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Sunday, August 20, 2017
August 20, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:36 PM :: 1269 Views

Hawaii Family Forum: Talk to Your Kids About Racism

The Grand Skim of Things, Part 3

Legislators Foolhardy Enough to Give Caldwell More Money?

Shapiro: …State legislators are focused on the wrong question heading into their Aug. 28 special session on Oahu’s $10 billion runaway train.

It’s not whether to use the excise tax or hotel room tax to cover rail’s latest $3 billion deficit, but whether it’s responsible to write any further checks until the city fixes its awful management that’s put us $5 billion over budget and six years behind schedule.

It’s reckless for legislators to consider more funding while complaining almost unanimously that they don’t trust the numbers or recovery plans put forth by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

This is especially so after HART cynically shelved a deep-dive audit that would have determined what went wrong and how to do better.

A limited audit that excludes fraud that’s being considered by the City Council would take until late 2018; by then, rail could be another $3 billion in the hole.

Lawmakers shouldn’t be stampeded into blank-check spending by the Federal Transit Administration’s artificial Sept. 15 deadline for a recovery plan.

The FTA hasn’t clearly explained its position to legislators or the public, and it’s foolhardy to take Caldwell’s word; last week he backed off his claim that the FTA absolutely will pull its $1.5 billion funding if we don’t build elevated rail all the way to Ala Moana Center.

The FTA once urged the city to “think outside the box” and seemed OK with stopping at Aloha Tower to cut costs….

…due diligence needn’t cause a significant project delay; the city has funding and contracts in place to build full-speed to Middle Street while the review takes place….

read … Management, not funding, of rail needs to be explored

Star-Av: Fake Audit Can Help Legislators Raise Taxes for Rail

SA: …Speaking at a Council Budget Committee meeting on Wednesday, Young added that the audit concluded that “internal controls were so weak, that if fraud, waste or abuse were to occur, HART and (others) would not have detected it, could not prevent it, and could not have taken corrective action, if it had occurred.”

Young explained further that HART lacked an internal audit function, except for whatever was being reported to the executive director by individuals working “for their own purposes, not for the purposes of (ensuring) openness and transparency in the expenditure process.”

That’s a stunning assertion, and one that only reinforces the case for a closer look at how the rail contracts were executed.

It’s therefore no surprise that the budget panel voted unanimously to advance Resolution 17-199 to a final draft that requests the city auditor to conduct a follow-up economy and efficiency audit to explain where things went awry with contracts.

That is undeniably the right move at this juncture, as the project moves toward a critical decision point to resolve its financial shortfall. State lawmakers will convene in a little more than a week’s time in a special session….

Reality: City rail audit won’t look for fraud?

read … Fake Audit

Don’t Increase TAT for Rail

SA: …We speak for our almost 4,000 fellow employees of Outrigger Hotels Hawaii throughout Hawaii and beyond. We and our visitor industry’s some 200,000- strong ohana and our many partners work hard every day to keep visitors visiting us and remain Hawaii’s economic foundation.

We join our industry family in opposing any further increase to the transient accommodations (hotel room) tax — the TAT — for any reason, including Oahu rail funding….

read … No TAT Hike

Hawaii only state that did not regularly review child deaths

SA: …For a few years, Hawaii had the dubious distinction of being the only state — or possibly one of two — that did not regularly review child deaths.

The other states analyzed such fatalities to look for risk factors and patterns, using that knowledge to develop initiatives to try to reduce the incidence of preventable deaths….

Thanks to legislation passed last year, the state Department of Health has resumed a multidisciplinary, multi-agency review of deaths involving people under 18.

The legislation also authorized the agency to start a similar program examining the deaths of pregnant women and of women who gave birth within a year. Until launching that effort in July, Hawaii was one of only 13 states not conducting maternal death reviews.

The examinations are separate from any law enforcement or child welfare investigations that may (or may not) be conducted immediately after a death.

read … Another Day in the Nei

Honolulu 7th Most Expensive City for Car Owners

SA: …Owning, insuring, fueling, parking, maintaining and repairing a car in Honolulu costs $11,325 per year, according to the June 2017 report from the American Public Transit Association (APTA). Honolulu is the seventh most expensive city in the U.S. in which to drive a car….

read … Expensive

Public Land Must be Made Available for Affordable Housing

SA: I recently asked a friend how he was doing and got a blunt “I’m really unhappy about where Hawaii’s heading. I can never afford a house.”….

To make progress, we need to agree that using some public land to help people in need is common sense….

Permits: Building codes and zoning protect lives and the fabric of our communities. But what’s helped us grow safely and appropriately can also limit creativity. They create hurdles to improving the status quo. Our leaders need to make the system work for us — not the other way around — and apply a common-sense approach to new ideas.

Construction: Hawaii has some of the highest construction costs in the country for several reasons (imported materials, fuel costs, high labor costs). Why doesn’t Hawaii have the nation’s costliest iPhones and cars? They’re produced centrally and efficiently, and the consumer reaps the benefits. We have to get serious and creative about cutting construction and material costs and work toward a new way of building, especially for less expensive housing.

Community approval: Any project needs community support. We have to agree to make modest sacrifices and take modest risks to create new ways to house everyone. Do we want to be an island of NIMBYs, walled off from the neighbors like everywhere else? ….

read … Restructure land, building constraints

It Begins: Global Warmers: Go Mauka

HTH: …Marilee Wallace was looking at Puna properties Thursday and noticed about half of the homes real estate agents showed her were oceanfront.

“Now show me properties that aren’t on the water but will be later,” she said she told an agent….. (LOLROTF!)

SA: An eddy moving through the islands raises sea levels

read … Scientists say sea is rising faster than first thought

Dope Dealers Yearn for Honey Butane Oil

HTH: …“We’re severely disappointed,” said Jack Robins, 64, who said he’s a medical marijuana patient and a longtime cannabis oil maker (A craftsman!  Kinda like a master brewer.) who lives in Pahoa (of course). “It’s kind of common sense. For 17 years there’s been nothing and now they’re going to open this up and yet there are only going to be two of them — I think we need one on every street corner.”

“There are no dispensaries open (on Hawaii Island) and (it’s unclear) when they’re going to open because when they have estimated they’ll be open they’re wrong and then wrong again,” added Mountain View medical marijuana patient Aaron Zeeman, 49, noting he worries potentially high dispensary prices could also deter many Big Island residents from using them. “So everything they say turns out to not be true.”

Hawaii’s dispensaries have legally been able to open for more than a year though they’ve largely struggled to get off the ground. Recent delays stemmed from a lack of state-certified laboratories. State law requires all products sold at dispensaries to first be tested in a state-approved lab.

The DOH granted last month Oahu-based private independent laboratory Steep Hill Hawaii provisional certification to test samples of marijuana.

Steep Hill Hawaii is currently unable to test derivatives, however, which are nonsmokable cannabis products such as capsules, oils and ointments.

As a result, the first two dispensaries to open reported selling out of their initial stock of dry buds — the only product Steep Hill is currently certified to test — within days.

Teri Freitas Gorman, spokeswoman for one of the dispensaries, Maui Grown Therapies, said roughly 40 percent of customers have expressed interest in nonsmokable products.

Gorman said about 100 people have visited Maui Grown Therapies each day since it opened.

“I hope your dispensaries don’t go through what we went through,” Gorman told the Tribune-Herald, speaking about Lau Ola and Hawaiian Ethos, the two companies certified to open Hawaii Island’s first dispensaries. “It’s frustrating and it’s disappointing. The dispensary law passed in 2015 and it’s taken us quite a long time to get our front doors open. So we were given authority to manufacture cannabis products on May 24 but we were kind of blindsided … The lab came to pick up products for testing they were told we cannot test products, only flowers (dry buds). Nobody communicated with us.” ….

read … Its Medicine, Really

Activist: Waianae Deserves Massive Festering Homeless Tent City

SA: Some report negative experiences at shelters including abuses of power, demeaning treatment, and selective enforcement of rules or fees. While some shelters have good reputations, negative stories about others erode faith in shelters generally.  (Translation: Shelters bad)

So, many stay on the street trying to build camps that can keep them secure and help them safeguard critical possessions like ID, medications, proof of eligibility for food stamps or Medicaid. (Translation: Massive Festering Homeless Tent Cities Good!)

(Question: Don’t these guys ever get any new ideas?)

One example is Pu‘uhonua O Wai‘anae, a “village” of 200-plus at the Waianae Boat Harbor. Resident Twinkle Borge leads it. With a handful of camp residents, she has created a stable environment where many  (do meth)….

(Translation: Keep pushing the Homeless into Waianae.)

read … Homelessness: Ohana zones, not sweeps, offer value

Borreca: Hawaii Democrats Can Exploit Trump Remarks in Local Elections

Borreca: …Hawaii and Alaska, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, are the only states surveyed last year without a single identified or recognized hate group — but that doesn’t absolve political leaders from having to speak out forcefully. The Democratic congressional delegation and Gov. David Ige were strong with a quick condemnation of both the violence and Trump’s response. The most memorable was U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz saying, “He’s not my president.”

Not remarkable was the statement by Hawaii GOP Chairwoman Shirlene Ostrov, who said the local party joins “President Trump in condemning the acts of violence and terrorism by white supremacists, and all acts of violence and lawlessness committed today in Charlottesville.” That is close to seeing “two sides.”

Former GOP leader turned Democrat, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, said Trump has “definitely tapped into latent racism.”

“I think national Republicans will need to address Trump and his unwillingness to confront intolerance at some point. But, no, I don’t think the Hawaii GOP will ever move ahead if its leaders continue to deny the elements of racial intolerance driving Trump and the GOP,” Fukumoto said in an interview.

In October, the local GOP will hold a fundraiser featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The local big draw as co-host is former Gov. Linda Lingle, who praised Trump at last year’s GOP convention and put Sarah Palin’s name in nomination for vice president in 2008. Lingle won two out of three races for governor, then crashed in 2012 in a race against Mazie Hirono for the U.S. Senate, getting just 37 percent of the vote. Her lieutenant governor, James “Duke” Aiona, then lost decisively in two runs for governor….

(Translation: Lets make the House a one-party chamber, too.)

Big Q: What do you think about the Trump presidency so far?

read … Doomed by Trump

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