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Monday, November 9, 2009
November 9, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:57 AM :: 7504 Views

Obamacare will cost Hawaii part-timers their jobs

KGMB: Nalo Farms employs 18 full-time and five part-time workers. But as the healthcare reform bill moves one step closer to full ripeness, small businesses like this one, may harvest out some of its workers.

"I would do away with part-timers and go with full-timers because otherwise, I'm not able to spread out the cost of the healthcare benefits," Nalo Farms owner Dean Okimoto said.

Congressional Democrats like Mazie Hirono say the bill will cover part-timers. Under the Hirono Amendment, only full-time employees and their employers who are part of Hawaii's prepaid health care act, are exempt from the health care reform bill.

"So that means the federal law is gonna apply to everybody else, such as part-time employees...."

SB: Isle Dems praise House bill; GOP blasts it

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Hawaii furlough lawsuits could spur sweeping change

Some think that separate lawsuits challenging the state's plans to save money with "furlough Fridays" could have an even bigger effect than the landmark Felix case that overhauled Hawaii's educational system in the 1990s.

The DOE referred questions to state Attorney General Mark Bennett, who said in an e-mailed statement that: "We continue to believe that the case lacks merit. We know that the plaintiffs claim there are similarities between this case and the Felix case, but we do not agree."

Schools superintendent Pat Hamamoto told the Board of Education last month that "a couple thousand or more" DOE employees could be laid off if the furloughs are blocked. The layoffs would primarily hit probationary teachers, administrators and others while sparing tenured and special education teachers, Hamamoto said.

"It's even bigger than Felix," Berg said. "It has huge ramifications. I would not be surprised if these lawsuits cause all of us really to look at the operations of the DOE and to become clearer on what the mission of public schools is."

Varady said the lawsuits have the potential to, "like a lens, bring into focus something that needs real attention and pretty much critical care."

"I'm hoping that something good can come out of it that's broader than the case we're bringing," Varady said. In the short term, "parents are scrambling in every which way to keep their lives together."

"I'm a little tired of the state of Hawaii claiming it has no money and is therefore exempt from federal law that applies to all 50 states," said Portnoy, a Honolulu attorney who also represents The Honolulu Advertiser: "It may be true they have no money, but unless they get the law changed, it is the law.  (Hey, look!  A legal argument!) It's clear from the entire Felix lawsuit and the years of litigation that the state's argument that it doesn't have the resources to comply with federal education laws has absolutely no merit and will continue to have no merit."

(Good thing Nakaso interviewed Portnoy, because Varady and Seitz did not make any legal arguments in this article, only moral and political ones.)

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Furlough Conflict?

State Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-25th (Tantalus, Makiki, McCully), has signed a petition calling for a special session to restore classroom time lost to teacher furloughs and she plans to speak out on the issue in a private House caucus this week.

Belatti, an attorney in the law office of Eric Seitz, is also working on a federal lawsuit challenging the furloughs on behalf of students.


(Maybe that explains why the lawsuit negotiations have gone so poorly.  Just another Democrat playing for political advantage.) 

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Education controversy and the race for governor

An interesting side note in Derrick DePledge's story about the controversy over Hawaii's use of education stimulus funds out of the federal government was his reference to criticism leveled by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan....

What was interesting, according to DePledge, is that Duncan made a specific point to question Hawaii's move to teacher furloughs at the direct request of Congressman Neil Abercrombie. Expect to hear a lot more about this during the upcoming campaign for Governor.

(Needed: Side by side comparison of the Duncan comments from last spring and his comments today.)

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"If these furlough days work we should make them permanent"

"If these furlough days work we should make them permanent."

SHAPIRO: I've heard that last comment a lot and government workers should take heed....

There's hardly a public clamor supporting the HGEA's call to raise taxes to reopen civic center offices on Fridays. To the contrary, complaints about inconveniences have been relatively few compared to comments about how nice the light downtown traffic is on Fridays.

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SB: As pine goes under, prep fields well on new crops (ANTI-GMO Shakedown, being Prepped)

The permanent plowing over of the pineapple industry on Maui is lamentable -- but came as no great surprise. The immediate effect is the laying off of 285 employees thrust into an economy with a severe shortage of jobs. Over the long term, it moves the state toward more diversified agriculture in a direction requiring assurance against environmental risks of genetically modified crops. (THERE ARE NO ENVIRO RISKS FROM GMOS)

Monsanto's operations have concerned environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and Hui Ho'opakele Aina.  (Anti-Superferry groups plus OHA) They contend that SmartStax, the company's genetically engineered corn, has not been adequately tested for long-term effects and could cross-pollinate with organic crops.  (They contend they have not been paid off.)

The environmental groups express concerns that SmartStax was too quickly approved this summer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They say that was called into question in September by a federal court ruling that the agency's approval of genetically modified sugar beets had been inadequate.

Monsanto's success in Hawaii is impressive. However, the state should hesitate in welcoming seed corn as the state's major farming player without a vigorous review payoffs to those who complain loudest of its environmental repercussions.

REALITY: The Future of Fraud , UH cared for HALOA for 104 years with no help from any activists , Better Dead than GM fed? 

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Global warmers not convened

A climate change task force that was passed into law by the state House and Senate over Gov. Linda Lingle’s veto has yet to hold its first meeting, leading some to wonder whether it will face the same fate as a medical marijuana task force.  (Excellent idea!)

The task force, which would assess the (non-existent) impacts of (non-existent) global warming on the Islands, is supposed to file a preliminary report to the state Legislature before the next session in January.  (Kanu Hawaii and their masters, the "sustainable" billionaires, are waiting impatiently.  They still want to make you to pay taxes to them making gas cost $5 a gallon and utility bills $400/mo.)

TOTALLY RELATED: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”

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Isle hotels see more rooms filled

Occupancy rises for the first time in 19 months, but lower rates are still cutting into revenues....

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Advertiser vs Star-Bulletin: How to build Hawaii's homelessness industry?

ADV: Partnerships, not agency, can yield homes

Faith Action for Community Equity, a group of housing advocates, organized the protest that culminated in a request that the city resurrect its housing office, dismantled after a housing bribery scandal in 1998....

But recreating a new agency to address it is extremely unlikely in an era when budgetary constraints is driving a shrinkage in the size of local government. Nor does it represent a good investment of taxpayer funds for the long term, given that the trend nationally is toward privatization of subsidized housing, both in its development and management.

One typical model has taken the form of public-private redevelopment partnerships funded in large part by federal revitalization grants under what's known as the HOPE program. That program thinned out during the Bush administration, but housing rehabilitation has been among the primary targets for stimulus funding approved by President Obama.

(Yes, that's how Rezko, Obama, and Valerie Jarrett hit the jackpot in Chicago!)

SB/FACE: City needs a housing agency

REALITY: Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii , Barack Obama's War on Black America (Chicago)

SB Catches up with Inouye Earmark Scandal (One MONTH after Hawai`i Free Press ran story)

    RELATED: Humanitarian appeal fails: “They are virtually guaranteeing they will never get an earmark from Inouye’’

    MORE: Firms that donate to Inouye receive his earmarks

    Hawai`i Free Press Oct 6:  Inouye earmarks tied to campaign contributions, Hawai`i Free Press Sept 28: Inouye's DoD Pork: "Paid for by raiding Iraq and Afghan maintenance, food, & fuel" March 10 Earmark Watch: Focus on Hawaii U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Feb 26: Business as Usual: Neil Abercrombie Votes to Kill Motion to Investigate Pay-to-Play Earmark Schemes

    Here's a look at Abercrombie and one of his contributors:  Follow the money: $10B Guam pork project benefits Abercrombie contributor

    AP: Earmarks by and campaign contributions to Inouye


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