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Saturday, June 4, 2016
June 4, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:20 PM :: 3950 Views

Who’s Running: Candidates Pulling Papers as of June 3, 2016

Telescope: BLNR Sticks With Judge Amano

Hawaii Taxes the Spirit at $5.98 per Gallon

Hawaii Taxpayer-Funded Hi Tech Future: Cookies? Chopsticks?

Homosexual Dumps Boyfriend: Hawaii Supreme Court to Decide Parental Rights over Child

New Chair Announces Plan to Abolish Hawaii Democratic Party

SA: …Kevin Dayton’s coverage of the Hawaii Democratic Party Convention described how Tim Vandeveer, a former unexploded-ordnance technician, became the new party chairman.

Based on Vandeveer’s comments, it appears there was considerable ordnance that exploded at the convention. He said he wants to follow Bernie Sanders’ example of “grassroots fundraising,” and furthermore claimed that “we’re perceived … as one of the most corrupt states in the country,” based on how money influences politics here.

Does Vandeveer want to end “pay to play” and thereby increase unemployment by eliminating some lucrative architectural, engineering and lobbying jobs? Where is his spirit of aloha? …

Related: Hawaii: “The only state in which both legislative and executive branches are perceived to be very corrupt”

read … No More Democratic Party

Hawaii Democratic Party ‘Extremely Hypocritical’, Says Party Chairman

SA: …Vandeveer said it is “extremely hypocritical” for the party to urge its candidates to seek out small donors and avoid corporate donors, “and then immediately pivot from this convention and put our hands out to banks and developers.”

“We’re perceived … as one of the most corrupt states in the country, our Legislature and our executive branch, and I think the primary reason is money in politics,” Vandeveer said. He also maintains that the biggest obstacle to implementing the party’s goals and platform is campaign money, and described money in politics as “the problem from which everything else flows.”

“If you look at our City Council, for instance, regardless of what side you come down on for rail, the fact that every single City Council member to some extent funded their campaigns with money from interests from rail, that doesn’t instill confidence in me as a voter,” he said.

In his new role, Vandeveer said he plans to articulate the party platform, grow the party membership and keep the “new blood” from the Sanders campaign engaged in the party by showing them the party has shifted to grass-roots fundraising.

(Snickering) Former Hawaii Gov. John Waihee (perhaps the dirtiest of them all) said in an interview he hopes Vandeveer succeeds in reforming political fundraising (for Kanaiolowalu, for instance) and the “outrageous” influence of money on (Nai Aupuni) campaigns.…  (he then began laughing uncontrollably had had to be ushered away by worried looking assistants)…. 

(Waihee did not say whether he has paid the $3M settlement he owes for the looting of RightStar, but then again, he wasn’t asked.)

read … Corrupt

Thanks to UPW, HGEA, and 9th Circuit Court, its not a good time to get Sick on Maui

SA: …It’s not a good time to get sick on Maui.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, the state’s largest health maintenance organization, was scheduled to assume control of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital on July 1. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on May 17 blocked the plan to consider claims from the United Public Workers union that its members will be hurt by the change.

Maui County hospital executives said many of their 1,100 employees are using vacation and sick days in anticipation of ending employment under the public hospital operator, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. As many as 50 hospital workers are taking leave daily, leaving executives scrambling to hire temporary workers to fill the gaps.

The workforce has already shrunk almost 4 percent, and the hospitals have stopped hiring permanent workers in anticipation of the transfer, said Dr. Linda Rosen, HHSC’s CEO, in court documents.

“Many employees have been using their sick leave, causing the available workforce to be severely reduced,” she said. “The safe operation of the hospital requires an adequate workforce. The injunction is causing very serious operational issues.”

It is a precarious situation for the hospitals, as no one knows when the court will allow privatization to proceed. The Maui region has more than 400 vacancies, positions that are left open indefinitely, said Wesley Lo, CEO for the Maui region.

There are 116 temporary workers currently staffing the hospitals, he said.

“We stopped hiring in anticipation of the July 1 transition due to the time it takes to get people cleared to work. This includes several critical positions that have been left vacant pending the changeover,” said Lo, who is slated to step down as head of the Maui County hospitals July 1. “The uncertainty this delay creates, further minimizes the appeal for potential job candidates. I potentially could not have physicians unless I figure something out. With every day that passes it becomes riskier and riskier. Because of a lack of resources we may have to start shipping patients to Honolulu.”

Of Maui Memorial’s 20 salaried physicians — including a neurosurgeon, interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, oncologists, gastroenterologists and orthopedic surgeons — close to a dozen have signed contracts with Kaiser, but others will be leaving Maui — and adding to the physician shortage, said Dr. Ron Boyd, a radiologist and chief of staff at Maui Memorial.

He described the situation as “scary.”

“It may be very dangerous to have a stroke or heart attack on Maui this summer,” he said. “You have no guarantee that you’ll have the personnel, physicians and supplies to provide safe care (after June 30). Critical vendor and employment contracts are terminating, diagnostic equipment, supplies have all been adjusted to reflect a changeover. It is near impossible to simply reverse course. This will lead to drastic gaps in coverage with no capacity to fill (them). This delay is devastating to the forward momentum to offering better care to Maui County.” ….

MN: Resolve situation at hospitals immediately

MN: 9th Circuit order sends our hospital back to square one

read … Maui County hospitals scramble to provide care for patients

Honolulu Rail Built on the Crony Plan not the Urban Plan

DN: …Let's see... Portland was to put in an extension to its light rail system at a cost of $44.3 million per mile. I didn't follow up to see if it actually came in at that cost, but anyway, note that this is a tiny sum compared to the current cost for Honolulu's fiasco-on-steel-wheels which is about $405 million per mile.

What kind of transportation can a few billion dollars buy? The just-opened Gotthard Base Tunnel in the Swiss Alps is 35 miles long and was completed for $12 billion. That's $343 million per mile. In other words, this engineering marvel—the world's longest and deepest train tunnel—came in cheaper than Honolulu's old-school overhead rail.

At that rate, will it ever be extended to (say) UH Manoa? I doubt it.

Besides, although the current single rail route was set in motion by political whim instead of by urban planning, at some point we citizens should elect representatives who believe in urban planning with citizen participation. Cutting the line short at Middle Street is not a “plan.” It would be an act of desperation.

The current situation should be a lesson. It should, but maybe it won't. I'm surprised that Honolulu taxpayers are so passive. In effect, we are allowing the City Council and Mayor to sneak into our homes at night and pick our pockets to pay for a system that profits developers and construction interests—and of course the politicians themselves, through campaign contributions. Why do we accept this?

We could have done a lot more with that $8.1 billion. Ian Lind discussed the AIA recommendation for light rail in an article yesterday. That recommendation should have been considered as part of a sensible urban planning process. As Ian notes, the AIA study was simply dismissed….

CB: Takai Endorses Hanabusa

read … Honolulu Rail: Rethinking a transit plan that should have been thought through to start with

Caldwell Has New Excuse for Full-Length Rail

KITV: City officials say shortening the rail route to save money could cost jobs and foul up plans for affordable housing and new businesses along the transit route.

Rue and others say not building the route to Ala Moana wouldn't just impact housing developments at the stations that aren't built. It could also limit housing construction in outlying areas where stations have gone up, if developers worry there won't be a reliable, quick ride into town.

"Forty percent of Honolulu's jobs are along the system right now -- within half a mile to a mile of the stations. That's second only to New York City. There's no other rail in the country being built that has even half that many," Rue said.

KITV: Council Chair Ernie Martin Hit by Car

read … City: Shortened rail route threatens transit development

Newest appointee to police commission calls for more transparency

HNN: …"I think it would really serve the police department to be more transparent. I think that they would actually find a great benefit," said appointee Loretta Sheehan at a news conference Friday. "More communication, more openness, more willing to comment on difficult issues."

Sheehan spent 24 years as a city and federal prosecutor, and is now in private practice at Davis Levin Livingston.

Caldwell said she'll be a breath of fresh air for a body that's been criticized for being secretive and slow to act.

The appointment comes as Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, a deputy city prosecutor, face a widening federal probe. A federal grand jury is weighing whether the two should be brought up on charges of public corruption and civil rights violations.

On Thursday, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro testified before the grand jury, along with several police officers.

Despite the investigation, the police commission has taken a wait-and-see approach.

Sheehan, though, says more should be done.

"I appreciate their position that they don't want to do anything while another agency is investigating, but I do think that they could certainly ask questions of parties who are involved," she said. "Now those parties might say 'no we're not talking to you' and that's their right, but at least then the public would know that the police commission tried."

Sheehan also said the department needs to work to prevent racial and sexual discrimination.

A lawsuit brought by three officers who say they faced racial and gender discrimination at the hands of a superior was recently settled for $6 million.

Sheehan, who also serves on the board of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said she also wants to see more police commission discussions happen publicly.

"I don't want to be divisive. I want to respect the procedures that are there, but I think it would serve everybody if we just sort of lifted up the conversation to a more public platform," she said.

Sheehan served as a city deputy prosecuting attorney from 1986 to 1995, then an assistant U.S. attorney in Hawaii until 2009….

read … Transparency

UH Talks up Next Golden Parachute-$200K

SA: What should be done about UH baseball coach Mike Trapasso’s contract, which has one year left? – Buy it out at $200,000….

SA: Jay to get creative running much smaller department

read … Big Q

PUC to Vote on NextEra this Month—Has Secret Staff Recommendation

HTH: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chair Randy Iwase said by phone that he hoped the three-member panel would issue a ruling on the deal this month. The board is reviewing an internal staff recommendation on the transaction, he said. He declined to comment on what the staff recommended.

SA: NextEra-HEI buyout agreement expires

read … Staff Recommendation

June 30: Hawaii Supreme Court Seeks Way to Control of HC&S Electricity to Sierra Club

IM: On June 30 the Hawaii Supreme Court will hold an open session where the public can listed to lawyers arguing three different cases, and listen to the Justices asking questions.

The first case involves the Sierra Club and Maui Electric.

The Sierra Club is one of at least three intervenors in the HECO-NextEra merger case which has appealed a Hawaii Public Utilities Commission ruling. These other two are The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and Life of the Land (LOL). This may be relevant for those who think the PUC will allow the merger to conditionally occur and who are wondering who would have the gumption to appeal.

Sierra Club sought to intervene in a Public Utilities Commission docket reviewing an amended power purchase agreement between Maui Electric Company (MECO) and the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S) involving the coal/biomass generation facility at Pu Ľunene.

The Commission denied Sierra Club’s motion to intervene, “concluding, among other things, that Sierra Club’s interests in the proceeding were not distinct from those of the general public. Sierra Club filed a motion to reconsider, which was also denied by the PUC.”

The hearing is set for Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 8:45 a.m., at the Hawai`i Supreme Court, Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor, 417 South King Street. The building is located adjacent to the PUC building and across the street from `Iolani Palace.

The attorneys involved in the action are EarthJustice lawyers Isaac Moriwake and Kylie Wager representing Sierra Club; Randall Whattoff, James Abraham, and Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima representing Maui Electric; Thomas Gorak and Mark Kaetsu representing the Public Utilities Commission; and Jon Itomura, Lane Tsuchiyama, and Edward Knox representing the Consumer Advocate.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) dismissed the Sierra Club appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS) § 269-15.5 allows an aggrieved person in a contested case to appeal from certain final PUC orders directly to the ICA, but most PUC administrative actions are not contested case proceedings because they do not have required public hearings which trigger the contested case process. 

The Sierra Club`s appeal is based on two issues: did state law require a public hearing, and if not, did due process require a public hearing….

read … Hawai`i Supreme Court public hearing on Sierra Club, MECO, PUC and Coal

Anti-GMO Realtor Pollutes Beach

KE: Gosh, Kauai Realtor Neal Norman has made more money hawking "da aina" than anyone else in the state….

Guess the commissions from all those top-dollar celebrity second homes add up.

Meanwhile, the company he works for, Hawaii Life, has now extended its reach from the North Shore out to the westside, where it can work its gentleman's estate magic on more ag land….

So now that Neal is #1 – in real estate sales, anyway — and Hawaii Life owner Justin Britt won the medical marijuana dispensary license, do you suppose they might do a little sumpin' for the community? Maybe set a good example?

Like removing the sand bags from that beautiful beach in front of Neal's Haena home…. they're still there, deteriorating into ocean debris and accelerating erosion along that coastline, as Neal and his cronies merrily make a fortune in real estate…..

read … Musings: Sellin' and Shuckin'

Locus of Hysteria: Hawaii County Polystyrene food container measure dies on 4-4 vote

HTH: John Matson warned them.

“You are going to hear a bunch of left-wing do-gooders parade up here, telling you all these facts about what Styrofoam does to our environment, how it negatively affects our wildlife in multiple ways, all the toxic chemicals it releases into the air, how there are totally usable and affordable alternatives, blah, blah, blah,” said Matson of Waiakea Uka.

“Don’t fall for it, you guys,” he added….

“Don’t play games with people’s money and make bans,” Paleka said. “(Retailers) are not the ones throwing it in the water.” ….

Opponents have been shy about airing their concerns in public, but they include the added cost of recyclable containers, loss of jobs for an Oahu-based polystyrene plant and the loss of individual choice.

Dexter Yamada, whose Oahu food container manufacturing and distribution company employs about 100 people, was the only testifier in opposition at Friday’s meeting. This was his third appearance in front of the council to raise his opposition.

He said using locally produced polystyrene cuts down on the number of containers that must be imported to the island, which often cost two to three times more. He said food-grade polystyrene was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been in use for 50 years while alternatives haven’t been tested.

“What are the alternatives to food-grade polystyrene which has been used for 50 years?” Yamada asked….

Onishi pointed to a recent survey of ocean debris that found most of the pollution is coming from other countries, and not from the island itself.

“It’s not the food vendors, it’s the people here that buy the product and don’t dispose of it properly,” Onishi said. “People who litter (are going to) litter.”….

Ilagan called the bill, “the stick instead of the carrot.” He and other opponents said the 3 cents to 10 cents per container extra cost for a recyclable container will hurt businesses’ bottom line and hurt consumers when the costs are passed along.

“We should go out and educate the different retail establishments and the public, and so we can move together as a community,” Ilagan said…..

read … Locus of Hysteria

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