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Friday, July 06, 2012
July 6, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:34 PM :: 4513 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Greening the fleet: Republicans criticize $26 a gallon biofuel being tested by the Navy

Abercrombie Releases $75M for Honolulu Airport CIP

Cut The Price Of Solar In Half By Cutting Red Tape

VIDEO: "We call it riding the gravy train."

Cayetano Dares Opponents to Open Pandora’s Box

SA: The most spirited exchange occurred near the end of the program, over a secondary issue: an ad campaign against Cayetano focused on his previous campaign's failure to repay $500,000 in campaign funds that were donated illegally. Although Cayetano did nothing illegal, the pro-rail group Pacific Resource Partnership has financed an ad campaign suggesting he exploited a loophole to get out of repaying the money.

Cayetano, after noting that Caldwell previously said he had donated to the former governor's campaign, asked his opponent whether he felt the allegations were fair.

"It was mainly all spent before the Campaign Spending Commission found out about it, and Ben is saying that's OK," Caldwell said. "Ben, that's not OK with me."

The Campaign Spending Commission cleared Cayetano and said that when he closed his account, which included only about $8,000, it could not go after the additional funds.

"I'm disappointed in you, man. You know better and you won't admit it," Cayetano said to Caldwell before coming back to his original question later.

"Are you saying that I've done something wrong?" he said. "Come on, look at me, man, are you saying that I did something wrong? Come on, answer me."

Background: Pay to Play: Will Cayetano Retaliate Against Hirono?

Boylan: “When a politician threatens a $5.3 billion infrastructure project backed by years of planning, an apparent approval by the electorate, and powerful labor, political and business interests, there was bound to be pushback.”

CB: Pro-Rail Group Hits $500,000 Spending Mark

read … Pay to Play

Star-Adv: Solve Traffic Problems With A Few Million Here and there so that Rail Looks Good

SA: The federal government will pay 80 percent of the cost of the $82.1 million project and was represented at the groundbreaking.

Intriguing but less certain is the $200,000 plan to squeeze the westbound H-1 between Punahou Street and Pali Highway from the present three lanes to four.

"It hasn't been approved," said state transportation spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter, "and we can't move ahead until we get approval from the Federal Highway Administration," which has asked for more information about the project.

John Steelquist, chairman of the Makiki-Punchbowl-Tantalus Neighborhood Board, suggests a concrete "flyover" ramp for cars moving from the freeway to Vineyard Boulevard. He pointed to a study five years ago suggesting that a concrete ramp would address problems created by commuters trying to enter the freeway from Makiki. Such a ramp would be desirable indeed — but at an estimated $85 million, doesn't look realistic.

Other out-of-the-box ideas: A tunnel to Vineyard Boulevard for motorists driving from University Avenue to Pali Highway, costing more than $170 million. Ramp metering — regulating when and how may cars can enter the freeway — and widening the viaduct over Lunalilo Street also have been studied and rejected.

Even as construction of the $5.16 billion rail project proceeds, state and city transportation officials need to be on a constant innovative hunt for ways to smooth traffic along Oahu's highly-used highways and surface streets.

PBN: HART leases more downtown space, will add staff

read … Which One of these things does not belong

Abercrombie Relents on Shake Down, signs Hospital Fee Bill

SA: Private hospitals hope the provider fees will generate enough new revenue to lift reimbursement payments to 83 cents for every $1 in Medicaid money, up from 70 cents on the dollar. Medical care providers have complained that reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare are too low and financially unsustainable over time.

"This new law will strengthen Hawaii's health care infrastructure in these difficult economic times by raising existing low Medicaid payments to hospitals, thereby supporting access to care for Hawaii's most vulnerable populations," George Greene, president and chief executive officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which represents hospitals, said in an email. "Notably, the law will accomplish these objectives without raising taxes and without appropriating any money from the general fund."

The federal government allows states to set provider fees of up to 6 percent of net patient revenue. The proceeds count toward the state's contribution to Medicaid and attract additional federal money that goes back to hospitals and nursing homes in the form of higher Medicaid reimbursements. President Barack Obama and others, however, have proposed reducing the amount states can charge in provider fees because of the effect on the federal budget. But since most states rely on provider fees to help finance Medicaid, policy analysts doubt the practice will be eliminated any time soon.

In the past several years, a lack of trust between hospitals and the Department of Human Services involving several finance-related issues had prevented prog­ress on provider fees. Lawmakers had urged Abercrombie not to let a disagreement about the state's share of the new federal money threaten the consensus that produced a bill this year.

"I respect the governor for signing this bill into law," said state Sen. Josh Green (D, Milo­lii-Wai­mea), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and an emergency room doctor. "This was the Health Committee's most important bill. It brings in millions of federal dollars to keep our hospitals across Hawaii open and to help us hire needed new physicians.

read … Did he get anything from the Hospitals?

How Will Prepaid be Gutted by Obamacare?

PBN: For example, state law requires Hawaii employers provide health insurance to each employee who works an average of 20 or more hours per week, even if that business has only one employee.

The federal mandate, however, applies only to companies with 50 or more employees who are working 30 or more hours per week. Tax breaks are offered to smaller businesses that chose to provide health-care coverage, but the calculations involve complex cost-ratio equations with seemingly endless if-then strings and variables.

Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, has criticized the Affordable Care Act for being overly complex and for not addressing costs, which creates uneasiness for retail employers — especially those operating in multiple states.

And the question remains about whether federal law will supersede the current state mandate, or if the two laws overlap and merge like so many other federal-state laws.

“The question is: How do we blend the two?” Hawaii Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito told PBN. “That’s really the problem they have to solve, and it has to be settled within a year.”

Reality: Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act

read … Waiting for the Election to Save Them from Obamacare

Gay Couple Passes Marriage Through the System, It is Declared Invalid

KITV: Watch the video to see how these guys are setting up another lawsuit….

KOS: The Illinois legislature may take up marriage equality legislation, and some small chance that Hawaii might as well.

read … Trick to Generate lawsuit

Abercrombie, Obama team up to Make Foodstamps Fraud Friendly

SA: The number of food stamp recipients in Hawaii who have been yanked from the program because of fraud has dropped dramatically since 2007 despite a huge expansion in the population getting such public assistance.

The state obtained disqualifications in about 275 administrative and criminal cases last fiscal year, a 50 percent decrease compared with the same period five years earlier, according to state data.

In the past five years, however, the number of Hawaii residents receiving food stamps surged 78 percent, totaling nearly 160,000, according to federal data.

State officials attributed the decline in fraud-related cases to staff cutbacks — six of 13 investigator positions were lost in 2009, leading to fewer investigations — and changes in the national program that streamlined reporting requirements for welfare recipients but created fewer checkpoints for fraud.

Unscrupulous recipients have sold their cards, which are linked electronically to their benefit accounts, on the black market, including websites. In some cases the recipient will sell the card and almost immediately request a replacement, prompting DHS to disable the old one, which leaves the unsuspecting purchaser in the lurch. But because selling and buying benefit cards is illegal, the buyer can't pursue a case against the seller.

On the retail front, unscrupulous store owners have allowed customers to turn in their cards for cash. Program rules do not allow recipients to get cash from their accounts, so some will sell the cards for less than their value if they need quick cash. The retailers, in turn, re­cord card purchases for the full amount and are reimbursed, profiting from the difference…..

read … Fraud Friendly

Ethics Fine vs. Nestor Garcia Result of Hawaii GOP Complaint

From Hawaii GOP: Honolulu Ethics Commission: Council-member Fined For Failing To Disclose Conflicts of Interest - this was as a result of a complaint filed last year by the HRP and is another reason why a 2-party system is important for holding elected officials accountable.

read … GOP Newsletter

Hawaii Auditor Blasts State Special Funds Proliferation; Vindicates Opponents

HR: Last year, a growing number of Senators and Representatives became concerned about the unwieldy number of Special Funds, the amounts hidden within the funds, and the inability of many state agency heads to identify the number and balances in their departmental Special Funds.

The 2011 legislative session passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 166 requesting the State Auditor to conduct a study regarding the transfer of non-general funds to the general fund. The result is this week’s Auditor’s Report No. 12-04, “Study of the Transfer of Non-general Funds to the General Fund.”

The 153-page report examines and analyzes Special Funds in detail. It makes recommendations for corrections and improvements.

read … Sen Sam Slom

Spotted: A Dem Senate candidate campaigning for Obamacare

Politico finds the freak Democrat who can’t see the writing on the wall—it’s Mazie Hirono.

read … Politico

HGEA Front Group Burns $36K on Hirono Ads

KOS: A labor-backed group called Working Families for Hawaii (headquartered in HGEA offices) is spending $36K on radio ads on behalf of Rep. Mazie Hirono in the Democratic primary. This is their first expenditure of the cycle, though in 2010, they shelled out almost a quarter million to help Colleen Hanabusa defeat GOP Rep. Charles Djou.

PR: Chipping in

read … KOS

Hirono, Case debate set for Hawaii News Now

HNN: Hawaii News Now will host the final televised debate between U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case on Thursday, July 26 between 6:30 pm and 8 pm on KHNL, KGMB and KFVE.

The debate, co-hosted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, will be the last chance for voters for see the two main hopefuls on a statewide stage for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

read … Debate

Nakamura: Hawaii Democrat Noted for Not Being Corrupt

SA: Then came one of the most controversial moments in local Democratic political lore: Then-Gov. John Waihee had appointed Sharon Himeno, the wife of his attorney general, Warren Price, to Hawaii's Supreme Court. Her law firm had been involved in a much-criticized land deal with the ERS.

Ben Cayetano was then lieutenant governor preparing to run for governor; he broke with Waihee, disagreeing over the Himeno appointment. Attorney William Hoshijo, a member of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's campaign team and the long-time state Civil Rights Commission executive director, circulated a petition among local attorneys opposing the nomination. Nakamura was one of the first to sign and the signature of one of the state's most respected jurists carried much weight. The result was that for the first time in Hawaii history, a Democratic state Senate rejected the nomination of a Supreme Court nominee.

Nagging Nakamura's conscience was one of Hawaii's longest ongoing sources of scandal, the Bishop Estate. It was controlled by the five trustees who were appointed by the state Supreme Court justices.

The trustees at that time were pocketing $900,000 a year in pay from the estate, which ran Kamehameha Schools and its lands. Among its trustees were Supreme Court Chief Justice William Richardson and legislative leaders. Nakamura convinced then-state Rep. Ed Case, along with state Rep. Scott Saiki, to introduce legislation to stop the practice.

"I wanted to be very clear that this issue is not about the Bishop Estate per se, but about the integrity of our judiciary and our government," Case said.

The bill was killed by supporters of the estate, but Nakamura was back, convincing UH law Professor Randy Roth to take up the case.

Roth, with a group of respected members of the Hawaiian community, published "Broken Trust" in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and revelations were the tipping point for protests that led to removing the court from the estate.

Nakamura died in 1997 at the age of 74. Coffman ends the biography saying: "In the plane of his steady view there seemed to be no one beneath him and no one above him. By speaking softly and calmly, by writing clearly and simply, he got people to think. By not grasping, he made the world his."

read … So rare, they wrote a book about him

Kam Schools Has Inside Track on Office of Early Learning

SA: Lock, a graduate of Maui High School, is Hawaii’s first childhood coordinator and was named in June to head the state Executive Office of Early Learning to begin phasing in the preschool network….

Before her appointment by Abercrombie, Lock served six years as director of early childhood at Kamehameha Schools.

One of the things is that Hawaii is one of the few states in our nation — 11 states — that don’t have a state-funded preschool. We know that preschool today in our state is mostly done by the private sector. Many churches provide preschool; there’s also preschool through Kamehameha Schools; there’s also preschool under Head Start, a publicly funded federal program that’s free for 3- and 4-year-old children who qualify, based on (family) income. But most of our working families, actually, who don’t qualify for either Kamehameha Schools or Head Start really have to pay out of pocket. I would say today’s cost is probably about $700 to $800 a month for preschool.

read … Early Learning

Kenoi Only Candidate With any Money

HTH: Challenger Dominic Yagong, the chairman of the County Council, on the other hand, has a sparse showing of campaign signs and apparently little money to buy more. And former Mayor Harry Kim, a latecomer to the race, sticks to his pledge of no campaign contributions over $10. He plans to buy bumper stickers, he said, but not the more costly campaign signs.

Kenoi had accumulated $333,373 in contributions as of Dec. 31, the most recent filing period, according to reports he filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission. In comparison, Yagong’s contributions stood at $2,057. Kim declared his intentions late and hasn’t yet filed a campaign finance disclosure. The next filing deadline is July 12.

HTH: Mayor candidates clash

read … Money

Millions in Federal Taxpayer Dollars Pay for Big Island Biofool Plant

CB: Biofuels in Hawaii suffer the chicken or the egg problem.

It's hard to attract investment for a biofuel plant without an available and proven feedstock, such as eucalyptus or sweet sorghum, to supply it. And it's hard to get farmers to take the risk of growing the feedstocks without an already built plant.

Now, one company seems to have cracked the formula laid an egg. And it could change the face of locally-produced biodiesel and the Big Island's farming landscape.

The $13 million plant that is capable of producing 5.5 million gallons a year is funded by local investors. About half of its funding comes from federal loans. The rest is from individuals who live in Hawaii or companies that are based in the islands, according to the company.

read … Future Mini-Solyndra

Honolulu Council District 9 Candidates on the Issues

read … Honolulu Council District 9 Candidates on the Issues

Urban Honolulu Ranks High in Income Inequality

PBN: The urban core of Hawaii’s capital city was the eighth-worst area in the state, according to an analysis by Pacific Business News affiliate On Numbers, which looked at a statistical measure known as the Gini index.

A score of 0.000 on the Gini scale would indicate complete economic equality within a community, with every resident having the same annual income. An index of 1.000, on the other hand, would be a sign of total inequality, with one person possessing all the money.

Urban Honolulu’s 126,206 households had score on the Gini scale of 0.462, which ranked it 1,810 among 9,423 cities, towns and census designated places in the United States.

The major city with the worst problem with economic inequality was Atlanta, which had a Gini score of 0.572, On Numbers found. On the other end of the scale, the major city that is closest to an even distribution of income is West Jordan, Utah, with a Gini index of 0.336.

read … Gini

Honolulu Ethics Commission Investigates Fire Department Contract

HR: The city Ethics Commission is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the 2010 award of a $175,000 consultant contract that recommended a merger of the Fire Department with the Emergency Services Department, Hawaii Reporter has learned.

The contract was awarded by the city to a firefighter-affiliated consulting firm after last-minute changes in the selection process, according to records and interviews.

Ethics Commission executive director Charles Totto confirmed today that an investigation is underway.

“Yes, we are looking into it,” Totto said. “We’re in the early stages.”

CB: Honolulu Ethics Panel Investigating Fire-EMS Merger Contract

read … Fire Department

Wanna Be Ward Heelers Get Money Everywhere but Oahu

DN: “Citing data from the Hawaii State Plan on Aging 2011-2015, the advocates point out that the City and County of Honolulu currently provides its office on aging, the Elderly Affairs Division, NOTHING for direct services to people age 60 and over. This compares to per capita expenditures of $130 per person for Maui County, $60 per person for Hawaii County and $21 per person for Kauai County.”

CB: Honolulu Bad Place to be Old and in Need

Here’s how the Ward Heelers do it in Hon: Resignation call after Audit reveals “ward heeler’s slush fund” overseen by Honolulu Councilman

read … Senior advocates criticize Honolulu for providing no (zero $) direct services to seniors

Scammer Allegedly Conned 22 Honolulu City Employees

SA: A financial adviser accused of stealing $2.2 million from 22 active and retired city employees is scheduled to go on trial in state court next month for securities fraud and money laundering.

Bruce M. Harada, 53, pleaded not guilty to the charges June 28. He remains in custody, unable to post $250,000 bail.

According to the indictment a grand jury returned against him last month, Harada committed his crimes from April 16, 2007, to May 12, 2012.

During that time he was an independent financial adviser for ING North America Corp., managing the deferred compensation accounts of active and retired city employees.

Harada convinced at least 22 people to withdraw money from their deferred compensation accounts to reinvest in a mutual fund he said was authorized by ING, said Chris Van Marter, deputy city prosecutor. Instead of putting the money into a mutual fund, Harada put it in his personal account and spent it for his own use, Van Marter said.

read … Another Scammer

Fake Tech Center to Be Booted out by UH Manoa

PBN: In its urgent search to find new space, the Manoa Innovation Center, Oahu’s only technology incubation center, now has the means to make substantial moves, thanks to $3 million from the state Legislature….

The HTDC is attached to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, but it reports to an independent board of directors.

The state-run center needs to leave its current 42,000-square-foot building at 2800 Woodlawn Drive, near the University of Hawaii Manoa campus, because its land lease expires in April 2015 and its owner, UH, plans to take back the property.

“We are not aware of the High Technology Development Corp.’s plans, so it would be premature for us to comment at this time,” said a university spokeswoman in an email to PBN.

One of the center’s options is to move to the Foreign-Trade Zone No. 9, which shares a similar focus — stimulating economic development — among other benefits.

“It would be a great nexis to have with exports, manufacturing and technology already there,” Nagashima said. “That’s one of our ‘A’ list options.”

The Manoa Innovation Center is funded mostly by federal money and also gets revenue through rent and service fees along with general funds from the state. It reported revenue of $5.5 million in Fiscal Year 2010.

Currently, it has 15 employees, and as of June its occupancy rate was 90 percent with 40 shared office spaces at any given time.

read … Best Solution, Shut it down

Kauai group seeks justice years after woman's murder

HNN: It's been two years since the body of murder victim Amber Jackson was found on Kauai and the grassroots effort to find her killer is moving in a new direction.

Members of the Amber Jackson justice group have printed up hundreds of flyers and are putting them up all over the island….

The reward for information to help find her killer doubled in recent days to $20,000.

Kauai police say they are actively investigating this case. They're asking for anyone with information to call Kauai Crimestoppers at 241-1887

read … Kauai Murder

Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation to hold its 50th Annual Hawaii State Farm Fair this Weekend July 7-8

HR: This weekend the Department of Agriculture will present the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation's 50th annual Hawaii State Farm Fair, in partnership with the 4-H Livestock Council at Kualoa Ranch. This is the first time the event is being held at Kualoa Ranch and the event is free for children and students of all ages and $5 for the general public.

The event will feature live animals, demonstrations, food samples and interactive displays both Saturday and Sunday. Visit the Ag-Tastic Expo that will include the next generation of island farmers who grow tomatoes and squash, herbs, papaya, corn, mushrooms, taro, lavender, internationally-recognized award-winning coffee and more.

read … Farm Bureau

Hawaii Soldiers Deploy to Kosovo

REPORT FROM THE HAWAI NATIONAL GUARD - Soldiers from Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion will be deploying to Kosovo in support of NATO operations. A departure ceremony will be held at Wheeler Army Airfield on Friday, July 6 at 10 a.m.

More than 40 soldiers have been mobilized on Title 10 active duty for approximately one year. The mission of the Company B, 777 soldiers will be to repair and maintain Blackhawk helicopters operating in and around Kosovo. Most of the soldiers have previous deployment experience. The helicopter maintenance unit was mobilized in 2003 for service in Afghanistan.

read … Kosovo

Emotional days in exile for Hawaiian princess at Home of Theo Davies

TIK: ON A July afternoon just over a century ago, a royal princess from Hawaii was playing croquet on the lawn at one of Tunbridge Wells' most fashionable mansions.

She was 21-year-old Princess Kaiulani, heir to the Hawaiian throne, and she was staying with her guardian, Theophilus Harris Davies, at his magnificent new home, Ravensdale, in Chilston Road….

A wealthy businessman, Theophilus Davies had made his fortune in Hawaii and was a close friend of her parents, prominent Honolulu businessman Archibald Cleghorn, from Scotland, and Princess Miriam Likelike, of Hawaii's ruling dynasty….

read … Reality

Nonprofits hope to tap Ellison’s largesse

PBN: Lanai’s new owner has focused giving on geriatrics….

read … But but but … what about Organicholisticsustainables?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Speak in Hawaii in August

HR: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the Anglican Church's Archbishop Emeritus of South Africa, will participate in five events in Honolulu in August at the invitation of The Episcopal Church's Cathedral of Saint Andrew. Archbishop Tutu, a noted advocate for peace and justice, is currently the chairman of The Elders, an independent group of international leaders who promote causes related to human rights.

read … St Andrew’s

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