than at this time a year ago, said Cindy Kami­kawa, the hospital's chief nursing officer and vice president of nursing, emergency department and trauma.

The emergency room population has increased by about the same amount, Kami­kawa said.

read … Full ERs

Index to recently disclosed rail documents now available

ILind: The index to the documents is a hefty 6.6 MB, and stretches over 1,941 pages.

I downloaded the index from the court record and have posted it for your browsing pleasure.

The thousands of pages of newly released documents include many that were already public, along with the internal documents not previously disclosed.

Most of the legal documents filed in the case, along with the docket, are available from the anti-rail web site, HonoluluTraffic.com.

read … Index to recently disclosed rail documents now available

HART: Cheaper to Build Rail Columns and Tear them Down

SA: The interim director of the city's rail project said Thursday it would be cheaper to start construction now on support columns for the elevated system than it would be to delay construction, and said that would be true even if the city were forced later to rip down the columns.

Toru Hamayasu, interim executive director of the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told members of the City Council Budget Committee that each month of construction delays adds $10 million to the cost of the 20-mile project.

read … HART Money Saving Plan

Rail project still needs permits, OKs

PBN: The agency overseeing Oahu’s $5.1 billion rail transit system still needs to acquire several permits and right-of-way approvals as it prepares to begin construction later this month…. they declined to provide an exact date when construction will begin. They did say that soil testing along the second stretch of the project to erect the columns for the elevated rail guideway is scheduled to start sometime next week. That part of the project will go from Pearl City to Aloha Stadium. “In anticipation of federal approval we were getting the ball rolling [on permits and right-of-way approvals],” HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa said. “The column work is scheduled for later this month around East Kapolei and Waipahu. Specific sites are being determined.” The project still needs what is called a municipal separate storm sewer system permit. That spells out what steps Kiewit is taking to keep rain runoff, which could carry pollutants, from getting into the storm drains and ocean. HART also is seeking approval from the state Department of Transportation and other state agencies to get access to some areas of the North-South Road in Kapolei.

SA: Obama administration lends its backing to rail

read … Rail

Case Tries to Shake Up Quiet Senate Race

CB: In a letter Wednesday to the congresswoman titled "Take Back Your Compare and Decide Letter," Case, a former congressman, said:

Today your campaign sent out an email saying that you are "the only candidate in this race that has overcome real challenges, the only candidate who knows how important a strong ohana is for success."

Do you think that? Do you embrace that?

Case excerpts a quote from an unidentified Hirono supporter that was included in an invitation to Hirono's Honolulu campaign headquarters opening this Saturday.

In his letter, Case defends his background and experience to be senator and states, "Your ohana comment is just plain offensive. Are you saying your ohana is somehow better than mine, or that you appreciate them more than I do mine?"

Case then says this:

Folks recognized Compare and Decide from the '10 Governor campaign as an attempt to fan the fires of division and prejudice to divert voters from what really counted. Are you trying to do the same?

"Compare and Decide" was the title of a political mailer issued by Mufi Hannemann's campaign that attacked his Democratic opponent, Neil Abercrombie.

The mailer presented the former mayor as a younger, more educated, more experienced and more locally rooted candidate than the former congressman.

The mailer was immediately denounced by Abercrombie and others, and it likely contributed to Hannemann's primary election loss to Abercrombie by nearly 22 percentage points.

read … Case vs Hirono

'Hot' Alexander Emails: Atheists, Civil Beats Search for Months, Find Nothing

CB: To use a phrase popular during the Watergate era, there appears to be no smoking gun….

Civil Beat requested the attorney general's search after two former workers in the administration's Office of Constituent Services — (gay-atheist activist) Carolyn Golojuch and Joe Woodward — said they saw the sexual misconduct email around the time of Alexander's appointment.

They say that they promptly informed their supervisor, Renee Sambueno, who is said to have printed the email and taken it to Abercrombie's then chief of staff, Amy Asselbaye.

In response to Civil Beat's Jan. 6 open records request, the AG's Office discovered just 15 emails to the governor in January and February 2011 regarding Alexander's appointment. None mention sexual misconduct.

In a follow up we asked if there any hard copies of emails or letters were retained. The answer: Just four, including one from Golojuch. None mention sexual misconduct.

PDF: Emails to Gov. Abercrombie regarding Marc Alexander.

read … Hawaii AG Search Reveals No 'Hot' Alexander Emails

New Security Co Takes over at Mayor Wright

SA: The state's public housing authority handed over the keys to Mayor Wright Homes in Li­liha to a different security company Thursday.

The new company, Matt Levi Security, brings with it a reputation for strengthening ties with residents and improving conditions at other state public housing properties….

The new security comes just about seven weeks after Benjamin Rekis was fatally stabbed during a brawl on the property.

The housing authority has already taken measures to improve security, including a visitor curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., higher fences to prevent unauthorized entry, and the creation of resident identification cards. In addition, the authority is asking nonprofit groups to bring programs to the property, such as educational programs by Micronesians United and tutoring for children by students at the University of Hawaii….

Mayor Wright resident Jeanne Leopoldo blamed the previous security company, Alii Security, for the violence in the community. She said five people besides Rekis were stabbed outside her home within six months, and she doesn't let her five children play outdoors.

"You see that guard shack? That's where they stand the whole eight hours," she said of Alii Security. "I think if they patrol and you have that type of security, it'll be much more different here."

read … Levi

Auditor Takes Aim at Swap Meet Vendors

SA: The state auditor said the Stadium Authority has failed to provide leadership over the stadium's popular swap meet, its largest revenue source, according to a report released Thursday.

Auditor Marion Higa released the report after completing an investigation prompted by complaints from swap meet vendors alleging unfair dealings by Centerplate, the company contracted to manage swap meet operations, and the Stadium Authority. In the report, Higa also pointed out the authority has yet to obtain federal approval to operate the swap meet.

More than half of the stadium is former federal property that was deeded to the city in 1967 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, stipulating the land be used as a public park or for public recreational use. The land was transferred to the state three years later.

Concessions are allowed, but nonrecreational commercial activities are prohibited on the property. The swap meet began four years after the stadium opened in 1975.

"This violation of the original deed restrictions could lead to the land being reverted to the federal government," Higa said in the report.

read … Auditor hits lax control of swap meet

New Trick to Force Waimanalo Gulch Extension: Choose Federal Sites as Only Alternatives

KHON: "The response was, well, we're not going to entertain the federal and the military issues because it would take an act of Congress,” said Honolulu City Councilmember Tom Berg. “Well, why not? We have a Congressional delegation, presidential orders are executed continuously."

Today the committee asked consultants to take another look at the federal lands which could add up to 9 more sites for consideration.

"An act of Congress is something that they could be looking at,” Berg said. “In fact I've written letters today to our Congressional delegation asking for them to fully exercise and review the possibility of utilizing military lands."

Beyond the federal lands, 13 other parcels will also be put through complex weighting system based on technical and community-impact factors -- including proximity to West Oahu's H-Power waste-to-energy plant.

"It seems as though it will probably end up on our side of the fence,” said Evelyn Souza of the Makakilo Neighborhood Board, “and I think that's very, very disingenuous because we have supported the rest of the island and their opala for 75-plus years."

LINK: Landfill status updates http://www.opala.org/solid_waste/WGSL_Issues.htm

read … Top sites for Honolulu landfill could include federal property

Mold: $31K Study Creates Need for $100K Contract

Two city departments will together look to hire an emergency contractor to clean up mold and lead at Honolulu Hale — an operation that is expected to cost taxpayers at least $100,000.

The contaminants were revealed in a report released last month by a consultant hired to study the safety of city hall last summer. Civil Beat first shared photos and details from the report Thursday. Muranaka Environmental Consultants was paid $31,000 to produce it.

read … Follow the Money?

Charlie Maxwell Dies

MN: From joining in one of the first demonstrations to preserve beach access at Pauwela to protesting the bombing of Kahoolawe and opposing the exhumation of Native Hawaiian burials in West Maui, Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. was at the center of many Native Hawaiian causes and protests….

The Pukalani resident died Thursday afternoon at Maui Memorial Medical Center after a long illness. He was 74.

He had been a voice of opposition against plans for a solar telescope atop Haleakala.

read … Maxwell

North Korea plans to launch long-range rocket

AP: North Korea announced plans Friday to blast a satellite into space on the back of a long-range rocket, a provocative move that could jeopardize a weeks-old agreement with the U.S. exchanging food aid for nuclear concessions.

The North agreed to a moratorium on long-range launches as part of the deal with Washington, but it argues that its satellite launches are part of a peaceful space program that is exempt from any international disarmament agreements. The U.S., South Korea and other critics say the rocket technology overlaps with belligerent uses and condemn the satellite program as a disguised way of testing military missiles in defiance of a U.N. ban.

The launch is to take place three years after a similar launch in April 2009 drew widespread censure.

Just Ignore this: Gates: North Korea will soon have missiles capable of hitting Hawaii with A-bomb

read … Target, Hawaii

Pool-mageddon avoided — for now

WT: The Justice Department on Thursday issued a 60-day stay of execution for hundreds of thousands of public pools which had been required to install ramps and wheelchair lifts by today or else face lawsuits over violating disability laws.

President Obama in 2010 dramatically expanded the rules for access under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the new regulations mean that every publicly accessible pool — from municipal facilities to hotels — must have two "accessible means of entry," at least one of which must be a ramp or wheelchair lift. Spas must also have either a lift or a transfer system to help the disabled enter them, under the new rules.

Under the law, non-compliant facilities can be sued — and some lawmakers feared a bonanza for lawyers eager to capitalize.

The impending situation was labeled "pool-mageddon" by opponents, who said there aren't even enough lifts available in the U.S. to make every pool accessible.

Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both South Carolina Republicans, were trying to speed a bill through the Senate on Thursday to lift the regulations, but it did not see action before the chamber adjourned. Lawmakers won't be back until Monday.

read … Pool-mageddon avoided — for now


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