Hawaii public employee benefits rise 5 times faster than private sector
UHERO: The Exorbitant Cost of Collecting Honolulu’s Rail Surcharge Tax
Hawaii GE Tax Bites into 99.21% of personal income
OHA Board Sets Audit Vote
OHA: Akana Ousted, New Chair to be Elected at Next Board Meeting
Choke or Head Fake? Ige Doesn’t Appoint Campaign Chair to ICA
Mixture of Pro and Anti-Gun Bills Introduced in the Hawaii Legislature
Hawaii Did Not Issue Any Gun-Carry Permits to Private Citizens in 2016
Hawaii Bill Would Legalize Recreational Marijuana, Nullify Federal Prohibition in Practice
Deadline to Apply for State Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions Extended
Basing decisions on evidence, not politics
HB1595: Urine Free Zones
Telescope Cuts off Funds to OHA
HTH: …TMT International Observatory’s sublease payments are on hold following a court order requiring a contested case for the agreement with the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
TIO spokesman Scott Ishikawa said TIO and UH-Hilo have agreed to “defer” the payments following the ruling in Hilo Circuit Court in December. The state attorney general’s office has said it will appeal the decision.
The sublease for 6 acres on Mauna Kea went into effect in mid-2014, requiring a $300,000 annual payment for the first three years, with periodic increases that would top out at $1.08 million after a decade.
Judge Greg Nakamura ruled Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner E. Kalani Flores should have been granted a contested case hearing for the sublease agreement. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources denied his request since staff believed they aren’t required for administrative actions.
TIO was making payments twice a year. A $150,000 payment was due Jan. 31.
Eighty percent of the funds go to the Office of Mauna Kea Management.
The other 20 percent is supposed to go to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, (Idea: Don’t pay your enemy.) but the agency’s share of the state land revenue is currently capped at $15.1 million a year. Ishikawa said $1 million annual payments the organization makes to Hawaii Island educational programs are continuing.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering legislation (HB 1411 and SB 1232) to prohibit contested case hearings from applying to leases or subleases….
read … Land sublease payments for TMT deferred
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa has registered as a Democrat
MW: ….The long time local political figure began his career in elected office as a Republican member of the County Council in an earlier era when candidates declared a party affiliation. In 1994, Arakawa made his first run for public office and was elected to the Maui County Council. He was re-elected in 1996 and 2000.
Arakawa then ran for the non-partisan post of Mayor. According to his official biography posted on the county website, “Mayor Alan M. Arakawa served as Maui County Mayor from 2002 to 2006 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014, making him the first Maui Mayor to serve consecutive terms since Linda Lingle won re-election in 1994.”
Arakawa is now completing his third (and final) four-year term as Maui mayor, with two years remaining. Due to term limits, he can not run for that post again.
It is widely rumored that Arakawa, now a lame duck on Maui, is considering a bid for governor in the upcoming 2018 primary. His new Democratic affiliation will clear the way for a primary contest between incumbent Governor David Ige and potential candidate Arakawa–as well as any other Democratic candidates who may decide to run in that race….
read … Democrat
Hawaii Democrats Hope President Donald J Trump Appoints Gabbard to Something, Anything
Cataluna: …Hawaii politicians sitting in little offices surrounded by the plaques and paper certificates of low-level awards dream of catapulting their way to Congress to take Gabbard’s place. They watch her so carefully to see if there is any sign that she’s moving on.
Ever since Gabbard was summoned to Trump’s throne for an early tete-a tete as he was assembling his Cabinet, the pack here at home has been waiting to see whether Gabbard sufficiently hit it off with the mercurial new president to be called up to join his team. Waiting and hoping. And planning, just in case….
Gabbard is a major influence in Hawaii’s legislative session even though she’s nowhere near the Capitol and is more focused on the Middle East than on Middle Street. The more you see a politician on TV, the more likely they’re preening for a shot at Gabbard’s seat.
Unstated in public but undeniably palpable is the resentment Gabbard’s onetime colleagues here at home feel for her stunningly fast rise from Honolulu City Council obscurity to national media darling. Gabbard parlayed one term in the Legislature and half a term on the City Council into a seat in Congress. She cut short her apprenticeship by grabbing the gold ring early in her career while people like the late Mark Takai and Colleen Hanabusa had to put in time at hundreds of union picnics, cafeteria dedications and dreary public meetings….
While she’s critiquing foreign policy on Fox news, her Hawaii colleagues in D.C. are trying to get the federal government to cough up enough money to keep the rail going and to keep jobs at Pearl Harbor. When Ed Case served in that same congressional seat, he held something like 172 “talk story” meetings with constituents all across Hawaii, which got a fraction of the attention Tulsi Gabbard got for one meeting with a Syrian war criminal said to be responsible for 500,000 deaths.
Maybe Gabbard’s ambition will soon be rewarded and she will move to even bigger and more glamorous things. Then perhaps Hawaii can have a representative who will use that office to advance Hawaii, though judging by the level of immodest ambition radiating from all the Tulsi wannabes, there’s not much “service over self” out there.
read … Wannabes can’t match Gabbard’s star power
Fake Issue: Shipyard at Pearl Harbor not part of feds’ hiring freeze
SA: Public Navy shipyards, including the Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard, will be exempt from President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze.
The Department of Defense clarification comes in response to calls from sthe senators to establish the exemption.
The freeze announced last week prevented shipyards across the country from hiring engineers, acquisition workforce personnel, trade mechanics, radiological and emergency personnel, regulatory compliance and other support workers.
Trump’s office said the freeze will slow the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce….
(The balance of the article consists of statements by Schatz and Hirono taking credit for this, LOL!)
DoD: Department of Defense Announces Guidance on Implementation of Civilian Workforce Hiring Freeze
read … Shipyard at Pearl Harbor skirts feds’ hiring freeze
Hawaii AG finally gets around to suing Trump over immigration ban
SA: “We did so for one simple reason: everyone in the United States, including the president, must follow the law and follow the Constitution,” said Chin. “The executive order that President Trump issued last Friday keeps Hawaii families apart, it blocks Hawaii residents from traveling, it harms Hawaii’s tourism industry, it establishes a religion in Hawaii (Other than Environmentalism?) in violation of the Constitution, it blocks Hawaii businesses and universities from hiring as they see fit. Most importantly, it degrades the values that Hawaii has worked so hard to protect.” (IQ Test: Which of these are winning constitutional law arguments?)
The lawsuit was filed this morning in Hawaii federal court. (Translation: Lotta Liberal judges here. They’ll rubber-stamp this. Bonus: Trump’s DoJ is still infested with Obamabots. There’s nobody loyal yet appointed to argue his side in court.)
Trump’s order banned immigration for 90 days from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. The admission of Syrian refugees was indefinitely suspended, while the admission of all other refugees was suspended for 120 days.
(It would have been so much easier if AG Chin had just used the text from his outraged news release and lawsuit in response to Obama’s 2011 ban on Iraqis. Here is the full text of the 2011 news release: “ “ and the Lawsuit: “ “. See how easy that was?)
read … Hawaii sues Trump over immigration ban
Hawaii: President Donald J Trump becomes excuse for Letting Nurses do Abortions
RW: Hawaii is among 38 states where licensed doctors are the only medical professionals legally allowed to perform abortions, but an Aloha State Democrat aims to change that.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads permits registered nurses with an “advanced practice” designation to perform aspiration abortion care, the most common first-trimester procedure.
The legislation could be a boon to abortion access (numbers) in Hawaii, a state with 1,430 licensed advanced-practice registered nurses….
read … Hawaii Democrat ‘Pushing Back’ Against Trump by Bolstering Abortion Access
Chemophobia: Nature Challenges Anti-Sunscreen Coral Damage Claims
N: …Espero’s bill draws largely upon research done by US scientists led by Craig Downs, executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Clifford, Virginia. In 2016, his team reported that oxybenzone and octinoxate could stunt the growth of baby corals, and that oxybenzone was toxic to seven coral species in lab tests1.
A 2008 study from a different group had found that oxybenzone is likely to cause coral bleaching both in the lab and in the wild in several tropical regions2. Other studies have suggested that oxybenzone also acts as an endocrine disruptor among marine creatures such as shrimps and clams3.
In ongoing follow-up work – which has not yet been published – Downs’ team detected oxybenzone contamination of up to 4,000 parts per trillion (ppt) in the waters off the most popular beaches of the Hawaiian island of Maui. An oxybenzone concentration of around 400 ppt over several days is enough to induce coral bleaching in warm waters, they say. The team suggests that when people snorkel or swim, sunscreen washes off their skin and out into the reefs.
“In many geographic locations, oxybenzone and sunscreen pollution poses a serious environmental hazard,” says Downs.
But other reef scientists are more circumspect about the role of sun-screen chemicals in coral-reef destruction. Many factors damage coral reefs, says Jörg Wiedenmann, head of the Coral Reef Laboratory at the University of Southampton, UK, but he agrees that sunscreen pollution might be detrimental in areas with lots of tourists.
“Banning sunscreen will not solve other problems: for example, temperature anomalies, overfishing, coral predators and the big issue of coastal runoffs that pollute and destroy reefs," he says. “But if you have places with a high load of tourists going in, it is not unreasonable to stay cautious and say, ‘Yes, there may be additive effects.” …
But sunscreen manufacturers such as L’Oréal disagree that a ban is needed. “Regulatory decisions have to be made on sound scientific evidence and multiple studies,” says Marc Leonard, head of L’Oréal’s Research & Innovation, Environmental Research department in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France. “They have to be completed by different teams to provide a significant bundle of evidence. We are very far from it in this case.” Despite this, says Leonard, L’Oréal are working on making sunscreen products without oxybenzone, in anticipation of a possible ban.
L’Oréal has not itself reported any tests on the effects of oxybenzone or octinoxate on coral reefs. In June 2016, the manufacturer presented work done with researchers at the Scientific Centre of Monaco, on a different UV filter chemical in its sunscreen, called avobenzone. The scientists reported an adverse effect on corals at the high concentrations of 5 milligrams per litre (5 parts per million) – but that has little relevance to normal levels of exposure.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a national trade association for manufacturers based in Washington DC, says that it will oppose a ban until there is more evidence. “We sympathize with the desire to preserve Hawaii’s coral reef, but there is no scientific evidence that under naturally occurring conditions, sunscreen ingredients are contributing to coral-reef declines,” says a spokeswoman for the group….
read … Hysteria Questioned
Judge: Blacked-Out Health Department Reports Are Worthless
CB: The state is violating public records law by blacking out too much information from nursing home inspection reports….
Background: DOH fights lawsuit on their non-posting of inspection reports even as two bills in the Legislature again fund the posting
read … Worthless
Acting Chief Outmaneuvered: Chief’s severance paid out of police payroll funds last week
SA: A $250,000 severance check was delivered to Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his attorneys sometime in the last week, as stipulated in Kealoha’s retirement agreement with the Police Commission, Commission Chairman Max Sword told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday.
The money came from the Honolulu Police Department’s payroll budget, Max Sword said. The Jan. 18 agreement stipulated that the payment was to be made within 15 days, which would have been Thursday. Sword said he believes “the check was cut” Jan. 27 but added he did not know when it was delivered to the downtown office of Kevin Sumida, one of Kealoha’s attorneys.
The payment was not mentioned during a commission meeting Wednesday, although HPD Acting Chief Cary Okimoto and Deputy Chief William Axt raised concerns that the money is being taken from funding sources already dedicated to department operations….
The two men said they thought the City Council needed to approve the budget transfer, and added that they were considering asking the Council to reimburse the lost funds.
In response to their concerns, Sword said the commission’s authority to make expenditures tied to any settlement involving the police chief derives from the fact that it’s the commission’s duty to hire and fire the chief….
Earlier Thursday, prior to learning that the payment had been made, Martin wrote a letter to Okimoto urging him to deny the payment if he felt strongly against making it. (Airhead alert: Ernie Martin is involved.)
Okimoto declined to comment Thursday. He and other HPD officials said earlier in the week that department personnel had not processed any payments tied to the settlement….
read … $250,000 you will never see again
Go West, Young Bum: Sit-Lie expansion into Iwilei, Kapalama
HNN: Over at N.T. Automotive, not much has changed since Hawaii News Now stopped by last November.
Inside, owner Todd Nita is hard at work while the sidewalk in front of his shop remains clogged with tents. Video taken by Hawaii News Now crews on Thursday appeared nearly identical to what our cameras captured three months ago.
This morning, though, Nita and other area business got some unexpected news; a call from councilman Joey Manahan's office, alerting him that a Sit-Lie proposal for his neighborhood is finally moving forward.
"It's a little sign of relief. At least now maybe something is going to be done," said Nita.
Getting to this point hasn't been easy. In 2015, Mayor Kirk Caldwell vetoed a bill that would expand the city's Sit-Lie law into parts of Iwilei and Kapalama….
SA: Workforce pot use rises slightly, to 2.6%, a report finds
read … Mayor backs Sit-Lie expansion into Iwilei, Kapalama
EIS Approved for Dante Carpenter’s Garbage-to-Money Plant
WHT: The Hawaii County Planning Department has given its stamp of approval on a waste-to-energy plant in Waikoloa that could reduce the garbage headed to the landfills while providing natural gas for Kohala coastal resorts.
The Planning Department found no significant environmental impact from the proposed facility that will be built with private equity. The Jan. 27 finding is scheduled to be published Wednesday in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s Environmental Notice.
“The County of Hawaii Planning Department has reviewed the comments received during the 30-day comment period on the draft environmental assessment,” said Planning Director Michael Yee in a letter to the state. “We have determined that the project will not have significant environmental effects.”
BioEnergy Hawaii LLC plans to lease just under 15 acres at the West Hawaii Concrete Quarry to build a waste separation and anaerobic digestion facility that will produce methane and other gases, with byproducts to include soil amendments and fertilizer. A smaller, closed thermal gasification unit will generate electricity, under the plan.
The methane will power garbage trucks currently run by Pacific Waste Inc., a sister company (Dante Carpenter, member of Board). Pacific Waste currently hauls about 80 percent of the commercial waste on the west side of the Big Island.
“We’re going to build a state of the art facility, and we know what we’re doing,” Guy Kaniho, BioEnergy Hawaii general manager, said Thursday. “We know when we pick up the trash, we’ll be able to process it.”
PDF: The full 248-page report: http://bit.ly/2jDGdJg
Flashback: Enough for 35 Pro Bowls: Abercrombie’s $140M gift to Dante Carpenter
read … Political Connections Pay Off
Dole Street: Manoa Neighborhood Board Tells SJWs to Get Lost
HNN: …The University of Hawaii Graduate Student Organization had proposed a resolution to the Manoa Neighborhood Board to change it back to its original name, Kapa‘akea Street, which graduate student Kepoo Keliipaakaua recently found on an 1882 survey map of Manoa. But the neighborhood board decided not to support the name change due to significant community opposition.
The street was re-named to Dole Street in the 1950s to honor former territorial governor Sanford Dole and his family….
read … Dole Street