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Friday, July 07, 2017
July 7, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:52 PM :: 1421 Views

Hawaii, Alaska contemplate coming into North Korean missile range

July 7, 1935: Moscow orders first Communists to Hawaii

Ige's Second Suit Against Trump: Too Much Even for an Obama Judge—AG Appeals to 9th

Competition heating up on Asia-Hawaii trade

HART board chokes on forensic audit

Here’s Who Might Get Stung Hardest By Any New Rail Taxes

CB:…With the Hawaii Legislature poised to hold a special session in July or August to address paying for the over-budget, $10 billion rail project, the question of which tax is best to pay for rail will take center stage…. (Correct Answer: Neither)

Among tax experts, there’s little debate that Hawaii’s general excise tax is regressive, which means it places a disproportionately higher burden on low- and middle-income people. The tax applies to virtually all goods and services sold in Hawaii.

Because those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder spend virtually all of what they earn to survive, Hawaii’s general excise tax means lower-income people pay a far higher percentage of their income in taxes compared to wealthier earners. As a result, Hawaii ranks second nationally when it comes to taxing the poor, the nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy reported in a recent national study.

“The main reason for that is the general excise tax,” said Carl Davis, the institute’s research director. “It’s a tax that applies very broadly, even to basic necessities like groceries.”….

Background: Video: Roth vs Anderson on GE Tax Hike

read … Here’s Who Might Get Stung Hardest By Any New Rail Taxes

Supreme court hears arguments on 10% Rail Skim

HNN: …The state receives 10 percent of the rail tax. The supreme court heard arguments Thursday over the legality that, and if it was constitutional.

State officials admit the state collects about $25 million to $30 million a year from the fee, but argued that the tax foundation didn't have the right to challenge the clearly written law.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii says the so-called "Rail tax Skim" has been a huge and unnecessary burden on taxpayers.

"Through the life of the current surcharge, the state of Hawaii will have skimmed more than $300 million from amounts paid by Oahu taxpayers for the rail system," Paul Alston, attorney for the Tax Foundation of Hawaii said.

The supreme court's ruling could take months….

Related: Supreme Court to Hear Rail Skim Lawsuit

read … Supreme court hears arguments on constitutionality of city, state rail tax issue

Building a house in Honolulu costs nearly twice as much as Chicago, report shows

PBN:…Honolulu’s indicative construction costs were higher in nearly every category tracked by Rider Levett Bucknall, except offices, where Honolulu came in at a high of $530 per square foot for primary office space, second to New York, which had a high of $575 per square foot. Shopping center construction came in at a high of $495 per square foot for Honolulu, with Las Vegas pacing second at $480 per square foot.

The cost to build a strip retail center in Honolulu was more than than $100 per square foot higher than any other city at $435 per square foot. The next-highest cost was in San Francisco at $325 per square foot. The cheapest place to build a strip center was Denver, at a high of $135 per square foot.

Construction of a five-star hotel property, at a high of $745 per square foot, costs nearly $100 per square foot more in Honolulu than the next highest-cost city in that category, Chicago, where the high was $650 per square foot.

Honolulu was also tops for residential construction costs, although the high price for multi-family, at $445 per square foot, was not too far off San Francisco, whose high cost was $430 per square foot. The cost to build multi-family in Phoenix was less than half the Honolulu cost at a high of $185 per square foot.

The high of $760 per square foot for single-family residential construction was nearly double the next city with the highest home-building costs, Chicago, where the high cost was $420 per square foot. Even San Francisco had lower costs at $400 per square foot….

Meanwhile: Bill adds step to permit process: County works to meet federal floodplain guidelines

read … Double

Median price of a home could hit $1 million by 2022

SA: …Single-family houses on Oahu soared to a median price of nearly $800,000 last month, prompting local real estate experts to forecast that the $1 million threshold could be breached within the next five years.

With strong demand and low inventory, the price for previously owned houses climbed 4.6 percent to a record $795,000 in June, according to data released Thursday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors. That was $35,000 higher than the previous record of $760,000 exactly a year earlier.

“We see no end in sight,” John Jacobson, a real estate analyst for Honolulu-based Locations, said in a phone interview. “There is no immediate or near-term solution to the lack of inventory. Demand continues to be strong. We’ve had this condition for the last several years and expect next year to be the same.”

Sales for previously owned single-family houses jumped 14.2 percent to 370 from 324 in the year- earlier period, while days on the market for those homes set a record low with sales closing at a median of 12 days, down from 14 days in June 2016…..

read … Median

Court decision disappoints substitute teacher

KGI: …Hoff said he was owed about $12,000. He eventually received about $3,000 after attorney’s fees and taxes. He had hoped for more and said substitute teachers needed the money….

read … Disappointed

Legislature Cut Every Penny For Free Or Low-Cost Legal Services

CB:…In fiscal year 2016, the Judiciary received $600,000 for civil legal service organizations to help low-income residents, victims of domestic abuse, homeless people, veterans, immigrants and the elderly. In fiscal year 2017, that number was $750,000.

For the 2018 fiscal year that started July 1, no money was allocated toward these services in the Judiciary budget.

Rep. Scott Nishimoto, chair of the House Committee on Judiciary where the funding was eliminated, was unavailable for comment. Calls to other members of the committee were deferred to Nishimoto….

read … Eliminated

State fires execs at OCCC as jail's care for mentally ill inmates declines

HNN: Oahu Community Correctional Center is once again violating federal standards for the care of inmates with mental illnesses, a Hawaii News Now investigation shows.

HNN has also learned that a prison executive who complained about the issues has been fired, the latest of several to not have their contracts renewed.

Dr. Mark Mitchell believes he and another mental health administrator were let go last month because they were trying to bring the level of care back up to requirements set by the U.S. Department of Justice….

Finally, in June 2015 -- almost seven years later -- the DOJ agreed that OCCC was in compliance and dismissed the lawsuit.

But right after that deal was reached, Mitchell said services began to slide back.

And in July 2015, Dr. Lori Karan, OCCC’s medical director, was fired….

The agency says of the 37 positions at OCCC’s mental health section, 27 are filled and they are looking to fill the remaining 10.

Mitchell, meanwhile, said OCCC isn’t the only concern.

The U.S. Justice Department also wanted more mental health services added to other prisons and jails in Hawaii. Lawmakers even approved 21 new positions for that to happen, but most of the positions remain vacant….

Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read … State fires execs at OCCC as jail's care for mentally ill inmates declines

Star-Adv: Ige Should Join Next Fake Anti-Trump Fight—Don’t Surrender Voter Data

SA: …State elections staffers have said that the only information Hawaii would treat as public would be the voters’ names, district precinct and voting status. That third category would include whether the voter’s registration is current or “inactive.” This could mean that the voter may not have confirmed their information, such as address, as up to date.

But the federal commission’s fishing expedition goes much further. The governor’s office cited a copy of the letter sent to the Connecticut secretary of state.

The letter, signed by the panel’s vice chairman Kris Kobach, starts with a list of election-related questions. The letter requests any recommended changes to federal election laws, what commission support was needed for information technology security, any evidence of voter fraud in the state, the record of election-related crimes in the state and other broad concerns.

But in the next paragraph, Kobach requests “the publicly-available voter roll data” — if it’s a public document in the state — which would entail what Hawaii would consider public, and much more.

This means full names with available middle names or initials, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded by the state), the last four digits of the Social Security number, voter history, information on felony convictions, voter registration in another state, military status and any overseas citizen information….

SA: Voter Information is Publicly Available

read … Don’t surrender state voter data

Hawaii First to Join Paris Accord?  Fake News!

IM: …One problem with the Fake News definition is that many fanatics believe their own press. Therefore, their information is not intentionally disinformation.

Which is worse, hearing fake news which is obviously fake, or listening to, and repeating, misinformation which could easily be proven false with either common sense or one web search?

Hawai`i will phase out fossil fuel by 2045. How could that be, since nowhere in state law is fossil fuel defined?

According to 900 web sites around the world, “Hawaii becomes first state to enact law aligning with Paris Agreement".  A thousand sites state, “"Hawaii becomes first state to pass laws supporting Paris accord". Other sites proclaimed, "Hawaii has become the first American state to pass environmental measures that adhere to the Paris climate agreement.”

The Star Advertiser picked up the Associated Press article, “Ige said Hawaii is the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris climate agreement.”

What does align with, adhere to, supporting, working towards, and implementing parts, mean?

Were we #1?

Four parts of the Paris Climate Accord are as follows:

  1. “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country”
  2. “Each Party shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions that it intends to achieve.”
  3. “All Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies”
  4. “Each Party shall, as appropriate, engage in adaptation planning processes and the implementation of actions.”

Did no one else agree to any of those before Hawaii?

read … Misinformation Surrounds Us

Anti-Aquarium Nuts: We Are the New Normal

SA:  …The personal possession of wildlife goes against today’s social norms and is universally discouraged.

A recent poll of Hawaii residents confirms this norm extends to reef fish, with 81 percent in agreement that only captive- bred fish should be kept in personal/hobby aquariums….

Reality: Q-Mark Shreds its Own Reputation with Poll Claiming Anti-Aquarium Hysteria Reaches 90%

read … Anti-Aquarium Nuts: We Are the New Normal

Jail Term for Blasphemy: Teenage Iconoclast Repents, Pledges Obsequience to State Religion

DC: …Gutierrez told a packed courtroom at his sentencing hearing that he was sorry for his sick actions and wished he had chosen differently.

“I am ashamed of myself,” Gutierrez said (repenting), according to the Star-Advertiser.

“I love you, mom. I love you, dad. I’m sorry,” the teen also said, according to Honolulu ABC affiliate KITV.

Prosecutors exhibited a stuffed albatross in the courtroom for dramatic effect.  (But who killed that one?)

Lindsay Young, executive director of Pacific Rim Conservation, told the court that her “life’s work and spirit shattered,” according to the Star-Advertiser. (After seeing the shattered icons)

“He turned my favorite place (a Temple to the Goddess Gaia) on Earth into a crime scene,” Young also said…. 

read … Bow Before the Goddess Gaia

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