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Sunday, February 19, 2012
February 19, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 16599 Views

Wishing We Didn't Have to Pay the Piper

Abercrombie Picks Insurers to Control Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange, Hospitals to get Boot

SA: The federal government gave states the choice to create their own HIEs or to opt out and use the federal program. Hawaii, like many other states, chose to create its own: the Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange, also known as the Connector. Last year Senate Bill 1348 passed, enabling official formation of the Connector. An interim board of directors was selected, and the board hired an executive director.

The board comprises representatives from the following sectors: government, health insurers, health care provider groups, hospitals, labor, Native Hawaiian health, federally qualified health centers, business, health information and consumers.

Of particular note is that the health insurance plans and the government have the greatest number of representatives on the board. This month the governor submitted his nominations for the permanent board of directors, and it should be noted that he proposes to remove hospital representation from the board and increase the number of health insurance plans represented to four: HMSA, Kaiser, Ohana Health Plan and Hawaii Dental Service. The majority of other sectors are now represented by only a single seat or organization. (So Obamacare is just a scheme to give insurance companies even more control over your health care. Gee what a surprise!)

SB 2085 and HB 2114 seek to prevent organizations that have a direct financial interest or benefit from serving as voting members of the Connector board due to conflicts of interest. The bill was submitted with the view that despite conflict-of-interest rules, health plans can't be expected to act in the best interest of consumers or the state when they have financial interests tied to their actions….

Advocates of these bills say that the ability of health plans to vote on which plans are offered to consumers is like the electric company sitting on the Public Utilities Commission and voting on its own rate increases.

Proponents of the bills also cite recommendations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that health plans be used in an advisory capacity only. They claim that as voting members of the board, health insurance plans have direct conflicts of interest because they will be financial beneficiaries of the exchange. Given that anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people in Hawaii are uninsured, there are literally millions of dollars at stake. Twenty-one states have language prohibiting inclusion of health plans on insurance exchange boards, and an additional six states are considering such language.

read … All about the profiteers who will control your health

Law aimed at bullying in schools poses threat to freedom of speech

Jim Hochberg: The Hawaii Legislature's proposed "Hawaii Safe Schools Act" claims to target bullying and harassment at schools, but it is a mechanism for imposing a pro-homosexual, state-mandated orthodoxy on students and teachers.

Board of Education Policy 2210 requires that student discussion of issues that generate opposing points of view be considered a normal part of the learning process. It mandates resources reflecting all points of view, discussions based on an objective and factual basis, and learning how to make judgments based on facts.

The proposed act would uproot this balanced policy. The problems start with its definition of bullying, including behavior that a student finds "intimidating" based on his or her "gender identity or expression [or] sexual orientation." Even worse, "harassment" includes "annoying, or alarming … expression that causes another student … to feel uncomfortable." Rather than focusing on the bullying activities (name-calling, physical aggression), the act focuses on how the victim feels and prohibits and punishes what a student feels uncomfortable about. No more BOE Policy 2210, and students suffer for it.

If two students discussing any controversial issue (such as homosexual behavior) cause another student to feel "annoyed" or even moderately "uncomfortable," then the two students could be punished for "bullying." The act thus poses a real danger to the First Amendment protected rights of such students and prohibits the learning required by BOE Policy 2210.

But the act's drafters were not satisfied with merely censoring religious speech. Instead, they are bringing George Orwell's "1984" to life. Orwell's book tells of an oppressive government curing unauthorized thoughts through "reintegration" — a process of gradually breaking down one's will until he embraces the government's mandated orthodoxy. The act's sponsors have adopted the book's three stages to reintegration: "There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance."

The act requires teaching on sexuality at least 45 minutes per week. Students found guilty of bullying in the process are subject to "education-focused consequences." Thus, students who express, as part of a class assignment, the viewpoint that marriage should be between one man and one woman could be subjected to "re-education" that forcibly subjects them to materials promoting homosexual behavior in an effort to persuade them to accept same-sex "marriage."

Precisely as Predicted: The transsexual agenda for Hawaii schools

read … Law aimed at bullying in schools poses threat to freedom of speech

DoE Looks Other Way as Alleged Child Molesters Run Rampant

SA: The state Department of Education will hold compulsory training for all administrators and review its procedures in the wake of reports that Waipahu High School officials didn't call police after a student alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a coach and instead concluded there was no wrongdoing after an internal investigation.

After the student and her father went to the police themselves, the Waipahu High coach and teacher was charged with three counts of third-degree sexual assault. He was allowed to return to work after his arrest, but was placed on leave after media inquiries.

DOE officials declined comment on how the case was handled, citing the ongoing investigation and confidentiality laws, but said they are taking steps to address growing concerns raised in recent days from child-welfare advocates and legislators.

The Waipahu High allegations come on the heels of a class-action suit on behalf of students at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind that alleges a group of students sexually assaulted younger students, and that school DOE officials looked the other way. The lawsuit remains in mediation, attorney Michael Green's office said.

Police have also opened a criminal case against alleged suspects….

He also said that since Tamura's arrest, his daughter has been dealing with negative comments from her peers and push-back from staff. He said his daughter told him that in a recent class her teacher wrote the word "allegation" on the board and asked students to help him define it. "To me, that's harassment too," the father said.

Related:

read … Child Molesters Bully Your Children

HB2527: Star-Adv Complains that BoE won’t have Ability to Fake Teacher Accountability

SA: The proposals in play (which the Star-Adv Editors oppose) include House Bill 2527, which is due to come up next before the House Finance Committee. It sets a mandate in law that the state Department of Education develop an evaluation process for teachers and principals in which "student learning and growth" constitute 50 percent of the evaluation rating. The measure is designed to ensure that the DOE implements commitments set out in its nearly $75 million educational reform grant awarded in the federal Race to the Top competition.

It replaces a brief section of law that simply requires the department to establish an evaluation program that "shall define the criteria for evaluation and assign responsibilities for the application of the criteria."

Basically, it leaves the department to fill in the blanks. The new section spells out much of what's required, mandating measures of fiscal accountability and instructional leadership where principals are concerned, effective classroom practice and student engagement for teachers, and the support of student learning and growth in both categories.

The evaluation component is due to be implemented by July 1, 2013, under this bill.

read … HB2527

Tax Collections Running 2.6% lower than CoR Projections

SA: State tax collections are up … 8.9 percent when the effect of delaying some income tax refunds last year is accounted for….The Department of Taxation reported that general excise and use taxes — the largest category — are up 7.5 percent over last fiscal year. Hotel room taxes are up 16.1 percent.

The state Council on Revenues has estimated that collections will jump 11.5 percent for the fiscal year that ends in June, a projection that influences debate over the state budget.

read … Vacuuming your Pocket, and its still not enough

Construction of Honolulu's rail project will begin next month

SA: Drilling, pouring and the concrete-and-steel phase of Honolulu's controversial rail project have finally arrived, and the start of heavy construction will be hard to miss.

In the years ahead, Leeward Oahu traffic will swirl — or stall — around a complex dance of drilling rigs, concrete pours, cranes and gantries that will be used to set segments of the guideway in place.

A key federal approval earlier this month cleared the way for this first segment of major construction for Honolulu's 20-mile rail line, and contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. will start work in March on the first 61⁄2 miles of elevated guideway for the rail system.

For construction updates and more information about the Honolulu rail project, visit the project website at Honolulutransit.org or call the project’s 24-hour information line at 566-2299.

Much of that first phase from East Kapolei to Pearl Highlands will be easy to spot, because it will be built right down the median of Farrington Highway, which runs through Waipahu.

SA: Rail's Road

read … Construction of Honolulu's rail project will begin next month

A Falling Out Amongst Thieves: Wind Scammers take aim at Solar Scammers and Biofool Scammers

SA: “Wind power is cheapest green energy option, HECO says

And of course the question is “cheaper than what?” and the answer is: “Hawaiian Electric Co. estimates that using primarily solar power instead of wind to help meet its renewable energy targets could boost the cost of electricity production by as much as 18 percent.”

Did it take you even 1 second to realize what they left out?

HECO is lying by omission. Wind is one of the most expensive sources of alt energy and one of the least reliable. Hydro and Geo are the two alt-energy sources which consistently provide cheap base load electricity. Biofuel and industrial scale solar--especially CSP--are more expensive What they have done is cherry-pick their comparisons to make wind look good. Since all of this is well known, obviously the purpose of the 'study' was to generate the headline attached to this article. How much did ratepayers fork out to generate this headline?

HECO said each of the (sic!) three alternatives was more expensive than wind:

  • Solar by as much as 18 percent.
  • Biofuel by as much as 41 percent.
  • Mixed solar/biofuel by as much as 33 percent.

Really what this means is that the wind scammers are turning on the industrial solar scammers and the biofool scammers—a good sign!

read … Wind power is cheapest green energy option, HECO says

Kenoi Pushes for Geothermal

HTH: Next month, the county will begin using its first electric vehicles, which will be charged at the solar-powered West Hawaii Civic Center, Kenoi said. He wants to see the county helping to drive down Hawaii's dependence on fossil fuels, starting with a renewed push for geothermal energy. The county last fall entered a sister city relationship with Ormoc City, Philippines, which produces 770 megawatts of electricity with its geothermal plants. The plant in Puna is contracted to produce 38 megawatts.

"We could power our whole island with 180 megawatts," Kenoi said. "Let's get it done."

He said he's working with Sen. Daniel Inouye's office to secure federal funds to "develop a path" that shows the regulatory hurdles and steps to increase geothermal production here.

"Everybody's got to be supportive and in line to get us there," Kenoi added.

read … Geothermal

Kauai Crackpots Obstruct Hydro, Babble about RF Radiation

SA: This year's most contentious issue may be the utility's program of converting to "smart" metering. Bissell sent out an "open letter to KIUC members" on Wednesday, trying to explain the system to residents, some of whom have complained that KIUC is not showing concern about issues raised in various legal battles being waged in other states.

One California lawsuit charged that the meters, which emit radio frequency radiation, can be harmful to health. The utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., has blinked, asking that state's public utilities commission to authorize an opt-out clause before proceeding with the metering installation. (Interesting fact: One of the larger sources of RF radiation is radio stations! Amazing, but true.)

In the letter, Bissell cited the benefits of the meters, including that members will be able to reduce their usage by getting better feedback about the energy drain of specific appliances and activities, and that they will get much faster response time in the event of outages.

On the health concerns, he wrote, "KIUC considers the new meters to be completely safe," pointing to studies showing no harmful effects from RF exposure produced by the devices.

Another source of community protest has been its plans for hydroelectric power expansion of the small network of hydro plants that the utility inherited as a legacy of the sugar plantations. Bissell said the directors voted to follow a federal permitting process to secure preliminary approvals in its bid to at least triple the current 5- to 7-megawatt production.

But any project that involves diverting streamflow is controversial on an island where agriculture has such history, he acknowledged, and he said the board is now inclined to go through the stringent review process mandated by the state water code.

Related: "The Haoles are with us" -- Occupy Kauai Working to Take Over KIUC

SA: Kauai power company's nuts and bolts

read … Plugged in on Kauai

To help Hirono, Marian Higa Tells Us that Anti-Superferry Scumbags were Right

SA: The big salvo, however, is saved for two audits of the Hawaii Superferry fiasco. The state attorney general is blamed for an "extensive and intrusive review" of Higa's audit that delayed its completion, Higa says.

As for the battle to get the ferry sailing, Higa said the state "took advantage of the state's flawed environmental impact statement law and rules" to bypass environmental review.

"Efforts supporting Hawaii Superferry may have compromised the state's environmental policy," Higa's audits concluded.

Things got so bad that when the state Environmental Council recommended rule changes, then-Gov. Linda Lingle refused to sign the rules and the council essentially gave up and for a while disbanded, noting "this administration does not have much of an appetite for dealing with these rules."

Higa summed up Lingle's Superferry problem: "The administration that utilized a lax exemption process to expedite Superferry preparations also impeded efforts to strengthen that flawed process."

(Yup, you did just read that. Hawaii’s environmental laws are ‘lax’. That tells you all you need to know about this piece of Mazie Hirono propaganda.)

read … Election-year Talking Points

Hirono a Show About Nothing

Shapiro: Hirono is the "Seinfeld" of local politics — a show about nothing that keeps topping the ratings….

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's job approval rating was a dismal 39 percent, with even his core supporters unhappy about his performance. Well, he kept his promise to unite us.

read … Volcanic Ash

Ho'opili opponents gear up offensive

SA: Farmers, experts and others are expected to testify against the Ewa housing project….

read … Ho'opili

Kyo-ya Hotels' Waikiki plan deserves support

SA: Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts' proposed redevelopment projects in Waikiki not only protect one of Hawaii's largest industries — tourism — but also stimulate Hawaii's economy and provide substantial benefits for the local community.

read … Kyo-ya Hotels' Waikiki plan deserves support

House adds floor sessions to video archive

ILind: The State House has launched its own House Webcast Archive Pilot, featuring on-demand video of many committee hearings and, most recently, floor sessions. Also included are pdf’s of agendas and, in some cases, MP3 audio files.

read … House adds floor sessions to video archive


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