Adjusted for Cost of Living, Hawaii Taxes Highest in USA
DBEDT: Hawaii Households get $710M from Republican Tax Cuts
White House studies permanent Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico
Attorney General Sessions Announces New Actions To Improve School Safety And Better Enforce Existing Gun Laws
Will New Council Leadership Torpedo Plan to Loot City Coffers to pay for Rail?
SA: Mayor Kirk Caldwell warned Monday that a new Honolulu City Council leadership team needs to be careful how it handles his plan to use bonds to help fund the city’s troubled, $9 billion rail project.
Caldwell introduced a budget package earlier this month that calls for $44 million in borrowed money to help make up a projected gap in rail construction funding. Those would be the first time city bonds were used to fund the rail, which has mostly been paid for with state and federal dollars.
Three of the five Council members who are part of the new leadership team announced Friday have said they either oppose or have strong concerns about using bond money to pay for rail construction. They are Ernie Martin, who is expected to be reinstalled as chairman after a 15-month absence, Ann Kobayashi and Trevor Ozawa.
The Federal Transit Administration, which has committed $1.55 billion to the project, demanded that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation submit a recovery plan to show how it will make up severe shortages in the rail construction project. HART has handed over the plan, but FTA officials have yet to respond whether it was acceptable.
The $44 million proposed to be used by Caldwell is part of that assurance, the mayor said Monday.
“It’s clear to me that the FTA is watching very carefully,” Caldwell said in an interview….
The Council is currently pondering Bill 42 (2017), which would allow for the use of city funds for rail. The bill was deferred by Council members earlier this month and recommitted to the Council Budget Committee.
If the Council chooses to nix the use of bond money, it will need to make deep cuts (maybe eliminate some vacant positions!) in next year’s budget, increase taxes (Caldwell is always pushing a tax hike) or both, the administration has warned….
The plan to use bonds for rail was backed by current Council Chairman Ron Menor, Transportation Chairman Brandon Elefante and Planning Chairman Ikaika Anderson, who all met with FTA officials in Washington, D.C., last week.
None of those three, however, are part of Martin’s new leadership team….
Currently, the most powerful committees are led by Manahan (Budget), Kymberly Pine (Zoning and Housing), Anderson (Planning), Elefante (Transportation) and Menor (Executive Matters and Legal Affairs). Of the five, only Pine is part of the new leadership group.
Besides Martin and Pine, Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi and Trevor Ozawa are backing the reorganization….
Reality: Rail Begins to Eat $214M Hole in City Finances
read … Mayor dreads Council leadership shuffle
Hilarious: Airhead Ing Voted to Name Airport for ‘Serial Rapist’ Inouye
HNN: …On Thursday night, state Rep. Kaniela Ing, who's running for Congress, spurred widespread reaction when he tweeted: "In order for sexual violence to end, men need to know they can no longer get away with it. But when we name an airport after an accused serial rapist, we show them that they can. #TimesUpDanInouye."
Ing was responding to a television program on PBS.
Amaral says Ing's description of Inouye is accurate.
"He (Inouye) had been accused and I have said there were nine women I talked to who had told me stories of molestation and rape," she said.
In 1992, Amaral was head of the women's caucus when the Lenore Kwock scandal erupted.
Kwoch, Inouye's hairdresser, accused the senator of using his power to have sex with her.
Amaral supported Kwock and revealed that nine other anonymous women called her with similar stories and asked for confidentiality. The women also refused to file reports and a U.S. Senate Ethics panel dropped its investigation.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a candidate for governor, was Inouye's political protégé…. She said supports the #MeToo movement, but questions Ing's motives, especially given that he voted to support renaming of Honolulu's airport in 2016….
On Friday, Ing told Hawaii News Now that he learned of the Inouye scandal after he supported the airport renaming…. (LOLROTF!)
IQ Test: Ing is: 1) an idiot 2) a liar 3) both.
read … Decades-old sexual misconduct allegations against Inouye have resurfaced. What now?
Mark Kaniela ‘Saito’ Ing: Lifelong Airhead
OHA: Throw The Bums Out
FH: It’s about time that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is being scrutinized for inappropriate spending of millions of dollars over a two-year period (“Millions improperly spent, OHA audit shows,” Star-Advertiser, Feb. 14).
Moreover, some expenditures were approved without the Board of Trustees’ vote or even knowledge, according to the audit, to the tune of $14 million while actual “budgeted, vetted and monitored grants” were half that amount — $7.7 million.
This travesty is just another example of spending about which we Hawaiians have no clue. Remember OHA’s suing the University of Hawai`i for “mismanagement” of the Mauna Kea summit? It used funds we Hawaiians might not have wanted to be used in this manner.
OHA’s own mismanagement is epic. Get rid of OHA’s chief executive officer, Kamana‘opono Crabbe, who ignored “do not fund” recommendations.
Also, Chairwoman Colette Machado, who, too late, is proposing new spending controls. It’s like closing the barn door after the horse has left. Because of poor leadership, she has to leave, too.
read … Throw the Bums Out
Excellent News: City plan would force some of the 'hardest to house' to get help
HNN: …There are more than 200 people on Oahu streets who suffer from severe mental illnesses, according to estimates. Add to that hundreds more who are homeless and addicted to drugs.
Scores in both groups repeatedly refuse help from homeless service providers.
To address that, the mayor is proposing to spend $500,000 for a new program that could force many of them into treatment — whether they want it or not.
($500K is not nearly enough)
"We're providing the opportunity for psychiatric service support," said Marc Alexander, executive director of the mayor's Office of Housing. "We're also providing the opportunity for legal support because it costs money to go through the assisted community treatment process."
Hawaii is one of 46 states that allows the courts to step in and provide involuntary treatment for people who are incapacitated by mental illness.
But the law is rarely used on Oahu….
Alexander said it's an investment that could end up saving taxpayers millions in the long run.
"An unsheltered homeless person costs the community between $40,000 and $80,000 a year," he said. "When you invest in services like this we can save the community that money and help people who are really in need."
The City Council still has some time to decide if it wants to fund the program. The final budget is approved in June….
read … Some Truly Excellent News
Affordable Housing is a Monster, Caldwell Bans it
HNN: …The mayor has signed into law a temporary moratorium on the construction of so-called "monster homes" on Oahu…..
IQ Test: Are you impressed by the ‘temporary’ nature of this bill?
read … Mayor signs temporary moratorium of 'monster homes'
Used by DoE, Media, Democratic Party: Students are told this is ‘Their’ Voice
CB: …Students Find Their Voice In Preparing For Wednesday Walkouts. …area schools said they are modifying their bell schedules for the day to allow for student walkouts and offering an extended recess so students can participate. The walkouts are even stirring activity at the elementary school level, including at Waikiki School, a pre K-5 school which exercises the Habits of Mind classroom philosophy.
Public school students say they were reassured by the fact Hawaii school superintendent Christina Kishimoto issued a March 2 letter to parents saying the central administration supports “students’ constitutional rights to a peaceful assembly and free expression,” while encouraging school leaders to provide a designated walkout area for those who choose to participate….
Whose Voice? -- Students who are disruptive or leave the campus could face discipline.
Reality: Gun Control Rallies: How Today’s students have been Brainwashed to prepare for this moment their whole lives
read … Tools
Top Corporate Lobbyist Demands Suicide, but Refuses to Die
CB: The longtime lobbyist for tobacco, liquor and gambling interests and prescription drug companies says this time he’s “on the side of angels.”
(IQ Test: Do you believe him?)
If it becomes legal, Radcliffe hesitates to say if he would use it to end his own life. (See how this works? Suicide is for the little people.)
Related: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii
read … John Radcliffe’s Last Fight Is For His Own Right To Die
Hawaii Senate Wants To Restrict State Government’s Hiring Power
CB: …Department heads have lined up in opposition to a bill that would end their ability to fill hundreds of temporary positions…..
(When they can come up with an excuse) state department heads create temporary positions with Gov. David Ige’s blessing….
The Ige administration, like those before it, relies on a hiring exemption in the law for projects throughout state government. The most recent tally counts 450 current positions, almost half of which were federally funded, that have paid for an industrial hemp pilot program, background checks, a broadband initiative and homeland security.
That exemption from the normal hiring requirements would end if Senate Bill 2515 becomes law. The measure, introduced by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, cleared the full Senate unanimously last week and now awaits a hearing in the House, where it was referred to the Labor and Finance committees chaired by Reps. Aaron Ling Johanson and Sylvia Luke, respectively. … No hearing has been set yet in the House….
read … Restrict
More Rate Hikes Coming: Lawmakers Want To Preserve Obamacare In Hawaii
CB: Several bills in the Legislature would protect or resurrect aspects of the federal Affordable Care Act….
Senate Bill 2924establishes a so-called individual mandate, which requires most people to be insured or face tax penalties….
Senate Bill 2340 is another ACA-related measure that seeks to prohibit insurance companies from discriminating based on health ailments or gender, and allow people ages 25 or younger to be covered by their parents’ health insurance….
Hawaii was the first state to receive an innovation waiver under ACA. SB 2199 authorizes the state to ask for another exemption. This one would allow the state to essentially insure insurance companies, protecting them from costly, high-risk patients. An affordable health insurance working group recommended that the state control health care costs for everyone by protecting insurance companies from costly customers….
(IQ Test: Protecting Insurers is / is not the same as protecting consumers?)
SB 2199, SB 2924, SB 2340 are slated to be heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday morning.
Another set of bills, SB 2788 and HB 694, would create and fund a database to help the state analyze health care trends and costs for patients of Med-QUEST, the state office that carries out the federal Medicaid program….SB 2788 has not been scheduled for a hearing, but HB 694 passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee on Monday….
Reality: Study: Hawaii Obamacare Prices to Jump 50% by 2021
read … More Rate Hikes Coming
SB2648: NextEra Supporters to Stack PUC?
IM: …The three-member Hawaii Public Utilities Commission will have one vacancy effective June 2018. The Senate passed SB 2648 which would establish a five-member board with three vacancies.
NextEra gave Colleen Wakako Hanabusa $30,000 towards her campaign to become the next Governor of Hawai`i.
Hanabusa has a high ranking former member of HECO on her staff and sits on the Hawaii Gas board of directors.
Representative Chris Lee will fly to Maui to speak at the first day of the Maui Energy Conference on Wednesday.
While energy stakeholders continue to meet at the second day of the conference, Rep Lee will return to Honolulu to hear SB 2648 in his role as chair the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection.
The hearing will be held at 11:35 a.m. while energy stakeholders on Maui will be at lunch sponsored by the Hawaii State Energy Office….
On September 26, 2017 Hanabusa received $18,000 from NextEra in three $6000 payments from the PAC, Eric Gleason, and a relative of Eric Gleason.
Hawaii Gas supports greater use of fracked Liquefied Natural Gas. Cognizant that Governor Ige opposes LNG, HECO agreed temporarily not push for the right to import LNG…. (Which would lower electric bills sharply, thus endangering green energy scammers.)
read … NextEra Poised to Acquire Hawaiian Electric Companies in 2019
Hawaii Pension Picks Acting CIO, Seeks Permanent Replacement
II: The Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii has named Howard Hodel as acting chief investment officer following the abrupt departure of its CIO last month, according to executive director Thomas Williams.
Hodel assumed the pension fund’s CIO responsibilities on March 1, replacing Vijoy Chattergy, who left late last month, Williams said during a board meeting in Honolulu Monday morning. Hodel had been the fund’s risk management investment officer since 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“The investment staff supports him and the individual members of the board support him, as well,” Williams said at the meeting. “Congratulations to Howard.”
Feb 15, 2018: ERS Fires Investment Officer After Losses on VIX Puts
read … Hodel
Kauai Council Term limit amendment to be voted on
KGI: …A resolution charter amendment, if passed, would give Kauai voters the opportunity to vote on ending term limits for County Council members, who are currently limited to four, two-year terms.
The amendment was proposed by Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa in late January.
If the council votes in favor of the resolution, it would go on August’s ballot for voters to decide….
read … Kauai Council Term limit amendment to be voted on
Birds Deployed in Effort to Stop Coco Palms Project
KGI: …While developers with Coco Palms Hui, LLC maintain they have no knowledge of endangered species on the property, the Environmental Protection Agency is responding to reports of the endangered ducks living on the premises.
“EPA has received the emailed letter and is currently reviewing it, and working to identify the specific location of the site,” said Dean Higuchi, press officer with EPA.
The letter in question was sent to EPA on Monday by biologist and researcher Terry Lilley, who claims he has GPS documentation of the presence of a colony of endangered bird species “on or near the proposed rebuilding site of the Coco Palms Hotel.”
“We are not aware of any endangered species residing on the Coco Palms property,” said Chad Waters in a statement from Coco Palms Hui to TGI….
read … Deployment
Hawaii County Has Plenty of Money to Buy ‘Open Space,’ Pay Enviros
WHT: The county budget might be tight in other areas, but there’s still plenty of money to buy and maintain land for open space preservation.
A March 1 report of finances for the county Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission showed $16.2 million in the acquisition fund as of March 1.
That’s its highest balance since the fund was opened in January 2006, following a charter amendment seeking a percentage of property tax revenues be taken off the top for preservation.
Another $2.3 million is in the PONC maintenance fund, used to pay consultants and nonprofits to survey, upgrade and maintain the land, and other miscellaneous purchases, such as signs.
Some PONC commissioners and members of the public are worried the money could somehow be diverted to other uses. But, short of an amendment on the ballot voted on by the public to change the charter, that can’t happen….
CB: Anti-GMO Activist--Regulators Should Control Industrial Ag, Not us pretend farmers
read … Kim says no plans to raid money going to open space preservation
Albizia: First Step Boost Funding
SA: …A first step is creating detailed and site-specific action plans for Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Hawaii island and boosting funding for management efforts statewide.
How much money is needed is unknown at this time….
(See how this works?)
read … Make-work Jobs
SB2571: Mindless Coral Reef Sunscreen Hysteria May be Profitable for Competitors
SA: …Senate Bill 2571 would help protect the state’s reef system through a ban on the sale or distribution of any over-the-counter SPF sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate. An exception would be made if a prescription is issued by a licensed health care provider. The chemicals are among 15 sunscreen blockers approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There are two FDA-approved physical blockers — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — that are considered “reef safe.”
The bill’s supporters point to
years of (only one) scientific stud ies(y) that have found (alleges) exposure to oxybenzone and octinoxate leave coral more susceptible to bleaching and weaken reef ability to recover from ongoing heavy-hitting environmental threats such as wastewater discharge and other land-based pollution as well as over-fishing, invasive species and climate change (and manbearpig).
(According to Nature and Scientific American, that’s a bunch of hype.)
Opponents say more science is needed to back up concerns about the chemicals and prompt an FDA ban. In the meantime, they worry that the proposed legislation could create consumer confusion, touching off a drop in sunscreen use.
Given an American Academy of Dermatology Association projection that nearly 500 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in Hawaii this year — and that the melanoma death rate here is more than 30 percent higher than the national average — we must avoid attaching stigma to protective sunscreen use.
But that doesn’t mean SB 2571 is not a sensible course of action. It is. Surely, state lawmakers can find a way to balance environmental risk with promotion of wise public health options. Sunscreen formulations free of oxybenzone and octinoxate are safer choices — and they’re already available on shop shelves near our beaches….
2017: After Pushing Bogus Coral Sunscreen Bills, Hawaii Surfrider Collects Payoff from Manufacturer
read … Rampaging Mob of Hysterical Lunatics