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Monday, February 16, 2015
February 16, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:50 PM :: 3063 Views

Will OHA Trustees Waste Another $5M on Push for Fake Indian Tribe?

HCR33: Will House Pass Resolution Supporting Fake Indian Tribe?

HB459 Forces 'Pono Choices' Gay Sex Program on Schools Statewide

SB1071: Second Amendment Rights for Legal Immigrants

State Accounting System is 46 Years Out of Date

PBN: The state's accounting system is based on a manual written in 1969 — 46 years ago. But that is going to change.

"Up until now, there's been a single system for accounting, but that doesn't mean everyone has been tracking the same thing, because everybody has a different need," said Rodney Lee, partner at the Honolulu accounting and consulting firm PKF Pacific Hawaii. "Things have changed and the demands are different."

The state of Hawaii's Office of Information Management and Technology put out a request for proposals in January 2014 for consulting services to assess and develop a Uniform Chart of Accounts for all state departments. A chart of accounts is framework or structure for classifying, recording and reporting on expenditures, revenue, assets and liabilities.

"It is expected that the UCOA will provide the state with an accurate and comparable set of records, reports and statements of all financial data across the state," the request said. In addition, it would help the meet complex reporting requirements for federal awards or requirements, provide the ability to aggregate data across the state (like cell phone expenses) and drill down to the lowest level of detail to view organizational data.

PKF Pacific Hawaii LLP was awarded the $1.06 million contract in October. The challenge is creating standardization so everyone reports the same thing, he said....

A uniform system can prevent against duplication. In a simplified way, it could mean the difference between a $2 million line item and a $4 million one.

"Everybody is always concerned about public money," Lee said. Numbers are the outcome, but it's about the decisions made with them. If the numbers are misreported, Hawaii could lose federal support and funding if the system is not in place. Other states that do not have a UCOA have lost federal support, he said.

The biggest challenge for PKF has been the volume of information. "I think what we have is a good amount of processes, protocols, things that have been developed over the years and a system that has been in place for many years," Lee said.

This is not something that you do multiple times, Lee said, so it's been a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. "It's a huge opportunity to do something great," he said.

PKF won't implement the system, though, as it is outside the scope of the contract.  (We're doomed.)

read ... Design but not implement

Ige Ignores the Fervor that Got Him Elected: DLNR nomination a Public Disservice, Disappointing

SA:'s hard to understand how a lobbyist for a private real-estate developer could possibly be the best choice to lead the stewardship of Hawaii's priceless natural and cultural resources....

Ching, on leave as vice president of community and government relations for Castle & Cooke pending Senate confirmation, should withdraw his nomination for the DLNR post....

Gov. David Ige has done the public a disservice by failing to specifically articulate why he ousted previous director William Aila in favor of Ching. The governor's generally vague responses, such as "I like Carleton's heart," and praise of his management experience are insufficient in the face of outright opposition by a diverse coalition of environmental groups and well-founded questions about Ching's admitted lack of expertise in the preservation and natural resources arenas that are part-and-parcel of running the DLNR.

Ching told Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Perez that he would rely on his staff to provide that knowledge, but Ige also appointed a lobbyist — this one representing the interests of shipping companies — as the first deputy at DLNR. More essentially, as goes the boss so goes the department.

Ching's career promoting development, from housing subdivisions to windfarms, is sure to permeate his thinking, and his advice to the governor regarding the vast acreage and near-shore waters that fall under the DLNR's purview. If confirmed, Ching, by virtue of heading DLNR, also would chair the powerful state Board of Land and Natural Resources and the state Commission on Water Resource Management — panels continually called to decide disputes over the allocation of limited resources....

...for Ige to choose one so clearly aligned with real-estate developers is disappointing, and signals that he is ignoring the fervor that helped sweep him into office and helped doom his predecessor's chances at a second term....

read ... DLNR nominee is wrong choice

Hawaii Health Connector Website Collapses Again

HNN: ...Steve Singer came to the Capitol event to help is 19-year-old niece, Everly Love, get coverage. "We just heard yesterday in fact that today they're going to be here 'til midnight. And we said, okay, last chance."

"I personally would like to go to the doctor when I need to. And I I need to be sure that I can afford it," said Love.

The two were also there because they were a bit frustrated. They had received information in the mail, but ran into a roadblock when they tried to reach the Health Connector call center.

"We've tried to call in to the Hawaii Health Connector and we've had great difficulty connecting," said Singer. "We're always put on hold forever, it seemed like."

Just last Friday, the Health Connector Web site bogged down after an influx of people visited it in an attempt to enroll. A spokeswoman said the problem was fixed after technicians reset the site.

Even though the Connector has had its problems, organizers said more than 21,000 have enrolled in Hawaii, compared to just 9,500 last year.

Anyone who misses the midnight deadline will face a $325 tax penalty....

read ... Ends in Another Tech Collapse

NextEra seeks smooth sailing in choppy waters

IM: NextEra filed a Motion in Opposition to Life of the Land's Motion to Intervene in the Public Utilities Commission docket examining the proposed takeover of the HECO Companies by NextEra.

NextEra asserted that the takeover is merely a change in ownership at the holding company level and that intervention of outside groups is not proper in merger proceedings.

FPL/NextEra does not seem to have a problem when entities file motions to intervene in their merger dockets in other states.

FPL Group proposed merging with Entergy in 2001. FPL did not oppose the intervention by Reliant Energy in Florida Public Service Commission Docket No. 001148. Several groups applied to be intervenors in Arkansas Public Service Commission Docket: 00-329-U. FPL/Entergy opposed none of them.

In 2005-06 FPL Group proposed merging with Constellation Energy Group, Inc. (owner of Baltimore Gas & Electric). More than a dozen groups filed motions to intervene in the Maryland PSC docket (Case Number: 9054). FPL opposed none of them.

Nor does FPL/NextEra seem to have a problem when they want to intervene in someone else’s merger docket.

In 2007 Central Maine Power Company (CMP) and Maine Natural Gas Company (MNG) filed a petition for reorganization approval for the proposed acquisition of Energy East Corporation by Iberdrola, S.A. FPL filed a motion to intervene in Maine Public Utilities Commission Docket No. 2007-355.

In 2013 two gas companies proposed merging in Pennsylvania. The Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) made up of various entities including NextEra Energy Services. They filed a motion to intervene in the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission proceeding.

read ... NextEra seeks smooth sailing in choppy waters

Hawaii: Highest Paid Part-Time Legislature in US

CB: Hawaii lawmakers are ranked No. 8 in terms of the largest salaries.  The base salary, according to Pew, is $57,852. The session per diem for neighbor island legislators is $175; it’s $10 per day for Oahu lawmakers. 

(The seven states with higher legislative salaries all have full-time legislatures.  Thus Hawaii remains the highest-paid part-time legislature in the US.)

as explained: Hawaii Legislators’ pay tops nation

read ... Get What You Pay for?

Air service helps deliver fresh produce, medical supplies to Oahu

KHON:  As dozens of ships and tens of thousands of cargo containers sit idle at West Coast ports, some stores in Hawaii are turning to airplanes.

Pacific Air Cargo added a flight that arrived Sunday morning. An air-conditioned 747 flew from Los Angeles, packed with fresh produce destined for Costco, Safeway and Foodland stores here on Oahu.

Company representative Paul Skellon says there has been quite a bit of additional demand. “We’re very fortunate that we have access to quite a sizeable fleet of 747 aircraft and larger aircraft than this particular model of 747. So we feel comfortable at this stage that we will be able to match capacity with demand.”

Skellon says Pacific Air Cargo normally runs five round trips per week, with the planes also filled with outbound produce.

He says there’s also been demand for urgent medical supplies, destined for hospitals across the state.

Meanwhile, Idiots on Kauai are still protesting against that dairy farm....

SFG: West Coast port dispute hurts California citrus growers

read ... Air service helps deliver fresh produce to Oahu stores

Legislators Consider Harassing Farmers Market Vendors

AP: — LOCAL FARMING — On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Agriculture will take up a bill requiring the operators of farmers market to ensure that more than 50 percent of vendors in the market primarily sell food or flowers that are produced in Hawaii.

— POLICING THE POLICE — Hawaii lawmakers are looking for ways to increase oversight of the state's police officers. A panel of three Senate committees plans to vote Tuesday afternoon on a bill that would create a statewide law-enforcement standards board.

Read ... things to watch at the Hawaii Legislature this week

100 Disabled, Elderly Drivers Wait as State Fails to Provide Medical Exams

SA: The statewide board of doctors in charge of reviewing driver's license applications for disabled and elderly drivers has been unable to fill four of its five seats, preventing more than 100 would-be drivers on Oahu from getting their licenses for the last six months....

It's one of more than 170 state boards and commissions that collectively have more than 200 vacancies, said Cindy McMillan, spokes­woman for Gov. David Ige, who appoints members to the Medical Advisory Board pending ratification by the state Senate.

But the DOT's Medical Advisory Board's seats have been particularly difficult to fill, McMillan said.

"There is only one doctor on the five-member board," she said. "That is clearly not enough people to meet quorum. How widespread is this problem finding people to volunteer for boards in general?

"Some boards are easier to fill, but this particular board is very difficult because it's made up of all doctors. And they can't just be any doctor. They have to be specialists."

The lone member of the board — Dr. Dennis Crowley, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, fills the DOT's "psychiatry" requirement. Crowley has been serving since July 2007.

Until August, Crowley said, the board had always had a minimum of three members to hold a quorum, but it was "rare" that it had all five members. The terms of two members expired in August, and no monthly meeting has been held since due to lack of a quorum, Crowley said.

At the last meeting in August — during a discussion on whether the board could still act with just Crowley — "we were called out by a citizen who was threatening to take legal action," said DOT spokes­man Tim Saka­hara....

"It's unacceptable that people get stuck in this trap," said state Sen. Gil Riviere (D, Heeia-Laie-Waia­lua), who was contacted by McKinley's father. "This is woefully unfair. We have got to raise awareness among physicians to get them to volunteer."

The city's Corporation Counsel's office is researching the liability and legal issues involved in whether Hono­lulu DMV officials can issue preliminary approvals for license applications based on doctor's notes until the state's Medical Advisory Board can be empaneled....

read ... State, City Failing on the 'Small' Stuff

Will New Obstacles Dim Hawaii’s Solar Power Surge?

Yale 360: Blessed with lots of sun and keen to cut its reliance on imported oil, Hawaii has moved to the forefront of residential solar installations in the U.S. But financial and technical hurdles are slowing the state’s drive to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

read ... Yale 360

Hirono is Only Democrat Supporting Rand Paul's 'Audit the Fed' Bill

TH: Paul’s bill currently has 31 cosponsors, including several industry-friendly and conservative Republicans, suggesting broad GOP support for the legislation. One of the Senate’s GOP moderates, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), is also a cosponsor.

However, just one of the bill’s sponsors is a Democrat — Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii).

An outlier now, Hirono’s rationale for backing the bill suggests there could be other Democrats that see a compelling case for taking a closer look at the Fed.

Most backers of a full Fed audit have been fierce critics of its unprecedented policy moves since the financial crisis. The “Audit the Fed” movement is largely bred out of concern for the central bank’s outsized role in the economy, which grew by several degrees during the recession as it pumped trillions of dollars into the economy via several rounds of “quantitative easing.”

But in justifying her support for the bill, Hirono first praised the Fed for its actions during the recession, saying its policies “certainly contributed” to the turnaround. Nonetheless, with the financial meltdown firmly behind the nation, Hirono favors a complete audit of the Fed to fully account for the central bank’s actions over the last several years.

“While the Fed must make its monetary policy decisions based on data, not on politics, we owe it to Hawaii’s middle-class families, small businesses, and others that suffered so much to give them a full accounting of those actions,” she said in a statement.

read ... Audit the Fed

Hotels Report 'Unexpected Softness' in Demand

SA: Moving into the first quarter of 2015, Toy said some hoteliers have reported unexpected softness.

"The slope is slightly upward but not by much," Carey said. "We have some momentum but it's not as robust. The market is tepid but it's not cold."

When consumer confidence is down, Toy said, long-haul travel is the first to be affected.

"They are essentially predicting about 2 percent growth in visitor arrivals, but not all of that trickles down to the hotel industry," he said.

Still, Toy expects to see the industry continue to grow this year, albeit at a moderate pace. He forecasts slight occupancy growth across all major isles in 2015 but said he only expects statewide occupancy to grow by half a percentage point, to 77.5 percent.

His forecast for 2015 has statewide ADR rising 4.9 percent to $255 with ADR increases expected for all major Hawaiian Islands, including Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. He expects the closure of some hotels for renovations this year will cause compression on Oahu, resulting in a 1.1 percent gain in occupancy to 85.5 percent and a 6.9 percent gain in ADR to $236.

"Oahu will do well; we just need to boost some of the occupancy on the neighbor islands," Carey said. "More direct air service to the neighbor islands would help. Kona could be reopened as an international port of entry. We should also discuss extending the Maui runway so it can take wider-bodied planes."

read ... Unexpected



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