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Sunday, April 01, 2018
April 1, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:02 PM :: 2371 Views

HB1489: Males to take over women’s sports in Hawaii?

Waiting Over a Year: Where is OHA' s Internal Audit?

Is OHA the New Broken Trust?

Financial Planning for a $200M Per Year Deficit?

Retaliation: Sen DelaCruz Guts Tourism Marketing after Loss of WCIT/DTL Contracts

SA: …A state senator recently supported a bill to take more than $40 million away from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, a state agency that had denied the private company where he works an estimated $3.5 million worth of contracts over the last year or so.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D-Wahiawa) is a vice president for communications and minority owner at DTL Hawaii, an offshoot of WCIT Architecture, which counts HTA among its many government clients.

Conflicts of interest allegations surfaced in March after Dela Cruz voted for Senate Bill 2224, which would cut HTA’s $108.5 million share of transient accommodations taxes by about 40 percent. That bill wasn’t scheduled for a hearing by the House Finance Committee, but at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dela Cruz’s committee is slated to hear House Bill 2010, which the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Technology gutted and replaced with the contents of SB 2224. The new language would cut HTA’s convention center fund to $6 million and HTA’s tourism fund to $60.3 million, roughly the amount the agency currently spends on marketing. It also appropriates $1 million to establish a Center for Hawaiian Music and Dance, a project that has ties to Dela Cruz’s outside work at WCIT and DTL….

The Ways and Means Committee has a role to play in settling the tourism authority funding debate, but Dela Cruz’s ties to WCIT and DTL could muddle the issues. Dela Cruz was working at WCIT, when the company and its subcontractor DTL, were awarded a roughly $850,000 contract in July 2014 for consulting work on the Center for Hawaiian Music and Dance.

The companies haven’t been as successful with procurement under current HTA President and CEO George Szigeti and HTA Board Chairman Rick Fried. According to contracts obtained by the Star-Advertiser, DTL served as subcontractor on an $80,000 contract secured by nonprofit Hawaii Maoli for the King Kamehameha Day celebration in May 2017.

However, from October 2016 to November 2017, DTL failed to obtain four contracts worth an estimated $3.5 million….

Ewa Beach resident Kurt Fevella said Dela Cruz is “using his office for personal gain.”

Fevella filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission against Dela Cruz on Jan. 4 after the Star-Advertiser reported that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources had awarded DTL a $99,885 contract for public relations services related to the redevelopment of the state-owned Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.

Fevella said Dela Cruz should abstain from deciding HTA budget cuts. “It’s just not right, and it doesn’t make any sense. Why cut tourism funding when that’s what’s making money for the state?” he said….

Related: Hanabusa Campaign Plan: Send swarms of homeless into streets as absentee ballots drop

read … State senator’s actions highlight gaps in ethics laws

WCIT/DTL Moneygrab: Non-Existent Hawaiian Cultural Center

SA: …In 2007, lawmakers appropriated $80,000 for a feasibility study for the Hawaiian center. Since 2013, the Legislature has been directing HTA to set aside $1 million annually to fund operations at the future Hawaiian center, for which a budget was never set. In 2014, under former HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney, a contract for a business plan and design study was awarded to WCIT Architecture and subcontractor DTL Hawaii for more than 10 times what the Legislature had allocated….

There has been virtually no progress beyond the Hawaiian center’s expensive planning phase after more than a decade of stalls. This year’s legislative budget doesn’t provide any funding to build the Hawaiian center or to fix the Convention Center’s rooftop terrace, which because of the delay will now cost $8 million more than anticipated.

But the Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D-Wahiawa,Whitmore, Mililani Mauka), did budget for the center’s $1 million operating appropriation, a stand-out item in legislation that trims HTA’s budget by more than $40 million.

Dela Cruz worked for WCIT when HTA hired the company in 2014 to do the project’s study and now is an employee and minority owner of its subcontractor DTL….

According to records obtained by the Star-Advertiser, HTA selected WCIT, even though the company’s Dunn & Bradstreet Credibility Corp credit report at the time indicated that it had “a moderate to high risk of severe payment delinquency over the next 12 months.” WCIT also had “a high risk of severe financial stress such as bankruptcy over the next 12 months,” the report said.

The Office of the State Auditor noted in last month’s critical report on the tourism authority that WCIT’s subcontractor DTL “dramatically” changed the project’s scope in January 2015, and completely scrapped the public review process in lieu of a lineal descendant plan to identify ancestors of Hawaiian dancers and musicians.

The state audit noted that, “given the dramatic revision to the scope of services, the contract should have been put back out to bid rather than simply amended.” The audit also noted that HTA could not show that WCIT had submitted the lineal descendent plan. The building plans that WCIT submitted to HTA estimated the project’s cost at more than $90 million, the audit said….

A Nov. 12, 2015 email sent by former HTA Director of Cultural Affairs Kelii Wilson attempted to bring HTA President and CEO George Szigeti and former COO Randy Baldemor up to speed on the project, which was contracted before they joined the state agency.

Wilson’s email said, “WCIT did not fully deliver a product that we could use … ” and discussed the “need to counteract a possible perspective that the $ (HTA) paid for this study was a bust.”

Wilson recommended in the email that HTA pay WCIT even more money to extend its contract so it could complete a scaled-down plan.

“We really should use the same group to do this otherwise it looks like the big bucks we spent for the $98mil plan is a waste,” Wilson wrote….

Wilson’s email describes Kim’s involvement in the project, which according to Wilson included influencing the plan’s cultural portion and ordering WCIT to make two rounds of adjustments and clarifications on the project. She advised HTA that other legislators outside of Kim could start to take an interest in the project and HTA should provide them with WCIT’s report, “we don’t want this project to be a pawn (with us attached to it) in the Leg tug of war.”

HTA said Szigeti and Baldemor did not respond to Wilson’s email. Wilson, who was fired from her job at HTA in January 2016, declined to comment on her past remarks….

In 2015 WCIT delivered a $98 million plan that recommended construction of an energy-efficient 40,000- square-foot Hawaiian center, plus an exterior area for open-air seating with a performance stage and hula space.

Dela Cruz said he believes the Hawaiian center could be revived through a public-private partnership.

WCIT’s plan said a nonprofit board should be established to raise private dollars to cover the balance of funds needed to open and operate the Hawaiian center beyond the $1 million annual allocation established by lawmakers in 2013. So far, a board has not been established and there is less than $5 million in the Hawaiian center’s operating fund. HTA said it used some of the money to pay for the WCIT study….

WCIT/DTL over the Years:

read … Hope abides for Hawaiian center despite muddled financial history

Will Disbarred Lawyer Exploit Trump Loving Hawaii Republicans to Win Gubernatorial Nomination?

Borreca:…For local Republicans, the wave of dislike Hawaii shows for their leader is causing more local political change than all the Democratic smiley faces and good thoughts spread around during the Obama years….

Hating on Trump has simply distorted the Hawaii political landscape. While still facing that 56 percent overall voter disapproval rating, a full 73 percent of Hawaii GOP respondents gave Trump a big thumbs up. So if you are running in a contested Hawaii GOP primary, you had better love the 45th president.

For instance, the Star-Advertiser poll shows that John Carroll would beat state GOP House leader Andria Tupola 40 percent to 28 percent, with a huge 32 percent undecided.

Carroll is a Hawaii GOP war-horse who hasn’t won office since 1978 and since then has lost races for governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Facing complaints investigated by the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court, Carroll last year gave up his law license. Still he had quickly endorsed Trump and is ahead of Tupola, who is trying to be a more moderate Republican….

“A lot of friends and supporters realized it is difficult for Republicans to get elected in Hawaii and it is just compounded by Trump,” Djou said.

“It saddens me because Hawaii needs the true democracy of a two-party system; I am just hoping for something other than the polarized, hyper-partisan lens that everything is now viewed through.”

Although Djou wouldn’t say it, the end accomplishment of Donald Trump and Hawaii will be the complete destruction of the Hawaii Republican Party….

read … Republican Party behind Trump is not Hawaii’s GOP — and that’s downright destructive

Colleen Hanabusa made by the Mob

Shapiro: >> A new Hawaii Poll has Gov. David Ige trailing U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa by 20 points in his bid for re-election, but he insists he’ll prevail after voters hear his message. He has all the confidence of Wile E. Coyote just before the anvil hits him.

>> Hanabusa, meantime, is racking up a pile of endorsements from labor unions and fellow politicians. Being elected to high office bears a strong resemblance to being made by the mob.

Related: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Made by the Mob

Tax Your Paycheck to Finance Paid Family Leave?

SA: House Finance Chairwoman (and Hanabusa supporter) Sylvia Luke berated Gov. David Ige and some of his department heads over conflicting testimony and tepid support for a proposal to set up a state-managed paid family leave program for Hawaii workers….

…advocates to analyze at least two funding models: social insurance, which relies on across-the-board payroll deductions, and expansion of temporary disability insurance…. 

During a bill hearing before Luke’s House Finance Committee Wednesday night, Luke indicated she was puzzled by testimony from the directors of the Departments of Labor and Budget and Finance…

“I guess I’m a little bit confused. What is the position of the administration?” Luke asked Leonard Hoshijo, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

“Because at the same time the governor sends out a press release saying, ‘We better do this right away,’ and he’s going to sign this bill … but two of his major departments — B&F, which is supposed to be the financing department, and DLIR, which according to this bill is supposed to help with implementation — is not fully in support,” said Luke, who is supporting U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary for governor….

Hoshijo testified that his department supports the intent of the bill but raised concerns about having adequate resources to roll out a program. He also noted that implementing a social insurance program has proved costly for Washington state.

As Explained: With an early announcement of his intent to sign, Ige is informing legislators that it is up to them to kill this turkey.

read … Ige’s cabinet told to ‘get their act together’ on paid leave bill

Last Refuge of a Caldwell: Blame Trump for $214M Rail Grab of County Funds

SA: …The $44 million snag surfaced about six months ago, when the city secured a $2.4 billion bailout for the cash-strapped rail project from a special session of the Legislature. As part of the deal, state lawmakers put the city on the hook for that amount to cover rail administrative costs for 2018 and 2019 — the first chunk of what’s estimated to be a $214 million city share through remaining rail construction….

Caldwell said FTA officials have told him in private meetings that the city must show them the money anyway or risk losing its remaining $744 million in federal dollars.

“I do think, talking to people in Washington, it’s a difficult time,” Caldwell told the Star-Advertiser editorial board recently. “You’ve got the people at the FTA who are still committed to our project.” Some administrators on the top floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation, however, are “not keen about our project.”

He continued, “They want to eliminate all starts. The Trump administration is saying: ‘No more new starts for rail projects.’ We’re the largest new start. If there’s a way you can pull the plug on us, that largest new start project goes away and they can focus on their infrastructure initiatives,” such as bridges and toll roads, for example, not rail projects…. 

(But Caldwell still refuses to show the council the alleged FTA letter demanding the $44M commitment.  How many times has Caldwell played this trick?)

The Council is currently evaluating Bill 42 (2017), which would allow the use of city funds for rail. The bill was deferred in March and recommitted to the Council Budget Committee….

Martin said, “I believe there are other options available to satisfy the FTA’s concerns. We need to sit down with the FTA sooner than later. The Council, the administration and HART need to be at that meeting. We have to be on the same page going forward and get this project done.”….

read … Caldwell Lies

LED Light Conversion: Public-Private Partnership Cost City Nothing, Generates $5M Annual Savings

SA: …conversion to LED lights will substantially benefit our taxpayers, creating a win-win for the environment and lowering our cost of living. Once all of the streetlights are replaced, the city is projected to enjoy savings of approximately $5 million per year through lower energy costs, lower maintenance needs, longer life cycles, and an improved ability to monitor energy use remotely. Because the project is funded by an innovative public-private partnership where First Hawaiian Bank provides the financing up-front with no out-of-pocket costs to the city, it means the savings begin immediately and grow over time….

read … Free Money

HB2605: Will Counties Legalize TVRs if State Gives Them Money?

SA: …advocates have made a persuasive argument for increasing the cut of the tourist tax that goes to the three counties other than Oahu. That has won support from state legislators and county officials, with various measures part of the Capitol mix.

A straightforward move to boost that share was proposed in Senate Bill 648. Carried over from the 2017 Legislature, it has passed both houses and seems headed for end-of-session debate.

To cite one point raised in the numerous hearings held on SB 648: Maui runs second to Oahu in tourism load, with about 2.4 million visitors a year, half as many as Oahu.

Maui County Council Chairman Mike White said in his prepared testimony that county coffers receive only 17 percent of tax revenues, combining the TAT and GET. He pointed to data from industry consulting firm HVS indicating that this is the lowest share among peer counties nationally, which on average receive 67 percent of local tax revenue.

There may be other measures emerging, including House Bill 2605. The bill aims to incentivize the counties to get a handle on illegal vacation rentals, offering up to $1 million of TAT funds to each county that sets up a regulatory (ie legalization) process…..

read … Tourism needs to be sustainable

Kauai: Body Cams Reduce Bogus Complaints Against Police

SA: …The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, the officers union, has stated that it supports body cams but thinks their use needs to be put into a contract.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board determined in 2016 that the union has no say on body camera policy after concluding, in a case involving the Kauai Police Department, it is not an issue subject to negotiation.

A Honolulu pilot project involving a 30-day field-testing period ended in December. More than half of the officers who participated came from District 1’s third watch.

All three other Hawaii counties have at least begun pilot projects for body cameras. The Kauai County Police Department, the only Hawaii law enforcement agency to use them widely, has reported that complaints against officers have dropped since its policy went into place in December 2015.

On Oahu, officers in the District 6 Waikiki and District 7 East Honolulu patrol districts will start wearing body cameras by the end of the year, Ballard told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Those districts were chosen because their command posts are located within the main Beretania Street station, making the controlling of logistics easier, Ballard said.

“Depending on how it goes, we could roll it out faster (to the other districts),” the chief said…..

read … Body Cams

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