Ige Campaign Manager Shows up on Two More Judicial Nomination Lists
Ige Announces Contracts for 33 Homeless Shelters, Claims Increase in Bed Count
Hawaii State Capitol Korea-Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalized With Excrement
Hawaii Healthcare Access Cut off by Regulations
Obamacare Repeal: How Will it Affect Hawaii?
Hawaii Supreme Court: Do County Plans Override Zoning Laws?
Campaign-Finance Rules Chill Speech Unrelated to Election Campaigns
Did Activists Meet Deadline to Challenge Council Candidate?
Best Places for STEM Professionals? After Dropping Billions on Phony High Tech Tax Credits, Honolulu Ranks 95th
KIUC Signs 20MW ‘Peaker’ Battery Deal
Pedestrian Deaths—Hawaii Ranks 26th
Hawaii Better to Rent Than Buy
New DLNR Police Chief Announced
OHA Officially Named Papahānaumokuākea co-trustee
UH: Students and Faculty Who Stay Home and Cry on Inauguration Day will Have to Make up Work
Rail: Souki Backs Massive GE Tax Hike, Demands Caldwell Raise Property Taxes
SA: House Speaker Joe Souki says he supports plans to make the half-percent excise tax surcharge for the Honolulu rail project permanent, and wants to use money from the surcharge to extend the rail line to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, but only on one condition: Souki says the city must contribute its own funding to help pay to build the project.
State lawmakers reconvene next week for the 2017 session of the Legislature, and Souki said in an interview that money from the excise tax surcharge on Oahu should be used only for construction, and not to cover the cost of operating the 20-mile rail system.
Souki also said he supports reducing the 10 percent administrative fee the state charges the city for collecting the excise surcharge to 5 percent. The state has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from that fee since the surcharge went into effect in 2007….
he believes thus far the city has gotten a “free ride” on the project because none of the funding for construction is coming from Honolulu property taxes….
Souki said he will not throw his support behind Gov. David Ige’s proposal for increases in the state’s gasoline tax, vehicle weight tax and registration fees to boost funding for state highway maintenance and construction….
read … House speaker wants city to help fund rail
Budget so Tough, Departments May have to Cut Funding for Vacant Positions
SA: One salient example from a recent legislative hearing: The state Department of Agriculture, which has seen an average of 1 of 3 jobs vacant over the past five years, should justify such jobs as crucial, or be prepared to pare. And that should apply to all departments — truth in budgeting and better use of funds….
CB: Death And Taxes: Two Certainties For This Year’s Hawaii Legislature
read … But ... but ... How will the State operate without Vacant Positions?
OHA: Trustees Walkout of own Meeting Again
HNN: The board members walked out after Chair Rowena Akana removed from discussion an item on changing Crabbe's title from CEO to administrator. The move angered people who came to the meeting hoping to speak in support of Crabbe….
Akana said the items were removed because they were not placed on the agenda on time. That could void any votes since it would be a violation of the state's open meetings law, she said….
Akana says that under Crabbe's leadership, OHA's budget ballooned.
"We've had budget increases that went from $23 million to $30 million to $40 million then $50 million," she said.
Meanwhile, Crabbe says he wants to stay on because he has a lot of unfinished ‘business’….
read … Crabbes in Bucket
$260K for Kealoha -- City Council Pretends to intervene
HNN: Menor sent a letter Thursday afternoon to Police Commission Chairman Max Sword, saying council members wanted input on the the agreement that would pay Kealoha an additional $260,000 on top of his annual pension, which is at least $150,000 a year….
read … Pretend
Solar Schemers Will be Back for More Subsidies from 2017 Legislature
MM: While the Honolulu Star-Advertiser continually laments about the collapsing numbers of new solar installation, when will lawmakers stop and think about Hawaii residents who are not benefiting from our current clean energy policies but are subsidizing, through electricity rates and tax credits paid out of the States general fund these largely out of state corporate solar entities who are installing systems that are producing electricity when there is no demand?
On Kauai, KIUC negotiated deals, with no state subsidies, to buy electricity a lower cost through dispatchable solar/storage contracts to benefit its operating system and entire customer base lowering cost. On the other hand, for the rest of the State, solar companies will be showing up at the Legislature to ask for more handouts just to give more benefits to the individuals who already have benefited from lucrative and highly subsidized policies like net energy metering and the renewable energy income tax credit and then forcing the Hawaiian Electric Companies to buy back electricity at present high and uncompetitive rates adversely affecting its customers without rooftop solar.
We are way beyond the need for renewable energy generation policies to develop and subsidize nascent concepts and technologies - it time to move on and to ensure that public and ratepayer monies are used to make the critical investments for a robust electricity grid/platform to advance the public good and not step into areas where competitive markets should be established.
IM: Hawai`i Energy Policy Forum held Legislative Briefing
read … Mina Morita
Hawaii Faces up to 45 Million Cyberattacks Daily, State Officials Say
SA: The top manager of state government computer systems in Hawaii says would-be hackers are probing the defenses of state networks up to 45 million times a day in an effort to find vulnerabilities in the system.
Todd Nacapuy, chief of the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services, said he does not know if that is an unusually large number of probes for a state system, but “it is a lot.”
“It’s just automated tools hitting us,” Nacapuy said, with hackers switching their approaches regularly to search for new ways to gain access to state data. “The game changes. It constantly changes.” ….
read … 45 Million
Lawmakers to again consider vote-by-mail system, automatic voter registration
HNN: Last legislative session, two bills aimed at addressing Hawaii's low voter turnout failed to clear a final hurdle….
The proposed measures would have set up automatic voter registration and transition the state to mostly mail-in ballots. They'll be introduced again this year.
And Common Cause Hawaii is already gathering support for both bills….
Rhoads plans to introduce the automatic voter registration bill. If it becomes law, people who apply for or renew their driver's license or state ID would automatically be registered to vote unless they opt out.
"They'll be forced to make a decision about whether they want to register," Rhoads said….
"Essentially, right now, we're running three separate systems. If we just roll it all into one of the three that we're using it will save us money," Rhoads said.
read … Fraud Enablement System
Budget: DLNR Has been Lying to Legislators for Years (They’ll get their money anyway)
HNN: …On Thursday, committee chair, Sen. Jill Tokuda, grilled the Department of Land and Natural Resources on what it’s done with its money these last few years.
Tokuda reminded DLNR chair Suzanne Case that the department repeatedly told lawmakers it needs to increase staffing, so that’s what lawmakers did.
But Tokuda questioned if money given to DLNR was used for other things, and if the department was shrinking certain divisions to add more staff to administration.
Tokuda: It really concerns me that all this time, what we’ve heard from this administration, what we’ve heard from advocates, is ‘Let’s build up capacity in DLNR.’ This looks like you’re decreasing capacity in these divisions….
Tokuda: Go back and look at the history of excuses you’ve made, and I would like to know too if you spent any of that money on anything for this particular unit already. Any vehicles? Any uniforms? Any investment of any of that money since fiscal year ’15?
Kelii Akina, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, says it’s important to take a hard look at how taxpayer money is being spent.
“The public has to hold our public officials accountable,” Akina said. “In government, workers don’t own the means of production, so we aren’t taking care in government the way they do in small business to make sure everything is efficient….
read … DLNR Grilled--Just for Show
Stadium Authority: Lets Burn Hundreds of Millions Demolishing Perfectly Good Stadium to Build Smaller One
HNN: The Aloha Stadium Authority approved a resolution Thursday that expresses support of a state-funded, newer, smaller stadium.
The resolution encourages state law makers to approve funding for a 30,000-40,000 seat arena that could accommodate multiple outdoor events.
The authority supported the resolution citing that the rising costs of current stadium maintenance will simply upkeep the aging facility, and not create any new amenities for stadium guests….
No word on how much a new stadium would cost. (Nobody can count that high.)
SA: Panel calls for adjacent development to help fund new, smaller stadium
read … Very Expensive
Court appoints representative for ‘Peter Boy’ to Investigate Foster Care System
WHT: …Hilo Family Court Judge Henry Nakamoto on Wednesday appointed Stephen W. Lane as a special master, without compensation, to ascertain whether there are grounds for a wrongful death civil lawsuit to be filed on behalf of Peter Boy’s estate and to retain counsel to represent the estate.
“My charge from the court is to examine the circumstances of Peter Kema’s (Jr.) life and disappearance by gaining access to the records the state and others might have and then reach a conclusion as to whether or not I think there are any … claims that arise from that review of those documents,” Lane said Thursday. “I’ll file a report with the family court with respect to that and probably make recommendations.”
Lane is a private investigator, former foster parent and court-appointed guardian who does paralegal work in child advocacy. He said the legal protocol allowing a special master to determine tort liability for children who are or were in foster care or wards of the state was established last year by Honolulu Circuit Judge R. Mark Browning.
“Bear in mind, wards of the state and foster children were really disenfranchised. They were frozen out,” Lane explained. “They had no access to attorneys because of their minority status and because of their ward status with the state. So this, I thought, was a sea change that Judge Browning brought about by making it possible for foster kids or wards of the state to get access to an attorney if they get hurt, like everyone else has.”
The order appointing Lane as special master is valid as long as there are civil or criminal proceedings, including appeals, regarding Peter Boy.
“I’ve been thinking about this case for a long time,” Lane said. “And it wasn’t until the Big Island’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was able to indict somebody and charge somebody with (Peter Boy’s) presumptive death, that it occurred to me that anything else could possibly be done.”
Nakamoto’s order requires the state Department of Human Services and Child Welfare Services, formerly Child Protective Services, “to produce all records and files unredacted related to Peter Kema Jr.” and his siblings. Lane also is empowered to subpoena documents and records from individuals and agencies related to the investigation….
Lane added he won’t be able to determine who might be defendants in a wrongful death civil lawsuit until he’s examined the records.
“For example, in past cases in which I’ve been involved, there have been other public or private agencies that have been involved in decisions made by CPS who’ve turned out to be prospective defendants. So, I don’t want to prejudge that until I’ve had a chance to see all the records,” he said….
“What’s unique about this case is this is a child whose been missing for nearly 20 years, who, by all accounts, especially by the (redacted) records released in April and May of 2005 by (former state Department of Human Services director) Lillian Koller … was tortured almost every day of his life,” he said. “… And the state kept sending him back again and again to a family that was demonstrably unfit and violent, in my opinion.”
SA: Peter Boy’s siblings explore possibility of wrongful death lawsuit
read … Court appoints representative for ‘Peter Boy’
Soft on Crime Crowd Pushes for Mass Release of Criminals
CB: …Espinda pointed out that the department’s $655 million budget request for the next two fiscal years includes $9 million in capital improvement funds to expand the capacity of the Women’s Community Correctional Center.
If approved, the expansion will allow the department to divert about 140 female prisoners from the Oahu Community Correctional Center, Espinda said.
Still, immediate reductions in overcrowding appear unlikely under the department’s plans.
For one thing, the department has not even started on the expansion of three jails on the neighbor islands, a project that received $37.5 million in capital improvement funds from the Legislature last year.
Toni Schwartz, department spokeswoman, said the department is still working to have the funds released by the Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services.
The department has also yet to launch a new initiative under Act 217 that gives Espinda the power to release those charged with, or convicted of, misdemeanors.
And any new request for capital improvement funds to finance OCCC’s relocation isn’t expected for weeks.
The department is in the process of finalizing a study — to be released Feb. 1 — that examines what it will take to build OCCC’s replacement, which could hold anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 inmates.
Espinda said the department is working to narrow the number of potential sites for the relocation from 11 to no more than four.
Sen. Jill Tokuda, who chairs the committee, took Espinda to task for extensive uses of overtime at four jails. The practice resulted in estimated payments of nearly $10 million during the past two years, accounting for about 11 percent of the department’s salary allotment….
read … No Quick Fixes For Prison Overcrowding In Ige’s Budget
Recruiting obstacles, officer vacancies among challenges facing Honolulu Police Department
KHON: …Tenari Maafala, the head of the police officers union, says he and his fellow officers are feeling the shortfall in numbers within the HPD.
“Right now, we barely have 2,100 officers serving on any given day on this island alone serving about 1 million people, all locals and visitors alike, so we are short-handed as it is already,” he said.
As of January 2017, the Honolulu Police Department has just over 200 vacancies when it comes to officers. This is up from 174 last month….
SHOPO is just beginning to negotiate a new contract with the city, as its current contract expires this year. Maafala says the salary for new recruits, now sitting at $62,892, is key in finding new officers….
read … SHOPO Negotiation Tactic
News Homeless Contracts Expand Waianae Rural Transitional Housing, Shrink Chinatown Spaces
CB: …Kimo Carvalho, spokesman for the Institute for Human Services, opposed the bill last summer, saying he feared it would cause IHS to cut 166 shelter beds.
But IHS received two contracts worth $3 million Thursday, Carvalho said, after the state revised its request for proposals and loosened some of its specifications, such as the average length of stay….
Carvalho said IHS is still cutting 64 beds to comply with the rules, but is happy that the shelter will still be able to receive funding for its operations.
But others weren’t so lucky. The Lighthouse Outreach Shelter in Waipahu announced last month that it plans to close because the new rules are too stringent….
Scott Morishige, state homelessness coordinator, said even though some shelters are cutting beds and the Lighthouse Outreach Center is closing, the state is funding more shelter beds than last year because some organizations, like Alternative Structures International (Waianae), are expanding their capacity….
read … State Says Number Of Available Shelter Beds Will Go Up In 2017
Mainland Homosexuals Take Aim at Polynesian Cultural Center
SLT: …Appearing in the ad, Karger insists The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than $1 trillion in business holdings and that it brings in between $8 billion and $20 billion a year from its members. Kay said Comcast also was concerned about text in the ad reading "CITY CREEK MALL $2 BILLION CASH" and "THEME PARK IN HAWAII."
City Creek Center in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City cost an estimated $2 billion to build for one of the church's taxable business entities. The Hawaiian theme park refers to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
"Fred said he either didn't have the information" substantiating the finances, Kay said, "or wasn't interested in providing it, and at that point was told the ad would not run without providing it. And that's where the conversation ended."
During a one-minute version of the ad available on YouTube, Karger asserts the church has "rampant sexual abuse in its ranks." Kay said Thursday that allegation was not made in the 30-second spot.
Karger acknowledged at his Tuesday news conference he had no scholarly reference for the sexual-abuse assertions
GA: Hawaii promoted as place for gays to vacation with children
read … Unsubstantiated
Maui Protester: I am Marching Against Trump Because I am Fat
MN: …“I’m marching for a lot of reasons,” said one of the Maui event organizers, Virginia “Virgie” Cantorna, a psychologist and head of the Safe Keiki Project.
“I am a woman of color, born to Filipino immigrant parents. I’m plus size. I have (lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning and transgender) friends, family and patients. I have a daughter; I want to protect her from sexual assault (but I am OK with Bill Clinton).”
“There is so many reasons why I’m marching,” Cantorna said, alluding to Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign that upset women and minorities….
MN: Hana woman lit fuse for march on Washington
read … 4 Year Weight Loss Plan
Maui Anti-GMO Realtor Wastes Ethics Commission Time
MN: In a closed session, the board Wednesday took up the complaint from Luxury Realtor Mark Sheehan of SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) Movement and SAFE (Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment). (Two organizations dedicated to improving the property values of Sheehan’s listings.)
White, who was elected council chairman during a Jan. 2 organizational meeting, has called the complaint “highly political and unsubstantiated” and noted that it was filed by the head of a political action group that raised thousands of dollars to have him and other incumbent council members ousted.
He has said that announcing leadership positions prior to a new term is “nothing new” and a “fairly common practice” among legislative bodies in Hawaii. He said the state Legislature, Honolulu City Council and Hawaii County Council also announced their leadership teams before their new term and an official vote.
He added that former council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa announced her leadership team four days after the 2012 general election and the last term’s organizational announcement by White was released in early November after the 2014 election.
read … Luxury Realtor Mark Sheehan