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Thursday, September 17, 2009
September 17, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:21 PM :: 8513 Views

Hawaii Labor Relations Board asked to halt layoffs

Peter Trask, the HGEA attorney, said meaningful consultation is a fundamental principle of state labor law. He said Lingle's layoff plans have been "dysfunctional" and "disorganized" and have prevented the union from providing information to its members.

(The unions can solve this problem any day now by accepting furloughs)

...Richard Thomason, a deputy attorney general representing the state, described the layoffs as a "fluid, chaotic, difficult job."  (Which is exactly what the union-designed laws intend them to be) But he said the Lingle administration has responded to questions from the union about layoff procedures. He said possible mistakes by, or disagreements between, the state and the union do not constitute a lack of consultation, but rather are part of the consultation process.  (Any decision will be purely political in nature.  The law does not come to bear at all.)

TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY RELATED: Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy

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Lingle sued over plan to close prison

Lingle announced in July that Kulani would be closed in October, which could save the state $2.8 million to help close a budget deficit. The prison has a staff of 76.

Lingle's decision to close the Big Island prison and lay off public employees in the Department of Public Safety, while still "maintaining thousands of inmates in facilities on the Mainland staffed by private sector workers" is discriminatory and violates the state Constitution, said the suit, filed by the United Public Workers.

The suit (before the union's hand-picked judge, no doubt) also alleges that the prison closure was done in "reprisal" for earlier union legal actions that blocked Lingle's plans to furlough state employees because of state budget shortfalls.

(This decision will be purely political in nature.  The law does not come to bear at all.) 

TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY RELATED: Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy

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Hawaii schools hope to minimize effects of furloughs on classes

The new contract would furlough most teachers for 17 days, according to sources close to the talks.

Officials have several options to prevent the loss of instruction days, including scheduling furlough days on holidays or making use of teacher planning days, commonly referred to as "waiver days."

Under the current contract, teachers receive 13 paid holidays and schools get four waiver days — days students do not report to school — that can be scheduled at the discretion of the principals, which totals 17 days.  (What a coincidence.)

(17 days and they won't have to miss a day of instruction time.)

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SB: Fix elections office (peddles vote-by-mail again)

The office's present problems include state budget reductions leaving it $113,000 short of what is needed to run the office. Cronin reported in July that operational funds had been reduced to less than $15,000, barely enough to pay for electricity, water and other building maintenance for two months.

Kim suggested the money problem was at least partially caused by Cronin's decision to give pay raises to the office's employees with funds that had been set aside for converting jobs to civil service positions.

He also bought expensive electronic voting machines that a state judge on Maui ruled on Monday could not be used because proposed electronic voting methods had not undergone public hearings.

(Yes, yes we've heard this before, get to the point...)

In the meantime, the Legislature should consider following Oregon's lead in adopting a system of mailing ballots to all eligible voters, giving them two to three weeks to fill out and return them by mail or at centralized drop-off locations. The system was used successfully in April to conduct a special election to replace the late Barbara Marshall on the City Council, then again last month for the late Duke Bainum's vacancy.

In last year's election, Hawaii had the nation's lowest voter turnout, even with Hawaii-born Barack Obama on the ballot. Oregon's method significantly raised that state's voter participation (FALSE!) while reducing election expenditures.

TOTALLY RELATED: Vote By Mail: “Tool of choice for voter fraud”

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2 Honolulu police put on leave after drug charges in Las Vegas  (paid or unpaid????)

An internal investigation was begun shortly after the department learned of the Aug. 15 arrests in Las Vegas, and that administrative inquiry is ongoing, the officials said.

Officials would not say whether Officers Shayne Souza and Kevin Fujioka will continue to be paid during the investigation nor would they say when the two were placed on administrative leave.

Meanwhile, tentative court dates of Oct. 15 and Nov. 16 were set for the two officers in Las Vegas. Clark County officials in Nevada said the start of the trial could be delayed.

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Hawaii health insurance costs far outpacing wages, group says

Hawai'i's health insurance premiums grew an estimated 3.7 times faster than worker earnings during the past decade, according to a new report from a group advocating affordable health care.

The study by Families USA (a group nobody ever heard of which has suddenly popped up peddling Obamacare) said family health care premiums jumped 94.2 percent during the period, while median earnings grew at a slower 25.7 percent pace.  (Meanwhile life expectancy is increasing closer and closer to 1yr/yr, but like Obamacare, this "Families USA" isn't about quality of care, its about price--quality be damned.)

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Council favors sidewalk sleep ban

The City Council yesterday voted 8-1 to advance a bill that would make it illegal to sleep, sit or lie down on public sidewalks on O'ahu.

Bill 69-09, which now goes to the council Public Safety and Services Committee, received mixed testimony from the public.

Councilman Charles Djou said he introduced the bill at the request of Waikiki Neighborhood Board members who complained that homeless people who are barred from sleeping at Kapi'olani Park and other city facilities at night are migrating to the fronts of hotels and other businesses during early morning hours.

"City parks and city sidewalks are meant for the benefit of everyone," Djou said. "No one individual or group of individuals should have the right to occupy a city park or city sidewalk and treat it like their private property."

(Too bad the Legislature voted to block the Governor from building new homeless shelters.)

But Daniel Gluck, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i, questioned the constitutionality of the bill. Djou had previously cited a similar law in Seattle that was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gluck, however, said that bill restricted sleeping only in certain parts of Seattle and only during certain hours.

"This ban would apply to every single sidewalk in the entire county 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Gluck said.  "You can't legislate the homeless (industry) out of existence," he said.  (There are so-called non-profits who need these people on the streets so they can get funding.)

Adv: Homeless need help, not late-night rousting  (Wrong, homeless need help not the enabling of the homeless lifestyle)

TOTALLY RELATED: The Reclamation of Skid Row  and  The LAPD Is Targeting Crime on Skid Row, Not the Homeless
"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of Los Angeles, the LAPD's chief and a police captain for ticketing or arresting the "homeless" in skid row. The lawsuit frames the issue as the city and police taking sides with developers and powerful economic interests against a homeless population forced to live in the streets because of the failure of the city to provide adequate shelters.  Clearly, anyone who has been in the skid row area knows that there is a problem; it is considerably more complicated than put forward by the ACLU, however...."

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Tax exemption for energy projects wins Council OK

Alternative energy projects such as wind farms and solar power plants would be exempt from property taxes under a proposal passed by the City Council.  The Honolulu council unanimously approved Bill 58 yesterday.

(I'm putting a couple of solar panels on my hotel.  No taxes.  Yippeee!) 

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Hotels.com survey finds Honolulu is not in the top 20 destinations for American tourists

(For international travelers we are 13th, right above...Newark.  Domestic travelers prefer Houston--13th and Dallas--16th.) 

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CQ: Can Ex-Congressman Make Case to Return to Congress? 

After angering some Hawaii Democrats by challenging Sen. Daniel K. Akaka in the 2006 primary, ex-Rep. Ed Case is braced for a backlash as he tries to return to Capitol Hill.  Parts of Hawaii’s political establishment, he said, “are looking for the best opponent to run against me,” the former congressman said.  Colleen Hanabusa, the state Senate president, is expected to soon announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

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Drug runner gets 15 years

Parker said that Shimizu, whose first brush with the criminal justice system happened at age 11 and who has only an eighth-grade education, deserves "an opportunity to free herself from this ball and chain of drugs that have been the hallmark of her existence."

(18 years of crime--that is the price paid for soft-on-crime policies.  Shimizu is a victim--of liberalism.)

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Kenoi pushes for ethics reform (hilarious headline)

The mayor earlier this year yanked a bid request for dry well pumping after a former vendor alleged specifications were altered so the only qualifier was the current vendor, Kamaaina Pumping, a company mostly owned Randy Riley, by a division director in the Department of Public Works.

(Of course that was an easy decision because Riley was a losing candidate for mayor.)

RELATED:  Billy Kenoi Helped Pali Shooter , Billy Kenoi at Shooters—and the Pali shooter—the connections , Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.”

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Ford's effort to rein in developer delayed

HILO -- A Kona council member's attempt to put specific deadlines into a rezoning request by Palamanui developers resulted in a two-week delay Wednesday, despite a call by more than a dozen supporters to quickly advance a critically needed community college facility.

South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford has been working with the developers, county staff and the community to add a timeline to the rezoning request to ensure the developers' promises of a new road, a park and affordable housing don't fall by the wayside in the 720-acre commercial and residential complex that will also house Hawaii Community College.

(The Community College is just collateral damage in the war on capitalism.)

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Baucus Bill could gut Hawaii Law: Exemption may be needed to keep employer-provided insurance programs intact

Representatives for Sen. Daniel Akaka and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye said an exemption already exists in another reform bill before the Senate and that they expect the provision will survive efforts to meld two efforts into a single piece of legislation.

The law is cited as having a major role in the state's low uninsured rate compared with most of the country.  Last year, Hawai'i's uninsured made up 7.8 percent of its population, or second-lowest in the nation. The national rate was 15.4 percent.  (And you have to fly to Honolulu for many procedures--including heart attack and stroke related treatment)

Some people have been worried about the possibility that the law might be superseded in health care reform, and U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono of Hawai'i have taken steps to support an exemption for the law in measures being considered in the House of Representatives.

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