Appointed BOE Becomes Law
The days of Hawaii voters electing the state Board of Education are officially over. This week, Gov. Abercrombie signed a law that grants the governor power to appoint the board contingent on Senate approval. Of course, it’s not that citizens didn’t have a say—in November they voted for the change (though it lost in Maui County), and the legislature followed suit with a bill.
During the campaign Abercrombie expressed only tepid support for an appointed BOE—the issue was used against him by his opponent, Duke Aiona—but in a statement accompanying the signing Abercrombie said the change “cleared the way for a new era of leadership for our public school system.”
Under the new law, the nine-member BOE—which is responsible for overseeing the Department of Education and its $1.7 billion budget—will be composed of three representatives from Oahu, one each from Maui, Kauai and the Big Island and three at-large members.
Abercrombie’s office said it’s still reviewing applications, and promised to select “diverse individuals with varying skills, talent and experience.” The governor has until April 1 to submit a list of names to the Senate. If you’re interested in applying, visit hawaii.gov/gov.
Report: Hawaii Judges Have Lowest Pay
Wielding a gavel may give you power, but if you live in Hawaii it doesn’t make you rich. That’s according to a new report from the National Center For State Courts (NCSC), which found that as of July 2010 the Aloha State’s judges rank dead last in pay, adjusted for cost of living.
Hawaii’s high court judges earn $151,118 a year, intermediate appellate court judges earn $139,924 and general-jurisdiction trial judges earn $136,127. That ranks near the middle of the pack, but when the state’s high expenses are factored in local judges’ pay plummets to 51st in the nation, behind every other state and the District of Columbia.
Illinois was number one, with an adjusted average salary more than $100,000 higher than Hawaii, but the report found judges nationwide are feeling the pinch. “Stagnant tax revenue collections, brought on by decreased economic activity, continue to limit government spending,” wrote NCSC. “The impact on judicial salaries is clearly being felt throughout state court systems.”
First Round Of Omidyar-Funded Grants Trickle Out
In 2009, eBay founder and Oahu resident Pierre Omidyar (pictured below) and his wife, Pam, donated $50 million to the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF). The result of that philanthropy was felt this week, as five local organizations were awarded nearly $500,000 from HCF’s newly created Island Innovation Fund.
The recipients are: Lei Fresh, which aims “to leverage existing networks of farmers and retailers and connect them to the consumer via a mobile platform”; Kanu Hawaii, which wants to offer “group discounts from companies screened for environmental and social practices” and funnel a portion of the proceeds to nonprofits; the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, whose goal is to work with community clinics and create an electronic database of diabetes patients, particularly in isolated communities; the Hawaii Conservation Technology Initiative, which thinks tech tools like “high-resolution aerial imaging” can benefit native-forest restoration efforts; and Community Harvest Hawaii, which hopes to collect food that would otherwise go to waste and distribute it to the needy.
Applications for the next round of grants are being accepted through July 1; visit islandinnovation.org for more info.