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Monday, October 26, 2015
October 26, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:32 PM :: 2992 Views

Feds 'Reestablishing government-to-government relationship' with OHA as a Tribe

Hawaii Health Department Vulnerable to Waste and Abuse

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted October 26, 2015

Solar Industry Fights Weakening of Hawaii Law

Voter turnout key for the Tribal 'Hawaiian' convention process

ILind: ...with election ballots ready to be mailed to eligible voters, I’m reminded of one of those standard political axioms, something along these lines: 'Don’t call for a vote unless you’ve got a darn good idea how the votes will fall.'

In this case, if the much anticipated Hawaiian election fails to draw substantial participation, it could not only set back the efforts of election proponents, but also of the independence-or-bust sovereignty wing of the Hawaiian community. In this case, in my view, low turnout = little legitimacy.

And with some Hawaiians vocally opposing this election and convention process, it isn’t at all clear whether voters are going to cast ballots in sufficient numbers for the results to be claimed as a mandate of sorts.

The list of eligible Hawaiian voters being used for this election consists of some 95,000 people. According to the Native Hawaiian Data Book compiled by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, there were over 527,000 Hawaiians counted by the 2010 Census. Using those numbers, only 18% of potentially eligible Hawaiians will be able to cast ballots in the election.

And if turnout is not robust among those 95,000 voters, it’s going to be hard to argue that they are in a position to speak for the broader Hawaiian community.

There’s another wrinkle here. The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, which was established to register Hawaiians to take part in this election, registered only about 38% of the 95,000 voters, according to registration data cited in Tuesday’s court hearing.

These 38% represent Hawaiian who affirmatively took steps to register for this election. The remaining 62% on the voter list were passively registered when they failed to object OHA’s transfer of names from its own previously compiled registry of Hawaiians to the election roll.

It seems difficult to judge the level of interest among the majority of Hawaiian voters who did not have to take any action affirming an interest in having their names placed on the voter list. So even the 95,000 number could overestimate the degree of engagement in this election process....

The actual election mechanics are in the hands of a mainland contractor, Election-America, considered by many to be an ironic choice for a process aiming at some form of sovereignty....

Related: Feds 'Reestablishing government-to-government relationship' with OHA as a Tribe

read ... Turnout Key

Hawaii Sitting on 'Only' $656M Unspent Federal Highway Funds

SA: Federal highway officials are congratulating the state for reducing a long-standing backlog of federally funded highway projects by more than $100 million over the past year.

The Federal Highway Administration has warned the state that Hawaii could lose out on federal transportation funding unless the state processes its projects more quickly and reduces the backlog of unspent federal money.

The backlog, also known as the Pipeline, peaked in 2010 at $940 million in federally funded highway projects that were sitting on the books. The federal government had set aside money for those projects, but the state had not been able to move them forward and the money remained unspent.

The state reduced that backlog to $757.5 million by Sept. 30, 2014, and further reduced it over the past year to $656.5 million, according to an Oct. 2 letter from FHWA Hawaii Division Administrator Mayela Sosa.

“I commend you and your staff on the continued progress,” Sosa wrote in a letter to state Director of Transportation Ford Fuchigami. The progress made last year represents the largest single-year reduction in the backlogged Pipeline projects in the past five years, she wrote.

read ... Feds praise state for spending

More UPW Positions--Just What the State Doesn't Need

SA: It’s just what the state government doesn’t need: More state workers. Although Gov. David Ige is bound by an 18-year-old court decision that limits privatization of government service in Hawaii, it would be a step backward to add more public workers to the state payroll.

The state has begun the painstaking process of evaluating contracts with private companies to see whether the work needs to be performed by government employees. The move is required under the 1997 state Supreme Court decision called Konno v. County of Hawaii and a subsequent mediated agreement with the United Public Workers union.

In Konno v. County of Hawaii, the court ruled it was a violation of state law for state or county agencies to hire private contractors to perform tasks that were traditionally handled by civil servants. (Clue: Supreme Court Decisions can be overcome by legislation or a constitutional amendment.)

Under a court-ordered mediation agreement, Ige on July 1 began instructing state departments to submit proposed contracts to the Department of Human Resources Development (DHRD) for review if the work to be done under those contracts has customarily and historically been performed by UPW members.

So far, 506 proposed contracts have been reviewed by DHRD. Of those, 105 that covered automotive repair, plumbing and tree cutting were approved on an emergency basis. Nearly 100 that covered electrical repairs, janitorial work and other areas were given conditional approval, meaning the departments are expected to request funding for public workers to handle this work in the future. For taxpayers, this raises alarm bells....

Already, Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom said he expects the Ige administration will have to ask state lawmakers for additional funds to hire workers to handle what is being done under existing contracts with private companies.

read ... More UPW

98 percent of teachers received “effective” or “highly effective” (again)

SA: The majority of Hawaii public school teachers — 98 percent — were deemed highly effective or effective educators, and fewer teachers received marginal ratings for the 2014-15 school year, marking the second year of ratings on a high-stakes evaluation system that ties performance to pay raises, tenure and termination.

The high ratings for most of the teaching force mirror results from the previous school year, when 98 percent of teachers received “effective” or “highly effective” ratings — the highest of four categories —and have prompted concerns from some Board of Education members that the methodology may not be rigorous enough and might be producing “false returns.”

Under what’s known as the Educator Effectiveness System, or EES, half of a classroom teacher’s annual rating is based on student learning and growth, measured by standardized test scores and data-driven academic goals. The other half is based on teacher practice, measured through classroom observations and student surveys.

Only teachers rated as effective or highly effective are eligible for collectively bargained pay increases in the year after the evaluation. Marginal teachers are given an opportunity to improve, while an“unsatisfactory” rating is cause for termination.

For the 2014-15 school year, 4,206 teachers were deemed highly effective, representing 35 percent of teachers rated, according to results released last week by the state Department of Education. Some 7,478 teachers were rated effective, representing 63 percent of teachers rated....

Some board members questioned the rating methodology, given that the matrix used to determine an overall rating allows a teacher who gets a marginal score in one of the two areas measured — student growth and learning or teacher practice — to still receive an “overall effective” rating.

“I have serious questions about the effectiveness of those teachers. I don’t think it’s asking too much to be at least effective in one of the two areas,” BOE member Jim Williams said. “You can go through all of the 50 percent (student) growth and the 50 percent teacher practice, and the observations and the portfolios, and that can be very rigorous, but in terms of ratings, rigor is really reflected in this matrix. …You can have a rigorous system, but if your matrix is not rigorous, then I think we will get some false returns.”

In the lower categories, 69 teachers were marked as marginal — a significant decrease from the 233 teachers who were rated marginal in the previous school year. Meanwhile, 18 teachers were found unsatisfactory, compared with 24 teachers the year prior. Those 18 teachers have either left the DOE or are challenging the rating through their union, Barbara Krieg, assistant superintendent for human resources, told the committee....

Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the results validate the work of Hawaii teachers, but he takes issue with the idea of tying teacher pay to standardized test scores, which, he argues, teachers have little control over.

read ... Some officials question teacher evaluations

Study: Kauai Needs 2,900 Affordable Housing Units

KGI: There isn’t enough affordable housing available on any of the Hawaiian Islands, according to a study released recently by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

Ricky Cassiday, assistant professor at West Oahu Community College who authored the study, said one in five people in Hawaii needs an affordable housing unit. That number is one in 20 on Kauai....

In his study, Cassiday found that 2,987 dwelling units will be needed on Kauai by 2020 to meet the rising population on the island.

“To date, 185 units have been built from 2010 to 2013, leaving more than 2,800 more units that need to be built by 2020 in order to meet the household need,” he said in the survey.

With such a contrast between the need for housing and the number of houses on the market, Cassiday said most people who are in need of affordable, subsidized housing are doubling, or even tripling up.

“It’s worse on the other islands, but it’s happening here on Kauai, too,” Cassiday said. “You’re getting those situations where there’s multiple families living in one tiny place.”

read ... Shortage

Landlords to be asked to rent to the homeless

SA: A new partnership between the Hawaii Association of Realtors and Gov. David Ige’s office will result in a first-of-its kind summit next month to ask landlords to do their part to ease island homelessness by renting to people currently living on the street.

The half-day summit is tentatively scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 17 at the Dole Cannery Pomaikai Ballrooms. Invitations have been extended to Ige,Mayor Kirk Caldwell and social service providers who will try to help landlords overcome their fears and concerns about renting to homeless people —including some who might be dealing with alcohol,drug and mental health problems....

The Dole Cannery venue can accommodate up to 400 landlords and Realtors, and 100 have already committed to attend, Oh said....

read ... Rent to Homeless

Message to Mainland: We Don't Need Any More Homeless

PJ: If you’re thinking about ditching your 9-to-5 life in one of the Continental 48, or Alaska, in favor of the tropical paradise that is Hawaii, think again.

Chances are you’ll just wind up on the street. You’ll be one of the thousands of homeless people in Hawaii, which already has the highest rate of homelessness per capita among the 50 states, with an estimated 465 homeless individuals per 100,000.

They don’t need even one more. Not even you....

read ... Message

70% of Marijuana 'Patients' Males - 75% Have 'Chronic' ... uh ... Pain

CB: Over 60 percent of patients registered for medical marijuana cards in Hawaii are over the age of 56, according to new data revealed by the Department of Health.

Scottina Malia Ruis, the agency’s medical marijuana registry coordinator, presented the information during the Hawaii Bar Association’s conference at the Hawaii Convention Center on Friday.

The high percentage of older patients “suggests that what we really have is a medicinal program,” Ruis said. “This is not a recreational program… and we intend it to have integrity.”  (LOL!)

Ruis said this is the first time the Department of Health, which took over the medical cannabis program from the Department of Public Safety in January, has revealed data about the program that includes up to 13,000 patients.

About 70 percent of the patients in the program are male and 30 percent are female.

Three-fourth list chronic pain as one of their qualifying conditions, and 14 percent rely on caregivers to grow marijuana for them.

Just 0.2% of patients — or up to 260 — are minors.

About 40 percent of the patients are on the Big Island (people mist be sicker there, right?); 24 percent are in Maui County; 23 percent are on Oahu and 13 percent are on Kauai....

SA: Taking due care with medical marijuana cards

read ... Aging Hippies

Your Vegetarian Hot Dog May Contain Meat ... and Human DNA

YN: ...2 percent of all samples were found to have traces of human DNA in them. Veggie dogs were the worst off, accounting for 67 percent of the hygiene issues and two-thirds of the human DNA found....

read ... Cannibals



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