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Monday, September 04, 2017
September 4, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:04 PM :: 1060 Views

Honolulu Republicans: On Labor Day Celebrate Entrepreneurship

Letter to Hawaii DoE: Trump overturns Obama Policy on Trannies in Bathroom

Tupola: Hawaii Needs a Change from Career Politicians

KHON: …Republican state lawmaker Andria Tupola, who also represents Oahu’s west side, said that under Hanabusa it would be more of the same.

“I feel like Hawaii needs a change from career politicians. I feel like we’ve seen a lot of tax hikes, a lot of burdens on local families. We definitely need a new direction and I think it’s going to come from somebody who hasn’t been stuck in the system doing things the same way,” Tupola said.

Tupola has not announced her candidacy for Governor, but has indicated she may.

The filing period for the 2018 election cycle begins on February 1, 2018….

read … Change

HGEA-UPW Job Trust Maintained Despite Fewer Juvenile Inmates

SA: …When Hawaii’s juvenile justice reform law was passed in 2014, it was projected to save $11 million over five years by cutting costs at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. In the first three years, Administrator Mark Patterson said he has returned $3 million to the state treasury in savings on the budget for the youth jail.

Spending at the Youth Correctional Facility remains relatively high given the dwindling number of incarcerated youths.

In January 2016 legislators called Patterson on the carpet for overtime at the youth jail, which had reached $1.2 million on an $11 million operating budget. At the time, the facility was projecting $1 million-plus in overtime again for the 2016 fiscal year.

Lawmakers were so frustrated that they chopped the HYCF budget by $1 million.

The message seems to have resonated. Patterson managed to rein in overtime in the 2016 fiscal year to $756,000, well below the projected amount. The figure went down a bit further to $667,000 in the fiscal year that ended in June.

The overtime spending galled legislators given what many considered an abundance of staff at the facility. In a recent presentation, Patterson noted that the facility is still staffed for 80 or more kids while the average daily census has fallen to just 20 to 25 youths.

As of July 1, HYCF had 118 staff positions ranging from auto mechanic to social worker, with the bulk of them correctional officers and supervisors. That’s down from a total of 124 in 2014 because the Legislature has trimmed several slots.

Patterson has continued filling vacancies as they occur. In the 2015 fiscal year, he hired 15 people, including 10 youth correctional officers, a registered nurse and a farm manager. He added six more staff in the last two years, including clerks and two “institutional farm activity leaders.”

Asked why he kept hiring as the youth population fell, he said, “I didn’t want to lose my staff because we were in the process of figuring out what we want to do.”

He added that a large staff is needed to keep the secured facility running because so many employees call in sick or are out on workers’ compensation. (LOL!)  Under their union contract, correctional officers don’t have to produce a doctor’s note until their fifth sick day.

To reduce overhead, Patterson recently moved the girls, who were in a separate building, into the main complex with the boys.

(Did your daughter get pregnant in juvie?  Thank the HGEA!)

Meanwhile, some community programs for troubled teens are foundering for lack of money. Marimed’s Kailana program, an ocean-oriented, therapeutic residential model that had been operating since 1993, closed in June.….

Related: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

read … Job Trust

Star-Adv: Modernize work rules, benefits for state’s future

SA: …especially in the public sector, there have been problems that the unions representing these workers must address.

Specifically, they should accept more flexible work rules that would enable greater efficiency. When the costs are borne by the taxpayer, that should be a paramount concern.

The woeful disconnect between current rules and the job requirements is on display across government agencies. One vivid example: the unwieldy staffing rules that have prevailed among city waste management workers, especially in the delivery of bulky waste pickup. Far too often, crews are unavailable to deliver adequate service unless they drive up overtime hours.

A city audit on this problem has pressed the city administration to consider returning to its old pickup-by-appointment system. That could control costs. So could a more collaborative approach, streamlining the staffing and routes to save on costs. The workers’ labor representatives should be part of that solution.

Or there’s the pervasive practice of “pension spiking,” an abuse of overtime pay in the last three years of a public employee’s career to inflate the calculation of their lifetime pension benefit. That must be disallowed, and if the unions want to see regular rates of pay increased, they should accept reform.

Changing a labor-relations culture of intransigence will be difficult. In this context, the governor’s nomination of state Rep. Marcus Oshiro to chair the Hawaii Labor Relations Board bears watching. It’s a small factor, but not inconsequential. Oshiro, the former state House labor chairman, has cited his work with the Cayetano and Lingle administrations on civil service reforms.

Oshiro, an attorney whose law practice has involved administrative resolution of worker disputes, could be in a position to influence the conversation on these issues. It will be interesting to see how this appointment will play out….

read … Modernize

Reforms helping more teens stay out of jail

SA: …Many of Hawaii’s youthful offenders are avoiding lockup these days as judges and probation officers have begun carefully assessing the individual circumstances of each youth, the risk to the public he or she might pose, and how best to handle the situation.

The number of teens sent to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility plunged from 171 in 2010 to 43 in the fiscal year that ended in June, according to the Juvenile Justice Information System. Admissions to the Juvenile Detention Facility at Kapolei, for minors needing short-term secure custody, also fell, to 567 from 1,072 over the same period.

Despite fears that letting delinquent kids remain in the community would be dangerous, reform advocates point out that there has been no increase in juvenile crime as a result….

The number of juvenile felony cases, an indicator of the youth crime rate, is just a third of what it was seven years ago. In the 2017 fiscal year, there were 412 felony petitions filed in Family Court, down from 1,286 in 2010….

In 2014 legislators passed and Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Act 201, which codified the juvenile justice reforms into law, aiming to reduce the incarcerated population, ensure each youth had a re-entry plan and strengthen probation practices to help teens stay out of trouble in the first place. The law prohibited placement of youth with misdemeanor offenses at HYCF. Slots there were to be reserved for more serious offenders….

read … Reforms helping more teens stay out of jail

Rash of inmate suicides raise concerns over mental health services

HNN: …"I was sick. I was almost non-believing. I didn't believe it for a minute. I thought surely they got the wrong kid," said Richard Fortson, whose 30-year-old daughter Jessica Fortson hung herself in her WCCC cell in July.

Richard Fortson, a former police officer and now a council member in his hometown of Trinity, Ala., said his daughter -- who suffered from bipolar disorder -- was serving a five-year-sentence for credit card fraud and identity theft and was supposed to be released in January.

He questioned why she was placed in solitary confinement because he says she previously had tried to commit suicide.

"I don't think they have adequate psychiatric evaluation or care," said Fortson….

The American Civil Liberties Union said it worries that prisoners aren't getting the necessary mental health services they need.

"Very quickly in the state of Hawaii (prisons), the conditions have deteriorated not just in terms of the general conditions but also for mental health services," said Mateo Caballero, legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii.

The ACLU recently asked the Feds to investigate state overcrowding and inadequate healthcare and mental health services at Hawaii's prisons.

That complaint was filed before Oahu Community Correctional Center's former mental health director Dr. Mark Mitchell went public with allegations of inadequate mental health services at the Kalihi prison.

Mitchell and several other mental health staffers said they were fired earlier this year because of their complaints.

Meanwhile, the state said it's not seeing an increase in prison suicides. It said staff is trained to "do everything we can to prevent patients from committing suicide."

read … Rash of inmate suicides raise concerns over mental health services

Another Inmate Scores: Sex With Prison Guard worth $100K

SA: …The state and former prison guard Irwin Ah-Hoy have each agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former Women’s Community Correctional Center inmate whom Ah-Hoy sexually assaulted.

Stormy Rae Smith sued the state, then-Department of Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, then-WCCC Warden Mark Patterson and Ah-Hoy in March 2014, one year after a state grand jury indicted Ah-Hoy on two counts each of second- and third-degree sexual assault….

Smith was serving a five-year prison sentence for auto theft, drug and drug paraphernalia possession.

DPS fired Ah-Hoy in June 2014. He had 15 years of service with the department.

Ah-Hoy, 53, pleaded no contest to all of the charges against him in April 2015. At sentencing later that year he told then-Circuit Judge Karen Ahn that Smith had set him up….

read … State, guard to pay $50K each in sex assault case

Medevac services could become monopoly in isles

SA: A firm that controls one of two air ambulance companies in Hawaii is acquiring the second medevac business in a transaction that could create a monopoly in the islands.

Air Medical Group Holdings Inc., which owns Hawaii Life Flight, plans to buy American Medical Response, owner of AMR Air Hawaii, in a $2.4 billion deal, the companies recently announced.

Hawaii Life Flight and AMR Air Hawaii are the two main air ambulances serving the state. The combination of the two would reduce competition, which often leads to higher prices.

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan last year sued Hawaii Life Flight, claiming the air ambulance company is charging exorbitant rates that are significantly higher than AMR Air Hawaii’s….

AMR charges thousands of dollars less than Hawaii Life Flight for similar flights, according to Honolulu Star-Advertiser research. A Hawaii Life Flight bill for emergency transportation from Hilo to Oahu in December 2013 totaled $70,580, with a base rate of $16,441 and a charge of $219 per mile, or $54,139 in mileage costs. AMR previously said it charged a base rate of $14,000 per flight and $25 per mile, which would make the same flight about $20,000.

Patients typically pay a portion of the bill based on their health insurer’s contract with the air ambulance carrier. In one case Kaiser was sued by a patient after paying just 28 percent — or $14,000 — of a $50,000 air ambulance bill from Hawaii Life Flight. The patient was left with a $36,000 balance due and argued that Kaiser should pay the full amount for the emergency transportation services….

2010: Former cocaine dealer J Kalani English: Bought and paid for by Hawaii Air Ambulance

read … Medevac services could be monopoly in isles

Internet Billionaires Deploy Yet Another Fluff-Piece on Universal Basic Income

AP:  We billionaires want you peasants to sit around playing video games and smoking weed.  Oxy is good too.

read … Silicon Valley thinks you are useless

Bill to ban styrofoam again heads to Honolulu council

KHON: …Councilwoman Kymberly Pine introduced this latest bill saying it’s a threat to our ecosystem and the health and welfare of the community.

However, opponents said banning styrofoam isn’t the answer.

The proposal would ban all food vendors from serving food in styrofoam containers. This includes packaging for products like eggs, meats, baked goods and other food items….

Not everyone is supportive of this bill. The Retail Merchants of Hawaii told KHON2 it’s concerned about the financial impact this potential ban could have on local businesses.

“It takes away the use [of these containers] for a lot of these mom and pop businesses that are on a very tight budget already. Shipping to Hawaii is very expensive. These [compostable material] containers are a lot heavier than the polystyrene so you’re going to be paying a lot more for shipping,” Tina Yamaki with Retail Merchants of Hawaii said.

Yamaki said that the added expense would likely be passed onto the consumer meaning a higher price for your plate lunch….

We reached out to a styrofoam manufacturer, Hawaii Finest Products. The company said the real issue is people littering.

In a statement, the company said: “Instead of ban bills, we need to focus on reducing Hawaii’s impact on the ocean. We need to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the ocean by focusing on what’s causing the litter.”….

read … Stop Harassing the People

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