Hawaii Republicans–Political Kingmakers?
Telescope to Avoid "Death By A Thousand Days?"
Organically Grown Tax Credits on Way to Governor
Video: The Jones Act, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii
Who’s Running: Candidates Pulling Papers as of May 13, 2016
Provisos: Secret and Anonymous Legislation for Hawaii
SA: …This practice has become a fairly routine part of legislating, but it deserves closer critical attention.
Provisos can be added in conference committee, without a public vetting. They can reflect the collective wisdom of the Legislature, arrived at after due deliberation, in setting spending priorities. Or they can reflect the agenda of an individual legislator or legislators, with baffling and unsound results.
Case in point: The budget contains $48.6 million in bond funding for the University of Hawaii to spend on deferred maintenance projects — less than half what UH originally requested to pay for this critical need. The funding comes in a lump sum, allowing UH, at least in theory, to decide how to spend it.
However, as reported by the Star-Advertiser’s Nanea Kalani, there is a proviso:
The money “shall not be expended for the College of Education if the College of Education remains at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.” Furthermore, UH may not spend $3 million of the money “until the university establishes and implements a master plan” for transitioning students from high schools and community colleges to the state’s four-year institutions.
In other words, to spend the $48.6 million freely, UH will have to achieve two complex tasks in short order: Move the College of Education out of Manoa and establish a master matriculation plan for the entire UH system.
Setting aside the obvious logical fallacy — why would UH spend maintenance funds on the College of Education if it needs to be moved? — the proviso demonstrates how the process can be misused. It won’t move the college or generate a master plan. It will simply keep UH from spending that money….
read … Secret and Anonymous
Hawaii Marijuana Regs Designed “to replace one Cartel with Another”
IS: …As he said in the Idaho Statesman Voter Guide, Stephenson also favors marijuana legalization.
“Marijuana will become legal eventually, and it matters to me how that’s done,” Stephenson said. “I don’t want to replace one cartel with another with regulations like Hawaii.” ….
read … Cartel
Legislators cast lot with pot for isles’ medical care woes
Shapiro: …As lawmakers meticulously tweaked the medical marijuana law that could see local dispensaries selling pot within months, more pressing medical concerns — failing state hospitals, doctor shortages, bullying insurers — got little relief in the 2016 session….
The Legislature grudgingly threw cash-strapped Wahiawa General Hospital a $2.5 million Band-Aid only because the district’s senator was in a position to hold up the entire state budget without it.
But on the bigger issue of shoring up neighbor island state hospitals, legislators undermined the Ige administration’s deal to privatize three Maui hospitals over union objections by voting overly generous severance and retirement benefits for hospital workers.
The measure could cost more than $40 million, strain the already underfunded state retirement system and poison privatization deals on other islands.
Meantime, neighbor island patients continue to face critical gaps in their medical care and must travel to Honolulu for common treatments.
Or they can stay home and get stoned on state-approved weed.
The Legislature in its final hours killed a bill that would have allowed specially trained psychologists to prescribe drugs in rural areas, where often there are no psychiatrists to treat mental health patients.
But legislators had no problem passing a bill that allows nurses to prescribe marijuana, circumventing physicians who decline to certify patients for pakalolo use.
Another bill that died late in the session would have made the Hawaii Medical Service Association legally responsible for patient injuries caused by its controversial new policy of requiring doctors to get pre-authorization from a mainland company before ordering imaging tests.
If HMSA is going to override a doctor’s medical judgment, why shouldn’t the insurer take on the liability for a bad outcome?
Maybe Tutu can smoke a joint to calm her stress while she waits for approval of her heart scan.
A “right to try” bill passed by the Legislature to give terminally ill patients access to treatments that have been safely used in clinical trials but are not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was vetoed by Gov. David Ige for stepping on the FDA’s authority to regulate drugs.
But Ige has no problem with moving ahead on medical marijuana, which is unapproved by the FDA and illegal under federal law….
read … Legislators cast lot with pot for isles’ medical care woes
Feds: Honolulu’s rail line could cost $8.1B
SA: Honolulu rail’s federal partners believe it will cost $700 million to $1.2 billion more than local rail officials’ most recent estimates to complete Oahu’s elevated transit system — a revelation that throws the future scope and design of the largest public works project in state history into question.
The added cost range, which the Federal Transit Administration delivered to local rail officials last week, is an early estimate that still has to be sorted out with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, according to two of the rail agency’s board members — Colleen Hanabusa and Mike Formby.
If the federal numbers hold up, they would drive rail’s official cost as high as $8.1 billion to complete the entire 20-mile, 21-station project to Ala Moana Center. (Told you so.)
That expense would far exceed the $6.8 billion or so in total funding that rail officials believe the project will receive. Last year, HART leaders, including the agency’s executive director, Dan Grabauskas, told state lawmakers and the City Council that they believed a five-year rail tax extension would likely generate enough cash to get the project done….
HART leaders expect that Honolulu’s residents, its mayor, City Council members and other stakeholders including the federal government will have to consider significant changes to the project to help rein in costs.
Such options, Formby and Hanabusa said, could include eliminating some of the 21 stations, shortening the line or reducing rail’s 80 total train cars….
Rail’s FTA partners previously indicated that such drastic cost-saving measures would violate their funding agreement, causing the project to forfeit a total $1.55 billion and putting it in a deeper financial hole.
However, with the rail project facing soaring construction and labor costs and major utility-line clearance problems, FTA officials have now told local rail officials that they’re willing to be more flexible to help get the transit system done “within our financial capacity,” Formby said.
“The FTA has said, ‘Think outside the box and we’ll talk,’” he said. (Translation: We were lying when we claimed the Feds would pull funding. It was just part of the GE Tax hike sales pitch.)
Rail officials have forecast an average of 116,000 daily trips along the 20-mile line by 2030, although a recent city audit warned that the system’s actual trips could be far fewer based on other U.S. cities that opened rail systems in the past 20 years. (Another HART lie.)
read … $8.1B
Given a chance to raise tax, county officials back away
Borreca: …It is easy to spot county council members and mayors at the state Capitol because they are the ones with the open hand, hoping that lawmakers will fill it with state-collected money. Counties have few ways to raise money and the ability to charge a new tax must be granted by state law.
So when the responsibility for raising the money is attached to the council members, the situation changes.
All three county mayors — Kauai’s Bernard Carvalho, Hawaii island’s Billy Kenoi and Maui’s Alan Arakawa — are all lame ducks; when their present terms end, they are pau. So there was little political risk in all three telling their respective councils, “Go for the money, raise that tax.”
But this spring, as the date for approving a county tax increase nears the July 1 deadline, council members are starting to really not like tax increases.
The Big Island’s Puna district Councilman Greggor Ilagan is the first from his island to flatly say no….
On Maui, Mike White, the Council chairman, was a big fan of using the money Maui generates from the hotel room tax instead of raising the Maui GET.
“The GET is a regressive tax that burdens Maui’s working families,” White said in a piece for the Maui News….
…already, one Kauai County Council committee has voted to kill the tax increase.
“The GET is an especially onerous tax, and I cannot and will not support it,” Councilman Gary Hooser said in a Kauai Garden Island report….
Related: Ilagan: Petition Against Hawaii County GE Tax Hike
read … No New Taxes
Questioning Caldwell’s campaign theme
ILind: …So far, Caldwell is stressing the importance of basic infrastructure and emergency services, police, fire, trash collection, etc.
I couldn’t agree more that these are vitally important. What isn’t obvious to me is whether Caldwell’s administration has done much to improve them.
Look. Caldwell campaigns on public safety when he has remained totally disconnected from the troubles at the Honolulu Police Department, not only the chief’s high-profile woes but also the series of cases of police officers taken to court on criminal charges, and costly settlements in cases of police misconduct.
Caldwell has consistently ducked taking responsibility for all of the police-related issues, but now wants to campaign with vague references to the importance of the police and public safety?
Give me a break….
read … Questioning Caldwell’s campaign theme
Homeless ranks swell, frustrate business sector in Kona Old Industrial Area
WHT: …Used needles littering a playground in a public park, human feces in a hedgerow, a staggering drunk belligerently harassing young tourists before passing out on public property only to be roused and arrested by police….
“These are recent arrivals to the island,” ….
It’s been more than a year since Kendall’s county housing voucher expired and he found himself in the streets….
A triple-bypass survivor, he suffers from peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy. Every 200 feet, the pain builds up in his tightly wrapped lower extremities….
“I notice there are a lot of new homeless people who don’t have a clue what’s going on with the community or how to act period,” Kendall says. “It’s getting bigger and bigger. I see new people on the streets I’ve never seen before, and I’ve been here more than a year.”
Kendall’s observations are on par with state and county research, which has documented an unmistakable trend. The most recent Point in Time Study, conducted in late January 2015, approximated the number of homeless on Hawaii Island at 1,241. That is more than a 100 percent increase from 2012, when it was estimated the homeless population was 617.
And these numbers are now nearly 16 months old. If every single piece of numerical data collected in the last half decade collectively offer any reliable indication, the number of homeless has continued to swell.
The homeless ranks have fanned out in Kona. The population is scattered along the coast, but police and business owners say the heaviest homeless areas stretch from Alii Drive to the Old Airport Park and up to Kona Commons.
Perhaps the area absorbing the largest increase in homeless traffic is the Kona Old Industrial Area. Homeless individuals can frequently be seen panhandling on the corner of Luhia and Kaiwi streets. Several cars stuffed with loose belongings — blankets and beach towels draped over and across the windows — line Loloku Street on a more or less permanent basis.
And, of course, there’s always traffic on Pawai Place, where HOPE Services’ Friendly Place and emergency housing facilities provide outreach to the homeless…. (And yet, they continue to refuse shelter.)
Susan Graffe — a sales assistant for the last eight years at BMW Hawaii, located on Loloku Street — said on several occasions police have been called to address cases of domestic violence visible from display floor windows.
Mattson Davis, former CEO of Kona Brewing Company and the landlord of the property on which it’s situated, said some homeless disrobe from the waist down to defecate and urinate in public spaces, often avoiding the courtesy of even using the bushes and repurposing the pavement as their toilet…. every day there are piles of feces, piles of trash, people sleeping in shady areas, people urinating everywhere.”
A manager of one business in the industrial park who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation said verbal altercations and violent behavior between homeless and the surrounding business as well as tourists is ramping up….
“It’s like a revolving door,” Ishii explained. “Usually, the offenses homeless do commit are very minor — misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors. They might stay in jail overnight or the weekend, but after they go to court, the courts usually don’t hold them, so they’re back on the street and the same things occur.”….
WHT: Homeless Heroin Addict from Pennsylvania is now homeless in Kailua-Kona
read … Gift from mainland
Hawaii Needs Mental Health Emergency Rooms
PBN: What would you like to see change in Hawaii’s health care system? The prevalence of mental illness is pretty high. I think we have too many private beds and too few public beds. On another note, homelessness is a multifaceted problem. But for those in crisis, if you can talk about investment, something like a freestanding psychiatric emergency room would work. The model we have needs to be tweaked. [Psychiatric care] really should be kind of an independent entity that’s not really tied to a health system. It would cost government money but the amount of savings around the loop would be amazing, I’d say millions of dollars. The emergency room is such a high-cost area to get stuck in. You have all this expensive equipment sitting idle because you may have a psychiatric patient sitting in the room….
2013: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?
read … Mental Health
Na Wai Ola faces possible loss of charter
HTH: Na Wai Ola, a Puna-based public charter school, needs to make some big decisions — and soon — in order to keep its charter and ultimately stay open.
The school’s March 31 financial reports revealed it wouldn’t have enough cash to sustain operations through July 20, the date all schools receive their first allocation of per-pupil state funding. Further review showed the school erroneously estimated that shortfall to be $33,569 when it’s actually closer to $50,000, according to a financial update submitted this week to the state’s Public Charter School Commission.
The deficit problem prompted commission staff to meet with the school May 5 to go over financial options. If the school receives “all cash it is expecting by June 30” and foregoes all other payment obligations other than payroll for May and June, it could end the year around $27,000 in the black. However, Na Wai Ola also could end the year with a deficit as high as $108,957 and be unable to make payroll July 5, the update says.
Hawaii law states if a charter school does not make payroll, it automatically surrenders its charter. “They have to make payroll or they shut down,” commission spokeswoman Sheryl Turbeville said.
The financial update shows Na Wai Ola’s governing board is also in hot water. The commission issued a “Notice of Deficiency” to the school on May 4 because four of its board’s seven members are either employees or vendors of the school. Law requires the board to be comprised of no more than one-third employees or vendors.
Turbeville said the school plans to submit a “corrective action plan” to explain how it intends to fix the problem.
In November, the commission issued a “Notice of Concern” for the same issue, and while the board “attempted to address this situation,” the problem remained….
read … Na Wai Ola faces possible loss of charter
Charter-Time Warner Cable merger gets final OK, heads to closing
PBN: California regulators have authorized the three-way merger of Charter Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc. — parent of Hawaii's Oceanic Time Warner Cable — and Bright House Networks, and the huge deal is expected to close within days.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission OK'd the deal in the past two weeks.
“We are pleased to have now obtained all approvals,” Tom Rutledge, CEO and president of Charter (Nasdaq: CHTR), said Thursday. “We look forward to closing these transactions next week and to begin delivering the many benefits of these transactions to consumers.”
John Malone’s Liberty Broadband Corp. is helping fund Charter’s deal and will have the largest shareholder vote in the Stamford, Connecticut-based company once the merger closes….
read … Closing
Hawaii AIDS Cases from Mainland
PBN: The CDC ranks Hawaii 38th out of the 50 states in new HIV cases.
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are the most profoundly affected by HIV. On a national scale, African-Americans and Hispanics are affected disproportionately to their population.
That is not the case in Hawaii, Kalauawa says, noting that 75 percent to 80 percent of Waikiki Health’s HIV patients are Caucasian, many of them coming from the Mainland. Most cases involve people under the age of 35, but the center is seeing more cases among the elderly. Those infected with HIV are living longer than in the past and are passing it along to older partners, he says….
SA: Kamehameha Schools says it requested separate trials for 32 former students who allege they were repeatedly molested by a now-deceased Kamehameha Schools psychiatrist.
Golujuch: I want teen trannies
read … AIDS