Hawaii: Anti-Gun Bills to be Heard This Week
Anti-Vaxxer Charter School May Lose Charter over Financial Irregularities
Kouchi, Saiki Behind Massive Pay Hikes for Hawaii Legislators
SA: … “If you’re trying to get good people to come in and be those decision-makers, then you need a fair compensation.” -- Ron Kouchi…
In all, the raises would cost the state more than $485,000 extra next fiscal year when they first take effect, and the cost of the package would increase as additional pay steps kick in each year leading up to 2024.
Lawmakers will almost certainly accept the proposal, which the commission submitted to Gov. David Ige last week. Under a law passed in 2006, the raises automatically take effect unless the Legislature rejects them, and lawmakers have not rejected any of the commission’s proposed pay increases so far….
House Speaker Scott Saiki said he also supports the commission recommendation, describing it as “a matter of parity.”…Many lawmakers do have outside jobs, but the House and Senate were deliberately structured that way to provide Hawaii with a diverse “citizen’s legislature,” Saiki said (snickering to himself) .
Sam Slom, a longtime small-business advocate who served in the state Senate for 20 years, said he voted against creation of the salary commission when he was in the Senate, and warned his colleagues at the time that “all it’s going to do is make sure that we get nothing but increases in salaries.” The commission has never said there should be no raises, he said.
As for the new package, “do I think it’s justified? No,” Slom said. “It’s outrageous for a part-time legislature, for one thing, and the perks, the perks are tremendous.” Slom cited per diem payments for lawmakers who travel as well as the annual office allowance that is provided to lawmakers, which Slom said he never accepted.
“All of this is supposed to be public service, and I think we’ve long ago forgotten that,” Slom said.
State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, one of five Republicans in the House, said she thinks lawmakers are already paid adequately but said she was disappointed the commission did not give “meaningful” raises to state judges.
For lawyers who are considering becoming judges, “there’s competition against very highly paid private-sector jobs, so if we want to continue to get the best and the brightest, we need to at least give a pay raise that … at least will be adequate for that person to be able to do public service for a period of time,” she said….
Related: Massive Pay Hike for Hawaii Legislators?
read … Pay Hikes
Public Employee Unions: 1,600 Members Making Less than $15/hour
SA: …all of the state’s public worker unions are bargaining for new contracts, and those negotiations have been moving slowly.
The Hawaii Government Employees Association has warned its members it may not be able to reach a settlement with the state and counties in time for the Legislature to appropriate money for raises for HGEA members this spring. That would mean any raises won under a new contract would be delayed at least until sometime next year.
Randy Perreira, executive director of HGEA, said the salary commission apparently felt “large pay increases” were necessary to attract and retain executive branch appointees and legislators.
“We would hope and expect that the same thought would be put into retaining capable people in government jobs — many of whom are struggling paycheck to paycheck,” Perreira said in a written statement Tuesday. “The state is facing hundreds, possibly thousands of vacant positions that legislators recognize are not being paid enough to attract and retain the most qualified people.”
“A significant number of government workers are not making a living wage, including approximately 1,600 that we know of that don’t make $15 an hour. Many work two jobs or more just to make ends meet,” Perreira said. “So far the state and counties have not addressed these issues, and there is no attempt to reach agreement on our 2019-21 contract — in fact the employers are not even meeting with our leaders.”
“While we understand the rationale that went into recommending increases for the bosses and electeds, there is seemingly no consideration for addressing the needs of those who are doing the government’s work every day,” he said. “We certainly hope and expect that in the coming weeks, before the legislative session ends, that our employers will step up and offer a fair wage that improves the ability of their workforce to continue living in Hawaii.”
read … Pay Hikes
Residents report more ballot abnormalities in hotly-contested City Council race
HNN: … The special election for east Honolulu’s City Council seat is causing confusion after several ballots were mailed to people who no longer live in Hawaii.
Kahala resident Jonathan Busse said he received a ballot for his son. who now resides on the mainland.
“It was kind of surprising. This is for my son, who is 30 years old. He was born here and raised here, but he has been living in California for the last 15 years or so,” he said.
Busse said his son has voted in California in the last two presidential elections….
Parents of other former Hawaii residents also contacted Hawaii News Now about ballots they received for the high-stakes race…
According to the City Clerk’s office, in a regularly scheduled election, ballots are only sent to voters who request them. But in this special election conducted by mail, ballots were sent to all registered voters.
Rex Quidilla, Honolulu’s election administrator, said in a statement: “While these individuals may have moved, official election mail sent prior to each election are not returned to the elections office as undeliverable. As long as that occurs, a voter may not be removed pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act.”
Voters can’t be removed from the rolls just because they haven’t voted in awhile.
Another viewer who unexpectedly received a ballot wanted to remain anonymous. He moved to Waikiki from New York more than two years ago.
“I knew what it was, but I was dumbfounded by it because I’m not a registered voter so I just tore it in half and threw it in the garbage,” he said.
The Waikiki resident said he got his Hawaii drivers license last fall, but did not register to vote at that time….
HNN: Some East Honolulu ballots sent to voters who no longer live in Hawaii
read … Residents report more ballot abnormalities in hotly-contested City Council race
Rocky start to Special Election mail-in ballots raises eyebrows with some voters
KHON: … Lydia Ling says she and her mother received their ballots in the mail. However, there was a third one for Ling's father, who passed away 7 years ago….
Another resident, who did not want to be identified, said she received a ballot for her son who hasn't lived in Hawaii for 5 years….
Hart tells us every ballot has a barcode and signatures are required to make the mail-in ballots valid. Yet there could be some issues.
"If they are barcoding every ballot, how do they go out incorrectly in the first place?" asked Hart. …
We asked if this race is already flawed since there are extra ballots for non-voting family members?
"At some point, I think voter fatigue would set in," said Hart, "whether or not the Hawaii Supreme Court will feel the same and I think this is where it ends up again. We'll have to see….
read … Rocky start to Special Election mail-in ballots raises eyebrows with some voters
'Gross incompetence or worse’: Rail purchase of reinforced steel questioned
HNN: … Hawaii News Now has learned that the federal grand jury that’s investigating the rail project is looking into how the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation spent millions of dollars to buy reinforced steel.
The change order for $2.85 million was paid in 2013 to contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. for nearly 5 million pounds of rebar that was ordered and installed by subcontractor CMC Metals.
In its justification documents, Kiewit said the cost of steel “experienced significant escalation” during the project’s 22-month delay in 2010.
But a six-year-old internal HART document recently subpoenaed by the grand jury implies that a lot of the rebar was already “purchased and on island.”
“(This) makes it look as though HART paid nearly $3 million to cover the cost increase of steel that had already been purchased and sitting here on island," said Randy Roth, rail critic and retired University of Hawaii law professor….
“If that’s indeed what happened, that’s either was gross incompetence or worse."…
HNN: The change order "makes it look as though HART paid nearly $3 million to cover the cost increase of steel that had already been purchased and sitting here on island."
read … 'Gross incompetence or worse’: Rail purchase of reinforced steel questioned
Hawaii County’s outstanding debt stands at $475M—up 33%
HTH: … The county’s current outstanding debt, including bonds, state revolving loans, bank notes and bonds reimbursable by the Department of Water Supply, now stands at $475.2 million, a 33.7 percent increase from the $355.4 million debt in 2008.
The county added $30 million to the debt load earlier this month, taking out bond anticipation notes in advance of a future bond float. The county uses the notes, said Finance Director Deanna Sako, to avoid having to pay interest on bond money sitting around before money is ready to be spent.
The bond was previously approved by the County Council and will be used to pay for $15 million in Americans with Disabilities Act improvements at county parks, as well as construction of the 16,000-square-foot, two-story prosecutor’s office building at the West Hawaii Civic Center. The council in 2017 approved $12.5 million in bonds for that project.
Last year, the council approved $30 million in bonds to comply with a 2012 ADA settlement agreement. A 1997 class action suit filed in federal court claimed the county wasn’t doing enough to give disabled individuals access to parks and facilities….
The county is paying $52.7 million in principal and interest on its debt in the next fiscal year.
read … County’s outstanding debt stands at $475M
Raises proposed for Kauai county officials
KGI: … Kauai County Councilmembers today will consider a proposal to increase their own salaries along those of 30 county executives, including the mayor, the managing director, the police and fire chiefs….
The combined average annual salary for all county officials on the list, excepting the councilmembers, is slightly over $115,000.
The vast majority of the proposed raises — which, if approved, would take effect July 1 — are 7.6 percent, although a handful of officials are in line for larger jumps in pay.
Resolution 2019-1 calls for a 14.8-percent increase in the salaries for the following officials: County Engineer, Lyle Tabata, who oversees the Public Works Department; County Attorney Matthew Bracken; Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar and the manager and chief engineer for the Department of Water, Bryan Weinand.
Managing Director Michael Dahilig is up for an 11.8 percent raise.
Those percentages translate to an average increase of about $10,000. All told, the proposal would cost taxpayers an extra $316,586. The most recent pay raise for these positions was in 2016….
PDF: Pay Hike List
read … Raises proposed for county officials
Star-Av: Time to Clamp Down on Anti-Vaxxers
SA: … In Hawaii, according to the state Department of Health’s self-reported school data, the pockets are deepest on neighbor isles. All of the schools on the state’s top-10 list for religious exemption (2018-19) are on neighbor islands, half on Kauai. Overall, half on the list are private schools.
The combination of growing vaccine hesitancy and the annual flow of millions of visitors into Hawaii leave the state especially vulnerable. Measles is still a big problem in other parts of the world, and travelers infected abroad can bring the virus back and spread it. This year, Japan and the Philippines are grappling with hard-hitting outbreaks.
California is one of the few states that has stripped away any “personal belief” type of vaccine exemption for children in both public and private schools. The move was a much-needed step in the right direction; and Hawaii should follow suit.
In the 2014-15 school year, when parents could still opt out of vaccinations for any reason they chose, 90 percent of kindergartners in California public schools were fully immunized — well below the 94 percent mark that establishes “community immunity,” according to experts.
The gap helped prompt the state to enact a law requiring every child taught in school classrooms or enrolled in a child care facility to be fully immunized against 10 diseases, ranging from measles to whooping cough (pertussis), unless a doctor provides a medical reason for why it’s unsafe to do so….
Meanwhile: Anti-Vaxxer Charter School May Lose Charter over Financial Irregularities
read … Clamp Down
Kaiser Suicide Squad Pushes for Easy Drugs
KITV: … Dr. Charles Miller is Radcliffe's doctor and the attending physician for Kaiser's Permanente Hawai'i's physician-assisted death program. In the first two weeks after the law went into effect, Miller had five patients request life-ending prescriptions. Out of those five patients, Miller said two died before they could get the medication….
(Kaiser will profit from the elimination of expensive patients. ‘Radcliffe’s doctor’ has been saying Radcliffe will die since 2014.)
(Lobbyist) Radcliffe helped get Hawai'i's Our Care, Our Choice Act passed. The law allows terminally ill residents with six months or less to live to request a life-ending prescription from their doctor. When the law went into effect in January, Radcliffe requested the lethal medication from his doctor. But it was months before the prescription was filled.
"That should have taken me until January 22nd," he explained. "It took me until March 2nd. It took sixty days to get it."…
(Of course he could just buy a bottle of carbon monoxide, strap it on and breathe deeply. But that wouldn’t change the practice of medicine.)
read … Terminally ill patients wait months for life-ending prescription, say Our Care, Our Choice law is flawed
Bill Could Make It Easier To Pursue Sexual Harassment Claims In Court
CB: …When local attorney Elizabeth Fujiwara started representing sex discrimination victims in Hawaii in 1996, it was rare to come across employees who were bound to go through secret arbitration proceedings rather than the court system.
But over the past 20 years, Fujiwara says mandatory arbitration provisions have gotten more and more common, making it harder for her clients to go public with their claims.
That could change with a proposal at the Hawaii Legislature aimed at barring employers from forcing workers with sexual harassment complaints into private arbitration proceedings.
Senate Bill 1048 passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing with the House Finance Committee….
read … Bill Could Make It Easier To Pursue Sexual Harassment Claims In Court
HB307: Redefining Renewable Energy
IM: …At 2:45 pm, Maui Senator Rosalyn H. Baker -- South and West Maui (Makena, Wailea, Kihei, Ma‘alaea, Lahaina, Ka‘anapali, Napili, Kapalua – will be one of the chairs in the joint hearing considering House Bill 307.
HB 307 “broadens the definition of `renewable energy` to include other self-replenishing non-fossil fuel resources," where "other", "self-replenishing", "fossil fuel", "non-fossil fuel" and "resources" are all undefined.
The bill passed the full house 47-4 with no votes from Representatives Matsumoto, Perruso, Thielen and Wildberger.
The bill has been introduced in previous sessions. The hearing today is the final scheduled committee hearing before the Senate floor. Assuming the bill isn`t amended or killed, the Senate floor vote could be the final vote.
Then some entity will crawl out of the cracks in the floor and pronounce that the bill was written for them.
Meanwhile speculative is rampant: biomass blended with coal, methane captured from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, clearcutting and burning forests for electricity, turning coal into ethanol, importing and incinerating California municipal waste. The problem is, all of these are already defined under state law as renewable energy….
HB307: Text, Status (deferred March 27, 2019)
read … The 2:45 pm Mystery
Public Safety admits less-lethal options are on hand — but not for use in the field
HNN: … The state has purchased at least 35 less lethal guns and eight pepperball guns in the last two years.
But none of the less lethal options are available for use by deputies on patrol, a Hawaii News Now investigation found.
The issue came up after an officer-involved fatal shooting near the Capitol.
Sheriff’s deputies were trying to arrest Tyson Dinney on October 7, 2018.
When pepper spray was apparently ineffective, they asked over the radio for a less lethal gun to be brought to the scene.
They were told by the Acting Lieutenant that none was available.
Receipts obtained by Hawaii News Now show multiple purchases in the last two years for the guns. $5,090 for Remington 870 shotguns and conversion kits to make the shotguns less lethal, $7,287.22 for various bean bag and powder rounds, $895.85 for each Pepperball gun, and the purchase lists go on and on….
In a statement, Renee Sonobe Hong, The Department’s Deputy Director of Law Enforcement, said “The less-lethal equipment at TSD (training and staff development) is meant for training purposes only," and is being stored in the armory.
State Representative Chris Lee, of the House Judiciary Committee criticized that practice, "It begs the question, why even train with non lethal options if you’re never going to have the ability to use them?”
Tyson Dinney, who was suffering from mental illness, ended up getting shot and killed by Honolulu police officers called to assist the deputies.
Delmar Espejo was also killed at the capitol last month after a struggle with another sheriffs deputy….
read … Public Safety admits less-lethal options are on hand — but not for use in the field
Firefighters rescue Drunken Belligerent homeless ‘man’ from Kapalama Canal
KITV: … Authorities responded around 4:20 a.m. to a man who was found in the canal under a bridge off Halona Street.
According to a Hawaii News Now crew on scene, the area of the canal where the man was found appeared to be a homeless encampment.
Initial reports were for a stabbing, but police later clarified and said the reportedly drunken and belligerent man actually fell and sliced open his knee.
Several Honolulu firefighters rescued the man by 1) lowering themselves into the canal, 2) stabilizing him and then 3) hoisting him up and over the bridge, where 4) paramedics then took over. …
read …. Firefighters rescue homeless man from Kapalama Canal
The Twisted History Of Honolulu Traffic Engineering
CB: When it comes to some of Oahu’s worst street designs, our fates were sealed more than a century ago…..
read … The Twisted History Of Honolulu Traffic Engineering
On a day dedicated to the ‘people’s prince,’ GOP pushes a re-branding in his honor
HNN: … Party officials say they’re looking to rebrand the party in Hawaii as the “Party of Kuhio,” and call themselves “Kuhio Republicans,” much like Republicans nationally call themselves the “Party of Lincoln.”…
“In any state, it’s really hard to sell a divisive national scene for both parties," Ostrov said.
“What we want to do is focus on our islands and to our voters that we are different than that noisy national scene.”….
Andria Tupola, a former state representative and Republican candidate for Governor, says Prince Kuhio’s values resonate with many people.
“Almost 100 years later, we are taking and gleaning his insight in trying to implement it so we can make a better Hawaii,” said Tupola.
She believes the local Republican party has struggled because of leadership changes and a lack of a unifying message.
“I’ve never really known what the message of the party was,” she said.
Tupola added, “It’s the first time I’ve heard a concerted effort to have one message, one brand to rally ourselves to get some unity within the party."…
Related: Prince Kuhio’s Fight to Americanize Hawaii
read … On a day dedicated to the ‘people’s prince,’ GOP pushes a re-branding in his honor