Monday, March 02, 2015

 

Human sacrifice in Hawaii--death trap crossings demonstrate failure to provide even the simplest protections



“A typical traffic signal is not appropriate for the crosswalk because it is close to the heavily traveled Castle Junction intersection at Pali and Kamehameha highways, and because the area in front of HPU did not meet the minimum requirement of five pedestrian "incidents" in a 12-month period”—Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl  after the death of HPU student Mariah Danforth-Moore


by Larry Geller

I put my smartphone to work as a dashboard camera this weekend to survey crosswalks on one street in Honolulu. The results (below) document a failure of public policy that has resulted in avoidable deaths each year in the city.

Performance measures for public officials would demonstrate failure

While no one single measure is sufficient to assess the performance of individual public managers or departments, the unwavering position of Hawaii as worst in the nation for per capita senior citizen fatalities is an indication that city and state government, and transportation managers in particular, are failing to meet their responsibility to the people—and in this case, it is costing lives.

While fatalities are most often cited, there are of course serious and less serious injuries that result when a car or truck encounters a pedestrian on the street. People can be maimed for life. Promising careers are ended. Productive people become dependent. Allowing the conditions to exist without mitigation year after year is a failure of public policy of immense proportion.

What we want to see is a decline in the number of deaths each year over earlier years. We would like also to see the numbers for injuries and know that they are also decreasing.

The failure is not just of the management of Hawaii’s departments of transportation—it is a failure of government at every level in the state to embrace and remedy the unfortunate situation. Legislators read the newspaper and are fully aware of the annual death toll. Yet we still see unprotected intersections and missing signage on one of the most travelled streets in the city of Honolulu: South King Street, an accessible example. There would be plenty of other candidate streets crying for improvement.

Like the ever-rising poverty rate in the state, the lack of affordable rentals or the alarming increase in the number of homeless citizens, our leaders let these problems roll from year to year. That is irresponsible or inadequate leadership.

This needs to change.

Hawaii continues to lead the nation in per capita deaths for older pedestrians.  

According to Smart Growth America's "Dangerous by Design 2014," Hawaii has the highest fatality rate in the nation per capita for older pedestrians, with 6.81 deaths per every 100,000 adults 65 and older from 2003 to 2010.

Year after year after year, the carnage is allowed to continue. Meanwhile, it appears that the state department of transportation requires “incidents” before making badly needed modifications. And those modifications are made piecemeal, rather than as part of a plan to reduce the collision rate. Year after year, no change, no improvements.

And no one is fired from the departments that allow these avoidable deaths to occur.

Those are strong words, but easy to substantiate. Yesterday I let the dashboard camera run while driving along S. King Street. Below you will see snapshots of each crosswalk that is not traffic-light controlled between town and University Avenue.

Note that only one of them has a blinking light setup and signage across the road, an arrangement very likely to be seen by motorists in each traffic lane. A problem with crossing on S. King St., that is, taking your chances on being killed in order to get across the street, is that a car might stop in a near lane, but drivers in the next lane from that cannot see you and may not stop. To cross cautiously means to poke your neck out at each lane, hoping cars will stop for you to go across. For an older and less attentive person, the maneuvering required might be difficult or impossible. So seniors, in particular, get killed.

The blinking overhead lights and signage would appear to provide a possible solution—so why is there only one crosswalk equipped like that?

Note also that some crosswalks have day-glo pedestrian crossing signs on both sides, some have none at all. Sometimes there is an extra set of day-glo signs indicating “pedestrian crossing ahead.” Mostly, these are absent.

Why is there inconsistency? If #humanlivesmatter then each intersection should be properly marked. If the blinking lights work, each intersection should have them. We should not have to wait until a certain number of “incidents” are counted.

It has been shown that putting signs or traffic lights over lanes increases their visibility to motorists.  With regard to traffic signals, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires that they be positioned over each lane, according to a Kokua Line article printed last year:

"While this may appear to be an excessive use of traffic signals, studies have found significant safety benefits in locating one signal head per through lane when there is more than one through lane," [DTS Director Michael] Formby said.

[Star-Advertiser, Kokua Line, 8/14/2014]

The sixth picture down shows a crosswalk with not only blinking lights but overhead signage visible across each lane. Why is that not the minimum standard for S. King St., Pali Highway, and other streets where crosswalks are currently death traps?

Let’s begin our journey. Crosswalks at traffic light controlled intersections are skipped.


S. King St. / Birch St. – no signage

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h47m12s147


S. King St. / Cedar St. no signage

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h48m11s44


S. King St. / Sheridan St. sign on one side of the street only

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h50m16s135


S. King St. / nr. Washington Middle School signs on both sides of the street

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h52m34s244


S. King St. / Times Supermarket overhead signs, lights that might flash

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h53m47s150

There seems to be a pedestrian push-button at this crosswalk. I didn’t try it, but it should flash the lights, right?

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h53m47s150


S. King St. / Hauoli St. signs on one side of the street (the sign on the left side appears to be installed at the wrong corner (?) )

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h54m01s97


S. King St. / Pumehana St. signs on both sides of the street

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h54m19s23


S. King St. / Wiliwili St. no signs

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h55m12s4


S. King St. / Kemole Ln. no signs

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h55m37s45


S. King St. / Poha Ln. no signs

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h55m46s154


S. King St. / Hoawa Ln. no signs

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h56m04s64


S. King St. just past Isenberg St., pedestrian crossing ahead signs on both sides of the street

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h57m51s96

S. King / Coolidge St. signs on both sides of the street

vlcsnap-2015-03-01-21h58m25s166

So let’s add this up.

Crosswalks with no signs: 6

Crosswalks with one sign: 2

Crosswalks with two signs: 3

Crosswalks with overhead signs / blinking lights: 1

Total number of crosswalks surveyed: 12

The survey speaks for itself.

It also raises the question of consistency as a safety factor—do drivers get used to expecting signage before crosswalks, so that they become less attentive when those signs are missing?

More people will be killed at inadequately protected intersections.

No one will go to jail for this. No one will lose their jobs for this.

That is, unless ordinary citizens begin to get together and demand action.



Sunday, March 01, 2015

 

Will tourists choose cigars over hula? The Cuba tourist boom begins



Bob Guild, vice president of travel agency Marazul Charters, said his groups have had to stay in private apartments recently instead of hotel rooms because beds are in such demand. … In the two weeks after the regulations were released in January, 1,300 requests came in compared to 30 requests during the same time period in 2014. … “We are generally telling people that nothing is possible until next season, beginning in October. And there are people still trying to get in right now.”

by Larry Geller

20150301 Miami Herald

Hawaii is in no danger of losing its Asian visitors, at least in the near term, but in the coming decade or so it could feel competition from the sleeping giant that is Cuba.

All it would take is for Cubans to learn how to do travel PR in Japan, Korea and China.

And it’s impossible to ignore the lure of a prime destination so very close to the US mainland that one could almost swim there.

According to an article in today’s Miami Herald, the boom has already begun—at present, it’s a rush to see Cuba before it is modernized.

This is stage 1: people trying to get there before Cuba becomes a cliché destination. It was like that once with Nepal, for example. We sent postcards to our friends from Kathmandu. It was very exotic. Now the place is overrun with traffic, tourists, and the air is spoiled by smog, I understand. Burma was exotic once also. But those are little league destinations—Hawaii and soon, Cuba, are in the big league.

Stage 2 will be PR competition, travel mag coverage, and the beginning of a hotel boom. It’s hard to say how that will go, given the stagnant condition of Cuba’s economy, but hey, if there is money to be made, Hyatt, Marriott and more will be anxious to get their share of the action.

The picture at the lower left of the Miami Herald front page shows cigars being rolled in Havana. It’s a great draw. There’s no chance of Cuban cigars going out of style—America is starving for them.

“We had the President of the United States talk about people-to-people travel and the fact that you can go and that we want to make it easier,” [president of New York tour operator InsightCuba Tom] Popper said. “After Dec. 17, tens of millions of people said, ‘Oh yeah, President Obama said I could go to Cuba.’”

[Miami Herald, U.S. demand for travel to Cuba rises amid thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, 2/28/2015]

No doubt Hawaii will always be a popular tourist destination. But we have all of our economic eggs in that one basket, basically, and if climate change brings us more dangerous storms, we could get knocked out.

And of course, they can do hula on the beach in Havana. Why shouldn’t Outrigger consider building a Hawaii-themed hotel over there? Hmmm?

It’s time to think about this.



Friday, February 27, 2015

 

Calvin Say no-shows at House hearing that found no problem with his residency


by Larry Geller

20150227_131107-1_PerfectlyClear

Neither Calvin Say nor his attorney appeared at the brief hearing today at 1 p.m. at the State Capitol to receive the report of the special committee investigating his qualification to hold office. The seats reserved for them remained empty.

The committee posted a report (see House Special Committee Report 2 here) that concluded Say is qualified to sit as the member representing the Twentieth District. The vote was unanimous, including the sole Republican committee member.

This isn’t “disappeared news,” it will be on the TV news reports this evening, and is already posted on Civil Beat and the Star-Advertiser website.

During interviews for the media after the hearing, attorney Lance Collins stated that the petitioners plan to continue their challenge. He also intends to pursue the matter of the release of voter records by Chair Karl Rhoads to Say’s attorney that Collins believes should not have been made public.

While it would not change the outcome, it is at least curious that information was provided only to one side, and I’ll admit to finding it also curious that Say did not attend the hearing today. The picture of Say posted at the top of the Civil Beat story was taken at the February 13 hearing, not at today’s hearing.



Thursday, February 26, 2015

 

Civil Beat posts more useful review of Hawaii’s nursing home quality than you got in your newspaper


by Larry Geller

While I concentrated only on the Star-Advertiser’s deceptive (and unnecessary) falsification of the headline of their nursing home article yesterday, Civil Beat’s Nathan Eagle did a proper job of criticizing the, if I may say, shallowness of the S-A coverage of this issue. Eagle pointed to federal concerns about inspections and fines for Hawaii’s failure to follow federal law.

There is much more that readers should know about how well (or poorly) the state carries out its monitoring function of these facilities. The Civil Beat article is short but points in the right direction.

Read it by clicking on the link below.

Nursing Home Care in Hawaii the Best in the Nation?

A newspaper story points at one indicator where Hawaii leads, leaving out other serious issues affecting quality.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

 

No emailed meeting notices for Calvin Say hearing on Friday?


by Larry Geller

Just a quick followup to yesterday’s Hidden in plain sight: the workings of the House committee to investigate Calvin Say’s qualifications to hold office (2/24/2015).

The meeting notice for Friday’s hearing on Calvin Say’s qualification to hold office is date-stamped 7:02 p.m. February 24, in other words, last night.

Yet as of just a moment ago, I have not yet received the emailed notice even though I subscribe to “all” meeting notices via the Capitol website system.

Date stamp

More interesting, and I’m still awaiting complete verification: the parties appear not to have been notified either. Consider this unverified at this point.



 

Decision making hearing notice posted in Calvin Say matter


by Larry Geller

A hearing notice was posted last night for the committee hearing the challenge to former Speaker Calvin Say’s qualification to hold office:

DATE: Friday, February 27, 2015
TIME: 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Conference Room 325
State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street

AGENDA

The purpose of this hearing is for the Special Committee to engage in discussion and decision-making on the draft Special Committee Report regarding Miscellaneous Communication No. 1003, a Petition challenging the qualifications of Rep. Calvin KY. Say to represent the Twentieth District submitted on behalf of Petitioners dated January 16, 2015.



 

Star-Advertiser lead headline is false


by Larry Geller

2015-02-25_095709

Yay! Good news for seniors!

It is good news, but it’s not true.

Hawaii is not the best in the nation. Washington DC is the best. The headline is false according to the story underneath on the very same page.


Eighteen of Hawaii's 46 nursing homes, or 39 percent, received five stars, the highest score under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services system.

That percentage was higher than the rates for the 49 other states and second only to Washington, D.C.'s 53 percent, according to an analysis of the numbers by the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser.

[Star-Advertiser p. A1, Hawaii the best in nation, 2/25/2015]

Hey, number two is not at all bad. Note that Washington DC got 53 percent, we only got 39 percent, though. That sounds significant, and it’s too bad that the editors can’t handle our relative performance in relation to the true “best in the nation,” Washington DC.

39 percent is just more than a third at the 5-star rating. Washington DC got slightly more than half. Any cook knows that 1/3 of a cup is quite different from 1/2 a cup. So crowing about being “best in the country” is even stranger given the gap.



Update: After posting this article I realized that the sub-head is also false:

Some 39 percent of isle care homes receive the top rating under a revised system by federal officials

The feds did not rate care homes. They rated only nursing homes. Getting the Hawaii Dept. of Health to first allow unannounced inspections of care homes and then to post the results on-line has been an uphill battle.


Dewey beats truman



 

Star-Advertiser disappears news on Say investigation


by Larry Geller

It wasn’t supposed to be “disappeared news” but it is.

An Associated Press story by reporter Cathy Bussewitz appeared in yesterday’s breaking news section on the Star-Advertiser webpage headlined Group challenging Say residency questions chairman's actionsScreenshot_2015-02-25-06-04-19 and in my phone in their app, so I figured the story would be in today’s paper and I didn’t have to post it. Besides, you saw the report first on Disappeared News here on Sunday.

But so far, the story has not appeared in the paper.

Yet, because it is an AP story, it has popped up nationally (see images below).

The AP story confirmed that Representative Karl Rhoads, appointed by Speaker Joe Souki to head the committee hearing a challenge to Rep. Calvin Say’s qualification to hold office, did, in fact, turn information over to Say’s attorney that Say then used as evidence in his submission to the committee.

Using a voter registration database, Rhoads obtained information showing two of the six voters challenging Say's residency don't live in the district Say represents.

Rhoads said he shared that information with Say, and Say's attorneys submitted the information to Rhoads' committee as evidence discrediting the voters' claims.

[Star-Advertiser, Group challenging Say residency questions chairman's actions, 2/24/2015]

As reporter Bussewitz noted, the information doesn’t invalidate the complaint as there are four other voters still living in the district.

[Attorney for the challengers Lance] Collins said the two voters lived in Say's district since the complaint was initially filed, but they later moved. He questioned why the voters' full names, addresses, phone numbers, emails and birthdates were not redacted in Say's submissions to the Legislature, which later became public documents. Collins said in a letter to the House speaker that releasing that information qualifies as a misdemeanor.

Since the chair of the investigating committee proactively searched for and released information only to one side, that would seem to place the fairness of the entire process in question. This issue should not be “disappeared.”

"There's also a question about whether the committee is actually investigating, or if this is more along the lines of some kind of cover-up or whitewash or checking a box off to make sure it's done," Collins said.

Related: Hidden in plain sight: the workings of the House committee to investigate Calvin Say’s qualifications to hold office (2/24/2015)


New Doc 150225 (1)_1_PerfectlyClearAlthough the Star-Advertiser did not run this story, it has appeared elsewhere nationally. (Hint to Hawaii state legislators: people are watching what you do.)

(The S-A did find space today for the important AP story Now your emoji can look like you.)


Here are a couple of snips:

Washington Times

Greenfield Daily Reporter

Lancaster Online

Hawaii Telegraph

(the Hawaii Telegraph appears to be produced in Sydney, Australia!)

Franklin, Indiana

Seymour, Indiana

(yes, these appear to be related, and for some reason the story is big in Indiana)



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

Hidden in plain sight: the workings of the House committee to investigate Calvin Say’s qualifications to hold office


by Larry Geller

There is a new document in the ongoing saga of how to determine former Speaker Calvin Say’s qualification to hold office. But you’d have to be really obsessed to spot it. The Capitol website gives no help whatsoever. (It’s here, and relates to Say’s claim about ownership of property… have a look if you like.)

If only the House prepared a webpage accurately describing what they are doing. For example, Special Committee to Investigate Calvin Say’s Qualification to Hold Office.

If only the committee were really named something like that. But no, first hint of obscurative intent is what they called it: House Special Committee to Consider Misc. Comm. No. 1003. Try remembering that a couple of years from now when googling what was decided at the hearing.

In fact, how they did this, I don’t know, but that House Special Committee to Consider Misc. Comm. No. 1003 doesn’t even turn up in a Google search, while others do. There’s a “Special Committee on Accountability,” even a “Special Committee on Vog Effects” but nothing pops up on this one. Google can even find all of the many reports on the 2004 Felix Investigative Committee. It was plainly named, so it could be found.

History should be plain. It was the “Revolutionary War” not the “Special Action #1076 With Regard to the British.” Whether George Washington formed any Misc. Committees or not, we really don’t much care.

I’m also curious as to whether there is a Misc. Comm. No. 1002, or 1001, etc., and how come they didn’t get their own Special Committees?

Now, in order to bring you the latest Disappeared News, I learned that the House, in its wisdom, and I use that term lightly here, has done its best to post the info on the Capitol website while keeping it as far from public view as possible.

˙uʍop ǝpᴉsdn ǝƃɐd qǝʍ ǝɥʇ pǝʇuᴉɹd ǝʌɐɥ plnoɔ ʎǝɥʇ ǝsoddns I

Let's have a peek at the web page on the Capitol website for this hearing.

It has an RSS feed (the orange thingy at the upper left), but nothing new ever came up in the feed. When I went to look at the page, here’s all there is:

MC1003

None of the documents submitted to the committee are listed. In fact, Calvin Say’s name is never mentioned. Not the best, if one is searching.

I didn’t even suspect there could be someplace where the House was hiding all the information. But there is. You have to go here (who would know?):

HSC

This page is titled HSC. Go figure. And notice that there is no RSS feed—no orange thingy at the upper left. So there’s nothing to plunk into my handy RSS reader to follow this committee. Anyone not knowing about this “secret” page would just keep checking that other one above, and miss the whole thing. In fact, the MC1003 page can be considered a decoy—if you think you’re following the hearing, you’ve been taken in.

Is that what is intended?

As a final blow, several of the documents are simple scans that would not be readable on a screen reader for the blind, and are not searchable. The state receives certain federal funds in exchange for which its information systems are supposed to be “Section 508 Compliant.” At the bottom of this page is a notice about ADA and S. 508 compliance (see page or click the image below for larger).

Sec 508

 

Let’ just say that if they wanted to hide the workings of this committee yet say they are not, they could not have done much better.

Now, also, only the top two documents listed are time-stamped. Why?

Disappeared News will keep checking this page (sigh).



 

Does the Hawaii legislature know anything at all about running a university?


by Larry Geller

In a sense, Hawaii’s legislature is questioning what the University of Hawaii knows about running a university. Today’s Star-Advertiser editorial questions what the Legislature knows about running a university.

Snowing at the legislature

… returning to the additional micromanaging layers of oversight by lawmakers, the system that was in place before 2000, merely leaves UH prey to even more political pressures. The Legislature itself has a less than stellar record where management of the university system is concerned.

The cure is far more difficult and nuanced, which is why lawmakers have seized the opportunity to take easy action, albeit through a "fix" that ultimately won't fix anything.

[Star-Advertiser p. A8, Yanking autonomy won't cure UH ills, 2/24/2015]

The editors are entirely correct. Been there, done that.

Yes, the university seems to be unable to manage itself. I’ll go farther than some in offering that it is also failing to keep pace with technical changes (e.g., on-line coursework) that could both benefit students living in a state so separated from itself by water and that could save both students and taxpayers badly needed cash.

It’s not disappeared news at Disappeared News that there is a model describing how UH (and no doubt other mid-level colleges and universities) is run: the Garbage Can Model. It doesn’t work very well. Until it is replaced, it probably doesn’t matter much who is in charge over in Manoa.

Now, our legislature doesn’t even have a model of management suited to any other institution, government or private, that could be applied to sharing the operation of a university. It is, in fact, completely unqualified and unprepared for that job and responsibility. It has a very simple model that they believe works for themselves, but which is applicable nowhere else.

For example, the usual common-sense rules of conflict of interest, bribery, transparency etc. don’t apply—the lege has exempted itself rather than put in place best practices. Transparency? It was a struggle (for example) just to get conference committees to meet in public, never mind that they (and other committees) do the majority of their work behind closed doors.

There are no qualifications for “management” other than being elected. No degrees, professional credentials, or records of success such as one would need in the “real” world. There is also no reason to expect that the legislators themselves can do a better job running UH than can the appointed Regents. Quite the opposite, actually.

Again, shuffling personnel won’t work. Micromanaging won’t work. We’re talking organizational theory here.

In the past I might have said that it isn’t rocket science, but in Hawaii, perhaps it is. Can it be so difficult to correct the problems at UH that we are unable to deal with them? That would be sad, but it’s a possibility. One doesn’t come to Hawaii to learn rocket science. It’s just not us.

Hawaii’s legislature, or any state legislature, for that matter, would seem to be arguably incompetent to run a university. That criticism should rest lightly, it is simply a description of a mismatch that has little prospect of success. And really, does anyone think a university run by unqualified politicians will work better than one run by qualified educational leaders?

What is needed? It shouldn’t matter so much who leads UH, if they are operating within a solid framework that gives direction to every member of the faculty and staff.

Large universities have figured that out, although the going was not always smooth (see, for example, Chapter 6 of Making Harvard Modern).

But how to get there, where “there” is something describing a well-run institution? I am not suggesting that we adopt Harvard’s path—it would not work at a smaller institution, and as the book makes clear, Harvard has plenty of its own, unique problems.

There should be a way to move UH forward. It has a school of business, for example, that might reasonably be tasked with studying this. Just a thought.

To truly solve UH’s problems and to help assure smooth sailing in the future, legislators might put in place a mechanism designed to “Make UH Modern” in every sense, including its ability to manage itself competently.



Monday, February 23, 2015

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: The Western Freedom of Expression Hypocrisy



Item: TPP–Trans Pacific Partnership. “The TPP was negotiated behind closed doors by government bureaucrats and more than 600 corporate lobbyists. It threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet.” (“Wetlands Preserve Collective”). Text of agreement? Unknown, even to US legislators. Investigative journalism by major media–Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN? None. Rumors have it that Big Agriculture, like Monsanto, plays a major role to market genetically modified products affecting us all, seeing to it that there will be no freedom to express GMO.


The Western Freedom of Expression Hypocrisy

23 February 2015

by Johan Galtung, 23 Feb 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Society is tri-partite: State, Capital, and People with their associations, the Civil Society. There is hard-won and applaudable freedom of expression for People, directed at the State and its feudal predecessors, Clergy and Aristocracy. But how about Capital?

Consider this. Somebody can pay for access to the media–papers, radio, TV–with total freedom of expression of strong views, filling pages and hours of reading space and listening-viewing time; one way. Uncontradicted, nobody writing or voicing contrary views, sowing doubts, coming up with data to the contrary, values, theories against. One-way flow of expression, and not merely a flow of bla-bla words but to induce behavior, even changing behavior; aimed at getting inside readers-listeners-viewers, capturing their spirit to issue new commands to their bodies. Could a tyrant dictator ask for more?

And yet this is what publicity, advertising are all about. Not a word against. Nobody invited to write, tell, show, “I bought that product, it shrank at the first wash and was discolored”; “I bought it and it did not hold water”. Or, also: I really liked it, try one!

In politics, views, ideas, opinion are put forward for debates contesting them; or dialogues developing them further. In business, views about the sellers’ products are also put forward, prominently, in very public spaces, although neither for debate nor dialogue, but to convert the reader etc. into a buyer. Clergy and aristocrats in pre-revolution France would have loved access to “modern” media to convert people into believers and serfs, uncontested with taboos against talking back at them, treating them as sacred, as being holy.

Ever more media space and time are sold to Capital (and much of the rest is used to critique State for standing in the way of Capital) State vs Capital, left vs. right politics is more relevant than ever. State censorship pales in comparison; State and People are losing.

Stand up for freedom of expression: demand no advertising-publicity without space and time for other views. And you know what?

Capital might even learn something from critical debate instead of shooting propaganda missives into empty space; and might even develop better products from constructive dialogues with buyers as subjects, not objects to be manipulated like by a Hitler, a Stalin, media amateurs in comparison who nevertheless compensated by adding bullets to words if necessary, like the USA when US business is challenged.

Item: Peter Oborne, a senior writer at the Daily Telegraph, resigned recently after accusing the owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal out of fear of losing advertising revenue. Freedom of expression?

Item: TPP–Trans Pacific Partnership. “The TPP was negotiated behind closed doors by government bureaucrats and more than 600 corporate lobbyists. It threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet.” (“Wetlands Preserve Collective”). Text of agreement? Unknown, even to US legislators. Investigative journalism by major media–Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN? None. Rumors have it that Big Agriculture, like Monsanto, plays a major role to market genetically modified products affecting us all, seeing to it that there will be no freedom to express GMO.

If US business profits fall short of what they expect, they can sue the governments of the TPP members for not having removed free market obstacles, behind closed doors, judges and proceedings unknown. Except the sentence. There is no reciprocity as USA cannot be sued. Freedom of expression in public space? Not even for courts.

Turning these unknown texts into law will be accorded “fast track” service in the US Congress; Obama will be ramming it through. Freedom of expression in public space? Not even for Congress.

Freedom of expression in the USA? Forget about it.

I do not know how often Charlie Hebdo makes caricatures aimed at publicity for lousy, toxic commercial products; or capital moguls exploiting workers and cheating buyers. I am not Charlie Hebdo. Je suis humain.

Yet caricatures related to religion smack of 18th century France, Enlightenment, free thinkers defying clergy and believers, paving the way for Bourgeoisie-Capital-Business, pushing aside Clergy values and Aristocracy force in favor of buying and selling without limits. With free speech about their products for them only, protected by law. Whoever challenges a product must be prepared to provide evidence whereas sellers can praise it without presenting any (occasionally they do).

Charlie Hebdo seems rooted in 18th century France, reliving the great revolution and its values, not in 21st century marked and marred by the problems first Napoleon, and then Capital, brought them into.

What about the victims of having their deepest beliefs challenged? And not only challenged, but hurt, insulted, wounded, by caricatures? And not only wounded but stabbed in the heart, spiritual killing? For the true believer this is what it is; for somebody sketching, drawing, it is freedom of expression. Believers are no longer sacred, protected by taboos–today the taboos are generously handed out to Capital– really existing, factually operating Capital–not to those shadows on the walls of Plato’s caves called political debate.

Rudolf Steiner comes to mind, his Dreigliederung, tri-partite society: State-Law, Capital, and Culture. They are at their best when independent of each other. State should not interfere with the market, Capital not with politics, neither with Culture. Just look at how Capital changes such important parts of Culture as sports, arts and science, transforming them into products for buying, selling and investing, demanding of universities to serve Capital, not Truth.

Let us use whatever freedom of expression we have left to throw off the yoke of perverted Capital, now invading all parts of society.

_____________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 February 2015.  

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

 

Is “Karl Rhoads” the source of voting record information used by Calvin Say’s attorney that was questionably obtained?


by Larry Geller

Update: The documents for the House Special Committee hearing MC1003 are not on the status page given below. Turns out they are here. How would anyone know? The page does not even have an RSS feed so that changes can be tracked.


The state House investigation of a challenge to former speaker Calvin Say’s right to hold his seat in Hawaii’s House of Representatives has taken a new twist. Petitioners have questioned whether the committee chair is the source of certain voter record information that was used by Say’s attorney, and whether that information was used legally.

The status page for MC1003, regarding the petition filed by voters in Calvin Say’s district has not been updated with the documents submitted by the parties. But attorney Lance Collins has made available his letter addressed to Speaker Joseph Souki and chair of the Special Committee, Karl Rhoads, that was sent to them late Friday, February 20, 2015. The letter questions whether Rhoads was the source of voting record information provided to Say’s attorneys that was allegedly not legally distributable.

The information in question was included in Exhibits 1 and 2 to Mr. Say's February 11, 2015 submission to the Special Committee. According to Collins, the records

appear to have been obtained from the account of a “Karl Rhoads” on hivoter.com on February 5, 2015.

The letter to Souki and Rhoads asks if that “Karl Rhoads” is the same as Karl Rhoads who was appointed by Souki to head the special committee.

The appointment was announced only one day earlier, on February 4, 2015.

Collins indicates that the information disclosed goes beyond “full name, district/precinct designation, and voter status” which is allowed for “election purposes.”

HRS 11-14 and 11-97 limit the use of voter registration information to “election purposes” and limit what information is publicly available and what information is confidential. As stated in HRS 11-14(d), “Unless authorized under section 11-97, it shall be unlawful for any person to use,print, publish, or distribute any voter registration information acquired directly or indirectly from the voter registration affidavits or any list prepared therefrom... Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Collins attached to his letter two examples of information obtained over the name “Karl Rhoads.” He also asked that the committee redact confidential information from documents open to public view.



Friday, February 20, 2015

 

Mother Jones on the effectiveness of Housing First in Utah



… In the past nine years, Utah has decreased the number of homeless by 72 percent—largely by finding and building apartments where they can live, permanently, with no strings attached. It's a program, or more accurately a philosophy, called Housing First.


by Larry Geller

Mother Jones

The cover of the current issue of Mother Jones magazine says it all: “Shockingly effective, surprisingly cheap way to fix homelessness” over the image of a house key.

In Honolulu, any “shockingly effective, surprisingly cheap” solution to anything would be very welcome—perhaps Mother Jones also has some ideas about mass transit?

Of course, they are talking about Housing First. The evidence-based solution that Hawaii has ignored for about a decade, even as other cities were reporting success.

"The old model was well intentioned but misinformed. You actually need housing to achieve sobriety and stability, not the other way around."

[quoted in Mother Jones, Room for Improvement, March/April 2015]

By now, you’re already familiar with the basics of Housing First. In my observation, at the state level, Hawaii understands what needs to be done and can make some headway with both housing and the specialized support services necessary to move people into long-term housing solutions. It will still take time to kick in.

The city of Honolulu still doesn’t get it. They may know everything in the Mother Jones article, but yet they still avoid concentrating on a true Housing First model.

The current popular number for the housing shortfall is that 24,000 units are needed. Since there is competition for low-cost rentals from those doubling up with friends or relatives right now, and from a growing senior citizen segment surviving on fixed incomes, the true need is probably many times that. Even if Honolulu were any good at urban planning, that would be a challenge.

If one must make an economic argument, the city is wasting taxpayer money if it does not implement Housing First efficiently.

Which takes us back to the Mother Jones cover: a “Shockingly effective, surprisingly cheap way to fix homelessness.”

In a way, Honolulu is already good at being surprisingly cheap (for example, in just skipping necessary street maintenance). What we need now is a little of that “shockingly effective” part.



 

Help enact needed reform: SB244 would prohibit legislators from holding fundraisers during the regular legislative session


by Larry Geller

Finally – a bill (SB244) has been introduced that could bring about badly needed reform in the way some legislators raise money during the session.

The practice is particularly objectionable when the legislator is from a Neighbor Island or is asking for a donation that the average person can’t usually afford. In that case, when the fundraiser is during session and held in Honolulu instead of in the district, it’s clear that the legislator is aiming at collecting bribes from lobbyists and well-off special interests. And how will that legislator vote if a matter affecting the rich donor came up during session? ?? Hmmm? That’s why these fundraisers should be prohibited.

jdlSB244 has been introduced. That alone is remarkable. Now, the next thing is to get it a hearing. Here’s where you come in. You, dear reader, can do this. You must do this, who else will?

Call 586-7344 and ask that SB244 be heard. You can leave a message. If you happen to live in Senate District 5, yay!, you’re a constituent, say that also. You should leave your name if you get voice mail in order to be counted

Or email senkeithagaran@capitol.hawaii.gov and ask the same thing.

Please don’t delay—do this soon.

Special message to all my spammers and trolls

Look, I’ve been deleting your pesky comments for years. Here’s a chance to redeem yourselves. Make that phone call and I will forgive you. Let’s get this bill heard.


Rogue’s gallery

Not all of the images in this Google image search are for fundraisers during session, but you’ll recognize the ones that are.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

 

Don’t let the spiffy new Vineyard Boulevard pavement fool you


by Larry Geller

Vineyard Boulivard looks really great, all newly paved and with more fresh white paint appearing gradually each day.

Now, just give it some time... don’t feel it will stay like this forever. The odds are very much against it. And it’s sad.

For a reminder of reality, I ventured a couple of blocks north of Vineyard to see how the real world is faring. The neglect is just the same as it always was. Maybe worse, even.

Just one block away is a crosswalk I’ve been writing about for many years. In the photo below, a pedestrian pushes her cart across, but there is now no paint left at all. 20150215_140303 (2)She is at the mercy of drivers who may choose to stop or not, and where they stop is up to them. There’s no stop line and the crosswalk itself is long gone.

This crosswalk is near both a library and a school.

Here’s a snapshot of the same intersection from an article posted in February 28, 2013. There still was a tiny bit of paint a driver might notice, if it weren’t raining:


And one snap from 2010:

So this one crosswalk has seen no paint for five years or more.

Yes, I’m fixated on street paint. It’s a marker for maintenance or lack thereof that anyone can see with their own eyes.

It’s easy to contrast Honolulu with places that care just by flying over with Google Earth, for example. Tokyo:

But there are other signs of neglect that are easy for a pedestrian or bicyclist to spot while moving through the city. Let’s take a step back from where I took the earlier picture.

20150215_140332Check out the yellow pad, designed to signal blind pedestrians that they are at a sidewalk cutout facing the street.

This pad is falling apart. Here’s yet another easy-to-spot sign of ongoing neglect of our streets.

Just walking to the State Capitol I was able to spot several of these.

20150218_164226

Some of them are jagged, quite possibly enough to trip up either a blind person or a senior citizen trying to navigate with a walker.

20150218_180159

At many other intersections, the pad is completely gone and never replaced.

Yeah, that white paint looks so good… don’t let it fool you, though.

20150218_180254

Here’s one more, the last for today.

On the way home I revisited the “pothole that goes to China,” a broken sidewalk that I’ve noted here since at least 2008. Clearly, reporting it didn’t do any good. It’s pretty much the same. That’s a sidewalk in need of repair for seven, count ‘em, seven years—at least.

What has changed over the years? Why should we remain in this cycle of decay forever, punctuated only by expensive repaving when enough people get upset in communities with clout (clearly not including Kalihi or Liliha, anyway)?



 

Mark Your Calendar: February 23 Kokua Council Program: Will Justice Prevail at the 2015 Legislature? with Kat Brady


The 2015 legislative session is well under way. Bills come, bills go, bills get deferred, bills come back to life. Who can keep track of it all??

For social justice issues, Kat Brady can. You know this if you are on her email list. For the latest, stop by Monday at Harris Church. Pizza optional. You’ll leave well-informed and ready to advocate.


From the announcement:

Monday, February 23, 2015
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.
Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.
 
Agenda:

11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various  pizza, Salad, Dessert--$5.00 donation
 
11:55 Welcome: Introductions and Remarks, Larry Geller, President
 
12:00 Program: Kat Brady, "Will Justice Prevail at the 2015 Legislature?"

Kat Brady is Coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons. In addition to her advocacy work, Kat maintains an email list that provides information and guidance on public safety and other social justice issues inside and outside the Legislature, and of course, on the progress of important bills making their way through the committees.

12:30 Questions and Answers

1:00   Adjourn



 

Civil Beat on the disappearance of Oahu’s most productive farmland



It goes against all the principles of good planning that I studied
University of Hawaii urban planning Luciano Minerbí, quoted in Civil Beat


by Larry Geller

What is surprising to me is that the Hoopili proposal is still advancing towards approval at the municipal level even as the state legislature frets over disappearing farmland. The senators might usefully invite city council members to attend their hearings to explain themselves. Hoopili, as Civil Beat reports, continues to advance toward approval. It may not be long before Oahu’s best farmland is graded over with asphalt and a new fleet of cars is added to our roads.

That it has taken 30 years or so to get to this point does not make it right.

The pull-quote above? Let no one accuse the City and County of Honolulu of good planning. We have plenty of evidence for skepticism from the continual deterioration of our streets to the neglect of the city’s ongoing affordable housing crisis and the city’s wrongheaded response to homelessness.

Over at Honolulu Hale, the process of granting the developer the needed zoning changes is underway.

Meanwhile, Civil Beat reports that across Punchbowl Street in the state senate:

The state Office of Planning testified that only 67,000 acres on Oahu — or 17.5 percent of the island — is made up of land classified as agricultural that has a slope of 20 percent or less. That doesn’t include Hoopili, which won the state’s approval to change its land classification from agricultural to urban three years ago.

Meanwhile, 27 percent of the island has been urbanized, compared to less than 5 percent statewide.

Senate Water and Land Committee Chairwoman Laura Thielen said she was floored by the analysis.

“I had no idea that the island had gotten to that point,” said Thielen, who chaired the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

The Office of Planning’s analysis doesn’t take into account land that is classified as agricultural but is being used for other purposes, such as luxury housing or solar farms.

[Civil Beat, Disappearing Farmland: Hoopili Continues the Trend, 2/19/2015]

Maybe regulators think that if you plant a transistor, solar panels will sprout. It’s not that I’m getting too cynical in my old age, perhaps I’m finally getting cynical enough.

Hawaii’s electorate is typically unengaged politically, even in election years. That disengagement hands the power to developers, whether for luxury high-rises in Kakaako, or for propagators of urban sprawl in the island’s heart. When the public does get excited, it can have effect—for example, in stopping residential development in Kakaako makai. Here is another instance—if opponents relax or don’t engage, we’re going to be forever at the mercy of high-priced supermarket food.

Local celery is crisp, fresh-smelling and delicious. Local tomatoes are real food, not pink plastic. If you care about local food, do something.

One last snip from the excellent Civil Beat article:

Opponents of the Hoopili development often point out that about 90 percent of Hawaii’s food is imported.

Pamela Boyer, the Oahu president of an advocacy group for local farmers called Hawaii Farmers Union United, testified Wednesday that the land where Hoopili is slated to be built is the island’s most important productive farmland.

“I don’t know how to explain to you how important this parcel is to us for growing food,” she said, noting that the conditions in central Oahu make it more difficult to grow zucchini, broccoli and peppers.

Look, you need to read the Civil Beat article and decide if you care enough to weigh in on this development. Last chance, perhaps.



 

Walmart leaves Hawaii’s minimum wage in the dust with increase to $9 this year, $10 in 2016



In a move that could alter the minimum wage debate and improve the image of the world's largest retailer, Walmart announced it will raise the baseline wage of its current store employees to $10 per hour, bringing pay hikes to an estimated 500,000 workers. The company said in an announcement on Thursday that it would raise its wage floor to $9 in April, followed by a second boost to $10 by next February.—Huffington Post


by Larry Geller

When your paycheck is less than Walmart workers receive, it must hurt. Hawaii minimum wage earners can start yelling “ouch” this April, when they are passed by Walmart workers who will be earning more nationwide (including right here in Hawaii).

It’s a sad day in Hawaii when workers who want better pay would be well advised to apply for a job at Walmart.

Hawaii’s Act 82 (2014 legislature) increased the state’s minimum wage  to $7.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2015 and to $8.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2016. Walmart workers pay will increase to $9 per hour in April 2015, and then to $10 per hour in February, 2016.

Walmart has long been saddled with a reputation as a low-wage employer, and its battles with labor unions -- in particular the United Food and Commercial Workers union -- stretch back decades. In recent years, labor groups have organized high-profile worker strikes to coincide with the company's Black Friday shopping events, pillorying the retailer over its pay practices.

[Huffington Post, Walmart Gives 500,000 Workers A Raise, 2/19/2015]

Hawaii, with among the highest costs of living in the country, will not reach the $9 level until the minimum wage rises to $9.25 per hour in January 2017, and it won’t catch up with Walmart’s 2016 $10 rate until it hits $10.10 per hour starting in January, 2018. Act 82 also provides for a tip credit, reducing the minimum wage.

Even $15, touted by many advocates as a living wage, would not float families above the poverty level in Hawaii.

It’s a sad day for Hawaii when Walmart becomes a preferred employer in the state.



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

 

More waivers convey a “Public be damned” attitude toward legislative hearings


by Larry Geller

The Hawaii state legislature committed three more waivers of notice today. Should you be interested in any or all of these bills, your opportunity to prepare testimony or to make space in your calendar to attend a hearing has been cut short.

Here are the bills, together with why you might care, if you were allowed to:

SB803 Requires a workers' compensation impartial exam to be conducted by a doctor whose specialty is appropriate for the injury to be examined in cases where the director of labor and industrial relations appoints a doctor to conduct an exam.

If you’re interested in this bill, hurry up, it will now be heard at 10 a.m. Thursday, possibly after you’ve read this.

SB64 Makes appropriations for positions and the continued implementation of the preschool open doors program and for subsidies for the program.

This bill will be heard Thursday at 1:25 p.m., but of course any testimony you send in will now be considered “late” testimony. Shame on you.


HB1147 Establishes the emergency services failsafe program to assist physicians and patients in obtaining a second medical opinion regarding diagnosis and treatment.

Sounds good to me. Be there at 11:10 Thursday if you want a say in this.


Look, stuff happens. The legislative calendar is clogged with bills. But the public is supposed to be given 48 hours notice at least, and the waiver cheats us all, even if we didn’t plan on attending. It often lets industry insiders call the shots because they’ve been in close contact with lawmakers the whole time.



 

Be there tomorrow: Hawaii’s Supreme Court takes up the Kyo-ya alleged beach encroachment case


by Larry Geller

While the tourists compete for selfies in front of the gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great, you can be inside the historic and beautiful Supreme Court behind the statue tomorrow to experience the oral arguments in the Kyo-Ya alleged beach encroachment lawsuit.

Henry Curtis described the case in such detail that you may feel it’s ok to stay home, but why not consider his blog post to be a “playbill” that explains the action on stage? Henry gave every detail except the time of the hearing (8:45 a.m.). Do read the description, because the judges have been briefed, and so they won’t be hearing the case from scratch. Everyone else will know what’s going on, so the notes will bring you up to speed.

The case is important if you feel that tourist interests should be subordinate to enforcing laws and ordinances that preserve our shoreline for everyone’s use.

Will you be able to read about it in the newspaper the next day? Maybe. But I’m suggesting that it is very worth taking a seat in the audience and experiencing the judicial process at work in an impressive, historical setting. They just don’t make courtrooms like that any more.

Again, the hearing is scheduled for 8:45 a.m., and it’s behind the statue in the Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor at 417 South King Street.

If you can’t make it and don’t want your own selfie with the King, oral arguments are posted on-line after the hearings on the Judiciary website here.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 

Another House waiver of public notice—on an important energy bill


by Larry Geller

This is an important bill! Shouldn’t the public have been allowed at least the required time (48 hours notice) to prepare testimony or arrange schedules to attend the hearing? Just look at the long list of introducers.

And we’re talking about a bill that should be of interest to almost all of us—it even prohibits passing on the costs of renewable energy to those who can’t put PV panels on their rooftops.

HB484 HD1 
Measure Title:    RELATING TO ENERGY.
Report Title:     Renewable Energy; Tariffs

Description:     Requires PUC to establish community-based renewable energy tariff or tariffs by no later than January 1, 2016, to allow more utility customers to participate in renewable energy production and use. Prohibits cost-shifting to non-participants. (HB484 HD1)

Companion:   SB1050
Package:    None
Current Referral:     EEP, CPC, FIN

Introducer(s):    LOWEN, BELATTI, BROWER, CREAGAN, EVANS, HASHEM, ICHIYAMA, ING, JOHANSON, KEOHOKALOLE, KOBAYASHI, C. LEE, LOPRESTI, LUKE, MATSUMOTO, MORIKAWA, NAKASHIMA, NISHIMOTO, SAIKI, SAY, SOUKI, TAKAYAMA, TAKUMI, THIELEN, TSUJI, WOODSON, Aquino, McKelvey, Onishi, San Buenaventura

Rep. McKelvey, chair of the Consumer Protection committee, requested a waiver of the 48-hour notice on the House floor today. Of course, public be damned, these waivers are inevitably granted.

The text of the current version of the bill is here (pdf).



Friday, February 13, 2015

 

Committee investigating Calvin Say’s qualification to hold office may struggle with the concept of “intent”


by Larry Geller

This won’t be “disappeared news”—the hearing room at the State Capitol today was packed with both observers and press.

The newspaper and TV coverage should be pretty good, so I’ll just add some comments. For the record, a copy of Speaker Joe Souki’s memo establishing the special committee can be downloaded here (pdf).

My observations:

So it could be that this question of “intent” decides the issue for the committee.

I don’t know how the committee will decide this, but if  unquantifiable “intent” is allowed to trump the fact that a lawmaker was continually absent from the district he represents, then the whole concept of residing in the district falls apart completely.



 

50 shades of gray area—Rules for today’s hearing on Calvin Say qualifications to hold office


by Larry Geller

The hearing will take place today, Friday, 02/13/15 at 2:00 p.m. in House conference room 325 at the State Capitol.

Unlike courts of law, Hawaii legislative investigative committees do not have whole libraries of legal precedent to guide them. No law degree is required of the committee heads, though in the past, committees have engaged attorneys to lead the proceedings.

Example: Rules of the Felix Investigative Committee (2001)

The Committee adopted rules of procedure in accordance with Chapter 21, HRS and SCR 65, S.D. 1, H.D.1. In summary, the proceedings were conducted in a formal setting. Subpoenas were served and witnesses were given ten days’ notice to appear. Unlike other hearings of the Legislature, only those subpoenaed or invited by the Committee testified. Members of the public were not allowed to testify. Witnesses were questioned under oath. They were allowed to bring an attorney, and a court reporter recorded the proceedings. The Clerk of the House of Representatives served as the official repository of the committee’s records. The proceedings were open to the public, unless it was necessary for the committee to meet in executive session to confer with counsel. Olelo, the community access station, telecast most of the hearings live; some hearings were shown on a delayed basis. The written transcripts of the proceedings were placed on the Internet.

Hearings are supposed to be governed by HRS §21, but who knows to what extent the committee will create and follow rules required by the statute. The House is notorious for not following its own rules… and that’s not against the law apparently: if they can make ‘em, they can break ‘em.

§21-1  Purpose.  The purpose of this chapter is to establish procedures governing legislative investigating committees to provide for the creation and operation of legislative investigating committees in a manner which will enable them to perform properly the powers and duties vested in them, including the conduct of hearings, in a fair and impartial manner, consistent with protection of the constitutional rights of persons called to testify at such hearings and preservation of the public good.

We will see how this plays out, of course, and could be pleasantly surprised.

The example of the Felix Investigative Committee (2001) in the sidebar was an extreme case. The Legislature was invested in “getting” the providers who were allegedly driving up costs, and that’s what they relentlessly pursued, in a long series of public hearings. It was a time when legislators and the federal court were at odds over spending the funds needed to straighten out special education in Hawaii, so the investigative committee was determined to plug on. In the end, they found practically nothing wrong with provider billing.

This time, it can be assumed that legislators really would rather avoid putting one of their own in the hot seat.

So they titled today’s hearing “SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATION NO. 1003”, and although they shout it in all caps, it doesn’t exactly instill faith that they are really onto the Say residency issue yet. We’ll have to see how it goes, of course.

Bottom line, the committee appears to have enough wiggle room to either treat this matter seriously—or not. If the House fails to resolve the issue with vigorous investigation, the matter will likely move a few blocks makai to the state courthouse once again. The plaintiffs and their attorney Lance Collins have demonstrated that they are not quitters.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

 

House special committee meets Friday to consider challenge to Calvin Say’s qualifications to hold office


by Larry Geller

Actually, the hearing notice title doesn’t give a hint what it is about. It’s titled SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER MISCELLANEOUS COMMUNICATION NO. 1003. Who would know what that means?

The hearing will take place on Friday, 02/13/15 at 2:00 p.m. in House conference room 325 at the State Capitol.

What will happen is that a committee appointed by the Speaker will hear testimony related to a petition delivered to the House. A state judge ruled that the House has jurisdiction to decide if a member is qualified to hold office, and so, for a change, the House will take testimony on whether one of their own has done wrong.  Decision making is to take place at some future date.

Reading down, though, it does say

The purpose of this hearing is for the Special Committee to hear testimony regarding Miscellaneous Communication No. 1003, a Petition challenging the qualifications of Rep. Calvin K.Y. Say to represent the Twentieth District submitted by Lance D. Collins, Esq. on behalf of Petitioners dated January 16, 2015.

MC1003Finding this information is like solving a puzzle. It’s as though the Legislature is running one of those popular geocaching games where you need to pick up clues to find the treasure. If you know that the “bill” number is MC1003, you can use the search function to find the status page, the petition itself, and the hearing notice.

Hidden between the lines is that if the House were not to take action, the matter would almost certainly bounce back to the courts. So there is a hearing. Whether or not committee members will actually engage the question, deliberate and come up with a reasoned decision is not yet known. Just going through the motions, as though they were hearing just any testimony on a regular work day will not cut it—all that’s needed to drop the case back into a courtroom is if a committee member is caught snoring or playing Angry Birds during the hearing. The public also expects that the committee will do its job diligently.

So to watch a part of history unfolding, come on down to the lege on Friday, 02/13/15 at 2:00 p.m. in House conference room 325.



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