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Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 1, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:52 PM :: 4608 Views

Abercrombie Capitulates, Financial Disclosure Will Become Law Without Signature

New age requirements push 6000 out of kindergarten

16 Bills Signed into Law

Hawaii Opioid Pain Pill Prescriptions 'only' 52 per 100 people--Lowest in USA

Heartless Abercrombie Viciously Slashes State Budget, Poor to be Hardest Hit

SA: The Abercrombie administration is restricting discretionary spending by state departments by 10 percent, or about $14 million, as a precautionary step until the economy has shown measurable signs of improvement, the state budget director said.

As of July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, departments received 90 percent of their general fund budgets for the first quarter of the year, Budget Director Kalbert Young said Wednesday. The remaining 10 percent could be restored in the coming months if actual tax collections meet the most recent forecast set by the state Council on Revenues.

In May, the Council reduced the forecast for the fiscal year that ended Monday to minus 0.4 percent, down from zero percent in its prior prediction. State House budget analysts estimate that the lower forecast would cost about $21.9 million and also drop the revenue base going forward.

read ... State discretionary budgets cut by 10%

Abercrombie's 10% budget restrictions begin Today

HNN: Abercrombie is restricting spending for 21 state departments beginning July 1 by nearly $14 million for the first quarter of the fiscal year, equal to about 10 percent of their discretionary funds.

"As long as revenues look like we could be in a situation where revenues are flat, we want to be very cautious about how we actually expend monies," said state Budget Director Kalbert Young.

Young said because state revenues are predicted to be flat to nearly a half percent lower for the fiscal year that ends Monday June 30, he doubled the spending restrictions from last year's five percent cut back.

"While the ten percent is, admittedly larger, it's still only preliminary and it's really until certain financial and fiscal matrix are more thoroughly evaluated for the state," Young told Hawaii News Now.

The restrictions mean departments will not be able to spend money buying new vehicles and other equipment, hiring new personnel or expanding new programs or starting new ones, at least for the next few months.

"Getting on to any expenditures of new programs, we want to be sure that the revenues will actually materialize before we start those programs and we want to be sure that we're on the right revenue path before we start implementing a new program," Young said.

Young said the smallest agencies, such as his Budget and Finance Department and the Agriculture Department, will be affected by the restrictions the most because they have the least budgetary wiggle room.

But Young said the Department of Education that runs public schools and other larger departments will be better equipped to adjust to the temporary cutback. He said the DOE has already asked for reconsideration from the cut, since it comes at the beginning of the school year when public schools have their largest start-up costs.

Maui News: Abercrombie Deserves More Respect

read ... Abercrombie at Work

Hospitals Face $11M in Cuts

KGI: A Kekaha man walked into the emergency room clutching his chest and complaining of pain.

He was dying of a heart attack. And there was no time to wait — he would be dead in minutes, if something wasn’t done quickly to save him.

Critical situations like these, Parker said, happen about 14,000 times each year at Hawaii Health Systems Corporation facilities on Kauai, where critical access medical services are provided at two hospitals and four clinics that rely heavily on state funding.

“It’s amazing quality and an amazing service that patients get,” said Parker, emergency room medical director at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital. “I’m shocked at how many times I’m at Mahelona, where we receive a lot of tourists, and I heard from them, ‘Oh wow, this is the best help I’ve ever had.’ It’s a tribute to what we do on very bare bones facilities and budgets.”

That budget, however, is now facing more intense scrutiny as HHSC board members on Kauai seek to address a projected $11 million budget shortfall facing the region by cutting costs and streamlining operations.

Labor costs alone, HHSC Kauai Regional Board Chair Wade Lord said, constitute 96 percent of the costs accrued by the regional arm of the nation’s fourth largest public health care system.

Star-Adv: No Excuse for Lack of Nursing Home Inspections

read ... Abercrombie at Work pt 2

Native Hawaiians on Kauai angrily reject federal recognition

KGI: Nearly 200 people filled the Waimea High School cafeteria after the meeting was relocated from the smaller Waimea Neighborhood Center to accommodate a larger crowd.

The U.S. Department of the Interior hearing featured deep emotions, anger, yelling, cheering and booing as speaker after speaker lashed out at the United States and reached into history to support the Native Hawaiian kingdom, which was overthrown in 1893.

Kekuni Pa blasted those who would propose such a concept, saying federal recognition is merely a deceptive way to deny Hawaiian rights and continue American "lies, deceptions, death and fraud."

"I tell you, if you give them federal recognition, they're going to take your land," Pa said angrily. "It's about your land and your money."

Kelanikumai Hanohano told the federal officials to take this message back to America: "Our nationality is Hawaiian. Hawaiians are not a race. We are not a tribe. We are not indigenous Americans. We are Hawaiian."

KGI: First of 2 Native Hawaiian meetings met with opposition

WHT: Native Hawaiian recognition: Hawaii Islanders get first chance to speak

read ... NoNoNoNoNo

Hawaii VA Hides Guam Waiting List

GuamPDN: I challenge Gibson and Wayne Pfeffer, director of the VA system in Hawaii, to be transparent to Guam's veterans and public and provide immediate information on access to quality health care at Guam's VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

Currently, the VA's bi-monthly transparency wait time report is lumped under the Hawaii overall wait time. Guam's CBOC is under the Hawaii command and the report doesn't show the wait time for Guam veterans.

Guam veterans and the public shouldn't have to beg for the report. Where's the transparency? If there's no transparency, how can trust be institutionalized?

read ... No Transparency

Parents Should Have Equal Rights

HR: The Parental Parity Bill, HB 2163, is an important piece of legislation when it comes to the securing of our rights and the welfare of our children. It is a bill that reflects the changing nature of families and the important and unique roles that both parents play in our children’s lives.

This bill ensures that where the parents are able to act in the best interest of their children, both are assured a continued, meaningful role in their children’s lives without the need to lawyer up and have an unnecessary, expensive and damaging custody battle. If this legislation passes, parents can spend their resources on their children instead of attorneys.

This bill is about optimizing the parenting opportunity of both parents as opposed to the current “Winner Take All Approach” that has been the status quo for the last several decades - an approach that leaves a path of ill will and persistent hostility that sometimes lasts for decades and damages all the parties involved.

Yes, there are some concerns with the second section of the bill regarding property division, but those issues can be resolved during the next legislative session, and we ask the Governor to please pass this bill as is, with the understanding that legislation will be introduced to clean up the concerns that many attorneys have voiced over the property division section of this bill.

read ... Parents Rights

Sept 8 Court date set for Hawaii gay marriage Case

AP: A federal appeals court says it will consider Nevada’s gay marriage ban on Sept. 8.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has scheduled 20 minutes of oral arguments in the case of Beverly Sevcik v. Brian Sandoval. The court will also hear arguments that morning over similar cases in Idaho and Hawaii.

read ... September 8

Misnamed Civil Rights Commission Plans to Defy Supreme Court on Religious Freedom

HNN: ...the owner of a Christian based company in Mililani said he is very pleased.

"I don't think that this is something that any employer should ever have to cover." said Sam Curtis of Showers of Blessing Christian Bookstore.

The high court ruled on a case of a family that owns the mainland based craft chain Hobby Lobby. The majority of justices said the contraceptive mandate infringed on the owner's exercise of religion and could create a substantial tax burden.

"It's not a license to discriminate," said Bill Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil (sic) Rights (sic) Commission.  (Panicked that he will not be able to force individuals to comply with the gay atheist agenda.  So sad.)

He foresees some owners of companies in Hawaii citing the court's opinion that's based on the 1993 Religious Freedom of Restoration Act.

"There will be employers trying to assert RFRA religious freedom rights under this decision," he said.

Anderson said the ruling affects more than fertility issues. Birth control pills are also used to treat endometriosis and other health problems.

read ... No Abortion Mandate

Latest Group of Charter School Nepotists Quit

HNN: The school's director and governing board had until today to resign.  The move allows the school to stay open, but it still has deep financial problems to dig out of.

School Director Laara Allbrett and the five member board have notified the State Charter School Commission they will resign.  That was part of the conditions for the school if it wanted to continue receiving public taxpayer money.  It is more than $400,000 in debt, hasn't paid rent since February or paid teachers since May.

The school opened 13 years ago and has had financial problems in the past.  The school's community will be able to nominate three new board members.  The Charter School Commission will choose the other two.  The new board will have to hire a new director and balance the budget.

"At that point the school's fate is in the hands of the governing board. That governing board has a big job....

At last check Halau Lokahi had 174 students and 22 employees, but will need about 225 students to make the current financial plan work.

The charter school commission will meet again July 10 to make formal appointments to the board.

read ... Nepotists Quit

State employees disclose golf gifts from contractors after last year’s ethics investigation

ILind: ...I’ve just started looking at the 2014 gift disclosure statements which are due today. The reports are filed with the Ethics Commission, and are available online.

Six engineers with the Department of Transportation, and one at the University of Hawaii, reported accepting gifts of golf from several different contractors. One UH architect also golfed at contractor’s expense. These disclosures include gifts accepted over several years, in one case as early as 2009....

read ... State employees disclose golf gifts from contractors after last year’s ethics investigation

Same-Day Voter Registration to Include Electronic Poll Books?

SA: He said similar legislation in other states has boosted their voter turnout rate between 6 and 9 percent, with the highest increases among young voters. Once the nation's highest, Hawaii's voter turnout cratered at 44.5 percent, the nation's lowest, in the 2012 election, according to the U.S. Elections Proj­ect.

"There are more than 270,000 people who are eligible to vote who haven't registered to vote," said Janet Mason, legislative chairwoman of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii. "We're really hopeful this will be a little boost to energize them to go and register to vote."

One concern raised during the session was of potential voter fraud, but Abercrombie noted his signing of a measure last week that makes it a felony to falsify an identity for voting purposes.

Rep. Karl Rhoads, House Judiciary Committee chairman, said the five-year jail penalty seems like a steep price to pay for a single vote "that probably will not turn the election one way or the other."

"That's a pretty big gamble," Rhoads (D, Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi). "It's a severe penalty for not very much gain."

The bill also appropriates $100,000 to the state Office of Elections to prepare for implementation, which may include upgrading the registration process through the purchase of electronic poll books, the Governor's Office said.

read ... Poll Books?

Maui seed companies say GMO moratorium could kill agriculture

MN: Upward of 500 jobs and millions of tax dollars could be lost if a ballot initiative to place a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms either passes the Maui County Council or is ratified by voters in the Nov. 4 general election, officials of two Maui County seed companies said.

"If it passes, a ban could have a devastating effect on our operations, but more importantly is the potential loss of jobs for employees," Carol Reimann, community and government affairs manager for Monsanto on Maui, said in an email.

The company with operations on Maui and Molokai has 540 employees. In 2013, tax liabilities for the agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company in the county were $3.5 million.

Adolph Helm, a project manager for Mycogen Seeds on Molokai, expressed a similar sentiment. The company, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences, employs more than 90 people and contributes more than $400,000 in sales, use and property taxes to the local economy.

If the initiative passes, it would have a "significant impact on our operations on Molokai," Helm said in an email Monday.

read ... About Reality

Anti-Aquarium Activists Have No Regard for Facts

WHT: ...Obviously the pro-ban camp has no regard for the facts, no respect for the people who worked so hard through negotiation, compromise and consensus to find a reasonable solution. Worse, their supreme arrogance ignoring the ancient traditions of stewardship and sustainability that have been an honored tradition in Hawaii since the ancient days.

The West Hawaii Fisheries Council proved that you can achieve success through cooperation, not confrontation. Everyone was welcome and all were represented at the table. Where was this radical activist contingent? Apparently not interested in respect for tradition or allowing the people who reside and work in West Hawaii self determination of developing their resource.

Instead we get this group of carpetbaggers coming in to destroy the balance the people that live and work here have achieved. Absolutely shameful behavior.

read ... About Reality

What Will They Hype Next? --Plastic garbage on ocean's surface is vanishing

CSM: Cózar and his colleagues wanted to understand the size and extent of the ocean's garbage problem. The researchers circumnavigated the globe in a ship called the Malaspina in 2010, collecting surface water samples and measuring plastic concentrations. The team also analyzed data from several other expeditions, looking at a total of 3,070 samples.

What they found was strange. Despite the drastic increase in plastic produced since the 1970s, the researchers estimated there were between 7,000 and 35,000 tons of plastic in the oceans. Based on crude calculations, there should have been millions of tons of garbage in the oceans.

read ... Plastic garbage on ocean's surface is vanishing

In Halawa, a flea market with a stadium attached

Borreca: Our stadium would never turn a profit; it was a symbol and its fate was not to make money but to be used by politicians for whatever.

For Burns, the 50,000-seat stadium showed we could compete. We could hold the Pro Bowl, we could host major league baseball, Pele could play in our stadium and so could the Rolling Stones.

As it turned out, what the stadium couldn't do was make a dollar.

In 2008, the Legislature toyed with the idea of giving the stadium to the University of Hawaii, which would run it as a quasi-public corporation with extra profits going to the UH athletic department.

The stadium management pointed out that in 2008, the stadium got just 13 percent of its $9.4 million in revenue from UH activities.

The swap meet, carnivals and concerts generate the rest, said Scott Chan, Aloha Stadium manager.

Today, the state says the stadium needs $219 million in repairs, of which $120 million are considered "high priority" health and safety improvements.

The state also says it has scrimped together $22 million in capital improvement project money to make the repairs and hopes to get another $3 million. Remember when I told you the stadium was not about business? The stadium does not dwell in the land of balanced budgets.

read ... In Halawa, a flea market with a stadium attached

Horizon Lines CEO resigns after Ocean Carrier Loses another $26.2M

CO: Sam Woodward, the president and CEO of Charlotte-based Horizon Lines, resigned and was replaced by a board member last week, the company said in a securities filing Tuesday.

Woodward had a contract to work at the company through June 30, 2015, according to earlier securities filings. In addition to resigning as CEO, he also gave up his position on the company's board of directors....

Steven Rubin, a member of Horizon's board and an intermodal shipping consultant, was appointed interim president and CEO. He will receive a base salary of $75,000 a month, the company said, as well as benefits and equity awards.

Horizon has dealt with legal issues and struggled to improve its performance under Woodward. In its most recent quarter, Horizon lost $26.2 million, worse than its $20.4 million loss during the same quarter a year ago. The company has lost $31 million or more every year for the last five years, with its biggest loss --- $229 million --- occurring in 2011.

That was the year Horizon agreed to pay a $45 million fine and plead guilty in a price-fixing case that sent three company executives to prison. The Justice Department accused Horizon Lines of colluding with competitors to fix prices on shipping between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Fallout from the case continues: In March, Horizon agreed to pay another $1.5 million settlement to more government departments in the price-fixing case.

read ... Horizon Lines CEO resigns, replaced by board member

H-Power Runs Short of Garbage

KITV: The waste-to-energy plant at Campbell Industrial Park is supposed to receive 3,000 tons of garbage every day, resulting in the production of up to 70 megawatts of electricity. But in an email to KITV4, Environmental Services spokesman Markus Owens said the plant is receiving an average of 2,200 tons of trash per day, while generating 50 megawatts of power.  

The shortfall in garbage and energy production has resulted in Council Chairman Ernie Martin proposing a bill (Bill 47) that would waive waiving tipping fees at HPower for a full month. Under the measure, the director of Environmental Services could suspend tipping fees at the plant if the amount of waste processed falls 100 tons short of its daily capacity for 30 consecutive days. Martin said his bill would allow the city to make the most of the $40 million subsidy paid to HPower operator Covanta Honolulu every year....

The Current tipping fee at HPower is $91 per ton, while energy produced at the plant is sold to Hawaiian Electric Company at 6 cents to 15 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the time of day it was generated.

In 2013, HPower processed 678,388 tons of waste, exported 353,840 megawatt hours of energy, and recycled 22,485 tons of ferrous and nonferrous metals. With its third boiler, the plant can process up to 900,000 tons of material every year.

read ... Garbage Shortage

Kauai utility won't move forward with energy storage bids

PBN: Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has decided to not move forward with any of the energy storage bids that developers submitted to the utility, and is instead moving ahead with a planned 25-megawatt pumped storage project on the west side of the island, a spokesman for KIUC told PBN.

The project, which involves two reservoirs, could cost between $55 million and $65 million.  (That's the cheap plan and its $1000 per person.) No reason was given as to why the utility decided not to move ahead with the bids, but sources tell PBN that the pricing of the bids were too high.

read ... Bye Bye Batteries

First Hawaiian Owner Fined $9B for Funneling Money to Iran, Sudan, Cuba

WSJ: BNP Paribas SA (owner of First Hawaiian) agreed to pay nearly $9 billion Monday and plead guilty to crimes for violating U.S. sanctions, an unprecedented settlement that includes a year-long ban on the French bank's ability to conduct certain U.S. dollar transactions.

U.S. officials, in a Washington news conference and a Manhattan courtroom, laid out in stark terms a sophisticated and long-running scheme by BNP Paribas to disguise billions of dollars in financial transactions in violation of American sanctions against Sudan, Iran and Cuba—despite warnings by some within the firm about the legality, and morality, of the transactions.

"BNP Paribas went to really elaborate lengths to conceal prohibited transactions, cover its tracks, and deceive U.S. authorities. These actions represent a serious breach of U.S. law," Attorney General Eric Holder said.

read ... Bank of Terror

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