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Thursday, October 06, 2016
October 6, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:57 PM :: 2385 Views

Hawaii House Leaders Agree—No Fake Indian Tribe Needed

OHA to Silence Dissident Trustees?

Does OHA Need a Watchdog?

DoE HS Absenteeism 19% -- only 39% of 11th Grade Students Meet Benchmark

CATO: Excessive Spending Earns Ige an ‘F’

Indiana Seed Producer Buys Kauai Seed Farm from BASF

Politicians In Un-Contested Races Get More Contributions

Supreme Court Hearing Hanalei Boatyard Case Today

HIDOT: Mileage-based fee equivalent to 213% Fuel Tax Hike

HNN: …state Highways deputy Director Ed Sniffen.  He said just to repair and maintain state-owned highways and roads, the current fuel tax of 16 cents a gallon would need to double to about 34 cents by 2035. The demonstration project would determine how much money a per-mile tax could generate to cover one-third of the state Highway Fund. ($0.34 = 213% of $0.16)

"We're not looking at any increases in that 33 percent share or any decreases," Sniffen said. "We're just trying to get to what it's going to look like if we keep everything flat, the way it is…"

(Translation: We also want a 213% hike is all other vehicle-related taxes and fees.) 

The department wants to launch the test project next year. It would monitor mileage on every registered vehicle.  (Big Brother is Watching.)

Drivers would get sample bills for information purposes only, and the department would use the totals to calculate how much a mileage-based fee would need to be in order to generate the same amount of revenue as the gas tax currently does.  (Then they will multiply by 2.13.)

Owners of electric or hybrid vehicles who pay little or no fuel tax would also be included in the study.  (You will be punished for fuel efficiency.)

"In the long-term we think it's really important to go away from the fuel tax to enable a future where all the cars on the road can be electric vehicles or hydrogen or bio-diesel," said Shem Lawlor, clean transportation director at Blue Planet Foundation.

Sniffen said if the mileage-based fee were put in place today, it would be about a penny a mile. He believes rural drivers with older vehicles pay more in fuel tax than they would under a per-mile tax.

(Translation: Everybody will be paying as if they were driving a 10 mpg gas guzzler.)

The state says miles driven would likely be determined from odometer readings during vehicle inspections….  (Bribe a gas station attendant to get out of this.)

read … Tax Hike Coming

Feds Offer Hawaiians Far Less Than an Indian Tribe

SA: Drafted in Washington by federal bureaucrats, the rule ensures that the new Hawaiian nation will not have any land, will not be able to raise funds through taxation and economic development, and will not be able to bring historic claims to the federal courts for redress….

“Frequently Asked Questions on Part 50-The Final Rule for Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community” (see http://808ne.ws/2dtCkSS) — makes it clear that the Hawaiian Nation will have none of the powers and authorities currently granted by the U.S. to the Indian nations….

Recognized Indian nations control their own lands, territories and resources. They have the power to zone their lands for economic undertakings and for the construction of housing, schools and medical facilities. They raise revenues through taxation, and their national establishments are exempt from federal and state taxation.

Federal statutes specifically allow for Indian nations to sue the United States directly in federal District Court to enforce their treaty rights, and for restitution. Native Hawaiians will have none of these rights under the new DOI rule….

read … Federal rule denies Hawaiians the right to rule themselves

New Regs: Anti-Telescope Activists Must Get Permit to Make Pile of Rocks

HTH: …The proposed regulations overshadowed action on a draft of new administrative rules for the mountain.

The board voted to request UH’s Board of Regents and Gov. David Ige authorize public hearings on the document. Copies also weren’t available for the public at the meeting.

A copy obtained by the Tribune-Herald shows that it would prohibit “stacking or piling of rocks” without a permit.

Additionally, if adopted as drafted, the rules would allow the Mauna Kea rangers to tell people to leave developed areas; consider any vehicle left for 48 hours to be abandoned; prohibit disorderly conduct and camping; and allow the office to set public access hours….

read … Equality

Kaiser Massive Medicare Advantage Rate Hikes

SA: …The state’s largest health maintenance organization, with about 249,000 members, is replacing several existing Medicare plans with higher-cost policies.

Kaiser’s Senior Advantage “Basic” and “Enhanced” plans will be discontinued on Maui for roughly 3,700 individuals on Dec. 31. They will be replaced on Jan. 1 by a “competitively priced” Senior Advantage Maui plan with a premium of $194, up from $38 for the “Basic” policy and $180 for the “Enhanced.”

The “Essential” and “Essential Plus” plans will be eliminated on the Big Island at year’s end for about 3,900 individual members. The insurer will offer the Senior Advantage Hawaii Island plan for $194, up from this year’s premiums of $63 and $202.

Affected members were notified about the plan changes this week and must re-enroll in the new Medicare policies to continue coverage with Kaiser.

Meanwhile, rates are rising for some individual Senior Advantage members on Oahu, who will be automatically enrolled in 2017. On Jan. 1, Oahu seniors will pay $59 for the “Basic” plan, up from $38 this year. Those in the “Enhanced” plan will see a $1 decline to $179 compared with $180 currently. Kaiser has 8,600 individual Senior Advantage members on Oahu.

PDF: Full Text of Letter

read … Rate Hikes

HECO Signs Contracts with Companies Run by Former Executives

IM: There is a hidden story behind the Amber Kinetics press release. There is the story of how the utility engages with and rewards, former employees, and companies that hire former HEI and HECO executives.

Richard Rosenblum served as HECO President and Chief Executive Officer from January 2009 to September 30, 2014. He continued to serve on the HECO Board of Directors until October 2014, and then as a HECO Senior Advisor from October 8, 2014 to January 5, 2015.  In February 2015 he landed a role as one of five members of the Amber Kinetics Board of Directors.

Prior to being at HECO, Rosenblum spent 32 years working for Southern California Edison. Tom Higgins, Chair of the Amber Kinetics Board, served as a senior vice president of Edison International and its subsidiary, Southern California Edison.

Amber Kinetics raised $25 million from early-stage investors to develop flywheel technology. In 2013 Hawaii’s Energy Excelerator financed several start-ups, including Amber Kinetics.

The Amber Kinetics press release asserted that HECO and Energy Excelerator are jointly funding the pilot project….

SA: Solar workforce in isles declines 42 percent

read … HECO Signs Contracts with Companies Run by Former Executives

Police commission grills HPD as 1,375 sex assault kits remain untested

KHON: It’s more than a month late, but the Honolulu Police Department has finally reported the number of untested sex assault kits to the state attorney general….

Back in February, the department said the number of untested kits was 1,512. Since then, HPD says 137 more kits have been tested, which reduces the number of untested kits to 1,375.

So why was HPD late with its report and is it losing out on money that could help? As HPD scrambles to fix the backlog, we’re told it violated state law by not submitting its numbers on time.

Some of the untested kits sitting on HPD’s shelves dated back to the ’90s….

Sen. Laura Thielen, D, Kailua, told the commission that HPD did not take advantage of federal funding available to them.

“The Legislature appropriated money this year, but I want to point out, federal government has made this a priority for many years. There have been federal funds available year after for this. We were told the legislature says HPD had not applied for federal grants,” Thielen said….

SA: Clear backlog of rape kits without delay

PDF: View the full report here.

read … Untested

DoE Employee Charged with Homosexual Child Molestation

HNN: …Greg Hirashiki is charged with three counts of third-degree sexual assault.  He was released after posting $100,000 bail.

Court documents state Hirashiki inappropriately touched a 14-year-old boy on three separate occasions earlier this year.   His preliminary hearing is set for Friday, Nov. 4.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education says Hirashiki has been on leave without pay since Sept. 19.

read … Another One

Hawaii News Media Convinces Feds To Open ‘Fishing Slavery’ Meetings

CB: Hawaii media outlets banded together this week to protest being shut out of a meeting between commercial fishing vessel owners and government officials to discuss concerns about the treatment of foreign crew members who work on U.S. vessels.

The closed-door meeting had been set for Thursday in Honolulu. But news organizations across the state, led by the Associated Press,  called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which had organized the meeting, to open access to the public. The AP has reported extensively about slave-like conditions for some foreign workers in Hawaii as well as abroad….

SA: Sabas Claims Inouye Not Involved in Fish Slavery Bill

read … Open Meetings

Locks on Cells at Halawa Prison Will Not Be Fixed until December, 2017—Kat Brady Admits Prisoners Prefer Arizona

HNN: Long-awaited upgrades at the state's largest prison have been delayed again.

The setback is also affecting the transfer of nearly a quarter of the inmates at Halawa Correctional Facility to a prison in Arizona. The move, which was scheduled for this month, is now slated for February.

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety plans to spend $9.9 million to replace the aging locks in the medium security wing at Halawa.

The system failed in 2014 and the state put in a temporary fix. The replacement work was supposed to begin in March, but that was pushed back until October to coincide with a $3.5 million overhaul of the overloaded plumbing system.

BCP Construction of Hawaii, the general contractor for both projects, has started staging and doing some prep work. But a parts delay is pushing back the completion of the project to December 2017….

Kat Brady added, "I never like shipping people to Arizona, however, I have heard from many, many men who were there, that they would rather be in Arizona because the conditions in Hawaii are so terrible."  (Write that down.  Save it.)

Meanwhile in Arizona: Usual Suspects Demand ‘Inquiry’ or something

read … No Need Locks in Prison

It’s So Hard To Find Serious Candidates For City Prosecutor

CB: Even one of Honolulu’s former top prosecutors won’t be eligible to run for his old job because of city rules that limit who can run….

read … It’s So Hard To Find Serious Candidates For City Prosecutor

Colorado Tourist Reminisces about Waikiki Homeless

CD: …"Sir."

I looked up. It was two Honolulu police officers, both wearing shorts. They were both short, and they didn't seem happy.

"What's going on?" I asked, genuinely dumbfounded.

"You can't have your cart here at the beach, sir," the one on the right said.

"Cart?"

"Yeah," the one on the left said. "That cart."

He pointed behind me. I turned my head and saw a shopping cart loaded with some homeless person's worldly possessions. I chuckled incredulously.

"Uh, that's not my cart, officer."

"You are telling us that is not your cart?" the one on the right said.

"That's what I'm telling you."

"Are you sure about that?" the one on the left said.

"Seriously, guys," I said, trying to keep my tone in check. "Have you ever seen a homeless person at a beach in Hawaii with a complexion this pale?"

About 10 seconds of sustained, deadly silence followed. I wonder if they have spam in jail here, I thought.

"You have a nice day," one of them said, and they turned around and stomped off.

"Ugh," I said to no one in particular.

read … Hawaii Part II: Behold a pale writer

Homeless Tap into Utility Lines to Charge Their Cellphones, Tablets, and Laptops

SA: Starting tonight, Kakaako Waterfront Park — home to a persistent homeless population of about 50 people — will close four hours earlier indefinitely to repair an unknown number of light poles that have been vandalized to gain access to electrical power.

About a half-dozen light poles were discovered Monday with their panels removed. At least one orange extension cord and power strip had been jury-rigged to tap into the electrical grid, said Aedward Los Banos, interim executive director for the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which operates Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The panels that block access to the poles’ internal power are affixed with special screw heads. With the panels removed, access to the wires inside was “at child height” and posed an immediate danger of electrocution, Los Banos said.

The majority of those who remain tend to be “chronic” single adults who have been on the streets for years, sometimes decades.

… As a result, “they have been tapping into the electrical outlets there in the park,” Scott said. “They have been tapping into the electrical outlets at the (Hawaii) Children’s Discovery Center. I saw someone washing their car with a hose tapped into one of the cut-off valves. Now they’re using state HCDA power to run televisions, charge telephones. It’s a drain, obviously, and costing the state and HCDA money.”

read … Cars and Computers

Anti-GMO Realtors Profit from Celebrutards

KE: Meanwhile, on the other side of the island — you know, where the antis reside — actress Julia Roberts has again dropped the price on her Hanalei Bay estate. The two-acre property, which includes a seven-bedroom, four-bath, 3,792-square-foot home, is now listed at $21.95 million.

That's the second price cut since the property was first listed at $30 million in April 2015.  She bought it for just under $14 million in 2011. And property values have gone up that much in that time? No wonder locals can't buy homes.

Not surprisingly, the aloha aina warriors at Hawaii Life have the listing.

Its original owner was sugar plantation manager Hans Peter Faye. My, how things have changed with the demise of agriculture on Kauai. Or as Shiloh Pa would sing, "Whatever happened to Hanalei?"

Pacific Business News reports: The property, which has about 200 feet of beach frontage on world-famous Hanalei Bay, is permitted to include an expanded building of up to 9,000 square feet.

Gosh. Can't imagine folks supporting a place that big on Hanalei Bay.

PBN goes on to note:

Additionally, a partner in a hedge fund recently purchased several Hanalei properties for close to $50 million.

But don't worry. There's still room in the bushes for the locals.

HFD: When Home is Out of Reach

read … Room in the Bushes

Anti-Pesticide County Still Uses Pesticides Itself

HTH: The latest attempt to decrease county use of toxic herbicides is making its way through a County Council committee.

Bill 245 was introduced during Tuesday’s Environmental Management Committee session by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille.

A decision was postponed until the next committee meeting Oct. 18 so Wille could make changes to clarify language.

Last summer, Wille introduced a similar measure that would have banned usage of glyphosate, which is used in the herbicide Roundup; 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; atrazine; dioxin; picloram; bipyridinium; diphenyl ether; and tyrosine breakdown products from thoroughfares, waterways and parks owned or maintained by the county.

That measure was withdrawn after not receiving enough committee support in original form; at the time, only three council members were willing to postpone the bill for additional work….

(But Hawaii County has no problem telling farmers—and only farmers—what to do.)

read … Bill aimed at curbing county’s use of toxic herbicides

Papahanaumokuakea: Environmental Cleanup Makes a Mess

CB: Employees of Element Environmental, a Hawaii environmental and engineering firm contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were working on a nearly $1.5 million project at Kure Atoll that involved digging up 400 to 600 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated soil from an old U.S. Coast Guard dump site near the shoreline and reburying it in a more secure spot near the center of Green Island, the atoll’s largest land mass at six miles wide….

Element Enviornmental’s crew was leaving Green Island after finishing work reburying the polluted soil when around 5:15 p.m., Sept. 2, the landing craft’s door reportedly opened and caused it to capsize, according to Tom Findtner, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineer’s Alaska District, which hired the firm for the job. The Corp provided oversight of the work on behalf of the Coast Guard, he said.

Officers from the U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Land and Natural Resources responded to the scene of the capsized boat where they worked to take crew members to shore and clean up the mess. They removed a 1,200-yard spool of fishing line that was strewn along the lagoon floor, a pack of fishing hooks, batteries and an emergency medical supply kit that was floating in the water, according to a DLNR staff report.

Another landing craft was able to right the capsized vessel the next day and tow it to shore, state and federal officials said, but now they are are concerned the excavator is leaking diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid, which are known to harm the environment, and that the metals in the water will cause damaging algal blooms if not removed soon….

read … $1.5M

New Russian Division: Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 Bombers to Patrol Airspace Between Hawaii, Guam, and Japan

S: A new division of Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers will soon appear in the Russian Far East to patrol the area over the Pacific Ocean inside the Japan – Hawaii – Guam triangle, Izvestia reported.

read … Thanks, Obama

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