Hawaii Republicans Elect Ostrov Chair
What has the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Done for you Lately?
TrumpTax: Losing the State Tax Deduction
Rail Tax: No Special Session, No Blank Check for Liar Caldwell
Shapiro: The 2017 Legislature has been portrayed as a failure for adjourning without resolving a $3 billion bailout for Oahu rail, but the fault is misplaced.
Pin this donkey tail on Mayor Kirk Caldwell, the City Council and civic leaders who refuse to budge from their irrational “build-at-any cost” devotion to an original rail plan that’s so flawed it now threatens the state’s financial health as well as the city’s.
We don’t need the Legislature back in special session to write the city a blank-check extension of the rail excise tax for more of the same awful management.
We need city leaders to go back to the drawing board and produce honest numbers and a credible plan to control costs going forward. More responsibility before more money.
In the meantime, there’s funding to keep building to the Middle Street transit center and possibly to Aloha Tower, according to the city’s recent report to the Federal Transit Administration.
“Who looks at a project that’s double or triple the size of the original budget and says we cannot change a thing?” Sen. Laura Thielen asked…..
read … City leaders, not the state, on hook for rail funding
Saiki: Need Special Session for Rail Tax Hike
SA: …By no means should the Legislature be doing a victory lap or engaging in self-congratulations. Much work remains to be done.
Sometimes resolving the most difficult issues take longer than the 60-day session allows. Such is the case with how to fund Honolulu’s rail project. Although the House and the Senate did not reach agreement on this policy front, we agree on the necessity of completing the rail project and completing it well — with maximum accountability, best results, and the least burden on Hawaii taxpayers.
Like it or not, the state has been thrust into an oversight role of the rail project and the extensive debate that ensued this legislative session is a testament to a strong and healthy democracy in Hawaii. We take our role very seriously because this project will be paid for by generations to come. (Tax hike coming!)
The House and Senate recognize the need to convene a special session to resolve the rail issue….
read … Legislators passed useful bills; rail remains open
Three Nominated for KSBE Trustee
>>Outgoing schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi…
>> Timothy Johns, chief consumer officer for Hawaii Medical Service Association, or HMSA. Johns previously served as president and CEO of Bishop Museum and chief operating officer for the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon.
>> Elliot Mills, vice president for hotel operations for Disneyland Resorts and Aulani Disney Resort & Spa….
read … KSBE Trustee
Latest Attempt to Shut Down Hawaii Fishing Industry Fails Miserably
SA: In September, an extensive (and bogus) Associated Press investigation detailing (nonexistent) poor labor conditions aboard Hawaii longline vessels that catch ahi and swordfish sparked national attention and public outrage (momentary hysteria). Some of the foreign fishermen who crew the boats were found to be living (sleeping) in squalor (berths) and confined to vessels for years at a time.
Hawaii’s congressional delegation quickly issued statements condemning the labor conditions and vowing reforms. Whole Foods suspended its purchases from the Honolulu Fish Auction. And state legislators held hearings and debated measures that would further regulate longline fishing.
But eight months later, little appears to have changed when it comes to protecting (killing the jobs of) the foreign fishermen who can’t stray from their American boats docked at Honolulu Harbor without risking deportation. The longline industry — which vowed to weed out any bad actors, while also criticizing the news reports as exaggerated — has been largely left to police itself….
read … Isles’ longline industry little changed after investigation
Bill to ban cesspools statewide awaits governor's signature
HNN: A measure heading to Gov. Ige's desk would ban Hawaii's nearly 90,000 cesspools by the year 2050. (Insert joke here.)
This comes a year after the Governor banned newly-constructed cesspools in the state….
The state is offering a $10,000 tax credit to homeowners who convert to septic tanks, aerobic systems, or sewer lines.
Lawmakers want to broaden eligible cesspools from 200 feet to 500 feet of a shoreline stream, or other body of water.
"A lot of the folks in my community were not originally eligible to take advantage of the tax credit even though we knew it was a problem in our district," said Rep. Jarrett Keohokalole, who represents Kaneohe, Kahaluu and Waiahole.
In 2014, the state Health Department put up signs warning residents to stay out of the water at Kahaluu Lagoon and the channel leading out to Kaneohe Bay. Officials suspect nearby cesspools have led to high levels of bacteria.
Not everyone is on board with the proposed plan.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim opposes the bill and says abolishing cesspools is unnecessary and contradicts the state's affordable housing efforts.
"The statue does provide for exemptions to the ban on cesspools," said Townsend. "There are locations where cesspools are the only option. but the idea would be those are the extreme rare occurrences and not the usual."
Exceptions would include homeowners with a small lot size, steep topography, poor soil or accessibility issues.
read … Cesspool
West Hawaii source of almost 70% of property tax revenue
WHT: West Hawaii’s three council districts, home to a third of the island’s approximately 198,000 people, continues to be the county government’s cash cow, accounting for almost 70 percent of property tax revenues under rate hikes planned by Mayor Harry Kim.
That’s according to a West Hawaii Today analysis applying Kim’s proposed tax rates to certified property values released late last month by the county Department of Finance.
Kim is proposing 6.5 percent across-the-board tax rate hikes, with the exception of the affordable rental class, which will stay the same. Property tax revenues from properties across the island, plus penalties and interest, will go up by $21.5 million to $300.1 million, primarily because of the increase in tax rates.
Property in the homeowner class valued at the island average of $300,000 with no other exemptions would see its annual tax increase $120, from $1,845 to $1,965. Property in the residential class, which includes second and third homes and rentals, valued at the same amount, would see its tax increase $195 from $3,015 to $3,210.
This will be the third time property taxes have been raised since 2010…..
read … Property Tax
Oahu Homeless Veterans Jump to 449
SA: While the numbers show Oahu’s overall homeless population grew by just 19 people, the island saw a 9 percent increase in homeless veterans despite a nationwide push to house them.
The additional 36 homeless veterans on Oahu who were counted during the annual January head count belied the ongoing, national Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, in which Mayor Kirk Caldwell participates.
Overall, Oahu’s homeless population increased by just 0.4 percent — to 4,940 people, according to data released last week based on the annual, nationwide Point-in-Time Count. At the same time, the number of homeless veterans on Oahu rose nearly 9 percent — from 413 to 449 people.
The neighbor islands saw a simultaneous 35 percent decrease in homeless veterans — from 257 to 166….
Big Q: How effective are the “sit-lie” bans in keeping public streets/spaces clear?
read … Veterans
Homeless Can Stay Drunk, but Still Won’t Accept Shelter
MN: ‘We have no place to go (except the shelter)’ - County has ordered campers to vacate area by May 23
Upward of 100 homeless people live around Baldwin Beach Park, according to the county, and social service agencies are trying to prepare them to leave their extended campsite. On May 2, the county posted a notice to vacate by May 23, following months of public complaints over trash, drugs and disturbances.
So, early Wednesday, Ka Hale A Ke Ola staff brought bags of toiletries, packets of instant oatmeal and saimin, and a message: there are open beds at the shelter.
“They don’t believe that they can come to us,” said Monique Yamashita, chief executive officer of Ka Hale A Ke Ola. “They used to have to come to us being clean and sober, and they don’t have to anymore.”
Under the state’s push toward a “housing first” model, agencies around Hawaii are changing their approach to outreach and striving to meet new goals. But there’s renewed pressure now that they have 60 to 90 days to get people out of shelters and into permanent housing….
Earthwalker lost his Denver apartment in a fire a few years ago and started moving around after that. He came to Baldwin Beach four months ago….
according to the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns, 90 percent of the population at Baldwin Beach Park is traveling campers from the Mainland. And, social services found that “about 70 percent are able-bodied males who can work if they want to,” said David Nakama, county homeless coordinator.
“The situation at Baldwin park is unique, and I would definitely not classify it as kicking out the needy or homeless,” Nakama said…..
In response to comments from some homeless people that the county was sweeping the beach to appease tourists, county spokesman Rod Antone said that “100 percent of the complaints about Baldwin park have been from local residents.”
“Ironically, the reason we’re kicking the group out is because most of them are tourists themselves, who seem to think Baldwin is their own personal party beach where they can stay for free and can do whatever they want,” Antone said. “That’s not going to fly anymore. It’s time to check out.”
SA: Usual; Suspects Trying to Set up a Sanctuary Church for Criminals facing Deportation`
read … Agency workers offer assistance to people living at Baldwin Beach Park
Military adds much to our communities
SA: …beyond the economics, beyond the jobs and the numbers, the military is a part of our community. The month of May is nationally recognized as “Military Appreciation Month,” and on May 5, Gov. David Ige officially declared the month as “Hawaii Military Appreciation Month.”
There are more than 60,000 active military personnel across the state. When you take into account their families, the military community totals nearly 150,000 military members and dependents. These men and women, as well as their families that support them, serve and sacrifice for our nation. Many spouses have given up their careers and their children may be attending their fourth, fifth or even eighth school. It is a life of sacrifice, one that most of us will never experience; however, we can help by welcoming and supporting our military in Hawaii…..
read ... Military adds much to our communities
UH ventures fail to turn a profit for athletics
SA: …three recent developments pose the question: Just how entrepreneurial can UH’s business model really be?
UH announced Thursday, after a three-year effort to make a go of it, the department-operated H-Zone store in Ward Centre will close May 31 and logo apparel and merchandising operations will revert to the bookstore. Athletics will share in the profits.
Also, three years after securing a memo of understanding with the UH Foundation allowing the ‘Ahahui Koa Anuenue booster club to take on fundraising initiatives such as concerts and non-UH sporting events in the Stan Sheriff Center, athletics said it is re-examining that approach in the wake of under-performing returns.
Meanwhile, after more than a decade of working in-house, the department is expected to announce soon an agreement to outsource the bulk of its multimedia marketing to a mainland firm….
read … Fail Profit