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Sunday, April 07, 2019
April 7, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:08 PM :: 1652 Views

Revenue Raisers Already Sent to the Governor

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Giveaway to Public Employee Unions Hidden in Minimum Wage Bill

SA: … The panel proposed that state workers receive $17 an hour this year, while other workers upshift to the $15 rate by 2023.

The higher $17 figure is what advocates for an increased minimum wage strongly supported as necessary for a “living wage.” It was, in fact, the proposal in the original version of the bill, which had it taking effect in 2025. Supporters cited 2016 state data showing the “self-sufficiency income standard” was $15.84 an hour and adjusted it upward for 2019.

Transitioning this quickly upward from today’s $10.10 hourly rate, however, would be undeniably difficult for employers, which is why the more attainable $15 was proposed — albeit only for private employees.

At the end of the March 28 Ways and Means hearing, state Sen. Brian Taniguchi, the Senate’s labor committee chairman, proposed bifurcating the wage minimum. Taniguchi, in an emailed response to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, said that Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz had sought his agreement to a $15 rate for state employees.

“I posed a question to him that if we were going to require private employers to pay a higher minimum wage, shouldn’t the Legislature do better and pay state employees a living wage,” he added. “He agreed and included the $17 in his version.”

Taniguchi acknowledged that public employee salaries are constitutionally a matter for collective bargaining, not statutory adjustment, but added that “this would be more of an aspirational guide for our state negotiators.”

On top of being patently unjust, this doesn’t make any sense. It’s the public employee unions that will be pushing for higher wages — many already making well above any minimum rate. Setting the negotiable wage floor in statute amounts to lawmakers doing the unions’ job for them. That’s not why they were elected.

More broadly, it is at least debatable whether unskilled minimum- wage jobs should be considered living-wage employment. At one time they were first jobs held by youths making money while at school, working toward a more sustainable job, whether blue- or white-collar employment…. 

read … Hawaii’s minimum-wage bill needs work

A&B Water Rights Bill May Have New Life

CB: … When two state Senate committees deadlocked Thursday on a bill allowing small farmers and ranchers and two utility companies to continue diverting public stream water for three more years, it appeared the legislation was dead….

Now, sources say leadership in the House of Representatives is pressuring their counterparts in the Senate to force a floor vote on the bill Tuesday….

It would require the Senate to pull HB 1326 out of WAM and Water and Land, a rare move but one allowed for under legislative rules as long as a sufficient number of senators support the move.

What’s more, the version of the bill would be the last draft approved by the House before it crossed over to the Senate.

That’s important, because the House Draft 2 (known as an HD2) says the bill would go into effect June 29 of this year. Under the HD2, the lease rights, granted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, would be extended seven years and would apply to A&B.

To put it another way, if just 13 senators in the 25-member chamber vote “aye” on Tuesday, HB 1326 would go to Gov. David Ige for his consideration next week….

Sierra Club: Balanced solution to water-rights bill rejected, sadly

read … A&B Water Rights Bill May Have New Life

A Three-Step Guide: How Women Can Protect Themselves from Joe Biden

Borreca:  …as former vice president and likely presidential candidate Joe Biden is discovering, sometimes those “aloha kisses” should not be shared….

read … Amid Biden-Flores scandal, a 3-step rule to avoid misinterpretation of friendly greetings

HB285: Release Names of Suspended or Fired Police Officers

WHT: …Public disclosure of the names of officers discharged or suspended from a county police department could come as early as 2021.

The date was set during House Bill 285’s final committee hearing last week in Honolulu when the Senate Committee on Judiciary took up the measure that, if enacted into law, would require Hawaii’s four county police chiefs to disclose in annual reports to the state Legislature the identity of an officer upon an officer’s suspension or discharge from a county police department….

Section two would require disclosure of identity upon the police officer’s suspension or discharge in the 2021 annual report to the Legislature and each year thereafter. Section three would require disclosure of a suspended officer’s name if the suspension occurs March 1, 2020, or thereafter.

That means, Rhoads said, “a UIPA requester won’t be able to obtain suspension info for the older suspensions.”

Fevella, the lone Republican in the state Senate, iterated his stance on the measure prior to the tally. It was the second time the bill came before a committee upon which the freshman senator sits. However, Fevella was excused from the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs when the membership took up the bill 10 days prior.

During the Judiciary committee meeting March 29, Fevella said he felt if the state continues to “mimic and copy things” that are happening on the mainland, in regard to transparency and the release of officers’ names, that Hawaii will be “just like them in a sense (that) if something happens with law enforcement that the cities that they represent just dumps on them.”

“That’s the reason why we have hardly anybody being HPD (Honolulu Police Department) officers, because the chances of them getting sued or fired and all these kinds of stuff — and even getting persecuted in the media — is just being like the mainland,” Fevella said. “So, before they even get chance to get judged by their own peers or going through the investigation process, they’re already guilty. And, even if they are found innocent at the end — and everything is all good — then their reputation is shot.” 

KGI: Officer ID bill advancing

read … Officer ID bill advancing

EMS Tries to justify Fuel Truck Purchase

SA: … Beyond the day-to-day 911 services, Honolulu Emergency Services Department is responsible for planning and maintaining our preparedness to ensure adequate medical resources in the event of a civil emergency, mass-casualty event or natural disaster. We need to keep ambulances fueled, where needed, and to have them readily available in various locations to meet the needs of our residents and visitors in the aftermath of a natural or manmade emergency. This is why HESD purchased a fuel truck in 2016 for $185,000….

read … More work, same resources for EMS

UHPA: Lassner Not Angry Enough

Shapiro: … While faculty pelted lawmakers with angry calls and emails, Lassner coolly gathered his data and trekked to the Capitol to show legislators that faculty targeted to be cut were carrying their weight in teaching and research — and half were funded with federal or private grants.

Kim backed off, and the positions were restored, along with most other UH cuts, when Senate and House conferees took up the budget.

You’d think the faculty would give Lassner a pat on the back for getting the job done without adding to the toxic drama.

Instead, the faculty union presented the Board of Regents with a vote of no confidence in the president — essentially for working diligently with legislators to fix the dispute instead of publicly ranting and raving.

“Continuing to kowtow to the whims of legislators will only lead to more of the same types of inappropriate micromanagement,” said Lynne Wilkens, president of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. “We need a strong leader who is willing to draw the line.”

Never mind that Lassner achieved the desired result without creating bad blood that could poison future UH budgets; these days, if you’re not posting angry tweets and calling people ugly names, you’re not in the game….

read … Angry

Ige Touts State-Run ‘Hawaii Saves’ Retirement Program

HNN: … About 500 people attended a retiree financial seminar Saturday morning in Moiliili which provided information about the program.

Governor David Ige was in attendance and told the crowd that the program would serve an important function for the people of Hawaii.

“It’s the opportunity to ensure that everyone in our economy can have a saving program that they own, that they control, and really invest and save for the future,” Gov. Ige said.

"Hawaii Saves" would be funded by workers and overseen by a state board.

HNN previously reported on the idea and the push back from some community members. Some small businesses have vocally opposed the program fearing another unfeasible expense.

HNN: ‘Hawaii Saves’ retirement fund moves forward with opposition from insurers

read … despite pushback

Socialist Utopia: Kahana Valley living park concept ‘broken’

SA: … About a half a century ago the state paid $5 million to acquire a prized 5,000-acre Windward Oahu parcel, stretching from the mountains to the sea, and subsequently adopted a unique approach to protect the rural area from development.

It created a “living park” and allowed nearly three dozen families to remain in Kahana Valley, eventually awarding them 65-year residential leases.

In lieu of rent, lessees at the Ahupua‘a ‘O Kahana State Park, commonly called the Kahana Valley State Park, were required to devote 25 hours monthly to interpretative programs on traditional Native Hawaiian cultural practices.

Nearly 50 years later, the living park concept is a bust, undermined by a history of mismanagement, neglect and contentious relations between Kahana residents and the state. The unique challenge of governing a residential leasehold community within a state park also has been a factor.

And the unwillingness or inability of some residents to participate in the interpretative programs or to maintain their properties — they have less than 40 years remaining on their leases — have contributed to that challenge.

One consequence: The look of the park, which should be one of the crown jewels of the state’s property portfolio, has suffered.

Portions of Kahana easily accessible to the public are marred by dilapidated structures, boarded-up buildings, broken vehicles, junk-filled yards and a boat pier in such severe disrepair it is a safety hazard….

DLNR, citing multiple reasons, acknowledges it is not enforcing the 25-hour lease requirement. Doing so would mean pursuing evictions — something that got the agency into hot water in 2008 before the Legislature intervened….

A 2001 legislative study concluded that a master plan was urgently needed to successfully manage the park. In 2009, with no plan in hand, the Legislature enacted a law requiring the state to produce one through a newly formed planning council administratively attached to DLNR.

A decade later, not even a draft has been produced.

Many of the kupuna who resided in Kahana when the living park idea was adopted in 1971 have died. And the majority of current Kahana families have neither the knowledge nor interest to participate in or demonstrate Native Hawaiian cultural practices, according to a 2018 consultant’s report commissioned by the department.

read … Kahana Valley living park concept ‘broken’

Solid Waste: UPW Exploits Absenteeism in Push for New Positions

WHT: … A county employee says abrupt transfer station closures like those experienced last week could pop up again in the future unless the Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management adds to its solid waste division workforce.

On March 29, transfer stations at Keauhou, Keei and Pahala were all shutdown due to what DEM characterized in a press release as an “unanticipated staffing shortage.” It was the third Friday in 2019 one or more transfer stations were closed due to a lack of available staff….

A popular theory included the possibility of coordinated sick-outs on the part of solid waste division workers due to tensions with management….

Hawaii County is home to 23 transfer stations, five baseyards and two landfills, until Hilo’s landfill closes sometime later this year. DEM Director Bill Kucharski said the division employs 41 solid waste facility attendants and 32 drivers.

However, factors like employee turnover, injuries, vacation days and sick leave can affect both general and day-to-day availability.

At least one attendant must be present at a transfer station so that it can open for the day. A lack of drivers can also cause problems because only so much waste is allowed to pile up at each facility before the county is forced to halt dumping there….

Mayor Harry Kim has requested 72 new county workers, including 10 for DEM. However, those 10 would all be part of the wastewater division, which will require a greater workforce once upgrades to the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant are completed and it begins pumping R1 recycled water to various developments, a golf course and the coming Kealakehe Regional Park….

read … Management, employees differ on solid waste division staffing

Soft on Crime: Five Time Loser Kicks Cop in Head—Gets Probation

KHON: …"In May 2018, HPD officers were sent to an assault complaint in the Waikiki area. The victim pointed out the male suspect to the officers and when they approached him, he tried to place one of the officers in a chokehold, and kicked the other officer in the face causing him injuries," said Sgt. Chris Kim.

Police arrested Benjamin Bernard Jr. for assault against a law enforcement officer. He's now wanted on a $20,000 warrant in connection with that case for not following the terms of his probation.

According to police Bernard has five prior convictions and is known to frequent the Honolulu area.

read … Hawaii's Most Wanted: Benjamin Bernard Jr.

Stupid Pimp Leaves Soft-on-Crime Hawaii—Quickly Gets 72 Year Sentence

AP: … A former Hawaii man who avoided prosecution in a 2016 sexual assault case here was sentenced Friday in Pennsylvania to 72 years to life in prison for more than two dozen counts of rape, kidnapping, human trafficking, involuntary serv­itude and other crimes.

Seth R. Mull, 31, was described by authorities as a vicious serial predator who found his victims on dating websites and through social media. He initially used his charm to manipulate women before turning increasingly violent, holding them against their will with threats against family members, drugs, rape and even “sex slave contracts” to keep them under his control, prosecutors said.

(NOTE: This technique is called ‘pimp arrest’.)

A Northampton County, Pa., jury convicted Mull on 30 counts at his trial in December after four women testified he assaulted them at hotel rooms, beat and strangled them, burned one of the victims with a blowtorch and, in some instances, prostituted them to other men.

The crimes occurred over an eight-week period in October and November 2017, shortly after the Hawaii charges against Mull were dismissed and he moved to Lower Saucon Township in his home state.

At Friday’s sentencing, Judge Stephen Baratta said Mull’s crimes were “among the worst acts of depravity I’ve seen in my life,” according to The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa.

Mull’s convictions for sexual crimes date back to when he was just 13 years old…

read … Stupid Pimp

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