How to give teachers a pay raise … without raising taxes
Three Days Left: 371 Candidates Register for 437 Neighborhood Board Seats
Maunakea Observatories award Nānākuli and Kapolei students with research time
Transform the Bureaucracy and Achieve Justice for John Sosa
No Joke: UH Pres Lassner to assist search for DoE superintendent
UH Abandons Search for New Manoa Chancellor
Chief Justice Seeks Public Comment on Judicial Nominees
OHA Pays Criminal Tens of Thousands of Dollars for Nothing
HNN: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs paid $70,000 to a former felon at the center of the Hawaiian sovereignty debate for a report he never produced, according to internal agency documents obtained by Hawaii News Now.
Back in 2009, the state agency hired Keanu Sai to produce a book-length study on the history of land tenure in Hawaii.
It was supposed to be completed in a year but Hawaii News Now learned that Sai never turned in a page of that report.
OHA finally wrote off the contract in 2015.
"Six years has (passed) ... with no clear print date in sight, OHA decided to terminate," wrote Lisa Watkins-Victorino, OHA's research director.
Political watchdog and native Hawaiian Ian Lind said OHA should have never hired Sai in the first place.
"I think it's worse than wasted. It's gone to support this false theory of how Hawaii got to be where it is and it's leading his followers in a very dangerous direction," Lind said. "It's the kind of a theory that lends itself to con artists and fraudsters."
Sai lectures on Hawaiian Studies at Windward Community College and is a former high school classmate of OHA CEO Kamanao Crabbe.
But he's also a convicted felon. Seventeen years ago, he was sentenced to five years probation for attempted theft.
His company Perfect Title convinced people to stop making mortgage payments because the illegal overthrow of Hawaii rendered land titles invalid.
"People have lost their homes. People have gone to jail," Lind said….
Despite Sai's failure to produce his first report, OHA CEO Crabbe hired Sai again for $25,000 in 2014….
"The Keanu Sai contracts are the tip of the iceberg. They show that there is a culture of awarding money that isn't being supervised," OHA Trustee Kelii Akina said. …
read … OHA pays $70K to controversial scholar for work he never produced
Hush Money? HTA Calls Waikai’s Bluff
SA: …Wakai said last week that his wife, Miki, quit her position as brand manager for the Japan market for the tourism authority last year after she had pointed out “suspicious” information that she observed at the authority.
“My wife, because of decisions that were being made, wasn’t happy,” said Wakai (D, Kalihi-Salt Lake-Aliamanu). “They made her feel very uncomfortable for pointing out things that were very suspicious, and so she resigned in July of last year.”
Rick Fried, a Honolulu lawyer and chairman of the HTA board, said Tuesday that Wakai’s comments to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser were the first the agency heard of any “suspicious” information or activities at the authority.
“If Sen. Wakai feels these accusations are true, he should produce any evidence he has to back them up, and if so, we’ll take the appropriate action,” Fried said. “I have seen no basis for it, but if there is a basis, I will personally be very upset. On the other hand, if he doesn’t have proof, we believe an apology is in order.”….
Feb 12, 2017: Senator’s Wife Refuses Hush Money
read … Show cards or apologize, tourism official tells Wakai
Corruption: DOBOR Boss Fails in Effort to retaliate Against Hawaii County Prosecutor
HTH: County Prosecutor Mitch Roth was cleared Tuesday of allegations he violated the county ethics code when he testified about perceived corruption in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources during an Oct. 28 Land Board hearing in Honolulu.
The county Board of Ethics voted 3-0, with one member abstaining, to dismiss the charge levied by a state official, based on a lack of probable cause. The complaint was filed by DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation Administrator Ed Underwood.
Underwood said Roth used his position as an elected official to further private interests when he testified during Keauhou Bay charter Capt. William Murtaugh’s request for a contested case hearing after DOBOR refused to renew his commercial boat ramp permit.
“He alleged corruption. He alleged retaliation on the part of me and my staff with no documentation to back up these allegations,” Underwood said. “It was very clear he was testifying as the Hawaii County prosecutor.” ….
Roth said he was acting as a private individual during the hearing, not a county prosecutor. He said he took vacation time and flew to Honolulu at his own expense.
The Ethics Board found Roth had the constitutional right as an individual and the right granted in the county charter as a prosecuting attorney to address the Land Board about his concerns. As far as the Ethics Board is concerned, Roth could have used county time and expenses for the trip.
The county charter states, the county prosecutor may “research, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding crime, crime prevention and the criminal justice system to the governor, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the council, the mayor, the Hawaii Police Department and other criminal justice agencies, or the general public, as the prosecuting attorney deems appropriate.”
read … Corruption
State May Owe $101M to Developer After LUC Steals Land Equity
SA: …The Hawaii Land Use Commission said developers Bridge Aina Lea and DW Aina Lea had failed to meet deadlines for developing mandated affordable housing on the property, and in 2011 changed the South Kohala property’s land use classification from urban back to agricultural.
The unprecedented move by the LUC halted development of the estimated $1 billion project and sparked protracted litigation. At the time, Bridge Aina Lea was selling the property to DW Aina Lea, a Nevada company.
The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled three years later that the LUC shouldn’t have changed the land’s classification, because developers had already invested some $20 million in planning and other preparation.
Bridge Aina Lea had sought $15 million in damages from the state, according to Honolulu attorney Bruce Voss, who represents the company.
The state negotiated the amount down to $1 million. The state Attorney General’s Office has also agreed as part of the settlement to provide a letter of support if Bridge Aina Lea petitions the LUC to reclassify a separate 1,900 acres of surrounding land that it owns from agricultural to rural use, according to a copy of the settlement agreement.
The land reclassification would allow for additional residential development in the area.
The Legislature must approve the settlement, though this likely won’t spell the end of a development debacle that has been closely watched by land use attorneys and state legislators concerned that the state lacks sufficient power and resources to hold developers to their promises.
DW Aina Lea, current owner of the property, is also seeking $100 million in damages from the state, according to Robert Wessels, the company’s CEO….
read … State might have to pay $1 million over zoning
HB1586: Cut counties out of 'room tax' revenues
HNN: …House Bill 1586 would phase out the counties' share of the Transient Accommodations Tax over three years and put in new income tax brackets to address the high cost of living for low- and middle-income earners.
Not surprisingly, the counties strongly opposed the measure.
"Why are we going to burden our local residents when we already are taxing our visitors who utilize our fire, our public safety, our lifeguards and our parks, even our roads for that matter?" said Stacy Crivello, of the Hawaii State Association of Counties.
State Rep. Richard Onishi, chairman of the Committee on Tourism replied: "Because we're taking money out of our income tax pot, we felt it was appropriate to look at the TAT to replenish that money because we provide services that in other state and other jurisdictions are paid through property tax."
Last legislative session, the counties got $103 million of TAT revenues, under a cap set by lawmakers….
Meanwhile on Tuesday, another bill (House Bill 317) that would have changed how TAT revenues are allocated to the counties was gutted. The newly-written proposal would allocate $2 million to the Hawaii Tourism Authority to deal with homelessness in resort areas….
MN: House bill would phase out counties’ share of hotel tax
read … Proposal: Cut counties out of 'room tax' revenues
REIT Tax Bill advances in House
SA: The state House Committee on Housing advanced a bill that would have real estate investment trusts, or REITs, pay Hawaii corporate income taxes on income the companies pass to their shareholders.
The deduction, which exists because the shareholders pay the tax on income they receive from REITs, is part of federal tax rules observed by every state except New Hampshire. Opponents of REIT tax rules say Hawaii is hurt by REITs because relatively few shareholders live in Hawaii while REITs own a lot of valuable property here.
House Bill 1012 awaits a hearing in the House Finance Committee.
read … REIT Tax
Legislators: Acute Care is Too Expensive so Eliminate it
HNN: …Wahiawa General's policy considers everyone from Central Oahu through the North Shore as potential patients, and acute care as a vital service it provides them.
"It might be a medical type issue like an infection. It might be a surgical type need, an appendectomy or a gall bladder removed," interim CEO Doug Degraaf said.
Last year, lawmakers gave Wahiawa General $2 million to help keep its doors open. This year, the facility faces a projected loss of $2 million. They're asking taxpayers to help cover the deficit until they have a long-term financial plan.
Some lawmakers, though, say they're are reluctant to subsidize the hospital if its spending too much on acute care.
"When you have acute care, you have to have so much staffing that it's very difficult to sustain unless you have enough patients," said State Sen. Josh Green. "That's why going towards ER and long term care with some partnerships might be the way to go." ….
SA: Discontinue acute-care services and focus solely on emergency, geriatric and long-term care
read … Some lawmakers want Wahiawa General Hospital to cut acute care services
Legislators: Oldsters are Too Expensive so Eliminate Them
HNN: Senate Bill 1129 would establish a "death with dignity" act under which permanent Hawaii residents who are terminally ill can obtain a prescription for medication to end their life ad save HMSA a lot of money….
opponents say it could lower quality of care and could lead to elder abuse.
Some doctors have argued it violates their Hippocratic Oath, an oath taken at the beginning of their medical practice to uphold certain ethical standards.
One retired long-term palliative care physician submitted testimony urging lawmakers not to pass the bill saying, "while perhaps benefiting the few who would appropriately choose this, has the real potential of harming a greater number of vulnerable individuals."….
The Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee will be hearing the bill Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.
read … Hawaii lawmakers to hear controversial 'death with dignity' bill
Autistic student raped Pearl City classmate TWICE while HSTA Member napped, lawsuit says
SA: An autistic high school student raped a classmate while the adult assigned to monitor him was taking a nap, said a federal lawsuit accusing Hawaii’s statewide school district of negligence.
The autistic student had a full-time one-on-one aide because he was known to be violent, the lawsuit filed Monday said. The aide was asleep when the 2012 attack happened during Pearl City High School band practice, the lawsuit said.
The Associated Press doesn’t typically name victims of sexual assault. The 10th-grade girl was in the back of the band at the percussion section when the larger 11th-grader raped her there and then again in a curtained area of the auditorium.
The aide was sleeping in the audience section of the auditorium, the lawsuit said….
read … About a Sleeping HSTA Member who wants a raise
Homeless to Pick up Litter, Clean Graffiti
KITV: Lawmakers are considering a proposal to provide more employment for the homeless by giving them state jobs.
A bill was approved by the House Labor Committee Tuesday and will continue to advance.
Under a proposed program, the state would provide temporary public service jobs, anything from cleaning up graffiti to picking up litter….
Under the bill, individuals would not be considered state employees. The state is mainly providing temporary employment.
The proposal now moves to the House Labor Committee for further consideration.
read … Lawmakers push to give homeless jobs
SB221: Stop Light Camera Tickets Back Again
KITV: Cameras attached to motion detectors would take pictures of drivers speeding through the intersection. Lawmakers say the fines could range between $200 and $500.
Click here to read SB 221.
Fifteen years ago, a pilot program involving red light cameras was introduced, but fell apart.
read … Its Baaaack
Minimum Wage Hike Clears Hawaii Senate Committee—Deferred in House
CB: the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii said small businesses would struggle to absorb the higher wages and would ultimately pass those costs on to consumers. Hawaii is already an expensive place to do business, in part because it is the only state that makes pre-paid health care coverage mandatory for employees working at least 20 hours a week.
Besides, groups like the chamber argue, a minimum wage is an entry-level wage and not the “livable” wage that groups like the Appleseed Center refer to.
“Should this bill pass, it will seriously harm local businesses, the state economy, job creation and potentially the very employees it is trying to help,” the chamber’s Pono Chong testified….
The House measures did not pass. Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, chair of the House Labor and Public Employment Committee, deferred action on all three….
Senate Bill 107, introduced by Sen. Karl Rhoads, would phase in the increase annually. It would also increase the tip credit amount.
The tip credit figure would remain blank for now as the bill wends its way through the Legislature. It is currently 75 cents per hour….
Tip Credit: How Hawaii Minimum Wage Workers Earn $24.24 per hour
read … $15Hr
HB1282: Laughing Legislators Run Anti-GMO Morons thru Maze (again)
CB: A week ago, two legislative committees approved a slew of bills aimed at banning certain pesticides, funding studies and requiring large agricultural companies to disclose when and where they apply the chemicals.
But activists pushing for more regulation of large farms aren’t celebrating yet. Some lawmakers on other committees aren’t planning to call hearings for the bills, or say that they haven’t made up their minds. Others won’t answer questions about the measures….
House and Senate committees dealing with the environment and higher education have scheduled hearings on Wednesday and Thursday for proposals dealing with buffer zones and funding for pesticide studies….
The Senate environmental committee approved several proposals, including three bills to fund additional data collection and monitoring and to add a medical expert to the state’s pesticide advisory committee.
Those measures are now in the hands of Sen. Jill Tokuda, who infuriated activists two years ago by refusing to call a hearing on buffer zone legislation.
The money committee chairwoman said Tuesday through a spokeswoman that she has not yet decided whether she will call hearings for the measures, Senate Bill 778, Senate Bill 779 and Senate Bill 804.
Meanwhile in the House, Speaker Joseph Souki referred two measures related to mandatory pesticide disclosure and banning glyphosate to an extra committee this week. That means the committee chairmen — Reps. Angus McKelvey and Ryan Yamane — must call hearings for the proposals by Friday for them to stay alive….
McKelvey said he’s not planning to call a hearing for any of the three pesticide-related bills referred to his committee on consumer protection. They propose a ban on chlorpyrifos and a call for a change in the membership of the pesticide advisory committee.
The representative said he was told by Souki that the measure sent to Yamane, House Bill 1282, is the “vehicle” for pesticide-related proposals in the House, which means it’s the preferred measure for approval….
read … Mental Illness Legislative Therapy
Anti-Aquarium Obsessives Pin Hopes on Two Bills and a Lawsuit
HP: House Bill 1457 and Senate Bill 1240 must each pass two committee hearings and then cross over for two more hearings in the other chamber to have a chance of becoming law to protect reef habitat and species. If one of the bills makes it through both the House and the Senate, the governor could sign it into law. HB 1457 passed its first hearing in the Ocean Management and Hawaiian Affairs (OMH) Committee recently. The Senate Water & Land Committee will hear SB 1240 Wednesday….
Aquarium trade extraction may end on Hawaii reefs this year as advocates mount a multi-flank approach. Two bills in the State Legislature would end aquarium permits here this year and freeze existing permits pending a comprehensive, sustainable management plan from the State with language to protect Hawaii reefs from commercial aquarium collectors.
The Hawaii Supreme Court will also hear arguments on litigation against the State on March 30. That case is meant to require the State to follow its environmental review process prior to issuing aquarium permits….
Dr. Ruth Gates is a research professor at Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and widely recognized as Hawaii’s leading coral reef expert. She said, “Hawaii doesn’t need an aquarium trade.” (And the anti-aquarium obsessives are experts on the unneeded, for sure….)
read … Lunacy and Hysteria
Will Latest Round of AP Lies Sink Hawaii Fishing Fleet?
AP: Hawaii lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday calling for more oversight of the commercial fishing industry after an Associated Press investigation found hundreds of foreign fishermen confined to boats and some living in subpar conditions.
The bill would require fishing boat owners who want a commercial license in Hawaii to provide state officials with a copy of employment contracts held with every fisherman on board before the license is granted.
Without those contracts, there’s no way for state officials to check whether fishermen are getting what they were promised or if an investigation should be launched about possible human trafficking, said Rep. Kaniela Ing, who introduced the proposal.
Reality: Anti-Fishing Lies Exposed: Attorney General Releases Point by Point Debunk of Kaniela Ing
read … Media Hype
Batteries undercut benefits of rooftop solar, says new study
GT: …The paper, “The impacts of storing solar energy in the home to reduce reliance on the utility,” by Robert Fares and Michael Webber, argues that residential storage can increase power consumption and undercut the environmental benefits of rooftop solar.
The study addresses a business model that has become increasingly invoked as a remedy to the reduction or elimination of net metering benefits….
B: Energy Efficiency Devices Spy on Workers
read … Residential storage can undercut benefits of rooftop solar, says new study
$10,000 Fake News -- HECO Style
IM: HECO proclaimed: “Your Utility Bill Can Save You $10,000 On A Nissan LEAF®! SHOW your bill, SAVE money, and never use gasoline again! As part of our efforts to accelerate clean transportation alternatives in Hawaii, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are partnering with Nissan North America to offer our customers a special rebate on the Nissan LEAF electric vehicle.
Simply show your Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric or Hawaii Electric Light utility bill and this flyer at your participating Nissan dealership to receive a $10,000 rebate (off MSRP) on a model year 2016 or 2017 Nissan LEAF sedan! This limited time offer expires 3/31/2017 or while supplies last, and cannot be combined with any other Nissan special lease, APRs or rebates.”
Several readers emailed this blog to say that the deal has nothing to do with HECO.
The Consumer Advocate also wanted clarity. So, they asked an Information Request in the Hawai'i Electric Light Company (HELCO) rate case.
“Please explain the financial terms of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ program to Jointly sponsor and promote $10,000 rebates for the purchase of Nissan Leaf vehicles, quantifying any labor or non-labor costs associated with this program that have been recorded by each utility or are included in HELCO’s asserted revenue requirement.”
HELCO responded late Friday afternoon. “The $10,000 rebates for the purchase of Nissan Leaf vehicles are paid for by Nissan North America as part of an electric utility program offered to select utilities. There are no financial contributions from the Hawaiian Electric Companies for this rebate. There are no further financial terms between Nissan North America and the Hawaiian Electric Companies
read … Fake News -- HECO Style -- Catches Media Off-Guard
HB793: Force Everybody to Install Electric Car Chargers
HNN: Lawmakers are pushing to establish fines for parking facility owners who don't provide electrical vehicle charging stations.
HB 793 mandates places of public accommodation like hotels, health care facilities and restaurants to have at least one EV parking space per 100 lots.
read … Force Everybody
SB1121: Force Everybody to Use Solar Water Heaters
SA: Senate Bill 1121 aims to close the loophole with an amendment that would limit variances to cases in which solar water heating is “impracticable and cost-prohibitive, and if no renewable energy technology system can be substituted as the primary energy source for heating water.” It also clarifies that a variance would be granted only when the applicant will also be the resident-owner of the home. So, a gas-fueled heater would be installed as a last resort. And each application must be based on the prospective resident’s circumstances — rather than those of the builder.
read … Forced
Denied: Feds Fail Again in Kona Water Grab
WHT: After hours of testimony before a packed hearing room at the West Hawaii Civic Center, the state Commission on Water Resource Management Tuesday denied the National Park Service’s petition to declare the Keauhou Aquifer system a state ground water management area.
The decision puts an end to a multi-year effort by the Park Service to get stricter controls in place for groundwater usage in the aquifer system, which covers a region from Makalawena Beach to north of Kealakekua Bay and includes Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park….
read … Aquifer petition denied
Feds Sue: Homosexual Harassment of Male Employees
HNN: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday sued three Hawaii tour companies, alleging a decade-long pattern of sexual harassment against male employees by its president.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, alleges that Leo Malagon, president of Discovering Hidden Hawaii Tours Inc., Hawaii Tours and Transportation Inc. and Big Kahuna Luau Inc., consistently harassed young men who were recruited to work for his companies.
The harassment "included inviting males to join in sex parties with him, showing them pornographic videos and photos, requiring them to show him their private parts in order to be considered for employment,” the EEOC said.
read … Tour company president sexually harassed men for years, lawsuit claims