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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
March 3, 2009
By Andrew Walden @ 6:44 AM :: 6140 Views

DOE: Brainwashing 4th graders for Obama

Alicia Garcia's father was serving in Iraq, and her letter asks Obama to "please send my dad home." But even before the letter started making its way to the White House, the girl's family received word that her dad would return this month. The news has cemented the fourth-grader's faith in the new president.  "My dad's coming home," she said solemnly. "I think it's because Obama won."

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DOE: 3,800 illegal teachers discovered by audit 

The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board took over licensing authority from the Department of Education in 2001. At that time, the Legislature had granted the board the authority to extend licenses for two years while the board attempted to put license renewal procedures into place.  Problems regarding extended licenses began back in 2003 after the board's authorization from the Legislature to grant extensions expired. The board continued to grant extensions even without legal authority to do so, Higa said.

Instead, the board should have been renewing licenses, which requires teachers to demonstrate that they've attained a higher level of professionalism, she said. Extensions don't require teachers to demonstrate anything....

"We want to assure our teachers that we're 100 percent sure that if their licenses were extended that they are still valid," said Chairman Jonathan Gillentine, who teaches at Benjamin Parker Elementary School. "The opinion of the attorney general's office is that we acted appropriately."

Two bills in the Legislature could retroactively fix the problem of invalid licenses, including one that would move licensing authority back to the state Board of Education.  But there are questions about whether that's the right thing to do, Sakamoto said.  The state Department of Education not only hired teachers but also granted them licenses, which was determined to be a conflict of interest in 2001.

SB coverage: Teachers must apply every five years for renewal of their teaching licenses. Without a renewal program in effect, the board has extended licenses beyond their expiration date.  The auditor said that practice has violated state law since 2003, rendering all licenses extended since then invalid. "Seven years after assuming the licensing function, the board has neither an effective initial or renewal licensing program in place," said the auditor report. (Plus lots of excuses from the current board chair--who is also a DoE teacher.)

The auditor said that the board, which is administered within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, should not be placed in that state department because, unlike other licensing boards, its purpose is not to protect the consumer from harm, but rather "designed to enhance the profession of teaching."  The education departments at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University and Chaminade University opposed a bill that would put the licensing function under the school board in testimony last month

RELATED: Advertiser editorial calls for saving incompetent Standards Board--by creating ANOTHER board: "There's at least the germ of a good idea in Senate Bill 497: Create an advisory committee that would report to lawmakers and the BOE and, it is hoped, ensure that the board meets its responsibilities."  (Isn't this what the Soviets did just before their socialism collapsed?)

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HSTA VEBA Trust firm files for bankruptcy

(Conveniently just after HSTA honcho Mike McCartney gets his new $200,000K HTA job) 

"Because MBC is a separate entity from the HSTA, the bankruptcy is limited to MBC." (so sad)  Founded in 1993, MBC serves as an intermediary or broker for health, home, auto and life insurance plans sold to HSTA members at a discount....The HSTA said a company known as Associated Third Party Administrators, or ATPA, has been hired to replace MBC.

The HSTA said it had been in the process of winding down MBC when it "discovered" that the company significantly underreported the taxes it owed.  The tax liabilities, including penalties and interest, exceeded the company's overall assets, resulting in the bankruptcy filing, the HSTA said.  In addition to staffers, the company's president and chief executive officer, Ray Sodetani, was terminated.  (Happens all the time, these "discoveries.")

Related: VEBA 2002

Many of the legislators recalling and debating the VEBA Health Trust bill this week, both democrats and republicans, have neglected to revisit a 1999 report by their own state legislative auditor on the problems with the public union health plan, or they are simply choosing to ignore it.

Other legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, opposed to allowing the public unions to continue to have their own trust fund as proposed in the recalled legislation, say may of their peers supporting the unions' position are seeking endorsements and campaign contributions for the 2002 election, including an endorsement by the teacher's union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

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Price of Rail: Mayor's plan hikes property tax, uncorks flood of price hikes

(This begins paying back Mufi's political donors by pretending to build a rail system and it ignores the EPA requirement that the city fix its untreated sewage problem)

Among the fee and tax hikes proposed were:

• A residential property tax hike estimated at $10.34 a month for a typical homeowner and $ 8.21 a month for a typical condo owner.

• A hike in the adult cash fare for TheBus to $2.25, or $50 a month. That's up from $2 and $40, respectively. Senior and youth fares would remain unchanged.

A host of other fees would also increase including the city motor vehicle weight tax, the highway beautification fee, alarm permit fees, special duty police fees and admission fees for out-of-state visitors to Hanauma Bay.

"So we're not out of the woods yet," Hannemann said. "Even if we solve this problem, we've got a humongous problem next year."

Among the mayor's proposed construction expenses:  $1.1 billion for Honolulu's planned elevated commuter rail from East Kapolei to Ala Moana.

RELATED: KHON coverage

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Students owe money after UH financial aid over-payments

The financial aid office has overpaid some students. Now those students are being asked to pay back the entire difference back within 30 days.

But in most cases that money is already spent, and that's causing friction between the students and the university.  It's estimated that less than a thousand students were overpaid last year. Dan Carbone is one of them. He got this letter a few days ago, telling him to pay back $3,000 in aid.

The university recently brought in Jodie Kuba to fix this problem. "We're going to try and do things before the money gets to the students, it might slow down the process a little bit, but we hope to have it streamlined to minimize this situation," she said.

(UH displays all of the failings of socialism, yet teaches it.)

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"General Assistance" Payments cut in half

The state Department of Human Services will slice the monthly payments from $469 to $234 per person from April through June. The full payments will be restored when the new fiscal year starts in July, but the Lingle administration, looking to close the state's budget deficit, has called for a lifetime limit of one year.  The general assistance program serves about 5,150 of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the state....

"There have been reductions before. This is actually a slighter and shorter duration reduction than what we thought we were going to have to do," said Lillian Koller, the director of the state Department of Human Services....Koller said another factor is many people are staying on general assistance longer because of delays in getting federal recognition of a permanent disability to qualify for Social Security benefits.

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Condo sales tumbled 50% in February

"We are starting to see tremendous price adjustment in the market with sellers accepting offers far below asking price," said Chason Ishii, president and chief executive of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. "It's neighborhood centric, but in most cases, sellers know that they can't price their units at or above the last sale."

RELATED: Condos 80% off--under $99K on Kauai  (and still don't 'pencil out')

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HMSA losses grow; Kaiser posts profit

The Hawaii Medical Service Association ended 2008 with more losses, increasing the possibility that it will raise rates for small businesses in coming months.HMSA, which is the state's largest health insurer, said it lost $14.2 million in the final three months of 2008, or more than twice as much as a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan's Hawai'i operations — the largest HMO in the state — reported a $3.2 million profit during the same period.

Both HMSA and Kaiser reported higher expenses, though in HMSA's case the costs for benefits and administration rose faster than dues revenue growth.

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Abolish the CON: AIHM-PUSSH join forces

AIHM lobbied again unsuccessfully for the certificate of need elimination in 2008 and again this year. In the current session, Shields said she got support from Sen. Shan Tsutsui of Wailuku and Rep. Angus McKelvey of Lahaina.  Both McKelvey and Tsutsui acknowledged that there isn't widespread support for the elimination of the certificate of need process in the Legislature. Their bills failed to get out of committee at the Capitol.

McKelvey said his bill to exempt new long-term care facilities from the certificate process is still moving through the House and could get approved this session.

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Hawaii ranks number two in Porn 

Disappointed Gramscian operatives immediately run into troubles trying to correlate porn consumption with conservatism. (But little things like facts never stop them, so porn consumption figures are now the latest argument FOR gay marriage....) 

Prize for best spin goes to the HawaiiWebBlog: "While our politics may lean left, our culture largely leans right. I’m generally loathe to speak in stark, binary terms, Hawaii may look like a liberal paradise on the surface, but its foundation is very socially conservative.  It’s just that this fact only bubbles to the surface periodically, such as in the recent debate over civil unions (and the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that residents overwhelmingly voted for in 1998, surprising even me).

BTW: Mormon Idaho consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the porn consumption list.  Joining Hawaii 'on top':  Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut....   

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