To prevent vote on DoE reform, Legislature refuses to fund furlough settlement
Lawmakers were scheduled to make an $86 million dollar decision Thursday afternoon at the state capitol, but after an hour of testimony about ending furlough Fridays -- they simply voted not to vote.
Instead, they debated over a demand by the Governor Linda Lingle that some interpret as political blackmail, "At this point she is saying it's my way of the highway. Either get my constitutional amendment to empower me to appoint the superintendent or you get no money from the Hurricane fund or the rainy day fund to end furlough days," said House Finance Chair, Marcus Oshiro.
(And so they decided to allow furloughs to continue rather than allow badly needed reform of the DoE/BoE which is demanded by ALL FOUR of Hawaii’s living governors.)
Oshiro says the governor is giving the legislature no choice. (Because the Leg wants to keep the DoE as it is.) Lingle says she won't released funds to end furlough Fridays unless the house and senate give her the power to pick the schools superintendent, " she's arm twisting, that's heavy-handed politics, especially when there is not connection between furlough Fridays and a constitutional amendment that has to go to the voters." Said Oshiro.
(Yes there is. The current system of DoE/BoE mismanagement is the source of Furlough Fridays.)
SB: Legislators hear appeals on furloughs
SB: Let libraries operate independently from the BOE (Great idea. Lets let the schools operate independently of the BoE, also.)
Political rivals split on rail: Djou says he wouldn't ask for federal funding; Case, Hanabusa would
Honolulu is depending on federal money to help pay the $5.3 billion elevated commuter rail line, and the state's congressional delegation has been united behind the project.
Djou, one of the main opponents of rail on the City Council, said he would not ask for federal money but would accept the funds if granted by the Federal Transit Administration.
"If money grew on trees. If we had an unlimited supply of financial resources, of course we should do rail," the Republican said at a forum sponsored by the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Hawai'i Association of Realtors at the Japanese Cultural Center.
"But the problem is, the people of Hawai'i are not made of money." …
"We are concerned that our government seems to continually get bigger and bigger, but our lives are not getting better," he said. "We are concerned that our government does very little efficiently or very cost-effectively, but despite that, continues to try to do more and more."
NRO: Hanabusa Claims She Can Create Jobs? Alo-Ha-Ha-Ha!
…pledges to create jobs from folks who hike taxes in a recession make me volcanically angry.
Republican Charles Djou — who has a much better-than-usual shot in a three-way race — debuted his first television ad last week.
Honolulu rail planners knew of airport issues in 2006, state says (Mufi’s crew caught lying)
"There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Honolulu rail-transit project and the public deserves to know all the facts," said Brennon Morioka, state DOT director.
The state's release of five letters to the city and two other documents was partially driven by statements from city officials that the rail line's encroachment on airspace at the Honolulu International Airport was not brought to the attention of the city until mid-2009, Morioka said.
- PDF: Aug. 9, 2006 letter from state Airports Division to city DTS
- PDF: Feb 27, 2008 meeting notes, Airports Division Coordination Meeting
- PDF: Jan. 29, 2009 memo, state DOT to city DTS
- PDF: Jun. 25, 2009: Correspondence, HDOT To City DTS
- PDF: Jul. 20, 2009: Correspondence, HDOT To City DTS
- PDF: Aug. 20, 2009: Correspondence, HDOT To City DTS
- PDF: Nov. 3, 2009: Correspondence, HDOT To FTA
State retirees' health benefits can be different, high court rules
State lawmakers approved legislation in 2001 to replace the Public Employees Health Fund with the new Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund. The reason, they said, was "to establish a single health benefits delivery system for state and county employees," and to deal with the "spiraling cost" of health care.
Under the earlier fund, the state contributed to health benefits plans established and administered by public employee worker unions.
With the newer fund, lawmakers allowed only the Hawaii State Teachers Association to administer the health benefits plan for its members. (Which has been a disaster.)
In 2006 a group of retired state and county government employees, including former Judge James Dannenberg, filed a class-action lawsuit against the state, all four counties and Employer-Union Trust Fund to get health benefits equal to those of active employees.
UHERO sees progress in some areas, but little help for high unemployment
Hawai'i's unemployment rate has been at levels not seen in three decades, while foreclosures have risen and an alarming number of well-known businesses have closed their doors.
But UHERO's data show job losses bottomed on a seasonally adjusted basis last year at hotels, restaurants, banking and real estate. Bonham said tourist expenditures stopped falling in September when adjusted for seasonal variations.
That growth will be tempered by possible job losses in other areas of the economy and a construction industry that will see a 17 percent contraction in spending this year.
Sale of revenue bonds to improve Hawaii airports
The state has sold $645 million in revenue bonds to pay for capital projects at Hawaii’s airports.
About $166 million in bonds were sold to refinance existing debt, which has resulted in $24.5 million in savings for the Department of Transportation Airports Division, the state said Wednesday.
The sale, at an interest rate of 4.89 percent, generated about $100 million in retail investment, mostly from Hawaii residents.
Keep teens from drugs (22% are smoking dope)
Use of marijuana by Hawaii high schoolers within the previous 30 days increased from 16 percent in 2007 to 22 percent last year.
A biennial survey of high school students in the state last year showed 8 percent had used over-the-counter drugs to get high in the previous month, and the same percentage had used ecstasy at least once in their young lifetimes, up from 5 percent in 2007.
4 percent had used meth in their lifetimes, the same as in the 2007 survey. Use of meth by teenagers nationally was down significantly across the country, as a lower percentage of 10th-graders reported that it was easy to obtain.
Welfare fraud busts persist despite cutbacks
Four more convicted of welfare fraud. Your tax dollars at work.
ADV: An agency failure of historic proportions
If the division is ever to get a grip, the first order of business is to pare back its responsibilities.
For starters, legislators must refine the definition of what constitutes a "historic property." The law now considers "any building, structure, object, district, area or site" that is more than 50 years old historic. That means that a SHPD review is required not only for the path of the proposed rail system but for the Kailua homeowner applying for a building permit to expand the kitchen of his 1958 tract home.
SHPD does 6,000 reviews a year and the historic buildings roster, already unmanageable, is growing exponentially.
With such broad review requirements written into state law but no money to pay for them, it's no wonder the agency is on the verge of collapse.
Army commander in Hawaii rebuked by Pentagon, Gates: Commander of U.S. Army Pacific called repeal 'ill-advised'
The top uniformed officer in the U.S. military yesterday sharply criticized Fort Shafter's Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. "Randy" Mixon after Mixon said he is against repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military.
USA Today: Would partners of gay troops get benefits, too?
(Typical Gramscian strategy. Discuss whether people even have the right to question the abolition of “Don’t ask don’t tell” while at the same time engage in a chirpy discussion about benefits for gay partners.)
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