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Saturday, January 16, 2010
January 16, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:00 AM :: 8538 Views

Cox: BOE rift may be irreparable

Cox was not present at a recent BOE meeting where some of her fellow members called for the resignation of chair Garrett Toguchi, but Tuesday night Cox said she is part of that minority faction concerned about what she called a lack of communication from Toguchi....

Cox, who said she has been removed from the board Negotiating Committee and Curriculum Committee for her defiance, said she and the two other BOE members who had been DOE employees in the state’s public schools “are on the outs” with Toguchi for criticizing him....

The board felt having Matayoshi in place is critical now, as the Race to the Top application went to Gov. Linda Lingle for her review Wednesday, and is expected back to the DOE by today.

If the DOE’s first-round application isn’t successful, they’ll try again in April, and Cox isn’t expecting a first-round grant, she said.  (At end of legislative session, after Leg has failed to pass Constitutional Amendment making DoE a State department)

The stated federal maximum request is $75 million, but the DOE’s request is for between $84 million and $85 million, she said.

The DOE would be notified in September if the April application results in release of the federal funds, she said.  (It won't)

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Hawaii will cut pay or furlough hospital, EMS, prison staffers

There are about 3,000 workers in UPW's Bargaining Unit 10, which includes prison guards and health care and emergency medical service workers, many of whom work in jobs that need 24-hour staffing.

The ruling does not cover UPW's main blue-collar unit, which does not have the right to arbitration.

"This is a split decision as far as I'm concerned," Lingle said in a news release. "The arbitration panel went along with our request for pay cuts for employees of some of the most important 24/7 operations at the State Hospital, the prisons, and the youth correctional facility, but ignored the same request for others.

"We are very disappointed that the panel chose to implement furloughs for employees of the Hawai'i Health Systems Corporation. A straight pay cut for these employees would be better than furloughs because the nature of the work and the people they serve requires 24/7 attention."

(Just in time for the beginning of the legislative session--the typical "Washington Monument Gambit"--reducing emergency services, prison staffing.)

RELATED: Governor disappointed by arbitrator's UPW "split decision" (full text)

SB: Panel chooses furloughs and cuts for UPW unit

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University of Hawaii faculty paychecks cut 6.7%; TRO hearing date still not set

"It is extraordinary that thus far the Circuit Court has not responded to the motion made by UHPA for a temporary restraining order that would prevent the unilateral 6.667 percent reduction in the paychecks received by faculty members today," JN Musto, UHPA executive direction and chief negotiator, said in a statement.

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Hawaii: Leaving Home is an Economic Indicator

We read a lot these days about monthly unemployment figures, the tourism slump, stagnant housing sales, bankruptcy filings, foreclosures, the pending layoffs of state workers, and other grim indicators of Hawaii’s current recession.  Far less is reported, however, about perhaps the most telling indicator of economic duress – people leaving Hawaii for good....

During the decade of the 1990s, the census found that 118,201 more people left Hawaii to reside in the mainland U.S. than all the people who migrated to Hawaii from other states. The exodus of islanders to the mainland began as a trickle in 1990 and gained momentum as the decade progressed.  From 1995 to 2000, out-migrants totaled 201,293, a number greater than the population of the Big Island today. People leaving Hawaii outnumbered mainland immigrants (125,160) by 76,133.  A Census Bureau report released in 2003 stated that from 1995-2000, “among all states, the highest net out-migration rate was in Hawaii.”      

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Members criticize ‘ridiculous’ 50-cent fuel tax proposal

“He’s out of his mind, completely out of his mind,” Kaneshiro said. “It blows me away that we pay a professional consultant $200,000 to come up with a sustainability plan and that’s what he comes up with. ... He’s lucky I wasn’t there at the meeting when the presentation was made.”

Kaneshiro, who said he would not support the plan with the “absurd” fuel tax section in it, was in Honolulu negotiating to stop state legislators from taking the county’s share of the hotel tax when the council received its briefing from Hinrichs at the Jan. 6 meeting.

At that meeting and at a subsequent public information meeting where the fuel tax proposal drew fire from concerned citizens, Hinrichs said he crafted the plan after receiving input from “hundreds of people in the community” and argued that attaining sustainability — the overarching goal of the plan — will require a “shock to the system” and a “paradigm shift.”

(In other words, socialism.)

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SB: State should kick its habit of raiding tobacco fund

The state receives more than $53 million a year from the settlement and 24.5 percent has been going to the state's rainy day fund. Other amounts have been directed to the Department of Health, some of which are being diverted to the general fund, and the University of Hawaii's School of Medicine, leaving 12.5 percent for specific prevention and cessation programs.  (And making the State Senior Partner in the tobacco business.)

Last year's Legislature cut the share of funds going to those programs to 6.5 percent. When combined with other federal and state funds, the amount going to tobacco prevention was dropped from $11.3 million to $8.8 million. According to rates recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii should be spending $15.2 million on those programs.  (Soon those  "anti-tobacco" commercials will start to have a subtle, subliminal pro-tobacco message.) 

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Honolulu rail project piles up legal fees — $635,000 so far  (already preparing for enviro lawsuit)

On Wednesday, the council's Executive Matters & Legal Affairs Committee approved spending $35,000 to fight off a transit lawsuit that's already cost $100,000 since 2005. And last month, city officials received City Council permission to spend $50,000 on an outside law firm to fight off legal challenges relating to a canceled $1.68 million rapid transit insurance-related contract.

That's in addition to $300,000 set aside in October to fight off potential legal challenges to the planned $5.3 billion elevated rail from East Kapolei to Ala Moana. Most of that money — $250,000 — to defend an anticipated lawsuit challenging whether project officials complied with environmental laws.

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Council kills windmill bill

The council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday voted 3-2 to kill a bill that would have cleared the way for citizens to install small windmills without the time and expense of applying for special permits from the county Planning Department. The majority justified their positions in part by pointing at a recommendation in the recently released final draft of the Kaua‘i Energy Sustainability Plan.

Councilman Tim Bynum, who introduced the windmill bill in June, criticized the decision’s reliance on the $200,000 KESP, saying some of its recommendations are “non-starters,” including a proposed 50-cent fuel tax that “is not going to happen” on Kaua‘i.

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Obama Security Costs HPD $250K In OT

The final bill to Honolulu taxpayers was an average of $27,555 dollars a day.

"I think the new police chief coming in understands that this is a cost that he has to bear every year, once a year. So, he'll be sure to include that in his budget," Honolulu City Council Budget Committee Chairman Nestor Garcia said.

The worldwide publicity from the president's visit should outweigh the money the city spent protecting him while he was here, Garcia said.

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Maui Pine may lose its listing on NYSE

Maui Land stock yesterday closed at $3.98, giving the company a market capitalization of about $34 million based on roughly 8.5 million outstanding shares. Yesterday's stock price was up from a 52-week low of $3.63 on Thursday....

Maui Land stock has been on the NYSE since April 2008. At the time, the company had a share price of about $33 and a market capitalization of roughly $245 million.

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Lawmakers want faster tax breaks for Haiti donations

WASHINGTON — Americans who make donations for Haitian earthquake victims would be able to write off charitable deductions from their 2009 taxes under a bill unveiled Friday by a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders.

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Kauai path will be shifted from "sacred" sand

LIHU'E — Responding to outrage from the Native Hawaiian community OHA shake down artists over the placement of the county's multi-use path on what they decided to call the "sacred sands" of Wailua Beach, Kaua'i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Friday announced that the proposed alignment will be shifted to the right-of-way on the makai side of Kuhio Highway.  Thus confirming OHA's very profitable veto over building anything, anywhere.

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