DHHL 'No Advance Notice' as Feds Grab for Rule-Making Authority over Hawaiian Homelands
Tranny Birth Certificates: How They Voted
Kaiser to Bid for Maui Hospital Partnership
Health Connector to Shutdown, Transfer Technology to State
SA: The Hawaii Health Connector has prepared a contingency plan to shut down operations by Sept. 30 after lawmakers failed to pass legislation to keep the state's troubled Obamacare insurance exchange afloat.
"Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector's operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay," Connector officials said in a report released Friday to the nonprofit's board of directors.
The plan, obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, states the Connector will cease new enrollments Friday, discontinue outreach services May 31 and transfer its technology to the state by Sept. 30. The Connector's workforce will be completely eliminated by Feb. 28. The exchange has 32 employees, 29 temporary staff and 12 full-time contractors.
"Staff reductions will commence immediately, with the executive director (Jeff Kissel) exiting once the bulk of operational activities end," the report said. "If the state cannot facilitate an orderly transition, the Connector's operations will abruptly end, as the Connector does not have the resources to continue operations." ...
The federal government has required the state submit its contingency plan to move to healthcare.gov no later than Monday. The estimated cost of migrating to healthcare.gov this year is about $30 million....
"All I know is healthcare. gov doesn't work," Sen. Roz Baker (D, West Maui-South Maui) told board members. "We have to take the best calculated risk. There's a lot of unrealistic expectations."
AP: Hawaii $193 million budget shortfall for 2016.
read ... Bye-Bye
Ethics Board: Kenoi still hasn't filed gift disclosures (Take Mayor to Japan, get a 'contract')
HTH: ...at issue for the Ethics Board is the lack of gift disclosures for the mayor, who reported in his pCard paperwork that he’s received a range of reimbursements for some of his travel. The board put a discussion of that issue on the top of its agenda, right after election of officers, for the meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Hilo council chambers.
Most notable is a $3,657 reimbursement from the Big Island Visitors Bureau for a trip to Japan in August 2010, where Kenoi and tourism officials met with airlines officials, seeking the resumption of direct Japan-Kona commercial flights.
George Applegate, then executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau, since has joined Kenoi’s staff on a $50,000, one-year, 24-hour-a-week contract that began in December. Applegate did not return a detailed telephone message left at the county Department of Research and Development office Friday morning.
Hawaii County officers and employees are prohibited from accepting gifts where it can reasonably be inferred the gift is intended to influence them in the performance of their official duties. Other gifts valued at more than $100 must be reported to the Board of Ethics by June 30 each year. Failure to do so could result in fines up to $1,000.
Another trip paid on Kenoi’s pCard that was reimbursed was $309 repaid in 2013 by the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs, according to the records.
An Ethics Board staffer said Friday the board has no record of gift disclosures submitted by the mayor. A spokesman for the mayor said Friday the office still was in the process of putting the reports together....
read ... Gift Disclosures
7 Top Hawai‘i Teachers on What It’s Like to Work in the State Department of Education
HM: Every year, hundreds of teachers leave the classroom. Nationally and locally, about half of all teachers abandon the profession after five years. They leave for lots of reasons, most of which won’t surprise you: the stress of the job, the changing environment, the always-increasing expectations, the lack of respect....
read ... What it's like?
Board eyes gay sex ed policy change
HTH: Parents will have to opt their children out of sex education classes in public schools if they do not want them to attend, according to proposed changes to Board of Education policy.
Currently, the state school system’s policy is “silent” on the issue of whether parents would be required to “opt in” or “opt out” on behalf of their children, leaving the decision up to individual principals at each school, said Brian DeLima, Hawaii Island’s representative on the board....
DeLima added that before the policy comes up for a vote, he would like to include language that guarantees parents would have online access to the sex education curriculum, so they can make informed decisions about their children’s participation in the program....
read ... Sex Ed Policy
Ernie Martin pushes to study utility options on Oahu
KHON: The effort in Honolulu is being led by Ernie Martin, chairman of the Honolulu City Council. He will be meeting soon with a self-described consumer advocacy group, (actually solar scammers) called KULOLO or “Keep our Utilities Locally Owned and Locally Operated,” which was formed just two weeks ago.
“Anytime you have a monopoly in control, it raises concerns as to whether you are getting the best price,” Martin told KHON2. “We’re still in the budget process (at the city council for Fiscal Year 2016), so there is time to make adjustments to the budget and fund a RFP similar to what Maui County is undertaking for this particular issue.”
KULOLO spokesman Robert Harris told KHON2 it is also take its case to the State Capitol, and directing petitions “specifically at Gov. Ige about the idea that there is probably economies of scale doing it statewide.”
Harris went on to say that this is not about the just the sale of HEI to NextEra.
“It’s a question, as we move forward with an increasingly decentralized grid where people are choosing to do things like solar and batteries, at looking at perhaps the future of the utility as a publicly owned one,” he said. (Really bad idea. Not the same as a co-op at all.)
IM: It’s all Greek to me: The Mathematics of Renewable Energy
read ... Politician-Controlled Utility?
Failed bills show anti-GMO movement has been wrong all along
KGI: The Hawaii Legislature has packed up and headed for the exits for the year without enacting any new statutes to allow counties to regulate pesticides.
It is now clear that the radical fringe that loudly and stridently demands that counties adopt their own pesticide rules is in the position of a gambler who took the family’s life savings to Las Vegas, bet it all on the first roll of the dice and lost. By waging a pointless legislative campaign, the anti-GMO crowd has torpedoed its own court case attempting to revive Kauai’s Bill 2491.
That’s because the four bills that died this legislative session would explicitly have given counties the authority to regulate pesticides that U.S. District Court Judge Barry Kurren ruled is prohibited under state law. The Legislature, he ruled, has never given counties direct jurisdiction over pesticides or GMO (genetically modified organism) agriculture. In appealing Kurren’s decision to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the anti-pesticide/GMO fringe insists that no such pre-emption exists under state law.
In a separate case involving an anti-GMO initiative adopted in Maui County, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Mollway issued an injunction against enforcement, in part because the pending legislation would establish whether the state ever intended for counties to make their own pesticide and GMO laws. Mollway noted that she enjoined enforcement of Maui’s initiative “in light of the possibility that legislation may affect this case.”
If — as the fringe groups and both the Kauai County and Maui County cases have contended — state law permits counties to take independent action against pesticides and GMOs, the new authority granted in the four bills would be unnecessary. Instead, the anti-GMO movement, in effect, conceded that the federal courts are correct about state pre-emption.
That’s because if the courts were wrong, and the counties already have these powers, no new legislation would have been necessary.
So to put this in the most polite way possible, the anti-GMO extremists have shot themselves in the foot. With introduction of these bills, the anti-GMO crowd essentially agreed with a federal judge whose ruling they condemned and are now appealing.
HTH: Big Island loses power positions in Senate shakeup
read ... Wrong all Along
Anti-Agriculture 'Dust Damage' Verdict is End Result of Year of Anti-GMO Hype
SA: A federal court jury awarded a total of $507,090 in damages to 15 Waimea residents who say they can't enjoy their homes because of red dust from test fields operated by DuPont Pioneer on Kauai.
After a four-week trial, the seven-member jury reached its verdict Friday: $191,315 for property damage and $315,775 for loss of use and enjoyment of property....
DuPont Pioneer's attorney, Clement Glynn, declined to comment on the verdict. But in an emailed statement, DuPont Pioneer spokeswoman Laurie Yoshida said company officials are disappointed in the verdict and will evaluate their options in the coming days.
"DuPont Pioneer will continue its adherence to following approved farming practices as well as using sustainable management techniques such as cover crops and vegetation barriers," she said....
According to DuPont attorney Glynn, the company implemented a Natural Resources Conservation Service plan in February 2011.
He contended during closing arguments that dust had been a problem in Waimea long before DuPont Pioneer and that there was no credible evidence that showed any difference compared with what the town was like many years ago.
The residents want DuPont Pioneer and other seed companies to leave Kauai. "(The) plaintiffs are not going to be satisfied until they get Pioneer and other seed companies out of there," he said pointed out to the jury.
PDF: Jury verdict for DuPont Pioneer lawsuit
read ... Dust to Dust
Revoking the TMT Permits Would Be a Huge Mistake
CB: ...the Thirty Meter Telescope Corp. has bent over backward to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years. This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.
The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. There, Judge Ronald Ibarra invalidated Hokuli’a permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent $350 million on their project....
Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokuli’a project for 2.5 years until a (CASH) settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project....
See the Cash Demands and the Cash Payments: Hokuli`a Settlement Exposed
read ... Revoking the TMT Permits Would Be a Huge Mistake
Will Supreme Court Undo Hawaii Apportionment Commission?
CJ: The justices are considering whether Arizona's independent redistricting commission, created by voters in 2000, has usurped a role the Constitution intended for state legislatures. Republicans running the state legislature filed the lawsuit after complaining that the commission helped Democrats by packing large numbers of GOP voters into just a few districts.
California voters gave similar power to an independent commission in 2010. Both states left virtually no redistricting role for their legislatures, and most experts think both would be affected if Arizona's commission is deemed unconstitutional....
The nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures says commissions share redistricting power with legislatures in 11 other states. Combined, those states hold 152 seats in the 435-member House.
Since no one knows how far-reaching the justices' ruling will be, those states might also be affected in a decision expected by July. But the impact could be limited and no one expects the GOP to lose control of the House, which it dominates 247-188, including two Republican-leaning vacancies.
Control of the legislature and governor's office is divided between Democrats and Republicans in six of those 11 states, meaning neither party could dominate a redrawing of congressional lines. Those states are Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
In three others — Connecticut, Hawaii and Idaho — one party controls state government but already holds all of the state's House seats. That means a new map probably wouldn't cede House seats to that state's minority party....
read ... Decision Coming
Medical marijuana dispensary law will face challenges
KITV: If a bill that sets up a medical marijuana dispensary system in Hawaii becomes law, the state’s Department of Health will have about a year to come up with administrative rules. Currently, the bill sits on Gov. David Ige’s desk after being passed by members of the state House and Senate earlier this week....
...transactions between medical marijuana patients and retail stores will likely be cash only. That’s because the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule I substance under the 1972 Controlled Substances Act, and many banks are hesitant to do business with marijuana merchants.
"Because of our federal laws with banking, there are concerns that marijuana dispensaries will not be able to use checks and other types of banking services," said Senate vice president Will Espero. “This will just be a cash industry and that is the case at the moment....
At last count in April of last year, there were roughly 13,100 medical marijuana patients in Hawaii, and lawmakers have proposed tight controls on how much pot is sold.
"We're looking at an electronic tracking system that will literally be seed to sale, where we’re looking at seeds, plants and the amount of buds that come off of those plants," said Espero. “Those will be clearly tracked on a daily basis.”
The Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association based in Denver, says the greatest challenge in Colorado has been with so-called edibles. Hawaii Rep. Marcus Oshiro addressed the issue from the House floor Thursday before the dispensary bill was passed.
"There is no language in this bill to prohibit the manufacturing of and sale of edible marijuana-infused products," said Oshiro said. “This is dangerous to young people.”
In Colorado, the labeling of edible marijuana products is highly regulated by the state’s Department of Revenue Marijuana Enforcement Division.
“We've put a lot of measures in place to have them in child resistant packaging, appropriate labeling and it also comes with education,” said Elliott. “We want to make sure that people treat edibles and all marijuana like they would a prescription drugs or alcohol and keep it out of reach of kids."
Colorado's marijuana industry generated more than $700 million in sales last year and brought in $70.4 million dollars in taxes and fees, however that includes recreational use.
The Hawaii dispensary bill (HB321, HD1, SD2, CD1) calls for no additional taxation and will only apply the state's general excise tax to medical marijuana sales. Gov. Ige is currently reviewing the bill for his possible signature....
GPDN: Judges Working Hard to Find Was to Let Dope Dealers out of Prison
read ... Medical marijuana dispensary law will face challenges
Isles' autistic kids, families will benefit from Luke's Law
SA: Senate Bill 791, also known as Luke's Law, passed late Friday night. It is named after Luke, a 14-year-old with autism who lives on Hawaii island. His mother, Geri Pinnow, advocated for the bill's passing and attended numerous hearings throughout the legislative session.
The bill passed as part of a grass-roots effort. Families all over the state sent testimonies to local representatives to support the law. Without insurance, families pay up to $60,000 annually for autism treatment for each child, according to Hawaii Families for Insurance Fairness. In a recent news conference, this group asserted that by treating these children early, they have a better chance of being mainstreamed. Early treatment supports not only quality of life and daily functioning for autism patients and their families, but also reduces the need for intensive health care resources in adulthood.
read ... Luke's law
UH: Up to 7% Tuition Hike Coming
SA: A scheduled tuition hike that University of Hawaii officials had hoped to forgo in the fall is back in play as the university looks to make up $28 million that lawmakers left out of the state budget for university operations in the upcoming fiscal year.
But UH's chief financial officer says it's "nearly guaranteed" a tuition increase will be smaller than the 7 percent hike approved in 2011 as part of a five-year tuition schedule.
"We are actually contemplating asking for that rate of increase to be mitigated, so reduced, not 7 percent," Kalbert Young, CFO and vice president for budget and finance, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
"That would mean additional cost containment measures and whatever tuition is increased would go toward closing that $28 million gap," Young said. "We're trying to stay away from program eliminations."
(Be sure to read about what they are spending that tuition money on, next article....)
read ... Price of Profligacy
UH Manoa Administrators, Professors Play Retaliation Games in Media
HNN: One of the top administrators on the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus is being accused of bullying, racism and sexism by nearly two dozen faculty members. (And normally that would be an automatic death sentence, but it isn't working this time. Has Political Correctness become so dull and passé that nobody feels anything when the overlords scream 'something-ism'?)
Dasenbrock has been the chief academic officer of UH Manoa for the last six years. About 4,400 employees work in departments that report directly to him and he handles nearly all the grievances filed in UH Manoa academic departments.
"I have been berated and humiliated by him in a meeting with six people publicly," said UH Psychology Professor Ashley Maynard, who chairs the UH psychology department. (Go ahead. Smile. You know you want to.)
When someone complained to him that UH Manoa has no deans of Asian ancestry, faculty members claim he joked that "makes up for all the Japanese in the Hawaii Legislature."
"He's very sexist, he's anti-female, he's anti-Asian. He's anti people of color. This has a really bad effect on the students," said Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, a UH Hawaiian Studies professor. (But changing your last name to "More-Kanaka-Than-Thou" is AOK.)....
"I do not harass people through the grievance process. I do not bully people. I am not a racist. I don't treat women differently from men. My record stands for itself," Dasenbrock said in a brief interview during which he took no questions.
UH Philosophy Professor Ron Bontekoe, head of the UH Manoa faculty Senate, said he's had disagreements with Dasenbrock but hasn't seen him bully people.
"Many of the people that are laying that charge at Reed, which I don't think it justified, are themselves no poor hands at bullying themselves," said Bonetkoe, who chairs UH Manoa's philosophy department.
"It's basically a witch hunt and they are throwing as much mud as they can at him to bring him down," Bontekoe added.
Sarita Rai, director of UH Manoa's Study Abroad Center, said she's disagreed with Dasenbrock in several key meetings and now her program is having its budget severely reduced.
"This is retaliation for me because, primarily because we have crossed paths and I have not sort of kowtowed to him," Rai said, complaining (in passing) that students' study aboard opportunities will be curtailed unfairly (not nearly as important as my career, mind you).
"We see great programs that are being cut because of personality differences. And that's not the way to run a university," said Kameeleihiwa, who said the Hawaiian Studies program where she works has not seen budget reductions (thus necessitating cuts elsewhere).
The faculty members from the group Imua Manoa are also upset Dasenbrock has been allowed to continue in his post after they filed the complaint with Interim Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman more than one month ago. "All in all, we're appalled,” said UH Women's Studies Professor Susan Hippensteele. (You are laughing now, aren't you?) ...
Hippensteele said Dasenbrock removed her from a strategic planning position in the fall even though she had a contract to do the job through this summer. She was removed from her Hawaii Hall office, which she said has remained empty the entire school year. It was too late for her to teach women's studies courses since the schedule is made up a year in advance, wasting resources during tough budget times, Hippensteele said....
read ... Get a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show--you're paying for it....
Star-Adv: Don't Bust Prostitutes Any More
SA: It's a shame that just as Hawaii moves closer to losing the dubious distinction of being the only state without a law explicitly banning sex trafficking, Honolulu police seem to be doubling down on prosecution of prostitutes, rather than johns or pimps.
Social-service advocates are rightly outraged by a highly unusual sting operation that saw about 16 women charged with more serious sexual-assault charges, rather than the usual prostitution charges....
Besides forging into uncharted territory as far as prosecution goes, the tactic threatens to undermine real progress made over the past few years to focus enforcement more on pimps who traffic the women and profit from their work, and on the johns who drive the market. (Really?)
read ... Sex bust sends wrong message
Maui PD Identifies Hit and Run Diver
KITV: The driver described the vehicle as a silver colored sedan, similar to a Honda Civic, with a large aftermarket muffler. The driver also reported it was a woman driving the car.
The driver followed the vehicle on Kamehameha Avenue until she could write down a license plate number. The license plate number given by the driver who was rear ended belonged to an unmarked Maui police vehicle.
When police went to the home of the officer who has the unmarked police vehicle, they found no damage on the vehicle, which had also not been recently driven.
On Thursday, police found a Honda Accord with a license plate number containing the same letters and numbers as the unmarked police vehicle. Two of the letters were reversed by the victim.
Police identified the driver of the silver colored Honda, and she admitted to being involved in the accident on Sunday.
read ... Hit and Run
Military-impacted schools striving toward accreditation
HAW: On Sept. 18, 2012, the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) approved a Department of Education (DOE) five-year project to ensure all public schools are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Accreditation was only required for secondary schools and colleges, but with this new requirement, the Hawaii DOE aims for its 159 elementary schools to be fully accredited by school year 2018-19.
Hale Kula and Shafter Elementary schools have been accredited since 2009, and they hold that honor of being one of those special elementary schools to receive the WASC accreditation before the BOE/DOE Strategic Plan was implemented.
Wheeler Elementary and Solomon Elementary schools have gone through their initial visit by the WASC accreditation team and will be revisited for 3-4 days, so the team can observe the school in full operation (in school year 2016-17).
All of the other off-post, Army-impacted elementary schools are going through the same process.
read ... Accreditation
Hawaii visitor spending drops 1.3 percent in first quarter
HNN: Visitor spending declined slightly in Hawaii during the first quarter of the year as the stronger dollar prompted Japanese visitors to trim their budgets.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Friday visitors spent $3.8 billion from January through March, down 1.3 percent from the same quarter last year.
But the number of travelers coming to Hawaii rose. Visitor arrivals climbed 3 percent to over 2.1 million.
Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Ronald Williams says the agency is working on promotions to ease the cost of travel to Hawaii given the U.S. dollar remains strong.
PDF: 5/8/2015 March Visitor Statisticcs Statement: Visitor Arrivals up Three Percent during First Quarter
read ... Down
Lawmakers approve construction of memorial for fallen officers
HNN: State lawmakers recently approved funds to finally start the construction of a memorial for fallen law enforcement officers. Hawaii is the only state without one.
read ... Fallen Officers