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Saturday, May 17, 2014
May 17, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:59 PM :: 4086 Views

Hawaii Republicans Get Back to Basics at Today's State Convention

May 16, 2014: Election Commission Releases Updated Candidate List

Search Tool: Where Politicians Spend Your Money

Chamber of Commerce 23 Harmful Bills Stopped in Legislature

OHA Scandal is the Inevitable Result of their Rhetoric

Sea Shepherd accused of using 'pirate' tactics in Hawaii

KITV: Diver Makani Christensen is friends with two brothers who were gathering aquarium fish in Keawaiki Bay when they were approached and recorded by several Sea Shepherd divers. The encounter ended with one of the brothers seeming to rip the regulator out of the mouth of Rene Umberger, a local Big Island diver working on behalf of Sea Shepherd.

Christensen told KITV4 Sea Shepherd is now using its confrontational open-ocean tactics underwater. Although he doesn't condone violence beneath the waves, he said the two brothers were provoked.

"You know, that's just not right for another entity to come down and harass these individuals while they're diving," said Christensen. "It's their livelihood and it's a sustainable crop; it's a sustainable fishery."...

Sea Shepherd's tactics have been called into question. In February 2013 federal Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco labeled the organization "pirates" in a civil lawsuit initiated by Japanese whale hunters.

"You don't need a peg leg or an eye patch," Kozinski wrote in his opinion. "When you ram ships, hurl glass containers of acid, drag metal reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders, launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks, and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be."

And now they are attacking working divers off Hawaii ....

read ... Eco-Terrorists

Sen. Hee Gets Dem Convention Speaking Role, But 6 CD1 Candidates Shut Out

CB: State Sen. Clayton Hee, who entered the race for Hawaii lieutenant governor Sunday, will have a speaking role at the Democratic Party of Hawaii's state convention over Memorial Day Weekend.

That has upset some party officials, who wonder why Hee gets to speak but six Democrats running for the 1st Congressional District will not be allowed to address delegates at the Sheraton Waikiki.

A draft agenda of the two-day convention lists Hee as a speaker on May 25 along with another state senator, David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Ige was initially not scheduled to speak but has since been given a spot after complaints about fairness were made....

PDF: Everything you need to know about Clayton Hee

read ... Sen. Hee Gets Convention Speaking Role, But 6 CD1 Candidates Shut Out

Former OHA Trustee Backs Crabbe

FH: OHA trustees  and the Roll Commission say they are “only facilitating” our people’s  quest in nation-building. However, OHA refused to address concerns  raised by our Native Hawaiian community throughout these islands at town  hall meetings, including an island-wide gathering April 10-11 at OHA  headquarters in Honolulu.

There is concern an election for  delegates to a Native Hawaiian Constitutional Convention at this time is  premature, and is being hosted before the Native Hawaiian community at  large is fully informed. An educational process throughout these  islands is necessary first. 

We must not allow this very delicate,  crucial process to be stampeded into a September election led by the  Roll Commission and OHA. It is not pono for the facilitator of  the nation-building process to attempt to “steer” the canoe. 

OHA  trustees should not have rescinded Crabbe’s request. He was following  the policy the trustees unanimously — and correctly — voted into effect  last November.

read ... Former OHA Trustee Backs Crabbe

State to scale back Failed Obamacare Exchange

SA: Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration is proposing to downsize part of Hawaii's health insurance exchange for small businesses, echoing a similar sentiment by the head of the state's largest medical insurer.

Beth Giesting, the governor's health care transformation coordinator, told Hawaii Health Connector board members at a meeting Friday that the state doesn't need to fully build the small-business health options program, known as SHOP, since few employer groups and workers would benefit. Hawaii already has a long-standing Prepaid Health Care Act requiring employers to provide health insurance for full-time workers, a practice that is responsible for insuring the bulk of the population.

The state and Connector should seek flexibility from the federal government to enroll small businesses so that it doesn't waste additional taxpayer dollars to build unnecessary components of the SHOP exchange, she said. One part of the exchange handles individual sign-ups, and the other part, small-business enrollment.

"We don't really want American taxpayers or Hawaii taxpayers to be paying more for a system that doesn't have a whole lot of functionality," she said. "We want to simplify it and not build things that don't really add value or that are either going to cost a lot now or a lot in the long run."

read ... State to push to scale back exchange

Regents Will Quit if Financial Secrets Exposed

SA: Members serving on the board governing the University of Hawaii system are uneasy about pending legislation that would require them to file financial disclosure statements as public rec­ord, with at least one regent promising to resign if the bill becomes law....

Regent John Dean, president and CEO of Central Pacific Financial Corp. and Central Pacific Bank, said he'll "for sure" resign.

"Just for the record, and for everyone, obviously, I would resign. I'm willing to share my personal information with the Ethics Commission, but I have no interest in sharing it with the entire state of Hawaii," Dean, whose term on the board runs through 2017, said at the meeting.

The bill also would make public the financial interests of members of the state Ethics Commission, Public Utilities Commission, Hawaii Community Development Authority, Board of Land and Natural Resources, Land Use Commission and Hawaiian Homes Commission, among others....

Senate Bill 2682 adds members of the Board of Regents and 14 other state boards and commissions to the list of public officials whose financial disclosure forms would be public rec­ords and available on the Ethics Commission's website for inspection and duplication.

The final version of the bill passed unanimously in both chambers, with a 25-0 vote in the state Senate and a 50-0 vote in the state House, and has been sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for final approval....

ILind: UH Regents reportedly to oppose new financial disclosure requirements

read ... Hiding Something

Regents Grab for Tuition Money to Line Contractors Pockets

SA: The University of Hawaii's controversial plan to divert tuition revenue toward its massive repair and maintenance backlog flopped at the Legislature, with lawmakers instead authorizing state bonds for less than a quarter of the money UH said it needed to start fast-tracking the work.

read ... Tuition still a target to fund repairs

HECO Seeks to Skip Competitive Bidding to Keep Solar Expensive

IM: Hawaiian Electric Company has asked the Public Utilities Commission for waivers from the competitive bidding procurement process for almost a dozen solar projects on O`ahu.

The proposed waivers were submitted as three packages, two involving facilities to be owned by Independent Power Producers and one for a HECO-owned facility.

The average price in the first round submitted to the Public Utilities Commission was 15.9 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). This dropped to an average of 15.6 cents per kWh in the second round.

HECO’s proposal raises this up to 16.1 cents per kWh.

read ... Hawaiian Electric

Dark Weather Continues for Hawaii's Solar Industry

CB: The skies over the solar electric industry on Oahu continued to be gray during the first four months of this year.

There were 577 photovoltaic system permits issued by the City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting in April compared to 1,178 issued the previous April, a 51 percent drop and the 13th straight month of year-over-year decline.

Between January and April of 2013, 4,185 PV permits were issued. During the January-to-April period of 2014, just 2,466 PV permits were issued — a decrease of 41 percent from the previous year.

Despite hopes that HECO’s February announcement to increase solar PV penetration in 100 percent daytime minimum load (DML) circuits would lead to a reopening of the floodgates, no such movement is evident in an increase in new sales and installations.

read ... Dark Weather Continues for Hawaii's Solar Industry

Electric Cars: More Free handouts Demanded

HNN: A law forcing parking lots with 100 stalls to have stations passed, but it didn't have any power because there is no penalty for noncompliance.  A proposal to fine property owners who break the law failed last session....

"The downside mainly is when you are a parking garage and you sell parking, you're limiting the amount of money you are going to earn," said Andrew Friedlander, Colliers International Principal Broker. "It's good for the electric vehicles, it's good for the environment, I'm all in favor of it, but you're being forced to do it by government."

Electric vehicle owners get a lot of other perks besides free charging.  They don't have to pay for metered parking and can use the high occupancy vehicle lane with only one person.

read ... More Freebies for Eco-Elite

Sick-leave abuse Makes Arizona Prisons Look Good

SA: Since the start of the year, the Oahu Community Correctional Center has canceled a whopping 18 of 22 visitation days, due to staff shortages because adult corrections officers (ACOs) called in sick.

Outages tend to occur on weekends, especially around big sports events: on Super Bowl Sunday, for instance, about a third of 214 scheduled ACOs called in sick. Many of the guards who do show up work double shifts, which strains both alertness and the overtime budget. Prison overtime cost taxpayers $2.6 million in fiscal 2013....

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has made a vigorous push for returning Hawaii inmates from mainland prisons; about 30 percent of our inmates are on the mainland, and the state is nearing the end of a three-year, $136.5 million contract with a private operator housing some 1,700 Hawaii inmates in Arizona prisons.

Much of the rationale for return involves saving money, but much also is made about the rehabilitative benefits to inmates having family and a support system nearby.

Studies show that such interaction during incarceration does translate into more successful integration upon release and lowered recidivism -- and that's ultimately good for lowering crime in communities.

But that rationale sounds terribly tinny if the Abercrombie administration doesn't get a handle on chronic cancellation of visitation days, caused by staffers' overtime abuse; no visitation nullifies the need for prison proximity.

Adding to the alarm about the prisons situation were revelations this week about overtime abuse also occurring regularly at the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe. A state Senate Special Investigative Committee probing allegations of misconduct and dangerous work conditions at the hospital heard troubling details of how workers frequently "game the system" by calling in sick on scheduled days and taking overtime shifts on their days off.

read ... Sick Leave Abuse

Homeless People Choosing 2014 Tent Cities Over Shelters

LP: ...overflowing with garbage, old food, drug paraphernalia and human waste, CNN Money reported. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, encampments continue to rise while there is already estimated to be more than 100 of these tent cities scattered throughout the U.S.

"There have been increasing reports of homeless encampments emerging in communities across the country, primarily in urban and suburban areas and spanning states as diverse as Hawaii, Alaska, California and Connecticut," the law center stated in its study.

read ... Homeless People Choosing 2014 Tent Cities Over Shelters

HPD Shoots Mentally Ill Homeless Female, She Gets $195K

HNN: A Hawaii News Now investigation obtained dramatic video of a mentally ill homeless woman just moments before police shot her with a gun and Taser five years ago, a case that resulted in an excessive force ruling against the city and raises questions about how police handle the mentally ill on the streets.

The video from a police officer's Taser gun, shows Yvonne Arsisto backing away from at least three police officers at the corner of King Street and Kalakaua Avenue after midnight on April 3, 2009....

He said police are taught as recruits, and in recurring training, about how to deal with a mentally ill person who may be having an episode.  For instance, he said, officers should change their tone of voice, word choice, and back up instead of moving forward toward a person who's encountering a severe mental problem.

Christopher said police psychologists are available 24 hours a day for officers to call and those psychologists can authorize a person to be sent to a hospital against their will for mental evaluation.

"The goal is to divert as many people out of the criminal justice system so that we don't clog up the courts with misdemeanor crimes that are the result of untreated mental illness," Christopher said.

Christopher said mentally ill people are diverted from the cellblock to a hospital about 85 percent of the time police officers call in a psychologist for consultation.  That amounts to roughly 3,500 cases in 2012, the last year for which figures are available.

HPD said only about three percent of those cases involve arresting the mentally ill person for a crime.

The state Department of Health provides up to $605,000 a year to HPD to fund psychologists and a psychiatric technician.  The state funding also pays for four psychiatric nurses who evaluate suspects in HPD's main cellblock, Christopher said.  The department plans to add more nurses to cellblock in the coming year, he said.

read ... Jackpot!

Money Crowd Pushes Insured to Just Die Already

HTH: He laid out four points he thinks could help reshape the issue of health care costs — ending medical homelessness, ending high blood pressure, rewarding good health and ending uninformed dying.

Taniguchi was one of three speakers at “The Crisis of Cost in Healthcare” event.

Luis Salaveria, representing the state Department of Budget and Finance, and Mike Sayama with IDEAS Health, also spoke about various issues relating to health care locally, statewide and nationally.

Sayama started his presentation with a warning, saying not addressing government spending on health care is an unwise option.

“It will drive the deficit. It will eat everything up,” he said.

Pointing to a slide about the cost of dying, Sayama noted the cost of provided care 7.4 months before dying causes health care costs to spike.

“The question is what’s the value of spending this money the last few months of life. If it creates a meaningful life and improves the quality of life, then I think we would all say that it is worth it,” he said. “But if it doesn’t, and we wonder why did we do that then wonder if that’s what the person really wanted, then that’s an area that the community has to address. It’s a sensitive area.”

read ... You Peasants are Just too Expensive for Us Insurers

UH Board of Regents Will Fake it one more time, then Select Lassner June 2

UH: The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents has scheduled a special public meeting with both presidential candidate finalists on Tuesday, May 27 starting at 9 a.m. at the UH Information Technology Center on the UH Mānoa campus....

Following the candidates’ meetings with the board, the regents will meet in executive session.

On Monday, June 2 at 1 p.m., at the UH Information Technology Center on the UH Mānoa campus, the board will meet in an open session to conduct a formal vote on the next UH president.

UH: Watch the videos from the UH president finalists forums

read ... Lassner Already Chosen, duh! 

Shake up in Maui Police Department, Chief quits

KHON: Hawaii News Now has learned that the Maui Police Chief is resigning just shy of his five year anniversary.

Chief Gary Yabuta announced that he is leaving the department in two weeks for a job on the federal level.  Yabuta will have a major role in HIDTA -- which stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

HIDTA is a federal program administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and it's main focus is to dismantle drug operations.

HIDTA is in states all over the country and made up of law enforcement from every level.  Hawaii's office is on Oahu.

read ... Shake up in Maui Police Department, Chief quits

Laie, Hickam is Top Bicycle Commuter Centers

CB: According to data-happy crunchers at Hawaii DBEDT, just 1 percent of us — 6,332 people — dared to ride a bike to work from 2008 to 2012.

That’s up from 4,900 cyclists, however, in 2000. So, there’s progress.

The highest percentages were in Laie and the housing area at the Hickam base.

read ... Bicycle Commuters

Kauai police chief runs for county council

KITV: The Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk on Kauai announced on Friday that Police Chief Darryl D. Perry has filed nomination papers to officially become a candidate for the Kauai County Council in the 2014 Elections.

read ... Kauai police chief runs for county council

Alaskan Native Corp Loses $24M in Hawaii Deal

AD: Sealaska Corp. had an operating loss of $35 million last year and a 22 percent drop in revenue, the Native corporation said in an annual report released Thursday.

Sealaska said the largest of its losses was $24 million at subsidiary Sealaska Constructors, but said the company had taken steps to limit the losses.

The management of the subsidiary has been "released," the report said, without providing additional details. It said bidding on new projects has been halted. The problems stemmed from civil construction projects in Hawaii on which the company underestimated construction costs when bidding.

The company provided some written answers to questions from Alaska Dispatch, but declined to say exactly how big the projects were, although officials maintained they were multimillion dollar contracts.

Sealaska Constructors specializes in 8(a) contracting on federal projects in which the company’s status as a Native-owned company gives it bidding preference. 

The news did not sit well with some of Sealaska’s 21,600 shareholders.

"It literally made me sick to my stomach,” said Carlton Smith, a shareholder and a City and Borough of Juneau assembly member. “The results for 2013 were far worse than I thought they would be."

PDF: Sealaska Annual Report

read ... Losing in Hawaii



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