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Friday, January 23, 2015
January 23, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:51 PM :: 4201 Views

VIDEO: McCain Rips Matson's Overpriced Ships on Senate Floor

Mainland Homosexuals Plan to Use Anti-Bullying Campaign to Penetrate Hawaii Schools

Troop Reductions? Army to hold community listening sessions Jan. 27, 28

New Illinois Governor Appoints Linda Lingle as COO

AARP Hawaii Supports Caregiver Bill

VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard on Fox News, Slams Obama Refusal to Identify Enemy as Islamic Extremism

Improve Health Care Competition by Repealing State Laws

Affordable Housing and Car Sharing on Council Agenda

Up to $1.2 Billion Electricity Savings for Hawaii After Oil Prices Plummet

Ethics probe could render rail votes Null and Void

KITV: The Honolulu Ethics Commission is investigating five “city officers” for allegedly accepting gifts over $200, which would be in direct violation of the law. 

It’s believed the probe is aimed at five current and former City Council members who were named by Romy Cachola last year in a press release. Cachola, a state representative and former councilman, was fined $50,000 by the Ethics Commission for accepting meals and gifts above the $200 threshold. He said in March 2010, he and five other council members were treated to lavish meals by the James Campbell Company....

The former colleagues named by Cachola include Ikaika Anderson, Todd Apo, Donovan Dela Cruz, Nestor Garcia and Ann Kobayashi. Although Ethics Commission Executive Director and Legal Counsel Chuck Totto cannot speak specifically about the ongoing probe into “city officers,” he said the next step is to forward the complaints to the individuals in question.

“The commission found probable cause in those items that violations had occurred,” he said....

As a result of Cachola’s conflict of interest his vote on 100 bills and resolutions were thrown out, but it had no impact on legislation passed by the council. However the situation could be much more complicated if the "city officers" being looked at by the Ethics Commission are indeed Anderson, Apo, Dela Cruz, Garcia and Kobayashi. If it’s found all five violated the law, then their votes on the city's $5.3 billion rail project, as well as other bills and resolutions, would also be null and void.

read ... Null and Void

IM: State of the State: Governor David Ige to speak on the future of Hawaii

Fraudsters Happy: Senators to Push Mandatory Vote by Mail System

Borreca: "Where have all the voters gone?" queried Kim.

Saying now was the time to take down both the barriers and excuses to voting, Kim announced that a strong consensus in the Senate wants everybody voting in Hawaii to do so by mail.

"Here the absentee mail-in vote has done so well. I think they have worked out the kinks, plus the city has used it for Neighborhood Board elections and the special elections, so why not vote all mail?" Kim said in an interview after her speech....

(We already have vote-by-mail, just not mandatory.)  Recent statistics (don't) back her up. In the 2014 general election, more voters — 189,000 — voted with absentee mail-in ballots than those who walked to a polling place in person (180,500). So the elimination of polling places voting by mail is becoming something we are increasingly comfortable with, Kim said would drive voter turnout even lower....

To move the bill, Kim said Maui Democratic Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who is Judiciary Committee chairman, will start working on it.

"We are hoping that, at least on our side, we will be able to pass something out early and let's see what the House does," Keith-Agaran said in an interview....

Asked about Kim's idea, Ige was encouraging.

"It is something we should definitely look into. I think any efforts to get people to vote would be well worth it," Ige said.

read ... Forced Vote by Mail

Usual Democrat Hacks Thrilled by Lingle's Move

SA: Lingle's assignment won't be easy. Rauner said Illinois is in "massive deterioration mode" with, among other things, the worst-funded public retirement system and the lowest credit ratings in the nation.

On Thursday the first Republican Illinois governor in a dozen years promised reforms to make the state more attractive to businesses while cutting spending for such things as the state payroll, health insurance for the poor and public pensions.

Lingle, who is expected to start sometime in May or June, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

But Hawaii Pacific University professor John Hart (hack #1) said he believes Lingle is repositioning herself to relaunch her political career on the mainland.

"I would not be surprised if she took a look at the political landscape and maybe saw an opening," he said. "The mainland — that's where her future lies."

Hart, chairman of HPU's Communication Department, said Lingle's options here are limited after serving as a two-term governor and losing to Mazie Hirono in her 2012 run for the U.S. Senate. If she were to run for national office in Hawaii again, she would likely face an incumbent and be at a disadvantage.

"She's gone," the professor said. "She's not coming back."

Pat Saiki, chairwoman of the Hawaii Republican Party, said she didn't necessarily think it means the end for Lingle in Hawaii.

"Her career is never over," she said. "Wherever she pops up, she's a star."

Saiki praised Rauner for scooping up "such a talented person as Linda Lingle. He's the lucky one."

Saiki said she has no doubt Lingle will help Rauner put Illinois on better financial footing.

The former congresswoman dismissed any assertion that Lingle is moving to Illinois with an agenda to reclaim her political mojo.

"She's an honest-to-goodness, decent and honorable person," she said. "Linda's like everyone else. She's taking it one step at a time."

Veteran political analyst Dan Boylan (hack #2) said that if Lingle does have a future in Hawaii politics, she isn't doing herself any favors by taking a job in Illinois and spurning a strong local culture in the islands that values loyalty.

"She's taking a walk. It can't help her," he said.

read ... Hacks

Study shows UH brings in bucks to local economy

SA: UH President David Lassner told the Board of Regents Thursday that athletics "generates about $66 million in direct spending, $128 million of Hawaii business sales, $36.9 million in income for Hawaii workers, $7 million in state tax collections and 860 jobs, so this is not small potatoes in terms of impact to the community."

In addition Lassner has said UH athletic events drew 20,000 visitors who spent a total of $31 million in 2013-14.

The figures were from a report commissioned by UH athletic director Ben Jay and compiled by the school's Shidler College of Business.

Lassner said, "That's part of the message that we will be bringing forward in seeking support from outside of our current general funds and outside our current tuition and fees to maintain a UH Manoa athletics program to serve the community."

With sales of more than $16 million, the report said the athletic department would rank "among the Top 215 largest companies by sales revenues in the state of Hawaii per the Hawaii Business Top 250 listing for 2013."

read ... Fishing for Appropriations

Big Island's physician shortage worsened in 2014

WHT: Hawaii Island’s doctor shortage grew by 17 percent in the last year.

The need for physicians in 2014 was estimated at 554, but only 327 were practicing on the island, according to the latest figures from the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Area Health Education Center. That puts the island’s shortage at 41 percent of its need, far ahead of the statewide shortage of 24 percent.

“The Big Island is still the hardest hit by the physician shortage,” said Kelly Withey, director of the center. “Primary care still needs over 30 (doctors) to be at the number of primary care providers a similar population on the mainland enjoys.”

She added that in addition to a lack of primary care physicians, there are many specialties underrepresented, including orthopedic surgery, with a 71 percent shortage, neurology, which is down 70 percent from the demand, and endocrinology, with a 65 percent shortage.

read ... Big Island's physician shortage worsened in 2014

Some prison guards earning more than double their salaries in OT

HNN: At state prisons, one problem leads to another: as some prison guards constantly call in sick, other guards covering for them are raking in major overtime pay.

A few corrections officers are making so much overtime they're more than doubling their salaries.

In the last year, prisons statewide spent $10.7 million on overtime. The average public safety employee took home 26.5 percent more than their base pay in overtime, according to state payroll records....

(Skip empty rhetoric from Legislator pretending to care.)

State payroll records showed one prison guard earned a $52,000 base salary but also took home $71,000 in overtime, collecting 137 percent of his base salary in OT for a total of $124,449 a year.

Another correctional officer whose base pay was $47,928 earned another $64,033 in overtime --134 percent of his base -- pushing his annual pay to $111,931.

Hawaii News Now found 10 guards who boosted their base pay by 80 percent or more with overtime last year....

(Skip more rhetoric.)

Espinda, the new public safety chief, has been the warden at Halawa prison, where the overtime expense is just under 5 percent or $826,334, a relatively low percentage for a large facility with 410 staff.

By contrast, overtime at the Big Island's Hawaii Community Correction Center was $1.5 million in the last year, or 23.5 percent, quite high for a much smaller facility with just 166 staff.

The Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua spent $929,758 or 19 percent on overtime in the last year, at an even smaller complex with 132 employees.

Oahu Community Correction Center, which has 498 employees, spent $3.2 million or nearly 17 percent of its salary budget on overtime.

Related: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

read ... Overtime

$144M DHS Kolea Medicaid Eligibility Software problems demand scrutiny

SA: The problem, which is only the latest in a series of glitches that DHS has encountered in its service, came to light at a legislative briefing last month concerning Medicaid, the federally funded program providing medical coverage for the poorest Americans.

The focus of the complaints lodged by service providers at community health centers was Kolea, the DHS online Medicaid eligibility system whose costs, all told, could top out at $144 million.

Last weekend the agency temporarily took down the system to install updates. That was part of a scheduled upgrade, but the providers said they hoped that this would resolve some of their frustrations.

Those include frequent episodes of the system freezing and then losing applicant information, as well as delays in the promised "overnight" eligibility approvals.

Tuesday was the first full day the clinics could use the upgraded system, days before DHS conducted training sessions for health centers' staff. It should be possible soon to probe the robustness of the new Kolea interface and get a better reading.

And probing it — Kolea, as well as the less technological, more bureaucratic lapses — is exactly what state lawmakers need to do in the coming weeks.

read ... DHS problems demand scrutiny

Management Claims Progress on Clearing Backlog at Ports 

AP: The companies operating port terminals assert that workers have slowed the rate at which they process containers brought from Asia aboard massive ships, adding to gridlock as mountains of imports dwell on dockside yards.

Employers started scaling back work crews this month, saying they won't unload ships at night and instead are focused on clearing the backlog from dockside yards. They say the strategy is working.

"I'm told that there's been some improvement in the last week," said Steve Getzug, a spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents terminal operators and shipping lines....

"The employers' action is punitive. It's a measure to hit the pocketbooks of the workforce. It has zero to do with relieving congestion," said Bobby Olvera, Jr., president of the union's Local 13 branch.

Olvera and other union leaders planned to participate in simultaneous marches Thursday evening in Los Angeles and Tacoma, Washington....

Aside from a tentative agreement over the summer on health care costs, there have been no publicly announced breakthroughs. In addition to wages, other issues include whether the union will be able to have jurisdiction over the maintenance and repair of truck chasses.

read ... Talks to end West Coast seaports deadlock go on 1-day hiatus

Saiki: Little Support for Marijuana Decriminalization

AP: A bill to decriminalize marijuana is currently being drafted, said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee. That bill would reduce punishment for using marijuana to a civil violation instead of a felony, he said.

Under the proposal, getting caught with marijuana would be similar to getting a parking ticket, and like a parking ticket, violators could mail in their responses to the courts. The fine would not exceed $100, Espero said....

But House Majority Leader Scott Saiki has said he believes decriminalization is unlikely to pass. "I don't think there's much more support for it," Saiki said.

Espero plans to introduce at least two other bills on the topic Friday.

One bill, SB 190, would allow marijuana growers to serve three medical marijuana patients at a time, instead of the current one-person limit....The bill also spells out how patients or caregivers can get seeds or plants.

Another bill would change the drug's classification. Marijuana is currently in classification 1....

In the House, a bill was introduced Thursday to prohibit discrimination against medical marijuana users in condominiums. That bill, HB 31, says that if house rules or bylaws discriminate against medical marijuana users, those rules are void, unless the complex prohibits tobacco smoking and the patient ingests medical marijuana by smoking.

read .... Dopey Laws

18 Pimps Presented to Prosecutors in Four Years

CB: Kaneshiro said that the increase is largely due to a package of bills passed by the Legislature in 2011. The bills increased first- and second-degree promoting prostitution offenses to a class A and class B felonies. The bills also allowed prostitutes to qualify for the witness protection program.

Pimps are given the option to take a 10-year sentence, or face a mandatory 20 years in prison if they are convicted of first-degree promoting prostitution, Kaneshiro said.

A total of 18 promoting prostitution cases have gone to the prosecutor’s office since 2010. Two pimps were sentenced to 10 years in prison and two others to one year in prison and four years of probation. Another case was adjudicated in family court because the defendant was a minor.

Three cases were declined by the prosecutor’s office, three others were dismissed and one ended in a jury acquittal. There are three more cases set for trial this spring, and another three are in earlier stages of the judicial system.

read ... Pimps

Pro Life Rally on Kauai

KGI: Diana Honjiyo believes the unborn should have a right to live.

“I realize that from conception there is life and it is a person, a baby,” she said Thursday. “Just because they don’t have a voice, that doesn’t mean that they’re not a person. They’re a soul.”

Honjiyo was one of about 20 people who stood along Kaumualii Highway in front of Kukui Grove Center holding signs and waving to passersby to protest abortion on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.

Many held signs with statements like “Abortion isn’t a form of health care,” and “Honk for a pro-life generation and try adoption.” Supporters honked their car horns or flashed a thumbs up as they drove past the two-hour demonstration.

read ... Pro Life Rally

Maui Police Report Details 5 Suspensions in December

* A 15-day suspension was ordered for an off-duty officer who operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in June, according to police. Another officer was suspended for five days for failing to properly supervise the investigation of the incident and a third officer was suspended for three days for failing to properly investigate.

* An officer was suspended for 10 days for failing to properly investigate and falsifying records or reports in January 2014.

* A five-day suspension was ordered for an off-duty officer who made comments and sent harassing messages in August.

* A written reprimand was ordered for an officer who failed to properly investigate and document an incident in January 2014.

* Four other written reprimands went to officers involved in motor vehicle accidents - for hitting a concrete curb in May; for colliding into the vehicle ahead in July; for reversing into a fence pole in August; and for reversing into a vehicle stopped behind in September.

* Oral reprimands were given to an officer who failed to complete proper forms and fingerprints in June and for an officer who reversed into the concrete base of a light pole in September.

Five complaints were not sustained, including an allegation that an officer failed to report a use of force incident in November 2013.

Also not sustained were complaints that an officer failed to assist during an incident and that an officer failed to properly investigate an incident, both in January.

Other complaints that weren't sustained alleged that an off-duty officer failed to comply with a court order in July and that a field training officer failed to prevent a subordinate's motor vehicle accident in September.

read ... Suspensions



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