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Rail Fail: Souki Gets the Boot
CB: House Speaker Joseph Souki from Maui will be removed from his leadership position Thursday, according to four House members who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He’s expected to be replaced by Rep. Scott Saiki from urban Honolulu, who currently serves as majority leader.
A resolution to replace Souki with Saiki will be considered during Thursday’s final House floor session, and there are enough votes in the 51-member chamber to replace Souki, the representatives said….
The anticipated House shakeup comes as the Senate is undergoing its own significant reshuffle in leadership. Sen. Jill Tokuda is expected to lose her post leading the powerful Ways and Means Committee on Thursday after some of her Senate colleagues were upset about the way she handled negotiations on the rail funding bill.
One of the representatives said that it was only a matter of time until Souki was replaced, and that the move was unrelated to the standoff between the House and Senate over funding for Honolulu’s troubled rail project.
Still, Souki’s praise for how Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has led the project stands in sharp contrast to criticism by Rep. Sylvia Luke, who leads the House Finance Committee….
read … Souki Expected to Lose Post, Members Say
Ways and Means: Tokuda Out Dela Cruz In
SA: State Sen. Jill Tokuda will be removed from her position as chairwoman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee Thursday in an end-of-session leadership shake-up triggered in part by the volatile debate over the Honolulu rail project this year.
Tokuda confirmed she has been told she will be removed, and said a group of her colleagues plan to name Senate Majority Whip Donovan Dela Cruz as the new chairman of Ways and Means.….
“It’s power, it’s a power grab, and rail was the catalyst,” said Tokuda in an interview this afternoon. “You can sugar coat it and claim all kinds of stuff about transparency and all this other stuff, but let’s cut to the chase and say what this is really about.”
Dela Cruz refused to discuss the matter, other than to suggest that any news of the leadership swap should be delayed until after the Senate meets Thursday. Senate President Ron Kouchi did not respond to a request for comment.
read … Tokuda ousted from powerful Senate committee after rail clash
Retaliation is blamed for lost lungworm funds
SA: Privately, some legislators say that the funding bill died because of a political fight between Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda and Sen. Kai Kahele, who played a central role in trying to reorganize the Senate, including plans to oust Tokuda from her powerful position overseeing the budget.
The larger reorganization effort appears dead, but Tokuda is now on the brink of losing her position as Ways and Means chairwoman. The full Senate is expected to vote on ousting her today, the last day of the legislative session.
Kahele was the lead sponsor of the rat lungworm funding bill. Other bills that he sponsored also died in conference committee where House and Senate negotiators scramble to reach final agreement on bills.
Any bill with an appropriation needed to be approved by Tokuda.
Tokuda denied that she killed the rat lungworm bill as retaliation against Kahele.
Tokuda announced last week that $1 million in funding for rat lungworm disease was going to the state Department of Health, which in effect diverted the funds away from the Hilo lab.
She said in an interview this week that the Health Department was the most appropriate agency to receive the funding and that heath officials could give some of the money to the Hilo lab, run by Sue Jarvi, if they thought it was appropriate. She stressed that rat lungworm disease is a statewide problem.
“If you were to just centralize resources at UH-Hilo you would not be able to have quick deployment efforts statewide,” Tokuda said….
read … About your Politicians at Work
Ige rejects 4 mayors’ request to extend legislative session to deal with rail
SA: …in news conference this afternoon, Ige said, “I am not interested in extending the session unless there is an agreement in the Legislature,” on a rail funding bill.
He said it would be a “waste of time” to extend the session until the Senate and House agree on a plan.
“The Legislature, House and Senate is too divided at this point in time. I don’t think that it would be productive,” the governor said. “I think that any discussion of a special session is premature. There needs to be a plan about … what we can afford and how we would be fund it.”….
Ige acknowledged that while he does not plan to call for the Legislature to extend the session, state lawmakers can make that decision for themselves…..
read … Ige rejects 4 mayors’ request
* * * * *
Rail at Risk!
Ige Failure to Lead Hurts Hawaii
News Release from Office of Rep Bob McDermott, May 4, 2017
We are facing a crisis with the biggest public works project in the history of Hawaii and the Governor would not use the authority of his office to force a legislative solution.
This is shibai.
Billions of dollars are at risk and yet there is no sense of urgency, and zero leadership from the Governor’s office or the Democrat majority.
We need to get the job done now. Governor Ige should immediately honor the request of our four mayors and call a special session to reach an agreement on rail financing. Quite simply we need to finish our work.
* * * * *
City Council advances bill to use property tax funds for rail
SA: As a solution to rail’s fiscal crisis remains elusive, Honolulu City Council members today advanced a measure that would lift the ban on using property tax dollars to help finish building the island’s elevated transit project.
The Council Budget Committee’s four members unanimously approved Bill 42 on second reading, with members expressing reluctance but adding that recent moves in the Legislature compelled them to do so (years of rail lies were coming home to roost.) ….
To pass, the measure still must go through one more committee vote and two full Council votes.
The committee also advanced on second reading Bill 45, which would authorize using more GET surcharge dollars to pay for rail — if the Legislature somehow provides those dollars.
Liar: Caldwell insists he’s not in favor of property tax increase
read … City Council advances bill to use property tax funds for rail
Takings: Kauai Planning Commission considers time limit for land
KGI: Developers may be facing a ticking clock on the North Shore if a policy on resort-designated land is approved by the Planning Commission.
The 10-year deadline is under consideration in the commission’s construction of the Kauai General Plan 2020.
It was included in the current draft because of input from the community requesting the resort designation be lifted from the land completely, and the 250 acres in question be used for something like agriculture instead…..
A general plan update is scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting on May 23 at 9 a.m. at the Lihue Civic Center, Moikeha Building, in meeting room 2A/2B, and there will be opportunity for the public to comment. The Planning Department recommends written testimony be submitted to the Planning Commission in advance of the meeting via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reality: Bridge Aina Lea: Hawaii ‘Takings’ Case in Federal Court
read … Preplanned Takings
Bill 59: Plastic Bag Tax Before Honolulu Council
CB: In support of a total ban, Elefante cited environmental concerns such as the growing mass of trash in the ocean referred to as the (non-existent) Great Pacific Garbage Patch…. (Beachcombers are still finding flotsam and jetsam but no plastic bags. Nonetheless, they have successfully transformed beachcombing into an act of penance.)
Fukunaga said both industry representatives and environmentalists agree on charging a fee, and that the two groups must come to an consensus before any further language can be added to the bill.
Her version was supported by grocery industry representatives including Lauren Zirbel, executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association.
Council members Ann Kobayashi and Trevor Ozawa supported Fukunaga’s proposal, while Councilman Joey Manahan supported Elefante’s….
Link: Bill 59
read … Tithe to the Eco-Religion
Clown Show: Dog The Bounty Hunter’s Wife Might Help Select HPD’s Next Chief
CB: Honolulu Police Commission Chairman Max Sword says Beth Chapman, who works in bail bonds, could bring a unique perspective to the selection process…..
The HPD has been gripped by numerous other controversies in recent history. Several officers have been accused of serious misconduct and criminal activity, including domestic violence, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Chapman and her husband have also found themselves at odds with law enforcement. Last year the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office went after the Chapmans’ bail bonds business, Da Kine Bail Bonds, saying that they owed the state $35,500.
Sword said during a break in Wednesday’s meeting that he didn’t want to comment on the Chapmans’ disagreements with the state attorney general’s office.
read … Clown Show
Police panel: Espero tried to sway key vote
SA: A Hawaii state senator tried to influence a Honolulu Police Commission member to vote against a pricey severance package for a retiring chief under federal investigation, according to a letter from the commission chairman.
State Sen. Will Espero sent an email the night before the vote to Commissioner Luella Costales that said, “If you are thinking of running for office again, your vote tomorrow will be significant.”
Commission Chairman Max Sword complained about Espero’s email in a letter to Senate President Ronald Kouchi….
Espero has been a critic of the commission and opposed paying former Chief Louis Kealoha $250,000 for agreeing to retire amid the probe into corruption allegations….
Espero said the commission overreacted and he wasn’t trying to influence Costales. (LOL!)
Costales said the email didn’t affect her decision to approve the retirement package. She declined further comment.
In the email exchange with Espero, she took offense at the idea that she could be motivated by political ambitions.
“For the record, I have no intention of seeking office again,” she wrote. Espero replied with an apology.
Costales’ term on the commission ended in December, but she remains on the panel until the mayor appoints a replacement. She ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for a state House of Representatives seat in the Honolulu suburb of Mililani…..
read … Sway
Good News: HSTA Not Happy with Superintendent Nominees
CB: The background of the two finalists for Hawaii public schools superintendent leaves little room for optimism that either candidate can create a brighter future for Hawaii schools.
(Translation: Since our pick Galera didn’t get it, we will take one of thee two as a short-timer until we find a way to get rid of her and start again )
read … Not Happy
Cry me a River: Anti-GMO Activists Epic Fail
KE: It's easy to hate on the Hawaii State Legislature. Shoots, everybody has their gripes about what did and didn't get passed.
But what's with the epic fail shame strategy advanced by the Young Progressives Demanding Action, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety and Gary Hooser's HAPA as they march on Miller Street this morning?
Haven't they learned yet that silly tactic doesn't work with the Lege, or elicit sympathy from the general public?
I understand they're trying to build participation by allowing folks to indulge their narcissim. But soliciting selfies with the hashtag #HiLegFail really falls flat.
Because truthfully, nobody really cares if Hawaii Center for Food Safety's Kimiko LaHaela Walter is unhappy about the fate of HB 790 and HB 1580. Or anything else:
ILind: Young Progressives group calls legislative session a failure
read … Failures Fail Again
Ostrov: With a passion to rebuild, Hawaii’s GOP can be a force again
SA: …we’ve obviously got a steep hill to climb. With only five Republicans in the state House of Representatives and none in the Senate, we struggle to get our voices heard. And we aren’t represented in our congressional delegation, a daily tragedy for Hawaii with Republicans in control of the U.S. House and Senate, and the White House.
But just as the successful business executive doesn’t worry whether times are good or bad, and rather focuses on different opportunities, I think Hawaii’s Republicans have an excellent opportunity to rebuild and offer voters a real choice.
We begin that process in next weekend when Hawaii Republicans hold our state convention on Kauai. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I see a future of opportunity for Hawaii’s Republican Party, which is why I’m running for the position of state chairman….
read … With a passion to rebuild, Hawaii’s GOP can be a force again
State GOP chair candidates focus on party's funding problems
KITV: In 2016, as the general election loomed, the state Republican Party ran out of cash and had to release its executive director.
"The month before the election, when people had to find poll watchers, they had last-minute questions on how to win the race, there was no one at the headquarters," Rep. Andria Tupola (R) said.
If elected party chair, Tupola promises to help candidates create fund-raising plans.
But priority one will be raising operating funds for the party itself.
"There's no way we can help people if we're financially unsound," she said.
Shirlene Ostrov is also running for party chairperson.
"I believe Hawaii wants a vibrant two-party system," she said.
Ostrov is already knocking on doors, looking for donors.
"We've already approached many businesses, many prominent business men and women who want to bring our party back financially," she said.
In its last report, the state Republican Party said it had only $16,660 on hand. Political analyst Colin Moore says the candidates will face an uphill fight for finances, regardless of who wins…..
But the Hawaii GOP's new executive director Jack Jack says the party now has about $88,000 in its bank accounts -- and owns its 2,100 square-foot office space at 725 Kapiolani Boulevard…..
read … State GOP chair candidates focus on party's funding problems
Waipahu cultural center troubled by overnight homeless campers
HNN: Hawaii's Plantation Village is the only cultural center of its kind on Oahu that showcases the history of that era.
"We have valuable artifacts in each of the houses. We have photographs," said executive director, Deanna Espinas
But over the past couple years, the ambiance has changed. Hidden in the brush are dozens of homeless campers.
When the tours stop -- squatters move in.
"I don't really feel safe by myself. When I come in early in the morning sometimes, opening for a special program they'll be sleeping on our administrative office porch with their dogs and I have to ask them to leave," said Espinas.
Over the past six months the center's executive director has reported more than 50 complaints to the city which include loose dogs, encounters with aggressive campers and break-ins.
Photos show trash left behind in one of the houses. There's also evidence of drug use, and folks using the grounds as a toilet.
Each morning custodians have to clean it all up before bus loads of school children and visitors arrive.
read … Waipahu cultural center troubled by overnight homeless campers