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Thursday, October 9, 2014
October 9, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:07 PM :: 5695 Views

Aiona Proposes HOPE for Renters to Build Equity

The Forgiving Democratic Electorate

Maui Monsanto Rep Cancels Speaking Engagement Over Safety Concerns

Colorado Governor: Legalizing Pot Was ‘Reckless’

Hawaii Ranks 4th on Income but 44th on Federal Taxes Paid

Wind Industry Admits It Needs Handout to Compete

Wahiawa Hospital Spills Palafox Beans: UH owes $1M in Medicare fraud case

SA: Wahiawa General Hospital, which last week was accused of owing University of Hawaii-affiliated doctors $800,000 in back pay, said this week it withheld the payments because UH owes the hospital more than $1 million from an insurance fraud settlement.

Wahiawa General agreed to a $450,000 settlement last year for improperly billing the Medicare and Medicaid government health insurance programs and the military's health care program known as TRICARE.

The U.S. Attorney's office began an investigation after a doctor complained the hospital had billed the government for services by UH faculty doctors who didn't provide the level of supervision required by federal law to residents in Wahiawa's family medicine residency program from 2008 to 2011.

Wahiawa General settled the case in August 2013, though it did not admit liability, and has repaid the government programs, as well as legal fees and related costs totaling $1 million, said Don Olden, the hospital's chief executive officer.

Olden says Wahiawa General got "thrown under the bus" as the billing agent for UH faculty physicians who were responsible for documenting their supervision of the residents, but failed to do so....

At the time of the investigation, Neal Palafox was the head of the UH family medicine residency program at Wahiawa General. Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Palafox director of the Health Department in late 2010 and shortly after asked him to withdraw his nomination, but the governor didn't publicly explain why.

Palafox is still a UH faculty member working at Wahiawa General, but is no longer one of administrators of the program, Olden said. Palafox declined to comment for this story and referred questions to Tina Shelton, spokeswoman for the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine.


read ... An article with no mention of 'Carbone'

Goldman Sachs Behind Hawaii Subprime GEMS

IM: For example, Hawaii’s Green Infrastructure Loan Program – to be backed by over $200 million in state bonds – seeks to make clean energy improvements more affordable and accessible to undeserved communities.

State residents can recoup the upfront cost of solar installation through an on-bill repayment arrangement that allows consumers to repay the premium with the energy savings.”

On June 6, 2014 DBEDT submitted their Green Infrastructure Loan Program to the Public Utilities Commission for approval.

The filings asserted that a $150,000,000.00 Green Bank will be established by DBEDT or a DBEDT subsidiary.

Goldman Sachs is the underwriter/consultant for the DBEDT program.”

PDF: Second Goldman Sachs summit

read ... Crony Capitalism

Djou a 'Pragmatist’ Ready to ‘Get Things Done’ for Hawaii

CB: It’s the third time Djou, 44, has tried to return to the 1st Congressional District seat he held for seven months after winning a special election in 2010. But it could prove to be the charm.

Djou had a 4 percentage point lead over his opponent in Civil Beat’s September poll. And he’s maintained a huge fundraising advantage since Takai plowed through his campaign funds to win a hotly contested primary....

Djou said he would fight to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act, beginning by carving out an exception from its requirement that ships be built in the U.S....

The Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District discusses a variety of topics, including Micronesians and Hawaii's high cost of living.

SA: Djou, Takai spar over ways to lower isles' cost of living

read ... Ready

Scott Nago: Just Another Reason not to Vote

HNN: Nago shocked everyone by announcing that there were 800 absentee mail-in ballots from Maui that had never been counted. Nago held off on releasing that information for two days.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, the eventual winner of the special election, called the error "appalling and outrageous."

Now not to paint the elections office with too broad a brush, but it is insulting to hear Nago declare that everyone involved did a good job. With election turnout in Hawaii at the bottom of the barrel, do people need to look at Nago as yet another reason not to vote?

Background: Hawaii Chief Elections Officer: “Is it my job to get people to turn out and vote?”

read ... Voter Suppression

How Bad Is Hawaii’s Office of Elections?

CB: The Nov. 4 election will answer two questions. One is obvious: Which candidates won?

The other question has become just as obvious: How did Hawaii’s State Office of Elections (OE) screw up this time?

read ... How Bad Is Hawaii’s Office of Elections?

CD1: Djou Debates Opponent

PR: Djou stressed the need to lower the cost of doing business in Hawaii by reducing the layers of government regulation and taxes, thus encouraging more small business owners to hire more employees and expand their operations.

“I believe that what drives all businesses isn’t infrastructure – it’s small business owners. We need to create more small business owners,” he said. “That’s the right way to grow our economy – expand small business and create jobs.” ...

Djou said he believes natural gas would prove to be a long-term energy solution, but government regulation, such as the Jones Act, makes the costs prohibitive.

The Jones Act, which Takai supports, shields the domestic shipping industry from foreign competition.

Djou said he believes the Jones Act is an antiquated piece of legislation passé din 1920 at a time when Congress never believed that a non-contiguous state would be part of the county. Takai said he does not believe there is any evidence that suggests abolishing the Jones Act would lower the cost of living in Hawaii....

The two will meet again face-to-face Thursday night on PBS Hawaii’s “Insights.”

read ... Debate

Brickwood, Lethem battle heats up in state senate dist. 12

KITV: There's a heated battle brewing in Hawaii's state senate. District 12 incumbent Brickwood Galuteria is facing a challenge from newcomer Chris Lethem. ...

Last week Lethem added a new layer to the battle, filing an ethics complaint against Galuteria. Lethem claims his opponent pushed Kaka'ako legislation this year that financially benefits the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

At the same time, Lethem says Galuteria was holding down a $50-100,000 position in a firm headed by OHA trustee Robert K. Lindsay....

Both candidates say they're willing to square off in a debate but so far nothing has been scheduled.

Background: Kakaako: How to Buy Hawaii State Senators--Legally

read ... Chris Lethem for Senate

31% of legislative races lack GOP candidate

KITV: In the current election cycle, which includes the Aug. 9 primary, the Hawaii Republican Party failed to field candidates in 31.25 percent of all races in the state House and Senate. There are six races in the state Senate where Democrats ran or are running unopposed. In the House the number is much larger – 14 races don’t have a GOP challenger.

"I think it's been sad over the years that the Republicans basically have failed to field about one-third of the candidates," said state Sen. Sam Slom, the only GOP lawmaker in Hawaii’s 25-member Senate. “That limits the choices of voters (and) that’s one of the reasons we have low voter turnout.”

read ... 31% of Races

Kauai Council Enacts garbage tax

KGI: The measure, which was passed by a 5-1 vote, will charge residential customers a monthly, flat $6 fee for access to the county’s five refuse transfer stations and an additional $4 fee, if residents opt to have a 64-gallon trash cart, or two 32-gallon carts, for weekly pick up.

Households who opt to use the 96-gallon carts, or three 32-gallon carts, that are now available, meanwhile, would be charged the flat $6 fee along with an additional $12 fee — a monthly $6 increase from the amount residents pay now.

read ... Garbage Tax?

Council Release Designed to Help Reelect Fukunaga?

CB: The Honolulu City Council voted on Wednesday to release confidential legal advice about a bill that sought to slow the conversion of hotel rooms to condominiums, sparking protest from one council member who argued that the timing of the release was aimed at influencing the race for the City Council District 6 seat.

Bill 16 was sidelined in April by Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, angering Unite Here Local 5, a union representing hotel workers, which had strongly backed the bill. The union has attributed the loss of hundreds of jobs to the hotel-condo conversions, particularly in Waikiki.

Union members attacked Fukunaga for deferring the bill, accusing her of being in the pocket of Waikiki developers.

But the release on Wednesday of two opinions by the city’s corporation counsel, Donna Leong, supports Fukunaga’s past claims that Bill 16 was legally flawed. ...

Councilman Breene Harimoto strongly objected to the release of the opinions, suggesting that they were geared toward helping Fukunaga in her re-election bid. There were also questions about whether the council violated the spirit or letter of the Sunshine Law in how it proceeded with the vote.

PDFs: Opinion 1 , Opinion 2

read ... Electioneering

Anti-GMO Nuts Whine About PAC

HTH: Forward Progress, a super PAC formed earlier this year by Pacific Resource Partnership, is funded entirely by another PRP entity, the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program, a pro-construction PAC.

Political activist Karen Chun late last month filed complaints against Forward Progress and the Carpenters Fund, alleging incomplete filings and the failure of the Carpenters Fund to name any of its contributors. At issue for Chun is a Maui County Council race, where an incumbent is being challenged by a candidate who favors more development and the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture.

“They list all of their donations as being from themselves,” Chun told Stephens Media Hawaii on Tuesday. “This is the typical PRP operating technique of not telling the truth.”

Chun is asking the Campaign Spending Commission to compel the Carpenters Fund to disclose the original sources of its contributions.

The commission is scheduled to take up the complaints at its Oct. 22 meeting in Honolulu, said Associate Director Tony Baldomero.

read ... PRP vs Anti-GMO Nut Job

HECO Claims Rates Will Drop to $0.26 per kwh

KHON: Specifically, solar customers will have a $55 monthly charge added to their bills starting in 2017.

By 2017, however, the average kilowatt-hour charge would decrease from 34 cents to 26 cents.

read ... Bad News for Solar Scammers

Solar: Demolitionists, Dreamers, and Pragmatists

CB: The Pragmatists fall somewhere in between the Demolitionists and Dreamers. Neither boiling with anger, nor bubbly with hope, Pragmatists see a way forward through the realization that the PV halcyon days of 2012-2013 will not return soon, if ever.

This group sees the name-calling and vitriol from the Demolitionists as counter-productive, and the laudable path to get to 100 percent renewable as practically impossible in our lifetimes. They acknowledge that it’s likely to be a long, hard slog to substantially increase PV capacity on the grid and that progress is likely to be slow and frustrating.

But, the Pragmatists assert, there’s no option other than to allow grid modernization — which refers to a smart grid and energy storage — to evolve and the regulatory process to play out.

While this camp is far from satisfied with the growing number of circuits effectively closed to adding more PV capacity, there’s something of an accepted resignation of the current situation. They believe that browbeating the utility, writing letters to elected officials and the PUC or marching in the streets is not likely to yield positive results.

read ... Pragmatists

Wind Scammers Go Fly a Kite 1,100 feet above Saddle

HTH: Makani, formerly Makani Wind, joined with the tech giant last year, the first of what has become the Google X division projects, said Alden Woodrow, business team lead. He was on Hawaii Island last week meeting with businesses and community members in Waimea to talk about the pilot project, which will take place on Parker Ranch land south of Waimea and north of the old Saddle Road....  (No mention of how taxpayers are footing this bill....)

The technology, which Makani has been working on for about eight years, puts a device, called the kite, on the end of a tether. Essentially, Woodrow said, the kite flies in circles, generating energy as it completes the loop. The energy is directed down the tether cable to a base on the ground. The kite’s motion mimics the circles made by a traditional wind turbine’s blade — basically the device takes the part of a wind turbine that is most energy efficient, the tip, and replicates it without the tower or rest of the large blades, he said.

A conventional wind turbine is about 500 feet tall. The top of a kite’s loop is about 1,100 feet above the ground....  (Question: Are they licensed by the FAA?  This is an obstruction to aircraft operating with a floor of 1,000 feet.)

People have been trying to prove the technology for about 40 years, said Mike Barnard, a Senior Fellow for Wind at the Washington, D.C.-based Energy and Policy Institute. The “seminal” white paper on airborne energy generation came out in 1980, and the first tests took place in 1986. The technology is “sexy,” but thus far hasn’t been able to move beyond the test phase, he said.  (Translation: This doesn't work.)

When a company, such as Google, is paying for the research, it’s less problematic than governments funding such projects, Barnard said, for a few reasons.  (Do you really believe there is no taxpayer money here?) 

One, lots of “really bright aerospace engineers” have tried to prove that airborne wind generation works.

“Nobody’s putting energy into electricity,” he said. “It kind of reeks of a too-hard problem.”

But Barnard, who runs the website, where he has written at length about his airborne wind energy concerns in general and about Makani’s proposal specifically, sees a broader issue with the research.

“There’s a significant trend in some people who used to be in the space of global warming denial,” Barnard said. “Now they’re fighting to preserve oil profits … (by) spending money on research instead of deploying viable wind and solar generation we have today.”

(A crackpot technology deserves a crackpot conspiracy theory.)

BW: Video

read ... About Something that doesn't Work

After Defending Police Officers, Attorney Switches Sides

CB: ...Attorney Tracy Fukui has a history with HPD. She’s a former city attorney who defended police officers accused of misconduct. Court records show she was involved in as many as 19 cases, most of which involved excessive force, illegal seizure and illegal detainment.

The city attorneys defending Steiner tried to get Fukui disqualified from the case, saying in court records that she was privy to confidential and attorney-client privileged information when working at Corporation Counsel on behalf of HPD.

The attorneys even went so far as to contact the Honolulu Ethics Commission and Office of Disciplinary Counsel in their attempts to get Fukui barred from the case.

In one filing, Deputy Police Chief Dave Kajihiro says he confided in Fukui sensitive information about HPD and that he “felt betrayed” she would make a career suing the department she once defended.

Kajihiro also said he had developed such a “close and trusting relationship” with Fukui that he had even given her information about criminal matters that he wouldn’t disclose to prosecutors.

Fukui told Civil Beat she was not allowed to say what criminal matters she and Kajihiro discussed, and that doing so could result in disciplinary action including disbarment.

But in court records she filed in response to the city’s attempts to kick her off the Salazar case, Fukui said she found Kajihiro’s actions to “keep secret” criminal information “deeply troubling.”

While working with another city attorney on a civil case in 2012, Fukui wrote she came across information about an officer’s actions in an unrelated criminal incident.

She took her concerns to her supervisors, including former Honolulu Corporation Counsel Robert Godbey, who arranged a meeting with Kajihiro to discuss her findings.

Fukui said in the court records that at the meeting HPD already seemed to be aware of the issue and likewise had not informed the prosecutor’s office.

“In the months following said meeting, it did not appear that HPD was addressing the matter referenced above, which was a former Deputy Public Defender, continued to deeply disturb me,” Fukui wrote.

Ultimately, Fukui quit her job with the city attorney’s office because, the filings say, she couldn’t bear the weight on her conscience....

read ... Switch Sides

Grand jury declines charges against HPD sergeant after Kickboxer-girlfriend testifies

HNN: A grand jury declined to indict a Honolulu Police Sergeant caught on surveillance video punching his girlfriend.

The video, taken on September 8 at a Waipahu Restaurant, shows Sgt. Darren Cachola hitting the woman. She testified on his behalf Wednesday morning saying they were just playing around.

Her attorney, David Hayakawa, says she is a kick boxer and that the two do this often.

Cachola's attorney, Howard Luke said there is much more to the 24 second video than what was released to the media.

"When all the evidence came in, the grand jury and their wisdom realized that the evidence was insufficient to return an indictment against officer Cachola," said Luke.

Police sources who have seen the whole thing say the woman is the aggressor, she hits and slaps the Cachola, even jumps on him. They take off their shoes and square up. Cachola eventually starts hitting back and that's the clip released. After the 24 seconds, the two laugh and walk out of camera view.

HNN: We wonder if an internal affairs investigation would have commenced against the HPD sergeant had the video not been sent out to Hawaii News Now and other media outlets.

AP: Prosecutor: Ex-prison guard sold his integrity

read ... Assault?

Large Gambling Case Falling Apart

SA: A state judge expressed concern Wednesday about the handling of a large gambling case by the prosecutor's office that resulted in charges against nine people in connection with sweepstakes gaming machines.

Circuit Judge Randal Lee also denied city Deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane's request for more time to respond to motions alleging prosecutorial misconduct and seeking the case to be dismissed.

Delaplane said he wanted to respond to each of the issues raised by the defense.

Lee responded: "I'm hearing a lot of fluff."

"Given the magnitude and importance of this particular case, I find it highly disturbing that a hundred percent of your time is not dedicated on this case," Lee told Delaplane. "I'm troubled by that."

He added, "It's incumbent on the attorneys to be prepared. … I just can't gather that it's so difficult."

Delaplane said he recently took the lead in the case after Katherine Kealoha, the head of the prosecutor's Career Criminal Division, went on indefinite personal leave in mid-September and is no longer assigned to the case.

read ... Gambling

City of Honolulu: 4 Years, $350K to Change a Lightbulb

SA: It will be another year and a half or so before the lights at Kapaolono Park, at 711 11th Ave. in Kaimuki, will be restored.

"Unfortunately, this is not a simple fix and it will take some time to complete," said Jon Hennington, spokesman for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The flood lighting system at Kapaolono went out in April 2012, after the electrical distribution control box for the city's 30-year-old high-voltage transformer failed.

Initially, a crew from the city Department of Facility Maintenance attempted to make repairs in-house to save time and money.

However, it subsequently was determined that the system needed to be replaced, so the job was put to out to bid, said Robert Kroning, director-designate for the city Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the project.

Because the system needed to be replaced, "the city took advantage of the opportunity to also streamline the power conversion coming from the Hawaiian Electric Co. transformer to reduce future maintenance problems," he said.

The parks department immediately allocated funding for design, while $350,000 was budgeted for construction in the 2014 fiscal year capital improvement program, he said.

The design of the replacement system, done in conjunction with HECO, is nearly complete and the construction contract is expected to be awarded in January. The targeted completion date is early 2016.

read ... And $350K

New Hawaii cesspool proposal could hurt home sales, real estate leaders say

PBN:  Both Jack Legal, president-elect of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, and Karen Ono, executive director of the Kauai Board of Realtors, said that while they are not opposed to the Clean Water Act, the Hawaii State Department of Health could stymie home sales if it decides that rural new homeowners must replace their cesspools with septic tanks, which can cost cost up to $10,000 or more to install.

The DOH is proposing that new homeowners have 180 days from the date of sale to replace cesspools with septic tanks.

Ono said that could add thousands of dollars to the costs of the home, and both Ono and Legal say that mortgage companies would be less likely to approve a loan for a home that would need a new septic tank.

Legal said the new rules would discourage both the seller and the buyer.

The new rules would affect 77,000 homeowners on Neighbor Islands, and 11,000 on Oahu, including to Thelma Dreyer, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Senate.

read ... Hurt Home Sales

Proposal to reduce DoD per diem pay stirs outcry

KS: “The proposal to reduce per diem allowance by 25 percent for (long-term temporary duty, or TDY) periods longer than 30 days and by 45 percent for TDY periods longer than 180 days would cause an undue burden on a workforce that has already been stricken with furloughs, government shutdowns, and three years of pay freezes and the private sector that is still rebounding from the economic recession,” Kilmer and his colleagues write.

But Kilmer and his letter co-signers say those expenses will instead be incurred by the civilian workers themselves. They say the General Services Administration froze rates last year, making it difficult to find affordable lodging, particularly in cities. The per diem is different in each locality, based on demand and costliness. For example, the maximum per diem for lodging meals and incidentals is $213 in San Diego, $148 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and $243 in Guam.

read ... Don't Worry, Dan will Stop this

After Announcing Tuna Monument, Obama Pays $10K per Day to Fish Foreign Waters

FIS: This treaty settled this week in Honolulu, Hawaii, provides for US flagged purse seine vessels to fish 8,300 days in the region in return for a payment of USD 90 million made up by industry and US-Government contributions, FFA Media informed.  ($90M / 8300 = $10,843 per day of fishing)

“We have been renegotiating this Treaty since 2009, when its total value was in the order of USD 21 million,” FFA Director-General, James Movick pointed out.

“During that time, the Pacific Island Parties were able to secure an increase to USD 42 million in 2011, and then again to USD 63 million in 2012. The package that has now been agreed substantially builds on that, and reflects very well the outstanding progress made by the Parties to Nauru Agreement (PNA) in building the value of their purse seine fisheries,” the director added.

PNA includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

read ... $10K a Day

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