Hawaii Health Connector Funded by Cutting off Coverage for Cancer Patients
Lodestar: Plaintiff Attorneys Awarded Fees in Rail Iwi Case
Laie Hotel Developer Selected
Reason TV: How Protectionism Hurts Hawaii
Danner vs Masagatani for Control of DHHL
SA: For several years, Robin Danner has been a persistent critic of top administrators at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
She has openly questioned their decisions, accused them of abuse of power, and several months ago publicly opposed the confirmation of Jobie Masagatani, the department's director.
Danner, a Native Hawaiian homesteader unafraid to speak her mind, apparently is paying the price for being so vocal.
A beachfront project established here by a homesteaders-controlled nonprofit she heads has attracted heightened scrutiny from DHHL even as violations involving other department lands have been all but ignored, according to Native Hawaiian beneficiaries, including two who sit on the Hawaiian Homes Commission, the body that oversees the department....
"It seems obvious to me that the hurdles placed in front of her have been unfair," said Ian Lee Loy, a commissioner from the Big Island.....
"Forked tongue? Double standard? Yes," said Renwick "Uncle Joe" Tassil, another DHHL commissioner who, like Lee Loy, has pushed for reforms. "There is no policy, no system — just pick and choose for those to benefit, those to abuse."
Tassil and Lee Loy were among the four commissioners who took the unusual step to publicly oppose Masagatani's confirmation earlier this year. Masagatani was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as DHHL director and commission chairwoman....
But when Danner and Lorraine Rapozo, president of the Anahola Hawaiian Homes Association, the parent group of Danner's nonprofit, complained in 2010 about a sitting commissioner, Stuart Hanchett, living in an unauthorized home on Kauai land that he was leasing from DHHL, the department sent no one to investigate.
The revocable permit Hanchett had — and still has — for the 316 acres of ranch land in Moloaa prohibits residential use. Hanchett, who left the commission in mid-2011, recently told the Star-Advertiser he knew he wasn't supposed to build a home there but did so anyway so he could live on the property to combat a theft and vandalism problem. As of last week Hanchett still lived there.
When Lee Loy and another commissioner, Kama Hopkins, in February emailed Masagatani to bring up the Hanchett matter, no one was sent to the site to investigate then, either....
SA: Neighboring sites depict ruin, rebirth
read ... Power Struggle
Why Won't Kirk Caldwell Say Who Works For Him?
CB: There are mystery men — or women — inside Honolulu Hale.
And by not telling us who they are Mayor Kirk Caldwell is violating a state law that requires disclosure of the names of government employees.
One is Caldwell chief of staff. That would seem to be an important public position.
Civil Beat has been trying to find out who Caldwell’s right hand man — or woman — is for more than a week, but city officials have been cagey.
They’ve refused to release this person’s name citing privacy concerns for city employees.
When pressed further, they’ve even questioned whether Caldwell has a “chief of staff.”
City records indicate he does. The official title is “executive assistant to the mayor,” and the position comes with a salary of $121,896, which is second only to the mayor’s pay in the six-person Mayor's Office.
The job description also clearly lays out the fact that the executive assistant to the mayor is the chief of staff:...
We asked for the names of all six employees in the Mayor’s Office. Two we already knew — the mayor himself and his press secretary, Jesse Broder Van Dyke — but the mayor won't release the others.
This violates the state’s public records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act.
Here's Why: Caldwell Secretly Appoints ‘Chief of Staff’--Convicted Criminal Harry Mattson
read ... Why Won't Kirk Caldwell Say Who Works For Him?
$100M in Pure Profit: Legislators kill bill to reduce state's take of rail surcharge
SA: The state has kept more than $100 million of Oahu's GET surcharge since its collection began in 2007. Critics, including Mayor Kirk Caldwell, have argued the state's 10 percent take is excessive.
In 2012 the state kept $21.2 million to administer the tax, according to city records, but the Tax Department's entire budget that year was $23.7 million.....
read ... Sandwich Profits for the State
Legislators set sights on 2014
SA: “We’re going to spend this interim really vetting an agenda for next year,” Rep. Scott Saiki (D, Downtown-Kakaako-McCully), the House majority leader, said Friday. “Fiscal reforms are going to be important.”
He credited House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke with helping to set a sound fiscal approach. Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu) said her goal is to continue to curtail government growth and use excess money to invest in reducing future debt.
“I think Sylvia was on the right track,” Saiki said. “She’s going to be looking at things like vacancies. They’re going to vet special funds, trust funds. She’s looking at areas where funds are not really accounted for.”....
“I will be sending out a memo in the next couple of days requesting the (committee) chairs to identify an interim (initiative), and hopefully some of those projects will be part of our majority package next year,” Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) said Thursday, closing day of the 2013 session....
Kim said the sheer number of solar and photovoltaic arrays being installed will lead to the issue of what ultimately happens to the panels.
“One of the issues is going to be how do we dispose of them,” Kim said. “Where do they go? Do they go into our landfills? What’s going to happen for companies who may not be around 20 years from now? So we’ll be looking at that.”....
One issue lawmakers hope to tackle in 2014, an election year, is the minimum wage. Proposals to raise the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage failed as House and Senate negotiators got hung up on a tip credit,...
read ... Legislators set sights on 2014
Early Education: KSBE, Castle Come up Short, Will Be Back for More
SA: The governor's original plan would have served most of the 5,100 so-called late-borns who would have attended junior kindergarten at public schools next year.
Lawmakers voted to convert the governor's $25 million school readiness proposal, which was supposed to be the first step of his early-learning initiative, into a $6 million expansion of Preschool Open Doors, an existing child care program under the Department of Human Services. The money will subsidize the cost of preschool in 2014 for 900 low-income 4-year-olds, or about 18 percent of keiki born in the latter half of 2009....
Terry Lock, director of the Executive Office on Early Learning, said the added funding for Preschool Open Doors is a "really great start" but said it's only a fraction of the original proposal.
"Some children will probably remain in preschools they're at," Lock said. "If they don't qualify for Preschool Open Doors, they will have to pay for their own cost of preschool. Others will probably find other means, whether it be relatives or neighbors to care for their children."
Demand is extremely high for the current Preschool Open Doors program, which is administered under a multiyear contract by the nonprofit PATCH, or People Attentive to Children.
The organization gets more than 1,000 applicants each year but can serve only 325 preschoolers with its current funding of about $1.5 million, said PATCH Executive Director Katy Chen....
Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Good Beginnings Alliance, said her organization plans to lobby the Legislature, as well as counties and the federal government, for additional funds next year. The statewide nonprofit has campaigned for the universal preschool plan as part of its advocacy work for early education.
"Philanthropy hasreally carried our early-education programs," she said, citing Kamehameha Schools and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation as examples. "Up until now it has been philanthropy and parents. It's time for the state, counties and federal government to match them and play a role."
Translation: Abercrombie killed early kindergarten to create demand for KSBE and Castle-run preschools. The funding came up short so they'll be back for more next year.
read ... Governor's legislative defeat puts tots in educational bind
Schatz Touts Rise to 76th in Senate Seniority
CB: Though it went unnoticed in Hawaii, Schatz’s campaign received a small boost a couple of weeks ago when Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota announced his retirement.
Johnson’s departure brings to eight the number of departing senators, which means that Schatz will rise in the Senate pecking order. As a Schatz senior campaign advisor pointed out, if Schatz stays in office, he will have risen in his first year to at least 76th in the seniority list. A couple of the senators — Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. — are leaving the Commerce, Science & Transportation committee on which Schatz sits. Hanabusa, on the other hand, would start at the back of the line and Hawaii would be starting over.
read ... I'm Number 76 Woo Hoo!
How Lobbyist Dollars Helped Save The Pearl Harbor Tower
CB: In the past five years, lobbyists made more than $1 million in donations to charities favored by the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
It's one way lobbyists curry favor with influential members of Congress. And, in Hawaii, federal lobbyist disclosure records examined by Civil Beat show the practice may have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars that helped save the historic Ford Island control tower at Pearl Harbor.
According to the disclosure forms filed with Congress, in 2010 lobbyists — many of them defense firms seeking defense contracts — reported making $449,000 "honoree donations" to the Pacific Aviation Museum, all in honor of the Inouye.
read ... Sales Pitch for Brian Schatz?
Bill to buy Lipoa Point not backed by funding
SA: House Bill 1424 proposes buying 270 acres north of Honolua Bay at Lipoa Point in West Maui. The bill instructs the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to engage in the effort.
The effort to preserve Lipoa Point has drawn overwhelming support largely from Maui residents and preservationists who testified on the bill. But some observers commenting on a March Star-Advertiser story about the bill characterized the deal as a bailout for Maui Land.
Whether the state buys the land could hinge on price negotiations. The land is zoned for agriculture, and its value is appraised at $2.6 million by Maui County for property tax purposes.
Maui Land suggested in written testimony on the bill that a purchase price should be based on the property's highest and best use, which could be residential or some other commercial use.
Environmental groups and other proponents of the purchase have said Maui Land won't sell the parcel for less than $20 million and that the price could be as high as $30 million.
Maui Land could use the money, given that the company has racked up major financial losses in recent years largely because of soured resort development in Kapalua. To stay afloat, Maui Land has been selling land, including two golf courses.
read ... Bill to buy Lipoa Point not backed by funding
Public Housing Smoking Ban Prevents Patients from Properly Using Prescribed Medicine
SA: The ban, modeled after policies at public housing authorities on the mainland, extends to smoking of medical marijuana.
Scott Wall, vice president of the Community Alliance for Mental Health and a public housing tenant who smokes, said he knows smoking is a "disgusting habit," but it's also calming for people with mental illnesses.
It is also a tough habit to break, he said. If people are evicted for smoking, "How does it serve the taxpayer?" he asked.
read ... Medicated Marijuana Ban