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Monday, October 28, 2019
October 28, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:37 PM :: 3460 Views

Mayoral Race: Pine, Amemiya, Hanabusa

HNN: Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine has decided to enter the race for Honolulu mayor in 2020.

Pine made the formal announcement on Monday….

Former Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya is also running for the city’s top office.

And former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa may also join the race for Honolulu mayor….

KHON: Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine announces run for Mayor

read … City councilwoman formally announces run for Honolulu mayor

PUC’s Former Lawyer Says Approval Of Kahuku Wind Farm Violated Law—Consumers overcharged by 50%

CB: … the project’s developer, AES Corp., and Hawaiian Electric Co. used an erroneous legal argument to push through AES’ Na Pua Makani wind farm, says Ryan Hurley, a Honolulu attorney who served as a PUC lawyer from October 2013 to November 2014. The law required the commission to complete an environmental review first, Hurley says.

“Unfortunately, the PUC agreed, and in direct contradiction to the State Consumer Advocate’s position and the PUC’s own precedent, approved the project without a public hearing or waiting for the EIS,” Hurley, who once worked on the matter for the PUC, wrote in a detailed letter to Civil Beat. “With PUC approval being the hardest and only truly discretionary approval, this virtually guaranteed the project would be built.”

He also said the PUC approved a deal that pays the developer more for power than necessary.

“The price of the Na Pua Makani project was bad for the ratepayer in 2014 and is still bad today,” he said.  The project was approved with a price of almost 15 cents per kilowatt-hour at a time when the PUC was approving solar projects at 13-14 cents per kilowatt hour, he said. Recent prices for solar farms with battery storage have dropped below 10 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.….

read … PUC’s Former Lawyer Says Approval Of Kahuku Wind Farm Violated Law

Overnight Sunday: 19 more demonstrators arrested in Kalaeloa

HNN: … Ku Kia'i Kahuku leaders -- who call themselves protectors, not protesters --  say they accomplished their goal of bringing worldwide attention to what is going on in Kahuku, and are now taking a different approach. Leaders say they’re now focusing their energy on the legal process; they've identified what they say was an issue in the permitting for the wind farm and are hoping to pursue that in court….

read … Overnight Sunday: 19 more demonstrators arrested in Kalaeloa

Kahuku: 111 Arrests so far

SA: … Some are teachers. Some are students. Many are parents. They also include community leaders, activists and the wife of a state senator.

Collectively, they have been described as “arrestables” — meaning people willing to be arrested for a community cause.

Over the last two weeks, 111 people volunteered to be arrested for protesting a controversial wind energy farm in Kahuku.

The number is staggering to some observers. A few attorneys familiar with cases of mass civil disobedience in Hawaii said they couldn’t recall a bigger instance of protester arrests in the past couple of decades….

Other demonstrations in Hawaii decades ago have led to more arrests, such as when 141 people were arrested in 1990 for trespassing on a site slated for a geothermal power plant in a Big Island rainforest….

… arrested in the wind farm protest include Donnalee Fevella, wife of state Sen. Kurt Fevella, who was among 27 people arrested in Kalaeloa on the night of Oct. 20 trying to prevent trucks carrying turbine equipment from departing a base yard….

Hawaii Community Bail Fund volunteers have been helping people arrested over the Na Pua Makani protests pay their bail, which has been $100 for first infractions and $500 for second arrests….

KITV: Kahuku students join protest against controversial wind farm project

read … Kahuku Dwarfs Mauna Kea

Blue Planet Report Card: Hawaii not Sending Enough Money to Elon Musk

SA: … Blue Planet Foundation’s latest energy report card, released last week, shows steps forward as well as foot-dragging. The local nonprofit gave Hawaii an overall grade of C, dropping from a B- in the last report card, released in 2017. There were dips in three categories.

The lowest grade, a D in the transportation category, (Poor Elon.  He’s a billionaire because he needs money. So send him some more.) should flag high concern as it accounts for almost two-thirds of our fossil-fuel consumption. Blue Planet’s analysis of public records tracked an increase in sales of less-efficient vehicles. Pickups and SUVs, which accounted for slightly less than half of sales in 2012, now make up 70%. Also, average weekday public bus ridership has dropped by nearly 5% since 2014.

Seeing slow strides in the right direction is the inventory of electric vehicles, which recently reached a milestone with registration of 10,000 statewide. While they represent less than 1% of all vehicles on our roads, on a per-capital basis, Hawaii ranks among the states with the highest EV adoption rates.

We could see a welcome rise in EV inventory with more incentives, such as through a new state law that establishes a rebate for installation of eligible new or upgraded multi-user EV charging systems…


read … Editorial: Progress difficult for energy goals

Marijuana Dispensaries Warned to stop selling vapes with outside ingredients

SA: … Five out of eight Hawaii medical marijuana dispensaries that had been warned by health officials to stop selling vaping products made with outside ingredients say they are now in compliance with state law.

Cure Oahu, Aloha Green Apothecary and Noa Botanicals in Honolulu, Big Island Grown and Pono Life Maui were ordered last week to remove all cartridges made with any compounds from outside sources amid a growing outbreak of lung illnesses nationwide. Hawaii law prohibits pot shops from selling anything not manufactured by the dispensaries, which could face penalties including fines or suspension or revocation of their licenses. …

“This is a moonshine problem caused by uncontrolled illicit activity,” Haro said. “The real story here is that vaporization products purchased outside of a state-licensed dispensary are unregulated, illegal and potentially life-threatening.”

It is against the law to sell vaping cartridges that contain nicotine, tobacco or any other non-cannabis-derived product, including organic compounds known as terpenes. Dispensaries may only sell cartridges filled with cannabis, cannabis oils or cannabis extracts manufactured in-house, which is substantially more expensive….

read … Dispensaries stop selling vapes with outside ingredients

Six Years of Fraud at Kauai Government Employees Credit Union

TGI: … Thomas Vallatini was a senior loan manager for Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union until July 2014, when he was fired after six years. A credit union representative declined to explain why Vallatini was let go, but a document he signed days before his termination may offer some clues.

Vallatini was fired almost immediately after signing a five-page “Fraud Agreement” that listed over a dozen grounds for termination or suspension. Many of the “unacceptable acts” spelled out in the contract describe conduct the credit union’s insurance carrier would later sue Vallatini over.

In 2017, Cumis Insurance Society filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, alleging that Vallatini defrauded his employer and its insurance company, citing 71 examples of fraudulent misrepresentations from 2008 to 2014, including improper reposessed car sales, approving loans to ineligible members, providing inaccurate information on loan applications, failing to obtain proper documentation for loans and approving loans despite disqualifying factors, “among other things.”

Cumis later filed an amended complaint in the lawsuit, further describing the alleged fraud, detailing dozens of loans approved by Vallatini — many issued to his personal friends or associates — that were eventually defaulted on, forcing the company to pay out over $500,000 in insurance claims….

read … Fraud lawsuit settled

Drug companies paid Hawaii doctors $4.3M last year

SA: … Over the past five years, the highest-paid doctor, Maui dermatologist George Martin, received $1.3 million. Three others were paid more than half a million: Honolulu neurologist Leo Maher, $916,919; Kailua gastroenterologist Naoky Tsai, $855,892; and Philip Suh, a family medicine physician, $750,540. This does not include payments for research or royalties from inventions.

Bethany Dilley, a practice management consultant for Martin, who was traveling to India for a dermatology world conference, said most of the money the doctor receives pays for costly medical conferences each year. He runs three dermatology conferences and two nondermatology events annually as owner and director of Advances in Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology, she said.

“That’s where doctors come to learn all the new cutting-edge ways to treat all the different issues and diseases that are part of the dermatology world,” Dilley said. “Sometimes he will sit on the advisory board as a medical advisor for research purposes as they’re developing a new medication or … new treatments for medications currently on the market.”….

Hospitals also received drug company payments. Last year The Queen’s Medical Center was the highest- earning teaching hospital, earning $235,000 from drug companies, significantly more than any other local facility. By contrast, the second-highest paid was Kaiser Permanente Hawaii at $14,824, followed by Straub at $12,805.

“These payments are generally in support of training … for equipment that The Queen’s Medical Center has purchased. That training may include physicians, nurses, technicians and others,” said Dr. Todd Seto, director of academic affairs and research at Queen’s. “These are also institutional grants for research and education that QMC develops and that the industry supports, which is common in academic settings. Given our size, complexity of patients and academic focus, it would make sense that industry partners collaborate with us more than other sites, since we have more complex equipment, more staff to train and more research being done.”…

read … Drug companies paid Hawaii doctors $4.3M last year



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