The Bookshelf...Hawaii's 1968 ConCon

Books of note in the collection -

With an Understanding Heart: Constitution Making in Hawaii, by Norman Meller, is an account of the 1968 Constitutional Convention. What makes this an interesting history is that, throughout, Professor Meller draws comparisons between 1968 and the previous 1950 ConCon which drafted the constitution for statehood. (Statehood in 1959 came midway between the two ConCons.) The author called this 148-page study "one person's observations" but he was eminently qualified to observe and analyze. In 1947 Meller became director of the Legislative Reference Bureau, which did research for the 1950 convention, and in 1955 became professor of political science at the University of Hawaii. The book covers "tooling up" the community, delegate elections, pre-convention preparations, the convention at work, and the resulting constitution and "selling" it, and does a post-convention appraisal. Heart was published in 1971 by the National Municipal League as part of its State Constitutional Convention Studies. (JK2415 H3 1968 A283)


Offshoring in human services?

In a study released March 28, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined offshoring in four federally-funded, state-administered programs: child support enforcement, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and unemployment insurance; and two federally-administered student aid programs: Pell Grant and Federal Family Education Loan. GAO found offshoring in 43 of 50 states, primarily in customer service for food stamps and TANF, and software development for unemployment insurance and child support enforcement; and no offshoring in the student aid programs. State officials report lower costs as a benefit, but offshore expenditures in the four programs appear to be relatively small. GAO also reported that state agencies rarely contract directly with foreign companies, but in outsourcing, their U.S. contractors subcontract work in foreign countries. (Hawaii reported offshoring in its food stamp program.)

See FR post on revised report issued May 25, 2006.

Links to the six programs in the report:
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
State CSE web sites
Food Stamp Program
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Unemployment Insurance
Pell Grant
Federal Family Education Loan
OFFSHORING IN SIX HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS: Offshoring Occurs in Most States, Primarily in Customer Service and Software Development, GAO-06-342
     Full report (pdf, 628KB, 45p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 80KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

Related GAO report:
Offshoring of Services: An Overview of the Issues, GAO-06-5 (pdf, 3.2MB, 87p.), Nov. 28, 2005

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Protecting all of Hawai`i

Cascadia Times is an environmental issues periodical published in Portland, Oregon concerned with conservation efforts in the Pacific. Their Spring 2006 editon is dedicated to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and the threat to its fragile ecosytem by, "the rogues of the Pacific." Cascadia Times reports on what they find to be power plays between public and government conservationists and a federally funded fishery management council, Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Wespac). Paul Koberstein, the author of the piece, claims Wespac is spending federal money marked for education to promote board members' fishing businesses and their desire to deregulate and open the NWHI to the fishing industry.

Detailing the NWHI's history of presidential and government protection, its current protected reserve status and the move to expand the protection coverage, and documenting the various exchanges and workings of both sides to the issues, the edition presents an expose-like view of what the paper views as a major threat to the priceless Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Rogues of The Pacific, by Cascadia Times
(available in pdf, 1.1MB, from the NWHI Network)


More on E911 - Next generation

The 911 emergency call system urgently needs upgrading to accommodate new technologies, according to a recent study by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), Washington Technology reported March 10.

NENA's study resulted from its E911 program, a public-private partnership of 26 representatives of the technology industry and public safety interests. NENA sees the rapid development of wireless and IP-based devices and video and text messaging as beyond the capabilities of the current 911 system; thus the system needs "a significant overhaul." The study notes a report by the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) presenting the concept of an "internetwork" emergency communications system, connecting "the multiplicity of local, regional, and national wireline and wireless networks...in effect, a system of systems." NENA also envisions such an interconnected model in E911's future.

Next Generation 9-1-1-: Responding to an Urgent Need for Change
(pdf, 1MB, 24p., from NENA)

Communication Isssues for Emergency Communications Beyond E911
(pdf, 1.2MB, 71p., from NRIC)

Related FR post: Wireless E911 progress


Separate but tougher

The Mercury News published an AP story on a study released March 16 by the National Academies' National Research Council. As noted in the report's 27-page summary (pdf, 620KB), Congress requested the EPA "to arrange for an independent study of the practices and procedures by which states develop separate emission standards." The study not only found early successes resulting from California's tougher than the federal Clean Air Act standards in vehicle emissions, but recommended California,
continue its pioneering role in setting mobile-source emissions standards...[and] continue to be a proving ground for new emissions-control technologies that benefit California and the rest of the nation.
The news article noted a number of states have recently adopted California's mobile emission regulations (as allowed under amendment to section 177 of the Clean Air Act): Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. (See FR, Coast states drive to regulate vehicle emissions.)

Though the auto industry claimed the tougher standards result in significant costs for consumers, the study concluded, "that the California program has been beneficial overall for air quality by improving mobile-source emissions control." On possible issues arising as more states move to follow California, the summary suggested:
EPA could alleviate such disputes either by providing formal but nonbinding guidance or by being given the power to grant or, in limited circumstances, deny a waiver allowing states to adopt California standards.
State and Federal Standards for Mobile Source Emissions
(available as an Open Book from National Academies Press)

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Wireless E911 progress

On March 10 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a study on the progress of implementing wireless enhanced 911 (E911) services in the U.S. Enhanced 911 gives emergency responders the location and callback number of callers using landline phones. Wireless E911 gives the same callback information from mobile phone users and "is inherently more challenging." In response to the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004, PL 108-494 (pdf, 108KB, 14p., from GPO), GAO reviewed the use of state and local funds to deploy wireless E911. GAO found "significant progress" since its last report in 2003 but noted that states are in varying stages of implementation.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: States' Collection and Use of Funds for Wireless Enhanced 911 Services, GAO-06-338
     Full report (pdf, 656KB, 27p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 64KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

Related GAO report:

Telecommunications: Uneven Implementation of Wireless Enhanced 911 Raises Prospect of Piecemeal Availability for Years to Come, GAO-04-55 (pdf, 1.5MB, 42p.), Nov. 7, 2003

Related LRB report:

Wireless Enhanced 911 Working Group: Report of Proceedings, Report No. 2, 2004 (pdf, 448KB, 42p.)

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Disability under the ADA

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a report March 9 on the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, codified in 42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq., defines disability with respect to an individual as "(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or C) being regarded as having such an impairment." (42 U.S.C. §12102)

The study discusses five U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing "disability": Bragdon v. Abbot (1998; HIV); Sutton v. United Airlines (1999; pilot's vision); Murphy v. United Parcel Service (1999; commercial driver's high blood pressure); Albertsons, Inc. v. Kirkingburg (1999; truck driver's vision); and Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams (2002; carpal tunnel syndrome).

The report also reviews lower court decisions interpreting the Supreme Court's rulings in the areas of: mitigating measures, major life activity of working, "history of" an impairment, and being "regarded as" having an impairment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Definition of Disability, CRS Report RL33304
(pdf, 64KB, 14p., from Open CRS)

Related CRS report:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Statutory Language and Recent Issues, CRS Report 98-921A, updated April 23, 2003 (pdf, 192KB, 45p., from the U.S. Dept. of State)

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Charter schools on par

RAND Education released a 10 page occasional paper last month examining charter schools in California, the state with more charter schools than any other state. The paper discusses the effects of charter schools on traditional public education, evaluates the sometimes contentious issues surrounding the schools, and analyzes student performance and test scores over time. The RAND summary states:
  • charter school students are keeping pace with comparable students in traditional public schools.
  • minority students are performing no better in charter than in traditional classrooms.
  • competition from charters...[do not] improve the performance of traditional public schools.
  • charter schools have achieved comparable test score results with fewer public resources.
  • school level operations varied considerably between charter and traditional schools...[with] little effect on student achievement.
Though the analysis focused on California, the researchers found that within the state, charter school performance varies by charter type, suggesting performance will vary "as charter laws vary from state to state," and that it is important to study the differing environments, laws and designs to better understand charter schools and their role in school improvement.
It is important to examine under what local circumstances, governing laws, and instructional and educational designs charter schools are most likely to have positive effects on students who choose to attend these schools and on those who do not.
Making Sense of Charter Schools, Evidence from California
(available in pdf, 165KB, from RAND)

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Equal access to mediocre care

AP and The Washington Post (WP) report that a study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found Americans received only mediocre quality healthcare. "Research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health care quality," noted AP, determined there was no real difference in the quality of care received by people based on their ethnicity. However the study did find that overall people received "only 55 percent of recommended steps for top-quality care."

In the journal article's abstract, the researchers concluded:
The differences among sociodemographic subgroups in the observed quality of health care are small in comparison with the gap for each subgroup between observed and desirable quality of health care. Quality-improvement programs that focus solely on reducing disparities among sociodemographic subgroups may miss larger opportunities to improve care.

Who Is at Greatest Risk for Receiving Poor-Quality Health Care?
(available in pdf, 140KB, from NEJM)

Supplementary Appendix (Evidence)
(also available in pdf, 700KB)



Just in...Bishop Estate; Hawaii harbors

Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust, by Samuel P. King and Randall W. Roth. In August 1997, the Honolulu Star Bulletin published "Broken Trust," a lengthy essay detailing "breaches of trust" by the powerful trustees of Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools as well as by Hawaii's political establishment. The essay ultimately led to the removal or resignation of all five trustees and instigated other far-reaching effects in Bishop Estate and Hawaii's political and judicial systems relating to the Estate. In the 324-page Broken Trust, Judge King and Professor Roth, two of the five authors of the 1997 essay, have chronicled "events in the political, economic, and educational life of Hawaii that were precipitated by the turmoil at Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate between 1997 and 1999." (KF228 K36 K56 2005)

Hawaii Harbor Users Group Report on Port Facilities & Development Priorities. The Hawaii Harbor Users Group (HHUG) is a nonprofit maritime industry group of such key harbor users as Matson, Young Brothers, and Norwegian Cruise Line. HHUG commissioned this report "to review and evaluate facility requirements within the Hawaiian harbors system and develop a set of priorities for future port development. " The report gives an overview of port operations and key operating and capacity issues for six harbors: Honolulu, Kalaeloa Barbers Point, Kahului, Hilo, Kawaihae, and Nawiliwili, and describes new activities to be accommodated in the harbors system. (HE554 A6 M47 2005)


Computerized voter lists

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report yesterday on nine states that have implemented computerized voter registration lists as required by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA, PL 107-252, pdf, 212KB, 66p., from GPO). HAVA required that states create these lists by Jan. 1, 2004, but they could apply for a 2-year waiver to Jan. 1, 2006. All but nine states obtained the waiver. This study reviews the experiences of the nine states that implemented the HAVA voter registration provisions, Hawaii being one of them (see Appendix VI).

ELECTION REFORM: Nine States' Experiences Implementing Federal Requirements for Computerized Voter Registration Systems, GAO-06-247
     Full report (pdf, 1.4MB, 65p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 332KB, 1p.)
     Abstract (html)

Related GAO reports:

Elections: Views of Selected Local Election Officials on Managing Voter Registration and Ensuring Eligible Citizens Can Vote, GAO-05-997 (pdf, 2.2MB, 120p.), September 27, 2005

Elections: Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed, GAO-05-956 (pdf, 1.3MB, 107p.), September 21, 2005

Elections: Additional Data Could Help State and Local Elections Officials Maintain Accurate Voter Registration Lists, GAO-05-478 (pdf, 1.6MB, 71p.), June 10, 2005

Related FR posts:

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Ethanol - background and policy issues

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on ethanol last week (Mar. 3). The study focuses on ethanol made from corn, since that is the primary source in the U.S.; in other countries it is cane sugar.

According to the study, finding alternatives to petroleum is a constant in U.S. energy policy, and ethanol plays a key role. While ethanol's primary use currently is as a gasoline additive, "it has the potential to significantly displace petroleum demand." CRS traces the initial spur for ethanol production to the mid-70s, as a response to the oil embargoes of 1973 and 1979. Thereafter, the ethanol industry got a boost when the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (S.1630 which became PL 101-549) created the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program. As the report explains, RFG requires oxygenates in gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide and other emissions, and ethanol is one of the two most commonly used oxygenates. The study also discusses the most recent legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PL 109-58, pdf, 3MB, 551p., from GPO). The Act established renewable fuel standards (RFS), mandating ethanol and other renewable fuels in gasoline.

The study asserts that the ethanol market relies heavily on federal incentives such as tax credits, import tariffs, and mandates for its use, which to ethanol opponents "amount to corporate welfare for corn growers and ethanol producers." The report concludes that ethanol's benefits in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gases are limited, but federal incentives have promoted significant growth in the industry. In requiring renewable fuels in gasoline, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 will continue to create demand for ethanol, CRS believes.

The report notes that in the current 109th Congress, H.R.4409 (pdf, 180KB, 89p., from GPO) eliminates the tariff for fuel ethanol, among other provisions.

Fuel Ethanol: Background and Public Policy Issues, CRS Report RL33290
(pdf, 116KB, 26p., from Open CRS)

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Pre-k and the states

Pre-K Now is a public education and advocacy organization originally created as a funding strategy of the Pew Charitable Trusts and a project of the Institute for Educational Leadership. They describe their mission and goal:
Our mission is to collaborate with advocates and policymakers to lead a movement for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. The goal of Pre-K Now is to advance high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for all children.
Pre-K Now publishes a resource center on its web site offering state profiles and their efforts in pre-k; availability, political, quality and climate mappings of progress; and recommended resources, both digital and traditional.

Two Pre-K Now publications of interest are also available as downloads:

Funding the Future: States' Approaches to Pre-K Finance - the press release describes as examining "the range of financial approaches states employ, how effective they have been in raising funds for high-quality programs, how sustainable those sources of funding are, and how they can be increased to improve the quality of and expand access to pre-k." 20p., pdf, 424 KB.

Pre-K and Politics 2005 - an analysis of the past year in the pre-kindergarten movement, reporting the bold approaches of commitment to pre-k programs while also examining the "states that have fallen behind the pack on pre-k." According to the press release, the annual identifies "ten essential conditions that comprise a political barometer and are associated with states that are serious about expanding pre-k to all children." 20p., pdf, 544 KB.

See related FR post, Challenges to universal pre-K.

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Wi-Fi for the public growing

When key areas of the the Hawaii State Capitol begin providing wireless Internet access in April (Star Bulletin, Feb. 18), Hawaii will join other states with Wi-Fi'd state capitols. According to the SB article, proposed contractor Hawaiian Telcom should complete the project in time for the work of House-Senate conference committees.

On the municipal front, according to a March 1 AP story, of three major cities planning Wi-Fi networks - Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia - Philadelphia has advanced the furthest with plans to have its network completed next spring. Agreements have been signed between Earthlink and Wireless Philadelphia, the nonprofit overseeing the 135-square-mile digital infrastructure.

In San Francisco, a Feb. 21 press release from the Mayor announced the close of the 45-day period for proposals to build the city's broadband network.

Chicago would be the biggest city to go wireless if all its 228 square miles are covered, AP reported Feb. 17. Its system could be up in 2007.

In Los Angeles, Wi-Fi is being installed in a high-crime housing development, with a twist. "Dual Vision" in the Feb. 2006 issue of Government Technology relates the plans of the Los Angeles Police Dept. (LAPD) to install surveillance cameras in the Jordan Downs development:
But the cameras aren't just about surveillance - they will provide wireless Internet access to more than 2,000 residents of Jordan Downs in an effort to bridge the digital divide.
The project will use Motorola equipment, and Motorola plans to donate computers to the community.

Other related FR posts:

States v. Federal, student performance evaluations

The Education Trust released a report Thursday evaluating student achievement patterns in a state-by-state comparison with the federal benchmark. Their analysis according to the press release:
raises questions about the rigor of state tests and standards, putting a spotlight on the huge disparities in student performance on state tests and on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
In the comparison, it was found that states' standards were generally lower than the national. Hawaii reported 56% of grade 4 students were proficient and advanced in reading. The NAEP tests determined only 23% were. In reading proficiency scores for grade 8, Hawaii reported 38%, while the national reported it to be 18%. Many states had more extreme gaps between their test scores and the national, especially for middle and high school student scores. The Trust suggested:
While important, overall trends do not tell the whole story. To ensure that all students meet grade-level standards, schools must increase achievement for all students while accelerating gains for poor and minority children who are often the furthest behind. Many states are meeting this goal in the elementary grades, but the results in middle and high school are disturbing.

Primary Progress, Secondary Challenge: A State-by-State Look at Student Achievement Patterns
(available in pdf, 472KB, from The Education Trust)

See related FR posts:

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