Constitutional Amendments and Honolulu Charter—Pro and Con
City accepting Grants in Aid applications
Marijuana: Complete list of 500 Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applicants Published
CB: Nearly 500 people linked to more than 50 companies competed for licenses to operate Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensaries.
While some well-known figures such as actor Woody Harrelson and tech entrepreneur Henk Rogers have already been identified (their applications were unsuccessful), a much fuller list of names has now become public, thanks to an attorney’s public records request.
Well-known figures in Hawaii legal, business and political circles sought a piece of the action.
The list includes: high-powered lobbyists Bruce Coppa and John Radcliffe; past and present elected officials Norman Mineta (a former U.S. transportation secretary), John Henry Felix, former legislator Bertha Kawakami and her nephew, state Rep. Derek Kawakami; and attorneys Rick Fried, Steve Torkildson, Lex Smith, Tony Takitani, Ivan-Lui Kwan, Myles Breiner, David Louie (a former state attorney general) and Andrew Pepper.
And these: farmer Dean Okimoto, consultant Peter Adler, investors Dustin Sellers and Elizabeth Rice Grossman, musician Melissa Etheridge and Kevin Lima, a former Honolulu assistant police chief. A number of medical doctors were also listed.
Eight companies were selected by the health department in April to receive licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana: three on Oahu, two in Hawaii County, two in Maui County and one in Kauai County.
Businessmen Colbert Matsumoto, who was recently appointed to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board, and Duane Kurisu were among the high-profile people tied to entities that were approved. Other winners included Big Island farmer Richard Ha and former Maui Land and Pineapple CEO David Cole.
read … Most of Hawaii’s Political Class are Wanna-be Drug Dealers
Caldwell: Elect Me and I Will Raise Your Taxes by $1.8B
SA: Despite a stumble in his messaging this summer, Caldwell insists that he remains steadfast in his support of the full rail line even as its costs have swelled by at least $3.3 billion in the past two years. He’s said he’ll go before state lawmakers again next year and ask for another extension of the rail tax to help close a massive budget gap of at least $1.8 billion.
“What gets you far is the excise tax, some kind of sharing with the state,” Caldwell said earlier this month at his Iwilei campaign headquarters. “I’m already sitting down with the leaders … to talk about some form of extension that is fair to everyone, including the state Legislature. And I think there is opportunity there. I’m hearing it already.”
There’s no guarantee that Caldwell’s gambit at the state Capitol will work. Meanwhile, Djou’s own uncertain, alternative solution would rely on successes across multiple fronts.
Djou said he’s optimistic that reforming rail “mismanagement,” conducting a financial audit, pursuing the 10 percent fee the state collects on Oahu’s general excise tax surcharge, creating partnerships with private entities on the rail line, enacting fees on developers and asking rail’s federal partners to reconsider their decision to withhold more funding should be enough to close the nearly $2 billion gap.
“You add that all up, will we be able to get there? Well, I haven’t had my audit yet. But I do think there’s a hunk of change there that can get us to where we want to go,” the former Hawaii congressman and city councilman said Friday.
Even if all of those steps don’t succeed, Djou said Friday that he would not pursue — nor would he approve — a GET surcharge extension to finish rail….
“I said it was going to take way longer, cost way more and not resolve our traffic problems,” Djou told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s editorial board in July. “And here I am, a few years later … and everything that I said would happen has happened. But we’re stuck.”….
read … Caldwell’s, Djou’s paths split on how to pay for rest of rail
OHA Trustee: We Buy Favor with Lots of Money
CB: …OHA’s meaningful contributions over the years to empower Native Hawaiians and strengthen Hawaii. He ignores “Ka ʻŌlelo A Ka Luna Hoʻomalu,” published in 2010 to mark 30 years of OHA’s successful accomplishments on behalf of Native Hawaiians.
Additionally, had he been paying attention to comparable accomplishments in policy, programs, and governance, he would know that OHA has given out more than $34 million in low-interest loans to nearly 2,000 Hawaiian consumers, who have borrowed the money to start businesses, improve homes, consolidate debts and continue their education.
He would also know OHA provides more than $14 million in grants and sponsorships annually to community-based organizations that advance our strategic efforts to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians….
Best Comment: “How many boards do you sit on and with what companies? How many OHA contract bids have been won by these companies because of your influence? How about OHA funds and awards to your friends?”
read … Apoliona
Retaliation Nation: Will Clinton Continue to Seek Vengeance Against Tulsi Gabbard?
SA: These are the Clinton fundraisers who told Gabbard they no longer intended to help with the Hawaii congresswoman’s campaign warchest. Whether they’ll patch things up between now and Gabbard’s future runs for office remains to be seen. But has Gabbard, who now supports Clinton, mended fences with the Dem nominee? That’s the real question for Hawaii constituents, should Clinton win the White House.
read … Retaliation
Charter Amendment Asks Voters To Clear Up Public Records Law
CB: …Here’s a little-known fact: Honolulu’s charter currently says that the city police chief and prosecuting attorney have discretion over what records from their departments get released to the public, with the exception of traffic accident information.
That sounds like a lot of power, but in reality, the provision is moot. Hawaii’s public record law supersedes the county charter, and governs when and how records must be public.
Still, advocates for government transparency think it’s important for Honolulu taxpayers to get rid of the outdated provision in the charter this November….
read … Yes on 20
HPD map omits violent crimes
SA: Unlike many police agencies across the country, the Honolulu Police Department excludes violent crimes from the public mapping service it provides online, giving residents only a partial picture of the types of offenses happening in their neighborhoods.
While people can visit HPD’s mapping site to see whether any burglaries, thefts or other property crimes have happened near their residences, businesses or other Oahu locations within the past six months, they cannot check on violent crimes.
HPD does not plot assaults, robberies, homicides, weapon violations, drug deals, rapes and other such offenses.
That practice goes against the grain of what police departments elsewhere, including on Maui, provide to their communities….
SA: Protect integrity of ‘rape kits’ to ensure justice
read … Omit
City Spending $1 Million to Plan for Electric Buses That May Have Nowhere To Go
CB: A Honolulu rail contractor is getting paid $1 million to come up with a plan for an electric bus system that would connect Waikiki to a rail station that may never see the light of day.
The city awarded the contract to the engineering and design firm AECOM in April. As Civil Beat reported last week, the idea was that the bus system would help riders from the rail’s final stop at Ala Moana Center into the tourism mecca of Waikiki.
Whether that stop will ever be built, however, has been thrown into doubt this year as city and rail officials have had to confront the reality that the rail project is vastly over-budget and behind schedule. About two months after the bus contract was awarded, Mayor Kirk Caldwell proposed shortening the rail line by nearly five miles, meaning it may never reach the shopping center….
read … Make-Work Project
Plan to Privatize Affordable Housing Projects
SA: …Most state-owned affordable-housing projects are held by the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, but HHFDC owns six that were financed through programs the agency administers. All six are managed by private firms retained by HHFDC.
Of the six properties, three are in Kakaako: Kamakee Vista with 226 units, Kauhale Kakaako with 268 units and Pohulani Elderly with 263 units for seniors. A fourth on Oahu, Kekuilani Courts with 80 units, is in Kapolei. The two others are Honokowai Kauhale with 184 units on Maui and Lailani Apartments with 200 units on Hawaii island.
In June the agency’s board formed a subcommittee to begin exploring a possible group sale. Initial findings and recommendations were made in a July report. The report didn’t specifically recommend moving ahead with a sale offering, but did mention several factors supporting a sale.
These factors include reducing state debt by paying off bonds tied to the properties, dedicating more HHFDC staff to the agency’s core mission and improving the apartments.
Selling the portfolio would allow HHFDC to pay off $78 million in bonds, which would save $6.3 million in annual principal and interest payments. The agency also would avoid spending an estimated $13 million in basic improvements the six properties need now and more on future upkeep.
“The subcommittee believes that the private sector may realize operating efficiencies that are not achievable under state ownership,” the report said.
The report also noted that a leasehold sale could be made with restrictions that limit rents from rising more than 2 percent annually for all seniors now living at Pohulani, and having the same limit last five years for existing tenants at other properties.
For future tenants, HHFDC is proposing that a restriction limiting apartments to low-income households be raised along with corresponding affordable rents.
read … Privatize
Anti-GMO Activism Endangering Unborn Babies
KE: I was reading a Washington Post article the other day about the effect of stress on pregnancy:
Studies have shown that when women experience stress, anxiety and depression, it affects them as well as the developing baby. According to the March of Dimes, prolonged exposure to high levels of stress can cause health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and may increase the chances of having a premature baby.
I couldn't help but wonder how the intense fear-mongering about chemicals and pesticides affected some of the women who were pregnant during the Bill 2491 process and its aftermath.
And then I wondered how any person in good conscience could continue to stoke those fears even though all the studies conducted to date — including those by the anti-GMO groups — have shown that pesticide drift from the seed fields is non-existent to negligible, and none of the claims about purported birth defects have been substantiated….
read … Musings: Get a Clue
Lame Duck Anti-GMO Councilmember Makes One Last Push for Styrofoam Ban
WHT: …In June, the County Council defeated a bill that would have heavily restricted the use of expanded polystyrene products, more commonly known as Styrofoam, across Hawaii Island’s food industry.
But proponents of the legislation aren’t ready to put the issue to bed.
Bill 140, sponsored by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, would have prohibited any food service provider on the island from using Styrofoam in disposable food packaging. They would have instead been required to utilize reusable or compostable products, save for a few exemptions.
The bill stalled after a 4-4 vote. But Wille, who was narrowly ousted from her District 9 seat in August’s primary, will propose a modified version of the bill this week as one of her final legislative acts. She described the bill as “140 light.”
“The big difference is that the prohibitions in Bill 140 were sort of across the board, but this bill only prohibits the county, county vendors and county facility users (from using foam containers),” Wille said.
read … Bye bye Wille
Kauai Enviros: More Hikers Must Die
SA: The state proposes to install an aluminum bridge over a stream at Hanakapiai Valley on Kauai’s North Shore to keep hikers from trying to ford the stream during flash floods….
…Carpenter said concerns have been raised by “some in the community” that a bridge would attract more people to Hanakapiai Beach and Kalalau Trail….
…Judy Dalton, executive committee member of the Kauai Group of the Sierra Club-Hawaii Chapter, said the group is studying the environmental assessment and has yet to form an opinion on the proposed project. (Translation: They want to kill this but don’t want you to know.)
There’s a sense of urgency to minimize risks as visitor traffic to Hanakapiai Beach and the 11-mile Kalalau Trail has dramatically increased since the 1980s, according to the draft. Approximately 2,000 people visit the scenic area daily.
Some visitors have minimal hiking experience and are ill-prepared.
Localized flash floods have occurred without warning, leaving the state with little or no time to alert the public of rough stream conditions as the area has no cellular phone coverage.
Fast-moving streamwaters led to the death of a 43-year-old New York woman in 2013. Norka Villacorta died when she was swept away when she attempted to cross the stream on her own during a flash flood. Firefighters rescued 54 other hikers that day who had been stranded in the valley.
One of the largest recorded rescue operations on Kauai occurred in April 2014 when firefighters airlifted 121 hikers, including children, over a two-day period….
read … Human Lives Matter?