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Sunday, December 2, 2012
December 2, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:13 PM :: 4989 Views

County and State Boards and Commissions--How You Can Get Involved

Health Care Cost to Rise with Federal Mandate

Hawaii Number of Uninsured Children Jumps 55%

Supreme Court DHHL Ruling … Paves Way for Casino at Convention Center?

SA: If Souki does indeed become House speaker, he would be of help to those wanting gambling. Souki has long supported it and earlier this year saw the convention center as a likely site for a casino.

"It is a possibility," Souki said in an interview last week.

The center would provide needed employment, and renting or leasing portions of it as a casino would provide needed funds for the state, Souki said.

Although the Waikiki Improvement Association has not taken a position on the gaming issue, a WIA survey of 1,000 residents taken earlier this year showed that 76 percent<B> would be very likely or likely to visit a Waikiki entertainment center that featured gambling.

At the same time, lobbyist John Radcliffe says he has been working "for more than a generation" to legalize casino gambling in Hawaii.

Radcliffe, who is a lobbyist for Michigan's Market Resource Group, which does public relations for Ilitch Holdings, owner of MotorCity Casino Hotel, said flatly that Hawaii won't get gambling "until the people of Hawaii feel we should have it."

If that is not the condition today, Radcliffe is offering up the argument that the convention center could fit several needs….

A state Supreme Court decision this summer declared that Native Hawaiians can sue the state to provide sufficient funding for administrative and operating expenses for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

While no one has yet said that this means DHHL will be hitting up the state for more money, it could. (DHHL doesn’t build houses any more, but it will build a casino)

Radcliffe said this then would be a reason for the state to work out a deal with DHHL to use the convention center to fund new obligations.

There are a lot of "ifs and maybes" instead of sure bets in this new scenario, but it is not an impossibility.

Totally Related: CNHA Pushes for Legislature, Feds to Dominate DHHL

read … Casino

In Response to Teacher Protest, DoE Defends RTTT Teacher Evaluations

SA: The strategic planning and extra resources from Hawaii’s Race to the Top grant have played a critical role in helping us add more time for student learning and refocus the school culture on student data and ongoing feedback.

In just 24 months, our students’ math and reading scores have jumped. The challenges that were presented to us have been great, but everyone from the administrative team to the classroom teachers are working with a renewed mission to do better.

For example, much has been said about the educator evaluation system. At Keaau Elementary, we seized the opportunity to learn constructive evaluation practices not to drive consequences, but to provide teachers with the formative feedback they need to improve continuously. 

Every day, my team and I offer teachers feedback on ways to deliver effective instruction and create classroom environments that support learning.

Each week, teachers meet to review student data and brainstorm strategies for improving student achievement.

Through Race to the Top, our school has accessed resources and supports that continue to enable us to improve.

One such resource is the DOE’s recently created system whereby teachers can share formative assessments to better pinpoint how students are doing in class. This exchange allows teachers to learn from each other.

read … Defending Evaluations

Public Rejects HSTA Protests 60-40%

SA: Do you support Hawaii’s teachers in their expanding “work to rule” rallies?

  • B. No (60%, 712 Votes)
  • A. Yes (40%, 473 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,185

LINK … Poll Archives

Star-Adv: 'Casual hire' policy at DOE is too casual

SA: Casual hires are made at the discretion of school principals, and much can be said in support of autonomy for principals and other top campus administrators.

With such flexibility, however, must come tighter responsibility to keep school operations safe, efficient, justifiable and above-board.

That needs to include better vetting and hiring of casual employees — they account for 12 percent of state funds spent at the school level, or $91 million in fiscal 2012.

Without sound hiring practices, the audit noted, there is potential for fraud and abuse, as well as possible violation of state and federal employment laws.

Further, the report reveals a system with so many basic, significant deficiencies that it reads like an open secret.

The fact that 40 percent of 271 recent casual hires were allowed to start working before receiving Human Resources clearance suggests a widespread, systemic subculture operating independently of policy-making bureaucrats.

In profound understatement, Doug Murata, assistant superintendent for the DOE Office of Human Resources, said: "We're using an old hiring and payment system and have it scheduled for upgrade. In the meantime, now that we know there is a rather serious problem … we can develop manual work-arounds. We're updating our procedures."

If it took this audit to discover such a pervasive, serious disconnect between campus practices and the DOE central office, that in itself is cause for alarm. It begs the reasonable question that if such poor protocols over the "casual hire" system have been allowed and only now discovered, what other proprieties or controls are lacking or ignored?

read … DoE Too Casual

Star-Adv Explains How Homosexual Child Molesters ‘Turn’ Youth

SA: The sexual assaults began when the boy was 12. Over a period of about two years, Moiliili karate teacher Michael Shi­ma­bu­kuro molested the boy at the dojo where Shi­ma­bu­kuro taught him and other students.

The youth told authorities that Shi­ma­bu­kuro gave him alcohol, showed him pornographic videos and placed a sexual device on his penis.

A jury in October convicted Shi­ma­bu­kuro of three counts of third-degree sexual assault. He faces up to five years in prison for each count when sentenced in January.

The verdict represented one of the more recent developments in a string of unrelated court cases in which a Hawaii coach or teacher over the past year was convicted of or charged with sexual misconduct involving minors.

Just last month a former Maui substitute teacher was sentenced to 20 years in prison for 16 counts of sexual assault. Prosecutors since November 2011 have pursued similar charges against at least five other instructors.

In all but one of the seven cases, the victims or alleged victims were students.

Adriana Ramelli, executive director of Hawaii's Sex Abuse Treatment Center, was neither astonished by the number of reported cases in a year's period nor that they involved coaches or teachers….

That contact allows would-be molesters to groom their victims, sometimes with gifts and extra attention, and eventually seduce them, Lanning said.

The molesters are able to gain control of the situation, convincing the children not to tell others about the abuse, experts say.

That's what happened in the case involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for abusing 10 boys over more than a decade. Law enforcement authorities only learned of the abuses years after the incidents.

No organization keeps statistics on the number of sexual assault cases involving coaches in Hawaii. (Because they’re not priests.) But Ramelli's center reported getting seven cases last year in which the client reported being abused by a teacher or professor. Six such cases were reported in 2010 and eight in 2009. (But since this doesn’t help us to tear down the Catholic church, its OK.)

read … Instructors' closeness with kids can enable and hide abuse, experts say

39 Sex Offenders Doing ‘Volunteer Work’, State Keeps their Secrets

SA: Thirty-nine registered sex offenders, including rapists, kidnappers and child molesters, have reported to the state that they are doing volunteer work in Hawaii.

But if you want to know where the offenders are volunteering or the name of the organizations they're helping, you're out of luck. Officials are prohibited under state law from publicly revealing such information.

Even if a child rapist who has completed his sentence volunteers to help a youth group — and reports that information as required to the state — the state is not allowed to include the work address or name of the group on Hawaii's sex offender registry website, which is designed to allow residents to track offenders in their communities.

Although the registry lists precise home addresses for offenders, state law permits the attorney general's office to disclose only the street name where an offender works or volunteers and the ZIP code of that area — information that is, for the most part, useless for tracking purposes.

When the state Legislature in 2005 decided to revise what information to make public from law enforcement's internal registry, it made employment details largely confidential, partly out of concern that an employer otherwise might be more reluctant to hire an offender, which could derail the offender's rehabilitation and create added risk to the public.

As a compromise with those who argued that a fully informed public would be safer, the Legislature permitted only the street name of the workplace and ZIP code to be disclosed.

When lawmakers in 2008 added volunteer work and other information to what offenders must report to the state, the legislators made the volunteer information subject to the same disclosure requirements as the employment details. That meant only street names and ZIP codes could be publicly released….

Among the 39 sex offenders who have informed the state about their volunteer work, five were convicted of kidnapping, five of rape and at least five of crimes involving children, according to state records.

SA: Sex Offender Advocates Complain List is too Broad

read … More Help for Molesters

Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran Reluctant to Expose Child Molesters

SA: A decade after his conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl multiple times, an Oahu man volunteered to help a boy's football team at a state-run high school even though he was listed on the state's registry of sex offenders.

The man assisted for nearly two seasons until the principal learned of his criminal record and dismissed him in 2011.

Another man, convicted in 2000 of possessing child pornography, volunteered as often as three times a week earlier this year to help an Oahu church feed homeless residents, including children, even though he also was on the sex offender registry.

The man said he did not disclose his conviction to the church pastor before he began helping because he saw no reason to….

The issue of registered sex offenders doing volunteer work for youth-focused programs drew headlines this summer when a Wahiawa man convicted of molesting boys he coached on a soccer team became involved in a league again.

After completing a five-year sentence in October 2011 for sexually assaulting six boys, Frederick Rames, 71, volunteered for the Wahiawa Soccer Club, which earlier this year held indoor matches involving about 50 elementary school children.

State Rep. Karl Rhoads, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he would support legislation requiring background checks of those who work around children.

"I don't see why that shouldn't apply to volunteers," Rhoads said. "I would rather err on the side of caution."

But state Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, House Judiciary chairman, said he would be reluctant to try to change statutes

read … Rhoads Legislation?

Larry Flynt: Porn Shoots in Hawaii Should be Ignored, Accepted

SA: The idea that Hawaii could become a location for adult films alarmed those who cherish the state's family-friendly atmosphere, but the man who started the conversation insists he isn't going to give the islands an "XXX" rating any time soon. (Excellent opportunity to study a three step communications strategy.)

Pornography giant Larry Flynt said he's not interested in making adult films in Hawaii and that his recent comment about moving here in the wake of a new Los Angeles County, Calif., law requiring adult performers to wear condoms was blown out of proportion. (Step One: Blame the victim -- for being hysterical and overwrought.)

But Flynt, who runs his Hustler publishing and adult video empire from Beverly Hills, claims to have used Hawaii as a backdrop for photo shoots for decades. (Step Two: Redefine to Minimize -- Porn is nothing because you haven’t noticed.)

"Everybody jumped the gun and are unnecessarily panicked about the situation," he said last week by telephone. "It's like, ‘Oh my god, they are coming to shoot porn in the islands and they will never be the same.' I have been shooting over there for 35 years. We don't publicize it. We don't make a fuss. We shoot in homes that are available for lease. We go about our business quietly and leave."….

But even though filming in Hawaii would cost more — at least that's what he said last week — the truth is he could still do it behind closed doors. (Step Three: Assume the close -- Announce that he is going to do it whether you like it or not.)

Out of Proportion: Larry Flynt: Porn Industry "Will Start Shooting in Hawaii"

read … The Three-Step

Welfare Caseload up 23%, Foodstamps up 88%

SA: Nearly 17,050 families now get some kind of cash subsidy, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Human Services.

That's up from 14,265 in fiscal year 2007, and a 5 percent increase from last fiscal year alone, when there were 16,207 households on cash assistance rolls….

A total of 10,214 Hawaii families receive benefits through TANF programs, up 23 percent, or by 1,900 households from 2008.

On average in fiscal year 2012, families stayed on welfare for about a year. The program is limited to five years over a lifetime.

To qualify for TANF, a family must have dependent children under 19 years old and its total gross income must be under 185 percent of the 2006 federal poverty level.

For a household of three, that means the monthly gross income must be less than $2,941. Additionally, if the household includes an employable adult, net income must be under 48 percent of the 2006 federal poverty level, or less than $610.

Household assets, not including a home or cars, must be less than $5,000.

While welfare numbers are up, they remain well below levels seen in the late 1990s, before passage of tougher eligibility rules.

DHS officials note the recent increases in welfare participation are not as large as those seen for other need-based government benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid, largely because those programs are open to families with slightly higher incomes and greater assets.

Since 2008, the number of Hawaii households receiving food stamps has ballooned by 88 percent, to 92,114 in August, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.

To qualify for food stamps, a family's gross income can be up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level, or their net income can be up to 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines. For a family of three in Hawaii, that equates to $1,830 or less a month.

read … Welfare

Nago Proves Screwing up is the Surest Path to Job Security

Shapiro: » The state Elections Commission decided not to fire or discipline Chief Election Officer Scott Nago for ballot shortages, long lines and frustrated voters on Election Day. In our state government, screwing up is the surest path to job security.

» Election commissioners, noting that they're unpaid volunteers, won't finish their investigation of what caused the Election Day fiasco until January. The staff is worried it'll delay planning on how to mess up the next election.

» Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the bungled election "eroded public confidence" and proposed that future elections be conducted entirely by mail, but Nago said he doesn't have the infrastructure. Postal voting requires a whole new technology for miscounting ballots.

read … Job Security

AUDIO: Abercrombie’s Voice Mail Pressuring Greenwood

KITV: In the voice mail, the governor appears to reference his initial face-to-face meeting with Greenwood on Aug. 10, which the governor's press secretary says was sought out by the UH president. (Actually the meeting had been scheduled long before the Wonder Blunder became news. That kind of carefully deployed small lie is why McCoy makes the big bucks.)

"I realize that the suggestions I made before were not carried through on, and that of course, that's your business and (UH Manoa Chancellor) Tom Apple's business," the governor says in the first 18 seconds of the voicemail. "I honestly believe that the outcome from whatever advice you did take, I think, has not done very good," Abercrombie added.

In the recording, the governor urges Greenwood to call a Board of Regent's meeting about the canceled benefit concert, which led to the university losing more than $200,000 to a bogus entertainment company with no ties to Wonder.

"I can assure you, if this issue is not resolved decisively on Wednesday, by Thursday, you're going to be in the thick of a Senate investigation and all that it entails," Abercrombie said in the voice mail…. (No threat here, eh?)

The governor's press secretary, Kim Louise McCoy, told KITV4 on Friday the voice mail proves Abercrombie was simply providing his observations and advice to Greenwood, who faced an investigation by the state Senate Special Committee on Accountability, just as the governor predicted. (Visualize Don Corleone ‘counseling’ somebody that certain actions may be ‘bad for their health.’)

"Upon her request, he provided advice to her," said Kim McCoy. "The governor has been very consistent and remains consistent with what he's said." (McCoy is the communications ‘professional’ because she can say this with a straight face.)

Precisely as Explained: Greenwood Threatened to Expose Abercrombie, Say, Tsutusi: ‘Serious Violation of Multiple Laws’

Audio … Its not pressure and if you say differently, I'll investigate you

County says new state law leaves it in the dark on geothermal decisions

WHT: Hawaii County is objecting to a bill passed last legislative session that it says removes its permitting authority over new geothermal projects. (Punatics and Luddites lose their veto.)

Adopted last April, Act 97 eliminated a requirement that geothermal projects occur in designated subzones, taking out what legislators saw as an unnecessary hurdle for developers.

But it also struck out references to the jurisdiction of county-level planning commissions over approving geothermal resource permits, a change that takes the county out of the loop, said county Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd.

Leithead Todd said that took the county by surprise, and she is drafting legislation to put its oversight back into the Hawaii Revised Statutes. (Obvious question: Which wind and solar scammers contributed to Kenoi’s campaign?)

“I had been monitoring it (the bill) and I had been reassured that county controls over permitting would be in the final draft,” she said, referring to Senate Bill 3003, which became Act 97.

read … Potheads, Luddites Cut out of Game

HHSC Tries to Cut MD’s Hours, Eliminate his Health Coverage

KHON: Dr. Albert Yazawa is the Medical Director for Leahi and Maluhia, and he's also the Clinician of the geriatric outpatient clinic at Maluhia.

Tomorrow is his last day on the job full-time.

"I've agreed to extend my contract at half time for the month of December, just to give administration time to find a replacement," said Dr. Albert Yazawa, Medical Director and Clinician.

He says Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which runs State hospitals Maluhia and Leahi, offered him a contract to work part time through next June.

"They want to split the two positions into two 15 hour positions, so they've offered me one of 'em. It's difficult to accept a 15 hour position without benefits," said Dr. Yazawa.

"He's the only one that's been really good to us, try everything to help us out," said Sally Masamune, Dr. Yazawa's patient.

"If we have that support taken away from us you will see more of these patients going into the emergency rooms, see them being checked into long term care facilities," said Crystal van Beelen, Sally's granddaughter and caretaker.

Hawaii Health Systems Corporation said in a statement today: "Knowing the extent of increasing concerns over our proposal ... Maluhia will continue to entertain further input and take them into serious consideration in its physician selection process and transition planning efforts."…

Four years ago, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation had plans to close the clinic at Maluhia.

This same group rallied to keep it open, and it worked.

read … How HHSC Saves Money

LA Times: Hawaii finds success with tough-love approach to repeat offenders

LA Times: "If somebody shows up at his probation office and tests positive," Alm told colleagues when the program began in 2004, "I want him arrested on the spot."

Those violators — the program can accommodate 2,000 of the toughest cases or one-fourth of Hawaii's total probation population — are now brought before Alm as quickly as possible after their arrests and informed that they will have new terms for their probation.

They've got to call a hotline every morning, and if it instructs them to come in for a drug test, they'd better be there no matter how inconvenient it might be.

If they've used drugs, but confess to the probation officer before taking the test, they might get three days in jail. But if they fail to report that they've used drugs and then test positive, they're likely to get 15 days, followed by 30 for the next offense. If they can't keep clean, they'll be required to attend drug and alcohol abuse meetings, or be ordered into outpatient treatment, followed by a two-year residential program if they screw up again.

And if they do, they'll serve the full sentence they originally received when they went on probation, even if it's 15 years or more.

read … HOPE Probation

Norks Prepare Ballistic Missile Launch

SA: The North's announcement Saturday that it would launch the rocket between Dec. 10 and Dec. 22 came as President Barack Obama prepares for his second term and as South Korea holds a presidential election Dec. 19.

It would be North Korea's second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il's death nearly a year ago. Some analysts have expressed skepticism that North Korea has corrected whatever caused the embarrassing misfire of its last rocket eight months ago. That launch earned the country widespread international condemnation.

A spokesman for North Korea's Korean Committee for Space Technology, however, said scientists have "analyzed the mistakes" made in the failed April launch and improved the precision of its Unha rocket and Kwangmyongsong satellite, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement said the launch was a request of late leader Kim Jong Il. He died on Dec. 17, 2011, and North Koreans are expected to mark that date this year with some fanfare.

read … Going Ballistic

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