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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
January 9, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:09 PM :: 4119 Views

HSTA: Another Union Soon to Win Big Arbitration Award

Schatz Names Political Operative Andy Winer Chief of Staff

Governor Outlines School Readiness Program and Budget Needs

State Kicks Off Foreclosure Fraud Information Campaign

Bad Blood May Mean Primaries for Hawaii Democrats

Tesoro Obeys Abercrombie, Drops Dead

New for 2013: Affordable Housing Costs More

The 'Magic Table'--Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

Pretextural Takings: Will Supreme Court Hear Guam Case?

Hirono, Schatz, Waihee Conspire to renew quest for Akaka Tribe

SA: In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Schatz and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono pledged to continue the work of their predecessors, U.S. Sens. Daniel Ino­uye and Daniel Akaka, in trying to attain federal recognition for Native Hawaiians similar to that granted Native Americans and Native Alaskans.

Schatz is in prime position to continue the work after being assigned to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee….

"This is a right thing to do for not just Hawaiians, but everyone in the state of Hawaii," Schatz said. "It's also the right thing to do in terms of national policy, so our delegation is totally unified and dedicated to trying to get this done."

"It's going to be a tough road," Schatz said. "We're going to work very hard with the leadership in the state of Hawaii, with Gov. Waihee, who's leading the Roll Commission, with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and with other folks to develop the right approach."

Schatz said he planned to have a strategy session with Waihee in Hawaii next week.

KHON: Visas, Akaka Bill Top Schatz-Hirono Agenda

read … Criminals Conspire

Greenwood: UH Will be Self-Sustaining Without Inouye

TGI: While many in the state are worrying about the impact of Sen. Dan Inouye’s death in December on federal funding sources, Greenwood expressed her confidence in maintaining that financial stream as much of the funding comes from competitive grants written by UH staff that will fund not only educator positions, but also fund support positions and equipment system-wide….

Greenwood said they are continuing to “build people from the inside,” and that the university continues searching for researchers to bring their programs to Hawai‘i.

She said the university just made its first hire in the Hawai‘i Innovation Pathway by hiring a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She said an analysis on the return on investment by hiring such qualified faculty is more than 27 percent.

“They pay for themselves over and over,” Greenwood said.

In Hilo, 550 good paying jobs — more than two to three times more than the median — were created on the Hilo campus through research efforts at the pharmacy school there.

read … Self-Sustaining?

New Contracts, Technology Key to School Transportation Overhaul in Hawaii

STO: L' Heureux told STN that his department would be testing out new contracting methods and new technology during the 2013-2014 school year. This "lab work" will provide essential information as he continues to develop best practices.

He used the analogy of a shopping mall to explain the positioning of the 12 school bus contractors in Hawaii: Two are large "anchors" and the rest are the smaller mom-and-pop operations.

"Larger vendors think they'll continue to do what they have done, but that's not going to happen. One of the barriers to entry into this market has been dictated by the terms of contracts of the bigger vendors — another barrier was our own timelines," he said, adding that he has invited all transportation vendors to a summit where they can discuss coming changes.

L'Heureux has met with representatives from Zonar Systems and Transfinder to discuss the latest GPS, routing and student tracking technology. MPS said it is "critical" for the STSB to utilize this type of software to improve efficiencies and rein in costs long-term. …

It is also his hope that routing efficiencies will lead to a restoration of service for the 2,000 students who lost bus service at the start of the school year.

read … Efficiencies?

DOE chips away at bullying issue

SA: Jenny Lee, staff attorney with the Hawai‘i Appleseed Center, a legal and social advocacy nonprofit that has been looking at bullying in schools, said while she's encouraged by the improvements made so far, she would like to see concrete examples of how anti-bullying programs are being implemented in schools.

"This is a step in the right direction," Lee said. "But what didn't get mentioned is what resources the schools are getting and how that all plays out."

She said a concern she often hears is that schools are so focused on boosting scores for annual standardized tests that they have little time for anything else, including addressing the culture of a campus….

Melanie Bailey, a parent advocate who has testified at the Legislature in support of more bullying prevention and monitoring at schools, said the recent incident at Kealakehe High shows that bullying is still a real concern for Hawaii schools.

"They're definitely still having problems," she said. "When you talk to kids, that's when you hear it. It's still happening."

HNN: Tough assignment for Hawaii's education leaders

read … DOE chips away at bullying issue

EUTF Illegally Denied Benefits to Drugged Out, Crazy State Employees

ILind: At least one local health insurance plan for state and county workers offered through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) violated provisions of federal law for an unspecified period by limiting access to outpatient mental health services, according to a case summary published in the 2011-2012 annual report of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The report traces the outcomes of 4,335 inquiries or complaints the ombudsman’s office handled during the year ending June 30, 2012. It also includes a handful of selected case summaries which are worth reading, despite the bureaucratic prose, because they reflect the kinds of day-to-day problems the public too often faces when dealing with government agencies — the conflicting rules, undisclosed policies, personality conflicts, power plays, and so on. They also capture the flavor of the office’s low-key but thorough investigations and, where necessary, subsequent behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade state and county agencies to just do the right thing.

The issue of mental health coverage came to light when a local psychologist’s claim for payment was rejected by the private insurance carrier because his patient, a state worker being treated on a weekly basis for depression and a “substance use disorder,” exceeded the plan’s limit of 24 outpatient visits per calendar year.

LINK: OO REPORT 43 FINAL 11-20-12.pdf

read … No Teeth For Ombudsman But 'We Can Gum Them To Death'

Lawyers Use Loggerheads to Grab Federal Control of Hawaii Waters

CN: It adds: "Loggerhead sea turtles face numerous, ongoing threats in waters off the coasts of California and Hawaii, and along the continental shelf off the Eastern Seaboard from Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, south through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. These threats include incidental capture, injury, and death by commercial fishing fleets. Additional changes in environmental conditions caused by pollution, climate change, and sea level rise further threaten the loggerhead sea turtle's survival and recovery.

read … Another Eco Suit

Civil Beat criticized for withholding data on subscribers

ILind: … Civil Beat … going on three years, still has not released its number of paid subscribers — even, apparently, to its own staff. That means CB employees have no idea of the revenue of the company they work for, nor of its profitability.

It’s an outmoded way of doing business. Loyal subscribers and employees alike would benefit from having such basic information. Long overdue for CB to be more open.

read … ILind

Danny DeGracia: Coral Reef Funding a No-Brainer

DDG: Do you think that the Hawaii legislature should maybe consider a funding increase for the protection of coral reefs or is this something that should be done at a federal level?

Harris: I suspect it’s going to have to be done by both. The state has underfunded the agencies that are in charge of overseeing the health of Hawaii’s oceans and watersheds and per capita we spend less on our water resources than just about any other state. So it is critical that we step up the funding so that they have the tools and resources to address the problems.

DDG: Wow, that’s unfortunate. You know you’d kind of think that given Hawaii’s location and its unique situations that it would be a no-brainer to prioritize that funding. Do you think there’s a reason why the legislature hasn’t stepped up in that area?

Harris: I think sometimes when you’re surrounded by so much beauty it’s easy to take it for granted. Ultimately there needs to be a public call for consistent funding [rather than] trying to fight for a piece of the pie, there needs to be funding for resource protection.

Read … Danny DeGracia

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