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Tuesday, July 7, 2009
July 7, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:31 AM :: 6779 Views

Akaka Bill: House Committee to vote Thursday

Kalapa: Reality Check Needed for Public Employee Comparison (42 paid days off every year)

(Don't want layoffs or furloughs?  OK here are some things to cut.)

Probably the most generous benefits for active employees are the vacation and sick leave benefits. After a probationary period, which usually applies to both private and public sector employees, public sector employees earn 21 days of vacation and 21 days of paid sick leave per year. And in general, those days can be carried over from year to year without limitation....

Between 21 days of vacation and 21 days of paid sick leave, we are talking about the potential for a public sector employee to take just over two months off from work and still be paid. In other words, we, as taxpayers, are paying public sector employees to work just under ten months per year.

while private sector employees have to pick up the cost of their health care insurance after retiring, public sector employees do not. And until recently, the public sector employee retirees were not only covered after their retirement, but that coverage was also extended to their spouse whether or not the spouse ever worked for the state or county government. While some of the health benefits were curtailed, there are currently thousands of public sector retirees who enjoy this generous benefit.

The real kicker is that while private sector retirees see their Social Security benefits reduced by the premium for Medicare once they reach age 65, the public sector employee retiree is made whole with a reimbursement from the retirement system equal to that amount of the Medicare premium.

Finally, one has to remember that the state retirement system is one of the few defined benefit retirement plans left. The private sector has largely eliminated such plans in favor of encouraging employees to save through a 401(k) plan where the deferral is sometimes matched by the employer. However, and more importantly, unlike distributions from a 401(k) plan that are subject to state income taxes, distributions from the state retirement system are not subject to state income taxes.

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Lingle's representative leaves meeting with unions, awaits formal proposal

Marie Laderta, chief labor negotiator for Gov. Linda Lingle, left a meeting with union officials today after 50 minutes, saying she is still waiting for the unions to present an on-the-record proposal.

"We would like to see a commitment to a position," Laderta said. "The state is willing to discuss everything on the record."

Labor officials then asked a federal mediator for a negotiating session, but the Lingle administration has insisted that it will only come to the bargaining table if the unions present a formal proposal.

The governor said Monday that she will be speaking with department heads to determine what cuts can be made in order to close a state budget gap of at least $729 million.

She also said that layoff notices could be sent out by the end of the week or soon thereafter.

Lingle didn't say how many notices will be sent out. The notices require a delay of as much as 90 days before they take effect.

In the past, Lingle said she may need to fire as many as 2,500 state workers.

SB: State negotiator walks out of meeting with unions

All four county mayors, University of Hawaii President David McClain, Board of Education member John Penebacker and Laderta started the meeting.

Lingle was not there.

After Laderta left the meeting the other employer representatives and union members remained in the room.

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Democrat Borreca: Lingle negotiator leaves talks as governor gears for layoffs

The four public worker unions had the most inclusive bargaining session yet as the four county mayors and representatives of the state Board of Education and university all met at City Hall.

But state negotiator Marie Laderta, human resources director, walked out of the session, saying the "unions are not willing to engage in any on-the-record discussion."

...According to law, the state has the final say in any labor contract, so while the counties, Department of Education, UH and state hospitals all have votes in the contract, the state must also agree. If the state withholds its votes, no contract can be ratified.

After the talks, Randy Perreira, Hawaii Government Employees Association executive director, said the discussions, even without the state participating, were good.

"It was time well spent," Perreira said.  (We all sat around discussing how to keep this conflict bubbling as we believe it helps the Hippie from Buffalo, Mufia or anybody else running against Duke Aiona in 2010.)

Laderta said, however, nothing will move until the unions put forth a formal written proposal.

"We have been waiting for a long time for an official, on-the-record counterproposal from them to our proposal," Laderta said before the talks started yesterday.

J.N. Musto, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly executive director, said the state was not telling the truth, claiming that his union had given the state three written contract proposals and never received a counteroffer.  (Really?  Show them to the public.  Proposal 1 --30% raises across board, proposal 2 --20% raises, proposal 3 --10% raises.)

"Her assertion that the unions have not given a formal written proposal is just not true," Musto said.  (And the other unions?  On the record?)

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KITV: State Walks Out Of Union Negotiations

Lingle said she began meeting with department heads Monday and will do so again on Tuesday.

"Each one of them has submitted to me a plan for their department to eliminate vacancies, eliminate other spending or contracts and in some cases, positions," Lingle said.

State negotiators will insist on on-the-record negotiations, not informal talks Lingle said the unions are seeking.

"I feel that they're taken out of context. I feel they are misrepresented and the public is told that I haven't been negotiating, and they say that because it's been off the record and informal," Lingle said. "I want to say to them 'if you're serious, then put a proposal on the record. Why wouldn't you? Your contracts have expired. You need to move forward for your members.'"

The governor said that everything is on the table.

"Furloughs are not out of the question, pay reductions are not out of the question, but neither are reductions in programs," she said.

Lingle previously said that if the courts blocked her attempts to furlough state workers to balance the state budget, she would start laying off workers.

However, without a contract now in place, workers are without the protection of a 90-day notice of a layoff. Lingle said she hopes she will not to have to layoff employees.

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Djou campaign makes national news again

(This article is pretty mangled, for instance it suggests the late Duke Bainum might run vs Ed Case in a Dem. Primary...but here are the good quotes)

Although he acknowledged that his candidate faces some stiff odds, Djou’s campaign manager, Dylan Nonaka, pointed to what he said are overlooked indicators that Djou could surprise those who have counted him out.

He said the district is “much friendlier to Republicans than the state is” and noted President George W. Bush’s strong showing in 2004, when he garnered 47 percent of the vote in the 1st district.

“We see it as a much more competitive race than some outsiders might see it as,” Nonaka said....

Nonaka also suggested that Case, who some see as the Democratic frontrunner based on his name recognition and experience, may have undercut himself by unsuccessfully challenging Akaka in 2006.

“The culture here in Hawaii is a very respectful culture,” Nonaka said. “The Democratic base, especially in the more rural areas, saw that as a blatant sign of disrespect.” ...

Nonaka questioned the extent to which Obama will affect the race, saying that the president will be busy with more pressing matters than getting involved in a Congressional race in Hawaii.

“We’re not running against Obama,” Nonaka said.

As will undoubtedly be true for almost every contest in 2010, the economy will factor heavily into the debate in the open-seat race. The state is grappling with a revenue shortfall, exacerbated by a sputtering tourism industry that has long been a mainstay of income.

In response to the state’s financial woes, Djou has advocated curtailing expenditures by shrinking the state budget and scaling back government programs. He has been a vocal critic of Hannemann’s proposal of a 20-mile elevated rail line that would run throughout Honolulu. Hannemann has said the jobs needed to construct the rail system would stimulate the economy, while Djou has charged that the cost would outstrip the job-related benefits.

“Charles is trying to make it understood that you can’t solve all your problems by raising taxes,” said Jim Bryan, a spokesman for the Hawaii Republican Party. “It’s going to hurt people further who have already suffered from this economy.”

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Thirty Meter Telescope creates debate

Nelson Ho of Hilo representing the Sierra Club worried about the industrialization and modernization of Mauna Kea.
"I value astronomy but it is where it is going and how," Ho said before delving into the mountain's mismanagement issues. "Science will not be stopped but the Hawai`i leadership has not stepped up to the plate. There is a continued segmentation of management and planning -- we need to correct this problem."
Deborah Ward, an organic farmer from Kurtistown and co-chair with Ho on the Mauna Kea Issues Committee spoke out in concern. She referenced the lack of comprehension for the balance of restoration and limiting the infringement on the fragile landscape.
"You can't put it back once it's gone," Ward said. "I am shocked to see the industrialization over time. I have issue with the fact that the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) has never been addressed. I believe the EIS is entirely premature until the CMP is approved by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Board of Land and Natural Resources."

(Huh?)

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Kauai Rapist: Ruling upholds libel suit rejection

Honolulu Magazine and the Garden Island newspaper did not libel a convicted rapist identified as a suspect in a series of attacks in 2000, the state Intermediate Court of Appeals has ruled.

Last week's ruling upholds a lower court's dismissal of a 2002 lawsuit filed by Waldorf Roy Wilson II against the two publications and authors of the articles. It also upholds the dismissal from the suit of then-Kauai Police Chief George Freitas, individual Kauai police officers and the county, because Wilson took too long to pursue his claim of misconduct against them.

Wilson was on parole for 1983 rape and kidnapping convictions when three women were raped, beaten and stabbed on Kauai between April and August 2000. Two of the victims died.

Kauai police took Wilson into custody for questioning Sept. 12, 2000. That evening a television station identified him as a suspect. To date, no one has been charged in the attacks.

(Next stop, Hawaii's famous Supreme Court)

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SB: Judge sentences Pali killer to life in prison

In trial the government presented evidence that Joseph and Motta were involved in a violent struggle with other factions for control of illegal gambling operations on Oahu. The government said Joseph and Motta lured their victims to the golf course, where they and a third man, Kevin A. Gonsalves, shot them.

Mollway told Joseph his crimes were terrible.  "You killed to regain control of the security portion of the illegal gambling business," she said.

She was supposed to also sentence Motta yesterday, but his hearing was postponed because he is getting a new lawyer.  (He ran out of the money that Billy Kenoi helped raise for him.)

Advertiser: Motta sentencing delayed

Motta has no money to pay Carnesi and local lawyer Walter Rodby, according to legal papers filed this week in federal court.

Motta "is requesting court-appointed counsel," Rodby said in a motion to withdraw. Court-appointed defense lawyers are only available to criminal defendants who can't pay for private attorneys.

Where Motta found the money to hire Carnesi, whose clients include John A. "Junior" Gotti, son of former New York mafia don John Gotti, has been a source of speculation since Carnesi entered the case last year.  (Only to Advertiser readers.  HFP readers know that now-Hawaii-County-Mayor-Billy-Kenoi helped as did about 1000 people at a $100 -per-ticket fundraiser in Hilo.  See below)

Motta's mother, Elizabeth Motta, said during the trial that her family was trying to "scrape up" funds to pay Carnesi's discounted fees of $150,000.

She called Carnesi "an angel" for agreeing to represent her son.

She could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Carnesi, who is back in New York trying to arrange the release of Junior Gotti on bail pending trial on racketeering charges, also was unavailable for comment. Rodby declined comment.

Billy Kenoi Helped Pali Shooter , Billy Kenoi at Shooters—and the Pali shooter—the connections  , Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.”

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1863: Hawaiian soldier goes to Virginia to shoot Democrats?

Bronze pin found at a Virginia battle site holds an image of a man who looks Hawaiian...

"We are convinced of the ID," said Huber. "We have not found any other historical figure that even comes close to a match. Also, I think if you look at some of the history and relationship between the North's President Lincoln and Hawaii's kings at that time of the Civil War, it would make sense to me."

LINK: Youtube video of coins being unpacked

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