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Sunday, March 04, 2018
March 4, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:43 PM :: 2994 Views

Republican Tax Cuts Pump $1.3B into Hawaii Economy

By the Way, Could We Have $50 Million More?

UH, Feds Settle Title IX Case

Elections: 163 Candidates Pull Papers

Trump Approves American Samoa Disaster Declaration

A Vote for Hee is a Vote Against Mafia Candidate Hanabusa

Borreca: … “I’ve made mistakes. There’s no question about that. And those mistakes I own. They belong to me.”…

Hee is the very definition of a drama queen….

“I and some other of his close friends — we all tried to talk him out of it; what I didn’t, we didn’t, know was that he already made up his mind. I am not sure how he is going to do,” said former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who figures that Hee will likely take votes away from Hanabusa….

Another adviser and former local political leader, who asked for anonymity to talk candidly, explained the race in terms of how Hee only takes votes from Hanabusa.

“Anybody who is going to vote for Ige has already made up their mind. It is hard to believe that (Ige) is going to win a single vote that he doesn’t already have today.

“As for Hanabusa, she needs every vote she can get. Any vote for anyone but Hanabusa is a vote for Ige.”…

read … Hee poised to roil gubernatorial race with ideas to legalize gambling and marijuana

4 HTA executives fined for upgrades—Senator’s Wife Gets off Scot-Free

SA: …The Hawaii State Ethics Commission fined four Hawaii Tourism Authority employees for unethical travel practices but chose not to penalize two other HTA employees, including a state senator’s wife.

In December, the commission fined four HTA executives a combined $12,000 for violating the state ethics code by accepting, and in some cases soliciting, airline travel upgrades for business trips between 2014 and 2016. Those cited included HTA President and CEO George Szigeti; former Chief Operating Officer Randy Baldemor; Jadie Goo, director of marketing for China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; and David Uchiyama, former vice president of brand management.

But a list obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser shows HTA provided the commission with evidence that the agency’s former tourism brand manager, Miki Wakai, who is married to state Sen. Glenn Wakai (D-Kalihi, Salt Lake), received three trip upgrades. Bryan Lynx, former vice president of meetings, conventions and incentives, was listed as receiving one trip upgrade.

The Star-Advertiser also found the commission had concerns about HTA hotel upgrades that weren’t made public when its earlier findings were published. A Dec. 14 memo sent to Szigeti by Daniel Gluck, commission executive director and general counsel, said it appeared HTA personnel were choosing hotels and then executing a tailored comparison search to make it appear their selection was the least expensive….

Gluck said the commission doesn’t “give favorable treatment to anyone,” however, it does consider mitigating or aggravating factors….

read … 4 HTA executives fined for upgrades

Hirono: Many public-union workers would opt out

SA: …If the Court rules in favor of Janus, many employees represented by public unions are expected to opt out of paying their fair share fees. This will drastically reduce the resources and power unions have….

(What wonderful news!)

read … Janus v. AFSCME: Many public-union workers would opt out

HSTA Property Tax Slush Fund would impact county operations

MN: …Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary passed Senate Bill 2922, which proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations for the specific purpose of funding education.

Although the Department of Education receives almost 20 percent of the State of Hawaii’s budget, administrators, teachers, students and advocates have legitimate reasons to demand more funding to provide quality education for our keiki. But, the proposed measure is not a prudent way to raise revenue.

Real property taxes are the counties’ primary and largest source of revenue to fund county programs. The counties must account for expenses to ensure services such as transportation, sewer, water, fire, police and maintenance of parks are covered. Raising property taxes is the counties’ only reasonable option to balance the budget.

In many Mainland communities, local real estate taxes are used to support local schools. The communities decide for themselves what they can afford and tax their residents accordingly. In Hawaii, a decision was made decades ago to establish a statewide school and health care system, which differs from most of the nation, to be funded through state tax collections.

If lawmakers and the governor believe schools are underfunded, the Legislature should accept responsibility and appropriately fund education without causing financial challenges for the counties.

Another measure of interest is House Bill 1665, which passed the House of Representatives and proposes removing the counties’ annual share of the transient accommodations tax, or TAT. In its place, a reimbursement process is proposed for very specific expenditures such as mass transportation, ocean safety programs and cesspool conversions.

The bill does not consider the many other expenditures related to visitors that all four counties currently cover through the current $103 million TAT allocation.

This is in stark contrast to the state, which from fiscal years 2007 to 2017 saw its annual share increase by more than $291 million. However, it has placed no restrictions on how it uses the additional funds…..

read … State proposals would impact county operations

In Hawaii, some special purpose entities have gotten out of control in terms of spending

CB: …Do you know what the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund, the Hawaii Health Connector (under the federal Affordable Care Act) and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation don’thave in common? The Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund had a statutory duty to obtain audited financial statements. This is a good idea for special purpose entities that will spend an unusual amount of money in a non-routine way for two reasons.

First, it gives outsiders a chance to stop foolishness before it gets out of control. Second, it requires the entity’s management to develop good internal procedures for doing business and accounting for those transactions from the start.

Now, the state does have an enterprise-wide financial statement under which these entities are subsumed along with the many other agencies of the state. But therein lies part of the problem: An enterprise-wide financial statement doesn’t tell us what is going on at a level of detail that is particularly helpful in spotting problems….

read … In Hawaii, some special purpose entities have gotten out of control in terms of spending

Plastic Straw Ban Becomes Latest High-end Tourism Marketing Gimmick

TP: …In response, an increasing number of cities, particularly those reliant on coastal tourism, are taking steps to remove or at least reduce reliance upon plastic straws.

The latest, the tony beach town of Malibu, California, located just north of Los Angeles, has voted to “prohibit the sale, distribution and use of single-use plastic straws and cutlery within the City to protect the environment from plastic pollution.”

“The ocean, beaches and natural surroundings are a central part of life in Malibu,” wrote the city council on its website. “We are committed to keeping them clean for ourselves, our children and their children in the future.”

Malibu has also previously taken steps previously to ban plastic bags, plastic sandbags and polystyrene foam.

Malibu follows Seattle, Washington; Davis and San Luis Obispo, California; and Miami Beach and Fort Myers Florida, among the cities taking action on the issue.

Earlier this year, the State of Hawaii was also considering a similar measure….

Reality: Hawaii Bill Banning Plastic Straws Based on Research by a 9-Year-Old

read … Gimmick

HSTA Member Manipulates Children to Push Statewide Polystyrene Ban

SA: …Lawmakers have tentatively approved a bill to impose a statewide ban on polystyrene foam containers.

Nine students from Kaiser High School’s environmental club, the Wipeout Crew, held glass jars of polystyrene debris and cheered Monday as Senate Bill 2498 passed the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health Committee. The bill now moves to a full Senate vote.

The bill would prohibit restaurants and other vendors from the sale or use of polystyrene foam containers starting Jan. 1.

Kaiser High School teacher Paul Balazs, who is the lead supporter of the Wipeout Crew, said the club of about 30 students already has removed polystyrene products from their school cafeteria.

“Changing behavior is one thing for our friends and family and our community. But changing the law will actually effectively bring change across the state. Having students come see the process and see when it hits the ground and what it looks like, it’s huge,” Balazs said….

read … Child Soldiers

Hawaii Co Bill 108: Allow TVRs only in District where Councilmember owns one 

HTH: …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 would be required to register with the county, but they don’t have to apply to the Planning Department for the special permit.

Short-term vacation rental is defined in the county bill as a residential dwelling where the owner or operator does not reside on the building site, that has no more than five bedrooms on the building site for transient use, and is rented to transients for a period of 30 consecutive days or less.

The bill doesn’t regulate so-called “hosted” rentals, where the owner lives on-site. Bed and breakfasts already are regulated by the county.

The county bill is on hold until after the Board of Ethics rules on whether North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, one of the co-sponsors, has a conflict of interest because she owns a vacation condo in the Vacation District along Alii Drive. The board next meets March 19….

read … Conflict of Interest

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