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Friday, August 25, 2017
August 25, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:18 PM :: 3887 Views

Full Text: Caldwell Rips Legislators Rail Tax Hike Plan

Full Text: Rail Tax Hike Bill

Rail: How to Gut an Audit

Pasha signs contract to build two containerships; what now?

West Oahu Schools Underfunded? AG Responds to McDermott Suit

Lawsuit Filed Over Kauai Bird Deaths--HDOT Claims to be in Compliance

Caldwell: ‘I don’t need to take this’ Yelling from Drunk, Belligerent Legislators

SA: …Caldwell was summoned to Senate President Ron Kouchi’s office Wednesday evening to discuss the proposal.

At the meeting, House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke asked him to accept the terms and conditions of the package, the mayor said.

He took that to mean that there was no room for negotiation, that state lawmakers were offering a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposition, the mayor said.

Caldwell responded that he would need to take the proposal back to be analyzed by financial officers in both the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services and the Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation.

Tempers flared, and after some yelling, Caldwell said, he and Gary Kurokawa, his chief of staff, walked out of the room abruptly.

“It ended up with me and (Kurokawa) leaving after, what, an hour and a half?” Caldwell said. “But it ended with one of the members, I think who had maybe drank a little too much, was getting belligerent. And I listened for a while, and then I said, ‘I don’t need to take this.’”….

read … Star-Adv August 25, 2017 

Legislative Winos Try to Shift Blame While Hiking Taxes

SA: …Saiki said several lawmakers including Saiki drank “a glass of wine” that evening, but no one was intoxicated. And he described the 90-minute exchange between frustrated lawmakers and Caldwell in stronger terms.

“I think that several people yelled at him that night,” Saiki said, including him. “In fact, I think everybody in the room yelled at him that night. Everyone yelled at him at some point.”  

(Yelling at Caldwell is a great way to shift blame while raising taxes.)

Caldwell yelled back during the exchange, and “in the end Caldwell was red-faced and left,” Saiki said.

Dela Cruz and Luke said lawmakers have already made allowances considering the unique nature of the rail project, which is the largest public works project in state history.

“This is the third time at the trough — the third time,” Dela Cruz said….

read … Drunk

Sen Thielen: Caldwell Lied Three Times at Hearing

Statement from Sen Laura Thielen August 24, 2017

The nerve of this man! Last week at the briefing I asked Mayor Caldwell 3 times if he was going to ask for more money for Rail if costs went up. Three times he said he stood by the City's projected $8.2 Billion construction costs.

He was so angry at our questions that he walked out of the hearing early and didn't come back.

Today he sent us a letter saying the Legislature has to give an extra $545 million. And if we don't, then WE'RE not adequately supporting the project.

So today it's $8.7 billion and we have yet to see the bids for the most expensive section of Rail, downtown.

No trust. No credibility. No shame. Outrageous!

Why are we holding a special session for this man and his project that he refuses to manage?

read … Sen Laura Theilen August 24, 2017

Hanabusa: Caldwell’s $548M Surprise Covers up for Something

SA: …Caldwell told lawmakers in a letter Thursday that even with that additional funding, the city would need another $600 million to $900 million to pay for the 20-mile rail project, and he said the city has only a few ways to raise that money.

“We have only limited sources of revenue: property tax, fuel tax and vehicle weight tax,” Caldwell said. “And we just raised the weight tax over the next two full years. We tried with the fuel tax, and it didn’t pass. So the only other thing we have is real property.”

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa pushed Caldwell to accept the deal and questioned his statement that the additional $2.37 billion would not be enough to pay for rail.

Schatz said he urged Caldwell to accept the new proposal “because this is more revenue for the project than was contemplated during the regular session, and because … they worked to a number that was provided to the Legislature by the city and HART, and they hit the number. And so, now he’s introducing new numbers.”

Those “new numbers,” as Schatz described it, involve a $548 million “stress test” contingency above and beyond rail’s normal contingency.

City leaders say that under rail’s financial plan they need to show the Federal Transit Administration that they can cover a surprise 10 percent increase in the project’s capital costs. Rail currently has about $5.5 billion left in capital costs, city finance officials estimate.

Hanabusa, former chairwoman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said that “with all due respect to the mayor and the city, they can’t come out as they’ve done in the past and pick numbers out of the air.”

“Having said that, I think that with all due respect, that $500 million or $600 million may be a figure to cover up for something else. I don’t know what it would be, but it’s definitely not something that has been presented to the Legislature or documented in the reports that they have,” Hanabusa said.

“If they want to do that, they have to be fair,” Hana­busa said. “To say that these figures have been there all along is, in my own opinion, not true. I could use another word but it’s not true.” …

By some accounts, only a bare majority of 13 out of the 25 members of the Senate support the new plan….

“Will all of the neighbor island counties be happy? Probably not,” Kouchi said. “Is the hotel industry happy that we’re at 1 percent for the next 13 years? Probably not. Are taxpayers happy with the half-percent being extended another three years? Probably not, so there was a lot of give on a lot of fronts to come to a compromise.” 

(Compromise = ‘Screw all the taxpayers’)

read … Star-Adv August 25, 2017

Maui Council Chair: “Why are they taking advantage of the Neighbor Islands on rail?”

MN: …the use of the hotel room tax met with opposition from leaders of the state’s counties, who pushed for the 10-year increase in Honolulu’s GET.

“Why are they taking advantage of the Neighbor Islands on the rail?” asked Maui County Council Chairman Mike White, shortly after returning from Oahu, on Thursday night.

The proposed legislation raised the counties’ share of the hotel room tax permanently from the current $93 million to $103 million. Of that total, Maui County will receive $23.5 million, up from the $21.2 million allocated for the current fiscal year.

White said all the proposal does is restore the $10 million cut from the counties’ share in the last session.

“We are not supportive of the increase of the TAT,” he said. “To offer us the $10 million share, it just doesn’t cut it.”

He noted that Maui County raised $158 million in hotel room taxes in the last fiscal year but received only $21.2 million. The return “remains a very small percentage of what Maui generates,” he said.

The increase in the hotel room tax puts a “a burden on economies” of Neighbor Island counties….

read … Mike White Not Fooled

Panos: Only a Forensic Audit Can Find Truth

Panos: …Only a forensic audit can explain how an all-inclusive $4 billion cost for completing 16 miles and 14 stations has ballooned to more than $10 billion for 20 miles and 21 stations….

read … The Hard Reality Of Honolulu Rail Costs

Ige ‘Elated’ About Rail Tax Hikes

NR: …I’m elated that legislators have come to an agreement that will move the rail project forward. I’m particularly pleased that the state will have increased oversight for this project, and I’ve discussed the importance of accountability with the new HART Executive Director Andy Robbins.

I look forward to hearing the public’s input during next week’s special session. I firmly believe transit is a strategic asset for our communities that will enable us to provide affordable homes for our families while preserving open space outside the urban center. –Governor David Y. Ige 

read … News Release 

Business Insiders Pushing Rail

HPR: …Developer Stanford Carr is the incoming chairperson of the five-year-old advocacy group, Move Oahu Forward. Carr tells PBN, “It just makes sense to finish it. We are already half-built and taking our sweet time does not resolve anything.”

Carr, whose Keauhou Place development is located near a future rail stop, says he has spent thousands of his own money on Move Oahu Forward advocacy. Other members of this group include Hawaiian Electric Industries president and CEO Connie Lau, First Hawaiian Bank chairman and CEO Bob Harrison, and Matson Inc. president and CEO Matt Cox. Another group, Friends of Rail, is comprised of labor and construction industry and economic development groups, such as the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce…..

read … Pushers

State To Homeless Shelters: If You Want Money, Show Results

CB: …Using seven performance measures to evaluate a shelter’s performance, the department aims to ensure shelter beds stay full, the homeless find permanent housing, and that they don’t fall back into homelessness again. If Hawaii’s shelters don’t keep up, they will get less public money….

Starting in August, if a shelter doesn’t meet the state goals, they risk missing out on a portion of their funding. …

The department is introducing the performance measures slowly, ramping up expectations and allowing each shelter to choose which metric they aim to meet until mid-2018, when all seven metrics will be tied to funding.

Only small amounts of money will be at risk at first, increasing from one percent at the end of October until it reaches 30 percent.

Morishige said the new system will make the state more competitive when applying for federal funds from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, which awards Continuum of Care funding based on similar performance measures.

“It was time to have a new contract and really align with HUD goals,” said Connie Mitchell, director of the Institute for Human Services….

read … Results

Hawaii's medi-juana dispensaries could offer candies and liquids within next two weeks

PBN: Hawaii’s only state-certified medical marijuana testing lab said it hopes to have its certification to test derivative products within the next two weeks.

While two of the state’s eight medical marijuana labs have started Hawaii's first legal sales of the product, they have only been able to offer cannabis flowers and no derivatives….

“We have four to 10 people that leave every day without buying something because they don’t want to smoke it  (they want to resell derivatives). They don’t want the flower. They want the derivatives,” she said. “It’s a bit heartbreaking. We’re trying to serve our community with the flowers, but it’s definitely not what they’re looking for.” 

(Honey Butane Oil Soon to be Medicine.  Kids love this stuff.  Cookies and hard candies too!)

read … Dope Dealers

Grandmother who launched Kealoha corruption probe believes indictments are coming

HNN: The federal investigation into former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, began with the allegations of one woman, a family member who turned 98 years old Thursday.

Florence Puana has not spoken publicly about the family feud, hoping for vindication from the FBI, but she realizes she can't wait much longer and may not live to see the federal case play out.

"I felt, I felt like I was nothing," said Puana, about the bitter dispute between her and her granddaughter. 

In 2011, Puana accused her granddaughter of emptying their joint bank account of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money was from a reverse mortgage Kealoha arranged for Puana's Wilhelmina Rise home, the home she raised her nine children in.

When the money disappeared, Puana was forced to sell the home. She now lives with her daughter Charlee Malott….

Michael Wheat, a federal, special prosecutor from California has been assigned to the case, and three other federal prosecutors have now been assigned to assist. It has become clear the case has expanded to include multiple other police officers and multiple other allegations of wrongdoing….

read … Grandmother who launched Kealoha corruption probe believes indictments are coming

Kawananakoa Estate Fight: Lawyers File, Respond

CB: …Kawananakoa wants a state judge to issue a gag order to her former attorney, James Wright, saying he has inappropriately revealed sensitive details about her and her partner, Veronica Gail Worth….

Kawananakoa now says she had fired Wright — her attorney for nearly 20 years — before a judge confirmed his legal authority to take control of the estate. But Wright says the princess is not herself since the medical problem in June and is being unduly influenced by Worth….

read … Lotsa of Billable Hours

Hawaii: Nobody Spends More on ‘Efficiency’ Contracts

SA: …In its annual “Race to the Top” survey, all 50 states are ranked based on the per capita amount invested in performance contracts for government buildings. Hawaii invested $372.81 per capita compared with the national average of $62.72 per capita, creating more than 5,400 jobs in 2017. Hawaii was also named an “Energy Stewardship Champion.”

To see the report, go to energyservicescoalition.org.

read … Shovel Money

Hawaii to be Liberated from 9th Circuit Court?

CB: …Congressional Republicans, with President Donald Trump’s encouragement, are pushing ahead with a proposal to shrink the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court that covers Hawaii.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, held a field hearing in his home state of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, which he chairs, to discuss how and whether to split the 9th Circuit into two parts.

He has proposed legislation, S 276, co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain, also of Arizona, and Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada, that would restructure the appellate court and reduce its size.

The 9th Circuit, the court system’s largest appellate district, encompasses 12 states, including California and Hawaii. It stretches from Alaska through the Pacific Northwest to Nevada and Arizona, and from the Northern Mariana Islands to Montana, representing about 40 percent of the country’s land mass and 20 percent of its population.

There are varying proposals about how to chop it up. One plan involves splitting off Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Arizona, creating a new circuit court that would become a new 12th District. The present 9th Circuit would be shrunk to include California, Hawaii and the U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Another plan would carve out California as a separate district of its own, and place Hawaii instead with Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

Judges and lawyers from throughout Hawaii are strongly opposing the proposal, (thus proving it is a really good idea)….

read … Freedom!

Telescope Protesters Oppose UH Plan to Trade 10,000 Acres for Approval

HTH: …The resolution states the university should return 10,000 acres to the state, as requested by Gov. David Ige, and pursue a new lease for the remaining acreage needed to continue the “viability of astronomical research and education in the state.”

It also says the university should make it a priority to “meaningfully increase the engagement” of Native Hawaiian and other Hawaii Island students in the area of astronomy and celestial navigation.

The vote followed testimony that mainly focused on the TMT project and development of telescopes on the mountain. Those who oppose TMT spoke against the resolution.

“When I read this resolution, it feels disingenuous,” said Kamana Beamer, UH associate professor of Hawaiian studies, who is from Waimea. He urged the board to think more carefully about the measure.

“The trouble on Mauna Kea is not culture versus science,” Beamer said. “That’s a complete fallacy. … It’s about scale of development. It’s about supporting the largest telescope until a larger one is built.”

Malia Martin, who testified in support, said UH’s Office of Mauna Kea Management needs to be more responsible, but she doesn’t see Hawaiian culture as being in conflict with the telescopes.

“Stargazing is from Hawaii, stargazing is Polynesian,” she said. “… It’s our cultural birthright to practice stargazing and lead the world for this.”

A UH spokesman said about 28 people testified while 29 others submitted written testimony….

read … Approal

Pohakuloa seeks citizens for advisory board

HTH: …Every two years, the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii puts out a public notice seeking citizens to join a board to promote community involvement in the Army’s environmental restoration efforts at Pohakuloa Training Area.

The usual response? Crickets.

That’s rather unexpected, considering the persistent vocal interest in PTA’s handling of depleted uranium, a dense, weakly radioactive metal alloy, that was used in the Davy Crockett weapons program in the 1960s. Consultation meetings on cultural and historic sites have also drawn crowds.

The Army is trying again, with its latest solicitation published July 30 in local newspapers. Responses are due Tuesday.

Interested members of the public can find out more and ask to join by calling or emailing USAG-HI Directorate of Public Works Carrie Nelson at 656-3092 or carrie.nelson.civ@mail.mil.

The Restoration Advisory Board, called RAB, is not strictly focused on DU. Instead, it’s tasked with providing input to environmental restoration issues, evaluating and commenting on project documents, recommending priorities among sites and projects, and applicable standards for cleanup.

The rules require the board to have a diverse membership, including people from different geographic areas, vocations and interests. Community interest two years ago translated into fewer than five responses to the public solicitation, short of the minimum needed for a board to be formed. So far this year, four people have responded…..

read … Pohakuloa seeks citizens for advisory board

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