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Friday, January 06, 2017
January 6, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:20 PM :: 2046 Views

Retirement: HPD Chief Kealoha Finally Forced Out

Story of Hope

HD2-Hilo: Ige Appoints Chris Todd to Legislature

Dean Nishina Appointed Consumer Advocate

UHERO: Regulating Home-Share Rentals in Hawaii

137K Gallons Sewage: Caldwell Claims Latest Rupture is Repaired

Applicants Wanted for State Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions

Out with Obamacare…In with Trumpcare?

State pension debt will likely get worse

Clyde Wadsworth Named Hawaii Solicitor General

Rail Spending Limit: Who is Lying?

SA: …Bill 3, which Councilmen Joey Manahan and Ikaika Anderson introduced Wednesday, would remove a cap of sorts that limits the city’s rail spending to $4.82 billion without further Council action. That amount does not include rail’s $1.55 billion in federal funding.

The Council passed the limit under its previous chairman, Ernie Martin, as an attempt to provide additional oversight. But now that official costs estimates to build rail to Ala Moana Center have soared above $8 billion, that spending limit, part of a city ordinance, could hinder efforts to finish the full 20-mile line.

Both Manahan and Anderson said they wanted to show their counterparts in the state Legislature that they’re working to remove the city’s cap as they also prepare to ask those lawmakers for renewed help. Their bill could take about three months to pass, they said.

The state’s previous five-year extension of Oahu’s general excise tax surcharge should generate some $1.5 billion for rail, officials say. The city limit would cap rail spending from that at around $1.1 billion, based on official projections.

Rail’s former executive director, Dan Grabauskas, told the Council in January 2016 that the rail agency could work within the spending limit — and that the Federal Transit Administration agreed with him.

Nonetheless, Anderson said the FTA’s acting administrator, Carolyn Flowers, told him during a meeting in Washington, D.C., about three months prior to Grabauskas’ testimony that the federal agency opposed the limit. It was the main reason he voted against the spending limit, he said Wednesday.

Former Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board member Mike Formby later criticized Grabauskas for telling the Council that the rail agency could live with the limit without getting board approval first. Grabauskas resigned under mutual agreement with the HART board in August.

read … Both are.

Ige Budget: ‘Borderline Schizophrenic’

SA: Gov. David Ige’s proposed budget came under attack Thursday during its first public vetting of the year, with House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke calling it “borderline schizophrenic.”

Luke blasted the governor’s plan because she says it proposes to increase spending over the next two years while the administration is publicly expressing alarm at unexpectedly low tax collections so far this year.

Luke suggested that Ige might want to pull back his spending plan and start over, while Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda accused the Ige administration of “padding” the budget by providing tens of millions of dollars to state departments that didn’t ask for the money.

The icy comments by two of the most powerful members of the state Legislature signaled clear unhappiness with Ige’s proposed two-year, $28.5 billion budget, in part because the administration did not include money in its spending plan for at least two large anticipated expenses.

Tokuda noted Ige’s proposed budget does not include money for any raises for the public worker unions that are now negotiating for new contracts, and also does not include enough money to cover additional public worker pension fund contributions that will be required during the next two years.

“You’ve put the Legislature in a difficult position by not including some of the very real things that we’re going to be having to deal with, and then making us the bad guy” by forcing lawmakers to make cuts in departments’ proposed budgets to cover the looming expenses, said Tokuda (D, Kailua-Kaneohe).

“That’s not fair to the Legislature to put us in this kind of position,” Tokuda told state Director of Finance Wesley Machida. “Are you providing us with a real budget?”

read … Lawmakers pummel Ige’s budget proposal

Shimabukuro pushes for taxing online sales

KITV: …Sen Maile Shimabukuro (D-Waianae) is thinking about introducing a bill that would make certain the State gets its cut.

Online shopping was up 17 percent last year, and because of that our state tax revenue has gone down. That means less money for schools, nonprofits, and other areas of the State's budget.

While Hawaii does not collect taxes on online sales, it recently started bringing in tax revenue from online travel agencies to the tune of $39 million….

PBN: Lower visitor spending, online shopping could be factors in Hawaii's decrease in tax revenue growth

read … Tax Hike

Why Hasn’t Hawaii Hired A Chief Negotiator For Union Talks?

CB: Gov. David Ige has still not found a chief labor negotiator even though he is involved in sensitive talks with six public-sector unions.

That is not sitting well with state Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

At a budget briefing Thursday at the Capitol, Tokuda peppered Ige’s chief of staff with questions about why the position was not filled after a lengthy vacancy.

Mike McCartney said the administration has talked to a number of people about the job but had not yet found “the right fit.” He described the search for a qualified candidate as “challenging.”

Tokuda said he was worried about James Nishimoto, director of the state’s Department of Human Resources Development, having to do both jobs, as he is subbing as chief negotiator.

She suggested that perhaps Nishimoto should leave the department and concentrate on the union talks, as both positions entail significant responsibilities….

read … Negotiator

HSTA: BoE Not Doing Enough to Abolish Testing, Accountability

KGI: “The problem that we have with it is that it has broad values and it has nothing to indicate that the strategic plan is going to change common practices,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of Hawaii State Teachers Association. “We feel that the current practices are opposite of what the strategic plan is saying.”

read … HSTA says three-year outline doesn’t address ways to fix education

Hawaii Kai Homeless Map Will Guide point-in-time count

CB: Trisha Kajimura wrote a recent Community Voice editorial titled, “Publicizing Locations, Traits of Homeless People is Unwise.” She was referring to a map state Rep. Gene Ward published in his newsletter.

The map depicted events pertaining to the homeless that were reported to the Hawaii Kai homeless task force by citizens. The map did not identify any homeless person by name or even by physical description. The purpose of the map was:

• To warn residents of potential dangers.

• To support our arguments that allowing homeless to live unsheltered is a bad idea.

As it turns out, the map has a third purpose. The Institute for Human Services wants us to create an updated version to help with its point-in-time count. We never thought for a moment the map had anything to do with finding solutions to the homeless crisis. For that, we have a comprehensive legislative plan to end homelessness now, with money the state is already spending.

We also offer the homeless help through social service organizations. However, in the four months since our founding, not one homeless person accepted our offers of assistance. Addicts didn’t want to be in programs that might pressure them into sobriety. Others didn’t want to participate in housing programs if it meant spending time in shelters or pressuring them to find a job.

read  … Nothing Wrong With Map Depicting Events Involving Homeless

Judge dismisses remaining charges in Mrs Kealoha’s bungled game room case

HNN: …The final five defendants were part of the city's third, bungled attempt to seek convictions over the gambling machines.

Circuit Court Judge Rom Trader dismissed all the charges and scolded the city prosecutor's handling of the cases, in particular -- criticizing the office for not handing over an important report by an expert in a timely way.

"Here that the state saw fit that to hire an expert and clearly contemplated the report because one was provided and yet sat on their hands and did not do a darn thing for three months, is to me inexcusable." Trader said. "Prosecution of criminal cases is serious matter and ultimately what counts is fairness. And to me that really just smacks of unfairness."

City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro issued a statement after the judge's ruling, saying he believes there is grounds for an appeal….

Totally Related: Retirement: HPD Chief Kealoha Finally Forced Out

read … bungled game room case

Caldwell Loses $3M in Garbage Bankruptcy

HNN: …Rolloffs was sold in a bankruptcy auction to West Oahu Aggregate Co. for $5 million on Wednesday. But under bankruptcy law, most of the proceeds will go to Rolloff's secured lender and not the city, which is owed nearly $3 million.

"With these big companies if they owe money to the city for one or two years, that's okay. I don't think that's right. It's not fair to our taxpayers," said City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi….

Kobayashi says the city's losses could have been avoided. More than two-thirds of rolloffs debt is more than 30-days old.

Back in 2014, Kobayashi authored a city law to make it harder for refuse companies like Rolloffs to run up huge debts to the city. It required the city to charge penalties if payments aren't made within 30 days. But she says the city did little to enforce the law.

"The city should be collecting within 30 days. but that hasn't happened," she said.

read …  Bankrupt trash hauler owes city nearly $3 million

State beefs up security in anticipation of major cash influx from medicated marijuana

KHON: The state tax department says it’s beefing up security to keep employees safe, that’s because soon big bags of cash will be coming through the tax department, courtesy of the state’s budding medial marijuana industry.  (It doesn’t have to be this way.  LINK.)  Mallory Fujitani, a spokesperson for the state tax department, says the department has gone to other states for help, “It’s a lot of work for us but we do have a lot of people and expertise that we can rely on.”

“In our building we do have a sheriff that stands by the front and helps with the check in of people coming into the public building. Some of the neighbor Island offices the security is a little more lax, so we’re just going to make sure we have more consistent armored guard service.”

In it’s budget request, the tax department will be asking for just over $600,000. That’s $118,000 for more security personnel and increased armored car services, and $500,000 for safety and security upgrades. This money will go towards the infrastructure the state needs to bring in and count it’s new tax revenue, and will provide surveillance and access equipment to keep it’s employees safe, and to ensure there is a secure place to count the cash.

SJ: How One Oregon Credit Union Serves Marijuana Dealerships

read … Keep the people medicated

Fake Females: Trannies Endorse Womens March Against Trump

WM: Endorsers: AAUW – Honolulu, ACLU of Hawai‘i, AF3IRM, Ceeds of Peace, Community Education and Civic Engagement (CECE) at KKV, Domestic Violence Action Center, First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, Friends of Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women, Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights, Hawai‘i State AFL-CIO, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawai‘i, LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, Pretty Peacock Productions, Pride@Work-Hawai‘i, Rainbow Family 808, The AiKea Movement of Unite Here! Local 5 and The Kumu Hina Project….

read … Support CONTINUES to grow for the Women’s March – Oahu

Hawaii regulators reject expansion of State’s Cheapest Electricity Source

PBN: Hawaii regulators have rejected a plan by Hawaiian Electric Co. and AES Hawaii to expand the state’s only coal-run electricity generation plant.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission said this week that the coal proposal was “not reasonable or in the public interest” after reviewing the proposal and considering arguments made by Blue Planet Foundation (ie the green energy schemers who want to keep Hawaii electricity expensive) and the state’s Consumer Advocate (not representing consumers desire for lower prices)….

read … Hawaii regulators reject coal plant's expansion

NOAA plans to open federal waters in Pacific to fish farming

WHT: As traditional commercial fishing is threatening fish populations worldwide, U.S. officials are working on a plan to expand fish farming into federal waters around the Pacific Ocean.

The government sees the move toward aquaculture as a promising solution to overfishing and feeding a hungry planet. But some environmentalists say the industrial-scale farms could do more harm than good to overall fish stocks and ocean health.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is creating a plan to manage commercial fish farms in federal waters, the area of ocean from three to 200 miles offshore, around Hawaii and other Pacific islands.

The program is similar to one recently implemented by NOAA in the Gulf of Mexico. The farms in the Gulf and the Pacific would be the only aquaculture operations in U.S. federal waters, though there are smaller operations in state waters close to shore.

Fish farming has been practiced for centuries in Hawaii and around the world. But modern aquaculture, some environmentalists say (insert excuses here) ….

CSM: Why NOAA seeks to open federal waters off Hawaii to fish farming

read … Out of Reach of the Luddites

Soft on Crime: Lunatic Bank Robber Gets 120 Days—Out, Does it Again

WHT:  A 30-year-old Hilo man in police custody for a Tuesday bank robbery in South Kona was accused of making a bomb threat last year at a Hilo bank.

According to police, Russell Monlux was arrested June 9 after he allegedly passed a handwritten bomb threat to a teller at the Bank of Hawaii branch inside the Hilo Safeway store on Makaala Street.

The store was evacuated and Monlux was charged with two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, but the charges were later dropped with prejudice — meaning prosecutors cannot refile them — after Hilo District Judge Henry Nakamoto found Monlux unfit to proceed based on a report by state Department of Health psychologist Dr. Frederic Manke.

Monlux was ordered committed into DOH custody for a period not to exceed 120 days.

read … Soft on Crime

Judge has been the court's constitutional conscience

CS: …In 1991, O’Scannlain himself played a role in fighting back the trend Black started. He wrote a 9th Circuit opinion that allowed Hawaii to keep Good Friday a public holiday. 

O’Scannlain said the Hawaii statute had a legitimate, secular purpose of creating more holidays. By making Good Friday one of them, the state was not advancing the cause of a particular religion, he wrote.

“We are persuaded that nothing more is ‘established’ by the Hawaii statute than an extra day of rest for a weary public labor force,” O’Scannlain wrote….

read … Judge has been the court's constitutional conscience



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