Pounded by Schatz and Gabbard, Ige Finally Declares Dengue Emergency
VIDEO: Duke Aiona Legislative Update
HGEA to Protest Against Hawaii Republican Party
Video: Free Market Economics for Hawaii (with Erik Root)
North Korea Nukes: The Tipping Point is Here
February 11: First Triple Referral Deadline of the Legislative Session
Grassroot Institute Legislative Update--February 12, 2016
HB1249: Guilty until Proven Innocent of Rape
Who’s Running: Candidates Pulling Papers as of Feb 12, 2016
HSTA bid for raised GE Tax fails in House, Still Moving in Senate
SA: The chairman of the House Education Committee on Friday shelved a proposed tax increase put forward by the teachers union that sought to create dedicated funding for public schools.
Senate versions of the legislation were still alive this week, but political observers say the tax hike — an especially tough sell in an election year — will likely stall now that the House has signaled its position. Gov. David Ige also has said he would not support raising taxes….
Hawaii State Teachers Association proposed bills to raise the general excise tax to 5 percent from 4 percent to fund (more DoE waste and profligacy)….
The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday voted 3-1 to pass Senate Bill 2586, which contains HSTA’s omnibus package, and SB 2599, which would raise the GET by 1 percentage point to more broadly fund DOE operations. Sen. Gil Riviere (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), whose wife is a schoolteacher, voted no on both bills….
The DOE has one of the largest operating budgets among state departments, with more than $1.5 billion allocated from the general fund for the current fiscal year….
…in 2013, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data Hawaii spent $11,823 per pupil ranking 17th highest among the 50 states and Washington, D.C….
read … Fails
No Surprise: Hawaii’s Soft-on-Crime Judges Don’t Want To Face Voters
CB: …Judges and other shysters came out in strong opposition this week to legislation that would let Hawaii voters elect their state attorney general and judges instead of the current appointment process.
Nonetheless, the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Gil Keith-Agaran, passed Senate Bill 2418 on Wednesday, with only Sen. Laura Thielen voting against it. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment to provide that the attorney general be elected as a nonpartisan official rather than appointed by the governor….
The bill was only referred to the Judiciary and Labor Committee, so its next hurdle is a vote by the full Senate. From there, it crosses over to the House for its consideration.
The committee deferred until March 2 a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment to require judges to be elected to six-year terms.
“This bill would result in far-reaching ramifications not only to the judicial branch of this state, but to Hawaii’s government as a whole,” Rodney Maile, administrative director of the courts, said in his testimony. (Yes. That’s the point.)
The committee deferred indefinitely a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the governor to appoint a person from the same political party as a running mate for lieutenant governor in the general election instead of the current system of electing the LG….
Background: Time To Elect Hawaii's Judges? Maybe Not Such A Bad Idea.
Totally Related: ‘Utterly Shocked’ at TMT Opponents’ Acquittal “It boggles my mind that Judge Takase accepted the protesters’ defense of their actions. The TMT project has followed the law every step of the way.”
read … Hawaii Judges, AG Don’t Want To Be Elected
Biofuel Shell Game: How Giant Coal Plant Becomes part of Hawaii's 'Clean' Energy Future
IM: …Blue Planet Foundation filed a motion to intervene in a proceeding, “in which the Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. seeks to expand Oahu’s reliance on coal power via a proposed amendment to its power purchase agreement (PPA) with AES Hawaii, Inc. (AES).” (Translation: Coal makes electricity cheaply so the alt-energy schemers want to eliminate it, thus boosting their own profitability.)
The AES generator came on-line in 1992 and uses coal as its primary fuel energy source. The facility was certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as a “qualifying cogeneration facility.”
HECO filed its application with the Public Utilities Commission on January 22, 2016.
HECO asserted that “the Amendment is otherwise in the public interest because it adds capacity in a cost-effective manner’ and keeps open the possibility of a future transition to the inclusion of a biomass fuel service for the remainder of the PPA term.”
HECO and AES have been negotiating for several years to extend the contract. The Application does not extend the expiration date for the power purchase agreement, which is currently set to end on September 1, 2022….
Related: Biofuel Shell Game: How Giant Diesel Plant Became part of Hawaii's 'Clean' Energy Future
read … Biomass
Because Obama is a Pathetic Weakling, South Korea Will Need its own Nukes
PBN: The top newspaper in Seoul, Chosun Ilbo, with a circulation of nearly 2 million, published an editorial on Jan. 28 calling for South Korea to consider building its own nuclear weapons. Why? None too pleased with us, the United States, and China, neither of which have been able to stop North Korea from conducting nuclear weapons tests.
“The U.S. has passed the buck for taming North Korea to China, and China is doing nothing,” writes the Chosun. “Seoul now faces a real need for public discussion of the development of its own nuclear weapons.”
South Korea is party to a 1991 joint resolution to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, which the editorial acknowledges as it urges South Korea to proceed delicately.
Read the English version yourself at http://bizj.us/1l7yzy. Another quote, to give you the flavor of the editorial: “Would China come to the rescue if the North launched a nuclear attack against South Korea? Would the U.S. step in to protect Seoul? Judging by Washington’s inaction in the military crises in the Ukraine and Syria, it would probably respond only after Seoul has been turned into a pile of smoldering ashes.” ….
SA: Group says North Korean test justifies Hawaii missile defense system
read … Obama is a Pathetic Weakling
HART: Time to Plan for Permanent GE Tax Hike using Rail Extension as Excuse
PBN: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation was under a lot of scrutiny in the past few weeks as the City Council debated whether to extend the surcharge on the general excise tax, which is contributing funding towards the project. During the council discussions, HART was told to start thinking about possible extensions of the rail route. Don Horner, chairman of HART, talked to PBN about the process and his recommendation that conversations should begin in March.
“The message we got from the council was to begin looking at extensions from a planning perspective,” Horner told PBN.
Currently, the Honolulu rail route begins in East Kapolei and spans 20 miles and 21 stations to Ala Moana Center. However, residents and councilmembers want the rail to be extended to the University of Hawaii and West Kapolei. While the train originates in East Kapolei, HART has received feedback that it should go into Kapolei’s urban core.
“The planning should begin for both ends of the rail at the same time,” Horner said. “It offers a great opportunity for groups to come together to discuss the options.
read … Rally for More Tax Hikes
No Surprise: DoE Solar project long on talk, slow on PV installations
PBN: …the program has lagged in some areas, including the installation of solar energy systems, according to a newsletter sent out by the firm heading up the program.
Launched in 2014, “Ka Hei” is a five-year initiative aimed at reducing the $64 million that the DOE spends annually on electricity, gas, water and sewage fees.
Opterra Hawaii, in its February 2016 newsletter on the project, said that it reached its 2015 goals in campus-wide microgrid audits, structural and electrical solar photovoltaic assessments, review of PV site selections, net energy metering application approvals, power purchase agreements executed, professional development sessions, teacher engagement, campus reach and lighting audits, among other things. (Note: All metaphysical.)
The program, however, did not reach its goals in PV installations, expected kilowatt-hour savings from PV systems or clean power from PV installations. (Note: All physical.)
Ka Hei goals for 2015 included installing 2 megawatts of renewable energy, attaining $1 million in energy savings 12 months after completion, a 50 percent reduction in electricity purchased at phase one schools….
More Reality than PBN Can Handle: Auditor: DoE Rigged Billion Dollar Solar Contract to Favor Chevron
More: Solar Scam: DoE Overpays $612M for Athletic Supporter?
read … Slow
HELCO geothermal plan’s strict requirements nixed deal
PBN: The Nevada firm that was awarded a contract by Hawaii Electric Light Co. to develop a 25-megawatt geothermal energy project on Hawaii’s Big Island withdrew from contract negotiations with the utility because the strict requirements of the request for proposals was not economically viable, the head of the firm’s Hawaii operations told PBN.
HELCO selected Ormat Technologies on Feb. 24, 2015, based on the Nevada firm’s ability to meet price levels and performance standards, and started contract negotiations….
“The Big Island holds significant potential for additional geothermal development, and such development should be key in any future renewable energy mix,” Kaleikini said. “Ormat is hopeful that HELCO will issue a new geothermal RFP in the near future, with more favorable terms that could enable sustainable development of additional geothermal resources.”
read … Ecos Win Again
Bills Aim to Finance Workforce Housing Developments
PBN: …“The development community has more projects in the pipeline to build more workforce rentals on each of the four counties,” Carr said in a written statement. “The limitations have been the necessity for more gap financing through the use of the Rental Housing Revolving fund.”
House Bill 2303 and its corresponding Senate Bill 2832 repeal the statutory cap on the amount of conveyance tax dedicated to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund. Currently the amount used is either 50 percent or $38 million whichever is less.
“Repealing the cap will generate the much needed revolving funds necessary to finance more rentals,” Carr added.
Meanwhile, House Bill 2304 and its corresponding Senate Bill 2833 would increase the funding for affordable rental housing by making the low-income housing tax credit more valuable and reducing the tax credit period from 10 to five years.
Previously, government officials and contractors and said the city’s infrastructure was holding back the creation of more affordable housing. However, Carr said, “The sewers are not an impediment to building more rental units, it’s financing.”…
read … Financing
Homeless People Crowding Waianae Busses
SA: …Lately, it has been even more crowded, with more homeless people getting on during rush hour, insisting on getting seats because they carry so-called “disabled” cards.
Why can’t TheBus add more routes during the rush hours? As a longtime bus rider by choice, I and other riders now are opting to drive because we are tired of fighting for a seat and standing up during the long ride and unpredictable arrival times. And we don’t have to sit next to smelly fellow passenger in the morning….
KL: Let’s leave the homeless on the streets and feel good about it
read … Homelessness
Soft on Crime: Multiple Convictions Since 2006 out on the Streets Does it Again
HNN: Travis Rodrigues was convicted in 2006 on federal drug and gun charges, and served several years in prison before he was released.
He was arrested multiple times since then, and was even ordered to undergo drug treatment. The latest warrant for his arrest was issued on November 27.
His violent background is one of the reasons so many officers were needed to make the arrest on Kokea Street.
read … Soft on Crime
Prison Guard accused of sex assault on the run
MN: A Kihei woman who reported being forced into sexual acts by a Maui Community Correctional Center guard in 2014 says she faced retaliation after she was arrested on a parole violation warrant and housed at the Wailuku jail last month.
"It was happening to me all over again," Christina Riley said, referring to the nearly three weeks she was held at MCCC. "I felt like I was being raped all over again."
Riley spoke by phone from the Federal Detention Center on Oahu, where she was transferred Jan. 27.
While she remains incarcerated there pending a Feb. 29 parole hearing, former MCCC adult corrections officer James Siugpiyemal has yet to be brought back to Maui to face charges that he sexually assaulted Riley in 2014.
"I get thrown back in prison because I used drugs again, but this guy can do what he did to me," Riley said. "The video shows him punching me out, me vomiting, him telling me to shut up. The video is just crazy."
She said she used a small video camera to record the July 2014 sexual assault, (given to her by an eager attorney?) which occurred in her car….
Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner, who has represented Riley for several years, said he believed officials "are conspiring to not extradite" Siugpiyemal.
He was reported to be in Guam, Breiner said.
read … Extradite
Hawaii Ranks #3 in Foreclosure Inventory
LC: Additionally, four states and the District of Columbia had the highest foreclosure inventory rate in December 2015: New Jersey (4.2%), NY (3.5%), Hawaii (2.4%), the District of Columbia (2.3%) and Florida (2.3%).
The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory rate in December 2015 were Alaska (0.3%), Minnesota (0.3%), Colorado (0.4%), Arizona (0.4%) and Utah (0.4%)….
read … Foreclosure
HGEA Members Take 180 Days to Approve Building Permits
SA: …The current average processing time for a single-family home building permit of 125 days is expected to be cut in half in most cases. “We’ll see how it works,” Caldwell said. “And we’ll adjust as we go forward. If there are more things we need to do to make it better, we’ll do that.”
DPP’s goal since 2014 is to reduce the time it takes to receive a building permit by 10 percent each year, Atta said.
“One hundred twenty-five (days) is still too long, but it’s better than 180 and hopefully we’ll keep cutting it down,” he said….
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work