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State employees told not to push charity at work

By Star Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:55 a.m. HST, Dec 06, 2013



There is a new Grinch this Christmas — the Hawaii State Ethics Commission has issued an advisory telling state employees not to promote Macy's seasonal Make-A-Wish fundraiser at island schools.

According to the advisory, a number of public school teachers and administrators have been asked to support and encourage students to participate in the department store's "A Million Reasons to Believe" promotion. In the campaign, kids write letters to Santa and then deposit them in boxes at Macy's stores. Macy's then promises to donate $1 for each letter to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a nonprofit that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

The state ethics code prohibits public employees from fundraising or seeking support for a private charity such as Make-A-Wish at work, the advisory said.

That means DOE employees can't use their state emails to promote the Believe campaign, use school equipment to print out letter templates, dedicate classroom-time to letter-writing or collect letters on campus.







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NotNasti wrote:
Bah Humbug!
on December 6,2013 | 08:09AM
gary360 wrote:
Communist. Did someone open the sewer? You can tell people that you have to let a muslim pray during school, when no other religion can (where's the separation of religion and state) but you can't promote something worth while? Total DICTATORSHIP.
on December 7,2013 | 04:29AM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
Not very mature to use the word "Grinch" in the opening sentence, in reference to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Grow up, writer and you readers who are easily manipulated. It's standard ethics policy for employees of any company--especially government agencies--to refrain from using company time and resources to promote non-related entities. When a for-profit company--Macy's, for example--is involved, try not to be their dupe!
on December 7,2013 | 03:12PM
CriticalReader wrote:
Makes sense. What if a teacher was tryng to raise funds for his/her son's football team using state paid work time, computers, printers, etc.? OK? What about using State time and resources to do work as a Board Member of a non-profit to abolish same sex marriage? What about trying to get students to give to the "Free ALL Hell's Angels Members from Prison relief fund"? None of those pass the smell test, but in principal, all are exactly the same as the Macy's project. If the teachers really want to encourage this, they should appoint students to spearhead and develop leadership/involvement skills, and have the students do it (with Teachers advising after hours most safely, but perhaps during school with the educational benefit being development of leadership/involvement skills).
on December 6,2013 | 08:22AM
kailua000 wrote:
if they do it during their lunch break, signing into their own personal email, I have no problem with it.
on December 6,2013 | 06:07PM
Alohapatty wrote:
On their personal computer or cell phone, not using state resources like their work computer.
on December 6,2013 | 06:54PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Hope this applies to the Aloha United Way as well. Every year, it was the same pressure, to give as a group, and the group shame if your section was seen as "selfish". Charity should be one's private business. State and county resources, paid for by taxpayers, should not be used to benefit any charity. Besides, who decides that one charity deserves consideration over another, the governor? ....the mayor?
on December 7,2013 | 06:00AM
mainland_refugee wrote:
Nah... they will just claim that the United Way program is VOLUNTARY. They push a=hard, but they have to understand that my mortgage and food and utilities come first... and I don't have much left for them. I just ignore the form, conveniently losing it before the deadline.
on December 7,2013 | 06:15AM
mainland_refugee wrote:
CriticalReader... I love your statement: "If the teachers really want to encourage this, they should appoint students to spearhead and develop leadership/involvement skills, and have the students do it (with Teachers advising after hours most safely, but perhaps during school with the educational benefit being development of leadership/involvement skills)." YES... and what a great lesson the students can learn from doing this! Isn't this part of what students should be learning anyway! Maybe the school can have the students form a club... at least that would be a formative way to learn some new things as an extra-curricular activity.
on December 7,2013 | 06:36AM
Djjdo wrote:
All charities that count on funding from the Aloha United Way should be very concerned. According to the "letter of the law",State/County employees can no longer serve as AUW Coordinators. AUWE!
on December 6,2013 | 08:22AM
bikemom wrote:
That's not what this says. It says they are not allowed to do so at work or with state resources.
on December 6,2013 | 03:48PM
st1d wrote:
all arm twisting of public employees by government managers to "donate" to auw is done on government time, in government buildings, using government resources: paper, pens, computers, copiers.

and woe to the employee that refuses to "donate" to auw. it's screws to the forehead if arm twisting doesn't work.


on December 6,2013 | 04:00PM
SteveToo wrote:
I don't know about that st1d. I worked for the State for 30 years and never once donated to AUW and never got any screws in my forehead.
on December 6,2013 | 04:06PM
st1d wrote:
the forceful sell of the auw campaign depends on the dept and div head. some supervisors went as far as putting in a dollar under the employees' names so that their section reflected a 100% participation.

and all forms were distributed on gov't time, filled out on gov't time, and turned into the shift supervisor who checked each "donation" for participation.


on December 6,2013 | 04:15PM
jomama wrote:
I think you are full of it.
on December 6,2013 | 09:03PM
houdini wrote:
Not too hard too believe. The gov't time, govt buildings, gov't resources are certainly all true. Some depts. and disciplines are also very competitive. And it is the govt. supervisors-- I wouldn't put it past them to put the screws to employees, they are accomplished at this.
on December 7,2013 | 05:53AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
No promotion or salary increase?
on December 6,2013 | 04:13PM
mainland_refugee wrote:
Remember that state resources are the TAX DOLLARS they collect for each and every one of us. As a tax payer, I don't want the City/County/State employees to spend that money and/or time on promoting a charity when Macy's should be the one to do the promoting.
on December 7,2013 | 06:18AM
Bdpapa wrote:
This is interesting. Where do you draw the line. But, for a Christmas thing, this may be a good time for the students learn how to articulate themselves in letter writing skills, and doing something nice for someone everyday without expecting anything in return.
on December 6,2013 | 08:30AM
CriticalReader wrote:
So, let the students spearhead it. The problem was apparently that the teacher(s) was/were acting as the promoters and organizers and using State resources to do it. Have to wonder if the issue emanates from a complaint by a Family that felt put upon to "give" money (due to teacher or peer pressure), when they either didn't want to, or didn't have the money to give. Also, "write letters to Santa"??? Sadly, I know a lot of people who would have a problem with their kids being ordered to write a letter to Santa.
on December 6,2013 | 08:54AM
jomama wrote:
Its a pretty transparent PR play for Macys.
on December 6,2013 | 09:04PM
jomama wrote:
As long as they do it for Hanukah too
on December 6,2013 | 09:04PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Too much beaurocratic BS. Our whole society and the basic beliefs and ethical values are being weeded out in the name of greed.
on December 6,2013 | 08:44AM
dsl wrote:
Not in the name of greed - in the name of the law. Too many lawyers looking for work!!
on December 6,2013 | 11:19AM
localtodamax808 wrote:
Makes alot of sense to me.
on December 6,2013 | 09:07AM
primo1 wrote:
Yet again our tax dollars hard at work.
on December 6,2013 | 09:51AM
busterb wrote:
Might be a good thing, one of them school clerks might run off with the cash! Wouldn't be the first time.
on December 6,2013 | 10:22AM
HOSSANA wrote:
Call it BAH HAMBUG but I'm just sick of all these charities....u go into the supermkts. they ask for donations for some crap...outside the stores, u have the salvation army....people knocking on my doors all the time for some charity donation...then i receive tons of mail for charities.....all these charities are scams.....the administrator of these charities get pd. astrononical sums.....bah hambug!!
on December 6,2013 | 11:37AM
Venus1 wrote:
Agree!! Operation Christmas Child is the biggest scam..., Billy Graham's son pockets big bucks... Those boxes are used to get kids into churches to tell them they are going to He'll if they don't become Christians... Great conflict in Hindu and Muslim communities!
on December 6,2013 | 05:13PM
mainland_refugee wrote:
They are all "good causes"... but I simply cannot afford to send $$$ wherever and with certain health-related issues, I cannot eat the tons of stuff companies and organizations have children peddle.
on December 7,2013 | 06:20AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
It was really unfair that teachers were using taxpayer dollars and classroom time to support a single charity and not others. There should be an effort to support and teach kids about charities but evenly distributed around all local charities.
on December 6,2013 | 11:43AM
copperwire9 wrote:
If that"s the case, why do we have to endure the United Way grab-a-thon each year, with pledge forms sent to all our offices? It mystifies me why people would donate through an aggregator (who takes a cut) when donating directly to a person's chosen organizations garner so much more money for them. Yet every year I get the same somewhat-polite, "you've disappointed us" smile when I turn in my U-Way form saying I'll be giving -$0- each year.
on December 6,2013 | 12:56PM
mainland_refugee wrote:
Why do people support the Girl Scouts by buying their famous cookies. The Girl Scout organization only gets about 20-cents per box! Sounds a lot like child-slave-labor to me! And these days it's largely the parents selling them and not the girls themselves... when I was in scouts, we had to lug those freakin' cooking all over the freakin' neighborhood.
on December 7,2013 | 06:23AM
Hawaii5OhOh wrote:
State workers in other departments are constantly bombarded year round to use time and resources for meetings and coordination for Aloha United Way, Food Bank Drive, March of Dimes, Heart Health fund drive, Breast Cancer Awareness fund drive, Red Cross (for the most current disaster fund raising), and other State sanctioned charities. Then, there are the Girl Scout cookie sales, other candy and bake sales, Zippy chili ticket sales, hulihuli chicken sales, kalua pork, and laulau sales for other charities and non-profits that are not State coordinated. Usually, a department coordinator is a high makamaka (deputy director) who assigns the work to a highly paid administrator, who then gives the work to a low paid State worker (usually they tell you that you "volunteered", or by office rotation) who is stuck to do all of the actual work to get the money. For the poor SOB, it is really hard and thankless work, because you still have to finish your real job, and you don't get overtime pay to do it. All of this charity work is taxpayer funded, and should be banned, like banning gambling in the workplace (in the old days, lots of work time on Fridays were wasted due to choosing what teams to pick and to get the bets in) and banning political fund raising in the workplace (like having to buy stew and rice dinner tickets for $100 in the 1990's).
on December 6,2013 | 01:50PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
This year, I was the "low paid State worker" assigned to Hawaii Food Bank Drive in my unit. I spent less time doing this than other workers, public or private service, do smoking on the job. Office rotation. Really hard and thankless work? You kidding, right? I contribute to AUW, buy Girl Scout cookies, fundraisers for kids' sports teams, attend office bake sales during lunch hour for State and private companies in the building. In the food drive, I contributed $300, others donated $10 or so. Boss did not contribute, but so what?
on December 7,2013 | 04:52AM
Hawaii5OhOh wrote:
Doing the unit charity work only for your office is easy. I'm talking about when you get saddled with the department-wide charity work when your department has several thousand employees, which includes the neighbor islands. This involves working with dozens of coordinators throughout the department (fund collectors), sending out tons of e-mails, and using the State Courier service to get the money in quickly (not supposed to). And, try doing it during times of RIF (reduction-in-force, or layoffs) like during the early Cayetano years and the late Lingle years (after 2008 and the financial collapse) when hundreds of your fellow workers were targeted to be cut. It use to be so awkward and absurd to talk to those about to be RIFed to donate to the charity. My good boss and his boss, who volunteered me and gave me the honor to do this type of work, always donated generously. However, guess how much my beloved Director and her Deputy Director, at that time, contributed? Same as your boss.
on December 7,2013 | 01:07PM
mainland_refugee wrote:
The ONLY charity I support is AmeriCares... and that's because I know that 98-cents of EVERY dollar I donate goes to the organization's effort... and that's largely because the President of the organization does not take a salary. And even then, I have ignored all of their requests for donation this year because I simply cannot afford to give any money away.
on December 7,2013 | 06:26AM
dakota_96 wrote:
how ironic that the state is allowed to solicit donations for AUW from state employees.
on December 6,2013 | 01:54PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
I presume that many companies allow soliciting for AUW, HFB and for Hurricane Haiyan.
on December 7,2013 | 04:53AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
dakota, I worked for the same company in the private sector for 32 years. Every year, they solicited for AUW, so your point is another way to knock the State?
on December 7,2013 | 05:39AM
gthx1138y wrote:
What if a state employee logs into Hawaii.rr.com or gmail.com account using a state computer, during lunch? Or uses a smartphone web-based app to forward the email during a boring meeting? See, all kinds of bases the EC hasn't thought of.
on December 6,2013 | 02:27PM
bikemom wrote:
My understanding is that's not allowed. State employees are not allowed to use state resources, e.g., a state computer. If the employee is on state time, then forwarding a fundraising or personal email would also not be allowed.
on December 6,2013 | 03:52PM
cojef wrote:
"Political Correctnes" the contemporary buzzword, oft used to destroy old nasty Chritian social habits.
on December 6,2013 | 02:28PM
jomama wrote:
Like shopping at Macys
on December 6,2013 | 09:05PM
sailfish1 wrote:
I thought all our teachers were overworked and lacked resources.
on December 6,2013 | 03:03PM
niimi wrote:
Then to extrapolate, stop pushing ALL fundraisers at schools because stopping just one means they are discriminating against ALL OTHERS!
on December 6,2013 | 03:22PM
st1d wrote:
can't wait for the next staradvert's "kids' day" newspaper sale. will government personnel, mayor, legislators and the like still take to the streets to hawk papers.
on December 6,2013 | 04:03PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
st1d, me too. Makes for good PR.
on December 7,2013 | 04:54AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
You can't grant exemptions the ethics code, even for worthy causes. Some unethical government employee will find a way to exploit any type of exemption granted. Just look at what Caldwell is now doing, several city departments are stonewalling the city ethics commission and trying to marginalize their enforcement efforts. And this is the Mayor we're talking about, if he is willing to disregard ethics rules, I think it's safe to assume many state and city employees would be willing to do the same.
on December 6,2013 | 04:12PM
maya wrote:
I was very angry when a coworker asked me to donate to Aloha United Way. I was mad at them at the time- because they excluded Planned Parenthood. I also make my own charity donations. I was told by this coworker that they would put me down as no donation- with my name. I was very angry. I think that charities who rely on coercion to get donations should not be allowed access to the workplace.
on December 6,2013 | 05:10PM
kailua000 wrote:
I think you co-worker was wrong and should be told so. I've been solicited by AUW and no one ever told me they would do that. Scare tactics on the part of your co-worker so she could raise more. She should have been reported to your HR
on December 6,2013 | 06:09PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
maya, that's an excellent reason for you not to donate to any worthy causes. The solicitor made you mad.
on December 7,2013 | 04:56AM
mainland_refugee wrote:
Why don't you file a harassment complain. Just tell them you felt threatened. I usually tell them it's fine that they put me down as a "no donation" with the explanation that while I support SOME of the organizations under the United Way program, I DO NOT support all of them and would prefer to contribute ONLY to the ones in which I believe.
on December 7,2013 | 06:30AM
Mana07 wrote:
Yeah the teachers need to be spending their time teaching our students that they must love Obama and LGBT is normal. How dare they encourage helping the less fortunate!
on December 6,2013 | 06:05PM
kailua000 wrote:
Lord forbid the state do something that can actually help sick and dying children.
on December 6,2013 | 06:06PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Ask this issue in tomorrow's Big Q.
on December 6,2013 | 07:09PM
HD36 wrote:
It's not the role of government to seek donations for charity. People are already compelled under penalty of jail if they don't pay taxes; which fund food stamps, welfare, pensions, etc.. If only Mizuno would realize that government is not the solution to all mankind's problems.
on December 6,2013 | 07:11PM
2NDC wrote:
I'm impressed to see a state agency actually doing their job for once. Though this was a noble act, I imagine that the reception would be a lot different had the teachers of some random Hawaii public school decided to raise funds for a group of students who happen to have parents that were key members of some radical religious group.
on December 6,2013 | 07:38PM
Nesmith wrote:
No more AUW too then. Remember this when that time comes around again - early fall. Passive pressure experienced.
on December 6,2013 | 08:25PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Nesmith, no more charity solicitations at work time then, yeah?
on December 7,2013 | 04:58AM
tsboy wrote:
political corretctness run amok. i'm sure those that drew up this law, did not mean it to be taken this far.
on December 6,2013 | 11:24PM
Galatians52223 wrote:
Macy's donates thousands of $ to the RIF program. The RIF program goes to public schools (lower income) and encourages young students to read. These students are blessed with brand new books several times a year. Thank you RIF and Macy's.
on December 7,2013 | 02:50AM
gary360 wrote:
Communist. Did someone open the sewer? You can tell people that you have to let a muslim pray during school, when no other religion can (where's the separation of religion and state) but you can't promote something worth while? Total DICTATORSHIP.
on December 7,2013 | 04:28AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
When my kids were young, my wife fundraised for their activities. Now I'm an easy sell for coworkers doing the same. I especially like the dried aku for $15.
on December 7,2013 | 05:50AM
samidunn wrote:
But it's OK to campaign at work.
on December 7,2013 | 08:50AM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
Not very mature to use the word "Grinch" in the opening sentence, in reference to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Grow up, writer and you readers who are easily manipulated. It's standard ethics policy for employees of any company--especially government agencies--to refrain from using company time and resources to promote non-related entities. And when a for-profit company--Macy's, for example--is involved, try not to be their dupe.
on December 7,2013 | 03:11PM
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