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Tuesday, July 25, 2017
July 25, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:05 PM :: 1729 Views

$1.6B Available to Pay for Rail -- Without Raising Taxes

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted July 24, 2017

House, Senate Still Split on Rail Funding

HPR: …“The City’s estimated cost for rail is $8.136 billion and that does not include the cost of financing.”

House Speaker Scott Saiki told members of the Kokua Council for Senior Citizens Hawai’i that lawmakers will be seeking an agreed to source of state funding for the Honolulu rail transit project when they meet in special session August 28th.

“Between now and the year 2024 there is a shortfall every year in the rail budget, meaning that expenses exceed revenue in each of those years.  And this is based on the City’s numbers.  It totals up to about   $1.38 billion.” ….

But, at the State Capitol, Senate Majority Caucus Leader, Brickwood ‘Buzzy’ Galuteria, who represents District 12: Waikiki, Ala Moana and Kaka’ako, says not all lawmakers are in agreement with the House.   But, personally, he feels that a portion of the Hotel Room Tax or TAT could be used to fund rail.

“We’re taking a look at the TAT at this particular point because it is an opportunity to get to the end game a lot quicker.  So perhaps a combination, but certainly we’re not going to be accepting the original 2-point whatever that was that the House had proposed because it won’t sit well with a whole bunch of people, especially the travel industry, and that’s part of the district I (pretend to represent).”….

“When the legislature is forced to increase the General Excise Tax to pay for rail, to pay for a City project, it really prevents future legislatures from increasing the General Excise Tax for state purposes.  So all the things we’ve talked about today, Medicaid, Long Term Care, all of these programs, it’s gonna be difficult to raise more revenue in the future to pay for all of these other state-wide, unmet needs.”

Saiki says of the current 51 House members, 39 or 75 percent of the members, were not in office twelve years ago when the Legislature voted to increase the GET to fund rail….

read … House Speaker Saiki Update on Honolulu Rail Funding

Fact Checking Hawaii Energy Articles

SA: …The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Editorial for July 23, 2017 was titled, Approval of HECO plan by PUC signals race to renewable energy future.”

The Editorial stated, “A key to the PSIP near-term objective calls for acquiring nearly 400 megawatts of new renewable energy resources by 2021 — collectively, the largest new generation procurement ever under taken in the state.”

A  review of “Our Story” appearing on the HECO, MECO, and HELCO websites, and DBEDT`s Hawaii Energy Strategy 2000 notes the phenomenal expansion with more than 450-megawatt of generation procurement by the Hawaiian Electric Companies, that occurred three decades ago, from 1987 to 1991.

1988: PUC opened power purchase agreement proceedings for HECO-AES -megawatt coal plant and the HECO-Kalaeloa 180-megawatt gas plant, and MECO acquired Lanai City power plant 

1989: PUC opened power purchase agreement proceeding for the 25-megawatt HELCO-Puna Geothermal Ventures, MECO bought Molokai Electric Company, and a new 16-megawatt turbine at the Keahole Power Plant came online

1990: The City and County of Honolulu`s 46-megawatt H-Power began selling electricity to HECO.

1991: PUC opened power purchase agreement proceeding for the 11-megawatt HELCO-Wailuku River Hydroelectric Power

The Editorial starts with "electricity" and ends with "energy".

Two years ago, Gov. David Ige signed into law a bill that directs the state’s utilities to generate 100 per cent of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045....Today electricity utilities, ratepayers and other stakeholders agree that achieving 100 percent renewable energy for Hawaii is possible and beneficial.

The Editorial stresses that fossil fuels release greenhouse gases.

“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… TO REACH the 100 per cent mark, utilities statewide will likely expand solar, wind and biofuel projects.”

Actually, greenhouse gases are released throughout the lifecycle of ALL energy projects. NRDC and the Dogwood Alliance just released a study that biomass-to-energy projects can, depending on the project, have very negative impacts on climate change.

Hu Honua refused to provide life cycle greenhouse gas data to Life of the Land for their proposed biomass project. Hu Honua plans to chop down sequestered carbon forests for seven years. The Honolulu Star Advertiser endorsed the Hu Honua project earlier this month.

Sunday`s Editorial addresses the “development of a community solar program. Such a program is worthwhile in that it could serve as a sort of ratepayer equalizer in that it enables every one — renters and high-rise dwellers, included — to reap renewable energy benefits.”

If everyone could sign up, but the program has a cap on the number of signers that is limited to only one to two percent of all ratepayers in the next several years, how will that benefit the 80 percent without rooftop solar? 

Rooftop solar served as the catalyst to make renewable energy part of every community….

read … Fact Checking Hawai`i Energy Articles

Illegal DOBOR Rule-Making Process—More Retaliation?

WHT: …The industry and other stakeholders have mostly been left out of the rule change process, said Rick Gaffney, a Kailua-Kona boat dealer who’s chairman of the Hawaii Fishing and Boating Association.

He said DOBOR used to have public meetings to get input and have discussions early on for proposed rule changes. Several years ago, the state agency dropped those interactions, forcing stakeholders to engage in an “adversarial” public hearing process, where statements are taken, but there’s no chance to ask questions about the proposals.

“There’s no opportunity for discussions or questions or feedback,” Gaffney said.

For this particular set of rule amendments, the DLNR district offices located on each island didn’t have copies of the rules, and in some cases, weren’t even aware rule changes were being contemplated, Gaffney said. He said notices weren’t posted at state harbor offices, either.

“They haven’t followed their own rules requiring informing the public and posting the rules,” Gaffney said.

He said he sent emails to the island’s two Land Board members, asking them to get DOBOR to start the process over.

Some specifics of the rules changes themselves bothered Keauhou Bay Capt. William Murtaugh, who has accused the agency of retaliation when he tried to contest the loss of a permit.

Murtaugh, who said he’s been interviewed several times by administrative and criminal investigators with the state Attorney General’s Office, is specifically worried about changes giving the state agency more discretion to work around the rules when “reasonable and warranted.”

“Preferential treatment and selective enforcement — that’s exactly what the department is under investigation for right now,” Murtaugh said. “It’s important that the community go to these hearings and tell them these rules are bogus.”

The state is investigating allegations of corruption at DOBOR harbors in West Hawaii. William Nahale, a harbor agent overseeing the Kailua-Kona and Keauhou Bay harbors, left the agency June 30. He was fined $1,000 earlier this year for soliciting and accepting free parasailing trips from a company he regulates.

Murtaugh and Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth say the investigation is ongoing. Roth also experienced what the county Board of Ethics termed “retaliation,” when Underwood levied an ethics charge against him because he testified to the Land Board on Murtaugh’s behalf.

An attorney general spokesman Monday couldn’t confirm or deny there is an ongoing probe.

read … Retaliation?

Honolulu Election Officials to Defy Judge to Ensure Aliens Keep Voting

SA: A federal judge has cleared the way for President Donald Trump’s commission on election fraud to resume collecting detailed voter roll information from the states, but at least one election official in Hawaii says he won’t comply with the federal request.

The commission asked states last month to provide publicly available data including registered voters’ names, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers, but it later told them to hold off until a judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in the District of Columbia, on Monday denied the advocacy group’s request to block the data collection in a ruling that commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach called “a major victory for government accountability, transparency and the public’s right to know about the integrity of our elections processes.”…

In Hawaii, state election officials haven’t provided any information to the commission, and Honolulu City Clerk Glen Takahashi said he does not plan to do so. “It is not my intention to cooperate with that request,” Takahashi said Monday. “I think it is an example of federal intrusion and overreach.”

Takahashi said Hawaii administrative rules allow data from the voter rolls to be used only for an “election purpose.” His understanding of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is that the commission plans to compare data from the various states to hunt for people who are registered or voted in more than one state.

That does not qualify as an election purpose under the Hawaii rules, he said. An “election purpose” is defined as supporting or opposing a candidate or ballot issue, encouraging voter participation or registration, or qualifying a political party or presidential candidate for the ballot, he said.

“This is a voter fraud hunt, basically. … That much has become clear even from the president’s statements to the commission,” Takahashi said. If federal officials are concerned about voter fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice is the appropriate agency to pursue that issue, he said.

Kobach wrote to Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui on June 28 to request publicly available Hawaii voter data. That request sought the names, addresses, dates of birth, voter history, voter status, political party affiliation and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. The request also sought any information about felony convictions and military status, and any information about voter registration in another state.

Tsutsui replied that Kobach’s inquiry should be directed to the state Office of Elections, but state Election Chief Scott Nago said he hasn’t received a follow-up request. If a new request does arrive, Nago said, he will refer it to the city and county clerks, who are responsible for that data.

Takahashi said some of the information being requested, such as party affiliation and military status, is not collected in Hawaii for voter registration purposes. Other pieces of information such as date of birth and Social Security numbers are collected but not made public, he said….

read … Federal panel gets OK to collect voter data

Abigail Kawananakoa Pays Rowena Akana’s Legal Bills

CB: Trustee Rowena Akana, who’s in a legal battle with other board members, disclosed the money in a recent ethics report.

read … Trustee Rowena Akana

Star-Adv Campaigns Against Free Airport parking for Electric Vehicles

Caldwell’s Pot Holes Cost Drivers — And Taxpayers — Millions

CB: …A 2016 study found the city had the 11th-worst roads among large urban areas, and residents pay more than the national average for related car repairs…..

read … Honolulu’s Potholes Cost Drivers — And Taxpayers — Millions

Homeless Drug Addicts Refusing Shelter Returning to Kakaako Makai Park

HNN: …since April the number of illegal campers in Kakaako parks under HCDA supervision has nearly doubled.

"We issue civil citations, and we haven't seen a change in the activities in the park," Jesse Souki said.

About 100 people are living in tents, most of them in Kakaako Waterfront Park. Property crimes like broken power outlets and damaged water pipes in the parks have also increased….

Souki hopes something's done quickly. With the state and city sweeping  homeless from Nimitz Highway and the areas along the freeway this week, HCDA posted a warning on its Facebook page to expect more illegal campers to move into the Kakaako parks….

read … State agency pleads for more help with trespassers in Kakaako parks

There Just Aren’t Enough Workers To Go Around In Hawaii

CB: … “Hiring difficulties are unending and rampant,” says Rich Stula. Stula and his partner, Ted Tsakiris, who own 12 burger eateries on Oahu called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and also a new poke bowl restaurant in Hawaii Kai called BYO Bowls….

Stula say he can go for a month without anyone applying for work at his restaurants. He says he used to require two interviews before he would hire anyone. But now if he likes an applicant, he will hire that person on the spot.

“I can’t let them walk out the door to be quickly hired by the next restaurant looking for workers.”

Employees suffer with the staff shortages by having to work harder and longer and customers get irked by spotty service and having to wait longer for their food.

Stula he says he has heard of restaurants closing one night a week or cutting their hours to make up for their lack of employees….

Takayama says the hiring shortage also is compounded because high school students are not as inclined as they were in the past to take minimum wage jobs at restaurants and stores to get their first work experience.

She says they want internships to put on their college application and work resumes.

Businesses, government and non-profits are aware of this need and are generating grants for apprenticeship programs for high school students to help them enter professions and businesses where they can launch careers….

read … Unemployment Low

Hawaii #2 in USA for Shark Attacks

SW: States with the Highest Shark Attack Numbers 2007–2016

Florida 244

Hawaii 65

California 33

read … How to Avoid Becoming Shark Bait – A Decade of Shark Attacks

Marco Polo Fire:

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