Brigadier General to join Ige tax office; first deputy director re-appointed, Dep. of Health

Governor David Ige has announced the nomination of two deputy directors to his cabinet, subject to confirmation by the Senate:

Joseph Kim has been nominated to be the Deputy Director at the Department of Taxation where he will, “redeploy his extensive experience in training and commanding U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard personnel into effective administration of the tax laws for the state,” according to the governor’s office. Brigadier General Kim has served as the Deputy Adjutant General, Deputy Commander, Hawaii National Guard since 2011; Kim ran the day-to-day operations for the State Department of Defense.

Prior to that, he commanded the Air National Guard’s largest Wing, a combat ready 1900 person flying organization consisting of three major flying systems and associated support organizations, supporting over 2,500 personnel. He has trained military pilots and aircrews in various locations throughout the United States.

Kim earned an MBA at the City University of Seattle and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Mechanics.

“I’m glad that General Kim has agreed to continue to serve the State of Hawaii,” said Governor David Ige. “I’m confident that he will be able to translate his outstanding military record into exceptional results at the Department of Taxation.”

Keith Yamamoto, meanwhile, has been appointed to remain in his current position as the First Deputy Director of the Department of Health, a post he has held since March 2011. He is primarily responsible for overseeing the general administration of the department which includes budget, fiscal, facilities management, human resources, information technology, planning, vital records as well as the District Health Offices on the neighbor islands.

Prior to his appointment as First Deputy Director, Yamamoto was the Chief of the Department of Health-Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division; he worked for the Department of Human Services – Office of Youth Services as the Program Development Administrator; and has also managed various school-based vocational education and career development programs for at-risk youth while employed with the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Yamamoto received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Services from the University of Northern Colorado, and graduated from Pearl City High School.

“Keith Yamamoto has been a valuable leader within the Department of Health,” said Governor David Ige. “He is well respected and has shown he has the skills to move the department forward. I’m pleased that he will be continuing to provide his steady hand to this administration.”

Ethics Commission finds that development lobbyist failed to file disclosures

The State Ethics Commission has found that David Arakawa, lobbyist for the Land Use Research Foundation, failed to file nine lobbying disclosures. Here’s the commission’s report.

The Independent broke this story in 2014.

Ikaika M Hussey
Ige’s Department of Land and Natural Development?

Governor Ige's latest DLNR leadership move is a serious blow to advocates for resource protection and the ethical and legal use of water and a boon for development interests.

Karen Chun
Bill proposes state-wide ban on tobacco in state parks

Would include electronic smoking devices and betel nut products as well.

The House Committee on Health held decision making on HB525, which would make all state parks tobacco-free, earlier today. The nine-member committee unanimously passed the bill with amendments. Four voted aye, five voted with reservations.

On Saturday, January 31, Surfrider Foundation and the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai`i conducted four simultaneous beach clean-ups on Oahu (Ewa), Kauai (Anahola), and Hawaii Island (Kona and Hilo). Over 360 volunteers across the state collected and took a tally of the most littered items on Hawaii’s beaches.

“We collected over 15,000 cigarette butts along with 3,426 pieces of plastic and 1,386 pieces of foam from four beaches this Saturday,” said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation. “Cigarette butts, plastic, and expanded polystyrene foam are among the most littered items in Hawaii and the world.”

HB525 prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco, electronic smoking devices, or betel nut products within the state park system. Concerns centered on the ban on electronic smoking devices and betel nut, as well as with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ ability to enforce the ban.

Workers and community supporters to rally for better patient care

Local 5 Kaiser workers currently on strike will be joined by other Local 5 members and community supporters for a march through Waikiki and subsequent rally tomorrow.

Hundreds of community members and Local 5 members who work in the hotel and healthcare industry will be staging a march and rally in Waikiki on Thursday. An estimated 800 participants are expected.

Kaiser, Hawaii’s largest Health Maintenance Organization, is also a nonprofit. Yet, in the first three quarters of 2014, Kaiser Permanente reported net profits of $3.1 billion, adding to their $30 billion in cash reserves.

“I love my patients like family and want to give them the care they need and deserve. This community needs Kaiser to invest in people and workers like me, not just in new buildings and facility upgrades,” says Jonah Pascual, a medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente Honolulu.

Thursday’s community protest comes as nearly 1900 Local 5 Kaiser workers continue a week long strike that began on February 2nd. The last state-wide strike staged by Local 5 union workers at Kaiser took place in 1986.

Workers, including medical assistants, receptionists and housekeepers, are among the strong majority of workers who have been on strike protesting changes implemented by Kaiser that they say hurt patient care, such as closing urgent care clinics and laying off workers.

“As a single mom, good quality healthcare is really important to me,” says Lilibeth Herrell, a Sheraton Waikiki housekeeper, “Hawaii is my home, and in Hawaii we treat everyone with aloha. Yet Kaiser—a nonprofit—is acting like every other corporation that wants to take, take and take from us.”

“I’m a member of the AiKea Movement, and we stand for healthy communities that promote health as a basic human right,” says Dr. Christine Lipat, “I’m also a holistic chiropractor who is very much interested in wellness and in the big picture, that we need to organize together to take care of ourselves and each other for a healthy community.”

Local 5 represents nearly 1900 Kaiser Permanente workers on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.

Local 5 represents approximately 10,500 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Learning from the Cancer Center fiasco

A report confirming that Unit Director Michele Carbone ran the UH Cancer Center into the ground can teach us an important lesson about the systemic problems currently killing the University of Hawaii.

Will Caron
Fiji ditches the Union Jack: in pictures

Fiji will redesign its national flag to reflect the country as it is now rather than its colonial past. Here are other flags in history that incorporated the union jack

The Guardian
Share your thoughts on airport TOD

A transit-oriented development community workshop centering on rail stations near the airport will be held tonight.

The city’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) team is inviting the public to share thoughts on concepts for revitalization and new development near the Pearl Harbor, Honolulu International Airport and Lagoon Drive rail stations at a community workshop planned for tonight.

Concepts on the table include safe pedestrian crossing of Nimitz Highway, bus and bicycle connections to the rail stations, new housing opportunities and improvements to Keehi Lagoon Park.

The meeting is scheduled to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 2 at the Aliamanu Middle School Cafeteria located at 3271 Salt Lake Boulevard. Light refreshments will be provided.

Kaiser Local 5 members on strike

Kaiser Permanente's Local 5 workers have begun a 6-day statewide workers strike.

Above: Local 5 Kaiser workers picket outside Kaiser Wailuku on Maui. Photo courtesy Local 5

Local 5 members who work at Kaiser Permanente are moving forward with their plans to go on strike for six days, beginning today, Feb. 2.

On Oahu, Kaiser workers are picketing at Kaiser’s facilities in Moanalua, Honolulu and Waipio. Picket lines will also be organized on Maui at Maui Lani and Wailuku, and on Big Island at Hilo and Kona.

Workers on strike are not discouraging patients from entering the facilities. In fact, they encourage patients to come the facilities for any services they may need, especially in the case of an emergency. Workers will be passing out leaflets to patients and community members to inform them about the decisions Kaiser has made that have negatively affected patient care, including closing Honolulu urgent care and laying off staff. Four one-day work stoppages have been organized since 2013

“When I first started working at Kaiser, we were trained to care for our patients like family. That’s especially important in my department, mother & babies. But with all of the cuts to staff, Kaiser is making it harder and harder to provide that kind of care to our patients,” says Shanelle Simpliciano, a certified nurses aid at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua.

“Kaiser has changed for the worse since I started working here 17 years ago,” says Momi Hai, a lead front desk employee at Kaiser Permanente Maui Lani, “We’ve struggled with our jobs getting subcontracted, or our jobs getting cut completely. It has a real impact on workers and patients. Meanwhile, Kaiser makes $11 million a day. Kaiser is thriving, but what about us?”

Local 5 represents around 1900 Kaiser Permanente workers statewide. The strike will end on Saturday, February 7 at 12:00 midnight.

Senate bill would boost our food security

SB593 would require the Agribusiness Development Corporation to lease 50 percent of its land to local food production.

Will Caron