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Thursday, January 7, 2021
January 7, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:59 PM :: 1063 Views

Alert: US Federal Recognition is Back

Hawaii Republican Candidate Photographed Attacking Capitol

Tax Hikes on Fuel, Food and Health Care

CB: … Hirai told House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke Tuesday that the administration’s specific plan is “kind of embargoed right now” while the budget staff considers other options, such as tapping into unused money in state special funds that could make some tax increases unnecessary.

However, he suggested in response to questions during a tense exchange that the carbon and sugar taxes may be among the increases….

“You cannot just present the plan and say the details are embargoed,” she said. “There is an obligation to be honest with the public, and honest with the Legislature to provide the details on what tax increase assumptions were built into the financial plan that was submitted on Dec. 21.”

“I don’t have my list with me,” Hirai said, which apparently did nothing to appease Luke.

“So, let me just ask you then, are you planning to raise the carbon tax?”

“Possibly,” Hirai replied.

“Are you planning to institute a sugar tax?” she asked.

“Possibly,” Hirai said.

“Are you planning to raise the GET (general excise tax)?” she continued.

“I don’t think so,” Hirai replied.

A carbon tax would be a tax on the consumption of fossil fuels, while a new “sugar” tax may resemble the soda tax that was proposed by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2011. Lawmakers rejected the soda tax idea that year, and it was never adopted.

Hirai then volunteered that “some other health care taxes” could be used to increase reimbursements. He apparently was referring to federal reimbursements that are paid to the state for programs co-funded by the state and federal governments.

Hirai offered no further details on the “health care taxes” but said the administration is also considering issuing bonds to borrow money that would then be used to fund programs such as the Rental Housing Trust Fund….

(Working Poor are the Target of Regressive Taxes on Fuel, Food, and Health Care.)

read … State Finance Director Says Carbon And Sugar Taxes May Be Among Increases

Green calls for 2-week moratorium on social gatherings as new coronavirus cases reach high of 322

SA: … Lt. Gov. Josh Green is calling for Hawaii residents to avoid all social gatherings for two weeks starting today as state health officials reported the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide reached the first record high of the new year.

Hawaii health officials today reported 322 new coronavirus infections, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 22,631 cases. Today’s new statewide case count is highest since mid-August when the number spiked to 355. The latest spike is due primarily to holiday gatherings — some small and some large — that ran from Christmas to New Year’s, Green said.

“What we have seen for last several weeks, we’ve seen the clusters emerge from social gatherings and they’ve not been connected to travel almost at all,” Green told the Star-Advertiser. “I’m personally calling for a two-week pause on all social gatherings as we ramp up the vaccination program. It does not affect our Tier system, it does not affect shopping or retail. But we would benefit from a two-week pause.”…

read … Green calls for 2-week moratorium on social gatherings as new coronavirus cases reach high of 322

Department of Education shuffles papers rather than distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 44,000+ employees

KITV: … To help move the process along, Waibel says he's willing to host vaccination clinics at YMCA locations.

(Translation: YMCA is serious about getting lots of people vaccinated quickly.)

"If people are coming to a central place and we have the facility and vaccination protocols in place, of course that would be ideal. If that can't happen, we'll work with whatever methodology gets put together," Waibel said.

DOE Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami says the first step in planning is identifying which group of people on school campuses receives top priority.

(Translation: DOE is NOT serious about getting lots of people vaccinated quickly.)

read … Department of Education reports a plan is in the works to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 44,000+ employees

Tax Hike Sales Pitch: DoE Claims 1,300 teaching positions at risk

HNN: … “I don’t mince words about our budget, we are in crisis when it comes to the school system,” said Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “We have been talking about furloughs, but behind the furloughs are the potential of a significant reduction in force.”

(Translation: The HSTA will push for GE Tax grab again.)

The 1,300 represents 10% of the 13,000 teaching positions statewide.

(Translation: A 10% cut means a 10% RIF – because that is what is most likely to get the Lege to go along with tax hikes.) 

Despite the large number of expected cuts, it was actually worse weeks ago.

Kishimoto sent out a letter to DOE employees saying up to 1,850 teaching positions could potentially be cut. That has since been adjusted as budget officials worked the numbers.

(Translation: They are making it up as they go along.)

Still, the Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said the short- and long-term effects of such widespread cuts will be devastating.

“We already have a shortage of 1,000 teachers. If we lose 1,000 more, who is going to be the adult in the front of the classroom and that is what is so scary right now,” Rosenlee said.

(Translation: Only 300 actual teachers are threatened.)

read … ‘In crisis’: Superintendent says 1,300 teaching positions could be cut by end of year

HSTA Member Posts Bail, Returns to Mainland after Forcing School Evacuation

TGI: … According to court documents, Giacobetti faces charges of criminal property damage, terroristic threatening, violating an order of protection, harassment and stalking, and pled not guilty to the charges on Sept. 29.

During an October hearing, Giacobetti was taken to the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center after Judge Kathleen Watanabe chose to follow the recommendation of Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jared Brickey, after deliberation between Brickey, Watanabe and Zenger.

Initially, Watanabe revoked his bail, which was later overturned after the case was transferred back to Family Court.

Watanabe followed Brickey’s recommendation because Giacobetti has allegedly continued to violate orders of protection and contacted the alleged victim after posting bail.

Giacobetti hasn’t picked up any new charges since being released from custody in early November.

Giacobetti allegedly violated the protective order, which was filed by the alleged victim in January of this year, court documents show.

The court documents stated that Giacobetti caused the evacuation of an elementary school when he allegedly “recklessly threatened” an 8 year old of a person he was legally restrained from….

FB: Jeffrey Giacobetti

read … Court: Giacobetti can return to mainland

State-Run Bank would be State Run Bank-Ruptcy

SA:  … A public bank, as proposed by state Rep. Dale Kobayashi last legislative session, is a (disaster waiting to happen.  Loans would be made to all the usual insiders and then when they don’t pay, the Bank would take the State down with it.  But first taxes would be raised in a futile effort to cover the losses….)

read … Bank-Rupt

Hawaii Electric Industries (HEI) Launches New Buying Spree

IM: … HEI subsidiary Hawaiian Insurance Group (HIG) sold many Kauai hurricane insurance policies. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki's 160-mile-per-hour winds devastated the island of Kauai. HIG racked up claims of $300M resulting in a negative net worth of $80M.

HEI abandoned the company. In 1993, Hawaii's insurance regulators brought a lawsuit against HEI, charging breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, and negligence.

During the 1990s, HEI sold off most of its non-electric utilities however it retained controlled of American Savings Bank.

HEI then invested in international energy projects in Guam, the Philippines, and the People’s Republic of China. HEI withdrew from those ill-fated ventures after losing $100 million….

In September of 2017 HEI created Pacific Current, LLC and agreed to buy the Hāmākua Energy Partners power plant from its owner, ArcLight Capital Partners.

HECO asserted that the PUC did not have regulatory control over HEI's unregulated acquisition designed to bypass regulation….

In 2018, Pacific Current was awarded the Purchase Power Agreement to own and operate renewable energy systems at UH community colleges, integrating 8.6 MW of solar capacity and 42.3 MWh of storage capacity to bring each campus closer to its net-zero energy goal.

Several Pacific Current acquisitions occurred in 2019.

Pacific Current partnered with Pacific Biodiesel Technologies on a biodiesel supply contract to increase the use of renewable fuels.

Pacific Current and EverCharge embarked on a joint venture, EverCharge Hawai`i, to bring a fully managed, scalable electric vehicle charging solution to apartments, condominiums, workplaces, and fleet customers.

Kupu opened the Ho`okupu Center to offer job training and community building for local youth. Pacific Current owns and operates the 95-kW rooftop solar system which was built and installed in partnership with RevoluSun.

Pacific Current is focusing on four investment areas: Clean Energy, Transportation Electrification, Sustainable Agriculture, and Water Stewardship & Waste Diversion.

Scott Valentino is the President of Pacific Current. Other staff members are Jordan Little, Justin Davidson, Carina Ohara, Priscilla Ko, and Evan Castro.

Pacific Current created a subsidiary, Ka`ie`ie Waho Company, LLC, on June 1, 2020.

Pacific Current and Ka`ie`ie Waho entered the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) arena when it acquired a Port Allen Solar facility from Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.’s McBryde Sugar Company, LLC….

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Solar farms are depreciating assets.  Soon they will need to be re-paneled at great cost.  HECO buying spree designed to incur losses—reward sellers of assets?)

read … Hawai`i Electric Industries (HEI) Launches New Buying Spree

Spying on You: New app could warn you of COVID-19 exposure

HNN: … The Hawaii State Department of Health launched an app that aims to alert residents of possible exposure to COVID-19.

The AlohaSafe Alert, which is now available in Maui, Honolulu, Hawaii and Kauai counties, anonymously tracks signals in relation to other devices with the application.

The app uses Google Apple Exposure Notification technology, which is embedded in many smartphones through recent updates.

According to the DOH, the information gathered on the app is completely anonymous.

If someone downloads the app, the phone can remember other devices it meets. According to the application and DOH, any personally identifiable information never leaves the phone.

The technology is able to gauge signals of those around the device. It is able to measure close devices was, how much time was spent together, if a room may have been separating them, and so on.

If a user discovers they are positive with COVID-19, they can upload that information to the app anonymously, which will then notify other users who may have interacted with that person.

“(The app) is so privacy-preserving, that we can’t identify the individuals who have been notified,” said Josh Quint, an epidemiologist with the Department of Health. “And that’s very intentional on the part of how the technology was designed. People aren’t going to feel comfortable using it if they don’t trust that their privacy is protected.”…

read … New app could warn you of COVID-19 exposure

HPD Deputy Says ‘We Did Nothing Wrong’ In Surveillance On Cabinet Official

CB: … During the meeting, McCarthy made clear that he was the one who ordered the intelligence unit to carry out the surveillance operation because he wanted to “keep it tight.”

McCarthy told the commissioners that the investigation stemmed from information given to HPD by the Caldwell administration that indicated Happy could be involved with drugs.

The intelligence officers found no evidence to back up the allegations and the operation was ceased in its entirety, he said.

“There was nothing wrong with that,” McCarthy said. “We violated no one’s civil rights.”

(Really Obvious Question:  What abut Caldwell? Did he file a false police report?)

McCarthy did not provide many details about the surveillance operation or how it began. The commissioners did not ask him for any additional information that would shed light on the origins of the complaint against Happy and whether it was anything more than a rumor.

Police Commissioner Michael Broderick asked McCarthy if the IEU has policies and procedures, and McCarthy told him that it did have a manual of operations.

When Broderick asked if any reports were written about the surveillance mission, McCarthy told him that the officers would have taken notes but those would have been destroyed after a year, meaning no written record exists of what actually transpired or why.….

read … HPD Deputy Says ‘We Did Nothing Wrong’ In Surveillance On Cabinet Official

Soft on Crime: 13 Priors Does it Again

HNN: … Prosecutors charged a 44-year-old man today in connection with Monday’s home invasion robbery in Manoa.

Tiolu Lono was charged with first-degree burglary. His bail is set at $150,000.

Police said a 76-year-old man and 62-year-old woman confronted two male suspects who broke into their home on East Manoa Road at about 8:45 a.m. Monday.

One of the suspects allegedly assaulted the homeowners and fled with their belongings. Police said the victims were taken to a hospital where they were treated and released for their injuries.

That afternoon, police arrested one of the suspects later identified as Lono in the Makiki area.

He has a criminal record of 13 felony convictions for robbery, kidnapping, burglary, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, promoting a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia and one misdemeanor conviction for accidents involving bodily injury.

The other suspect remains at-large…..

read … Man, 44, charged in connection with Manoa home robbery

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