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Sunday, February 10, 2013
February 10, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:24 PM :: 5952 Views

Bribery, Blackmail: Louie, Coppa Secretly Recorded Offering to Trade Away Investigation, Buy Silence from DHHL Exec

Caldwell Announces Mattson's Cabinet Picks

Sen Thielen’s PLDC Repeal Bill Gutted and Replaced With ‘Recreational Renaissance’

Just Which Programs To Cut?

Legislature Blowing Chance to Save HHSC from Complete Collapse

MN: A bill to privatize public hospitals, including Maui Memorial Medical Center, came under fire last week from public union leaders and members, and two state House committees recommended establishing a nine-member task force to study (kill) the proposal's feasibility.

During a hearing at the state Capitol on Wednesday, members of the House Health and Labor & Public Employment committees received written testimony from more than 135 testifiers, with 26 in support of House Bill 1483 and 110 opposed.

Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and president of the Hawaii State AFL-CIO, babbled about capitalism: "Corporations are in business for one reason and one reason only - to make money and more money each and every year…." (Whereas government exists to destroy hospitals in order to give money to HGEA.)

In written testimony, Maui Memorial registered nurse Barbara Larrabee Duarte joined dozens of other hospital employees from Maui and the Big Island in strongly opposing the measure…. (Which is hilarious because HGEA Unit 9 Nurses are paid about half of what non-union private sector nurses make.)

Lo, the Maui region CEO for the HHSC, said he was concerned about the committee's recommendation to study the issue.

"My concern about a task force is that we cannot guarantee that an option such as Banner will be around indefinitely," he said in an email. "While the Legislature 'studies' the situation, the opportunity for this partnership may evaporate."

If the bill doesn't pass, Lo said, he sees three scenarios for the HHSC:

  • Ask the state and taxpayers for more money to maintain the status quo.
  • Look to balance the budget by reducing expenses to fit revenue sources. "This could take many forms but would include analyzing all expense categories and re-evaluating service lines," he said.
  • Continue to look for other sources or revenue and capital. "In my opinion, this is basically the effort to look at public/private partnerships since HHSC does not have ready access to capital other than through the state," Lo said.

Reality: HHSC Exec: Hospitals "Being Pushed to Brink of Collapse"

More Reality: Hawaii Hospitals: Not Quite Catching Up To Africa

read … Anything for the Unions

How HMC Collapse Claimed One Life—And How Health Exchange Will Claim More

SA: Fred Rohlfing and his wife, Maui residents, were visiting friends here at Christmas at the time of the medical crisis engulfing Honolulu with the closure of the two Hawaii Medical Center hospitals. During a Christmas Eve party, Patty Rohlfing became sick and was in pain, so sick that Fred took her to a nearby hospital. She was examined, given a strong painkiller, a CT scan and discharged. Rohlfing pleaded that she remain but "the nurse said we were to take her (home) at about 3:30 a.m., and that was that."

She was still in pain the next day so Rohlfing took her to a physician who called EMS who took her to Queen's Medical Center. Because Honolulu hospitals were overloaded with emergencies, she was rerouted to Kuakini Medical Center, where doctors said she was in septic shock from ischemic bowel disease, a deadly fast-acting condition.

While Rohlfing is exploring legal action regarding the hospital, he is hoping that something can be done now to help emergency room patients.

"What if I had some place or some person to turn to in the debate during that early morning discharge? What if a trained medical person could have seen my side of the argument about discharging the patient into the early morning blackness?" Rohlfing asked.

The state Health Department opposed the bill, saying it would be costly…..

2011: Abercrombie Doubles Down on Policies Which Killed HMC Hospitals

read … Call for ER patient advocate is personal to ex-lawmaker

HSTA: Preschool Voucher bill a threat to public schools

SA: Senate Bill 1084: Proposing an Amendment to Article X, Section 1, of the Hawaii State Constitution to Permit the Appropriation of Public Funds for Private Early Childhood Education Programs. Sounds good, does it not?

Except for the "public" and "private" references.

Those words are why rational citizens were wary of provisions of former President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

The thrust of both was the attempt to institutionalize voucher systems for private schools to supplant public education.

The difference was NCLB was less direct in targeting public schools, although provisions were leading to parents opting for government vouchers to pay for private schools where public schools were found "failing" by federal standards.

That language was buried in that omnibus legislation. However, in Hawaii's bill, the very title of it calls for state funds to be appropriated for private purposes….

The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the National Education Association (NEA) are unequivocally opposed to any privatization or subcontracting that has the potential to reduce the resources that otherwise would be available to achieve and/or maintain quality public education, or the potential to otherwise negatively affect public education. 

Related: Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure?  “The conflict of interest is rather obvious.  In 2010, legislators squeezed by economic recession, yanked funding from the Hawaii DoE pre-kindergarten program.  Now, even as the teachers union fights for a contract and the DoE administration works to implement Race to the Top school reforms, Abercrombie’s proposal would direct millions of taxpayer dollars to preschools run by Kamehameha and other private preschool providers.”

EOEL: Early education benefits whole community

read … Vouchers!

Abercrombie at PLDC Hearing: There’s Gold in Them Thar Schools!

CB: On Monday, three House committees will vote on seven bills — two that repeal the PLDC, two that the governor favors to develop "21st century" schools and make "make optimal use of harbors and park lands," and three that make structural and statutory changes to the PLDC….

The joint hearing at the Capitol auditorium was far less attended than was expected….

On Saturday, Abercrombie was the first to testify, as is customary.  The governor did not address the PLDC repeal and amendment bills. Just last month he backed off on his unbridled defense of the PLDC and acknowledged that the Legislature may need to fix Act 55.

But he did make an impassioned pitch of his own for House Bill 865, which would allow the Hawaii Community Development Authority, in coordination with the Department of Education and its board, to develop unused school lands.

Abercrombie said an assessment put the value of school lands "from Hawaii Kai to Farrington High School" at over a billion dollars. Statewide, he speculated, the figure likely is several billion dollars….

While recognizing the good intentions of HB 865, several lawmakers — most from the neighbor isles — wanted assurances that the bill would fit with county growth plans and zoning laws. The governor assured them that that would indeed be the case.

But, after the governor left the auditorium, other testifiers let it be known that they didn't trust the HCDA or DOE to handle public-private development of school lands.

Veteran Democrat and consultant Scott Foster said the two agencies were "historically dysfunctional" and plagued by a "perception of corruption." He grouped HB 865 along with the "witches brew" of the PLDC and the so-called "dirty dozen" anti-environmental bills that were introduced — and killed — last session.

Foster's point — that because of the PLDC many residents don't trust government — was made over and over again by the testifiers that followed….

Many of the same arguments — that, though well-intended, it's the PLDC by another name — applied to testimony on another bill in the governor's package, House Bill 942. The measure would create a Harbors and Parks Development Authority to make "optimal use" of harbors and park lands.

William Aila, chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, sought to dispel misconceptions about HB 942. He said it removed all the exemptions that were listed in Act 55, added nonprofits to the entities that could be partnered with and made clear that there would be no sale of ceded lands.

But most folks weren't buying it.

read … PLDC Kill It

‘PBF Fees’ on Your Electric Bill to be Tapped to Pay for ‘On Bill Financing’

SA: The state Public Utilities Commission recently struck a blow for consumerism with a decision to approve the concept of "on-bill financing," principally aimed at electricity ratepayers who can't afford the up-front costs of photovoltaic solar panels and other expensive upgrades but want some advantages of green energy….

A related measure, which has been shelved for now, proposed a community-based system enabling people to buy a stake in a solar installation. That's another consumer-empowering idea that should be revisited, once the finer points of on-bill financing have been worked out….

Hawaii Energy is the independent agency, working under contract with the PUC, that administers the program set up to encourage customers to use less energy. Conservation is made more attractive by offering incentives to reduce the cost of installing energy-saving devices, incentives underwritten by the "public benefits fee" (PBF) fund; the fee is an assessment that appears on every electric bill Hawaiian Electric Co. issues.

What the working group hopes to resolve in the next few weeks includes details on how on-bill financing would work. The initial indications are that the PBF fund would be tapped to provide some security funding to offset the risk of default by customers who default on their payments. The experience in on-bill financing programs elsewhere is that this risk is low, but having that security will help lure other outside investors to put up money that will earn them a fairly safe return. (Translation: There will be massive defaults and your electric bill will be taxed to pay for them.)

House Bill 856 is the measure (Senate Bill 1087 is its companion) that would authorize the sale of "green infrastructure bonds" to such investors.

read … Bank of Abercrombie Redux

Hawaii legislative preview: Marijuana, human trafficking, sugary drinks, PLDC all agenda

AP: All bills referred to more than one committee have to be referred their final committee by the end of the week or they're off the table….

House committees on water and land and finance plan Monday to decide on six bills related to the Public Land Development Corp., including a bill to repeal the agency. The decisions will come two days after a Saurday hearing where lawmakers heard significant opposition to the agency created in 2011.

House judiciary committee Chair Karl Rhoads says the committee will decide Tuesday whether to advance a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use. He says he pushed decision-making back until Tuesday to give the committee more time to add amendments to the proposed bill.

Lawmakers plan to consider a bill Monday that would require massage parlors, emergency rooms, large farms and certain alcoholic establishments to post signs with information about resources for human trafficking victims.

Also on Monday, the Senate committee on health will decide whether to push forward with several bills aimed at limiting youth smoking.

The same committee will decide Tuesday whether to move forward with a bill adding a fee to sugary drinks.

Senators in the Senate committee on the environment will make decisions Tuesday about whether to move forward with a bill decreasing (sic!) renewable energy tax credits. The House committee advanced a bill last week that gradually decreases (sic!) the tax credits to 15 percent by 2018….

Also on Tuesday, senators also plan to decide whether to advance a bill that would increase the conveyance tax for high-end property sales to fund environmental preservation.

On Friday, lawmakers in the Senate judiciary committee will make decisions about proposed reforms to the election commission….

read … Agenda

Lawmakers dig into privacy, money matters and poop

Shapiro: Gov. Neil Abercrombie visited Keaau Elementary School's computer labs to salute the digital initiative. The only digital action he usually sees in the schools is teachers flipping him the bird.

Some legislators want to let homeowners sue neighbors who feed birds that poop on their property, but the attorney general said it would be impossible to prove which bird dropped the load. Kind of like when House members and senators go into conference to write the budget.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim blasted the "bloat" in University of Hawaii salaries. That means a lot coming from a legislator who took a 30 percent pay raise during the recession and will get 25 percent more at year's end….

And the quote of the week … from Rep. Chris Lee on proposals before the Legislature to impose fees on shopping bags to protect the watershed: "The Legislature can approach problems like this two ways: We can raise taxes or think outside the box." A third option for lawmakers would be to place the bags over their heads.

read … Privacy and Poop 

HB673: Walter Ritte Wants Some Money, So House Votes to Squeeze Agriculture, Tourism

KHON: Did you know Hawaii has no reporting requirements when it comes to spraying pesticides? Lawmakers say that's something they plan to change.

(That’s right farmers, thanks to these know-nothings, you are going to have to fill out a form every time you want to do some field work.)

It's being called the pesticide registry bill.

Many of its supporters live close to Monsanto fields and worry about the kind of pesticides they are being exposed to.

Mercy Ritte (BINGO!)and her family live within a mile of Monsanto's corn fields in Hoolehua, Molokai.

After learning (sic!) about the pesticides they used on their crops, she started growing more concerned.

(Translation: Monsanto STILL refuses to pay off Walter Ritte.)

But some farmers say that the additional restrictions are a strain on business.

Dean Okimoto says sometimes he sprays twice a day.

So recording all the information required on the form like quantity of pesticides used, target species, weather conditions and wind speeds takes time and costs money.

"If we talk about sustainability of growing our food supply, but all of these people are putting legislation in there to increase the cost of doing business," says Okimoto. (Its OK, we don’t need food anyway.)

Those in the pest control industry say they would also be slammed.

"That's how we get rid of bed bugs, mosquitoes and everything else. The bill is just overly overly broad," says Tim Lyons, Hawaii Pest Control Association Executive Director. (The tourists won’t mind a few bedbugs.)

Also uncertain is if homeowners would be required to report the use of over-the-counter sprays like roundup.

Lawmakers agree there are a lot of details that need to be ironed out…including the enforcement of this law.

read … Yeah. Its about the pesticides. Really.

Steve Case: Hawaii's tech land baron

OC Register: Case, who was born and raised in Honolulu, originally was a minority owner in the Maui Land & Pineapple Co., a 104-year-old company that in recent years has exchanged harvesting pineapples for luring tourists. The company holds nearly 24,000 acres on Maui, but its jewel is the Kapalua Resort. It includes the Ritz-Carlton hotel and the nearby Residences at Kapalua Bay, which has expanded in recent years into primarily a timeshare operation. The resort is also home to the PGA golf tournament whose most recent incarnation is as the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, held each January. In 2010, Case upped his stake to more than 60 percent of the company, though it sold off the two golf courses to investors.

Though he doesn't own them, the resorts have almost exclusive access two of the best beaches in the islands – Kapalua and D.T. Fleming. Kapalua topped the first list of best U.S. beaches compiled by Stephen Leatherman, who bills himself as "Dr. Beach." D.T. Fleming was No. 1 on the list in later years….

A renovation and expansion of the Residences at Kapalua Bay ran into rough times with the recession, leaving too many units and too few owners. Earlier expansion destroyed the palm-spotted grass hill above Kapalua Beach, giving way to a stack of condos….

Case also owns 40,000 acres in Kauai, a resort in Arizona and a planned resort in Costa Rica.

Reality: Green hypocrites: Case & Omidyar’s Maui Land & Pine tied to human trafficking case

read … Ex-AOL titan Steve Case: He's got Maui  

Killer Gets Five Years after ‘Slipping’

MN: In one case, Imai was riding his moped when he saw another moped with keys in it at Kamaole Beach Park I on New Year's Day 2010, said Deputy Prosecutor Renee Ishikawa Delizo.

After taking the moped, she said, Imai was arrested while riding it around Kihei. He told police an unknown friend gave him the moped and he didn't know it was stolen, Ishikawa Delizo said.

Later that month, Imai was operating a stolen moped when Kihei police arrested him on a bench warrant. The moped had been taken from the owner's residence four days earlier. Its ignition was damaged and vehicle identification plate removed. Imai told police that the moped wasn't stolen, Ishikawa Delizo said.

In March 1999, Imai was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for first-degree negligent homicide in the November 1997 death of a 57-year-old Washington man who was walking with his wife on the makai shoulder of Honoapiilani Highway in Olowalu when he was hit by a pickup truck driven by Imai.

An investigation showed that Imai was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine ….

Imai's parole in that case was revoked in 2005 and 2008, and he ended up serving the entire prison term, Ishikawa Delizo said.

She said Imai was on one year's probation for third-degree theft when the moped thefts occurred.

He was admitted into Drug Court in June 2011.

But starting in March, he missed court hearings, tested positive for crystal methamphetamine use and missed drug testing and a group meeting, Ishikawa Delizo said. She said he also was arrested in a new case when he was found with 5.2 grams of crystal methamphetamine in a sober living residence.

read … More Soft on Crime Stories

DLNR May Lift Ban on Kealakekua Kayak Rentals Soon

WHT: Three kayak rental and tour companies could be back in business in Kealakekua Bay as early as the end of this week.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila said the companies’ permits are currently under review, but should be reinstated soon.

“We are easing back into it,” Aila said, adding that has been the plan since announcing the moratorium on kayaks using the historic bay late last year.

Kona Boys, Aloha Kayak and Adventures in Paradise have held the permits to lead kayak tours in the bay for several years. Aila told West Hawaii Today last month he has heard conflicting reports about how the permits were awarded, with some people claiming illegal vendors chose not to apply for the permits and others saying the illegal vendors were offered, then denied, the chance.

The moratorium went into effect Jan. 2

read … More Hard on Business Stories

Zoo Must Continue Working to Keep Accreditation

KITV: Mollinedo said in the letter dated Tuesday says he's proud the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited the zoo. He says he's proud of the Honolulu Zoo's new entrance and elephant exhibit.

But Mollinedo wrote he hopes the city focuses on giving the zoo more autonomy and authority over the Honolulu Zoo Society.

He says this would bring zoo governance into compliance with Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines. He says this is critical to maintaining the zoo's accreditation.

Read … Honolulu Zoo director resigns

Israeli surfers rescue 8 drowning children in Hawaii

JP: The three hailed as heroes by parents who watched helplessly from shore as their children were swept out to sea.

read … Heroes

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