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Sunday, February 11, 2018
February 11, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:16 PM :: 3562 Views

Former Cocaine Dealer’s Wife Running for Honolulu Council

The Value of a Refundable Credit

New Evidence: Rip off Dead Congressman’s Funds to help Elect Chin?

SA: …The presumably dormant re-election campaign for the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai has paid out close to $5,000 over the past year to purchase data from a Washington, D.C.-based campaign software vendor that tracks voter information…

Takai died in July 2016 of pancreatic cancer. Since his death, the Mark Takai for Congress campaign has made four payments — one as recently as December — totaling $4,800 to software firm NGP Van Inc., according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission….

Political observers — including candidates running for Congress against Chin — question whether Beesley used Takai’s campaign funds to buy voter information to benefit other clients…..

“It’s concerning because you have to question, what are you using the database for if not for campaigning? Usually someone would use a resource like that if you want to do a mailing list, if you want to do door-to-door campaigning, phone banking, email blasts,” said state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who is also running for Takai’s former U.S. House seat representing urban Honolulu.

“It also raises concerns that as a consultant with clients, other political-type clients, then would this information that’s been purchased by the Takai campaign be utilized for another campaign?” said Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-­Halawa). “Certainly there are FEC regulations about that — that any campaign benefiting would have to reimburse or pay for such resources.”….

Attorneys for the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit campaign finance watchdog, have since asked the FEC to investigate the consulting payments to Beesley in a formal complaint filed last month….

On the same day the FEC complaint was filed, the family of the late congressman endorsed Beesley’s actions for the first time, saying in a statement that he was retained “to help manage the campaign’s affairs” and set up a foundation in Takai’s name to benefit education and military causes.

The Mark Takai Foundation was registered Jan. 11 with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, according to business registration records — a day after the Star-Advertiser began asking about Beesley’s monthly consulting payments. Takai’s father-in-law, Gary Kai, whose name is listed on the foundation’s registration documents, did not respond to requests for comment on how the NGP Van database charges were related to the campaign or launching the foundation.

Meanwhile, Chin, who stepped down earlier this month as the state’s attorney general to fill in as lieutenant governor after Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui abruptly resigned, has defended Beesley throughout the controversy….  (Oooops!)

read … Handling of Takai campaign funds raises questions

‘Rare ecosystem’ being destroyed as homeless move in

SA: State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials believe the state-owned land beneath the Pu‘uhonua O Waianae homeless encampment contains ancient burial sites, pre- and post-contact rock walls that have been destroyed, and a rare “Waianae lineage” of half-inch-long shrimp living in an underground cave system.

Bruce Anderson, administrator for DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, said DLNR staff need to be able to properly study what he called a “rare ecosystem” that’s currently surrounded by dogs, humans and homeless structures.

“Protecting this rare ecosystem is incompatible with having a large homeless camp on the property,” Anderson said. “This is the only area in the entire state that consists of a pure population of a distinct genetic strain of opae ula known as the Waianae lineage.”

The area also is home to ancient limestone reefs called “karst geology.”

Pua Aiu, who has the DLNR title and responsibilities of “cultural resources manager on special assignment to assist with homeless concerns,” wrote to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser through a DLNR spokeswoman that the area used to contain “archaeological sites” that she did not describe.

But none could be found while doing a site visit in 2015, Aiu wrote.

DLNR’s former chairman, William Aila Jr., said, “There are a few burials there,” along with former rock walls that were built before and after Western contact.

“One of the concerns is that they (homeless occupants) are moving the rocks around,” Aila said.

Anderson said: “Some of the structures were repurposed for building walls and other things the homeless built over time, like fireplaces and to form property lines. Most of what was there has been destroyed or no longer visible because of all of the human activity.”

In 1983, the state transferred the 19.5-acre parcel to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to be used as a park.

But the discovery of thousands of opae ula in water-filled sinkholes — known as anchialine pools — “made it impossible to develop the park,” Anderson said. “Basically it was too unstable because it’s a network of underground caves and caverns that extends down below sea level. It’s a living system.”

In 2008, the city returned the land to DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources.

Over time, humans and dogs left feces in the sinkholes, along with human garbage, Anderson said.

“Unfortunately, the sinkholes also provide a place for the humans to dump waste and human waste,” he said. “The sinkholes have become toilets, essentially, dumping into this valuable ecosystem. One of the major concerns is this is going to become an underground sewer.”…

read … ‘Rare ecosystem’ being destroyed as homeless move in

SB3092 tackles lag by state open records agency

SA: …The state agency tasked with deciding whether government records ought to be released to the public has issued 46 legal opinions over the past three years and took two years or more to process all but three of those inquiries, according to a watchdog group that promotes transparency in government.

Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim said that if those statistics are accurate, the time lag by the state Office of Information Practices is “not acceptable.”

Kim’s committee advanced Senate Bill 3092 on Thursday to require the OIP to issue legal opinions within six months on all demands for public records and complaints about alleged violations of the state’s open meetings law…..

SB 3092 now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

SB3092: Text, Status

read … Bill tackles lag by state open records agency

Hawaii County should cut expenses not Raise taxes

HTH: …Concerned that for the second consecutive year — in the midst of economic good times — the county would consider raising taxes to meet a growing budget, several business leaders met with our mayor and the managing director….

Our budget point was that when it comes to taxes, this is a “zero sum game” — when what is gained by one side is lost by the other.

There is only so much money in the economy, and what the county takes from its residents is no longer available to those residents to meet their financial needs or improve their financial situation.

In an economy made up of small businesses competing against major mainland retailers and a resident base that is the most economically challenged in the state, such extractions are serious. As Harry Kim is quoted in the Tribune-Herald, speaking of a possible GET increase: “We’re taxing the people who can least afford to pay taxes.”

Context here is important. The county’s budget has grown from $175 million in fiscal year 2000 to what may well be $500 million in 2018 — a near tripling in less than 20 years….

• 12 percent of the budget is a payment toward pensions, and that will grow to more than 15 percent in 2018.

• An additional 12 or more percent of the budget is consumed by employee and retiree medical insurance.

This works out to more than 25 percent of the budget for employee fringe benefits. The point here is not whether employees are deserving of these benefits; the point is that they illustrate the long-term cost of employees….

We see this as a serious problem that needs addressing, and that if not addressed, will increasingly sap the power of our businesses and community members to grow and survive in one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.

read … Hawaii County should cut expenses

UH renewing pursuit of master lease for Maunakea

HTH: The University of Hawaii is restarting its effort to gain a new master lease for Maunakea that would allow observatories to continue beyond 2033.

That process was put on hold twice, first in 2013 to allow for an environmental impact statement and two years later because of controversy surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope. That $1.4 billion project is back in the hands of the state Supreme Court after completing a second contested case hearing last year….

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said an EIS notice could be published later this month, starting the public comment period. He said open houses on the issue will take place in Hilo, Waimea and Oahu.

He said UH needs to get this going so that telescopes, which hold subleases with the university, have some certainty about their future. But Meisenzahl noted the university remains open to ideas about doing things differently….

read … Renewing

WSJ: Can Public-Private Partnerships Solve Hawaii Cesspool Problem?

WSJ: …In Puako, a popular snorkeling destination on the Big Island, residents fear that sewage from the area’s 150 cesspools has already harmed the coral reef, which is its signature tourist attraction.

Peter Hackstedde, president of Puako Community Association, said he now avoids the water if he has a cut; he has gotten infected before.

He said the community had already spent more than $2.5 million of its own money studying the problem.

“We found that sewage is leaking into the ocean, and we swim in it,” Mr. Hackstedde said.

They now hope to install a small-scale sewage-treatment plant, which would avoid having to dig and install pipes to the nearest town, about 50 miles away.

A treatment plant would cost about $15 million, Mr. Hackstedde said, and residents don’t want to put up that money on their own. He said his association is hoping for a public-private partnership.

“Everyone who lives down here is pretty much for cleaning up the ocean,” Mr. Hackstedde said. “We just need the money.”….

read … Public-Private Partnership

Maui County mayoral candidates file campaign spending reports

MN: …Guzman has the most cash on hand, with Victorino and Cochran (the armed robber and anti-GMO activist) next in line….

read … Campaign

Lying Councilwoman Eoff Exposed as owner of vacation rental

HTH: North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, the primary sponsor of a bill limiting vacation rentals on the island, has come under fire for her ownership of a vacation rental condo in Kailua-Kona.

Eoff is the only council member who owns a short-term vacation rental, according to financial disclosure reports filed by Jan. 31 with the county clerk….

Eoff’s condo ownership came to the attention of Rob Guzman, who owns the vacation rental Bananarama Cottage in Kalapana Seaview. Guzman accuses Eoff of writing the bill in a way to exempt her own condo from the regulations.

“She has a conflict of interest in this legislation,” Guzman said Friday. “Barring people in other areas, especially areas with high numbers of poorer people and people of color, they will be prohibited from doing what she is doing herself.”

An email conversation Thursday between Eoff and Guzman, copied to newspaper reporters, showed Eoff first denied she had a vacation rental. Guzman was pressing Eoff to explain why she shouldn’t recuse herself from the legislation because of her own property holdings.

“I do not have — and have never had — a rental of any kind,” Eoff said in an email. “Please stop sending misinformation.”…  (LOL!)

Eoff said the Resort Zone is the appropriate place for the rentals. Her Bill 108 would require existing transient vacation rentals outside of the Vacation District, the General Commercial District or Resort Nodes to apply for a nonconforming use certificate in order to be grandfathered in.

Those in the allowed districts, such as Eoff, would be required to register with the county, but they don’t have to apply to the Planning Department for a nonconforming use permit.

“So you would only directly benefit because your legislation exempts people like yourself and you will even lie to constituents to hide this fact until called on your deception,” Guzman responded to Eoff. “Deeply disturbing.” …

Eoff’s failure to report her earnings on her annual disclosure could raise a red flag…..

“Our condo is listed on the financial disclosure form, however it operates at a loss and doesn’t produce income in excess of $1,000,” Eoff told the newspaper Friday. “The Financial Disclosure Form asks for annual income in excess of $1,000 and therefore no income was reported.”

That’s not how the county ethics code defines what income should be on the form, or how state Ethics Commission Executive Director Dan Gluck interprets what should go on financial disclosure forms. Both the county code and the state Ethics Commission, upon whose forms the county forms are based, say the form is asking for gross income, not net.

“‘Income’ means gross income defined by section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954,” according to the county code. The IRS code includes rents…..

Best Comment: “The Kona Islander currently has no rooms available for 11 nights. The price of a room is $192. Simple math would show that for the month of February, Eoff's condo would have made $2,112. Her first instinct was to DENY that she had a vacation rental, so what else does she lie about?” 

WHT: Eoff should pull short-term rental bill

read … Typical

Be skeptical of those “Royal Patent” land claims

ILind: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” ….

You can see this principle at work among many Hawaiian activists today.

Take the claims made about Royal Patents, land grants made during the Hawaiian monarchy.

Some activists appear to believe that once a Royal Patent was granted, it conveyed the property in perpetuity. A Royal Patent is the basis for the current occupation of site of the Coco Palms Hotel on Kauai….

the land remains “in the family’s name” only if the recipient of the original Royal Patent never transferred it to someone else, and the land was then handed down through inheritance within the family without being sold or transferred at any point.

In fact, modern land deeds contain a similar “perpetual” provision. For example, the deed for my own house says the right to the property was transferred “IN FEE SIMPLE, FOREVER.” The capitalization is in the original. However, it also grants “full powers to sell, convey, transfer, or otherwise dispose of….”

The idea of the perpetual land patent has provided fertile ground for con artists and frauds. Remember Mahealani Ventura-Oliver and her co-defendants, who were convicted of fraud and related offenses back in 2014? …

She is current serving her sentence in a federal facility in California, and is scheduled to be released in July 2019….

read … Be skeptical of those “Royal Patent” land claims

Kaiser to Hire New Neurosurgeon for Maui

MN: Dr. Rogers has been on call for 20 years; surgical patients are flying to Oahu, for now…

Rogers reviews all head trauma and nearly all neck injuries admitted at his private practice and at Maui Memorial Medical Center. He has more than 1,000 patients from across the state.

“We’re hoping he’ll be back soon,” Boyd said, adding that the island averages about 12 to 15 intracranial aneurysms per year.

In seeking new neurosurgeons, Kaiser Permanente affiliate Maui Health System has conducted four or five in-person interviews with such doctors from the Mainland — with the latest coming last week, Boyd said. The hospital would likely not hire one, but it could provide a minimum income to a neurosurgeon for the first couple years as he or she establishes a private practice.

“We’ve got someone in our sights,” Boyd said of one candidate. “They individually have what we think is a good fit, but can’t come until at least next year.”

(Could you imagine HHSC handling this problem?)

read … The neurosurgeon is out

Basic Income, HGEA Jobs for All Gain no Traction in Legislature

Shapiro: …Bills in the Legislature to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 would help some who work multiple jobs to survive, but would do little to solve the long-term problem.  (Actually is will make automation more attractive to business.)

Broader measures with much less traction include a proposal by Rep. Chris Lee to provide a basic minimum income to everybody and another by Rep. Kani­ela Ing to provide a state job to anybody who needs one.

These may be unrealistic in terms of sustainability, but at least some lawmakers are thinking about the challenge and starting to define its scope, which will only worsen as companies like Amazon and McDonald’s go after even the lowest-paying jobs with smartphone apps to replace supermarket cashiers and robotic burger flippers.  (No.  Somebody will have to maintain and build the robots.  This is no different than the waves of automation which have preceded it.)

National policy goes in exactly the wrong direction with a tax policy that concentrates more wealth in the hands of the already rich and corporations responsible for jobs lost to automation and outsourcing — to be paid for by cutting the safety net for those displaced…..

(And yet, the immediate result of this ‘wrong direction’ policy is that millions of workers have been given raises to … drumroll please… $15 an hour … clash cymbals….  And they didn’t need any do-gooder legislators to make it happen.)

SA: Gradually raise minimum wage

read … Free Money?

Fred Hemmings reflects back in typical relaxed style

Borreca: …Hemmings was running a “one chance in a million,” under-funded campaign against the incumbent Democrat, Gov. John Waihee, who was both popular and bristling with campaign cash.

Hemmings, then 44, quietly said he knew he was going to lose big, but he wanted to thank folks now before election night.

Hemmings went on to say that what he had learned from the race was that it was a tremendous opportunity and he planned on using it to build his own political brand in local politics.

When the votes were counted, Hemmings lost, getting just 39 percent of the vote.

Still on election night, Hemmings’ 15-year-old stepdaughter Kaui Hemmings said, “I was really proud of him. He was always optimistic, even if the polls were low. I think this really pulled our family together.”

Some of Hemmings’ conservative political views were not going to go far in a blue state such as Hawaii, but Hemmings was not done with politics. In 1994 he ran for lieutenant governor on a team with Pat Saiki and after that failed, won a state Senate seat, which he held until retiring in 2011.

All this is to say that Hemmings has written a new book, “Local Boy, A Memoir.”

read … Hemmings reflects back in typical relaxed style

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