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Sunday, January 31, 2016
January 31, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:56 PM :: 5042 Views

Gambling on a Hawaiian Tribe

UHERO: New Perspectives on Land and Housing Markets in Hawaii

Hawaii Business Roundtable Announces Support for NextEra Energy and HEI Merger

Apply Now for Vacant Seat: State Commission on Water Resource Management

Threats arise ahead of Native Hawaiian 'aha

KITV: Monday's meeting will be televised on Olelo Community Media and through a live stream here. KITV has confirmed recent emails exchanged between participants has already resulted in heated debates, even threats. Some attending the conference are concerned about their safety.

UPDATE from Aha--Day One:

read … Threats

Delegates ‘Not Optimistic’ As Closed Aha Gathers at Luxury Golf Resort

SA:  “I’m not optimistic about what can get done,” said Rowena Akana, the longtime Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee who will join the four-week convention, or aha, at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club in Kailua.

And with more than 150 voices potentially wanting to be heard, keeping order may be a challenge. Consider that if every convention participant were given three minutes to speak each eight-hour day, it would leave only enough time for an 18-minute break….

Akana said that judging by some of the discussion in an online forum of convention participants, she’s worried a few dissenters will end up hijacking the conversation and threaten to throw the meeting off its tracks.  “It’s not about culture right now. It’s about government documents,” she said….

The public and the news media will be prohibited from the meeting hall….

Na‘i Aupuni spokesman Lloyd Yonenaka said the closed meeting was a decision by the Na‘i Aupuni board and the convention’s hired moderators, veteran mediator Peter Adler and Linda Colburn, a former OHA administrator….

the convention will convene behind closed doors from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays throughout February.

Participants from Oahu will receive a total of $1,000 in per diem payments, while neighbor island participants will receive $4,000, and those coming from outside the state will get $5,000.

When the convention participants show up Monday morning, they likely will be greeted by sign-carrying protesters.

Protest Na‘i Aupuni, a group of Native Hawaiians formed to oppose the convention, is urging people to picket the meeting. The group accuses the event of being a state-sponsored scheme to establish a puppet government, undercut the independence movement and seize undisputed control of all ceded, or Hawaiian crown, lands.

Sweets Matthews, a longtime Hawaiian activist and supporter of Protest Na‘i Aupuni, said the outcome of the aha has been prearranged to set the stage for formal recognition by the U.S. government….

Akana, the OHA trustee, said that with more than 150 participants, it might take “miraculous effort” to maintain order.

“I don’t want an end result where people are saying, ‘The Hawaiians, they can’t get it together.’ But that’s what it might look like. This is going to be interesting,” she said…..

Maui participant Bronson Kaahui said he expects a heated showdown….

“With a vast array of differing views, I imagine it is very likely that the convention will be mired in some degree of discord,” delegate Zuri Aki said….“Right now, the vast majority of Native Hawaiians are not involved in this process,” he said.…

read … Chaos

SB2464: Homeless Alkies Move from Mainland, Want Josh Green to Tax Your House to Buy Them More Beer

WHT: …Like a lot of people who are forced to sleep outdoors, Ronnie Lance doesn’t see much problem with taxing wealthy developers to pay for building new homes for those who don’t have one.

“That’s what needs to happen,” said Lance, who has been homeless for years, mostly in Oregon and for the past month, in Kailua-Kona.  (Now he has a friend in the State Senate and a hand in your pocket.)

“Yeah, they need to tax the rich,” Lance said. “All I ever hear is, We gotta help the middle class, the middle class. What about trying to improve the lives of people who have nothing (except beer and airline tickets to Hawaii)?”

Only, this concept isn’t something that’s merely being batted around over a can of Steel Reserve in the park. If Kona Sen. Josh Green has his way, developments in Hawaii whose construction costs exceed $20 million will be paying 3 to 5 percent of that cost into a new special fund geared to homeless housing initiatives.

The luxury tax, Green said, is the responsible thing to do and would help meet the need for at least $50 million to fund such efforts as Housing First, an initiative which is being employed with some success on Oahu, and one that Green wants to see expanded to the neighbor islands.

“The return on investment for property values, and savings on catastrophic health needs for the homeless alone makes it a good strategy,” he told West Hawaii Today. “And the cost would be passed on to mainland and international investors who have been speculating on Hawaii property, driving up the costs for local residents.”

Senate Bill 2464, which Green has submitted with five co-sponsors, would task the Department of Human Services with collecting the development fee, and would establish a homeless and affordable housing special fund for building, renting and rehabilitating housing for the state’s burgeoning homeless population.

Not so fast, says Riley Smith, president and CEO of Lanihau Properties in Kailua-Kona. For one thing, the $20 million figure is arbitrary, he said.

“All this legislation will do is increase the cost of housing for everyone…..

read … $20M Bottles of Beer on the wall, $20M bottles of beer….

Leaders dig into new round of frustration and frivolity

Shapiro: The City Council passed Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s excise tax extension to cover rail cost overruns, after adding a spending cap that really isn’t. Council Chairman Ernie Martin wrote the amendment to display a Council backbone that really isn’t.

The city said it could need a 9 percent property tax increase to pay for rail operations, but Councilman Joey Manahan said raising property taxes is “a last, last, last, last, last choice.” The first choice is to pay for rail operations the same way as construction — with broken promises….

And the quote of the month, from Hawaii Poll respondent Daniel Chong of Kaneohe on whether to finish rail: “What can we do? … If you stop you’re going to be a loser. If you go ahead you’re going to be a loser.” It’s Kirk Caldwell’s way of covering all bases….

read … Lose – Lose

Star-Adv: Start talking now about Using Rail as Excuse to Make GE Tax Hike Permanent

SA: …on Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council has rightly wrongly approved the extension of the general excise tax surcharge that has underwritten construction, easing concerns about construction financing.

But what does need to be addressed came up in the hours before the Council’s vote: funding the rail system’s operations and maintenance. (Translation: Now that the temporary tax hike is in place, the push for a permanent tax hike begins.)

Many taxpayers undoubtedly blanched at the statements by city finance officials that, if conditions don’t change, annual rail operations and maintenance would require a 9 percent across-the-board increase in property taxes.

That projection is misleading because, of course, conditions will change…. (Yes. They can and will increase.  To confuse you about this, the Star-Adv provides several paragraphs of silly hopes and dreams for alternative income sources.  Don’t embarrass yourself by falling for any of them).

…the city administration and HART should host community meetings on the issue.

Residents need to be engaged in discussions about (where we pretend to discuss) making Honolulu’s transit system operate more sustainably. They will be the ones bearing the brunt of the costs, if solutions aren’t found (and we need to make them think that we tried everything else before imposing the inevitable GE Tax hike.)

read … More Tax Hikes Coming

GE Tax Hike Will Increase Suffering in Our Community

KGI: Those who oppose the half percent excise tax proposed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s administration (Bill 2610) are correct that the tax is a regressive tax. Our low and moderate income working families will pay proportionately more taxes. This tax could have the unintended outcome of increasing suffering in our community. Consider that nationwide, Hawaii has the highest percentage of families living one paycheck away from homelessness.

Why, then, do I support the idea of an excise tax to fund expansion of the Kauai Bus system?  (Because if we build roads, the traffic jams will disappear and I won’t be able to use them as a rhetorical tool to achieve my eco-utopian agenda.) ….

Background: Hawaii Residents Most Likely to be Living Paycheck to Paycheck

read … Yukimura

Names surface for Kahele’s successor

HTH: The appointment of a successor to the late state Sen. Gil Kahele could result in a game of political musical chairs, depending on who makes it through the Democratic Party’s nomination process in two weeks.

Party officials are expecting a crowded field of candidates for the traditionally safe seat, covering the greater Hilo area, and some elected officials already are being asked to put their names in for consideration.

Rep. Clift Tsuji, a Hilo Democrat who chairs the House’s Agriculture Committee, said he is among the sitting lawmakers being contacted….

While a sitting lawmaker could argue they have the experience to make a smooth transition, their appointment also would leave another seat vacant, prompting one more nomination process.

The vacancy was officially announced Thursday, starting the 21-day clock for the Hawaii County Democratic Party to select three nominees to replace Kahele….

The party plans to pick the nominees Feb. 13 after precinct officials in the district interview applicants that day at Keaukaha Elementary School. The meeting will be open to the public….

The appointee would likely have an advantage going into the primary and general elections later this year, when the district’s voters get to decide who fills the rest of Kahele’s term, which ends 2018….

Dennis Onishi, a Hawaii County Council member who is term-limited, said Thursday he was planning to apply for the appointment.

“I would want to apply when they open it up,” he said. “The only thing is, if Kai Kahele looks at applying, too, I would defer to him first,” Onishi added, referring to the late senator’s son.

If appointed by Ige, Onishi would join his brother, Richard Onishi, who represents House District 3, in the Legislature.

But that would also leave the council with an empty seat to fill….

read … Names surface for Kahele’s successor

Ige’s 1,000 cool classrooms face a credibility problem

Borreca: …So far it looks like a good idea with more holes than substance….

According to legislative and industry sources, the initial Ige plan was an agreement between the administration and the electric companies for Ige to declare a state emergency allowing the state’s public utility companies to install the air conditioning in the schools.

A special charge would then be added to consumers’ electric bills to pay for it. Sources said the idea was not approved by the attorney general, and Ige went on to Plan B, which was to tap the “green infrastructure special fund,” the so-called GEMS program, for a $100 million loan.

There are two problems with this, one practical and one philosophical.

First the GEMS fund is paid for by those with electric bills on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is separate; it does not pay into the public benefit fund, of which GEMS makes up half of the charge. A spokesman for KIUC did say last week that it would support another mechanism that would allow Kauai to be included, but as it stands, there are no GEMS dollars shining on the Garden Island.

More of a concern is the actual reason for the program, which when it was set up in 2013, was to encourage building for clean energy efficiency, such as solar water heaters and photovoltaic systems.

The enabling legislation, Senate Bill 1087 in 2013, said, “The Legislature finds that building Hawaii’s clean energy infrastructure at the lowest possible cost is vital.”

The GEMS-financed construction would be for “the state’s goals of energy self-sufficiency, greater energy security, and greater energy diversification.”

The new bill offered by Ige, SB 3126, said the state would borrow $100 million from GEMS for the “equipment and installation of air conditioning, energy efficient lighting and other energy efficiency measures.”

Also tacked on the bill is a $7 million payment for the first installment due on the $100 million loan.

Mina Morita, the former chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission, said in an interview last week that “when you try to piggyback a whole A/C program (which increases demand not reduce) off of GEMS, you lose the purpose and legislative intent of GEMS.”

read … Ige GEMS?

Marijuana Dispensary license application period ends—Which Cronies Will be Picked?

SA: …DOH is keeping a tight control on information, including who will be on the selection panel. In general, said spokeswoman Janice Okubo, officials have preferred to take questions but then put any new information on the frequently asked questions section on the website (www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana).

The less one-on-one interaction with the public, Okubo said, the less vulnerable the department will be to accusations of unfair distribution of the facts.

“There’s already that speculation out there that we already have people in mind,” she said. “We’re just trying to avoid that perception.”

As a result, the request to interview Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance, was declined.

When the application process opened in October, it drew early interest from some known names in the community. Just a few of them: Anthony Takitani, a Maui attorney and former state legislator, registered Maui Medical Marijuana Dispensary LLC with Hollywood film agent and producer Shep Gordon; Peter Carlisle, former Honolulu mayor and longtime city prosecutor, is representing and is an investor in a group seeking a license; and former state Attorney General David Louie, is also representing a potential licensee.

The emerging who’s-who list among the applicants has made some observers a little nervous that the process will be fair to all. Mark Merlin, a University of Hawaii botany professor and co-author of the book “Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany,” counted himself in that group.  “I’m concerned that it’s not just given to friends, that there’s no corruption, that it’s based on merit rather than connections,” Merlin said….

Background:

read … Just the Beginning

Point in Time Count—Need to Maximize Homeless to Maximize Federal Dollars

SA: A shortage of volunteers hampered efforts to count homeless people throughout the state last week, potentially jeopardizing a federal funding formula that has provided millions of dollars for homeless support, according to service providers and outreach workers.

“We had two-thirds less volunteers than we normally do because this year’s coordinators thinned them out and assigned them to regions rather than agencies,” said Kimo Carvalho, director of community relations for the Institute for Human Services, which runs the state’s largest shelter program. “Everyone that I have spoken with has called this year a disaster.”

On Monday night, coordinators at one Honolulu location expected 50 volunteers, but 17 showed up. The following night, 20 volunteers were expected, but three showed up.

The Point-in-Time count, a census of homeless people, is conducted across the nation each January. This year, teams of surveyors trekked through woodland trails, down beach paths and along urban walkways asking homeless people the same question: “Where did you sleep this past Sunday, Jan. 24?”

Background:  Defeating the "homelessness industry" before it gets a grip on Hawaii

read … More Homeless Needed

Big Island Homeless Count – Hope for 2,000 This Year

HTH: …Data from this year’s count won’t be available until later in the spring. But past count information indicates the Big Island’s homeless population has increased each year. In 2015, 1,241 homeless individuals were counted, up from 869 in 2014. In 2013, that number was 557.

Officials at HOPE Services also believe last year’s number was on the low side. This year, they estimate counting several hundred more.

“Because we have so many people helping us this year, we are thinking we’ll get a much more accurate count,” Debus said. “We really think it’s closer to 2,000.”

read … Growth Industry

Legislature again considering bill to make consumer complaints secret

ILind: Rep. Isaac Choy is at it again, this time with a bill that would amend the state’s public records law to totally remove complaints about those holding state professional and vocational licenses from the public record.

Choy’s bill, HB 1565, is scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on Monday afternoon, February 1, at 2 p.m.

State law currently provides that “record of complaints” about “an individual’s fitness to be granted or to retain a license” is a public record, “including all dispositions.”

Choy’s bill would simply delete this provision from the law, making all information about consumer complaints, including their existence, state secrets….

read … Legislature again considering bill to make consumer complaints secret

Maui Jail: Even the Planning Funds Eliminated from Ige Budget

MN: …the Ige administration doesn't rank construction of a new Maui Community Correctional Center as a very high priority, so even a modest $1.4 million for planning was cut out of the budget Thursday.

Of course, plans for a new Oahu Community Correctional Center are full-speed ahead.

The terribly overcrowded MCCC will see its population continue to grow. Plans for the new bigger jail at Puunene are on hold indefinitely….

In light of the continued overcrowding at MCCC and the pending shutdown of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s operation, Nahale-a's vision (for a new jail on DHHL property) should be revisited.

read … 2012 plan may be answer

SB2778 Puts Airport Security Under Control of Sheriff

KHON: …At the State Legislature, Senator Rosalyn Baker (D/South and West Maui) introduced a bill Wednesday related to airport security.

SB2778 “prohibits the Department of Transportation from using private contracted agents and representatives to provide law enforcement and armed security services at the State’s airports. Requires the sheriff division of the Department of Public Safety to provide law enforcement and armed security services at all state airports.”

The senator introduced the bill before learning of the indictments. She said she started looking into the issue when Securitas employees at the Kahului Airport were calling themselves “airport police.” ….

read … More Public Employees

HGEA: HC&S Layoffs are Opportunity for us to ‘Create Positions’

SA: The state Labor Department eliminated civil service employees who assist dislocated workers and help with job training in the weeks and months before Alexander &Baldwin announced that it was closing its Maui sugar plantation and laying off more than 650 workers.

The staff reductions affected workers on Maui, Molokai and Hawaii island, but are particularly troubling for Maui with Alexander & Baldwin set to begin a first round of layoffs in March.

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations laid off a total of nine civil service employees — three on Maui, one on Molokai and five on Hawaii island. The staff worked at one-stop centers, which are designed to provide comprehensive services to job seekers, such as career counseling, job training, assistance with unemployment benefits and access to computers…. (blablabla)

read … Some HGEA Propaganda

HGEA, UPW: Dengue Fever is Opportunity for us to ‘Create Positions’

SA: …What kept Hawaii safe in earlier years was a dedicated Hawaii Department of Health Vector Control Branch, which dated back to the days of the Territory. At its peak in 2009, it had 56 staffers on all the islands and was able to do surveillance and organized, strategic insect spraying.

In 2009, during the recession, Gov. Linda Lingle cut the number of staff to 17 and got rid of the entire branch. The remaining workers were put into another office and did what they could (played solitaire on their computers).

But instead of being able to lay 200 mosquito traps per year at all the airports, ports and places of entry as they had for many years, they were limited to only 20 statewide — in a year that welcomed 6.5 million visitors. The early warning system was lost. Lost also were the years of institutional knowledge of where the mosquitoes breed and how to stop them (and how to win at solitaire).

Unfortunately, while this was happening, due to global warming (the DDT ban, founding act of the eco-religion) mosquito-borne diseases were increasing in areas from where many people travel to Hawaii….

read … Some HGEA/UPW Propaganda

MECO: Cheap Oil is Saving You Money on Electricity, but Don’t Worry, Were Getting Rid of It

MN: The Jan. 21 Maui News editorial, "Pipe dreams about power," made valid points about the complex realities of owning and overseeing the electric grids in Maui County. The editorial also highlighted the importance of taking advantage of current low oil prices.

In fact, Maui Electric Co. customers - along with those of Hawaiian Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co. - are already receiving significant savings from today's low oil prices. Maui Electric makes no profit on fuel purchases, and savings from lower fuel prices are passed on to our customers. As a result, electric bills are the lowest they've been in more than five years.

On the other hand, the County of Maui's consultant has proposed that the county consider owning and operating the electric utility or implementing a cooperative model, a move that the consultant acknowledges would likely increase electric rates for Maui customers. The report concludes significant investment would be necessary for Maui's electric grid to achieve the state's clean energy goals, and yet notes a county-owned or co-op utility model has the disadvantage of limited access to capital….

read … Cheap Oil

Feds Plan to Use Endangered Species Act to Shut Down Hunting in Hawaii

SA: U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are reopening a public comment period and holding a public hearing and informational meeting about whether to add 49 plants and animals in Hawaii to the federal list of endangered species….

An informational meeting will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Feb. 9 at Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale, 799 Piilani St., in Hilo, followed by a public hearing at the same location from 6 to 8 p.m.

The federal agency reopened the comment period from Monday to Feb. 24 and added the public hearing and informational meeting in response to a request from the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission, which felt it wanted more information about a proposal that could affect game hunting areas….

The recent proposal to add 49 species to the protected list was introduced Sept. 30 in the Federal Register: 808ne.ws/20rHYF2  ….

read … Federal Grab

Hawaii Mulling Mandatory Insurance For Gun Owners

TH: The Aloha state could the first that mandates its gun own residents to obtain insurance and requiring them to re-register their firearms with the state every five years. The bill introduced by Hawaiian State Sen. Josh Green (D-Kona, Ka’u) has been labeled as redundant since insurance companies would already cover the firearm-related incidents he fears that warrants the state to dragoon law-abiding citizens into buying liability policies for exercising their Second Amendment rights….

Bill Richter, Secretary of the Hawaii NRA also said that the re-registration of firearms would greatly increase the state’s workload regarding processing and other paperwork, which is going to need additional resources. He also added that the state already has strict gun laws and a low homicide rate, so this bill is just another example of liberals trying to further curtail Second Amendment freedoms….

read … Unconstitutional

Obama Hawaii DoE a Model for Computer Science Success

AP: Obama cited the examples of Delaware, Hawaii, Washington, Arkansas and over 30 school districts that have already incorporated computer science in their curriculum….

read … Computer Science

Parents say teen victims of cyber-assaults received little or no help from DOE

MN: Two Lahaina teenagers said they were called derogatory names over social media, had paper wads thrown at their heads in class and were challenged to a fight while receiving little relief from school officials, even after their parents filed multiple complaints.

The bullying and harassment were effectively abated when the young women, who were student athletes, graduated from Lahainaluna High School last year and left the island for college, though the Department of Education says that at least one of the complaints has been investigated and closed with others still open….

read … Cyber

Domestic violence #2 in arrests

KGI: Domestic abuse is the second most prevalent crime on the Garden Isle at 282 arrests out of 3,888, according to KPD’s recently released report for all adult arrests and juvenile detainments for 2015. Criminal contempt of court was number one, with 483 arrests….

read … Domestic violence

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