On Tuesday, October 7, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa administration held a “Campus-wide Conversation” at Kuykendall Auditorium that focused on an informational briefing on the University budget, past, present and future. The meeting drew a packed house of students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the community. Vice Chancellor for Administration, Finance and Operations Kathy Cutshaw and newly appointed interim Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman fielded questions, took suggestions and listened as some voiced continuing concerns over the future of the system’s flagship campus.
The Chancellor sent out an email thanking all the participants for showing up or streaming the conversation live. In his email, the Chancellor also says that the front-page article in today’s Star-Advertiser “UH-Manoa to be $31M in the red,” is factually incorrect in its headline and second paragraph, which states, “Manoa officials are projecting a $31 million deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30, despite efforts to curb spending.”
“As we clearly pointed out in the presentation on Tuesday, we do not expect a negative bottom line in fiscal year 2015 and, in fact, are working very hard to deal with a shifting funding landscape in which public funding and other revenue sources are falling faster than tuition dollars,” said Bley-Vroman.
Click to view the budget PowerPoint.
Both Bley-Vroman and Cutshaw will visit the Mānoa Faculty Senate during its next meeting on Wednesday, October 15, according to the agenda, presumably to continue conversations about the budget situation and hiring freeze.
Yesterday, the Honolulu City Council unanimously passed Bills 35, 36 and 37, more commonly referred to as the “Environmental Justice Bills.” With the support of farmers throughout O‘ahu, the Concerned Elders of Wai‘anae, the KAHEA Environmental Alliance and the leeward neighborhood boards, the bills are aimed at curbing illegal dumping and other environmentally harmful practices such as stockpiling waste. The bills are supposed to improve reporting and relationships between residents, farmers and City inspectors that regulate dumping and stockpiling.
While illegal dumping certainly occurs in urban Honolulu, the dumping occurring in leeward communities is particularly egregious and environmentally degrading. Leeward councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine (District 1) said, “In the more than 20 months since I was sworn into office to represent our district, I have enjoyed being actively involved to join our community’s effort to stop illegal dumping in our communities and throughout Oahu. In that time, we engaged our members of the community to watch their neighborhoods, report potential illegal dumping, and send in testimony encouraging my fellow Councilmembers to support the Environmental Justice bills.”
The final versions of the bills enhance the penalties for illegal dumping by 500 percent, create a new class of penalties for repeat offenders that would effectively raise fines by 1000 percent, provide the City with the power to refuse to issue after-the-fact permits for violators and to order violators to restore the land to its original condition, and for the most egregious violations (those occurring at the same place by the same violator in a five-year period), the bills provide the City with the power to refer the violation to the City Prosecutor for criminal prosecution.