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Tuesday, January 15, 2013
January 15, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:29 PM :: 6019 Views

Abercrombie Appoints Justin Woodson to House Dist 9

Experts: Bag Tax Spreads Disease, Fills Hospitals

Feds Pay Maui County Office of Aging to Keep Medicare Patients Away from Hospital

Disease Management Programs Don't Work

Dr John Rosemond Speaking in Honolulu

Aung San Suu Kyi to Speak in Honolulu

$150M Tax Ruling "Will Significantly Reduce Demand for Hawaii Vacations"

A Coherent Cabotage Critique

Waikele Fireworks Bunker Explosion: Investigation Findings to be Released

Rep. Thielen introduces Task force for “reasonable rate of return” for electric utilities

Republicans Open House on Opening Day

PR: Follow hearings before the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Technology and the Arts Committee from home computers and iPads.

Legislature poised to get a lot done — or maybe not

Borreca: Legislators will also be able to deal with the self-inflicted fiscal wound caused by granting big tax credits to those putting solar panels on their roofs. Private homes are part of the issue, but the real money drain is opened by businesses also claiming multiples of the tax credit that critics say are throwing the budget out of whack. So far, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's reaction has been to simply limit the tax credits.

Watch for this to get much more complicated as the solar lobby and attached environmental forces push back….

A wily legislative pro, Souki is already saying he is looking at ways to get more state money by borrowing some of the city's surplus, created by the stockpiled millions held to fund the delayed heavy rail system. Souki says he is in favor of "borrowing" the money for a few years, to help fund state projects.

Souki also would like to exam the state's marijuana laws, with an eye toward either making the penalty for possessing a small amount like a parking ticket or simply removing any penalty.

And, after years of watching the under-funded state Office of Elections fumble elections, there is support both from legislators and the Abercrombie administration to replace the polling-place precinct system with a complete vote-by-mail system….

Perhaps Abercrombie's most difficult job will be to convince lawmakers to put up the millions needed to bring the state's digital operations out of the late Pleistocene era with a modern, networked information system….

And finally, this year has mostly supporters in places of power for another go at legalizing gambling.

Souki, Kim and Abercrombie appear willing to do something, but whether that is enough to convince a majority in the House and Senate is very much an open question.

read … Pile of Fresh Manure or Pony?

Circling With Knives Drawn, Hawaii Congressional Delegation Still Hasn’t Met to Discuss Priorities

SA: Hawaii's congressional delegation has not yet met to lay out priorities for the coming year, but that meeting is expected to take place next week in Washington, D.C.

"We've been in correspondence, but because we haven't all been in the same city at the same time, the plan is to meet next week," U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Monday…. (excuses, excuses)

Schatz was among the lawmakers present Monday when former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka was inducted into the Aloha Order of Merit. He also plans to attend Wednesday's opening day of the 2013 legislative session.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz, the former lieutenant governor, despite the final wish of Ino­uye that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa be appointed his successor. The appointment was criticized by some Ino­uye loyalists who said Schatz and Abercrombie could face serious challengers in 2014. Hana­busa has left all options on the table.

Schatz, whose appointment runs until 2014 when a special election can be held to fill the final two years of Ino­uye's six-year term, confirmed Monday he will run for the seat but declined to speculate on a potential opponent.

read … Hide the knives!

 

HGEA Demands Lower Pay for Workers, Less Healthcare for Sister Isles

HTH: Banner is looking to take over operations at Hilo Medical Center, Kona Community Hospital, Kohala Hospital, Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua, and Ka‘u Hospital on the Big Island, as well as Lanai Community Hospital, Maui Memorial Medical Center, and Kula Hospital.

Chumbley estimated that about 3,000 of HHSC’s 4,300 employees would be affected….

Chumbley added that Banner, a non-union shop, had made a commitment to work with employee unions in Hawaii by possibly forming a separate collective bargaining unit.

“Any partnership here would have to have a collective bargaining agreement,” he said. “There is some fear among employees that the company would come in and lay everybody off, or they would lose their benefits. None of that has been discussed or negotiated at this point. I think there could be a move away from the traditional benefit-loaded costs … I see a higher pay scale with scaled back benefits.”

On Monday, the Hawaii Government Employees Association posted a statement on its website calling into question how employees might be impacted by Banner’s “anti-union stance.”

“The prospect of Banner Health’s takeover is unsettling,” said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira. “Frankly, it is incomprehensible that the state would willingly relinquish neighbor island health care decisions to a mainland facility. This proposal certainly wouldn’t be in the best interest of our local communities and our state.”

State Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Kohala, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said Monday that such questions, and many others, would have to be answered before he would entertain the notion of signing off on a deal.

“This is a huge and important question for health care in Hawaii,” he said. “This is probably the most important issue we’ll take up in the health committee this year. I understand that Banner does good work on quality outcomes, but we need to see the full breadth of their proposal before making any decision, yes or no, on their fit for the Big Island.”

Green said there is still some question about what kind of legislative approval such a deal would require, although he believed that the company’s lease of the Maui properties could go through with little legislative participation.

“Lots of large questions will have to be answered. … This is a statewide economic question. If Banner has an idea that would do better than what HHSC does, I would be the first one to be supportive. But if their plan isn’t fully sound, I won’t move anything out of the health committee,” said Green, who is a physician.

Chumbley said that, should a deal go through, Hawaii residents in the affected regions could expect a better level of health care that would end up costing taxpayers less.

read … HGEA vs Workers, Patients

More Hanabusa-Free Coverage of Kalaeloa Raceway Scandal

What they're not mentioning: Fireworks, dirt, and stolen trucks: Colleen Hanabusa and the Honolulu Raceway Deal

KITV: Operator of Kalaeloa Raceway Track to allow inspections

VIDEO: You Tube

Star-Adv: Mini PLDC Should Redevelop unused school properties

SA: Everyone talks about how unproductively public lands are used in general, but the more specific example that's high on the radar screen is public school property. Especially in urban zones where property value is high but school populations are shrinking, school campuses are rightly seen as an asset that could be tapped to greater effect than it is.

So it is encouraging that legislators are working on a bill that envisions a school property redevelop- ment initiative as a pilot program that could succeed where the broader concept of the Public Land Development Corp. is crashing in a hail of criticism.

But even using this scaled-down approach is going to be complicated. Consider, for example, that many Oahu school campuses are on land owned not by the state Department of Education but by the City and County of Honolulu. So many projects on the state's most populous island would mean bringing city officials to the table. This jurisdictional overlap is one reason why the long-closed Wailupe Elementary School lay dormant for so long.

read … Redevelop unused school properties

Progressives Continue to Hound Calvin Say

CB: Six Kaimuki-area voters want Hawaii Rep. Calvin Say to appear in court and prove that he’s a resident of the district he represents.

That district, House District 20, includes St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights and Kaimuki.

But the plaintiffs allege in a recently filed Circuit Court petition that Say doesn’t live there. Instead, they say he, his wife and two children have been longtime residents of Pauoa Valley.

If true, the petition contends, Say, the longtime House Speaker, wouldn’t be qualified to represent District 20 in the state House.

LINK: Say lawsuit

read … Calvin Say

Racial Distribution of Hawaii’s ‘Gifted and Talented’?

CB: A recent New York Times series looked into the racial distribution of students in NYC’s public schools and how that affected their performance and access to opportunities. 

The final story focused on the schools’ Gifted and Talented program and found that the demographics of students enrolled in gifted classes significantly diverged from the racial distribution of the schools in general…. 

Hawaii has its own gifted and talented program, but how does it compare with NYC’s? Does it reflect the diverse demographics of the state’s school system or does it perpetuate racial disparities? Which schools have the most gifted and talented students? Which ones have the least? (Here’s a database with tallies of gifted and talented students at each school, in case you’re interested.)

read … Enlightened, Conscious and Progressive Elite

Teacher ‘Surrounded by Clichés’

CB: I am surrounded by clichés and double-speak as I move through my day in a surreal daze of abstract terms and meaningless jargon. I use these by accident and also on purpose because I am brainwashed in a school system that feeds off itself. It is not a creative system but one of mindless conformity and whimsical, sudden directives.

To even attempt to describe what I like about my job feels like I am about to jump into a vat of swirling, empty phrases (well, their abbreviations, anyway) that I could easily drown in if not for one four-letter word: hope….

introducing my students to great ideas in the language arts and literature, and practicing good habits of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in an academic setting can give my students and myself a smidgen of resilience in the junk culture of consumerism, waste, and war. Hope is not a cliché. Like peace….

(Hope and peace: Clichés of the junk culture of progressiveism.) 

read … A bunch of Clichés

Which Hawaii Schools Are Badly In Need Of An Extreme Makeover?

CB: From overheated classrooms to moldy walls and rusty water fountains, all of the state’s 257 schools have at least something that needs tending to….

The DOE is well aware of the problem. It generates annual reports on the status of millions of dollars worth of repair and maintenance projects, many of which remain on an ever-growing backlog.

Put simply, what the DOE lacks is funding. Moreover, a number of lawmakers have criticized how the department prioritizes projects.

read … Broken

Poll - Keep the PLDC, Create a Lottery and Vote By Mail

CB: A new Civil Beat Poll conducted last week found only 28 percent of voters want to abolish the relatively new Public Land Development Corporation, despite its battered image and continued protests.

The poll results also show more than half of voters want to create a statewide lottery, even though almost the same amount say gambling generally should remain illegal.

Civil Beat also asked Hawaii residents what they think about the Honolulu rail project, the state budget deficit and voting by mail.

read … Poll Results

Ethics Commission cautions legislators on invitations to “food and drink” events

ILind: The State Ethics Commission has again cautioned lawmakers that invitations to “‘food and drink’ events such as breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and receptions,” including fundraisers, are considered to be gifts under provisions of the State Ethics Code.

In an email to all legislators yesterday, Ethics Commission Executive Director Les Kondo said the commission has standing guidance that spells out how the gift provisions apply to these invitations. He directed legislators to the publication, “Guidelines for Gifts Under the State Ethics Code.”

According to those guidelines, accepting invitations to “food and drink” events valued at under $25 may generally be accepted.

read …  Food and Drink

Election workers’ lawsuit Heads for Dismissal hearing

HTH: Pat Nakamoto and Shyla Ayau filed the lawsuits against the county, former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi and former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong last year alleging false and misleading information was leaked to the media about an investigation that led to them losing their jobs. They are seeking unspecified damages, said their attorney, Ted Hong.

Judge Elizabeth Strance granted a motion to dismiss in the Nakamoto case in November, ruling the county could not be sued since the claims would be covered by state worker compensation laws. The dismissal also applied to Yagong and Kawauchi in their official capacities but not as private individuals, leaving them as defendants in the lawsuit.

The county is seeking the same dismissal in Ayau’s lawsuit, while the attorney representing the former clerk and former chairman has also filed separate motions to dismiss in both cases.

All three motions will be considered Feb. 15. Hong said he plans to appeal any dismissal, including the one already granted.

read … Dismissal

Potential Lawsuit may Derail Aloha Tower Deal

KITV:  If you were wondering how the ATDC was going to continue its decades-long tradition of failure after inking a deal with HPU….

"I can only tell you this fight has just begun," said attorney Michael Green.

Green is representing Ed Bushor, who is HPU's remaining partner in the deal, with 20 percent stake in the marketplace's development.

Last fall, the university replaced Bushor as marketplace manager and has been trying to buy him out for months, but on Friday, his attorney's gave the state 168 pages of documentation, that they said, shows HPU entered into "side agreements" to ultimately push Bushor out. 

"If there is fraud in the inducement this contract is void. So, they can take any position they want to take. My hope is they have a lot of money, because we're suing them for a lot of money," said Green.

Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/hawaii/Hawaii-Pacific-University-is-moving-ahead-despite-potential-lawsuit/-/8905354/18132304/-/oci6ix/-/index.html#ixzz2I5eJNsbP

read … Hawaii Pacific University is moving ahead despite potential lawsuit

Counties Grub for Money

Baker looking forward to ‘strong’ Senate team, a Maui advantage

Kenoi asks Legislature for transportation, civil defense dollars

The Economist: Aloha Asia

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, one of America's favourite passenger carriers, is continuing its aggressive expansion into the Asian market. The airline plans to buy over a dozen new Airbus jets, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. The rapidly growing airline plans to add about 1,000 jobs over the next half-decade or so to handle its expanded capacity. The deal is worth around $2.8 billion, according to Reuters.

Hawaiian is a positive story in America's domestic airline industry. Its planes arrive on time, it gets good passenger satisfaction scores, and it is growing. Such strength is proof that Virgin America's plan to offer superior service and amenities for a slightly higher price wasn't all wrong. But Hawaiian's situation is unique. It is perfectly situated to take advantage of Asia's growing wealth and the growing demand for American vacations. As far as American vacations go, you can't do much better than Hawaii.

Hawaiian's new planes aren't intended to be used on the inter-island routes it already dominates; they are for medium and long-haul flights to the mainland and to new Asian destinations. As Asians become richer and more interested in American vacations, and as America continues to loosen its visa rules (which, as we've argued before, is a good thing), Hawaiian's options will only expand. It's nice to see an American airline making money (it is a rare thing)—and doing so without trying to trick its customers. But seeing an American airline so enthusiastically embrace European planes has to sound like bad news for one party—the already embattled Boeing, and the troubled 787.

read … Hawaiian Airlines

Marine Corps to Increase Numbers in Hawaii

MT: About 400 people attended the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii's 12th annual Hawaii Military Partnership Conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and 500 heard Locklear's luncheon keynote speech.

About 900 aviation Marines are coming to Hawaii as part of new Cobra and Huey helicopter and Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft squadrons, said Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander of Marine Forces Pacific….

Additionally, the Marines will move about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, leaving 10,000 to 11,000 there, with 4,700 to 4,800 going to Guam and 2,700 to Hawaii, Robling said.

read … Marine Corps to Increase Numbers in Hawaii

Homeless Camp Fire Cuts Telephone Service to Kauai

KITV: Hawaiian Telcom says the cause service outages on Tuesday was a fire believed to be intentionally set in the early morning hours beneath the H-1 Freeway airport viaduct which burned a large span of fiber optic cable.

Emergency Medical Services officials say a man in his late 50s was burned when the area where he resided caught fire. That happened at 1 a.m. at Nimitz Highway and Kakoi Street. It is not known if this fire is related to the outage.

The service outages are being primarily experienced in West Oahu, but also other areas of Oahu and portions of Kauai.

The outage is also affecting Kauai police's dispatch line, according to Kauai county officials. The 911 emergency line was not affected, but the public is being asked to limit their 911 calls to emergencies only

read … Homeless Camp

County worker gets another county contract

HTH: Two years after the Hawaii County Council rebuffed Mayor Billy Kenoi’s attempt to ban county employees from securing county contracts for their private businesses, a company at the center of the controversy has again won a contract to clean roadside drywells and culverts.

The company, Kamaiana Pumping, is owned by Randy Riley, a Department of Public Works division head. Riley is in charge of the county’s Automotive Division….

Kamaaina is not charging a disposal fee, while B&B tacked on $95 per ton. The disposal charge is not enough to change the winning bid, however.

Kamaaina has been dumping the debris at the county Public Works baseyard, which Lee said is acceptable because the debris, which he said includes a lot of topsoil, is used in other county projects….

Kamaaina Pumping has held the lucrative contract since 1996. In 2009, the Kenoi administration yanked a bid solicitation while officials investigated allegations of bid-rigging after the specifications were changed so that Kamaaina Pumping was the only qualified bidder.

Kenoi tried for 14 months to tighten procurement laws so county employees couldn’t win government contracts, especially within their own departments. His attempts to get the Board of Ethics to endorse his plan failed, as did the attempt to get the County Council to change the ethics code.

Kenoi said Monday he plans to reintroduce the ethics legislation to the new County Council.

A 2009 audit of Public Works says taxpayers would save even more if the entire operation were brought in-house….

read … Another Day in the Nei

Hawaii Pacific University gets OK for Aloha Tower dorm plans

PBN: The Aloha Tower Development Corp. on Monday approved Hawaii Pacific University’s $30 million plan to transform the Aloha Tower Marketplace into a student dormitory with as many as 300 units and entertainment and sports complex that would infuse economic growth into the center near downtown Honolulu.

HPU’s plan for the 160,000-square-foot, two-story waterfront marketplace includes establishing student housing on the second floor with a multi-use complex that would house retail, dining and entertainment options on the first floor.

“We’re hopeful to go into demolition and renovations by summertime and we would hope that the coming year-and-a-half, we would see new businesses such as retail and dining establishments coming aboard and then sometime in 2014, see the first students starting to move in for summer classes and somewhere in 2014, a full compliment of students on the property by fall,” Simmons said.

(It is possible??? Did ATDC finally get it right after all these decades?  Stay tuned!)

read … Aloha Tower

Tesoro mum on who will buy its Hawaii gas stations

PBN: A source previously told PBN that an Asian entity is hoping to purchase Tesoro’s 31 gas stations in Hawaii. Another strong possibility is Aloha Petroleum Ltd., which told me last May that the convenience store market in Hawaii is under served, particularly outside of Waikiki, and although “c-stores” are a relatively small part of its existing business now, it is looking to significantly grow this area.

So the purchase of Tesoro’s existing retail gas operations could make sense for Aloha to add to it 42 “c-stores” on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

read … Gas Stations

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