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Wednesday, August 30, 2017
August 30, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:23 PM :: 1825 Views

$2.4B Tax Hike: How They Voted

HEI to Burn $205M Helping Tax Credit Scammers Make More Money on Alt Energy

Inouye congressional papers available to the public

HEI to Burn $205M Helping Tax Credit Scammers Make More Money on Alt Energy

Successful Missile Defense Test off Kauai

McDermott withdraws--Rep Andria Tupola to Run for Governor?

$2.4B Tax Hike -- 3rd Read in Senate Today

HTH: A bill raising the statewide hotel tax to pay for the struggling Honolulu rail project cleared another hurdle Tuesday, when the Senate advanced it on a 17-7 procedural vote.

Three Oahu senators joined all four Big Island members voting no. The final vote scheduled for this morning is expected to be closer, following a 6-5 committee decision Monday that barely moved it to the Senate floor.

If it passes the Senate, the $2.4 billion bailout bill will be heard at 1:30 p.m. today in a House committee hearing….

CB: Lawmakers Skeptical That Hotel Room Tax Hike Would Hurt Hawaii Tourism

SA: Vote shows support is strong for rail bill

read … TAT bill moves to Senate final reading today

HART Magically Makes $548M Disappear

HNN: …FTA also explained the concept of stress-testing is not about adding costs, but about analyzing revenue, stating: “The stress test should be interpreted as examining the ability to fund the project if revenues are less than anticipated.”

HART told Always Investigating on Tuesday it will be sticking to its $8.165 billion cost figure, saying: “HART will not include the 10% stress test figure ($548 million) in its September 15th Recovery Plan.”

We asked if there are any updates to the mayor’s position on the stress-test add-on and have not yet heard back.

Rep. Scott Saiki, House speaker, said to expect no changes in funding once the House gets its hands on the bill tomorrow.

But KHON2 asked Saiki, if there is yet another shortage, how is the city supposed to deal with it?

“Well at this point I would say that if the city runs short in the future, then the city needs to resolve that issue on its own,” Saiki said. “Is it rail or is it the Blaisdell renovation project, because if the city does not go through with the Blaisdell renovation project, can’t it use those funds for rail instead? It’s a matter of priorities. The city can’t have it all.”

He is referring to a planned Neal S. Blaisdell renovation with an initial cost estimate between $300 million and $400 million. One of the regular-session rail bailout bills would have blocked the city from spending on that renovation……

KHON: Mayor’s stress test claim ‘evaporated’ as FTA reaffirms half-billion pad not required

KHON: The FTA is not requiring $548 million that the mayor said federal authorities needed by Sept. 15​

HNN: Local Connection: Reaching a Rail Deal

read … How to Make $548M Vanish

Only Independent, ‘Deep Dive’ Rail Audit Will Suffice

CB: …Leading voices across the state have joined the call to audit the Honolulu rail project, which is good news. However, such an audit must also include two key components to make it effective.

First, it should be done independently, by an outside third party with experience investigating rail projects. It is tempting to ask the city or state auditors to conduct such an audit, but their role, if any, should be to just help the contracted independent auditing firm in any way they can.

Second, the rail audit must look specifically look for fraud. The Honolulu rail project has never undergone an audit looking specifically for fraud, and this is long overdue. Suspicions of malfeasance have increased as the price tag for the project has gone well beyond what its proponents promised. In just the last three years, the estimates have jumped from around $5 billion to more than $10 billion — and that might still be lowballing the final tally.

Of course, many audits and reviews already have been performed on the rail project, but none of them were really looking for fraud. Responding to public concern, the Honolulu City Council recently took up a resolution calling for an “economy and efficiency” audit, but that resolution would not, in its current form, specifically seek out fraud either.

At the state level, our legislators apparently also have agreed that the rail project should be audited more thoroughly than in the past, with House Speaker Scott Saiki sayingThursday that the audit he and his colleagues will be calling for at the upcoming special session would review “not just finances, but also management and operations of HART.”

That is fine and, to a point, commendable, but the audit Saiki and his colleagues are proposing also would not look specifically for fraud…..

read … Grassroot Institute

Trump Administration Gives Ige Full Control over Hawaii Schools

SA: After months of mixed signals, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appears poised to do what the Every Student Succeeds Act expects of her and approve state-developed school accountability plans. “My criteria for approval is clear,” she said recently. “Does the state’s plan adhere to the law?” If so, she is “happy to approve it.”

That’s a pretty low bar, but it’s also faithful to the spirit of the statute, which pushed key decisions to the states. It means that, unlike the finger-pointing that occurred in many places under the previous law, known as No Child Left Behind, Hawaii officials will no longer be able to blame micromanagement from Washington for unfortunate policies, practices, and outcomes in their states.

In Hawaii, Gov. David Ige and the state Department of Education therefore have full responsibility to finalize an education plan that is good for children in the Aloha State. Hawaii’s current draft has some bright spots — like clear and intuitive summative school ratings called school performance unit scores — but it also has room for improvement. The good news is that the final plan isn’t due to the U.S. Department of Education until Sept. 18, so policymakers have time to add two key components to the final version of the plan.

First, Hawaii should encourage schools to focus on all its students, not just its low performers, by both looking beyond proficiency rates rate when measuring student achievement. A preoccupation with proficiency — another legacy of No Child Left Behind — leads schools to prioritize students just below or above the cutoff, to the detriment of high achievers, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances.

Hawaii should instead measure achievement and academic progress in ways that gives schools credit for helping students along the entire performance spectrum. The state might, for example, employ an index that gives schools partial credit for students at a basic level of achievement, full credit for students at proficient, and additional credit for students at an advanced level.

Second, Hawaii should fairly measure and judge all schools, including those with high rates of poverty. When evaluating schools, we should stress what is under their control — how much they help students grow academically while under their care. Schools can’t do much about the poverty that leads some children to arrive in kindergarten far behind their peers. What they can and must do is help those kids to catch up.

When it comes to education policy, states including Hawaii have been asking for the football for years now. It’s time for Gov. Ige to lead his team to a touchdown.….

read … No Excuses

Honolulu apartment rents jump 30% in 8 years

PBN: …the average asking rent islandwide in 2009 was $1,301 per month for a one-bedroom unit. That figure rose to $1,681 in 2016 and to $1,685 during the first seven months of this year, an increase of 29 percent from 2009.

The areas that saw the largest increases were Waimanalo to Hauula — which includes Kailua and Kaneohe — with a 40 percent increase, the area from Salt Lake, near Aloha Stadium, to Downtown, where rents increased an average of 28 percent and Downtown Honolulu to Waikiki — which includes the rapidly growing Kakaako neighborhood— with rents increasing an average of 27 percent since 2009, before vacation-rental websites such as Airbnb became popular.

Meanwhile, average asking rents for two-bedroom apartments also rose by 30 percent islandwide on Oahu between 2009 and July of this year, from $1,714 to an average of $2,226. The Downtown to Waikiki area saw the largest increase, 26.5 percent, to $2,400 per month during the first seven months of this year, from $1,897 in 2009, while Salt Lake to Downtown and Waimanalo to Hauula each saw an increase of 24 percent.

Meanwhile, the median price of a condominium for sale jumped 33 percent during the same time period, from $302,000 in 2009 to an average of nearly $402,000 through July of this year….

read … Honolulu apartment rents jump 30% in 8 years

Homeless Drug Addicts Behind Increase in vandalism, criminal acts reported by Kahului businesses

MN: Businesses and customers in and around the Kahului industrial area report an increase in vandalism and other criminal activity they say is related to the number of homeless people in the area.

Just last week, a 50-year-old Pukalani woman said she was punched in the left arm inside the Kahului Safeway store by a homeless woman who was swearing.

“Everyone was in shock,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. She added that her attacker “was pretty much . . . out her mind.”

The victim had her shopping basket in one hand and another item in the other. She did not challenge her attacker, who spit as she swore. The victim did not need medical treatment….

homeless people have defecated in the area and have been found sleeping in a parking lot…..

At Maui Federal Credit Union on East Wakea Avenue, Chief Executive Officer Clayton Fuchigami said he has hired a private security firm to patrol the grounds because homeless people have vandalized the building, defecated in front of it and hang out in the area, concerning customers….

“A lot of people in that area are concerned because it seems certain members of the homeless population are getting aggressive,” he said.

Antone said he spoke to a witness, who reported chasing away a homeless man trying to set fire to Marmac Ace Hardware on Alamaha Street. And, police received a report that someone threw a rock through the store window…..

Lisa Kahaleauki, a Family Life Center outreach staff member, said in an email that they have been working closely with individuals from the Alamaha Street and Kahului industrial area in the past four to five months and have permanently housed 11 individuals in rental units and referred two individuals to shelter services….

Chief Tivoli Faaumu…acknowledged that some homeless people do not want help….“When nobody else is available to move some of these things, they’re (the officers) out there with the community loading up dump trucks with some of the stuff left behind,”…

Others spoke about trash left behind by vagrants, and others reported finding syringes and seeing drug activity. Business operators said criminal activity and homeless people have been a problem in the Kahului industrial area for at least two years….

SA: Church’s domes await first homeless guests

read … Maui’s homeless population emerging from the shadows

Grand Jury Probe Zeros In On ‘Safe House’ Property Deal

CB: …Several people were asked to testify recently about a land deal involving Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and a politically active real estate investor….

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission records show that Donna Walden and Sakamaki, both as individuals and through their businesses, have donated nearly $100,000 to political candidates since 2006.

The largest share of that — about $12,000 — went to Caldwell’s campaign. Kaneshiro also received more than $9,000 from the couple. They also donated $8,000 to Franklin “Don” Pacarro Jr., who was one of Kaneshiro’s opponents in 2010.

In 2007, the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office charged Walden with 18 criminal counts related to filing late and false tax statements with the state. According to court records, Walden was accused of underreporting her income over several years by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

She eventually negotiated a deferred acceptance of guilty plea. She agreed to pay nearly $42,000 in restitution to the state tax department and a $96,000 fine, as well as perform 350 hours of community service.

read … Deal

Al Hee Minion Robin Danner Grabs for Control of Crooked Sandwich Isles Scam Company

CB: …A coalition of Hawaiian homestead associations (Robin Danner) has declared its intent to purchase the beleaguered Sandwich Isles Communications, which in June lost its exclusive license to provide telephone and internet service to homestead communities statewide.

The (Danner-controlled) Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly is collaborating with regulatory experts to acquire and operate Sandwich Isles without any disturbance of service to customers, according to a notice to federal regulators.

The goal of the potential acquisition, said SCHHA Chair Robin Puanani Danner, is to ensure continuity of service, reduce costs, improve customer service and expand the customer base by creating a sustainable, Native-owned telecom (cash flow to her) enterprise….

Flashback: Danner letter of support for criminal Al Hee

read … Money

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