Over 60 Staff Positions Vacant at Hawaii State Hospital

Individuals under subpoena wait to testify.  Mr. Elliot's attorney emphasizes the importance of protecting confidential personnel matters.

Individuals under subpoena wait to testify. Mr. Elliot’s attorney emphasizes the importance of protecting confidential personnel matters.

Senators Slom, Shimabukuro, Baker, and Co-Chairs Green and Hee received testimony from William Elliot, Acting Hawaii State Hospital Administrator, in another hearing of the Senate Special Investigative Committee. Five individuals had been issued subpoenas for the meeting on Wednesday, April 9, at 10 a.m. in Conference Room 16. However, for two and a half hours Senator Hee repeatedly queried Mr. Elliot, who has worked for the Hospital for 20 years, on his qualifications, job descriptions, and participation in hiring and overtime staffing decisions.

As accusations of nepotism in hiring practices at the State Hospital were alleged in earlier hearings, Mr. Elliot described the hospital’s current hiring protocol, but had been advised by his attorney to not address questions regarding personnel issues involving individual names or personal history in open session. To date, the testimony of other administrators remains to be heard. Though present, Dr. Mark Fridovich, Adult Mental Health Division Administrator; William Sheehan, Associate Administrator of Clinical Services; Linda Rosen, newly appointed Director of the Department of Health; and Lynn Fallin, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Administration, did not have the opportunity to provide their perspective on the investigation of workplace safety for psychiatric workers and the ongoing allegations of administrative improprieties.

For approximately four and a half years throughout his tenure, William Elliot wore two hats, serving as both Acting Administrator and Associate Administrator for the Adult Mental Health Division’s Support Services. He acknowledged to Senator Green that the staff turnover rate remains approximately 12%, with approximately 60 direct and non-direct staff positions vacant and in continuous recruitment. “The process is pretty rigid,” said Elliot, acknowledging that it takes at least 66 working days to hire staff, according to a study performed several years ago. He admitted to Senator Slom that he is not usually directly involved in hiring decisions. Senators Green and Baker asked about disciplinary actions that would be taken if staff did try to hire relatives in contradiction to policy, and Elliot said the hospital uses a “progressive discipline” protocol involving warnings and suspensions before discharge.

The next hearing will convene on April 30th at 10 a.m., beginning with the testimony of Dr. Fridovich.

2014 Senate Minority Alternative Budget

Senate Minority Alternative Budget Briefing

The Hawaii Senate Minority Announces New Alternative Supplemental Budget

Senate Minority Caucus | 808 586-8420 | State Senator Sam Slom Prepared by Paul Harleman, Budget Director, Senate Minority Research Office

April 4, 2014 — The Hawaii Senate Minority Alternative Supplemental Budget for the fiscal years 2014-2015 reflects a decrease of $795 million in total funding compared to the proposed Senate Budget.

The Alternative Supplemental Budget proposes a comprehensive plan that will make Hawaii’s government less expensive, yet more effective, for our state’s taxpayers and small businesses by advancing two simple fiscal and economic objectives:

  1. Reduce the rising cost of living for Hawaii’s taxpayers and improve the deteriorating business climate through tax reform;
  2. Make government less expensive and more effective through budget cuts.

Three highlights of the Hawaii Senate Minority Alternative Supplemental Budget proposal:

I. BALANCE THE BUDGET IN THE LONG RUN BY USING CONSERVATIVE REVENUE ESTIMATES

In less than six months the state’s financial outlook has shifted from a proclaimed $844 million surplus to looming long-term budget deficits. Although the recent downgrade by the Council on Revenues has come as a surprise to some, the Senate Minority has long argued that the economy has not turned a corner and our state’s overall business climate has not improved.

  • To correct overly optimistic revenue projections, the Supplemental Alternative Budget is based on a more conservative set of long-term revenue projections.
  • Under both the more conservative revenue estimates as well as the current Council on Revenues’ projections, both the House and Senate Budgets are not in balance–and without any future adjustments are projected to deplete the state’s cash reserves as early as FY 2016.
  • The Senate Minority Alternative Budget is the only proposal that balances the state’s checkbook beyond the current fiscal biennium under both revenue assumptions.

II. REDUCE THE SIZE AND COST OF GOVERNMENT BY $795 MILLION IN FY 2015 AND LIMIT FUTURE GROWTH TO INFLATION ONLY

The Senate Minority Alternative Supplemental Budget clarifies the tough decisions that have to be made today to reposition Hawaii for a better tomorrow. The $795 million consists of $480 million in general funds and $315 million in special funds. This reflects a 7 percent decrease in comparison to the current Senate Budget.

The proposed budget cuts are derived from the following:

  • $17 million in general fund savings from discontinued programs
  • $110 million in general and special fund savings by removing vacant budgeted positions
  • $146 million in general fund savings through a 10 percent across-the-board cut in discretionary spending
  • $207 million in general fund savings from targeted cuts on various programs within the Department of Education, Health, and the University of Hawaii
  • $315 million in special fund savings with an across-the-board 10 percent cut.

III. LEAVE THE STATE TREASURY WITH A PROJECTED GENERAL FUND BALANCE OF $486 MILLION IN FY 2019

With the highest cost of living and the worst business climate in the nation, tax reform could reposition Hawaii’s economy to make it more competitive in the long run. Although revenue losses are often cited as a barrier to tax reform, the Senate Minority Alternative Supplemental Budget proves the contrary and shows that Hawaii could indeed move in a different direction, with sustained balanced budgets and lower taxes.

Tables:

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Downloads:

The Senate Minority Alternative Biennium Budget: For Fiscal Years 2014 – 2015

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The Senate Minority Alternative Biennium Budget: For Fiscal Years 2014 – 2015

SenateMinority_Alternative_Supplemental FY2015_Budget Worksheets (Excel File)

April 4, 2014 Press Release (PDF)

2013 Senate Minority Alternative Budget (Link)

Republican State Senator Proposes Smaller Budget (Hawaii News Now – AP)

GOP Senator Proposes Smaller Budget (West Hawaii Today – AP)

Niu Valley Middle School Band Honored by Hawaii State Senate

Niu Valley Middle School Band Honored

The Hawaii State Senate recognized the outstanding teachers and students of the Niu Valley Middle School Band during a floor presentation held at the opening of the regular Senate Session on Friday, March 28. More than 100 students and teachers in the music program attended the floor session, where Senator Sam Slom led the formal presentation with the help of Senator Laura Thielen, who spoke about the American School Band Directors Association.

Senator Thielen also introduced Brendon Burns, interim Principal; former Principal Justin Mew (now Principal of Kaiser High School); Kent Miyashiro, International Baccalaureate Coordinator of the school; Zachary Morita, music director; and Wayne Fanning, music teacher in the program.

Senator Slom introduced Kylie Nakano (clarinet), Dylan Poon (trombone), Dylan Wacksman (saxophone), Reina Yamashita (French Horn) and Cobe Yoshino (bassoon), who represented the student band members seated on the floor. The rest of the band sat in the Senate Gallery after performing for a half-hour concert prior to the floor session in the State Capitol’s atrium.

The Niu Valley Middle School Band was selected to perform at the prestigious American School Band Directors Association’s (ASBDA) National Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly 90 students and over 20 adults will travel to the conference in July to premier a new work by the world-renowned composer and conductor Brian Balmages.

Top photo: Members of Niu Valley Middle School Band pose with State Senators and Niu Valley music faculty and staff in this group picture taken after Senator Slom presented the band with a certificate commemorating their accomplishment. Photo courtesy Senate Communications Office. Additional photos below this text were taken by Noelani Bonifacio and Jerry Stanfield.

Article republished from text extracted from the Kuliouou Neighborhood Board #2 Report issued monthly by Senator Slom.

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

Honoring Niu Valley Middle School Band

In the Gallery with Niu Valley Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Niu Valley Middle School Band

The 2014 Hawaii Medal of Honor Ceremony

In a joint session of the Hawaii State Legislature held in the House Chambers on Tuesday, March 25th, the public, families, and legislators gathered to commemorate the 2014 Recipients of the Hawaii Medal of Honor.

The medal was designed by Sergeant First Class Aaron Pollick, recently retired from the Hawaii Army National Guard.

The medal was designed by Sergeant First Class Aaron Pollick, recently retired from the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Speakers including Governor Neil Abercrombie, House Speaker Joseph M. Souki, Major General Darryll D.M. Wong, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, and Kahu Kordell C.L. Kekoa honored the memory and families of four soldiers: U.S. Army Sergeant Tofiga J. Tautolo, U.S. Air Force Captain Reid K. Nishizuka, U.S. Army Sergeant Drew M. Scobie, and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward Balli.

The traditional 3-Volley Salute was presented by the Hickam Honor Guard. Before the Retiring of the Colors, the Marine Forces Pacific Band played a moving rendition of Taps. We can only hope that after 12 years of continuous military engagement, the U.S. military and the Hawaii ‘ohana may begin a period of peace.

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Video

Video Link – A Better Day with Host Senator Slom and Michael N. Hansen

A group of Hawaii lawmakers are proposing a resolution that, if passed, would try to get Congress to allow foreign-built ships to carry cargo to Hawaii from the Mainland.

Senator Sam Slom is trying to get this one exemption to the Jones Act in an effort to lower shipping costs to Hawaii. The costs are five times more expensive, according to reports.

Senator Slom talks to Michael N Hansen President of the Hawaii Shippers Council.

A Better Day TV with Senator Slom

contributed by Michele Van Hessen

Middle School Students Honored for Musical Talents

Niu Valley Middle School Band

Good news for education! The musical philosophy underlying the unique curriculum at Niu Valley Middle School is proving to be highly successful. Just this year, the Concert Band was selected to perform at the prestigious American School Band Directors Association’s (ASBDA) National Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly 90 students and over 20 adults will travel to the conference in July to premier a new work by the world-renowned composer and conductor Brian Balmages.

This is not the first time the band has been so honored. In 2011 they were invited to perform at the ASBDA regional conference in Denver, Colorado. The school actually provides its 420 students enrolled in music with three different performing groups: Band (260 students), Orchestra (70), and Polynesian Music (90). All ensembles perform regularly every year, at events ranging from the Governor’s Inauguration and special community events to concerts at local care homes, shopping centers, and other schools.

The school’s disciplined, motivated students usually go on to participate in high school and college music programs. Some have even pursued music as a career. The Hawaii State Senate will recognize the outstanding teachers and students of the Niu Valley Middle School music program during its regular Session on Friday, March 28th.

Congratulating the Newest Hawaii Business Hall of Fame Laureates

2014 Laureates: Jake Shimabukuro, Sherry Menor-McNamara of The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, and the Kamitaki/Mizoguchi Family

2014 Laureates: Jake Shimabukuro, Sherry Menor-McNamara of The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, and the Kamitaki/Mizoguchi Family

Two individuals and a family of four were recognized by the Junior Achievement of Hawaii Business Hall of Fame for 2014. The Senate presented certificates of accomplishment to the honorees during the Friday, March 14th Session.

Sherry Menor-McNamara, the first female–and youngest ever–President and CEO of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce was commended for her extensive community service and business accomplishments. Award-winning ukulele musician Jake Shimabukuro, who among his many other accomplishments founded the Four Strings Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes music opportunities for the general public through nationwide workshops, was also honored. Wayne Kamitaki, Lynn Ushijima, Guy Kamitaki, and Pau Mizoguchi were recognized as outstanding examples of excellence in free enterprise for building numerous Ben Franklin Crafts Stores and Ace Hardware Stores in Hawaii and on the mainland. The Kamitaki & Mizoguchi Family have established a $35,000 endowed scholarship fund for undergraduate students attending the Shidler College of Business at UH Manoa.

“If Not Me, Then Who?”

Award-Winner Kimberly Uehisa

Award-Winner Kimberly Uehisa

Student Kimberly Uehisa found a personal challenge in a quote by soldier Travis Manion—“If not me, then who?”–while attending a special summer program at the US Naval Academy. Kimberly was moved to found a service club at her school, Island Pacific Academy, with the support of the Travis Manion Foundation.

For her efforts and service to her community, Kimberly Uehisa has been recognized as a 2014 Distinguished Finalist by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. At the beginning of her junior year, she took every step necessary to launch her service club during opening week activities at Island Pacific Academy, managing to secure the commitment of 25 of her peers. She now organizes care drives and park clean-ups to honor the memory of the heroic soldier whose question changed her life.

Kimberly Uehisa is also an active member of her school’s Interact service club and a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. In recognition of her Prudential Award and all her contributions to her school and community, she will be presented with a special certificate by the Hawaii State Senate on Tuesday, March 25th.

Michael D. Wilson Will Provide “Justice for All”

Congratulating Justice Michael Wilson

After an arduous process of two hearings, Gubernatorial Nominee Michael D. Wilson was confirmed as Associate Justice to the Hawaii State Supreme Court during the Senate’s Regular Session on March 17, 2014. Senator Slom requested a roll call vote, which resulted in one “nay” (Senator Baker) and twenty-three “ayes” (Senator Thielen and Senator Kidani voting with reservations).

Senator Slom rose in strong support, mentioning that he had known the nominee for several decades. “We’ve seen him in action,” he added.

“This is not a woman vs. man issue.” Wilson had met all eight criteria of the Hawaii State Bar Association. Senator Slom re-iterated that “every question given to the nominee was asked and answered,” and pointed out that there was “no evidentiary substance to the allegations, innuendo, and falsehoods” which were raised. Ultimately, the requirements to consider are “character, experience, and will he serve the best interest of the people,” providing “justice for all.” The roll call vote expressed the Senate’s conviction that, indeed, Michael Wilson meets these requirements.

State Teacher and Principal of the Year Honored by Hawaii State Senate

Matthew Lawrence, a teacher at Waikiki Elementary School for 13 years, was selected as Hawaii’s 2014 Teacher of the Year by MetLife/NASSP, and Vice Principal Celia Main-Anakalea of Kaimuki Middle School won the Hawaii Middle School Principal of the Year Award.

2014 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year
Matthew Lawrence

2013 Hawaii Vice Principal of the Year
Celia Main-Anakalea

For their outstanding accomplishments, the Hawaii State Senate recognized both with certificates during Education Week, March 17th through March 21st. Matthew Lawrence was commended for providing his students with educational experiences that encourage creativity and higher-level thinking skills in math and science, two subjects often considered difficult. Vice Principal Celia Main-Anakalea was recognized for seven years of collaborative leadership and curricula advancements, as well as her support of family involvement and community organizations at Kaimuki Middle School.