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Thursday, February 18, 2016
February 18, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:50 PM :: 3912 Views

Hawaii Joins 17-State Expensive Energy Pact After SCOTUS Stay

DLNR Task Force to Analyze Revocable Permits

Hawaii: Pacific VA Director Quits Without Notice

CDC: Hawaii #1 for Sleep Deprivation

Applicants Sought for Ethics Commission

Scott Walker Addresses 400 Republicans in Hawaii

Report: 60 Hawaii Bridges Structurally Deficient

Marijuana: State Now Helps 13,000 Stay Medicated

One Party State: Stanley Chang Campaigns to Eliminate All Republicans from State Senate

CB: (Democrat loser) Stanley Chang is raising cash for the District 9 state Senate Seat (now occupied by the State Senate’s only Republican, Sam Slom).

Chang’s organization report says he’s a Democrat and his July-December filing says he has about $7,500 in cash on hand….

Chang, who has not formally filed to run for office this year, did not return a call Wednesday.  But he seems very interested in running, given that he has already spent money on things like surveys, polls and voter lists….

read … One Party State

Attempt to raise GE Tax is opposed

MN: Over the last several years, there have been numerous attempts to hike up our state's general excise tax. Even in the height of the recession, as many were losing their jobs and homes, bills to increase the GET were put forward and we took the hard line of saying "No GET Increase; Period!"

The Maui Chamber of Commerce has consistently fought these efforts of late due to the hardships it would create for residents and businesses as the GET is a regressive tax that gets multiplied over and over and hits those who can least afford to pay the hardest….

In the past, the majority of bills put forth to boost the GET were based on state revenue shortfalls and the state's need for money to support overall state programs. However, a different tact is emerging where some elected officials are seeking to jack up the GET and use the dollars raised from the increase for a specific purpose….

read … Attempt to raise GET is opposed

SB3001: Senate Votes to Dry up Farmers’ Water Supply

KE: It's pretty easy to rally support when you're pitting them poor little east Maui taro farmers against big bad A&B and its “theft of native water rights.”

Which is why the Senate Water, Land and Ag (WLA) committee yesterday deferred SB 3001. The bill would have allowed entities that have existing month-to-month revocable water leases — and have applied for long-term leases — to continue operating under a holdover permit while the pending disposition of water rights is settled, even if that takes more than the one year specified by law.

Though bill opponents are gleefully chortling about sticking it to A&B, they seem to have forgotten the many small farmers, ranchers and even homeowners who will be adversely affected when the overdue revocable water permits are yanked.

KIUC rate payers also could be impacted, since the two diversions that support the utility's upper and lower Waiahi hydroelectric plants are managed under revocable permits. KIUC noted in its testimony that it applied for a long-term lease in 2004.

Yet that application is still pending, 12 years later, because the state functions as slow as molasses. So what are short-term permit holders to do in the interim? Nothing involving water is resolved within a year in Hawaii, especially when every decision is subjected to litigation.

Indeed, it was a Hawaii Circuit Court decision that invalidated the present diversion of Maui streams on the grounds that the holdover status of the permits exceed the applicable time limit….

As Explained:  It’s the Judges, Stupid

KE:  Musings: Maui Dreamin'

read … Kauai Eclectic

Hawaii Conspires With Vermont to Develop State Obamacare Software

VD: …Petrus used the example of Hawaii, which built a health insurance exchange similar to Vermont’s but ditched it because it generated insufficient revenue to sustain operations. Hawaii decided in June to transition to a federally facilitated health care exchange at a cost of about $2.5 million.

“There was significant cost to decouple from the state-based exchange [in Hawaii],” he said. “There was significant cost to the consumers who had to go through the federally facilitated marketplace. There are long-term consequences.” …

Petrus said Hawaii is willing to partner with Vermont to develop a “proof of concept” for reconfiguring existing eligibility screening software from Oracle, a California-based tech company. He said the study would take 12 to 16 weeks.

Hawaii is using underlying technology from its former Hawaii Health Connector website to build its integrated eligibility system. Vermont announced Feb. 3 that it would change course on its integrated eligibility project, and the Shumlin administration said Feb. 9 it would have a new plan “in the next couple weeks.” …

read … EXPERT: STATE SHOULD STOP WORK ON VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT SOFTWARE

HELCO Seeks LNG Conversion for Failed Hu Honua Plant

IM: …on February 12, 2016, HECO and HELCO filed an Application with the Commission to acquire the Hamakua Energy Partners (HEP) Power Plant. The window to intervene in docket 2016-0033 is currently open.

Perhaps HELCO wants to increase the burning of naphtha, a fossil fuel, at HEP once they own it.

The HEP facility, located in Honoka'a community along the Hamakua Coast, is a 60 megawatt dual fuel combined cycle plant.

The base purchase price of $84,500,000, plus transfer taxes of approximately $1,700,000, for a total of $86,200,000. In addition, $1,865,000 will be needed to overhaul combustion turbine 2 in early 2017.

The facility may be the largest power plant in the State to escape environmental review because it was built entirely on agriculturally zone land without the use of governmental funds and thus did not trigger HRS 343.

HELCO asserts that by owning the plant they can decrease customer costs by eliminating capacity charges, increasing the integration of the facility into the grid thereby resulting in greater flexibility, and realigning payments.

Currently payments are based on “the PPA’s contracted heat rates which are higher than the actual heat rates.” HELCO believes rates can fall even further “if the HEP Facility is converted to liquid natural gas …as early as 2021.” ….

BIVN: Hu Honua Blames HELCO

Meanwhile: SunEdison Faces `Damages' for Canceled Hawaii Solar Contract

read … LNG Conversion

Marijuana Dispensary panel Still not Selected, Deadline May be Missed

KHON: “This would have been a very simple thing they should have started January. Here’s the people that are gonna be on the panel, here are the requirements, and we’re gonna have the declaration in 30 days, bam, but that’s not happening,” said Sen. Sam Slom, R, Diamond Head, Hawaii Kai.

According to a spokeswoman for the health department, there is no timeframe for assembling the selection panel. After receiving plenty of criticism about not revealing who will be on the panel, DOH reversed course and now says it will share that information to the public.

“How confident are you that this will turn out smoothly?” KHON2 asked.

“I’m not confident. I’m not confident at all,” Slom said. “Look at what we do here in government. We don’t do things smoothly. We don’t do them correctly, and then we come back and we pass another bill.”

Slom said that April 15 deadline might have to be pushed back.

KHON2 asked the health department if this was possible, and why it’s taken this long to select the panel, but a spokeswoman said any questions about selecting the panel will have to be sent to the website and it will probably take a couple of days to answer them, because they still have to be approved by the Attorney General’s office.

KHON2 reached out to a company called Medicine Man Technologies in Colorado, which helps applicants go through the process of getting a license. Founder Brett Roper said there’s a lot of information that panel will have to sift through to come up with the right decisions.  (No.  They just need to see which applicants have the best political connections and pick them.)

SA: Pot dispensary permit process needs to be reopened

SA: Lawmakers weeding through pot bills

read … deadline might have to be pushed back

Kaneshiro: HOPE Probation is Excuse to Keep Criminals out of Prison

KHON: …Sex offenders are automatically put on HOPE Probation, and people convicted of thefts, burglaries, and drug offenses also end up in this program.

“It’s not prison or HOPE, it’s prison or probation, and then if they’re on probation, should we watch them in HOPE or watch them on probation as usual,” Alm said.

About one in four probationers end up in HOPE.

They’re required to take frequent drug tests. If they fail to take a drug test, or test positive, they’re given immediate jail time, whether it’s half a day, a couple days, or a couple weeks.

If they don’t show up at a court hearing, a bench warrant is issued for their arrest.

“If you can go two years without a violation, I’ll terminate your probation,” Alm said during the court hearing.

Alm says for the most part, people in HOPE tend to follow the rules.

“People in HOPE are getting arrested for new crimes 20 percent less often than people on probation as usual, and they’re going to prison — Halawa or Women’s (Community Correctional Center) — half as often,” Alm said. “So it is one of those rare programs that has almost no enemies, because it helps everybody. The prosecutors tend to like it because there’s accountability.”

Turns out that’s not true. Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is not a fan of HOPE Probation.

“HOPE Probation does not provide consequences when there needs to be, and HOPE Probation on some of the cases have jeopardized public safety,” Kaneshiro said.

Kaneshiro cited a recent example. Bobby Young-Townsend was on HOPE Probation last month when he was arrested for allegedly setting his girlfriend on fire in Kahaluu.

“Now you tell me, how effective is that system? All it does is keep people out of prison and that’s the whole gist of this HOPE Probation,” Kaneshiro said.

Kaneshiro also says it’s a waste of time for police, who have to repeatedly go out and arrest HOPE probation violators.

Currently, there are 2035 people in HOPE.

“I think HOPE Probation should be downsized for better supervision,” Kaneshiro said….

read … Can criminals change? A look at Hawaii’s groundbreaking HOPE program

A third of prison guards call in sick Super Bowl Sunday

MN: The percentage of prison guards across the state who called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday was down from last year, but nearly a third of all guards were still absent from work.

The Hawaii Public Safety Department said about 31 percent of corrections officers called in sick for the Feb. 7 game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. During last year's Super Bowl, 35 percent called out of work, Hawaii News Now reported.

Hawaii prisons chief Nolan Espinda attributed this year's slight decline to the state filling more than 100 guard positions in 2015….

Of the state's prisons, Waiawa Correctional Facility had the highest percentage of guards who called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday. About 63 percent of those scheduled to work had stayed home.

Hilo's Hawaii Community Correctional Center had about 40 percent of its guards say they were sick.

read … One Third

Public school employees get paid vacation when accused of sex with students

HNN: Public school officials said there are more than a dozen cases where school employees accused of wrongdoing have continued to be paid -- but remained off the job -- for more than a year….

The Department of Education reported four separate cases where two teachers, a counselor and a custodian are each accused of having sexual relations with a student. And in two of those cases, the employees have been on paid leave for more than a year….

most pending complaints involve allegations of "inappropriate conduct toward students." There are 23 of those.

"It could be inappropriate verbal conduct, could be inappropriate physical contact, what looks like violence but could be, as it turns out, inadvertent," Kreig said.

The DOE also reported four pending hostile work environment complaints as well as four sexual harassment cases.

In 15 of the 40 current cases, school employees have been on paid leave for longer than one year. Teachers and education officers such as principals are never placed on unpaid leave, even if they are accused of wrongdoing….

In the last year and a half, the state has greatly decreased the number of pending cases, from 63 in December 2014 to 40 this month….

read … Paid Vacation

Homeless Tent Cities – Deaths and Murders

AP: As homeless deaths mounted last fall in Seattle, elected officials declared an emergency, resorting to a tool often reserved for natural disasters to confront the burgeoning population of people living on the streets.  (Translation.  These idiots are building even more homeless tent cities.)

The mayor opened a new city-sanctioned homeless encampment and committed millions more dollars to expand shelter beds and social services. Then the crisis hit new heights: Three homeless boys were charged this month with killing two people at a longstanding homeless camp known as The Jungle. And a one-night census of homeless revealed a 19 percent spike, the third annual increase in as many years.

Over the last three decades, homelessness has been costly to taxpayers (and profitable to city bureaucrats).  (Because the homeless are being kept on public display,) Seattle voters have (been manipulated into agreeing) agreed to tax themselves four separate times since 1986 to pay for affordable housing (more public displays of homelessness designed to win support for more tax hikes.)  The mayor recently proposed raising another $290 million with another housing levy on the November ballot (will they fall for it one more time?). 

Now the mayor and the Seattle City Council are under pressure to do more, and they are taking steps to offer the homeless cleaner, safer places to stay. This week, the city plans to open two parking lots where people living in RVs and cars can park overnight with access to toilets, garbage and social services. Officials are also planning a third tent community….

"There's nothing good about people living outdoors," said Steve Berg, vice president of policy and programs at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Some Seattle residents complain the city isn't acting fast enough to address the crime, drug use, garbage and other problems associated with unauthorized encampments.

"We need some action," Cindy Pierce told council members this month. She said the city has "a major health and safety problem," including needles and human waste on the streets….

read … And so the idiots in Seattle are building more homeless tent cities.

Nuisance Money: City agrees to pay $48,500 to settle sidewalk-clearing lawsuit

SA: The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to pay a total of $48,500 to 21 homeless individuals (and their lawyers) to settle a lawsuit challenging the way the city applied its sidewalk-clearing laws.

The city and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation announced last month that under an amended stipulation filed in U.S. District Court, the city will continue enforcing the Stored Property Ordinance and Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance but must be more careful about what items it disposes of and when….

read … Nuisance Money

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