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Friday, February 5, 2016
February 5, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:33 PM :: 3524 Views

SB2179: Decriminalize Methamphetamines, Heroin, Cocaine

Gallup: Hawaii Conservatives Outnumber Liberals—State Ranks #3 in Moderates

Cult Busted: Gabbard Financier Charged with Killing, Injuring Divers with Speedboat

Nai Aupuni Aha Illegally Blocks Protesters from Walking on Stolen Hawaiian Kingdom Road

Final Report: Only 14,564 Apply for Obamacare in Hawaii—Lowest in USA

Ige Admin Denies Proposing Superferry Revival

Business in Hawaii: Regulatory barriers and crippling tax rates

KSBE: We Will Fight Leasehold Conversion Bills

Oahu: 596 Homeless Veterans Permanently Housed

Inspector General: Honolulu VA Hospital Fails on Suicide Prevention

Hawaii Union Membership Slips to 20.4%

Western States try again at Freeing Themselves from 9th Circuit Court

Army announces decision on ‘biofuel-capable’ diesel electric plant

Judge sends TMT back to Land Board

HTH: A judge on Thursday cleared the way for a new round of hearings by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea.

In a status conference held by telephone in an empty courtroom, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura instructed Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, attorney for Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and several other appellants, to prepare an order vacating a May 5, 2014, ruling by Nakamura that the permitting process employed for the $1.4 billion observatory project by BLNR was valid and the appellants’ due process rights weren’t violated by the process.

“All we’re trying to do is move the case back to the board,” Nakamura said.

read … Judge sends TMT back to Land Board

Poll: Only 16 Percent Of Voters Feel Good About Honolulu Rail

CB: Well over 30 percent of respondents said it’s a bad idea while another 40 percent consider the $6.6 billion project’s progress troubling.

PDF: Civil Beat January 2016 Rail Poll

read … Feel Good?

Kauai Plan to Hike GE Taxes ‘Flawed’

KGI: …Our roads are some of the most dangerous in the state. Kauai has about 4 percent of the total roadway in the state (394 miles of 9,864 miles total), but has 15 percent of the total road fatalities. That means you’re 3.75 times more likely to die on a given mile of Kauai road than a mile of “average” Hawaii road.

That’s because our roads are old, narrow, have no shoulders or sidewalks, and were constructed when the population was less than half what it is today. Our County Council is debating on whether to raise our sales tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent to help make improvements to the roads and public transportation: there’s a debate over how to split up the $250 million this will raise.

Councilmember Yukimura is pushing to spend a quarter of all that money on the Kauai Bus. Right now, less than 1 percent of the transportation on this island is provided by the Kauai Bus. Her plan is to spend $64 million for a service that will provide transportation to only a tiny fraction of the people on the island — yet we all pay for it.

The system currently spends a huge amount of money just to move a small number of people. We subsidize every rider trip to the tune of $8.16 each way — a person riding the bus twice a day five days a week gets over $4,000 each year of our tax money as a subsidy — a freebie basically — just for doing so.

And despite predictions to the contrary, adding more service has been proven not to be an incentive to gain large numbers of new riders — as service has been added the “boardings per hour” have gone down, not up. That means that the buses that are running are even more empty than before; thus efficiency went down and the impact on traffic congestion was minimal.

Yukimura wants to vastly expand the bus service — pouring more of our tax dollars into a project that has been based on flawed logic and flawed research….

read … Plan to spend millions on bus system is flawed

Superferry idea worth vetting

SA: The Superferry is long gone, but clearly not forgotten.

Gov. David Ige has not forgotten, and would like at least to explore the possibility of bringing back an interisland ferry.

It was surprising that such a proposal was floated as a separate initiative, without even a hint of it in Ige’s recent State of the State address.

But the notion of reviving a service like Superferry is one that’s worth considering. The state should vet all the issues with far greater deliberation than was done before a Hawaii Supreme Court environmental ruling effectively drove the company to bankruptcy in 2009.

The exploration effort was assigned to the state Department of Transportation. DOT Director Ford Fuchigami told lawmakers Wednesday that the state will put out a request for proposals later this year, so a new feasibility study could be done.

Among all the question marks hanging over the proposal, the one that deserves particular scrutiny is its financial plan. The Ige administration envisions the project as a state-owned system that could qualify for federal subsidies....

read … Super

Romy Cachola’s Dream Ends Badly

Cataluna: Romy Cachola has a dream! A dancing, multicolor, fountaining dream!

… It would be very flashy. At least for the two weeks that it actually works before one of the pumps blows out because a homeless dude poops in the pool … and then there’d be a suit against the architect, which would go on for years while the limu and muck collect in epic proportions … and the hellish committee meetings to decide whose face would be projected on the spraying water while catchy music plays on the tinny speaker system. (At the Plaza Salcedo, one of the inspirations for this idea, the faces of the local governor and Manny Paquiao alternately appear in the spraying water to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.”)

Whether it would actually work is beside the point. It would not work. No question about that.

The point is there is a kind of reckless audacity in the suggestion, a spirit that we don’t often see in the Legislature. OK, we do, but not this reckless and audacious.

The dreams of Romy Cachola are bold and bright. Like Don Quixote. Or Don Quijote.

What if Romy Cachola is on to something?

The Natatorium could become a giant pirate show, like Treasure Island in Las Vegas. There could be laser lights and fake explosions and real pirates. Real pirates wouldn’t mind the funky water of the Natatorium. Real pirates would be right at home.

Or, ooh! ooh! — what if the Ala Wai was turned into a beautiful water-taxi ride, like “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland? It would run mostly at night so that all the yucky stuff wouldn’t be so obvious. There could be little displays on the banks of the canal, doll-size tableaux of all the things tourists expected to see in Hawaii.

What if the rail project was more like a thrill ride, with twists and dips that made you giddy and terrified with the thought that it might never end or could end badly?

read … End Badly

Feds: Soapy Water Pleases Hippies, but Doesn’t Kill Mosquitoes

Borreca: …The governor said the feds had checked out the Hawaii operation and said it was doing a bang-up job of battling dengue.

“I just wanted to remind everyone the Centers for Disease Control studied the issue and they were impressed,” Ige said. “They were overwhelmed at the amount of cooperation and coordination between the state and county operations; more importantly, that we were doing the right things and our response was appropriate.”

That’s true, but it isn’t the entire story. The CDC report, written by scientists, not politicians, didn’t really say Hawaii found the right course of action; the CDC said Hawaii was working really hard.

“All the state and county employees should be commended for their tireless work throughout the dengue outbreak,” the report said. “Employees have sacrificed personal time to assist with the outbreak and have volunteered their services to mitigate the outbreak.”

When it came time to give a grade, the feds said, “The effectiveness of this strategy needs to be evaluated based on the following observations.”

First, the CDC then said, dengue cases are popping up near households already treated, “suggesting that the vector control treatment area is not sufficient.”

Also, the strategy of putting soapy water into standing ponds of water needs to be “evaluated in a real world setting,” because it doesn’t really work.

Finally, the state and county workers are working so hard they may be “unable to maintain the current response rate for an extended period of time or if the case count increases.”…

read … Duel

Governor works with developer on plan to build more affordable rentals

HNN: …Housing is considered "affordable" if you pay 30 percent or less of your take-home income on it. Here in Hawaii, many are paying 50 percent or more.

"Oh, it's overwhelming," said Stanford Carr, president of Stanford Carr Development, which built Kakaako's Halekauwila Place, an affordable property.

"We need to build thousands and thousands more of these units," he said.

Carr said all of his tenants are "residents who represent 80 percent of the workforce. They're government employees, school teachers, firemen, small business owners, folks in visitor-related industries. We have studios, one, two, and three bedroom units all targeted to households at 60 percent of AMI (area median income). That translates into a single person making less than $41,000 a year and translates into rents starting at $500 a month," Carr said.

The governor's plan would add more money to the state's Rental Housing Revolving Fund by eliminating the current cap of $38 million or 50 percent of conveyance tax revenues.

It would also finance the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund -- money that would allow for infrastructure improvements to highways and sewage, a major obstacle for affordable housing projects if developers have to take on those costs. Another initiative identifies state land that can be provided for rental development.

"Our proposal is committed to generating 10,000 units over the next few years," Ige said….

Analysts say Hawaii needs 66,000 units over the next few years.

HNN:  Agency charged with finding homeless solutions made up of volunteers

read … Affordable?

Cronies Pour Money into Congressional Delegation

CB: U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz had $2.6 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

According to his year-end filing with the Federal Election Commission, the Democrat raised a hefty $400,000 in the fourth quarter….

Gabbard reported $1.5 million in cash on hand, having raised about $200,000 in the fourth quarter.

Takai reported having about $500,000, having raised $155,000 in 4Q.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, another Democrat but one that is not up for re-election until 2018, had $507,000 in cash, having raised $184,000 in 4Q….

Gabbard Donor: Cult Busted: Gabbard Financier Charged with Killing, Injuring Divers with Speedboat

read … Bought n Paid For

Committee approves HB2193—Let lawmakers veto UH tuition hikes

SA: …HB 2193 would allow lawmakers to veto tuition increases approved by the UH Board of Regents, starting with the 2017-18 school year.

“The Legislature finds that the tuition schedule established by the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii has created an unreasonable increase in the cost of attendance,” the bill’s introduction reads, noting annual increases the past four years. “The Legislature finds that the cost of tuition at the University of Hawaii is a matter of statewide concern and that it is in the best interest of the state to ensure that all students have affordable access to higher education.”

Under the measure, tuition increases would be subject to disapproval by two-thirds vote of the House or Senate or by majority vote of both chambers. UH would need to submit a “detailed justification for the increase” for lawmakers to consider.

UH is in the fourth year of a five-year tuition schedule that was to ultimately raise tuition by more than 30 percent. The plan was approved in 2011, when UH faced drastic cuts in state funding. But under UH President David Lassner, the university last summer scaled back the increases built into the final two years….

read … Veto

Faculty Members Sue UH Over Claims Of Broken Promises, Retribution

CB: The University of Hawaii at Manoa and two of its faculty members squared off before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on Thursday in a case that could have implications for the university’s reputation and its ability to attract high-quality faculty.

The case primarily involves biology professor Kevin Bennett, an award-winning researcher from Arizona State University whom the university recruited a little over three years ago to create a magnetic resonance imaging center at UH.

An MRI expert with a doctorate in biophysics whose work in medical and molecular imaging is well regarded in academia, Bennett accepted an offer (first mistake) that included a(n imaginary) $450,000 lab startup package and a (worthless) commitment to purchase a specialized MRI machine.

Though Bennett worked to get the MRI center up and running, he said he ran into roadblocks at Manoa (no kidding) with a facilities office that took more than a year (actually that’s fast for them) to identify space for the new research operation. The university ordered the MRI, but by the time officials identified space to house it, the machine’s manufacturer had ceased production, forcing Bennett to identify an alternate choice.  (Yes.  We are in Hawaii.)

By late last summer, Bennett and UH agreed on a new choice and were ready to move forward. But the newly appointed interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences, Kristin Kumashiro, cancelled the initiative, and allocated its funding to other college projects.  (But you knew that was coming, didn’t you.)

read … Yes.  He came to Hawaii.

UH Admin Let Kaimuki Properties Sit Empty for 39 Years

KHON: Three dilapidated buildings in Kaimuki were such an eyesore and safety concern that viewers reached out to us to get answers.

The buildings are located on Sunset and Kilauea avenues. (MAP) After some digging, we learned the land is owned by the University of Hawaii.

The buildings are now being demolished after nearly four decades without ever being used.

Jasmine Jones works nearby. “They were pretty bad. It was actually pretty dangerous and not super safe,” she told KHON2.

Two other buildings on UH land are currently being used by a government agency as a data center and storage center.

“Literally you could hear the building falling down,” Jones said….

LOL: Jan Gouveia is changing UH business practices

read … One More Reason UH Doesn’t deserve to get more money from the Legislature

UH coaches will continue to be HGEA members

SA: Choy (D-Manoa-Moiliili) cited the interest of UH coaches, one of whom, Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji, submitted testimony “strongly” opposing the bill.

UH athletic director David Matlin and Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman had urged consideration of the bill in joint testimony, which said, “The current process adds an extra party to (contract) negotiation” and that “requires additional time to gain agreement from all parties.”

They also said, “Currently at (UH) we are not in position to compete in base compensation with the highest levels of the NCAA Football Bowl Division (schools). Therefore, our ability to be efficient in negotiating employment agreements is important.”

Officials have said they believe UH is the only school among 126 FBS members whose coaches are union members.

The UH Professional Assembly, state AFL-CIO and Hawaii Government Employees Association, of which UH coaches are members, all opposed the bill. HGEA executive director Randy Perreira said passage of the bill would strip “coaches and assistant coaches of their fundamental rights to bargain (walk away laughing).”

read … Golden parachute

HMSA Imaging Ban Crowds Emergency Rooms

SA: …The state’s largest health insurer — with 720,000 members and 2,800 doctors — now says the ban on waivers will be temporary while it determines which doctors are ordering excessive imaging tests. HMSA did not say how many providers would get their waivers back or when they would be restored.

“Once we have the necessary information to make valid conclusions, it is our plan to re-issue waivers to physicians who follow national standards and guidelines,” Mugiishi said. “We want what’s best for our patients. Obviously, we weren’t successful at communicating that this is HMSA’s motivation for this particular program.”

Not all doctors are convinced that HMSA intends to reinstate the waivers.

“HMSA slid this program under the table, and they meant for it to be permanent,” said Hilo radiologist Scott Grosskreutz. “They’re saying they’re going to give gold cards back. But I’m really doubtful that they will. It’s just gutting the imaging industry.”

HMSA said most physicians in its network had been issued gold cards, which is why it has “no clinical data on these cases and is unable to make any judgments as to their medical appropriateness.”

The delays caused by the new pre-authorization policy has resulted in some doctors sending patients to hospital emergency rooms to obtain routine imaging tests. HMSA’s pre-authorization rule is not required for orders in the emergency department or for inpatient procedures.

“This significantly increases the cost of health care,” said Dr. Richard DeJournett, a Honolulu diagnostic radiology specialist, in a letter to Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and a number of senators to call their attention to the problems pre-authorization is creating for patients and doctors.

DeJournett wrote that the use of CT scans in his outpatient imaging practice dropped 33 percent in December and January compared with the year-earlier period after HMSA imposed the new policy.

read … Thanks, Obama

SPED: DoE ‘Inclusion’ Policy Does not Include Education

HNN: Gracie's mom, Maureen, says her daughter is happy and bright and loves to be in school -- but she's not learning.

"Her recent report card showed no progress. We're talking about the core subjects, math, reading, writing, even science and social studies," she said.

Most of the day, Gracie is in a classroom with non-special needs kids, under a program called "inclusion." The McComas's want that, but they think Gracie's teachers aren't properly prepared to help Gracie.

"The teachers just don't have an understanding of how to differentiate the work for children like Gracie that need it broken down a little bit," McComas said.

Advocates have raised concerns about Hawaii's inclusion practices.

read … Not Inclusive

Legislature: Anti-Vaxxers Win a Big Victory for Germs

KITV: After listening to Hawaii residents speak out against vaccines saying they cause everything from autism to the Zika virus, Hawaii lawmakers killed a bill to speed up the state's process for adopting federal vaccination guidelines.

The bill would have allowed the state Health Department to more easily adopt the federal rules, which some fear would result in more vaccinations. Under the bill, the department would have 90 days to adopt rules.

read … Pandering to ‘Progressive’ Morons, Imbeciles

Legislators Pander to Anti-Pesticide Hypocrites Before Killing Bill

CB: The House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee, unanimously passed a measure Thursday to require large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural businesses (but not other users such as golf courses and government agencies) to publicly disclose outdoor application of pesticides in various environmentally sensitive areas.

House Bill 2574 now heads to the Agriculture Committee, chaired by Rep. Clift Tsuji. Last year, Tsuji (wisely) killed a similar bill in committee….

read … Pander

Committee OKs Bill Granting Public Access To Police Misconduct Records

CB: A bill that could unravel years of secrecy surrounding police officer misconduct in Hawaii  cleared its first hurdle Thursday at the State Capitol.

The Senate Public Safety Committee passed Senate Bill 3016, which would change the state’s public records law to allow access to information in the disciplinary files of police officers who’ve been suspended.

read … Misconduct

Super Bowl Looms, And A Lot Of Prison Guards Feel Colds Coming On

CB: Correctional officers’ chronic absenteeism still plagues Hawaii prisons, which pay out millions of dollars in overtime….

read … Super Flu

High-ranking HPD promotion surrounded by controversy

KHON: The Honolulu Police Department has promoted Ryan Borges to assistant chief, one of the highest ranks in the department.

But some are wondering how he got there.

Borges has spent more than 30 years with the department, but he also has a past.

The prosecutor’s office told KHON2 he pleaded guilty to terroristic threatening for an alleged domestic violence incident involving a handgun….

KHON2 also spoke with the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which has been working with the department to improve training and policies regarding domestic violence.

“We hope that we would have a good, continued working relationship with him. We’ve made a good progress with the department and training and we would hope that would continue,” said Marci Lopes.

read … Domestic

Defense Bar uses Continuances to Get up to 1/3 of DUIs Dismissed

KHON: …Always Investigating dug through thousands of DUI case files and found at first that more than one in four -– and later approaching one in three — were getting dismissed. It was usually caused by police witnesses not showing up, or getting tossed due the prosecution or defense taking too long to be ready for trial.

The police problem often came when three, four or more officers at a time had to keep showing up, continuance after continuance, because they’re all witnesses. Now the Honolulu Police Department tells Always Investigating it’s working toward having fewer witnesses to have to call up in the first place….

read … Sly Lawyers

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