Category Archives: General

Problems leaving comments?

I’ve gotten a report that there’s a problem today with this site that makes commenting difficult or impossible. I’m investigating now.

If you try to leave a comment and it doesn’t work, please let me know (email
Sorry for the confusion.

And wish me luck.

Can you I.D. this mushroom?

This morning we noticed this patch of funny little mushrooms growing along the edge of the Waialae golf course.

They looked like little mushroom-color daisies. Unusually delicate.

Any mushroom experts out there available to identify them?

Click on the photo to see a larger version.

What is it?

Throwback Thursday: Golden Gate Bridge c.1937

I recently found this set of photographs of my dad, John Lind, and a friend at what appears to be the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937.

He was then 23 years old, and was working for the Dohrmann Hotel Supply Company in Los Angeles. The company had a headquarters in San Francisco where he went for training, and where he lobbied for a transfer to a small Dorhmann office in Honolulu.

He eventually succeeded in getting that job in Honolulu and boarded an island-bound ship at the end of April 1939. He arrived on the dock in Honolulu on May 1, 1939.

You can scroll through the photos using the arrows that appear on the photo, or click on the photo to view them on Flickr.

Golden Gate Bridge c.1937

State Ethics Commission again targets public teacher stipends

The state Ethics Commission is about to add to its unpopularity by again targeting public school teachers with a new set of proposed guidelines explaining that certain stipends paid to teachers by outside organizations or agencies appear to be “inconsistent with the State Ethics Code.”

The guidelines are due to be discussed and possibly acted on by the commission at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, June 16.

The Commission received a complaint that a certain entity had offered to pay teachers a stipend to implement the entity’s new curriculum in the classroom. That complaint prompted the Commission to inquire as to whether DOE teachers were offered or paid stipends by non-DOE entities in other situations. The DOE provided the Commission with a sampling of cases where a non-DOE entity offered or paid stipends to teachers for performing a range of activities, including but not limited to attending training workshops, participating in pilot programs or studies, conducting projects, teaching classes, participating in a fellowship program, or mentoring student teachers.

“Depending upon the particular facts and circumstances, a teacher’s acceptance of a stipend from a non-DOE entity for performing or participating in an activity may be prohibited under one or more provisions of the State Ethics Code,” according to the guidelines.

The provisions cited are those regarding conflicts of interests, fair treatment, gifts, and confidential information.

The guidelines describe several kinds of stipends which are said to be prohibited, as well as others that permitted.

The new guidelines generally permit teachers to accept stipends when the work is part of a contract entered into by the Department of Education, and where the department has determined that teachers will be compensated for doing additional work beyond their regular duties.

But other stipends don’t pass the ethics commission’s tests.

For example, the new guidelines advise that teachers to avoid situations that give rise to conflicts of interest. For example, teachers should not accept stipends paid by a private publisher for endorsing one of the companies books that have bee used in DOE classrooms.

The teacher may be viewed as using his or her official position to give the Publisher an unwarranted advantage over other textbook companies, in contravention of the main provision of the fair treatment law, HRS section 84-13. Moreover, the stipend appears to constitute an unwarranted benefit the teacher receives because of his or her position as a DOE teacher.

Other interpretations could generate more controversy. For example, the guidelines would prohibit stipends paid to reward teachers for improved student performance, including those from a nonprofit educational consortium that “pays a cash reward to Advanced Placement (“AP”) teachers for each student who enrolls in the teachers’ AP classes who scores a “3” or better on the AP exam.”

The commission would also prohibit the University of Hawaii from rewarding teachers with gift cards for increasing participation in evaluation studies of a curriculum developed for and adopted by the DOE. The guidelines describe UH as an outside, “private entity” despite its status as another state agency like the DOE, and the shared interest of the DOE and UH in achieving more robust evaluations of their classroom curricula.

Teachers and the Department of Education are still smarting over the Ethics Commission’s hardline position on compensation of teachers for their participation in educational trips for students and their families.

The new guidelines are being considered while the commission is still finalizing its interview questions to be used in selecting a new executive director. Commission director Les Kondo resigned from his position in order to accept the position of state auditor beginning May 1. Longtime staff attorney and associate director, Susan Yoza, is currently serving as interim director.

Possible loss of flood insurance could threaten mortgages, home sales

Did you catch the recent news reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has warned that it will begin the process of cutting off flood insurance for Hawaii Properties next year unless the legislature changes a law that conflicts with FEMA’s requirements.

I saw stories in the Star-Advertiser and KITV, although there could have been others.

A spokesman for FEMA called the risk of a cut-off of flood coverage “real and substantial,” the Star-Advertiser reported.

Both news stories focused on the the loss of insurance and of some benefits to the state in the event of a natural disaster.

However, they downplayed the indirect impact that would put mortgages of properties located in flood zones at risk. That’s because mortgage lenders require flood insurance, and for practical purposes FEMA is the only game in town for such coverage.

Senator Laura Thielen pointed to the mortgage issue and was quoted in the KITV story.

“It’s going to be a huge risk for them if the FEMA program is canceled they are not going to be able to get insurance and that’s going to put their mortgages in jeopardy,” said Sen. Laura Thielen.

But for some reason neither story pursued that angle.

Damage from floods isn’t covered by standard homeowner’s insurance, and mortgage lends protect their own interests by requiring flood insurance to be in place.

Flood zones in many parts of the islands were expanded when the FEMA maps were updated a few years ago, sweeping more properties into the affected low-lying zones.

It’s not clear whether lenders have any workaround, perhaps sources of private flood insurance at higher rates.

Because if they don’t, then FEMA’s threatened action could mean a collapse of home sales in areas designated on the flood maps. Could cancellation of flood insurance also put people with mortgages in default?

Those are the questions which should have been pursued to assess just how serious this threat really is.