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Monday, February 06, 2017
February 6, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:22 PM :: 2158 Views

Fluoridated Water Reduces Gender Pay Gap by 4%

Hawaii Bills Would Legalize Industrial Hemp; Foundation to Nullify Federal Prohibition

Matayoshi Dismissal -- Retaliation for Investigation of Kaiser Principal?

KHON: It was a high-profile public school shakeup — a principal, star football coach, and other staff gone amid an investigation with no details made public. But a big community impact was left behind.

So what happened at Kaiser High School? …

While John Sosa was in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2013 getting a “Principal of the Year” award, back in Honolulu, the DOE had a different message for the 45-year educator: Don’t come back to the school. You’re on department-directed leave.

“You’re being investigated for fraud,” Sosa recalled being told….

Sosa retired as Kaiser’s principal in December 2013. He says the DOE investigation continued into improper reimbursements and misuse of appropriated funds, school facilities, and contracted personnel.

Our years-long open-records pursuit finally yielded details of just how far the case went. A letter from Matayoshi dated June 2014 (Abercrombie still Governor) — nearly a year after the DOE started investigating — asked the attorney general’s office to review, stating, “There appears to be evidence to show that there are several instances where Mr. John Sosa, (former football coach), Mr. Rich Miano, and (former strength training volunteer) Mr. Chad Ikei misappropriated funds or misused facilities.”…

Sosa, Miano, and Ikei all retained lawyers. Kaiser alums Miano and Ikei left the school shortly after Sosa retired.

The criminal investigators persisted with questions of a financial nature, even phone record reviews. More than a year later in the fall of 2015, (Ige now Governor, thanks to HSTA) attorneys for all three were told the AG was dropping the case and no charges were filed.

The DOE stands by its concerns and its referral to the attorney general.

“Based on what the staff and I discussed, looking over what they had determined in this complicated investigation, there was adequate evidence to provide it to the attorney general for their opinion,” Matayoshi said. “I think Kaiser is in a good place now.”

Always Investigating asked if the DOE believed there was money to be returned….

Sosa said. “Rich was accused of recruiting, and Rich didn’t. Parents seek what’s best for their children. Good coaches will attract athletes. They knew he was a good coach. They would follow the geographic exceptions rules and bring their kids to Kaiser. It’s parents exercising the rights they had.”….

“There was some grumbling about Chad’s use of the facility,” Sosa said…. “Principals over the years had been allowed to adjust that to meet the needs of the school. Once they changed it, we went by the prescribed directives, and in Chad’s case, he started paying a much higher rent.” ….

“You don’t know with the anonymous fraud line whether or not it’s someone whose just angry and trying to put something out there,” Matayoshi said….

Even though this case has finished, it and other long-term investigations are still having an impact on the future direction of the DOE, and it leaves both sides wondering if ulterior motives were behind the investigations then, as well as superintendent Matayoshi’s ouster now as her contract is not being renewed….

TIMELINE:

read … Years after high-profile school shakeup, details finally come to light

Charter schools’ agency hit by report

SA: …the report recommends the BOE require the commission to provide corrective action plans to address the identified weak points and report to the board quarterly on its progress.

The committee said it found five key areas of deficiency “from which most of the commission’s other weaknesses derive”: lack of a strategic vision or organizational goals; lack of a system for regular self-evaluation; poor communication; unclear standards and conditions for charter contract renewal; and not protecting school autonomy.

The committee added, “However, the report also highlights that the Commission also has some well-developed processes and qualified personnel who should be able to develop solutions to address many of the identified weaknesses.”

The commission declined to provide a formal response, according to the report….

“We’d like to stop the conflict. We don’t want to keep this issue going,” Payne said in an interview. “We’re going to take it constructively and try to make the adjustments that we can.”

Payne said there were concerns from commissioners that the BOE’s investigation was launched without vetting allegations that arose during an informal listening tour with some charter schools a year ago.

She said an initial report issued on the tour’s findings indicated that the board “wasn’t that interested in whether things were factual or not; they were dealing with the feelings side of things. Feelings are important but facts are important, too.” ….

read … Charter schools’ agency hit by report

Green Grifters Fight over $150M in GEMS 

SA: GEMS raised roughly $150 million through a bond sale and was to have lent that money by the end of November. But for various reasons the program has so far reaped poor results. To date, it has lent roughly 2 percent of the funds, while $33 million in interest on the bonds is being repaid by Hawaii ratepayers via a $1.50 “Green Infrastructure Fee” on every monthly electrical bill. The frustrating lack of progress is now prompting a call to expand the scope of GEMS to encourage consumers’ investment in photovoltaic with battery storage.

State lawmakers are eyeing GEMS as a possible funding source for rebates to consumers who invest in batteries connected to solar systems. Senate Bill 660 would set aside program funds for rebates and costs tied to administering a rebate program….

The state’s consumer advocate, housed in the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, warns in written testimony on the bill that a rebate could yield results that clash with intent to assist moderate- and low-income consumers.

“A rebate that might encourage wealthy consumers to decrease their contributions to the grid would have the potential unintended consequence of placing a greater financial burden on less affluent consumers who must remain connected to the grid without being able to offset their load with rooftop solar photovoltaic systems,” the advocate stated.

Also, the GEMS program is designed as a sort of self-sustaining loan program. The intent is to lend money with the expectation that it will be repaid by the consumer, and could then be applied to new loans. Rebate money would not be repaid. Once the funds are handed out, that money would be gone. Blue Planet Foundation is suggesting a (SELF-SERVING) tweak to the rebate idea that would involve GEMS issuing below-cost financing for approved storage projects…. (CA-Ching!)

Another proposal, Senate Bill 361, aims to make batteries more affordable by offering an income tax credit for taxpayers who buy energy storage systems — targeting single filers who earn $75,000 or less or joint filers who earn $150,000 or less. And SB 365 would provide an income tax credit for energy storage systems….

IM: GEMS is an attractive target for raiding because most of the $150 million raised in the bond issue is still there

read … Energize GEMS to be more useful

HMSA plan won’t cover most costs

SA: Kristen Consillio’s article on the new Hawaii Medical Service Association physicians’ payment plan presents an accurate view of the problems that doctors face with the new alterative bundled payment model (“Doctors praise and pan new HMSA payment plan,” Star-Advertiser, Jan. 30).

The insurance companies, including Medicare, assume that by eliminating the traditional fee-for-service model and paying a fixed monthly rate per patient instead, the physician will be forced to provide value-based rather than volume-based service. This assumption overlooks the added administrative and increased staff salary costs, which are particularly onerous to the private practice-based physician.

It is unrealistic to assume that the new payment model will effectively lower health care costs.

Physicians’ fees make up only 10 percent of the total health care costs. Other factors, such as the steeply escalating pharmaceutical, administrative and technology costs were left out of the plan, thus assuring failure in the effort to lower health care costs in the United States.

read … HMSA plan won’t cover most costs

One Way to Kill Rail--Trump Will Cut Off Federal Funds if Hawaii Becomes ‘Sanctuary State’

SA: State Rep. Kaniela Ing says he’ll soon introduce a resolution calling for Hawaii to officially declare itself as a sanctuary. In Honolulu, Hawaii J20, a local group formed in response to Trump’s rise to power, is pushing Mayor Kirk Caldwell to do the same for the city.

But it’s unclear whether immigrant advocates can muster enough political support for the efforts — given that Trump is threatening to withhold what amounts to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of federal funds to punish jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with his administration.

And neither Gov. David Ige nor Caldwell has made any public statement in support of the sanctuary movement. They both declined Civil Beat’s request for comment for this story….

Related: Trump threatens to defund ‘out of control’ California

read … Should Hawaii Become A Sanctuary State?

HOPE Probation: “Nothing Works” in Corrections Replaced by “Nothing Works Well?”

CO: A forthcoming study to be published in Criminology & Public Policy concludes that neither Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (Hawaii HOPE) program, nor the Swift, Certain and Fair (SCF) model of supervision achieved significant reductions in re-arrests of “moderate to high-risk probationers,” compared to standard probation programs.

In the study, Outcome Findings from the HOPE Demonstration Field Experiment, the authors randomly assigned more than 1,500 probationers to normal probation supervision or to a program modeled on HOPE, called the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, that emphasizes close monitoring, frequent drug testing, and swift and certain punishment for probation violations. They found no real difference in outcomes. See http://thecrimereport.org.

read … No HOPE?

Making Things Easy for Antis

KE: A persistent critic in comments keeps asking what, exactly, I do for the Cornell Alliance for Science. It's actually pretty easy to find out, since my work is posted on the Alliance website and searchable under my byline.

But I'll make it even easier, by summarizing some of it here.

I've written about the National Academy of Sciences' study on GMO crops, attempts to save the iconic American chestnut through genetic engineer, and the efforts of an Indian scientist to confer the pest-repelling properties of garlic and onions on other veggies. I've written about the climate impacts of a GMO ban, transgenic animal research, and what farmers need in India.

Most recently, I wrote about a project that is tweaking the process of photosynthesis to improve yields of cassava, which has tremendous implications for the 800 million persons who depend on that food crop in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

I've worked on a number of videos, including the half-hour documentary on the rise of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii and its impact on the ringspot-resistant papaya; the fast-growing AquaBounty salmon; climate change in Hawaii, and the adoption of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, which has helped farmers there greatly reduce their use of pesticides and earn higher profits.

I've written about the work of Dr. Susan Miyasaka, whose former graduate student successfully engineered a variety of Chinese taro resistant to taro leaf blight. But then misinformed, loud-mouthed activists like Walter Ritte got involved and UH caved and destroyed that research. It didn't even involve Haloa. It was Chinese taro, worked on by a Chinese scientist. But then, nuances and accuracy have never been the strong suit of the antis.

read … Musings: What I Do

Hawaii Muslims: Now is not the time for Terror Attacks

SA: “Hear this: Let us not judge the American people based on the actions of the few and the pen of Trump. Don’t let the harm of our people, the burning of our mosques or the insults to our children, deviate us from our Islamic teachings of repealing evil with goodness and love.” ….

Related: Advice for Muslims in Hawaii: Don’t (ahem) ‘Blow Up’ the Situation

read … Deviate Us

How Islam Is Gaining A Foothold In Micronesia

CB: A mosque and a Muslim congregation are flourishing in the Marshall Islands….

read … Foothold

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