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Thursday, December 5, 2019
December 5, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 1967 Views

Red Flags: An Analysis of the Independent Audit of OHA and its LLCs

OHA Admits LLC Audit "observed indicators of potential fraud"

OIP: OHA’s PIG is a Dead Duck

Hawaii Owed $17M due to COFA Undercount?

Ige Appoints Craig Hirai Director of Budget and Finance

Star-Adv: Mail-In Election Plans ‘May Suppress Vote’

SA Editorial: …  At a minimum, the agency tasked with coordinating this experience should contemplate opening more “voter service centers,” the stations that will replace the old polling places, than they’ve got planned.

At a legislative briefing in November, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago told lawmakers that staff met voters at a community meeting who weren’t entirely clear on the concept.

“A lot of voters didn’t realize that ‘elections by mail’ meant that there will be no polling place and that a ballot will be sent to you,” Nago said at the briefing.

That’s a distressing observation. Confusion may have arisen because many are accustomed to having the mail-in option, along with the traditional practice of voting at precinct polls on the day itself.

Still, that early reaction should serve as a wakeup call to elections officials, a signal that among even lifelong voters are those who rarely track such changes and will be unaware….

having only the Kapolei and downtown centers planned for Oahu seem inadequate.

And on Hawaii island — hardly a compact county — splitting the burden between Hilo and Kailua-Kona locations could suppress the vote among those who discover at the last minute that a drive across the Big Island is their only route to casting a ballot….

Related: Common Cause: Vote by Mail 'Will be a Disaster'

Big Q: Have you ever voted via mail-in ballot in a statewide election?

read … Prepare voters for all-mail balloting

Council Passes Bill Restricting Single-Use Plastics On Oahu

CB: … another environmental hysteria media campaign stampedes elected officials… Caldwell expected to sign bill….

Bill 40 aims to ban most food vendors on Hawaii’s most populous island from providing plastic utensils and straws, and plastic or polystyrene foam beverage cups, plates and containers.

The council voted 7-2 at its Wednesday meeting to pass the bill on third (and final) reading after listening to about two hours of testimony — much of it from local high school students and environmental advocates speaking in strong support. Councilwomen Ann Kobayashi and Carol Fukunaga voted against the measure.

Two members of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration also testified in support, saying his office supports the bill…. 

KITV: Caldwell says he will sign Bill 40 into law, 'assuming there are no legal issues'

SA: Mayor Kirk Caldwell reaffirms support for plastics ban  

Business Pulse: In the long run, do you think the new single-use plastics ban will be good or bad for Hawaii?

read … Council Passes Landmark Bill Restricting Single-Use Plastics On Oahu

Consumer advocate: PV power price too high

MN: … In his testimony, Nishina was critical of the price MECO has agreed to pay for electricity from Paeahu — 11.68 cents per kilowatt hour, according to PUC documents.

Other renewable projects, approved by the PUC during the same procurement process, included lower prices. Kuihelani Solar, a 60-MW and 240-MWh battery project in Central Maui, is selling power to MECO at 8 cents per kWh, among the lowest in the state. Higher cost projects in the state include Waiawa Solar, a 36-MW and 144-MWh battery project, and Ho’ohana Solar 1, a 52-MW and 208-MWh battery project, both on Oahu, for 10 cents/kWh.

Nishina said prices for these types of solar and battery projects are going down, with some prices even around 5 cents per kWh. He wanted to send a “clear signal to the market” that the state wants “to see lower prices” and felt that approving a higher-priced project could send the opposite message.

Hawaiian Electric Cos., which includes MECO, recently issued a request for proposals for a new round of renewable projects….

read … Consumer advocate: PV power price too high

Why You Should Care About Wind Turbines In Kahuku

CB: … Area residents have the right to determine for themselves what is right for their community….

Related: Kahuku and Waimanalo Protests show why Hawaii Needs Municipal Government

read … Why You Should Care About Wind Turbines In Kahuku

Medicare’s fee schedule inadequate for doctors in Hawaii

SA: … Storm clouds loom on the horizon. Hawaii suffers a shocking 41% physician shortage on the Big Island, 39% on Maui, 30% on Kauai, and 25% statewide. With a stunning 25% of Hawaii physicians over age 65 approaching retirement, the storm builds….

Challenges experienced in Hawaii have been addressed in Alaska. Benchmarked to a national average of 100, Alaska’s cost of living index is 129. Hawaii’s index is 192.9! For Alaska, the 2008 Congress amended the Social Security Act, creating a 150% adjustment to the physician component of Medicare reimbursement. Hawaii deserves the same treatment: Medicare funding on par with Alaska….

read … Medicare’s fee schedule inadequate for doctors in Hawaii

14% of Molokai Population need to Get A Job to Keep Welfare Checks Coming In

KITV: … more than 170,000 residents, also receive Supplemental Nutritional Program benefits, known as SNAP.

"It pays for food. These are monies allow residents to eat," said Brian Donohoe, the Department of Human Services Benefits Administrator.

In order to qualify for SNAP, residents have to meet income requirements.
For those who are adults, without children and can work -- they are normally only allowed three months of SNAP benefits over a three year period.

"Our mission is to help families become self sufficient, so this is a stepping stone, " added Donohoe.

But in places where the unemployment rates are much higher than the national average, residents can continue to get those benefits as long as they were looking or training for a job. Places like Molokai.

"Molokai has about 6.5% unemployment, and it used to be 10-11%. So it exceeded the 10% bracket and allowed residents to qualify for work waivers," stated Donohoe.

Under new federal guidelines, Molokai's higher unemployment will be averaged in with the rest of Maui County. So residents will no longer get work exemption waivers.

"It has an impact on those who receive a waiver from work... less than a thousand residents," added Donohoe.

That is a huge amount of Molokai's entire population, which is 7,400 residents….

HTH: State: Hawaii County not affected by new food stamps rule

read … Molokai will be hit hard by federal rule change

Opponents become backers of West Maui development

MN: … Other key terms included a $1.6 million donation to a community benefit trust to help with down payments for West Maui residents buying affordable units, a mandate that the rentals and homes remain affordable long term and a restriction on short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfasts within Pulelehua.

Meanwhile, a threat to further delay the project by neighboring property owners, who said they weren’t notified of proposed Pulelehua changes, diminished after hours of public testimony that included four council members, who spoke in favor of moving forward with the revised plan.

The owners of the 10 neighboring properties, represented by attorney Bernie Bays, and Maui Oceanview LP reached an agreement during meeting breaks, leading Bays to withdraw the request to intervene about an hour before the meeting adjourned Wednesday afternoon.

Bays said terms of the agreement are confidential.

Now, the proposed agreement is in the hands of the state Land Use Commission, which must hash out details on the amendments to the project’s original decision and order and decide whether to take action. The meeting continues at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Haynes Meeting Room at 9:30 a.m. today….

read … Opponents become backers of West Maui development

Eruption did nearly $800M in damage

HTH: … Among the points of Le’s report was the revelation that, based on new assessments by the recovery team, the county lost $796 million as a result of the eruption.

Le said the team arrived at the number by considering losses incurred by the tourism industry, the related loss of jobs and the destruction of farms, homes and other infrastructure during the eruption.

Le said the loss of tourism revenue accounted for $450 million of the total, while infrastructure damage totaled another $236 million. The team also calculated that 4,727 jobs were lost because of the eruption, and 46 farms were destroyed or rendered unusable….

read … Eruption did nearly $800M in damage

Feds: Chinese Industrial Spies Have Great Interest In Hawaii

CB: … At a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, federal officials are warning Hawaii business and academic leaders to beware: what might seem like a minor security breach could be something bigger.

“Overall, Hawaii is of great interest to China,” said John Demers, Assistant U.S. Attorney for National Security, who is in Honolulu this week meeting with government and military leaders.

As the federal government’s top lawyer overseeing foreign threats, Demers is in charge of implementing something known as The China Initiative, an effort to fight industrial espionage conducted by China….

read … Feds: Chinese Industrial Spies Have Great Interest In Hawaii



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