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Wednesday, September 24, 2014
September 24, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:09 PM :: 6352 Views

Conflict of Interest: Ige Was Both Legislator and Lobbyist While Serving on Committee Overseeing His Employer

Ige Voted for Furlough Fridays, Responsible for $200M Health Connector Debacle

Djou Only Congressional Candidate at Kahala Business Forum

The Jones Act Is Irrelevant to Merchant Marine Shipbuilding

Takai Votes to Raise Taxes Again and Again

HNN: For the first time Hawaii's Congressional Candidates for district one squared off face to face in front of 100 of the state's top business leaders from the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii....

Difference one, taxes.  Republican Charles Djou pounced on the opportunity to point out that Democrat Mark Takai has repeatedly voted to raise taxes during his 20 years at the State Legislature.

"Mark you voted to raise the excise tax, the income tax the rental car tax, the conveyance tax, the hotel room tax, the airline tax, the cigarette tax, the barrel oil tax, and you even voted to tax the pensions on our seniors," said Djou, when questioning Takai.

"What's important is to focus on the final reading. In those cases I will tell you that it is important sometimes to increase taxes," responded Takai.

A recent Civil Beat poll shows Djou has a four percentage point lead over Takai....  Takai even applauded Djou's closing statement....

The two candidates will square off again on October 12 right here on Hawaii News Now.

read ... Debate

Aiona: Hawaii Cannot Raise Tourism Taxes Any More

AP: Three candidates for governor agreed that Hawaii made mistakes in the way it built its troubled health exchange.

Democratic state Sen. David Ige said Hawaii should continue to seek an exemption from the federal government to get out of some of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but it can't just wait until 2017, which is when the state has been told exemptions would be available.

Republican candidate James "Duke" Aiona said the state saw no return on its investment in the Hawaii Health Connector, so it should be eliminated. Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann said the state should cut its losses and get out of the exchange.

"We should have never implemented the Hawaii Health Connector," Hannemann said.

The gubernatorial candidates want to boost tourism by opening another international airport terminal.

Aiona wants the Legislature to stop raising taxes on tourists and to create a tourism liaison in the governor's office.

"Tourists vote also," Aiona said. "They vote with their feet. And before you know it, they will not be coming to Hawaii."

read ... Debate

Poll: Retire Old Judges, Split on Preschool

CB: By a large majority — 61 percent to 25 percent — Hawaii voters do not want to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices from 70 to 80.

By an even larger margin — 70 percent to 13 percent — voters also want to have the names of nominees for judges and justices released to the public.

But voters are torn about whether the state should allow the use of public money for private preschool programs. Of voters surveyed, 45 percent oppose the idea, 40 percent support it, 12 percent are unsure and 3 percent said they wouldn’t bother to vote on the ballot question.

SA: Support amendment for early childhood education

read ... Poll Numbers

Insurer Dumps 1300 Medicare Advantage Clients After Losing $18.5M

SA: AlohaCare is discontinuing its main Medicare Advantage health insurance plan in 2015, a move that will affect 1,300 senior members.

The nonprofit medical insurer founded in 1994 estimates it has lost about $18.5 million since launching its AlohaCare Advantage plan in 2006 and simply cannot sustain further losses.

"We have been losing money steadily on that plan," said John McComas, chief executive officer of AlohaCare, whose other 60,000 members will not be affected. "Basically we've reached a point where we felt we couldn't continue to absorb those losses. It's just not financially feasible for us to do this."

Declining Medicare reimbursements, which typically do not cover the cost of medical services, have put a strain on health plans both locally and nationally. AlohaCare is paid a flat fee of $8,000 on average per member per year by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the Medicare Advantage plan.

read ... No Advantage

State Hospital workers sue bosses over patients' attacks

SA: ...Attorney Michael Green, who is representing the employees, said the lawsuit will represent about 300 people — those who have been assaulted while working at the hospital from January 2006 to Friday.

"There's multiple beatings every day," Green said. "We have people who are highly educated who will never work again. They have brain injuries. They're on workers' comp. They're on more medication than the patients."

According to the lawsuit, management could have made improvements by hiring additional and physically capable staff, maintaining safety equipment and emphasizing staff safety. Instead, management hired incapable people based on favoritism and discouraged staff from reporting incidents and filing workers' compensation claims, the lawsuit said.

Management also downgraded patient assessment levels — a factor that determines how much staffing is required — to create the impression that the facility was safe and adequately staffed, the suit said.

While the hospital is the state's only public mental health facility, most of the admissions are inmates from the state prison system, referred to the hospital for mental evaluations, the lawsuit said. But the hospital has no law enforcement personnel on staff....

read ... Another Abject Failure of Hawaii State Government

HCF Funds Charity Reorganization for 'Housing First'

SA: The three-year statewide effort kicks off Wednesday, when eight homeless shelter providers selected by the foundation will come together for their first meeting. They represent half of the emergency and transitional shelter beds in the state, and range from the Institute for Human Services to the Family Life Center on Maui.

The initiative is supposed to help the nonprofits shift to the "Housing First" approach, which emphasizes getting homeless people housed as quickly as possible and then providing other services to support them. Evidence shows that rapid rehousing leads to better outcomes. Traditionally, providers gave services first, and clients could spend months or even years in shelters and transitional housing.

"We're trying to help the providers build their capacity so that more homeless families can get into stable housing faster and keep them there," Chun said. "It's one thing to set a goal. It's another thing to be able to equip people to reach the goal."

The $4 million will go to coaching, training and collaboration as well as grant opportunities to improve agency performance and use of data. Some providers may need to alter their business plans and how they deploy staff, serving more people in housing units dispersed through the community rather than in shelters. Network members will also learn from one another.

read ... Housing First

Busted: Hee Family Tied to Massive Waste Dumping Scheme

HNN: ...more than 14,000 tons of crushed glass wound up in a Mililani farm -- even though the city paid more than a million dollars to process it for recycling.

"We should not be paying HI5 if in fact it's destined to be dumped in the ground ... The taxpayers and the consumers should not be footing the bill," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

"I would describe it as corporate welfare nothing more, or nothing less."

Sandwich Isles Communications (owned by Al Hee)-- which owns the five-acre property at 320 Kamehameha Highway -- thinks it has a solution to that problem. Instead of shipping the glass to the mainland, it mixes it with soil to improve drainage and prevent root rot for the Citron trees that it grows on the property. (uh-huh)

According to state and city records, the crushed glass was trucked to the farm from 2005 to 2008 by Honolulu Recovery System, which received $1.03 million from the city's advance disposal fee program.

After it initially raised questions about the use, the city now considers it a proper form of recycling....

read ... More Hee Crimes

Lawsuit Exposes Haseko PR Plan Behind Scheme to Eliminate Marina

CB: By the middle of 2011, according to the documents, the company was secretly planning for the changeover, while publicly maintaining that no such decision had been made. The first step was to ask Becker Communications Inc., Haseko’s selected public relations contractor, to institute a 60-day moratorium on any social media posts that mentioned the marina. Later, after the lagoon plan was publicly announced, this would turn into an online search-and-destroy operation to eliminate all previous online references to the marina....

Putting words in their mouths. Becker was central to developing “talking points” not only for Haseko representatives to follow, but for public officials as well.

Records disclosed in the lawsuit show Becker prepared talking points for Sen. Will Espero and then-state Rep. Kymberly Pine, now a member of the Honolulu City Council.

The “Talking points for Sen. Will Espero regarding New Vision for Hoakalei” began with a statement: “Haseko’s decision to transform the marina into a lagoon is good for the community.”

Becker also prepared generic letters of support for the project, phrased as if they had been written by members of the community.

ILind: Fewer reporters than flacks…are you surprised?

read ... Peeking Behind a Developer’s PR Campaign

Filmmaker: Brainwashing by UH Manoa Faculty Washes Off

CP: The idea for the book came when Jones was an undergraduate at the University of Hawaii. He pitched the idea for a video to encourage his fellow students to major in political science to the political science department.

"I just wanted to pour the horrors of the 20th century into two minutes," Jones said, "to create an urgency among young people at my school, and why they should major in political science, because ideas matter."

The idea was rejected by his "leftist faculty" and the video was never used, but in putting together that video, Jones explained, he discovered the "focus" for his life. Set to graduate at the turn of the century and looking back on the previous century, Jones decided he wanted to help create a world in which the next 100 years would avoid the horrible crimes of that last 100 years.

The process of researching and writing the book changed Jones. When he started the project, he was an atheist and a libertarian. By the time he finished, he was a Christian and a conservative.

In the book, Jones and Zmirak argue that the horrors of the last century stem from five evil ideologies — racism and nationalism, militarism and "total war," utopian collectivism, radical individualism, and utilitarian hedonism. These ideologies can be avoided, they say, by advancing five core principles — the unique and absolute value of every human person, natural law (a transcendent moral order), subsidiarity (the defense of civil institutions that lie between people and government), solidarity (which is embodied by The Golden Rule), and a humane economy.

Jones is also a film producer. His credits include "Bella" (2006), "The Stoning of Soraya M." (2008), and "Crescendo I" (2011). There is a link, he explained, between the ideas found in the book and his films.

The films, he said, are his "attempt to inoculate the world from these ideologies of evil," by showing "the incomparable dignity and beauty of the human person, which is the foundation of a culture of life, love and beauty — that every human being deserves full legal protection, from the moment of their biological beginning and throughout all of their life.

read ... The Race to Save our Century

HPD Completes Investigation of Domestic Violence Case

KHON: The Honolulu Police Department has completed its investigation of a police sergeant seen on surveillance video attacking a woman.

On Tuesday, HPD Chief Louis Kealoha told KHON2 that the department’s report into the matter has been turned over to the City Prosecutor’s office. The decision to charge now rests with them.

The police chief also announced several changes that the department is looking to make involving how it keeps track of domestic violence cases and promised more transparency.

KHON2 spoke with Kealoha after he met with lawmakers, who had concerns about HPD’s handling of domestic violence cases. Both said the discussion was positive and that they will work together to make improvements.

Seven lawmakers gathered at HPD’s main headquarters Tuesday morning and, more than an hour later, walked out with optimism.

read ... Now Up to Prosecutor

Study: Hawaii Potheads Worth $259.26 Each

PBN: A study by a consumer website says that legalizing marijuana could add $14 million a year to Hawaii's economy, but even a state senator who supports legalizing medical marijuana doesn’t buy it.

Nerdwallet.com said that that there are more than 54,000 pot smokers in Hawaii and that annual revenue from sales and excise taxes could top $13.9 million if the sale of weed was legal.  ($14M / 54,000 = $259.26 per pothead)

read ... Potheads

Lava’s impact — by the numbers

If lower Puna is cut off from the rest of the island because of lava, more than 250 businesses and more than 9,400 residents could be severely impacted.

read ... Impact

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