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Sunday, March 10, 2024
March 10, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:21 PM :: 3724 Views

The Worst State to be Rich, Poor, or In Between

Listening to naysayers in the housing debate

Punaluu: Abandoned buildings, golf course, and aging sewer treatment plant won’t be fixed

167 Candidates Pull Papers Statewide

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 9, 2024

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Senate: Time to Overthrow Kouchi

Shapiro: … The Senate rejected Nahale-a 13-12 after Sen. Donna Mercado Kim’s Higher Education Committee recommended against his confirmation 5-0, following one of Kim’s typically venomous hearings.

Two UH-bashing cohorts who weren’t voting committee members, Sens. Donovan Dela Cruz and Lynn DeCoite, showed up to help pillory Nahale-a with loaded questions.

Other than those seven, the 18 senators who weren’t at the hearing, but heard outrage from the university and broader communities where Nahale-a had wide support, voted 12-6 to override Kim’s recommendation.

It was a sign they’re tired of colleagues who act like imperious lords rather than public serv­ants, but unfortunately a vote short of an outright rebuke of the high-handed leadership presided over by Senate President Ron Kouchi, who brags about bullying smaller kids for their lunch money in high school.

It was disappointing to watch self-styled reform senators like Stanley Chang and Chris Lee vote with the Bully Caucus, failing to see there were more important values at stake than debatable concerns about Nahale-a….

(Translation: Two Senators that can be flipped.)

This malicious disruption weakens UH and exposes a Senate overdue for a culture makeover — if not a complete change of leadership. It just takes 13 senators with the backbone to insist on putting the public good ahead of personal pique and power….

RELATED: Kouchi in Danger After Nahale-a Debacle?

SA: 16,500 had signed on to a petition opposing Nahale-a’s ouster

read … David Shapiro: UH pays a heavy price for ego-tripping senators

Dumping ‘Diversity’ Schemes Could Improve UH, Eliminate 100s of Make-Work Positions, and Reduce Political Polarization

CB: … The University of Florida just announced that it will eliminate all of its diversity, equity and inclusion positions in compliance with a January decision by the state’s board of governors, which oversees its 12 public universities, to prohibit state or federal funds from being used to support DEI programs.

The board’s ruling followed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing into law last May a ban on public colleges and universities spending tax dollars on DEI initiatives. 

Fortunately, Hawaii isn’t Florida because the elimination of DEI programs and positions in the University of Hawaii system would have a catastrophic cathartic impact on students, staff, faculty and island residents — besides resulting in unemployment for many UH ‘workers’, (LOL!).

UH DEI programs provide (control) services such as personal counseling and academic advising. They also protect (manipulate) numerous  groups from discrimination (individuals into conforming with identity politics) , including Indigenous and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ+ persons, veterans and many others….

If such a law had been passed in Hawaii when I was still teaching in the Ethnic Studies department, I couldn’t have included in my courses lectures and readings on racial and ethnic identity construction, CRT, and Joe Feagin’s systemic racism theory. This lack of knowledge (brainwashing) would have left UH students, including mine, quite ignorant (lacking thought control) about racial matters, such as racism and racial inequality, like those in Florida and other states will be….

If a DEI ban such as in Florida was implemented in the UH system, what consequences would it have? One immediate repercussion would be that the university would have to substantially revise the current Strategic Plan for 2023-2029 because it elevates diversity and equity as one of five foundational principles. Another such principle that presumably would have to be dropped is UH as a “Hawaiian place of learning” because some might consider that preferential treatment.

As for DEI programs and administrators in the UH system that would be eliminated if we were in Florida, they include the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Title IX (gender equity) coordinators at every campus, and the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity at UH Manoa.

SEED was established more than 30 years ago under the directorship of Amy Agbayani to coordinate activities among minority student recruitment and retention programs and offices. In 1972, she was one of the co-founders of Operation Manong, one of the first DEI student programs in the UH system, which recruited Filipino students at UH Manoa to tutor and encourage immigrant Filipinos in public schools. 

Now led by Christine Quemuel, the interim assistant vice provost for student diversity and inclusion, SEED currently includes more than 20 offices, such as Native Hawaiian Student Development Services, the Office of Multicultural Student Services, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ Center, and the Women’s Center.

I asked Camaron Miyamoto, director of the LGBTQ+ Center, what he thinks would happen if their office was forced to close. He responded that the impact would be immediate and disastrous (lost fresh-boy recruitment opportunities) ….

“Some of our LGBTQ+ students have found their voice (become bots) quite literally, through participation in our programs….”

read … Jonathan Okamura: UH Needs To Remain Committed To Diversity Despite National Backlash

Congress Gives Welfare to COFA Migrants as Part of Aid Deal

CB: … The congressional agreement will have a significant impact in Hawaii, home to nearly 20,000 Micronesians.

“In addition to solidifying our relationship with the Compact nations for the next 20 years, this agreement corrects (reverses) a nearly 30-year-old policy failure (success) that has prevented the tens of thousands of COFA citizens who live, work, and pay taxes in the U.S. — many of whom choose to build their lives in Hawaii — from accessing federal benefits (becoming welfare bums)” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono’s office said in a press release late Friday….

The provision will allow COFA citizens living in the U.S to access federal benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income, among other programs.

Hawaii delegates previously helped restore Medicaid eligibility for COFA citizens, a bill signed into law in 2020. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act had ended that eligibility, the “policy failure” that Hirono referenced….

It’s estimated that about 100,000 COFA citizens live in the U.S. and its Pacific territories, in particular in Hawaii, Washington state, Arkansas, Oregon and California but also Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands….

Hirono: Hirono Secures Reinstatement of Federal

read … Congress Restores Federal Benefits To COFA Migrants As Part Of $7.1 Billion Aid Deal

Corruption News: Mitsunaga-Kaneshiro Case Begins Monday

SA: … Nina Marino, Mitsunaga’s attorney, noted her client “has a “lifelong history of supporting democratic candidates and community-­based causes.”….

read … Corruption News: Mitsunaga-Kaneshiro Case Begins Monday

Aloha Stadium to Become Natatorium II

Borreca: … “Natatorium II” comes to mind because like the neglected and therefore unused swimming pool built next to the Pacific Ocean, the stadium and the natatorium are in some ways alike. Both owe their existence to public funds. It cost $37 million to build Aloha Stadium in 1975. The natatorium was opened in 1927 as a public memorial to World War I veterans and casualties.

Although the city hasn’t discussed the pool for several years, city plans show a cost estimate of $31.8 million to rehabilitate the pool, compared to demolishing the pool at a cost of $35.2 million.

Like the stadium, both facilities have been closed after being declared structurally unsafe….

read … On Politics: Eleventh-hour stadium move to UH-Manoa is a fumble

Maui Loses Last Private Practice OB/GYN

SA: … Last spring, Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons had already announced it would be ending those serv­ices in October due to challenges including staffing issues, physician recruitment, and low reimbursements from insurance companies.

That left only two providers on Maui — Kaiser Permanente and Malama I Ke Ola Health Center, a federally qualified health care center in Wailuku….

It’s a challenge not only on Maui, but on many of the neighbor islands. The challenges are even greater on Lanai and Molokai, where patients have to rely on limited travel options to get to appointments….

Doctors serving Maui are extremely busy, and stretched between patients and islands.

Malama I Ke Ola has doubled the number of babies it delivers each month, which is now an average of 60 to 65 deliveries compared with 30 to 35 monthly deliveries previously….

Lee estimates about 25% of pregnant women from neighbor islands have to fly over to Oahu to get needed sonograms due to the lack of highly skilled sonographers, sophisticated equipment, and maternal-fetal medicine providers….

Kaiser Permanente has experienced a roughly 20% jump in deliveries over the past few months, according to Dr. Kristin Redenbaugh, Kaiser’s Maui section chief of OB-GYN….

read …  Hawaii’s health industry addresses Maui’s maternal care crisis

HEI, HECO & ASB Executives Have Golden Parachutes

IM: … Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) filed their quarterly report with the United States Securities And Exchange Commission on February 29, 2024, for the quarter ending December 31, 2023.

HEI opted to withhold $40M in quarterly dividends to shareholders for the last quarter of 2023. The dividend is suspended for the foreseeable future.

Ratepayers may be on the hook for billions of dollars.

The Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) / Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) / American Savings Bank (ASB) leadership could have taken pay cuts to share the financial hardship. Instead, they received raises in pay and in other compensation….

a lump sum payment in an amount equal to two times the annualized base salary as of the date of termination for the CEO of the respective company, including currently Scott Seu at HEI and Shelee Kimura at Hawaiian Electric, and one and one-half times for Executive Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents, including currently Scott DeGhetto and Kurt Murao at HEI…

read … HEI, HECO & ASB Executives Have Golden Parachutes

Maui releases trove of emails offering new insight into wildfire response

HNN: … After six months of submitting records requests, HNN Investigates finally obtained hundreds of emails belonging to the former head of Maui County’s Emergency Management Agency Herman Andaya during a key period.

The correspondence provides a glimpse into what state and county officials may have known as Lahaina was burning as well as some of their immediate actions in the days following the disaster.

The emails are both to and from Andaya over a 10-day period, spanning the day before Lahaina burned to the day Andaya resigned.

An emergency management expert we asked to review the documents said while much of what’s there is fairly standard, a lot of the communication you would typically expect to see between Andaya and other county leaders and outside agencies is missing.

“I would have expected more communication,” he said. “Meaning from the mayor, the heads of county departments. (From) Mr. Andaya. More how are you doing? What do you need? What’s going on?”

Out of the hundreds of emails in Andaya’s inbox none were from or to Maui Mayor Richard Bissen.

Clairmont did note that they could have been communicating in other ways, including phone calls and text messages….

He said despite the various ways to communicate today, especially in emergencies, he would have also expected to see more correspondence from the MEMA Administrator himself.

“So when you’re asking something from an outside agency the only way to communicate with them, and have it on record is to put it on an email,” Clairmont said.

Maui County still hasn’t confirmed whether it provided us with all Andaya’s emails during the requested period. However, the records we received indicate the MEMA administrator sent a total of 11 messages from his county account during the 10 days encompassing the Maui wildfire disaster and the first week of government’s emergency response….

PDF: EMAILS

read … Maui releases trove of emails offering new insight into wildfire response

Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid: 800 bills still alive at state Legislature’s halfway point

SA: … Roughly 2,400 bills were introduced this year but only a third — or nearly 800 — have survived so far by crossing over from the House to the Senate, or from the Senate to the House.

About 700 bills introduced last year also technically could still become law after crossing between chambers last year, but only a relatively few historically become reality following two years of debate.

On average, only about 250 bills have become law each year over the past decade or so….

read … 800 bills still alive at state Legislature’s halfway point

Visitors may need pre-paid reservations for state parks

KHON: … More reserved parking at popular beaches and parks could be coming for visitors to Hawaii….

A bill has crossed over to the Senate that would require the Hawaii Tourism Authority to create an app for visitors to reserve pre-paid timeslots to park at tourism hot spots….

House tourism chair Rep. Sean Quinlan (D) Waialua, Haleiwa, Kahana, wants HTA to develop a one-stop shop for visitors to make reservations for beaches and parks across the state.

“If you go to North Shore on a weekend, we’ve completely lost our quality of life up there, and that’s true in many communities around the state,” explained Rep. Quinlan who represents North Shore and has heard the frustrations from residents who aren’t able to park at their favorite beaches, or have to sit in traffic for hours on the weekends….

“If you think of a visitor coming to North Shore without a reservation and they want to go to Laniakea or Waimea Baya, that one car is going to cause the traffic equivalent of three cars as they drive up and down back and forth on Kamehameha Highway. If they have a reservation they go directly to their destination, they park one time and they leave,” Quinlan explained.

Kamaaina would be able to park for free by simply showing their Hawaii identification.

Visitors would have to reserve a timeslot and pay a fee similar to how it is at Hanauma Bay, Haena State Park, Iao Valley State Park and Waianapanapa State Park….

Sites that currently have a reservation system in place, like Hanauma Bay or Haena State Park, would be integrated into the HTA app.

Over time, Quinlan said the app could also be used for permits, agriculture declaration forms, and they could even change the price depending on the place and time….

read … Visitors may need pre-paid reservations for state parks

Hawaii ranked #2 for most dangerous state for pedestrians

KHON: … Personal injury law firm, Injured in Florida, made the conclusion after analyzing data from 2017 to 2021 from the NHTSA’s Motor Vehicle Crash Data Querying and Reporting System.

According to the study, pedestrian fatalities in Hawaii account for 27.01% of traffic deaths. Reports also said Hawaii reported 511 traffic fatalities between 2017 and 2021 and 138 deaths were pedestrians….

read … Hawaii ranked #2 for most dangerous state for pedestrians

State Shortchanges The Campaign Spending Commission

CB: … the CSC’s role is a bit more consequential: It referees every election in the state to ensure campaign donations and expenditures are legal and transparent, and it maintains an online database so anyone can access financially revealing information about candidates and political action committees….

When it was founded in 1973, the commission was staffed with five employees. More than a half-century later, it is staffed with five employees.

Meanwhile, the workload grows. The CSC tracks more than 550 candidate committees these days, up from about 300 in earlier times. The number of noncandidate committees (PACs, etc.) on its radar has increased from about 200 to more than 300, and it’ll continue to grow now that the threshold has been lowered for when they must file reports.

“The numbers are crazy if you think of us as a single agency that oversees 128 elected positions,” said CSC Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao. “I’m just lucky to have a staff of committed people and a commission (of volunteer directors) that supports us.”….

The most significant of these measures — and the biggest government reform proposal still alive this session — would definitely require additional CSC personnel.

Senate Bill 2381 seeks to decrease the influence of deep-pocket special interests and give challengers a fighting chance against incumbents. It would do so by offering full public financing of campaigns to viable candidates who agree to spending limits.

It’s estimated the public funding could total $30 million per election cycle….

read … No Respect For The Ref: State Shortchanges The Campaign Spending Commission - Honolulu Civil Beat

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