Library hours, contracts dictate holiday closing


POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2010

QUESTION: I went to the McCully-Moiliili Library on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and discovered it was closed due to Martin Luther King Day! Didn't we observe that public holiday on Monday? So, why were librarians getting an extra holiday? Had there been any plans in the past to privatize the state library? Seems like it might save the state money and provide better service to the public.

ANSWER: Because it is normally closed on Mondays and because of the labor agreement between employees and the Hawaii State Public Library System, the McCully-Moiliili Library observed the Martin Luther King Day holiday the next day. That library is usually open Tuesdays through Saturdays, said spokesman Paul Mark. It was open Saturday, Jan. 16, then closed, as usual on Sunday and Monday, plus Tuesday.

“;In accordance with the long-standing contract provision, since the library was closed on the holiday (Monday), it must observe the holiday on the next working day — Tuesday,”; he said.

Three-day holiday weekends have been a long-standing provision in public employee union contracts. For libraries, the three days off depends on their normal hours of operation (see ).

Meanwhile, Mark said privatizing the state library system “;has never been considered.”;

The library system “;is one of Hawaii's most respected, valued and beloved state agencies and we enjoy widespread popular support throughout the community,”; he said.



It's ironic, with the recent spotlight on rats running over produce in Chinatown, that the state Department of Health's Vector Control Branch has been dismantled.

Much of the staff fell victim to a “;reduction in force”; — RIF, in officialese — and only a minimal number remain on all islands, spokeswoman Janice Okubo told Kokua Line.

Those employees “;will continue to provide consultation on vector issues and function under the Sanitation Branch,”; she said.

Okubo said Vector Control's focus was on insects and animals that carry and spread human diseases, such as mosquitoes and rodents. It generally did not deal with pet or restaurant complaints.

Vector Control was cut to preserve inspection programs in the Sanitation and Food and Drug branches, which were not affected by layoffs, Okubo said.

“;While we would have preferred to keep all our staff intact, difficult decisions had to be made and food safety was considered a higher priority at this time,”; she said.

Still, the budget cuts have affected sanitation inspectors. Their numbers were not cut, but the number of establishments they are required to review is “;very high, about double the amount recommended”; by the Environmental Protection Agency, Okubo said.

In a 2009 report to the state Legislature, the Health Department said, “;The branch faces a major challenge in adequately handling food protection”; (see

On Oahu, there are 12 sanitation inspector positions (down from 23 in 1988), each responsible for about 490 food establishments. However, Okubo said two of the positions are vacant.

As it is, “;With no overtime due to budget restrictions, the staff is unable to complete regular annual inspections for every establishment in the state,”; she said.


Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).