HART's Latest Excuse: Blame Paulette Kaleikini
Special Session Threatens Neighbor Islands
MN: …Increasing a tax on tourists seems like an easy way to close the funding gap. The problem, however, is that TAT is applied on accommodations statewide, not just Oahu. Even thinking of this solution for rail, without ample benefit to Neighbor Island counties, is simply irresponsible. Neighbor Islands receive absolutely no benefit from rail and neither will Waikiki, which generates most of Oahu’s TAT revenue.
Increasing the TAT also has implications on the overall economy. Most visitors have a fixed budget for their vacation, and an increase in the room tax will simply lead to less spending on restaurants, retail and activities. Every 1 percent increase in the TAT sends approximately $26.7 million to the state instead of remaining in the Neighbor Island communities.
Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties generate 51 percent of TAT revenues ($247 million) while Oahu generates 49 percent ($237 million). Given this split distribution, any increases to the tax for rail should apply only to Oahu. It is unfair to expect Neighbor Islands to subsidize one of the most expensive projects in the state’s history.
The redirection of funds would also further dilute the purpose of the tax, which is to provide counties the ability to maintain the infrastructure and services necessary to support a thriving visitor industry.
Counties have absorbed additional costs in recent years since the state has failed to provide a fair share of TAT funding. From 2007 to 2017, counties have incurred over $260 million in cost increases for fire, police and parks but have only seen an additional $2.2 million from TAT revenues. Any gains have since been reduced, as the Legislature cut the counties’ annual TAT distribution from $103 million to $93 million for fiscal year 2018. Meanwhile, during the same period the state took for its operations over $220 million.
These actions have forced counties to either raise property taxes or dip into contingency funds to balance their budgets. In the end, the actions at the Legislature hit the pockets of residents despite the facade of only impacting visitors….. – Maui Co Chair Mike White
read … Special Session Threatens Neighbor Islands
Nothing can convince homeless people to leave the streets
SA: Nothing, it seems, can convince some homeless people to leave the streets and seek appropriate shelter. For whatever reason, they will do whatever it takes to live out in the open. They don’t care if they’re a public nuisance or a health hazard. They don’t care if they prevent others from enjoying public parks. They don’t care about the law. They just don’t care.
That’s one view of Oahu’s homeless situation, shared by citizens frustrated by the stubborn persistence of homeless encampments popping up everywhere. Residents of afflicted neighborhoods want them gone.
This hard-line position is understandable and has some credibility. Homeless encampments, left unchecked, will grow and harden, as they did in Kakaako and more recently in Kalihi and on the slopes of Diamond Head. Living on the street, or in a public park, or in a car, simply cannot be accepted and must be discouraged as forcefully as possible. So a proposal to create a force of armed park rangers — patrolling city parks and continually rousting the homeless from their filthy encampments — has a certain appeal…..
There are aspects to the homelessness problem that park rangers with guns won’t be able to solve. They can’t change the (ACLU’s interpretation of the) Constitution. It’s not illegal to be homeless, and homeless people (currently) can’t be forced to accept shelter or mental health care (WRONG!)....
Caldwell said he plans to ask the Honolulu Police Department’s new chief, whenever that person is appointed, to create a division of officers specially tasked with homeless concerns….
read … Don’t create new armed park force
Big Island EMS reaches out to frequent 911 callers to help minimize cost, provide solutions
HTH: …By mid-July, Ebersole said, the Community Paramedicine Pilot Program had visited 55 of the county’s 247 “high utilizer” medical callers to 911 (those who make six or more calls per year).
Their calls to 911 have decreased by 45 percent since the pilot program began Oct. 3 — a cost savings of $26,460 per month for the health care system, including the county, Hilo Medical Center and emergency responders — fire medical specialists and ambulance crews.
Starting this week, the Fire Department’s Community Paramedicine Pilot Program began a partnership with Hawaii Island Family Medical Center.
Every Tuesday, a nurse practitioner and a physician from the Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency Program will accompany Ebersole, hoping to make further cost savings, while at the same time relieving patients of the stress of heading to the ER….
HTH: Pilot program’s specialists wear badges of compassion in the field
read … solutions
HTDC: High Tech Schemers Become Property Developers
CB: …When the Legislature created the High Technology Development Corp., it granted broad powers to fulfill a lofty vision: develop industrial parks for “biotechnology, software, computers, telecommunications, and other computer-related technologies.”
Three decades later, the HTDC — now called the Hawaii Technology Development Corp. — is lining up tenants for its first major industrial park.
But they’re not the scientists, engineers and technicians envisioned by legislators.
Instead, plans call for the park to mainly provide offices, storage space and training grounds for police officers, state sheriffs, firefighters and other first responders. Features would include a firing range, police dog facility, rappel tower, pool and gym.
Earlier this month the HTDC board approved the $9.8 million acquisition of land near Mililani from Castle & Cooke. The 150-acre project carries a $55 million price tag for infrastructure alone….
read … Beats Tax Credit Scams
New care home law is called ‘a facade’
SA: When Gov. David Ige held a bill-signing ceremony last week for a new law that aims to cut through the red tape that blocked certain elderly couples from living together in the same licensed care home, the one couple it was specifically designed to help was conspicuously absent.
That’s because Noboru Kawamoto, a 96-year-old World War II veteran of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and his wife, Elaine, 90, remain locked in a lawsuit with the state over the old law that kept them apart.
Jeff Portnoy, the couple’s attorney, said the new law is “a facade” and an obvious attempt by the state to avoid paying legal fees in a case that is expected to be heard later this month in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
read … New care home law is called ‘a facade’
Honolulu Council to Mandate Sprinklers?
SA: …the fire is expected to spark renewed debate over a long-standing question of whether the city should require Oahu condo projects built before sprinklers were mandated in the mid-1970s to install them.
Lawmakers have been reluctant to adopt such a law, largely because of cost considerations, and many boards at the estimated 275 to 300 Oahu condo buildings without sprinklers have been unwilling to foot the bill for installation.
At some of the larger condominiums, the tab is expected to run into the millions of dollars.
“If we don’t make it mandatory, it just doesn’t happen,” said City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, whose district includes many condos built before the sprinkler law took effect.
In the aftermath of Friday’s tragedy, Kobayashi said she plans to talk to other Council members about a proposed law that she favors if there’s a way to soften the financial burden on homeowners, such as through installment payments.
At the 586-unit Marco Polo, built in 1971, the board was told in July 2013 that it would cost about $4.5 million to install an automatic sprinkler system throughout the building. That equates to nearly $9,000 per unit.
The estimate was provided by S.S. Dannaway Associates and was part of a report that also looked at the cost of replacing an aging fire alarm system at the Marco Polo.
The report was issued several months after a 2013 fire caused more than $1 million in damage to two apartments and surrounding areas at the complex but no injuries.
After that fire the Marco Polo board of directors, made up of owners, voted to pursue installation of sprinklers in the common areas, such as the hallways and lobbies, according to Sam Shenkus, who has lived in the building since 1984 and was a board member from 2001 to 2013.
But the actual installation has not started yet, said Shenkus and Murata, the 28th-floor resident….
read … Lack of law has condos left with no sprinklers
Plastic bag ban only profits businesses
SA:Paper bags were free and later plastic, too. Now we are going to have to pay 15 cents for “reusable” bags (“Plastic ban bill nears mayor’s approval,” Star-Advertiser, July 13).
What’s the motive? The concern for the environment? There is enough evidence to indicate that plastic waste isn’t going to contaminate the ocean or the aina.
The motive is profit. The stores will no longer provide bags that cost money to produce and give away, therefore increasing their profit margin, and more so by charging the consumer for what used to be free.
When the mayor signs the plastic bag ban bill, it only convinces me that business and government are in collusion: One entity taxes us and the other charges us. Who is watching out for the rest us? Apparently, neither one.
read … Bag Ban
Surfrider’s Favorite Bacterium Gives False Readings
WHT: …Hawaii, as recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, uses enterococci as a “pathogen indicator” that the EPA says can indicate the potential for someone to get sick.
The EPA provides about $300,000 a year to assist the state with compliance with federal water quality law.
But the bacteria tests come with a caveat: Because enterococci grows naturally in the local soil environment, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s sewage in the water.
“From our experience before, it’s not due to sewage,” said Clean Water Branch Chief Alec Wong….
There is another option for sewage indicators: Clostridium, another sort of bacteria, which Fujioka’s research identified as an alternative indicator with one big advantage. It doesn’t grow in the soil and is “consistently present in high concentrations in sewage.”
read … E-Coli
Hu Honua`s Secret Ash-Disposal Plan Released
IM: …they were going to sell it to farmers as fertilizer, then they were going to give it away for free, now they don’t know….
read … Hu Honua`s Secret Ash-Disposal Plan Released