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Sunday, November 05, 2017
November 5, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:49 PM :: 1803 Views

Fake Data Behind Coral Bleaching Report

Petition: Protect Short Term Rentals on Hawaii Island

Akina--Let's Work Together for Hawaiian Charter Schools

A DOTax Nightmare: No End to Litigation

Photos: Supporters Greet President Trump in Hawaii

Ward to Ige: Speed Up Nuclear Drills for DOE

Trump Admin Names Hawaii Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors

Albatross: Caldwell quietly backing Ige’s bid for re-election

SA: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is quietly putting his political weight behind the re-election campaign of Gov. David Ige in an alliance that appears to have already shifted some key Caldwell campaign staffers into the Ige camp.

Caldwell’s decision is potentially important because Hawaii has relatively few well-organized and proficient campaign organizations. As the two-term mayor of the state’s largest city, Caldwell has been supported by an experienced and well-financed political crew.

Mitchell Imanaka, a Honolulu lawyer who was an effective campaign fundraiser for Caldwell, is now the finance chairman for the Ige campaign, and has staged two fundraisers for Ige since late September, according to state campaign spending records.

Glenna Wong, who handled communications for Caldwell’s 2012 and 2016 campaigns, confirmed she has joined the Ige campaign, and political insiders report that Caldwell supporter Mike Yadao also has joined the Ige organization.

Hubert Minn, who has supported both Caldwell and Ige in the past and was appointed by Ige to the state Board of Education, is also working on Ige’s re-election effort, according to people familiar with the arrangements.

Caldwell expressed his support for Ige over challenger U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in a recent closed-door staff meeting and let it be known he wants to be informed if anyone in his organization supports Hanabusa or any other candidate, according to administration sources….

Caldwell’s endorsement of Ige comes just weeks after a startling exchange during the special session of the state Legislature this summer in which Hanabusa publicly split with Caldwell over the best way to provide additional funding for the Honolulu rail project….

Hanabusa’s fellow board members elected her chairwoman of the HART board in April 2016, but Hanabusa resigned from the board later last year to make a successful run for the U.S. House. She then announced in September she is running for governor.

Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said he believes Hanabusa was using the special session debate with lawmakers to try to position herself as a critic of the rail project, and as “the person brought in to clean up the HART mess.”….

That rail-crisis dynamic is not at play in the 2018 Hanabusa-Ige race, which means Caldwell’s influence over the craft unions may be limited, according to political insiders. Many in the construction trade unions like and respect Hanabusa, who practiced labor law on behalf of (has the same mafia connections as) the unions for many years….

More Reality Than Most Can Handle: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Albatross

Trump, Ige, Caldwell Meet--Conspiring to Build Rail

KITV:…Before leaving Hawaii on Air Force One, President Donald Trump sat down with both Governor David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

“It was worth the meeting just to go out there and talk about what I believe is the most important infrastructure in the state of Hawaii,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell is talking about rail. Both he and Governor Ige pointed out one of Hawaii's top priorities….

“He asked a lot of questions like how much was completed, where it was going. I told him we finished the first 10 miles, we have the next five miles under construction and we need help,” Caldwell said….

“He was open to it, he said he would follow up and supports inner-city rail projects,” Caldwell said.

“He said certainly, he would want more information if we would look forward. He suggested I talk with Elaine Chao, his cabinet member in transportation,” Ige said.

Ige is looking forward to that meeting. He believes Trump's staff will be at the Western Governors Association meeting in December.

Ige will be there hoping to continue the conversation….

read … Railroaded

Hawaii County Vacation house rules in works: Regulating ‘unhosted’ rentals seen as way to preserve housing for residents

HTH: Legislation is being drafted to regulate “unhosted” vacation rentals on Hawaii Island.

Roy Takemoto, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, said that involves homes that aren’t occupied by the owner or operator.

Issues under consideration include where these type of short-term rentals should be allowed, what exemptions should apply and whether property tax rates should be added or changed to encourage more long-term rentals, he said.

While nothing is drafted yet, Takemoto said Wednesday an option being considered is to limit these rentals, which might be defined as stays of less than 180 days, to resort and commercial zoning areas, with some exceptions. But that’s subject to change, he cautioned.

“We’re still looking at that to see if there are areas in (agriculture) districts that could be permitted,” Takemoto later added. “That’s one of the big ones we’re still trying to figure out.” ….

Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff is one of the members looking at the legislation. In a text message, she said the county has been receiving input from other agencies for the past six months.

“Our goal is to provide tools that will allow visitors the opportunity to stay in this form of vacation accommodation, while, at the same time, preserving housing for the people who live and work on the island,” Eoff said. She added it will not apply to people renting rooms if they live in their home or traditional bed and breakfast establishments.

Word of the pending legislation already has spread through the coconut wireless. An online petition urging the county to protect short-term rentals received more than 2,800 signatures as of Friday.

Sean King of Leilani Estates said his wife is a co-owner of a vacation rental company, which he asked not to be named, and they’re interested in working with the county on this issue. He said he would like the county to take it to the general public before a bill is introduced.

But King said the county should avoid prohibiting or making it too difficult for people to share their homes with visitors through online booking sites, such as Airbnb…..

Petition: Protect Short Term Rentals on Hawaii Island

read … Vacation house rules in works: Regulating ‘unhosted’ rentals seen as way to preserve housing for residents

Majority of TVRs would be Illegal under Hawaii County Model

SA: …In a legal settlement solidified this May, Airbnb agreed to important registration, transparency and enforcement provisions in its hometown city of San Francisco. We believe any tax engagement with Airbnb should include the important characteristics of this settlement, which were also incorporated in legislation considered during Hawaii’s 2017 regular legislative session.

We can’t sell Hawaii short. A pono agreement would require Airbnb to collect, transparently report and pay taxes on behalf of its operators renting units in Hawaii through their platform. It should additionally require each operator’s transient accommodations tax registration identification number and local contact information before hosts can post listings in Hawaii on Airbnb.

If the rentals are not legal, Airbnb should not be allowed to collect a booking fee. In March of this year CBRE released a report examining the rise of commercial activity taking place on Airbnb nationwide. The report focused on 13 of the nation’s largest Airbnb markets, which includes Oahu.

The results confirmed the worst: most vacation rental units here are owned by part-time residents or commercial operators, not small homeowners renting a room to supplement their income. In fact, 85 percent of Oahu Airbnb revenue comes from entire-home rentals. More alarming is the explosion of multi-unit entire home vacation rentals springing up in neighborhoods across Oahu. Just last year Airbnb’s revenue from multi-unit entire home vacation rentals on Oahu jumped an astonishing 227 percent…..

read … Private tax deals sell isles short

Virginia Woman Flies to Kauai to be Homeless—But Still Buys Lots of Computers

KGI: …Shortly after arriving on Kauai from Fairfax County, Va., outside Washington, D.C., those plans went awry.

DaNine, homeless and living on and around Kealia Beach, says she once had a laptop, a smart phone and other electronics for her work. But, over time, they were stolen. She replaced them sometimes, using her credit card, but they were stolen again. Even her credit card was eventually stolen.

A friend finally told her, “You know, you’re a sitting duck. People are watching you.”

So she stopped buying replacements and held on to what she still had, which wasn’t much. Clothes, a tarp, a few personal belongings.

One day, she says, her backpack containing important documents, identification and other papers was stolen, too, when she took a short shower.

“I lost everything,” she said.

She decided she needed a better place to live, safer, more in the open.

“It became too difficult to go to the back, for more reasons than one,” she said.

The bus stop seemed like a good place….

The 53-year-old woman has called this bus stop just off Kuhio Highway outside the Kapaa Neighborhood Center her home since November 2016. She recalls when it became her residence, to the date.

“I ended up here around Thanksgiving last year. I marked the time. The barbecue place down the street was having a big promotion,” she said. “The guy living at the hostel said, ‘They’re giving away free dinners at Chicken in a Barrel.’…

She has found others who are homeless not because they lack money, but because they prefer living “without four walls.”….

read… Mainland Homeless

Star-Adv: Single Family Homes Should Not be Built 

SA: …Koa Ridge, a $2 billion project, now is slated to yield its first finished homes in mid-2019. The full buildout, taking about a decade, will include 3,500 homes, priced from the high $300,000s to the low $900,000s. Castle &Cooke struck a deal with the city to provide 30 percent of these, or 1,050 homes, as affordable to moderate-income households.

But given that the shortage of homes needed on Oahu in the next decade is closer to 25,000, the solution to the housing crisis can no longer lie in sprawling subdivisions such as Koa Ridge, occupying 576 acres.

Instead, city officials must seize on the potential for more densely built communities to rise around the 20 stations of the Honolulu elevated rail system, all along its 20-mile alignment. Development regulations to guide this process are supposed to provide incentives for many more of these housing units to be affordable where the need is greatest, for families earning between 60 and 80 percent of the area median income.

How well this succeeds depends on the will of elected officials to hold developers to a firm mandate, and that already has been shown to be wavering. But in any case, the future lies in neighborhoods that are more urbanized and less dependent on individual cars for transport to work and daily routines.

Striking the right balance for this island means preservation of the open space and farmland that remain, largely to the north of Wahiawa and around Kunia, as well as in parts of the Waianae Coast and North Shore. Ensuring that breathing room persists for future generations means accepting more housing in the areas that are already urbanized.

Certainly there will be single-family homes built in pockets here and there, but not on a large scale, at least no longer on Oahu. Those who have supported Koa Ridge surely are pleased to see more homes coming into the pipeline, but the reality is that this community, and the remaining subdivisions set for Kapolei, represent the end of an era.

(Translation: We the Eco-Elite live in beachfront homes and we want you peons crammed into as little space as possible and kept off the roads.)

Best Comments: There's a problem with this op ed.  Low income rentals should be low rise - one to two stories. We've seen that low income tenement housing just doesn't work. These tenements should NOT be built near rail stations.  Remember Kuhio Park Terrace? Why do we keep e-learning old lessons the hard way?

Best Comments: "...city officials must seize on the potential for more densely built communities to rise around the 20 stations of the Honolulu elevated rail system..."  What a bleak and depressing vision for the future, social engineering at its worst.

read … Homes are too good for the Peons

Insurers make billions off Medicaid Expansion

LAT:…some insurance companies are reaping spectacular profits off the taxpayer-funded program in California, even when the state finds that patient care is subpar….

 …The profits of managed-care plans feed into Republican criticism of the ACA’s costs and its expanded Medicaid rolls. President Trump has called for the law’s repeal, in part, because it enriches health insurers.

“They have made a fortune,” Trump tweeted Oct. 13.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has demanded that California and seven other states account for how they spent federal Medicaid expansion dollars. Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked California officials in a letter Sept. 27 whether they have conducted audits and requested information on insurance company payouts.

In an Oct. 11 response, Kent said the state spent $6,181 per expansion enrollee in 2015, below the national average of $6,365.

“California is a cost efficient Medicaid program,” she wrote.

By one standard measure, the state’s oversight has been less than efficient.

Starting in 2014, the federal government required that 85% of Medicaid expansion funding be spent on care and quality improvement efforts, rather than administrative overhead and profits. But three years in, California officials acknowledged they have just started audits to determine whether companies might have to return excess money. It’s impossible to determine how much that might be.

What’s clear is that insurers’ spending on expansion and traditional Medicaid enrollees often falls short. Eight of California’s 22 Medicaid insurers failed to hit 85% in medical spending for the year that ended June 30, 2016, according to state data obtained by Kaiser Health News. Anthem ranked lowest at 77%; Health Net spent 81% of Medicaid premiums on medical care, according to state calculations.

Each percentage point below the threshold can amount to tens of millions of dollars that should have been spent on patients….


read … Insurers make billions off Medicaid



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