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Sunday, May 29, 2022
May 29, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:13 PM :: 1466 Views

Audit: 'No Limits' to HPD Overtime

Transit History

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 28, 2022

83 public schools to offer summer meals

Report: Federal funding flaw shortchanges Hawaii's school nutrition programs

Oahu’s problematic short-term rental ban

What went down at the 2022 Hawaii Legislature

How to Make Housing Affordable in Hawaii

Pinata: $600M Scramble at DHHL  

SA: … When Hawaii lawmakers moved this month to pump $600 million into the state’s Native Hawaiian homesteading program, they said they wanted to help those who are most in need. The problem: They didn’t say whom, exactly, they had in mind.

Now, the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the agency that oversees the long-troubled program, faces the difficult task of setting priorities and crafting a plan for how to spend the single-largest injection of funds in the history of the century-old initiative….

At issue is how to help two different groups languishing on a waitlist of nearly 29,000 people. One is made up of Native Hawaiians who can afford a home but face a long line for DHHL housing. The other is made up of those who can’t….

In positioning the $600 million bill for final passage, legislators amended it to give DHHL greater flexibility in deciding how to spend the money, including deleting a provision that allocated the bulk of funding to 17 planned projects totaling about 3,000 lots — a provision that would have helped those ready to purchase units that had yet to be built….

Gov. David Ige is expected to sign the $600 million legislation, and the department has until Dec. 10 to submit a spending plan. But because Ige’s term ends in December, implementation will fall to the next administration….

Leaders of the two largest beneficiary organizations (Robin Danner) said they do not trust the department, which has been blasted by federal and state watchdogs for mismanagement over the years, to craft an effective plan. Those groups, the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations and the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, have teamed up to develop their own….

“It’s time for nonbeneficiaries (other Hawaiians) to mind their manners and sit down,” Robin Danner, chair of the council, said in an interview. “We beneficiaries are taking responsibility.”

(Translation: ‘Mine, mine, mine’ )

Some say any financial aid should first go to those on the waitlist who otherwise cannot afford to purchase a home. 

(Who should get the free money?  You already know how this will end up.)

“Let’s be fair,” she said. “Those on the top of the list are old and dying.”

Either way, policymakers have another key factor to consider: a tight deadline. The legislation requires DHHL to allocate the $600 million by June 30, 2025; any remaining money must be returned to the state’s general fund….

Reality:

read … Native Hawaiians are split over how to spend $600M given to the state’s long-troubled homesteading program

School Facilities: $200M Uncharted and Untested

SA:  …Chad Keone Farias, the new head of the state’s relatively new School Facilities Authority, has already heard the skepticism.

Among the questions lobbed his way: Will this independent authority really be more innovative and faster at building new public schools and teacher housing than the state Department of Education has been? Can such an untested agency do a good job with the $200 million the Legislature just approved to finally start building universal preschools across Hawaii? Will the authority be accountable and transparent? (Answer: ‘No’) How does Farias, a career educator, qualify to direct so much big-ticket construction? (He will do whatever the developers say.)

Farias, a 29-year DOE educator appointed in March by Gov. David Ige as the first executive director of the School Facilities Authority, admits this is somewhat uncharted territory for him and the authority’s five-member volunteer board. But some of that is by design: The point of the authority is to change the status quo, devising new ways to build education-related facilities quickly and cost-effectively….

For what Farias may lack in years of construction experience, he is striving to make up for with passion for what he calls “thinking outside the box … but with guardrails” from the board, which includes some industry leaders (ie insiders looking to profit)….

the agency is still so new that it has no support staff or a full website….

Farias and the board are already working. He has been meeting with multiple agencies and stakeholders, studying tax map keys and compiling data to get a jump on the job ahead.  (Ka-chiiiing!)

read … Doomed to Failure

Indicted Max Sword Still on Water Board

Shapiro: … Former police commissioner Max Sword, facing federal trial for his role in a questionable retirement payment to former Chief Louis Kealoha, still sits on the city Water Board and says he won’t step down. Maybe he’s holding out for a $250,000 buyout like he gave Kealoha….

read … Flush legislators throw money at everything but the toilets

Broken Trust Dickie Wong Led Senate Only because of Republicans

Borreca: … Wong’s transition to Senate president and his political future were measured by his ability to always have the minimum of 13 votes out of 25 needed to support his presidency.

Wong held the Senate presidency from 1979 to December 1992. It is still the record. And it contained a remarkable footnote. Wong was the pro-labor, tough liberal from Kalihi who did the unthinkable for a Democratic leader: forming the first and only governing coalition with Senate Republicans.

Former U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki was a Republican state senator back in 1981. Unable to take over the Senate with his group of unaligned dissidents, Wong turned to the eight senate GOP members to form a coalition. In doing so, Wong actually had to take committee chairmanships away from Democrats to give to Republicans.

“He was an amazing guy. A true negotiator with a realistic sense of the Legislature. He has a sense of what he wanted to accomplish and would then just find ways to accomplish it,” Saiki said.

“When he said something, you could trust him; that made him a leader.”…

RELATED: Cayetano: Hanabusa's Broken Trust connections lead to Ko Olina

read … Remembering ‘Dickie’ Wong

Property Tax Rates on Hawaii County Council Agenda

HTH: … The council is holding a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the tax rates. The public hearing and the meeting Thursday will be held in council chambers in Hilo, with some council members also meeting by videoconference from the West Hawaii Civic Center. The public can testify from those locations, or from the Pahoa and Waimea council offices by videoconference. The public can also testify on Zoom.

The council has until June 20 to set property tax rates. The new budget will go into effect July 1.

Roth’s recommendations would trim 5 cents per thousand dollars of property value off the homeowners and affordable rental classes, the categories that already pay the least tax. It would reduce the residential tier two tax on luxury second homes by 10 cents while leaving the basic residential rate the same. Apartments, which currently have the highest rate, would be reduced 60 cents to match that of other residential property. Commercial and industrial would be cut by 20 cents, agriculture by 25 cents and hotel/resorts and golf courses by 45 cents.

Inaba’s plan lowers real property tax rates for homeowners and affordable rentals by 50 cents, agriculture and native forests by 30 cents and commercial, industrial and residential tier 2 by 5 cents. Residential tier 1, apartments and hotel/resort and golf courses would stay at their current rates.

The administration had reduced the tax rate on business categories more to try to balance dramatic increases in values for those categories. While homeowners and affordable rental classes are limited to 3% annual increases until they change hands, some other categories saw their property values jump by double digits.

read … Proposed tax rates subject of Tuesday evening public hearing

Charter amendment would free auditor to follow up on tips

HTH: … After whistleblower hotlines were established at the Hawaii County Auditor’s Office in March, a proposed charter amendment would allow more tips to those hotlines to be investigated more quickly.

The amendment to the County Charter would grant the County Auditor the ability to conduct smaller investigations of county malfeasance without having to commit to a full audit…..

read … Charter amendment would free auditor to follow up on tips

Don’t Let The Proposed Honolulu Police Ballot Questions Die

CB: … City Council member Andria Tupola needs to reconsider her decision to let meaningful proposals go without even allowing public input…..

read … Don’t Let The Proposed Honolulu Police Ballot Questions Die

What Are The Odds Kai Kahele Could Become Governor?

CB: …  U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele has been talking privately about running for governor since at least January, and in the months that followed some political insiders were curious, and concerned: Why wait until May 7 to formally announce he is a candidate?

Kahele’s reply will go down in Hawaii political history, no matter how the Democratic primary turns out this year. To paraphrase his response to the doubters, he essentially said: I can do it in 90 days.

If he is right, he has triangulated some sort of new statewide strategy. He must somehow overcome not only his very late entry into the race, but also a limited pool of funding to help fuel his campaign….

read … What Are The Odds Kai Kahele Could Become Governor?

DLNR Uncle Billy Lease debacle

HTH: .. The Department of Land and Natural Resources may back out of potentially leasing a pair of defunct Banyan Drive properties because of an ongoing lawsuit surrounding the sites.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources will discuss at its next meeting on Tuesday canceling a 2019 request for development proposals for the former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel and former Country Club Condominium Hotel.

A submittal by the DLNR’s Land Division recommends that the BLNR rescind the request in part because of a lawsuit that has embroiled Tower Development Inc., the only developer to submit proposals for both properties….

read … Debacle

Drug Dealer fights DLNR over Shoreline Erosion

SA: … Dunphy also argues he’s not responsible for some of the old debris in front of his home that the state is citing him for because he was in prison at the time.

In 2012, Dunphy was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for selling large amounts of marijuana, according to court documents.

The proposed state fine is not the only penalty Dunphy has faced in recent years for alleged violations relating to the two properties. He’s also been accruing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the city for failing to correct shoreline violations that date back to 2006.

In 2006, Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting fined him $500 for concrete poles that it says were constructed in the shoreline area in front of his home at 59-181-F Ke Nui Road. DPP says Dunphy has yet to correct the violation and has been accruing fines of $50 a day. The fine now totals $283,350.

The city also fined Dunphy in 2013 for alleged violations on the same property. DPP says Dunphy built unauthorized decks, a hot tub and cabana within the shoreline area that he still hasn’t removed. The fine now totals $168,900, according to DPP.

Off the News: Enforce laws to protect our beaches

read … Rocky Point homeowner has history of shoreline violations

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