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Sunday, November 19, 2017
November 19, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:54 PM :: 2487 Views

DoTax: No End to Litigation, Part 2

Overstock.com: Hawaii Among Top Bitcoin Spending States

State Senate Accepting Applications for 2018 Session

Sex, Drugs and Insanity: Employee Spills Beans on Mental Hospital

SA: A social worker on disciplinary leave from the Hawaii State Hospital since October said employees regularly help patients leave the hospital out of sympathy, pick on patients they don’t like — and even turn on one another while security guards look the other way.

In the aftermath of the escape and eventual capture of killer Randall Saito last week, Rhoda Kahemalani Palenapa — a 46-year-old, Social Worker IV in the Hawaii State Hospital’s Unit F — said some of the hospital’s 630 staff members regularly violate minor and major rules — from openly using cellphones in areas where they’re banned to smuggling in drugs for patients they like….

“How did Randall Saito get away?” Palenapa asked. “They (hospital employees) help the patients get away because they feel sorry for the patients that have been there a long time.”….

Palenapa, a Kailua mother of four, said security guards this summer gave her a heads-up that both patients and fellow employees were looking to do her harm — then did nothing to protect her.

“They warn you that you’re on your own, ‘Watch your back,’” Palenapa said. “When staff get attacked by patients, it’s usually because the staff allowed it.”

Palenapa wrote in her complaint to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission that she believes she was targeted because of an affair she had with her direct supervisor….

Palenapa worked for two years at the Hawaii State Hospital until she was placed on leave with pay effective Oct. 6 for allegedly violating federal patient confidentiality rules, according to a letter dated Oct. 6 from the hospital that Palenapa provided to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

On that same day, she filed a police report alleging that a hospital “psych tech” sexually harassed her on three occasions between June and July at the hospital.

In a handwritten, signed statement, Palenapa wrote in a police report that the psych tech “grabbed my butt while I was reviewing patient charts, he grabbed me from behind, rubbed his crotch on me while I was looking for patient personal belongings in storage room he motioned me over to him in our treatment team room grabbed me, fondled me & kissed me until I pushed him away.”

She added in the filing: “I reported this to my boss & was put on leave with pay pending investigation. I was scared for my life and know the hospital will retaliate against me for this.”

Palenapa said she is now on unpaid leave.

She has since filed complaints against the hospital with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission….

read … Sex Drugs and Insanity

State Hospital escape shows unacceptable acceptance by legislators

SA: …The trouble with cries of “unacceptable” by elected officials is they’ve accepted such lapses at the mental hospital for years.

As one legislator said, it’s happened before and it’ll happen again without big changes; if it were really unacceptable, fixes would have occurred after previous escapes — 17 in all since 2010….

Ige, Chin and Health Director Virginia Pressler made the wrong move when they used the ongoing investigation and privacy worries to avoid deeper answers about how this could have happened.

The state commits so many blunders on so many fronts that public trust is fading. Hiding behind walls of bureaucratic secrecy only feeds suspicions they’re covering up the truth rather than uncovering it.

Saito obviously had help, and there’s a pressing question of whether it came from inside the hospital, outside or both.

He clearly has an ability to charm the pants off hospital employees, and that’s not a figure of speech: He’s reported to have had at least three intimate relationships with staff.

In TV interviews since his capture, Saito said he was never mentally ill and suggested he gamed the court with the insanity defense after he shot and repeatedly stabbed Sandra Yamashiro in 1979….

read … State Hospital escape shows unacceptable acceptance by legislators

DoTax: HGEA Sabotaging Yet Another Tech Upgrade

SA: The state’s largest union and workers in the state Department of Taxation are warning that the $60 million project to modernize the tax department’s computer systems has gotten seriously off track, and have written to Gov. David Ige to warn that the project could be “severely compromised” unless changes are made.

Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira wrote that control of the project has shifted from state Tax Director Maria Zielinski and Tax System Modernization Program Manager Robert Su to the tax department’s deputy director, Damien Elefante, and state Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy.

That management change has “severely impacted” state oversight of the project, and Perreira said there is a “complete lack of confidence” in the leadership of Elefante and Nacapuy.

“If prior leadership is not restored, employees fear the new system will be severely compromised, and will negatively impact the vast majority of Hawaii taxpayers and ultimately the economic well-being of the state,” Perreira wrote. “Employees are compelled to voice their concerns because they are loathe to bear responsibility for the system’s inevitable failure, under current leadership, and the catastrophic effects it will bring.”

Tax department employees who spoke with the Star-Advertiser on condition that they not be identified said vendor Fast Enterprises, which is carrying out the computer project, appears to be controlling the execution of the project.

The tax department’s experts have been excluded from planning for next year’s transition of personal income taxes from the obsolete, old computer system to the new tax system, they said….

2010: Audit fuels “clinically psychotic” HGEA effort to strangle tax collection

read … Employees warn of problems with new tax system

Rail: Murthy Scores $32K Bonus after snagging $2.5B

SA: …At the time of Murthy’s hiring, the rail board said he would be eligible for a bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary, or $40,000, if he hit certain benchmarks. (By comparison, Grabauskas was paid a $299,250 base salary and Robbins receives $317,000 in base pay.)

At its meeting Friday, the rail board unanimously approved the $32,000 bonus for Murthy after discussing his performance evaluation behind closed doors. HART Board Chairman Damien Kim thanked Murthy for taking the reins “in that interim time when we were kind of a little in turmoil.”…

Murthy oversaw the effort to seek additional financing for the project from the state Legislature earlier this year. Lawmakers ultimately agreed to an estimated $2.5 billion bailout…

read … Bonus

State’s new role over city’s bloated rail project amounts to huge hill of bean(counter)s

Borreca: …the Legislature has become an uninvited financial consultant to the city.

The pushback was when Caldwell came up with elaborate new plans to redo the Blaisdell Center complex at a construction cost price of $534 million with an extra $106.8 million for development and construction contingencies and $51.2 million for the anticipated increases in material cost.

The real cost of the revamped entertainment center would be $692 million….

“Oahu taxpayers cannot take the brunt of paying for rail construction, rail operations and this project. Once the City Administration committed itself to the rail project, it cannot further burden our future generations with additional debt,” Speaker Saiki said in a letter to Caldwell. The mayor shot back that Saiki was looking at two different pots of money and there was plenty in both.

Not so, says Rep. Luke, who in an interview last week added to Saiki’s concerns.

The catch is that the Legislature added into the city rail bailout bill $1 million for a special state audit of Caldwell’s rail project because it is years overdue and billions over budget.

Luke just concluded a series of meetings with the state Auditor’s Office to review what the Legislature wants to see studied.

“I said start off by talking to just everyone who you can think of that knows anything about the project. You will get a huge amount of information,” Luke said.

The bailout bill also requires the city to send the rail bills to the state to be paid, instead of the city just getting state money and then paying the bills. Luke has been meeting with state budget and tax and legal officials to ask that they require the city to “certify under pain of perjury that the bills are valid and have not already been paid.”

“I want the threat of criminal violation attached,” Luke said.

As for rebuilding the Blaisdell, it is nice and that may be needed — but rail is going to need an extra $100-$120 million a year for operation and maintenance and repair once the trains start running and that is not in the city’s operating budget, Luke said. “No matter what pot you say the money is in, it all comes from the taxpayer.”

read … State’s new role over city’s bloated rail project amounts to huge hill of bean(counter)s

Study on state ferry awaited

HTH: …A study looking at the viability of a state-owned ferry system will be presented to the state Legislature next month, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Lawmakers commissioned the $50,000 study last session.

The purpose is to take a look at other publicly owned fleets, such as in Washington state, and how that could work here.

That would be different from the Superferry, a private venture that sailed from 2007-09. It shut down after a judge ruled it unconstitutional without a full environmental review.

DOT contracted with SMS Research to conduct a “market analysis to determine demand for and price sensitivity related to an intra-island, intra-county and inter-island ferry service,” agency spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said in an email.

Additionally, the study looks at infrastructure requirements, environmental law compliance, operating costs and financing options, she said. Recommendations will be included….

read … Ferry

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