Bianca Smallwood – Honolulu Civil Beat https://www.civilbeat.org Honolulu Civil Beat - Investigative Reporting Thu, 21 Mar 2019 07:43:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 In Hawaii, We Waste More Than A Fourth Of All Our Food https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/05/food-in-hawaii-how-much-are-we-wasting/ Tue, 03 May 2016 10:10:27 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1184045 Hawaii may waste less food per person than any other U.S. state; but we still wind up throwing out, or wasting, about a quarter of our food supply, according to a recent research report. In their report, University of Hawaii researcher Matthew Loke and environmental-management professor PingSun Leung estimate that Hawaii discards 356 pounds of food per person […]

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Hawaii may waste less food per person than any other U.S. state; but we still wind up throwing out, or wasting, about a quarter of our food supply, according to a recent research report.

In their report, University of Hawaii researcher Matthew Loke and environmental-management professor PingSun Leung estimate that Hawaii discards 356 pounds of food per person per year, compared to an average of 429 pounds per person across the United States.

All the same, the report estimates that in 2010, Hawaii wasted 522.8 million pounds of food, or 26 percent of the total available food supply.

That works out to 1.43 million pounds of food waste per day across the islands.

The report estimated the annual value of food wasted in Hawaii at $698.36 per person, a per-capita value 33.8 percent higher than across the rest of the U.S.

“I was interested in this topic after listening to a report about food waste on NPR,” Loke said in an email. “Within a global context, food waste highlights a considerable loss of resources (natural and man-made) invested in food production to end-stage consumption.”

Loke and Leung said in the report that there is a lack of “quality data on food waste at the state or local venue,” so they tried to determine the amount of food waste in Hawaii.

They looked both at food imports and food grown locally. They estimated that 88.4 percent of our edible food, by weight, is imported to Hawaii.

This is why, Loke said, a significant share of the food waste in the state begins at the ports, instead of on the farms during harvest. Most of our food has to travel more than 2,500 miles by ship from the continental U.S., and our hot, humid weather makes food spoil faster — so roughly one-third of the total food waste takes place before residents bring their purchases home. 

Loke and Leung estimated the annual value of the food wasted in Hawaii at $698.36 per person. Because we pay so much more for food in Hawaii, that’s 33.8 percent higher than the per-person estimate for the U.S. as a whole.

The researchers also factored in food wasted by tourists — who, because they are likelier to eat more meals out and less likely to store and re-use leftovers, are more likely to waste food.

The Environmental Impact Of Food Waste

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, in 2013, Americans threw away more than 37 million tons of food. Only 5 percent of that food was used for compost, instead of being sent to incinerators and landfills.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that globally, approximately one-third of food is wasted or lost every year.

And that wasted food causes other environmental problems, said Wendi Shafir, a pollution prevention and sustainable materials management coordinator for the EPA. 

When food is taken to landfills instead of composted, much of it winds up producing methane gas, which the EPA deems as the “second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States.”

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that about 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Preventing food waste can reduce methane production, help organizations and families save money and help the community when food is recovered and served, according to the EPA.

The EPA has created a Food Recovery Hierarchy to list, from best to worst, strategies to try to reduce and make better use of food waste. 

First on the list is source reduction — that is, avoiding producing surplus food that goes to waste. Second is redirecting food that would otherwise be wasted to feeding hungry people, followed by feeding animals.

However, Shafir says that in some parts of Hawaii, it is more common for leftover food to be given to pigs instead of to other people, because of accessibility.

She said people are able to pick up leftover food and deliver it to farms, but not to other people.

One problem: People tend to be worried about being held liable in case others get sick after eating recovered food, Shafir said. But there are laws, such as the Good Samaritan Law, which legally protect those who help a person who is injured or in danger, that also may protect those who provide recovered food to hungry people, she said.

Reducing Food Waste Locally

Last year, a group of dietetics students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources created the state’s first Food Recovery Network chapter.

The network is a national student organization that aims to reduce food waste and feed those in need.

“We thought that if we could help people with food security, that could be a start to a better mind or a healthier mind to think,” said FRN’s Hawaii chapter Vice President Joy Nagahiro-Twu. “And we just kind of thought it was a great way to help the community.”

In order for an FRN chapter to become certified, members are required to complete at least two successful food recoveries.

Since its establishment, the Hawaii chapter has recovered over 1,000 pounds of food, all of which has been given to the Institute for Human Services, an agency that helps homeless people.

“If you see the amount of people that are out there, I still don’t feel like this amount of food will feed them so more help is needed.” -Joy Nagahiro-Twu, Food Recovery Network vice president

The chapter recovers leftover food from UH Manoa’s resident dining facility, Gateway Cafe and, more recently, the Campus Center.

Members and volunteers work with UH Manoa Dining Services to collect food every Friday.

“We’re getting upwards of 100 pounds just from one recovery day, one meal,” said Mariah Martino, FRN volunteer coordinator. “It’s not like the whole day we had 100 pounds of food recovered, it was just after lunch 100 pounds [of food] was taken down there.”

Before the FRN, the Manoa Dining Services would provide the leftover food to farms to be fed to pigs.

Now, leftover bentos, salads and fruits are taken to the IHS, where it is fed to those who visit the agency.

Fruits, vegetables and bentos are just a few of many types of food the FRN recovers.

Fruits, vegetables and bentos are just a few of the many types of food that the FRN recovers.

Civil Beat/Bianca Smallwood

Currently, FRN members use their own vehicles to transport food from the university to the institute, all within a two-hour time frame to meet health requirements.

Nagahiro-Twu said that, as a parent, it makes her happy to know that the recovered food is being given to those less fortunate.

“For myself, I thought about my son and I think about a lot of things,” said Nagahiro-Twu. “He asks me for ice cream and all these things, and these kids are not able to get it, so my heart goes out for the women and children.”

Members say they hope that in the future, other UH campuses will create their own food recovery clubs in an effort to obtain more food and help more people.

“If you see the amount of people that are out there, I still don’t feel like this amount of food will feed them,” said Nagahiro-Twu. “So more help is needed.”

Another goal, she said, is to recruit more volunteers so the chapter can start completing more recoveries throughout the week.

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Advocates Ask State For Clear Policies On Transgender Students https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/05/advocates-ask-state-for-clear-policies-on-transgender-students/ Tue, 03 May 2016 10:07:28 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1184400 As graduation approaches for local high school students, transgender advocates are pushing the Hawaii Department of Education for policies to prevent incidents such as one last year in which a transgender student at Kahuku High School said she wasn’t allowed to  participate in her graduation ceremony. Transgender figures such as fashion designer Ari South, soccer […]

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As graduation approaches for local high school students, transgender advocates are pushing the Hawaii Department of Education for policies to prevent incidents such as one last year in which a transgender student at Kahuku High School said she wasn’t allowed to  participate in her graduation ceremony.

Transgender figures such as fashion designer Ari South, soccer and film star Jaiyah Saelua and educator and community leader Hina Wong-Kalu said they will deliver a petition Tuesday morning to the department asking it to establish clear policies protecting transgender students from discrimination, and guaranteeing all students respect and safety regardless of their gender identity of expression. The effort was organized by the Kumu Hina Project, a community educational campaign for gender diversity and inclusion based on Hawaiian values.

Jennea Purcell, a 2015 Kahuku High School graduate, said she wasn't allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony as a female.

Jennea Purcell, a 2015 Kahuku High School graduate, said she wasn’t allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony as a female.

Vimeo

The DOE didn’t immediately return calls Monday seeking comment on its policies.

To my understanding, I had to confirm if it was OK that I wear the female gown from my principal and she said it wasn’t OK.” — Jennea Purcell, transgender 2015 graduate of Kahuku High School

The Kumu Hina Project drafted the petition in the wake of several reported cases of transgender discrimination in Hawaii’s public schools. The petition calls on the DOE to conduct training, professional development and education activities that would assure awareness and compliance with the new policy. 

And, in specific support of Jennea Purcell, a transgender 2015 Kahuku High School graduate, the petition asks the DOE to declare publicly that students may participate in graduation and other activities with their gender identity.

Missed Opportunity

Last year, in a case that drew national media attention, Purcell said she was denied participation in the 2015 graduation ceremony as girl. At Kahuku High School’s graduation ceremonies, female students wear white gowns, and male students wear red gowns 

“To my understanding I had to confirm if it was okay that I wear the female gown from my principal and she said it wasn’t okay,” said Purcell.

Kahuku High School Principal Pauline Masaniai’s office referred questions to DOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz who had not returned a call before deadline. Dela Cruz previously has been quoted denying Purcell’s allegations.

Citing local projects such as Growing Pono, A Place in the Middle and the federal Title IX civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination, supporters are urging the DOE to look to previous policies such as the GLSEN Transgender Model District Policy as a guideline.

Wong-Kalu, one of 10 individuals to be honored this week at a White House event titled “Champions of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling,” said she feels so strongly about the need for change here that she will forgo the White House ceremony to confront the Department of Education.

Wong-Kalu said that for Purcell, not participating in her graduation was a “lost opportunity,” as those times are when students are honored for their hard work and accomplishments.

“People like this should be able to feel comfortable in how they articulate themselves.” — Hina Wong-Kalu, educator and community leader

Growing up in a school environment where she felt restricted from being herself, Wong-Kalu said that she wished she had the peer support that Purcell has received from her peers, and that the younger generation should be encouraged to be themselves.

“People like this should be able to feel comfortable in how they articulate themselves,” said Wong-Kalu.

She said that creating guidelines that would guarantee an environment where transgender people can be themselves would be a “step forward.”

“Basically, the petition is to push the DOE to push equity and fair treatment to all youth especially transgender youths, if they have arrived at a comfortable and confident place where they are aligned with their gender identity,” said Wong-Kalu.

The petition is scheduled to be delivered at 1 p.m. in front of the Queen Liliuokalani Building.

Purcell, reached by phone, said she wants a policy that treats all students fairly.

“I just want fairness and equality for all, especially for anyone who is ‘different’,” she said.

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USS Arizona Dock To Be Replaced https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/04/uss-arizona-memorial-dock-to-be-replaced-this-summer/ Thu, 14 Apr 2016 03:21:24 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1181151 Visitors will not be able to go call on one of Hawaii’s most memorable and popular attractions early this summer. The dock of the USS Arizona, across from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, will be dismantled, removed and replaced between June 13 and June 26, according to a news release, With a total of 1.8 million […]

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Visitors will not be able to go call on one of Hawaii’s most memorable and popular attractions early this summer.

The dock of the USS Arizona, across from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, will be dismantled, removed and replaced between June 13 and June 26, according to a news release,

With a total of 1.8 million visitors a year, those who arrive will only be able to observe the memorial from a boat ride.

December 7, 2014 marks the 73rd Anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration. 7 dec 2014. photograph Cory Lum

The memorial was built over the battleship USS Arizona.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

 

However, access to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum will remain available to the public during that time.

“We are grateful for our close partnership with the U.S. Navy and all of the work that they’re doing to ensure that visitors during this period will still get to see the USS Arizona and its memorial, even while the new dock is being installed,” Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, stated in a news release. “The patience shown by those interested in the memorial is deeply appreciated.”

Plans to replace the dock were made prior to a boat crash that occurred last year, according to officials.

The new dock will be transported by truck to Ford Island, where it will then be floated to the memorial and attached by anchor blocks and mooring chains.

The new dock will feature skid-proof ramps which will replace the steps and ramps of the current dock.

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Legislature Passes Bill To Ban Smoking At State Health Facilities https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/04/smoking-at-state-health-care-facilities-could-be-thing-of-the-past/ Sat, 09 Apr 2016 02:59:06 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1180379 Employees, visitors and patients at Hawaii Health Systems Corporation hospitals would be prohibited from smoking anywhere on the premises under a bill that is headed for Gov. David Ige’s desk after it was approved 21-0 on the Senate floor on Friday. Senate Bill 305 would ban the use of tobacco and electronic smoking devices inside […]

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Employees, visitors and patients at Hawaii Health Systems Corporation hospitals would be prohibited from smoking anywhere on the premises under a bill that is headed for Gov. David Ige’s desk after it was approved 21-0 on the Senate floor on Friday.

Senate Bill 305 would ban the use of tobacco and electronic smoking devices inside and outside of the 13 HHSC facilities in the islands.

The HHSC facilities on Oahu are the Maluhia and Leahi hospitals and Kuhuku Medical Center.

 

Leahi Hospital

Leahi Hospital is one of 13 facilities that would be covered by the inside-outside smoking ban.

The bill would require displaying signs at all facility entrances and at prominent locations stating that “tobacco and electronic smoking device use is prohibited.”

Smoking would also be prohibited in all visitor and employee parking lots.

The measure defines electronic smoking devices as any electronic product that can be used to disperse and deliver nicotine or other substances to user. This includes but is not limited to electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars and hookahs.

The measure was proposed during the 2015 legislative session, but was carried over to this year.

Previous testimony on the bill argued that there was no basis for treating e-cigarettes and vapor products the same as tobacco products.

In written testimony supporting the measure, Jessica Yamauchi, Hawaii Public Health Institute executive director, said secondhand smoke was an issue, but so were financial concerns.

“Smoking and tobacco use contribute to a wide range of institutional costs,” Yamauchi said. “These costs include employee absenteeism, extensive health care costs and increased medical insurance costs, fire risk, negative environmental impacts, and increased cleaning and maintenance costs.”

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Bill To Create Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Clears Panel https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/04/measure-to-create-industrial-hemp-pilot-program-deferredkilledpassed/ Sat, 02 Apr 2016 03:33:42 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1179264 A bill to allow the cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp for research was approved by the House Finance Committee on Friday. Senate Bill 2659 would create an industrial hemp pilot program that would allow licensed agents of the state Board of Agriculture to conduct agricultural and academic research on the cultivation of industrial hemp and the […]

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A bill to allow the cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp for research was approved by the House Finance Committee on Friday.

Senate Bill 2659 would create an industrial hemp pilot program that would allow licensed agents of the state Board of Agriculture to conduct agricultural and academic research on the cultivation of industrial hemp and the “distribution of its seed” in Hawaii.

The measure would also provide the funding for the Board of Agriculture’s staff to help with the program.

Dr. Harry Ako and his staff conduct a press conference with legislators and media near Industrial Hemp Field at the University of Hawaii, Waimanalo Research Station, 41-698 Ahiki Street. 23 july 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

An experimental industrial hemp field at the University of Hawaii’s Waimanalo Research Station.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Another measure authorizing research-related cultivation of hemp, House Bill 2555, awaits committee hearings in the Senate after receiving unanimous approval in the House.

More robust hemp measures that would simply authorize the growth of industrial hemp as an agricultural product died in the House and Senate this session as lawmakers evidently look to tread lightly into this new arena for Hawaii.

The two remaining bills both note that “California manufacturers of hemp products currently import tens of thousands of acres’ worth of hemp seed, oil, and fiber products that, instead, could be produced by American farmers at a more competitive price.

“Additionally, the intermediate processing of hemp seed, oil, food ingredients, and fiber could create jobs in close proximity to the fields of cultivation.”

In written testimony for SB 2659, Mike Moran, president of the Kihei Community Association,  said the measure could ultimately provide relief to Maui after the closure of Hawaii’s last sugar plantation.

“You know Maui has lost our sugar and has like 36,000 acres in need of crop and this could be a significant part of that land use,” Moran said.

Under the Senate bill, only state-approved cultivators would be allowed to grow the industrial hemp and if they violated guidelines, they could lose that approval.

They would be required to allow federal, state and local authorities to sample the growing area and plants upon request, have a limited agency relationship with the Board of Agriculture for research purposes and allow any higher education institution to access the industrial hemp locations.

No written opposition was submitted before the Friday hearing.

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State Population Up 5.2 Percent In 5 Years https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/03/state-population-up-5-2-percent-in-5-years/ Fri, 25 Mar 2016 04:39:20 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1177987 Hawaii’s population has increased by 5.2 percent over the last five years, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The state’s population was at 1.36 million in 2010 and increased to 1.43 by 2015. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism says that this because of a more than 50 percent difference between […]

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Hawaii’s population has increased by 5.2 percent over the last five years, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state’s population was at 1.36 million in 2010 and increased to 1.43 by 2015. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism says that this because of a more than 50 percent difference between birth and death rates within the last five years and an increase in international migration.

From April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2015, there were 100,046 births and 56,486 deaths.

Oahu was responsible for 71.8 percent of births, while Hawaii County had 12.9 percent, Maui County had 10.7 percent and Kauai County had 4.6 percent.

Oahu also had the highest percentage of deaths, 69.4 percent of the total.

A total of 46,782 people migrated from foreign countries to reside in Hawaii within the last five years, while 18,423 people left Hawaii for the mainland.

Hawaii's population

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Bill Regulating Uber Insurance Killed https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/03/uber-and-lyft-bill-is-making-a-comeback/ Thu, 24 Mar 2016 02:27:42 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1177646 A measure that would have required drivers working for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to carry a certain level of insurance was killed by the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Senate Bill 2684 would have also authorized counties to further regulate the companies. The bill would have required each company driver to carry primary liability […]

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A measure that would have required drivers working for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to carry a certain level of insurance was killed by the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 2684 would have also authorized counties to further regulate the companies.

The bill would have required each company driver to carry primary liability coverage — to be in effect while traveling to pick up customers and during the period of transporting them — of no less than $100,000 per person, with an aggregate limit of $200,000 per accident, and coverage of no less than $50,000 for property damage.

The companies would also have been required to maintain their GPS and electronic records of activity for at least five years from the date of each trip made, for purposes of insuring proper insurance coverage.

Uber already has a $1 million liability coverage per incident.

Last year a similar bill was proposed but not not passed.

The bill stated that as of Jan. 1, 29 states had enacted regulations for transportation network companies.

An Uber vehicle in San Francisco.

Uber had circulated a petition asking its Hawaii customers to opposed the measure.

Flickr.com/Adam Fagen

 

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Hawaii’s Latest Sex Trafficking Bill Generates Familiar Opposition https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/03/hawaiis-latest-sex-trafficking-bill-generates-familiar-opposition/ Wed, 23 Mar 2016 04:24:40 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1177530 A new version of a sex trafficking bill vetoed last year by Gov. David Ige was discussed before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and it drew the same opposition as last year from Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney. “The main problem of this bill is that it legalizes prostitution for minors,” said Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro. […]

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A new version of a sex trafficking bill vetoed last year by Gov. David Ige was discussed before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and it drew the same opposition as last year from Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney.

“The main problem of this bill is that it legalizes prostitution for minors,” said Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro. “It allows minors to commit prostitution and yet not call it prostitution, so in effect it is legalizing prostitution if a minor is involved.”

He said Senate Bill 265 would make it easier for pimps to recruit minors.

Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro responds to a question during an editorial board meeting at Civil Beat's Kaimuki office, Oct. 24, 2014.

Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro has the same concerns with this year’s sex trafficking bill as he did with last year’s.

Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

“What will happen is the pimps will approach the minors and say, ‘you can make money and engage in sex and there’s no consequences because the most (that can happen) is a violation and nothing will happen to you,’” said Kaneshiro.

For several sessions, supporters of legislation have been pushing to reclassify promotion of prostitution as sex trafficking and consider those being trafficked as victims instead of criminals. But prosecutors contend they need the leverage of being able to charge prostitutes so they will testify against their pimps.

Last year, Senate Bill 265 was passed unanimously in the Legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Ige, who said it was “confusing” and would hinder law enforcement.

The new bill would classify sex trafficking as a Class A felony and a violent crime, and would also create a Class C felony for paying for sex in “reckless disregard” to the fact that the other person is a sex trafficking victim.

Opponents said the bill does not recognize that there are people who willingly participate in prostitution.

Doug Davidson said that the bill would treat prostitution and sex trafficking the same and it would be easy for a people who are caught to claim they were victims even if they weren’t.

Tracy Ryan, chair of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii, said the bill contains “pages and pages” of technical problems and contradictions that need to be reviewed, and expert opinions on the matter need to be heard.

Jeanne Kapela, Miss Hawaii 2015 and executive director of the nonprofit organization UNITE!, said she supported the measure after hearing of the experiences of a family member.

“I will never forget the day that she told me her story. I will never forget the fear or shame in her eyes,” said Kapela “I will never forget the pain in her voice or the tears she cried remembering the loss of her childhood or the sleepless nights she spent servicing men three times her age.”

Kapela said the passing of the bill would allow others in similar situations to receive justice instead of risking jail time.

The committee deferred the measure until March 30.

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Lawmakers: Hawaii Can Do More To Make Sure Women Get Equal Pay https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/03/lawmakers-hawaii-can-do-more-to-make-sure-women-get-equal-pay/ Mon, 21 Mar 2016 10:06:48 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1176251 Hawaii already prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their gender, but some legislators think more needs to be done to promote equal pay between men and women. House Bill 1909 would revise the law to state more explicitly that pay rates must be equal unless the employer can prove that the wage difference is due […]

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Hawaii already prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their gender, but some legislators think more needs to be done to promote equal pay between men and women.

House Bill 1909 would revise the law to state more explicitly that pay rates must be equal unless the employer can prove that the wage difference is due to an established, bona fide seniority system or merit system.

It would change the legal requirement of “equal work” to “substantially similar work.”

Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono joins Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for an event in Washington, D.C. calling for equal pay for women. The Hawaii Legislature is considering a bill to target the gender gap in the islands.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, left, joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for an event in Washington, D.C., last year calling for equal pay for women nationally. The Hawaii Legislature is considering a bill to target the gender gap in the islands.

U.S. Senate Democrats

It also targets “pay secrecy” by prohibiting discrimination and retaliation against employees who “disclose, discuss or inquire” about their own or co-workers’ wages as a way to exercise their rights under the law.

“Being able to share what your salaries are and not being penalized for that is a positive thing because, as other testimony reveals, wage secrecy is actually one way to keep the labor force in the dark as to what people are getting paid,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti.

The measure would go a step further by specifically prohibiting employers from telling their employees they can’t compare their wages to those of co-workers who do the same job at a different location.

Screening job applicants based on their history of wages and salaries would also be prohibited, and employers would also not be allowed to seek the salary history from a potential employee unless they are offered a job and given written authorization.

“We know that women are a part of the breadwinning structure of our families now and we know that this will help women achieve more economic independence.” — Rep. Della Au Belatti.

The measure would also require employer advertisements to include the minimum rate of pay and prohibit employers from paying less than what was advertised.

The bill has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, with no hearings scheduled yet.

Opponents of the bill say that it could create problems for employers by eliminating education and experience as factors to differentiate pay. They also say that gender wage gap statistics are not accurate as they do not take into account that more women work part-time.

A recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that women earned 78 percent as much as men for similar work nationwide. Hawaii’s wage gap is not as wide, women here make 83.3 percent as much as men, according to the legislation, but supporters say that the difference in pay still significantly affects working women and their families.

“We know that women are a part of the breadwinning structure of our families now and we know that this will help women achieve more economic independence,” said Belatti.

The Census Bureau said an overall increase in earnings from 2012 to 2013 suggests that more people are working full-time rather than part-time.

“I know that it’s challenging to make a case for pay discrimination, but simply making it easier for employees to sue employers doesn’t really solve any fundamental issues.” — Melissa Pavlicek, National Federation of Independent Business

In Hawaii, women make 85.8 cents for every dollar a Caucasian man makes, Asian-American women 74.2 cents, African-American women 72.4 cents and Latina women 65.8 cents, according to the bill.

“I think equal pay is critically important to women and to all employees and also I think we need to pass some sort of legislation to enable us to reduce the pay gap,” said Jeanne Ohta, co-chair of the Hawaii Democratic Women’s Caucus.

One opponent of the bill said it doesn’t do enough to preserve employers’ rights to base their pay levels on merit and experience.

“This bill crosses out that pay should be based on the quality and quantity of work and instead says that employers are allowed to differentiate pay if they have a seniority system that’s based on some established principles,” said Melissa Pavlicek, Hawaii state director for the National Federation of Independent Business.

She said that while the NFIB supports equal pay for equal work, it does not support the bill because it has the potential to provide more pay to someone who is undeserving.

The “gender gap” can be misleading, according to a report from the CONSAD Research Corp. that contends the reasons behind the gap have not been fully explained.

It says the gap is partially due to a greater percentage of women working part-time.

Women leaving the workforce to take care of their families and preferring “family friendly” workplace policies could also be factors, according to the report.

“These are some factors that may relate to gender, but they aren’t gender discriminatory,” said Pavlicek.

She said that if an employee’s educational background and experience were to be considered determining factors for pay, NFIB could support the bill.

“I know that it’s challenging to make a case for pay discrimination, but simply making it easier for employees to sue employers doesn’t really solve any fundamental issues,” said Pavlicek. “It still has to be equal pay for equal work to be fair to all of the employees.”

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Will Roadwork Really Make A Dent In Waianae Coast Congestion? https://www.civilbeat.org/2016/03/will-roadwork-really-make-a-dent-in-waianae-coast-congestion/ Mon, 14 Mar 2016 10:06:01 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1174889 Traffic on the Leeward Coast has long been an issue for its residents. With only one way in and out, weekday traffic backs up from Kapolei to as far as Mohihi Street in Waianae, causing motorists to often endure hours of stop-and-go congestion. It’s gotten so bad that sometimes commuters pull over to the shoulder […]

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Traffic on the Leeward Coast has long been an issue for its residents.

With only one way in and out, weekday traffic backs up from Kapolei to as far as Mohihi Street in Waianae, causing motorists to often endure hours of stop-and-go congestion.

It’s gotten so bad that sometimes commuters pull over to the shoulder of the Farrington Highway and talk with each other, waiting for the rush to subside.

Some help may be on the way. Several projects — planned or proposed — aim to lessen the congestion in West Oahu.

A typical scene along the Farrington Highway, where almost everybody is looking to go the same direction during rush hours.

A typical scene along the Farrington Highway, where almost everybody is looking to go the same direction during rush hours.

Bianca Smallwood

They include:

• A contraflow project along a 1.3-mile stretch from Piliokahi Avenue past Helelua Street that would turn one of the Honolulu-bound lanes into a third westbound lane from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, excluding holidays. This could be done this summer, before the next school year begins.

• Widening of Farrington Highway along a 0.4-mile stretch from Nanakuli Avenue to Haleakala Avenue in Waianae to include a center turn lane. This could be completed in April 2017.

• A longer-term proposal that is part of the Oahu Regional Transportation Plan 2040 involves widening Farrington Highway to six lanes along a 9.6-mile stretch from Hakimo Road to Kalaeloa Boulevard.

• Someday creating a second access road over the mountains to Waianae.

Hawaii Department of Transportation officials will be attending neighborhood board meetings, including one on Tuesday, to talk to residents about the contraflow project and give them an opportunity to voice their concerns or ask questions.

Leeward Traffic Projects

The DOT announced Feb. 26 that it would begin the contraflow lane pilot project later this year.

“I think it will make a big difference because it hits the really most congested part of the Nanakuli bottleneck, going from Piliokahi Avenue to Helelua Street,” said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, who represents the Waianae Coast. “And so taking that bottleneck and adding an extra lane, you know, that’s something people have been begging for.”

Cones and signs would be used to convert one of the two Honolulu-bound lanes into a third westbound lane during the afternoon/evening commute .

Meanwhile, the Farrington Highway Intersection Improvement Project began in 2014 with the goal of widening the coast’s current four-lane highway between Nanakuli Avenue and Haleakala Avenue to include a 10-foot-wide auxiliary lane to allow vehicles to make left turns.

“Missed appointments, missed flights, missed weddings. I don’t know. At the end of the day I can only say sorry to the constituents so much.” — Rep. Andria Tupola

Currently construction is being done behind the concrete barriers alongside Farrington Highway and nighttime construction is being done to install a sewer line.

The project was originally estimated to be completed in May 2016 but that has been pushed back to April 2017 due to underground utility lines that were discovered during construction, according to state Rep. Andria Tupola.

DOT says the new lane will lessen congestion at all times, but especially during morning hours when vehicles are frequently turning left into Nanakuli Elementary School, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, Nanaikapono Elementary School and Ka Waihona O Ka Naauao Public Charter School.

Along with the widening of the highway, there are also plans to create an 8-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle lane, relocate utilities and upgrade traffic signals, street lighting and drainage systems.

“We can manage narrow roads by at least taking the left turns and separating them, putting them in the middle so that the through traffic doesn’t get stuck behind it for a long time,” said Panos Prevedouros, chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Another plan also proposes widening Farrington Highway from Hakimo Road to Kalaeloa Boulevard from four to six lanes.

With an estimated cost of $233.1 million, the funding for this project is uncertain, according to Brian Gibson, executive director of the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The project is listed under the long-term plans for 2030 to 2040.

Shimabukuro said that she supports the project, although it would mean the loss of some of the beach area along the stretch.

“I think people would agree that the sacrifice is worth the benefit,” said Shimabukuro.

In a Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood board meeting in January, members unanimously voted to urge the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization Project Policy Board to get the project done quicker.

The OahuMPO is responsible for coordinating the transportation planning for the entire island.

Tupola said that although it is good to plan ahead, the plan should have been put into effect years ago so the work would get done sooner.

She said that OahuMPO projects are run by “city guys.”

“There’s nothing in that OMPO committee that forces them to be accountable to execute something by X date,” said Tupola. “That doesn’t exist.””

Gibson said numerous factors determine how a project is prioritized, with the biggest factor being “where they are in project development.”

Gibson also said officials consider congestion analysis and traffic data.

“I can’t stand here and guarantee that it will happen,” said Gibson. “Would a significant number of comments illustrate to the policy board the support that the community has for those projects? Probably.”

Why Is Traffic So Bad?

Tupola said that poor planning, poor communication, overpopulation and lack of an alternative access route to the Waianae Coast have all contributed to the increasingly bad traffic.

She noted a Feb. 13 incident when DOT failed to notify residents of a lane closure, causing severe congestion from Maili to Nanakuli along a stretch that should take about five minutes to traverse.

On its website, DOT acknowledged the mistake, saying it would be sure to notify residents in the future.

“I just really think that lack of communication takes on a whole new level when you’re putting people in hard conditions that are going to the doctor that is just down the street,” Tupola said. “You know, people just going from Paakea (Road) going over to Nanaikeola (the Kaiser Permante clinic) didn’t make it.”

Tupola said residents were late for doctors’ appointments, and a groom was late for his wedding.

“Missed appointments, missed flights, missed weddings. I don’t know. At the end of the day I can only say sorry to the constituents so much because of (DOT’s) lack of communication,” said Tupola.

Neighborhood board meetings are scheduled this month and next:

• Tuesday,  Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board, Nanaikapono Elementary School cafeteria, 7 p.m.

• April 5, Waianae Neighborhood Board, Waianae District Park multi-purpose room, 7 p.m.

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