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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
December 14, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:48 PM :: 6801 Views

Report: Hawaii scores 7 out of 10 on Health Emergency Preparedness

How Hawaii’s Congressional delegation voted December 8–13

Hirono panics: After rejecting Obama, she now tries to straddle Tax Bill

Full Text: Federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional

Josh Green still in running for Cabinet post, Malama Solomon seeks Senate appointment

WAIMEA -- A hat trick of all three of the Big Island's state senators moving to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's Cabinet is still a possibility, the governor confirmed Monday.
"I don't know," Abercrombie said. "We're looking at it right now."

The two senators, as well as a mob of candidates hoping to replace them, were in Waimea on Monday evening, for one in a series of inauguration ceremonies the new governor is holding on all the islands.

State Rep. Mark Nakashima and former state Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Malama Solomon and Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda are among those seeking Takamine's seat. Former County Council Chairman (and convicted felon) Gary Safarik and farmer Richard Ha are among those interested in Kokubun's seat…

Malama Solomon: Malama Solomon’s meth connection

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Special-education costs rise and so do questions

Some advocates are concerned about (THE HSTA says they want to grab) the money being spent for some special-education costs, including the $5.8 million being spent this school year to send 79 special-needs children to private schools, and question whether that money would not be better used to bolster public school programs….  (Have they no shame?)

The Department of Education continues to spend millions of dollars on litigation related to special education, but officials do not have a firm handle on just how much money is being funneled to settlements and other court costs.

In each of the last two school years, the department said it spent about $1 million on attorney's fees related to cases involving students with disabilities.  (But they want to go after the $5.8M???)

But the department was not able to provide year-by-year cost totals for settlements in special-education lawsuits or due-process cases. When asked for those figures, the department  said they are kept on paper at each complex.  (Which is one more reason we must never ever Audit the DoE.)

RELATED: HSTA demands candidates oppose funds for disabled students

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Number of students in special education in decline after DoE mis-identified thousands

Why has the number of special-education students in the islands been steadily declining over the last decade?  It's a mystery.

The state Department of Education and advocates say there could be fewer children in need of special-education services, or a natural decline in numbers after a big push to identify -- and perhaps wrongly identify -- them when services for them were under federal oversight.

Public education officials say teachers are doing a better job intervening early and that schools are making better determinations about whether a student is really in need of special-education services or just a little extra help.

Since 2004 the number of special-education students in Hawaii has dropped 16 percent -- or by 3,721 students -- to 19,426. Youth with special needs now account for about 11 percent of public school students, from 13 percent in 2004-05. That is still much higher than the numbers seen before the Felix consent decree. In 1993 the 11,692 special-education children in Hawaii made up 6.5 percent of students.

SA: Left out and lagging

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$250K Settlement with family of girl victimized by DoE Child Molester

The family of a student with developmental disabilities who was sexually assaulted by a school aide at McKinley High School in 2007 and 2008 has reached a $250,000 settlement agreement with the state Department of Education.

The family filed suit, alleging that McKinley High and the department failed to follow their own procedures after the educational assistant, Gregory Keau, was arrested in 2003 in an unrelated incident off campus and later convicted of third-degree assault.

An attorney for the family said Keau was arrested on school property for the 2003 assault, and yet McKinley officials never looked into the arrest, which should have triggered an investigation to determine whether it was safe for Keau to work with minors.

In agreeing to the settlement, the DOE made no admission of wrongdoing.


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Liliuokalani backers appeal for its survival

Closing Queen Liliuokalani Elementary is no way to celebrate the school's 100th anniversary next year, said parents, teachers and others who turned out for a hearing on a consolidation proposal last night.

About 80 parents, teachers, students and community members gathered to oppose the closure, and many asked for more time -- to attract more students or get a chance to reinvent the campus.

The Way: Laupahoehoe Liberation: Rural school targeted for closure votes for charter conversion

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UHH Prof fired for cursing al-Qaeda

According to Petersen, he has never directed profanity at his students. He admitted that he uses profanity in the context of a lecture he gives during the first and second days of his classes every year, in order to challenge his students.
"The first thing I say is '(Expletive) happens,' in the context of free will and determinism," he said. "The second thing I say ... in talking about religious extremists and terrorists, that Osama bin Laden says 'If you don't believe in me and my way, I will kill you and your goddamn god.'"

Meanwhile 9-11 trooothers, Maoists, and anti-Semites have tenure….

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Lack of funds cuts Judiciary

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald is calling for adequate funding for the state Judiciary, which has been hit by furloughs and budget cuts that he says have reduced, delayed and eliminated important judicial services.

Recktenwald's message is part of a Judiciary report, "Justice in Jeopardy, the Impact of Budget Cuts and Furloughs on the Judiciary."

In the report released yesterday, the chief justice said Hawaii has been going through "difficult economic times" that have not spared the third branch of government.

The report is available at www.courts.state.hi.us/justiceinjeopardy.html.

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Federal Judge Orders State Health Coverage For Micronesians

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said in court Monday he will quickly issue a preliminary injunction requiring that more than 7,500 Pacific Islanders receive health coverage equivalent to plans provided to Medicaid recipients. The state aimed to save about $8 million….

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Dueling Over Dialysis: Hearing to address Kaiser proposal to be second provider

The fight over whether Maui needs a second dialysis treatment provider rages on as competing health care providers argue over what's best for patients and the community.

Kaiser Permanente and its subsidiary, Rainbow Dialysis, argue that Maui would do better if Rainbow Dialysis were to become a second dialysis provider for the island. It would be able to provide a choice and better quality care to those suffering from kidney failure and in need of dialysis treatment.

On the other side of the issue is Liberty Dialysis LLC, which already provides dialysis treatment to patients on Maui. It says a competitor moving into a small market like Maui threatens its business and its ability to carry out its mission to serve dialysis patients - insured or not - statewide.

For Ellen Kamaka, a 59-year-old Waiehu resident and dialysis patient, the issue comes down to access to the best quality health care she can get for her incurable kidney failure.

"It's our lives you're talking about," Kamaka said in an interview last week, arguing in favor of granting her and other Kaiser patients the ability to seek dialysis treatment at their Kaiser Wailuku clinic.

Imagine that.  A fight on Maui over whether or not more competition should be allowed in medical care…. 

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Tripler employees claim racial discrimination

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tripler Army Medical Center just settled an $11 million medical malpractice lawsuit in September.  Now some employees plan to file a separate case claiming they've been victims of racial discrimination.

Some of the alleged complaints go back five years.  They involve current and former employees.

"There's been name calling a black employee called an Oreo, an Oreo cookie. A white employee married to a black called a reverse Oreo cookie. A black employee called a beast on repeated occasions," said Tony Bothwell, plaintiff's attorney.

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City Council Candidates Respond to Civil Beat Questionnaire

The special election is designed for voters to cast ballots by mail. Elections officials began sending District 1 ballots to registered voters last week. The City Clerk must receive all ballots no later than 6 p.m. on December 29, 2010, in the envelopes provided by the city.

Voters also have the option to vote in person, starting Monday, Dec. 13. Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale will be open for walk-in voting through Dec. 27, between 8 a.m. — 4 p.m., except for Sundays and Dec. 17, a furlough day. No polling places will be open on election day, Dec. 29.

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Aquarium Fish Bill Draws Public Testimony

Most members of the public — about one dozen people — came to express their opposition.

"If anybody cares about this resource, it's us," said one man who gave testimony on behalf of the Hawaii Tropical Fish Association. "We live off this resource and we are concerned about this resource."

One man who gave testimony on behalf of the Tropical Fish Association said the bill is a "veiled attempt" at dismantling his industry. Another man suggested council members knew little, if anything, of marine issues. He encouraged council members to focus instead on "bigger issues" like APEC.

"We are the caretakers, that is what we know," Kauai County council member Derek Kawakami told him. "It may seem like a small issue, but for some people it's a big issue, so it becomes a big issue for everybody."

RELATED: http://hawaiitropicalsaltwateraquariumfish.com/index.html, http://www.hawaiitropicalfish.com/

Islands Business: FISHERIES: Fish storm brewing

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Bio-tech firms here will change the face of our local economy

Hawaii's nascent life-sciences sector, while minuscule in scale compared to "The Valley," is chugging along. There are also some national business trends that bode very well for it to continue to blossom.

What is helping the Aloha State is that large pharmaceutical firms are acquiring startup biotech companies and cutting licensing deals at an earlier stage than ever before. For example, a Merck & Co. subsidiary paid somewhere north of $4 million to acquire Hawaii Biotech's vaccine technology, including its dengue fever vaccine research unit. No, it wasn't a mega deal, but it demonstrates that Hawaii scientists can develop technology that has value outside the state.

(Now the Legislature will study ways to tax this type of capital gains income.)

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Hanabusa: Does Clayton Hee suffer from chemical imbalance?

Hee noted in his speech that Senate President Colleen Hanabusa had once pulled him aside, "asking me if there was a hormonal imbalance….”

REALITY: Sandwich Isles Communications: Political Connections Pay Off

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Hawaii senators visiting Taiwan

The senators will visit Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, Department of Rapid Transit Systems, Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Bureau of Energy, electric car manufacturer Luxgen Motor Co. and alternative energy company iWind Energy Co.

The delegation to Taiwan includes Sens. Kalani English, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Michelle Kidani, Clarence Nishihara, Pohai Ryan and Glenn Wakai.

Unfortunately the delegation returns to Hawaii on Monday.

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Hannemann to lead Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association

Looks like Obama will be the first President since Reagan to NOT hire Mufi Hannemann. 

Wonder why?  Hanauma Dec 29: Did Mufi threaten retaliation against Obama?

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Ousted Hawaii County Councilmembers seeking Unemployment Payments

Although former Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole has been voted out of office, she might continue drawing checks at taxpayers' expense through mid-2011.  And she could have company….

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ILind: Documents trace controversial towing contract

During the short period that I worked in the late City Councilman Duke Bainum’s office, the Pineridge contract was being researched. Here’s a memo prepared by the Office of Council Services concerning the contract, along with a packet of documents tracking the legal controversy. These are worth wading through.

In addition, here’s a link to the Intermediate Court of Appeals decision rejecting the last Stoneridge court appeal. The Supreme Court declined to review the matter.

But the reason I think it’s potentially more interesting is the company’s connections. State business registration records list the members of Stoneridge Recoveries LLC as Deyton G. Stone and Trenton P. Silva.

Stone is an officer or owner of several other companies, according to the business registration records, including Stone Holdings Inc., Stones Towing & Recovery Inc., Silverstone Leasing Co, LLC, and Stone’s Leasing Co., LLC.

Silva is also an officer of JGTT LLC, along with other members of the Silva family.

The family controls Pineridge Farms, reportedly the state’s largest construction trucking company, and West Oahu Aggregate Co, a leeward refuse and recycling company. Pineridge and West Oahu Aggregate operate a quarry on the site of the former Kaiser cement plant on Lualualei Naval Road, where area residents are at odds with industrial businesses.

SA: Seek new contract for towing

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Hawaii's Magma Chamber May Be World's Shallowest

The huge, underground pocket of molten rock  that feeds Hawaii's volcanoes may be a lot closer to the Earth's surface than previously thought; it could be the shallowest in the world, new chemical analysis suggests.

(So what kind of clean energy projects are we building?  Why windmills, of course….)

Tehran Times: The blood of the earth

Nature: Broken bits and slow progress for deep-drilling mission

Propaganda: Palm oil-into-biodiesel is heart of Hawaii's green energy future

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Soldier from Ewa Beach among six killed in attack on NATO base in Afghanistan

An Army soldier from Ewa Beach was among six killed in Afghanistan Sunday when an explosives-packed minibus blew up at the entrance of a joint NATO-Afghan base in Kandahar province, the Pentagon said today.

Cpl. Sean M. Collins, 25, and five of his fellow soldiers were killed in the deadliest attack on coalition troops this month.

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