Grassroot Institute Digest: Take On Hawaii’s Political News

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Local News: Focus on Gov. Abercrombie

Faking it for the Feds, Abercrombie Prepares to Impose Another “Last, Best, and Final Offer” on HSTA
On Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie rejected a contract proposal from the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association, calling the proposal “fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance.”


The main issue of contention in this round of talks is the teacher accountability measures that are required in the federal Race to the Top program.

Given that the state needs to pass muster in a month when US DOE officials arrive to verify that Hawaii is satisfactorily meeting the conditions on the $75 million RTTP grant, this is a high stakes maneuver.

Andrew Walden, of the Hawaii Free Press, believes that this “dispute” is little more than a ploy to come to an agreement that meets with RTTP standards before it gets overturned by the state courts and we go back to a world without standards and accountability.

If Walden is correct, and I suspect he is, then this ploy needs to be followed and exposed for the fraud that it is.

Van Jones rallies Hawaii crowd in support of green projects, against Wall Street   

Some people are just predictable; no matter where they are or what situation they are in, you know what they are going to say.

One of those people is Van Jones, the former Obama advisor/czar, who was in Honolulu to keynote a rally held at the state capitol.

The rally, which attracted 400 people (that’s not what I would a call resounding support, but hey, whatever…) was designed to support the proposed “State Partnership Bank”.

Jones also, while he was in town, testified in favor of House Bill 1033, which would create the bank using $10 million in federal stimulus funds.

The bill has already passed the House and is already out of committee in the Senate.

This bill is little more than a money laundering scheme for politicians that meddles with state finances, is supported one of the most prominent socialists in America, and is bad news for the average taxpayer.

The more I learn about this bill, the worse the feeling in my stomach gets.

Leaving the Ship of Abercrombie  

On March 16, Alapaki Nahale’a became the twelfth departure from the Abercrombie Administration, when he resigned from his position as Director of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Of note, this count of twelve does not include holdovers from the Lingle Administration.

Given that the list of those who have resigned includes a former Chief of Staff, Communications Director, and Health Director, one has to wonder why the resignations are so widespread.

One thing is for certain: this is not how Abercrombie expected his Administration would be when he took the job.

Local News: Best of the Rest

Council members question public outreach campaign for rail transit

On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council asked a series of tough questions to Toru Hamayasu, the interim executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit.

HART officials promised to reveal the total amount of taxpayer funds spent on promotion of rail since 2005, but that number was not available on Wednesday.

One of the more controversial items that have been used in the information campaign is a handout designed for children, called “Keiki Facts & Fun”, which had a total production and distribution cost of a little more than $2500.

Councilman Tom Berg was highly skeptical of the answers provided by HART officials as well as the handouts passed out by HART. “This is pure propaganda, in my opinion,” Berg said.

Apparently, the City Council has figured out what most of us already knew: HART is using mass amounts of taxpayer dollars to sell people on the Honolulu Rail Project.

Bill would cut UH fee for illegal immigrants

Hawaii is not typically the state one would associate with being on the front lines of the illegal immigration controversy.

However, thanks to proposed legislation in the Hawaii legislature that would copy the DREAM Act, Hawaii may be the next state to be embroiled in this fight.

The proposal, which has been supported by UH officials, would give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, as well as specifically set-aside financial aid.

With the current difference between in and out of state tuition at UH being over $7000, this is a serious distinction.

The projection of how many students this would affect ranges from 200 to 1400, which is quite a range as the proposed legislation would spend $1.4 million a semester.

Doctors Accuse Queens Medical Center of Monopolizing Cancer Treatment

A group of physicians have won a federal court injunction which blocks Queen’s Medical Center from closing their doors to them.

The physicians, who provide radiation treatment to cancer patients, had accused Queens of antitrust activities in trying to pursue a monopoly on cancer radiation treatment.

Queens has denied the allegations and will be appealing the decision.

If the allegations are true, then this decision is great news, as the most needed force in the health care industry is competition.

All Is Not Sunny When It Comes to Ethics in Hawaii

In a recent report from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, Hawaii received a grade a C and a rank of tenth among the states in terms of corruption risk.

While the rank of 10th sounds positive, many of the individual grades, particularly those on the issues of state insurance commissions, judicial accountability, and public access to information, are particularly worrisome.