Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017


The lava stream pouring out of an episolde 61g lava tube on Thursday into the Pacific Ocean, triggers pulsating explosions
that throw bits of lava onto the top of the sea cliff at Kamokuna ocean entry. Photo by USGS
 Sen. Josh Green proposes that homelessness be defined as a medical
condition and subject 
to a doctor's prescription for housing.
Photo from Homeless in Paradise, produced

by Hawai`i News Now 

HOMELESSNESS IS A MEDICAL CONDITION AND DOCTORS SHOULD TREAT IT, contends west Ka’u state Sen. Josh Green. The emergency room doctor and state Senator introduced a bill during the opening week of the Hawai`i Legislature to classify chronic homelessness as a medical condition and require insurance companies to cover treatment.
     The Associated Press carried a story this week on Green's point of view, which has been published nationwide and internationally. Green told the AP that he sees homeless patients "suffering from diabetes, mental health problems and an array of medical issues that are more difficult to manage when people are homeless or do not have permanent housing."
     Green reasons that homelessness is a disease, and needs a prescription from doctors for the cure - Housing. “It is paradigm shift for sure, but the single best thing we can do today is to allow physicians and health care providers in general to write prescriptions for housing,” Green told AP reporter Cathy Bussewitz. "But if a doctor wrote a prescription for six months of housing, where would the pation?" asks the Associated Press. "That’s where Green wants Medicaid to step in," reports Bussewitz. Hawai`i's $2 billion annual Medicaid budget would help pay for the housing. He told AP that money dedicated to housing could actually help cut back on overall Medicaid expenses by reducing visits by homeless persons to emergency rooms.
     "A recent University of Hawai`i survey found health care costs for chronically homeless people dropped 43 percent when they had decent housing for an uninterrupted six-month period,"AP reports.
 Dr. Josh Green (left) is West Ka`u's state Senator and has proposed that homelessness
 be considered a health issue, treatable by a doctor through providing housing.
Shown here with West Ka`u member of the state House of Representatives
Richard Creaga, also a physician. Photo from Big island Video News
       Connie Mitchell, executive director of the state's biggest homeless services organization, the Institute for Human Services, told the AP that “Housing is health care, because it does afford a person a much greater chance of sustaining their health." She questioned the idea, however, that all homeless people are in need of a prescription. "There's a lot of people that become homeless. Just because they become homeless doesn't mean it entitles them to write a prescription for a unit," Mitchell told the AP writer.
    The AP story also points out that "Hawai`i had the highest rate of homelessness of all U.S. states in 2015, with 53 homeless people for every 10,000 residents, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness." The reporter writes that homelessness experts said they are unaware of any other U.S. state attempt to classify homelessness as a medical condition. "But more than a dozen states — including California, Louisiana, New York and Texas — have found alternative ways to use Medicaid money for social services to help people stay in housing, like employment services or counseling, according to the Corporation for Supportive Housing, a New York-based group."
     The AP quotes Barbara DiPietro, senior director of policy at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. She referred to federal Medicaid money saying, “To date, no one is able to pay for rent using Medicaid. That’s the line in the sand.”
     Green told AP that some homeless patients visit ERs dozens of times each year." Referring to Queens Health System, which billed $80 million for treating homeless in 2014 and $89 million in 2015, Green told AP: “I’ve heard it described as you go to Queens as a two-day vacation. It’s going to cost probably $2,000 to $3,000 per day, so Queens is going to eat that cost, just for basic shelter.”
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U'S CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD, BACK FROM MEETING SYRIA PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, released a video about her unannounced trip to Damascus, Aleppo and Beruit, showing her visit to shelters and clinics, showing injured children and adults and the rubble of bombed out buildings. Her video features her Stop Arming Terrorist Act, which seeks to prevent the U.S. from funding interventionist regime change wars and weaponry that can end up in the hands of terrorists. It also shows her meeting with religious leaders, talking about peace.
      Gabbard was interviewed by MSNBC's Greta Van Susturen today and answered the question on why she went to Syria: "I've been very worried and carried with a heavy heart what has been happening there, the suffering of the Syrian people and I wanted to go there for myself to see if I could in some small way convey the love, the care and the aloha of the people of Hawai`i, the people of our country to the Syrian people."
     About her meeting with Assad, she said, "If we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, if we truly care about ending their suffering, we've got to be able to be willing to meet with whoever we need to if there is a possibility and a chance that than can help us take steps forward toward peace."
     She said that visiting the shelters in Aleppo, revealed children full of hope despite having lost everything.
     A number of Democrats and Republicans serving in Congress questioned the appropriateness of her meeting with Assad, whom they called a war criminal. To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

MONEY SPENT ON THE RECENT ELECTIONS IN HAWA`I is detailed in the state’s latest campaign spending report showing that those who spend the most do not always win.
    Harry Kim was elected Mayor of Hawai’i county after spending the least among the major candidates, and also getting the most votes. In that election, 20 percent of all winning candidates statewide were outspent by their closest spending opponents.
Harry Kim won the mayor's post, spending the least amount of money.
Photo by Ron Johnson
     The report released by state Campaign Spending Commission, shows that Kim spent $13,805 and received 20,636 votes, which represents and expenditure of 67 ents per vote. By contrast, the runner up, Wally Lau spent $200,068 and received 9,965 votes, meaning he spent $20.08 per vote. It was the greatest spending disparity in all contests last year.
     The report also shows that third-placed candidate, Pete Hoffman spent $29,377 and garnered 4,235 votes or $6.94 per vote, while fourth-placed candidate Marlene Hapai spent 41,464 and received 2508 votes, or $16.53 per vote. The remaining nine candidates all spent less than $5,000 and received less than $5,000 and received less than $1,000 votes.
     As a group, the 13 candidates for mayor received $282, 731 and spent $293,459.
     In the race for Prosecuting Attorney, incumbent, Mitch Roth won after spending $42,284 and garnering 24,341 votes, or $1.75 per vote. His challenger, Michael Kagami, spent $30,678 and received 11,057 votes, or $2.77 per vote.
     The 20 candidates who ran for nine county council seats received a total of $353,310 and spent $281,137. Among the big spenders were Susan Lee Loy ($58,660) and Moana Hokoana-Kelii (40,031), both in District 3. Loy won district 3 with votes that cost her $13.33 each, while Hokoana-Kelii’s votes cost her $13.30 each. Herbert Richards spent $33,111 to win the District 9 race, with 2,198 votes. Those were the most expensive in the County Council race, costing him $15.06 per vote. None of the remaining 17 candidates spent more than $25,000 each.
Maile David spent $1.87 per vote.
Photo by Ann Bosted
     Competing for the District 6 seat in order to represent Ka’u were incumbent Maile David who spent $4,404 to get 2,356 votes, which won her the seat for $1.87 per vote. Her challenger, Raina Whiting, spent $5,267 for 1,299 votes at a cost of $4.06 each.
     Among the 118 candidates for the State House of Representatives, the candidate who spent the most per vote was Democrat Diedre Tegarden, in Deistrict 11. She spent $103,273 and received 1,219 votes, costing a whopping $84.72. She lost the race to the incumbent, Mark Ing, who spent $45,042 for 5,835 votes, or $7.72 per vote. Overall, the biggest spender was Sylvia Luke, the incumbent in District 25, who spent $118,361 to win with 3,582 votes, or $33.04 per vote.
     Ka`u state Rep. Richard Creagan spent $7,520 and won with 6,176 votes at a cost of $1.22 per vote. His opponent of record, Michael Last from the Libertarian Party spent no money and garnered 1,766 votes in District 5. Creagan is one of only six House candidates to receive over 6,000 votes, which puts him in the top five percentile among the 118 candidates for seats in the house.
     The state Senate race fielded 37 candidates competing for the 14 contested seats. Sen. Josh Green, who represents western Ka’u was not up for re-election. Sen. Russell Ruderman, the Incumbent for eastern Ka’u, spent $73,901 to get 11,664 votes, or $6.34 per vote, and won the seat. His first opponent, Greggor Ilagan spent $48,474 to win 3,580 votes at a cost of $13.54 each. Ruderman’s second opponent, Libertarian Frederick Fogel, spent $25 and won 2,488 votes, or one penny per vote.
     Among other items, the Campaign Spending Commissions allows the public to see not only the total amount of monies raised and spent by office and cost per vote, but also the top 10 lists of receipts, contributions received and loans expenditures.
     For more details on campaign spending in the 2016 election, please go to

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

NEW VACATION RENTALS' PARKING REQUIREMENTS are being considered by the County Council. A proposal initiated by the Council would require one parking space for each bedroom plus an additional parking space  for the each dwelling or lodging unit occupied for less than 180 days at a time. The County Council referred Bill 256 to the planning Director and Windward and Leeward Planning Commissions for comments and recommendations, according to the agenda for the Windward Planning Commission for Wednesday, Feb. 1.
     The county Planning Department responded: "While it is important that adequate off-street parking is provided for short-term home rentals so that guests do not regularly park along public roads, the Planning Director believes Bill No. 256 is too restrictive by not considering that many homeowners rent their entire home to one family rather than renting each room individually. The bill would unfairly impact homeowners that rent their entire house to one family at a time. For example, Bill No. 256 would require four off-street parking
spaces if a typical three-bedroom home were rented on a short-term basis to one family. Since most visitors that rent an entire house typically have one or at the most two vehicles, we fail to see why four parking spaces would be needed.
This recommended language would allow homeowners to " self-regulate" the rental of
     "It is important to note that if adopted, the parking requirements in Bill No. 256 would be the strictest in the State for vacation rentals and short-term home rentals. This may have the effect of reducing the number visitors to our island if these short-term rental homes and vacation rentals cannot provide sufficient parking to meet this new requirement."
     The Planning Department recommends one parking place for each room individually rented plus one for the vacation rental itself.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HO`OMALU KA`U, The Ka`u Heritage Center, will hold a Giant Rummage Sale fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Na`alehu Hongwanji from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For sale will be tools, household goods, car parts, artwork, jewelry, collectibles, clothes toys, books, utensils, glass, and more. Funds raised will be used for programs in Ka`u. Call 929-8526, or email hoomalukau@gmail.com to donate any items, or with questions about the fundraiser or about Ho`omalu Ka`u.

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