OHA Chair Tries to Limit Beneficiary Input—Discussion Deleted from Video
OHA hires new Chief Financial Officer
HART: Even 10-year Rail Tax Extension Is Not Enough
SA: …Key state lawmakers gathered Wednesday to discuss a new plan to extend the Oahu excise tax surcharge for rail by another 10 years, but it isn’t clear whether the idea has the support it would need to win approval in either the Senate or the House.
The 10-year tax extension idea was offered up at a conference committee meeting by Senate Transportation and Energy Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Inouye, and the proposal has the backing of Senate President Ron Kouchi.
However, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda has refused to endorse the 10-year plan, which under Senate rules means it is not an “official” Senate position. The official Senate position, which was approved by senators in a 25-0 vote in March, is there will be no extension of the surcharge.
Tokuda is key to the rail debate because as chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, she controls appropriations and tax measures in the Senate….
Tokuda said in an interview after the hearing that lawmakers for years have asked questions about the cost of rail and now city officials are “asking the Legislature to make these tough decisions, for what? For you to be back here next year, or two years from now?”
“The public is tired of the lies, and so should the Legislature, but more so the public and the taxpayer,” Tokuda said. “They’re tired of the lies, they’re tired of coming back here and saying ‘Don’t worry, we’ll never be back here again,’ only to be back here one more time to say, ‘OK, we need another extension.’”
In another twist in the rail debate, city officials now say even the 10-year extension proposed by Inouye and Kouchi would not provide enough money to complete the 20-mile, 21-station rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana.
Krishniah Murthy, executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said after Wednesday’s hearing he did not immediately know how much money the 10-year extension proposed by Inouye would raise, but said the total is expected to be $600 million to $800 million short of what the city needs to finance and build the project.
Staff for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and for HART also said they were unable to say how much money would be raised by a 10-year extension of the rail surcharge….
In a sometimes heated exchange between lawmakers Wednesday, House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke urged Inouye at least four times to disclose publicly how much money the proposed 10-year surcharge extension would raise.
Inouye offered to provide that information later, but Luke replied that “we hope that you can come back with specific numbers, because if we’re going to continue to tax the working poor and the elderly, you at least have an obligation to tell us exactly what those amounts are.”….
The conference committee on SB 1183 will meet again Friday morning, just hours before the deadline to finalize each of the bills that will pass this year.
Feb 8, 2017: Murthy: I Can Complete Elevated Rail Without Tax Hike
read … 10-year tax idea for rail falters
Budget $1B bigger, even with ‘trim’
SA: …Next year’s state budget will increase by more than $1 billion, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the local newspapers.
Journalists write about legislators trimming the budget (“Legislators greenlight $28 billion budget for operations,” Star-Advertiser, April 25), but the real story is that budget spending is growing by record amounts.
The article mentions that the Legislature voted to “trim the overall budget somewhat from what Gov. David Ige originally proposed.” But the “trim” is really just a reduction in proposed spending increases — like a dress that was marked up 100 percent and is selling for only 10 percent off. It’s still an increase.
Here’s the real story: State lawmakers are opening the floodgates to more spending, and at the same time, planning to soak Hawaii taxpayers….
SA: Legislators greenlight $28 billion budget for operations
read … Budget still bigger, even with ‘trim’
State transportation director: 'I've failed' to properly maintain airports
KITV: The state Department of Transportation wants to transfer management of Hawaii's airports from the DOT's Airports Division to a separate entity that it would no longer manage.
DOT admits it has failed at accomplishing the state's airport improvement goals.
The DOT says many of the problems with Hawaii's airports cannot be solved because its management system is not set up for success. For example, the decision-making process is split between seven different agencies, the board meets just five months out of the year, and takes a long time to start projects.
This press conference comes as an "airport corporation" bill is still alive at the State Capitol. The DOT wants Hawaii's airports off its hands as soon as possible.
If the bill doesn't pass, an airport concessionaires committee member says the public shouldn't expect the airport to get any better. (LOL!)
read … DOT wants to transfer airports management to separate entity
Hawaii Voters Wise up to Failed Government Projects
CB: It’s a down (up) ward spiral as citizens become more and more cynical (wise) about the government’s (in-)ability to provide services….
...busted water mains, filthy park bathrooms, overheated schools, inhumane prisons and an airport project that seems to be stuck in reverse gear…..
Hawaii’s government has lost faith in itself. State and local officials now pretty much start with the assumption that government no longer can solve significant problems.
Here are some common responses to Hawaii’s governmental incompetence: “What did you expect, it’s Hawaii.” “Government is corrupt.” “Locals resist change.” “Don’t make waves because the nail that stands out gets hammered.” “It’s just the way things are. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
Understandable views, but so sad. They reflect such stilted, cripplingly pessimistic, racially tinged views of civic life.
When government here says it is going to fix things, we don’t see this as a promise. We see it as an invitation to disaster — what’s going to go wrong this time?….
When was the last time you went to a picnic in Aala Park, took a leisurely stroll around the Mayor Wright public housing project, or chose to send your child to a pubic school even though you could afford Punahou?
Best Comment: “The example of the Kaiser Maui Hospital transfer is only the most recent example of what happens when the leadership in this state decides to take one step out of the box of ideas to solve real issues. In essence, getting things done that are innovative get stymied or even kyboshed by entrenched interests that want to be sure that their pie piece is fully given no matter what. From an outside-looking-in perspective, it is a wonder that any private entity would want to participate in the Hawaii economy considering the hoops that one needs to jump through. Kaiser, the possible privatization of garbage collection back in the 90's and even this whole conversion of the airports to a corporate structure, all innovative ideas, all stopped by entrenched interests, driving away potential investors.”
read … Privatization Next
Arakawa Running for Lt Governor? Bernard Carvalho for Governor?
MT: Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa had just said on his radio show on 105.5 FM that in 2018 he would run for the office of Hawaii Lieutenant Governor….
CB: He said he is “strongly inclined” to run, and also said that Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. might run for governor.
read … Did Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa just announce he wants to run for Hawaii Lieutenant Governor?
Honolulu Council Votes Unanimously to Pretend to Give Sanctuary to Criminal Illegal Aliens
CB: …Resolution 17-50, adopted unanimously, stops short of explicitly declaring Honolulu as a “sanctuary” for the city’s estimated 21,000 undocumented immigrants.
Instead, the resolution urges the city to limit its cooperation with the federal crackdown on immigration, requesting the Honolulu Police Department to not direct any resources to honoring “detainers” — requests issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold immigrants in custody for up to 48 hours beyond the release date.
Reality, for Those Few Who Can Handle It: Hawaii is one of just seven states that fully complied with federal requests to hold illegals
PDN: Criminal Illegal to be Deported from Guam (again)
read … Soft on Crime
Council Votes to Raise Property Tax Rates, Hike Fees on Handicapped and Bus Fares
CB: In a series of 5-4 votes, several of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposals to increase taxes and fees won preliminary approval Wednesday from the Honolulu City Council.
Caldwell’s proposed operating budget also moved forward. Adoption of the final budget will likely occur in late June.
Council members Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi, Ernie Martin and Trevor Ozawa all voted against proposed increases to the vehicle weight tax and parking meter fees, but the measures passed.
It was the same story for increases in admission fees for the Honolulu Zoo and green fees for municipal golf courses, as well as Bill 28, which would increase fees for TheBus and TheHandi-Van.
Paratransit riders, some blind or otherwise disabled, and some members of Citizens for a Fair ADA Ride testified against Bill 28. If it gains final approval, it would increase the $2-per-trip fee for TheHandi-Van by 50 cents per year until it reaches $4.
“A lot of Handi-Van riders are on a fixed income,” Lori Tanigawa testified….
The bill would increase fares for TheBus from $60 for a monthly pass to $80 by 2019. The cost of a single ride would increase from $2.50 to $3.25….
Fukunaga, Martin and Ozawa also voted against this year’s resolution to set property tax rates.
Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, The Waikiki Improvement Association, and other organizations representing the tourism industry also voiced their opposition to the rates.
Resolution 17-70 would increase the property tax rates for hotels and resorts from $12.90 to $13.40 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The last hotel and resort property tax rate increase occurred in 2015, when rates increased from $12.40 to $12.90.
Rates for some Residential A property owners would go up if the resolution gets final approval. The property tax class is made up of non-owner occupied homes worth $1 million or more….
All nine council members supported the proposed legislative budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It passed with little discussion.
Caldwell’s proposed operating budget didn’t make it past the council quite so smoothly.
Budget Committee members Pine and Ikaika Anderson said the entire budget would need to be reconsidered once the Legislature decides how much additional money the city will get for its $10 billion rail project.
read … Caldwell Rail Plan--Make the Handicapped Pay for It
Ditch Rail Now
CB: It’s dumb to ditch a half-built rail project after spending $4 billion. It’s even dumber to spend another $6 billion to $9 billion for slight traffic improvement and serious environmental harm.
SA: Bring rail to street level from Middle Street to Downtown
read … Ditch Rail Now
Another Water Rate Hike Coming Soon
CB: …The Board of Water Supply aims to replace 1 percent of all pipes in the system annually, which would cost an estimated $160 million each year in current dollars.
BWS is considering another multi-year rate increase to help pay for the work. Even after fees were raised from 2012 to 2016, Oahu water users pay less than what is needed to operate and maintain the water system, according to a University of Hawaii professor and engineering expert.
Fixing the breaks at their current frequency costs the BWS about $3 million a year….
The BWS claims in a fact sheet that its number of main breaks is “far fewer than the American Water Works Association’s recommended maximum,” ….
Nine of the 13 cities surveyed had fewer breaks per 100 miles of pipe than Oahu last year…..
read … Caldwell
City Council passes sit-lie ban for Kapalama, Iwilei
HNN: …In Kalihi, the zone would span between parts of North King Street and Dillingham Boulevard as well as Waiakamilo Road and Kohou Street.
In Iwilei, the zone includes segments of four roads off Nimitz Highway.
The law bans people from sitting or camping on certain sidewalks in front of businesses. …
It’s estimated that close to 140 people live in the combined encampments…. (and they’re running out of copper).
read … City Council passes sit-lie ban for Kapalama, Iwilei
Officials closer to determining future of overcrowded OCCC
HNN: …One consideration is to leave OCCC where it is currently in Kalihi and undergo an extensive remodeling to modernize it and bring it up to code. Another potential site is the area of the Animal Quarantine Facility in Halawa. A third possible location is right next to the existing Halawa Correctional Facility. The last option is in Mililani on an undeveloped privately-owned lot in the Technology Park.
An environmental impact statement needs to be done for each potential site -- a process that's expected to be complete by the end of 2018. A final site selection isn't expected until early 2019. On that schedule, construction would be complete sometime in 2024…..
read … Officials closer to determining future of overcrowded OCCC
California Legislators Advance Socialist ‘Health’ Insurance System
AP: …Democrats on the panel voted to advance the measure.
The measure would guarantee health coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for all California residents, including people living in the country illegally.
Private insurers would be barred from covering the same services, essentially eliminating them from the marketplace. Instead, a new state agency would set prices and contract with health care providers such as doctors and hospitals and pay the bills for everyone.
However, an essential question is unanswered: Where will the money come from? California health care expenditures last year totaled more than $367 billion, according to the Center for Health Policy Research at University of California, Los Angeles.
The measure envisions using all public money spent on health care — from Medicare, Medicaid, federal public health funds and “Obamacare” subsidies. But it also would require significant tax increases on businesses, residents or both to replace billions of dollars in health care spending by employers and individuals while generating enough money to cover people who are currently uninsured.
The California Nurses Association commissioned a study of the costs and potential funding methods that will be ready before the measure goes before the next committee later this year, spokesman Chuck Idelson said….
read … Your Health will be a State Budget Item
Dispatches from Duckburg: Land of 10,000 Quacks
KE: It's troubling to see Kauai Dr. Lee Evslin use his column in the local newspaper to promote organic food as inherently more pure than its conventional counterpart, and some sort of silver bullet for attaining good health.
In this case, he's advancing the idea that various chemicals known as endocrine disrupters are responsible for everything from America's obesity epidemic and slow sperm to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease in children. And, as he intones, “the same suspects are on the list: pesticides, flame-retardants, plasticizers and cosmetics.”
Though Evslin admits that he's talking about “a new scientific theory,” which means it's not yet proven, he has no problem offering a dangerously simplistic “bottom line” solution to what ails us: “Store your food in glass containers, stop buying water in plastic bottles and eat organic whenever possible.”….
read … Musings: Pushing Organics
Father reportedly said he disposed of Peter Boy’s body in ocean
SA: …The answer to the 20-year-old question “Where’s Peter?” is finally coming to light.
The Hawaii County prosecutor and his team and a police detective escorted on Wednesday four family members of 6-year-old Peter “Peter Boy” Kema Jr., who died sometime in June 1997, to the Puna site where his father led police on Sunday.
The family learned what Peter Kema Sr. revealed to prosecutors and police: that he unsuccessfully tried to burn the boy’s body, a source who wishes to remain anonymous told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Then he placed the body in a box, and disposed of the box in the ocean. The revelation was confirmed by someone close to the investigation.
He said that he and his team tried to prepare the family by explaining some of what they learned from Kema before going out Wednesday morning.
“It was a little bit of a shock to them,” he said.
On the drive to the Puna site, the conversation turned to the rain as tears from heaven, Roth said. “His aunty said it was Peter Boy crying, ‘My family’s finally coming for me.’”….
According to the anonymous source, police will use divers in the search….
VIDEO: Press Conference On Finding Site Of Peter Boy Kema’s Remains
read … Father reportedly said he disposed of Peter Boy’s body in ocean