Island Air: Did the Airports Division bamboozle Fitch Ratings?
Department of Taxation Customer Service – Don’t’ Be a Victim
Hawaii Professionals -- more licensing, fewer requirements
Immigration: Only 300 Dreamers in Hawaii
Democrats’ Shaky Coalition without a viable leader or a rallying point
Borreca: …The uncertainty and disunity within the dominant Hawaii Democratic Party is showing up as the race to replace U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District begins.
Democrats may hold nearly all elected partisan seats in the state, but the political reality is that the Democrats make more of a shaky coalition than a solid majority….
the 2016 victory of political outsider U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders capturing 70 percent of Hawaii Democrats’ presidential preference poll, caused the party to split….
Without Inouye to enforce discipline and party newcomers unwilling to support the establishment’s Hillary Clinton, the party was without a viable leader or a rallying point.
The party’s factions are even more divided because Gov. David Ige, ostensibly the face of the local Democratic Party, is being challenged by Hanabusa in the 2018 governor’s race and is unable to unite the factions.
Indeed, Ige came to power only by his victorious, party-dividing challenge to the previous Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie.
So next year’s race for the congressional district that stretches from Mililani and Waipahu, past Pearl City, Kalihi and downtown to Hawaii Kai, is wide open….
read … Congressional race will reveal Democratic Party’s divide and future course
Republicans hurting after election day? It’s worse in Hawaii
LAT: …The Republican Party’s best stretch since then was the eight years that Republican Linda Lingle served as governor, the second member of her party to hold that office. Her term expired in 2010.
It’s not as though Democrats have solved all the state’s problems. Hawaii has the nation’s highest homelessness rate, and in Honolulu, some of its worst traffic. Still, Republicans keep losing.
Last November, it was no surprise when Trump received 30% of votes cast by Hawaii residents — his lowest total in any state. Perhaps already knowing the results, many Hawaii residents didn’t bother to vote. Turnout was 43%.
Things have only gotten worse for the party since then….
“There are a lot of people who are not happy with how the state is run, such as with our incredibly high taxes,” she said. “I hope for Hawaii to one day have a healthy, vibrant two-party system.”
For now, though, when things go wrong in Hawaii, Ostrov said, “You don’t have to think hard about who’s responsible.
“It’s Democrats.” ….
read … It’s worse in Hawaii
Blaisdell: More Financial Doubletalk from Caldwell
Shapiro: …The latest collision of rail and reality came last week when Mayor Kirk Caldwell found himself in a scrap with a key state legislator over his proposed $700 million renovation of Blaisdell Center.
House Speaker Scott Saiki, who has grudgingly agreed to two state rail bailouts totaling more than $3 billion in the last three years, scolded Caldwell that the Blaisdell funds “could be better spent on mitigation of unanticipated future rail construction cost increases.”
“Oahu taxpayers cannot take the brunt of paying for rail construction, rail operations and this project,” Saiki wrote to Caldwell.
The mayor responded that rail and Blaisdell funds come from “completely different sources” and accused Saiki of trying “to confuse the public.”
In other words, more of the fiscal gymnastics he’s played with rail since he became involved in 2008 as former Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s managing director.
Money is money, and all public funds ultimately come from taxes, a well that runs only so deep; funds stuffed into one pocket must come from other pockets in the end, and to say otherwise is disingenuous.
It’s way too early to think rail funding is settled and we’re clear to move on to other civic luxuries.
Caldwell himself has claimed the legislative rail bailout is $500 million to $1 billion short of what’s needed.
There’s no funding source yet for some $120 million a year in rail operations after the system opens, and the City Council has struggled to come up with $160 million in rail administrative costs that the Legislature passed back to the city….
read … Shapiro
Kealoha’s Defense May Cost Taxpayers $2M
KHON: …“Judge Seabright indicated during his comments from the bench he wants to go during 2018,” explained Modafferi, to which he says the new attorneys will “take on a case that will essentially be their career for the next, however long it takes to go to trial.”
Modafferi believes up to $2 million could be the cost to taxpayers to defend the Kealohas in their alleged corruption case.
“That is definitely within reason, yes,” he said.
The new attorneys will have a lot of catching up to do. Modafferi says the new attorneys will need to hire experts and investigators to handle the case, and those costs will add up….
read … Kealoha’s attorney sheds light on what court-appointed counsel will face
First Amendment right to record video of police officers at work at the center of a court case
KITV: …Thomas Russo of media outlet Maui Time, shot the video back in 2012 and got arrested for it.
At the time, police officers were conducting traffic stops on Haleakala Highway, and he wanted to report about the massive traffic backup when he became the news.
Maui police charged him with failure to comply with a lawful order and disorderly conduct.
The case has gone back and forth for five years.
It was dismissed, appealed, re-opened, and the Supreme Court heard the case again Thursday…..
read … Right
Couch considering a run for state House Dist 11
MN: …Former Maui County Council Member Don Couch’s website displays a photo of him and a graphic with the words: “Elect Don Couch South Maui (D) House” next to it. The website appears to be under construction and advises visitors to “come back in early 2018 for a new chapter for Maui.”
Couch also submitted an organizational report to the state Campaign Spending Commission with his intent to run for the District 11 seat. Leizl Tumbaga of Makawao is listed as his chairperson, and Tina Lia of Kula is his treasurer….
(Election results over the last decade clearly show Couch is not freakish enough to win an HD 11 Dem Primary that will likely go to somebody in the mold of Ing or Bertram. The only hope for a guy this normal would be to run as Republican.)
read … Couch
Maunakea: After a Decade of Posturing, Interest Groups Finally Get Down to the Squabble over Baksheesh
HTH: …As construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope — one of the largest planned anywhere in the world — continues to face legal challenges, an issue that looms over Maunakea is how this place should be used within its scientific and cultural contexts.
With the University of Hawaii planning to renew its general lease for at least part of the Maunakea Science Reserve, the mountain’s future beyond 2033, when the 65-year agreement expires, also could be shaped by that quandary and efforts — successful or not — to bridge the gap between the different perspectives.
Still, three years after protests halted TMT’s groundbreaking, common ground can appear elusive as to what Maunakea is or should be: Is it a temple to divine beings and creation; a window to the universe; a monument to world peace, as Mayor Harry Kim is advocating; or all of the above?
The evolution of astronomy on the mountain in the coming decades — and how residents connect with Hawaii’s tallest peak — might depend on how those differences are reconciled…..
“The 9,000-foot level is pretty much the entrance into that sacred realm,” said Kealoha Pisciotta “… the heavens are offering us.”
Kalepa Baybayan, a master navigator, approaches the issue from a different perspective. For him, astronomy is key to Hawaii Island’s future as well as scientific and cultural education.
“I always claim that ancient mariners left the safety of the coastline and explored the oceans, and by doing so, discovered the stars,” he said. “And that’s what I want and hope they can provide: a source of inspiration for young people.”
Baybayan is a captain with the Polynesian sailing canoe Hokule‘a that completed its historic around-the-world voyage last summer, and the resident navigator at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. He recently joined the board of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, formed by TMT supporters in the Hawaiian community.
PUEO members say they support the next-generation telescope because of the $1 million its international partners are committing to educational programs on the island each year, and opportunities for jobs in science. They want the observatories to continue to build on those efforts.
Baybayan said he joined to give supporters of astronomy on the mountain another voice.
“I think the next journey for humanity and mankind is the continued exploration of the universe,” he said. “It’s the best place for that. It is by far the best place in the world.”….
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has recently been more vocal about management of the mountain. In a lawsuit filed last week, OHA alleges UH and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources have failed to protect ceded lands on Maunakea.
Asked about the future of the mountain, Pisciotta referred to a report her group, Maunakea Anaina Hou, completed in 2001.
She said it calls for no expansion of astronomy’s footprint, management being done independent of UH and substantial lease rent from the observatories. Funds would be distributed to schools and kupuna care, Pisciotta said.
“We’ve said here’s the way to restore balance: give back, take care and don’t ask for more,” she said.
In 2013, UH first approached DLNR about approving a new master lease to cover the observatories and the Hale Pohaku midlevel facilities, though that process was paused to allow for an EIS.
Two years later, at the request of Gov. David Ige, UH agreed to again restart that process, which still remains largely on hold, and commit to seek greater financial commitments from the telescopes. Existing observatories pay $1 a year or less for rent but provide UH viewing time and cover infrastructure costs as part of their subleases. TMT would be the first to pay more than the nominal fee.
In an effort to help resolve the conflict, Kim proposed a Maunakea peace park that would highlight Hawaiian culture and be a symbol of global harmony. Ige supports that idea and asked Kim to lead a committee into its formation. But TMT opponents say they won’t support it if it allows for that project.
For UH, getting a new general lease for the existing observatories could ultimately prove easier than building a new telescope…..
read … One mauna, many perspectives: Native Hawaiians discuss spiritual, cultural connections to Maunakea
GOP tax plan would force Democrat Voters to Suffer the Consequences of their Actions
SA: …Proposed new limits on the mortgage deduction would affect Hawaii more than many other places because of the state’s sky-high housing costs, while limiting or eliminating the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes would also hit local taxpayers hard, according to Hawaii experts…..
(Idea: Allow more houses to be built. Another idea: Stop electing Democrats who raise taxes.)
read … GOP tax plan would hit isle taxpayers hard