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Saturday, July 02, 2016
July 2, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:27 PM :: 4413 Views

Djou: Fundraising Exceptionally Strong

New State Ethics Director Announced

Savio: Rail Can be Built Without Any Taxpayer Dollars 

HNN: …The concept is called value capture, and Hawaii developer Peter Savio said it could mean a new revenue stream for the cash-strapped rail project.

The theory is simple: If the publicly-funded rail project is benefitting private entities, why not require them to help pay for a portion of it?

"Rail shouldn't cost us anything. It should be free," Savio said. "Because the land owners are going to reap the benefits. They should be willing to pay a large percentage of the cost."

He says his "obvious" solution would not only reimburse taxpayers for rail's current $6.8 billion dollar price tag, but would also create a revenue stream to help cover its operational cost.

"Mass transit creates land value, landowners should pay a portion of that value back as a tax to get the zoning," he said. "If the land is presently zoned ag, the owners are entitled to the ag zoning value. If it's presently zoned residential, he's entitled to the residential value. And if the city changes it to high-rise apartment and they create more value, that's what we're going to tax. The additional value."

Legal experts say it's value capture is a perfectly workable solution for rail. In fact, a state statute that would allow the practice already exists, but it's never been used.

"We already have a special benefit assessment statute that permits any county to pass an ordinance to assess part or all of the cost of a public facility against land owners who specially benefit," said David Callies, a government finance professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Richardson School of Law.

Callies says California used similar legislation to build its rapid transit system. It formed assessment districts in concentric rings around the mass transit stops -- and used proximity to the station to determine the fee….

Precisely as Explained: Rail: Easy Ways to Save Millions without Cutting Line Short

read … Free Rail

Ige’s choice to Kill NextEra Deal is sworn in as dispute grows over sudden move

SA: …Champley, whose term expired Thursday, said he was “disappointed” in the governor’s decision to replace him while the Public Utilities Commission has yet to rule on the sale of the state’s largest electrical utility.  (Key omission: Champley was to be the deciding vote in favor of the NextEra merger.  Gorak of course will be voting against it.)

“I assumed that I would be a holdover,” Champley said, referring to the practice of keeping a commissioner in place until a replacement is appointed and confirmed by the state Senate. “I’m disappointed that I may not be able to be a part of the process.”

Ige announced the shake-up at the PUC just days before the three commissioners were expected to issue a decision on Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.

Gorak was sworn in around 8 a.m. Friday morning, said Randy Iwase, chairman of the PUC.

“He is a fully empowered commissioner,” Iwase said….

Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi (D, Kauai-Niihau) said Thursday he might challenge Ige’s appointment of Gorak.  (Translation: Kouchi supports NextEra merger.)

Ige asked Attorney General Doug Chin for an opinion on the appointment. Chin said Ige had the authority to appoint an interim commissioner.

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (D, Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului) said Chin’s opinion seems to contrast with established belief. (Another supporter of the NextEra merger.)

“It seems that the current attorney general has given some advice to the governor that is different from what has been the longtime view of the boards and commissions, including the PUC,” he said. “That is that the term of the commissioners basically gets held over if a replacement doesn’t come up during a legislative session, so the Senate has time to confirm.”

Not all senators shared Keith-Agaran’s concerns. Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Ocean Pointe-Ewa by Gentry-Iroquois Point) and Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kapahulu-Kaimuki-Palolo) said they agreed with the governor. (Translation: They are against the NextEra merger.)

Chin also said the appointment could delay the PUC’s ruling on NextEra.

“We caution that such an appointment might delay the deliberations in the NextEra case,” Chin wrote in his letter to Ige. “And the appointment could face legal challenge.”

Asked whether he is concerned about a possible legal challenge, Ige said in an email, “No, we trust in the AG’s opinion on this matter. We are up for the challenge, if necessary.”

Champley said he wrote to Ige before the announcement, saying he was willing to stay on as a holdover to rule on NextEra. He said it is common for a commissioner to be held over when there is a major decision pending.

“Let me just put it this way,” Champley said. “If I look at other states, holding commissioners over (for) orders with major dockets pending is a practice that has been done with some regularity.”

(But this is Hawaii.  Its all political.)

read … Kill NextEra

Councilman Calls For Audit Amid Honolulu Ethics Commission Chaos

CB: …Ozawa introduced a resolution Wednesday calling for an audit. The resolution states that recent events have “strained the relationship” between the commission, its staff and the current administration. It also says public trust in the commission has been undermined.

The resolution cites specific examples of the dysfunction, including the commission’s imposition of a gag order on former executive director Chuck Totto, his subsequent suspension for alleged violations of whistleblower protection laws, and a requirement that he and his staff keep a log that tracks their work flow in six-minute intervals.

The Ethics Commission has long been at odds with the Caldwell administration, which had been accused of meddling with the agency’s budget and interfering with investigations. Conditions deteriorated further once Caldwell began appointing his own people to the seven-member commission.

Several staff members resigned in recent months, including Totto, who left under contentious circumstances after 16 years as executive director…. 

read … Audit

Rape? Maui Prison Guard Has Been Fugitive from Justice Since 2014

AP: …The woman was in a work furlough program in 2014 that allowed her to leave the Maui Community Correctional Center during the day. Former corrections officer, James Siugpiyemal, threatened to remove her from the program if she didn't comply with his demands for sex, her lawsuit said.

He was indicted Oct. 27, 2014 after her attorney turned over to Maui police footage from a hidden camera that captured the guard raping her in her car. Siugpiyemal resigned from the state Department of Public Safety on Oct. 6, 2014, said department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz, who declined to comment on behalf of the state on pending litigation.

Maui prosecutors obtained a warrant for Siugpiyemal's arrest, and U.S. marshals have been trying to find him since.

Federal prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Siugpiyemal fled to Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia to avoid prosecution. According to an FBI affidavit filed with the complaint, Maui police began the sex assault investigation on Oct. 2, 2014. Soon after, he resigned and left Hawaii. Department of Homeland Security records show that he flew from Guam to Yap on Oct. 11, 2014, according to the affidavit….

read … Rape?

Kahele divesting himself of controversial beach home

HTH: …State Sen. Kai Kahele is selling his beachfront Milolii home back to the family he purchased the leasehold from, after questions arose about his residency qualifications for his Hilo-area Senate seat.

Kahele, a Democrat, is running for election to the District 1 Senate seat that Gov. David Ige appointed him to in February after the death of his father, Sen. Gil Kahele.

State law requires those holding legislative seats to live in the district for that seat.

State law also requires that those holding the low-cost Milolii leases use the property as their primary residence, under provisions of 1982 legislation providing the low-cost leases to those displaced by the 1926 volcanic eruption of Mauna Loa.

Kahele maintains his Keneki Place, Hilo, address is his primary residence….

read … Kahele divesting himself of controversial beach home

Gov Lingle Quits Illinois Gov’s Admin

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