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Saturday, February 16, 2013
February 16, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:56 PM :: 4816 Views

Russian Nuclear Bombers Circle Guam

421 Candidates Register for Honolulu Neighborhood Board Elections

NRA: Hawaii Anti-Gun Bills on the Move

Consumer Freedom: Taxes Shouldn't be a Tool for Social Engineering

Transparency: Hawaii State, County Websites Score Mixed Reviews

Grassroot Perspective Podcast: Celebrity, Steven Tyler, & the 1st Amendment

Bills Introduced to Cut Sugar Subsidies

Trafficked Thai Workers' Dreams Become Nightmares

New PLDC: Bill To Develop School Lands Clears Hawaii House Committees

CB: Three House committees have approved — with some hefty amendments — legislation to develop school lands.

Reps. Gene Ward and Cynthia Thielen cast the lone “no” votes, noting their concerns over House Bill 865’s potential to allow non-school uses on Department of Education properties.

But Rep. Cindy Evans, who chairs the Water and Land Committee, assured her colleagues that the proposed law would include public input and not circumvent county zoning laws.

“This is an innovative approach to try to generate more income,” she said. “The money will only be there for the purposes of our schools.” (Yeah, right.)

SA: Plan for school land tightened

read … New PLDC

Star-Adv: Hospitals deal promising but tread carefully

SA: State legislators are considering whether to allow the transferring of eight neighbor island public hospitals in financial trouble to an investor-owned mainland health care company.

It appears to be a necessary move as funding and facilities deteriorate, but nevertheless, is risky with a host of emerging questions. Any move in that direction should be limited to a private-public partnership that would maintain the hospitals' public inclusion as well as quality, affordable health care…. (Translation: HGEA and UPW must be protected here.  All other considerations are secondary.)

Senate Bill 1306 has been amended to require any deal with a private entity preserve workers' right to negotiate as state employees; importantly, the bill as amended would allow the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers to keep members as civil service employees. How this would affect the cost of taking the hospitals from public to private emerges as a factor, since labor and civil service benefits are a hefty chunk of operating costs.

The HHSC board is scheduled to meet Thursday to take a position on the bill. The Maui Memorial Medical Center, one of those affected, already supports it on the condition that it reflect a report prepared for HHSC several years ago. That report, prepared by Stroudwater Associates, a health care consulting firm, recommended "a sharing of governance authority between HHSC and a chosen partner." It found that such a partnership would be "the most effective one for meeting the needs of people served by HHSC over the short and long terms."

The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce has altered a similar bill to establish a task force to study the feasibility of a public-private partnership. That would amount to a mere postponement; the Stroudwater firm already has given its stamp of approval, having studied the situation from the public point of view.

Still, many questions and details linger — so lawmakers will need to nail down answers as the partnership bill advances, as it should.

Particularly concerning is the lack of forthcoming "concrete information," even for those to be directly affected, such as registered nurse Susie Uweko- olani, a 27-year employee at Maui Memorial.

"We haven't heard anything," she said Wednesday. "There's fear of not getting hired if Banner does take over. The health care is going to change. We have no idea what that's going to be. You'd feel a little more comfortable about the unknown (if there were more information)."

Banner's willingness to pursue such an arrangement remains to be seen. (Translation: Hire all the HGEA and UPW or else.)

read … A Banner Year?

HB721 Mandates Insurance Coverage for Autism

MN: A bill that would require coverage and benefits for patients with autism spectrum disorders passed committee approval in the state House today.

The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce unanimously adopted HB721, which requires that state-regulated health plans cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including Applied Behavioral Analysis….

The bill, now being referred to as “Luke’s Law” is designed to equip children with the social skill set needed to better interact with others and enrich their lives.

Rep. McKelvey said the law, “will ensure that Applied Behavior Analysis and/or other treatments will be available to increase the opportunity for keiki and teens to develop the skills and functioning necessary to survive and thrive for adult life.”

A majority of states have enacted legislation similar to the Hawai’i measure being considered. House lawmakers that support the bill say actual claims data from states which were among the first to enact such legislation show the average cost of coverage is 31 cents per covered member per month. The cost of not providing appropriate treatment to individuals with autism, meantime, has been estimated to be $3.2 million per child over their lifespan….

Related: DoE Spends $3M/yr Suing Disabled Children, Forces Closure of Loveland Academy

read … Luke’s Law

Abuse of Disabled Girl: Mililani DoE school faces new allegation

HNN: An Ewa Beach mother alleges that her autistic daughter was physically abused for more than a year by staffers at Kipapa Elementary School in Mililani.

It's not the first time the school is facing this type of accusation.

Earlier this week, Corrina Duvauchelle-Puu sued officials at Kipapa Elementary School on behalf of her nine-year-old daughter Anela, alleging that school employees strapped down the girl to a chair -- sometimes for hours.

"Evidently, they would tie Anela up with a pareo or like a scarf. And make her watch TV periodically throughout the day," Duvauchelle-Puu said.

The lawsuit comes about a month after the parents of another former Kipapa Elementary student sued school officials, alleging that staffers physically abused their autistic daughter and tried to cover it up.

Parents of 10-year-old Jaydalyn Navarro said staffers grabbed their daughter by the neck and held her down for several minutes.

In both cases, parents said school officials never told her about the alleged abuse and that they only found out about the incidents from whistle blowers.

Eric Seitz, who filed both lawsuits, says Hawaii's Attorney General's office has investigated the matter but he doesn't have much faith in the probe….

In addition to his two lawsuits, Seitz said he's aware of three other families who have alleged their children were mistreated by Kipapa Elementary staffers.

read … Abuse of Disabled

SB932 May Cause Mentally Ill to Refuse Treatment

Ira Zunin: In Hawaii, Senate Bill 932 was introduced with the intention of protecting the public from gun ownership by anyone who is a danger to themselves or others. Such people would be prohibited from possessing, having custody or control of, receiving, purchasing or attempting to receive or purchase firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons. The law would be enforced by a reporting system and database to be maintained by the Department of Public Safety and accessible to law enforcement, mental health professionals and sellers of firearms. It also requires the Department of Public Safety to make a list of people whose license for firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons has been revoked.

The spirit of the bill is reasonable but, in practice, risks collateral damage, for example, to people who have been depressed and suicidal in the past but are now in good mental health. Furthermore, while a database prevents those who are mentally ill and dangerous from being granted a gun license, the law does not prevent such people from causing harm by other means.

SB 932 could have other unintended consequences. It might cause some patients to decline medical care for mental illness out of fear that they may lose their right to carry a gun. This week I saw a longtime patient who had just returned from his seventh tour in Af­ghani­stan as a "security contractor." He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, agitated depression and severe anxiety. Under medical treatment his problems were under good control.

This time he refused his medication refill, fearful of SB 932. "I cant have anyone taking my guns away," he said.

The best way to prevent mentally ill people from causing harm in our community is to ensure their access to necessary medical care.

read … A very well-reasoned commentary

SB223 calls on candidates to prove political affiliation

SA: Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Demo­cratic Party of Hawaii, asked for the bill after candidates ran for office last year as Demo­crats even though the party had determined they were ineligible….

The bill — Senate Bill 223 — would require the Office of Elections to reject potential candidates who political parties claim are not eligible to run under party labels. It would be left to the potential candidates to challenge the findings in court.

Democrats so thoroughly dominate Hawaii politics that some candidates have made strategic decisions to join the party to increase their chances of election or to maximize their influence at the Legislature. The party’s “big tent” philosophy has led to several disputes over whether elected Democrats adequately represent the party’s platform.

The party's "big tent" philosophy has led to several disputes over whether elected Demo­crats adequately represent the party's platform.

"The Democratic Party needs to have, and every political party needs to have, the right to control their brand and the people that run under their banner," Michael Golo­juch Jr., chairman of the party's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus, told senators.

Sen. Les Ihara (D, Moiliili-Kaimuki-Palolo) said Hawaii is like a “one-party state.”

““Sorry, Sam,” Ihara said to his colleague, Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai), the only Republican in the Senate.

“Hey,” Slom said, “you’re stating fact.”

PR: Party label

read … Proof

Sequester will impact DOD's civilian workforce

KITV: Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander for the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, is preparing for automatic budget cuts mandated by Congress and known as sequestration.

An initial round of cuts worth $85 billion is scheduled to begin March 1, and as much as $1.2 trillion could be slashed from social programs and the military over 10 years if Democrats and Republicans in Congress fail to reach an agreement to end the sequester.

Robling said the initial cut of $85 billion will have a definite impact on 24,000 civilian workers employed under contract by the Marine Corps throughout the Pacific region.

"Here at Kaneohe unfortunately, that will probably entail some furloughs that will account for about 22 days between now and the end of the fiscal year," he said.

KITV: UHERO: DC politics will weigh on Hawaii economy

read … It Begins

Gabbard Thinks Women Should Be Part Of Military Draft

CB: “Equal rights come with equal responsibilities. The selective service is no exception. Once women are allowed to serve in all capacities in the military, it is only appropriate that women be included in the selective service. However, we must always apply the most stringent standards for committing our troops to war, and only as a last resort.”

read … Gabbard Thinks Women Should Be Part Of Selective Service

Raising the Minimum Wage – Truth and Consequences

BIN: Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re not a member of that slim minority (which, to be precise, was 1.2% in 2011.)….

The 1.2% in question represents our state’s portion of minimum wage workers. A slim margin for sure, but a politically potent one, with more than a few would-be saviors, President Obama included.

read … Minimum Wage

Al-Jazeera Cheers Kauai Anti-GMO Protesters

AJ: (Who’s working for biiiig oil now?) by Jon Letman/Al Jazeera … Dr Vandana Shiva travelled from India to the US state of Hawaii to speak about GMO crops [photo: Kai Markell/Al Jazeera]

Precisely As Explained: Anti-Globalization Movement joins Jihad vs. McWorld

read … Islamists Love Enviros

BWS new billing system brings added cost

KHON: The Board of Water supply has about 155,000 residential customers, and they'll now have to pay $42 more a year in billing charges.

Every time you get a water-sewer bill, you have to pay a billing charge, which is currently $7.02.

So now, under the new system, you'll be paying that $7.02 fee every month instead of every other month.

"The $7 charge covers our cost to do the processing of the bill and that processing includes the cost of the new billing, recovering the cost of the new billing system. But also the cost of out staff to go out and now read meters on a monthly basis and do the processing of those bills on a monthly basis," said Lau.

MN: Maui Water shortages Rate Hike bill approved on 1st reading

read … Rate Hike

Judge: Internet commenter can stay anonymous

WHT: The newspaper website commenter known only as “Taxedtodeath” won’t have to reveal his or her identity, a 3rd Circuit Court judge ruled Friday afternoon.

“The First Amendment and privacy issues are compelling,” Judge Elizabeth Strance said, in issuing her ruling to quash the subpoena against the Internet commenter who left a comment on a Hawaii Tribune-Herald article last year regarding the investigation into possible improper actions by county employees on county property.

Two of those employees, then-Elections Division Chief Pat Nakamoto and one of Nakamoto’s employees, Shyla Ayau, are suing former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, alleging defamation of character for allegedly releasing information about the internal county investigation.

Their attorney, Ted Hong, also subpoenaed the Tribune-Herald for the names of several people who commented on newspaper articles about the investigation, arguing the commenters, including “Taxedtodeath,” had information Hong believed Yagong and Kawauchi must have released. Releasing that information would violate the collective bargaining agreement protecting Nakamoto, Ayau and two other former county employees, one of whom has since died, Hong argued.

Steven Strauss, who represents “Taxedtodeath” argued his client had an expectation of privacy when posting the comment. Further, Hong failed to provide specific allegations of what defaming comments his client had made.

“In Hawaii, we have a constitutional right to privacy,” Strauss said….

Earlier in the hearing, Strance took arguments on motions to dismiss the claims against Yagong and Kawauchi in their personal capacities. Strance said she would treat the motions to dismiss as motions for summary judgment and scheduled a hearing for further arguments May 6.

read … Just Call me ‘Taxedtodeath’

‘Selfish’ Attorney Robert Kim Reprimanded for ‘False Statements’, ‘Deception’

HTH: The Hawaii Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board publicly reprimanded West Hawaii attorney Robert Kim last month, board officials said Friday.

The board ruled Kim twice violated Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct by representing a client in two matters that were “directly adverse to a client he represented in another matter,” the board said in a written statement.

The board found several aggravating factors during its investigation, including that Kim’s “motive was selfish, that his conduct constituted a pattern of misconduct, that his conduct involved multiple offenses, that he made false statements and acted deceptively during the investigation.”

The board said the reprimand does not prevent Kim from continuing to practice law.

read … Attorney reprimanded by board

 

Young Brothers asks Hawaii regulators to OK rate Hike plan

 

PBN: Young Brothers Ltd. has filed a request with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that would allow the interisland shipper to adjust its rates for the next three years using the cost of labor, cargo volume and inflation as the determining factors.

The company calls this a pilot program that would cap any increases or decreases in shipping costs to the consumer at 5.5 percent each year….

“It is to make the rate-making process more efficient,” Roy Catalani, vice president of strategic planning and government affairs told PBN. “If they agree, it’s a more efficient system and we would do the first adjustment in July of this year.”

This would free up time and resources that goes into the long process of getting rate change approvals, Catalani added….

read … Built-in Excuses

Hawaii Supreme Court to decide if state bodies can avoid public notice by repeated recesses

DN: Can a public body bound by Hawaii’s Sunshine law recess a meeting repeatedly, avoid posting public notice, and meanwhile communicate among themselves by email on matters to be considered?

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next Thursday in Kanahele et al. v. Maui County Council et al., No. SCWC-29649, which will decide whether the Maui County Council has found and used a loophole in the Sunshine Law, or whether they violated it in 2007 by holding a string of meetings of which only the first was given public notice.

Oral testimony was taken at the properly noticed October 18, 2007 meeting of the Land Use Committee of the Maui County Council. But then the Committee recessed its meeting over and over, holding subsequent meetings on  October 22, 23, 25, 29, November 1, 5, 7, 8, 13, 16, 19 and 20, without notice, and without, it is alleged, giving the public any further opportunity to testify in person.

In his request for a writ of certiorari (that is, asking the Supreme Court to hear the case), attorney for the plaintiffs Lance Collins noted that in the course of these many meetings, the Committee took up several new matters, and emails flew between members.

read … Recess

Sunshine Law is brighter on Kaua‘i

KGI: The recently released 2013 Transparency Report Card gave the Kaua‘i County Council a perfect A-plus score, topping the entire state when comes down to online government transparency.

“This was the effort done by the council staff,” said Council Chair Jay Furfaro, thanking his staff Wednesday at a council meeting.

Furfaro said the council’s grade reflects an improvement compared to two years ago, when he became chair. At that time, the council was given a C rating on online government transparency by the Sunshine Review, he said.

In the last couple years, and especially during the last year, the council’s staff made several improvements regarding online posting of minutes, agendas, bills, communications, resolutions and broadcasts, according to Furfaro.

WHT: Hawaii County Digital deficit

Related: Transparency: Hawaii State, County Websites Score Mixed Reviews

read … Sunshine Law is brighter on Kaua‘i

Soft on Crime: 65 arrests, 22 convictions Caught Selling Drugs at Age 77

MN: A 77-year-old Kihei man, described as one of the targets of a police investigation into illegal prescription drug sales at Kalama Park, was taken into custody Wednesday to serve a three-month jail term….He was among six people arrested in Operation Kill Pill, an undercover investigation run by the police Crime Reduction Unit from September to November 2011.

Stone sold 30 oxycodone pills to an undercover officer for $340, said Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones.

She said his conduct "was the No. 1 quality of life complaint on this island."

"A lot of people saw him do it for a long time," Jones said. "That was the community's perception. But on this day, it was the police's perception too."

Police said Stone and his brother Frank Stone, 83, were known to sell different types of prescription pills at the park daily, receiving $2,000 to $3,000 a day.

Clarence Stone's lawyer Hayden Aluli disputed the account, based on information from a police informant, which also said that Stone bought prescription pills from others and sold them on the wall at the Kihei park. "He is not a big pill pusher," Aluli said.

He asked that Stone be given a chance to keep the felony conviction off his record so he could remain on a waiting list for a federal housing subsidy.

Letters to the court described Stone as generous - which Stone attributed to the years in the 1970s and 1980s when he ran a successful plastering business. He said he now lives on a fixed income and does "small jobs."

"I couldn't make a living selling pills," Stone said. "I did sell some people pills once. I apologize for that."

While Stone was sentenced for his first felony conviction, his prior criminal history includes 65 arrests and 22 convictions, attorneys said.

read … Soft on Crime

Senate committee OKs Watson as U.S. district judge for Hawaii

AP: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Derrick Kahala Watson as a U.S. District Court judge in Hawaii.

Watson’s nomination as Hawaii’s fourth full-time U.S. district judge now goes before the full Senate for final confirmation.

Related: Obama Nominates Environmental Lawyer to Rule Over Hawaii

read … Coming Soon

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