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Wednesday, August 07, 2013
August 7, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:20 PM :: 3019 Views

Act 268 Hawaii Unfunded Liabilities Plan: Pot of Gold for Corrupt Union Leaders

Hawaii Is at the Forefront of Genetically Modified Crops

HIRA: Reject Call for Same-Sex Marriage Special Session

Audit: DoE Construction Process Outdated, Inefficient, Inconsistent

Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair for Veterans and Military Spouses in Honolulu

Senator Schatz Announces Polar Apocalypse

Obama library bid gets lobbyist donors

OR&L, Doors Star in New Anti-Rail Video

Farrington HS: First Facility Redesign for Small Learning Communities

HHSC: Decision to Save HGEA, UPW will Cost State $1.5B

HNN: With its privatization plans on hold, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. says it needs $14 million in emergency funding from the state.

The HHSC is projecting a loss of about $28 million in its 2104 fiscal year and needs the money to pay for raises awarded to state workers and federal funding shortfalls.

"It's going to be challenging because if we are unable to get some support for emergency funding it man mean a cut in services or an elimination of some positions," said Avery Chumbley, HHSC's acting CEO.

The HHSC operates 15 public hospitals around the state including Maui Memorial, the Hilo Medical Center on the Big Island and Oahu's Leahi Hospital. Many of the hospitals are in rural areas under served by the medical community.

State lawmakers were receptive to the funding request but want to know more details about the HHSC's finances....

The shortfall comes after efforts to privatize most of the state's public hospitals fell through earlier this year.

The deal with Phoenix-based Banner Health would have addressed some of the system's financial woes but would have meant the loss of hundreds of state jobs....

Over the long term, however, the state's hospital system says it faces an even bigger bill to upgrade aging hospitals. The problem is so big it can't be solve with emergency appropriations but will required long-term planning.

"Capital improvement, money, I think it's easily above $1 billion. I would venture to say its closer to $1.5 billion. We'll have to deal with that at some point in time," said Wesley Lo, regional CEO for Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Some facilities, like Kula Hospital, are a century old and haven't seen an upgrade for decades, he said.

"The boiler broke so we had to replace the boiler," Lo said. "The problem we had is if we plugged the boiler into the pipes, all of the pipes would have blown so we had to close one floor throughout this year just to replace the plumbing."

read ... State hospitals to seek $14M in emergency funds

HHSC: HGEA/UPW Employees Earn Less but Cost More

MN: Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, said he agreed that state lawmakers had not appropriated enough money to cover hospital workers' negotiated pay raises, but he took strong exception to a number of comments from Chumbley, especially those tying the need for more money to higher labor costs.

Perreira said Chumbley's comments in a Maui News story Wednesday were "dead wrong" in reporting that public hospital employees earn more than those in the private sector.

Actually, the story published Wednesday on Page A1 and continued on Page A4 incorrectly stated Chumbley's position on HHSC salaries. He did not say that HHSC pays higher salaries to its employees than those earned at private hospitals. In fact, HHSC employees have lower base wages than their counterparts in private hospitals, he said. Chumbley's aim was to point out that when HHSC employee pay is combined with the overall costs of worker benefits and work rule restrictions, total labor costs are higher at HHSC than private institutions. The Maui News apologizes for the error.

Also, it was "misleading," according to Perreira, for Chumbley to (accurately) report that public hospitals in Hawaii have labor costs of 76 to 77 percent of overall expenses while the national median is 51 percent for labor costs and 48 percent for private hospitals in Hawaii.

While Perreira acknowledged labor costs at public hospitals are higher as a percentage of the operating budget than other hospitals, the figures reported by Chumbley are exaggerated, he said, because private hospitals have higher overhead and depreciation costs that skew figures and make it appear that labor costs are much higher at public hospitals than they actually are.

(LOL!  In other words, HHSC can only afford payroll, while private hospitals can pay for thingys like medical tests, and equipment.  No wonder Hawaii hospitals are falling behind those in Africa.)

Perreira agreed that public hospital employees have more vacation and sick time than their private hospital counterparts. (Public hospital workers receive 21 vacation days, 21 sick days and 14 paid holidays off.) He said that does mean that public hospitals need to hire more staff to cover for employees absent from work because of vacation, sick leave or holidays.

However, he said, the union has "long expressed a willingness to address the issue" with management, possibly by making base pay commensurate with private hospital workers. ...

Of HHSC's more than 4,000 employees statewide, 89 percent are either represented by HGEA or the United Public Workers union, Chumbley said.

Totally Related: VIDEO: Abercrombie squares off with Maui Nurses

read ... Maui News

What's the Point of Getting on the Sovereignty Roll?

ILind: Building the registry has been anything but easy. According to the Kana‘iolowalu website, only 17,225 people had registered as of Tuesday afternoon.  That’s out of a total of 527,077 Hawaiians in the United States, including 289,970 living in Hawaii.  Pretty meager pickings, indeed, and it is evidence that the whole process has gotten a less than enthusiastic reception....

the roll commission has added its own wrinkle by requiring that people agree with an additional declaration that is not mentioned in the law.  On the registration form, you are now asked to declare: “I affirm the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people, and my intent to participate in the process of self-governance.”

Frankly, I’m not sure what “unrelinquished sovereignty” means or why this is thrown into a registration process focused on “reunifying” Hawaiians.  Minutes of roll commission meetings might shed some light on the issue, but aren’t made available on its website.

I’m sure that there’s a bit of politics, a hidden litmus test perhaps, behind the nuanced choice of words. It makes me wary, and I doubt I’m alone.

Hawaii sovereignty in the traditional political sense was essentially relinquished when the Hawaiian government was extinguished.  And I don’t take it as a matter of faith that a sovereign Hawaiian governing entity will necessarily make things better....

Does that understanding of the world render me ineligible to register with Kana‘iolowalu, be placed on the roll, and participate in the future debates and decisions? Does the failure to register render one forever outside of the process? Answers aren’t readily apparent.

As a Hawaiian, that concerns me.

...if and when the creation of a self-governing Hawaiian entity picks up steam and, more importantly, resources, whether or not you’re on the official rolls could become a very big deal indeed.

Just who is considered “in” and who is left out has become a hot issue in many parts of the U.S. mainland, where American Indian tribes have been expelling tribal members now deemed “inauthentic,” an ugly process known as “disenrollment” that has been tearing apart families and communities.

Care needs to be taken now to ensure similar problems will not happen here....

ILind: I’m an agnostic on Hawaiian sovereignty

read ... Sovereignty Roll

Now Hawaii Co Anti-GMO Legislation Withdrawn

BIVN: After four days of passionate public testimony and extensive internal deliberations, a Hawaii County Council bill that would have placed restrictions on genetically modified crops on the Big Island has been withdrawn.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille, who had introduced Bill 79 in April, today made the motion to kill the bill during today’s meeting of the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit.

The measure would have placed banned new genetically modified crops on the Big Island and placed restrictions on the growing of an existing one, papayas engineered to resist the ringspot virus.

Wille had already made substantial amendments to the bill and had indicated in recent weeks that more changes were to come.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford told her colleagues today that she also intends to introduce legislation dealing with genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

read ... Anti-GMO Legislation Withdrawn

Kauai Socks Home-Based Businesses With 271% Tax Hike

KGI: A recent change in the county’s real property tax system has upset some residents when they realized their annual tax bill more than doubled. Meanwhile, the Kauai County Council is working on a bill that could potentially alleviate some of the issues.

Gini Martin, who runs a small preschool in her residential property in Wailua, said she was surprised when she saw her property taxes increased to $3,625 this year from $1,335 in 2012.

“I thought they made a mistake,” she said.

But when Martin checked with the county’s Real Property Tax Division, they told her that when she signed a tax survey, she put down she was running a business, so they taxed her home as a commercial property.

read ... Reality of Small Business in Hawaii

Rep Lee: Clean Energy 'Painful', Does not Mean Lower Rates

HTH: “It’s a little bit fuzzy, because we don’t know what the exact programming is going to look like,” Lee said, adding the plan is to force utilities to allow more solar and other alternative energy onto the electric grid. “It’s going to be a little painful. The utilities are going to have to suck it up a little. Our communities have been sucking it up for years. It’s their turn.”

Right now, Lee said, utilities don’t have a financial incentive to make less energy to sell to customers, because those utilities are making money on that energy. The idea is one Rep. Denny Coffman, a West Hawaii legislator not at Tuesday’s meeting, first brought up several years ago....

He said utility companies are also facing the likelihood of increased federal regulations on fossil fuel emissions.

“We’re going to have to decide in the next couple years which way we want to go,” he said. 

Meeting attendees asked twice what the Legislature is doing to bring down electricity rates.

“Automatically going to renewables doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to cheaper energy,” Lee said.

He would like to see it become easier for everyone to power their own homes, whether they own or rent and whether they are in a house or a condo.

read ... Reps talk energy, Legislature procedure

Abercrombie Albatross Around Schatz' Neck

WE:  Distilled, the primary is a contest between two distinct political personalities — not those of the candidates themselves, who are in most ways remarkably similar, but of their allies and mentors: Abercrombie, a boisterous, one-time hippie, and Inouye, a quiet, traditional war hero.

Inouye had to petition to fight during World War II.... (and Abercrombie....)

If Inouye represented the old guard of Hawaiian politics, Abercrombie has embodied the opposite. He decamped to the islands as a post-grad student from Buffalo, N.Y., just as Hawaii was navigating its first few years of statehood. He almost immediately tried his hand in politics — first in a failed bid for the U.S. Senate, in which his anti-war platform and yellow checkered taxi became his early trademarks.

The long-bearded mainlander might have struck islanders as antithetical to traditional Hawaii politics, but his gregariousness won voters over. In 1986, after getting his start in the statehouse, Abercrombie won a seat in Congress — where he found himself serving on the same congressional delegation as Inouye. The two men worked together, but they did not find common ground personally.

When Abercrombie won the race for governor in 2010, with Schatz as his lieutenant, some Democrats sensed a latent power struggle between Abercrombie and Inouye.

It is bubbling up now, by proxy, between Schatz and Hanabusa....

Whenever she’s home, Hanabusa said, people approach her regularly to talk about the late senator. They stop her in the grocery store, so often and for conversations so lengthy that her husband now stays home.

“Most of their regret is, ‘I never got to say thank you, never got to give him a hug,’” Hanabusa said....

Related: Neil Abercrombie Conspiracy Theory Claims Inouye Letter Conspiracy

read ... Daniel Inouye’s ghost: In Hawaii, two Democratic Senate candidates look for political life after a legend’s death

UH faculty members question Price fiasco

SA: UH announced Friday on the opening day of fall camp that Price, who was hired in February, was "no longer with the football program." UH said Price had not been fired, had not resigned and would be paid through the conclusion of his one-year contract. The agreement is believed to expire in March.

"While the Manoa Faculty Senate does not know the particulars surrounding the removal of Mr. Aaron Price from his coaching duties as offensive coordinator for the football team, we would expect that he would be assigned other appropriate duties by the (athletic director) as long as he remains under contract to UHM Athletics," David Ericson, chair of the Manoa Faculty Senate, wrote in an email.

Ericson said, "This may require a salary adjustment if equivalent duties cannot be found. However, if Mr. Price is unable to perform alternative duties, for any reason, during the remainder of his contract (which we presume is for one year), then we expect there should be a parting of the ways and a settlement that is fair and equitable to both parties."

The listed salary range for the position at UH is $116,640-$203,688, with Price believed to be near the bottom.

HTH: Controversial Hilo Dorm to Open Aug 20

read ... Another Fiasco

OCCC guards called in sick in big numbers for New Years, Super Bowl

HNN: The highest absentee rate of the year so far at OCCC happened New Year's Day. That's when 46 percent of the corrections officers at the prison called in sick, resulting in 64 guards working extra hours on overtime to cover absent co-workers' shifts. ...

On Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, 82 or roughly 45 percent of OCCC's guards called in sick. As a result, 62 guards got overtime to cover those unfilled posts. ...

Remember that day on April 27 when people held a parade in Hauula and Laie to celebrate Manti Te'o being drafted into the NFL? That's the same day when 36 percent of OCCC guards didn't show up for work.  ...

So 53 of the guards had to be held over from other shifts or called in on their days off.

Sakai said about 474 out of 1,200 (39.5%) corrections officers statewide have qualified for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows them to continue collecting salary and benefits while going on leave to take care of an immediate family member or themselves if they are afflicted with a serious medical problem.

The state had a program to track officers who use all their sick leave with escalating discipline for corrections officers who continue using their sick leave when they have none left, Sakai said.

But Sakai said the FMLA requires that employers not discipline employees for taking leave under the act.

"They can take a lot of leave and we can't touch them," Sakai said.

read ... OCCC Guards

How will county pay for police raises?

HTH: The raises will cost the county an extra $1.3 million this fiscal year, $3.1 million next year, $4.7 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year and $6.9 million in 2016-17 in wages alone, according to information provided by the Finance Department.

Tallying in benefits and other nonwage costs, the increase spikes to $3.7 million this year, $7.4 million next year, $11.7 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year and $15.3 million in 2016-17....

So far, Honolulu and Kauai councils have agreed to fund the increase, said SHOPO President Tenari Maafala. He said Maui is scheduled to take up the issue next week. If the arbitration isn’t backed by the councils, SHOPO will go to litigation, he said.

Entry-level police officers currently are paid about $56,000 to start. The increase will bring that base pay up to $65,000 to $75,000 annually. Officers are also paid a firearm maintenance allowance, hazard pay, stand-by pay and other additions to the salary. A standard of conduct differential pay is included in the mix.

read ... How will county pay for police raises?

City steps up sidewalk, park cleanup efforts

SA: City maintenance crews returned to Aala Park, Moiliili, Chinatown and Pawaa early this morning to clean up sidewalks and parks used by the homeless.

This morning cleanup operations began at 2:30 a.m. and centered around parks and sidewalks at In-Ha Park, Aala Park, the River-Pauahi-Smith-Beretania-Kukui-Aala streets areas, Sun Yat Sen Mall, College Walk Mall, Vineyard Boulevard, Kamamalu Park and Kauluwela Mall.

Armed with three city laws designed to enforce park closure hours, sidewalk nuisance and private property left on public property, city officials stepped their enforcement efforts on July 1.

read ... City steps up sidewalk, park cleanup efforts

Neighborhood Watch Celebrates 33 Years

KHON: The Neighborhood Security Watch program started on Oahu in 1980.

Over the years, participation has grown.  Currently, there are 774 neighborhood watch programs and citizens patrol groups island-wide, with an estimated 10,837 homes participating.

“It’s about making a difference where you live,” Ocampo said.

The HPD just released its preliminary crime data for all of 2012.

There were 4,706 burglaries on Oahu in 2012, compared to 5,373 in 2011.

That’s down 12.4 percent, and that’s also the lowest amount of burglaries on Oahu in single year over the past decade.

read ... Since 1980

"Christopher Deedy & Chronicles of Racism in the 50th State..."

DKT: What now has arisen in that which are to be hallowed halls of justice, but too often leave with citizens memories of a "house of horrors?" A US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Special Agent being prosecuted for murder by the County of Honolulu and State of Hawai'i, for performing expected duties and defending his and the public's safety. I believe this Caucasian, federal level public servant is being made an example....

SA: Day 18: Agent describes victim's hostility

CB: Christopher Deedy: 'My Brain Was Going in a Thousand Directions'

read ...  A former Kauai Parole Officer

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