Legislative Action Being Proposed and Class Action Law Suit filed over UH Data Breaches

As a result of these breaches, the personal information of about 110,000 faculty, students, alumni and others were compromised, including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. The incidents occurred at Kapiolani Community College in April 2009, involving information on students who applied for financial aid; at the Pacific Aviation Training Center at Honolulu Community College in February 2010; in the Auxiliary Enterprise department of the UH-Manoa Parking Office in June 2010; and at the UH-West Oahu in October 2010.

Legislative Action

In the upcoming legislative session, Sen. Mike Gabbard said he plans to introduce legislation, modeled after proposals offered by the Liberty Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit civil liberties watchdog group. The coalition is calling for more transparency and accountability, recommending that Hawaii law require organizations responsible for data breaches to provide specific information on the nature of the breach.

The coalition also suggests the state establish a “Breach Victims Trust Account” to be administered by a “Victims Advocacy Agency” and funded by culpable organizations. The money would be available to identity fraud victims.  The coalition also recommends that organizations involved in a data breach be required to conduct independent audits as a remedial action.

Sens. Jill Tokuda and Carol Fukunaga, both of whom were endorsed by UHPA in the recent election, announced they will hold an informational briefing with UH administration officials to look into the security breach issue in January.

Legal Action

On November 18, Bruce F. Sherman, attorney with Hawaii-based Grand Law Offices, filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the UH administration on behalf of those who were put at risk in the four data breaches. The lawsuit seeks an injunction forbidding the UH from violating the U.S. and Hawaii constitutional right to privacy by unauthorized release of private information and mandating the UH to take appropriate steps to ensure personal information that it has in its possession is protected.  The class action suit also seeks compensation for expenses incurred by the victims for enrollment in a credit monitoring program and identity theft insurance.

Personal Action

You do not need to take any action to be a part of this lawsuit; however, victims of the October 18, 2010 breach in which sensitive information was exposed on a UH-West Oahu web server, should take personal action. You can find out what type of information was released by going to www.nationalidwatch.org and entering your name. To protect yourself and identify, please take care of this as soon as possible before the end of the year.


More Information

For more information about the four data breaches, visit www.uhdatabreachlawsuit.com or contact attorney Bruce F. Sherman at (808) 221-0901.

Faculty Members Asked to Consider Organ and Bone Marrow Donations

Representative Glenn Wakai (Moanalua Valley, Moanalua, and Salt Lake) is seeking to give greater attention to a little known Hawaii 2005 law that encourages state employees to donate bone marrow and organs. The law provides that state employees may have up to one month of non-deductible sick leave for participating in these programs.

Click here to link to the specific statute.


Proposed Budget Cuts to UH Fails in House Finance Committee

March 29, 2010

Testimony for the the hearing on SB No. 2695

Duane Stevens, Ph.D.
President, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly
Professor of Meteorology, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Of the additional $59 M in proposed cuts:

  • $20M from Tuition and Fees Special Fund.  [The message to the people of Hawaii is:  Your taxes will pay for less higher education.  Therefore higher education costs must be paid from student tuition revenue.  Now the state is stealing those funds to cover a temporary shortall elsewhere.  So tuition will increase further.  Where is the logic?]
  • $15M from Cancer Research Special Fund.  $10M from Research and Training Revolving Fund, generated by federal research dollars. [Net $25M is being removed from research funds.  Indirect costs recovered from federal contracts in the future is likely to decrease!]


The net effect of diverting such funds to the state general fund is a direct impact on our operating budget. Many of these funds are already being used to defray the $100 million cut and/or to retain and support critical projects and programs.

Enrollment is at an all-time high with 58,000 students–including 8,000 additional students in the last two years alone. These students include people who have been hit hard by the economic downturn and are going back to school to re-tool for new careers. Students are relying on the university to help them prepare for jobs and compete in today’s global job market, making the university an essential resource for Hawai’i. Our students are counting on us–and it will take our collective efforts to deliver.
            —UH President MRC Greenwood, 3-28-10

With this special fund being raided, tuition hikes may also be a likely result to make up for the shortfall that would be created in the middle of the UH fiscal year, and students would have the most to lose.  We can look to the experiences of universities on the Mainland such as University of California, and can expect riots and protests by students here in Hawaii. The UH system is the main pathway for local students after high school, and this robs them of affordable job training and a higher education. At a time of record-high enrollment and many returning to school to learn new skills, this is unconscionable.
            —UHPA Executive Director JN Musto, 3-29-10

Hawaii requires higher education to prepare the next generation of Hawaii residents for future jobs.
        Duane Stevens, TV advertising in February 2010, sponsored by UHPA

The legislature is considering a substantial decrease in state support of higher education.  When I arrived in Hawaii in 1989, 13% of State of Hawaii general funds were allocated to higher education.  Today, according to a graph shown by you legislators in Hilo in November 2009, 8% of general funds goes to higher education.  Today, SB 2695 proposes to decrease funding further.  What does that say about the legislative commitment to jobs in the future?

Around 2000, what happened in senior faculty ranks in UH Manoa’s SOEST?:

  • Professor David Bercovici left  UH Manoa’s Geology Dept., later to become Chair of Geology & Geophysics at Yale
  • Stephen Self left UH Manoa’s SOEST to become Chair at Open University in England
  • Rodey Batiza left G&G to become a Program Manager at National Science Foundation
  • Jill Karsten (Researcher) moved to the American Geophysical Union in Washington, DC.
  • Khalil Spencer moved to Los Alamos National Lab.

When the mainland recovers economically before Hawaii, what do you think the best and the brightest faculty will do?

We may look back to the 2010 legislature and realize that the University of Hawaii System became the Hawaii State College system!!

Let’s End the Vicious Cycle

At a recent economic forum held at the State Capitol, economists agreed that spending cuts have only worsened the effects of the recession. “Budget cuts affect tax revenues for the State, affect economic growth and result in more claims for unemployment and claims for assistance through welfare.”  – Bill Boyd, Economics Professor, University of Hawaii.  We can’t continue to cut spending because this furthers the negative impact on the economy, leading to lower tax revenues.  It’s a vicious cycle that must end.

$1 Billion Drain on the Local Economy

The state has cut about $644 million in spending this fiscal year. The ripple effect of these cuts affects the state’s overall economy by a factor of two. This amounts to a total economic drain of $1 billion.

Cuts to Services

In addition to the devastating effect to the economy, the cuts have directly affected education, health and social services.  Levels of services have been affected to a point that the health and well-being of our community’s most vulnerable population is at risk.  Our children, elderly, disabled and disadvantaged are no longer assured the support of community services so desperately needed in a bad economy.  “When we cut social services, we will pay later in economic and human costs.” — Paul Brewbaker, TZ Economics.

A Multi-Pronged Solution

We cannot expect a different result if we do not do anything differently. “The State can close its budget gap through a combination of temporary increases in taxes, including a modest GET increase and the use of special funds.”  — Byron Ganges, Economics Professor, University of Hawaii.

We Support a Modest, Temporary GET Increase

A 1% increase to the general excise tax could be balanced with a state earned income tax credit helping those in the lower income tax brackets.  It would be used to restore and maintain services which affect the health, education and human services for Hawaii residents.

Small Impact, Big Results

By requesting a moderate increase in the general excise tax, we can create positive change with the least amount of pain for Hawaii’s people.  A 1% increase in the GET with appropriate exemptions is estimated to result in $500 million in revenue for the state.  That would address nearly half of the state’s $1.2 billion projected budget shortfall through 2011.  Economists agree that tax increases have a small impact on consumption.  That’s good for Hawaii’s businesses, and ultimately, helps generates tax revenues for the state. 

Broad Community Support

A recent poll conducted by Qmark reveals that 73% of Hawaii residents support legislators increasing revenues (49% for income tax increase, 23% for GET increase) to avoid more pay cuts.

The following organizations support a modest temporary increase in the GET:

  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA)
  • Hawaii Alliance for Retired Americans (HARA)
  • Hawaii State Teachers Association
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)
  • Interfaith Alliance
  • Lanakila Meals on Wheels
  • Methodist Division of Church Society
  • National Association of Social Workers, Hawaii Chapter
  • Painters Local 1791
  • Protecting Hawaii’s Ohana, Children, UnderServed, Elderly and Disabled (PHOCUSED)
  • Royal State Insurance
  • University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA)
  • United Public Workers (UPW)

HB 2937 Would Allow Bargaining Over Benefits for Public Employees – Faculty Testimony Needed

Click here to view HB 2937

Click here to view the hearing notice

Persons wishing to offer comments should submit testimony at least 24 hours prior to the hearing with a transmittal cover indicating:

  • Testifier’s name with position/title and organization;
  • The Committee the comments are directed to;
  • The date and time of the hearing;
  • Measure number; and
  • The number of copies the Committee is requesting.

While every effort will be made to copy, organize, and collate all testimony received, materials received on the day of the hearing or improperly identified or directed to the incorrect office, may be distributed to the Committee after the hearing.

Submit testimony in ONE of the following ways:

PAPER:  4 copies (including an original) to Room 422 in the State Capitol;

FAX:       For comments less than 5 pages in length, transmit to 586-6331 (Oahu) or 1-800-535-3859 (for Neighbor Islanders without a computer to submit testimony through e-mail or the Web); or

WEB:     For comments less than 4MB in size, transmit from the Web page at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony.

Testimony submitted will be placed on the Legislative Web site after the hearing adjourns.  This public posting of testimony on the Web site should be considered when including personal information in your testimony.

If you require special assistance or auxiliary aids and/or services to participate in the House public hearing process (i.e., sign or foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility), please contact the Committee Clerk at 586-6180 or email your request for an interpreter to HouseInterpreter@Capitol.hawaii.gov at least 24 hours prior to the hearing for arrangements.  Prompt requests submitted help to ensure the availability of qualified individuals and appropriate accommodations.

Selected meetings are broadcast live.  Check the current legislative broadcast schedule on the “Capitol TV” Web site at www.capitoltv.org OR call 550-8074.

SB 2849 EUTF Reform to be Heard in Senate Labor and Judiciary Committees on February 5th – Faculty Testimony Needed

Click here to view SB 2849

Click here to view hearing notice

Testimony supporting this effort can be submitted by following the instructions below:

  • By Email:  Testimony may be emailed if less than 5 pages in length, to the Committee at LBRTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov.  Please indicate the measure, date and time of the hearing. Email sent to individual offices or any other Senate office will not be accepted.
  • By Web: Testimony may be submitted online if less than 4MB in size, at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony.
  • In person:  1 copy of their testimony to the committee clerk, Room 204.

Please note:  If you submit your written testimony after 4:00 p.m. the day prior to the hearing, please sign-in at the staff table to testify orally.  A copy of your testimony may not be available during the hearing but will be posted online for the public after the hearing.

If you require special assistance or auxiliary aids or services to participate in the public hearing process (i.e., sign or foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility), please contact the committee clerk 24 hours prior to the hearing so arrangements can be made.

Please note:  All testimony received by the Hawaii Senate will be posted on the Hawaii Legislature’s Website.  Documents made available through the Testimony hyperlink(s) above may not be posted until the start of the hearing.

Public Folder.  A folder labeled “Public Folder” containing the testimonies for the hearing will be available for shared use by members of the public.