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Sunday, August 30, 2015
August 30, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:18 PM :: 6434 Views

What are Homeless Hawaiians Worth to OHA?

Hawaii is Worst State to Start Post-College Life

Taxing Digital Goods

State Workers Obstruct Tech Upgrades so they can Milk Overtime System

SA: A handful of state workers who are responsible for allocating federal funds to county water projects have raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay in recent years, raising concerns that staff has been abusing overtime and sabotaging efforts to upgrade antiquated accounting processes that would make things more efficient.

Eight staff members who have worked for the Department of Health's Water Revolving Fund have pulled in about $471,000 in overtime since fiscal year 2007, according to department records....

The state workers earn time and a half for overtime and the payments are factored into their future pension payments.

Individual staff members have filed for as many as 312 overtime hours in a three-month period — or the equivalent of working an extra two and a half weeks a month — according to department documents. The extra compensation has boosted salaries by as much as $25,000 a year.

Kevin Yoshioka, a loan officer, pulled in the most in overtime over the past nine years, earning an extra $132,235, according to department documents. His annual salary, before overtime, in 2013 was about $67,000.

Jennifer Teshima, an accountant, brought in the second most in overtime, earning an extra $90,984 over the past nine years. In 2013, she was earning a base pay of $51,313.

The generous overtime is expected to come to a halt soon as the department rolls out a new $450,000 financial and project tracking system next month, said Joanna Seto, who heads the department's Safe Drinking Water Branch.

But one critic within the department, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said that fiscal staff has been pushing to keep the old system for as long as a year. The rationale is that a backup system is needed to make sure the new system is operating correctly, but keeping the old system in place will allow the staff to continue charging for overtime as they do now, the critic said.

Seto said that the department would continue using the old system "until we have completed validation that the new system is working well."

She wouldn't speculate on how long that might take....

"Overtime pay is not a benefit," she said. "It's the result of not preparing well for the work that is needed to be done. With the new system, we believe that overtime will be reduced drastically and that the staff can be put to other potential projects."

A review of more than a dozen overtime request forms filed with top Health Department officials does not provide a clear picture of what type of work staff conducted during the thousands of overtime hours they claimed to have worked over the years. The reports group workers together and provide a general description of the department's duties, such as filing annual reports and complying with audits, as rationale for the needed overtime.

In 2009, Tomas See, a wastewater branch chief, submitted an overtime request for two loan officers and an accountant to work 936 hours of overtime over the course of three months at a cost of $76,230....

Seto said that this is not the first time that the Health Department has tried to install a better financial tracking system. About 15 years ago, the state implemented new software, but she said it didn't work well (Translation: It Was Sabotaged) and was primarily scrapped....

In the years since then, the department has always had the funds to implement a new financial management system, she acknowledged, but never did (because they're all in on it).

read ... Several Department of Health workers have raked in overtime pay amid dubious circumstances

DoTax' Next Tech Disaster Takes Page from DoT's Last Tech Disaster

SA: ...State Sen. Donna Kim is warning that a contract for a new Department of Taxation computer system is putting taxpayers' money at risk, and she is urging Gov. David Ige's administration to overhaul the payment schedule for the tax project before it moves forward.

Kim (D, Kalihi Valley- Moanalua-Halawa) contends state tax officials agreed to a payment schedule that provides too much money to contractor Fast Enterprises LLC too early in the project. Instead, she wants assurances the vendor will demonstrate that all newly installed equipment and software actually works as promised before payments are made....

The tax department has struggled with its own computer issues (sabotage by HGEA) for years. The state paid Canadian-based CGI Group Inc. $87.5 million from 1999 to 2011 to modernize the tax collection system, but tax officials have told lawmakers the department ended up with old technology (after State workers made a mess of the project on purpose)....

Kim also raised concerns that Zielinski was a member of an executive steering committee that approved millions of dollars in payments for the vendor hired for the failed Department of Transportation project that the Ige administration canceled earlier this year.

The vendor on that transportation project was a company called CIBER, and Kim cited documents showing payments were approved for CIBER even though the new system it developed failed federal performance tests up until the time the project was finally scrapped.  (The vendor gets paid, therefore does not blow the whistle on the State employees' sabotage.)

"We kept paying them, even though they kept failing the test," Kim said. "She is the same person that's now managing this contract."

Zielinski replied that her involvement in the DOT project was limited, and there are important differences between the two projects. The Department of Transportation system was highly customized, which Zielinski said is "an invitation for disaster." (See!)

read ... About More Sabotage by State Workers

OHA Subcontractor Nai Aupuni Repeats Debunked Claim it is Independent of OHA

SA: ...Na'i Aupuni is proceeding with its plans and strongly believes the lawsuit will not succeed in stopping our process.

The constitutional laws upon which it relies do not apply to Na'i Aupuni because it is not a state agency, not controlled by any state agency, and most important, is not performing a state government function.

Our situation is vastly different from that presented in Rice v. Cayetano (2000), where the U.S. Supreme Court held that the election of OHA trustees by only Hawaiian voters violated constitutional safeguards because it was an election of the state and not the internal affair of Native Hawaiians.

Rice does not apply to the Na'i Aupuni election because it is not a state election, but rather, an exercise of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination.

Although our legal reasoning uses federal law to explain the defects in the lawsuit, we emphasize that the options for consideration by the delegates at the 'aha are not limited to federal recognition. In fact, no political option will be off limits at the 'aha, including independence or the decision not to organize a Native Hawaiian governing entity.

Two of the Native Hawaiian Grassroot plaintiffs complain they were deprived of the opportunity to register with the Roll Commission because they do not agree with the Commission's declaration to affirm the "unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people and an intent to participate in the process of self-governance."

We understand that the Roll Commission has registered and certified voters -- and will continue to do so -- even if these voters refuse to agree to this declaration.

Alternatively, such voters have the option of registering with OHA's Hawaiian Registry program, which does not include this declaration....

Debunked Again and Again and Again:

read ... Desperation

Challenge the constitutionality of Hawaii's Act 195

SA: ...On Feb. 23, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, in conformance to the 15th Amendment, in Rice v. Cayetano, that "all" registered voters of the state can vote in all OHA elections.

Then on Dec. 12, 2002, the 9th Circuit Court decided that "any qualified" citizen of the state of Hawaii can seek elected office to the OHA board of trustees. The decision was in conformance to the 14th and 15th Amendments, and with the Aug. 6, 1965, Voting Rights Act....

read ... James Kuroiwa

Homelessness Industry Plans Shelter Space Shell game

SA: ...As IHS well knows, the ability to move people into shelters relies on available beds — a number that can fluctuate wildly every day. (Which means the City and or State can suddenly claim to have no room anytime they like.)

In the middle of last week, for instance, IHS had a waiting list for beds in its highly coveted 115-bed family shelter in Iwilei. Then by the end of the week, IHS suddenly found itself with 23 available beds for family members, who sometimes double up small children in a single bed.  (See how it works?)

Caldwell had wanted to start sweeping the homeless out of Kakaako weeks ago, but at Gov. David Ige's request agreed to delay what he calls "compassionate enforcement" until enough beds became available.  (No.  Until the feds came to offer money.)

If IHS' experience is any guide, trying to time sweeps of the Kakaako homeless encampment with available shelter space could prove to be a tricky dance — especially when it comes to families. (Yep.  Lots of game-playing in our future.)

"It's very dynamic," said IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho. "The numbers we have today are not the same numbers we'll have on Monday."  (Maybe PHOCUSED could offer up some...nah.)

The first occupants targeted for removal from the encampment — 20 to 25 people living on Cooke and Ohe streets mauka of Ilalo Street — will be given notices on Monday. They'll then have nine days until crews dismantle their wood-reinforced tents and tarps. The crews also will prevent anyone from returning (to that specific street) on a daily basis by enforcing city ordinances aimed at keeping the homeless from storing property on — or blocking — sidewalks.  (Translation: They could've been doing this all along, but needed to let this thing really fester because that's where the money is.)

Caldwell said the first people to be removed are mostly single adults, a population that usually (always) can find room in Oahu's homeless shelters (but refuses to go). The real challenge (game of perception) will come in the weeks that follow when city crews start sweeping families living deeper in the heart of the encampment....

read ... Timing is crucial for clearing camps, sheltering homeless

NextEra Rebuttal to Ige Due Monday

SA: ...Ige's opposition to LNG could also cause problems as the state looks for a partner in energy, according to former state Public Utilities Chairwoman Mina Morita.

"The Governor's pronouncement, which appears to have no basis in technology or economic analysis, just damaged Hawaii's credibility in energy and financial markets. The big question now is how big and deep is the damage," Morita said in her blog "Energy Dynamics."

HECO said it would cost roughly $187 million to modify its generation units for natural gas, and Hawaii Gas estimated the cost of its LNG infrastructure to be $150 million to $250 million.

Ige said the major capital investments involved to build LNG infrastructure, the fuel's distraction from the state's 100 percent renewable goal and the impact the regulatory review process would have on residents were the reasons behind his opposition....

NextEra's rebuttal to the opposition from the state is due to be filed Monday with the Public Utilities Commission, Ige said he looks forward to see whether the company can fit the role of the partner for Hawaii's energy goals.

"We're less than a third through the process," Ige said. "I look forward to NextEra's response."

read ... NextEra Shake Down

Caldwell Now Claims no Sewage Pumps Were Offline

SA: Caldwell said the sewage system is separate from the storm drainage system and does not have the capacity to handle storm runoff, which has led to past sewage spills. City officials have also confirmed that no city sewer pumping stations were offline due to construction, which was the cause of a spill at Ala Moana Beach Park on Monday.

Tim Houghton, deputy director of the city's Department of Environmental Services, said workers have already positioned extra pumps and generators in case there is flooding....

read ... Sewage

Getting browned off by dirty water, murky politics

Shapiro: ...Mayor Kirk Caldwell hardly inspired confidence when he reopened beaches and said, "People can make their decisions based on what they see in the water and whether they want to go in." He made it sound like voting in one of our elections.

» City rail officials coordinated with lobbying group Pacific Resource Partnership on "talking points" to support the rail tax increase in the Legislature. PRP really has only one talking point for lawmakers: "Do as you're told or get what Ben Cayetano got." ...

» Junketing Hawaii lawmakers led by Sen. Will Espero and Rep. Della Au Belatti toured legal marijuana shops along the Green Mile in Vail, Colo., for ideas on implementing Hawaii's new medical marijuana law. They say they learned a lot, though they're a bit hazy as to what it was.

» U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard told a Kauai reporter she's open to running for vice president next year, but later backtracked. In political parlance, she threw her hat in the ring and then pulled it out when it filled with laughter.

» Jennifer Sabas, former top aide to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, said she was hired by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. to "get their story out" in the controversial purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Their story will be written on checks to local political campaigns....

read ... Murky Politics

Group of Kauai voters want to know AG’s intentions for criminal prosecution of Rep. Tokioka

DN: ...If the AG will support a deferred acceptance of his guilty plea, then voters, including those who filed the original complaint with the Campaign Spending Commission, would want to know the reasons for such an agreement.

According to their attorney Lance Collins, the Kauai Voters do not believe that Tokioka meets the criteria for deferred acceptance of his planned guilty plea. Without a deferred acceptance of his guilty plea, Tokioka would be barred from holding office for four years.

Collins expects to make a statement after Tokioka's arraignment at Honolulu District Court on Monday morning....

Related: State Attorney General Asks Five Legislators to Take Lie Detector, Four Refuse

read ... prosecution of Rep. Tokioka

Chronicle of a reporter and his pet politician

DN: ...I am beginning to wonder what the connection is between the Star-Advertiser, its reporter Dan Nakaso, and Rep. Tom Brower. I won’t hazard a guess, but guess what, Nakaso didn’t miss mentioning the attack on Brower, carefully identified as  (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako) , in another story that Brower had no part in.

Governor David Ige’s Leadership Team met yesterday. There were significant announcements. You can read about it in the newspaper or (better) on Civil Beat, which is not paywalled. It’s not “disappeared news” so I won’t repeat the story here, but you can watch the entire news conference in the YouTube player below if you wish.

In Nakaso’s article for the Star-Advertiser, he not only mentions the attack on Brower for the nth time, but describes exactly what Brower was doing that day, which has not yet been established.

Again, Brower did not appear in the news conference video. Dropping his name so many times is no crime, but does make me, as a reader, wonder what might be going on between this reporter and this politician that the guy gets so much free publicity.

And I realized just now that every time I mention this, I’m also mentioning Brower. In the future, maybe I should say “the B-word” or something....

read ... B-Word

Tainted soil found at Makalapa Elementary School

HNN: It's been more than a year since the discovery of tons of toxic soil at Radford High School. Hawaii News Now has learned that tainted soil has been found at another nearby school.  Recent soil tests by the Navy and the Department of Education has found high levels of lead, arsenic and mercury under the playground at the Makalapa Elementary School.  Some parents expressed concerns that they weren't notified....

read ... Tainted

KSBE to Redevelop Hotel as 'Education Center'

WHT: In mid-September, the Leeward Planning Commission will hear a Kamehameha Schools request for a special management area use permit that will allow demolition of the old Keauhou Beach Hotel complex. The removal of the building will pave the way for redevelopment of the site as an educational center steeped in aina-based Native Hawaiian learning.

The shoreline center, Kahaluu Ma Kai, would develop partnerships with a range of educational organizations, including the Department of Education, charter schools and University of Hawaii, and would be open to a wide cross-section of learners of different ages, regardless of race.

The center will offer outdoor and project-based learning in science, technology, engineering, art and math, along with college preparation, career counseling and other offerings....

read ... Regardless of Race

Borreca: GOP risks losing everything with Trump

SA: ..."He's appealing to people's angst and their anger," Bush said. "I want to solve problems so we can fix this and turn immigration into what it's always been -- an economic driver for our country."

And that is why Democrats couldn't be happier.

The GOP knows the party is risking an epic blow-out next year. Republican consultant and pollster Whit Ayres wrote a book about it, "2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America."

"Republicans stand a slim chance of winning the presidency in 2016 -- unless they nominate a transformational candidate who can dramatically broaden the GOP's appeal," Ayres wrote....

The National Journal added last week that the GOP problem is that while it has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, it continues to resist expanding its base while opposing immigration reform. And the Trump phenomena is making the situation worse.

Perceptive conservative essayist Ben Domenech recently warned that Trump is leading the GOP "toward a coalition that is reduced to the narrow interests of identity politics for white people."

As political rule is to build coalition, add more voters to your base, today it appears the GOP is doing the opposite and risking losing 2016....

read ... Lose Everything

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