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Wednesday, June 10, 2015
June 10, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:17 PM :: 4832 Views

Insurgents Win HSTA Leadership Election (again)

Hawaiian Electric Shareholders Finally Approve NextEra Merger

Calvin Say case shakes up Hawaii Supreme Court

Full Text: UH Manoa Interim Accreditation Report

Star-Adv: Ernie Martin -- Dysfunctional, Disjointed, Failure -- Should Resign

SA: ...There's a lot of blame to go around for Honolulu's woeful homelessness problem, of course, but the Honolulu City Council's disjointed approach figures into the overall failure, and its chairman, Ernie Martin, has to own a large share of that record.

The Council clearly needs leadership as the city grapples with the homelessness issue, and if the chairman can't provide it, he should make way for someone who will make the necessary commitment.

The decision of the Council last week to override a mayoral veto of a legally precarious ordinance underscored the dysfunctional dynamic of city governance.

The city's legislative branch has made odd policy choices. On the one hand it authorized bond money for housing development, but funded only part of the administration's "Housing First" effort, withholding all funds for staff support. Council members could rightly counter that the requested six positions were too costly — but there was room to negotiate downward from that request. Further, the Council's decision to create two housing jobs within its own support staff puts the lie to the fiscal austerity argument. Martin said later the jobs were approved because "we need to do more," but it's up to the executive branch to handle execution, and the administration could have used those jobs.

As the Star-Advertiser's David Shapiro astutely noted in his Sunday "Volcanic Ash" column, the Council's decisions seem to be driven by "petty political competition rather than a good-faith effort" to tackle homelessness.

In general, the Council lacks any strategy for dealing with the immediate problem of families living on the streets, beyond pushing them from one sidewalk campsite to the next with the expansion of its "sit-lie" ban....

Real people are suffering because there's been no true collaboration in city government to move the needle on homelessness. Unless Martin reverses his course of stubborn obstructionism, someone else in Council should stand up and fill the void.

CB: Disturbing lack of urgency in the city’s response to need for Affordable Housing

read ... Resign

Who Got the $130M Wasted on Hawaii Health Connector?

MN: The most disturbing part of Friday's decision to shut down the Hawaii Health Connector is that nobody has even apologized for throwing away $130 million of taxpayers' money....

The failure of the Connector was predictable. Hawaii was already miles ahead of the rest of the country thanks to its Prepaid Health Care Act passed in 1974. That law requires employers to provide health insurance to employees working more than 20 hour per week.

Because of the Prepaid Act, there were simply too few uninsured in Hawaii for an exchange to be sustainable.

Which brings us back to three basic questions:

* Why wasn't Hawaii's participation in the Affordable Care Act set up originally using the federal portal?

* Who got the $130 million that was wasted on the exchange?

read ... Throwing away cash

Ige: State will Run Deficits for Duration of my Administration

KGI: ...On the state budget, Ige said he expects Hawaii will continue to run deficits of $100 million to $200 million per year for at least the next three years, despite a projected 5 percent increase in tax revenue over the same time period. The governor said entitlements and other unavoidable fixed costs are to blame for the cost overrun. As a result, the governor said the state will need to figure out how to deliver better services with limited tax dollars.

Doing that means the state will need to reinvent government.

“We need to encourage people to embrace change, embrace risk,” Ige said.

One area of inefficient government cited by the governor is transportation: Hawaii has a backlog of road projects that have been funded, but haven’t been started.

“We’ve been on the failing list – we’ve been receiving Fs from the (federal) Department of Transportation,” Ige said. But, “In six months, we’ve taken that backlog from $850 million to less than $700 million.”

The governor said his administration is working to get to the point where the backlog is “virtually zero.” To do that, Ige said he asked the federal government for technical assistance to help fix internal processes to ensure that projects are completed in a timely fashion.

The governor pointed to the state’s archaic payroll system as another area the government needs to be more efficient. He said the state still generates paper paystubs, printing 2 million pieces of paper per month.

“(I asked) Why do we do it? Can’t we do it electronically? They almost had a cow! They only know how to generate that piece of paper.”

read ... Deficit

Thousands Protest:  Once Feds Grab Control of Hawaii Waters, we'll never get it back

KITV: Concerned fishermen and businessmen met with Governor David Ige and DLNR officials this week to share their concerns with proposals affecting Hawaii's waters.

NOAA wants to expand its focus and boundaries of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and is currently in the comment period for the proposed expansion – more than 2,000 signed letters have been received opposing it.

Mel Wills represents a number of businesses as well as fishermen and hunters on Kauai who are very weary of the change. He helped collect the signatures and says they don't trust the federal government.

“A lot of the concern on Kauai is from the fishing community, and they believe the federal government could at some point regulate their fishing industry, so they need to be able to feed their families and maintain their cultural heritage and be able to provide through subsistence fishing,” said Wills.

There are four alternatives being looked at, one of which would designate Oahu's Maunalua Bay as a special sanctuary management area....

With that distinction comes a host of regulations, including one prohibiting any discharge into the bay.

Jeffrey Krantz who also opposes the humpback sanctuary expansion says it will close off the marina and turn it into an Enchanted Lake.

“It will take a couple years. The bay will close off the marina, will become saturated bacteria ridden. Their kids will not be allowed to swim there, will not be any recreation,” said Krantz.

Makani Christensen feels a lot of people will be affected.

“There’s a lot of individuals here who want their ashes scattered in the ocean, and with this new proposal, you cannot do that without a special use permit,” said Christensen.

He says boaters and paddlers won't be able to anchor their flags on the sea floor without a special permit too.

“We already have a pretty good plan in place and the federal oversight coming. Once you give up the area to the federal government, you’re not going to get it back,” said Krantz.

SA: Scientists Admit Coral die-off Was All Hype

read ... Expansion of humpback whale sanctuary opposed by many

Big Changes Ahead for HSTA

CB: Rosenlee, Hughey and Perruso ran together on a promise to change the way the union does business.

In particular, Perruso said, they hope to move the union away from a “business union model” that operates behind closed doors, to an “organizing union model” that engages a broader spectrum of teachers.

“What that will help us do is to energize teachers, to bring them into the fold and to help them be more involved in the union in ways that empower them to make the union more democratic, more transparent and less hierarchical,” Perruso said.

Rosenlee said he wants to see teachers have a much bigger presence when it comes to proposed legislation, and he wants to do a better job of raising awareness about some state challenges like the lack of air conditioning in schools, teacher pay, teacher turnover and educational inequities.

“We have to see the fight for good schools as a civil rights fight,” Rosenlee said. “If you see it as a civil rights movement then you use civil rights strategies.”

The details for how the union might operate differently under Rosenlee aren’t completely clear, but election observers point to Rosenlee’s background for a hint.

Rosenlee is perhaps best known for organizing the Work to the Rule protests, which made national headlines in 2012. During the protests, which started after teachers had worked more than a year without a negotiated contract, teachers worked only the mandated hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — drawing attention to all the work grading papers and overseeing extracurricular activities that teachers do on their own time.

“Too often teachers voices are not heard,” Rosenlee said. “We want to make sure that when we make public policy decisions about education, people hear about how it is going to impact teachers and students.”

One concern voiced by Lewis and her supporters, is that the union under Rosenlee will be too adversarial.

“Historically, our union leadership has always tried to function as a partner,” Lewis said. “Generally you are not trying to agitate and throw rocks at your partner.”

In past years, under former-Executive Director Joan Husted, the union strategy in negotiations was to “do your homework and be as tough as you can, but don’t burn your bridges,” said Jim Shon, director of the Hawaii Educational Policy Center at UH Manoa.

But there’s a big difference though between being an activist and being adversarial, said Neil Milner, a UH professor emeritus and Civil Beat columnist.

“I think that what you have coming in here are people who are more likely to try and get teachers to participate at the grassroots level in union action,” Milner said. “I think what happened is when you have the same people running unions for a long time they tend to get isolated.”

How those broader organizing strategies play out when it comes to negotiating with Gov. David Ige — who is thought to have a good relationship with current union leadership — is unclear.

For now, Rosenlee said, his job will be to talk to teachers about what their priorities are and get them engaged in the process before suggesting larger actions.

“I want to take it step by step,” Rosenlee said. “I don’t want to move too fast for my own board, and I don’t want to move too fast for our teachers either.”

read ... Big Changes

Connector clients treated unfairly

SA: ...It is surprising that HMSA is treating the Connector as a separate risk pool. What is the rationale for that?

Health insurance works by pooling diverse risks in a large enough pool. If HMSA treated those with cancer or diabetes as a separate risk pool, of course their costs would be extraordinarily high. Most agree that charging them enormous premiums would be unacceptable.

In a way, treating Connector clients as a risk pool is more unfair. Like Grant Togashi in the article, not everyone buying insurance through the Connector is higher risk. The solution is to put these people into HMSA's bigger risk pool, not raise their premiums by nearly 50 percent....

read ... Unfair

Kaiser: Big Rate Hike Coming, but HMSA Makes us Look Good

SA: It's been reported that some individual exchange customers could face rate hikes up to nearly 50 percent next year. Through the many efficiencies we've gained through technology and process innovation at Kaiser Permanente, we won't have to ask our individual exchange members to pay that much more next year. But unfortunately, we also have had to increase rates somewhat due to rising costs.

These rising costs are not because of the Affordable Care Act, or specific populations served by it. Health care costs have been trending upward for years for a variety of reasons: an aging population, specialty pharmacy and technology costs that did not exist decades ago, outside medical services and regulatory requirements, to name a few.

read ... Not 50%

Telescope Protesters’ camp allowed to remain in Spite of 'No Camping' Rule

HTH: Despite rules prohibiting camping on Mauna Kea, protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope have been allowed to do so for more than two months, maintaining a 24-hour presence outside the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station.

In an email response Monday, Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the department is in frequent communication with the campers to ensure impacts to the surrounding natural resources are minimized and public safety is a priority.

“At this time, we have allowed them to remain and peacefully express their right of free speech while we assess the situation,” she said.

Protest organizer Kahookahi Kanuha said his group considers the state itself to be illegal, and he does not consider his actions camping....

Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the University of Hawaii, which manages the Mauna Kea Science Reserve and the visitor station, said in an email Tuesday there was “nothing significant to report” with the small group of protesters.

“No incidents. No trouble,” he wrote.

“I think the fact the rangers have a consistent presence has kept things relatively mellow,” he added. “Also, the numbers (of campers) have been really low since the moratorium on construction was announced.”

DLNR has not always used such a soft touch with protesters camping on state land.

In 2013, DLNR officers arrested 11 people for camping at Wailoa River State Recreation Area in Hilo. The campers had planted a “kanaka garden” near the King Kamehameha statue in protest of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The protest lasted for about four months before the taro patch was removed....

read ... Protesters are a Superior Life form and as such must not be bound by our laws

Escape Hatch in 100% Renewable Bill Signed into Law

NYT: ...The growth of solar power in Hawaii — the mother of all green-energy no-brainers — has been marked by fierce battling on the rooftops involving customers, utility officials, regulators and the solar industry. Many islanders are wary of wind farms, which can be a hard sell in a place where the natural beauty is sublime, cherished and imperiled. Endless rows of windmills may be an aesthetic non-issue, or even an improvement, in a vast mainland desert or cornfield, but in tiny Hawaii, resistance has been intense.

As for geothermal, the issue is complicated not just by the industry’s toxic spills and accidents, but also by native Hawaiian religious traditions. The state’s active volcanoes are believed to be the home of the goddess Pele, and many anti-geothermal activists are not speaking entirely metaphorically when they denounce drilling as rape.

Hawaii deserves credit for trying, but my eyes fell on what seems like an escape hatch in the bill. While the bill calls for punishing utilities that fall short of the green energy requirements, it does not specify any penalties. It also outlines broad reasons the requirements may be waived. Among the many reasons the public utility commission may let a utility off the hook is this:

“Inability to acquire sufficient renewable electrical energy to meet the renewable portfolio standard goals beyond 2030 in a manner that is beneficial to Hawaii’s economy in relation to comparable fossil fuel resources.”

That there is a legislative paraphrase of a well-known Hawaiian pidgin saying, an eloquently condensed version of the serenity prayer, which goes:  “If can, can. If no can, no can.”

read ... A Green Future for Blue Hawaii, Maybe

Escape Hatch in Oahu Plastic Bag Ban

KITV: Oahu’s ban on plastic bags is just three weeks away, but don’t expect to find a shortage of bags at the checkout counter. The new law passed in 2012, but with three years of lead time, includes a number of exemptions for local businesses, while also allowing retailers to use substitute bags that comply with the new ordinance.

"Some people were concerned that there wouldn't be any bags; that they would have to bring reusable bags, but as people started learning more about the ban, learning about different options, I think they understood that they'll have something available at the store," said Adrian Hong, president of Island Plastic Bacs, Inc.

Hong’s business in Halawa still manufactures plastic bags, but is importing compostable and reusable plastic bags from China to help retailers comply with the new law. Retailers also have the option of using 40 percent post-consumer paper bags, and that appears to be the new bag of choice....

read ... Escape Hatch

Fear of Lawsuits after Armed robbery at 'Birthing Stones' spurs OHA to clear Lake Wilson homeless encampment

KITV: The birthing stones of the alii is what draws both tourists and locals to the area known as Kukaniloko.

But visitors were surprised to learn that last week, a group of seniors were the target of an attack....

The police helicopter was up in the air surveying the area Tuesday....

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs shares re$pon$ibility of the cultural site with the state.

"I was extremely concerned," said OHA administrator Kamanao Crabbe after learning of the robbery.

Crabbe says two years ago, OHA acquired more than 500 acres of former Galbraith trust lands around the lake and inherited a homeless problem.

It's been working on a management plan which now kicks in to high gear.

"Now, it elevates our concern as a landowner that we really must act in the better interest to reduce liability and risk," said Crabbe.

Crabbe said OHA has hired a contractor to begin cutting back the tall grasses around the site.

It will also be installing no trespassing signs on its property near the banks of the lake. It’s an effort to discourage the dozens of homeless camps hidden in the thick brush.

And while many people can’t see the lakeside dwellers from the road, some Wahiawa residents can hear them....

KITV: Homeless camps in Wahiawa garner complaints

read ... Homeless Thieves

Homeless 'Feel at Home' on Street Fronting Canal

Crews cleaned up the area along the Kapalama Canal on Tuesday. The cleanup came less than a week after the City Council finalized a ban on sitting and lying down in the area.

But the cleanup was enforcing a stored property ordinance, not the sit-lie ban, said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Single mom Stefanie Sanchez, who was living in a tent by the canal with her 5-year-old daughter, waited with their friends and belongings on a side street. They planned to move right back to the canal bank after the cleanup was complete.

“There’s a lot of community here, as well as a feeling that we’re home. We know what to expect here,” Sanchez said. “We’re just sort of hoping, praying for the best.”

read ... At Home

City Crews Remove 22.5 Tons of Garbage from Homeless Camps

HNN: Stefanie Sanchez has been living along Kohou Street with her 4-year-old daughter for three months now. She says (claims) she missed a trip to the Food Bank Tuesday to make sure their belongings weren't taken.... (Question: Why are the homeless so good at spreading pro-homelessness propaganda in media interviews?)

Sanchez says (claims) she's enrolled for Housing First, but is still waiting. In six months, the city has placed 77 people.  (News Flash: Housing first is not for people who are on the streets for only a few months nor it it for people who have the wherewithal to keep their kids.  There are shelter spaces open every night and she won't take them.)

City officials say crews are dispatched to areas based on complaints they receive from the public. In the last four weeks, they have removed 22.5 tons of garbage -- along with 130 shopping carts -- and stored 35 bins worth of personal belongings.

DN: Is Honolulu Sand Island homeless camp intended as permanent?

read ... Garbage

KHON did not Demand Resignation of Nestor Garcia After Repeat Ethics Violations

SA: Less than two weeks after the city Ethics Commission announced former Hono­lulu City Councilman Nestor Garcia had been fined $8,100 for ethical breaches, Garcia quit his job as a television reporter at KHON2 effective Friday.

Garcia told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser on Tuesday that he was not coerced by the station to resign, but that he did so on his own because "under the circumstances, I thought it was the best for all concerned."

He said he is not aware personally of any negative feedback that the station may have received for keeping him on the job after his agreement with the Ethics Commission became public. But he said his own instinct said it was time to resign.

Lori Silva, KHON news director, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon....

"The institution (of journalism) has been taking knocks lately," Garcia said. "Just as I don't want people to lose faith in their government, I don't want people to lose faith in the people who report the news." ... (Blind faith, that is.)

Garcia served on the Council from 2003 to 2013, including several years as chairman. A reporter with KHON from 1981 to 1991 before being elected to the state House of Representatives in the 1990s, he returned to broadcast journalism in February 2014.

The Ethics Commission advisory opinion against Garcia stated he accepted free meals and golf from companies and people who benefited from votes on the city's $6 billion rail project and several major development projects in West Oahu.

Garcia should have disclosed that he had a conflict of interest before each of the votes, the commission report said.

read ... No Demand

Contractor Campaign Contributions Raise Concerns of Corruption

CB: A federal court upheld Hawaii’s ban on government contractors donating cash to politicians, but a workaround means millions of dollars still flow into campaign coffers....

read ... Corruption

DoT Admits Zipmobile Needed only 15 minutes of Repair Work

HNN: The state is not buying two new ZipMobiles to replace the aging machines that both went down a little more than two months ago, creating a traffic nightmare for H-1 freeway commuters.

But the state is greatly boosting the repair and maintenance expenses of the ZipMobiles, after officials admitted not enough money was spent on upkeep in the past.

The day after the traffic nightmare on March 31 when the freeway was at a standstill after both ZipMobiles broke down, State Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami said he wanted to buy two new ZipMobiles, because the 17-year-old machines were near the end of their 20-year life span.

But the state DOT ended up not asking state lawmakers for funds to replace either of them (because it was all just political theater to get the rail tax hike passed.)....

Mechanics are being trained on previously proprietary information to make repairs faster and to reduce the need of having to fly technicians in from the mainland. After the March 31 traffic nightmare, the state had to fly a technician in the next day who quickly repaired the situation within fifteen minutes.

"We shouldn't have a half million people's lives put on hold because we have to fly one guy out from the mainland," said Lopresti....

The combined battery pack and processing unit that needed to be replaced after the March 31 incident cost between $1,200 and $1,500, officials said. A technician from California brought in those replacement parts the next day.

read ... Zipmobiles

Coach Arnold's Attorney Lines Up Witnesses NCAA Doesn't Know About

SA: ...Arnold’s Honolulu attorney James Bickerton said, “We have interviewed, I think, 10 or 11 people, maybe two of them were people that had been interviewed (by the NCAA) before. The others are new people that ... the NCAA didn’t bother to interview.”

Guard Keith Shamburger, who was at UH for two years but played for Missouri this past season, posted Arnold’s request for assistance on Twitter.

In it, Arnold wrote, “... As u may have heard they ruled Davis (Rozitis) ineligible and thus all the games he played his Jr. And Sr. year. I have been very silent for a long time over this. They took my job, my team and my career. But I’m going to fight this. We all worked way too hard to (get) those w’s only (to have them) say you and your teammates never won a game here. If you can send me your number a bunch of guys are making statements to the NCAA with the hopes of clearing all this up. It’s been blown way out of proportion. I need you to fight one more battle. Let me know the best way to contact you and I will call you more. Thanks. -Gib.”

Shamburger did not say if he complied. The post has since been removed.

Rozitis emailed a seven-paragraph statement to members of the media on Saturday. In it he said, “the allegations I am accused of as well as Coach Arnold are simply not true and are blown way out of proportion.” (Rozitis’ full statement may be read at http://808ne.ws/1KUdsve)

In the NCAA allegations Rozitis was cited with using a booster’s Porsche Cayenne....

read ... Cayenne

UH steps up security after second burglary at Institute for Astronomy

KHON: The University of Hawaii says it is stepping up security after a second burglary was reported at the Institute for Astronomy building in Manoa.

The most recent burglary was discovered at 9 a.m. Tuesday and occurred sometime after 8:30 p.m. Monday. Computer equipment was reported missing.

The first burglary occurred sometime between 5 p.m. Friday, June 5, and 8 a.m. Sunday, June 7, the university said.

A Mac computer that was more than three years old, a monitor, keyboard and mouse were stolen. They were valued at roughly $1,000.

SA: Hole had a whole different origin

read ... Burglary

161 Calls Missed During 911 Outage

KHON: The Honolulu Police Department said it missed 161 calls while the 911 system was down last week.

That’s down from the initial 200 missed calls that Hawaiian Telcom previously shared with KHON2 News.

Hawaiian Telcom’s list was based off the total amount of missed calls, which HPD then scrubbed to account for test calls made from within the department.

Internal problems for the HPD phone line started about 2:30 p.m Thursday, June 4, and spread to outside 911 calls for several hours.

After the system was fully restored after 9 p.m., police contacted the callers and asked if anyone still needed assistance. Only one of the 160 wanted to report a non-emergency situation.

read ... 161 911

DCCA Disciplinary Hearing Decisions Posted Online

ILind: t’s always fun to discover a new source of online data. That’s what happened this morning, as I was browsing the latest list of disciplinary actions taken by the various licensing boards administered by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs....

At the bottom of the news release there was a link “to obtain copies of the decisions reported in this press release without charge.”

Click on that link, and you’ll find yourself looking at a database listing of DCCA Hearings Office decisions issued since 2009. You can search for any particular person or business among the 807 decisions, review by professional and vocational license category, and just click to download any individual decisions in pdf format.

read ... Browse disciplinary actions against professional licensed by the state

HB119: ABLE Allows Disabled to Save Money without losing Benefits 

CB: ABLE amends the federal tax code to allow Section 529 tax-exempt savings accounts for disability-related expenses like education, housing and transportation. It gives Americans with disabilities the same type of flexible savings tool that all other Americans use to save for college, medical care and retirement. It empowers people with disabilities who can work, to work hard and save for themselves.

Twenty-four states have now passed ABLE bills, and seven, including Hawaii this past legislative session with HB119, are still awaiting signatures by the governor to be enacted. People with disabilities — the more than 11 percent of Hawaiians under the age of 26, according to 2011 U.S Census statistics — need but a signature from Gov. David Ige, and they, too, can access the independence that ABLE would provide.

Opening an ABLE account from another state is not an option for Hawaii residents. The federal law clearly states that a qualified person may only open one ABLE account in the state where the beneficiary resides. For this reason, Hawaii’s disability community is counting on our governor to enact HB119 so that people with disabilities can lead fuller, more independent lives.

A magical act, indeed, ABLE was the most bipartisan piece of legislation in the 113th Congress. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were among the 454 cosponsors in the House and Senate — that is 85 percent of Congress agreeing that people with disabilities and their families should have access to the 529 plan that allows for saving for the future.

read ... ABLE

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