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Thursday, October 20, 2016
October 20, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:02 PM :: 4226 Views

Court: Caldwell’s Property Tax Scheme Illegal

Republican Party: Vote ‘No’ on all 20 Honolulu Charter Amendments

Hawaii Democrats Move to New HQ

Transportation Department Ripping Down Campaign Signs

Time-of-Use Rates Punish Evening Consumers with 55% Rate Hike on Oahu

Council Committee Resolution Demands Permanent GE Tax Hike

KHON: A Honolulu City Council committee introduced two resolutions Wednesday aimed at helping Honolulu’s rail project.

One would urge the State Legislature to extend the general excise tax surcharge indefinitely. The other would support the completion of the rail project to Ala Moana Center….

HART says it’s still on course to deliver its updated financial plan by the end of the year….

HNN: Manahan said a permanent rail tax could also cover the rail's annual operating and maintenance costs, estimated at more than $100 million a year

read … Tax Hike

Poll: How to use False Dichotomy to Sell Tax Hike

CB: What’s more, most people think building a rail line for Honolulu was either a “bad idea” (37 percent) or a “good idea” yet “troubling” due to the poor execution of the project (44 percent).

Only 14 percent of Oahu voters surveyed completely embrace rail and believe it is “progressing well.”

And yet, a clear majority (61 percent) say they want the rail line built all the way from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center….

Only 29 percent said the rail line should be shortened….

The latest survey data on building rail is very similar to what was surveyed in late July.

So are the numbers of voters (50 percent) who say rail should be paid for through an additional extension of the surcharge on Oahu’s general excise tax.

Far fewer support increasing property taxes (7 percent) or combining GET and property tax revenue (20 percent).

And more than one-fifth of voters are unsure how to pay for rail….

read … False Dichotomy: Hike Taxes or Shorten Rail

Testimony: Honolulu Star-Advertiser Reporter Handled Years-Long Coverup of Kenoi P-Card Purchases

WHT: …All county purchasing cards are supposed to have codes preventing the user from buying alcohol, Hawaii County Finance Director Deanna Sako said Wednesday during Mayor Billy Kenoi’s theft trial.

But apparently, only Kenoi could override that restriction.

“With authorization by the Mayor’s Office, alcohol is allowed,” said Sako while on the witness stand….  (Rules are for little people.)

Kenoi’s secretary, Paulette Wilson, who also took the stand Wednesday, said one of Kenoi’s aides at the time, Kevin Dayton, would help the mayor review his pCard purchases when records requests were made.  (Translation: A Star-Adv reporter is the one who for years stonewalled the Tribune-Herald’s requests for Kenoi’s P-Card records.)

Dayton, who is now the capitol bureau chief for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, was a close adviser to Kenoi and acted as his media liaison.

Wilson said her tasks included compiling Kenoi’s pCard statements and sending them to the Finance Department for payment each month….

Wilson also was asked to identify signatures on the receipts recovered during the state’s investigation. She said all appeared to be Kenoi’s handwriting, though a signature on a receipt that showed a large amount of alcohol was consumed was hard to decipher.

Dayton, who took the witness stand Tuesday, continued his testimony Wednesday morning and spoke positively about his time working for Kenoi, whom he referred to as a good friend.

He worked as one of Kenoi’s executive assistants from 2008-11 and an executive director from 2012-15.

A farewell party for Dayton in 2011, listed on pCard records as a “strategic planning luncheon,” is among the 15 transactions prosecutors allege violated the law.

Takata said earlier that alcohol was listed on the receipt. Dayton and Wilson, who also was present, said they don’t recall seeing alcohol consumed at the lunchtime gathering.

Wilson, who also was questioned about the $320 charge, said it was a farewell event that became a “planning luncheon.”

In response to questions from Eddins, Dayton said it was important for Kenoi to develop relationships with others, including congressional staff that he referred to as “gatekeepers.” He suggested that approach was responsible for the county getting much-needed assistance following the Great Recession.

“That makes all the difference between success or failure,” Dayton said…

Dayton, in response to a question from Eddins, also criticized local media coverage of Kenoi, which he characterized as “extremely aggressive” and “very harsh.”

An article published in West Hawaii Today in March 2015 revealed that Kenoi had spent nearly $900 on his county credit card at a Honolulu hostess bar, spurring a state investigation and numerous stories from other print, television and digital media outlets on the subject.

But Dayton, who once worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, suggested local reporters had been unfair in covering the administration.

“I got the impression that the staff or higher editors disliked the mayor,” he said, without elaborating.

(REALLY OBVIOUS QUESTION: Why does Kevin Dayton still have a job at the Star-Adv?)

read … Travesty and Joke in Front of Stacked Jury

Star-Adv: Vote No on 7 “Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency”

SA: …No. 7: Establishes an Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency as a way to promote environmentally sound practices.

Yes, the city should be promoting sustainability and stewardship of our natural resources as much as it can. However, using the City Charter to create another agency, particularly an office with no clearly defined duties, seems unwise.

City officials should be able to advance the same goals by simply incorporating the values of sustainability into their policies and planning.

Vote no.

read … NO Office of Sustainability

Police Commission’s newest member questions whether it would use additional authority

CB: Charter Amendment 1 would also allow the commission to suspend or fire a police chief for substance abuse, a failure to properly command the department or because his or her actions create a pervasive sense of mistrust and resentment among community members….

On paper, Sheehan said the proposed charter amendment would bolster the strength of the commission. But she noted its propensity for inaction could undermine the intent of the proposal.

“The Police Commission thus far has been unwilling to conduct any investigation into Chief Kealoha, even to examine whether he engaged in gross or continuous maladministration,” Sheehan said. “So I’m not sure that our current Police Commission would use subpoena authority, even if the voters gave them that power.”

She added that while she doesn’t speak for the entire commission, she would advocate for the use of subpoenas if the commission authorized an investigation.

read … An Illusion?

Honolulu police working to reduce backlog of untested rape kits

KHON: Earlier this month, we told you 1,375 kits remained untested.

At a police commission meeting Wednesday, the department said it has since sent 180 of those to an outside vendor for testing. Thirty more were delivered to the FBI.

That leaves just under 1,200 rape kits in HPD’s custody.

The department says it has secured federal funding to help get the remaining kits tested.

It costs between $750 and $1,200 to test each kit.

read … Honolulu police working to reduce backlog of untested rape kits

Corrections Officer Forgets Gun in Jail Bathroom

HNN: …A corrections officer's gun stolen Wednesday from an OCCC bathroom has been recovered.

The officer who works at the Oahu Community Corrections Center took the service weapon off in the bathroom and apparently forgot it. … Police previously identified a person of interest in the case: 35-year-old Janelle Newcomb, a former pre-trial detainee who was released from OCCC on Oct. 13 after her case was dismissed. She was at OCCC on Wednesday to pick up her belongings, and is said to have gone into the bathroom after the officer.

Newcomb was later arrested at a Waikiki bar around 7 p.m.

WHT: Trial set for former cop in fatal 2015 crash

read … Lost Gun

Soft-on-Crime: Multiple Thefts on Maui gets 6 Months for Burglar from Mainland

MN: …A 37-year-old man who is wanted in Washington for burglary was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail and ordered to pay nearly $1,000 in restitution after a series of thefts from Maui businesses earlier this year.  (He is thinking: ‘This is so soft.  Why didn’t I move to Hawaii years ago?’)

Derik Wayne Sterling, also known as Wesley Stephenson and Kyle William Osborn, pleaded no contest to three counts of second-degree theft, two counts of third-degree theft and first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle. Sterling avoided a mandatory-minimum prison sentence for his crimes when attorneys already had reached a plea agreement before discovering the warrant for his arrest.

“He needs to know that of all the people to come before the court, you are the least deserving of a break when I look at your record and I look at your conduct,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Sterling. “However, you struck a deal, and I’m going to honor the deal that you made because I’m guessing your attorney worked very hard for this.” 

(Remember that next time you are the victim of a burglary.)

Sterling also was given four years’ probation and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service….

Sterling had (previously) been convicted of including making false statements, driving with a suspended license, assaults, firearm possession, harassment, drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, obstructing law enforcement, possessing stolen property and second-degree burglary — all of which are apparently misdemeanors in Washington….

According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and Moses Lake Police Department in Washington, a Derik Sterling with the same age was arrested last year on an outstanding burglary warrant. Authorities found “volumes” of stolen property totaling $50,000 that was stored inside a home and officers believed the recovery of the goods would clear several burglaries in the Moses Lake area.

Bissen said he discovered Sterling’s record after he granted him supervised release over a month ago.

“Wanted in the state he fled from and he comes here and becomes a serial thief in our own community,” he said. “And I say serial thief because he steals from everybody.”

read … Soft on Crime

Hawaii One of Only 4 States to Charge Sales tax on Legal Fees

CJ: As consumers of legal services in Hawaii, subrogated carriers are responsible for payment of these taxes on top of any legal fees owed. Lawyers in Hawaii like to compare the process to walking into a store and buying a product for $1.00. After tax, the product costs the consumer $1.05. The only role for seller (in this case, the lawyer) is to collect the sales tax from the client and send it to the state (for which the lawyer is responsible even if he doesn’t collect it) or not collect the sales tax (and eat the 4.172 percent and be responsible for paying that amount to the state). Lawyers are required to fill out state withholding forms every month and it basically boils down to “sales + 4.172 percent, send it in monthly”. In short, there is a GET in Hawaii on legal services, and the way it universally works is that the cost of the services is increased by the amount of the tax, and the “seller” is thereafter liable to the State of Hawaii for that amount.

read … Navigating The Sales Tax Maze In South Dakota, New Mexico, And Hawaii

Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center to Close Due to Harassment by Homeless?

SA: The chairwoman of the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, located in the heart of the enduring Kakaako homeless encampment, suggested in January that the center close in the face of a 30 percent drop in revenue over the past two years, according to an email that Loretta Yajima sent to her state landlord and some lawmakers last month.

Even though social service outreach and city sweeps have knocked the Kakaako homeless population down from more than 300 in the summer of 2015 to roughly 30 to 50 now on any given night, Yajima suggested that attendance and revenue continue to be a problem for the Children’s Discovery Center, which moved from Dole Cannery to its current site at an abandoned city incinerator in December 1998.

In her email to the Hawaii Community Development Authority and city and state lawmakers who represent the area, Yajima began: “Everyone thinks the problem has gotten better for us because they do not see 300-plus tents surrounding our building anymore; however, the urine and feces (both human and animal) still persist on our property. … As you know, we stay away from making any statements to the media because when the press comes out with a story we suffer loss of the public’s confidence, and during the past two years we suffered a good 30 percent loss in income. In addition, we also get heavily criticized for not being compassionate by those organizations and agencies who are trying to help the homeless with housing. On the other hand, media coverage seems to be the ONLY thing that motivates action. I feel that is sad because it does not tell the whole story.”

Yajima’s email outlined a long list of problems that included complaints about trash, mosquitoes and vandalism to the center’s electrical and water supplies.

She wrote that she suggested to her board of directors in January that they close the center — a proposal she said the board unanimously rejected.

read … Keeping Drug Addicts on the Streets is More Important than Educating Children

DLNR Hands Diamond Head to Homeless Drug Addicts

HNN: …"I know it's because they are out of sight and there's not a lot of places, but it's becoming a real problem," said longtime Diamond Head area resident Stephany Sofos.

There could be a few dozen people up in the area, but it's not known exactly how many.

"Several of our clients have told us that it's probably beset for our safety to stay away from the people in the mountains because many of them of are heavy substance abuse users," said Espero. "So for our safety, not to approach or even encounter them."

In the meantime, there are increasing concerns about litter, human waste and erosion on the landmark.

"Diamond Head is an icon. It is a state and national monument," said Sofos. "We are allowing it to run down and run into the ground because we are not doing anything to protect it."

Sofos said she has talked with the DLNR about the situation, but was told that the department currently doesn't have enough personnel to handle the homeless there….

read … heavy substance abuse users

Fishing Slavery? Legislators Still Pandering

AP: Hawaii lawmakers held a meeting to discuss conditions in the Hawaii longline fishing fleet and heard from an observer who described what it's like to live on the boats.

"The worst conditions would be no toilet, no shower, no hot water," said Ashley Watts, a former observer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who spent weeks at sea with various boats over seven years at the federal agency. "You have a cold water deck hose as a shower...the water tastes like iron."

The meeting on Wednesday followed an Associated Press investigation that found some fishermen have been confined to vessels for years.

A federal loophole allows the foreign men to work but exempts them from most basic labor protections. Many foreign fishermen have to stay on the boats because they are not legally allowed to enter the United States….

The Hawaii Longline Association, which represents fishing boat owners, created a universal crew contract that will be required on any boat wanting to sell fish in the state's seafood auction.

The group began distributing the contract to boat captains on Oct. 1, and John Kaneko, program manager for Hawaii Seafood Council, estimated less than 60 boat owners have returned the contract so far….

read … Pandering

Mayor Wright Rebuild – 1,136 More Units

CB: The Hawaii Public Housing Authority, the state entity that owns and manages the 14.8-acre complex, has big plans for its second-largest housing complex.

In collaboration with Hunt Cos., the authority plans to demolish all 36 two- and three-story residential buildings in phases, replacing them with two to three high-rises to increase the number of units from 364 to around 1,500.

The new development will include commercial spaces and recreational areas. The redeveloped complex will be privately managed, and offer units to residents earning a mix of incomes rather than only low-income tenants (people making 80 percent or less of the area median income).

According to federal law, the authority must ensure current tenants have reasonable accommodations, whether temporary or permanent, during reconstruction. This could be done a number of ways, each with its own complications….

Hilda Urita moved into the Mayor Wright public housing project 47 years ago when she was 10. And with two disabled children to take care of, she’s a little anxious about being forced to move out, even temporarily….

read … 47 Years

Reptilian Candidates Produce Low Turnout 

HNN: …"People primarily vote because they're excited, because they're feeling hopeful," said Colin Moore, director of the University of Hawaii's Public Policy Center. "When folks are scared, when folks are frustrated, they stay home,"

They also stay home if they don't like the candidates running, and there's lots of evidence they don't this time around.

A recent national poll found Republican Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in more than 30 years. According to the Washington Post, Clinton has a 56 percent unfavorability rating, while Trump stands at 63 percent.

So what will this mean for Hawaii voter turnout? Moore isn't optimistic turnout will be high, even though the number of registered voters in Hawaii has jumped to 740,000, from about 705,000 four years ago.

"Traditionally, there is a relationship between people registering and more people voting. But here in Hawaii we haven't seen that relationship as clearly. I think we can expect very low voter turnout," Moore said….

If you aren't registered to vote, absentee walk-in sites open Oct. 25.  There you'll be able to register and vote all at the same time.

For more information on voting, click here.

read … Registrations are up, but don't expect higher turnout on Election Day

Duterte bids U.S. goodbye with embrace of China and Russia

SA: …“I announce my separation from the U.S.,” Duterte said to a packed room of business leaders in the Chinese capital after meeting with President Xi Jinping. Duterte also said he might go to Russian President Vladimir Putin and tell him “there’s three of us against the world.”

The comments marked Duterte’s strongest yet in disparaging an alliance that has underpinned the U.S.’s Asia-Pacific strategy since World War II….

(But, but, but Obama offered them gays and drugs.  All the Chinese have to offer is an oil deal on the Spratleys.  How could this have gone wrong?)

B: Rodrigo Duterte Calls U.S. Ambassador ‘Annoying,’ ‘Homosexual,’ ‘Son of a B*tch’

read … Thanks, Obama

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