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Friday, July 10, 2009
July 10, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:37 PM :: 1629 Views :: Hawaii County News, Maui County News, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party
 

Democrat DePledge: Hawaii mayors, unions have plan to trim budget "We're not Pollyannas here" (hahahahaha)

Isolating (Backed into a corner by) Gov. Linda Lingle, (the union-owned) county mayors and the leaders of several independently governed state agencies have agreed on a framework for new contracts with (their masters, the) public-sector labor unions aimed at addressing the state's budget shortfall (positioning Mufi for 2010).

(In spite of clownish attempts by Democrat DePledge and the Democrat Advertiser, the public isn't buying this and at least today neither did the rest of the media....) 

On Monday, Lingle's chief labor negotiator walked out of labor talks at Honolulu Hale, and the governor has said she will not resume negotiations with union leaders until they present a formal proposal to reduce labor costs.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he believes the public is tired and running out of patience with the stalemate. "We are in this together," he said. "And that's why we felt that this was a very timely announcement to make today because there has been progress."

Union leaders have asked the Lingle administration to meet on Monday.

Hannemann, who announced the agreement at a news conference yesterday with Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares at Honolulu Hale, said the mayors stepped forward in part because of a breakdown in communication between the state and the unions.

(Get it?  These hacks are trying to paint Mufi as some kind of hero here.  Why?  Because he took time from building the PayforPlay Railroad to nowhere in order to be the spokesperson for Hawaii's venal labor-management elite?  Lingle has correctly set herself up as negotiating with all of them as a unit.  And all they did is propose the Hanabusa plan--which is based on fantasy money from heaven.  Check out this next line....)

Tavares said mayors are aware. "We know what's coming," she said. "We're not Pollyannas over here figuring everything is going to be great, the sun is going to shine tomorrow, and we can sing in the mountains."  (Yes, the 2010 elections are coming--and so is Alan Arakawa.  But on the bright side Tavares will have plenty of time to go 'sing in the mountains' in 2011 when her replacement will inherit her mess.  Ditto for Hannemann)

Hannemann and Tavares said they expect the unions to "talk on the record" on Monday and described it as a "starting point." They urged the governor to attend.

(Do they have a proposal or not?  If so, why wait five days to show it.  All they've got here is an agreement to back the substandard Hanabusa plan, which doesn't measure up and is getting further from reality with each report of the Council on Revenues.)

SB: Hannemann says mayors and unions have a deal (same story minus propaganda and spin--only 3 paragraphs)

Yesterday the Hawaii Government Employees Association put on its Web page a survey saying that its bargaining team had approved a 5 percent reduction in pay or one furlough day.  (That's LESS than the HanabusaPollyanna plan which was 5% PLUS one furlough day)

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Lingle Has Layoff List Ready For Unions

In case negotiations scheduled for Monday fail, Gov. Linda Lingle said she is preparing to send unions letters listing the names of up to 2,500 workers to be laid off.

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Laying off state workers will not be quick or easy (Democrat Borreca interviews evil mastermind BenCayetano about layoffs)

Fifteen years ago, former Gov. Ben Cayetano found out that laying off state employees — as recently threatened by Gov. Linda Lingle — is convoluted and results in an almost impossible-to-calculate budget savings.  (Yep, that's why the Gov wants furloughs)

In 1994, Cayetano was faced with a budget crisis and looked to layoffs to solve part of the problem. He estimated that 1,300 jobs would need to go. But in the end he was only able to cut 150 worker salaries.

Cayetano called the actual results "minimal."

"After a month of consultation with the public labor unions, we realized that the RIF (reduction in force) would result in the termination of many fewer," Cayetano wrote in his autobiography.

"I watched in amazement as the number of permanent civil service employees we could actually eliminate dwindled from 1,300 to approximately 150," Cayetano wrote.

Earlier this year Lingle said she also did not want to resort to layoffs, but her plans to save money by furloughing workers was ruled unconstitutional because she did not negotiate the furloughs with the unions (the unions judge-shopped).

Lingle said on Wednesday she is ready to start the process of layoffs by consultation with the unions. That is expected to take a month.

(On the other hand there could also be a court appeal...see next article for a good laugh.)

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Advertiser Editorial: Judiciary cuts need hearing

The state's budgetary crisis is hitting every branch of government, and the Judiciary is no exception. From that standpoint, a suggestion by state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Chief Justice Ronald Moon seems logical: Postpone filling the vacant post of chief judge for the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and save some money for the short term.  (Do they think we are stupid???  Obviously this is an attempt to block Lingle from appointing an important judicial position so the old boys can hold on to their control of the Judiciary.  Int Ct of Appeals is the next stop for any furlough ruling appeal.  And Sakamoto is poised to rule layoffs unconstitutional also.  Hawaii Free Press has an alternative.  Lets layoff three of the Supreme Court 'justices' by reverse order of seniority starting with Moon.  That's will save Hawaii Billions!  Because this will leave a two person court, your beloved Editor has volunteered to make three by accepting appointment as Chief Justice for life.)

But there's a right way to do that, and it's not as Hanabusa and Moon propose — asking the Judicial Selection Commission to delay submitting names of possible replacement judges.  (Yes Hana Moon, you are supposed to do that on the sly, not in public.  Duh!)

Attorney General Mark Bennett makes a good case for another approach. Rather than asking the panel to put off doing its job, Bennett says, the Legislature could pass legislation that temporarily reduces the number of judges on the appellate court.  (But that wouldn't take effect 'til 2010 or 11 and by then the Dems dream of having the Governor's seat back--which is why Bennett is smiling when he proposes this.)

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Waianae ER needs money triage

Hawaii's congressional delegation should vigorously support the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center's efforts to increase Medicare reimbursements from the federal government. The effort, if successful, could help prevent the vital facility from closing its emergency department one night a week and correct a long-standing inequity based on the center's unique status.  (Why would they do it now?  The Cong Delegation has had 10 years + to solve the medicare reimbursement problem.  They have done nothing.  Too busy getting pork for their cronies.)

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Hawaii school board approves $227M in cuts, including salaries (no bureaucrats cut)

The plan, which trims a total of $227 million from the $1.8 billion school system budget, includes a 5 percent across-the-board cut to school-level programs, a reduction of part-time workers and slashing of school-level funding.

(It has ZERO cuts to Central DoE HQ bureaucracy.  No surprise there.  Vouchers, anyone?)

Board member Breene Harimoto tried unsuccessfully to get education officials to reconsider cutting from direct-to-school funds.

"The fact of the matter is that schools have been directly affected, we all know that. The schools are dying," Harimoto said.

"I would suggest that we not reduce their budgets any further."

But Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said budget officials have cut as much as they could from state and complex level administration.

"We have gone through our budget, really scrubbed it," Hamamoto said. "The reality is, anything we do from this point on will impact the schools."

The budget reductions also include about $40 million in nonschool-level funding cuts approved by the board in October, about $16 million through a 5 percent cut in school supplies and equipment and about $630,000 in savings from the closure of Wailupe Valley School.

SB: School board curtails labor costs in budget

Avoiding a possible shutdown of public schools on Sept. 21, members of the state Board of Education passed a $1.8 billion budget for 2009-2010 that covers a $226.85 million shortfall and includes reducing about $117.4 million in labor costs.

KHON: BOE Passes Budget; No Contracts = No Money

“As you all know, if we are not at the bargaining table, we are on the menu,” HSTA president Wil Okabe said.

“The problem gets worse...the problem grows,” Gov. Linda Lingle said.

The DOE says the contracts need to be settled right away.

“If that continues by September 21 we're pretty much out of money to continue the system,” Hamamoto said. (Vouchers, anyone?)

RELATED: Proposed Hawaii library cuts include closing 5 branches

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El Nino's return may be stormy

Forecasters warn of more active tropical cyclone season this year--so lets raid the Hurricane fund to feed HGEA.

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CDC reports 722 confirmed cases of swine flu in Islands

That's an increase of 106 from last week's CDC update.

The state Department of Health, which stopped updating Hawaii cases on June 24, has said it expects the swine flu count to continue to rise.

Hawaii's first cases of swine flu — a couple and a school-aged child — were confirmed May 5.

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Pacific Wings to raise rates after Maui airport dust-up with state

KAHULUI — The suspension of Pacific Wings air service to Kalaupapa was called a "disaster" by the superintendent of the national historic park, but it may be over soon.

Residents, workers and tourists, however, likely will pay more and get less service, including no cargo service at all, and Pacific Wings co-owner Greg Kahlstorf said the blame lies with the state Department of Transportation.  (State employees at 'work'.  Layoffs needed to save the economy!) 

"I'm tired of fighting," he said in a telephone interview yesterday. From now on, Pacific Wings will structure its fares and policies "exactly" like what other airlines do.

"If they charge for the first piece of baggage, we'll charge for the first piece of baggage," he said.

The new fares were to go into effect at 5 p.m. today and will apply to all new reservations. Existing paid tickets and reservations will be honored at the old rate, and vouchers will be accepted for their face value toward tickets at the new rate.

KHON: Pacific Wings Grounds All Flights  |  Video Video

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New owner of Ilikai Hotel reaches deal with union, plans to reopen soon

The union that represents workers at the aging but iconic Ilikai Hotel announced this morning that they were able to reach agreement with the new owners — iStar Financial — on a new contract that will enable the hotel to reopen soon.

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Metcalfe pleads not guilty to Ocean View murder shooting of alleged burglar

An Ocean View man accused of fatally shooting a (an alleged burglar from) Milolii man in May pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony.

At the plea hearing held in Kona Drug Court, 3rd Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra granted a motion to modify the conditions of 47-year-old Kevin C. Metcalfe's bail, allowing him to return to Oregon while awaiting trial. Metcalfe also waived his right to a speedy trial.

"This is a case where emotions are running high, especially in a small community like this, said Metcalfe's public defender, Peter Bresciani. "We think it would benefit everyone if Metcalfe isn't around to stir those emotions up."...

With the motion to modify Metcalfe's bail approved, Kuahuia's wife, Angie, immediately left the courtroom.

Metcalfe's trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 3 in 3rd Circuit Court. A venue, likely in Hilo, will be divulged at a later date. Ibarra said during the hearing that the Kona Drug Court courtroom "may not be secure enough for this case."

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Health insurers must offer more transparency

This need for transparency has been driven home especially by the behavior of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (whose Hawaii subsidiary is Evercare) and Wellcare Health Plans Inc. (also known as Ohana Health Plan), the two large for-profit health insurers (HMOs). These two recently contracted by the state Department of Human Services to provide health insurance to the most vulnerable part of our population: the aged, disabled and blind, who need an extensive network of specialists, as well as primary care providers to help coordinate those services. Since Medicaid reimbursement rates are low, the need for profits puts even greater pressure on those reimbursements, increasing the temptation to deny eligibility to patients and reimbursements to providers.

(Retaliation by HMSA cronies against competitors?)

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