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Tuesday, September 9, 2014
September 9, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:14 PM :: 4044 Views

The Abercrombie-Ige Agenda Isn't Working: High Cost Of Living Leads To Doctor Shortage, Wait Times

Caldwell Blocks off Two Lanes of King Street, Installs Bicycle 'Conflict Zone'

Nine Years of Inverse Condemnation

Djou: Exempt Hawaii from Obamacare, Jones Act

French Frigate Shoals Superfund Site? Anti-Plastic Hysteria Reaches New High

Big Wind: How Could So Many be So Wrong for So Long?

CB: After 2,731 pages and $17 million in taxpayer-funded studies, there is not a single mention of Big Wind on Lanai or Molokai, and the vaunted undersea cable is barely mentioned.

So, notwithstanding two communities that were torn apart, HECO executives infiltrated our rural communities to argue for Big Wind, two governors obsessively pushed Big Wind, DBEDT made it a centerpiece of their state energy plans and a clean energy agreement that had Big Wind as its centerpiece, it has completely disappeared from the state of Hawaii and HECO’s future energy plans.

Why? How could they have gotten it so wrong, and for so long?

Could it be because HECO executives and our two most recent governors bought into one megalomaniacal developer’s push for a project that was outrageously expensive, enormously and irreparably destructive, and ultimately unnecessary?

And what can said of our elected officials? Were they actively engaged in setting energy policies, or just going along for the developer’s ride?

Three years ago, despite long, passionate floor speeches acknowledging the agony that would come from Big Wind on Lanai and Molokai, only three state senators — Clayton Hee, Sam Slom and Suzanne Chun-Oakland — voted against the undersea cable bill.

Could our legislative leaders, like Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate committee on Energy and Environment, have been blinder to the wishes of involved communities and the reality of Big Wind’s limitations?

Even at the end of this last legislative session, Sen. Gabbard refused to recognize the demise of Big Wind on Lanai, denying a hearing for a “Sense of the Legislature” resolution proposed by all three of Maui’s senators and approved by the House.

read ... I told you so

HART loses Another $75.4 million in construction delays

KITV: In a Friday communication with the Honolulu City Council, HART says it lost $75.4 million in change orders for the West Oahu Guideway, the Kamehameha Guideway and the Maintenance and Storage Facility.

HART says the change orders settled a variety of issues through August 2012, including the rising price of raw materials and extending the completion dates for all three contracts.

The transit authority now has $556 million in contingency funds out of the original $1 billion that it started out with.

read ... Almost Halfway Gone

Abercrombie Gave the Unions Everything, and Rail Just isn't Boosting the Economy

Borreca: During the recent Democratic primary election, two former Hawaii governors said they were concerned about the salaries going to unionized state workers.

Former Gov. George Ariyoshi worried that outgoing Gov. Neil Abercrombie was rushing to sign collective bargaining agreements in an effort to curry favor with the public employee unions.

"The public employee agreements, they were reached in a hurry because, in my judgment, they wanted to make some deals with the public employee unions, and I am not sure they were properly negotiated to benefit the state," Ariyoshi told me in an interview.

Abercrombie's biggest labor ally, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, won new 4 percent across-the-board salary increases to start next year. It was an unusual deal because agreement was reached even before the old contract expired.

While Abercrombie had a difficult time with the teachers and nurses unions, workers have all seen raises.

"Neil gave the unions virtually everything they wanted with no concession for reforms in return," former Gov. Ben Cayetano said in an email Monday....

Hawaii's next governor and the new set of legislative leaders will have to figure out how to pay for those higher pay raises.

At the same time they will deal with a new economic worry: We are not getting the expected bang for our construction bucks.

Kurt Kawafuchi, chairman of the Council on Revenues, said part of the reason for downgrading the state is that there has been a smaller-than-expected impact from new construction projects.

"We just haven't seen as much bite, or juice, that's being added by all of the pending construction," Kawafuchi said Friday. "We do see some juice, but maybe not as strong as we had previously estimated."

Meanwhile, costs are rising. Legislators were recently told that the bids for Kapiolani Community College's new culinary arts building, which was budgeted at not more than $22 million, came in at $34 million.

read ... Everybody must get paid, so spending binge unlikely

Farmers Fight Back Against Anti-GMO Activists

BIVN: “Of late, non-farmers have been trying to impose their will on farmers, and set food and farm policy,” said Manfredi during the conference. “We’re working on funding a fairly comprehensive public relations campaign called Small Farmers, Big Stories… essentially what it is is a virtual farm tour in the media.”

In the video clip, Manfredi also talked about recently enacted local laws currently tied up in court, as well as the possible benefits of GE crops – like a biotech coffee being tested elsewhere that he says could make the island’s coffee berry borer crisis “go away.” Manfredi also talks about the lobbyists working on the farm bureau’s behalf at the capitol.

read ... Farmers Fight Back

Anti-GMO Activist: We Want Massive Tax Hike on Working Ag Lands

KGI: After the recent ruling in favor of the chemical companies’ position that Ordinance 960 is pre-empted by state law, critics are talking a lot about how much money this lawsuit has cost the county.

Those whose highest priority are fiscal concerns must be thrilled and grateful that Councilmember Bynum uncovered the ag dedication violations by Grove Farm, Pioneer Hi-Bred and Dow AgroSciences that have cost the county tax revenue over $1.096 million in four years. And wouldn’t concerns over the county budget and spending be a reason to support proposed legislation that would tax the wealthiest chemical companies in the world appropriately?

KGI: After Lawsuit Defeat, can Kauai County Study Go Ahead?

read ... Was it Worth it? Absolutely

Hawaii County Organic Farmers Fall Short in Bid for Tax Cut

HTH: ...the task force, co-chaired by Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, said organic produce is different from farm products that have undergone studies and have rating agencies that determine their value.

“The valuations are based on specific crop value studies, and in this case, there was no study,” Wille said.

Wes Takai, a 39-year Real Property Division employee who retired in 2007, urged the task force not to delve into the issue of organic farming.

“Because of the recent GMO issues and because organic farming somewhat ties into the GMO issues, I suggest that this agenda item be deleted and not be an item brought before this committee,” Takai said. “I think your plate is full enough.”

read ... Can't Have it Both Ways

Honolulu Property Tax Hike Averaged $4157.43 per House

SA: A plan by the Honolulu City Council to provide tax breaks for homeowners in the so-called Residential A category who live in the properties they own but do not receive a homeowner exemption could cost city coffers more than $700,000, finance officials said in a release issued late Monday.

The Real Property Tax Division reported that as of Friday it had processed 173 applications seeking "compromise" tax bills.

Those would replace the ones homeowners received earlier showing that they owed higher amounts based on their properties, valued at $1 million or more, being placed in the new Residential A property tax category. If all are approved, the lower bills could leave the city with $719,235 less in revenues than projected.   ($719,235 / 173 = $4157.43 per house.)

read ... Big Tax Hike, Partly Rolled Back

City to hold public meeting on proposed Sand Island Housing First Center

HNN: The City and County of Honolulu will hold a public meeting on the proposed Sand Island Housing First Transition Center on Wednesday, September 10, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pu‘uhale Elementary School Cafeteria....

The city says the facility will not be a “safe zone” or “tent city”. Instead, Housing First principles will be employed in an outdoor setting to bring people who are homeless into a safe, supportive environment and provide assessment services, stability, and access to supportive services in the interim before permanent housing units become available.

read ... Tent City

Legislative Report Criticizes Homeless Tent City Scheme

DN: This proposal diverts scarce resources away from creating a path to permanent housing for homeless individuals by condoning, if not encouraging homelessness and the continuance of a nomadic lifestyle.

read ... Critique

$500M Contract to Demolish, Rebuild at Mayor Wright

HNN: The Iwilei transit station will make Kaaahi Street look very different. The narrow street near Dillingham Boulevard and King Street will have seven buildings torn down or partially taken to make way for the station that will be right across from the Institute Human Services shelter.

Many know where the Costco in Iwilei is. The rail will run right by it and future development can land right next to it too.

The state is also jumping on the transit oriented development train.  It will demolish the existing 20 acre Mayor Wright public housing complex and build two towers with retail on the bottom and housing on top with between 800-1,000 units including at least 364 public housing rentals.

"We have big plans for it," said Hakim Ouansafi, Executive Director Hawaii Public Housing Authority. "This is good for the entire neighborhood. It will transform the entire neighborhood. It's good for our tenants, they're going to get brand new housing. It's good for people work downtown and those looking for moderate priced housing and its good for the rentals, people looking for affordable rentals."

The bidding process on the estimated $500 million redevelopment has now been closed. Ouansafi expects the state to announce the winning company in the next three weeks. At that point renderings and plans will be made public.

Before developers get approved they'll have to improve the streetscape and add Community benefits.

"This area is zoned for some significant height in terms of new towers because we're here next to downtown. This is the appropriate place for additional density and height," said Rue.

read ... Iwilei, The Next Kakaako

UH Manoa Ranks 168th in US

USNWR: UH Manoa ranked 168th out of 201 on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 list of “Best National Universities.”

read .. USNWR

Cancer Center Leaders Defend Michele Carbone

CB: A group letter from top figures at the UH Cancer Center insists Dr. Loic Le Marchand's critical opinion piece was rife with errors.

read ... Defense

Star-Adv: Obamacare Worsens physician shortage

SA: The timing couldn't be worse. The fallout from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, at least in the short term, includes an acceleration of retirements for physicians who would rather bring their career to a close than adapt to a whole new way of doing things.

At the same time, the wave of aging baby boomers becoming increasingly needy of medical care is looming, straining an island state's medical system already struggling with a shortage of health providers to serve its rural areas....

read ... Incentives can ease physician shortage

Cooking Books? Head of Hawaii VA Claims Wait Times Improved, Veterans Disagree

KITV: "We were in the 50 (day) range about two weeks ago (and) we're hoping it’s even lower in the next release,” Wayne Pfeffer, director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, told KITV4.

Pfeffer was among a group of local VA officials who attended a town hall meeting Monday at the Oahu Veterans Center in Foster Village that was organized by the American Legion. In June, a scathing audit by the VA showed Hawaii was the worst at providing medical care for vets with an average wait time of 145 days.

The audit prompted Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to demand Pfeffer’s resignation after claiming he was dishonest with her staff during a briefing about wait times in Hawaii. However, Pfeffer refused to step down

In addition to lowering the average number of days vets have to wait for an appointment, Pfeffer said the number of patients on Hawaii’s wait list has shrunk from as many as 1,900 to just 40....  (Question: Why would it take 50 days to get to these allegedly last 40 patients?)

"I haven't talked to her personally about it,” Pfeffer said of Gabbard’s call for his resignation, “but I'm sure she's happy with the success we're making."

Still, some of the veterans who attended the town hall meeting say they’re still getting the round around.

"I've been trying to see one eye doctor (and) I've been pushed around," said Leroy Makekau, who served in Vietnam.

Another Vietnam veteran, Everett Lee, of Mililani, said he’s been waiting for the VA to assign him a primary care physician since August of last year and the issue still hasn’t been resolved.

"It seems like the books are being cooked again,” said Lee. “You go from one list to this list, but you've seen a doctor. Is that how you figure that the waiting time has been reduced?”

read ... Wait Times 

Hawaii Big on Male Teachers

DN: The gender imbalance persists, but not for lack of trying. There is even a website for men interested in teaching or already engaged in early childhood education, which includes an enlightening report from a recent conference in Hawaii, where Donald E. Piburn reports that native Hawaiian attitudes toward men teaching early childhood education are markedly different from the rest of the country.

"Touch, hugging and physical closeness is a nearly universal value in Hawaiian culture," Piburn wrote. "The very idea that members of the ohana should not touch one another, let alone not touch the children could be viewed as a cultural affront bordering on madness."

Outside of Hawaii, male teachers sometimes find themselves having to explain themselves, another awkward factor that may deter some men from breaking the mold.

NYT: Why Don’t More Men Go Into Teaching?

read ... Male Teachers

Gabbard Votes to Condemn Obama Bergdahl Deal

TH: The House passed a resolution on Tuesday condemning the Obama administration for not giving Congress advance notice of the exchange of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners.

The measure passed largely along party lines in a 249-163 vote, but 22 Democrats broke ranks to rebuke the president, with just two months to go before the midterm elections.

The executive branch is required by the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act to notify Congress at least 30 days before transferring prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. A Government Accountability Office report found last month that the administration violated the law by not adhering to the requirement.

read ... Gabbard Votes

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