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Saturday, February 28, 2009
February 28, 2009
By Andrew Walden @ 6:55 AM :: 8094 Views

Kamehameha Schools trustees take 10% pay cut, reject raise

The decision to turn down the pay raises unravels months of work by a Probate Court-appointed trustee compensation committee. The committee — which includes Kamehameha Schools alum Michael Rawlins, insurance executive Douglas Goto and attorney Rosanne Goo — had recommended pay increases of 65 percent to 123 percent. 

Yesterday, Hirai approved a pay increase plan advocated by the estate's court-appointed master David Fairbanks. Fairbanks recommended increasing trustees' maximum pay from $97,500 a year to $165,000 a year. Fairbanks also called for the board's chairman maximum pay to increase from $120,000 a year to $207,000 a year....  

News of Hirai's approval of a pay raise prompted harsh criticism yesterday by some members of Kamehameha Schools 'ohana. An Advertiser online story about the ruling generated negative comments from dozens of readers.  Dill, the 1961 Kamehameha graduate, and Roy Benham, a 1941 graduate and a former president of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association, said they were disappointed by Hirai's ruling, saying a huge pay raise is difficult to justify given the tight economy.  They argued that the trust's assets could be better spent on its main mission of educating Native Hawaiian children. When told of the trustees' plan to reject the pay increase, Dill faulted board members for not coming out sooner against any raises.  "It's an issue that shouldn't have gone this far, given the history of where we've been and all the struggles where we've gone through," Dill said.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who in 1997 ordered Attorney General Margery Bronster to investigate the trust, said yesterday that the trustees did the right thing in turning down the pay.  But he believes that the trust should have a better, long-term pay policy in place to avoid a repeat of the types of scandals that rocked the trust in the late 1990s.  "They really should think about having a permanent policy because no other charitable trust in the nation pays people like this," Cayetano said.

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Pass privatization bill or "our hospitals will close"

Without reinvention of Hawaii's health care system, residents may see cuts in services or even closures of hospitals if essential bills in the state Senate do not pass, said Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Kohala.  Green spoke Thursday evening to about 35 people in a talk story session at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel on his plan to reinvent Hawaii's health care system by allowing hospitals in the state-operated Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to change their legal entity, negotiate their own contracts with new employees and improve private insurance company reimbursement rates.  "It is a very tough year and there's not going to be a bailout," he said. "We have to change or our hospitals will close if we don't do something."

Omnibus Senate Bill 1673, if passed, would allow a facility or regional health system within the HHSC to transition itself through sale, lease or a transfer of the assets of its facility or system into a new entity, such as a nonprofit or for-profit corporation, municipal facility or public benefit corporation.
"In health care it just doesn't work," Green said. "You can't have a community hospital system if you're not prepared to pay for it with tax dollars."
Green said that hospitals in Maui, Hilo and Kona would have the option of becoming semi-privatized should the bill pass.
Such a move might alleviate cutting programs or employees because a hospital would be able to negotiate contracts with employees, phase out high-cost civil service workers and enter into partnerships with other health centers in the state and nation.

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HMSA's Actions Called 'Egregious' In Denying Procedure

In 2005, Adams, 41, had cancer, multiple myeloma. Doctors said he needed a bone marrow stem cells transplant from his sister, who they said was a perfect match.  HMSA refused to authorize the transplant, calling it "investigational" and "not yet shown to improve outcomes." ... Seven months later, Adams' cancer was back. His doctors again requested a donor transplant, and once again HMSA refused. Armed with more data that the treatment was effective, his doctors appealed to the state insurance commission.  In just one hour, the commission ordered HMSA to pay for the transplant.

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Big Island public campaign finance may be delayed by Leg.

House Bill 345 would delay the pilot program to 2014, 2016 and 2018. Cosponsors include Big Island Reps. Jerry Chang, Denny Coffman, Cindy Evans, Bob Herkes, Clift Tsuji and Mark Nakashima. County Clerk Kenny Goodenow and Council Chairman J Yoshimoto submitted written testimony in support of the bill, placing them at odds with the League of Women Voters, Americans for Democratic Action and the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii.

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Kauai Council still not implementing control of building permits

(On Kauai, even getting a building permit in line with zoning is a political exercise involving closed meetings....)  Nearly four months after voters approved an amendment to the Kaua‘i County Charter tying development to the General Plan by transferring permitting powers from the Planning Commission to the County Council, officials have made no progress — publicly — towards implementing the new rules.

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Legislators urged not to tap tobacco funds

"Cutting (tobacco) prevention and control money may seem like a great short-term solution to the state's financial crisis, but it isn't," said 'Iwalani Else, associate director of the National Center on Indigenous Hawaiian Behavioral Health in the John A. Burns School of Medicine's psychiatry department.

Representatives of the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline, REAL: Hawaii Youth Movement Exposing the Tobacco Industry and other organizations told legislators how passage of House Bill 1731 could reverse Hawaii's smoking-related death rate -- the second lowest in the nation at 1,200 a year.  Hawaii spends about $11 million a year for tobacco cessation programs -- less than the $15.2 million a year recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but better than many other states.  The House bill proposes to reallocate tobacco settlement money for six years, starting July 1, and deposit 14 percent in the state general fund  (The State tobacco tax revenues make it a partner in the tobacco business so naturally they would seek opportunities to cut anti-tobacco programs....) 

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Woman injured when whale strikes vessel

(Another anti-Superferry whale hypocrisy here.)

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What recession? Hundreds flock to Costco opening in Kapolei (run on $2000 Chanel bags)

By 9 a.m., the 700-stall parking lot was completely full. Latecomers were eyeing leaving customers not only for parking stalls, but for an equally precious commodity this morning: shopping carts.  Among the hottest selling items were two-for-one cartons of 18-pack eggs that caused a traffic jam in the produce area and $2,000 Chanel leather flap bags. The designer bags, which retail for $3,000, were expected to sell out by the end of the day.

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