VIDEO: The Right to Home Share in Hawaii
Update on key initiatives at UH Mānoa, including enrollment management
OHA releases report on the health of Native Hawaiian men
Human Casualties at the Legislature, Part 2
Ige Has No Money: 2018 Scramble for Governor, CD1, CD2, Senate?
SA: …Ige so far has failed to raise large amounts of money to fuel his re-election effort. Raising money is usually relatively easy for an incumbent governor, and loading up the campaign treasury early is an effective way to discourage potential challengers.
But Ige’s most recent campaign filing shows he had only $285,960 in cash on hand at the end of 2016, which is a small fraction of what would be required to finance a traditional high-powered statewide re-election campaign with polling, consultants and media buys. Ige has held just one fundraiser since then, according to state records.
Others say Ige hasn’t yet built an effective grass-roots organization that can be mobilized to help him win a second term.
Longtime political observers who spoke on condition that they not be identified speculated that Ige might be taking his re-election for granted….
Another potentially important factor is the health of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who announced earlier this month she was undergoing treatment for stage 4 kidney cancer.
Hirono is firm that she will run for re-election in 2018, but if her illness causes her to change those plans, Hanabusa would be well positioned to make a strong bid to move up to the Senate.
(And of course Tulsi Gabbard would be ordered to run for Senate by her guru Chris Butler, thus setting off a scramble for Governor, CD1, CD2, and Senate all at once.)….
a growing number of candidates are considering a run for governor. They reportedly include Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, state Sen. Jill Tokuda, and Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi, who are all Democrats. State Rep. Bob McDermott said he plans to run for governor as a Republican.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has also been the focus of political speculation for more than a year, with supporters urging her to run for governor….
Tokuda, who said she is seriously considering running for either governor or lieutenant governor, said the Ige administration “still feels like they’ve got the training wheels on.” She cited what she calls a “void of leadership” at the executive level at a time when the state is confronting major fiscal and social challenges.
Tokuda (D, Kailua-Kaneohe) said she has heard complaints about Ige’s handling of the controversy surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope project on Hawaii island, and about his lack of leadership this year as lawmakers debated a possible extension of the excise tax surcharge to provide more money to complete construction of the Honolulu rail project….
McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) has served 11 years in the state House and has similar complaints.
McDermott is a supporter of the Honolulu rail project, and he also cited the inconclusive debate this year over rail as an example of the problem with Ige.
“He’s not going to intervene or lead as this excise (tax) train thing demands, that he get the two parties together and say, ‘Look, we’re going to figure this out,’” said McDermott, 53. “It’s the biggest public works project the state has ever undertaken, and you can’t let it dangle out there. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. He doesn’t want to be associated with it.”
McDermott is one of only five Republican elected officials left in Hawaii, and he will have to surrender his House seat to run for governor. He said he is fully aware how difficult it will be for a Republican to compete for statewide office here. “It can be done, but it’s pretty hard, and I get that,” he said….
read … Governor’s race could be crowded
Senators: Caldwell Asks for Blind Bailout, Will not Admit Problem
Borreca: …senators are privately saying everyone recognizes “the city and Caldwell are under huge pressure; they will not admit to the financial crisis Honolulu faces.”
One senator who agreed to discuss the situation without attribution said many legislators feel the House will not “do a blind bailout for the city.”
Right now it appears the fate of Honolulu’s rail project comes down to legislative consensus. But, the Senate is still a fractured group that is just a few votes away from another coup, and it is heading into an election year backing another tax increase for Oahu voters.
In comparison, the House appears to have solidified around Saiki’s leadership and Luke’s hotel tax plan.
One legislator said privately that the House’s strongest point is that “Scott and Sylvia won’t buckle.”
Who pays is still undecided….
read … Legislators support rail, but haggling continues
Caldwell’s Latest Plan: Make the Handicapped Pay for Rail
SA:For $2 per trip, TheHandi-Van will provide origin-to-destination service from anywhere to anywhere else on Oahu. This rate has not changed since 2001. (But now we have a railroad to pay for.)
The city is committed to meet the service quality standards required by the ADA, but reasonable fare increases should be considered to support and sustain our system.
The soon-to-be-established Rate Commission should revisit sustainable Handi-Van fares as its first order of business to ensure we can maintain a first-rate paratransit system to safely transport our residents into the future.
read … Tax the Handicapped
Massive Property Tax Hikes on Hawaii County Council Agenda
HTH: Second homes, commercial and industrial property and hotel/resorts would bear more of the property tax burden in order to give (and) homeowners and farmers (will see a) less of a rate hike (too), under proposals to be heard Monday as the County Council takes its final vote on the budget….
Puna Councilwomen Eileen O’Hara and Jen Ruggles want to adjust Mayor Harry Kim’s proposed 6.5 percent rate, which he seeks to apply across-the-board to all property classes except affordable rentals.
Under O’Hara’s plan, second homes, commercial and industrial properties would be raised 8.5 percent and hotels and resorts 8.3 percent. The agricultural class would go up 2.7 percent and the homeowners’ property tax rate would increase 3.3 percent. Conservation property would remain at the 6.5 percent hike proposed by Kim, and, like Kim, O’Hara proposes no tax rate hike for the affordable rental class…..
The council is scheduled to hold a special meeting on property tax rates (Resolution 213), Kim’s proposed $491 million operating budget (Bill 11) and $197 million capital budget (Bill 12), starting at 9 a.m. Monday in Hilo council chambers. The meeting will be videoconferenced and public testimony will also be taken from the West Hawaii Civic Center, Pahoa council office, Naalehu state office building and the old Kohala courthouse….
Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung would like to see that happen. He’s filed an amendment that’s more aspirational than actionable, asking the council to declare its intent and the mayor to prepare to return next year to the current tax rate schedule.
That would give property owners just one year of the higher rates….
read … Plans floated to balance proposed tax hike
Star-Adv: OHA must overcome Doubters to get Crony Cash Flowing from Fishermen’s Wharf (again)
SA: It will be a true test of OHA leadership — and cohesion — to propel this project forward. It will take a stalwart vision, unity of purpose and steadfastness against doubters to get off the starter’s block, let alone complete the vision. Given chronic OHA in-fighting, which has unfortunately continued with recent squabbles, this will be no small task….
The recent feedback is intended to help OHA devise a conceptual master plan, with an environmental impact statement expected to start this month and be finalized in mid-2018. Soon after, proposals from developers could be sought for the first of OHA’s nine Kakaako parcels: the former Fisherman’s Wharf site….
(Translation: More white collar make-work—EIS, conceptual masterplan--for Trustees’ campaign contributors and another sandwich-lease deal for Fisherman’s Wharf, just like the old Broken Trust Days. Who will get it?)
read … Cash Flow
Parker Ranch Sues OHA-Funded Biofuel Schemer
Named as defendants are Saalfeld; his wife, Jeannette Saalfeld, two of Saalfeld’s Hawaii companies, Kukuipahu Makai LLC and Hualua Land LLC; and the German limited liability company Opal Vermögensversaltung GmbH.
The land in question is 35 parcels totaling 3,509 acres bought by Kukuipahu Makai for $49.3 million in August 2010, according to Hawaii County tax records. The contiguous parcels are on both sides of Akoni Pule Highway extending from Mahukona Beach Park north almost to Puakea Bay Ranch. The parcels range in size from less than an acre to 1,681 acres.
The suit claims Kukuipahu Makai executed a second amended promissory note for more than $49.7 million on Jan. 1, 2016. Terms of the note include payment in full by Dec. 31, 2016, but gave Kukuipahu Makai a one-time option to extend the maturity date an additional year to Dec. 31, 2017, upon payment of $5 million to Parker Land Trust.
“Defendant Saalfeld is in default of his obligations under the guaranty, as amended and confirmed,” the suit states.
According to the complaint, as of March 1, Kukuipahu Makai owed almost $53.2 million in principal and interest on the note. Interest, at a yearly rate of 12 percent or $16,572 a day, will continue to accrue from March 1 “to the date proceeds from the foreclosure sale are disbursed to plaintiffs,” the filing states.
The suit is also seeking Parker Land Trust’s attorney fees and litigation expenses.
This isn’t the first lawsuit filed by a Parker Ranch entity against Saalfeld.
On April 2, Kona Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra ruled that Saalfeld and his company Merica International LLC owe PR Mauna Kea LLC, another Parker Ranch-related entity, a total of $555,911 in principal, interest, attorney fees and costs on an unpaid promissory note, with interest accruing on the uncollected judgment at an annual rate of 10 percent.
The PR Mauna Kea suit doesn’t specify what the note was for, but Merica Hawaii is listed on the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website as the agent for SunFuels Hawaii LLC, a biodiesel company that lists Saalfeld as its sole member….
read … Your OHA Trust Dollars at Work
Hawaii County Proposes Down-zoning Bridge Aina Lea (again)
EH: In a nine-page letter dated May 16, county planning director Michael Yee informed attorney Alan Okamoto that in light of numerous violations of development conditions as well as a court order, he would begin the process of downzoning the project site, consisting of more than 1,000 acres lying between the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway and Waikoloa Village in the Big Island district of South Kohala. Okamoto represents `Aina Le`a, Inc., and `Aina Le`a, LLC, the project developers. Yee’s letter was also sent to John Baldwin, principal of Bridge `Aina Le`a, LLC, which still holds an interest in much of the land where the development is proposed.
Yee referenced 2013 3rd Circuit Court order that determined the county had the authority to require a supplemental environmental impact statement for the project, which the county then required. In light of that, there was to be no further work done at the project site unless and until the environmental impact statement is accepted.
Yet, Yee wrote, a January 18, 2017 annual progress report by `Aina Le`a, LLC and `Aina Le`a, Inc., chairman Robert Wessels, and an August 5, 2016 site inspection by department staff confirmed that `Aina Le`a was conducting work on the properties.
“The Planning Department requires that the applicant immediately cease all work, including but not limited to ground disturbance such as trenching and grading; grubbing and stockpiling; and construction work on the subject properties. … Work shall be prohibited on the property until a final supplemental environmental impact statement [SEIS] has been accepted by the Department,” he wrote…..
EH: $1 Million Settlement of `Aina Le`a Case Is Rejected in Final Days of Legislature
read … Hawai`i County Lists Violations At `Aina Le`a Site, Proposes Rezoning
PUC: Wanna Sell Bottled Water, Then You are a Utility and we will Regulate You
EH: …The Public Utilities Commission has rejected the request from a Kaua`i water bottler that it determine the bottler’s source of water is exempt from requirements that apply to water utilities.
The May 22 order notes that the bottler’s description of key points regarding its history and operation is at variance with the record and with statements from Grove Farm, which previously owned the Kahili Mountain Water System, source of the water, and was granted intervenor status in this case….
read … More Harassment
Dope Store Drops End Run Around Testing
SA: Aloha Green Holdings Inc. said Thursday it is dropping plans to sell non-THC products at its King Street medical marijuana dispensary starting next week.
The company, one of eight dispensary licensees selected by the state Department of Health in April 2016, last month announced plans to begin sales of products with cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from hemp and does not contain THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
“The company has since retracted CBD products from the ‘soft opening’ in order to remain completely compliant to rules and regulations that remain ambiguous,” the company said in a news release.
Medical cannabis cannot be sold until the products are tested by independent laboratories, which have yet to be certified by the DOH.
“Aloha Green stands behind the medical cannabis dispensary program as set out by the state and continues to work closely with state regulators to ensure public, product and patient safety,” said James H.Q. Lee, Aloha Green’s CEO, in the news release.
read … Still Not Selling Weed
Food Stamps: Who Will Buy Food for the Dopers?
SA: State Rep. Bob McDermott, … said the spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “exploded” during President Barack Obama’s administration and is in need of reform. The stigma of accepting food stamps, he said, is gone.
“Before, culturally we disciplined ourselves,” McDermott said. “We’d say, ‘If I get those, I really need them to feed my family.’ Now it’s, ‘Hey, that’s free money. If I’m not getting it, that’s money I'm leaving on the table.’”
“It’s a shame that so many people have to be dependent on government to put the food on the table,” Ward said. “It’s the sign of a weak economy. The best welfare check is a good job.”
Ward, whose District 17 encompasses Hawaii Kai and Kalama Valley, said he sees SNAP and other programs fostering “almost generational dependency.
“The incentivization for self-reliance is diminishing,” he said. “People think, ‘I don’t have to work hard because I have this.’
“I’m an old Peace Corps hand,” Ward added, “and back then it was, ‘What can I do for my country?’ Now it’s, ‘What can you get out of your country; what can I get out of government?’”
Ward and others expressed chagrin that the economy itself is not getting the reinforcement it needs to make some of the emergency provisions unnecessary.
“We can’t afford to put everyone on welfare,” Ward said. “We’ve got to get a stronger economy, no question of it.”….
BIG Q: As the federal government eyes SNAP fund cuts, what do you think of the “food stamps” program? –67% Agree with the Republicans
read … Munchies
Catauna: Homeless Almost as Repulsive as Trump Supporters
Cataluna: …Kalalau, Kauai’s beautiful wild valley, is now the place for rule breakers to live without limits. Pity the Department of Land and Natural Resources having to try to control that shameful mess. The photos the state released documenting the garbage in there are infuriating for those who apply for camping permits, keep an eye on weather reports to make sure they’re not hiking into harm’s way and pack out what they pack in. Of course the DLNR needs funding for more enforcement officers. Of course the funding will come from those of us who work our jobs and pay our taxes and obey the rules of society like chumps rather than escape into a lawless Eden with mossy queen-sized mattresses and satellite phones.
In Oahu’s urban jungle, the homeless have taken over. When night falls and downtown businesses turn off the lights, there is a mass movement of people and shopping carts as each stakes out his or her favorite spot for the night. At beach parks and underpasses, they don’t even bother to move during the day. If they are shooed away by law enforcement, they come back. There is never a sense of homeless people, as a group, using that kind of stubbornness and tenacity to pull themselves out of homelessness….
And then there’s our president. He is so sure, and so proud in that certainty, that rules don’t apply to him. Many of his supporters seem to relish that, as if, by extension, rules also no longer apply to them….
read … Rule Breakers
City plans Snap homeless sweep of state’s Nimitz Highway medians
SA: …Caldwell has ordered a special city cleanup crew to sweep the encampments this week— without the usual 24-hour notice — on land that belongs to the state Department of Transportation.
“We can go out there and enforce there without 24 hours notice (because) it impacts health and safety immediately,” Caldwell said. “It’s dangerous. … It’s a basic safety issue. It’s getting worse.”…. (Translation: I am giving the ACLU an ‘in’ here.) …
Trial lawyer Mark Davis, a partner in the law firm of Davis Levin Livingston, could not think of any Hawaii case in which a homeless person successfully sued the state or city for an injury while they were living illegally on government property.
Even though state and city officials know that homeless people are living on the Nimitz Highway medians, Davis said, “I’m not sure it’s enough to hold them liable.”
A potential jury would have to weigh multiple factors before determining liability, Davis said….
Danny Garcia, 49, and his dog, Luscious, have been living on one of the Nimitz Highway medians off and on since September 2015.
They were swept out of Kakaako, and Garcia is prepared to be swept again.
Caldwell said his “compassionate disruption” approach has forced some homeless into shelters, where they can get help with housing, employment and various other challenges.
But Garcia, who’s been homeless for five years, said he isn’t one of them.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “They’re not focusing on what the true problem is — cost of living and the minimum wage.” …
(LOL! The won’t accept shelter but they have political demands for the conditions under which they might stop trashing the City.)
In Kakaako, Caldwell said, “we also saw a criminal element come in where the criminals are preying on the weak. I never want to see that happen again.” (Criminals belong in Honolulu Hale, not on Nimitz.)
read … About Time
With NextEra Gone, Hawaiian Electric Begins Sending More Ratepayer Money to National Democrat Donors
EH: The revised PPAs call for HECO paying less for energy than what was specified in the original agreements. In the case of the Kawailoa project, the contract price is 12.37 cents per kilowatt hour, representing a 5.5 percent reduction from the original PPA. For Lanikuhana, the price is 13.5 cents per kWh, a 3.9 percent decrease from the original agreement. And for energy produced by the Waiawa plant, HECO will pay 12.81 cents per kWh, a reduction of 9.6 percent from the price in the original PPA….
When the PUC approved the power purchase agreement between HELCO and Hu Honua back in 2013, the agreed upon price that HELCO would pay over the 20-year term of the contract was 25.3 cents per kWh, which, adjusted for inflation, would be 28.6 cents today. This represents the levelized cost of electricity, which is basically the total cost of building and operating the plant over the life of the contract (including return on investment) divided by total energy output. In the more recent PPA, the levelized cost is said to be 22.1 cents per kWh, which reflects, in part, the longer term over which the construction costs may be amortized. The cost to the consumer would be about 7 percent higher, or around 23.6 cents per kWh. (These figures come from a May 5 letter to HELCO from Hu Honua that is included in the revised power purchase agreement.)….
read … Hawaiian Electric Revives Renewable Projects It Cancelled While NextEra Deal Was Pending