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Monday, July 18, 2011
July 18, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:08 AM :: 12737 Views

Convicted Cocaine Dealer replaces Advertiser columnist as Ernie Martin’s Campaign Treasurer

Sovereignty Mortgage Scammer Keanu Sai at it again with help from Legislators, Maui Council, University

Senate Race: Hanabusa sees Remake of 2002 Gubernatorial Election

Rep. Faleomavaega's Kazakh Connection finally makes news in Samoa

Hawaii’s Future? Abandoned Solar Farms Clutter California Desert

Query Results of Targeted Tax Credits

Malama Solomon wants to disenfranchise military so she doesn’t have to face Lorraine Inouye in 2012 State Senate race

"I'm pretty much 90 percent sure. At this point, I think I will run," Inouye told Civil Beat. "Whether we get the additional seat is — that hasn't crossed my mind. I was planning to run anyway." Inouye served on the Hawaii County Council from 1984-1990 and as Big Island mayor from 1990-1992 before getting into the Legislature.

With Inouye as a challenger, Solomon does have something to gain or lose — her job.

The Reapportionment Commission's work redrawing of Hawaii's political boundaries could work for or against Solomon.

Currently, Solomon and Inouye live in the same district — Solomon lives in Waimea and Inouye lives just outside of Hilo.

An additional fourth seat for the Big Island could result in Solomon and Inouye living in different districts.

SA: Reapportionment should not include nonresidents

Related: Malama Solomon's Meth Connection

Photos of Malama Solomon in Larry Mehau's barn: Big Island Rancher Larry Mehau Hosts Community Rally for Sen. Akaka

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Warning to HSTA: Stiffen your resolve against accountability because cheating is difficult with online testing

This year the Hawaii State Assessment was conducted entirely online, an approach considered more secure than traditional paper exams, where students in a classroom take the same test and answers can be altered after tests are collected.

"It's a lot more difficult to cheat on an online test, especially an adaptive online test in which all the kids are looking at different items," said Jon Cohen, executive vice president of American Institutes for Research, which handles Hawaii's test. "This test is set up so that if a kid is away from a test for 20 minutes, nobody can go back and change their answers."

"This is not to say that it's impossible for someone to cheat on our test," he added, "but we're not at risk for the sort of cheating that you saw in Atlanta."…

Under federal law, annual statewide tests are used to judge the performance of each public school in the country. Failure to show progress can lead to sanctions, including replacing staff or restructuring the school….

Hawaii does not yet evaluate teachers based on their students' progress, but the state has pledged to do so as part of its successful application for Race to the Top federal funds.

Stephen Schatz, complex-area superintendent for Kaimuki, McKinley and Roosevelt, said teachers' effectiveness should be measured in part by the results they achieve with their students, but test scores should be kept in perspective.

"There's certainly a danger of overemphasizing one measure of achievement," Schatz said. "I think educators in Hawaii know how to keep things in perspective. They see test scores as one important indicator of success but not the only one."

Shapiro: Keep up the pressure in schools

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Survey: Locating a doctor who takes Medicaid proves difficult in isles

In addition to low reimbursements, doctors complain that the Medicaid system has become increasingly onerous and time-consuming.

Medicaid paperwork contributes to an estimated $70,000 per year doctor's offices in Hawaii spend on managing insurance, according to a study by local nonprofit Access Care Today released in the February issue of the Hawaii Medical Journal.

The survey, mailed to 1,000 local private practitioners in 2009, sought to measure the willingness of doctors to care for publicly insured versus privately insured patients. Seventy-five physicians responded to the study. Of those, between 73 percent and 85 percent reported often or always accepting private insurance plans compared with between 25 percent and 30 percent that accepted Medicaid or Medicare plans….

Primary care doctors routinely spend at least two uncompensated hours per day dealing with managed care pre-authorizations, pharmacy benefit managers, restrictions in prescribing medicines, confidentiality requirements and coordinating care, the Access Care Today study said.

"It's not a question of money," said Richard Ridao, a Honolulu and Ewa internist who doesn't accept Medicaid because of "the frustrations of the documentation requirements."

"I'd rather donate my services for free," said Ridao, who provides free services to as many as 10 uninsured patients a month. "We want to take care of people. It's frustrating because you don't want to have to manipulate a system and worry about what insurance will or won't cover. It's frustrating if you have to base your care on coverage, which I refuse to do."

Alan Tice, a semiretired former internist and infectious disease specialist who conducts clinical trials at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, left his practice in January.

"It's so much paperwork, and I was by myself trying to practice," said Tice, who practiced medicine for 40 years. "I can't really afford to take care of patients from a time standpoint or a financial standpoint. It's just not viable. It's a crisis for our traditional medical care system, which has worked remarkably well in the past but isn't going to be able to work in the future."

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Abercrombie loosens qualifications for Adult Caregivers

At a time when Hawaii's senior population is surging, the state has watered down the main qualification for secondary caregivers at hundreds of adult foster homes, senior advocates say.

The move has been hailed by the industry as critical to the economic health of foster homes but has been panned by senior advocates as a blow to the quality of care in those homes.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill last week allowing substitute caregivers who provide less than five hours of care daily or 28 hours weekly to be nurse aides, rather than certified nurse aides, in homes authorized to have three clients.

The state previously required such substitute caregivers, regardless of the hours worked, to be at least CNAs

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SA: Task force must define sheriffs' role

For more than two decades, the limited law-enforcement arm of Hawaii's state government has sought a respected place and function. A task force created by this year's Legislature, finally, will determine whether sheriffs can become more effective if allowed to depart the Department of Public Safety and become their own department. Key issues should be whether such independence would be economical, and truly, what duties these workers are essential for.

All other states have semi-autonomous police, highway patrol or state patrol departments, but not Hawaii. For too long, the sheriff's department was part of Hawaii's Judiciary until the deputy courts administrator was caught fixing traffic tickets following criticism for handing out deputy sheriff's badges to legislators, business people and close friends. Legislators transferred the sheriff and deputies to the Public Safety Department in 1989….

State Auditor Marion Higa criticized the Sheriff Division last year for failing to collect unpaid fines and fees totaling about $10 million due from outstanding bench warrants and failing to collect on more than 54,000 outstanding traffic warrants. That raises a question whether a law-enforcement division would perform better if let loose from a department focused on operating prisons.


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Obama threatens Military Pay unless taxes raised and debt expanded 

Impacting the paychecks of thousands of military men and women here in Hawaii.

"Yeah it does weigh on our mind, it's something we think about every day," says Staff Sgt. Joe Miller….

If Congress fails to reach a deal before August 2, interest rates would likely to rise - affecting adjustable home mortgages, car and college loans, even credit card rates.

"Credit cards at Macy's, gas credit cards there's a huge ramification here," Havre says.

Havre says prices would likely jump, the U.S. dollar would drop even further and stocks could also plunge.

Congress is expected to vote Tuesday on a Republican plan to raise the debt limit, but also cut spending.

CNN: Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama is handling debt ceiling negotiations

Meanwhile over at Civil Beat, their chosen candidate Mazie Hirono is trying to use the crisis to score partisan points:

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Abercrombie’s GE Tax Hike hurts local companies, farmers that supply federal clients--could benefit mainland firms

John Thomson, owner of Mc Ferne Sales Co., which sells tools and other industrial supplies to the Navy, had heard the state temporarily suspended some general excise tax exemptions to help balance the budget.

He casually assumed the tax exemption on the sale of liquor, tobacco and other tangible personal property to the federal government — on the books since 1951, before statehood — had survived.

But after asking his accountant, a tax attorney and the state Department of Taxation, he learned what many other business owners have discovered: The exemption is gone for the next two years.

"Sales of tangible personal property that had been exempt from the GET could include items like locally grown vegetables sold in the commissary to staplers and paperclips used in the federal building," Mallory Fujitani, a spokeswoman for the Department of Taxation, said in an email.

Temporarily suspending nearly two dozen general excise tax exemptions was the most significant tax adjustment state lawmakers and Gov. Neil Abercrombie made to balance the budget. The state expects to bring in about $200 million a year through the suspensions to help reduce a projected $1.3 billion deficit.

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Hydro Plans for an Island Paradise: Hawaii co-op exploring new projects

Hawaii’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard mandates that utilities meet 40 percent of their demand from renewable sources by 2030. Kauai has set a target of surpassing that goal by 2023.

“With new, small hydro power projects on Kauai, we can get closer to our goal of generating 50 percent of our energy from renewable resources,” said Bissell.

The co-op’s commitment to building support for its hydropower initiatives has included an informative online renewable energy portal, operated separately from its regular website. Co-op directors and key staffers have also participated in public forums and talked about the projects in local media interviews.

Those efforts paid off July 8, when more than 7,500 of KUIC’s consumer-members voted on the board’s decision to explore small hydropower development. When the results were tabulated and certified, 72 percent of the members who cast their ballots supported the measure.

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Charter School Task Force to hold first meeting at Hawaii Capitol this week

The Charter School Task Force, which was created by a law signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie last week, will meet at the Hawaii Capitol on Wednesday.

The law calls for the task force to develop lines of accountability between the charter school system and government education leaders.


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Herkes: 'Flaws' in Act 48 are actually teeth to protect homeowners

On Wednesday, this paper reported on a meeting sponsored by collection lawyers to discuss Act 48 — Hawaii's mortgage foreclosure reform ("Attorneys say flaws mar new isle foreclosure law," Star-Advertiser).

It appears this meeting was a gripe session for those who previously enjoyed a free ride on a fast track through a giant loophole in Hawaii's foreclosure law.

Act 48 has taken the wind out of their sails because of its explicit moratorium on a law from the 1800s. That law allowed a bank to sell a home at a foreclosure auction in just four weeks — without requiring the homeowner's knowledge.

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Atomic Monkey Toons: What bus stops?


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