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Thursday, May 25, 2017
May 25, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:11 AM :: 496 Views

The case for short-term rentals

KOS: Is the Hawaii GOP dead?

UH Manoa Prof Freaks Out After DOI Lightly Edits New Release On Climate Change

Hawaii Preparing New Nuclear Contingency Plan Because of North Korea

HB209 Tax Cuts for the Poor—Republicans Had a Better Plan

CB: …The Legislature finally passed a version of a state earned income tax credit to help low-income working families (House Bill 209), but it is unfortunate that it took so long and only resulted in a half-measure. The federal EITC is the most efficient and effective federal program to reduce poverty. That’s why the Republican caucus introduced a more fiscally responsible bill to create a state EITC in each of the past two sessions.

The majority’s version unwisely increases taxes on high-earning job creators, threatening the jobs of the very same working families they claim to help. In addition, because the credit is non-refundable, the poor will only really benefit from half of the tax increase while the state coffers keep the rest.

The Republican caucus has introduced measures to eliminate general excise taxes on food and medical services for years. Unfortunately, the majority has not given a fair hearing to these proposals to reduce the heavy burden of our state’s unusually regressive tax system on the working poor. To be frank, the only real cost-of-living reductions experienced by the people of Hawaii have come from Walmart, Costco and Target, not policymakers in the Legislature….

Related: HB209: Tax credit to help poor really helps politicians

read … Rep Gene Ward

Foster Parents: Sylvia Luke’s Million-Dollar Ripoff

SA: Four years ago, foster parents — asserting that a state stipend that had not increased in two dozen years was woefully inadequate to cover basic expenses for kids in their care — filed a federal class action lawsuit against the state Department of Human Services.

This year, the Legislature appeared poised to sign off on the suit’s settlement, which calls for a bump in the monthly stipend and requires the state to regularly review rates and assure they’re adequate, as is required under federal law. A settlement in a related lawsuit, filed in state court, gives foster parents back pay. Both were in the House Bill 1022 lineup of claims that the state Attorney General recommended for funding.

But in the last days of the session, House leaders inexplicably rebuffed that direction and dropped funding for both.

Among House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke’s reasons: perceived court meddling in a legislative prerogative and objection to paying $1.1 million in attorneys’ fees. While Luke’s keen eye for efficient state spending is, at times, worthy of applause from cash-strapped taxpayers, in this case, her decision-making is misguided.

read … Foster Parents

Claims: Sen Keith-Agaran’s Million-Dollar Ripoff

CB: Lawsuits filed by airport subcontractors for nonpayment represent $10 million of the total. Gov. David Ige approved the payouts last week….

Also subtracted from the claims bill in the last days of the 2017 legislative session was $1 million for a lawsuit called Bridge Aina Le’a LLC v. State of Hawaii Land Use Commission.

In testimony on the claim, the attorney general explained that the LUC changed the land classification of property on Hawaii Island from agriculture to urban, in the process requiring the owner to build 385 affordable housing units.

But after 20 years, the only affordable housing at the site controlled by Bridge Aina Le’a was “several incomplete multi-unit dwellings that did not have utilities and could not actually be used.”

The LUC argued that the work did not amount to “substantial commencement” with the affordable housing requirement, but the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the decision, saying that $20 million of planning and other preparation constituted “substantial commencement.”

Bridge Aina Leʻa sought $29 million in damages but accepted the far lower settlement. When the claims bill went through Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran’s Judiciary and Labor Committee, however, he changed the $1 million settlement to just $1.

read … Hawaii Taxpayers Are On The Hook For $18 Million To Settle Claims

‘Not In Good Standing’—But Hawaii Hi Tech Schemer Scores Million of Your Tax Dollars

PBN: …A Hawaii technology startup will receive a federal grant of more than $1 million to research and develop a low-cost data acquisition system.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday unveiled Honolulu-based Nalu Scientific LLC as one of the recipients of its Phase II grants.

Nalu, which designs and builds high-end sensor systems, will receive $1,009,983 for the design and fabrication of the ASoC, a system-on-chip data acquisition system, according to the Department's website….

Last year, Nalu received a $150,000 Phase I grant from DOE for the same project. It also received a $74,548 Phase I grant from the High Technology Development Corp. in 2016.

Nalu Scientific was founded by Isar Mostafanezhad in Oct. 2015. He is also a co-founder of agricultural technology startup Smart Yields….

BREG: NALU Not in Good Standing

read … Your Tax Dollars at Work

UH Regents Will Soon be Expected to Approve More Fat Juicy Salaries

SA: Going on six seasons after he last coached a football game at the University of Hawaii, Greg McMackin is still a central figure in school policy.

Officially, it is listed “(Board of) Regents Policy 9.218” but, unofficially, it has become known as the “McMackin Rule.”

McMackin, who coached the Rainbow Warriors (2008-2011) until his banquet night ouster, still holds the record for the highest annual salary ($1.1 million) of any state employee.

The fact that McMackin, who had no Division I head coaching experience, landed the five-year, $5.5 million bonanza in the wake of June Jones’ 2008 departure and eventually received a $600,000 buyout of his final year of the deal, prompted regents to take more hands-on oversight of lucrative athletic contracts.

The depth of that oversight has become a renewed topic of discussion among regents and UH administrators. With an eye to the future, they want, by way of amendment, an unambiguous policy in place the next time they are confronted with a proposal to extend a coach’s contract or raise a salary above current ceilings.

One that needs to balance both timeliness and consensus if it is to be effective.

Though their names were not part of the discussion, football coach Nick Rolovich, who is contracted to make $450,000 this season, and men’s basketball coach Eran Ganot, whose contract calls for in excess of $300,000 a year, hold the two most lucrative coaches’ contracts at Manoa.

The “McMackin Rule” requires regents’ approval for “appointments and re-appointments for coaches exceeding three years in total duration … and salary adjustments for coaches exceeding the salary schedule by more than 25% and/or exceeding $500,000 annually.”

read … Money

Is Hu Honua Gaming the Public Utilities Commission?

IM: …It would appear from all of the ten Owen related emails that Hu Honua wants everyone to assume that the biomass that would be burned are eucalyptus trees, that chopping down trees, hauling them 60-70 miles, and then burning them is carbon neutral, and that the project is a model of sustainability.

Someone has started a letter writing campaign to the Public Utilities Commission, singing the praises of Hu Honua. Some of these are from companies and unions which stand to gain financially from the deal have sent letters of support.
Hu Honua hired Hastings & Pleadwell. The communication company has provided “personalized outreach strategies for a select group of client” since 1996.

Hastings & Pleadwell`s other active clients include Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative, and OTEC International LLC. “Past and Occasional Clients” include: Aina Koa Pono, BioEnergy Hawai`i, Chevron, First Wind, Hawaii Health Connector, Hoku Kai Biofuels, Parker Ranch, Puna Geothermal Venture, SunEdison, and US BioDiesel Group, LLC…..

HTH: HELCO, Hu Honua settle federal lawsuit

read … Is Hu Honua Gaming the Public Utilities Commission?

Solar and Wind Project Kill Birds, Spill Oil

JC: …huge solar projects in the Mojave desert are frying bats and birds — an estimated 6,000 birds per year. In fact, it happens so frequently along this migratory flyway that there’s a horrible name for it: “streamers.” As the Los Angeles Times reported:

A macabre fireworks show unfolds each day along I-15 west of Las Vegas, as birds fly into concentrated beams of sunlight and are instantly incinerated, leaving wisps of white smoke against the blue desert sky.

In addition, coyotes eat dozens of road runners trapped  along the outside of a perimeter fence that was designed to prevent federally threatened desert tortoises from wandering onto the property.

Then there’s wind power’s dirty little secret, as reported by Bloomberg:

Wind turbines were planted along a strip of Mexico’s southern coast to make the country’s power industry cleaner. Now they’re spilling oil. Much of the power produced by the wind turbines is sent to Mexico’s biggest companies, like Cemex SAB and Wal-Mart’s Mexico branch, known as Walmex, which get tax incentives in return for using renewable energy.

So is it worth burning up birds in mid-flight to keep the phony glitz and glitter of Vegas ablaze; to have oil spilled on Mexican ag land to provide tax breaks to Wal-Mart and a mutinational cement corporation?

read …. Joan Conrow

Homeless Drug Addicts on Na Pali Coast: Decades of Entitlement Mentality

SA: …Social media comments advocating the need to improve management and remove people who establish illegal campsites, desecrate cultural and archaeological sites, and pollute the environment with rubbish and human waste are right on target.

This behavior has been fluctuating and festering for several decades, creating an alternative culture in Kalalau. This has fostered a reputation of no rules and that one can freely commune with nature absent clothes, use drugs and alcohol with no consideration to others, while tampering with irreplaceable historic sites.

This behavior has been fluctuating and festering for several decades, creating an alternative culture in Kalalau. This has fostered a reputation of no rules and that one can freely commune with nature absent clothes, use drugs and alcohol with no consideration to others, while tampering with irreplaceable historic sites.

This entitled behavior is selfish and misrepresents the authenticity of “malama aina” when these people engage in faux cultural practices and destructive recreation….

DLNR: 11 More Arrests at Na Pali

SA:  City clarifies usage, locations of its mobile hygiene centers

read … Entitlement Mentality

Travel Ban Case Heading for Supreme Court

AP: A federal appeals court dealt another blow to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority countries on Thursday, siding with groups that say the policy illegally targets Muslims.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that blocks the Republican’s administration from temporarily suspending new visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban, which Trump’s administration had hoped would avoid the legal problems that the first version encountered.

In all, ten of the thirteen judges who heard the case voted against the Trump administration.

Trump will likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court….

read … Supreme

Ex-police officer to stand trial

WHT: A former Hawaii County police officer has chosen to go to trial to prove his innocence after he was charged with first-degree assault in connection with a 2014 road rage incident in Ka’u….

read … Ex-police officer to stand trial

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