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Wednesday, June 2, 2021
June 2, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:41 PM :: 4856 Views

2021 Neighborhood Board Election Final Results Posted

UHPA Labor Board Case Challenges UH Budget Cuts

Homeownership for Hawaiians Requires Big Thinking!

OHA Bills Impacting Native Hawaiians -- 2021 Session

OHA Makes $1 Million Available For Emergency Financial Assistance Program

HGEA Membership Approves Contract

Legislation to Restore Access Federal Benefits for COFA Citizens

NOAA names University of Hawaii to host new institute for marine and atmospheric research

Perjury? Ex-chief Kealoha begins denying crimes he pled guilty to

HNN: … The ex-police chief of Honolulu surrendered at a facility in Sheridan, Oregon on Tuesday as ordered by a judge to begin serving a seven-year term.

And as he starts serving time, Kealoha is now claiming innocence for his crimes.

In a May 7 deposition, Kealoha said under oath that he should not have been convicted of conspiracy and obstruction, despite his conviction in June 2019 and subsequent guilty plea for bank fraud.

In the transcript, shown to HNN, Kealoha flatly denied his involvement in the conspiracy and said he was “improperly convicted in the federal criminal case.”

Kealoha had a very different message after his sentencing in December. He told reporters after leaving the courthouse that he took “full responsibility” for his actions and was sorry for the pain he’d caused….

In the deposition, Seitz asks Kealoha: “Even though you entered into a sentencing agreement and pled guilty in the subsequent case, as you sit here today, do you believe that you should not have been convicted?”

Kealoha answered, “Yes.”

He also denied it was a conspiracy, saying, “That is not what happened.”

“What did happen?” Seitz asked.

Kealoha responded, “Somebody stole our mailbox. We opened an investigation and that was it.”

“This was Louis Kealoha’s opportunity to start making things right,” Silvert said. “And, in fact, not only did he not do that, he went the opposite direction.”

He pointed out that Kealoha admitted to the crimes in a federal court hearing and that these statements now contradict that.

“He stood before a federal judge, raised his right arm and swore an oath that these facts were true and that he was criminally responsible for having been part of the conspiracy,” Silvert said.

Silvert said Kealoha benefited from that by getting a lighter sentence for accepting responsibility….

“Those were surprising statements,” Harrison said, noting that Kealoha either lied in court when he pleaded guilty or lied during the deposition. Both were under oath, but it’s unlikely that Kealoha will be prosecuted for perjury because he is already in prison serving his seven-year sentence…. 

HNN: In deposition, Louis Kealoha cranks up tears when talking about wife’s manipulation

read … Ex-HPD chief begins 7-year prison sentence for crimes he now denies

Will Vanic be the Next Chief?

SA: … In response to an emailed question about whether he will apply to be the next chief, Vanic, through a spokeswoman, declined to answer “out of respect for the Commission and the selection process.” 

(Translation: “Yes.”)

Vanic, Capt. Thomas Tafflinger and Maj. Mark Thompson are among an undisclosed number of expected local applicants for the position, which pays $205,800 annually plus $8,320 standard-of-conduct pay, if those standards are met, according to police and city officials. It is not known how long a nationwide search will take, but commissioners have expressed a desire to keep the process moving.

“We are fortunate to have an experienced leader in Interim Chief Rade Vanic, who has 21 years of experience in HPD serving and protecting the public. I have already met with Acting Chief Vanic and look forward to working with him on the important issues facing our City and the police department,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi told the Star-Advertiser….

(Translation: “I want Vanic as permanent Chief.”)

If Vanic meets the minimum qualifications, he would be able to apply for the position, Alivado said.

(Translation: “OK.”)

Prior to leading HPD’s administrative bureau, Vanic commanded the Information Technology Division and patrol District 3 (Pearl City/Waipahu). His previous assignments include the Office of the Chief, Criminal Investigation Division and Community Affairs Division, according to police….

SA: Interim Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic designing a way forward

read … Assistant Chief Rade Vanic takes over as interim Honolulu police chief

Sen Mercado Kim Disrupts UH ‘Gravy Train’

CB: … The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly recently launched several public attacks, one decrying the UH budget approved last month by the Legislature, the others a more personal attack directed at me for daring to question the policies and practices of the institution.

It would be exhausting to offer a point-by-point rebuttal to UHPA’s criticisms, which reflect the strident, self-serving bombast of a labor union advocating on behalf of its membership. As an elected official, I accept criticism often, except when it’s full of rambling mistruths and personal attacks….

Student debt in our country is at an all-time high. Graduates are saddled with decades of loan repayments. My goal — one shared by my fellow legislators and our entire community — is to have the University of Hawaii offer an excellent education at an affordable cost. We are failing to fulfill that mission….

When accepting the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, past chairs warned me they had urged UH administrators for decades to be more responsive to the students, trim a large bureaucracy, hold faculty accountable to UH’s teaching loads, and classify researchers the same way other R1 universities do — only to be bullied by UHPA. I have just now experienced this bullying as UHPA is now accusing me, as they did my predecessors, of having an “agenda” or motives other than the oversight responsibilities of sound governance….

The last House Higher Education chair who proposed many of the same concerns was targeted by UHPA in his re-election bid and the union spent more than $90,000 to unsuccessfully unseat him. It has been and continues to be an uphill battle because UH and UHPA will do anything to maintain the status quo and avoid painful decisions….

Board of Regents Policy 9.214 states, “As instruction is the university’s highest priority, teaching remains the most important duty of its faculty.”

The policy states that full-time instructional faculty members teach 24 semester credit hours per academic year at Manoa, Hilo, and West Oahu. That load is 27 semester credit hours at the Community Colleges.

But UH data shows that a lot of Manoa faculty teach just eight to 12 credit hours a year. UH administrators acknowledge the disparity between what is required and what is reality; many UHPA members have brought to my attention the inequities among the teaching and non-teaching faculty in workload, performance, and salary which is why the Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 201….

UHPA’s criticism on Senate Bill 1328, which would deny tenure to non-instructional faculty, did not address the underlying issue of unjustified employment policies.

Few, if any, colleges in the United States or the UH’s peer universities grant tenure to researchers. This is why Hawaii is known as the “gravy train.” Other institutions require researchers to attract extramural research grants to cover 40% to 80% of their salaries and benefits. Instead, the UH pays its research staff from general funds.

UHPA claims that this could jeopardize Hawaii’s R1 status; this is false because most, if not all, R1 institutions do not tenure researchers. Additionally, UH has been using tuition dollars paid by students to supplement research that is not related to their instruction….

read … Sen. Donna Mercado Kim: UH Faculty Union's Attacks Are 'Mistruths'

Fat Juicy HSTA Bonuses Not Written in to Contract

CB: … While union representatives said they would have preferred to secure base pay raises for teachers in this new contract, an HSTA summary sheet for members said “it was not an option in the current financial climate.”

Teacher pay in the state is set by a pre-negotiated salary schedule composed of various steps in which a teacher may achieve higher pay by accruing professional development hours or academic credits or through pre-negotiated increases at certain time increments.

The new proposed agreement contains no step movements for the next two years, the union said.

Under the current salary schedule, a teacher who has a bachelor’s degree, has completed a state-approved teacher education program and is eligible to attain a state teacher license would start at a $50,819 annual salary.

One provision that was not renewed in the new proposed agreement was an automatic 1.46% bump in teacher base pay when 21 hours of “job-embedded professional development” is completed. Funding for this extra compensation was not included in the 2021 legislative session, the union said, but added that state education officials have expressed support to find a way to continue this program.

The union also said it fought unsuccessfully to make the so-called salary differentials for special education teachers, Hawaiian language immersion teachers and those teaching in remote geographic regions of Hawaii “a permanent part of the contract.” However, those salary differentials, which range from $3,000 to $10,000 yearly, will remain intact for the upcoming school year, according to a DOE memo dated May 21.

Additionally, the HSTA said it could not secure other things like “COVID-19 language” in the settlement but it expects the state Department of Education to continue to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding school health and safety protocols. The plan for now is to have all DOE schools reopen for full in-person learning by the start of the new year on Aug. 3.

The contract talks took place between the HSTA negotiations committee and representatives from the DOE, the Board of Education and the governor’s office.

The Board of Education will vote on whether to approve the contract during a meeting on Thursday.

If ratified, the new contract takes effect July 1…. 

KHON: Hawaii teachers reach tentative contract settlement

read … Hawaii Teacher Salaries Won’t Change If New Contract Is Approved

COVID Money Sloshing Around County Budget

SA: … The Honolulu City Council is expected to decide on a budget today, although it has not yet been finalized how the $196 million in federal funds Oahu is expected to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act will be spent.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi proposed a $2.9 billion operating budget, which the City Council has been amending for the past three months. One of the biggest variables that has affected the proposed budget is the federal funds that have yet to be released to the city from the ARPA.

However, the official federal guidance on how the funds could be spent did not come out until May 17, which has left the Council to allocate the money without knowing exactly what it could be used on.

One of the biggest differences between the ARPA funding and the original federal stimulus CARES funding is that ARPA funding can replace revenue lost due to COVID-19.

City Council Budget Committee Chairman Calvin Say requested a report from the mayor’s office determining the maximum lost revenue that could be replaced with ARPA funding. The report is expected to be submitted by today’s full City Council meeting….

The city’s revenue could face another blow after the state Legislature’s decision to no longer give counties $130 million of the state’s transient accommodation tax. Honolulu receives 44.1% of that amount. The measure has yet to be signed by Gov. David Ige.

read … Federal funding leaves Honolulu budget in limbo

Alternatives To The Last Honolulu Rail Leg? HART Releases A ‘Matrix’ Of Ideas

CB: … With Honolulu rail facing its biggest budget hole yet, calls are growing for the city to explore alternatives, including approaches that might replace the remaining stations and elevated path to Ala Moana Center altogether.

Notably, those requests are starting to come from prominent rail supporters, not just vocal critics of the project, now estimated to cost $12.4 billion.

“While I personally support the rail project, I agree with the general public that there has not been a robust discussion on other options, if any, that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) may find acceptable as well as the corresponding costs of those options,” Manoa-area Councilman Calvin Say wrote in a letter last week to Lori Kahikina, rail’s interim executive director.

Say said those alternatives must be considered and vetted in public, at least for the sake of transparency.

His comments come several weeks after Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, in a departure from his predecessor, Kirk Caldwell, declared he would discuss potentially stopping short of Ala Moana in his meetings with the FTA later this summer.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, meanwhile, has been internally exploring various potential changes to the project, both large and small, since January.

The local agency also recently flip-flopped on whether to share its so-called “matrix” of those changes publicly. It first assured board members who wanted to see the matrix go public that it would release it. Weeks later, it withheld the document when the board’s chairman and vice chairman suggested it should stay confidential.

Ultimately, however, HART released the matrix in April when the conservative-leaning policy think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii pressed for its release in a public records request.

Marked “confidential,” the matrix includes 27 changes to rail’s design, technology and route past Middle Street. It aims to address the new budget deficit, estimated at around $3.6 billion. …  

read … Alternatives To The Last Honolulu Rail Leg? HART Releases A ‘Matrix’ Of Ideas

New incentives push Hawaiian Electric toward more so-called ‘clean’ energy

SA: … “This decision underscores our commitment to transforming Hawaii’s energy future,” said PUC Chairman James Griffin in a statement. “Though we faced challenges developing these first-of-their-kind performance mechanisms, we all understand the importance in completing this part of the PBR Framework and ensuring the regulatory structure is well-rounded and balanced.”

Customers will benefit because the PIMs include goals such as “increased procurement of grid services from customer-based programs” and “improved collaboration with Hawaii Energy to reach low-to-moderate income customers and promote energy saving measures.”

The PBR Framework and the PIMs will help drop rates for customers as well — an average of $1.27 per month for typical residential customers.

This year, ratepayers as a whole will save about $12.6 million, the PUC said in a news release. Through 2025, that number is supposed to be $69.9 million….

(IQ Test: Do you believe your rates will be cut?)

read … New incentives push Hawaiian Electric toward more clean energy

Homeless Dude accused of setting another homeless dude on fire last month pleads not guilty

HNN: … A man accused of setting another man on fire pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday.

45-year-old William Woods is accused of second-degree attempted murder near the Longs Drugs store on Pali Highway last month.

(Like many homeless dudes,) Woods has a criminal record dating back to 1995 with convictions that include burglary, kidnapping, robbery and sex assault.

Currently he's being held on $1 million bail, but prosecutors are requesting Woods be held without bail.

A hearing on that is scheduled for Thursday. If convicted, Woods faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. …

Different Homeless Dude: Man accused of intentionally setting fire at Hawaii Supreme Court pleads not guilty

read … Man accused of setting another man on fire last month pleads not guilty

In rare move, lawmakers voted to eliminate job of well-paid university professor

HNN: … In a rare move, lawmakers have voted to eliminate the job of a well-paid university professor.

Prof. Carl-Wilhelm Vogel has worked at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center for more than two decades, earning more than $300,000 a year.

But his position was eliminated by a last-minute item in the state’s budget bill.

State Sen. Donna Kim, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, defended the move: “This individual does not even come into the office, has no office hours,” she said. “In addition to teaching zero classes, bringing in zero dollars, he doesn’t hold office hours.”…

the faculty union is asking the state Labor Board to restore Vogel’s position, saying the move violates his union contract, state law and the state Constitution….

read … In rare move, lawmakers voted to eliminate job of well-paid university professor

Pentagon again denies funding for $1.9 billion Hawaii radar

SA: … Congressional delegation outraged because their contributors aren’t getting this contract … 

SA: Kauai remains ‘preferred’ location for missile defense radar Pentagon won’t fund

read … Pentagon again denies funding for $1.9 billion Hawaii radar

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