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Friday, March 04, 2016
March 4, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:01 PM :: 2819 Views

Where to Vote: Tuesday March 8 Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus

Waste Management: Millions for Company Tied to OHA Chair Pass Through House Finance on Three Minutes Public Notice

Gasoline Taxes: Hawaii 4th Highest in USA

Hawaii: Legislation that Violates Due Process Could be Voted on in the House Friday

Hawaii Federal Court: Get Ready For Bridge Aina Lea Trial

Hawaiian Electric Companies report record high renewable energy use

Excitement Builds for March 8 Hawaii Presidential Caucus

Star-Adv: Reject gas tax--bloated bureaucracy, not lack of money, is a fundamental obstacle to better roadways

SA: …SB 2938 is seeking more money from consumers — the triple-whammy increases would raise about $75 million more — at a time when the state Transportation Department has more than $600 million backlogged in unspent federal funds intended for Hawaii highway improvements.

The failure to manage these funds well underscores the fact that bloated bureaucracy, not lack of money, is a fundamental obstacle to better roadways.

High administrative costs plague our highway system performance and cost-effectiveness.

A 2014 report by the libertarian Reason Foundation think tank ranked Hawaii worst in the nation when it comes to administrative costs: $90,000 per mile of state road, compared with Texas’ $4,000 per mile and Kentucky’s $1,000 per mile.

Some good money that should be spent on improving Hawaii’s highways is instead going to administrative costs, and that certainly doesn’t benefit taxpayers.

Further, serious dysfunction at the state Transportation Department was revealed in recent stories by Star-Advertiser reporter Marcel Honore, including a 2008 federally funded analysis of ways to improve Hawaii’s highways that had been buried and ignored for eight years until Honore’s coverage brought it to light.

The report, “Pavement Preservation Technical Appraisal, Hawaii Executive Summary,” outlined initiatives that should have been launched years ago, such as: updating to a modern computerized system to effectively track roadwork projects; and, in order to prolong the life of roads, the use of crack seal and slurry seal, which have been industry standards in use for decades but, inexplicably, not in Hawaii.

Gladys Marrone, CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, was exactly right in her testimony on SB 2938:

“We believe that there needs to be more accountability on how these funds are expended, including how projects are prioritized in the use of the highway funds. … Increases in the taxes and fees without some assurance or game plan on how the projects will be identified, prioritized and implemented would be irresponsible at this time.”…

read … Reject Gas Tax Hike

Your Tax Dollars at Work: HCDA, City Team up for Florida Boat Junket

CB: The city and state spent more than $9,000 to send four state and city employees to Florida last week to inspect a new $118,117 boat that the Hawaii Community Development Authority is buying for water safety in Kakaako’s Kewalo Basin.

The custom-built Boston Whaler may seem like a strange acquisition for a state agency that manages the redevelopment area. But spokeswoman Lindsey Doi says the idea that the HCDA’s only job is to approve high-rise condos “is a common misconception.” ….

The vessel is expected to arrive in Hawaii in March. Last week, two HCDA officials and two city officials were sent to Florida to inspect it.

The HCDA spent $4,140 to send Doi, who is serving as acting asset manager in addition to her role as a spokeswoman, and Loretta Ho, asset management specialist, to Florida for six days, said HCDA Interim Executive Director Aedward Los Banos.

Their trip included physically inspecting and test-driving the boat, (sand bar party) receiving training on its maintenance and observing the packing of the vessel shipping to Hawaii.

The two also visited several Florida development projects (went to fancy hotels) to see how other areas are implementing transit-oriented development, rail, bus operations and bike sharing.

The city paid $5,000 to send operations chief Kevin Allen and training captain Kurt Lager to inspect the boat, Rigg said. The money for the trip came out of a $50,000 gift to the city designated for ocean safety services, he said.

It’s the first time the city’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services has sent anyone to the mainland to inspect equipment….

City officials also met with Florida lifeguards (translation: Went to the beach) to learn more about their ocean safety policies and procedures, Rigg said.

read … Junket

Governor: 100% Renewable Energy Formula ‘Flawed’

CB: Hawaii set a goal last year of achieving 100 percent renewable energy for electricity generation by 2045. But the formula the law uses, which is based on electricity sales rather than generation, would let the state meet that goal while still relying significantly on fossil fuels….

The governor asked lawmakers to reconsider House Bill 2991, which had died in the Consumer Protection Committee after being amended in the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee. The Senate version had also stalled.

Rep. Angus McKelvey, who chairs the Consumer Protection Committee, said it’s protocol to reconsider bills when a governor or former governor asks. He moved on the House floor to waive the 48-hour notice normally given, and called for a decision-making meeting to be held on the bill roughly four hours later, at 5 p.m.

He did the same for a bill that former Gov. Neil Abercrombie asked the House to reconsider,House Bill 2081, which authorizes public agencies to initiate projects through which a public utility will purchase fuel or electricity. Abercrombie was warmly welcomed at the hearing.

House Bill 2991 initially set out to simply change the definition of “renewable portfolio standard” by substituting a single word. It would mean the percentage of electrical energy “generation” — instead of “sales” — that is represented by renewable electrical energy.

Then things got complicated.

The House Energy Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee, amended the bill last month after hearing concerns from Hawaiian Electric Co. and (his overlords at) The Alliance for Solar Choice, an advocacy group for the solar industry, among others….

IM: Hawai`i Legislature has Opportunity to Separate Truth from Fiction

read … Flawed

Sen Keith Agaran: I Intended to Kill Term Limits from the Beginning

SA: A proposal to allow Hawaii voters to decide whether to impose term limits on state lawmakers died this week after Senate Judiciary and Labor Chairman Gilbert Keith-Agaran told his fellow committee members he was shelving the bill indefinitely.

Keith-Agaran said he scheduled a hearing on the term-limit bill at the request of Sen. Russell Ruderman (D, Puna), but Keith-Agaran said he never intended to allow the measure to pass out of his committee.

“I told the author of the bill that I would hold a hearing and I intended to defer it, and he said all he wanted was a hearing, so I held a hearing and I deferred it, as I promised him,” said Keith-Agaran, (D, Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului).

Keith-Agaran said term limits aren’t needed because “we already have term limits in the sense that we have elections every two years or every four years for senators, and there’s been fair turnover.” Keith-Agaran said the Maui senate seat he holds has changed hands three or four times over the past 20 years.

“If the public and the voters are unhappy with their representatives, they have the option of voting them out,” he said….

read … Term Limits

Borreca: Gabbard Can Expect Retaliation from Clinton Machine

Borreca: …On Sunday, Gabbard endorsed progressive, self-described democratic socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. She was going decidedly against the grain.

Asked Tuesday by Brian Williams on MSNBC about the endorsement and “how unpleasant life can become for a Democrat in the House under a President Clinton,” Gabbard acknowledged the risk.

“A lot of people warned me about doing what I did, but it is a serious issue that speaks to the high stakes that exist,” said Gabbard….

Gabbard’s politics are fascinating because she is nearly as strong with conservative Republicans as she is with Democrats. For instance, she was recently praised by Allen West, the conservative Fox News analyst, noting that they both had military service and played off the military jargon for watching your back,

“I warned her of one thing — watch yer six!” West said in a 2015 column.

Gabbard’s support for Sanders may have been signaled five months ago when she was battling U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz over expanding the number of Democratic presidential debates. Gabbard wanted more, but the Florida congresswoman, who is also chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said no need.

The tiff was heated enough that Gabbard found herself uninvited from a list of debate guests.

“If she needs a ticket, have her give me a call,” Sanders’ spokesman said on CNN back then. “I think we have a couple; we can give her one.”

read … Retaliation

Mayor keeps his options open for seeking another elected office

MN: Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits, had more than $170,000 in unspent campaign funds more than a year after his last election in November 2014, according to his campaign's report to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

When asked about his surplus Thursday, Arakawa said he's keeping open the possibility of seeking elected office in the future.

"I'm not saying I am or am not," he said. "It's definitely a possibility . . . I'm looking at options."

Arakawa said "a number of groups" have asked him to consider running for governor, the state Legislature, a "national level" or "local level" office.

"I'm keeping my options open," he said.

He declined to say which office, if any, he was actively considering.

In November 2014, voters elected Arakawa to a four-year term that began in January 2015 and ends in January 2019. Term limits bar him from seeking a third consecutive term.

read … Keeping Options Open

Harry Kim to run for Hawaii County mayor again

HTH:  …Kim said Thursday he’s decided to run again, this time on a campaign to restore trust in government.

“This is something we have to do because it’s right,” Kim said. “The way people feel about the government is not good for any of us. … Trust is something you work for every single day, like any relationship, you work every day to earn the public’s trust.”

Kim, 76, was mayor from 2000 to 2008, and worked in county Civil Defense for 24 years before that. He lost to Mayor Billy Kenoi in 2012 by a 1,438-vote margin — earning 49 percent of the vote compared to Kenoi’s 51 percent. Kim jumped into the race on the last day of qualifying last time, and he had vowed to decide earlier this time.

Kim is entering a crowded race….

HTH: Judge recuses himself from Hawaii Co voter fraud case

read … Kim In

Hitachi hitting speedbumps in acquisition of rail car manufacturer Ansaldo

PBN: Hitachi — which is attempting to purchase Ansaldo, the Italian rail-car maker that has the $1.4 billion contract to build and operate the driverless trains for Honolulu’s rail transit project — continues to battle activist shareholders discontent with the buyout.

While the delivery of Honolulu's rail cars are not at risk, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation had expressed an interest in working with Hitachi on making its rail system better. Chairman Don Horner had said he hoped the new ownership would use it talents to make a more energy efficient system. However, HART's work with Hitachi hinges on it making a deal with Ansaldo, which has been in limbo since November last year.

The Italian market watchdog, Cosnob, said in a statement on Thursday it has extended Hitachi’s deadline from this Friday to March 14, Reuters reported.

Hitachi purchased 40 percent of Ansaldo STS last year and is now trying to buy out minority shareholders. However, the shareholders think the price being offered is unfair.

As of a revised offer on Tuesday, Hitachi was offering the investors 9.68 euros per share. However, this is significantly below the investors’ estimated value, which is 15 euros per share.

read … Not at Risk?

Legislators Work to protect Tobacco Biz by Taxing E-Cigs

CB: SB 2691 would categorize reusable and disposable smoking devices and e-liquids in the state’s cigarette and tobacco tax law and would apply excise taxes on both products when sold by a distributor or dealer. Nicholas Winters submitted written testimony saying “vaping shouldn’t be included in this bill,” as he has “yet to see the FDA state for a fact that it’s harmful.”  SB 2691 would would tax and regulate e-cigarette products just like tobacco.

SB 2083 would “prohibit smoking in a motor vehicle while a minor is present.” Violators would be subject to $100 fines….

read ... Smokers Take A Couple Of Hits At the Legislature

Garbled gibberish, faux science and Utopian agricultural dreams

KE: I've gotta hand it to Scott Enright and Dr. Virginia Pressler — directors of the state departments of Agriculture and Health, respectively — for schlepping all the way out to Waimea this past week to hear the same litany of complaints about the seed fields from the same small, but loud, cast of characters.

Those two busy administrators have far more patience than I with the garbled gibberish, faux science and Utopian agricultural dreams of the activists….

read … Musings: Off-Course

Legislative News:

DHHL Now let’s define what is sufficient

Testimony being solicited on whether Maui should adopt a “county manager” government

House Keeps Funding For Hawaiian Home Lands Alive

Caldwell Vetoes $600,000 Recycling Subsidy

Bill seeks to create sports and entertainment authority in Hawaii

A (Biased) investigation of Hawaii's online ivory trade

Should ivory sales be banned, as proposed in bills at the Legislature?

QUICK HITS:

Kapolei is a planning disaster

Transpacific containerships become too large for Hawaii and Guam

Residents, swimmers clash over 'clothing optional' beach, gay group sex

Police notified about suspicious white van in Ewa Beach

Safety measures being taken at Castle HS following alleged threat

Health department confirms Hawaii’s first imported Zika case of 2016

Norma Doctor Sparks files for council

Man gets weekend in jail for officer assault

6 months in jail for man who posted nude photos of ex-girlfriend

Hawaii Council confirms Kurohara as managing director

Officials confirm first Zika case in isles so far this year

Sanford Inouye: ‘Olelo president wants to chronicle Oahu’s stories

Clyde Aikau looks out for 300 homeless students and their families


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