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Sunday, July 23, 2017
July 23, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:55 PM :: 1844 Views

EITC: Devil in the Details

Political Connections Pay Off: Navatek Goes Rent-Free at Port

SA: State officials have granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in discounts to a family of companies affiliated with Navatek Ltd. as part of a deal to settle claims that included alleged “loss of business opportunity” on state-owned waterfront land where the companies operate under a month-to-month permit….

Harbors officials agreed to forgo the monthly rent of $32,375 on the property for nine months beginning July 1, 2014, and then reduce the monthly rent to $10,000 from $32,375 per month thereafter, according to a summary of charges and credits provided by transportation officials….

The rental reductions were negotiated by officials in former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration as part of a larger settlement at a time when officials with Navatek and its affiliated companies were sprinkling the Abercrombie campaign with contributions to help with his unsuccessful 2014 re-election effort.

The nearly $900,000 in rent discounts at the waterfront property over the past three years is the latest example of the unusual benefits the Pacific Shipyards International family of companies — including Navatek — has received from state government. Pacific Shipyards is a ship repair company; Navatek is an affiliated ship-building company.

State lawmakers earlier this year approved a special $7.5 million tax credit that may apply only to Pacific Shipyards, and Gov. David Ige allowed that new tax credit to become law July 12 without his signature.

The state Legislature also awarded $1.25 million in grants-in-aid to Navatek in 2014 and 2015, money that is normally reserved for nonprofit organizations that deliver health or social services or other community benefits. Lawmakers acknowledged it is unusual for those grants to be awarded to a privately owned, for-profit company.

The officers and employees of Pacific Shipyards, Navatek and other affiliated companies have been generous campaign contributors, donating more than $120,000 to state lawmakers and two governors since 2009, according to state campaign spending records.

That includes more than $10,000 company officials contributed to Abercrombie’s re-election campaign in June and July 2014….

In all, company officials and the Navatek political action committee have donated more than $74,000 to Abercrombie campaigns since 2009….

Officials with the Pacific Shipyards family of companies have also made political donations to Ige, and contributed more than $6,000 to the Ige campaign in 2014, according to state campaign spending records…..

Abercrombie also dismissed the possibility that political donations might have helped Pacific Shipyards to win benefits from the state or his administration, saying the impact and influence of campaign donations are “way overrated.”  (Iq Test: Do you know what the question is?)

Meanwhile: Harbors Division Fee Hike designed to boost $77M OHA Slush Fund?

read … Rent waiver is state’s latest grant to affiliated shipyard firms

‘Hanabusa for Governor’ Narrative Created by Anti-Aquarium Nuts?

Borreca: …So far she has not been coy, encouraging or anything more than flatly noncommittal.

When asked last week if she would comment on the race for governor, her one-word response was, “No.”….

A blog posted last week on Huffington Post discussed the lobbying around a recent bill to eventually ban collecting Hawaii fish for aquariums. It claimed that Hanabusa had called Ige to say he should act on the fish bill because she was going to run for governor.

“Colleen Hanabusa did not call Ige to announce her candidacy; she called to threaten it,” the post read.

This launched a series of denials remarkable for both their rapidity and harshness.

“Congresswoman Hanabusa … denies that she, or agents on her behalf, contacted or were contacted by Governor Ige or Governor Ige’s office with matters relating to SB 1240 and/or her potential to challenge Governor Ige,” said Hanabusa’s office.

Ige, in an interview last week, also said, “There was no contact at all between Congresswoman Hanabusa or her staff or any of my staff — none at all regarding SB 1240.”

“I did read the post,” Ige said. “It grossly misrepresented the issue. Lots of it was fabricated. I don’t know where it came from — absolutely fabricated.”….

read … Who will challenge Ige next election? All eyes on Hanabusa

Shapiro: Special Session Should Demand Rail Audit

SA: … directors have now quashed the audit, dismissing a chance to learn from mistakes as a waste of money.

The reversal was led by Caldwell’s former Managing Director Ember Shinn, whom he recently put on HART’s board as an apparent political enforcer, and his Transportation Director Wes Frysztacki.

Said Shinn, “It’s not my intent to muck around in the past and try to figure out what we did wrong.”

The muck would contain many traces of Caldwell….

Legislators refused to extend the half-cent rail excise tax during their regular session, repeatedly saying they didn’t trust Caldwell, HART or their numbers.

You’d think such concerns would have prompted lawmakers to demand an independent audit as a starting point for discussions about more money.

But now it seems only a question of whether the bailout will come from the excise tax or the hotel room tax.

“We’ve got to get to the point where we agree on more than half or a substantial amount of facts,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz.

Operating on half the facts got us in this mess.

The City Council turned its own blind eye to facts while approving $350 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to cover cost overruns that have HART shelling out money faster than excise tax revenues are coming in.

The Council voted 6-3 to put the city’s full faith and credit on the line despite having little idea of how many more bond issues will be needed or how they’ll affect the city’s credit rating and ability to fund other priorities.

Rail Chief Financial Officer Robert Yu said, “I’m not even sure I want to say a number.” ….

SA: Consider what a Livable City really needs

read … Isle leaders intently keep blind eye on rail’s budget

Maui: How Affordable Housing Crisis was Created by Council Meddling in Marketplace

MN: …Newly released data indicate that Maui County’s median home price has breached the $700,000 mark. This underscores, now more than ever, the need for additional affordable housing for residents.

The County Council continually seeks both effective and sustainable solutions, but they have not come easy.

In an effort to mandate affordable homes, a Residential Workforce Housing Ordinance was passed in 2006, requiring new developments to have at least 50 percent of their project be affordable homes. This law, although great in concept, placed the burden of affordable housing creation on private developers.

Many developers concluded building homes under these requirements was simply not viable and new inventory was stifled. Only one project moved forward and generated a net increase of only three single-family units.

The unintended consequences led the council to re-examine the law in 2014 and reduced the requirement to 25 percent. The results from the change must be closely monitored, but policy is only one piece of the puzzle.

Since 2008, the county has annually allocated 2 percent of real property taxes to an Affordable Housing Fund with the purpose of protecting and expanding affordable housing. In the early years, much of the fund was granted to entities such as Na Hale O Maui or Habitat for Humanity to assist with projects.

In 2012, the county took an additional step by using $3.85 million of the fund to purchase a property in Pukalani’s Kulamalu subdivision with the intent to develop affordable rental units.

The project broke ground in 2015 and has been under construction since February 2016. Planning and construction costs have totaled $13.4 million, of which $2.4 million has been covered by federal HOME Funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Once completed, the project will provide long-term rental housing for 56 income-qualified families and will be managed by Hale Mahaolu. The application process for the units generated over 400 interested residents…..

Meanwhile: Change happens when NIMBY becomes our response

read … Time for action, tangible results on affordable housing needed

Caldwell Rejects Most ADU Applications

SA: Lack of adequate sewer capacity is the key reason most of 344 preliminary applications for accessory dwelling unit permits have been denied by the city since the ADU program began in 2013, a problem that’s spurred Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin to urge Mayor Kirk Caldwell to speed up expansion of Oahu’s sewer system….

Martin’s Resolution 17-193 will be discussed at the Council’s Public Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee meeting Wednesday.

Martin said he introduced the resolution after hearing from a Kailua family that said it and neighbors had their ADU permit applications rejected by the Department of Planning and Permitting — after other Mapuana Street property owners were granted permits — due to a recent change in the method used to determine the area’s capacity….

ADU PRE-CHECK APPLICATIONS

  • Forms received: 1,828
  • Forms denied: 344
  • Pending: 291

FORMAL ADU APPLICATIONS

  • ADU permit applications: 413
  • Approved: 242
  • Under review: 146
  • Canceled by applicant: 25

Don’t Forget: Political Insiders Among Few to Get Caldwell’s Ohana Dwelling Permits

read … City’s limited sewer capacity defeats its push for people to build ADUs

Star-Adv: Green Energy Fluff Piece—No Mention of Plan for 44% Rate Hike

SA: For the first time in more than a decade, the Public Utilities Commission has accepted an updated Hawaiian Electric Co. plan detailing how it will reach the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy. (By jacking rates up 44%) Following years of utility foot-dragging and PUC scoldings — such as assertions that HECO’s vision was more focused on (its) profits rather than customers (those of green energy scammers who contribute so much to the national Democrats) — the ambitious new draft comes as a welcome relief.

What’s more, the Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) update intends to significantly increase our (electric rates thus pushing more people to buy Elon Musk’s overpriced batteries) renewable energy use in the near term, which will put the state on pace to meet its goal five years early. Here’s hoping that this time around (HECO’s third shot in recent years at proposing an acceptable update), the plan’s vision locks in place a new paradigm that will touch off much-needed changes for our economy, environment and energy security (and continue making Silicon Valley billionaires into corporate welfare queens).

Two years ago, Gov. David Ige signed into law a bill that directs the state’s utilities to generate 100 percent of their electricity sales from (so-called) renewable energy resources by 2045. Hawaii’s electricity generation is now dominated by fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide when burned and contribute to environmental problems such as global warming (but then so does biomass and bio-diesel). And due to the continued costs tied to importing most of the energy used throughout the state (such as imported biodiesel from bulldozed Borneo rainforests), ratepayers shoulder the highest prices nationwide — more than twice the U.S. average….

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation, a clean energy-focused nonprofit said: “It is literally hundreds of millions of potential savings for customers, if these projects get procured and built quickly.”  (Translation: We’re really excited about the opportunity to jack up your rates another 44%)

read … No Mention of Rate Hikes

Hele On: Report Documents Kenoi Administration Incompetence

WHT: When you stand at a bus stop these days, you get what you get.

Some days, it’s a regular Hele-On bus. Blue and white or green and white, big and bulky or small and rattly. Often windblown, with windows open to overcome the malfunctioning AC…..

It’s all a hodgepodge right now, as the struggling Hele-On system tries to overcome years of neglect that’s resulted in half the county’s 55-bus fleet sidelined. With 23 running buses and 23 routes, there’s no time to fix the ones that break down, let alone conduct regular maintenance to make sure they don’t.

The years of neglect in the 39-year-old bus program have reached a crisis point, leading Mayor Harry Kim to hire a consultant to turn the troubled system around. Curt Sharp, 72, a former U.S. Marine Corps. officer and Kamehameha Schools graduate from Puna, was hired on an 89-day contract in May. His $9,584-a-month contact ends July 28.

“This thing didn’t just happen yesterday,” Sharp said. “It’s kind of sad it’s gone the way it has, but that’s the past. You learn from history, you learn from mistakes.”

The County Council had a mixed reaction to Sharp’s report Monday to the Committee on Public Safety and Mass Transit. Most wanted to know how much an overhaul is going to cost.

But members of the public didn’t mince words.

Kimo Mataio, who said he once ran a private bus system, said it makes sense to have mechanics work at night to fix and maintain buses rather than have them work in the daytime when the buses are on the road.

“You work on your buses at night so they can run during the day. … That’s how you run old buses and that’s how I ran old buses,” he said. “Why is Hilo so backwards? Keep up.”

Several riders asked Hele-On to be more public service oriented. Buses don’t run on time, and people can’t depend on them to commute to work. In fact, said one testifier, people have lost their jobs because the bus didn’t get them to work on time.

Administrators are rude when they call in to get information, several said, and drivers aren’t too helpful either….

read … Government Work

Bumbling Officials Leave County on hook for subsidized housing bill

HTH: …According to county Housing Administrator Neil Gyotoku, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled the project-based vouchers in May because they said the county listed Mohouli 2 as an existing project. That apparently was an issue, he said, because the units are not complete.

“It was very unusual and very unexpected,” Gyotoku told the County Council on Tuesday, adding the county attempted to appeal.

Under the voucher program, the low-income tenants contribute 30 percent of their income to rent while the rest is subsidized.

Loss of the subsidy would have jeopardized financing for the next phase, scheduled to open in October, Gyotoku said.

In response, the council passed a resolution authorizing the county to issue housing choice vouchers for the project, which could cost the county anywhere from $8,000 to $61,000 a year, Deputy Finance Director Deanna Sako told council members.

Gyotoku said Thursday he hopes that’s a temporary fix and will submit a new application with HUD after the phase is complete….

read … County on hook for subsidized housing bill

Police: Homeless are Mostly Mental Cases

WHT: …The homeless problem dominated discussion at Friday’s police commission meeting. Hawaii County police officers provided detailed reports on where homeless were residing around the island, how they were handling the situation and the upcoming cleanup of Old Airport.

The park will be closed starting at 7 a.m. Aug. 9 and will remain closed into Aug. 10. To be sure the cleanup efforts were not in vain, the Department of Parks and Recreation plans to privatize security for the evening hours at the park to keep people from camping overnight…..

Large encampments have been located near storm drains and in various areas surrounding Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Smaller clusters are scattered throughout town. Weekly park sweeps include: Kona Public Library; Hale Halawai; Kailua Pier; Banyans; Lyman’s Beach; Pahoehoe Beach Park; Laaloa Beach Park; Honl’s Beach and Kahaluu Beach Park.

Peter Hendricks, vice chair of the commission, wondered how many individuals would take advantage of facilities if they were provided.

Kanehailua said a good number of the homeless like living the way they live.

“There’s a lot of responsibility to being a law-abiding citizen,” Kanehailua said.

Kanehailua also explained how officers encounter many homeless individuals with mental health issues.

“In Kona there’s a lot of people we arrest that don’t belong there,” Kanehailua said. “They need psychiatric help.”….

read … Police: Old A could be cleanup blueprint

Activist ‘Healers’ See Profit in Soaring Opioid Overdoses

MN: Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang sees firsthand how bad the opioid pain reliever epidemic has become.

“Some of my students are asking me for prescriptions,” Pang said Friday. “It’s so normative they’re not shame in asking me.”

Opioid overdose deaths have more than doubled in Hawaii from 25 in 2000 to 59 in 2016, according to the death certificate database of the state Department of Health. Total drug overdose deaths also have more than doubled, from 67 to 172 in the same period.

Opioid pain relievers have contributed to about 40 percent of drug overdose deaths statewide over the past decade. This includes substances such as OxyContin, fentanyl and other synthetics, but excludes heroin…..

Pang said he began to see opioid addiction about three years ago at Malama I Ke Ola Health Center. The federally qualified health center is owned and operated through public-private partnerships to service the homeless, poor and underserved in Wailuku and Lahaina.

Pang, who serves as vice president of the clinic and has been on the board for 10 years, said he has watched opioid addiction grow and it reached a point where doctors had to turn away patients if they were using painkillers or had a history of use. He said doctors had so many other patients that they were forced to turn their focus on people not addicted to opioids….

Within a few months, though, they reversed that decision….

There’s just not enough resources.”…. (The money pitch.)

The Big Island clinic, which has sites in Kohala and Honokaa, recently received a two-year grant of close to $1 million to begin creating a Native Hawaiian healer network. Several Maui healers have already signed on and Carpenter continues to collaborate with CEOs at other clinics.

Carpenter is hopeful that insurance companies will grant coverage, just like it did for chiropractors and acupuncturists. She said she is going to offer training from healers to HMSA officials so they understand the practice and its benefits…..

“We’re going to make sure we’re not adding people to the list who have a couple tribal tattoos and a six-week massage class,” Carpenter said.  (Know them by what they deny!)

SA: Opioid epidemic: Taking action requires teamwork

read … Opioid overdose deaths doubled over past 16 years

UH Manoa Enrollment Dropping Fast

SA: …At Manoa there were 18,056 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in fall 2016. Without interventions the university’s internal reports predicted enrollment would decline another 2 percent to 17,659 students when the fall semester gets underway in a month.

  • Year | Enrollment | Year-over-year change
  • 2012: 20,426 | down 3 students (flat)
  • 2013: 20,006 | down 420 students (2%)
  • 2014: 19,507 | down 499 students (2.5%)
  • 2015: 18,865 | down 642 students (3.3%)
  • 2016: 18,056 | down 809 students (4.3%)

Meanwhile:

read … Dropping Fast

Marco Polo Fire

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