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Tuesday, January 3, 2023
January 3, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:09 PM :: 2736 Views

Maui: Tasha Kama selected as interim council chair

79% of Hawaii Criminals' Guns Smuggled from Out-of-State

HGEA Fraudulently Boosted Oahu property values to fatten contract negotiating position

SA: … Asked whether lawmakers or union officials had a hand in pushing for raising property values in order to increase the pool for collective bargaining, Say said, “I believe so.”

(BINGO! -- The assertion that HGEA artificially boosted assessments to line its own pockets is legal grounds to overturn the new assessment.)

The city relies on the real property tax as a primary source of revenue. “If we didn’t get the valuation increase, all we could do is raise rates,” Say said, emphasizing that he doesn’t plan to support any possible proposals to increase the real property tax rate itself.

“If you and I were paying $100 today on our home, and it went up to $140, that $40 assessment increase on the real property tax values has been earmarked for collective bargaining,” Say said.

(Translation: HGEA is illegally bypassing the lawmaking process.)

Scott Humber, a spokesperson for Mayor Rick Blangiardi, noted the higher assessed valuations, as of Oct. 1, “could be an aberration and the administration is evaluating the city’s finances.”…

(Hmmmmm.)

City officials have pointed to inflation and the ever- burgeoning cost of living in Hawaii as reasons they need to pay public service employees — like police, firefighters, lifeguards and Emergency Medical Services staff — more. “It’s never gonna stop,” Say said, referring to inflation’s apparent effect on cost of living and the need to pay workers more.

Blangiardi’s spokesman Humber wrote in an email, “Taxpayers want expansions of city services, and the costs of providing the city’s core services are increasing due to the same driving factors that residents are dealing with.”

(Translation: I am blaming taxpayers for the HGEA’s greed.)

Humber confirmed that the increase in real property tax revenue will also pay for core services including public safety, facilities maintenance, transportation services, parks and recreation, highways and roads, and so on.

(Translation: Will pay for salaries.)

But the “compensation increases” due to the recent collective bargaining settlements for all of the city unions make up a particularly large portion of “increased costs to run the city when compared to debt service, employee benefits, insurance, fuel, utilities, supplies, etc.,” Humber wrote in an email….

(Translation: They Mayor confirms what Councilmember Calvin Say said.)

The increased property valuations come at a time when the state has a surplus of $1.9 billion, prompting some residents to wonder why officials at the city level are not doing more to help homeowners. “You’d think they would back off a little,” said Allen, the 81-year-old Hawaii Kai resident. “Every year, condos open up, new houses get built,” generating more tax revenues. “This feels like the city is double dipping.”

LINK: How to Appeal Real Estate Valuation -- Grounds for appeal include “Lack of uniformity or inequality, brought about by illegality of the methods used….”

LINK: REAL PROPERTY TAX Chapter 8

Deadlines: Jan 13-14-15 depending on how you file your appeal.

read … Oahu residents reeling from steep property value increases

Honolulu City Council to take oaths at Noon Jan 3

KHON: … This is the first meeting for the Council for 2023, so they will be working on proposed Council rules and Committee Assignments ….

read … Honolulu City Council to take oaths for new year

New laws pretend to take aim at corruption

SA Editorial: … After saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations (both politicians ultimately pleaded guilty), House Speaker Scott Saiki said “the House of Representatives must be above corruption, graft and bribery.” He pledged “to do everything in my power as speaker of the House to rebuild integrity and trust in our legislative process.”

What emerged from the Legislature a few months later fell well short of that goal. The three bills included two (Senate Bill 555 and House Bill 2416) that dealt with campaign finance in some way. Critics rightly point to HB 2416 (now Act 169), which seeks more disclosure of the source of campaign contributions, as not applying broadly enough; only 501(c)(4) nonprofits are covered by the rule, but not limited liability organizations and other business entities.

Still more distressing was the limited effect of SB 555 (Act 283), which prohibits campaign fundraising events during legislative session. But collecting contributions themselves during session was left as an intact route of fundraising….

read … New laws take aim at corruption

Swimming in Cash: Council to consider excess, unspent gas taxes

HTH: … Over $2.3 million in excess and unspent fuel taxes will be mulled this week by the County Council.

The Finance Committee is set to vote on appropriating $859,913 in excess fuel tax revenues collected over the past two years and reappropriating $1.519 million in lapsed fuel tax funds.

The panel will take up Bills 3 and 4 during its first meeting of the 2022-24 session at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Hilo Council Chambers with public attendance also available at Kona Council Chambers at the West Hawaii Civic Center and Pahoa Council Office. Oral public testimony can be given via Zoom. Written testimony, as well as registration to testify via Zoom, must be submitted by noon Tuesday….  

UPDATE: Panel OKs spending plans for $2.3 million in fuel taxes

read … Council to consider excess, unspent gas taxes

About those 100% illegal aerial fireworks--Similar to Prohibition, this ban isn’t working

ILind: … Best Comments:  Natalie--When the council was initially discussing a ban on fireworks, a young woman testified that it was okay for her to carry a gun but not okay to use a sparkler under the proposed bill, which subsequently became law. Similar to Prohibition, this ban isn’t working.

Ian Lind--And, similar to Prohibition, criminal cartels are getting rich and well established distributing the illegal goods that everyone wants….

Pritchett: Before the Fireworks Ban...

HNN: Everyone agrees Oahu’s fireworks ban isn’t working, but there’s little agreement on a fix

read … About those 100% illegal aerial fireworks

The Big Island Is Confronting A Big Problem With Fentanyl

CB: … Fentanyl use is dramatically increasing in Hawaii, with at least 17 fentanyl overdose deaths in Honolulu alone in 2022, according to a report released in October by the Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative.

The report says 48 people in Hawaii died from fentanyl in 2021 compared to 28 the year before.

According to CDC figures, one person dies of a drug overdose every 11 days on the Big Island, which is a hotbed for fentanyl use. While the Big Island is home to just 14% of the state’s population, 57% of fentanyl confiscated in the state between 2016 and 2021 was on Hawaii island, according to HIDTA.

Methamphetamine still poses Hawaii’s most widespread drug threat, killing 207 people in 2021. But meth tends to kill much more slowly.

“Methamphetamine is like cancer. It will kill you one day at a time,” said Gary Yabuta, executive director of HIDTA. “Fentanyl can kill you with just one application.”…

read … The Big Island Is Confronting A Big Problem With Fentanyl

Lawsuit: State Failed To Help Severely Disabled Boy

CB: … Hawaii still lacks long-term secure facilities for students with behavioral issues who can end up being housed on the mainland. …

By the time B.S. was adopted at nine months old, he had already been abused by his birth parents, according to Shores. At age 11, he was pulled out of Nimitz Elementary School and was soon sent to the mainland for treatment first to Indiana, then Michigan, Kansas and Texas.

B.S.’s primary diagnosis, reactive attachment disorder, a mental illness thought to begin in infancy, makes it difficult for children to form healthy relationships with others, often especially their caregivers. This results in myriad antisocial behaviors, including aggression and self harm. He has been hospitalized dozens of times as a result, according to according to the family’s lawyer, Eric Seitz. 

According to his IEP, the youth should be in a secure residential program on the mainland, to be adequately treated and educated. However, for the second half of this year, he moved between mental institutions and hospitals — neither of which provided education services, Seitz said.

Then, earlier this month, B.S. was moved from an institution in Texas to a transitional family home on the Big Island, where his mother says he is unsafe.

In late December he was hospitalized after a self-harm incident, and more recently tried to leave, according to Shores. …

read … Lawsuit: State Failed To Help Severely Disabled Boy

Oahu care facility to close amid demand for services

SA: … One of only a handful of home health care companies in Hawaii is permanently shutting down operations at the end of this month, leaving roughly 100 or so patients having to turn elsewhere for nursing care.

“After months of working diligently to rework our operations to address rising costs, staffing challenges, and adjustments in CMS (Centers for Medicaid &Medicare Services) regulations, we have come to the difficult conclusion to close Oahu Home Healthcare in January 2023,” CEO Jen Eaton said Friday in a written statement, after making an initial announcement in mid-December. “We are working with other healthcare providers to transfer our patients and will do our best to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.”

The company’s departure underscores the need for this type of service here as well as obstacles this segment of the health care industry faces….

The majority of the company’s patients are seniors and on Medicare. The relatively low Medicare reimbursements for home visits by registered nurses — compared with the reimbursement amounts hospitals and skilled nursing facilities receive — have contributed to staffing shortages, Rae­thel said….

read … Oahu care facility to close amid demand for services

Data Shows Hawaii Shippers Are Regularly Breaking Speed Limits In Sensitive Whale Zones

CB: … Matson and Pasha Hawaii – the two primary shippers that carry consumer goods, food and other supplies to Hawaii from the West Coast – have failed to make any meaningful change in their speeds while passing through those sensitive zones, data obtained by Civil Beat shows.

The data shows Matson and Pasha are exceeding the federally recommended speed of 10 knots or less during whale season in the waters off Southern California and San Francisco about 80% of the time, frequently running at speeds faster than 15 knots through the sensitive zones….

Question: Why is Pacific Whale allowed to slice up so many whales?

read … Data Shows Hawaii Shippers Are Regularly Breaking Speed Limits In Sensitive Whale Zones

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