Carbon Tax: Will You Fiddle While Paris Burns?
Charitable Deductions--Hawaii Ranks 48th
Grassroot: Our Santa wish list for Hawaii
Environmental Council Completes Rewrite of Environmental Review Rules
Hawaii Becomes the Second State to Shut Out Wild-Animal Circuses
Ige Approves Rule Changes for Small Boat Harbors
The Big Squeeze: An analysis of tax and fee increases island residents are expected to pay
HTH: … if you rely on trash service rather than hauling your own garbage to a transfer station, it probably costs you 27.1 percent more this year than last year. That’s how much haulers were hit for, and they’re probably going to pass that increase along….
Water bills are up an average of 8 percent for residential users. Not to mention the sewer charges, which the county plans to raise 44 percent next year….
electricity is up about 7.4 percent from last year and Hawaii Electric Light Co. is asking for a 3.4 percent hike….
gasoline is up 19.2 percent over last year. And gas taxes are up 26.7 percent, following an astonishing 70.5 percent the year before. Not to mention the extra $5.81 for your safety sticker….
(Hawaii County) General excise taxes are going up 6.3 percent Jan. 1, an increase that will affect everything you buy at retail as well as other goods and services. Speaking of retail, prices are probably going up too, as Matson, the container carrier that brings us most of our goods, slapped a fuel surcharge on its cargo that’s 41.3 percent higher than last year….
Work off some of that stress, stay at a comfy Big Island resort, lounge in the pool, have a drink at the tiki bar. Guess what? That costs more this year, too, thanks to the state Legislature last year adding 1 percent to the transient accommodations tax on hotels and short-term lodging….
If you opt for a short-term vacation rental home instead, that may not cost quite as much more next year, but it’s likely to go up in 2020, as the county administration figures out a way to create a new property tax class to get its share of the revenue being thrown around by this burgeoning industry.
Maybe you’d better just stay home. And, you guessed it. That’s more expensive, too. Property values are up 4 percent, and if you rent, your monthly payments are probably up, thanks to a 10.4 percent property tax increase for rental homes, and 7.8 percent for apartments imposed last year….
read … The Big Squeeze: An analysis of tax and fee increases island residents are expected to pay
The problem with rail isn’t PR
GRIH: … there’s no fixing the city agency’s PR efforts because the problem is the Honolulu rail project itself.
It is way over budget and way behind schedule, yet HART has resisted submitting the multibillion-dollar boondoggle to an independent forensic audit, to identify any possible fraud, waste or abuse.
Spending more precious taxpayer money in an attempt to gain the public’s trust would only make things worse. HART’s best PR option is simply to be more transparent. A full, independent forensic audit would be the best way to achieve that goal….
read …. The problem with rail isn’t PR
Can Team Hanabusa Take Revenge by Cutting $125M for Ala Wai?
Borreca: … In the government arena, Ige’s latest proposed state budget includes a yet-to-be-examined $125 million state subsidy to pay the local portion of a massive retrenchment of the Ala Wai Canal.
Federal and state planners have long warned that the canal, which serves to drain the storm waters pouring down from the Koolau mountains, needs to be rebuilt. The entire project is pegged by Congress at $345 million, with the city, state or another entity expected to put up 35 percent of the cost.
Ige‘s budget plan, according to state Rep. Sylvia Luke, House Finance Committee chairwoman, has the state picking up the initial construction costs with the city then being responsible for the operation and management of the new canal system. She said the governor’s office has said the operation and maintenance portion of the project is much more expensive than construction, so the state gets a good deal.
Luke, while not saying the project is not needed, questions how the state became a partner with the city in what is considered a municipal responsibility.
“Whether there is a need or not is not the issue; there has to be a better justification for exactly what this is,” Luke said in an interview.
“Even if the state owns this land, the city operates it. This is denoted as a subsidy to the city and county, if that is the case, let them figure if they can afford it.”
Luke already is voicing concern about the inability of Caldwell and the city to “even know the cost of rail yet, let alone the operation and maintenance of rail.” Saying the city should nail down those costs before dragging the state into another major, costly construction project, Luke questioned how it was included in the Ige budget.
“It is not the right approach, it brings even more suspicion,” she said….
read … Ige got Caldwell’s help in tough campaign; now state budget proposes $125M for Ala Wai
Ige seeks $5 million to study financing options for new Halawa jail
SA: … Gov. David Ige is pushing forward on plans to relocate Oahu’s overcrowded jail in Kalihi to Halawa Valley, inserting $5 million into his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 for studying financing options for the facility, which is estimated to cost about $525 million.
But legislative leaders are questioning whether it makes sense to spend money on a study at this time when there’s no clear vision of how big the facility should be and what it should look like.
There also are questions about the $5 million cost of the study. By comparison, for example, a recent report by Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors on public-private partnership options for building out the last four miles of the Honolulu rail project cost only $325,000, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation….
Officials with the governor’s office, Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state’s corrections system, and the Department of Accounting and General Services, which is helping manage the project, either couldn’t say or didn’t respond to questions about the study’s cost and whether it would be contracted out or handled by Architects Hawaii, which was awarded an initial $5 million contract in 2016 to work on project planning….
(Translation: This story may be a big fat nothing.)
Schwartz did say the project is expected to move into the design phase in 2019 if design funding is available.
“If all goes according to plan, we anticipate beginning the construction phase in 2021 and opening doors in 2024,” she said by email….
(Skip several paragraphs about the plan to release 1000s of criminals back onto the streets. Pushing this agenda is the real reason for this story.)
read … Ige seeks $5 million to study financing options for new Halawa jail
Kaneshiro Should Step Down to Avoid Impeachment
Cataluna: … Should he step down? Probably. Everyone who has ever had a beef with him is taking this opportunity to make the best of his weak position, including the person who started the petition, a game-room operator who was unsuccessfully prosecuted by Kaneshiro’s office.
Though Kaneshiro’s been a public figure for a long time, he did nothing to create an image in the public mind as a crimefighter; with his aloof and uncommunicative style he comes across as a career bureaucrat, not an advocate for crime victims. So even for those inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, there isn’t much to grab onto.
The one thing we know for sure is that he’s a loyal boss — just ask Katherine Kealoha.
He doesn’t have to quit. But he shouldn’t wait to be impeached. Just step aside for now, until all of the elements of this murky criminal investigation are revealed and real evidence is presented.
If he’s going to get the boot, let it happen in the light….
read … Rushing to judge Honolulu prosecutor
City Gives X-Mas Gift to Homeless Children—Forcing their No Good Parents to Accept Shelter
KITV: … The city is planning another homeless sweep in urban Honolulu- and it's happening on Christmas Eve. Police officers will be at the Kakaako Makai area before dawn - from 3 to 5:30 a.m. - on Monday.
The city posted the notice to its website on Friday. The city periodically removes homeless from public areas when the parks get overrun with homeless people and their tents, tarps, and dogs.
The ACLU of Hawaii speaks out against the move. Executive director Josh Wisch told us, "The city's continuing effort to criminalize the houseless are - in our view- not only illegal and constitutionally questionable, but they're ineffective and cruel. Doing this on Christmas Eve is unconscionably cruel."
(WRONG. This sweep is a blessed gift to the children whose misfortune is to be made homeless by their bum parents when shelter is available. Maybe the ACLUs idea of an X-Mas gift is a baggie of free meth? The homeless would surely ‘appreciate’ that!)
KITV: Christmas Eve homeless sweep upsets civil liberties groups
SA: Annual homeless count seeks volunteers, hygiene products
read … A Home for Christmas
Road Open to Geothermal Plant -- May Restart in 18 Months
HTH: … “It looks like the plant is in pretty good shape,” Kaleikini said.
He said PGV is talking with Hawaii Electric Light Co. about getting permission to place power lines across the channel alongside the road.
A county waterline that remains in service can be accessed by connecting near Highway 132, Kaleikini said.
“Once we get the power, it will be a big boost for us,” he said. “We can energize all the equipment.”
Kaleikini said he didn’t have an estimate for how long that could take. It remains unclear when the plant, which has a capacity of 38 megawatts, will be able to restart.
Kaleikini previously estimated 18 months….
read … PGV now accessible thanks to ‘pioneer road’
Anti-vaccination message barely worth printing
WHT: … We chose to report it. And we wrote it exactly as it was: A public hearing where a group of ill-informed citizens lobbed out junk science and rhetoric that runs counter to precious medical advancement and science.
But there were a couple of added wrinkles to the decision that made it unique, which should illustrate how poorly we hold the anti-vaccination literature.
The first was that public hearing was for testimony only, so the school district and Hawaii State Department of Health couldn’t engage in discussion. That is to say, they couldn’t refute the nonsense, rather had to sit there and listen. That’s the perfect formula, not for learning, but for grandstanding, and the last thing we wanted was to give a printed platform for wild, unsafe theories.
But the other, more serious component is that public health is at risk.
The discussion about not vaccinating children to contagious, fatal diseases is a dangerous one. It’s serious. In 1955, the year the polio vaccine was introduced, there were 1,043 deaths from the disease. By the early 1960s, there were next to none.
The public controversy on Maunakea, for example, runs culturally deep and impacts many. But, regardless of one’s side, that decision isn’t one that can be literally life and death for one’s peers.
But that’s what’s at stake on the immunization front, unfortunately.
So when a doctor sounds off at the public meeting — as one certainly did — by insinuating that immunization caused Sudden Infant Death Syndrome because, well, data doesn’t say it didn’t, we take it seriously when deciding whether to give such unsound reason any printed voice at all.
“Why don’t they ask ‘When was the last vaccine?’ whenever a SIDS baby comes in? Where’s the research?” the doctor — and by god, we’ve never used “doctor” looser than here — said. “Why don’t we know how many vaccines that baby had, how many at a time, when it dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?”
In the end, we covered the hearing for exactly what it was. People gathered to share theories long refuted by science and we provided some data points that showed exactly that. That part that we find saddest is that it actually is a discussion happening on this island right now.
We sympathize with the officials at the meeting who had to sit there and listen. As a newspaper that appreciates medical advancements, we hope they take the testimony gathered Thursday and chuck it in the garbage can, where it belongs….
read … Anti-vaccination message barely worth printing
Maui Styrofoam Ban Begins Dec 31
MN: … The iconic white foam plate, synonymous with local plate lunches, soon will be no more in Maui County.
The county law banning expanded polystyrene foam food containers takes effect on Dec. 31.
Starting then, businesses cannot use or sell foam food service containers in the county. Affected are hinged clamshell containers, cups, plates, bowls and serving trays. If food or beverages can be served on it and its made of EPS, it is not allowed, according to the county.
Mayor Alan Arakawa signed the measure into law on June 5, 2017, after the Maui County Council unanimously passed the bill….
An estimated 2,000 businesses in Maui County are affected by the new law….
the cost of a foam lunch plate may hover around 12 cents per piece, while an environmentally friendly plate is around 25 cents or higher….
The Environmental Protection & Sustainability Division said there has been some feedback from businesses that say the cost of compliant products is potentially “four times as much” as foam products…..
read … Plate lunches soon will need a new plate
Obamacare’s fines are not the big stick many had expected
AP: … There was one thing that supporters and detractors of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul agreed on for years: unpopular fines on Americans forgoing coverage were essential for the plan to work because they nudged healthy people to get insured, helping check premiums.
Now it turns out that might not be so.
Numbers released this week by the government show just a slight dip in the number of people enrolled in Affordable Care Act coverage next year through HealthCare.gov. That’s the case even though the Republican-led Congress repealed fines for being uninsured effective Jan. 1. The drop — from 8.8 million to 8.5 million — was far less than experts forecast. …
read … Obamacare’s fines are not the big stick many had expected