Hawaii: Lowest Pay in the USA
Supreme Court to Hear Rail Skim Lawsuit
Rat Lungworm: The Cost of Unintended Consequences
Paris Protocol: Devastating Economic Costs, Essentially Zero Environmental Benefits
Caldwell: I’m Building Rail Along the Waterfront—But We Should Ignore That and Just Pretend to Believe in Climate Change Anyway
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Reinstate Travel Ban
‘Free’ Food for all Children at 63 Hawaii Public Schools
Astronomers Are Coming to Grips With Moving Telescope From Hawaii to Spain
MB: The gargantuan 'scope promises to give humanity unprecedented views of distant galaxies, help characterize alien planets, and to test the fundamental theories of astrophysics. It has faced fierce (crying police) protests and opposition (lawyers) against its planned location on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which is a sacred site. The project began in the '90s, but in 2015 the TMT's building permit was revoked. A judge (another lawyer) is expected to make a recommendation in the coming months on whether construction should go ahead, but right now, the mega-telescope's fate isn't clear…. (Did I mention the lawyers?)
Canada has a lot at stake. It's committed some $243.5 million over ten years to the project, and scientists here are anxious to use the instrument to scour the skies. A team of Canadian astronomers has now authored a new report that outlines the costs and benefits of a backup location, should it have to move once and for all, at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (or ORM) on La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands. Unfortunately for them, it turns out this secondary site is not exactly optimal for a super-advanced giant telescope.
"The main drawbacks of ORM are that it is warm and relatively wet, which makes [mid infrared] observations all but impossible," wrote Michael Balogh, chair of the CASCA/ACURA TMT Advisory Committee (or CATAC) to me in an email….
According to their new study, the lower altitude and different climate of the Canary Islands would mean that the TMT's instrumentation design would have to be altered to include more adaptive optics—that is, much more complicated parts of the telescope's mirror, which can morph to account for a more turbulent atmosphere….
"That means it takes longer to achieve the same science compared with [Mauna Kea] or Chile. But for the most part the same science is still achievable," said Balogh….
The fall 2016 report found that while operating in La Palma would allow for northern observations, the site could fall short in observing highly prioritized infrared targets—exoplanets….
The disappointment of settling on a scientifically suboptimal site is outweighed by the discoveries that could still be made, wrote Balogh. "As the committee learned more about all the work has been done in the development, we were tremendously impressed and became ever more excited about the project.
"TMT is a truly outstanding, awesome machine. With some very clever design choices, and great instrumentation. It is going to be spectacular, wherever it is sited," wrote Balogh….
read … Moving This Telescope From Hawaii to Spain
Ige: Indecisiveness is a Strength
KGI: In front of a crowd of nearly 300 people at the 19th annual Governor’s Luncheon at Koloa Landing Resort, Gov. David Ige said collaboration with county and state officials and the Legislature made a difference.
“In Hawaii, there is a bigger and better sense of community rather than individual decisiveness that truly permeates Washington, D.C., and across the country,” Ige said Thursday.
With about 200 bills passed in the Legislature, Ige said this year’s session was productive, yet challenging.
“The state budget is the most important policy document that we work on any given session because it truly sets the priorities … of our state government,” Ige said. “You don’t make the deadlines arguing about things. We really are speaking and talking about things all the way to session, trying to share priorities so that we can make as many things happen as we can.”
read … ‘Leading by example’
HB665: Ige Declares War on Parakeets
KGI: …“I didn’t get my lychee this year. And the person who usually gives it to me said they got whacked by the parakeets this year. But it slowly has been becoming a bigger and bigger problem,” Morikawa said. “When you see them swarm in Lihue, it’s a very eerie feeling.”
She added that from her office in Pearl City on Oahu, she can see parakeets swarm Washington Place where Gov. Ige works. (She can also see Russia from her house.)
“It’s a problem that we need to get onto now before it wipes out crops,” Morikawa said….
read … Parakeet War
UH Vice-Chancellor Looking for Exit After Only Two Years
AP: Four finalists have been named in the University of Tennessee's search for a new vice president for academic affairs and student success. …
Risa Dickson has served as the University of Hawaii system's vice president for academic planning and policy since 2015 and previously spent 24 years at California State University, San Bernardino in various leadership positions including as associate provost for academic personnel from 2010 to 2014.
read … Exit Plan
Big Island of Retaliation: County Employees afraid to speak out
HTH: Many Hawaii County employees see little cooperation between departments. They aren’t comfortable voicing their opinions and are hesitant to raise sensitive issues because they fear retaliation. And they think the workload isn’t evenly divided in their department….
That’s according to a survey the county sent to 2,700 employees in April that was completed by about 1,000 employees….
The survey included 35 questions over eight categories, such as collaboration and teamwork, communication, engagement, ethics, resources, motivation and leadership. There were also questions of tenure with the county, department and bargaining unit.
The lowest score was for the statement, “I see effective teamwork between departments,” and the highest score was for, “I know how to find out what job opportunities are open to me.”
The questions were posed as statements, for example, “If I observe misconduct by a co-worker I would report it,” with answer choices ranging on a five-point score from “no, not at all,” to “yes, completely.” For this particular question, 21 percent said either “no, not at all,” or “to a little extent,” 53 percent said either “to a great extent,” or “yes, completely,” and 25 percent fell in the middle, answering “to some extent.”
The question about raising sensitive issues without fear of retaliation scored 39 percent saying not at all or to a little extent, and 36 percent saying to a great extent or completely. Again, 25 percent scored in the middle category, creating a weighted average of 2.9, one of the lowest scores in the survey….
read … Fear
Hype about king tides sounded all too familiar
Cataluna: By Friday’s evening newscasts, if you didn’t have a sense of proportion, you’d think everyone needed to run for the hills. There were live shots that went on for so long it was as though they were waiting for an alien spaceship to land. They were actually waiting for a wave to wash over a concrete wall. One finally did but it wasn’t much….
‘Heard about all the flooding in Hawaii. Hope you’re OK.” -- Got that message from a friend in L.A….
A clear, predictable danger, though, is getting people so used to urgent messages of severe weather conditions that never materialize that they stop believing — like the townsfolk sick of the histrionic boy who cried wolf….
SA: Recent ‘king tides’ caused by a combination of factors (and we’re going to slip global warming in there)
read … Blasphemy!
Hawaii Supreme Court To Rule On Secret Government Deliberations
CB: The Hawaii Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Honolulu Civil Beat against the City and County of Honolulu after city officials denied access to budget documents and material that Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell used to shape his spending plan for fiscal year 2016.
The budget memos outlined what each agency director — department heads, such as the police chief and the ethics director, among others — had asked Caldwell to include in his 2016 budget proposal along with their justifications for the expenditures.
The March 2015 records request was aimed at finding out what the departments considered to be spending priorities in order to compare those requests to what Caldwell ultimately proposed to the Honolulu City Council.
City officials, however, denied Civil Beat’s request saying that the records were subject to the “deliberative process privilege” and therefore should be kept confidential.
Civil Beat challenged the denial and in July 2015 a Circuit Court judge sided with the city. But the Hawaii Supreme Court agreed to take the case directly….
A decision invalidating or changing the privilege would have sweeping ramifications for government transparency in Hawaii, and potentially reverse decades of secrecy that bureaucrats and politicians have relied upon, possibly in violation of the state public records law.
“The biggest issue at stake here is the existence of the deliberative process privilege in Hawaii,” said Brian Black of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, which represented Civil Beat in the case.
“On the federal level it’s considered one of the most abused and frequently referenced privileges to withhold records,” he said…..
read … Hawaii--Starting Point for Change
Act 18: HGEA, UPW Score $30M Payout for ‘Severance’ -- without Losing Jobs
MN: … On May 23, Ige signed Act 18, which allows employees at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital to receive severance in the form of a one-time lump sum cash bonus. The severance is expected to cost the state $30.6 million….
According to the new law, each affected hospital employee of the quasi-public Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region “shall receive a one-time lump sum cash bonus severance benefit, to be calculated at the rate of 5 percent of the individual employee’s annual base salary for each year of service worked up to and including July 20, 2016.” It can not exceed 10 years or total more than 50 percent of the employee’s annual base salary.
The benefit also goes along with “any payment owed to the employee upon separation from service, including accumulated unused vacation allowances and compensatory time credits.”….
On March 9, the IRS issued a letter confirming that the state could not provide a choice between cash and subsidized early retirement benefits.
Thus, Act 18 takes out the latter option and repeals last year’s disputed law….
Related: IRS: Hawaii Legislature Voted to Destroy Employee Retirement System
read … Payoff
Maunawilli: Waihee’s Crooked Golf Club Tries to Parlay Trail Access Dispute into 100-unit Subdivision Approval
KITV: …The city had given HRT Realty until today to produce an access management plan.
It's tied a permit that allowed the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club Course to be built decades ago.
HRT had offered a land swap with the city and state where a new parking lot and bathrooms could be built.
It also proposed moving the trail head so the constant stream of hikers in the neighborhood isn’t so much a problem for the Maunawilli Community Association.
But the Kailua board thinks there are problems with the land swap idea because the area is part of a marsh.
"HRT wants to donate land to the city for the parking lot. But that land is lower is than the basketball court which we have seen under four and five feet or water," said Hinsvark.
He produced pictures from August of 2015 that show the flooding.
The board wrote the City’s Planning and Permitting department about its concerns but hasn’t heard back.
Another alternative to build bathrooms and a parking lot closer to Kalanianaole Highway is still problematic to some.
"Access to Olomana would put all the access through the wetlands and with the amount of people going through the area without property trails and bridges, will just destroy the area," said Hinsvark.
Its other concern is HRT 's request to fast track the creation of a hundred agricultural subdivision….
Maunalani History: Price of Apology: Clinton, Obama, and the Hawaiian Quid Pro Quo
read … Fears grow over access to Maunawilli Falls Trail
Homeless Dude Moves to Hawaii, Jailed for Rape
MN: …Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani Gasmen asked that bail remain at $140,000 for Wichep, who was born in Micronesia and has been on Maui for a year.
Although Wichep has relatives here, he has been homeless and unemployed, Gasmen said.
She said Wichep “took advantage of an unconscious female and sexually assaulted her.”
Police are investigating Wichep in another sexual assault report involving another female, Gasmen said.
“We do believe he is a flight risk as well as a danger to the community,” Gasmen said.
She said Wichep reported that he consumes alcohol twice a week and uses marijuana four to five times a week….
read … Homeless
Hawaii Poll: Crack Down on Illegal Immigration More Popular than Trump
CB: …The results show that, when it comes to opinions about Trump’s stance on immigration, Hawaii voters aren’t as critical as they are about the president himself.
Still, a majority — 53 percent — of respondents oppose Trump’s travel ban — which would have suspended all refugee resettlements and temporarily barred citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States — while 35 percent support it.
Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents disapprove of the Trump administration’s threatened crackdown on hundreds of “sanctuary jurisdictions” across the country, while 36 percent approve of it….
Trump’s approval rating, at 32 percent, can be seen as an improvement over his Election Day performance in November, when he managed to pull in only 29.4 percent of votes cast in the islands.
Trump has poll respondents like Robert Pavau, a 50-year-old Lanai resident, to thank for that.
Pavau approves of Trump’s performance so far in his young presidency, even though he didn’t back his candidacy.
“I don’t like the character of the guy himself,” said Pavau, who lost his job as a hunting guide several years ago. “But I do like some of his policy promises like the stuff on immigration. I do think those things need to be cleaned up throughout the country.”….
read … Immigration
Revolving Door: ‘Journalist’ goes Back to Openly Doing PR Work
SA: Diane Ako, a former island newscaster, has opened her own public relations firm.
Ako was most recently a KHON morning anchor.
“I have been helping friends or volunteer groups with PR needs for years, because being in the media is a natural fit for understanding how to pitch to reporters,” said Ako in a press release Thursday. “People had long asked me how to get their company featured in the news, and I would explain how newsrooms work and how to get writers interested in their story. I have also continuously provided PR for non-profit groups I volunteer with. I find this fulfilling.”
…She also served as public relations director/spokeswoman for the Halekulani and Waikiki Parc hotels from 2010 to 2014….
read … Revolving Door