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Sunday, October 18, 2009
October 18, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:18 AM :: 6903 Views

Hawaii schoolteacher furloughs still on despite threat of lawsuit

Seitz said yesterday he preferred to settle the furlough issue through negotiations and he thought things could be worked out if "everyone would give a little here and there."

He suggested that furlough days could be:

• moved to non-instructional days;

• grouped around scheduled school vacation time to reduced disruption of families' schedules;

(Pretty good so far, but then....)

• reduced if money in special funds such as the hurricane relief fund could be used.

Otherwise, he said, the furloughs could result in "utter chaos and irreparable harm to these families," especially families with special needs students. Such families' schedules will be severely disrupted, he said.

Seitz was the attorney in the landmark 1993 Felix class-action suit, which said the state was failing to provide necessary special education services under federal law.

Did he say "chaos"? Hawaii budget crisis: Adult Supervision vs Team Chaos , Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy

SB: Lawsuit in the works

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SB: Furloughs carry special legal risk

Seitz says reducing the number of days of the school year has a "disparate" effect on low-income families, "local ethnic communities" and single parents because they cannot afford to enroll their children in private schools. The notion that such families would have standing in a class-action lawsuit against the school system coping with recession-caused budget constraints is a stretch.

However, his suggestion that children with special needs should not be deprived of services required by federal law deserves careful examination. Seitz is well-versed on those federal requirements.

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Enrollment has not spiked in alternative student programs (All hype, no fury?)

But the groups said while they've received many inquiries, they haven't enrolled a lot of children, even though more than 170,000 students are scheduled to be out of public school on furlough days. The first furlough day is Friday.

(BTW: One of the groups listed offering Friday services is an Oahu charter school.  Unlike DoE HQ, they don't have to schedule their days off in order to create maximum chaos to pressure the Legislature to raise taxes.)

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Hawaii needs resolution to contract woes

The only thing this collective bargaining tapdance will accomplish is to kick the can farther down the road. Delayed settlements will add to the pressure elected leaders will face in balancing budgets this year and the next. And lawmakers need to move on.  (They fear for the legislature.  Plopping this mess into the next Leg session could cause Democrats to lose a couple of seats.)

This is an election year, one in which several offices are up for grabs. Unions and other special interest groups are going to be lobbying fast and furious among politicians vying for their special interests. Those politicians need to keep the taxpayers' interest top of mind, instead.

And the taxpayers' interest is best met by addressing the economic doldrums....

(Translation.  All you pigs at the trough better not try to force legislators to raise taxes.  Equation:  Hold back the tide.)

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Educator drug tests stalled anew (never a resolution to contract woes)

According to a memorandum of understanding between the state and HSTA, the random testing, if deemed permissible, would need to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation rules on drug and alcohol testing and/or state Department of Health rules on substance-abuse testing.

Given the length of time it could take for the courts to issue a final ruling and for testing procedures to be established, it is possible, even likely, that random testing will not begin before the contract expires in 2011.

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City preparing to fight expected lawsuits over Honolulu rail (this will be the end of rail)

 

Honolulu city officials are asking for $300,000 to fight off potential legal challenges to a planned $5.5 billion elevated commuter rail.

Most of that money — $250,000 — would go to local law firm Carlsmith Ball LLP to defend an anticipated lawsuit challenging whether project officials complied with environmental laws, according to a resolution passed during an executive session of this month's City Council Executive Matters Committee meeting.

That resolution, along with another seeking $50,000 to pay for the services of the Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda law firm, were made public recently. Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda would be hired to fight any potential legal challenges to rail-related contract awards.

The proposals to hire outside attorneys are expected to come before the council at its Oct. 27 meeting.

RELATED: Honolulu's Proposed Rail Project Moves One Step Closer to the Courtroom (Lawsuit threat spelled out.)

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(Felon gives lecture, Advertiser gives him free publicity) Ceded lands legal issues discussed

Kapiolani Community College  (just another typical leftist perfesser) lecturer (convicted felon, mortgage scammer) David Keanu Sai will speak Wednesday in the Keelikolani Performing Arts Center's third-floor choral room on the Kapalama campus of Kamehameha Schools. 

(Here's a good question to ask Mr Perfect Title.  How does one uphold native Hawaiians by stealing their homes and their money?)

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SB Oi: What's the attraction of lieutenant governor?

A couple of them (Democrats, as usual there are no Republicans discussed in this column), however, seem to be positioning themselves as guardians against same-sex marriage and hope to draw money for their campaigns from cash-ready, like-minded special interest groups. They anticipate that one or the other of gubernatorial candidates (Mufi) who has the same desire to limit civil rights (sic) could win the election and thus be in step with their views.

However that goes, the reality show that is Hawaii politics will be lively next year. With resignation from their current posts required before they can start dancing for upstairs offices, three senators and two House members will leave the stage vacant for other contestants. Let's hope there will be new ones. There are enough reruns.

Everything you need to know about Oi: Secular Humanists push back against St Damien

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Employee wins $150,000 in suit against city

A federal jury awarded Honolulu police outreach worker Sharon Black $150,000 yesterday for emotional damages in her lawsuit against the city for retaliating against her for filing a 1997 lawsuit against the city and high-ranking police officers for sexual harassment....

The obstacles Black faced included her own lawyer filing for a temporary restraining order against her on the eve of her trial in federal court on Sept. 30. A state judge denied the TRO.

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Maui News polls Water Diversion

RELATED: OHA Trustees claim ownership of your drinking water , Lingle: Will agriculture survive Maui water diversion? 

see poll

Palamanui to get green light

HILO -- South Kona Councilwoman Brenda "Hokulia" Ford kept her colleagues in a meeting until 10:30 p.m. last week, going line-by-line over a 39-page rezoning agreement she said will ensure Palamanui developers do what they promised.
Her efforts were in vain.

(Why?  Keep reading...)

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd could not be reached for comment Friday. Previously, she generally disapproved of Ford's amendments. The rezoning issue was muddied by dozens of people who testified in support of building Hawaii Community College at Palamanui -- promised by developers to be built adjacent to the development as part of the rezoning agreement.  "The students over there don't have the same opportunities as the students over here," said Lazareth Sye, a Hawaii Community College student. "We've dilly-dallied too long on this issue."

But some Kona residents want more (sic) than that -- they want the developer to be held accountable stopped cold. "The Palamanui zoning that exists today, that rezoning already requires for Palamanui to build the university," said Chuck (Hokulia plaintiff) Flaherty. "Mrs. Ford's proposing amendments to better make sure that the university is (never) built (because nothing would be built if we got our way)."

(But for once the council didn't buy it.)

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Hawaii authorities hope to end Aloha Stadium site restrictions 

The state, which is grappling with an estimated $1 billion budget deficit through June 2011, doesn't have the financial resources to renovate the stadium or build a new one. An alternative solution would be to partner with a private developer to build retail, office or residential space near the stadium and use the revenue generated to pay for updating the venue. But to do that, the deed restriction must be lifted....

Among those pushing to lift the restrictions is state Senate Majority Leader Fred Hemmings, who helped broker last year's agreement with the National Park Service. Whether the state sells the property to finance a new stadium elsewhere or redevelops the current site would depend on proposals submitted by private developers, Hemmings said.

One alternative is to develop a major shopping center that could subsidize a new stadium at the current site, he said.

"This is a way that we could get a liability, which is Aloha Stadium, turned into an asset," Hemmings said. "It would not only take it off the state's books, it would turn it into a revenues-generating facility, and the public would have the benefit of a new stadium."

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