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Wednesday, September 3, 2014
September 3, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:40 PM :: 4542 Views

GE Tax: Will Cost Overruns Lead to New Rail Showdown?

Teachers in Honolulu Lowest Adjusted Salary in USA

HIRA 2014 Legislative Scorecard

State Releases Premium Comparison for ACA Small Group Plans

Akina Stands Out

CB: Kelii Akina, president and CEO of the Libertarian-leaning Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, has raised $48,890 and spent just over that amount. Thanks to cash on hand before the current election cycle — Akina ran unsuccessfully for OHA in 2012 — he had a mere $472 remaining as of Aug. 9.

Akina’s contributors included his predecessor at the institute, Dick Rowland, and attorney Bill Burgess.

Akina stands out from his opponents in at least one way: his view on nation-building.

“As a government agency, OHA should not be attempting to create a sovereign nation,” he told Civil Beat. “OHA’s efforts to do so are both unconstitutional and offensive to the Hawaiian value of inclusiveness, whereby citizenship, even in the Hawaiian Kingdom, was not based upon race.”

Akina adds, “Instead of serving real needs of Hawaiians and the public, OHA continues to waste millions of dollars on the unconstitutional pursuit of political sovereignty. This is dividing Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians and Hawaiians from each other.”

read ... Akina for OHA

Aiona says he'd perform same-sex marriage if asked

HNN:  Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona, a same-sex marriage opponent and former judge who's performed weddings for 24 years, told Hawaii News Now he would reluctantly marry a same-sex couple as required by law.

Aiona is a Catholic who's been clear that he opposes gay marriage, but it's not a major part of his campaign for governor.

At a forum Aug. 26, Aiona said: "It's not a priority with me as a candidate. In other words, if I was asked whether or not I'm making it a priority in regards to being governor, and I'm going to come in and I'm going to propose legislation that will overturn that law that was just passed, the answer is no."

In the last several years, Aiona said he's performed as many as eight weddings a month to bring in extra income, something he started doing in 1990, when he became a family court judge....

Asked what he would do if a gay or lesbian couple wanted him to marry them, Aiona said, "You know, it's the law, right, I'm required by law to marry these couples, but obviously you know what my position is on it. But the law is the law.”

“I'll be in a precarious position, right. I'll be in a precarious position. But obviously, I'm sworn to uphold the law," Aiona added.

The new same-sex marriage law said wedding providers such as Aiona along with florists, videographers and caterers must provide wedding services to same-sex couples, as part of the state's public accommodation law.

Only members of the clergy or churches can turn away same-sex couples for religious reasons.

Aiona is not a minister, but has a license to conduct weddings that he received when he was a judge and he said he can continue officiating at weddings until he quits or resigns from the wedding business.

Hawaii News Now asked Aiona if he believes the law should be changed to allow people like him opposed to gay marriage to decline to work on a same-sex marriage event.

"They went through that, right, through the legislative process and it came out the way it came out, so I'm not arguing with that. You know, we move on," Aiona said....

Mufi Hannemann, an independent candidate for governor, is a Mormon who is opposed to same-sex marriage. Hannemann has said he too would uphold the current law and would not try to overturn it.

State Sen. David Ige, the Democratic nominee for governor is a Buddhist who voted for Hawaii's so-called marriage equality law that passed a special session of the Legislature and was quickly signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie last fall.

read ... Perform

OHA: Waihee, Trask Bought n Paid for by Geothermal Money

CB: Waihee, son of the former governor, has raised $4,663 and spent nearly all of it. As of last month’s filing he had just $138 left in cash. Waihee also reported a loan of $22,000, which puts him $21,862 in the red. It’s not clear where the loan, which dates to 2007, came from.

The trustee’s recent contributions include $2,623 from himself and $1,000 from Huena Power, an alternative energy project connected to Patricia Brandt, who is the CEO of Innovations Development Group.

IDG seeks to develop geothermal, and it has donated to several OHA candidates this year. Brandt is a past chief of staff to OHA’s board chair....

Another candidate receiving contributions from geothermal interests is attorney and community activist Mililani Trask, a former OHA trustee.

Honua Group, an LLC associated with Robbie Cabral — IDG’s senior advisor and director — gave $2,000. Cabral herself gave Trask $1,000 while IDG gave $1,500. Brandt gave Trask $5,000.

Trask reported having raised $37,212 and having spent $31,324, leaving her with $5,887 in cash on hand, a figure lowered to just $249 when a loan from the candidate of $5,638 is factored in.

read ... Bought n Paid For

Road to reform begins for DHHL

SA: The series, starting in May 2013, culminated with Gov. Neil Abercrombie convening a task force, with recommendations developed by Attorney General David Louie, Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila and Department of Budget and Finance Director Kalbert Young.

In August, its report was delivered to the overseeing Hawaiian Homes Commission. The prescriptions all have merit, although it's unsettling to realize that up to this point, the revocable permit program had lacked something as essential as adopting administrative rules, one of the changes the task force suggests.

Among the other proposals:

» Award permits only through a competitive bid system, and review them regularly before renewal, with adequate staff assigned to this task.

» Set rents consistently, applying a rational calculation method the department will establish.

» Create a manual of internal procedures for DHHL staff to follow regarding issuance, compliance checks and enforcement of permits.

Department officials underscore that the permit program was halted after the newspaper series revealed problems, and that some of these changes are already underway. Accordingly, the Legislature should call DHHL to report on progress when lawmakers reconvene.

read ... Road to reform begins for DHHL

Wahiawa would be hurt by Army's proposed cutbacks

SA: Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter are two of 30 Army installations nationwide being targeted for force reductions, to meet budget controls.

That boils down to a potential loss of 19,786 positions — 18,119 soldiers and 1,667 civilians — each earning an average of $55,374 to $63,980 annually.

About 16,000 losses would be associated with Schofield; the remainder with Fort Shafter.

Our Wahiawa community, which has a long and storied history, stands to be severely affected. From the introduction of pineapple in the early 1900s, to agriculture's rise and fall, to our increased ties with the federal government and Schofield Barracks, our residents and businesses have experienced significant fluctuations in the area's economic well-being.

read ... Wahiawa would be hurt by Army's proposed cutbacks

20 HHSC Employees Laid off on Kauai (Sort of)

KGI: A total of 20 HHSC employees — 12 at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Kawaihau and eight at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in Kapaa — received notices. Three other positions slated to be reduced were vacant when the layoffs were handed out on Tuesday and will be eliminated instead.

Unionized employees, according to HHSC officials, will be able to hold their jobs for the next 90 days and have the option of being placed in a budgeted vacant position.

If that option is no longer available, impacted workers may also take advantage of a bumping process, which allows senior employees to assume the job of a less senior employee within the same bargaining unit, who, in turn, would be laid off instead.

read ... Not Really Unemployed

(Again) Maui hospitals exec hopes public-private partnership can avert future layoffs

PBN: Talks are apparently picking up again between the state-owned hospitals on Maui and private health care companies such as Hawaii Pacific Health to try and form a partnership to help with Hawaii Health Systems Corp.'s systemwide $48 million shortfall, the CEO of HHSC's Maui region told PBN.

Wesley Lo, CEO of HHSC’s Maui region that includes Maui Memorial Medical Center, told PBN talks and plans to allow a partnership between the ailing Maui hospitals and a private company might come together in time to present in the upcoming legislative session. In order for any partnership to take place, the Legislature would have to amend the law allowing the state-run HHSC facilities to partner with private entities.

“We’re always hopeful for a new partner to provide new capital,” said Lo. “Activity is picking up and we hope to and hopefully we’ll have a pre-negotiated deal to present to the legislature before next session.”

Lo also mentioned the talks include another large company, but couldn’t say which one due to confidentiality agreements....

MW: Maui Hospitals in Crisis Mode--Again

Background: Legislative Report: Convert HHSC to non-profit, dump civil service (full text)

read ... Again, in time for next Legislative Session

Pauahi Hale to be Housing First Location

CB: During a two-year pilot project, Mental Health Kokua plans to move its Safe Haven shelter into the building at 155 North Beretania St., said Payton.

Of the 77 units in Pauahi Hale, 25 are expected to house Safe Haven clients currently in treatment for mental illness. The lease for Safe Haven’s current site, also in downtown Honolulu, is expiring. The move is expected to take about six months.

Some 20 additional units are expected to accommodate “Housing First” clients, according to Jesse Broder Van Dyke, a spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell. The Housing First population tends to include chronically homeless people living on the streets who suffer from both mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.

But Payton said some of those 20 units may be used to house Safe Haven offices instead.

read ... Housing First

Nixing Kauai’s Anti-GMO Ordinance Was Good for Hawaii

CB: The recent ruling on Kauai County’s Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, has profound positive implications for the Garden Island and the entire state.

For farmers and ranchers, the backbone of Hawaii’s agricultural industry, this was a major step forward, but there is still much more work ahead.

read ... Good for Kauai

Wisdom Spreads: Hawaii Anti-GMO Ruling Becomes Precedent in Vermont Court

P:  The food industry is pointing to a recent ruling in a federal court in Hawaii to block a consumer advocacy group from helping in the defense of Vermont’s new GMO labeling law.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in Hawai’i Floriculture and Nursery Association, et al., v. County of Hawai’i, on Aug. 22, that the Center for Food Safety and several residents of Kauai Island do not have an interest in a suit filed in relation to the county government’s decision to enforce a ban on GE crops. Just a few days later — on Aug. 28 — GMA filed a notice of supplemental authority in the federal Vermont court where its suit — GMA, et al., v. Sorrell — against the state’s GMO labeling law is pending, arguing: “CFS had failed to rebut the presumption of adequate representation by the government, and that amicus status would provide CFS sufficient means to express its views.”

The filings in Hawaii and Vermont are available here:

read ... Politico

Diver Defending Himself Against Anti-Aquarium Activists

R: Defense lawyer Evans Smith said his client had felt threatened and acted in self defense when confronted by a menacing group of divers.

"Mr. Lovell was underwater and suddenly surrounded by six strangers with heavy equipment who blocked his route to the surface," Smith said, adding that Lovell immediately contacted authorities after the incident. "He's not the criminal here."

read ... Self-Defense

Howard Hughes Withdraws Petition to Provide Fewer Affordable Units in Kakaako

CB: Race Randle, senior director of development for Howard Hughes Corp., issued a statement Tuesday afternoon withdrawing the petition “due to the misunderstanding of our request.”

KHON: Chinatown affordable rental complex opens waitlist, applications available

read ... Just a big misunderstanding, yep

Transit authority spends $223,000 on time-lapse cameras

KITV:  ...with the elevated rail line facing renewed scrutiny because of cost overruns, the contract with EarthCam Inc. of New Jersey is drawing fire from some longtime critics like Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

"There's nothing the council as a whole can say about it, but I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish," Kobayashi said of the contract issued in May. "They keep saying on time (and) on budget, so we'll be watching."

Under the terms of the agreement with EarthCam, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is installing cameras at the future sites of all 21 rail stations as well as the Maintenance and Storage Facility. The contract calls for the ability to automatically create “time-lapse construction videos that can be posted to a website or embedded in a web page.”

HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas says the archival video project goes far beyond cool video of the expansive rail line being built. Rather he says, it’s an essential part of such a massive undertaking.

"Those cameras are there to make sure that we catch any other issues that may come up with someone trying to steal from worksites, which is very common,” Grabauskas told KITV4. “The cameras are also there to help us to monitor the work that's being done by the contractor.”

read ... Lapse

DPP Waives 85% of Fines

WNT: During the 12-month period ended March 31, 2014, DPP waived approximately $6.9 million out of $7.9 million of fines that were assessed. Yes, that’s right. More than 85% of the fines were forgiven or waived. This practice has been going on for decades.

The DPP imposes fines for about a dozen different types of violations, including commercial use of residential properties....In response, Councilmember Chang introduced Bill 50 that would require council approval of fine reductions.

SA: New city design and construction chief announced

read ... Those Pesky Fines

As Lava Approaches, Punatics Fight over Bogus Geothermal Health Hype

HNN: A community meeting in Puna this Saturday over the release of geothermal gas ended after an unidentified man got into a shoving match with the hosts.

The Puna Pono Alliance said that dozens of residents got sick as a result of the release of hydrogen sulfide gas that escaped the night of Tropical Storm Iselle.

"I think right now it's about 100," said Tom Travis of the Puna Pono Alliance.

"Twenty-eight had respiratory symptoms, 22 had headaches and 19 had lethargy."

Puna Geothermal Venture has been trying to reassure families that the gas wasn't enough to cause illnesses. The company said the release was below federal standards.

"Our folks and our system responded exactly like our designed system was supposed to," said Mike Kaleikini, plant manager for Puna Geothermal Venture.

"We released a total of 39 pounds unabated and 29 pounds abated."

The state Health Department said only ten people showed up at area hospitals that night and that doctors couldn't pinpoint the problem. The DOH said it's not investigating.

read ... What Punatics Are Doing as the Lava Approaches

Public can comment on medical marijuana dispensaries next week

HTH: ...a state task force readies for a Sept. 10 public hearing in Hilo. The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force will take public comments from 5-8 p.m. at the Aupuni Center.

The Hilo hearing is the only neighbor island hearing planned by the task force so far. Almost half the state’s 13,115 registered medical marijuana patients addicts live on Hawaii Island.

read ... Feeling Medicated Yet?

Matson molasses spill: One year later No Lawsuit, No Fine

KITV: "At least people have it now on their radar screen. What we don’t know still is why. Why is molasses so toxic in the marine environment, so surprisingly toxic. There's a lot of science to be done," said state environmental deputy director Gary Gill....

The state has still not released any figures about the cost of the cleanup or the impact to marine life--the coral and the fish.

And a report that Matson promised to release publically, has yet to see the light of day.

The EPA says its investigation is still ongoing.

We did reached out to the state attorney general and to Matson for an update weeks ago, but have yet to get a response.

read ... No Surprise

School Custodian Arrested for Alleged Child Molestation

KHON: Police said Wahiawa resident James Holt was arrested on Aug. 27 for first-degree sexual assault, but was charged Monday for third-degree sexual assault, which involves sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 14.

According to Stacie Kunihisa, principal at Kanoelani Elementary, Holt is a substitute custodian at the school and has worked there since 2000. The state Department of Education said background checks are conducted on prospective employees.

PDF: Letter to Parents

read ... Kanoelani Elementary School

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