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Monday, March 20, 2023
March 20, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:44 PM :: 3320 Views

Abortion Bill Clears Final House Committee

Republican Bills On The Move

CNHA Hands out $130M COVID Money

‘20 Minutes’ Movie - Atheist and Believer Face Final Twenty Minutes of Their Life in Hawaii

More Plead Guilty in Sovereignty-Related Tax Fraud Scheme

Saiki: Rep Aiu’s side-gig as Nan Corporate Counsel ‘is a feature of Hawaii’s part-time citizen legislature’

CB: … Rep. Micah Aiu’s job outside the Legislature could be seen as problematic.

Aiu works as an in-house lawyer for Nan Inc., (Corporate Counsel, just out of law school) a major construction company (owned by a convicted felon and ex-con busted for bid-rigging) that competes aggressively for state jobs. Since last summer alone, Nan was awarded eight state contracts worth $325 million, according to state procurement records.

(The words ‘Aloha Stadium’ appear nowhere in this article.)

Aiu also sits on the House Finance Committee, which plays an outsized role in developing the state budget and the list of construction projects the state will fund each year. Freshmen lawmakers are routinely assigned to that committee to help them absorb the nuances of the state budget process.

(Without giggling or smirking) House Speaker Scott Saiki says he can understand why the public might question that scenario, but none of it amounts to a “conflict of interest” in the legal sense of the term. It does not violate any state ethics laws or any House rules on conflicts, he said.

Instead, Saiki said Aiu’s dual role as a state lawmaker and a lawyer for a firm with state contracts is a feature of Hawaii’s part-time citizen legislature as it was created under the Hawaii State Constitution….

(IQ Test: Did you just slap yourself on the forehead?)

According to his financial disclosure with the state Ethics Commission, Aiu makes $100,000 to $150,000 a year in his job with Nan.

His work there mostly involves supervising outside attorneys that Nan hires to handle litigation, reviewing the language in agreements with subcontractors and offering advice on personnel and other legal issues, he said….

2019: Nan’s Previous Corporate counsel sues company over corruption

2023: Kim, DelaCruz, Kidani: Regents Should Dump Lassner to Help Boost Aloha Stadium Boondoggle  -- (FUN FACT: Kim’s son, Micah Po'okela Kim Aiu, finally did go to UH Law school a year after lying to his mommy about it.  Then he became general counsel for Nan Inc--where he today 'earns' $100-150K /yr.  Now he ‘represents’ HD32 encompassing Aloha Stadium.  Nan Inc, led by convicted felon Patrick Shin, is a partner in the 'Wailoa' group competing to redesign Aloha Stadium.)

read … Why This Hawaii Lawmaker’s Job With A Major Construction Company Raises Concern

Kakaako Makai: OHA Glass ‘Half-Empty’

SA Editorial: … The Hakuone project, for example, has languished while OHA repeatedly has petitioned the Legislature to lift the restriction on residential development in the makai properties it owns. It’s long past time for OHA to settle on a plan that yields an actual asset.

Trustee Keli‘i Akina acknowledged the report pinpoints where “the glass is half empty” on land management but wished the auditor had recognized the half-full status as well.

Perhaps. Better still would be if OHA fills the glass the rest of the way ….

read … OHA needs more real estate savvy

Next Boondoggle: ‘Hotel’ part of Plans for ‘first-responders base’ in Mililani

SA: … An ambitious and controversial state plan to develop a more than $300 million campus for state, county and federal first-responder agencies in Mililani is on a path toward potentially starting construction later this year or in 2024.

A state agency spearheading the First Responder Technology Campus finalized an environmental impact statement for the project earlier this month, and many Hawaii lawmakers appear poised to appropriate $100 million to begin building an initial phase.

The project has been in a gestation phase for at least a decade, and is envisioned as a sprawling 243-acre operations and training base for up to 19 law enforcement, fire, defense and other emergency response agencies.

Elements of the planned campus include office space roughly equivalent to a 37-story tower, a 2,000-stall parking structure, classrooms, a 450-seat auditorium, warehouses, a cybersecurity data center, an indoor shooting range and outdoor training facilities possibly featuring structures to practice tactical raids and rescues, an obstacle course, a rappelling tower and a vehicle driving course.

There also would be 400 to 500 workforce housing apartments, a 150-bed hotel, a 100-bed dorm, retail space, a community center, a fitness center, a running track, a competition swimming pool and a cafeteria with a kitchen staff that includes a nutritionist.

About 150 acres would remain mostly undeveloped and accommodate Hawaii National Guard search-and-rescue training….

read … Plans for first-responders base in Mililani move ahead

School Councils Are Supposed To Be The Local School Boards In Hawaii. But They’re Hit Or Miss

CB: … A key part of local school oversight and parent engagement is left largely up to individual schools, with wildly varied results ….

Lawmakers and education leaders have known for more than a decade that there are significant challenges with the SCC system. Some schools have extremely engaged and active councils, other schools fail to let parents know that councils exist — let alone hold regular meetings or post timely agendas. 

The uneven implementation means that school councils are failing to provide a meaningful statewide outlet for parent engagement and community input. Yet little has been done to change the system since its inception in 2004. 

“There’s no accountability,” said Baptista, who is currently on the board of the Hawaii PTSA.

It’s up to individual principals to recognize the importance of a school council and support it, Baptista said, but there also needs to be more oversight.

“Some checks and balances of OK, we gave you a policy, we gave you flexibility,” Baptista said. “Now we’re going to come in and check that you’re actually doing what you say you’re going to do. And that’s missing.” …

By 2016, fewer than half of the state’s school councils were following guidelines and posting agendas and meeting minutes to a central DOE website. Today, the DOE no longer maintains a site and instead directs schools to operate their own community engagement page for SCCs.

Of the 20 school websites Civil Beat spot checked, six had no specific page for SCCs, while 13 had no agendas posted for the current school year.

Many principals struggle to find parents who want to serve on an SCC — particularly at middle and high school levels, said Ken Kakesako, acting director of the Department of Education branch that works with school councils. 

“Middle school really is where we are starting to see parents actually losing engagement in their children’s education,” Kakesako said….

read … School Councils Are Supposed To Be The Local School Boards In Hawaii. But They’re Hit Or Miss

HHS sued by Hawaii hospitals over 'delayed' Medicare DSH payments

BHR: … About 40 hospitals across five states have filed a lawsuit against HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, alleging that yearslong delays in correcting Medicare disproportionate share hospital payments have cost them "tens of millions" of dollars.

The safety-net hospitals in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Minnesota filed the lawsuit March 14 in a Washington, D.C., district court. 

DSH payments are meant to support hospitals that have a high mix of low-income patients. In 2008, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled against how HHS calculates the payments and ordered the government to send payments to its contractors to determine how much was still owed to the hospitals.

"The agency's contractors have not performed the revised determinations required under the ruling and the rule and have not paid the plaintiff hospitals any of the additional amounts due them for the periods at issue," the lawsuit alleges….

In 2020, CMS instructed Medicare contractors to halt efforts to settle cost reports, saying they had not yet completed the appropriate public notification process. Medicare contractors were told not to take further action "until expressly instructed by CMS," according to court documents obtained by Becker's. …

read … HHS sued by hospitals over 'delayed' Medicare DSH payments

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