Just a few miscellaneous items to start the week.
• Last week, for the first time, we left a bag containing empty wine bottles out for our regular city garbage pick-up. I couldn’t help feeling both guilty about not recycling and angry at the city for removing most of our recycling options. Since the community recycling bin was removed from Kaaawa School, we had been carrying bottles to two other school sites in Kaneohe, 13 miles away. But now that those have disappeared as well, there’s no reasonably convenient option left for us. So the bottles go out with our trash and, most likely, off to a landfill. So it goes.
• Did you happen to read Civil Beat’s story about the takeover of The Garden Island newspaper by Oahu Publications, owner of the Star-Advertiser?
Apparently one of the first actions of the new owners was to take editorial control in order to rewrite a story.
TGI employees said they had to reprint Thursday’s edition because OPI wanted to soften the story about Kauai losing its last printing press. An earlier version of the story included the word “monopoly,” talked about losing the Kauai Made logo and reported the lost jobs by saying how many were cut instead of retained.
That’s not likely to make reporters feel the strong support of their new management.
• More bad press on the mainland for Hawaii conference travel. This time it’s criticism of pension managers attending the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, applauded the “wisdom and judgment” of the four other state pension systems, which chose not to send representatives to Hawaii. Wachtmann, who is the vice chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, has called SERS board members Catherine Moss, Barbra Phillips and Mary Ann Howell to the council to “explain why it’s so important to go all the way to Hawaii.” The council, which oversees the pension systems in the state, is to meet on Tuesday.
Last year, a new law revamped Ohio’s pension systems by requiring state and local employees to contribute billions more to establish long-term solvency. The new law also requires longer service to qualify and reduces cost-of-living adjustments.
After that, “some would call (the trip) a kick of dirt in the face,” Wachtmann said.
And from a California Watch story published in the Fresno Bee:
When the head of one of the state’s largest independent pension funds received an invitation recently for his staff to attend a conference in Hawaii, his response lacked the aloha spirit.
“I don’t plan on approving anyone to attend this conference given its location. … Hawaii is just not the right message to send at this time,” William Raggio, interim general manager of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions, warned in an email to his staff.
But other pension plans couldn’t resist. Four of the state’s 24 largest independent municipal retirement systems intend to send up to five board members each, a survey by California Watch has found.
The best response I saw was by Los Angeles pension chief, Gregg Rademacher, quoted by The Bay Citizen in reporting the same California Watch story.
“While conferences are generally held in the continental U.S., we are fortunate that our 50th state, Hawaii, is easier and more cost effective to attend than policy and investment conferences on the East Coast, namely, Washington D.C. and New York city. Although the flight times are approximately the same for Honolulu and Washington D.C., flying to and lodging in Hawaii is consistently more cost effective (and safe). The best case scenario is having a world-class conference, such as a NCPERS conference, in your home town, however, that is seldom the case.”
• Finally, from USA Today, another bit of Hawaii tourism news (“Foreign tourists flock to Hawaii to shoot assault weapons“).
Great. Now we’ll be the assault weapons capitol of the Pacific….Do we need a new tourism logo? Make my day!