Sabato: Hawaii Governor's Race no Longer 'Likely Democratic'
VA Mortgages Again Available as DoH Reverses Catchment Tank Rules
DBEDT: Shortage of Housing Supply Contributes to High Prices
Matson Raising Fuel Surcharge 5%
SB2147: Silver Alert
Gallup: Hawaii Drops to 8th in Well-Being
"Is there a way to allow a person to end his life without making someone else a criminal?"
Hanohano Targeted because She Opposes Pre-K Initiative?
SA: Hanohano (D, Hawaiian Acres-Pahoa-Kalapana), who is Native Hawaiian, told the audience that she "wanted to make sure you guys know, you know, where I'm from and who I am because a lot of people misinterpret the things I say because they don't understand the content, and especially when I'm flowing from Hawaiian and then back into English because I can," she said.
Hanohano spoke critically of plans for state-funded preschool and said the state cannot fix existing public schools. "And what we going teach our children?" she asked. "How to be Westerners? So we lose our cultural identity. Is this what we want in the world today? Of course not. Hawaii is unique, Hawaii is the Aloha State."
Hanohano spoke of her parents and her reverence for the Hawaiian language. She suggested that people often take her words out of context. "I need people to understand that because a lot of people think — out of context of what I say — they think I'm belittling them, but you know the truth of the matter becomes this: If I don't care, who going care for the next generation?" she asked.
read ... The Price of Attacking Pre-K?
Aila: Hanohano Accused DLNR Staffer of 'Genocide'
HNN: "One of my staff was accused of genocide and that's a very serious charge. We don't think the actions the department takes comes anywhere near genocide," said William Aila, DLNR's chairperson.
"(It was) very uncomfortable."
Hanohano -- chair of the House Oceans, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee -- often addresses fellow lawmakers in Hawaiian.
But Aila said she often spoke down to non-Hawaiian speaking staffers in Hawaiian and berated two Caucasian employees as "malihinis," or newcomers.
The Big Island lawmaker's conduct was already under review by a legislative committee after making abusive remarks toward a college student who testified at her committee.
She was forced to apologize last year after using the racial slurs haole, Jap and Pake when she criticized art work that was being installed in her office.
We reached out to Hanohano, who declined to address the controversy.
"I don't want to talk to you because you guys have already aired the dirty laundry," she said.
Lawmakers didn't want to go on the record but many admit privately that they're embarrassed by her behavior.
Those same lawmakers are considering a number of actions, including another apology, censure or even stripping Hanohano of her committee chairmanship.
read ... Hanohano
Spoiler: To run for Governor, Mufi forming "Independent Party" Today
SA: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said Wednesday that he would seriously consider running for governor as an independent if his allies collect enough signatures to get certified as a new Hawaii Independent Party.
Organizers have until Thursday afternoon to collect the necessary 706 signatures from registered voters for a petition to the state Office of Elections. If successful, Hannemann could run for governor under the Hawaii Independent Party banner in the August primary and November general election.
"From what I'm hearing, and what I'm seeing, there seems to be a viable opportunity for a third party that will reflect what most people are, which are independent, moderate, centrists like myself," he said. "And I think it's not just me, it's about a movement that I think reflects what most people feel."
Hannemann would be following a course set by the late Frank Fasi, a charismatic former Honolulu mayor who ran unsuccessfully for governor as an independent Democrat and the leader of the Best Party after losing twice in Democratic primaries.
In 1994, Fasi finished second in a three-way race for governor that Ben Cayetano, a Democrat, won with just 36 percent of the vote. Patricia Saiki, a Republican, finished third....
Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii at Manoa professor emeritus of political science, saidhe doubts Hannemann could be much more than a spoiler. "I just don't think that he's popular enough to hold that many votes," he said.
Sabato: Hawaii No Longer 'Likely Democratic'
read ... Mufi Making Neil Abercrombie Very Happy
Tip credit stymies accord on raise
SA: State House and Senate leaders have reached an understanding on raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour by January 2018 and expanding a tip credit to 75 cents, but an influential state senator wants a debate over the tip credit before signing off on the agreement.
read ... Piddling $0.75?
Lobbyists Test Another Path to Influence
ILind: The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii pulled off a little-noticed coup by the time this year’s legislative session was barely a week old.
During the seven-week period from the beginning of December through first week of the 2014 session, two top chamber officials — who also serve as the organization’s registered lobbyists — were reported to be in charge of fundraising events for eight key House leaders, including Speaker Joe Souki, majority leader Scott Saiki, and the chair and vice-chair of the powerful House Finance Committee, Reps. Sylvia Luke and Scott Nishimoto.
Tickets for the Chamber-organized fundraisers ranged from $100 to $300 per person, according to notices filed with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.
read ... Lobbyists Test Another Path to Influence
Hawaii Ethics Commission Examines How Lawmakers Spend Their Allowances
CB: Should state lawmakers spend taxpayer dollars to keep their aloha shirts clean and their suits pressed?
What about legislators using public money to send flowers to the family of a friend who died? Or buying a birthday cake for a staff member?
The state Ethics Commission began Wednesday to examine the way Hawaii’s 51 House reps and 25 senators spend their legislative allowances each year. The commission did so after receiving complaints from a couple of lawmakers.
It marks the first time the commission is reviewing policy on the issue in decades.
Legislators each receive roughly $12,000 to cover “incidental expenses connected with legislative duties.” House and Senate rules include a few more restrictions, but the Ethics Commission is likely to offer clearer guidance soon.
“There are some things that make you wonder as a member of the public — it is public money being spent — how appropriate it is,” Commission Chair Leiolani Abdul said.
read ... Allowances
Will Land Swap Restore Ag in Wahiawa?
CB: Time has changed Wahiawa. It was long surrounded by Hawaii's prosperous pineapple plantations, which were one of the state’s main economic motors for most of the 20th century.
Decades later, the town’s farming character has faded. Fields lay fallow, unused farm equipment gathers rust and the elements are chipping away at old barn roofs. Wahiawa residents say crime has gotten worse and young adults are leaving town in search of opportunity.
But Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is hoping to change all that.
read ... Dela Cruz
Prison pitch includes new facility in West Oahu
SA: Replacing Hawaii's largest jail, Oahu Community Correctional Center, with a larger one in West Oahu is one of 10 proposals being considering to help alleviate a crisis of inmate overcrowding.
CB: Former Inmates to Share Stories from Hawaii Women’s Prison
read ... new facility in West Oahu
EPA seeks tougher safety standards for farmworkers
AP: The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed strengthening 20-year-old standards aimed at protecting farmworkers from toxic pesticides.
“The current rule is not working the way it should,” said Jim Jones, head of the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The changes would bar almost anyone 16 and younger from handling the most toxic pesticides and require no-entry zones around fields to protect workers from drift and fumes. Farms would also have to post no-entry signs to prohibit workers from entering fields until pesticide residues declined to safe levels.
read ... EPA seeks tougher safety standards for farmworkers
Anti-GMO 'Home Rule ' Reso Passes Hawaii Co Council
HTH: More than a dozen people, mostly in Hilo and Pahoa, testified in support of Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s resolution asking the state Legislature to pass a bill to provide the counties greater authority over agricultural matters, particularly relating to the cultivation and development of genetically engineered crops and plants and associated pesticides. The council approved Resolution 272, with Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan casting the lone no vote, although, as Wille noted, it’s too late in the legislative session for the measure to be considered this year.
read ... Council OKs home rule resolution
5.5 percent raise sought for police chief, deputies
SA: The Honolulu Police Department says a 5.5 percent increase for the police chief and his deputies is needed to keep up with other officers, whose salaries have climbed after successful union negotiations.
Assistant Police Chief Mark Nakagawa asked for the raises earlier this month to Sara Buehler, chairwoman of the city Salary Commission. which makes the final recommendation to the City Council.
read ... Pay Hike
Kauai Police commissioner resigns: Is Target of Federal Gambling Investigation
KGI: A Lihue man under federal investigation regarding gambling allegations has resigned his post as a Kauai Police Commissioner.
Bradley Chiba is allegedly under investigation for illegal gambling. He was serving his fourth year as a commissioner.
“Due to the ongoing investigation, it is my understanding that Bradley has decided to resign from the police commission,” said Commission Chair Charles Iona....
According to Hawaii News Now, FBI agents searched Chiba’s home in Lihue, on Super Bowl Sunday, on the suspicion he was booking illegal bets on football games. They took a computer and some paper documents but did not arrest Chiba, HNN said.
read ... Resigns
After Killing Them, Pflueger Cuts off Farmers Water
KITV: Pflueger, the 87-year-old former car dealer, has maintained the state is to blame for the dam breach because it failed to upkeep the ditches feeding Ka Loko. He also says that as the years have passed, the web of gates and ditches leading to the reservoir are still in disrepair and still holding the same potential to create another catastrophe.
"They're all leaving this up to Mr. Pflueger to solve a problem that really isn't of his own creation. That's not fair and ultimately if it takes a lawsuit that's what will happen," said Bill McCorriston, Pflueger's attorney.
In recent months, Jimmy Pflueger has been upping his letter campaign to the state, and says it owes him money for all of that water used now to the tune of a $250 million.
In December, Whatmore says the state finally broke under the pressure of a possible lawsuit with Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila quietly ordering staff to close the gates and divert the water away from Kaloko -- and therefore -- away from farmers.
"We're angry at times, but it's mainly frustrating because we don't know what the future holds," said farmer Bev Harter.
Read ... Kauai farmers fight for livelihood
City Council gives initial OK to $10 trash pickup fee
SA: A bill that would charge Oahu homeowners $10 a month for the city to pick up trash received a preliminary 7-2 OK from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday.
Members Joey Manahan and Ernie Martin voted no while Ikaika Anderson, Stanley Chang, Ron Menor and Kymberly Pine voted to move the bill through "with reservations."
Bill 9 now goes to the Council Budget Committee for discussion. The bill then would still need to get two more approvals from the full Council.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell, in a rare appearance in Council chambers, testified that the bill would bring in an estimated $21 million
read ... City Council gives initial OK to $10 trash pickup fee
Easing the housing crunch for low-income citizens
SA: Three resolutions aimed at creating more affordable housing units for those most in need are on the Council's agenda. The Caldwell administration, meanwhile, has just begun a months-long re-evaluation of the existing city policy that requires Oahu land developers who want rezoning approvals to designate no less than 30 percent of their units as "affordable" and available only to households in federally designated low- and moderate-income categories....
Menor's Resolution 13-168 would exclude families making 120-140 percent of median from eligibility for affordable homes, thus making more units available to those making less than 120 percent. It would also require that a larger share of those units — 15 percent, up from 10 percent — then be made available to those making 80 percent of median or less.....
Resolution 13-202, Menor's other initiative, would require maintaining 30 percent of units designated as affordable as rentals, whereas the current guidelines do not require any rentals. It also would increase the amount of time affordable-housing values and rents must remain designated as affordable.
The developer-funded Land Use Research Foundation opposes both of Menor's resolutions....
Resolution 14-28, introduced by Council Zoning Chairman Ikaika Anderson, calls on the administration to put into place a slew of policy changes recommended by a series of reports from affordable-housing advisory committees and the city auditor.
read ... Housing Crunch
Opponents of planned Kakaako condo want permit revoked
KHON: Residents of nearby condo One Waterfront Tower and members of the group Kakaako United are fighting the project’s permit approval, which allows construction to begin. They petitioned Wednesday before the Hawaii Community Development Authority, or HCDA....
The HCDA took the issue under advisement and will consult with its legal team before making a decision on the petition in the coming weeks.
read ... Revoke?
A second chance for vets
HTH: Veterans Treatment Court — a specialized court that takes a holistic approach to healing U.S. Armed Forces veterans who’ve found themselves in the criminal justice system — is being considered for Hawaii Island.
Third Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra told West Hawaii Today on Wednesday that he hopes to have the treatment court open and offering services to clients by the end of this year on Hawaii Island. He envisions starting relatively small, with four clients each in East and West Hawaii.
“These veterans are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice — their life,” said Ibarra about the need for specialized treatment for veterans in the Judiciary’s 3rd Circuit, which comprises all of Hawaii Island. “Then they come up from service and serving our country with service-connected disabilities.”
read ... A second chance for vets