OHA pays $50K: Sex harassment claim against Peter Apo
Caldwell: Payoff for Police Chief is Best Use of Taxpayer Money
Privatize: “Not one penny more for rail"
Full Text: House Speaker Opening Day Remarks
48-Hour Fed Wreck Countdown
Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted January 18, 2017
Hawaii Dead Last for Pass-Thru Businesses
Best State to Raise a Family? Hawaii Ranks 33rd
Scottish Nationalists Demand Ige Return Falls of Clyde
Star-Adv: Raise Taxes and Kill off Expensive Oldsters
SA: The Hawaii State Legislature convened with its annual midweek opening festivities but now has to buckle down and work. The future of funding Honolulu’s fiscally hobbled rail project sits on top of the legislative in-box.
Ultimately, its primary revenue source, the general excise tax (GET) surcharge, will need to be extended further to complete construction — a heavy lift.
But that’s only where the drama begins. There will be more issues, fraught with emotion, to navigate — a renewed fight over medical aid in dying among them. And they must confront newly clarified and unpleasant fiscal realities.
The first is that revenues haven’t grown as fast as Gov. David Ige had hoped: up 0.6 percent, compared to an anticipated 5.5 percent increase.
The second blow struck in the new year, when the public workers’ pension fund, long below what’s needed to cover liabilities, fell an additional $3.7 billion short.
The third perennial hurdle is to deal with expected requests for raises from unions representing those workers who are still in active duty.
Squaring up the revenues and expenditures lines on the budget will take up much of the oxygen in both Capitol chambers. And then they face a task loathed by politicians: voting for what essentially is a tax increase….
MN: Souki takes gavel for 12th time as House speaker
read … Death and Taxes
High Cost: GE Tax Hike and Honolulu Property Tax Hike on Legislative Agenda
KHON: …He called on legislators “to look for solutions like rail to relieve traffic on our roads. It does come with a high cost, but make no mistake, rail is the key to the future of Oahu.”
Souki wants to remove the sunset date on the original general excise tax financing bill, but only if we reduce the tax rate with the city making up the difference. He also wants to reduce administrative costs from 10 to 5 percent.
He proposed a feasibility study to see if elevated toll roads would make sense for Honolulu.
“We must employ a multi-faceted approach, utilizing our buses, flex scheduling and technology that allows distance learning, tele medicine and alternative workplaces to reduce commuter travel,” he said….
read … Tax Hike
One Party Senate: “I can say Anything”
HNN: …The body is now the only legislative body in the nation with representation from only one party. That's after state Sen. Sam Slom, who for years was the state Senate's lone Republican, lost his seat to Democrat Stanley Chang.
Senate President Ron Kouchi joked with reporters about Slom's absence.
"So I could say anything I wanted and I didn't have to worry about Sam popping up," Kouchi said.
"I was going to say the Senate majority, but we only have the senators," he said. "There is no a minority and we are getting used to dealing with that."
For Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott, the smaller Republican presence in state politics is no laughing matter.
"I think everyone in the building would agree that we need a healthy two-party system. The loyal opposition has a role and that's to make sure the majority is better, said McDermott (Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point).
Last session, McDermott made headlines after swearing at his fellow Republicans when they didn't give him more time for a speech. But now he says the six Republicans in the state House are united.
"We had some differences, but we patched them up. We had the family fight and now we are all back together," he said.
McDermott said that one issue that unites the Republicans is opposition to a proposed aid in dying measure….
read … One Party
Again: Rep Chris Lee Bill to Outlaw Gasoline, Diesel Vehicles
SA: …Hawaii officials aren’t planning to make everyone get rid of their fuel-powered cars — at least not yet (they will do this soon.).
“Nobody wants to step in and force people to get rid of cars that they might love now (key word, “now”),” said state Rep. Chris Lee, chairman of the Energy and Environment committee.
With 1 million cars on the roads, hundreds of auto dealerships and multiple counties with fleets of vehicles, it’s unclear how the state could enforce a renewable fuels mandate, advocates said. Beyond the vehicle stakeholders, there are cyclists and pedestrians in the mix, making it challenging for the state to even measure what percentage of the state’s transportation fuel comes from renewables.
The bill is being introduced in the Hawaii Legislature, which began Wednesday. If passed, Hawaii would be the first in the nation to set such a high goal for its transportation sector. Vermont also has an aggressive goal for renewable fuel in transportation, but most states don’t have such targets in place.
“That’s a huge, huge transformation,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige in a recent interview with The Associated Press….
Details of the bill are still being worked out, but it’s undecided whether it will come with funding, Lee said….
“They need to go so far between recharge opportunities that they really need something with a higher energy density than batteries, and it’s just not even physically possible for an airplane to carry enough batteries to go where it needs to go,” said Matthias Fripp, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa….
read … Hawaii bill aims for 100 percent renewable transportation
Chief Takes One Final Payoff – $250K Plus Full Pension
HNN: The Honolulu Police Commission voted on Wednesday to approve a $250,000 payout deal for outgoing Police Chief Louis Kealoha, on the condition that the money be repaid if Kealoha is convicted of the crime for which the FBI is investigating him.
The details of the retirement deal were hammered out during another closed-door meeting that lasted several hours, ending with a 5-1 vote to approve the agreement….
Officials say that since the City Council has not been given oversight to approve the pay off, the Honolulu Police Department might be on the hook for the deal….
read … Payoff
Hawaii County Raises considered despite hiring freeze
HTH: …the county Salary Commission plans to meet Friday to consider raises for the top officials not covered by unions. The top officials last had raises in 2014.
“Of course, everyone’s looking for some sort of raise,” said Salary Commission Chairwoman Pudding Lassiter, adding the commission, with three new members, will have to do a lot of homework before deciding whether raises are warranted.
Approximately 2,600 of the county’s 190,000 people work for county government. About 57 percent of the county’s operating budget is devoted to their pay and benefits.
About 10 percent of the county budget is earmarked to pay off bond debt, money previously borrowed to pay for capital projects. Net funded bond debt currently stands at $411.3 million, according to a Dec. 12 report to the County Council.
Another 10 percent likely will go toward post-retirement medical care and other benefits for county retirees. County officials have been meeting with state Employee Retirement System officials as the state tries to shift more of the burden to counties.
All this means county budget-crunchers must take at least 77 percent of the budget off the top for fixed costs before even considering where else to allocate money. The mayor is required by the county charter to release a preliminary budget in early March….
“This is no time to consider — even remotely consider — tax increases to the people of this island,” Mayor Harry Kim said during an interview Monday….
Members of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers in 2013 received about 16 percent increases in raises throughout five years. Hawaii Fire Fighters Association members received 18 percent during collective bargaining and arbitration at the state level….
WHT: Salary commission discusses raises
read … Raises considered despite hiring freeze
HPD Needs To Stop Shooting At Cars
ILind: A coalition of top law enforcement organizations this week spelled out a new “National Consensus Policy for Use of Force” which, if adopted by the Honolulu Police Department, could bring changes in the way HPD officers confront suspects in vehicles, encounters which have resulted in numerous officer-involved shootings in recent years.
Just last week, an HPD officer shot and killed the driver of a stolen pickup truck who tried to flee the scene after being confronted in the parking lot at the campgrounds near Malaekahana Beach Campground, and such situations have been all too common. New and more restrictive policies regarding the use of deadly force could reduce the number of incidents like this in Honolulu, which in some time periods have made up half of all police shootings….
read … Shooting at cars
Keep the People Medicated: Hawaii marijuana numbers soar 17% in Year
HTH: The number of Big Island residents registered in Hawaii’s medical marijuana program increased nearly 20 percent in 2016 and by more than 200 people in the last quarter of the year alone.
That’s according to recent data from the state Department of Health, which shows 6,386 Hawaii County patients were registered in the program at the end of 2016, up from 6,182 in September and 5,330 in December 2015.
Statewide, 15,334 patients were registered last month, up from 13,150 the previous year.
“After the Legislature passed the dispensary bill (in 2015), more and more patients now feel it’s OK to … get their doctor’s recommendation,” said Andrea Tischler of Hilo, chairwoman of the Big Island chapter of Americans for Safe Access and a medical marijuana patient who thinks the increase will continue “quite substantially” once dispensaries open.
Eight companies throughout the state are drafting plans to open Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensaries….
AP: Obama’s Last Act—Return 330 More Drug Dealers to America’s Streets
read … More Medicated
Police, Social Workers to Count ‘Hard Core’ Homeless
SA: About 400 volunteers have signed up to count Oahu’s homeless population next week, and the organizer of the annual homeless census said she believes that’s enough people to get a good picture….
In some areas of Oahu where the homeless “population is too hard-core,” they will rely on trained social service outreach workers backed by Honolulu police to tally their numbers, Stasch said.
Areas requiring more skilled outreach workers include the entire Windward side, the North Shore, “definitely Wahiawa” and downtown Honolulu, Stasch said. People who volunteered to count the homeless in those areas might be asked if they would be willing to work in a different community, she said.
A lack of coordination and shortage of volunteers led to frustrations during last year’s Oahu count, in which 37 more homeless people were counted overall compared with the year before — representing a gain of less than 1 percent. (Remember: More Homeless = More Money)
read … 400 sign up to help in homeless count
Aiea Homeless Camp -- From Bad to Worse
HNN: …Residents who live near Neal Blaisdell Park in Aiea said a homeless camp makai of the Pearl Harbor Historic Bike Trail has been there for years….
"I don't want to go through because I don't feel safe," resident Wendy Oshiro said.
"I've just seen the problem go from bad to worse. By turning our backs on the problem and letting these people exist out here,” said Eddie Cox, of Makakilo.
Cox said he has a job in town and bikes past the sprawling encampment on his way to work.
"When you're going through here even at 10 or 15 miles an hour and someone steps out from a tent that's a half a foot off the bike path right into your path and then their dog chases you. It creates some real hazards," Cox said….
"I've never seen anybody come down here,” Oshiro said. "It seems like they're cleaning up the town side but they're not doing anything about this side of the island." ….
read … Thanks, Caldwell
Hawaii 5-0 Profitable for Bumpy Kanahele, Fleeing Felons
HNN: "Ka Laina Ma Ke One (Line in the Sand)" features is about a fugitive seeking asylum in the Nation of Hawaii on Bumpy’s Waimanalo land-lease
The trailer for the episode features a standoff between the U.S. Marshals and the Five-0 crew, who have to inform guest star Lou Diamond Phillips that he doesn't have the jurisdiction to chase after a murder suspect in the area because the Nation of Hawaii isn't part of the United States….
read … Bumpy Gets More Media Hype
Gabbard won’t say who funded her controversial Syria trip
ILind: …Politico reported that Gabbard’s office has refused to disclose who is paying for the trip.
Congressional leaders were blindsided by Gabbard’s trip to war-ravaged Syria with staffers saying she didn’t give the customary advanced warning to Democratic or Republican leadership offices.
Latimer wouldn’t say whether Gabbard met with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Lebanese officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the trip.
Hill insiders say they believe the trip was paid for by a non-governmental organization (NGO) but aren’t sure which one or if it has ties to the Assad regime. The trip, which Latimer called a “fact-finding” mission, was first reported by Foreign Policy….
FP: Democratic Rep. Gabbard Makes Secret Trip to Syria
read … Gabbard won’t say who funded her controversial Syria trip
Anti-GMO Movement Splits Wide Open—Dustin Barca Denounces ‘Con Artist’ Ashley Lukens
DB: “Hawaii Center for Food Safety is the the Biggest CON ARTISTS I've come across in my life. Using our revolution to to fund their Business . Ashley "Madoff" Lukens has spent 2 million to KILL our Hard earned grass roots Movement.
“Also Trying to turn Everybody Against me for saying something. Crazy what Money does to people's Morals. Not Mine. Ekalamai Ohana O Hawaii . Somebody had to say something. That somebody usually has to be me.” – Dustin Barca
KE: Musings: Roses and Thorns
read … Con Artists
Hawaii Dairy Farms submits unnecessary Final EIS
KE: …Hawaii Dairy Farms has finally submitted its final EIS for the Mahaulepu dairy, which says it will cause no environmental harm. And though Friends of Mahauelepu demanded the document, it has — as expected — summarily denounced it.
This is what happens when you cave in. The antis remain opposed and HDF has hopefully not set an unrealistic precedent by doing an EIS for an agricultural enterprise when it wasn't triggered by the law.
Of course, HDF can afford such exercises because it's bankrolled by Pierre Omidyar's deep pockets via the Ulupono Initiative.
Rabid dairy hater Ronald John, who has written numerous letters to The Garden Island attacking the Mahaulepu proposal and dairies in general, recently claimed that HDF “received a $3.1 million tax write off for the year 2014 alone.”
While I wouldn't put stock in anything John says, it might be interesting for Civil Beat to do a bit of digging into just what sort of tax breaks Omidyar enjoys by funding the utopian ag vision of Ulupono Initiative (as well as his vanity press). Seems a fitting enterprise for a website that claims to be devoted to "in-depth reporting and investigative journalism” — despite never looking critically at the social engineering plans of one of the Islands' wealthiest citizens.
But then, I can understand CB's reluctance to even nibble on, much less bite, the hand that feeds it….
KGI: HDF says document proves dairy will have no significant impact
read … Musings: Roses and Thorns
Technicalities prevent Supreme Court from appointing TMT master
SA: …At first glance, this provision appears perfectly suited to TMT, presently in remand to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) after a procedural violation rendered its initial approval of the project unenforceable.
However, the court remanded the case to BLNR on Dec. 29, 2015. Upon that remand, the court lost jurisdiction over the matter. HB 1581 came into law on Aug. 1, 2016, over seven months after the court lost jurisdiction over the case.
The Hawaii Legislature did not make HB 1581 retroactive to apply to cases considered before its enact- ment. Therefore, even if the court wanted to appoint a master at this time, it could not legally do so.
If the case finds its way back into court, and the court decides to remand it again, it might be possible, at that time, for the court to appoint a master….
read … Master
Weigh in on where to put OCCC
SA: >> Wahiawa Recreation Center, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, preceding a presentation to the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board at its 7 p.m. meeting.
>> Kapolei Hale Building, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, prior to a presentation at the Kapolei/Makakilo Neighborhood Board meeting at 7 p.m.
Also, a presentation will be made Tuesday at the Pearl City Neighborhood Board’s 7 p.m. meeting at Waiau District Park.
Eleven OCCC prospective sites are being explored, including one in Wahiawa and five in Kapolei/Makakilo. For more online, see dps.hawaii.gov/occc-future-plans.
read … Where
North Korean Attack on Hawaii Might Trigger US Response
UPI: …Analysts at Kyungnam University's Far East Research Institute say North Korea's new ICBM is not likely to exceed 3,400 miles. An ICBM that can reach a distance of 4,000-4,300 miles could strike Hawaii, which would trigger a strong U.S. response to North Korea, a scenario even Pyongyang knows would lead to a catastrophic situation for the Kim regime.
If North Korea does choose to launch an ICBM, it is likely to adjust the amount of fuel and engine power to control the missile range, limiting its distance to about 1,200-1,500 miles, according to the report….
read … New North Korea ICBMs captured by intelligence, report says