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Saturday, June 03, 2017
June 3, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:37 AM :: 672 Views

Conflict of Interest: OHA Audit Committee Member Secretly owns OHA’s Former Poi Mill

Where Pro-Rail and Anti-Rail Voices Agree

Matson charters foreign flag containership for Samoa service  

Evans: Raises the reason for tax increase

HTH: …The state decreased the share of the TAT meant for the counties from $103 million annually to $93 million in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008 to help balance the state budget.

That reduction removed $1.7 million from Hawaii County coffers. Evans said, however, that’s a drop in the bucket when viewed side by side with the $491.2 million county budget for next fiscal year, rejecting the mayor’s assertion that it plays a significant role as a catalyst for tax hikes.

“What really caused the property tax to go up — and they don’t say it, and I don’t know why — is the collective bargaining,” Evans said. “We raised everybody’s salaries a lot this year and that passed through to the county.”

Rising salaries elevate fixed costs the county pays in perpetuity and also increase pensions. A new system is now in place for incoming employees, but pensions of those already in the system aren’t determined precisely by salaries. Instead, they’re based on wages earned over an employee’s final three years on the job.

That means overtime pay is factored into pension amounts, which drives up the county’s fixed costs even further. It’s a stipulation Evans said she’s tried to fight to no avail.

Whether to place responsibility on the county or the state for this increasing burden, which was exacerbated by 4 percent salary hike statewide in the most recent round of collective bargaining, isn’t simple to pin down.

Salary increases are based on a vote, Kim said, with one vote belonging to each county and four votes at the state level that swing with whatever Gov. David Ige wants. All it took was one county to vote with the governor for the raises to pass, and that vote didn’t come from Kim.

“I stated to all the mayors, I stated to the governor, the unions all knew it …. that this administration would not support any raise,” Kim said at a Rotary Club meeting in Kona last month.

But the system is what the system is, Evans explained Friday….

read … Evans: Raises the reason for tax increase

Halawa: All Locks Fail at Another Prison Module

KHON: …The system experienced a power failure Thursday night in one of the prison’s housing modules. Officials say the malfunction did not pose a security risk.

“The facility is secure. The manual locking of the doors is a contingency plan that was built into our system and I can assure the public that there is no security risk or public safety issue,” said Nolan Espinda, public safety director. “Our staff are trained for situations like these and reacted accordingly to maintain security and control in the module.”

Officials say the problem stemmed from a part malfunction in the 30-year-old system, and they’re looking into whether the part can be fixed or needs to be replaced.

In the meantime, the module doors and cells are being opened and closed by key.

The system is already in the process of being upgraded.

The $9.8 million project was in the planning stages when, in late 2014, part of the electronic locking system that affected a different housing module and the special holding unit failed due to a part malfunction in the old system. A temporary, $235,000 fix was made to address the issue until the new locking system could be installed.

Work began to upgrade the system in August 2016.

In February 2017, 248 inmates were transferred to the mainland to clear one housing module, so upgrades could begin in the four housing areas….

KHON: Former prison guard sentenced for lying about inappropriate relationships with inmates

read … Nothing to see here

Tourism Setting Records, but Chin says travel ban 'chilling effect' hurting Hawaii's economy

PBN: Attorney General Doug Chin says his fight against the Trump administration's revised travel ban is also a fight to protect Hawaii's economy, which depends on foreign investment. In an exclusive interview, Chin told Pacific Business News that the ban has "a chilling effect" on the state economy as people from around the world could be deterred from doing business in the United States….

read … Chilling

Star Adv: King Tides Prove Hawaii Must Keep Shoveling Tax Credit Money to Silicon Valley Billionaires 

SA: …Hawaii is in the forefront of the climate change issue — sometimes in a scary way. As was demonstrated in the recent encounter with “king tides” lapping up well beyond the usual high-water mark, this island state is as vulnerable as any to rising sea levels, one of the consequences of what scientists describe as a warming planet.  (Mapunapuna puddle justifies everything!)

And so, when President Donald Trump announced his decision to pull the United States from the 2015 Paris accord on climate change, the Elon Musk’s disappointment was felt deeply here, followed by a loud cry of protest from politicians and residents lobbyists….

That leadership, far from being defeated, may have just deepened the resolve to its Clean Energy Initiative. This is also a state that followed its own impulses to embrace green-energy (tax credit) policies and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, without needing to follow an international banner raised in Paris…. (Translation: Even if the Feds quit, we will keep giving away Hawaii tax credits to Democrat billionaire donors.)

Already a measure sits on Gov. David Ige’s desk deserving of his signature. It is Senate Bill 559, requiring the state “to expand strategies and mechanisms (ca-ching!!!) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement.” ….

News Release: Ige Joins California in Paris Coalition 

read … Keep the Billionaires Happy, Believe in their Eco-Religion

Food as a political weapon

JC: …Farmers tell me they stick it out because they have a passion for agriculture; they love the lifestyle and in some cases, want to continue a family legacy.

Meanwhile, they’re increasingly frustrated and dispirited by having to deal with the demands and unrealistic expectations of a public that is growing ever more distant from the realities of agriculture. Not to mention groups like Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network that are trying to use food production as a weapon for forcing political and social change.

Which is why we have food writer Mark Bittman — identified as a Center for Food Safety “friend” — making asinine proclamations like these:

“Recognize racism, poverty, and inequality as underlying causes of all our food problems.”

Really? And production issues — not to mention the ignorance and expectations of people like Bittman and his pals at CFS — don’t even factor into the equation?

Bittman is one of the food activists who believe that everything will be rosy if only we convert to organic, with no thought as to how that will affect production or prices. And they’re mum about how social justice will be achieved by requiring ever more people to engage in manual farm labor — work now performed predominantly by poor immigrants.

He writes of a campaign trying to pressure the “New York City Council to make free and healthy school meals available to all public school students in the city, regardless of income,” without mentioning how anti-GMO activists pressured NY schools to stop using any genetically engineered ingredients, even though a ban was estimated to increase lunch costs by 7 percent.

If Bittman, et.al., truly believe that “farming should happen in harmony with the environment,” then why are they fighting genetic engineering, which offers tools for growing food in a more environmentally sustainable manner, with fewer pesticides, less nitrogen fertilizer, less tilling, less water and higher yields?

And if they’re so concerned about social justice, why are they trying so hard to prevent farmers in developing nations from accessing agricultural technology and innovation that can help them produce sufficient yield to escape poverty?

Bittman writes: “The food justice movement—despite its disparate constituencies—stands for the principle that people should have the right to shape their food environment.”

Yeah, they should have that right — if they are willing to get out there and do the hard, dirty, perilous and uncertain business of producing food.

Otherwise, you get clean-handed elites like Bittman — and Center for Food Safety — trying to dictate the terms of a system they do not understand or participate in, other than as privileged consumers who can afford local organic carrots at $4.50 per pound while pretending they give a rat’s ass about the fate of the hungry and poor….

read … Food as a political weapon

State’s Largest Biofuel Farm Produces Much Hype, Little Oil

MN: …The first field is estimated to yield 100 gallons of oil per acre. Pacific Biodiesel plans to produce 32,775 gallons of biodiesel annually from its Maui sunflowers.

The farm currently is the largest biofuel crop project in the state, the company said…..

read … Big Hat no Cattle

More Marijuana for the Kids

AP: …Rep. Tupola was one of three state representatives who hosted a town hall on medical marijuana Tuesday evening at Kapolei High School.

“We’ve seen such a bad increase in marijuana use among our young people especially the last couple years,” said Virginia Jackson, of Pono Kapolei, a drug-free community coalition.

Some critics of the state’s policy are concerned about what access to marijuana will mean to at-risk youth.

“What I’ve seen, is a lot of kids drop out of school very early, they get into the marijuana scene, they’re so busy selling it, using it, they lose motivation for school, it kind of stalls their education,” said Jackson.

“I think the fear is something that people should not concern themselves with,” said Christopher Garth, with Hawaii Dispensary Alliance.

read … Drop out

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