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Thursday, January 30, 2014
January 30, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:16 PM :: 5668 Views

Hawaii’s minority leaders push for more power for the people

When Government Keeps Teens from Seeing the Therapist

More Premium Hikes Coming: 2% Insurance Fee Extended to Sustain Failed Hawaii Health Exchange

SA: The Connector must enroll between 160,000 and 200,000 residents in medical coverage to raise $15 million in annual revenue, the amount needed to sustain operations once federal grants dry up.

Connector board member Jennifer Diesman, an executive with Hawaii Medical Service Association, disclosed the figures Wednesday to lawmakers based on a 2 percent fee charged on health plans with an average premium of $250. Individual enrollments since the Connector opened for business two weeks late on Oct. 15 totaled 3,347 as of Jan. 25.

Lawmakers are grappling with how to boost enrollment and revenue for the Connector before $204.3 million in federal funds expires at year's end. One main option discussed at the hearing of bills to improve the problem-plagued online marketplace is turning the nonprofit, created in 2011, into a state agency.

"The state may be faced with no alternative other than to bail out the Connector," said AARP lobbyist Steve Tam....

Matsuda earlier told lawmakers that the Connector has spent $49.2 million and obligated $44.2 million in contracts not yet paid. Roughly $110.9 million in unobligated funds must be used this year or the state forfeits the federal grants.

Connector officials also are looking into the possibility of extending the deadline for using the federal dollars into 2015 and are banking on the possibility of large employers coming through the Connector system in 2017, he said.

Increasing revenue "frankly is more difficult," Matsuda told lawmakers, adding that the 2 percent fee based on the current volume of enrollments is "not sufficient."

"If we're going to be sustainable, we have to have other sources of revenue."

Lawmakers also deliberated bills to remove insurance company executives from the Connector board and extend the 2 percent fee to insurers selling plans off the Connector to generate additional revenue.

"We really don't want Hawaii residents left holding the bag, essentially bailing out the Connector when federal funds are no longer available," AARP's Tam said. "The fee assessed on insurers will then be passed on to consumers by way of higher premiums."

Meanwhile: Only 307 Employees get Insurance Via Health Connector

read ... 'Only' $15M/year

Roosevelt incident puts Mental Illness in spotlight

HNN: The juvenile who went to the school had been in and out of mental health treatment facilities.  Many may wonder how an individual can simply walk away from such a facility, but as another expert says, the system is limited by legal protections afforded to patients.  (Thanks, ACLU.)

"The slipping between the cracks often is that the person isn't ill enough to be hospitalized against their will, but they're so ill that they aren't going to comply with appropriate care" said Dr. Martin Johnson, Director of the Hawaii Center for Psychology.  (Hawaii needs to enforce Act221 of 2013, our new involuntary outpatient treatment law--and more.)

read ... Roosevelt incident puts mental Illness in spotlight

SA: Change how we handle runaways

SA: David Hipp, executive director of the state Office of Youth Services, hopes to open the first "assessment center" later this year at an undetermined Kalihi site, a project funded last legislative session with a $400,000 appropriation.

When the pilot project launches, Hipp said, police in the Kalihi area and the rest of District 5 would bring juvenile runaways and truants here, instead of to the police station, where staff would determine what services might help them. They'd be given a civil citation and a chance to do follow-up work, sometimes involving family therapy; later, if the program is successful, the teen's criminal record would be expunged, he added.

The youth office has a request in the administration's supplemental budget bill to fund the next two centers, one each on Maui and Kauai, he said.

This is only one of several pieces of legislation moving through state Capitol hearings that seek alternatives to juvenile detention, bills deserving of full consideration.

Among them is Senate Bill 391, to launch a two-year pilot establishing a network of "safe places" where youths can go to access services; this proposal got as far as conference committee review last session and was carried over to 2014.

There is also House Bill 2037, seeking $50,000 to continue Project Kealahou that targets adolescent girls who have endured trauma for special treatment.

Yet another measure, HB 2490, follows up on the recommendation of the Hawaii Juvenile Justice Working Group. The bill would reform the way juvenile detention is applied to cases, with the goal of reserving the youth detention space for those posing a higher risk, while alternative approaches are tried in lesser cases.

Hawaii seems to be lagging behind other states in implementing such strategies, Hipp said. And that's all the more reason why Hawaii should lose no more time in redirecting its programs aimed at helping its troubled youth.

read ... Change how we handle runaways

McDermott Lawsuit Against Gay Marriage Thrown Out of Court

SA: Attorney General David Louie has argued that the state Legislature was within its power when it approved a gay marriage bill in special session last fall. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law.

Shawn Luiz, an attorney for McDermott, told the court that the Legislature needed to place another constitutional amendment before voters in order to change a 1998 constitutional amendment that gave the Legislature the power to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

McDermott, an Ewa Beach Republican who opposes gay marriage, said he would appeal the court's ruling.

read ... Courts are Home to the Gay Ruling Class

The End Approaches: DoE Vainly Pitches $14M Appropriation for Teacher Evaluations

SA: Much of our students’ successes are linked to the extraordinary work of our educators. In fact, research shows that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement, outside of family factors.

To support their efforts, Hawaii’s new statewide teacher evaluation and support system provides every teacher the timely and actionable feedback and support they need and deserve to improve their instruction to better serve students. We aimed high to design the best system possible based on national research, local data and teacher and principal feedback. While no system will be perfect, this approach of “striving high” is the new way of doing business in Hawaii public education.

The new Educator Effectiveness System (EES) includes multiple measures to better understand both teachers’ professional practice and their impact on student achievement. ...

It is also why, this legislative session, we are requesting $14 million to fund the Weighted Student Formula (WSF), money allotted to principals to use at their discretion....

As Explained Jan 19, 2014: HSTA Trying to Worm out of Evaluations

read ... About an Effort Doomed from the Start 

Admission: Jr. Kindergarten Repealed "To Give Momentum to Preschool Efforts"

CB: The upcoming change is the result of a law passed by the 2012 Legislature to repeal the state’s junior kindergarten program. The program was established as part of a 2004 law creating a two-tiered kindergarten system “to support the range of developmental abilities of children.” In other words, children who would’ve turned 5 after the start of the school year — between Aug. 2 and the end of the calendar year — would be separated from their older peers and placed in a program more suited to their learning needs.

But Flynn and other early education advocates, including Education Committee Chairwoman Sen. Jill Tokuda, highlight the shortcomings of the junior kindergarten program.

“Nothing essentially changed. People kept registering not really realizing what (junior kindergarten) was,” said Flynn, who formerly served as director of preschool efforts for Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, a coalition of state agencies aimed at strengthening the pipeline from early childhood through higher education.

“It was business as usual all these years — until now.”

The program was repealed in part to give momentum to current preschool efforts.

Ed Week: Hawaii Poised to Add Pre-K to State's Offerings

read ... Pre K Push

Fired Honolulu Cop's File Illustrates Lack of Public Insight into Misconduct

CB: On Sept. 23, 2011, Honolulu police officer James Easley was fired after a woman accused him of raping her on the hood of his patrol car.

But how the Honolulu Police Department was handling the case was never made public and because he was never charged with a crime, no court record existed.

The only public reference to the incident was a line in an annual report to the Legislature that said an officer had been fired for not answering his radio and for conducting “personal business while on duty.” He was not named and no other details were provided.

Now, more than two years after Easley's termination some details are being made public. But that is only after Civil Beat paid hundreds of dollars to the Honolulu Police Department for records. And it took the agency a year to provide them.

Easley's case illustrates how difficult it is for the public to check on police misconduct and whether police officials are effectively addressing it, including removing bad cops from the street....

Hawaii Sen. Will Espero and Rep. Karl Rhoads have introduced identical bills — Senate Bill 2591 and House Bill 1812 — to force Hawaii’s four police departments to disclose more information about officer misconduct.

PDF: James Easley investigation

read ... Termination Records

Hirono, Hanabusa Among 58 Endorsing Clinton for President 

TH: Fifty-eight Democratic lawmakers say they would endorse Hillary Clinton for president if she launches a 2016 White House bid, according to a survey conducted by The Hill. [SEE COMPLETE LIST]

Twenty-two congressional Democrats had already publicly endorsed Clinton. An additional 36 members told The Hill that if Clinton runs, they would back her in the Democratic primary.

read ... As Hanabusa goes, so goes Hillary?

The Diplomat Runs Lengthy Hanabusa Interview

TD: The Diplomat’s Justin McDonnell spoke with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa [D-HI1] about the U.S. “pivot,” the TPP, immigration, and the role of Hawaii in America’s Asia-Pacific strategy.

Bonus: Does America Have Any Naval Strategists Anymore?

read .. The Diplomat

HIRA Doesn't Hurt GOP Fundraising Much

PR: HIRA has scheduled an inaugural Ronald Reagan Liberty and Freedom Dinner on Feb. 6 at the Pearl Country Club, the same month as the GOP's annual Lincoln Day dinner, the party's fundraising staple.

In a coup, HIRA has secured as keynote speaker Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the top draw for national conservatives.

The state GOP, meanwhile, has Martha McSally -- the first female fighter pilot in combat, who is running for Congress in Arizona -- as the keynote speaker for Lincoln Day on Feb. 20 at the Koolau Ballrooms and Conference Center.

David Chang, the state GOP chairman, does not think the competition with HIRA has damaged the party's fundraising ability.

"So far, we haven't seen it hurt us that much," he said.

SA: Lingle maintains low profile as teacher on public policy

read ... Much Ado

Hawaii Beverage Tax: Here They Go Again

NHBT: The good news in the 2014 Hawaii legislative session is that legislators have heard loud and clear from consumers and businesses like you that a beverage tax is not the way to address obesity.  Although beverage tax legislation remains alive from 2013, there were no new beverage taxes introduced this year.

However, some in the state legislature have come up with an even crazier idea to attack beverages this year - by seeking to prohibit any beverage container larger than 16 ounces!!!

There may be a legislative hearing on this proposal in the next couple of weeks.  We will need your support to let legislators know that you don't need the government dictating the size of your beverage!

read ...  SB2693 Would Ban Soda, Juice, Latte Over 16oz

Anti-GMO Morons Counting on Wooley to Save Them

KGI: The bills, House Bill 2506 and Senate Bill 3058, would expand the state’s Right to Farm Act of 2001 by adding language that says, “The right of farmers and rangers to engage in modern farming and ranching will be forever guaranteed in this State.”

And that means exactly what you think. No one, at least not locally, could interfere with their practices....

it seems unlikely these bills will get far in this session — Chairwoman Jessica Wooley of the House Agriculture Committee said she doesn’t plan to hear them....

SA: Small Gaggle of Anti-GMO Protesters at Capitol

read ... Wooley Leads the Flock

Protestors, lawmakers demand more oversight of Kakaako development

HNN: Protestors marched "to Save Kaka'ako" Wednesday morning from Mother Waldron Park to the Capitol, demanding more transparency in the Kaka'ako development process and a halt to plans for as many as 37 new high-rises until the impact on the area is more thoroughly studied.

"We must stand up for the Hawaii that we want. This is sacred land, land that we love. How can we let developers build on it and walk away?" said Sharon Moriwaki of Kaka'ako United....

"Our goal is to have an HCDA board that will be more independent and that will be more responsive to the general public and that will also keep in mind the overall purpose which is to create a mix-use area within that region," explained Representative Scott Saiki (D – Downtown, Kaka'ako, McCully).

Legislators aren't the only ones with concerns.

Organizations like Kaka'ako United claim HCDA isn't representing their community interests – especially the need for more affordable housing in the area.  But agency officials say that's not the case, and point to construction of Halekauwila Place, which is scheduled for completion this March, as proof.

"Affordable to families of four making a maximum of $58,000 and that they would have an opportunity to rent perhaps a three bedroom unit in town for no more than, let's say, $1,300 - $1,500 max," described HCDA Executive Director Anthony Ching.

read ... Protest

SB3122: Clayton Hee Pushes Condo Development on OHA Kakaako land

SA: Condominium towers could sprout in Kakaako just makai of Ala Moana Boulevard if a bill sought by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs is approved by the Legislature.

OHA is seeking the legislation to increase the value of 25 acres between Kewalo Basin and Honolulu Harbor that it received two years ago in a historic settlement with the state for deferred ceded land revenue valued at $200 million.

The measure, Senate Bill 3122, comes eight years after the Legislature prohibited residential development in the same area known as Kakaako Makai after public protests against a plan by local developer Alexander &Baldwin Inc. to build three condo towers on what is now one of the OHA parcels....

Sen. Clayton Hee, a former OHA trustee and co-sponsor of the recent bill, said his view is that OHA should have gotten more in its settlement with the state. His preference, though, is that only OHA's land fronting Ala Moana should be approved for condo development.

"The highest revenue generation, as evidenced by what's going on in Kakaako, is condominiums," said Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua). "It would provide a tremendous revenue-generating income for Hawaiians."

Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria (D, Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki) said he shares the view that OHA didn't get enough in its settlement, accepting the land appraised at roughly $200 million.

"(The bill)is designed to give them what they need,"he said, adding that he doesn't anticipate that residential use will be granted for all of OHA's Kakaako land.

Other senators who introduced the bill at OHA's request are Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-Mililani Mauka), Gilbert Kahele (D, Hilo), Michelle Kidani (D, Mililani-Waikele-Kunia) and Malama Solomon (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo).  Six other senators have signed on to the bill.

Star-Adv: Spike OHA's Kakaako proposal

read ... OHA Kakaako

HB2141 Will Allow Local Investors to be Scammed by Mainland Solar Schemers

HPR: HB2141 will be heard by the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection on Thursday, January 30 at 8:30 am in Room 325.

read ... HB2141

Five Years Later Hawaii Hydrogen Hype Exposed as Hot Air

CB: The eternal promise of hydrogen-fueled vehicles has led to a longstanding joke about them. The great future of hydrogen cars is just five years away — and it has been for the past five decades.

As has often been the case, there was a surge of hope when General Motors officials arrived in Honolulu in December 2010 to announce a partnership with The Gas Co. — now known as Hawaii Gas — that would "make hydrogen available to all of Oahu's one million residents by 2015." As part of the plan, as many as 25 hydrogen fueling stations would be built on Oahu to support as many as 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The promise of hydrogen cars, which have zero emissions and long driving ranges, seemed to be on the verge. Hawaii would be at the epicenter of a technological revolution. So it was hardly surprising that the collaboration, originally announced during a 2012 press conference in Honolulu, attracted a slew of local and national news coverage. USA Today went with the headline: Hawaii Becomes General Motors’ Hydrogen Paradise.

The hype has subsided, 2015 is approaching, and the hydrogen-vehicle future doesn't seem to be much closer than it was a few years ago.

The fueling stations — which were estimated in 2010 to cost between $1.2 million and $2 million each, but which have turned out to be more expensive — have not been built.

God is Five Years Away: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read ... About Pie in the Sky

Nightmare: 21 Giant Windfarms Proposed for Hawaii

IM: Castle & Cooke hired AWS to map out areas of Maui and Oahu that could be converted to wind farms.  The table below presents their data and also includes sites identified in other AWS Reports and by various wind developers....

read ... Hawai`i Wind Resources

Jones Act Keeps Saudi Oil Competitive

B: The posted price for light crude from Texas’s Eagle Ford shale formation has climbed 0.5 percent in the past year to $93.75 a barrel, according to the marketing division of Plains All American Pipeline LP. (PAA) That compares with $98.79 for light Saudi Arabian crude and $96.29 for the equivalent Iraqi grade, plus $3.38 for shipping to the U.S. West Coast, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shipping between U.S. ports costs more than international voyages in part because a 94-year-old law called the Jones Act requires domestic cargoes to travel on U.S.-built, -owned and - crewed vessels. A qualifying tanker commands record rates close to $100,000 a day, according to MJLF & Associates, a broker. That’s about 10 times more than a tanker of the same size that doesn’t meet the requirements, according to data from Clarkson Plc (CKN), the world’s largest shipbroker....

The oceangoing Jones Act fleet of about 85 ships is fully booked, with no tankers available for one-time cargoes....

read ... Keeping The Tribute Flowing

AP: Global Cooling Protects Hawaii from Chinese Air Pollution

SA: Atmospheric conditions caused by lower-than-normal sea temperatures have kept the worst of Asia's air pollution from drifting over Hawaii during the past dozen years or so.

That's one of the findings in a new study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, that solves the mystery of why Hawaii has largely escaped the growing amounts of Asia-produced ozone pollution that drift eastward with springtime winds.

Jan 28, 2014: Temps Decline During Four Decades of "Global Warming" on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii

read ... Lower-than-normal Sea temperatures

Hawaii AG May Spend $3 Million to Investigate Matson, Defend State

CB: Attorney General David Louie and First Deputy Attorney General Russell Suzuki submitted testimony to House Finance Committee on Wednesday afternoon, estimating that the total cost of “extraordinary litigation” in the next year and a half could exceed $3 million.

The House Finance Committee is meeting on Thursday afternoon to consider the office’s request, which is contained in House Bill 2248.

A companion proposal, Senate Bill 2797, has been referred to the Senate judiciary and finance committees but hasn’t yet been scheduled for a hearing.

The AG’s office has requested $1 million in an emergency appropriation to cover the various costs associated with handling four cases, as well as to hire five new staff attorneys and paralegals.

The office estimates that investigating and suing Matson could cost as much as $1.69 million over the next 18 months. The shipping company’s leaky pipeline sent 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor last fall, killing thousands of fish and other sea life.

The AG's office has retained the San Francisco law firm, Bingham, to seek damages from Matson. The office's $1.69 million estimate includes $900,000 in legal fees, $700,000 in experts’ fees, and $90,000 for travel and other expenses.

read ... Expensive Hype

Court Records: Obama's Puck's Alley drug dealer beaten to death with ball peen hammer by gay lover

DM: Raymond Boyer was known as 'Gay Ray' to Obama and his marijuana smoking 'Choom Gang' of privately-educated kids at Hawaiian high school

Ray was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in 1986, seven years after he supplied the future president and his friends with drugs

Lover Andrew Devere, a male prostitute, gave police a variety of reasons for the murder

He said surfer Boyer put him down constantly and broke wind in his face

Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence

Devere's new wife Elizabeth told MailOnline doing drugs is fine if you are rich and 'have the tools to deal with it' but not if you are poor with problems 

(So he chose not to be gay any longer.  Amazing.)

Background: Book: Obama's Puck's Alley Drug Dealer Killed by Gay Lover

read ... Pretty typical Gay Murder

Hawaii’s home ‘flip’ rate among lowest in U.S.

PBN: Hawaii had one of the lowest rates of home “flips” in the United States in 2013, according to figures released by RealtyTrac.

The real estate tracking service said Hawaii had 47 flips in 2013, accounting for just .06 percent of all home sales. That’s less than half of the 100 flips that occurred in 2012. Only a handful of states had a lower flip rate, including South Dakota, which had none, Kansas, Alaska and Montana.

A “flip” is when someone buys a home and sells it in six months or less.

read ... No Speculators Here

Streamlined Permitting could ease path to restoring Hawaiian ponds

MN: Cultural practitioners working to restore and preserve traditional Hawaiian fishponds don't simply need to wrestle heavy rocks into place in waist-deep water. First, government agencies have them navigate a bureaucratic maze of permits and regulations.

Fishpond restoration projects have been required to comply with as many as 17 regulations and to obtain permits from agencies as varied as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Health's Clean Water Branch and the state's Coastal Zone Management Program, said Brenda Asuncion, statewide coordinator of Hui Malama Loko I'a.

The hui, a group of fishpond practitioners, advocates streamlining the government permitting process, and Asuncion said Wednesday that the process is the "main hinderance" blocking those who'd undertake a fishpond restoration as a "labor of love." These groups lack the expertise to obtain government permits or the thousands of dollars needed to hire a consultant to get them on their behalf.

read ... Effort could ease path to restoring Hawaiian ponds

Many state agency websites still earn failing grades

ILind: I’ve done quick reviews back in 2011 (“Many state agencies fail to post meeting agendas or minutes online“) and again in 2012 (“Have state agencies gotten any better at posting meeting minutes online?“).

Today I returned to those agencies that did poorly in the earlier round of reviews to see whether there’s been any improvement. By and large, the answer is “No.”

read ... Failure



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