County workers in Hawaii make highest wages in the nation
Call for a Forensic Audit at OHA
Robert Lindsey: OHA Trustees Must “Walk on Water, Be Holier Than Thou”
Trump Immigration: UH Administrators Pander Relentlessly
VIDEO: UH Manoa Chancellor Candidates Public Forum
New Tourism Record for 2016 -- 8.9 Million Arrivals
High-Speed Internet: Hawaii Schools #1 in USA
2016 National Citizen Survey for the City and County of Honolulu
Former Hawaii GOP Chair Joins National Rifle Association Board
‘Natural’ Toxins for your Baby: ‘Homeopathic’ Profiteers Refuse Recall Order
HSTA: Amend State Constitution to give us Half-Billion-Dollar Slush Fund
SA: It’s a flawed proposal. By cementing the fund in the Constitution, the amendment would hinder the Legislature’s basic duty to made timely decisions about public spending, including for public schools. It also could set a precedent, prompting other unions or organizations to seek a similar protected funding source….
Last week, Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the House Education Committee…suggested that creating a permanent funding source by amending the Constitution could “flip collective bargaining on its head,” allowing one public worker union to have a vaguely defined special pot of funds from which it could negotiate for pay raises….
Another question: Would the creation of this pot of funds for education touch off a clamor among other public worker unions to seek constitutional amendments to establish their own special funds? That would further remove the Legislature from its checks-and-balances role in establishing annual budget and spending priorities.
There’s also the question of whether the tax is economically sound. Critics say the additional tax on residential investment properties would make rental units in Hawaii, already scarce and expensive, even more so….
If approved, the surcharge would tap visitors and residential investment properties — homes or condominiums that do not serve as a primary residence — for an estimated $500 million per year, according to the HSTA….
HSTA’s proposal includes Senate Bill 683 and Senate Bill 686. The first proposes amendments to the Constitution to give the Legislature the power to establish the surcharge, and the other would establish the surcharge and a special fund for the collected funds. An amendment is needed because the Constitution exclusively authorizes the counties to levy property taxes.
This is not the first time HSTA has sought a dedicated source of funding. Last year, the union failed to convince the Legislature to raise the general excise tax for the same purpose.
read … Don’t create fund using state Constitution
Getting The Chronic Homeless Into Housing
CB: A new push is underway to target the homeless people who are the hardest to convince that there’s a better life to be had….
Many of the Diamond Head homeless are alcoholics or users of heroin or crystal meth.
Terry Richardson, a man I spoke with on Diamond Head on Thursday, fits the “chronic homeless” description. IHS outreach specialist Wendy Taylor was interviewing Richardson when I joined in the conversation.
Richardson told us he’s been living in a tent on the slopes of the crater for seven years. He says he’s struggling to overcome a crystal meth addiction and has episodes of paranoia.
He says he intends to keep camping on Diamond Head because “I don’t get hassled here. People don’t bother me.”
Richardson says about all that concerns him are the large, brown centipedes that sometimes crawl near his bedding.
But he seemed interested when he heard there were other housing options available to him besides moving into one of the emergency shelters which, he’s heard are dirty and have bed bugs.
Morishige says encounters with outreach workers have to be continuous and heartfelt for a worker to be able to persuade the chronically homeless they will be better off living under a roof.
State Sen. Josh Green has introduced a bill this session that would call for spending $1.4 million to bring back mobile medical vans to help the homeless.
But Morishige says that’s not necessary because the state is already providing medical care to the homeless with its new and more intensive homeless outreach effort….
read … Chronics
Rep Kaniela Ing is a Liar
MN: Alternative facts seem to be the soup de jour not only at the national level but also right here on Maui. And here’s a prime example:
After insisting the police were wrong and that he was just sitting in his car outside his Kihei residence and not driving it illegally on South Kihei Road when he was arrested last July, our newly re-elected South Maui state Representative, Kaniela Ing, now concedes the officer who arrested him was correct — he was in fact driving the car (The Maui News, Jan. 26). This comes months after his arrest and after getting his court appearance postponed until after the August primary election, then again until after the November general election, and then again until after the swearing-in at the opening of the legislative session on Oahu on Jan. 18. Now all of a sudden, Ing says in court on Jan. 25, “I was mistaken.” Not, you’ll notice, “I lied.” ….
read … LIAR
Hawaii one of only Six States for which Amazon Does not Collect Taxes
TJB: …On Jan. 1, the company began collecting tax in Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Utah. Starting Wednesday, the company will begin collecting sales tax in Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont, and on March 1 it will do the same in Wyoming.
Five states don’t levy state-level sales taxes, so this means there are only six states left where Amazon will still refuse to collect the taxes owed by its customers: Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, New Mexico, and Oklahoma….
read … And Then There Were Six
Lawmakers aim to hold homeowner associations accountable for lost, stolen money
KHON: HB 381 Condominium Disputes; Commission; Ombudsman; Fee ($)
Creates the Condominium Dispute Resolution Commission to address disputes between a condominium owner and condominium association. Establishes a Commission Ombudsman. Allows the Commission to assess fees to pay for the Commission Ombudsman. (Companion: SB 165)
HB 382 Condominiums; Board Members; Fiduciary Duties
Requires board members of condominium associations to disclose significant financial interests prior to taking action that affects both the association and a third-party provider. Prohibits board members from receiving gifts from those types of third party providers. Expands the powers of the real estate commission to enforce violations by board members of disclosure requirements and gift prohibitions. (Companion: SB 639)
HB 1312 Condominiums; Associations; Boards; Mediation; Licensing; Educational Requirements
Establishes open voting and educational requirements for condominium association and board members. Requires courts to issue a judgment against a party refusing to participate in the mediation process. Requires certain employees of a managing agent to be licensed in accordance with requirements established by the real estate commission. (Companion: SB 1316)
read … Condo Associations
Waihee Golf Course Tries to Shut Down Public Access to Hawaiian Kingdom Trail
KHON: …The Royal Hawaiian Golf Club is next to the trail. The club’s landowner could have its city permit terminated, if it doesn’t take action to improve the trail. The landowner is now fighting back.
The Maunawili trail head near the Royal Hawaiian Golf course has been the subject of debate for years, with resident Christine Nakamatsu saying inconsiderate hikers have been wreaking havoc in the Maunawili community. “Our community loves hiking, we are not against hiking trails, we are against trails that are done improperly and are ruining our Aina”
This caused the city to compel HRT Realty to provide parking and bathroom facilities, or risk losing their permit all together, meaning the golf course could close. A month after the city’s orders, HRT Realty’s lawyers have responded saying these extreme threats are arbitrary and an abuse of power.
In the appeal the company’s attorneys say the order ignores the root of the problem, and unfairly attempts to shift responsibility to HRT, adding the city should have listened to the community’s request to close the trail….
read … Shut Down Trail
With vacancy at the top, high-level promotions at HPD raise eyebrows
HNN: The Honolulu Police Department has promoted two assistant chiefs, despite the vacancy at the top of the embattled agency.
There are only six assistant chiefs at HPD and they are hand-picked by a panel that includes the chief of police and his deputies.
With an acting chief in place after Police Chief Louis Kealoha's retirement amid a corruption scandal, critics say HPD should have delayed filling those two spots until a new chief is in place.
"Maybe promotions from the rank of captain on up, maybe that's something they should hold off on until the new chief is appointed," said Tenari Maafala, police union president. Maafala said the new chief should be allowed to choose their own command staff and the direction the department should go.
But HPD says the promotion process for the assistant chief started before Kealoha's retirement and that leaving holes in the command staff indefinitely could hurt administrative operations.
The new assistant chiefs are Clyde Ho, who took over as the head of the regional patrol districts, which includes everything outside of Honolulu and Waikiki.
The other assistant chief, Richard Robinson, is now in charge of the Investigative Bureau, which includes detectives working criminal investigations, traffic, and narcotics units.
The promotions took effect Sunday.
Meanwhile, outgoing Kealoha's last day is March 1….
News Release: Fifty-five Honolulu police officers and civilian employees are moving up the ranks
read … Vacancy
Correctional center designed for 127 has 174 inmates
KGI: There are 174 inmates at KCCC — 138 men and 36 women. They are housed in three buildings, each with its own level of security.
Inmates are either waiting for court proceedings or are serving a two-year sentence. Sometimes, a person will be transported back to KCCC when they have two years left on their sentence, Lindsey said.
KCCC is designated as a medium, minimum and community custody facility, which is the lower end of the security spectrum.
When a person is taken to KCCC, they are considered to be a medium-security inmate, and after they are arraigned, they are lowered to minimum and community security.
But if they stay at the medium-security level, they be taken to Oahu, Lindsey said.
A new inmate is housed in Module B, which was added in the 1980s. If an inmate proves they can behave themselves, they are moved to less-secure areas….
read … Correctional center designed for 127 has 174 inmates
Change Orders, Cost Overruns picked up in Billy Kenoi’s Last two years
HTH: Riding a wave of new construction, charges added to county contracts to correct errors, account for unforeseen circumstances and expand the scope of work without going back out to bid nearly doubled in the past two years compared to the two years before.
A West Hawaii Today analysis of 96 biweekly change order reports between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2016 — former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s second term — found that 119 change orders totaling more than $17.9 million were added to county projects after they had already been awarded by competitive bidding.
Kenoi’s six-year capital improvement budget unveiled in 2013 listed 85 projects worth $231.9 million.
It wasn’t possible to compare Kenoi’s change order track record with that of former and current Mayor Harry Kim, because the County Council did not require the reports until 2011….
Some of the extra costs came from contractors rushing projects to meet deadlines. Some were due to unforeseen conditions or events, such as termites, lava tubes, lava flows, archaeological sites and the like. And some were simple errors.
In one case, $30,000 was added to a tree removal contract because the banyan in question wasn’t measured correctly when the contract was signed. In another, the contract didn’t specify that the old roof needed to be removed prior to a new roof installed at the old Kohala courthouse….
A 2013 report “Auditing construction contract change orders,” by Tony Ollmann, director of Chicago-based accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, calls it a “red flag” when change orders exceed 10 percent….
read … Haste makes waste: Pace of projects, overruns picked up over past two years
Two Iraqi Refugees Slated to Come to Hawaii
HNN: …According to the Pacific Gateway Center Resettlement Program, two people from Iraq are awaiting entry to Hawaii….
read … Coming to Hawaii