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Friday, March 02, 2018
March 2, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:45 PM :: 2406 Views

Criminal Al Hee's Scam Company Sandwich Isles Communications Closing--All Workers Laid Off

VIDEO: Hawaii Democrat Suicide Takes 13 Minutes

Russia Behind Protests Against Dakota Access Pipeline

If Game Makers Don’t Address Loot Crates, Lawmakers Will

Aiea Tops Hawaii Towns Ranked by Money Management Skill

Another $1.4M of your Tax Dollars Handed over to Phony Tech Entrepreneurs

Rail Begins to Eat $214M Hole in City Finances

SA: …Caldwell’s 2019 budget package proposes using city funds for the first time for construction of the financially strapped East Kapolei-to-Ala Moana rail project.

Up until now nearly all of the $9 billion rail project’s funding has come either through a $1.55 billion funding agreement with the federal government or through a 0.5 percent Oahu-only surcharge on the general excise tax. In order to spend money from city coffers for rail as Caldwell is proposing, the City Council will need to change a law.

The overall $875 million capital improvements projects (CIP) budget for fiscal 2019, which begins July 1, is actually smaller than the $1.07 billion package he presented for this fiscal year….

The proposed $2.61 billion city operating budget for fiscal 2019 is roughly 6.4 percent, or about $157 million, more than the current year’s budget. The mayor is required to submit an annual budget package to the Council on March 2 each year. The Council typically gives final approval to the budget in June.

It’s the CIP budget for fiscal 2019 that’s sure to raise eyebrows because it includes $44 million to help cover an apparent $214 million hole in the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s recovery plan that was given to the Federal Transit Administration in September to assure federal officials that the city was committed to paying any additional funding that the city might need.

“We’re at a fork in the road,” Caldwell told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “The city is now committed as never before to help pay for rail.”

A 2007 ordinance approved by the City Council and signed by then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann bars the city from using general fund money to pay for the rail construction. Bill 42 (2017), which was deferred by the Council at its meeting Wednesday, would allow for the use of city funds for rail and would need to pass before Caldwell’s commitment to the FTA can become reality….

The city is expecting to spread out paying the $214 million over the next 13 years, and the $44 million represents the projected administrative cost for the current fiscal year and next year, the mayor said.

Caldwell detailed the allocation in a Feb. 23 letter to FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. Caldwell met with FTA officials in Washington, D.C., last month. “They wanted to see a commitment by the city that we actually will do it, and we’re making a commitment to doing it by putting it in the budget,” he said….

The budget package being released today also:

>> Includes no plan to increase property tax rates, but again proposes a fee for residential refuse collection, this time at a rate of $5 a month….

Big Q: What do you think about changing Honolulu law to allow the use of city funds for rail construction?

read … Caldwell’s 2019 budget includes rail funding

Caldwell’s use of bond money for rail administrative costs is questioned

SA: …Caldwell’s plan to use city money and especially bonds — borrowed money that eventually will need to be paid back with interest by city taxpayers — raised the ire of Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, rail’s biggest critic on the Council, who has warned over the years that the city would eventually renege on its promise to not use city funds for rail.

“You can’t use bond money to pay for operations. That’s really dangerous,” Kobayashi said Friday afternoon, adding that she will vote “no” on any proposal to do so…..

Councilman Trevor Ozawa held a press conference Friday morning to criticize Caldwell’s administration for failing to collect bulky trash in East Honolulu, and he questioned how the mayor could be asking to use city money to pay for rail when he is proposing in another part of his budget package that residents should now pay $5 a month for curbside trash pickup service and then additional fees if they want bulky trash collected.

“We should be using our property taxes for this, not for rail,” Ozawa said as he stood by uncollected trash. “No one voted for the general funds to be used for the rail, ever. … It was always that we we’re gonna be using GE on that.”

Caldwell said he appreciated the concerns raised by the Council members. “We’re going to work with them on it.”….

read … Caldwell’s use of bond money for rail administrative costs is questioned

Hawaii County Budget up 5.1% -- Cracks Half-Billion Mark

HTH: …Hawaii County’s budget will break a half-billion dollars for the first time, but what’s not in the preliminary spending plan released Thursday is almost as significant as what is.

Mayor Harry Kim’s $515.7 million draft budget is $24.9 million more than this year’s budget, a 5.1 percent increase. There are no tax increases in the preliminary plan, other than the fuel tax hike previously approved by the County Council….

read … Mayor’s proposed spending plan tops $500 million

Bill on medically assisted death passes preliminary vote in House

SA: A bill to allow terminally ill patients to receive medical assistance to end their lives was approved by a wide margin in a preliminary vote in the state House today.

House Republicans attempted to amend House Bill 2739, and then tried to recommit the bill to the House Health and Human Services Committee in a maneuver aimed at blocking the measure, but were overruled in a series of voice votes on the House floor.

State Rep. Bob McDermott, (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), objected to the process used in a committee vote on the bill on Wednesday, saying none of the committee members saw the last-minute amendments to the measure until after they voted on it.

Only ten lawmakers voted against advancing the bill today, a sign that the measure will probably win a solid majority in a final House vote next week before it moves on to the state Senate.

The 51-member state House is dominated by Democrats, who hold 46 seats in the chamber. The 25-member state Senate has no Republicans.

The bill would allow patients with less than six months to live to request lethal doses of medication. The patients would need to make two verbal requests a minimum of 20 days apart and one written request to their attending physician for a prescription.

PDF: Rep Tupola’s Proposed Floor Amendments

read … Bill on medically assisted death passes preliminary vote in House

SB2339: Creating More Excuses for Electric Rate Hikes

PBN: …A legislative bill that would align the business model of Hawaiian Electric Cos. with customer interests and public policy goals is currently making its way through the Hawaii Legislature.

Senate Bill 2939, which was introduced by state Sen. Stanley Chang, would establish performance incentives and penalty mechanisms that directly tie the electric utility’s revenues to achievement on performance metrics. Those types of incentives and penalties would break the direct link between allowed revenues and investment levels, the bill states.

According to the bill’s language, the development of performance incentives and penalty mechanisms would be based on a review of certain performance metrics, including the volatility and affordability of electric rates and bills; service reliability; customer satisfaction; access to information; integration of renewable energy sources; and execution of competitive procurement.

Following the review of these and other performance benchmarks, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission would then create a performance-based model for determining utility revenues.

The bill intends to change a business and revenue model that has been in place for over a century….

SB 2939 passed its second reading in the Senate on Feb. 21 and also passed its hearing in front of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 21.

The bill has received support from Blue Planet Foundation, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association and the Sierra Club of Hawaii….

The HSEA, which also supports the bill, said in its testimony that this legislation represents the enforcement of aggressive renewable portfolio standard that the state has set for itself.

“Rather than having a rate making structure that fights innovative and disruptive technologies such as solar and wind, why not adopt a structure that incents utilities to allow more of these resources on to the grid, and provides a path for the utility to integrate these resources?”….

IQ Test: This would mean higher electric rates  T/F?

read … Rate Hikes

Sierra Club Grabs for HTA Funds

SA: …It is high time we give the Hawaii Tourism Authority a big pat on the back for a job well done, and then redirect some of its substantial budget to preserve and protect the very natural resources it’s successfully drawn hoards of tourists here to enjoy.

Hawaii is projected to welcome 10 million tourists per year in the next couple of years. These numbers will put increased pressure on our already strained natural and cultural resources. Trails are overburdened with foot traffic. Reefs reside beneath swarms of snorkelers, leaving sheens of sunscreen on ocean surfaces. Facilities at state parks are overused and poorly maintained.

We have enough tourists. Especially in light of the HTA audit (citing several unacceptable missteps recently made), it is time to rethink our vision for tourism. Quality over quantity is what Hawaii needs. And quality, thriving — versus degraded and suffering — natural and cultural resources are what tourists and locals alike deserve….

read … HTA funds can help maintenance

ACLU Bail Proposal: Soft on Crime

SA: …Question: Can you summarize the advantages ACLU’s bail reform ideas would present?

Answer: Keep in mind that when we talk about bail reform, we are talking about pre-trial detainees: people who have not been convicted of the crime they’re accused of committing. They haven’t even gone to trial yet. These people are simply innocent in the eyes of the law.

Our recommendations … would fix multiple constitutional problems, which would in turn solve practical issues.

For example, in Hawaii, Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders and Filipinos are more likely to be accused of crimes like drug possession, even though all ethnicities use drugs equally. And when two people are accused of the same crime and assessed the same bail amount, what typically determines who is released is who can afford it. …

About half of the people in Hawaii jails are pre-trial detainees who have not been convicted of the crime they’ve been accused of committing. Making sure they’re not stuck in jail just because they cannot afford bail will address the constitutional issues and save the state the money it’s costing to keep pre-trial detainees in jail when they don’t have to be there.

Q: What are the challenges of implementing these changes? Can you acknowledge any risks?

A: One challenge is correcting the misperception that anyone accused of a crime must be guilty. That is sometimes true, of course, but certainly not always. Anytime you try to address criminal justice reform, there will be people who think you’re trying to be “soft” on crime….

(Know them by what they deny!)

read … Name in the News: Joshua Wisch, new ACLU-Hawaii executive director

Chief Wins: SHOPO President Maafala retiring next month

SA: …Sgt. Tenari Maafala told The Associated Press today he’s retiring next month from the Honolulu Police Department. He’ll also step down as president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers….

Maafala says his retirement has nothing to do with the reassignment.

The union filed a complaint that says the department can’t arbitrarily reassign a union official without cause.

Maafala has been president of the union for 18 years….

(Translation: Chief Ballard has something on Maafala.)

Best Comment: “Probably was forced to retire, he was stealing from the tax payers of his false overtime. Retire or be indicted!”

HNN: “Multiple sources tell Hawaii News Now he has not spent one day in his new role as a patrol officer in Waikiki.  He has reportedly been using vacation time for the last three months.”

KHON: “Russ Akana is stepping down very soon as the business agent for SHOPO and Canary Maafala is "assuming" the post, drawing not only retirement pay but nearly 96,000 MORE a year as the "new " business agent.”

SA: New HPD leaders on positive track

read … SHOPO President Maafala retiring next month

Reports outline police misconduct on Maui, Kauai

KHON: There were more than a dozen incidents in Maui Police Department’s report for 2017. They include officers who tested positive for drugs, abuse, and various failures to perform duties.

In one incident, a police officer refused to escort a person to retrieve belongings when a protective order was in place. That officer was suspended for a day….

On Kauai, there were five misconduct incidents, although according to the report, one incident was unfounded.

The most serious offense led to an officer being terminated. In that case, the report says the officer committed a crime and was untruthful.

In another incident, a field training officer failed to properly supervise his recruit, resulting in injuries to the recruit.

View the reports for:

read … Reports outline police misconduct on Maui, Kauai

Ex-HPD Chief Kealoha and wife default on $1M mortgage, lawsuit says

SA: …A former Honolulu police chief and his wife — a deputy city prosecutor — who are both facing charges in a corruption case, are being sued for failure to pay their home mortgage.

The lawsuit filed by Hawaii Central Federal Credit Union this week comes as Louis and Katherine Kealoha fight an indictment. The credit union claims the couple defaulted on a $1 million mortgage for their home in Hawaii Kai, an affluent east Honolulu neighborhood….

In order to maintain the couple’s lavish lifestyle, Katherine Kealoha bilked banks along with her 98-year-old grandmother, an uncle and two children whose trust accounts she oversaw, U.S. prosecutors said.

Among other things, prosecutors say she spent money on Maserati car payments, Elton John concert tickets and a $26,000 brunch at a Waikiki resort when her husband was made police chief.

Jonathan Lai, an attorney for the credit union, declined to say today when the Kealohas stopped paying their mortgage.

It was not clear if the lawsuit would affect their ability to continue receiving taxpayer-funded lawyers in the corruption case. A federal judge in November appointed defense lawyers when he determined the couple’s debts exceed their assets….

HNN: HNN visited the Kealohas' home on Niumalu Loop recently and neighbors said no one had been there in months. The grass and bushes were overgrown.

read … Ex-HPD Chief Kealoha and wife default on $1M mortgage, lawsuit says

If bill passes, law enforcement officers who've been fired for misconduct won't be able to get a similar job

KHON: …The bill would prohibit any officer fired for improper behavior from any county police department, state department agency or office from being hired by another agency department or office.

"You know if you look at it like the general public, you'd be concerned that someone who has issues should not be employed. As a person who's got police powers and hold a gun and there's questions whether a person should be given that authority," Sen. Clarence Nishihara said.

The bill would also create a working group to establish a statewide standard for all law enforcement personnel.

Currently, all four counties operate under their own standards.

The bill is scheduled for a third reading….

read … If bill passes, law enforcement officers who've been fired for misconduct won't be able to get a similar job

Report: Lack of shelters means you'll likely be on your own in a disaster

HNN: …Since 1950, the state's only taken a direct hit three times with Dot, Iwa and Iniki.

But officials say it's only a matter of time when Hawaii's luck runs out.

And when it does, according to a new report written by the state's deputy adjutant general, most people would be on their own — at least when it comes to shelter.

Hawaii has a population of about 1.4 million people, but are only 277,376 available shelter spaces.

Here's the island-by-island breakdown:

  • Oahu: 182,797 shelter spaces
  • Big Island: 36,539 shelter spaces
  • Kauai: 17,395 shelter spaces
  • Maui: 40,645 shelter spaces

"It's obvious there aren't enough shelters," said Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi. "If you have a home you can shelter in, it's probably better to stay at home."….

read … Lack of shelters

State apologizes after attempt to enforce rule that threatened aquaponics industry

HNN: …the Health Department said while it was enforcing the rule impacting Liesel Santimer, of Waiea Aquaponics, it's now backing off.

Peter Oshiro, Environmental Health program manager, told Hawaii News Now it will repeal the outdated rule because research shows aquaponics produce is no more of a risk than produce grown in the soil.

"The enforcement action results when we tell the food establishment that they cannot purchase so inadvertently the farm is not able to move their product," he said. "We apologize for the initial thing, but our job is to protect public health. People on the ground, they are there to enforce law."

Santimer, meanwhile, said the Health Department acted inappropriately.

"I don't understand how you can go from one incident and now you are going to shut down all the aquaponics farmers," she said.

With dozens of aquaponics farms throughout Hawaii, farmers say they're relieved this controversy was weeded out….

Feb 27, 2018: Aquponics: HGEA Members Harass Hawaii’s Few Remaining Farmers Using Outdated Law

read … State apologizes

UH Takeover Of Innovation Center Is Scaring Tech Tax Credit Scammers

CB: …the University of Hawaii is scheduled to take over the Manoa Innovation Center from the state Hawaii Technology Development Corp. The move, which seems certain to happen, will mark the end of the HTDC’s 25-year run at the helm of the 45,000-square-foot business incubator, which is home to dozens of (fake) startups

…If lawmakers have their way, HTDC won’t be falling apart. House Bill 583 would appropriate an unspecified sum of money to the HTDC to cover administrative costs while HTDC develops a new incubator similar to the Manoa Innovation Center.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 48 would fund HTDC and ask the state’s Department of Accounting and General Services, which manages state buildings, to find a new home for the HTDC and the Manoa Innovation Center’s tenants….

PBN: Usual Schemers and Phonies Cash in as Hawaii Technology Development Corp. awards $1.4M in Small Business Innovation Research grants

read … UH Takeover Of Innovation Center Is Raising Tech Community Eyebrows

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