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Friday, July 25, 2014
July 25, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:27 PM :: 15135 Views

Video: Anti-GMO Maui Mayoral Candidate Runs from Cop, Gets Tazed

$15.45B Report: 560 Big Construction Projects for Hawaii

US Territories Suddenly Exempted from Obamacare

Quarter of Hawaii’s population now on Medicaid

Aiona Endorses Three in OHA Race

Lawmakers Highlight Need for More Affordable Housing

Primary might solely be a reflection on Abercrombie

SA: The governor has alienated several important liberal allies on labor, the environment and land use with his often blustery and confrontational personality. His job approval ratings, according to the Hawaii Poll, have not broken 50 percent since his first six months in office.

State Sen. David Ige, 57, with little campaign money or name recognition statewide, is a credible threat in the Democratic primary. Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Independent Party are emboldened for the November general election despite their bad losses to Abercrombie in 2010.

Re-election campaigns are typically about the performance of the incumbent, so Abercrombie was going to be center stage. But public and private polls have indicated that the primary might solely be a reflection on Abercrombie, a precarious spot for a polarizing governor.

(Only now, at the end, does he discover that his entire life has been a lie.)

Former Gov. John Waihee says ... "You may not like his personality...."  (And he's a supporter.)

...everything negative -- as one Abercrombie ally says privately -- seems to stick to the governor....

At the state Capitol, many political observers still talk about the painful moments of Abercrombie's first year, which included a brutal contract fight with public school teachers, public-relations blunders on the Pro Bowl and emergency proclamations, staff turmoil and the ignominy of the lowest job approval rating of any governor in the nation.

Abercrombie suffered the brunt of the backlash over the Public Land Development Corp., which was given broad exemptions from state land-use regulations to redevelop underused state land but never completed a single project before it was repealed last year. The governor initially defended the new agency against what he derided as the "usual suspects" who want to be arbiters of development.

On the left and in anti-development circles, there has been dismay that the Abercrombie administration endorsed the Ho'opili and Koa Ridge residential development projects in West and Central Oahu.

The harshest disapproval has come over the governor's exuberant backing of urban growth in Kakaako.

Abercrombie, who had once dismissed high-rise condominium projects in the region as "kennels for the rich" in the 1970s, has celebrated the long-delayed redevelopment of Kakaako....

Critics have accused Abercrombie of selling out to developers who are building luxury high-rises for foreign and mainland real estate speculators and driving up the state's already staggering home prices. Real estate developers, construction firms and others that stand to benefit from redevelopment in Kakaako have been lucrative sources of campaign contributions for Abercrombie, but the governor has also attracted donations from across the gamut of the state's business and financial elite.

The image of Abercrombie -- who entered Hawaii politics as a defiant, long-haired, bearded Vietnam War protester -- being feted at fundraisers by the Howard Hughes Corp. at the IBM Building in Kakaako, or by Oracle Corp. billionaire Larry Ellison at his San Francisco home, is too much for some progressives to shake....

"There are negatives against Abercrombie. I mean, we all have negatives against us," Anne Kobayashi said.... (And she's a supporter.)

Abercrombie said. "I've always said and acted on the premise that you're entitled to hear from me what you need to know, what I think needs to be said...."  (Arrogant.)

Another Arrogant Hippie: Video: Anti-GMO Maui Mayoral Candidate Runs from Cop, Gets Tazed

read ... Dog's the incumbent

Without presidential race, primary votes could lag

Borreca:  This year, voter officials gave two numbers for the number of registered voters, both active and fail-safe.

Active voters are the ones who got a correctly addressed yellow card from the state Office of Elections. The fail-safe number includes the cards mailed to registered voters but returned because the person doesn't live there anymore.

Officials keep the deadwood voters on the voter rolls for two election cycles and then they are scrubbed. Some of the fail-safe registered voters show up and vote, according to Honolulu clerk's office official Glen Takahashi, but most are gone.

So while the total registered voter number for Hawaii is 697,033, the one to use to figure out who'll have a say in who wins on Aug. 9 is "active voters," which is 609,472.

So the question is, who is likely to vote?

Last election was a presidential election year, so the figures aren't comparable to this cycle, so let's look at the 2010 election.

The best turnout then was on Oahu with 45.1 percent. The worst turnout was on Maui, which had just 34.2 percent at the polls.

read ... Primary Turnout

OHA Postpones Aha 6 Months

SA: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees announced Thursday a six-month extension to its nation-building effort, a move that will delay the election of delegates until January, the convention until April and the formal referendum until July 2015.

At the same time, however, trustees rejected another proposal by OHA CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe to start a new registry of names to add to the official roll of Native Hawaiians eligible to vote for nationhood.

As Explained: Tribe? Hawaii’s ‘Other’ State Elections Include Prisoners and Lots of Dead People

read ... Falling Down Around their Ears

Anti-GMO Initiative Set for Nov 4 Ballot--Pain, Loss of Homes for Molokai if Passed

MN: In remarks during committee deliberations, Crivello, who holds the Molokai residency seat, said she was concerned about the loss of employment, particularly on Molokai, which has the state's highest rate of unemployment. (Biotech companies Monsanto and Mycogen Seeds warned earlier this month that passage of the initiative could lead to the loss of more than 500 jobs and millions in tax revenue.)

"I've seen the pains, the loss of homes" when people have been unable to pay their mortgages, she said. "I've seen outsiders come in and sweep up these foreclosed homes, and the people who've lost them became tenants."

Crivello said she agreed that the environment needs to be preserved for future generations. More effort should be focused on protecting island watersheds to protect the health of island reefs, native plants and the forest, she said.

"We have to find the right balance," she said. "We're no longer isolated. We live in a global society."

Crivello alluded to testimony about the seed companies' threat to Native Hawaiian culture and a subsistence lifestyle on Molokai.

Yet, "the closure of the seed companies would definitely impact our culture," she said. "We are noted as being an island of family, a caring and sharing community. This contentiousness is not caused by the corporations."

She noted that the initiative process started by the SHAKA Movement (the acronym standing for Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina) would continue. However, "I cannot embrace the word 'shaka' with the movement because shaka to me means a big hug of aloha," she said, adding that she would simply refer to it as the movement because "there's no shaka in it."

Speaking against the divisiveness brought by the issue of the GMO moratorium, she said: "Don't kill the spirit of the people. We kill the spirit of the people; we destroy the culture, whether it's Hawaiian culture or local culture."

KOS: Idiots at UH Manoa give PhD to anti-GMO activist

read ... A Vote Against Molokai

PV on Oahu: Solar Shipwreck

GT: Not long ago, the solar electric industry was the hottest construction trade on Oahu. Today, it is foundering.

According to January-June 2014 photovoltaic system permit data provided by the City and County of Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, the total number of PV permits issued dropped by 43 percent compared to the same period last year, and the total project value declined by more than 50 percent.

Riding high with white-hot annual growth from 2007 to 2012, few expected this ship to suddenly break apart at sea, with some of the top solar installation firms seeing their sales on the island drop off by more than 90 percent over the same period in 2013. Amidst talk of the Hawaiian Electric companies being under the gun, business models needing to change, an energy revolution happening before our eyes, so-called disruptive technologies emerging, and the manic search for readily available and affordable battery storage, many PV companies can’t afford to wait for this promised land of limitless distributed rooftop solar electric generation.

Last month marked the fourteenth straight month of year-over-year decline in the number of PV permits issued, with little hope of that trend reversing....

read ... Solar Shipwreck

2nd Worst in the Nation--Hawaii VA Director Heads to beach, Bike Paths

SA: home in Kailua, Wayne Pfeffer does his best to enjoy his new Hawaii environment.

At 62, the two daughters are grown, he has remarried and makes sure he takes what time remains to head to the beach and bike paths.

When I came on board as a director of the Pacific Islands Health Care System, we started looking at waiting times in January pretty seriously. It was about 1,700 patients that were on the waiting list that hadn’t had a scheduled deployment.

When the national issue occurred a few months later, we were listed as 1,400 and some, so we had reduced a little bit. We had a plan to bring it down to no waiting.  (But first we had to lie to the Congressional delegation.)

As of today we have 186 people on the waiting list. That’s the most current, this morning (Thursday). And each one of those we’ve made three phone calls to their phone number that we have on file. And the ones that we can’t reach, we’ve sent a certified letter asking them within 30 days to let us know if they would like an appointment....

I haven’t heard where anybody is being rushed through an appointment. I would hope that hasn’t happened.  (Know them by what they deny.)

July 19, 2014: Hawaii VA Now 2nd Worst in USA

Reality: Tulsi Gabbard Full Text: Hawaii VA Director is a Liar, Should be Fired

read ... On the job!

Hanabusa: Schatz Votes Against Hawaii

EE: Hanabusa, who was elected to the House in 2010 after a dozen years in the state Senate, later criticized Schatz's voting record: "When you look at what he votes for, you can always count on Brian to vote with the leadership and not in the best interests of Hawaii."

The duo also sparred over Hanabusa's vote in 2011 to delay U.S. EPA rules limiting mercury and other emissions for boilers, known as Boiler MACT.

"I voted against Boiler MACT for one reason: I thought that that rule was ill-conceived and it would have caused the demise of ... the last sugar plantation that we have," Hanabusa said, arguing her vote aimed to save 800 jobs at a sugar factory in Maui. "You really have to understand what you're talking about before you make these statements."

read ... Campaign

Hotel union's negative campaign targets PRP's Pet Fukunaga

HNN: Aikea, which was founded by the hotel workers union, has sent thousands of attack mailers targeting Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga.

The ads accused Fukunaga of everything from raising property taxes on the elderly to voting to lower the minimum wage and giving favorable tax treatment to developers....

The union is backing Joli Tokusato, a first-time candidate who now works for the union.

Aikea said it's targeting Fukunaga because she didn't support a union-backed bill that would make it harder to convert hotels into condos. The group believes these conversions are costing Hawaii thousands of hotel jobs.

But Fukunaga said that bill was legally flawed.

Aikea is an independent expenditure committee, or super PAC, founded by the 10,000-member hotel workers union, or UNITE HERE Local 5. It's allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on an election so long as it doesn't coordinate its efforts with candidates.

Tokusato said she had no say in the ads.

2012: PRP: Fukunaga Running to Continue Act 221 Tax Credit Scams 

read ... Unite Here

Hotel Workers Candidate Pushes to Keep Homeless on the Streets as Incentive for Tax Hike

CB: UNITE HERE local 5 operative Joli Tokusato says "...we need to unlock the public restrooms and hire bathroom attendants for Waikiki and downtown, install portable toilets where they are needed, and hire sanitation workers to clean public sidewalks and doorways every morning....  We need a true “housing first” initiative funded by raising property taxes...."

Meanwhile: Homeless man arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting woman

read ... Homelessness Industry

Googling Hawaii’s Former Board Members Yields Hi Tech Tax Credit Ties

CB: Dean also oversees the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Startup Capital Ventures, which he co-founded in 2005. The company recently secured $4.5 million from the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation to invest in local technology companies....

Dean and his wife are defendants in an ongoing federal civil fraud case in California involving one of Dean’s investors. The lawsuit, which is available in electronic court filings, alleges that Dean helped the investor conceal his assets when he was going through a divorce.

read ... Googling Hawaii’s Former Board Members

Taxes, Rent, Electricity: Forbes Says Honolulu Among Worst Places for Startups

Forbes: Hawaii is also categorized among the worst state tax systems for small businesses. Taxes gnaw at a startup’s profitability, and increase costs and risks for the founder. In 2014, Connecticut, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, and California ranked last in a national ranking for tax systems for entrepreneurs and small business....

Startups in California may be subject to significant environmental fees, while startups in Honolulu pay the highest electricity costs and must endure the harsh business climate; Hawaii is ranked one of the most expensive places to operate a business....

read ... The 10 Most Expensive Areas To Create Your Startup

Council Votes to Use the Homeless as Battering Ram Against Administration

CB: City Council sidelines bills that would ban public urination and defecation and sitting and lying on sidewalks....

The other part of the equation — creating housing for the “disrupted” homeless to move into — wasn’t ready yet, council members said. They criticized the administration for not having a solid timeline in place for creating the housing.

Councilmembers took particular issue with delays in issuing a bid for 100 housing units and services for homeless who suffer from mental illnesses and substance abuse addictions. The city hoped to have some of the units ready in August.

But Pamela Witty-Oakland, director of the Department of Community Services, said that the housing probably wouldn’t be ready until later in the year. A service provider that would oversee the housing and services isn’t expected to be chosen until October....

Councilman Ron Menor cast the only dissenting votes on deferring the measures.

HNN:  City committee defers proposed sit-lie bills, mayor expresses disappointment

read ... Keep the Homeless Homeless Use Them as a Political Tool

Pension Debt Could Cause Tax Hikes for Years to Come

KGI: ...maintaining a state pension fund may take decades of commitment.

That was the message from Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the attendees of the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii Annual Investor Conference Luncheon Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. The first HIERS conference on Kauai since 2008 included more than 100 participants representing two dozen investment firms that manage assets for the state pension program....

There are 177,000 members in the HIERS system, with 67,000 active employees in state and county governments, another 44,000 retirees and beneficiaries, and 70,000 inactive, vested members that left government work and are eligible for lifetime benefits.

Since 2009 the state has been averaging around $1 billion a year in payouts, with 15,000 eligible workers who could retire today if they wanted to.

HIERS has $14 billion in assets as reports of the unfunded liability approach $22 billion. There is significant progress in closing that gap, he said, though it could take decades.

Reforms to curtail long-term liability include a hybrid general plan with limited pension benefits for new employees that became mandatory in 2012, he said.

read ... Tax Hikes Coming

Incorrect notices demand money from timely taxpayers

SA: The state recently sent erroneous balance-due notices to taxpayers who had paid their taxes on time, highlighting ongoing problems with the Tax Department's faulty $87.5 million computer system.

Tax Department call center operators said they have received many inquiries about inaccurate balance-due notices in recent months, but the agency could not say Thursday how many were sent.

"This is not the first time we're getting erroneous billing information. It happened several years ago and was never fully corrected," said state Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai), adding that he too received an inaccurate tax statement in recent years.

In one case a resident paid state income taxes on the April 20 tax deadline, but a balance-due bill for the full amount owed was sent nearly a month later on May 15.

read ... Incorrect notices demand money from timely taxpayers

Kauai Property Tax 'Burst' Costs Homeowner Another $3200

KGI: “It’s really hard to know what’s going on because the county is in the middle of a burst right now in changing all kinds of things, such as creating new (tax) categories,” Dyer said.

So when he missed the deadline to file his paperwork for an annual long-term affordable rental exemption for his property in Kilauea, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

When his tax bill arrived last week, he discovered that it was $3,200 higher than last year, even though the same tenants are still there and the rent is still the same.

“That, to me, seemed like a really big fine for missing a deadline,” Dyer said. “I made a mistake, I missed the deadline, but the punishment is not proportionate to the crime and that’s what bothered me.”

Dyer is one of many Kauai residents who have witnessed increases on their real property tax bills this year that have, in some cases, jumped up hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Though county tax officials acknowledged that they do not know how many island residents saw increases on their tax bills, some county officials say another look at recent reforms to county tax laws must be taken to find equitable solutions.

read ... Massive Tax Increase

Washington Post Notices Electricity is Expensive in Hawaii

WP: Hawaii is an extreme example of this. Households there use about the same amount of power each month as households in Maine, even though electricity costs more than twice as much in Hawaii (and nearly four times what people pay in places like Idaho and Washington). As a result, Hawaiians on average shell out a whopping $200 a month on electricity, far more than most households in the nation

read ... Geniuses

Hypocrites Win: Enviros in League with Resorts force Dairy to Cut Back Plans

KGI: Hawaii Dairy Farms has modified its application to the state Department of Health, with plans for starting on a smaller scale with 650 to 699 cows, backers announced Friday. A phased approach will demonstrate how a grass-fed dairy is different than the traditional feedlot model, said Kyle Datta, general partner of investor Ulupono Initiative.

This means it's going to take longer to get to a full-scale operation of up to 2,000 cows. Ninety percent of Hawaii's milk comes from the mainland and Ulupono is eager to change that.

read ... Stinking Green Hypocrisy

DLNR Urges Denial of Contested Case Hearings

BIN: The Land Board today will consider a denial of all requests for contested case hearings on TMT International Observatory’s sublease from the University of Hawaii to build the 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea.

The Board tentatively approved the sublease on June 27, but stayed its effectiveness until the conclusion of any administrative proceedings on contested cases.

Requests for a contested case hearing on the decision were made at the June 27 meeting by the Flores-Case Ohana, Dan Purcell, Harry Fergerstrom, Kealoha Pisciotta for herself and on behalf of Clarence Kukauakahi Ching and Paul K. Neves, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

read ... DLNR Urges Denial of Contested Case Hearings

Matson potential buyer of Horizon’s Alaska service

JOC: Matson, the dominant Hawaii carrier, has long stated it is interested in entering the Alaska market, but the prevailing view is that the Alaska route lacks room for a third liner carrier alongside Horizon and Totem Ocean Trailer Express.

Stifel Nicolaus estimated that Alaska generated $50 million to $60 million of Horizon’s $94 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year. At a multiple of six to eight times EBITDA, the Alaska service could fetch $300 to $480 million in a sale, the analysts said.

Matson had $230 million in cash and a net debt-to-capitalization ratio of just 21 percent at the end of the third quarter and “could make an acquisition of this size with little or no need of additional equity capital,” Stifel Nicolaus said.

read ... Alaska

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