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Tuesday, September 10, 2019
September 10, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:04 PM :: 3152 Views

DoE Enrollment Drops Again--Charter School Enrollment Up

Tulsi Gabbard Says She Supports Regulating Abortion in the Third Trimester

2020 Candidates Are Pushing To End Private Prisons — But The States They Serve Use Them For Better Inmate Conditions

The Experience of Homeless, Runaway and Other Street Youth on O‘ahu

Hawaii Among States with Lowest Death Rate

Matson pays the highest wages in Hawaii

Jones Act denies domestic ocean shipments of propane

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Hawaii

Harry Kim Mauna Kea Proposal to be Presented this Week

WHT: … Mayor Harry Kim on Monday said he believes that no police escalation will occur until his role as a mediator between the state and the Hawaiian community has been completed.

Having been tasked with finding common ground between TMT opponents and supporters by Gov. David Ige, Kim has held several meetings with Hawaiian community leaders, some in support and some in opposition to the telescope.

Kim said the results of those meetings, as well as his decades of experience with the community, will culminate in a lengthy proposal that will enumerate what the state must change in order to move forward with the TMT project. That proposal, he said, might be completed later this week, and will conclude his work as Ige’s mediator….

Meanwhile, TMT protesters have alleged that Ige has personal and direct financial ties to the TMT corporation… (blalabla)

Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, said such claims of an ethical violation are baseless.

“Our position is that if you hire a property manager, and that property manager also runs a security company, you are not also tied to that security company,” Jayaram said.

Jayaram said the allegations are attempts to attack Ige’s character and are in line with the demonstrators’ warnings about impending police actions, which use sensationalist terms to raise alarm….

“They use words intended to draw people to the mountain,” Jayaram said. “But they don’t worry about the sort of people who might be drawn … maybe people who don’t have the same motives as them.”…

read … Kim preps Maunakea proposal

Protesters Spend all Week Hyping Police raid that Never Came—Kahele Blames State

HNN: … An overnight (week-long) false alarm and social media rumors over the weekend sparked all hands on deck of an estimated 1,000-plus people at Mauna Kea.

(Reality: The protesters were first reported to be hyping rumors of impending law enforcement activity on Tuesday September 3—one day after their crowds were reported to ‘down to a skeleton crew’ due to the reopening of school.) 

Leaders of Pu’uhonua O Pu’uhuluhulu are asking followers to not spread fear or confusion.  (After spreading it themselves, LOLROTF!)

Rumors of a camp raid started Friday after (Tuesday, long before) law enforcement came in and the state bulldozed an illegal wooden structure.

(The purpose was to boost protest numbers on Mauna Kea.)

Then came overwhelming chatter over social of talk about National Guard, law enforcement, Saddle Road closures, cell phones jamming and reports of an air horn. All this left frayed nerves of people on and off the mauna….

(Precisely as intended.)

State Sen. Kai Kahele of Hilo says he drove to Mauna Kea late Sunday night after getting off Air National Guard duty to see for himself. He says there were no road blocks and he passed one police officer.

“All this talk of the National Guard and the military — I’m at drill weekend. I don’t hear or see nothing,” said Kahele.

(Wait for it ….)

"I just found all of that just deeply concerning on social media. I just cannot see the state of Hawaii doing that," he added.

(Yeah sure, keep waiting ….)

Leaders at Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu put out an alert Friday that "TMT will be meeting with State and County officials this Sunday to coordinate their attack on peaceful and nonviolent protectors at Maunakea."

The Attorney General's office issued a statement saying any law enforcement action to address such illegal behavior is not an 'attack.'

“There’s a risk that it attracts and energizes people who are not reasonable and not well intentioned,” it added.

Kahele says the state should have worked harder to quash to the rumors.

(BINGO!  The protesters spread lies all week and Kahele blames the State.  Amazing.)

“You could almost call it Cyber warfare where information is being leaked,” he said….

(Sure.  By the protesters in order to boost their crowd count.  But you do realize Kahele’s response to the debunk of a false rumor spread by the protesters is to claim that the State is engaged in cyber-warfare against the protesters.  And he wants to go to Congress.)

CB: TMT Protesters Who Flocked To Mauna Kea For A Showdown Are Still Waiting – Dude who doesn’t wear shoes flies in from Waianae.

read … Rumors of Mauna Kea sweeps run rampant on social media, causing worry for some

A Peek into the Life of a Shoeless Protester

CB: … James Manaku stood on Mauna Kea Access Road in his bare feet Monday morning while a cold wind whipped through.

Manaku’s OK with it, though — he says he stopped wearing shoes in the 1980s. He bounds across the jagged lava rock on his way to grab some coffee to keep warm. His shell lei sways on his neck.

The 73-year-old from Waianae arrived on Mauna Kea Sunday morning to answer a call put out by the kia’i, or guards of Mauna Kea, asking for reinforcements in preparation of a possible move by law enforcement to sweep the area of protesters to clear the way for the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit.

He even left behind a wife struggling with cancer, with her blessing, because he is angry at how the TMT project has been handled….

HNN Oct 29, 2008: "Whenever the police and ambulance come in looking for an emergency, they have a difficult time to find the home," said James Manaku.   Signs aren't the only concern for neighbors. The sunny street during the day turns into a dark and scary place at night.  "Its totally dark here, people burn cars here. They rip you off, they do drugs here, they do their drugs in the dark, its awful," said Cabinatan.  (But Manaku has time to fly off and protest against a telescope.  Amazing.  Maybe he should go home and blockade his own road.)

read … Peek

If TMT goes, billions of research dollars could go with it

SA: … The National Science Foundation is expected to decide its funding priorities for the next decade by the end of this year, and UH was expected to be positioned to receive billions for TMT-related astronomy research and instrumentation development, he said.

“If there’s no telescope, that funding goes somewhere else,” Syrmos said.

The developers of the TMT rode a 10-year approval process to win the right to build the $1.4 billion project on Mauna Kea, one of three next-generation extremely large telescopes planned around the world….

read … If TMT goes, billions of research dollars could go with it

Caldwell: Just Like Jeremy Harris,  ‘I’m seriously looking at running for governor’

HNN: … Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he’s “seriously looking at running for governor” in the next election come 2022.

“It's on the horizon for me,” Caldwell said, in an interview on Hawaii News Now Sunrise. “As long as my health holds out and my energy level is high as it is, I'll be looking at taking that next step.” …

“I’m going to finish strong, I’m working 'til the very last day as mayor and I continue to face the challenges and dream big and do big things,” Caldwell said….

Lt. Gov. Josh Green has filed papers as he considers a run, as well as Republican Andria Tupola, who ran in the previous election.

Other potential candidates being talked about state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and former state Sen. Jill Tokuda.

read … Caldwell: ‘I’m seriously looking at running for governor’  

Council to put ‘pension spiking’ on Legislative Agenda?

KGI: … A bill for an act for possible inclusion in the 2020 Hawaii State Association of Counties Legislative Package, proposed by councilmembers Mason Chock and Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa, is attempting to address pension reform. The goal is to combat unsustainable past practices that are referred to as “pension spiking.” The bill aims to improve the short-term viability and long-term outlook for the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii.

Pension spiking is when employees allegedly boost their pay intentionally through avenues, such as overtime, during their final three years of work in order to inflate their pension benefits.

A presentation made to the Kauai County Council by Thomas Williams, executive director of the state’s Employees’ Retirement System, showed that the county’s excess pension costs due to seven “spiking” retirees during fiscal year 2014 was around $213,000. That number was approximately ten times higher four years later when 21 spiking retirees cost some $2.4 million.

The bill essentially places a cap on allowable overtime and other supplementary payments, so that it “doesn’t get out of control,” Chock said.

This is a “huge problem,” Kagawa said.

“Nobody in the whole state wants to do anything about it,” Kagawa said. “But if you just look at the numbers … there’s abuse going on.”

The concern is that the cost will continue to escalate to a point where other services will be compromised.

“Our children are going to pay for all of this,” Kagawa said, adding that people are already upset that items like new roads aren’t getting addressed….

HGEA, a union that represents government employees, is not supportive of the proposed legislation, “because it would be taking away what was promised to the employee in their contract,” Sluyter said….

KGI UPDATE: Council votes ‘no’ to pension overtime cap

read … Council to address ‘pension spiking’

HMSA Payment Transformation Chasing Doctors out of Hawaii

SA: … Hawaii’s supply of doctors is the lowest since 2015 as aging physicians retire and younger ones move to the mainland for better-paying jobs.

The state has 2,819 active physicians but needs at least 3,481 to care for an aging population, according to the latest survey by the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. A quarter of the state’s doctors are 65 and older, the center said….

So-called payment transformation was implemented in 2017 by the state’s largest health insurer, Hawaii Medical Service Association, which is now reimbursing doctors a fixed monthly rate for each patient in a practice regardless of how many times they see a patient. That replaced the years-long fee-for-service model, with reimbursements based on number of visits and type of service.

Almost three-quarters of the 156 doctors who responded to the survey said they are unhappy with the new per-member per-month payment model, and more than half reported they make less than they did in 2016. It is unclear how many doctors surveyed are actually in the payment transformation program.

“I think payment transformation has scared people out of state,” Withy said.

Maui native Luukia Ruidas, who was a private-practice family physician for seven years in Kahului, said she left the islands three weeks ago to take a job in San Francisco after losing $100,000 in insurance reimbursements from 2017 to 2018. She said about half her 2,400 patients were insured by HMSA.

“The last year was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since 2012 my business was doing really well … and then payment transformation happened and every year I lost money,” she said. “Patients in Hawaii are losing … local physicians who are from Hawaii and just having difficulty making the business model work. My whole family’s in Hawaii. I definitely would love to be able to serve the people that I intended to serve when I went to medical school. I’m Native Hawaiian, which is part of reason I went to medical school: to be able to help other Native Hawaiians.”

Oahu is short by as many as 421 doctors, or 18% of the calculated demand, while Hawaii island’s deficit is 192, or 41%. Maui County is facing a shortage of 166, or 39%, and Kauai is short 51, or 30%. Most of the shortages are among specialties, including infectious disease doctors and neurological and colorectal surgeons….

Related: Survey: Over 2,200 Healthcare Jobs Open in Hawaii

read … Supply of doctors continues to fall behind Hawaii’s growing demand

PUC Denies Gill Family Waianae Wind Farm Exemption from Competitive Bidding

IM:  …Hawaiian Electric Company signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Palehua Wind Project and submitted the contract to the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission in November 2018.

HECO requested that the Commission approve a Waiver from Competitive Bidding….

The conservation and agricultural land is owned by the Gill family.

For three generations, the Gills have demonstrated their commitment to caring for Hawai'i's lands as passionate advocates for the environment (been political insiders). They have pledged to keep 1,600 acres of land on the Wai'anae Range in agriculture and conservation (except for the gigantic bat killing machines they want to install).”…

"The commission observes that the levelized energy price of 10.975 per kWh for the Palehua Project is higher than the levelized prices of the competitively procured Phase RFP Oahu project PPAs that have since been approved by the commission."…

The Palehua Wind Project was a proposal by EE EWA LLC, a company which registered with the State of Hawai`i as a Foreign Limited Liability Company in February 2013.

EE EWA LLC is represented by Carlito Caliboso, an  attorney who served as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission when Linda Lingle served as the Republican Governor of Hawai`i….

read … PUC Denies Wind Farm Exemption from Competitive Bidding

MECO Rate Hike to Pay for Just Four EV Chargers

MN: …While the PUC agreed to the takeover in March, it rejected MECO’s proposed rate schedule for EV charging, which would have left ratepayers picking up all the cost of capital improvements, about $1.2 million, and operations and maintenance costs of $180,000 annually, minus revenues.

The impact on ratepayers was estimated at 19 cents a month and 14 cents with offsetting revenues, MECO said in its PUC filings.

In denying the rate schedule, the PUC asked MECO to return with a new schedule reflecting cost sharing, transitioning from ratepayers assuming 100 percent of cost in the first year to MECO assuming 100 percent by the fifth year.

“The companies have worked diligently to reduce the costs for EV-Maui (the four stations in the EVohana network) by, among other things, . . . carefully selecting which sites to move forward with for the EV-Maui tariff,” MECO said in its Aug. 30 filing with the PUC.

The new proposal reduces, from the original proposal, capital costs from $1.2 million to $244,000 and operation and maintenance from $140,000 to $21,000 annually.

MECO still would have to cover $500,000 over 15 years….

read … MECO set to take over 4 EVohana fast-charging sites

Will Hawaii Electric Customers Ever Save Money With Renewable Energy?

CB: … The short answer: they won’t see much in savings anytime soon.

Hawaii utility regulators are hoping to change that. As Hawaii’s push for renewables enters a new, ambitious phase, regulators say they want to bring relief to customers. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is proposing changes as part of a labyrinthine process to overhaul the way HECO and its sister companies on Maui and the Big Island can make money.

(Translation: We’ve been ripping you off for years in the name of green energy but now we are going to change our ways.  Trust us.)

The overarching goal, spelled out in hundreds of pages of documents, is to align the company’s incentives with the state’s renewables policy. But part of the goal, which has been adopted by PUC in principle at least, is to create “meaningful, verifiable ‘day-one’ savings for utility customers.”…

(IQ Test; Do you believe them?)

read … In a word, ‘No’

State Fills One Of Its HART Board Vacancies, Two More Seats Remain Open

CB: … Lynn McCrory joins the rail board as the state looks to appoint qualified members who can attend the meetings….

In the two years since four state-appointed, non-voting seats were added to the rail board to provide added scrutiny, those members have largely stopped showing up. Only one member, Michele Brunngraber, has attended a HART meeting since February, agency records show….

The state Senate’s two seats have remained vacant for months. Officials in that chamber have said they’re difficult to fill but that they’re actively working on finding replacements….

read … State Fills One Of Its HART Board Vacancies, Two More Seats Remain Open

As tensions over TMT run high, plan to build small observatory in Lanai faces scrutiny

HNN: … Residents gathered Monday for an informational meeting about the Manale Observatory project.

Pulama Lanai wants to build the facility on the grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

Makani Tabura’s experience in the visitor industry started on the island where he was born and raised.

“When I think about telescopes and Hawaii, of course, it’s a sensitive time,” said the former Lanai resident. “When I think about it on my island, albeit a small telescope, how big is its footprint?”

“Why not instead of a telescope and all this money they’re going to invest in it, why not bring in cultural practitioners like a master navigator, a farmer who looks at stars and moon phases, and sits with a visitor to Lanai and says, ‘Hey, this is what makes us different?’” said Tabura….

The company has filed a permit for the small-scale observatory. The county says a public hearing with the Lanai Planning Commission is required for approval.

read … As tensions over TMT run high, plan to build small observatory in Lanai faces scrutiny

Honolulu Most Livable City in USA

PBN: …Honolulu is the most livable city in the U.S. and the 22nd most livable city in the world, according to the Global Liveability Index 2019, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit Wednesday.

Analysts at the Economist Intelligence Unit, a UK-based global business research group, ranked 140 cities across the globe to determine which cities have the most ideal living conditions. Cities were ranked on several factors listed under five specific categories including stability, health care, culture and environment, infrastructure and education.

Honolulu scored the highest among U.S. cities this year, and was one of only 10 that cracked the top 50. Each city was weighted on a scale from 1-100, and Honolulu received a score of 94.1.

Other U.S. cities in the top 50 include Atlanta at No. 33, Pittsburgh at No. 34, Seattle at No. 36, Washington D.C. at No. 40, Chicago and Miami both tied at No. 42, Boston at No. 45, San Francisco at No. 46, and Minneapolis at No. 47….

E: Vienna Still Most Livable

read … Honolulu is the most 'livable' city in the U.S., here's what that means

Bumfight at Kalihi Homeless Camp: One Dead

KHON: … New details on the woman arrested for killing a man in Kalihi Valley on Saturday night has a criminal record.

25-year-old Marie Limehouse was taken into custody shortly after a man's body was found near a homeless camp on Perry Street.

According to paramedics, the man had injuries on his neck and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Court records show Limehouse was found guilty of abusing a family member in 2015….

SA: Woman accused of killing man in Kalihi appears in court

read … Bumfight

Gabbard Needs to Decide on Run for Congress

HNN: … She has also been pretty much invisible in Hawaii. If she has been here at all, she hasn’t been public about it; and she has ignored questions from the media about whether she even intends to run for re-election to her congressional seat.

It’s time for Tulsi Gabbard to come home – and either re-establish her place in congress and run for re-election, or truthfully explain to Hawaii why she has essentially left us for an impossible dream….

read … Invisible

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