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Sunday, March 9, 2014
March 9, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:53 PM :: 4548 Views

HB1503: Prohibit Landlords from Evicting Marijuana Smokers

Whither the Independent Appeals Officer?

Hawaii National Guard builds global partnerships, proven on battlefield

Precisely as Expected: Abercrombie Uses Failure of Obamacare to Call for Single Payer

SA: The stumbling of the Hawaii Health Connector, the online health insurance marketplace, could open the door for the state to consider replacing it with a single-payer system for health insurance, an option Gov. Neil Abercrombie favors.

"A single-payer system is one of several options in achieving universal health care coverage, which is the ultimate goal," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The single-payer option was the only one listed by Abercrombie when asked what might take the place of the Connector....

"There are a few states that have been thinking single-payer all along," said Frances Miller, a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, who teaches health care regulation and finance at Boston University. "The more this whole thing gets to be a mess the exchange business the more it looks like an attractive option. You hear all the time that Abercrombie's interested in single-payer."...

A single-payer system would mean Hawaii's 1974 Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage to full-time workers, a practice that has worked to insure the bulk of the population, would no longer be needed.

"If we do go down the road of universal health care, whether it's single-payer or some other form, you probably won't need the Prepaid Health Care Act because we'll find an alternative way to cover every single life," said Blake Oshiro, the governor's deputy chief of staff. "He (Abercrombie) really wants to see us moving down the road to universal coverage."...

Among other alternatives the state could pursue is having the federal government run the exchange to "get out from the whole mess," Miller said.....

read ... Precisely as they have been Planning All Along

Abercrombie's about-face on HCDA rewards war chest

Shapiro: ...Most stunning is Gov. Neil Abercrombie's reversal.

As a state legislator in 1976, he opposed creating HCDA to bypass the city's planning, and as a congressman he called for its abolition as recently as 2005.

But as governor, he's been HCDA's biggest champion, stacking its board with pro-development interests.

His chief of staff, Bruce Coppa, is former head of Pacific Resource Partnership, the alliance of the Carpenters Union and contractors that's leading the public relations charge for Kakaako development.

The 2006 Legislature didn't abolish HCDA as Abercrombie urged, but lawmakers did ban residential development makai of Ala Moana Boulevard to preserve the coast.

Now Abercrombie wants to undo even that gesture to the community; he gave makai property to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a ceded lands deal and backs legislation to allow its development as a Hawaiian rights issue.

Kakaako and other pro-development schemes such as the failed Public Lands Development Corporation have cost Abercrombie some of his oldest friends, but his new friends have larded his campaign treasury with $3.5 million as of January to fend off his growing list of challengers.

read ... Bought n Paid For

Abercrombie woos seniors, but they’re not buying it

Borreca: The cries of a politician in trouble are unmistakable, and today, they are coming from Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

On Thursday, in an interview with Star-Advertiser reporter Derrick DePledge, Abercrombie blasted his primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, for not approving Abercrombie's package of tax breaks for seniors.

"You'll have to ask the Ways and Means chairman why he thinks it's a good idea not to give tax relief to seniors," said Abercrombie.

"There's obviously some kind of political agenda operating there."

The agenda belongs to Abercrombie, who three years ago saw his popularity nose-dive after proposing his own series of new taxes on seniors....

Back in 2011, besides wanting to tax pensions, Abercrombie also called for dropping the state-funded reimbursement for federal Medicare Part B benefits to state workers. Taking away government workers benefits outside of the bargaining table is not permitted, although Abercrombie insisted he could do it.

In defending the pension tax, he repeatedly said he would not tax "those most dependent on their pensions." In reality, Abercrombie's bill would have gone after anyone with an adjusted gross income of $37,500 and up.

Now, the new Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now poll showed that in a race between Abercrombie and Ige, although the governor leads Ige by single digits, Abercrombie loses the senior vote. Ige wins seniors, 44 percent to 39 percent.

read ... Abercrombie woos seniors, but they’re not buying it

ILWU Preparing to Endorse Ige?

Borreca: "Under my leadership, the Committee on Ways and Means killed this bill that would have taxed retiree pensions," Ige said.

Now, Ige said that his committee is moving its own relief package that includes refundable food and tax credits, state help for long-term care services and more money for state programs for seniors.

When the Senate's Human Services Committee heard Abercrombie's senior tax bills, some of the must nuanced testimony came from the politically powerful labor union, the ILWU.

On all three bills, the ILWU questioned the equity in prescribing tax breaks just for those 65 and older.

"While it is nice to provide an extra perk for those 65 and older, we question the rationale," the union said in testimony.

"If the bill were to double the tax credit only for those below a certain income threshold, there may be more justification ... caution should be exercised lest legislators be viewed as looking out only for the interests of seniors," the union advised.

Same Pattern: Quid pro Quo? HSTA Endorses Ige for Governor

read ... But First they Must Extract Something

Hawai`i Energy Bills Alive & Moving Forward

IM: On Monday the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce willhear a bill that would make public the annual financial disclosure statements currently filed by PUC Commissioners. (SB 2682 SD1)...

The Committee will also hear a bill which will increase the Public Utilities Commission's authority to handle their operational expenditures and the hiring of personnel.  (SB 2948 SD1).

On Tuesday the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection willhear a bill which requires the public utilities commission to initiate a proceeding to address the technical, policy, and economic issues associated with the modernization of Hawaii's electricity grids.  (SB 2656 SD2) A similar bill passed the House and is now before the Senate. (HB 1943 HD2).

The House Committee will also hear a bill to replace the ethanol facility tax credit with a renewable fuels production income tax credit that covers biodiesel as well as ethanol. (SB2197, SD2)

A bill to overhaul and modernize the Public Utilities Commission has passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Committee on Consumer Protection & Commerce. (SB 451 SD1) ...

The House also passed a bill to set up a Task Force to examine the HECO, MECO and HELCO franchises. The Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Senate and House Energy and Utility committees would serve on the task force. This includes seven Democrats and one Republican. The bill is now before the Senate. (HB1999 HD3)...

read ... Hawai`i Energy Bills Alive & Moving Forward

GMO crops reduce use of pesticides

SA: At a recent special meeting on pesticides hosted by the North Shore Neighborhood Board, a statement was made that the use of GMO crops represented a "pesticide-centered technology."

This is a totally false statement; nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the main characteristics of GMO (genetically modified organism) crops is that they are resistant to insects. This is because they contain a minute amount of a protein that prevents destructive caterpillars and beetles from feeding. This protein, known as Bt, is derived from a bacterium that is widely used by organic growers to kill caterpillars. As a result, these insect-resistant crops can be grown with much less insecticide use, resulting in less insecticide exposure to both the farm workers and consumers. Worldwide, these Bt crops have resulted in a 75 percent reduction in insecticide use.

read ... GMO crops reduce use of pesticides

UH's poor oversight adds costs to delayed project, audit says

SA: Coming not long after quarterback Colt Brennan and football coach June Jones had made headlines by blasting the state of UH facilities and Jones had bolted for Southern Methodist University, the Ching Foundation envisioned its $5 million for the Cooke Field project — the largest sum ever pledged to UH athletics — as a "transformative gift."

Six years later, the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex, as it is known, is the unintended symbol of another kind. Mired in controversy, delays and cost overruns, the latest estimate is $3 million above its planned $13.7 million budget and is still at least a month away from completion, UH officials said.

A report by the UH Office of Internal Audit released Wednesday cited deficiencies in managing and monitoring the project as well as a lack of communication. Board of Regents member Jeff Portnoy has described the issues plaguing the facility as indicative of a "University of Hawaii-wide problem."

Portnoy told the regents, "These are such basic, systemic issues. I mean, saying the (school) and architect and contractor should be meeting on a weekly basis is like common sense. If I'm (adding) on to my house, I have weekly meetings."

Portnoy added, "These kind of problems are systemic in state projects, from underbidding to multichange orders to the lack of communications. And, unfortunately, the Ching (Complex) became another example."

The audit report cited 31 post-construction design revisions and at least 248 days in delays. It noted the overrun includes $1.1 million in change order proposals "not yet approved and change order proposals that are anticipated but not yet prepared."

The audit said if the latest anticipated cost of $16,719,416 is exceeded, the "Office of Facilities and Grounds will need to locate additional funding sources for development costs."

read ... Poor Oversight Returns

Housing First: Caldwell vs Martin

SA: Caldwell has proposed allotting $18.9 million from the city's Affordable Housing Fund to the Housing First program, and carving out $3 million to fund support services for the chronically homeless who would be housed.

It's hard to dispute the success of Housing First, a strategy recognized as effective across the country. It provides units free to the most chronically homeless people so they can first get off the streets and then be helped by social outreach for their health problems.

However, Council Chairman Ernie Martin already has taken issue with the proposal because he favors spending public funds on families, rather than on the individuals who are the largest sector of the chronically homeless.

Certainly, some of the outlay has to be for families, especially given the appallingly unhealthy conditions confronted by children in the tent slums sprouting around the island.

However, there is a reason why advocates prioritize a narrower sector of the homeless population. At least initially, that is where the emphasis belongs.

Nationally, the federal funding support for Housing First has largely targeted those with some combination of physical or mental health issues and substance abuse concerns. The idea is that these people keep cycling through the social service and criminal justice systems in a way that leaves them vulnerable and compounds costs to the public. Providing stable housing interrupts this cycle and reduces recidivism.

Further, those served are likely to include children of adults with chronic problems, so some families will be helped. In any case, the Council and the mayor's office must find common ground and make measurable progress, without delay.

read ... Caldwell's budget worth considering

Save Our Kakaako coalition rallies against proposed development

KHON: Protesters don’t want OHA to change the landscape of this section of town. They say they are fighting for a law that was passed barring residential construction on this area.

“The coalition is not against OHA. We are not against the native Hawaiians. We are rallying on principle. The principle we are rallying on is, we want to keep the law intact.” Save Our Kakaako member Ron Iwami said.

read ... Save Our Kakaako

GMO debate: Earth Island Journal sees Opportunity to Control KSBE Land, Campbell Estate

GLP: ownership is “another vexed issue,” writes Mitra, also tied up in a long complicated history.

Hawaii is among the few US states that have more rented or leased farmland than farmer-owned properties (Illinois and Iowa are two other examples). Much of the state’s 280,000 acres of arable agricultural land belongs to trusts set up by erstwhile plantation barons and an educational trust called Kamehameha Schools, which was established by the last direct descendant of Hawaii’s last king, Kamehameha I. The trust owns about 365,000 acres across Hawaii.

These landowners prefer to strike deals with Big Ag outfits that can rent or buy huge land parcels in one go. Monsanto, for instance, bought 2,300 acres of prime agricultural land in Oahu from the James Campbell Estate in 2007 and has leased another 1,033 acres from Kamehameha Schools. In Kauai, Dow has a 50-year lease of 3,400 acres belonging to the Robinson family, one of the islands’ biggest landowners.

read ... Hawaii is ground zero for GMO debate: Earth Island Journal sees Opportunity to Seize KSBE Lands

Officer says he’s target of HPD retaliation

SA: A Honolulu police officer is suing the city and several of his supervisors, claiming that they retaliated against him after he complained about officers being allowed to go home early and still get paid for the rest of their shift.

Cpl. George Martin, who works in the Waianae District, also claims his supervisors didn't keep his name confidential after he reported the activity and instead discussed his complaints with other officers, resulting in his mental anguish and stress while on the job.

On Wednesday, the Honolulu Police Commission began deliberating on whether to provide legal representation for the three officers named as defendants in Martin's suit. A decision was not made.

read ... Officer says he’s target of HPD retaliation

Sovereignty Debate Just a Matter of Faith?

ILind: Perhaps I shouldn’t have revisited the Hawaiian sovereignty debate in my Civil Beat column this week (“Hawaii Monitor: Is Part of the Sovereignty Debate Just a Matter of Faith?“)....

There hasn’t been anything said so far that would undercut this thesis....

I’ve been over some of the same turf before in a post here back in September 2011 (“Reminder: Always check the footnotes“)....

Now, though, I’m going to try to stay away from this topic for a while.....

read ... Questioning matters of faith can be dangerous territory



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