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Saturday, June 09, 2012
June 9, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:54 PM :: 11266 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Naval Shipbuilding and Repair goes Awry

OHA's Kippen Appointed Homeless Tsar

Governor Releases $20 Million for Various CIPs Statewide

Board Approves Matson Separation from A&B

Hawaii, Air Force sign ‘clean’ energy deal

Hirono Skips Vote as House Cuts $150M from Rail

HR: Transportation Weekly explains in its June 8 news report: “The House bill has $226.5 million less for new subway and light rail projects than does the Senate bill. Both bills provide the same amount for projects with existing grant agreements, but the House bill shortchanges proposed new grant agreements by $200 million versus the Senate bill and the budget request, and most of that comes from reducing funds for the proposed Honolulu rail project from the requested $250 million down to $100 million. This, of course, is bound to set up conflict with full Senate Appropriations chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI).”

Greg Cohen, who is the head of the American Highway Users Alliance, knew about the cut in appropriations, and called it a “direct shot” from the House at the Senate appropriations chair.

“Sen. Inouye is a very powerful senior senator appropriator, and this is seen as a direct shot at a project of the chairman.” Cohen said. “Ultimately, it is in negotiating, and something for the House to use as leverage in negotiations with the senate," Cohen said.

By picking a project of particular concern to Inouye, Cohen said, this was a “very direct confrontational statement.”

Cohen said his guess is that Inouye will “work very hard to restore those funds” and he said given Inouye’s position, “Inouye can probably do so.”

“But it goes to show," Cohen added, "that the House has picked up on this specific project.”

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who was in Rhode Island yesterday for a political forum at Netroots Nation event, is on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. A candidate for U.S. Senate, Hirono missed voting on the House floor yesterday as well as other committee negotiations because of her campaign events schedule.

Hirono at Nutroots: Hirono defends sex-selective abortions

read … About What happens when Hawaii picks the losing party

Timing: Federal Approval of Rail Funding Closely Tracks Honolulu Mayor’s Election

CB: Members of the HART committees on Thursday patted each other on the back for a job well done and expressed their gratitude to the council for moving the ball forward. Grabauskas called the council decision "critical" and told Civil Beat "it was a big deal to get that bill passed."

But while the vote was the end of a months-long debate at Honolulu Hale and a penultimate step in the FFGA application process, it's really just the start of the race to get the funding guarantee done before elections change the makeup of government from Honolulu to Washington, D.C. And according to HART's earlier timetable, it's already more than a month behind schedule.

Grabauskas said Wednesday's weekly conference call with the FTA will be one of the more important ones, and said the Project Management Oversight consultant will have "boots on the ground" here next week to talk about the financial plan.

"We've already gotten preliminary approvals for sections. We will hopefully wrap up the rest of the sections in the next week to 10 days and be in a position to have a full package for the draft submittal," he said.

The draft will be available publicly at that point, he said.

HART and staffers at the FTA have already been going back and forth on the application, so it's almost ready for submittal. The next step is a full review at the top levels of the FTA for about 30 days, complete with tweaks and changes as necessary. Then the draft heads to President Barack Obama and the Office of Management and Budget for "probably another 30 to 60 days."

After that review, the draft becomes a final product for the FTA to submit to Congress. That's the finish line on Grabauskas' horizon.

Let's take a look at the calendar. Seven days from Thursday takes us to June 14. Thirty days after that (for the FTA review) brings us to July 14. Thirty days after that (for the president/OMB review) takes us to Aug. 13.

Hawaii's primary election is Aug. 11. Pretty close.

At that point, Congress has 60 days to review the application, but Grabauskas said there won't be any hearings and no votes are necessary. It's basically just a notice that the FTA intends to sign a deal, and after the review period is up, the FTA gets one more chance to consider whether to go through with it.

So even if Cayetano does not secure 50 percent plus 1 vote in the primary, the Nov. 6 general election still looms large.

read … Your last Chance to Vote

Hawaii Dem Operative Andy Winer Proposed as Federal Judge?

HR: Winer directed President Barack Obama’s Hawaii election campaign in 2008 and later took a position in the Obama administration, serving as Director of External Affairs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He resigned that position and returned to Hawaii earlier this year. He is currently working as a lead strategist for Congresswoman Mazie Hirono's U.S. Senate Campaign. He's also been the lead strategist on the campaign of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka and former Council Member Duke Bainum.

(Winer also stage-managed the death of Patsy Mink.)

A vacancy opens on the U.S. District Court bench here later this month when Judge David Ezra moves to Senior Judge status.

A federal Judicial Selection Commission headed by private attorney Lawrence Okinaga interviewed prospective candidates for the judge’s job here and forwarded a list of three qualified nominees to U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, it was learned.

Those names were then reportedly forwarded to the White House for final selection.

The other two candidates are Derrick Watson, head of the Civil Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office here, and Milton Yasunaga, a private attorney with the Cades Schutte law firm….

Given Winer’s overt political support of the president and of other Democratic Party politicians in Hawaii, some legal observers say Republican senators would be unlikely to act on his nomination before the presidential election in November….

read … About Someone the National Republicans will save you from

Thielen Donated to Hawaii GOP Candidates

CB: Laura Thielen is fighting for her identity as a Democrat. But campaign contributions to both Republicans on the ticket for governor in 2010 could undermine her claim.

A Civil Beat review of campaign finance records from late 2006 through the current election cycle show Thielen gave money to Duke Aiona and Lynn Finnegan, two top Republicans.

The records show no contributions to Democratic candidates in that period. …

The Democratic Party strongly disapproves of its members supporting candidates of other parties.

Its party constitution says that members may be expelled, censured or reprimanded for several reasons, including this:

Active support or promotion of a political party or any candidate(s) of a political party other than the Democratic Party. Examples of active support include, but are not limited to, running as a candidate of another political party, making monetary or in kind contributions, acceptance of an official or nonofficial position in an opposition campaign, resigning from the Democratic Party to support or run as a candidate of another political party and rejoining the Democratic Party, sign-waving, letter writing, appearance in campaign ads, etc.

It's not an idle threat. Just ask Gary Okino.

After the 2010 elections, the party accepted the resignation of the Honolulu City Council member, who endorsed several Republican and Democrat candidates who oppose abortion and civil unions.

Council races are nonpartisan, but Okino was running that year as a Democrat against state Rep. Blake Oshiro, a Democrat and author of Hawaii's civil unions law. Okino lost.

read … Aiona-Finnegan

Losing $65M/year, More Hawaii Hospitals at Risk

SA: According to the American Hospital Association, Hawaii is one of only two states where hospitals operate at a loss year after year. One key reason is the high cost of treatment versus low reimbursement to care for Medicaid patients. Hawaii's hospitals are typically dependent on their associated foundations and philanthropy to offset operating losses. Pressure has continued to mount during the recession with two recent hospital closures in Hawaii.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the state is entitled to $10 million in federal Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital funds. However, to secure those dollars, states must provide matching funds. Insufficient general funds in the state coffers (Grasping bureaucracies outmatching the hospitals in the Conference Room) have made it problematic to match the available federal dollars.

The recent legislative session passed two bills to solve this issue and support sustainable health care in Hawaii.

Raised through a collaborative effort by local hospitals, nursing homes, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii and other community stakeholders, House Bill 2275 delivers $21.5 million in new federal funding for private hospitals. Public hospitals will also benefit because they will retain certified public expenditures, or CPEs, which had been previously directed to private hospitals. These CPEs can then be used to generate $17.5 million in matching federal funds for use by public hospitals or Medicaid programs. The result is that the state of Hawaii can save $17.5 million in general fund appropriations.

This is made possible by a 7 percent "set-aside" of revenues from private hospitals that will be allocated to the state. From that 7 percent, $800,000 must be used for Medicaid-covered services to benefit public and private hospitals. A total of $2.8 million of these funds will be given (were stolen by) to the Department of Human Services, which will receive full federal matching.

The end result of this workaround is that hospitals will receive reimbursement for Medicaid services that covers 83 percent of total costs, up from 70 percent. The national average sits at 89 percent. (We could have done better if the DHS didn’t grab for the money.)

Senate Bill 2466 takes the same strategy to bring in an additional $9.5 million of federal funds for private nursing facilities. The set-aside is 12 percent for active, long-term care facilities (rather than 7 percent for hospitals). Under this initiative DHS will receive $1.4 million. The $1.4 million in set-aside, when combined with DHS funds and the corresponding federal match, will offset the 3 percent reimbursement cut implemented in 2011.

The result is that Medicaid reimbursement for nursing facilities will roughly cover costs. Currently, long-term care facilities lose $10 per patient, per day.

Hawaii hospitals are still projected to lose $65 million or more per year treating Medicaid patients even if Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs these bills into law. Hawaii Medical Centers East and West have already closed, and more Hawaii hospitals are at risk. Most are feeling the pinch.

read … More Hospitals at Risk

State Approves Hoopili, Court Challenge Expected

CB: Ultimately, commissioners rejected the opponents' argument that the Land Use Commission lacked constitutional authority to reclassify highly productive farmland for urban use. And they sided with D.R. Horton in their opinion that the need for jobs and housing outweighed arguments about the need to preserve ag land and promote food sustainability.

D.R. Horton argued that there was plenty of agricultural land left in the state to be farmed. And the owners of Aloun Farms, which occupies land slated for development, came out in support of Hoopili, saying they had already found an area where they can relocate.

However, commissioners raised serious concerns about the impact the development would have on traffic. They imposed conditions on the approval that require D.R. Horton to update its traffic assessment to include the impact on congestion if the Honolulu rail project isn't built…

read … All Development is Decided in the Courts

Occupy Honolulu Now the Longest Continuous Occupy Protest

DN: It's small compared to some of the historic encampments but at 215 days the handful of Occupy Honolulu tents comprises the longest running Occupy encampment in the Occupy Movement worldwide. Some call it an eyesore, some say it's just plain dangerous to the occupants. Tents are perched precariously near traffic on the sidewalk….

read … City Again Cleans Thomas Sq

Bill to Remove Luddites, NIMBYs from Area of Geothermal Plant Passes First Reading

BIVN: “I think we should relocate Puna Geothermal Venture. Relocate PGV, not our families. And if we’re unable to relocate PGV, then this council should consider supporting a cease and desist order, pending a comprehensive health survey.” – Angel Pilago, Hawaii County Councilman for District 8 (PASH plaintiff)

read … About a Shakedown Designed to Keep your Electric Bills High

Rift over political spending divides HGEA Parent Union

HNN: A heated battle is taking place inside a giant U.S. public employees' union following its crushing failure this week to oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - organized labor's biggest political loss in decades.

At stake is the direction of the 1.3-million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees after 31 years under retiring president Gerald McEntee. He's been known for his zeal to build and maintain AFSCME's clout as a leading liberal voice and political kingmaker in the Democratic Party.

A major question is whether that should continue.

Fresh off losses in the Wisconsin recall election and in California municipal referendums rolling back public employee pension and health benefits, the union will pick a successor to the 77-year-old McEntee in two weeks.

The race is shaping up as a broader debate on whether AFSCME should become more prudent in doling out cash to Democratic causes and candidates and perhaps make itself less a lightning rod for attacks from conservatives.

The union's No. 2 official, secretary-treasurer and McEntee protege Lee Saunders, faces a strong challenge from Danny Donohue, the union's leader in New York state. Donohue questions whether the union's free-spending ways in the political arena have been effective given the pounding public employees are taking around the country.

Delegates will select their new leader June 20 at the union's convention in Los Angeles….Donohue has also criticized what he considers exorbitant spending and lavish salaries for the union's top leaders. McEntee earned a base salary of $387,671 in 2011. Donohue has pledged to slash that by $100,000 if he wins. Donohue currently earns about $200,000. Saunders' salary is $310,137.

The election is a rematch between the two candidates. Saunders narrowly defeated Donohue in a 2010 race to become secretary-treasurer.

read … Infighting

Honolulu city government: near zero bang for the buck

DN: We have perfect weather for bicycling and high gasoline costs, so you’d think the Honolulu City Council would give us nice, wide bike paths. Think again. They don’t think that way. Aside from the health benefits, we could realize millions of miles of avoided automobile use and expense.

read … Sense of Place

City Bureaucracy: Permit Required to Trim Tree Which Fell on Elderly Couple

"The incident would not have happened had Queen Emma Land Company followed proper tree maintenance procedures," Kekina told reporters at a news conference Friday.

Kekina said city permits show the landowner hadn't trimmed the tree since 2010, up to two years before the incident. Kekina said the tree should have been trimmed at least annually since it's above a marketplace crowded with people.

Kekina said the tree is on a special registry that requires a city permit for trimming. He said a permit was last obtained in 2010 and that the branch was dead for at least two years.

"Queen Emma Land Company needlessly endangered the safety of the public by failing to exercise reasonable care in monitoring and maintaining this banyan tree," Kekina said.

read … Bureaucracy

Laupahoehoe Charter School new hires, meetings set

BIVN: LAUPAHOEHOE, Hawaii: Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School is sharing information on new hires and community meetings to be held next week. Laupahoehoe officially converts to a charter school on July 1st, and school starts on August 1, 2012.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at the Laupahoehoe Band Room from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Administrators promise a presentation of school uniforms. (AGENDA)

read … Laupahoehoe Liberation

Kamehameha Day festivities kick off with draping of lei

SA: The state will honor the monarch in June with parades and parties….

read … Kamehameha Day


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