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Tuesday, July 21, 2015
July 21, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:15 PM :: 4292 Views

UHERO: Decoupling Socks Electric Ratepayers with Soaring Fixed Costs

Kids Count: One in Eight Children in Hawaii Live in Poverty

Ige Appoints Moriguchi Director of Early Learning

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted July 20, 2015

Renewables Losing Support Worldwide

Ige opposes NextEra deal--Loss of Local Political Control

SA: Gov. David Ige said Monday he is opposed to NextEra Energy Inc.’s purchase of Hawaii’s largest electric utility and is recommending the state Public Utilities Commission reject the deal.

“When we first met with NextEra, we were very clear that we had serious reservations about its proposal,” Ige said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Those reservations remain and if anything, are stronger today.”

Ige’s comments came as two state agencies — the Office of Planning and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism — filed more than 500 pages of documents Monday with the PUC, arguing that the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Florida-based NextEra, as currently structured, “should not be approved.” ...

"DBEDT is concerned that NextEra has not proven that it has internalized local issues into its decision making processes,” DBEDT said....

DBEDT said it was concerned that control of HEI would move from a Hawaii-based board of directors, made up of executives who had been traditionally deeply rooted in the Hawaiian energy and business landscape, to NextEra’s Florida-based CEO and board of directors.

“The loss of control is a reduction of benefits to ratepayers (political insiders who rely on their connections to local big business)”

read ... NextEra Not?

Will Honolulu Ethics Commission Take the Gag Off its Director?

CB: The Honolulu Ethics Commission may backtrack on its recently adopted news media policy that prohibited Executive Director Chuck Totto and other staff members from interpreting or commenting on the commission’s decisions and advisory opinions.

But contradictory statements in a new proposed policy drafted by Vice Chair Michael Lilly raise questions about whether Totto would still have to seek approval before talking to the media.

Chair Katy Chen, Lilly and commissioners Stephen Silva and Stanford Yuen are backing a motion to discard the restrictive news media policy adopted last month.

The seven-member commission plans to meet 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Standard Financial Plaza to consider whether to replace it with another one drafted by Lilly. Also on the agenda is Totto’s performance evaluation....

SA: Ethics panel to review strict media policy

read ... Gag?

Ige Scores Victory over Protesters? -- By Sacrificing Three Telescopes 

CB: ...the best example of the Ige approach is his leadership on the Thirty Meter Telescope controversy, which has inflamed much of the Native Hawaiian community and drawn international media attention and scrutiny since March. As the situation threatened to boil over on the summit of Mauna Kea in early April, he called for a work stoppage to allow for dialogue with stakeholders on all sides of the issue.

It was initially thought that the “timeout” would only last a few days. But weeks passed, and observers grew antsy — including the New York Times, which in early May blasted him in a Sunday editorial as “far too withdrawn” on the matter.

But when Ige finally announced his position 50 days into the stoppage, it was well informed, nuanced and surprisingly personal, including both important changes in how Mauna Kea will be managed in the future and unequivocal support for the completion of TMT. In short, a balanced compromise that got it just right. (Sacrificed three telescopes to the mob.)

While matters are not yet resolved on the mountaintop, Ige’s leadership has reduced tensions considerably and focused most responsible parties on a practical way forward....

read ... Sacrifice Three Telescopes

Mayor, Governor agree to Build Kakaako homeless camp on OHA Land--or not?

HNN: The mayor and governor have agreed on a plan to shut down the huge Kakaako homeless camp and move its residents to a managed 'safe zone' elsewhere in the area.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now that rising crime tied to homeless campers was one big reason for moving as soon as possible....

Those that choose to remain in Kakaako will be offered space at a city-managed safe area most likely on land owned by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

"Another safe haven? Waianae? Pearl Harbor? It's packed," said area resident Larry Russo at Point Panic. "Where's this safe haven, Sand Island?"

CB: Governor’s Office Denies Reported Plan to Move Encampment

read ... OHA Development Plan for Kakaako Makai

Mainland Homeless Fly to Hawaii, Refuse Shelter

HNN: One homeless man, who appears to be in his 30s to 40s, reacted to news of the impending cleanup by saying, “It wouldn’t be the first time.” He told HNN that he had spent 5 years living in that Kapahulu area. He said he became unemployed while living in California and heard Hawaii would be a better place to live, so he relocated.

When asked about why he hadn’t been in a shelter or signed up for housing during that time, he said he couldn’t afford it and added that “everything costs money.”

Kimo Carvalho -- spokesman for homeless service provider, Institute for Human Services (IHS) -- said this area is not within IHS’ outreach zone but he plans to ask members of the Partners in Care Oahu organization to see who may be able to provide services to those currently lining the sidewalks there.

Another woman said she had just moved to Hawaii in May from Minnesota. She said that she was “a spiritual person” and that a voice had told her to leave Minnesota to come here to start a better life. She said she lives on money from a disability claim. The 44-year-old said that she had wandered the streets when she got here, but didn’t like a spot she’d been at before, then discovered the area under the overpass in Kapahulu. And though she is working to acquire an affordable housing rental unit, she said that she doesn’t really like living in Hawaii after all and that she’s waiting for a “voice” to tell her where she should go next....

Carvalho said that is frustrating to hear. He said “unsheltered encampments” -- like those in Kapahulu, Kakaako and along Kapalama Canal that create a perceived “safe zone” for the homeless -- make it harder for social service workers to actually do their job and help people get off the streets. That’s because, he said, some homeless perceive it to be a better alternative than a shelter or getting into an affordable housing or transitional housing unit.

He said many want to enjoy the freedom they believe they have, despite public concerns. Carvalho said it’s disappointing when “we have money to get people into housing, and they don’t want it.”  (Solution: Apply more force.)

read ... Refuse to Accept Shelter

Feds could slash Hawaii's affordable housing funding

HNN: "The need for affordable housing development is pretty significant here and the fact funds for affordable housing are being cut at a time where we are seeing homelessness become increasingly more visible on our streets is concerning," said the executive director for Protecting Hawaii's Ohana, Children, Under Served and Disabled Scott Morishige.

This year Hawaii received just over $5.2 million from the $900 million federal program.  If the proposed 72 percent cut happens:  "We'd be left with so little that we probably wouldn't be able to do much meaningful with the money in terms of development," said Morishige.

"The city and county's Rent to Work program which helps homeless individuals and provides short term homeless subsidies for them actually receives HOME funding so programs like that would be significantly impacted," said Morishige.

Right now there's no word on when a decision whether or not cuts to the program will be made.

(Translation: Hawaii's Congressional Delegation is Pathetic.)

KGI: Homeless man has hope

read ... Affordable

Audit finds misuse of Hawaii County credit cards by Kenoi and Liquor Commissioner

SA: Legislative Auditor Bonnie Nims said in a report Friday that she found 64 transactions totaling $29,961 that did not follow policy, had a questionable purpose and may have violated laws.....

read ... Misuse

Rep Ing Racks Up Thousands in 'Per Diems'

CB: ...Hawaii taxpayers write a check every year to neighbor island legislators for more than $400,000 to cover expenses the lawmakers don’t have to account for.

The 25 members who represent Kauai, Maui and the Big Island automatically receive $175 per day to be used primarily for food and lodging while the Legislature is in session from January to May. They are not required to keep receipts — it’s more of an honor system, similar to what some private companies do.

They can also request the same per diems during the interim, but are required to fill out a form explaining why the money is needed. Civil Beat inspected those expenses for the period ending June 30....

Rep. Kaniela Ing has requested interim per diems far more than his neighbor island colleagues. He asked for it 25 times from the end of session May 7 through June 30, for a total of $4,375.

That’s more than his fellow Maui lawmakers. House Speaker Joe Souki took per diems 10 times during the same period and Reps. Angus McKelvey and Justin Woodson took them just twice.

Ing could not be reached for comment Friday or Monday....

Other lawmakers rarely if ever use their per diems during interims.

Kauai Reps. Jimmy Tokioka, Derek Kawakami and Dee Morikawa didn’t use theirs once from the end of session and June 30. Neither did Big Island Rep. Richard Creagan.

“Just because we have the ability to use it doesn’t mean we should,” Tokioka said....

read ... $400,000

Hawaii energy group studies potential savings of proposed cooperative utility ownership model

PBN: The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative, which formed earlier this year to explore the possibility of cooperative utility ownership, is in the process of doing a 10-year financial analysis to quantify the potential savings of this type of business model, one of its co-founders said Monday.

The cooperative also is urging Hawaii regulators to give serious consideration to the cooperative utility ownership model as an alternative to selling the Big Island’s electric utility to Florida’s NextEra Energy Inc.

read ... Coop

HHSC: Could Slip-Fall Lawsuit Save HGEA Job Trust?

CB: ...Based on its appropriations, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. is expected to lose $50 million dollars this fiscal year. That’s after receiving $117 million already. But the amount of money the facilities have been given is just not enough to care for all of those who need it, and statistically, the numbers of seniors needing help is only going to rise.

Other state-run hospitals have already made significant cuts or plan to do so in the very near future. Kona Community Hospital has already closed its skilled care wing and eliminated 34 positions as of Aug. 1. Hilo Medical Center is looking at doing the same, and also cutting psychiatric and home care services. The consequences may worsen the shortage of long-term care beds even more, by increasing demand if those who previously had home services may need to be admitted to a care home as a result.

Maui Memorial Hospital is in talks to privatize, already approved by the Legislature, in an effort to limit the inevitable service cuts to the community as it is looking at a deficit of $28 million this fiscal year.

None of this makes sense to David or his mother. She is facing the loss of some of the few people left in her life who help to take care of her needs. He’s worried that the staff won’t be able to keep up with so many people leaving, and that it will take someone getting hurt and filing a lawsuit to force the state to intervene....

read ... Looking for Litigation

PBN: New industry could lead to 'pot' of gold

PBN: The state Department of Health is now finalizing rules and regulations for the application procedure, and applicants are busy preparing their networks and infrastructure to submit their forms in January....

The Islands are currently home to roughly 13,000 registered medical marijuana cardholders.

Legislation does not specify what the cost of medical marijuana will be in Hawaii, but if it follows a path similar to Arizona, which opened its dispensaries last year, the price of medical marijuana could run from $200 to $300 an ounce.

Assuming all patients users bought one ounce at $200 per month, the industry could reach $2.6 million in gross sales per month, or $31.2 million a year.  (They can buy up to 1/2 lb per month.)

Shared among a potential 16 dispensaries — up to two per license holder — each dispensary owner could see roughly $3.9 million in sales per month.

That’s the conservative estimate....

read ... Going to Pot

Potheads Will be Able to Apply for Dope 'Prescription' Online

SA: ...some physicians say the existing application process is tedious, puts a strain on them and often leads to errors that cause further delays for patients seeking cards.

Right now potential patients must fill out online and written forms alongside their doctors. The doctors then have to send those forms to DOH and later send the card to patients who qualify. If there are any mistakes, the application must be resent to DOH, where it goes to the back of the line so as not to delay any applications that were correctly submitted, said DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

“They’ve created a huge administrative burden for physicians,” said Dr. Clifton Otto, an Oahu-based physician who regularly certifies medical marijuana patients. “There’s quite a bit of duplication in those forms.”

The process, he said, is “making it very difficult for doctors to handle this,” and “it becomes less worthwhile to do the certification if it has all this hassle.”

Okubo said that DOH is creating a new, fully online system in which patients could fill out the application separately and send it to their physician, who could then sign and send it electronically to DOH....

read ... Online Dope Application

Anti-GMO Luxury Realtor Rants, Raves About 'Conspiracy'

MN: Mark Sheehan--Despite her politically motivated (or perhaps merely self-deluding) assertions to the contrary, she abused her federal judicial authority.... genetic engineering experiments (and the massive amount of chemical pesticides and herbicides....)

...The seed industry's legal strategy joined (conspired?) with sympathetic allies in local government (including the Maui mayor and most of the county's council members who had campaigned against the moratorium) to create a lawsuit....

...deciding without doing any determination that GMO practices were safe....

...industrialists using U.S. government authority as its corrupted agent, has seemingly now been allowed to triumph.... authority that negates these affirmed rights is wholly invalid and unconstitutional on its face....

Enough already!

(Question: When Mark Sheehan sells properties on Maui, does he provide his clients with written warnings of "genetic engineering experiments, chemicals, and herbicides?"  As a Realtor, he is obligated to inform his clients of known hazards.  There are several luxury realtors behind the anti-GMO and anti-cane burning protests on Maui and Kauai.  Perhaps they should lose their licenses for failing to warn buyers.)

read ... Rantings

Hawaii County Council Considers Garbage Tax

HTH: ...That’s a concept the County Council Environmental Management Committee is scheduled to discuss Thursday, under Bill 32, sponsored by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille.

The bill would allow homeowners to throw out one 33-gallon trash bag a week for free. Additional 15-gallon bags would cost 50 cents and 33-gallon bags would cost $1, under the plan.

The county briefly in 2009 considered charging people to throw away their garbage, but Mayor Billy Kenoi put a stop to it after a public outcry. Kauai has a similar program that was scheduled to take effect July 1.

The county Environmental Management Commission supports the intent of the bill, Chairman Thom Randle said in a July 7 letter to the council.

He cautioned the Department of Environmental Protection would need a budget increase for personnel and equipment in order to implement the program. The Solid Waste Division is preparing an analysis of funding that would be necessary.

Randle said fees should be increased for additional bags to $4 for 33-gallon bags and $2 for 15-gallon bags, or eliminate the option of 15-gallon bags altogether.....

Best Comment: "who is going to pay $120 to dump 30 large bags at the REAL dump??? when they can toss them ALL in the closest jungle for FREE. Lazy Poor Kooks w/o cars and trucks already toss alot of rubbish in jungles. just imagine when they actually get a chance to dump their last 6 months of piled rubbish ( a borrowed truck), they sure aint going to open their wallets and pull out $100++ to do it legally... I see a 10X+ increase in rural jungle (ie Puna) pollution the day after this brainless STUPID rule goes into effect (if you dont wake up and kill this retarded plan)  THINK next time before proposing BS that will hurt the aina"

read ... Illegal Dumping is Free

Hawaii Homeowners Have Highest % Home Equity

ADS: ...Residents in only two states, Hawaii and New York, have managed to achieve median home equities over 50%. The states with the highest median home equity percentages are Hawaii (55.34%), New York (53.13%), California (48.37%), the District of Columbia (46.39%) and Massachusetts (45.59%). Residents in those areas have either lived in their homes for a relatively long time or paid a larger proportion up front.

The lowest median home equity percentages are found in Louisiana (21.16%), Mississippi (26.24%), Nevada (26.70%), Arkansas (28.55%) and Nebraska (28.92%). Residents in these areas are more likely to be recent home buyers who haven’t had time to make many payments toward their mortgages yet.

The current national median equity percentage of 40.88% represents an increase of 3.49% from this time last year, a figure drawn from homes with outstanding mortgage loans. Despite that upward trend, loan to value (LTV) ratios are also creeping up.

read ... Equity

One in Four Restaurants Fail Inspection

HNN: A year after the state launched color-coded restaurant ratings, the system is going through growing pains. The Hawaii Department of Health still needs to visit about 20% of the 10,152 restaurants statewide. Officials expect to finish the first round of inspections in a couple of months.

When the program began in July 2014, one in three inspections led to a yellow "conditional pass" placard. These days, inspectors hand out yellow signs to roughly one out of every four restaurants, according to DOH officials. 6,486 establishments earned green placards while 1,648 received yellow signs.

read ... Green



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