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Saturday, February 13, 2021
February 13, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:26 PM :: 956 Views

Lawsuit: Vendor Skimming Hawaii Child Support Payments

It was 20 years ago today …

Five New Members on HART Board

Chief Justice Seeks Public Comment on Judicial Nominees for Hawaii County

Federal Judge Sends Maui County 'big oil' lawsuit to State Court--Will SCOTUS Intervene?

Bills allow for state employee raises in Hawaii

SA: … At the same time that Gov. David Ige has called for unspecified “labor savings right now,” more than two dozen bills continue to move through the state Legislature in the unlikely event (because it is a certainty) that unionized workers receive “salary increases and other cost adjustments” when ongoing contract talks conclude.

The bills are aimed at bargaining units that represent unionized workers — and even some nonunionized state employees — across the spectrum of Hawaii’s workforce including law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, nurses, school principals, engineers, technicians and University of Hawaii system professors and other employees.

The bills are largely pro forma (a done deal) and coincide with the start of the state’s biennial budget period, according to state Rep. Richard Onishi, chairman of the House Labor and Tourism Committee, who introduced the majority of the House bills.

They include House Bills 325, 326, 712, 713, 714, 715, 716, 1125, 1126 and 1127.

Companion bills in the Senate also remain alive.

None of the bills specify any percentages or dollar amounts for any possible salary increases involving members of the United Public Workers union, Hawaii State Teachers Association, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and Hawaii Government Employees Associa­tion, Hawaii’s largest public workers union, which represents nearly 29,000 active members and 11,000 so-called associate members.

On Friday the HGEA (lying) said the bills are necessary to address employer contributions to members’ health benefits.

But Onishi, who introduced bills on behalf of various HGEA bargaining units, disagreed. He said (HGEA is lying,) health benefits are handled separately.

Instead, Onishi told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the bills are “basically a procedural thing that happens every biennium. We have to introduce vehicles to put in cost items for the collective bargaining agreements, if there are any. … These are the vehicles. We don’t anticipate what the governor is planning to do with the various bargaining units.”…

(Translation: They are all going to get raises.)

read … Bills allow for state employee raises in Hawaii

Ultimatum: Give all COVID Money to HSTA or Lose it

SA: … The state Department of Education must spend $104 million in federal pandemic relief to keep teachers and other unionized school staff on the job at full pay or they can’t use the money, House and Senate education leaders say.

State Sen. Michelle Kidani and state Rep. Justin Woodson held a news conference with the head of the teachers union Friday to highlight that ultimatum contained in House Bill 631 HD1 and Senate Bill 270. The lawmakers, who chair their respective Education Committees, said the legislation is needed to ensure school employees know their jobs are safe and to avoid further disruption for public school students….

HB 631 and SB 270 would require the superintendent and Board of Education to certify the money “shall only be used for salaries and wages of department of education officers and employees who are subject to a collective bargaining agreement … and who are employed at the school level.”

Hallett said if the DOE is restricted to using those federal funds for salaries, the state would need to cover other pandemic-related needs.

Normally, federal relief funds flow to state and local education agencies, which spend them on purposes outlined by Congress. It’s unusual for the Legislature to assert control over the use of such funds….

HB 631 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee at 2 p.m. Tuesday. SB 270, SD1 as proposed, will be heard at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday….

Related: HSTA Refusing to Teach 98% of  HS Students—38% on Track to Fail

HSTA: Lawmakers’ bills direct HIDOE to avoid layoffs instead of hiring tutors

read … Use federal funds to avoid teacher layoffs, Hawaii legislators say

HGEA demands a raise in exchange for agreeing not to come in to work

AP: … Randy Perreira, the executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, said some state agencies have approached his union, the state's largest, about having some workers continue teleworking because they find the arrangement to be efficient and effective.

The union is open to teleworking, which provides flexibility to employers and employees, he said. But some things will likely need to be negotiated like addressing the higher home electric bills some workers have incurred while working remotely….

(Translation: HGEA demands a raise in exchange for agreeing not to come in to work.)

read … Pandemic Turbo-Charges Hawaii State Government's Use Of Tech

Embattled Agribusiness Corporation Has Powerful Friends

CB: … The hearing before the Hawaii House Agriculture Committee produced no result, as the committee voted to defer until Friday a bill that would dissolve the corporation.

However, the hearing made clear that the embattled Hawaii Agribusiness Development Corp. still has powerful supporters – including, with some qualifications, Gov. David Ige’s agriculture chief — who want to keep it around. The ardent support comes despite two recent reports, by University of Hawaii economists and the Hawaii State Auditor, that concluded the 25-year-old agency is a failure.

Lawmakers have introduced a bill to dissolve the corporation and fold it into the Department of Agriculture. Although only a couple of the bill’s supporters showed up to testify during the virtual hearing, including Anne Frederick of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, dozens submitted written testimony….

Perusso said she was confident that the bill will pass out of the committee next week. In the meantime, she said she was also encouraged by the testimony of the current Hawaii Agriculture Board chair, Phyllis Shimibukuro-Geiser, who suggested that the department could take over the corporation’s key functions of managing land as well as things like irrigation systems….

Background: 30 Years Without a Plan -- Auditor Rips Agribusiness Development Corp.

Agribusiness Development Corp: "Costly, disorganized and ineffective"

read … Embattled Agribusiness Corporation Has Powerful Friends

Soft on Crime: Baby Disappears, Lifelong Criminal Sought 

HNN: … Kytana was dropped off Jan. 31 to her father, Travis Rodrigues, at his Kaulainahee Place address in Aiea….

Rodrigues is a convicted felon with a long criminal history.

He served time in both federal prison and the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

In 2004, he was arrested for drug and firearms violations. Law enforcement said he was known to bring machine guns to drug deals.

Ahead of his sentencing in 2006, he sent a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Mollway.

“I have been addicted to ice for about six years,” he wrote. “I do admit that I have a problem and I am asking for help.” The letter was signed Travis Heffelinger, which police say is one of his aliases….

Rodrigues spent about a decade in prison. In 2016, Hawaii News Now cameras were there when he was arrested by deputy U.S. Marshals and Honolulu police for violating probation.

Two years later, he was one of CrimeStoppers most wanted men for a robbery in which police said he held up two people during a drug deal.

That case was dismissed by Circuit Court Judge Rowena Somerville, despite objections from prosecutors who asked that the case be delayed because a witness had moved to Las Vegas….

Anyone who sees Kytana is asked to call 911 or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300…. 

LINK: CrimeStoppers and the Honolulu Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Kytana Ancog  

read … Intense search underway for missing toddler last seen 2 weeks ago

Data offers insight into how many frontline workers have received COVID vaccine

HNN: … Data collected from Hawaii’s major hospitals shows about 73 percent of frontline healthcare workers have received at least one dose.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Hawaii Pacific Health: 70%
  • The Queen’s Health Systems: 75%
  • Kaiser Permanente: 75%
  • Maui Memorial: 75%
  • The East Hawaii Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation: 71%.

Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, believes those numbers are likely higher because current data doesn’t take into account staff who work at multiple facilities….

Meanwhile, data from the Honolulu Police Department shows as of Feb. 1 about 1,600 officers and civilian personnel got the shot. That’s roughly 70% of the department….

Only 97 of KPD’s roughly 200 officers and personnel were vaccinated, or 49%….

In a letter to Hawaii News Now, Big Island Police Chief Paul Ferreira declined to release the number of officers vaccinated, citing privacy concerns. However, he said he’d “received a good response.”

A spokesperson for the Maui Police Department told HNN they were working to collect the data but haven’t provided it….

An update on vaccination percentages in long-term care facilities is expected on Sunday….

read … Data offers insight into how many frontline workers have received COVID vaccine

Activists Continue to Push Claim vs Bank of America

MN: … Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, Maui County Council Vice-Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Committee for Better Banks Co-Director Nick Weiner and Hawaii Fair Lending Coalition Coordinator Ian Chan Hodges also appeared at the news conference.

Bank of America said in an email statement on Thursday afternoon that “while we respect the issues faced by the Native Hawaiian community, this is a meritless claim relating to a pledge made in 1994. The Bank fulfilled its pledge and the state confirmed that in 2007.”

The bank attached a 2007 letter from the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that says “the statement of BoA contributions toward fulfillment of its commitment appear to be in order. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is therefore pleased to formally acknowledge that the $150,000,000 commitment has been met by Bank of America.”

According to public documents and news reports, the Hawaiian Homes Commission in 2012 disputed the earlier letter, saying that the decision had been made without commission approval and agreeing that the bank had still not fully followed through on its pledge.

In 2018, Gov. David Ige invited bank officials to meet with Na Po’e Kokua in Hawaii and work out a fair settlement, but the issue was never resolved….

read … Hawaiian group files complaint against bank

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