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Tuesday, October 20, 2015
October 20, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:28 PM :: 3773 Views

OHA Website set to Flood DoI with Pro-Indian Tribe Comments

NYT: Missing Cargo Ship Highlights Vulnerability of Aging U.S. Fleet

Jones Act Business Forum set for UH Manoa

Keeping Track of Sex-Ed in DoE Classrooms

Hilo Hospital to Ask Legislature for Partnership Authorization

HTH: This summer, HHSC’s East Hawaii facilities — including Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital and Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua — began making cuts to services and cutting 87 employee positions to make up a $7 million shortfall for fiscal year 2016.

The projected shortfall for next year will necessitate additional cuts that could seriously undermine the quality of care provided to Big Isle residents, said East Hawaii Regional Board Chairman Kurt Corbin....

This morning, HHSC’s East Hawaii Regional Board is scheduled to discuss and vote in executive session regarding a plan to actively pursue public-private partnerships with other health care networks to help address increasing costs.

“Earlier this year, you passed legislation that would enable the current negotiations between Maui (Memorial Medical Center) and Kaiser (Permanente) that are going on right now. And I will tell you that it is our intent through HHSC to introduce legislation that would enable the other four regions to pursue such an option as well,” Corbin told the legislators.

In June, HHSC’s East Hawaii administrators began informal talks with representatives from Adventist Health, which operates Castle Medical Center on Oahu.

“They were interested to know if we had any hospitality to the opportunity of talking about a range of relationships, all the way from integrating clinical services to sharing services, all the way up to and including a partnership,” Corbin said. “We are in active conversations with them, and we have signed a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with them. We are in the very early stages of exchanging information in terms of finance and operations.”

Representatives from Adventist visited Hilo toward the end of September, and are scheduled to visit again in about three weeks, he added.

The goal of working with an entity such as Adventist, Corbin said, would be to make the hospital system’s operations self reliant.

“It is entirely possible, with the right partner, that there would be no reliance in the long term for operating subsidies,” he said.

Meanwhile: Tsutsui: Ige Should Consider Halting Maui Hospital Negotiations

read ... More Cuts

HSTA Operative: Ige Should Cede Control of Labor Negotiations to Tsutsui

MN: The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state are gearing up for new contract negotiations. What happens this time around should have lasting effects on public education here, for the better or worse.

Whatever is hammered out, the Legislature should scrutinize the new Department of Education budget for its education reform costs. Before giving its stamp of approval, an accounting should be required on the total spent thus far for Common Core-aligned curriculum, such as Origo's Stepping Stones and Harcourt's Wonders. Schools were required to buy in, despite having curriculum that was only a few years old. Was it worth it? Fees for private consultants, such as experts from Edison and Catapult, should be included, as well as all of the extra training provided. The costs of the cornerstone, standardized testing, need to be included in this accounting. Justification should be demanded, demonstrated by independent research.

A new budget must support new priorities. Cut this reform spending and put it to competitive teacher salaries in order to attract and retain qualified teachers. Put it to capital improvements for the state's public school campuses and actually safeguard the children who populate these campuses.

Gov. David Ige should appoint Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui as lead negotiator. No patsy to the process, Tsutsui has run businesses, and as a legislator rose to become Senate president. Ige, himself so far a very low-profile governor, should not let his lieutenant remain idle, and give him an active role in improving education in Hawaii. After all, Ige won because of teachers, and now teachers want to see if he walks the walk....

Oct 12: Tsutsui: Ige Foolish to Ignore Me--I want to control Collective Bargaining

read ... Public Sector Unions United for Tsutsui

Settlement with union over private-sector contracts could cost millions

HNN: State officials have ruled work covered by at least 99 private contracts -- to handle everything from groundskeeping to pest control -- needs to be carried out by state employees, a move that could cost taxpayers millions and create hundreds of new state jobs.

The United Public Workers union filed grievances in 2007 and a prohibited practices complaint in 2009, complaining that the state unlawfully privatized services that historically had been performed by unionized workers, such as grounds keeping along state highways.

The state settled the cases with the union in July. As part of the settlement, the state agreed not to automatically extend private contracts and start transitioning many of the jobs in question to state employment....

McCartney said the state is reviewing at least 506 contracts across 12 state departments, which hire private workers to do everything from highway groundskeeping to air conditioning maintenance, as it decides how many of those jobs will be handled by state workers instead....

Switching from private security guards at UH-Hilo to 37 full-time state employees will cost roughly $700,000 more a year -- counting fringe benefits. That’s about a 37 percent increase, just at that one campus....

read ... Union Giveaway

Opposition from Hawaiians hampers Tribal election effort--Judge to Rule Friday on Lawsuit

AP: ...the plan is already facing resistance - from Native Hawaiians themselves.

A federal judge on Tuesday will consider an injunction motion in a lawsuit that argues that it's unconstitutional to restrict voting to those with Native Hawaiian ancestry and that the state is improperly involved in the process.

Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the U.S. that hasn't been allowed to establish its own government tricked into making themselves second-class tribal citizens....

Some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that their names appear on the roll without their consent.

The process has been rushed and confusing, critics say. “It’s a shotgun wedding of self-determination,” said Native Hawaiian community advocate Trisha Kehaulani Watson-Sproat.

Molokai activist Walter Ritte planned to run as a delegate, deciding it’s better to participate even though he disagrees with the process. But when he saw that the list of candidates includes politicians and those who support federal recognition instead of forming an independent nation, he changed his mind.

“I don’t want people to say, ‘Well you were part of it,’” he said. “I have no faith in the system so I’m taking my name out.” ...

Ritte doesn’t want Hawaiians to be another tribe.  “We don’t have the same history as Indians,” he said. ...

AP: Judge to rule Friday on challenge to Native Hawaiian election

read ... hamper

Silence grows ominous as Kealoha probes continue

SA: ...The questions surrounding Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha have gone from a curious story regarding a family fight about a missing mailbox, to new television reports that Kealoha and his wife Katherine, a top city deputy prosecutor, are the subject of an active federal investigation, involving a special prosecutor and federal grand jury.

Last week KGMB-TV reported that the FBI investigation of Kealoha and his wife is focused on “whether they conspired to frame Kealoha’s uncle in the theft of a mailbox from their home and used officers from special police units to do it....

The situation has been a slow-moving credibility disaster for HPD....

“The FBI investigation involving a special prosecutor from the mainland and the chief’s lawsuit to stop the city Ethics Commission investigation have elevated the chief’s problems in the eyes of the public,” Espero said in an interview....

Last week, Espero’s calls to change how the police are governed has led to what he described as “baby-step reforms” on a state level. He now is suggesting that the City Charter be amended to permit the mayor to hire and fire the police chief, a duty now reserved for the Police Commission.

“The public wants to see leadership fixing the problems; not leadership under investigation by the feds,” said Espero.

read ... Ominous

Ernie Martin Proposes $1.6B Tax Hike--But only gives $900M to Rail

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin wants to “stop the bleeding” on the rising cost of the city’s$6 billion-plus rail project by putting a cap on how much in general excise tax surcharge dollars can be used to build it.

The Council Budget Committee is considering Bill 23,authorizing an extension of the Oahu-only 0.5 percent surcharge through the end of 2027 — a move that is projected to raise an additional $1.6 billion. Martin is proposing to cap that figure at $910 million.  (Thus creating an excuse for HART to come back for more money later.)

The Council chairman wants any funds generated by the surcharge beyond the capped amount to instead go toward construction of affordable housing, a plan that would need the approval of the state Legislature.

The committee will take up Bill 23, as well as Martin’s plan to use surcharge dollars for housing, at its 9a.m. Wednesday meeting.

read ... Martin's Tax Hike

Hawaii Loses 8,100 Jobs in September, but Unemployment Drops

SA: September unemployment falls to 3.4 percent as the number of folks working sets a record -- But despite the improvement in the jobless rate, total nonagricultural jobs decreased by 8,100 last month to 634,500 from 642,600 in August.  The bulk of that was a decrease of 5,400 positions in government after the state Department of Education hired more people in August than is seasonally typical and hired fewer in September.

SA: Tourism, construction seen leading Hawaii growth through 2016

read ... Job Losses

Jeb Bush top Recipient of Soft Money from Hawaii

ILind: ...Surprisingly, at the top of the list is Right to Rise USA, the Jeb Bush Super Pac, with over $260,000 raised in Hawaii. But most of that came in a single $250,000 contribution from cruise line NCL America, and $5,000 each from Ivan Kasser of Kona, and Michael Purport of the Carlsmith Ball law firm.

Second on the list is Working Families for Hawaii, a Super Pac that backed Mazie Hirono in recent elections. It’s $200,000 total came from just two sources, the Hawaii State AFL-CIO and William Reeves, co-founder of BlueCrest Capital Management and a major Hawaii contributor. Each put up $100,000.

Reeves also gave $100,000 to a Democratic committee, The Senate Majority Pac, which ranked at #3. He was the only contributor from Hawaii during that period.

Ready Pac was formerly known as the “Ready for Hillary Pac,” which pushed to draw Hillary Clinton into the presidential race. It’s largest and earliest contributor was Douglas Troxel of the Big Island, who put up $25,000 in November 2013, accounting for just over half of Ready Pac’s Hawaii contributions. Troxel was founder of SERENA software.

Several conservative PACs are also on the list, including the National Draft Ben Carson Committee, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Freedomworks, and the Ted Cruz Super Pac, Keep the Promise Pac....

read ... “Soft money” donors from Hawaii

Hawaii Attorneys Allowed to Help Medical Marijuana Industry

CB: The state Supreme Court has changed a rule to allow attorneys to provide legal services to clients who want to grow and sell medical cannabis....

The Supreme Court received 90 comments on the proposed rule change, and the vast majority were in support, according to a spokeswoman for the state Judiciary.

Former Attorney General David Louie, who sent a letter to the justices urging them to adopt the proposed rule, said Tuesday’s order provides the relief he was seeking.

PDF: Supreme Court Decision

read ... Cronyfest

Utility Regulators urged to focus on Marijuana

IM: Lorraine Akiba, one of the three Commissioners on the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, will be attending the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on November 8-11....

One NARUC panel is titled, "Straight Dope on Energy & the Marijuana Industry (Don't laugh, it could be coming to your state soon!)"

Illegal operations are often done indoors. "Some have estimated that stolen electricity for illegal pot growth tops $100 million annually in the U.S."

Many states and jurisdictions have legalized or are considering legalizing marijuana. To prevent theft and to rigidly control and monitor production, many regulatory policies require the crop to be grown in buildings and greenhouses.

"Through legalization-including medical marijuana dispensaries-the economic impacts will rise considerably. New industries focused on marijuana production have specific lighting needs; use an abundance of water; and require an array of heaters, generators, and fans."

Regulators needs to expand their knowledge about marijuana.

"How utility companies are responding to this growing demand. What energy-efficient options are in place? The role regulators can play in marijuana policy discussions. How to address home growers vs. large-scale commercial operations."

read ... Utility Regulators will focus on Marijuana

PUC Commissioner Applies for Rooftop Solar Days Before PUC Cut the Credits

CB: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission member Lorraine Akiba took advantage of the higher credit just days before the PUC created a new program with lower rates.

read ... Insider Trading

IBEW Union says it now supports NextEra purchase of HEI

SA: ...Local 1260 said it changed its stance after NextEra committed in a written agreement to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its members, to train current and future union members for new jobs that evolve with new technologies and promised there would be no layoffs for two years following the sale's closing....

Previously IBEW Local 1260 said it was opposed to HEI’s sale to NextEra because the Florida-based company made no commitments to train HECO union workers for anticipated renewable energy jobs....

read ... Union

Fixing Hawaii homeless problem more than a 60-day emergency, IHS exec says

PBN: Hawaii now has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the nation, at 465 homeless individuals per 100,000 citizens....

... the governor is affirming the increase in homelessness as real problem statewide and of a magnitude that deserves special attention. And if you read the actual proclamation, business as usual may be suspended to act more quickly to address the crisis. The statutes and regulations that could be impacted include how appropriations are managed, procurement for services and construction, and redirecting use of state resources to name a few.

G: Hawaii follows Los Angeles in declaring state of emergency over homelessness

read ... Fixing Hawaii homeless problem more than a 60-day emergency, IHS exec says

With Kakaako Gone, Martin Wants Nine New Homeless Tent Cities

HNN: Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin said the body is searching for nine sites across Oahu that the city could turn into "safe zones," would he described as transition points for the homeless.

He said the zones could designated at vacant residential property, or in a vacant residential or commercial facility.

Martin said the safe zones would not be tent cities, (KNOW THEM BY WHAT THEY DENY) but centers where homeless people can do laundry, use restrooms and showers, and get plugged into permanent housing or homeless shelters.

"It's a matter of putting them in the proper environment so hopefully one day they'll be able to get into a more sustainable lifestyle," he said.

Service providers could oversee the safe zones, which he said would be similar to the city's transitional center going up at Sand Island.

Martin said the city could tap into $160 million the council dedicated over the last two years ($160M just floating around?  Really?) for homeless solutions to pay for the Oahu safe zones....

read ... These Guys Never Learn

Maui County Council Legislative Package

MN: The County Council's Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has endorsed a proposal to amend state law by prohibiting smoking in vehicles when minors are present.

If the council agrees with the committee's recommendation on Nov. 6, the proposal will become part of the Maui County Council's legislative package to be submitted to the state Legislature for the 2016 legislative session....

The committee recommended three other bills for the legislative package, including a Cochran proposal to allow individuals to indicate their disabilities on state identification cards. This would allow persons with disabilities convenient access to certain public services and provide relevant information to medical personnel in case of emergency.

Council Member Bob Carroll's proposal to prohibit the sale of fish or other aquatic life acquired by the use of a spear is also slated for inclusion in the legislative package. The committee determined the proposed state law could help protect and revitalize aquatic resources.

A proposal to authorize the county liquor commissions to provide funding for alcohol abuse treatment and prevention, introduced by Council Member Gladys Baisa, was also included among the committee's recommendations for the legislative package. The proposed state law would make money from liquor license fees and fines available to support educational and therapeutic programs on alcohol abuse.

Two proposals from the council's 2015 legislative package are still eligible for consideration in the 2016 legislative session.

House Bill 202 (2015) and Senate Bill 410 (2015) would allow council members to freely attend community meetings. House Bill 203 (2015) and Senate Bill 411 (2015) would authorize research programs on industrial hemp on the Neighbor Islands.

The Hawaii State Association of Counties will also be submitting a legislative package, supported by all four county councils.

read ... State bills endorsed for council legislative package

Hawaii among five states that see graduation rates drop

HNN: Hawaii was one of five states that saw its high school graduation rate decline in the 2013-14 school year, according to new federal statistics.

Hawaii's graduation rate in the 2013-14 school year was 81.8 percent, down from 82.4 percent in 2012-13.

The state's graduation rate for special populations was lower: 78 percent for economically-disadvantaged students, 59 percent for children with disabilities, and 53 percent for English language learners.

The graduation rate nationally was 81.4 percent in 2013-14, an all-time high.

The U.S. Department of Education said 36 states saw their graduation rates improve in the 2013-14 school year, according to preliminary data.

read ... Graduation

Common Core testing in Hawaii schools yields mixed results

SA: Only 76 Hawaii public schools achieved proficiency of at least 51 percent of students on the math portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment last school year, according to an analysis of data released today by the state Department of Education.

Among the state’s 288 schools, including department and charter schools, math results ranged from a low of 9 percent proficiency at Waianae High to a high of 84 percent proficiency at Waikiki Elementary. The statewide average for math was 41 percent on the more rigorous Common Core-aligned test....

read ... Mixed

Council Pushes Back Against Social Engineering--Bill Slows Bike Lane Constriction

CB: ...the councilman from District 4, which stretches from Ala Moana to Hawaii Kai, is pushing a bill to require cycle tracks to be placed on the city’s official Public Infrastructure Map before getting installed.

That process would require two City Council hearings and make it more difficult for Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration to (rip out perfectly good lanes to) install protected bike paths.

The city has already installed one protected bike lane on South King Street, sparking the ire of some drivers who are confused by the change and frustrated by the longer commute times. City data shows the bike lane has increased the time it takes to drive down the thoroughfare by an average of 36 seconds (spread over 24 hours but a whole lot more than that at rush hour.  Remember: "The liars sure can figure.")

read ... Bill Slowing Bike Lane Construction Approved

Soft on Crime: Five Priors, out on the Street, Gets 11 more

KHON: ...Ju Young Woo, 40, is supposed to be on trial for 11 counts, including automatic firearms, other firearms, and drugs.

But he failed to show up for his trial call earlier this month, so the judge issued a $250,000 warrant for his arrest.

Narco-vice and SWAT officers caught Woo on Hoohulu Street at around 5 p.m.

He has five prior convictions, three of which are felonies....

read ... Soft on Crime

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