Monday, June 04, 2012


University of Hawaii and Kapiolani Community College embarrass the state with failure to pay instructors

by Larry Geller

The chancellor of Kapiolani Community College says he is committed to ensuring instructors in its noncredit program are paid on time and has asked anyone who is overdue paychecks to call the administration.

The Star-Advertiser reported May 21 that numerous teachers were still waiting for their paychecks three to six months after completing their classes in the Continuing Education program.

[Star-Advertiser p. B1, We're working on it, college tells instructors waiting for their pay, 6/4/2012]

For a long time the paywalled Star-Advertiser didn’t appear in a Google News search, but the above article is there, for all the world to see.

And Hawaii, and especially the University of Hawaii system, should be embarrassed. Shame is upon you. But shame is also upon all of us, because the situation has gone on for so long.

In a well-managed business of any kind, getting paychecks distributed regularly is routine. In fact, it’s so basic that a situation as dysfunctional as described in today’s S-A article (or in their original May 21 story on the same subject) should have resulted immediately in heads rolling.


When a payroll is skipped, it could mean any of a number of things, of course. For example: the company is about to go under. Or a winter storm delayed the mail. Or the home office was wiped out in a magnitude 8.5 earthquake. Or the management is totally incompetent.

So which of those examples applies to KCC? The amounts owed to individual instructors are considerable, and the economy is particularly bad right now. Missing thousands of dollars that should have been paid is an extreme hardship. KCC’s failure to deal with a fundamental business procedure should not be treated lightly.

Check out the snip above:

The chancellor of Kapiolani Community College says he is committed to ensuring instructors in its noncredit program are paid on time and has asked anyone who is overdue paychecks to call the administration.

The payroll department is so out of control at KCC that they do not immediately know who was not paid. The chancellor should be able to visit his HR office and ask that a spreadsheet or payroll report be brought up on the screen. He should be able to see the check numbers, the dates, and to whom they were paid. On another screen, he should see who is teaching and what they are owed. Having to ask anyone who is owed money to call could be viewed as an admission of incompetence.

Having that statement lead up a news story can be interpreted as an admission of failure and inadequacy.

Same for this snip, taken from the same article:

Carol Hoshiko, dean of community relations and continuing education at KCC, said the administration began looking into the pay question after a couple of cases "bubbled up" at her office. She could not say how many people are missing paychecks.

On another level, KCC is part of the UH system. UH should have dispatched a swat team to KCC and the overdue paychecks should have been sent out within a couple of days. Next, they could have called in people to implement a payroll system that works. Finally, they should be monitoring the situation to see that it never happens again.

So IMHO, both UH and KCC are demonstrating to the world that this kind of management is tolerated in the UH system. Hawaii is often criticized as a backwater, a place where it’s hard to do business. This incident reinforces that image. The premier educational system in our state can’t even get its computers to grind out paychecks like every other business or institution does regularly.

Now, perhaps there is something to the “going out of business” angle, since the article reports that KCC stopped mailing out catalogs and failed to post classes this coming session. Or is that just more incompetence?

The summer session is getting off to a slow start, with just a few health science classes listed as of Thursday morning. More courses were added by Friday afternoon, after the Star-Advertiser inquired about the matter, but many categories were still blank. In contrast, Windward Community College had a full complement of Continuing Education classes listed on its website for this month and on through the summer.

The S-A simply reports the news. It’s up to the rest of us to raise these issues and hold UH accountable for this situation.


I have to wonder why the payees didn't raise a big fuss about this earlier. Most people can't go without a paycheck for on week, much less months.

Yes, you've asked an important question. From all the mentions of retaliation, perhaps that's the reason. But it's only a guess.

It's a sad commentary that employees cannot demand payment for services for threat of retaliation? As in, no job for the next semester? Sick!

The State Department of Labor has authority to sanction, even close down, businesses that do not pay their employees on time. Does the State exempt itself from its own laws and rules? Every employer in the State is required to pay within 7 days of the end of the pay period or be in violation of law. This DOE or University situation is not unusual, in my memory, as mainland teachers new to the State were often left without pay for months even when working, and had to camp on friends' couches to get by. Just as in the recent legislative near victory for exemption of its own projects from environmental rules, the government has become an aristocracy, unaccountable, you can't fire them, malfeasance goes unpunished, and, like a bunch of French peasants before the Revolution we just nod our heads and go 'that's just the way it is with the aristocrats, what can be done about it'!

Yes, not paying on time is a repeated offense on the part of the state. I am not sure if it relates to a as- or if- funds are available clause in some contracts.

I remember during the Felix Consent Decree I was one of those who was chosen to do "service testing," which required interviewing the adults around a special needs student--parents, teachers, mental health professionals, etc. So there I was on Kauai, doing the interviews. I learned that there was a shortage of psychologists at that moment. Why? Because the Mokihana Project, which contracted with them, had not paid them in (6?) months. And living on Kauai is expensive. Everything is significantly higher even than on Oahu. I couldn't get hold of the student's psychologist. Finally I did -- he was at the airport, waiting for his flight out of Hawaii. I interviewed him by phone minutes before he would board his flight.

Mokihana didn't pay because the state Department of Health didn't pay them the contracted amount. I think they were something like a million dollars short. And they can't print money, so they couldn't pay the contracted professionals or employees. So services were impacted.

I don't remember how that was resolved. I did include it in my report, and the Court Monitor was certainly aware of the situation, but the Dept of Health didn't care, Felix Consent Decree or no consent decree. Now, it's true that the Legislature at that time was rebellious, hoping to show Judge Ezra that they, not he, were in charge, by restricting funds for special education. Actually, he showed them, of course. It was ugly.

Same old same old.

Hawaii, the "Aloha state," has very little aloha for little people. Like KCC instructors, or special ed students.

Remember, the Democrats do not operate democratically. They control the legislature in close coordination with the aristocratic union leadership. Union members do not get a vote on whether or not they will be in that union or a competing union: once a union is in power it stays there, there are no 're-elections.' Union members have no more say, effectively, in how their dues are spent. And union paid activities in support of candidates do not get counted as campaign contributions. Union democracy is similar to the national socialists of the old Germany, one election then no more. If a dissident group manages to call for a decertification election the names of all petitioners are given to the union for retaliation and freeze-out and, if the decertification election fails, those who petitioned for it lose their voting rights as union members going forward. One election, one time, just remember that! The Democrat party legislators keep a rigid discipline on their members, control all legislation through a few committee chairs and punish any who do not cooperate. They apply 'sunshine laws' to all other public deliberative bodies, but not to themselves. They negotiate on behalf of the taxpaying public with their union aristocrat supporters and pretend to cut a good deal for the state, then kick impossible obligations down the road, cheating the union members (there will never be the money they've been promised) and the public (they never really had a representative at the table). When they are challenged on yet another outrage, such as the attempt to exempt government projects from environmental review, they act offended and say 'don't you trust us?' The failure of government agencies to pay their little people, their little contractors, on time, is not a bug, it is a feature. Any contractor unwise enough to land a state contract of some sort had better start schmoozing the clerical staff repeatedly, gifts and all, to be sure the payment gets processed and issued on time. Otherwise go to the bank and borrow the money to run the job, and better get a revolving line of credit, it could be more than a year before you get paid. Cronies go to the front of the line, look at UH's new policy to negotiate with a favored few vendors for all larger projects: they turn out to be the old boy union contractors, all else are shut out. Look at Abercrombie's new Project Labor Agreement for all new larger state projects. Look at Clayton Hee's brother Al's Sandwich Isles Communications sweetheart deals--he goes broke if the government tap turns off. Even the Democratic party is not run democratically by its members: they reserve, in election years, 20% of the delegation for special delegates who, by virtue of their office otherwise, get a vote--that's how Obama won the nomination despite Hilary's late and consistent surge in the primaries--he had given 5 times more than Hilary as campaign contributions to the unelected official delegates, so they voted for him over Hilary and that's what made the difference. It was an insider win, not a democratically determined nomination outcome. Finally look at the effective State tax rates on the lower income working people, higher in Hawaii than in most other states. The established one party rule in this state is a scandal, and the failure to pay a few little people, with apparently complete unaccountability to the labor department for enforcement, is a natural consequence. It's almost Orwellian--the term 'democratic' in the Democrat party in Hawaii is doublethink. You think we're democratic in our politics? Think again. And don't count on redress of grievance if you're a little person not getting paid.

A larger investigation needs to be done here at KCC. I know of several people who are not in the Continuing education department that are not getting paid. This issue goes even deeper with Human Resources & Business Office holding onto documents, losing documents (with personal information on it), and other craziness. I really hope someone talks with a lawyer about more of the issues. The chancellor is just sweeping this issue under the carpet. Please send a reporter to this campus and just start talking to people. The chancellor also stated that no retribution will come to people who speak out...HE LIES. I have heard that HR is making it difficult to hire people who talk out. People are scared to talk and for good reason. I'm scared to put my own name down here in fear of retribution. I have had HR mess up my pay and it took 6 months to get it fixed...even after it was made obvious that they messed up. Luckily I had the Union to help me but it still took forever. Again, please send someone to this campus.....don't listen to the administration...they are not on our side and have only their best interests in mind!! Some serious investigative reporting needs to be done to get to the deeper issues!

All the blame is being put onto the Carol Hoshiko and that is not fair. Her secretary isn't even getting paid and that's because HR is holding up the paperwork for him (it's been 2 months and no paycheck for him yet). HR likes to play games and intimidate people to get there way. They are unethical, mean, spiteful, and love to jerk people around. Hope someone does a deeper investigation. Check with others on campus and you'll begin to get the stories.

I agree that some investigation needs to be done. I can't get over there right away. Could we try this:

Comments here may be posted anonymously. I'll tweet and ask for people who have not been paid to post some info here.

What would be good is either the length of time still not paid and/or an approximate amount owed.

In order to avoid being identified, don't post the exact amount. Maybe something like "more than $4,000" or a round number only.

Also, please re-tweet the request or pass on verbally or via email.

It is July 2013 and I am still owed for a class since march because of mistakes in paperwork at kcc. How will I recover what is has cost me to try to live because of no pay..

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Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

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