Experts: Universities Need to be Transparent About Money Received from Confucius Institutes
SB270: Chin Pushing Gay Conversion Ban
Janus: Will SCOTUS Free Public Employees from Union Control?
AP: …The newest justice holds the deciding vote in a case to be argued Feb. 26 that could affect the financial viability of unions that are major supporters of Democratic candidates and causes. The unions represent more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who could be affected by the outcome. The other eight justices split 4 to 4 when the issue was last at the court in 2016.
The court is being asked to jettison a 41-year-old ruling that allows states to require government employees who don’t want to be union members to pay for their share of activities the union undertakes on behalf of all workers, not just its members. These so-called fair share fees cover the costs of collective bargaining and grievance procedures to deal with workplace complaints.
Employees who don’t join the union do not have to pay for the unions’ political activities.
Conservative anti-union interests are backing an Illinois government employee who says that being forced to pay anything at all violates his First Amendment speech rights.
“I’m not against unions,” said the employee, 65-year-old Mark Janus, who is represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. “I don’t oppose the right of workers to organize. But the right to say no to unions is just as important as the right to say yes.” He said he opposes his union’s fight for wage and benefit increases when the state is “in pretty terrible financial condition right now.”
William Messenger, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawyer who is representing Janus at the Supreme Court, said everything the union does, including its bargaining with the state, is political and employees should not be forced to pay for it.…
read … Freedom Coming?
Could ConCon reform corrupt Office of Hawaiian Affairs?
Borreca: …State Auditor Les Kondo is required to audit OHA every four years and this year’s study shows OHA with a serial disrespect for OHA beneficiaries — that is, Native Hawaiians — as the trustees spent money like drunken sailors running through Waikiki.
Auditors can’t really say that, but as Kondo put it: “This form of behind-the-scenes giving is inherently inequitable to OHA’s many other beneficiaries who may be in need of financial assistance, but are unaware of who and how to ask for help.”
Trustees dropped more than $14 million in discretionary spending. Some of it was petty and greedy, as a trustee who spent $34.30 at Don Quijote for Christmas tree lights for the office and $99.46 for a Christmas tree.
Another trustee (names were not made available) took $249 in OHA money for a Hawaiian Airlines Premier club membership. And another got OHA to buy a $106.08 Walmart car air freshener.
More disturbing are the political and religious payments. A beneficiary was paid $400 “for entertainment for musical interlude as part of 2016 Prayer Watch.” The Pacific Buddhist Academy was given a “$1,750 donation to the 9th Annual Lighting Our Way Banquet.”
Another beneficiary got $255 for “chair setup and chairs for God’s Ohana Day,” and Lohea Audio picked up $1,400 for the sound system setup and technical service for God’s Ohana Day.
OHA made a $500 donation to the Legal Defense Fund for Mauna Kea plus $149.79 for musubi for Mauna Kea demonstrators and gave Sam’s Club $151.14 for food for demonstrators on Mauna Kea, according to the audit…..
Because of the audit, trustees are now saying they will consider a moratorium on some of the spending practices, but it is obvious much more needs to be done.
If voters in the state want to do something, the way to move ahead is to change the set-up of OHA — not destroy OHA or rule it out of existence, but change how it operates.
Because OHA was created by the 1978 state Constitutional Convention, OHA has to be changed by the state Constitution.
This November, Hawaii voters will be asked if Hawaii should hold another ConCon. That is the way to have the discussion about what is, and what is not, working with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Voters can act, not with a fear that OHA will be undone, but that it can be made to serve its beneficiaries. This month’s audit shows why change is needed now….
Comment: “Remember OHA's board of directors gets voted in by the public. Lots could change if the Board were selected.”
Comment: “I ask you, please suggest what specific constitutional amendments might be proposed to ‘fix’ the unwise and unethical decisions of trustees?”
read … Holding new ConCon would be prime opportunity to hold high-spending OHA to its mission
SB2963: Illegally let Airbnb brokers act as tax agents—and Zoning Enforcers
SA: …A proposal that would allow Airbnb to collect tens of millions of dollars in state taxes generated by short-term rentals using the online home-sharing platform would also make it illegal for Airbnb to do business with any rental operators breaking county zoning laws.
The measure aims to strike a balance between collecting taxes owed to the state and deterring illegal vacation rentals.
Senate Bill 2963 would allow so-called transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents with the state to report, collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of rental operators.
The measure could help raise $67 million annually in taxes, according to estimates provided to the Legislature by three state departments: Taxation; Budget and Finance; and Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
But the bill would make it illegal for such brokers to “engage in business” with any rental operator that is not in compliance with all state and county laws, including regulations for land use, taxes and professional licensing. Violations would be a misdemeanor offense carrying a minimum $25,000 fine….
Airbnb, meanwhile, said it agrees with the intent of the measure but said current language in the bill would deter platforms from voluntarily acting as tax collection agents. The company says it voluntarily collects and remits taxes in more than 350 jurisdictions worldwide — including in Amsterdam, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles and Malibu, Calif. — and in nearly 20 states, including Florida, Oregon, Vermont and Arizona.
Hawaii’s bill, however, violates the federal Communications Decency Act and the Stored Communications Act as well as the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, Airbnb contends.
“Because of the legally unenforceable provisions included in the bill, it is highly unlikely that any platform would voluntarily agree to collect and remit taxes in accordance with this bill, thus rendering the intent of the majority of the bill moot,” said Matt Middlebrook, public policy manager for Airbnb in Hawaii….
The American Hotel & Lodging Association testified in support of the bill on behalf of its more than 150 Hawaii-based members…..
SB2963: Text, Status
read … Bill would let Airbnb brokers act as tax agents
$450K Bail for KS Teacher Charged with Child Molestation
HNN: …Police have charged a Kamehameha Schools assistant band director with multiple sexual assault offenses.
James Maeda, 23, was arrested Friday on nine counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault stemming from what the school called an “inappropriate relationship” with a 14-year old girl. Maeda’s bail has been set at $450,000….
SA: Kamehameha Schools faculty member posts bail in sex assault case
PDF: Kamehameha Schools teacher indefinite leave letter
read … Arrested
Teacher: DOE hasn't prepared schools for potential major emergencies
HNN: …Christine Russo is a science teacher at Campbell High School. She's concerned that proper protocols are not in place for teachers and students to handle a major emergency.
"We have never done an active shooter drill. We've done lockdown drills, but nothing that goes really beyond the scope of having kids in the classroom, lock the door, cover the windows, very routine," Russo said.
In a letter to parents after the recent threats, the state Department of Education says all schools are required to have a safety plan and conduct emergency preparedness drills.
The DOE also says it partners with police departments for active shooter drills, but Russo says what they have done to this point is not enough. …
Question: What have they done to identify mentally ill students and incarcerate them in mental institutions before they hurt someone?
KGI: Safety training at schools ongoing
read … Teacher: DOE hasn't prepared schools for potential major emergencies
Freddy Rice takes his last ride
WHT: Several hundred people from multi-generations came out in force Friday to attend a memorial celebration of one of their own — Harold “Freddy” Rice Jr. — at Pukalani Stables. He died Jan. 5 at age 83.
They shared memories of their friend in an atmosphere abundant with lei, cowboy hats and boots, with photographs of Rice decorating each table. The service was sponsored by the Paniolo Preservation Society of which he was a founding member….
Freddy never backed off a fight if he felt he was right. He is well known for his involvement in a U.S. Supreme Court Case challenging race-based elections at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Freddy sued, citing the 15th Amendment which prohibits race-based voting discrimination.
After losing in all the lower courts, he took the case to the Supreme Court which ruled 7-2 in his favor. The historic Rice v. Cayetano decision made it clear that there was no place for racial preferences in deciding who gets to vote. The landmark case gave Freddy national notoriety. A recent article in Hawai’i Free Press stated, “Rice’s passion and conviction for what is right and what is not has had the biggest impact on Hawaii’s melting pot since statehood.”….
read … Freddy Rice takes his last ride
Henry Opukahaia celebrated in song
WHT: …David Ross portrays Reverand Lyman Beecher delivering the eulogy at Opukahaia funeral on the 200th anniversary of his death Saturday at Mokuaikaua Church….
KITV: Honolulu museum honors life of key Hawaiian figure
read … Henry Opukahaia celebrated in song