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Sunday, October 30, 2016
October 30, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:07 PM :: 3921 Views

55% Hike in Harbor Fees: Transportation Department Grabs for More of Your Money

Do Some Benefits For State Retirees Still Make Sense?

Does Hawaii Need a "Property Ownership Fairness Act"

Lower Oil Prices Benefit Hawaii Most of All

Obamacare 2017 Premium Hikes 25 Percent. What's Next?

Judge Posner: Cab Companies Were Chumps To Rely On Govt Monopoly to Protect Them From Competition

Rail: The client is in panic mode

Carlisle: Ethics Comm. Can’t be Trusted to Investigate The Caldwell

KITV: …former Mayor Peter Carlisle said he has no faith the commission will fairly deal with the complaint filed by challenger Charles Djou.

The complaint said the mayor failed to disclose the full value of his stock options which are just more than $2 million.

Carlisle suggested that perhaps the State Attorney General or U.S. Attorney General take up the issue though he has not contacted them.

Carlisle said he doesn't trust the city ethics commission after its treatment of former long-time director Chuck Totto and doesn't believe this complaint will get a fair shake.

"The people responsible for the downfall of Chuck Totto should leave. (Is that because he appointed them?) Yes. Caldwell appointed them. (So, you don't think they would render a fair decision on this?) I have no confidence in them whatsoever," Carlisle said.

Background: Ethics Complaint: Caldwell Hides Millions in Stock Options

read … Carlisle on Caldwell ethics complaint

Star-Adv: A vote for Caldwell is a Vote for a GE Tax Hike

SA: the dominant concern in this election is the completion of Honolulu’s rail project, which has been stymied with skyrocketing costs, delays and engineering problems. And it’s on the basis that the sitting mayor shows the most resolve and the more realistic plan to finish the project that he should be returned to office for a second term…. 

(And what is that plan?  A tax hike, of course.)

…the bottom line today is that Caldwell, recently rebuffed in his request for a larger investment from the Federal Transit Administration, has shown commitment to secure an extension of the general excise tax surcharge. Assuming state lawmakers will approve that extension, it seems the most realistic option for bulk financing of the rail’s final phase….

read … Grab Your Wallet

‘Get more, pay less’ sure works for our elected elite

Shapiro: >> Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who goes Ige one better with a $200,000-a-year side position as a Territorial Savings Bank director on top of his mayoral salary, denied the bank gig is a second job and described it as “a service.” Only if you count self-service.

>> Caldwell’s challenger, Charles Djou, promised that if he’s elected mayor he’ll be an agent of change. Our city is in so much trouble we need an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

>> U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has raised $4 million and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard $2 million to run for re-election against little-known opponents. That’s modern politics: You throw your hat in the ring and it comes back filled with money.

>> The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is scrambling to make up a nearly $2 billion budget gap that’s contributed to a six-year project delay. Plan A is to ask the Legislature to extend the half-percent rail excise tax; Plan B is to ask Schatz and Gabbard for loans.

>> Hawaii ranked 48th of 50 states for road performance, despite spending 2½ times the national average in costs per mile, according to the Reason Foundation. The Department of Transportation meant to emulate Target’s “get more, pay less” philosophy, but put a dyslexic in charge.

>> The state won a $4 million federal grant to “reimagine” how to tax us more for roads. With Ige administration’s idea of imagination, they’ll probably go with masks and guns.

>> Stanley Chang, who is trying to unseat the sole remaining Republican state senator, Sam Slom, said Senate Democrats have enough “ideological diversity” without GOP representation. The Democratic caucus has pro-labor liberals from all planets.

read … ‘Get more, pay less’ sure works for our elected elite

HMSA scrapping fee for service: New Plan Saves HMSA Money by Cutting back on Medicine, Treatments

HTH: A sweeping health care change is coming to Hawaii County from the largest health insurance provider in the state.

But most patients, organizers say, are unlikely to notice — at least right away. They will, though, if a hoped-for stabilization — or even a decrease — in health insurance premiums takes place.

Hawaii Medical Service Association has eliminated the piles of paperwork required for the fee-for-service model of health care and, instead, plans to pay health practitioners a standard fee, based on past payments.

That change, called “payment transformation” by HMSA (an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association), will allow each medical practice to determine how best to provide care for its unique group of patients.  (Translation: Get rid of the sick ones and load up the books with healthy people.)

Some seemingly radical changes might happen, such as communicating with patients via email (and doctors getting reimbursed for their time) instead of needing an office visit….

HMSA President and CEO Mike Gold said in a telephone interview that the vision for the payment transformation system formed about seven years ago when “we decided things really had to change in health care to make the health care system sustainable” (Obamacare started.) ….

With fee for service, the more X-rays a health provider orders, the more dollars that roll in. Under the new payment system, the doctor will get paid the same amount, regardless of how many X-rays are requested….

The new HMSA payment system “will bend the cost curve and keep that under control,” Gold said….

HMSA hopes to roll out the new system to specialty physicians and hospitals starting in 2018, with pilot programs for specialists and hospitals in 2017. ... But, “certainly by 2020, everybody would be in it, in some way,” Gold said.

read … To Make Money, Get Rid of the Sickest Patients

Lo: Defeat of Maui Second Hospital a Pyrrhic Victory

MN: …Maui Memorial’s poor conditions created fertile ground for a new player — Dr. Ron Kwon’s proposed Malulani Health and Medical Center.

Its plans called for a new, $180 million, 100-bed hospital on 40 acres in Kihei. The proposal drew public support as Kwon argued that Maui needed a full-service hospital alternative to Maui Memorial.

At stake was the future of Maui’s health care and what was then estimated to be $200 million annually (now $240 million) in hospital revenues in Maui County. But the State Health Planning & Development Agency needed to determine if two hospitals could survive.

Lo maintained that Malulani would “siphon off profitable services” from Maui Memorial “to the detriment of health care services for the rest of the community.”

Eventually, in 2006, Lo and Maui Memorial “won,” but in hindsight it was a Pyrrhic victory.

“After we ‘won’ that . . . battle. I don’t know what we ‘won,’ ” he said.

Public pressure was on Lo and his team to deliver improved health care services.

“The expectations of the community were huge,” he said. “The ire of the community was there. . . . It was hard to walk through the hospital after we won.” ….

“It was ridiculous that people came in here and they’d have to fly to Honolulu for heart attacks or strokes,” Lo said. “If I remember correctly, we were flying hundreds of people to Honolulu, just for heart-related things. Some of it was nothing. It was just indigestion, but you can’t tell unless you do certain procedures.” ….

Lo admitted that now “things are kind of messy,” but “we have a plan to shore up things.”

“I think (that there were) mistakes by everybody; us and the Governor’s Office and the unions and everybody,” he said. “We lost sight of the fact that health care was the most important thing and not the negotiation of a transaction. . . . We’ve just got to move on.”

read … Indigestion

Ige uses Board of Education to get rid of superintendent

Borreca: …Ige…has stocked the board with his old campaign buddies.

The BOE chairman, Lance Mizumoto, who besides also being chairman of Central Pacific Bank, is a Pearl City High School chum of Ige’s….

Also named by Ige to the school board is Hubert Minn, a former BOE chairman, who was grassroots coordinator for Ige’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign and in charge of sign-holding and yard signs.

Also, newly named BOE member Darrel Galera was an early Ige supporter and campaign contributor. It was Galera who co-authored a controversial survey that found many public school principals complaining about a lack of support from the Matayoshi-led Department of Education. 

“You would need to have leadership that embraces the idea that you have to change the system. You have to empower schools. You have to empower principals, parents and students so that change will happen,” Galera said in a 2014 call for Matayoshi to be removed.

So Matayoshi’s defenestration has actually been a long time coming.

At the same time, the BOE-Ige co-op has been inhospitable to those who are not on the bus.

Jim Williams, one of the original members appointed to the Board of Education in 2011, quit earlier this year because of Ige’s meddling.

“Your lack of faith in and support of the board have sapped my enthusiasm to the point where I no longer can continue to serve,” Williams wrote in his resignation letter.

The issue may seem minor, but it is key to understanding Hawaii’s current educational crisis. It is not that Ige will not be able to cool the 1,000 classrooms he promised to by December, or the low pay for public school teachers or the lack of adequate classroom space across the state — it is because the DOE and Ige have embarked on two different plans to reform the nation’s only statewide school system.

The federal plan is called the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

The DOE has been planning its reforms for several years; Ige’s plan just came about this year. The DOE was stunned when Ige announced his plan and Williams quit the BOE because the state Constitution says the school board, not the governor, sets education policy.

In a short news release from his office about Matayoshi’s departure, Ige said: “We have an opportunity to move to a more school-initiated, innovative approach to education.”

What Ige has done is find the other way to skin that cat. If he wants to run the schools, he is going to do it through running the Board of Education and disposing of the superintendent of education — and he should just say so.

Background: BoE Moves to Dump Matayoshi

read … Ige Uses

Hawaii DoE: 50% Teacher Turnover Every 5 Years

SA: …The school system cannot survive a 50 percent turnover of new teachers every five years. Increasing number classrooms are staffed with substitute teachers or emergency hires.

Using the U.S. Department of Labor formula, a 300-teacher turnover each year is costing the state $16,769,361 per year or $83,846,805 over five years. All figures include hiring, training and lost productivity costs….

The department is employing over 1,000 new teachers a year, but our local education institutes are producing about 700 graduates….

read … Joan Husted

Make public-private partnerships the norm

SA: As the 2017 legislative season grows nigh, an awareness of the lack of government funds to meet educational and human services needs is once again apparent. With that awareness we are seeing renewed interest in philanthropy and government collaborating to meet pressing problems.

Hawaii is not unique. Many American charitable foundations of various types and scale are considering engaging with government on a more formalized and continuous basis. At the same time governments are exploring ways to leverage philanthropic assets to advance innovative solutions to public problems in the context of growing budget deficits.

As both philanthropy and government seek to expand their impact, new models of collaboration are emerging. The new efforts go well beyond philanthropy picking up the bill for public services and projects government lacks the public will or funds to support. They even go beyond taking philanthropic innovations to scale or foundations attempting to influence sound public policy.…

read … Norm

Plaintiffs still await state data in Hawaiian homestead suit

SA: Seven years after a favorable court ruling, the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the state and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands are still waiting for state documents they consider essential for calculating damages related to long waits for homesteads.

Attorneys for the 2,700 plaintiffs say at least 600 files are missing, slowing the litigation process and reflecting abysmal record keeping by DHHL.

“How do (the defendants) lose 600 files?” asked Leona Kalima, lead plaintiff in the case known as Kalima vs. State. “I think that’s appalling.” ….

The plaintiffs won a major victory in November 2009 when a state judge ruled following a trial that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to issue homesteads on a timely basis. The breaches spanned from 1959 to 1988. Some beneficiaries of the 203,000-acre land trust that DHHL manages have waited decades for a lot.

In her ruling, then-Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo found that the defendants were liable for damages. But the amount and the process for calculating damages were set to be decided in the next portion of the case.

Seven years and a second trial later, the tab — collectively and for individual plaintiffs — still has not been determined. But the landmark case is about to shift to its next critical stage anyway.

Both sides expect Judge Virginia Crandall, who now presides over the case, to issue a judgment within the next few months that explains the process for awarding damages but doesn’t include actual amounts….

read … Still Waiting

Hawaiians Protest DOI Rule That Would Give Them Tribal Status

IC: Rising Up host Sonali Kolhatkar interviews Healani Sonoda-Pale, founding member of the group, Protest Na‘i Aupuni….


read … Tribal

Not all the Standing Rock Sioux are protesting the pipeline

AP: …No one makes this clearer than Robert Fool Bear Sr., 54, district chairman of Cannon Ball. The town he runs, estimated population of 840, is just a few miles from the action. It's so close that, given the faceoffs with law enforcement, you have to pass through a police checkpoint to reach it.

It's about time people heard from folks like him, he says.

Fool Bear has had it with the protesters. He says that more than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn't care. Now, suddenly, the crowds are out of control, and he fears it's just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

Go down to the camps, he says, and you won't see many Standing Rock Sioux.

"It irks me. People are here from all over the world," he says. "If they could come from other planets, I think they would."

The presence of all these people has become a downright nuisance to his community, he says. Given the roadblocks, residents of Cannon Ball are often forced to go more than 40 miles out of their way.

Not long ago, he found three teenage girls from Ontario, Canada, camped out inside his storage shed. A white woman from Spokane, Washington, came to see him for help, saying she'd come here with nothing and her car had broken down. When he was at the casino recently, someone approached him about two young kids who were on their own because their parents had been arrested.

The situation has dissolved to madness, he says…

AP: Protesters Rake in $1M

read … Wishing they'd go home

Anti-Pesticide Hawaii County Still Debating Whether to Stop Using Herbicides

HTH: …Bill 245, by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, would prohibit the application of herbicides carrying labels of “dangerous,” “warning,” “toxic to fish,” “toxic to fish and wildlife” or that indicate a risk of groundwater contamination. The bill recommends alternatives such as manual or mechanized removal, nontoxic alternatives or planting of cover crops.

It would apply to county owned or maintained public parks and along all county owned or maintained roads, bikeways, sidewalks, trails and waterways. It would not apply to private property.

The bill will be discussed at Hilo Council Chambers at 1 p.m. Tuesday, but public comment will not be taken (from the hordes of usual suspects) ….

read … Hypocrites

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