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Thursday, June 23, 2016
June 23, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 3205 Views

Energy monitoring and management coming to 250 public schools

Scheme to recognize Native Hawaiians as ‘tribe’ still a threat

SA:  …over the course of this case, Na‘i Aupuni has tried again and again to evade the legal repercussions of its actions.

It began by announcing the election with a short time frame, making it difficult to file a challenge.

Presented with a temporary injunction from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to halt the counting of votes, it extended the voting period.

When that injunction was affirmed by the entire court, it dispensed with the election altogether and announced that “everyone wins.”

Now, as the challenge to the state’s nation-building effort persists, it has tried to make things go away by dissolving one of the defendants. However, the constitu- tional issues at stake cannot be eliminated so easily.

We have always known that Na‘i Aupuni was acting for the state and OHA — by one count, about 18 percent of delegates at the Constitutional Convention were current or former employees of OHA or the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission.

As quickly as Na‘i Aupuni was eliminated, a new organization can be created in its place and an election can be held to ratify the Native Hawaiian Constitution and seek federal recognition.

It is difficult to believe that OHA has suddenly decided that it is no longer interested in nation-building after so many years and untold millions of dollars.

Which is more likely — that OHA and the lobbyists for federal recognition have given up on creating a Native Hawaiian tribe, or that they hope this latest stunt can prevent an adverse decision in court?

Related: Trustee: OHA Wasted $33M on Akaka Bill

read … Tribe

OHA Control Would Create Costs and Chaos for NW Hawaiian Isles

KE: …there's been a lot of talk recently about Obama using executive powers to approve a four-fold expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. If approved, it would become the largest protected area on the planet, encompassing some 200 nautical miles.

The proposal includes naming the ever-so-efficient and nonpolitical Office of Hawaiian Affairs as a co-trustee, a provision sure to increase both costs and chaos, with no appreciable returns.

Commercial fishing currently is prohibited in the monument, so the prospect of its expansion has alarmed the longline fishing industry. They've expressed concerns about the potential financial impact on those who fish for prized ahi, as well as further government restrictions on where they can fish.

Some lawmakers, including Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi and Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, have asked Obama not to do it, while some well-known kanaka, like navigator Nainoa Thompson, support the expansion.

In the midst of this debate comes an article in The Atlantic that actually mentions the NWHI. It tells of how Joshua Cinner, a social scientist in Australia, worked with reef scientists to compile data on 2,514 reefs from 46 nations. As the article reports:

And their surprising results are upending traditional assumptions about what makes a healthy reef.

Contrary to what you might think, the bright spots weren’t all remote reefs, where humans were absent or fishing was banned. Instead, most were home to lots of people, who rely heavily on the corals and who frequently fished. They weren’t leaving the corals and fish alone; instead, they had developed social norms and institutions that allowed them to manage the reefs responsibly….

KGI: Some question federal protections

read … OHA Power Grab

Without Changes, Rail cost could be nearly $3 billion above current estimates

SA: Statistical models done by the firm tasked with management oversight of Honolulu’s rail project show that a 20-mile line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana could cost as much as $10.79 billion, significantly more than the $8 billion figure that federal and city officials have been using in recent weeks….

The $10.79 billion figure is referred to as an “upper bound,” or highest possible cost projection. It appears twice — both times in statistical tables and not in the text of a 65-page document referred to as a “Risk Refresh” final report by Jacobs Engineering Group that was handed to HART by the FTA on Friday….

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a candidate for Honolulu mayor and longtime rail critic, said he’s also bothered that it’s possible the price tag could go to $10.79 billion.

“I think we very much need to care (about the $10.79 billion possibility) because in 2014 they said the extreme, worst-case scenario was this project would go to $7.6 billion,” Djou said. “And now we’re at least half a billion dollars above that.”

As the estimates continue to escalate, it’s further evidence that “the public can’t trust the city and this administration with the handling of this rail system,” he said. “It is going from bad to worse. In fairness to the FTA, they’re not saying it’s likely to occur, but $10.8 billion is within the realm of possibility.”

Two years ago, despite transit leaders declaring that the project was “on time and on budget,” Djou said, “it was never pointed out that the upper-bound number was $7.6 billion and I think the public needs to fully understand what worst-case scenario really, truly is. And we’ve already blown through the worst-case scenario of 2014 and now here we are within eyesight of an $11 billion project. This project is a mess. It’s out of control.” ….

Caldwell spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said the mayor would defer comment on the latest figures to Hanabusa…. (Go ask Alice….)

HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas and Deputy Director Brennon Morioka were at a conference and were not slated to return to the office until today, HART spokesman Bill Brennan said. He referred questions to Hanabusa…. (when she’s 10 feet tall….)

Hanabusa said she first saw the $10.79 billion figure in Jacobs’ April draft report, but that it didn’t alarm her…. (One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small.…)

Related: Rail: Easy Ways to Save Millions without Cutting Line Short

SA: The construction industry that lobbied so hard and manipulated the last mayoral election, is making out like a bandit.

read … $3B

Medicaid Reimbursements Need to Grow

SA: …Finding a primary care physician who accepts new patients can be a daunting task, even for those who are privately insured. So imagine the difficulty that Quest patients face — especially now that Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has closed its doors to new Medicaid enrollees.

It’s no mystery why Medicaid patients are being turned away. The federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the cost of caring for low-income patients, the aged, blind or disabled. Quest, the state’s version of Medicaid on Oahu and Maui, essentially shortchanges providers, forcing them to limit the number of new enrollees to remain sustainable.

It’s unfortunate but understandable why Kaiser, the state’s largest health maintenance organization (HMO), will no longer accept new Quest patients — having gone beyond its limit of 25,000 Medicaid enrollees to its current 31,500. “If a government payer doesn’t pay enough, people can only take on so many of those patients,” said Kaiser spokeswoman Laura Lott.

Doctors in private practice have long complained about the low reimbursements, and Kaiser’s experience has been no different. Ironically, while many local providers are refusing to take on more Quest patients, the federal Affordable Care Act has produced even more enrollees.

The state and federal governments must find a way to increase reimbursement rates if it expects physicians and HMOs to continue providing care for Medicaid patients. With so many health care providers refusing Quest patients, soon the only option will be to receive care at community health centers, which do solid work but are limited in the services they provide….

read … More funding needed to serve Quest patients

Thanks to Caldwell, Homeless encampments growing in Hawaii Kai

HNN: …The encampment was growing behind the dog park on Keahole Street, on the banks of the marina.  The Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association cleared three acres of brush, which dispersed the population….

“It went from like 3 people to 40 people" she said.

Most she said, went about their way--but there were some discomforting elements.

"There used to be someone that was a little scary.  She would sit on the other side of this fence and yell at us".

The community association's tactic of clearing its land worked, as the population dispersed, but only temporarily.  Now, just feet away is a complex of elaborate dwellings on city owned land…. (Thanks, Caldwell)

Sassamura says the city has removed property from the site.  While clearing out the brush is an option, Sassamura says there are currently no plans to do so (Thanks, Caldwell) ….

read … Homeless

Maui County reaches solar program’s cap

SA: Maui Electric Co. said Wednesday that the county has hit the limit of rooftop solar systems that can send power to its grid.

After this week, the Maui utility will not approve any new rooftop solar systems on Maui, Lanai or Molokai that send power to the grid. Under the previous policy, MECO customers could send excess solar power to the grid and receive a credit, which often would reduce their monthly electric bill to less than $20….

“(Drumroll please) Battery storage is going to revolutionize everything (clash cymbals), but it is a shame that the state has put a cap on the amount of solar that Maui residents can produce when most people agree there is room for more solar on the grid,” said Stuart Coleman of Surfrider Foundation, Oahu Chapter.  (Thus reminding us once again that Surfrider is really a corporate lobbying firm, working in this case for the solar contactors.)

read … Cap

Public opinion sought on Young Brothers’ interisland shipping rate hike

KHON: Always Investigating reported earlier this year long lines and limited availability at peak shipping times. The PUC said it would be looking into service levels along with the rate hike….

There will be multiple hearings held in July on all islands. See details below.

New filings in the rate case also show disagreement between the consumer advocate and Young Brothers over procedures to finalize the rate hike process.

Young Brothers wants to start charging more by Dec. 13.

PDF: View the proposal in its entirety here.

read … YB Money

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