Funeral Alliance; Prison Guards

“We’re putting together volunteers and activists to help continue our important consumer protection work in Hawaii and start a Funeral Consumers Alliance.” -current posting on the Internet

If you put money into it and are curious about what’s happened to the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Hawaii, aka Honolulu Memorial Society aka Honolulu Funeral & Memorial Society aka Hawaii Memorial Society, here’s the answer.

FCA-Hawaii has disappeared. It failed to file with state in 2011, last year or this one. It has listed addresses on Haleiwa Road, Bingham Street and Ward Avenue. It’s not there. The state lists it as “Not In Good Standing.”

A member asked by email if I might know what happened to his money. I don’t know, but state regulators are looking into that.

It set up here in 1962 as a nonprofit, an affiliate, it said, of the National Funeral Consumers Alliance “to increase public awareness of funeral options, including how to care for your own dead without using a funeral home; monitor funeral industry practices and exposes abuses; serve as a consumer advocate for legal and regulatory reform.”

Various local people have been listed as principals. Joyce Salmon as agent. Others: Carol Kessler, Evelyn Shepard, Michael Dabney, Ana Zir, Don Olsen and Junnie Joseph.

It did lobby heavily in 2006-’08 to amend our prepaid funeral regulations, but admitted failure in its newsletter. Here’s an edited excerpt:

“Oh, what a difference $33,450 makes. That’s how much lawmakers involved with funeral consumer protection bills took from the funeral industry. Gov. Linda Lingle accepted $6,000 from funeral giant Service Corporation International.

“Hawaii’s prepaid funeral and cemetery laws are tied with Alabama and Florida as the weakest in the country. They let industry keep a 30 percent commission from your prepaid deposit and consider you in default if you miss a payment. FCA-Hawaii President Sarah Robinson and others have been doggedly trying to get the legislature to fix these problems, but each time a bill comes up the committees defer it (wonder why?).”

At some point, the Hawaii group gave up, dissolved, but forgot to tell the state. How about the money that was donated or paid as dues? A look at the national group’s budget for a recent year gives us a clue:

Defunct affiliate funds: $3,000 from local groups, which dissolve.

You set up a local branch. You solicit money. You dissolve and the money goes to the “headquarters” in Vermont.

This one is worthy of our AG’s best sleuths.

Ted Sakai | Photo from Bob Jones

Memo to Ted Sakai, state Public Safety chief:

Your Star-Advertiser (8/18/13) op-ed in defense of prison guards who call in sick Super Bowl and New Year’s days and cause overtime pay was pathetic.

You said they work hard. They do, but some are flat-out shirkers, and you should be getting rid of them. You offered no solutions, just that “hard work” excuse. You had the job for four years earlier, left, reapplied and got it back.

I submit that you’ve gone too soft to merit reholding it.