HART: ‘Begin the discussion now of extending the existing half-percent GET surcharge’
University of Hawaii athletics must tackle fiscal woes
Hawaii Supreme Court: Agencies Have No Duty To Keep Their Records Accurately
Hawaii's Demise Through the Eyes of The Economist
Policy Talk: New Governor and His Agenda
An American Hero: Capt. Jerry Coffee
Obamas depart D.C. for annual Hawaiian vacation
SA: ...President Barack Obama and his family left Washington Friday evening for their annual two-week Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
The president, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha, boarded Air Force One at a chilly Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland just before 6 p.m. EST (1 p.m. in Hawaii) for the roughly 10-hour flight to Oahu. They are expected to arrive at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at about 11 p.m....
read ... Traffic Jams
Recktenwald: No Right to Question Gay Marriage
SA: "In essence, you're asking us to call a law unconstitutional … under an unconstitutional provision," Associate Justice Richard Pollack said....
Translation: It is now unconstitutional not to bow before your gay lords and submit to gay marriage.
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and other justices also questioned whether McDermott and others who challenged the marriage equality law have legal standing because the law has in some way injured them....
Translation: You do not even have 'standing' to access the courts to challenge gay marriage.
Recktenwald said the court would take the arguments under advisement.
Afterward, McDermott acknowledged that the questions from the justices were tough on his case.
"We've laid our case out. We think we have legitimate issues," he said. "I think the fact that they heard it is important. I was there in 1998. I know what the people wanted. I know what it meant. I know what the ballot instructions say.
"So that was the chance to get our day in court. And we got it."
read ... Bow Before Your Gay Lords
Caldwell: HART GE Tax Revenues Being Manipulated to Fake Crisis
KITV: Taxes are expected to fund nearly 70 percent of the rail project, but that money's running $40 million behind projections.
"I don't understand why the GET for the state is going up very steeply and the GET on Oahu are far below that. When we know the strong economy is on this island and not the neighbor island," said Caldwell.
That tax is expected to end in 2022. But Mayor Caldwell says one of the solutions to the rising cost is to extend that tax. Another option is the city would issue low interest bonds. But, one thing's that's not on the table is using more than $200 million in federal dollars normally used for the city's bus system.
"I'm going to make this clear. As mayor, none of the bus money will be used for rail. It is about bus and rail together and taking away money would pit bus against rail," said Caldwell....
read ... Caldwell
Ige: We Will Do Better Job of Counting Honolulu GE Tax Revenue
SA: Caldwell said he spent his first official meeting with Gov. David Ige discussing ongoing confusion over rail's GET revenues. City officials said they still don't understand why those revenues are lagging when the state is reporting growing GET numbers.
"The rail issue will definitely come up in this legislative session and we will look at all of those issues as they come," Ige said Thursday while touring the lava flow site in Pahoa. "I do believe that it's premature at this point in time to look at extending (the surcharge) but I have talked to the mayor and committed to doing a better job at counting for the surcharge amounts that the county currently gets."
Meanwhile, the approximately $190 million in delay costs for rail stems from both legal challenges and city officials awarding contracts before they were authorized and ready to build, according to rail officials.
On Thursday, Cliff Slater, who led the effort to stop rail in federal court, called it "nonsense" that rail opponents held up the project in court. He claimed instead that rail officials dragged out the lawsuit in court, as a way to raise legal costs and to "drive us out of the lawsuit."
The bulk of the city contracts that went out too early occurred under then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration and preceded HART's 2011 creation to oversee the project. Those premature contracts resulted in at least $80 million in delay costs.
read ... Ige Agrees GE Tax Override Amounts are Fake?
Slater: Convert Rail into Elevated Highway
KITV: Cliff Slater says at this stage, it's not too late for the city to rethink the project, and still provide a way to move people in and out of town. "The safest thing to do from a cost standpoint is to convert this to an elevated highway-- have none of the operating losses, and it would be much simpler and it would take care of the traffic congestion," said Slater.
KHON: “It’s going to get close to $10 billion,” said rail opponent Panos Prevedouros
read ... Dump Rail
Star-Adv: Police Chief may be Compromised, Commission Must Act Now
SA: According to its mission statement, the Honolulu Police Commission aims to "enhance the public confidence, trust and support in the integrity, fairness and respect of the police department, its officers and employees." It's hard to see how, in the handling of the issues surrounding the chief of police, it is fulfilling that mandate.
As the authority supervising the Honolulu Police Department, the commission must be proactive in taking action to clear the cloud of mistrust that now hangs over HPD.
Instead, this week the commission announced it would wait for the conclusion of a possible FBI probe of how HPD handled a case involving the alleged theft of a mailbox at the home of Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
This ignores the fact that while the FBI and federal prosecutors need evidence that meets strict criteria to support criminal charges, the commission has a different task. It must protect the department's integrity whether or not criminal charges are involved, especially when the chief of police may be compromised.
The commission must act objectively and dispassionately, in a manner that engenders public trust in its work.
read ... Compromised
HECO Spins Revolving Door at PUC
IM: ...In a recent blog post “Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission needs to expand,” this blog discussed high profile departures from the Public Utilities Commission during the Abercrombie Administration including Joshua Strickler, Stacey K. Djou, Lisa Kikuta, Michael Colón and Kaiulani (“Lani”) Kidani Shinsato....
One high-level energy stakeholder told me that every one of the key positions at the Public Utilities Commission have turned over at least once in the last four years....
Meanwhile HECO’s Chief Regulatory Attorney has built up amazing institutional knowledge as he has been overseeing HECO’s regulatory actions since the late 1970s.
State law restricts HECO from hiring Public Utilities Commission employees and assigning them to work in areas that they were directly involved in as state employees. But the law does not restrict HECO from hiring them and assigning them to other work areas for one year.
The loss of key people may have slowed down the approval process for Power Purchase Agreements. HECO spin may blame the regulator for the slowness that in fact was caused by the utility....
read ... Are utilities causing the Public Utilities Commission to implode?
While Honolulu pushes to force more development of affordable homes, Maui Discovers Policy is a Failure
CB: The Maui County Council is set to vote Friday on a housing ordinance that would drastically reduce how much affordable housing developers are required to build on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
For David DeLeon, the change is a long time coming. The lobbyist for the Maui Realtors Association has been trying to get the council to amend the ordinance since it was passed in 2006. It was backed by Maui County Councilman Danny Mateo, who chaired the council for four terms and guarded the ordinance until his term expired two years ago.
Since Mateo left, DeLeon has been lobbying council members every month regarding the bill because, he contends, “It hasn’t worked.”
Only a handful of homes have been built under the ordinance, which was supposed to provide much-needed housing for Maui County’s working families. Eight years after it passed, even proponents concede that it should be revised. Mateo, now the county clerk, said the policy “was never made to be concrete.”
But some members of the community group Faith Action for Community Equity are concerned that the revisions go too far.
The organization is so disenchanted that its representative, Kim Harman, withdrew from a task force that was set up to make recommendations on the bill.
SA: Housing First part of Strategic Development Office
read ... Honolulu Copies Maui's Failure
Definition of Insanity? Neil Milner Renews Push For Pension Tax
Milner: Old people in Hawaii should pay more state taxes.
Right now, Hawaii is a tax haven for the elderly. The majority of states as well as the federal government tax Social Security. Hawaii does not.
Unlike almost all other states, Hawaii also exempts all employer-funded pensions, all out of state government pensions as well as other military federal, state and local benefits. Even some private pensions are exempt....
read ... Definition of Insanity
Failure Justifies More Spending #1: Should State Hospital get Another $200M?
KHON: ...The Hawaii Health Department, which is in charge of the hospital, refused to say why Ingraham was released.
But state Sen. Josh Green (D-Kona, Kau) said it shouldn’t have happened.
Green, who is a medical doctor and co-chaired the committee to investigate Hawaii State Hospital, said he was told that Ingraham has been in and out of the facility.
When asked why Ingraham was discharged, Green said, “I don’t know. It’s a big question. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the healthcare professionals really preferred that he not be discharged and they are over capacity at the hospital.”
“Did Chauncey Ingraham fall through the cracks then?” KHON2 asked.
“It’s hard for me to know, because I’m not the providing physician,” he said. “I would just say this. We’re going to see more and more people fall through the cracks if we don’t expand our services and our capacity.”
Last year, Ingraham was given a psychiatric evaluation after getting arrested for criminal property damage, a petty misdemeanor. According to court documents, doctors determined he posed a moderate-to-high risk of violence to himself and others.
Yet, he was eventually found fit to stand trial and served his time.
Green said he would like to add at least a hundred more beds and different levels of mental services, which could cost up to $200 million.
“We can afford to do this?” KHON2 asked.
“We have to. One terrible event where a young person gets stabbed justifies it,” he said....
Is this worth $200M? -- Hospital Crisis: How to Use Union Work Rules for Fun and Profit
read ... Lawmaker: Hospital should not have released stabbing suspect
Failure Justifies More Spending #2: UH to Legislature--Give Us Money or We'll Raise Tuition
SA: The University of Hawaii will wait until after the legislative session to decide whether to raise tuition in the fall, officials told lawmakers Thursday.
UH President David Lassner said the university has drafted a budget that assumes no tuition increases, although a 7 percent hike — approved in 2011 — is scheduled to take effect in the fall.
"When we did our budget planning, we asked for an assumption that there wouldn't be new tuition (revenue), and part of that was to impose a discipline … that we should hold to this zero-based approach so that any tuition increase that is approved would be tied to a specific expenditure plan," Lassner told members of the state House Higher Education Committee. "It wouldn't just be the 7 percent goes through because it was approved and we need more money."
But the committee's chairman, state Rep. Isaac Choy, said UH is using tuition increases as leverage against the Legislature.
"You're going to wait to see how much we appropriate before pulling that trigger on tuition," Choy (D, Manoa-Moiliili) said. "So that's going to be a policy call on our part."
UH is seeking an additional $35.5 million from the state for operations in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
HNN: UH asks for $6 million for financially struggling athletics
read ... Failures
Its Budget Time So State environmental response programs Claim to be running out of money
HNN: About 40 of these positions are funded by a special tax on each barrel of petroleum imported into Hawaii. The Department of Health collects about 5 cents on each barrel of oil, or about $1.3 million.
The problem is that Hawaii is importing less oil due to conservation and the growth of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.
The state is now looking at alternative ways to finance these position, which include an emergency loan or getting some other forms of funding from the state general fund to pay for the environmental program. Increasing the barrel tax isn't on the table. (KNOW THEM BY WHAT THEY DENY!)
"I don't think raising taxes are necessary but I do think we have to find money, to be creative about it to make sure these positions continue to be funded to make sure our drinking water and our environment are protected," Lee said....
read ... Warm-up for Legislative Session
Hu Honua Bio-Mass project moving forward after settlement
HTH: Hu Honua Bioenergy expects to resume onsite operations with a full team of employees and contractors before year-end, including final site preparation, delivery of specialized equipment and construction mobilization.
The accelerated activity comes after Hu Honua Bioenergy and Honolulu-based Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. reached a settlement to resolve a contractual dispute between the parties related to the refurbishment of Hu Honua Bioenergy’s renewable energy facility in Pepeekeo. Specific terms of the settlement are covered by a confidentiality agreement.
“We are pleased to be back on course, moving forward with construction and to resume full site activity,” said John Sylvia, Hu Honua CEO
read ... Bio-Mess
Hawaii Co Council: E-Cigs Same Regs as Tobacco
WHT: Hawaii County will likely start the new year as the only county in the state banning electronic cigarettes at parks, beaches and other public places.
A 5-4 council majority late Wednesday passed Bill 302, prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere smoking traditional cigarettes is banned. It would be the first such measure in the state. Some 300 other municipalities in the nation have similar ordinances, said Council Chairman Dru Kanuha of Kona, who sponsored the bill.
The new law goes into effect upon Mayor Billy Kenoi’s signature. A spokesman for the mayor said Thursday the administration will review the bill before deciding whether to sign it. Kenoi previously signed a similar tobacco use restriction.
read ... Parity
Kauai Co Auditor's Retaliation Suit Back in State Court
KGI: The county auditor’s civil case against the County of Kauai is back in state court.
Kauai County Auditor Ernesto Pasion, of Kalaheo, filed a complaint claiming common law retaliation of the Hawaii Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, negligence, and declaratory relief in 5th Circuit on Nov. 25, 2013. It was moved to U.S. Court - District of Hawaii at the request of the county, until U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi ordered the case back to 5th Circuit earlier this year.
“We believed that the case didn’t state a federal cause of action and should have remained in state court,” said Pasion’s attorney, Mark Bennett of Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher.
The federal court also ordered the county to pay $8,647.22 of Pasion’s attorneys fees incurred in preparing for federal procedures.
read ... Retaliation on Kauai? Shocking, Just Shocking
Hawaii 4th Longest Work Hours in USA
BI: To find out which state's residents put in the longest hours, Business Insider took a decade's worth of data (2003 to 2013) from the American Time Use Survey and calculated the length of the average workday of survey respondents who reported spending any time at work, in all 50 US states....Hawaii: 7 hours, 45 minutes per day
AP: Hawaii second in the nation for employment growth
read ... 7:45 per day