The Rail Bill and Other Curiosities
OHA Procurement Violations: Crabbe, Lindsey and the $435K Beamer
Dexter Kaiama: Keanu Sai's Favorite Lawyer Censured
Rail: Secret Maneuvering Continues
SA: It is an odd-numbered year so most voters probably won’t notice or remember, but this was not the finest hour for Hawaii’s elected officials, or for openness in government…. (So says Billy Kenoi Operative Kevin Dayton, LOL!)
Gov. David Ige has now suggested the leaders of the state Legislature huddle to strike a deal that the deadlocked House and Senate can embrace. Once that has been done, Ige suggested Wednesday he is willing to call lawmakers back into public session to formally approve the negotiated agreement….
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell quickly endorsed Ige’s plan, announcing immediately after the 2017 session closed on Thursday that he will continue his lobbying offensive to get lawmakers to agree to provide more money for rail. He will then ask Ige to call a special session to seal the deal.
The message to the public from the chief executives of both the state and the city is that the public process has been too difficult, and this deal needs to be done in private. Once a decision has been made, everyone can go down to the Capitol to watch them rubber-stamp the agreement….
newly elected House Speaker Scott Saiki said Thursday he is willing to contemplate what to do next about rail as soon as the city provides “accurate numbers, specific numbers, so that we can consider them.”
When asked why he doubts the cost estimates that the city and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation have already supplied, Saiki replied: “Because the city and HART have changed numbers whenever they have submitted them … throughout the session.”….
read … Rail Fail
Privatize? Rail debacle should prompt developers, bankers to step up
Borreca: …“The city really pulled a fast one by saying one budget and one price, and then changing,” said rail supporter Sen. Donna Mercado Kim. She now says Caldwell should redo the plans and stop the train at Aloha Tower downtown.
“We have to stop the bleeding — to have this unlimited deep black hole of costs and expense makes no sense for anyone,” Kim said in an interview.
Perhaps the best advice on what to do on both the cost and fate of the rail project came from Sen. Laura Thielen in a closing-day floor speech. She said Honolulu’s civic leaders, the bankers, real estate developers and union leaders should “bear the responsibility of saying ‘Build rail to Ala Moana at all costs.’”
She pointed out that if the state now joins in paying for rail, the city and state cannot also build the sewers and streets and parks needed.
“We need to air condition the schools, build shelters for the homeless, provide mental health and substance abuse,” Thielen said.
“The question is whether we should allow rail to put the state in a position where we forego all these other needs. Civic leaders, this is your opportunity to do it right.”…
VIDEO: Senator Laura Thielen May 04, 2017 addresses Honolulu Rail
As Explained: Public-Private Partnerships: Study Examines New Options for Rail
read … Rail debacle should prompt developers, bankers to step up
Panos: Rail Has Funding thru 2027 and Ability to Float Bonds
FO: …We need to ignore the drama by mayor Caldwell and the hysteria of council member Pine. The rail has GET funding to 2027 and the ability to float bonds for emergency cash. They are crying wolf to take advantage of the fact that the local economy is booming.
What do you mean they need to satisfy the FTA? The FTA is co-responsible for this massive failure. They need to be sued, not appeased….
read … Panos
Conflict of Interest: Max Sword’s Wife was Bounty Hunters’ Publicist
AP: …"She deals with the police department almost every day. ... She's on the other side of the table, so to speak," Sword said.
"Cause she bails people out?" said Commissioner Loretta Sheehan, sounding incredulous.
Sword said he's known Chapman for more than 10 years. Sword's wife, Mona Wood-Sword, is the Chapmans' former publicist. (Conflict of interest.)
"This was a surprise to me, as everybody else," Wood-Sword said. "I think he was looking for somebody a little different." (IQ Test: Do you believe her?)
A&E series "Dog the Bounty Hunter" was canceled in 2012. The Chapmans, who live in Honolulu, later starred in "Dog and Beth: On the Hunt," which aired on Country Music Television. (Translation: Career going down, needs publicity boost.)
Chapman said she's honored to be considered and would gladly serve if selected. She noted that she's president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States and has been fighting bail reform. (Special interest agenda.)
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin filed a lawsuit last year claiming the Chapmans' Da Kine Bail Bonds owes the state $35,000. Chapman denied the allegations. Chin's special assistant, Deputy Attorney General Joshua Wisch, said Thursday the parties are trying to reach settlements. Wisch declined to comment on Chapman being considered for the citizen panel.
Sword said he wasn't aware of the lawsuit and that it doesn't change his decision to nominate her…. (IQ Test: Do you believe him?
read … Conflict of Interest
Liar Caldwell Paid only $300/year Property tax
Shapiro: Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s past use of a property tax exemption for historic homes that allowed him to pay only $100 to $300 for several years has come back to haunt him as the city considers raising property taxes to cover rail deficits.
In a recent letter to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Caldwell sought to correct “the inaccurate perception from several of your letter writers that I pay only $300 in real property tax.”
He said he owns a historic home, but “even before I became mayor, my wife and I voluntarily decided not to take the deduction even though we still participate in the program.”
It’s true that Caldwell and his wife, bank executive Donna Tanoue, no longer claim the deduction for their Manoa home, but to say they chose not to take it “even before I became mayor” is somewhat misleading without further explanation.
The couple claimed the tax exemption in 2007, when Caldwell was House majority leader, and was still taking it from 2008 to 2010, when he was city managing director and became acting mayor after Mufi Hannemann resigned to run for governor….
Caldwell’s participation, along with about 250 others, was revealed in a 2010 Star-Advertiser story by Rob Perez reporting that the program, generous by national standards, cost the city nearly $1 million in lost taxes and suffered from lax enforcement of rules requiring that the homes be publicly viewable.
Caldwell lost his bid to retain the office that year to Peter Carlisle, and the couple continued to claim the tax exemption in 2011.
When Caldwell again ran for mayor in 2012 — after the city tightened rules for the deduction — they opted out, as did several other owners of historic homes.
According to city records, Caldwell and Tanoue paid $100 annually in property taxes from 2007 to 2009 and $300 in 2010 and 2011, when the tax was raised.
read … Mayor’s claim of not using tax deduction garbles truth
Hawaii County Democratic Chair: Should Every Candidate be Able to Put a D by Their Name?
BIVN: (Anti-GMO activist) Margaret Wille talks about her goals and hopes as the newly elected chair of the Hawaii County Democrats during the annual party convention held at Kea'au High School….
The event was held on the heels of a recently concluded, and somewhat divisive, state legislative session that led to the resignation of the State House speaker, a senate leadership shake-up, big projects left unfunded and pressing issues left unresolved….
Part of the problem, Wille thinks, is the need for candidates “that really earn their (letter) D.”
“Should every candidate be allowed to put a ‘D’ by their name?” Wille asked, “regardless of how they vote, or whether they block hearings on matters that are party priorities? I think there needs to be more accountability.”
Completing the roster of county officers: West Hawaii Vice Chair Tonya Coulter, East Hawaii Vice Chair Shannon Matson, Treasurer Valerie Barnes, Secretary Raina Whiting, Assistant Secretary Maya Parish, and Assistant Treasurer Richard Harris.
Wille estimates about 300 people participated in Saturday’s convention, which included remarks by Governor David Ige, a live video Skype with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Washington D.C., and multiple forums on topics like “Climate Change in Hawaii”, Homeless and Elderly Needs”, and “How To Run For Office”.
NH: Democrats’ Dumb Move From ‘Pro-Choice’ to ‘No Choice’
read … Wille New Hawaii County Democratic Party Chair
Legislature passes bill that would lower requirement for Hawaiian homestead successors
HTH: …A proposal to change inheritance rules for Native Hawaiian homeland leases unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature.
If signed into law by the governor, House Bill 451 changes inheritance rules from requiring 1/4 Hawaiian blood quantum to 1/32 in order to inherit a parent’s homeland lease.
The goal of HB 451 is to prevent generationally held homeland leases from being lost when elderly lessees die without qualified successors.
Previously, a lessee’s child or grandchild with a blood quantum less than 1/4 Hawaiian would be unable to inherit the lease. The lease would then return to the pool of properties available for people with 50 percent or more blood quantum seeking a new lease.
The bill also changes the description of potential inheritors from “husband, wife” to “spouse” to make the law fit the Supreme Court’s decision that same-gender couples can marry.
The law identifies 1/32 Hawaiian as the new blood quantum in order to inherit land from a lessee who dies. But it does not change the 50 percent blood quantum required to apply for an original homeland lease. And the U.S. Congress must still “consent.”….
KITV: Blood requirements drop for Hawaiian Homesteaders
read … Quantum
County vs State: Unlocking the B&B, TVU conundrum
SA: It may be the desire for revenue — desire by the government, not the homeowner — that finally forces Oahu to confront its regulatory problem with short-term rentals. These are the bed-and-breakfast units and the transient vacation units (TVUs) that have caused such conflict within many residential communities around the state.
House Bill 1471 was not among the measures to emerge when the Legislature adjourned Thursday. It was the second failed attempt by the state to collect tax revenue from vacation rentals statewide.
The bill sought to authorize online rental platforms such as Airbnb, Home Away and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) to collect the state taxes owed on the transactions….
“I don’t think we should pass a bill that facilitates illegal activity,” Ige said at a news briefing on Thursday….
Meanwhile, both the city and the state are feeling the fiscal pressure and are searching for more funding sources. On the state side, Ige said he plans to work with platforms like Airbnb to come up with a memorandum of understanding — a voluntary agreement for collecting tax revenue for at least some of the units.
And the city also will be proposing its own way to make money from the rentals. City Councilman Ernie Martin said that in the next few weeks he plans to introduce a set of bills, including one that creates a separate property-tax classification for vacation rentals.
Back at the Capitol, lawmakers will hold the state bill until there’s a practical way online platforms can screen for legality of the businesses advertising there. And that will require a workable county scheme on Oahu to rein in its vacation rentals.
“This is another case where the city and state need to be in sync, but we’re not,” said state Sen. Glenn Wakai….
Since 1989, Honolulu has had on the books a moratorium against permitting additional B&Bs and TVUs. But because documenting violations makes enforcement so difficult — city officials must confirm a renter is staying for less than the legal minimum 30-day rental term — an underground market comprising thousands of illegal vacation rentals has developed.
Previous attempts to pass an ordinance setting limits and rules for operating these rentals have foundered on the rocky political terrain.
Residents who insisted on a total ban clashed with owners who said they want a way to make their operations legal, and others who said there’s just too much demand for these accommodations to ever stamp them out….
Martin, whose own North Shore district is among those peppered with illegal rentals, will be proposing bills that would, among other provisions:
>> Set limits on the numbers of rentals allowable in specific geographic areas and would define other requirements for a legalized unit, including both B&Bs and TVUs.
>> Establish that the applicant for permits must be the property owner or lessee.
>> Create a separate property-tax category for vacation rentals…..
SA: The second year running the state has failed to move the needle on the issue.
read … Unlocking
How to gerrymander Kakaako into Economic Distress
ILind: …But, it seems, DBEDT took it as a challenge. How they could take a proposed project in an area with extremely low unemployment, and in a city with unemployment well under 3%, and make it appear to to be in an area with an unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the U.S. national average, thereby qualifying for the especially lucrative benefits of the EB-5 program?
Those tricky folks at DBEDT finally found a way to make it come out right!
They carved out that strange, lizard-shaped district encompassing the large, high unemployment districts on the west side of the island, and sweeping down to small, affluent census tracts over by Ala Moana, where developer Fang hopes to build his project. Average out the unemployment rates across those diverse census tracts, and DBEDT could certify the newly created district as a “Targeted Employment Area for the purposes of the EB-5 program.” ….
read … Kakaako in Distress
Travel ban faces key test in appeals court Monday
AP: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Monday in the case that has thwarted the president’s attempt to bar certain people from entering the country in the name of national security.
The Richmond, Virginia-based court will examine a federal judge in Maryland’s ruling that blocks the administration from temporarily barring new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen….
the court will provide a live audio broadcast of a hearing due to intense public interest. The 2:30 p.m. EDT hearing will be broadcast by C-SPAN and the court will provide a link to the live feed on its website…..
Related: How Trump-hatred warps the judiciary
read … Test