HB2748: $580M Inserted at Last Minute for Hanabusa Crony
OHA Trustees Request Plan for Downsizing LLCs and Replacing Managers
Legislators Give Counties More Time to Enact GE Tax Hike
HTH: …A state House-Senate conference committee breathed new life Wednesday into Mayor Harry Kim’s request for a general excise tax surcharge by extending the deadline for the County Council to approve the measure.
It’s estimated the half-cent county surcharge to the state tax would add $50 million annually to county coffers….
But so far, the council has been reluctant to pass it. After letting a March 31 deadline run out, the council is expected to take up the measure during its May 9 meeting. Only three of the nine council members voted in favor of the bill in committee….
House Bill 2587, approved with amendments by the conference committee Wednesday afternoon, contains two deadlines, Kim said. It also expands the allowable uses for the money, so that up to 40 percent of the proceeds could be used for non-transportation purposes and up to 2 percent could be spent on private roads used by the public.
If the council approves the surcharge and Kim signs it by June 30, it would go into effect Jan. 1. If the council passes it and the mayor signs it by March 31, 2019, it would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Kim said Wednesday that he’d like to pretend the second deadline doesn’t exist and just concentrate on the first one….
The House conferees passed the extension 3-1, with Luke and two fellow Democrats voting yes, and Rep. Gene Ward, an Oahu Republican, voting no. The Senate conferees included Big Island Democratic Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Kai Kahele. They voted yes.
HB2587: Text, Status
read … State legislators give Kim more time to gain council’s support for GET increase
Lawsuit: Feds to Seize Assets of Sandwich Isles Communications and Personal Assets of Olds, Hee
SA: The federal government is trying to foreclose on the assets of Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. to recover $128 million in principal and interest the company owes on delinquent U.S. Department of Agriculture loans, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The politically connected Sandwich Isles company had an exclusive license to provide telecommunications services on Hawaiian Home Lands, and borrowed more than $166.7 million from the USDA to help finance its fiber optic telecommunications network across the Hawaii Islands.
Hawaii political leaders, including the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, supported Sandwich Isles’ efforts to obtain still more USDA loans, but according to the lawsuit filed last week company founder Albert Hee told federal officials in 2013 that SIC could no longer make the payments of more than $1 million per month for its loans….
Hee was convicted of federal tax fraud in 2015 and sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for concealing from the IRS that his company deducted $2.75 million as business expenses to cover Hee’s personal expenses. Hee is serving his sentence at a federal facility in Terre Haute, Ind.
Among the supposed business expenses cited by prosecutors in the tax fraud case were $718,559 the company paid for college tuition and living expenses for Hee’s three children, $92,000 in payments for massages for Hee and $121,878 in credit card charges made by Hee for personal expenses, according to federal court filings.
Archived congressional records recently made public by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library Congressional Papers Collection show Inouye intervened on behalf of Sandwich Isles repeatedly over the years to urge USDA to loan more money to SIC, and also pressed the Federal Communications Commission to provide telecommunications subsidies to support the company.
Inouye, a revered political figure in Hawaii who served in the U.S. Senate for 50 years, also urged former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin in 2007 to add new language to a federal Farm Bill in an effort to clear the way for USDA to loan more money to Sandwich Isles, according to the archived records. Harkin, (D-Iowa) was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
The archived papers of former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie show Abercrombie also contacted the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service in 2005 an effort to secure additional federal loans for Sandwich Isles. Those efforts by Inouye and Abercrombie in securing additional USDA loans for SIC were not successful.
However, Sandwich Isles did obtain federal loans in 1997, 1999 and 2001…
Sandwich Isles committed all of its property except for its vehicles as collateral for the USDA loans…
After SIC stopped making full payments to USDA, the company authorized payments to Hee and company officers Randall Ho, Janeen-Ann Olds and members of Hee’s family that should have been made to USDA, the suit alleges.
The suit also claims that directors or officers of Sandwich Isles improperly authorized company payments to other companies owned or affiliated with Hee, and alleges that money should have been paid to USDA.
The suit seeks a foreclosure judgment against SIC, and an order requiring the company’s assets be sold. It also seeks judgments against Hee, Olds and Ho for allegedly paying other company debts before paying the money that is owed to USDA….
read … Feds seek to foreclose on Sandwich Isles
Another Ing Scandal: Thousands of Dollars in Secret Campaign Contributions
HNN: Less than a week after fielding questions about his academic record, state Rep. Kaniela Ing is facing a new controversy over a failure to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.
Hawaii News Now looked at six years of campaign records for Ing's state House races. We found that corporate and grassroots Political Action Committees reported donating more than $18,000 that didn't show up in his campaign records.
"That's a very serious violation of the campaign spending laws," said Ian Lind, board member of political watchdog group Common Cause Hawaii. The questions will be, can those funds be accounted for?"….
State Campaign Spending Commission filings show that wealthy investor Jeffrey Bronfman donated $2,000 to Ing in 2016 through the grassroots PAC ActBlue. But there was no record of this contribution in Ing's filings.
(Maybe this $2000 would have triggered a limitation on out-of-state contributions?)
Another $2,000 donation by the Operating Engineers PAC in 2012 also was not reported by Ing's campaign….
It certainly has been a tough week for Ing. (Please stop what you are doing for just a moment and laugh.) On Thursday, he was the subject of a Hawaii News Now story that reported that he didn't hold a master's degree from the University of Hawaii, even though his LinkedIn resume — and voter information websites like Ballotpedia and Vote Smart — listed him as having one.
UH Political Science Professor Colin Moore said not reporting campaign contributions is much a more serious offense than having inaccurate or outdated information on your resume.
"This will lead the public to question how trustworthy he is, or at the very least how responsible he is," Moore said….
2012: CSC: New Campaign Spending Violations by Kaniela Ing
read … The gift that just keeps on giving
Federal judge rejects Deedy’s request to block a third trial
SA: …U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson denied a request by U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy to block the state from prosecuting him for manslaughter pending a decision on whether his constitutional rights would be violated, but the judge said Wednesday that he expects to rule well before trial in October….
Otake said the trials have drained Deedy financially.
“He is at the point where if there is a third trial, he may have to ask the (state) court to pay for his litigation expenses,” Otake said.
Related: Deedy Support
read … Federal judge rejects Deedy’s request to block a third trial
Failure Pays: Four More ‘Positions’ for East Hawaii CWS
HTH: A state House-Senate conference committee on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that will establish a five-year pilot program to fund four more full-time Child Welfare Services case workers in East Hawaii….
According to the bill, the rate of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect in the service area in 2015 was 213 children per 100,000 residents, “nearly triple the rate” of Oahu. It also stated that, in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008, layoffs and hiring restrictions “caused the East Hawaii Child Welfare Services section to lose 19 of the 56 positions it had in 2009.”
According written testimony by Joseph O’Connell of East Hawaii Friends of Foster Families, who shepherded what he called a “grassroots effort” to create the legislation, “Child Welfare League of America recommends social workers carry a caseload of no more than 12-15 children. Currently East Hawaii workers carry an average of 40.”
The bill as it was originally written called for a cap of 20 children per case worker….
O’Connell referred to failing reviews of CWS by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2009 and 2017. The federal reviews found the state agency not in substantial conformity with any of the seven categories it evaluated, including quality assurance and foster parent licensing, recruitment and retention.
“We’re one of 15 states in the nation that completely failed it twice,” he said. “And this is the only bill that was in front of the Legislature this session aimed at making things better, so that we don’t completely fail the next federal review and so we don’t jeopardize our federal funds, either, because you have to remain in compliance to be eligible for those funds.”
State DHS spokeswoman Ke‘opu Reelitz said in an email that the agency hasn’t seen a copy of the bill’s conference draft, but added the department has been working with the Department of Human Resources Development and the Hawaii Government Employees Association “to improve hiring processes and retention” and “shorten the amount of time it takes for us to hire specific positions.”
Related: Still Lying About Peter Boy: Blame Homeschooling For CWS Failures
read … Failure Pays
Lawmakers review proposal to revamp Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility
HNN: Big changes may be ahead for the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility as legislators make last-minute adjustments to Governor David Ige's bill.
The Hawaii Youth correctional Facility's population has declined in the last decade, from more than 100 — to about 23. (And there are still plenty of make-work HGEA positions there.)
The proposal is designed to revitalize the property by creating the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center. The center would include a low-security mental health treatment program, homeless shelter for youth ages 18-24, and an assessment center for young sex trafficking victims.
"They get to come in here, [with a] very, very low barrier, not a lot of questions asked, and just kind of get a sense of who they are again and start to rebuild their life in a safe, positive environment," explained Carla Houser, executive director of Residential Youth Services and Empowerment.
RYSE will operate the homeless shelter and another group will run the assessment center in exchange for space at the Windward Oahu facility….
State lawmakers are still working on Senate Bill 2791 in conference committee.
Lawmakers have set aside in the state budget $100,000 for planning, as well as $100,000 for security fencing around the homeless shelter and assessment center.
If legislators approve the bill, Patterson hopes to have the new wellness center complete in eight years. (8 years? Wow. Just wow.)
read … Lawmakers review proposal to revamp Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility
Legislatively-Initiated Shoplifting Spree Continues Statewide
KHON: …It started with stores locking up spam, corned beef and even macadamia nuts.
Now there's a sign hanging at the entrance of Walmart in Hilo stating backpacks and oversized are no longer allowed in the store. The sign goes on to say lockers are being provided for customers to secure their belongings.
Similar signs are posted on storefronts on Oahu too.
"People are stuffing merchandise in there and then grabbing them and running out the store with it," said Tina Yamaki, with Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
Yamaki said it's a problem happening across the state.
"It's not like before where you see the thieves coming in because they need a can of spam to feed their family. They're making money off of this. They consider this their job. Everyday they're going out and hitting stores," Yamaki said…. (See? Legislators ARE creating new jobs in Hawaii!)
Cause and Effect: It's because of a law passed in 2016 that raised the threshold level for felony theft from $300 to $750.
read … Retailers prohibiting backpacks, oversized bags to prevent shoplifting
Soft on Crime: Probationer Gets 1 Year for Attempted Child Kidnapping
MN: …pleaded no contest to the reduced charge rather than going to trial and risking convictions that could result in a 60-year prison sentence….
read … Pathetic
UH: 6-meter Waves Prove Sea Level Rise
IM: …To calibrate and validate the scientific models, an 18-month
field experiment (paid vacation) was conducted on Roi-Namur Island in Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). “Within the observational period, a large wave event, with wave heights exceeding 6 m, occurred on 2 to 3 March 2014.”….
ME: Study: Most Pacific atolls uninhabitable by middle of 21st century
read … UH Participated in New Scary Study on Sea Level Rise
UH Maui Solar Contract Signed on Hood of Car, Panels Snuck in from Mexico
MN: Months of negotiations compressed into three days and a contract signed on the hood of a car at Haleakala Crater resulted in a deal that plans to make the University of Hawaii Maui College one of the first school campuses in the nation to use 100 percent renewable energy by this time next year.
For six months, UH officials had worked with contractor Johnson Controls and investor Pacific Current, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries, on a deal for on-site solar photovoltaic systems coupled with battery storage. The arrangement nearly fell through when President Donald Trump announced stiff solar tariffs, but it was salvaged and signed March 2 by UH President David Lassner.
On Wednesday, the college celebrated the $6.3 million deal with a blessing and luau attended by about 300 students, staff and partners in the project.
“There was a Tuesday afternoon where we thought the project was dead. We really did,” said Brody McMurtry, business development manager for Johnson Controls. “The president issued a 30 percent tariff on solar panels that literally killed the entire project, and we had until about Friday to get all of these final contracts together and get everything done.”
McMurtry negotiated with Michael Unebasami, UH community colleges’ associate vice president for administrative affairs, for three days and by 7 a.m. March 2 they had a contract. However, the contract needed to be finalized by 1 p.m. and Lassner and UH Chief Financial Officer Kalbert Young were on Maui for a Board of Regents meeting and to visit the telescope….
The two flew to Maui and hitched a ride from Maui College Vice Chancellor David Tamanaha up to Haleakala where the deal was finalized on Tamanaha’s car.
Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana said the panels have been moved from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, and should be arriving on Maui soon.
read … Procurement
Southwest Coming in 2018 to Four Hawaii Airports
MW: …“We continue to expect to begin selling tickets in 2018 for service to Hawaii, and today we announce our intent to begin service to four Hawaiian airports: Honolulu International Airport, Lihue Airport, Kona International Airport at Keahole, and Kahului Airport….
read … Southwest Coming