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Wednesday, May 18, 2011
May 18, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:26 PM :: 6281 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Abercrombie’s Medical Homes scheme rejected by Mayo Clinic, other top clinics

HGEA to Nurses: State not Responsive to Negotiations

APEC Prep: Abercrombie Reveals 90-Day Homeless Plan

Schatz still trying to find “More Federal Funds”

Top Abercrombie Fundraiser Endorses Republican Presidential Campaign

HCDA Hearing on Future Development of Barbers Point/Kalaeloa

Moody’s Cuts Hawaii’s Bond Rating

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 16

Analysis: Budgets Swell for All but Two Hawaii Depts.

Only two of Hawaii's 20 state departments will have smaller operating budgets come July 1. The rest are growing — one by as much as 94 percent.

Overall, the state budget is increasing by $800 million a year — or 8 percent — for each of the next two fiscal years. Along with cuts, legislators approved about $600 million in new tax revenue to help pay for the increases.

To piece together how individual departments fared, Civil Beat combed through 596 pages of budget worksheets accessible through the Hawaii State Legislature's website.

Despite all we heard this session about cuts and hard choices, nearly each department saw significant gains. In addition, the budget is bigger, but covers 500 fewer jobs.

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Abercrombie copies Waihee: Secrecy led to Broken Trust

Abercrombie claims publicizing nominees detracts from the quality of judicial applicants and that critics of his secrecy haven’t proved he’s wrong.

To the contrary, it’s the governor who hasn’t offered any evidence that secrecy is necessary. He says he’s “been told” that some lawyers don’t apply out of fear that their names will be disclosed, and a handful of lawyers have written public papers supporting him.

On the other side, the last two chief justices, the state Supreme Court as a whole and the Hawai‘i Chapter of the American Judicature Society have all studied the matter and concluded that secrecy doesn’t result in better judges — and certainly doesn’t override the public interest in an open and honest judicial selection process.

Former Chief Justice Moon said lawyers worried about their names being disclosed probably aren’t good candidates to be judges.

Abercrombie is reverting to practices last seen in the Waihee administration, when when we not only didn’t get better judges, but saw a politically compromised selection process that contributed to the Bishop Estate corruption scandal.

Abercrombie and Broken Trust: Everything you need to know about Abercrombie and Hanabusa

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Ward: 18 Bills which were originally Republican Ideas

As you know the divisions within the State House of Representatives resulted in a near stalemate on the selection of a Speaker until the eight Republicans stepped in and cast the pivotal votes to re-elect Calvin Say. We were the deciding factor in keeping invocation at the beginning of each House session. And we frequently tipped the balance when conroversial legislation was under consideration, such as the final day's vote on a bill involving 999 year leases of Hawaiian homelands and, of course, the death of the pension tax.

In addition to these public examples, we also played a less visible but equally important role in redirecting legislative content. Examples include moving the House away from raiding the hurricane funds to borrowing these moneys for a two-year period, and ensuring that the agricultural trespass bill covered farmers as well as ranchers.

I actively championed for the Shield Law extension, urging permanent enactment of this important bill for journalistic independence, I also successfully curtailed efforts to create a State Bank that would have harmed Hawaii's financial community. Cynthia Thielen crusaded to shut down puppy mills and George Fontaine successfully ensured that convicted felons have to serve consecutive prison terms, not allow these terms to run concurrently.

In addition to these examples, I have attached a list of bills passed this session that started as Republican proposals and were taken by the Majority Party and enacted.

PDF: Gene Ward's List of Republican Ideas Passed 2011

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Shapiro: Senate race a re-run of 2002?

The 2012 race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is starting to look like a replay of Hawaii’s 2002 election for governor.  Early polls show U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case running in a dead heat for the Democratic nomination, with healthy leads over other hopefuls. The winner will likely face former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

In 2002 then-Lt. Gov. Hirono narrowly edged then-state Rep. Case in the Democratic primary for governor, only to fall to Lingle in the general election and lose the Democrats’ hold on the state’s top job for the first time in 40 years….

Hirono won the U.S. House seat that Case vacated in 2006 and, as with her stint as lieutenant governor, has maintained near invisibility except for the occasional news release assuring voters that she’s “fighting” for us. The ultralow profile keeps her free of controversy.

Lingle was popular with voters during her first six years as governor but sank in her final years as she stumbled through the state budget crisis. She’d need a major image makeover but would have millions of GOP dollars to get it done.

Photo: Mazie Hirono at Campaign Rally in Larry Mehau’s Barn

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Council, Mayor Threaten to Sue Each Other Over New Rail Agency

The controversy over who has direct oversight of Honolulu's new rail agency came to a head on Tuesday, with Honolulu City Council members and Mayor Peter Carlisle's administration threatening to sue each other.

The threats were prompted by a memo Honolulu Managing Director Doug Chin sent to the council.

"I think the administration fired this first shot with this memo," said City Council member Ikaika Anderson. "I see it as a threat."

The issue bubbled over in a civil but somewhat tense special Budget Committee meeting. That same day, Chin sent a letter again challenging the authority the council had asserted when it advanced the new rail agency's budget last week.

Chin testified that the "whole point" of establishing a transit agency was to give oversight of rail to a long term board of directors who would be "not simply affected by elections or constituents... not that there's anything wrong with that."

LINK: 051711 doug chin letter

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What if Honolulu Rail Fails?

"I want to make sure that everybody understands that we don't have a contingency plan for if this project does not go forward," Wayne Yoshioka, Honolulu's director of Transportation Services, told Civil Beat….

"The most difficult to measure is the damage that we would do to the development of Oahu," Yoshioka said. "If you look at the west side of Oahu and all the congestion that's there, one of the reasons is because Oahu is developing according to the plan that was developed for it back in the '80s, but the transportation system is not occurring the way it was planned to occur... That plan was predicated on several transportation assumptions, and one of them was that we would have a high-capacity transit corridor. Now we're trying to get it in there. That's the biggest implication of not doing the rail. The land-use doesn't match the plan."

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Moody’s Downgrades State of Hawaii’s General Obligation Bond Rating

Hawaii’s “strained” state financial operations, the depletion of reserves in fiscal year 2011, and covering budget shortfalls with one time solutions – these are the factors that Moody’s Investors Services used when downgrading Hawaii’s General Obligation Bond Rating for an estimated $5.1 billion in debt.

Moody’s, the premiere credit rating organization for federal, state and local instruments of debt, announced the downgrade on Tuesday, May 17, in a thorough report that detailed Hawaii’s financial condition, legislative action from this past session including tax increases and special fund raids, and the state’s financial obligations and debt.

SA: Hawaii's bond rating lowered as state finances dwindle

HFP: Moody’s Cuts Hawaii’s Bond Rating

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Could add 0.2% to interest rate on Bonds

The Moody's rating change also reflects structural problems related to growing unfunded liabilities in state-run programs that pay pensions and health care benefits for government workers, said Kalbert Young, state budget director.

The rating change won't have an immediate effect on the state's finances, but could result in slightly higher borrowing costs the next time the state floats bonds in three to five months, Young said. All other things being equal, a credit rating reduction to Aa2 from Aa1 usually adds about one-tenth to two-tenths of a percentage point to the yield on state bonds, he said. Any premium the state has to pay for the lower rating would be less on shorter maturity bonds and more on those with longer maturities, he said.

Moody's also will have a chance to reassess Hawaii's fiscal situation before the bonds are issued, which could result in a higher rating if things improve by then, Young said. (But they won’t improve, so the real danger is further lowering.)

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Hawaii Pacific Health touts Financial Incentives agreement with HMSA: Make OUR patients more healthy—by throwing the sick ones out

In August 2010, we focused our attention on patients at Straub and Kauai Medical Clinic with known high blood pressure — higher than the recommended goal of 140/90. Today, 70 percent of our Straub patients and 72 percent of our Kauai patients have reached this goal, which is significantly better than the nation's average. This means that approximately 300 more patients in Hawaii are now at lower risk of heart attack or stroke as a result of our work to improve care of high blood pressure.

For our patients with diabetes, a much higher percentage of our Straub and Kauai patients meet all of the quality measures for diabetes than the average for the nation. This means that an additional 440 patients in Hawaii now have a lower risk of diabetes complications.

Pay-for-performance models of reimbursements are not new. HMSA has had a quality program for doctors and hospitals in place for a number of years, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires health care providers to report their results in order to be reimbursed. What is changing both in Hawaii and throughout the nation as a result of national health care reform is the $$$$$ alignment of financial incentives between health care insurers and health care providers for quality outcomes. $$$$$

HOW THIS WORKS: Kick out the unhealthy patients and your number$ go up $$$$$

ALREADY HAPPENING: Some Fla. ob-gyns refuse obese patients

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Lawmakers as Bait to Lure Lobbyists

Kondo's comments came at a March 16 commission meeting to discuss a proposed law regulating gifts to lawmakers. The commission decided to oppose the law that would allow politicians and state employees to accept free tickets to fundraisers from charities.

Kondo said legislators attending fundraisers for free act like bait for lobbyists, who have the money to purchase tickets to get their ear.

"Where the legislator also plays the important role, is the incentive or the bait," Kondo said, referring to lawmakers attending fundraisers. "If they can't be brought by the lobbyist, it's my speculation, my assumption, that if they are invited by the event, the lobbyist still comes because they get access to the legislator. I'm speculating — and no one says this because I think it would leave a bad taste in people's mouth for people to understand that the state official is being used as the bait to attract people to come to the event — but as a practical matter, I think that's probably reality."

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State aims to clear out homeless for APEC

The Abercrombie administration gave itself 90 days yesterday to achieve a marked improvement in clearing homeless people from streets, beaches and parks in Waikiki and the rest of Honolulu's urban core.

The self APEC-imposed deadline "puts the pressure on us to deliver," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "We intend to see to it that public space stays public. Public space is not there for private use."

Alexander balked at the term "sweeps" to describe an upcoming plan to remove homeless people from Waikiki and the urban core in the next 90 days.

Instead, Alexander pointed to an earlier example this year in which several groups worked together to identify shelter and services for an estimated 100 people in Kakaako near the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine.  (Hehehehe!  APEC is coming and these guys are too weak to do a sweep.)

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Abercrombie: Don’t feed the Homeless

Asked by a student about his policies on dealing with homeless people, the governor reiterated his argument against feeding homeless people:

"You may be giving them food in the sense of sustenance, but it does not change their circumstances," he said. "You have to feed someone's soul. If you just feed their body their soul remains barren because you have no sense of yourself as being a worthwhile person. ... It is not doing them any favors. ... People are not feral cats, they have consciences, they have thoughts about themselves. ..."

Feeding the homeless may make people feel good about helping people in need, but "it works against them," he added.

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Hawai‘i federal judges look like poster kids for rail suit

Federal buildings have been one of the most worrisome targets of terrorist attacks since the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Hawai‘i judges made a reasonable argument that running the train so close to the Honolulu federal building posed unacceptable risks.

They received an arrogant and insulting response from the city to the effect that there are easier ways to blow away a judge than from a train, typical of the hostility toward reasonable concerns raised by responsible people that threatened any delay in the project.

If the Hawai‘i judges won’t be wielding the gavel, they might make interesting witnesses.

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The EA Rip-Off: Why Hawaii’s Environmental Policy is Failing

Environmental review, central to our Hawaii Environmental Policy Act, has become corrupted by profiteers who have made the EA, or “environmental assessment” process expensive and punitive and something the government now wishes to avoid. If the system is to be fixed, we must make EA’s affordable.

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Hippies found Squatting in Back of Washington Place

 

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and first lady Nancie Caraway moved into the official governor’s residence behind Washington Place this month after staying in their Manoa home during his first five months in office.

The residence, officially known as Hale Kia‘āina, was built at the end of the Cayetano administration so that Washington Place, which previously served as the governor’s residence, could be preserved as the historic home of Queen Lili‘uokalani. Hale Kia‘āina was first occupied eight years ago by Linda Lingle.

Abercrombie’s spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said the governor and first lady delayed moving in until crews completed $40,609 worth of repairs and maintenance involving carpentry, painting and electrical work.

Dela Cruz said the work was paid for with with leftover private funds raised for Abercrombie’s inauguration.

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Free Ride: Council rejects plan to end Free Bus Fares on Big Island

Ironically, lawmakers' opposition to bus fares could result in riders being charged up to $6 per trip starting July 1.
Yagong later was scrambling to prevent the "panic" he predicted Hele-On riders will experience due to Tuesday's council vote.

Yagong said he'll introduce a bill to extend the free islandwide service for another year. That measure will be waived from initial committee review and placed on the council's June 1 agenda, he said.
Follow-up approval -- bills require supportive votes at two separate meetings -- then could occur by June 15, leaving enough time for Kenoi to consider the proposal, Yagong said.

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APEC Targets Pacific Wide Free Trade Zone in Upcoming US Summit

Trade ministers with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meet this week in the western U.S. state of Montana. The meeting is one of a series leading up to an APEC summit in Hawaii in November.

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DARE Funds Cut

A popular drug prevention program for Hawaii's youth won't be reaching as many students as in the past.

Only 41 schools will participate in the the Drug Abuse Resistance and Education program next year, compared to 158 schools this year because of $30,000 cut from the budget.

Shining the light on the dangers of drugs. Putting on this performance is one way Honolulu Police Department officers hope to encourage young children to DARE to say no.

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New Fraud Claim Against Missing Bank of America Employee

A former Bank of America employee in Hawaii who allegedly stole more than $1 million from the bank’s mortgage loan customers has been accused of fraud in a state court lawsuit.

Michael Ho Kim is the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation and is believed to have fled to Korea after he was fired by the bank late last year.

A civil fraud lawsuit filed last week alleges that Kim scammed $75,000 from a local couple, Robin and Frances Kaneshiro, after they met him while trying to refinance a mortgage loan, according to their state court lawsuit.

Kim gave the couple “unsolicited investment advice” last year, promising them high, short-term investment earnings on a “real estate transaction” he was handling, the suit alleged.

The couple gave Kim $75,000 in November and he repaid them $80,000 five days later, the suit continued.

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Stalled Once, Developer Returns With New Master Plan For Ewa, Kapolei

It stalled for two years, but a proposed development to build nearly 12,000 homes between Kapolei and Ewa in Leeward Oahu is back.

D.R. Horton announced Tuesday that it will file a petition with the Hawaii Land Use Commission Wednesday ….

The project would replace 1,554 acres of farmland — a fact that drew criticism during the initial debate.

Read the full press release [pdf] from D.R. Horton.

HNN: New sustainable community plan in west Oahu unveiled

SA: Developer revives 11,750-unit project

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Breaking: Koolauloa politics heat up, physical assault alleged

LAIE—Tension resulting from local politics allegedly resulted in physical violence yesterday between an opponent and supporter of the Envision Laie development.

Kent Fonoimoana of the Defend Oahu Coalition (DOC), an opponent of the proposed Envision Laie development, filed a police report yesterday alleging that he had been physically assaulted by Junior Ah You, the longest standing member of the Laie Community Association (LCA) and supporter of Envision Laie.

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Record number earn Native Hawaiian law certificate

A record number of 15 students graduated from the University of Hawaii's law school with a Native Hawaiian Law Certificate this month.

Last year, seven students graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law with the certificate.

The new graduates received their degrees on Sunday. Their employment plans include working for the state judiciary, private firms, the military, the federal government, and nonprofit organizations.

The school's Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law was established with federal funding in 2005.

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Sun Yat-Sen’s Views About Overthrow?

Sun could not have been ignorant of the tumultuous events happening in Hawaii in 1887 (Bayonet Constitution), 1893 (revolution), 1895 (Wilcox attempted counter-revolution), and 1898 (Annexation). He had close relationships with leaders of the Hawaiian revolution and annexation, spanning several decades (1878 through 1910). He was present in Hawaii as a revolutionary activist in Fall 1894 when letters were arriving personally signed by Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of at least 20 nations on 4 continents giving formal diplomatic recognition de jure to the new Republic of Hawaii, including a letter signed by two Princes on behalf of the Emperor of China. Sun was still present when the attempted counter-revolution led by Robert Wilcox took place in early January 1895 resulting in one death and the imprisonment of about 190 men, including his Punahou classmate Prince Kuhio, plus ex-queen Liliuokalani.

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BOOK REVIEW: Man who added Hawaii to the map

These are hard times for the reputations of great explorers. Columbus is charged with introducing diseases to the Caribbean that effectively depopulated some islands. The westward movement of European settlers in America is held responsible for the gradual eradication of native American cultures.

No legacy has been harder hit than that of the famous English navigator James Cook. Once considered the greatest explorer of his day, Cook is best remembered in some circles for having introduced venereal disease to Polynesia. But he is now rescued, to a considerable degree, by a first-class biography by a prominent British historian, Frank McLynn.

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