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Sunday, November 11, 2018
November 11, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:51 PM :: 3453 Views

Hawaii WWI Centennial - a Full Day of Events at the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial

Honolulu VA Touts Few Improvements

Oh? Can’t We Keep HART’s Funding Sources “Pure”?

Special Funds: Auditor Looks at HART, OHA, PUC and Others

Hawaii GOP lost by largest margin since statehood

SA:  … When Republican state Rep. Andria Tupola lost to Gov. David Ige by nearly 29 percentage points in last week’s general election, it was the most dramatic drubbing in a gubernatorial race in state history….

The election results were particularly startling because Ige appeared so politically vulnerable at the start of this year’s campaign that many thought he would be ousted….

Tupola, meanwhile, is a young, charismatic Republican who conveys confidence. She served two terms in the state House including a stint as House minority leader, and “the television cameras love her,” as one political analyst put it.

But the final vote count from the general election tells a different story. Ige and his running mate for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Josh Green, received 244,815 votes, while Tupola and running mate Marissa Kerns received just 131,605.

Even in a traditionally Democratic-controlled state, the governor’s race historically has been much closer than that, with just a few percentage points separating candidates from the two major parties.

The only race with a spread even close to this year’s blowout was in 2006, when Republican Gov. Linda Lingle clobbered Democrat Randy Iwase in her re-election bid. Lingle raised $6.7 million for that campaign and vastly outspent the lesser-known Iwase, defeating him by slightly more than 27 percentage points….

While some poll data show voters are not thrilled with the state of affairs under the leadership of Hawaii’s Democrats, Repub­licans have been unable to capitalize on that discontent in recent years, political observers said….

Hawaii Republican Party Chairwoman Shirlene Ostrov agreed “the Democrat Party is becoming more entrenched, and the perceived brand of the Republican Party nationally kind of affects how people look at the Republican Party here in Hawaii.”

“Definitely the national political environment affects the way the people look at the political lens here in Hawaii, even though it’s very, very different,” she said. “When people nationally say that the Republican Party is aligned with a white superiority kind of agenda, it tends to filter down to a state where we don’t have that liability and we don’t even have an ethnic majority.”….

Related: Final Read—Hawaii Election Results

read … Hawaii GOP lost by largest margin since statehood

Was rail worth all the pain? Voters suggest maybe not

Shapiro: ... Mayor Kirk Caldwell stood before microphones last week to announce he’ll float a $44 million short-term loan to meet federal demands to get that much more to the $9 billion rail project by Nov. 20.

It was the official breaking of a promise to never use city funds and property taxes for rail construction, an accounting trick to avoid federal defunding over missteps that have rail six years behind schedule, the cherry atop $4 billion in overspending that has nearly doubled costs.

“This is not the end of it, there’s going to be further challenges,” Caldwell said. “But it’s worth all the agony.”

It seems 138,594 voters in Tuesday’s general election beg to differ.

They are the nearly 60 percent of voters, along with 25,476 more who left ballots blank, who refused to OK a City Charter amendment making it easier for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to attain a quorum.

It was a mere housekeeping measure to clear confusion between city and state law, with no substantive reason to vote it down.

The repudiation can only be read as fed-up voters jumping at a chance to register their disgust with rail, to say no, the endless lies, drama and incompetence weren’t “worth all the agony.”

The vote’s practical effect is that HART must have a supermajority of voting directors present to take action — not necessarily a bad thing as it pursues a public- private partnership that potentially conceals further construction overruns by pushing the costs into future operating expenses.

The bigger implications are political as Caldwell nears his term limit and voters look to elect a new mayor in 2020.

Leading the wannabes at this point are City Council members Ernie Martin, Ikaika Anderson and Kymberly Pine, all tainted by association with rail’s dysfunction.

Mistaking backbiting for effective oversight, the Council has been complicit with the administration on rail-related blundering every step of the way. By any objective measure, no member of this lame Council has earned promotion to mayor.

It opens the door to candidates from outside Honolulu Hale, particularly established lawmakers who lost races this year for top state and federal offices such as U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. Doug Chin and state Sens. Jill Tokuda, Donna Mercado Kim and Will Espero. Not to mention former mayoral contender Charles Djou, no longer a Republican….

read … Was rail worth all the pain? Voters suggest maybe not 

Legislative Team Hanabusa: Ige Still isn’t Talking to us

Borreca: …So if you liked 2018, you are likely to love 2019….

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, one of four legislative leaders who early this year asked voters to dump Ige and vote for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, had not been in contact with Ige and was waiting to hear the details of Ige’s budget plans.

The Legislature and the governor may be run by Democrats, but these are Democrats who neither think alike nor support each other’s positions. And there is still no love lost between Ige and the Legislature.

Saiki and his Senate counterpart, Senate President Ron Kouchi, plus the powerful House and Senate money committee leaders, all endorsed Hanabusa in a fundraising letter in the spring, saying: “As a result of inattention, indecision and inaction on the part of the Governor’s Office, many of the challenges facing our communities have gone unanswered — some have even grown worse.”

Ige called that political blackmail.

“If you don’t contribute to Hanabusa, if you don’t play ball with us, nothing will happen this session” — was the message, Ige charged.

Last week in an interview, Saiki said all four leaders had their own reasons why they endorsed Hanabusa.

Saiki said Ige should “sit down individually with each of us to ask why we did what we did.”

“I didn’t appreciate the spin that he implied the four of us got together to collaborate.”

The election may be over, but it is not forgotten….

read … Putting aside election bad blood won’t be easy for Ige, legislative leaders

Honolulu VA Medical Center Among Worst 30% -- again

SA: …For military veterans in need of medical care or grappling with homelessness in Hawaii, progress is in the works, albeit slow-moving.

Four years after a health care scandal swept through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — intolerably long wait times, botched record-keeping and inadequate treatment of “invisible” wounds like PTSD — reforms are still taking hold. The Hawaii VA is among those rocked by the upheaval in 2014.

At one point it had the longest wait times in the entire VA system for an incoming patient to get an initial appointment with a primary care physician — 145 days. The current average wait time at Honolulu’s Spark M. Matsunaga VA medical center is 40 days, according to the VA. While vastly improved, that’s still a long wait for that first doctor’s appointment.

In the latest round of VA hospital performance ratings, Honolulu maintained its middling 2-star rating. Eighteen of 146 hospitals managed to secure the top 5-star rating. Nine got the worst rating, with five as repeat 1-star hospitals.

Hawaii’s Matsunaga center was among 68 facilities that earned the same rating as last year. Thirty- eight improved, and 40 dropped at least one star. There’s no doubt that in the interest of veterans and taxpayers, much more must be done to make good on called-for reforms.

What’s more, it’s worrisome that overall progress appears to be slowing. In 2016, more than 80 percent of VA facilities showed improvement. This time around, just 66 percent met that mark.

Although Honolulu remains in the bottom third, the new rating, released last month, did note strides in access to primary care and specialty-care services as well as mental health care for matters such as post-traumatic stress disorder….

Related: Honolulu VA Medical Center Among Worst 30% -- again

read … Veterans deserve more robust and improved care

Legislative Agenda: More Spending for Education

SA: …Gov. David Ige can create new hope for students by advancing three evidence-based practices.

First, all young children deserve access to high quality preschool….

Second, Ige can use his convening power to lift up career pathways for students to enter high-growth occupations that pay a family-sustaining wage….

Third, Ige can join with legislative allies and make early college and the Hawaii Promise permanent….

read … A bold second-term education agenda

Legislative Agenda: Micromanage UH Textbook Selection

SA: …During the 2018 legislative session, Senate Bill 2328 sought to mandate Open Educational Resources (OERs) across the UH System, in effect requiring all courses to rely on free internet content. Legislators touted the personal savings to students and the increasing educational platforms available via the internet. However, these government leaders failed to remember that Hawaii community colleges remain the cheapest in the nation, hard-copy books are commonly key elements to learning, and internet resources have inherent quality vagarity.

In the simplest sense it is irrational, demoralizing and insulting to presume that government officials would better know which learning resources are appropriate in the classroom setting.

If this situation were reversed, faculty members would never seek to control which resources elected officials needed to perform their duties. And while the faculty union (University of Hawaii Professional Assembly) and UH may be at odds on certain topics, they are in full accord that professors are best equipped to determine the most effective tools for student learning.

Legislators appear to ignore this expertise, however, because early rumblings suggest that they will once again present modified versions of this OER mandate in the upcoming 2019 session. And unfortunately, once again, UH faculty and administration alike will have to divert our daily efforts to fight for the obvious: the right to control the quality of our course resources….

read … University of Hawaii students, educators still need books

Nanakuli charter school once hailed as educational leader in upheaval amid financial woes

HNN:  … earlier this month, the school’s ohana got troubling letter.

It said the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission had reconstituted the board, then a transitional governing board put Parker and the school’s business manager and his wife, Renette Parker, on a 30-day administrative leave.

The letter said, “Parker and Mrs. Parker will be restricted from any access to the school including but not limited to entering campus and school administration and operations systems.”

On its website, the charter school commission said, “Governing Board failed to manage the financial performance of the school.”

“They’ve been under a notice of concern for quite some time, a year, as we work with the school and as we tried to fix and resolve those issues that we had uncovered,” said Sione Thompson, executive director of the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission.

He says near the end of last year, the school was so low on cash it was possible employees wouldn't be paid. If that happens, a charter school must immediately shut down.

"It was apparent to us that the governing board at that time struggled with communicating and understanding the gravity of the situation and being able to resolve it," said Thompson….

read … Nanakuli charter school once hailed as educational leader in upheaval amid financial woes

Kauai: ‘Affordable’ Housing Residents Will Never Catch Up

KGI: … Council Chair Mel Rapozo and I have co-introduced ​Bill 2725​ that would establish a policy of long-term affordability for housing that is provided with taxpayer monies and/or required as a condition of zoning. Bill 2725 would prevent such housing from being sold into the market after a number of years.

Instead, if a qualified family chooses to leave the affordable housing unit, that unit will be available to another qualified family. Buyers of for-sale or leasehold units would be able to recoup their equity but would not be entitled to speculative gains….

(Translation: The residents of ‘affordable’ housing will be left further and further behind.)

read … Housing: Long-term affordability needed

Hawaii County Council to Dump ‘Open Spaces’ Fund

HTH: … A proposal under consideration for the 2020 ballot would cut the county open space land fund by half and allow the County Council to suspend the fund in emergencies or when too much money accumulates.

The county Charter Commission discussed the proposal, CA-7, on Friday and will take it up again when it next meets Dec. 14.

read … Open Space

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