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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
August 11, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:45 AM :: 8010 Views

Isles' economic outlook rated 41st

The council's "Rich States, Poor States," ranked Hawai'i's recent economic performance 21st best in the nation, but, because of a variety of factors, ranked the state's economic outlook 41st.

The report said the bottom-10 ranking was based on what it said was Hawai'i's poor labor laws, high income taxes and the highest burden from taxes on retail sales in the nation.



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Health care angst justified, GOP says

Republican governors yesterday said Americans are justifiably frightened by health care proposals but stopped short of embracing Sarah Palin's suggestion that President Obama would require the elderly and disabled to appear before a bureaucratic "death panel."

No such "death panel" has been proposed  (notice how the 'reporter' just interjects his own opinion here instead of quoting someone who disagrees with Palin's view). A provision in the plan passed by a House committee last month would allow...

Medicare to reimburse seniors ...

who seek information and counseling ...

on end-of-life ...


(Will the "counselors" be paid on commission?)

"The heightened anger is out of fear for what it's going to mean for their lives and the lives of their families," Lingle said, adding that anxiety about the potential changes to their health care make people worry that " 'my very existence could be threatened.' "

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Hawaii public worker pay proposals go to arbitration panel

The Lingle administration and the Hawaii Government Employees Association yesterday submitted their final written proposals to an arbitration panel as the state continues to seek new contracts with its public-worker unions.

Binding arbitration proceedings are scheduled to begin Sept. 4. A decision by the panel is expected by Dec. 21.


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Funds Cut but Mental health service grows

Looking for creative ways to deal with reduced funding and increased needs has led to expanded services by Mental Health Kokua.

(Read that again VERY slowly.)

"The expansion was a little bit of a surprise, in a way," said Greg Payton, chief executive officer of the nonprofit agency.

"We had long discussions with the staff and board on how to take the existing organizational structure and maximize it," he said. "We thought we'd try to diversify and use other funding sources, like commercial health plans, for a different population of people who have health insurance and might need counseling."

The result is a new outpatient counseling program for adults, adolescents and children called Kokua Counseling Centers. It began on Oahu and will open soon on Maui and early next year in Kona using existing locations.

Another surprise, Payton said, was that Mental Health Kokua picked up new clients as nonprofit organizations discontinued services on Maui and downsized in Kona. "We expected to cut back services July 1, and we ended up expanding because we were taking over other programs."

The agency opened a 16-bed residential facility in Wailuku in June and added about 30 people to its case management program, he said. It also opened a new house in Kona for an additional eight consumers.

(Its amazing what happens when the government stops giving you a free ride.)

TOTALLY RELATED:  Bleeding Heart Tightwads

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State pension fund sheds $2.03 billion (thanks, Obama)

(But) ERS trustees yesterday were told the portfolio staged a comeback during the April-to-June quarter, regaining about $700 million and helping blunt losses racked up during the first three quarters of the fiscal year.

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Kamehameha Schools makes the right move

With the help of an initial donation of 66 acres in Makaha Valley by the Weinberg Trust and an investment company headed by developer Jeffrey R. Stone, Kamehameha Schools plans to erect a Learning Innovation Complex. It may be the institution's biggest project since it began moving into its Kapalama Heights campus in 1930.

The plan also features housing and community development by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on an adjoining 234 donated acres, including the golf course itself. Ironically, while Kamehameha Schools is the state's largest landowner, it has no land on the Waianae Coast.

Kamehameha Schools now serves 5,400 of the state's 75,000 Hawaiians of school age, and Mailer pointed out that it would be unrealistic to try educating all of them as full-time Kamehameha students. The learning complex appears to be aimed at enhancing education for those not in attendance at its campuses.

Mailer, a 1970 Kamehameha graduate, was named to her position in 2003 to bring what trustee J. Douglas Ing hoped would be "closure to years of controversy and crisis." Gone are the days when the then-Bishop Estate was mismanaged by trustees politically-picked by the state Supreme Court and given commissions of close to $1 million a year.

Hmmmmmmm.  Those days are "gone" because of a deal with Dickie Wong's former brother-in-law?????  

And the HSTA???  Are they going to continue to (unofficially assist those who) organize KSBE teachers unions to oppose performance pay at KSBE-run DoE schools?  Is the KSBE takeover of DoE schools a creeping privatization of the failing public education system? 

At least they won't be planting eucalyptus trees on THIS land acquisition.  

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Census plans more accurate reading of Native Hawaiians

The under-reporting is probably due to the reluctance by some residents to fill out government forms and Native Hawaiians being absorbed into broader categories, such as "Asian" and "other Pacific Islanders."

Statewide, just six of every 10 census questionnaires issued were returned in 2000. Only two states — Alaska and South Carolina — had lower return rates.

"Participation in Census 2010 is very important because political representation and funding mechanisms for health, education and welfare are all based on data," added Fernandez.

A study conducted by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement two years ago identified about $70 million aimed at Native Hawaiian programs in the state that was based in part on census data.  (And THAT is what this is all about.)

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Filipino-American WWII vets still await payment

About 550 veterans in Hawaii had filed claims as of June. Of that figure, 15 veterans who suffered wounds in battle have received their payment, but the remaining are still waiting.

In February, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, authorizing the release of a one-time, lump-sum payment to Philippine WWII veterans who fought alongside U.S. forces in defending the country. The act entitles veterans who are U.S. citizens to receive $15,000. Veterans who are non-U.S. citizens will receive $9,000. An estimated 6,000 veterans reside in the U.S., while an estimated 12,000 veterans reside in the Philippines.

The population of Filipino-American WWII veterans has dwindled over the years. About 30 veterans in Hawaii have died since February. "The long process is ridiculous," said Caleda. "The veterans cannot wait."

VA officials could not be reached for comment.

(The VA is being touted as a model for government-run healthcare.)

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Hawaii County Mayor Kenoi Urges Board Of Education to Abandon West Hawaii School Impact Fee Plan

Mayor Billy Kenoi over the weekend urged the state Board of Education to scrap a plan to impose school impact fees on property owners in West Hawaii when they seek a building permit, calling the proposal burdensome and unfair to residents. The fees would apply to both individual lot owners and larger developers.

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Felicia falls to tropical depression before reaching Maui

Hawaii -- Saved by Global Cooling!

Also today, forecasters upgraded another Pacific depression far off Hawaii to Tropical Storm Maka, with top sustained winds near 40 mph. Maka’s center was located about 1,060 miles west-southwest of Honolulu. The storm was moving west-northwest near 12 mph. 

Watch Maka at lower left--it is in warmer waters:

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