Murthy: Rail Will Make Voters Approve Tax Hikes
SA: I’ve already made some changes in our procurement and claims division, consolidating into one department some of the tasks that were scattered throughout the organization. I have recruited a new CFO and regrouped all financial functions in the organization under his leadership, and I’m looking to do something similar in our construction management and oversight areas….
Containing costs and keeping scheduling on a construction project of this size and scope is challenging….
Q: Is anything going surprisingly smoothly?
We do have far too much turnover in some key positions, and that has likely led to some poor decisions being made over time.….
Plan A (Is Caldwell’s tax hike. Yes, I did get the memo so I won’t be talking about how we can build rail without a tax hike anymore.)
Plan B would have us build what we can with the money we expect to have without any increase. That’s a much poorer choice and we would try to stretch the funds we have to try to get the end the guideway to downtown, but we would delete all stations in Kalihi and Chinatown, in Kakaako and at Ala Moana. The Pearl Highlands Transit Center would also be deleted….
There is also a good possibility that FTA might seek either reduction in their grant participation level or demand, or a complete withdrawal of their participation from the project. (Yes. I did get the memo so I am threatening a cut off of funds just like Caldwell does.)
This past November, in the general election, the voters of Los Angeles County overwhelmingly approved their tax extension, demanding transit expansions and highway improvements. Today Los Angeles is the center of many multimodal transit systems all of which will be interconnected.
That is exactly the picture I see here in Honolulu. I see the system ultimately expanded on both the east and west sides of this 20-mile system…
Before He Got the Memo: Murthy: I Can Complete Elevated Rail Without Tax Hike
read … Getting Honolulu’s rail project back on track
Con-Con Needed to Save County Home Rule from HSTA Property Tax
KGI: …It is appalling to know that during this legislative session, state lawmakers have supported a measure that would take away the counties’ share of the hotel tax revenue, also known as the transient accommodations tax, or TAT.
That flawed bill was House Bill 1586, which died after strong opposition from county officials. The measure was beyond disappointing and was an insult to our long-standing efforts to increase the TAT share.
What makes this more frustrating is that some Maui County representatives introduced and supported this unfair bill. Their actions sent us a compelling and clear message: We don’t care if your real property taxes are raised.
The counties’ TAT share continues to be in limbo, with proposals ranging from increasing the counties’ cap to $108 million, and even cutting the share to $93 million.
This rollercoaster ride is disappointing, and still a far cry from the $150 million the counties deserve. Remember, the TAT was established to offset the cost of core county services (police, fire, parks) provided to visitors, but the reality is that most of the rising costs now fall on the backs of residents.
With all these challenges, it may be time for voters to approve a constitutional convention. Hawaii has not held one since 1978. At the time, it recognized the need for the counties to have more home rule. Real property taxes were established to be exclusively for county government use and it remains the only mechanism where counties have the sole authority to generate revenue.
This authority is now being threatened. Senate Bill 683 proposes a constitutional amendment to allow the state to add a surcharge on county real property tax to help fund education programs. This is not to be confused with the surcharge on the state general excise tax that Honolulu receives for the rail project….
HTH: Legislators pitch ways to increase teacher pay
read … Constitutional Convention
Star-Adv: We Like Legislators’ Latest Tax Credit Scam—Eliminate Gasoline
SA: Two years ago, amid emerging climate change threats to island communities — spurred on by burning fossil fuels — Hawaii became the first state to put in place a law that sets a trajectory for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045 (and the tax credits that go with it).
We now need a trackable goal for reaching 100 percent renewable ground transportation fuel as well as a plan that aims to hold us accountable for marking progress (and a bunch of tax credits). House Bill 1580 sets a state target that’s 28 years down the road, pairing it with the electricity sector’s ongoing effort to shed our ranking as the most oil-dependent state in the nation.
(Rich political insiders always gotta get credits.)
read … More Tax Credit Scams
Internet Sales Tax: ‘The State is always trying to get more of our money’
HTH: …Jeff Butterfield called the new tax “irritating” and speculated the “state is always looking for more ways to get money.”
Brittany Lockaby, who said she has been considering an Amazon Prime membership (which grants unlimited free shipping after paying a yearly fee), said she’d have to think about it some more.
“It’s not huge but it still makes a difference, especially on big items,” Lockaby said. “That would definitely make it less cost effective for sure.”
Kainoa Lee said he thinks Amazon should counter the tax by adding new deals for Hawaii shoppers as incentives to continue using the website.
“The cost of living is already high and you’re just adding to an already high cost of living,” Lee said. “I think I’d still use it, they have some great stuff. But anytime you add to the price, you’re going to effect the consumer. It’s going to be a negative thing in general.”…
read … Internet Sales Tax
Shakedown: Homeless Sent to Occupy Coco Palms Site, Demand Payoff
KGI: …Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said a group of 25 individuals residing at Coco Palms are on private property owned by, and state land leased to, Coco Palms Hui LLC.
“Coco Palms is the responsible party to take any action,” she wrote in an email. “Title disputes involving private property are best addressed in the courts.”
Noa Mau-Espirito said the only entities that hold jurisdiction over the land dispute are the Hawaiian Kingdom Court and the International Criminal Court.
“(Coco Palms is) going to find out that they can’t bring me to court,” Mau-Espirito said. “The (state) judges and the courts can’t retain jurisdiction over these matters at all.”
The group of about 25 formerly homeless individuals may have claim to religious rights if they can prove a genealogical connection to the original landowners. (Or if they do enough meth.)
Victoria Creed, president of Waihona ‘Aina Corporation, an information website for Hawaiian history and land use, said descendants of heirs to land endowed by Hawaiian royalty have the right to burial council hearings and consultation…. (Which lawyers will profit from this?)
According to county records, Coco Palms Hui LLC pays land taxes on 12.63 acres which Mau-Espirito and his group occupy. (Sure. But do they pay in meth?)
“The county recognizes us as the owners,” wrote Tyler Greene, co-owner of Coco Palms Hui.
Greene and his partner, Chad Waters, have been trying to restore the Coco Palms since 2012. The resort closed in 1992 after Hurricane Iniki.
The $3.5 million selective demolition process began in June. Demolition included tearing out the drywall, making mechanical and electrical repairs, clearing out the Lotus Restaurant and elevating the bungalow buildings so they adhere to Federal Emergency Management standards.
By spring, crews are expected to start Phase II, renovation and reconstruction, of Coco Palms.
The property will boast 350 rooms, 12,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants, leisure areas and a four-acre cultural center.
During public hearings on the Coco Palms restoration project, and decades prior as it sat shuttered, no one claimed land ownership….
read … Hawaiian occupiers says court holds no jurisdiction
Lawsuit: Three Cops involved in Accidental Shooting of Bartender
HNN: …The lawsuit states that former HPD officer Sgt. Anson Kimura was at the bar drinking with friends, including two other off-duty officers.
Around 1:45 a.m., Kimura took out his 38-caliber revolver and was handling it recklessly. That's when he accidentally shot Park in the abdomen.
"My client has had her life ruined by this," said Eric Seitz, Park's attorney.
Seitz said Kimura had a history of alcohol abuse and emotional distress and that HPD failed to give him adequate treatment, support and counseling.
He said the officers with Kimura that night should also be held responsible.
"I think the police department bears responsibility if they know someone is impaired and knows somebody should not be entrusted with a weapon, they have a duty to the public to see to it that weapon is taken away," Seitz said.
Police sources said the revolver was Kimura's department approved, off-duty weapon and that he was known to pull out the gun when out with friends….
"There was permanent damage to all her organs in her chest," he said. "She was in the hospital in intensive care for an extensive period of time and she's still under care. She can't stand, she has no energy, she is in pain and she will continue to be disabled for the rest of her life."
read … Permanent Damage
HGEA: They Shoot Dogs, We Hire Child Molesters—Pick Us
SA: The head of the sheriff’s deputies union suing the state for using a private security company at Honolulu Airport is using Tuesday’s shooting of a family dog as an opportunity to blast efforts to outsource traditional law enforcement duties.
“If the state’s primary argument is they’re looking to reduce costs and save money, my response would be, ‘Yes. You get what you pay for,” said Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which represents state sheriff’s deputies, who operate out of a substation at the airport. “There are no assurances, as far as we’re concerned, that the (privatized) workforce is properly equipped and properly trained.”
On Tuesday, an unidentified officer with Securitas Security Services USA shot a 2-year-old pit-bull mix named Kai‘ele in the forehead after the officer told the owners to remove the dog from a public outdoor area….
read … Shooting of dog proves case, HGEA says
Phony UH ‘Research’ Designed to Boost Tax Credit Schemer
SA: ZanthoSyn is the first revenue-producing product for Cardax, which through Dec. 31 had lost $55.9 million since its inception in March 2010. Cardax says ZanthoSyn is a safe anti-inflammatory for general health, including cardiovascular, metabolic, joint and liver health.
Cardax said in its filing it has used e-commerce and wholesale as its primary sales channels to promote ZanthoSyn and is capitalizing on the company’s relationships in the scientific and medical community to market the product.
On Jan. 25 Cardax began selling ZanthoSyn wholesale to health and wellness retailer GNC in Hawaii.
Astaxanthin, the active ingredient in ZanthoSyn, is a carotenoid compound found in many marine organisms, including microalgae, salmon and lobster, and is what gives them their color.
On Tuesday, University of Hawaii medical school researchers announced that a gene associated with longevity was activiated in mice fed a diet rich in astaxanthin. The finding holds promise of a possible anti-aging therapy for humans.
The preliminary study, the first of its kind in mammals, examined the impact of an astaxanthin compound on a gene known as FOXO3, which has been shown to contribute to longer, healthier lives in humans. The compound, astaxanthin CDX-085, was provided by Cardax. It is not yet on the market.
Cardax’s stock doubled Wednesday to 22 cents, from 11 cents, on heavy volume of 777,417 shares after the UH research announcement.
read … Pump and Dump
Star-Adv: Congress Lets Hawaii Keep the Federal Abortion Money Flowing
SA: It now rests with Hawaii, and as many states as possible, to make sure federal dollars continue to flow to clinics, and that services remain available to its citizens, regardless of their socioeconomic status. In terms of health services provided for the investment of government support, Planned Parenthood has delivered a bargain, one worth keeping for state residents.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing states to withhold federal family planning money from any providers who offer abortion services. This is not limited to the nonprofit women’s health service, but Planned Parenthood clearly was targeted.
Meanwhile: Abortionist Moves to Hawaii after Undercover Video Expose
read … Abortions