Hawaii pension debt rises to $12 billion, but the real debt is more like $35 billion
Which States Rely the Most on Federal Aid?–Hawaii 46th
Sen. Josh Green floats possible bid for Governor, Lt Governor
WHT: Green, a Democrat representing Kona and Ka‘u, said Wednesday he’s thinking of running for lieutenant governor, or even governor, depending on how the current legislative session plays out. A physician, Green, 46, will have been in the Legislature 14 years when his current term ends….
Green lists the struggle for working people to afford homes, continuing problems with homelessness and Gov. David Ige’s failure to meet his promise of putting air conditioning in 1,000 public schools by the end of last year as some of the problems….
“I’m still waiting to see if the current administration is successful. I’m still rooting for the administration.”….
If he doesn’t take the leap in 2018, he’ll definitely do it in 2022 when the governor is term-limited and leaves office, he said….
Green, who last year had the largest campaign war chest of any state or local candidate, still had $507,372 in his campaign account as of June 30, compared to Ige’s $318,146 and Lt. Gov Shan Tsutsui’s $239,394.
Ige’s already gearing up to collect more. He scheduled a Jan. 29 fundraiser with suggested contributions of $100, $2,000 or $4,000, according to a report filed with the Campaign Spending Commission.
If he runs for lieutenant governor, Green will join a crowded field vying for the seat likely to be vacated by Tsutsui, who’s widely thought to be returning to Maui to run for an open mayoral seat, Moore said.
Names already popping up as possibilities are Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, state Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda, among others….
“We’ll know more as the session progresses,” said Moore, who’s inclined to think of moves toward the gubernatorial post as “bluster” at this point from candidates more likely to run for the lieutenant governor position instead….
read … Open Senate Seat
Lobbyist Sues: Looks for Judge to Allow MDs to Kill off Expensive Patients, Save Insurance Companies Money
SA: …Radcliffe, 74, is asking the court to declare that Hawaii’s murder and manslaughter laws do not apply when a physician helps a mentally-competent, terminally-ill adult patient who chooses to die.
(Really Obvious Question: Why does an MD have to be involved? Really Obvious Answer: Because this phoney baloney show is about changing the practice of medicine, not about helping anybody. If you want to kill yourself, you don’t need a doctor and if you are successful, there is noting the law can do to your corpse.)
Radcliffe; the physician, Dr. Charles Miller; and Compassion & Choices, a national nonprofit advocate organization for terminally ill patients, are suing to prevent Miller from being prosecuted.
They filed a lawsuit in state court today asking for a declaration that the state’s murder and manslaughter laws are unconstitutional in cases like Radcliffe’s and that the practice of medicine does allow for medical aid in dying.
The lawsuit names as plaintiffs the state, Attorney General Douglas Chin and Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
In response to a question from state House Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads, Chin offered an opinion last month that a physician who prescribes a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient at the patient’s request could be charged with manslaughter.
Kaneshiro’s department would be tasked with prosecuting the physician.
Chin said the physician also could be sued for medical malpractice and face professional discipline. His predecessor provided the Legislature an opinion in 2011 that the state law does not allow doctors help terminally-ill patients to die….
read … Insurance Company Money is Worth More than You
Legislators Consider How to Screw Taxpayers: Posture Wildly on Highway User Fees
KITV: An Ewa Beach lawmaker who drives a green car doesn’t buy what he thinks is state spin. He said it would be simpler to just charge electric car drivers a fee.
"There is already a disproportionate cost laid on Central and west Oahu drivers to pay for for the infrastructure of the state and a lot of that goes to the neighbor islands. This will exacerbate that," said Rep. Matt Lopresti.
An East Honolulu lawmaker questions the impact on rail.
"I'm not saying there is a conspiratorial thing, but it looks like if it's too expensive to drive in from the west side that rail may be cheaper," said Rep. Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai.
The DOT will need 5,000 volunteers for the pilot project.
Rep. Cedric Gates who drives 70 miles a day in from Waianae is volunteering and so is the lawmaker from Kahaluu.
"I think there is a misconception that this is going to dramatically, and unfairly impact computers who drive long distances, over commuters who drive short distances," said Rep. Jarrett Keohokahole.
The DOT says (claims) the bottom line is the 16-cent per gallon gas tax isn’t enough to do the repairs needed (pay for their ridiculous $78K per mile administrative overhead) on the highways and bridges we drive on. Look for the three-year pilot to begin later this year.
read … Lawmakers uneasy about highway user fee pilot project
Caldwell Demands Big Fat Payoff for Kealoha—Just Like Grabauskas
KHON: …“I hope they negotiate a fair separation agreement,” Caldwell said. “To me, it’s a little bit like Dan Grabauskas (former Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO who scored $282K this Summer). As you know, he had a separation. It was an agreed separation. The terms were negotiated by the HART board and they were then fully vetted and given to the public as to what those terms were, and I would surely hope, and I would expect, the community wants, when there’s an agreement reached, it be provided to the entire public.”
Kealoha’s five-year term isn’t up until 2019, but the police commission says he’s agreed to retire after receiving a letter from the feds letting him know that he’s the target of an investigation.
Sources say part of that agreement involves getting under $500,000, an amount close to the rest of his salary through that 2019 term….
read … Mayor hopes for fair separation agreement with police chief
Hypocrite Rep Chris Lee--Wants to require presidential candidates to release tax returns—But Not Legislative Candidates
SA: The Hawaii bill would require candidates to release five years of federal and state tax returns to qualify for the ballot, state Rep. Chris Lee said Wednesday….
Lee consulted with lawyers who assured him it’s legal, and if the bill passes it will undergo a thorough review from the state attorney general, he said.
Lee is still working out details on the Hawaii bill, but he plans to include a way to make the tax returns public….
Best Comment: “All candidates should! Lets start with local politicians!”…
SA: Trump spurs Hawaii lawmaker to draft tax-returns bill
read … Hypocrisy
Caldwell Ala Moana Sewage Spill Fine Secret Until Later This Week
KHON: …Last fall, the state Department of Health told Always Investigating the city faces a stiff fine and must make big changes, such as more staffing and additional technology. (They knew before the election.)
The deal was reached last summer, (its been secret for months.) and the administration told the council Wednesday that the mayor will sign off on the agreement this week.
The city says the terms remain confidential until it is signed.
read … City, state reach deal over massive Ala Moana sewage spill
City estimates $40 million cost to replace sewer force mains
KHON: …Lori Kahikina, director of the city Department of Environmental Services, told the Honolulu City Council Wednesday that the two force mains that caused the spills will be replaced.
She said it will cost $20 million to replace each of them, for a total of $40 million, and it will take at least two years to get it done….
There was a total of five spills between the two pipes since 2013, and even though the pipes are less than 30 years old and are built to last up to 50 years, the decision was made to replace them with plastic pipes….
It’s a monitoring system that failed even when there was somebody there who got the alert. Kahikina told council members that during the Ala Moana spill in 2015, the person at the treatment plant told the city crew to go to the wrong location.
“That’s where there was a failure. He mistook it as Aliamanu. We sent a crew out instead of Ala Moana,” said Kahikina.
More than 400,000 gallons spilled in that incident which forced the state to shut down Ala Moana Beach Park for a couple of days….
read … $40M Sewage
Department of Education employee misconduct investigations
SA: As of Jan. 1, there have been 32 pending cases. Employees involved are 19 teachers, three educational assistants, two school administrative services assistants, two school custodians, two office assistants, food services manager, school cook, school baker, school security attendant:
Nature of allegations:
>> Inappropriate conduct toward students: 16
>> Inappropriate sexual relations with student: 4
>> Misuse or misappropriation of school funds: 3
>> Suitability analysis: 4
>> Violation of DOE drug and alcohol policies: 2
>> Creating hostile work environment: 2
>> Workplace violence: 1
read … Misconduct
Recruiting Teachers? DOE should look at people it already has on staff
CB: …In recent months, I’ve been reading about the 20-year plus teacher shortage the state has been facing. Some local programs and colleges may have found an innovative solution to this problem, specifically in special education.
Several programs are looking in their own communities to grow teachers to fill hard to staff positions. Leeward Community College offers an Associate in Arts in Teaching degree. This program offers a Special Education/Inclusive Education Certificate that can springboard for an educational assistant to earning an AAT degree and transferable credits to a teacher education program.
The Waianae Coast also focuses on educational assistants and paraprofessionals who are so often overlooked by supporting them to complete education related degrees and certificates through the INPEACE Kulia and Ka Lama Education Academy.
In the 13 years I have spent teaching in the DOE, I can’t even imagine overlooking the most valuable resource, my educational assistant….
read … Look at the People
Ex-county workers accused of vacation theft
MN: Two former Maui County Public Works employees pleaded not guilty Wednesday to second-degree theft charges involving unrecorded vacation time, according to sources familiar with the case.
Raynard Oshiro, 59, of Kihei and Lea Cadiz, 38, of Pukalani were arrested last month for taking vacation days without recording them as such for payroll. They were released on $5,000 bail each.
A pretrial conference was scheduled for Feb. 23 in 2nd Circuit Court.
The alleged theft occurred between January and November 2014, according to court documents.
Oshiro, a district supervisor at the time, allegedly falsified records to cover up Cadiz’s undocumented vacation time that he approved, allegedly costing the county over $1,000, the sources said.
Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone said Wednesday the theft was discovered during an administrative investigation into payroll records relating to questions surrounding a well-furnished commercial kitchen in the Wailuku Public Works baseyard. Oshiro allegedly outfitted the kitchen with tens of thousands dollars worth of items charged to a government purchasing card, or pCard, in 2015, according to a Honolulu TV news report.…
read … Theft
Small Businesses Hit Hard by Minimum Wage Hikes
PBN: …With the start of the new year, Hawaii’s minimum wage is currently at $9.25, an increase of 75 cents from the previous year.
While the increases primarily affect service industries in Hawaii, Debbie Padello of SimplicityHR by Altres, a Honolulu-based human resources services provider, said it can have a ripple effect on other businesses in the state.
“This year’s increase was the third since 2015, so many businesses have been budgeting for increased payroll expenses, while also looking at ongoing ways to minimize costs,” she said.
Padello said some employers have decided to operate with fewer staff as well as hire more part-time versus full-time workers.
“Other employers have stretched their payroll dollar by looking for ways to hire smarter — minimize turnover — operate more efficiently and reduce overtime,” she added.
Padello says its Hawaii’s small businesses that are hit the hardest when it comes to wage increases.
“The cost of doing business continues to increase every year, and from our years of experience working with small businesses in Hawaii, they are impacted the hardest,” she said.
Padello said decreased profit margins that come with minimum wage hikes make it difficult for businesses to stay competitive, particularly in light of the state’s low unemployment numbers….
read … Hawaii could join "Fight for $15" movement
Anti-Telescope Lawyer: Judges Must be Biased if our Favor
NBC: "Judge Nakamura's decision follows the Supreme Court's clear message to government agencies that they cannot act as 'a passive actor or a neutral umpire' when it comes to decisions that implicate the constitutional rights of Native Hawaiians to exercise traditional and customary practices," David Kauila Kopper of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, which is representing Flores, said in a statement. "They must take affirmative steps to ensure a process that safeguards Native Hawaiian rights and effectuates the values of the public trust."
read … Not Neutral
Maui: Anti-GMO Councilmembers Ethics Violations
MN: A Wailuku man has filed a complaint with the Maui County Board of Ethics over alleged ethics violations by three County Council members during the council’s initial meeting of the new term on Jan. 2 and 3.
Clifton Hasegawa has filed the complaint against members Alika Atay, Kelly King and Elle Cochran over their call for a public hearing for committee appointments. He said that the “conduct, spoken words and actions (of the members), demonstrate self-serving interests and biases that negatively reflect on their ability to represent their constituents and the residents of Maui.”
Deputy Corporation Counsel Gary Murai, who serves as a legal adviser to the board, acknowledged the complaint has been received and will probably be on February’s agenda for an initial review. He did not comment further on the case.
Atay’s Executive Assistant Brian Bardellini, who answered the phone at Atay’s office Wednesday afternoon, took issue with the comments made by Murai, saying he would have to contact the council member’s personal attorneys about whether the deputy corporation council violated attorney-client privilege.
Bardellini initially asked how the complaint was made public. As of Wednesday evening, there was no public response from Atay to the complaint….
In his second claim, Hasegawa says that the actions of Council Members Atay, King and Cochran at that Jan. 2 meeting violated Article 10, Section 10-1 of the charter. Section 10-1 reads: “Elected and appointed officers and employees shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of government.”
Hasegawa said actions of the three members at that organizational meeting violated the standards of ethical conduct.
A public hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers on a proposed resolution on standing council committees, its membership and duties. Council Members King and Riki Hokama have submitted alternate resolutions regarding the committees and duties.
A council meeting to address the resolutions will follow.
MN: Ethics complaint suddenly and mysteriously withdrawn
read … Secrets Revealed
Anti-GMO, Anti-Vaxxers and Trump
KE: …President-elect Trump is considering appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to a committee on vaccine safety and "scientific integrity" and/or autism, depending on whether you listen to Kennedy or Trump. Kennedy has been a prominent voice in the anti-vaxxer movement and repeatedly raised the discredited claim that vaccines are linked to autism.
Simultaneously, a new fear-mongering“docu-series” on vaccines is being aired on-line. It employs many of the same tactics as the anti-GMO movement — and even uses some of the same “experts,” like Stephanie Seneff and Sayer Ji.
Seneff is responsible for promoting a graph that supposedly documents a link between glyphosate and autism. Of course, the correlation between the rise of organic food sales and autism is even stronger, but she conveniently ignores that….
read … Musings: From Oneness to Nonsense
USDA report confirms that plant pesticides are used safely
SA: Every day people are bombarded with information, and as the recent election proved, it’s often difficult to parse fact from fiction. This is especially true when you throw social media into the mix. It’s easy for people to propagate misinformation, simply by sharing what appears to be a credible source without doing any of their own fact checking.
This brings me to the topic of food safety. Over and over again, misinformation is shared about the safety of GMO (genetically modified organism) crops due to pesticide use. In 20-plus years on the market, GMOs have not caused or contributed to a single illness or death, and every major science and food safety authority in the U.S. and abroad have declared GMO crops to be as safe as non-biotech crops of the same species, both for food and for the environment. Locally, GMO technology is credited with saving our local papaya industry on the Big Island.
There’s more. In mid-November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its 2015 Pesticide Data Program summary showing that there is very little pesticide residue in food. In fact, the USDA tested nine of the supposed 12 “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables and found that more than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues far below the levels considered to be a health risk, established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)….
read … USDA report confirms that plant pesticides are used safely
Farmers Need Auction House
SA: …As an agricultural researcher for 32 years and an owner/operator of an active 6-acre farm, I can confirm that the most challenging part about crop production in Hawaii is not what to grow but how to sell it.
Unlike small-scale commercial fishermen, Hawaii’s crop producers do not have ready access to the market via a professionally run auction house.
An auction house located on Oahu, supplied by neighbor island producers using an inter-island ferry, would greatly enhance the incentive for and efficiency of food crop production in Hawaii.
Also, exempting the first $500,000 of income, due to food crop production, from income and general excise taxes, would help bring new people into the food crop production arena.
read … Auction
Murderer of Dana Ireland Exterminated in Prison, 2 Years Later Civil Beat and the OJ Simpson ‘Innocence Project’ Still Crying a River
CB: (Convicted felon and ex-con) Ken Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project, says that while he doesn’t know the details of Pauline’s case, the notion that prison transfer is being used to punish prisoners isn’t so far-fetched. (A criminal hits Pauline upside the head with a rock and its somebody else’s fault.)
“Based on my experience in having practiced criminal law (defending black drug gangs) for 18 years (before I was disbarred, convicted on felony charges and sent to prison) , this is not unusual,” Lawson said. “When a warden gets upset with an inmate or doesn’t like an inmate, even when there may not be any written violations that an inmate has, they can transfer him out for reasons other than what they are really transferring him for. (And now I am in paradise getting paid at UH Manoa.)”
Reality: “On Christmas Eve 1991, Ireland was run over while bicycling in the Big Island’s remote Puna district. She was raped, beaten and died Christmas morning at Hilo Medical Center. Pauline confessed to the media to being present during the attack, but later recanted and claimed innocence during his trial. He was convicted in 1999. It was upheld in 2002 by the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii. Read the full opinion here.”
2007: Lawson loses law license
read … Good Riddance
Health Insurance up 19% –Thanks Obama
BH: It seems that there are no cost-savings to being healthy anymore. Last year, we received a health insurance packet with our 2017 monthly premium. It jumped 19% — over $100 per month for our family of three. Now I’m left singing the “Health Care Blues” ….
read … Health care blues