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Tuesday, September 29, 2015
September 29, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:17 PM :: 3972 Views

Feds Demand their Money Back from Dysfunctional Hawaii Medicaid Fraud Unit

Attorneys Evaluate Hawaii Obamacare Waiver Proposal

Electric Rates: Hawaii 90% Higher Than #2 State

Economic Growth? Honolulu Ranks 428th

HTA: Visitor Arrivals Set New Record in August

Hawaii 6th Worst Sinkhole State--Out-dated accounting policies blamed

10 things Hawaii Can Do So That Everyone Gets Richer

Hawaii DoE Pledges to 'Reset Career Education'

Video: Democrats Breaking the Mold (with Rep. Sharon Har)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Protections for 49 Species in Hawaii

Kaneohe Base commander told 'God bless' sign can stay

Caldwell Campaign Strategy: Blame HART

Borreca: ... (Caldwell's) campaign strategy may have been given a test drive over the weekend with Caldwell’s opinion piece in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

As it has been for several elections, Honolulu’s over-budget and delayed rail project, now estimated to cost $6 billion, will be a major part of the campaign.

The project’s benefits, except to contractors and developers, remain to be seen. The problems, frustrations and controversy are all happening now and they are expected to get worse.

As the bad news mounts, Caldwell is raising the curtain on a seldom-noticed set of actors in the rail drama: the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transportation board of directors. Suddenly, the job of bringing the train in on time and on budget falls to the HART board, ignoring Caldwell’s pledge from his last campaign.

“Kirk will ensure better station design, less visual impact, tighter financial controls, and paying attention to community concerns,” Caldwell’s campaign had said.

Now Caldwell wants the HART board to pay attention to the increased costs and construction delays....

Who needs city leadership, if we have contractors with a sharp public relations department?

read ... Caldwell wants it both ways on rail transit construction

OHA Grabs for Pohakuloa Lease Money

SA: A trial begins today in a lawsuit that accuses the state Department of Land and Natural Resources of failing to properly oversee the Army’s use of ceded lands at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island.

Residents Clarence Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio are asking the Circuit Court to find that the state has failed to do its duty in ensuring that the military complies with the conditions of its lease at Pohakuloa.

Ching and Kahaulelio, represented by the (OHA funded) Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., are also asking the court to block the state from extending the existing lease, which expires in 2029, until it’s been to determined that the terms of the existing lease have been satisfactorily fulfilled.  (Translation: This is all about OHA grabbing for more ceded land revenues.)

Arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin this morning in the Honolulu courtroom of Circuit Judge Gary Chang.

Totally Related: How Telescope Fits in to OHA's Ceded Lands Cashflow

read ... Rent Seeking Behavior

Military Spending Down $500M -- 9.9% of Hawaii GDP

SAS: ...expenditures slipped to $7.6 billion in 2014 from $8.1 billion the previous year....

SAS: Defense spending in fiscal 2014 -- Hawaii #2 (9.9 percent of GDP)

read ... Down $500M

69% Support “God bless the military” sign on the grounds of Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe

  • B. Let it stand; supports troops (69%) - 1,619 votes
  • C. Move to chapel grounds (22%) - 526 votes
  • A. Remove; too religious for base (9%) - 212 votes
  • Total Votes: 2,357

Star-Adv Big Q September 29, 2015

Commission Tightens standards for charter schools

SA: The training wheels are about to come off at Hawaii’s public charter schools, and as the first one opened in 1999, it’s about time. All the research shows that raising the levels of accountability produces better results for the students, assuming authorities set the right criteria in place. Even without the research, it just makes good sense.

The Public Charter School Commission is finishing up its criteria for judging whether or not a school gets renewed for a set contract period. The state’s 34 public charter schools actually have been operating under the first set of performance contracts since 2013, after the Legislature enacted reforms to make the schools more accountable, both in academic and operational measures.

The schools then each got a one-year contract, but as a transition, the prospect of nonrenewal was eliminated as a possible penalty. The schools now have three-year contracts, due to expire in 2017, and their fate beyond that point does depend on whether they pass muster for renewal. Starting in 2017, contract lengths will range from five years for exemplary charters to one-year “probationary” contracts for schools needing improvement.

read ... Reform

Honolulu Charter Commission--a Chance for Police Reform

CB: A record number of police reform bills were filed in the last legislative session, and only the least consequential of the measures passed, despite some shocking examples of police misconduct in preceding months. There was HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola, for instance, who went unpunished despite being caught on videotape striking his girlfriend last September at a Waipahu restaurant. And the HPD officer who violently slammed a man to the ground last February in Palolo but wasn’t charged with a misdemeanor until late July. He likely would have escaped any punishment had the incident not been recorded on video by a witnesses.

All of this is why the work of the Honolulu Charter Commission is particularly important this year. The commission is engaging in its once-a-decade review of the City Charter, and this Thursday will hold a public meeting specifically to discuss oversight of the city police and fire departments. The chair of the charter commission said that whether the police commission is effectively “policing the police” will be one of the questions up for discussion.

Members of the public can submit their own ideas for charter commission consideration or comment on existing proposals. The last time the commission reviewed the charter, it put 12 ballot measures in front of voters. Eight of them passed.

read ... Charter Commission 

DelaCruz Writes "Genealogy of Energy Development in Hawaii" for NextEra 

IM: State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz is Vice President of NextEra Energy consultant DTL Hawai`i.

Ian Lind reported on September 15, "Dela Cruz filed his 2015 annual financial disclosure at the end of January. It reported no changes in employment from 2014, when he had reported earning $25,000 to $50,000 as “director of communications” for WCIT Architecture. ...It appears that DTL is essentially a subsidiary or sister company of WCIT."

Life of the Land asked NextEra to identify their staff and consultants. NextEra replied, but the reply was confidential, meaning the public can't know.

NextEra did supply to Life of the Land an 84-page non-confidential report by DTL.

Genealogy of Energy Development in Hawai‘i” (August 2015) Prepared for NextEra Energy by DTL....

SA: Oahu solar permits increase 53 percent

read ... Hawaii Legislators and NextEra

Arakawa Kokua Fund Scrutinized, Legal 

MN: The sold-out ball on March 9, 2013, drew what one attendee called Maui's "financial elite." It raised more than $100,000 for the Mayor Arakawa Community Kokua Fund, a charitable nonprofit created by Arakawa in 2002 to help Mauians in dire need and community groups such as youth athletic teams, school clubs and senior citizen groups....

Relativity Media founder and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Kavanaugh served as the ball's honorary chairman, welcoming arrivals at the red carpet, including Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody. At Kavanaugh's invitation, Brody had flown in from Paris for just that day to attend the mayor's ball....

Now, the Kokua Fund is coming under scrutiny for possibly blurring the lines between being a nonpolitical nonprofit charity and a candidate's campaign organization and for potentially being what Carmille Lim, executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, which advocates for more open, honest government in Hawaii, said she sees as a form of "pay for play."...

State officials said that, based on information provided by The Maui News, they see nothing illegal in the Kokua Fund or its fundraising event. Unless Arakawa put up a sign at the fundraiser saying, "Vote for me," openly solicited campaign donations or funneled money from the nonprofit to his campaign, then no laws have been violated, they said.

In an interview in his office Monday, Arakawa said his nonprofit is above-board, transparent and providing a much-needed source of grants to those most in need. He objected to The Maui News "trying to dig up muck" when there are other "more important . . . real issues in the community" for the newspaper to delve into.

The fund's establishment was altruistic, he said.

"The reason I started this fund was that people were coming in and they were requesting county assistance in a lot of areas where we couldn't assist because there was no agency on Maui that can give immediate relief," Arakawa said.

Grant recipients include those who might need assistance with food, emergency medical expenses or in providing clothing to schoolchildren, he said.

When asked why he put his name on the fund, Arakawa said that was "purely to be able to raise money, to be able to get the fund going."

The fund has carried the mayor's name since it was created in 2002. Arakawa said the fund has never been political or a way to gain votes.

MN: State law addresses charitable giving by candidates

read ... How its Done

Online Petition Targets 5th Principal This Year

HNN: Last week eight Kalaheo High football players came down with staph-like infections.  Now a petition at Change.org is calling for principal Susan Hummel to resign. It claims she endangered the health of students by failing to ensure safety measures were followed in the school's weight room.

Hummel said the allegations are untrue.

"Unfortunately, I think this particular petition has distracted from all of the positive and huge strides towards positive education and successful education that Kalaheo has accomplished in the last few years," she said.

"There's a lot of really terrible things that people say and do when they don't have to be accountable for the words that they use," retired principal Catherine Payne said.

The online petition against Hummel is just the latest attempt to oust a public school principal.  In May, Honokaa High's Marcella McClellan was placed on non-disciplinary department directed leave amidst allegations of mismanagement. Then this month, the DOE reassigned Lahainaluna High School principal Emily De Costa after complaints from parents.  And Hanalei Elementary School principal Lisa McDonald was also re-assigned after calls for her resignation from parents and teachers.

"The authority of the principal to be the one who makes those last calls and makes those decisions and puts items to rest has been undermined," former Kaiser High School principal John Sosa said.

Kapaa Middle School principal Nathan Aiwohi is another principal being targeted by a petition drive.  Payne said social media attacks on principals are counter-productive....

read ... Petition Mania

Sex Offender Program Claims 2% Recidivism 

CB: Since 1988, the program has treated more than 800 sex offenders like Conner, setting them on a path to a crime-free life at a remarkable rate: Just 20 of its “graduates” have returned to prison for a new sex crime.

Barry Coyne, the program’s administrator, says the low rate of recidivism — slightly more than 2 percent — makes it one of the most successful sex offender treatment programs in the country.

The key to success is holding sex offenders accountable for their past behaviors.

“Unlike in some other states, we do not treat sex offenders as if they have a mental health disease. If you say to a sex offender, ‘Oh, you have a mental problem,’ he doesn’t have to take responsibility for that. He has a ‘disorder'; it’s not his fault,” Coyne said. “Instead, we say, ‘You made a choice. A conscious, deliberate choice. And it resulted in a criminal act.’ So we’re putting the responsibility on them, and they have to change their behaviors. Not like, ‘Oh, a doctor’s going to give you a pill.'” ...

With an annual budget of about $450,000, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety offers the program’s core courses at two prisons — the Kulani prison and the Halawa Correctional Facility — and provides “after-care” at each of the state’s four jails to those who are on work furlough and parole.

Coyne says the program is open to almost all sex offenders who are near the end of their sentences; only those who still maintain their innocence, or are appealing their conviction, are ineligible. The goal, after all, is to make the participants accountable for their past behaviors, he says.

About 80 sex offenders are now enrolled in the core courses, and an additional 23 are participating in after-care.

Sessions are held two to three times a week for the core courses and once a week for after-care, but the duration of the program can vary widely — it could be as short as 10 months or as long as four years, depending on the progress of each participant.

“If you’re going to be in (the program), we cannot tell you, ‘Here is the date you’re going to finish,'” Coyne said, “because we don’t know how fast you can learn this material to our satisfaction.”

read ... Sex Offenders

HPD finally done with internal investigation into Sgt. involved in violent video

HNN:  More than a year after a violent fight between a Honolulu police officer and his girlfriend was caught on surveillance video, the internal investigation is finally done.  

HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola was not indicted for domestic violence but his own department could hand down stiff punishment against the 19-year veteran of the force.

The fight happened on September 9th, 2014.  Surveillance video from several businesses showed Cachola and his girlfriend grappling, and punching each other both outside and inside Kuni's Restaurant in Waipahu.

The woman testified on his behalf before the grand jury which ultimately declined to charge Cachola but the internal affairs investigation continued for more than a year....

Sources say the investigation into policy violations was delayed because one of the responding officers that night -- a key witness -- was on medical leave after being injured in an off-duty accident.  The additional time sparked even more outrage as many complained that HPD wasn't taking domestic abuse seriously, especially when it comes to their own....

Even thought the internal investigation is now complete, it could still be several more weeks before a decision is made on Cachola's future.   The findings of the case is heading to the assistant and deputy chiefs and ultimately, Chief Louis Kealoha will decide what if Cachola remains with the force.

read ... Done

Sweeps Forcing More Homeless People to Finally Accept Shelter

HNN: The shelter in Waipahu took in 27 people from Kakaako, according to Scott Morishige, the state's coordinator on homelessness. Some of them left after trying out the facility.

"The other 8, we don't know. They came for a few nights and didn't come back, so maybe they made other arrangements. Maybe they found somewhere else on the street to go. I don't know, but 17 out of 25 is a pretty good percentage," said Hummel.

Morishige said that 94 people from the Kakaako encampment have gone into shelters or more permanent housing. 293 homeless campers were counted during a survey last month....

According to Morishige, 23 people are at the Next Step shelter and 36 are at the Institute for Human Services. IHS also placed five people into permanent housing.

read ... City gears up for next round of Kakaako sweeps

​Free Clinic Waikiki Health Experiences 'Explosive Growth'

PBN: ...Waikiki Health is “stabilizing after some explosive growth,” he said.

The nonprofit ended 2014 with $13.3 million in total revenue and support.

“Most recently, we activated our Makahiki Clinic with dental operations and there’s also a growing pharmacy department, so we have those revenue streams in place,” he said, noting that the organization is currently reviewing its reimbursement strategy.

Federal reimbursement for Medicare is a challenge for community health centers such as Waikiki Health.

A majority of Waikiki Health’s patients have Medicare, Medicaid or Med-QUEST insurance, or no insurance, and just 16 percent to 20 percent privately insured.

During the 2015 federal fiscal year, Hawaii saw direct Medicare reimbursements decline by $18 million. Hawaii hospitals are currently reimbursed 86 cents for each dollar they spend on Medicare services, according to the Hawaii Health Information Corp.

Anticipated cuts could translate to $838 million in lost revenue over the next 15 years and an 11.2 percent reduction in total Medicare fee-for-service revenue over the next 10 years. In addition, Hawaii hospitals could be underpaid by $2.5 billion over the next decade if current patient volume and payment reimbursement rates continue.

Waikiki Health relies on over a third of its budget from governmental grants, and another third from patient service revenue. Its pharmacy sales, roughly $2.3 million last year, accounted for 17 percent of its 2014 revenue in the fiscal year that ended December 2014.

Patient service revenue reached $4.9 million in 2014, and grants form governmental agencies reached $4.6 million....

Flashback: DHS: Thousands of ghost names on Hawaii Medicare, Medicaid Rolls

read ... ​New CFO for Waikiki Health on navigating Hawaii health sector

Hawaii Supreme Court drafting proposal to amend legal ethics for 'medical' marijuana

PBN: The Hawaii Supreme Court is seeking comment from its members on a proposal to amend legal ethics rules for medical marijuana.

The state Judiciary Communications & Community Relations Office will collect comments on the proposal for a Supreme Court rule change through Oct. 16.

The proposed amendment clarifies how Hawaii lawyers may assist clients that seek one of the state's first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.

Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Attorney General David Louie have called for the Hawaii high court to reconsider the Disciplinary Board’s Aug. 27 opinion, which encourages lawyers to advise clients on the new law, but discourages them from offering legal services to help establish a medical marijuana retail dispensary.

read ... Hawaii Supreme Court drafting proposal to amend legal ethics

Communists Run Another Bumpy Kanahele Fluff Piece

PW: Recently, I interviewed three longtime Hawaii activists on the role and impact of the U.S. armed forces in Hawaii, including the environmental devastation this century-plus long occupation has wrought on the isles' fragile ecosystems.

Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele is the leader of the pro-independence Nation of Hawaii. In the recent Cameron Crowe movie "Aloha" he co-stars with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel MacAdams, playing a version of himself called Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, the head of a liberated village of Hawaiians, that was shot, in part, at the actual site in Waimanalo, Oahu, where such a community actually exists, led by Kanahele. In the feature film, which has an anti-nuclear, anti-weaponization of outer space theme, Kanahele wears a T-shirt proclaiming on the front "Hawaiian By Birth" and "American By Force" on the back.

I also interviewed (Jim Albertini and) human rights activist attorney Hayden Burgess, whose Hawaiian name is Poka Laenui. Unlike Kanahele and Laenui, peace campaigner Jim Albertini is a haole (Caucasian), who has lived in Hawaii for decades. President of the Big Island-based Malu 'Aina Center for Non-violent Education and Action, Albertini co-authored the 1980 book "The Dark Side of Paradise, Hawaii in a Nuclear World."

Laenui believes U.S. militarism "was actually the second wave of an insertion of American colonization into Hawaii" after the Christian missionaries. Washington's military interest in Hawaii goes back to at least 1872, when Major General John Schofield was dispatched to Hawaii "as a scout. He was casing out the area, doing recon at strategic areas, such as Pearl Harbor," states Kanahele. Laenui adds that Schofield and Brevet Brigadier Gen. B.S. Alexander went to Hawaii "under the pretense of coming as tourists.... They came here as spies to determine the military possibilities of using Hawaii so that in the future the U.S. could reach farther out in their [forward] basing strategy to continually expand the American empire into the Pacific and Asia. It was part of the general trend of American expansionism, following the theory of 'manifest destiny'" beyond the West Coast, eventually aiming at turning the Pacific into an "American lake."

CPUSA now a Tool of Russian Foreign Policy:

read ... The Pentagon and Hawaii, militarized state of armed occupation

Honolulu Tunnels, Roads, Schools, Piers Falling Apart

DLNR Plans More Aerial Shooting of Pigs, Goats, and Sheep

KHON: The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids.

The activities will be held in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on Hawaii Island....

Control schedules dates are Oct. 15 and 16, Nov. 16 and 17, and Dec. 14 and 15.

read ... Shooting

Less Smoke, More Complainers

MN: There were more sugar mills, now there is only one. There are more complainers now than before.

Look at the percentage of the people that complain. Why doesn't the whole island complain? Notice most of the complainers are the transplants. They came here to change the lifestyle, like most that are trying to change our cultural life style.

HNN: Howard Business Report 9.29: Instinctive distrust of business

read ... Complainers decided to live where the smoke is

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