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Saturday, August 22, 2015
August 22, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:49 PM :: 3502 Views

Hawaii & The USA: A Union Worth Celebrating!

Jones Act Reform to be Part of Puerto Rico Relief Package?

VIDEO: Abortion Dealers Laugh About Shipping Whole Baby Cadaver

Federal Judge Orders EIS for Windfarms

When Windfarms Fail, Oahu Risks Blackouts

SA: Hawaiian Electric Co. usually asks customers to conserve energy when one of its power plants has a problem. But on Thursday, it asked them to reduce usage even though all of its power plants were operating as planned. (Except the windfarms which were becalmed.)...

On Thursday, Hawaiian Electric urged customers to conserve electricity to avoid power outages. At the time, HECO's main power plants -- Kahe, Waiau and Campbell Industrial Park -- as well as its independent power producers were operating normally.  HECO cited the extremely humid weather, which drove up air conditioning use, and the light winds, which sharply cut production from local wind farms. On Wednesday, wind farms on Oahu's North Shore were producing about 1 megawatt of electricity, compared to the usual 40 megawatts. ...

"Demand for electricity reached a six-year high … and that's why, out of an abundance of caution, we asked customers to conserve," the company said....

But Wagner believes the problem is caused by more by a shortage of supply, not peaking demand. He said that the company hasn't invested enough in its infrastructure....

read ... Critics say HECO conservation calls point to bigger problems

Sick Leave Abuse: Hospital Must Replace 40-50 HGEA, UPW Members Daily

SA: Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula Hospital & Clinic are seeing an uptick in the use of sick leave by their unionized workers as plans to privatize Maui's public hospital system advance under the supervision of Gov. David Ige.

Wesley Lo, chief executive officer of the Maui Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., said the recent increase in the use of sick days has not posed any threat to patient care, but has been "very challenging" for hospital staffers forced to scramble to cover shifts in some units.

The increase in sick leave use of about 1 to 4 percent as compared with this time last year might sound modest, but Lo said it means the system may need to cover for 40 to 50 employees on some days. To cover the gaps, administrators have been asking employees to work overtime or have been relying on per diem or "traveling" nurses or other contract specialists to fill in, he said.

"Certainly we are getting a lot of sick calls right now," Lo said. "Some of it is going to people who are sick, obviously. Some it is probably, anecdotally, is related to that they're nervous that they're going to lose that sick leave benefit."...

Background: Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit

read ... Sick leave up amid talks on privatization, hospital says

SA: Link UH raises to performance

SA: ...Control of UH operations properly resides with its Board of Regents, which sets the priorities for the university and ensures that its managers meet those goals.

On Thursday, the regents made one of those priorities clear: At the request of UH President David Lassner, it approved pay raises for nearly 200 of UH’s top executives, at a cost of about $1 million.

The salary increases are necessary to “make sure UH remains competitive in a highly competitive market,” said UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl. “We want to continue to be a top tier 1 research institution. If you look at this from a national scale, we are getting a bargain from extremely qualified individuals.”

Fair enough, except perhaps the part about “getting a bargain.” Based on the most recent salary survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, it appears the raises are roughly within the salary norm — some salaries are comfortably higher than the national median, some are not.

In any event, with the approved raises, the public rightly can assume that UH’s senior managers are being properly compensated for running a “top tier 1 research institution” — and should be held to account when UH fails to operate at that high level.

State Rep. Isaac Choy, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee and a fierce critic of UH management, doesn’t think they should get a raise at all.

“I don’t believe they deserve raises,” he said in an interview. Rather, they should get pay cuts because UH “is in the bottom quartile of almost every ranking.” ....

Background: 70% Tuition Hike: UH System Ranks #2 in USA

read ... Performance

Council committee OKs bill allowing second homes on lots

SA: Oahu homeowners could soon put up second dwellings on their lots under a proposal advanced this week by the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee.

Bill 20 now will likely go to the full Council for a final vote Sept. 2. If the Council approves the measure, it would go to the mayor's office for consideration.

Supporters of accessory dwelling units view them as a quick way to add inventory to the strapped affordable rental market because they create new units on existing property at no cost to the city.

"The problems of homelessness and the lack of affordable housing have been in the news now for quite some time," Councilman Ron Menor said. "It's clear we have a major affordable housing crisis." ...

Advertising an ADU as a B&B or TVU would be grounds for revoking an ADU permit. Additionally, the minimum rental or lease period for an ADU must be six months, up from three months, and all rentals are required to have a written rental agreement.

The amended Bill 20 also adds country-zoned properties to the list of areas where ADUs would be allowed.....

read ... Bill 20

Proposed Charter Amendment Would Take Hawaii Co Ethics Comm Away from Mayor

WHT: Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille wants to see a larger, more independent Board of Ethics, and she’s working on a charter amendment to do just that.

Wille said she’s sponsoring a bill for a charter amendment to change the current selection process from a five-member board appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the County Council to a nine-member board with each council member appointing a representative, subject to confirmation by the full council.

Wille said she’s been frustrated lately by the shortage of Ethics Board members and their seeming inability to take a strong stance against potential wrongdoing by the administration. One recent case, where the board postponed a complaint against Mayor Billy Kenoi for personal use of his county credit card, or pCard, is an example, she said....

read ... Ethics

Study: Oahu Rising from the Sea for Next 1.5M Years

IBT: The team also noted that plate tectonics are important when working out the future of the island. As Oahu is pushed north-west, it will rise in elevation at a slow and steady rate. Their findings indicate that the island will grow for another 1.5 million years – but after this the force of the groundwater will win over and it will start its slow descent down to sea level.

read ... Sea Level Rise not a problem for us

Sen. Slom holds national distinction

SA: ...“Slom is presently the only single-member caucus in any legislature in the United States. Slom serves on all Senate committees, sub-committees and special committees, is minority leader and floor leader, and is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Environment and Technology.”

Pretty cool. But he probably wouldn’t mind some political reinforcements some day … eventually....

Background: Hawaii Senate Minority Celebrates 56 Years of Statehood

read ... Distinction 

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