Audit The Rail
State Labor Negotiators partly to blame for counties’ tax hikes
No Jones Act tankers are capable of carrying liquid natural gas
Takings: Bridge Aina Lea Suit Dismissed
Wine Taxes: Hawaii Ranks 12th
The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in Hawaii
Audit: Informal Procedures by HPD, Prosecutor Hinder Domestic Violence Cases
Audit Catches Maui County Finance Directory Abusing P-Card–Exposes Hostess Bar Loophole
Soon-to-be HIDOE superintendent at the center of nearly $1M controversy
HNN: The woman chosen to lead Hawaii's Public Schools isn't sitting well with her current school district.
Christina Kishimoto is at the center of a nearly $1 million controversy with her current district, located just outside of Phoenix, Ariz.
In a report just made public, auditors found her district was over-counting enrollment figures. Because schools get money based on student attendance, the state overpaid the district $962,767. Now the state of Arizona wants that money back.
"I don't believe it was intentional," said Julie Smith, Former Gilbert Public Schools Board Member. "If the audit is done and the appeal is done and the state says no the district has to pay it. Responsibility does stop with the superintendent," said Smith.
Smith says the overcounting started before Kishimoto took over as superintendent and continued the two years she was there.
Prior to Kishimoto's selection by Hawaii's Board of Education, there were questions about her resume.
Critics claimed she clashed with her current school board. Hawaii News Now also learned another school district in Connecticut didn't renew her contract. At the time the board called the information "inconsequential" and "invalid."
read … $1M Scandal
TMT returns to high court: State justices to hear sublease appeal
WHT: …The high court on June 5 accepted an appeal of a lower court ruling that vacated TMT International Observatory’s sublease for 6 acres on Mauna Kea.
In December, Hilo Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled the state Land Board should have granted Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner E. Kalani Flores a contested case hearing for the sublease. The board denied his request before approving the sublease with the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 2014.
The state appealed the decision and made the request for the case to be transferred from the Intermediate Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court….
Another contested case would be a major setback for TIO, which has said it intends to resume construction in April 2018. La Palma in the Canary Islands is being considered as a backup site.
Thayne Currie, TMT supporter and Mauna Kea astronomer, said he was glad to see the case move to the Supreme Court.
“I want to see the process move forward and every aspect of TMT be decided on its merits,” he said.
“The fact that it’s not stuck in limbo is a good thing.”…
Kopper said briefs would be filed during the next two to three months, possibly followed by oral arguments.
TIO is not a party in the case. A spokesman said: “We look forward to the oral arguments in the case and the court’s ultimate decision.”
With the sublease vacated, TIO is no longer making lease payments, which started at $300,000 a year. The Office of Mauna Kea Management received 80 percent of those funds, while the other 20 percent was slated for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
A spokesman said TIO continues to make $1 million-a-year payments to its educational fund for Hawaii Island students….
read … Telescope
Property Taxes to Quadruple for 8,000 Condos
SA: Owners of about 8,000 condominiums on Oahu face a Sept. 1 deadline to tell the city whether their property should be taxed at a residential rate or much higher commercial rate as part of a property tax reform initiative.
The city plans to mail letters out Friday explaining the situation to all owners of condos that permit flexible use as residences or hotel rentals or even office space.
If owners do nothing, their property will automatically be put into the highest allowable tax category, mainly hotel/resort, where the tax rate is nearly four times higher than residential….
read … Caldwell Scheme
GE Tax Payments up 1.1%, TAT up 14.9%
NR: Eleven months into fiscal year (FY) 2017, the cumulative general fund tax deposits are up by 1.6% compared with the same period in FY 2016. General excise and use tax (GET) collections, the largest single category of tax collections, were $272.7 million in May. For FY 2017, cumulative collections of the GET are up by 1.1% compared to the previous fiscal year. Individual income tax collections were $238.9 million in May. Cumulative collections of the tax are up by 1.3% from last fiscal year. Transient accommodations tax (TAT) collections were $43.8 million for the month. Compared to FY 2016, TAT collections are up by 14.9%.
read … Taxes
Legislature’s Latest Idea: Put Everybody on Welfare and Call it ‘Universal Basic Income’
Vox: …Basic income — a plan under which the government would regularly send everyone in a given country/state/city/etc. money just for being alive — has been gaining a significant amount of interest in recent years, with trials ongoing or set to start in Finland, Ontario, and Kenya. (Translation: Nobody has been suckered into accepting this scam, so now they are trying to con Hawaii.)
The Hawaii state legislature has unanimous passed a concurrent resolution which sets up a “basic economy security working group” tasked with considering the idea. (Translation: UBI was only a footnote, but now the hype machine is cranking up….)
State Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat (and charter member of the smug millennial caucus) from the Honolulu suburb Kailua who spearheaded the measure, says he first heard about basic income as a concept on Reddit…. (LOL!)
The working group will include members from the State Senate and State House, the state's director of human services, the head of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization, and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. (Real UBI abolishes most HGEA positions and eliminates social services bureaucracy. But this is Hawaii, so they install the unions in the planning committee.)
“We had support both from the Chamber of Commerce and the biggest unions in the state,” Lee says. “Everybody recognizes that if large portions of our population are no longer able to work jobs that no longer let them pay the rent, they’re not going to have the discretionary funds available to keep a lot of the industries in our economy going.”
The legislature approved the measure unanimously. There are only five Republican state representatives in Hawaii out of 51 state reps total, and zero Republican state senators, but unanimous passage also meant getting support from more moderate and conservative Democrats. One of the sponsors is Beth Fukumoto…. (another member of the smug millennial caucus)
read … Smug Millennial Caucus chasing trendy crap (again)
Vampire Rail Bites into Hawaii Blood Supply
SA: Since the local nonprofit closed blood collections from its Dillingham headquarters due to pending rail construction, 70 percent of its regular donors have found new donor locations, but 30 percent — more than 2,000 people — have not, according to Todd Lewis, chief operating officer of the Blood Bank of Hawaii….
“We have had to import blood from the mainland over the last year and a half to meet Hawaii’s patients’ needs,” Dolormente said. The loss becomes “quite significant” during the summer when donor turnout is traditionally low, she added….
read … Bloodsuckers
Hawaii Fastest Rising College Tuition in USA
DB: …States are spending about $1,600 less per college student according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Despite this decrease in spending, tuition is still increasing. Over the past decade, college tuition has increased 40 percent according to Educents, an education marketplace startup.
Educents looked at tuition and fees costs starting in the 2006-2007 year and compared all 50 states including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Hawaii had the highest percentage increase at 113 percent while Montana had the lowest increase at 3.1 percent….
read … States spend less on education as costs rise
Hawaii Home Health Care Costs Rising Faster Than 48 States
HHC: Hawaii—Another non-contiguous state, Hawaii, has continued to spend more on home health services for its residents, with an average annual percentage growth of 12.2%. By 2014, the state spent $230 million on these services
read … 5 States Where Home Health Spending Has Grown the Most
Anti-GMO Activists Sue State to Force EIS for Farming Operations
KGI: …Punohu Kekaualua, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and resident of Kekaha, is one of the plaintiffs along with the organizations Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Ke Kauhulu O Mana, Surfrider Foundation and Kohola Leo.
The complaint filed Tuesday contends that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources shouldn’t have approved a permit in February that allows Syngenta to use more than 61 acres of land in West Kauai.
The plaintiffs contend the state should have required Syngenta to conduct an environmental assessment before issuing the permit.
The lawsuit also says the state shouldn’t have exempted Syngenta from preparing an environmental disclosure document, and alleges the state relied on an outdated permit to allow Syngenta to use 17.6 acres of conservation land.
The plaintiffs want Syngenta to stop using the land until it has conducted an environmental assessment.
read … Kauai Groups Sue State, Syngenta To Stop GMO Farming On Public Land
Big Money Behind Anti-GMO
JC: …The public backlash against GMOs didn’t occur organically and spontaneously. It was fomented and fed by activists who were motivated by political ideology and/or financial gain, with wealthy philanthropists, anonymous donors and some elements of the organic food industry footing the bill.
I’ve written extensively about this, as has author Mark Lynas, a former anti who switched sides, as I did. The fear-based anti-GMO narrative has been picked up around the world not because it has any basis in reality, but because it’s been systematically pounded into the heads of people who don’t understand science.
As Mark recently noted in the new documentary Food Evolution: “It’s easier to scare people than reassure them.”
To which I would add, especially when groups and activists can make so much money and wield so much influence through fear-mongering.
I’ve documented the money flow that fueled the growth of the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii and the political power gained — at least temporarily — by the politicians who embraced its fear-based, fact-challenged mantra.
Groups like Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and Pesticide Action Network use conflict as a business model, stirring up fears around GMOs and pesticides to attract followers and solicit donations. The organic industry also has benefitted financially from all the lies spread about crop biotech. Not to mention the Non-GMO Project, which makes money certifying that products like salt (LOL!)… are indeed GMO-free….
KGI: Failed Kauai Anti-GMO Activists Form Another PAC
read … Credit where credit is due