Charles Djou on his way home from Afghanistan
Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted Feb 21
Legislators: Abercrombie Unstable, Rambling
Borreca: A frustrated legislator, veteran Democrat, last week confessed: "When we meet with the governor, we just never know which Neil Abercrombie will show up."
The problem, echoed by several legislators, is that Abercrombie's meetings with them are used to either spring a new plan on them or subject them to a rambling monologue. "We want to see something in writing after meeting with him," one legislator told me.
For instance, another lawmaker noted that during the summer, Abercrombie said he would support an effort to legalize gambling in Hawaii, but when the issue came up in the state House last week, there was no administration support.
The legislative uncertainty comes after Abercrombie last year failed to win legislative approvable for any of his major economic plans.
In the interim, Abercrombie saw his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, communications director and deputy communications director all resign. Although none of them said Abercrombie caused their departure, it called into question the administration's stability….
…union leaders have a clear signal that they can attack or not cooperate with the administration without fear of losing the support of their members, because the rank and file are already fed up with Abercrombie. Second, the low approval rating means Abercrombie speaks with a little voice when he attempts to appeal to union members for salary and pension reforms…..
read … You guys are only figuring this out now?
Cayetano: Inouye ‘Irresponsible’, ‘Gambling with Public Money’
SA: A key federal approval earlier this month cleared the way for the first segment of major construction for the city's 20-mile rail line, although officials are still awaiting a Full Funding Agreement with the Federal Transit Administration that would clear the way for $1.55 billion in federal money for the project.
"If Gov. Cayetano wins it would make the rail proposal a bit more difficult," Inouye said. "Right now the federal government is in support."
Cayetano said he was not surprised, given his disagreement with Inouye over the rail project.
"Apparently, he sees nothing wrong with the city awarding multimillion-dollar rail contracts and starting construction even though there is no Full Funding Agreement or congressional approval for the $1.5 billion federal grant," Cayetano said via email.
Contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. plans to start work next month on the first 6.5 miles of elevated guideway for the system.
"The city is taking these risks mainly because the senator says he is ‘confident' he will get congressional approval for the $1.5 billion," Cayetano said. "Not only is such conduct irresponsible, but it is high-stakes gambling with the public's money."
Inouye, meeting with Star-Advertiser reporters and editors, said he was not ready to say who he favored, Carlisle or Caldwell, "but I will be supporting one of them."
read … Cayetano
No Action to Stop Massive Unemployment Tax Hike
HR: the legislature still has not taken any action to bring relief to Hawaii’s struggling businesses.
One of the major problems facing Hawaii businesses is the high cost of the state unemployment compensation tax.
This tax, which is paid by employers not employees, increased 1,000 percent last year.
This March, the tax is scheduled to rise substantially again unless the legislature takes immediate action.
At the beginning of the session, Democrats, who make up all but 9 seats of the 76 member legislature, pledged to take action to bring businesses relief, but so far they have not pushed through any legislation to reduce or stop another increase.
Business advocates say the looming tax hike will lead to layoffs and fewer hires.
read … Unemployment Comp?
Inouye: Federal Judge David Ezra To Retire In June
KITV: Both Hawaii Senators, Inouye and Akaka, will be enacting the Federal Judicial Selection Committee Tuesday to find a replacement for Federal Court Judge Ezra.
The nine-member commission was established in 2006 with the purpose of selecting federal judges. Inouye's office said Honolulu attorney Larry Okinaga will serve as chairman of the commission. The other members are Bennette Misalucha Evangelista, Lynn Fallin, Allen Hoe, Donavan Kealoha, Janice Kim, Marie Milks, Jeff Sia and Tony Takitani.
Nomination and application forms will be available within the next week on the websites of Senator Inouye, Senator Akaka and the Hawaii State Bar Association. The final deadline for applications is April 2, 2012.
SA: Hawaii's senators will pick a nominee to recommend to President Obama
(Our only hope is for the Senate to stall Obama’s pick until a Republican President is elected this Fall.)
Read … Ezra
4000 Okinawa Marines Heading for Hawaii
SA: Inouye confirmed Monday that with continuing problems with a 2006 agreement to relocate some Marines on Okinawa and move about 8,000 to Guam, the plan has changed.
About half the total, or 4,000 Marines, will now go to Guam, he said.
"Instead of all (8,000) going to Guam, they'll go elsewhere — Australia, Hawaii and Guam," Inouye said.
The Democrat made the comments Monday during a meeting with the Star-Advertiser.
The decision by the Obama administration to make the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions its priorities led Marine Corps officials to look at a combination of Australia, Guam and Hawaii for the 8,000 Marines because those locations are "closer to trouble zones."
Inouye, chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, said housing at Kaneohe Bay can accommodate about 500 more Marines.
"But the question now arises, Will those troops be rotating-type troops, or will they be stationed here with dependents, which would require schools, etc.? We have not reached that stage (of decision) yet."
read … Okinawa
OHA ‘Settlement’ Talks Leave Homeless Shelter in Limbo
CB: "Yes, the roof is leaking, and it will cost a lot of money to fix," said Hein. "That is up to the state and the HCDA to decide. And they are probably waiting to see what happens with OHA first."
The Pier One Kakaako parcel is part of the 25 acres that the state has proposed giving to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to settle past-due ceded-land revenue payments, a deal that is moving through the Hawaii Legislature.
While HCDA would still administer the Kakaako land, and existing leases would be honored until they expire, OHA would own the land. The Waikiki Health Center's lease is for five years, but she didn't know whether the warehouse property — valued at $22 million — would continue under new ownership.
(Most of the rest of the article consists of the gay-atheist lobby trying to talk down shelters and talk up living on the streets. Pretty transparent stuff from the homelessness industry.)
read … Homelessness Industry attacks shelter
H-Power Recycles Plastics into Electricity for 28,000 Homes
KITV: A tour of the H-Power facility in Kapolei reveals how much of the garbage the city processes comes from those plastic bags. Surfrider whines about ash—which could be used in asphalt and concrete.
Pono Chong killed ‘Feeeel Good’ Bag Ban Bill
CB: The state representative who made the motion to kill a bill that would make shoppers pay for single-use bags said it was a mistake.
But a top state official told Civil Beat Monday that House Majority Leader Pono Chong had told him in December that he opposed the bill. Guy Kaulukukui, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, said Chong referred to it dismissively as a "feel good bill." (EXACTLY RIGHT!)
The bill has been paired with funding for watershed protection, the department’s top priority this session, and a cause that has attracted the support of Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Kaulukuki said he told Chong that could turn it into a "do good” bill, but that Chong, who voted against the bag bill last year, appeared unmoved. Chong could not be reached Monday.
The House in a surprise move late Friday voted unanimously to kill the bill. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Denny Coffman, took the blame Monday and said he would not try to resurrect the measure.
read … Enviros tricked, people saved for another year
Hawaii State Salaries 2012: Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
CB: A Civil Beat analysis of the salary data shows that the most common positions at HHSC are Registered Professional Nurse III (928 total), a position that pays between $68,736 and $85,320, and Certified Nurse Aide (401 total), a position that pays between $32,736 and $38,604.
HHSC is often described as a "quasi-public" state agency. The state in 1996 formed HHSC and transferred oversight of its rural community hospitals away from the Department of Health to give the facilities more autonomy and self-governance.
Most of its operating funds come from patient services. About 12 percent of its budget, or nearly $72 million, is from the state general fund. Salaries and benefits alone total $359 million — nearly two-thirds of its annual budget of $586 million….
Below is a searchable database of all HHSC employees for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years. You can search by first and last name, department, job title, salary range and fiscal year.
read … Hawaii State Salaries 2012: Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
HSTA Blocks 180 day law so DoE is Going to Redefine ’instructional time’ to fake it
SA: A recent DOE report found the amount of instructional time Hawaii's secondary students receive varies widely depending on where they live, from a little more than four hours to more than five hours per day on average.
"What we saw as a result of the report is that you had hundreds of bell schedules throughout the system," said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. "All those flexibilities were getting in the way."
Standardizing bell schedules, she added, "isn't about eliminating choice … (but rather) trying to come up with some level of consistency" in the length of the day.
The teachers union has raised concerns about mandating standardized schedules in state law, however, and said the issue should be left to collective bargaining. Currently, schools that want to modify their bell schedules must put the change up for a vote by teachers. Under the teachers' contract, a new bell schedule is adopted if two-thirds of teachers on a school campus approve it….
The measures before legislators define instructional time as classroom, project-based and technology-assisted learning but open the door to counting after-school sports and clubs and even recess.
Melanie Bailey, a strong advocate for lengthening the school day, said she doesn't think the state should abandon the goal of bringing the average instructional day to six hours…. (BUT) … supports the broader goal of defining instructional time to include learning that doesn't take place in a class.
(And so since they got Bailey to waffle on her own proposal, they can get away with anything. Remember that everything they do is predicated on wearing down their opponents to go along.)
read … Legislation would redefine schools' instructional time
Abercrombie Pushes Hard to Fake Accountability, Snag $75M from RTTT
CB: …the executive branch of government is attacking the problem on three fronts at once.
Legislators are considering two bills that would give the Hawaii Department of Education the authority to develop and implement a performance management system for teachers and principals.
On Tuesday, the Hawaii State Board of Education plans to vote on several board policies that together would require the Department of Education to develop a performance management system for teachers and principals.
Meanwhile, state and union negotiators appear to be working toward an agreement that would include performance-based pay and tenure for teachers, all based on an evaluation system still in its early stages of development.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised, after all, to use whatever means necessary to save the grant.
read … Its all about the money
Waimea principal's dismissal still unexplained
SA: Despite a plea by staff and community members for his reinstatement, former Waimea Middle School Principal John Colson will not be able to return to finish the school year, he told his staff in an email.
"I write to thank you all for your incredible show of support of the past couple of weeks," Colson wrote in the message, titled "aloha," sent Sunday to the staff of the Hawaii island charter school. "I am really sorry to have put you through such an ordeal.
"I have heard from Honolulu and I will not be invited back to finish the year nor continue as your principal." ….
A community meeting held by Ho‘okako‘o on Thursday was packed with 300 parents, staff, students and community members, who pressed for an explanation and pleaded for his return. Ho‘okako‘o board members repeated that they had accepted Colson's resignation and could not talk about it.
Community members have also been rallying, both on the roadside and in cyberspace with a Facebook page titled "Colson 4 WMS." They say they are not giving up.
read … Hookakoo
SA: Kick Principals out of HGEA
SA: Principals and vice principals function as managers of schools but are members of a union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association. Periodically someone points out the irrationality of this arrangement. Most recently a plea for change appears in Senate Bill 2458, a measure that was introduced by a group of five senators — J. Kalani English, Brickwood Galuteria, Gilbert Kahele, Michelle Kidani and Clarence Nishihara — but wasn't given a hearing.
In the preamble of SB 2458, principals and vice principals are found to "exercise independent judgment in the interest of their employer, the Board of Education, to hire, transfer, suspend, promote, discharge, assign, reward and discipline other employees. Further, principals and vice principals handle grievances of other employees. Because the exercise of this authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature, principals and vice principals are not appropriate members of a collective bargaining unit."
That makes sense. As the legislation asserts, it would be more appropriate for the posts to be filled by appointment of the superintendent, given that the superintendent is expected to "exert direct control over the managers of schools."
read … HGEA
HART and UH, More Secrecy
ILind: First, PBN reports that finalists for the position of executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation were scheduled to be in town last week for interviews. But the agency is getting off on the wrong foot by refusing to identify the finalists, meaning that there’s no public accountability for their final choice.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials were not disclosing the names of the finalists for HART executive director as PBN went to press Wednesday. Keslie Hui, the HART board member who is heading the search committee, said the candidates’ identities are being kept confidential because some applicants expressed concern about their employers finding out they were applying for the position.
This is another one of those crazy situations where someone is applying for a public position that could earn them close to a half-million a year and where they will be constantly subject to the state’s sunshine law, but immediately request special consideration to stay out of the public spotlight….
While PBN reporter Mark Abramson did a good job of highlighting the secrecy issue, Civil Beat’s Mike Levine failed to note it as a problem. He reported, matter of factly: “Names of finalists will not be revealed. After that, a contract will be negotiated.”
The second PBN story is also by Abramson (“Abercrombie: UH athletic facilities need improvements“).
To make that happen, the governor will review a wish list that Athletics Director Jim Donovan compiled with cost estimates of various improvements to facilities. The university would not release that list to PBN and the governor’s office indicated that it had not seen the list.
Athletics department officials also would not disclose whether any money they might request for facilities would be in addition to the department’s $30 million annual budget, or how much money it was requesting for facilities.
read … More Secrecy
Former police officer admits to ID theft and forgery
SA: He could be sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison for the identity theft and up to five years for each of the other charges. He will be sentenced in May.
The prosecutor said Furtado used the names and Social Security numbers of two other police officers in August and October 2010 to apply for special-duty jobs and that he forged their signatures on the applications. He performed the work and forged the signature of one of the officers on a $370 check.
Deputy City Prosecutor Chris Van Marter said the other officer cashed a $310 check for a special-duty job Furtado performed and gave the money to Furtado.
The Police Department said Furtado retired at the end of last year.
read … ID Theft
Fair share system under scrutiny
HTH: Developers' fair share contributions will account for only $3 million of a county capital improvement budget likely to be more than $125 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1….
Last year, Hawaii County developers had pledged $105.7 million for infrastructure to accommodate population increases caused by their developments, but only $3 million had been spent, according to the 2010 annual report from the Planning Department. The 2010 fair share report emphasized that the developers' $105.7 million pledge is not past due, because the developers are required to pay only after the project is built. In addition, the Planning Department adjusts the initial assessments based on the actual number of units and the consumer price index at the time of development.
read … Shake Down
Organic Huckster Hypes GMO Labeling
From the CEO of Down to Earth: This legislative session, elected officials are considering Senate Bill 2279, a bill requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified fruits and vegetables grown in Hawaii, for sale in Hawaii.
Known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), these foods have been altered at the molecular level (meaningless rhetoric) by scientists using crude technology (crude by what standard?) with limited government oversight.
The 'organic' food stores are trying to use baseless eco hype to obtain a competitive advantage. Not a single human being has ever been shown to be harmed by GMOs. Organic food is covered with e coli and has caused multiple disease outbreaks..
Reality: The Future of Fraud
read … Down to Earth?