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Hawaii in the Nation's Capitol

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Nursing Home Care in Hawaii the Best in the Nation?

A newspaper story points at one indicator where Hawaii leads, leaving out other serious issues affecting quality.

·By Nathan Eagle

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser boldly declared in its front-page headline Wednesday that nursing home care in Hawaii is “the best in nation.”

Hopefully, people read the story all the way to the end, and then look at the paper’s reporting from last summer, which paints a far different picture.

In the latest piece, the most favorable indicator in the federal evaluation system — nursing homes with five-star ratings — was cherry-picked and a story was built around it.

Even then, the headline in the print edition should have included a qualifier since Washington, D.C. is actually the best in the nation in that category. (Some 39 percent of nursing homes in Hawaii have the top rating compared to 53 percent in D.C.)

Elderly receive help at a long-term care facility.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The far larger issue, though, is the story burying a crucial point for readers to consider when deciding how much weight to give the rating system that makes Hawaii seem so great.

Federal regulators have highlighted concerns over state regulators here tending to be lenient when it comes to inspecting nursing homes and not doing them on a timely basis.

In fact, Hawaii faced a huge fine for failing to inspect 17 of its 45 nursing homes in the time frame prescribed by federal law. A Star-Advertiser story in June quoted experts who underscored just how serious of an issue this is.

“To go beyond (the required time frame) opens up the whole problem of what is happening within these facilities,” Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the Washington, D.C.-based

·By Nathan Eagle

Members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation don’t want the Army pulling any soldiers out of Hawaii in an effort to balance the budget.

“Though no final decision has been made, a worst-case scenario was laid out that would be catastrophic for Hawaii,” U.S. Rep. Mark Takai said in a statement Tuesday.

“This option would result in a reduction of approximately 20,000 soldiers and civilians from Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks, along with another 30,000 of their family members,” he said. “The communities around Schofield Barracks would lose approximately 30 percent of their population, causing an annual economic loss to the state of about $1.35 billion.”

A loss of that magnitude, said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a military veteran, “would also mean crippling impacts to the unique and indispensable assets available to Pacific Command for regional security and stability. The loss of Army forces stationed in Hawaii would fundamentally undermine current efforts to build a sustainable U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific, and limit our ability to build relationships with partner countries and promote stability in the region.”

Congressman Mark Takai walks with wife Sami at Gov. David Ige’s inauguration ceremony Dec. 1. Members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation are fighting to keep Army troops stationed here.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Takai, a member of the National Guard, said the Army has to reduce its overall force by roughly 80,000 troops as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011. He said 30 locations are being studied for potential reductions.

Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Schatz said

Hawaii Receives $11.6 Million to Help the Homeless

Recipients include City and County of Honolulu and organizations working to provide housing while promoting self-sufficiency.

·By Marina Riker

Hawaii will receive $11.6 million of Continuum Care awards to help combat homelessness, it was announced Monday.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave 45 Continuum Care awards to non-profits and government programs that help homeless individuals and families. The Continuum Care program supports organizations that provide services and housing to the homeless while promoting self-sufficiency.

A number of Hawaii Department of Human Services and a number of Honolulu City and County programs will receive funding for projects that provide supportive housing and rental assistance. The award is similar to amounts received in past years.

Tents line the sidewalks at Ohe Street near Waterfront Park in Kakaako.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Some of the other recipients include Hale Kipa, which provides housing to transient youth, and Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, which run chemical dependency and family out-patient programs. The Salvation Army was also awarded funding for addiction treatment and homeless offender services.

Other organizations that will receive funding include Steadfast Housing Development Corporation, which operates several group homes. The Continuum Care awards will also fund Mental Health Kokua and the United States Veterans Inc., which provides services for homeless veterans and their families who are chronically homeless or have disabilities.

Housing Solutions Incorporated, Gregory House Programs and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii will also receive funding from the Continuum Care awards.


Hirono Reiterates her Opposition to Repealing the Jones Act

In an interview with Politico, the Hawaii senator says the action would cost jobs and imperil the islands' shipping trade.

·By Richard Wiens

Sen. Mazie Hirono is continuing to defend the Jones Act in an interview with Politico, after a floor speech last week in which she voiced strong opposition to  an amendment that would dismantle the Jones Act.

The Jones Act requires that goods shipped between U.S. ports be carried by vessels built in the country and owned and operated by Americans. During last year’s election season, many candidates for Hawaii offices said its repeal would reduce the high cost of living here.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, is pushing an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline legislation pending in the Senate that would repeal the Jones Act. The Politico article states:

“Sen. Mazie Hirono has joined the growing chorus against Sen. John McCain’s latest attempt to scuttle the Jones Act, arguing repeal would cost Hawaii thousands of jobs and jeopardize its shipping lifeline.

“’In a state like ours, which is basically 80 to 90 percent dependent on shipping to bring in all the food and the goods that we need, the Jones Act provides that kind of reliability that we need,’ the Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said in an interview Tuesday in her Capitol Hill office.

“’I’d like to see a strong shipbuilding manufacturing industry in our country,’ she said. ‘Keeping the Jones Act is critical. This is not the time for us to be creating instability and uncertainty in either of those areas of concern.’”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

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Takai Named to U.S. House Natural Resources Committee

Hawaii's new congressman will get a crack at fishing regulations, native affairs and energy production. He's also on the Armed Services Committee.

·By Richard Wiens

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, the newest member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, has been named to the House Natural Resources Committee, which deals with issues such as fishing regulations, native affairs and energy production.

“I am excited to serve on such a crucial committee for our state,” Takai said in a statement Wednesday. “The Natural Resources Committee plays an important role in the preservation of our island home, and I look forward to forging real solutions for our citizens while on this committee.”

“I have long been a proponent of sustainability and ending our current dependence on fossil fuels,” Takai said. “While on this committee I want to support President Obama’s efforts to help us become greener in all aspects of our lives. This is especially important for Hawaii, where we import over $9 billion in food and energy each year.”

“Another critical component of the Natural Resources Committee’s work is jurisdiction over native affairs. I hope that I will be able to use this seat to continue my support for the Native Hawaiian community, in addition to advocating on behalf of all of our nation’s indigenous peoples,” Takai said.

The Natural Resources Committee is composed of 47 members: 26 Republicans and 21 Democrats.

Last week Takai was named to the House Armed Services Committee.

Mark Takai talks about healing the partisan divide in Congress during his successful 2014 campaign for Congress.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat


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Takai to Serve on Obama’s Escort Committee for State of the Union

Hawaii's newest congressman will be leading the president into the House chamber tonight.

·By Nathan Eagle

Hawaii’s newly elected Congressman Mark Takai has been tapped to serve on the Escort Committee for President Barack Obama’s seventh State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was in Honolulu last week for Takai’s swearing-in ceremony, made the decision to have the freshman lead the president into the chamber where he shakes hands with members along the center aisle en route to the rostrum to deliver his speech, according to a media advisory from Takai.

Obama’s State of the Union address, which starts at 4 p.m. (9 p.m. EST), is expected to focus on the middle class. The president has already unveiled some of his proposals for the coming year, including free community college and better tax credits for child care.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai gives a congratulatory kiss to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after taking his oath of office, Jan. 16.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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FOIA Reform Bill Dead

Effort to improve government transparency killed by House.

·By Nathan Eagle

In case you missed it, House Speaker John Boehner killed an effort to improve government transparency last week, according to at least one senator.

The Senate had unanimously passed a bill to reform the Freedom of Information Act in large part by directing government agencies to presume records are public. But the House wouldn’t hear it.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, on Thursday declared the reform effort dead for the year. He had introduced the new reforms in June ahead of the 48th anniversary of FOIA’s enactment.

The Hill’s Mario Trujillo has this report with more information.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, pictured here at a March hearing, blames House Speaker John Boehner for killing the FOIA reform bill last week.

Senate Appropriations Committee/Flickr

Torture Report Details Horrors of CIA Detention, Interrogation Program

Media outlets worldwide are tearing through the 524-page, heavily redacted executive summary.

·By Nathan Eagle

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Intelligence Committee chair, discusses the report on CIA interrogations live on C-Span2, Tuesday.

C-SPAN2/Screen Shot

The release Tuesday of a 524-page, heavily redacted executive summary of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee’s highly anticipated torture report is dominating headlines worldwide.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald has been one of the best outlets providing live coverage of the report, which he describes as “by far the most comprehensive and official account of the War on Terror’s official torture regime.”

The New York Times is providing a detailed look at the report, along with key takeaways and interactive graphics, including a timeline that starts with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Guardian is offering comprehensive coverage too, highlighting how few people are responsible for the CIA program.

If you really want to get down and dirty, below is the executive summary of the report that was declassified. The full report, which is more than 6,000 pages, remains classified.

Capitol Watch

Do You ‘Care Like Crazy’ About Women’s Rights, War, Student Loans?

Rock the Vote has launched a $250,000 ad campaign to get Millennials to vote this election.

·By Nathan Eagle

“Asians. You can work them long hours, they do what you tell them and they don’t complain.”

That’s how one of several new Rock the Vote ads begins, part of the nonprofit’s $250,000 national media campaign that launched Thursday to get young people to the polls on Nov. 4.

The actor delivering those words is portraying a type of voter. This ad, as well as several others like it, is meant to be offensive and spur Millennials in particular to stand up for their beliefs by casting ballots for candidates who support their views.

The ads are part of Rock the Vote’s “Care Like Crazy” campaign. Each focuses on a different issue that young voters might be passionate about, including voting rights, student loans, war, the environment, women’s rights and sexism.

“Our goal is to meet young people where they are and engage them on the issues they care about,” Rock The Vote President Ashley Spillane said in a release. “As politicians fail to address issues young people care about, and some even make it more difficult for them to participate, Rock the Vote wants Millennials to understand the power they yield as the largest and most diverse generation in our county’s history.”

Hawaii can expect to see the ads online through sites like Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Pandora. But a few states in the south and Midwest, including Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, will see them on TV.

Below is a sampling of the ads. View them all here.

Check out Civil Beat’s Elections Guide here.

Hawaii Voting Registration Deadline Is Oct. 6

Election officials will once again hold drive-thru voter registration events at various locations.

·By Chad Blair

The deadline to register to vote in the general election is Monday, Oct. 6. So, “no vote, no grumble,” OK?

Drive-thru voter registration will once again be held on that day at various locations (see below). Individuals may drive to designated locations and register on the spot.

“We hope people will take this opportunity to register to vote. It’s quick and easy. Just stay in your car and an election official will have you registered in minutes,” said Chief Election Officer Scott Nago in a press release today.

A total of 1,200 individuals registered during the primary election drive-thru registration in July. Hawaii at present has over 707,000 registered voters, says the State Elections Office.

Election headquarters at the state Capitol on the day of the 2014 primary election.

Alia Wong/Civil Beat

The state advises that registered voters who have changed their name or moved since the last election should re-register before the voter registration deadline. You must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Hawaii and at least 18 years old to vote.

2014 Drive-thru Voter Registration locations:

Hawaii County

Kona Kmart, Keaau Sack ‘n Save and Old GMC in Hilo
Oct. 4 and 6, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kauai County

Office of the County Clerk, Elections Division
Oct. 6, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

City and County of Honolulu

Hawaii State Capitol (front of the Capitol facing Beretania Street)
Oct. 6, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wikiwiki Voter Registration Forms are available at:

U.S. Post Offices
Public Libraries
Yellow Pages
Office of Elections website: www.hawaii.gov/elections
City/County Clerk’s Offices
Most State Agencies

Completed voter registration forms must be turned in to the appropriate city

Want Data on Asian-Americans? There’s An App for That

And for Pacific Islanders, too, thanks to the White House, which has launched a "comprehensive hub."

·By Chad Blair

The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with Data.gov, has launched Data.gov/AAPI, “the most comprehensive hub of government data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

That’s according to the White House, which issued a press release today. The goal is to help policymakers and the public “understand and address disparities in socioeconomic status, educational attainment, health, and other areas of importance to the AAPI community.”

Says WHIAAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, “The launch of Data.gov/AAPI marks an important milestone for better understanding and responding to the complex needs of AAPIs, now the fastest growing racial group in the country.”

A screen shot from Data.gov/AAPI.

Among the data nuggets are these:

Asian American veterans are among the oldest in age. Explore the data.
In the first year of college, Asian American and black students have the highest enrollment rates in remedial education courses. Explore the data.
Of the immigrant orphans adopted by United States citizens, nearly half are of Asian descent. Explore the data.
Pacific Islanders have among the highest unemployment rates of all racial and ethnic groups. Explore the data.
The AAPI community is expected to more than double to over 47 million by 2060. Explore the data.

Data.gov/AAPI offers 2,000 datasets and reports from almost 50 federal, state, county and city sources pertaining to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community. 

Here’s a video of President Obama saying why it’s important:

Gabbard Meets Indian Leader, Attends NYC Speech

The only Hindu in Congress tweets our her reaction to Modi's appearance at Madison Square Gardens.

·By Chad Blair

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York City today, calling the experience “wonderful.”

According to her Twitter feed, Gabbard was among 18,000 people in attendance for Modi’s speech at Madison Square Garden.

Describing the energy in the arena as “electric, inspiring, positive,” Gabbard called Modi’s speech “incredible.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard meets India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi.


Highlights of the speech:

.@narendramodi wants to destroy old laws that are no longer used or applied, rather than tout many new laws

.@narendramodi Crowd roars YES to Modi request to help clean and purify the holy Ganges River #ModiInAmerica

.@narendramodi shares a website called Mygov.in so people of India can contribute to India’s destiny #ModiInAmerica

.@narendramodi speaks of everyone, in every job, can do their job to the best of ability, in service to country and others #ModiInAmerica

Gabbard earlier met Miss America 2014 @NinaDavuluri backstage at the Garden.

As ABC News reported, Modi “appealed for help from Indian-Americans to help develop his country’s economy, vowing that under his leadership, the South Asian nation wouldn’t look back.”

On Monday, Modi will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House.

Modi’s visit is not without controversy.

ABC News says a federal court in New York on Friday “issued a summons for Modi for a lawsuit brought by a U.S. human rights group. It was filed on behalf of victims of the Gujarat violence that claimed more than 1,000 lives, mostly Muslims.”

Also, protesters outside

Gabbard, Hanabusa Split on Auditing Federal Reserve

The GOP measure receives support of 106 House Democrats. A companion bill is in the Senate.

·By Chad Blair

U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa split their votes yesterday on a bill calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System.

Gabbard was among 106 Democrats who voted in favor of the measure in the 333-92 vote.

Hanabusa sided with 92 Democrats, including leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, in opposing the bill. One GOP member also voted with Democrats.

The Fed building in D.C.

Flickr: Tim Evanson

According to The Hill, the bill would “require the comptroller general to conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors and banks within one year and submit a report to Congress on the findings.”

The Hill said a version of the bill sponsored by then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) “passed in 2012 by a vote of 327-98. Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.”

Broun said, “This is a vital piece of legislation that will help to usher in a new era of transparency in this nation’s monetary policy.”

But Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said “Such audits, which could be conducted on an almost real-time basis under this bill, could have a chilling effect on the Fed.”

Hirono Among Female Senators Writing Angry Letter to NFL

They say Goodell’s revisions to policy regarding suspensions for domestic violence do not go far enough.

·By Chad Blair

This report in Roll Call says that a group of 16 female U.S. senators have written “a scathing letter” to Roger Goodell about the National Football League’s handling of violence against women.

The senators include Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

“It is long past time for the NFL to institute a real zero-tolerance policy and send a strong message that the league will not tolerate violence against women by its players, who are role models for children across America,” the 16 senators wrote.

Ray Rice, formerly of the NFL, at training camp in 2009.

Flickr: Keith Allison

They added, ““We hope the NFL will seize this opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the safety of women and families.”

The senators say they were “shocked and disgusted” by the elevator video of now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Rice.

“Tragically, this is not the only case of an NFL player allegedly assaulting a woman even within the last year,” they wrote to Goodell.

The letter comes as the nation marks the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.

In related news, according to The Hill, “Leaders of the House Oversight Committee are discussing whether they should hold a hearing to examine the National Football League’s handling” of the Rice assault case.

USDOE Grants $20M for Native Hawaiian Education

The grants support education programs and institutions that serve Native Hawaiian communities in areas ranging from kindergarten readiness to career training.

·By Alia Wong

The U.S. Department of Education has set aside more than $20 million in grants for 24 programs and institutions that serve Native Hawaiians and promote their educational advancement.

The recipients include nonprofits, foundations and a health organization. More than half of the grant money — $11 million — is going to colleges that serve Native Hawaiians, including five community colleges, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Chaminade University.

The grants are earmarked for specific projects focusing on areas such as school readiness, STEM education, Native Hawaiian culture and language and college success.

Partners in Development’s Ka Paalana preschool program was one of the grant recipients.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

“Many in our Native Hawaiian communities face unique challenges in gaining a higher education,” said Sen. Brian Schatz in a statement. “We must make sure the federal government continues to do its part to identify and tackle some of the obstacles standing in their way. These investments will go a long way in providing our children with the opportunities to learn in a unique, culturally sensitive way and help them reach their full potential.”

Here’s a list of the grants, courtesy of a press release from Sens. Mazie Hirono and Schatz:

Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE) — $328,462 — The Kulia and Ka Lama Education Academy will support students earning their teaching credentials who are committed to teach early childhood in the Native Hawaiian community.
Kawaiahao Church — $299,500 — The E Lauhoe project will provide bilingual STEM curriculum and encourage the use of STEM knowledge at home.