VIDEO: Evacuation Ordered As Lava Erupts in Leilani Estates
Secretive Commissions Determine Who Violates Anti-Discrimination Laws
Dermatologists: Ige Should Veto Sunscreen Ban
Was 2018 Hawaii Legislature a success?
Navigating risk at Hawaii's public pension system
Commonwealth Fund: Hawaii Among Top Health Systems
Rethinking Hawaii Tourism: Time to Shift from Marketing to Managing Tourism?
Southwest Coming to Bust Hawaiian Monopoly
UHERO: Hawaii set for more growth
HSTA Slush Fund: History Shows Us Where This is Going
CB: …Voters should reject a ballot question this fall calling for a constitutional amendment to tax property to help education….The runaway nature of Hawaii taxes should be a lesson to those wanting to create a new property tax to fund education….
Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, said on Hawaii Public Radio’s “The Conversation,” “The concern is, once a tax is authorized it takes on a life of its own.”
Yamachika reminded listeners about the humble beginnings in 1986 of the state transient accommodations tax (TAT), which started as a temporary 5 percent tax to fund the construction of the Hawaii Convention Center.
“At the time, people said, ‘This is going to be temporary. It’s a way to fund the convention center. And it’s a 5 percent tax, so let’s keep it at 5 percent.’ And then, fast forward to a few years later … not only is the tax permanent, but it’s now 10.25 percent.”…
Many other taxes in the islands have taken on a life of their own.
According to Yamachika, “The conveyance tax was originally imposed at 5 cents per $100 of actual and full consideration. Now the conveyance tax rates go up to $1.25, and the tax is heavily earmarked.”
Yamachika also noted “The barrel tax was originally 5 cents per barrel of imported petroleum product, and was supposed to be a way to build up a reserve fund for an Exxon Valdez-type environmental disaster. The tax is now $1.05 and is heavily earmarked for uses that have nothing to do with oil spills. It was also expanded to fossil fuels other than petroleum products.”…
SA: Can’t lawmakers just lower taxes?
read … Hawaii Has Poor Record With ‘Low’ Tax Proposals
Delusional Kouchi: Legislators are ‘Superheroes’
SA: …Senate President Ron Kouchi summed up the session as “bold” and likened lawmakers to superheroes.
“You used all of your power to ensure that we did good for the people of Hawaii,” Kouchi (D, Kauai- Niihau) told the Senate….
“Hopefully, it’s a template for the future” – Former Cocaine Dealer J Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English…
House Minority Leader Andria Tupola thanked the Democrats for their efforts in what she called “a wonderful session.”
“We’ve actually found common ground in quite a few things, and I think that has made both the majority and the minority stronger,” Tupola (R, Kalaeloa-Ko Olina-Maili) said…
In the House, state Rep. Isaac Choy (D, Manoa-Punahou-Moiliili) is retiring, while state Reps. Kaniela Ing (D, South Maui) and Beth Fukumoto (D, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) are running for Congress.
State Reps. Jarrett Keohokalole (D, Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe) and Ken Ito (Kaneohe-Maunawili-Kailua) are running for the state Senate seat representing Windward Oahu. State Rep. Matt LoPresti (D, Ewa Villages-Ocean Pointe-Ewa Beach) is seeking the state Senate seat representing Ewa Beach, and Tupola is running for governor.
In the Senate, state Sens. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach- Iroquois Point), Josh Green (D, Naalehu-Kailua-Kona) and Jill Tokuda (D, Kailua- Kaneohe) are vying for the lieutenant governor position…..
Big Q: What grade do you give the just-completed 2018 Legislature? 32% –‘F’ 31% ‘D’
read … Superzeroes
Hawaii lawmakers proud of their work for Hanabusa—Sticking it to Ige
SA: As the 2018 session of the Legislature closed Thursday, lawmakers expressed pride in passing bills to address homelessness (by creating Hanabusa’s massive festering homeless tent cities), the housing shortage (by giving money to Hanabusa’s cronies at PHOCUSED)….
House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said the Ige administration failed to provide the Legislature with a clear plan for collecting state taxes on transient accommodations brokers such as Airbnb, and the issue was left unresolved….
Lawmakers also cited examples of disagreements among Ige’s departments on paid family leave, another issue left unresolved. The family leave bill that finally passed calls for a study of the subject….
However, House Speaker Scott Saiki said the lack of engagement by the governor’s office has been liberating.
“Not to sound hokey, but I feel like this year the Legislature really acted like a Legislature,” and the result was a historic session, he said….
For his part, Ige said he and lawmakers “have alignment on 90 percent of the priorities.”….
Lawmakers have been unusually public about their preference for Hanabusa, and just days before the session opened, Senate President Ron Kouchi, Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani, House Speaker Scott Saiki and House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke all attended the formal launch of Hanabusa’s campaign.
Later in the session, Ige publicly criticized Saiki, Luke, Kouchi and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz for signing an invitation to a Hanabusa fundraiser. Ige alleged that the letter sent a clear message that anyone who wanted action from the Legislature needed to donate to Hanabusa, a charge that all of the lawmakers denied.
An obviously angry Luke said Ige was behaving “almost like this desperate caged animal,” but later apologized on the House floor for her remarks.
When asked whether the strained relationship between lawmakers and Ige affected the session, Kouchi replied, “The work product speaks for itself.” (LOL!)
As Explained: Hanabusa Campaign Plan: Send swarms of homeless into streets as absentee ballots drop
read … Hawaii lawmakers proud of their work, chilly toward Ige
KIUC Energy Storage Without Elon Musk
CB: …When all of the generating capacity is added up, the new system — known as “pumped storage” — would produce 25 megawatts of electricity, equal to the biggest fossil fuel-powered generator in KIUC’s system today. It would represent, according to David Bissell, KIUC’s CEO, 15 to 20 percent of Kauai’s entire electricity needs, enough to provide power to about 10,000 homes….
read … poor Elon
Tourism authority chairman withdraws from confirmation fight
HNN: …The chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, prominent personal injury attorney Rick Fried, suddenly withdrew his bid for a second term on the board Thursday ahead of a potentially contentious debate over his confirmation in the state Senate.
Senators were split on the re-nomination of Fried.
A committee report on his confirmation pointed out that the Senate Tourism Committee voted 2-2 on whether he should receive the committee's positive recommendation for confirmation.
The report, authored by Tourism Committee Chairman Glenn Wakai, said Fried's legal expertise had been valuable to the HTA board.
But, it added, "Your Committee has serious concerns regarding the transparency of the board under Mr. Fried's leadership and questions his openness to sharing information with the Legislature."
Lawmakers were frustrated by HTA's reluctance to provide financial details they'd requested and the state auditor issued a report that criticized HTA executives for inappropriate spending on things like first-class air and lodging expenses.
There was also a concern that HTA had failed to woo a mixed martial arts event that could have featured Hawaii champion Max Holloway, and that HTA was not doing enough to address residents' concerns about the impact of millions of visitors on state resources.
Fried said he chose to withdraw because "I didn't want myself to be a distraction."….
SA: At least 11 HTA staff members, the majority in key positions, have left the organization since 2015, a high turnover rate considering that the agency has 20 full-time employees and 1o contract workers.
The Senate did support new HTA board nominees Ben Rafter, David Arakawa, Micah Alameda and the return of Kyoko Kimura, who previously served on the board. They also voted for existing HTA board members George Kam and Fred Atkins.
HNO: HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY ESCAPES “DRACONIAN” BUDGET CUTS; NEW LEADERSHIP APPOINTED
read … Tourism authority chairman withdraws from confirmation fight
Property rights include the right to rent it out — even if others don't like it
TH: …Critics of Airbnb have a long list of reasons to explain why they wish to curb short-term rentals. In Hawaii, some complain that vacation rental properties are disruptive, use up neighborhood parking and disturb community harmony. More commonly, it’s claimed that Airbnb reduces rental properties and affordable housing in locations that draw tourists and visitors.
Various studies have tried to show that Airbnb and similar businesses have contributed to housing shortages in places like Miami, Los Angeles and New York City. Airbnb and its defenders generally take issue with these claims and the methodology behind the studies.
In fairness, blaming Airbnb for housing shortages is simplistic at best. These cities were famously expensive long before Airbnb and the internet came along. The difficulty of finding an affordable apartment in New York is such common knowledge that there’s a TV trope to explain it away.
In Hawaii, where lack of housing and sky-high real estate prices have been a regular feature of island life for years, legislators vacillate between trying to stamp out vacation rentals and trying to create revenue from them. The 2018 Hawaii legislative session has seen a raft of proposals attempting to simultaneously punish operators of unlicensed vacation rentals while collecting taxes from them — preferably by making Airbnb a tax-collecting intermediary.
At the heart of the problem, however, remains the tension between property rights and property values. The landowner feels he has the right to do what he wants with his own home, including renting it to vacationers for short periods of time. On the other hand, his neighbors and community say his exercise of property rights diminishes theirs — that the short-term rentals lower their property’s value or make it impossible for them to obtain property of their own (e.g. drive up costs and reduce the pool of available housing).
So what can be done to balance those rights? ….
A good model may be found in Arizona’s Private Property Rights Protection Act, which with certain common-sense exceptions requires the government to reimburse land owners when regulations cause a decrease in property value….
read … Right
Council Votes to Require ‘Life Safety Evaluation’ of Non-Sprinkler Buildings
KHON: …A new bill that will immediately go into effect requires residential buildings greater than 10 stories to go through a "life safety evaluation," which will look at the buildings fire alarms, fire doors, and if the building has been retrofitted for sprinklers.
However, buildings that install sprinklers will obtain an automatic pass….
Building owners will have six years after the evaluation to install the necessary safety safety tools….
read … City takes big step to make sure residents in high rises are safe from fires
Kealoha Gang to have 2 federal trials
SA: …A federal judge ruled this afternoon that former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife Katherine Kealoha will have one trial by themselves and a second one with four former members of the Honolulu Police Department’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit.
U.S. District Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright said he would prefer to hold the trial involving just the Kealohas first, probably in November. That trial will involve charges accusing the Kealohas of lying on loan applications.
The other trial will be for charges accusing the Kealohas, Derek Wayne Hahn, Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, Daniel Sellers and Gordon Shiraishi of staging the fake theft of the Kealohas’ mailbox then lying about it….
read … Kealohas to have 2 federal trials
Arakawa: Maui Council Should Restore Homeless Funds
MN: …I would be remiss if I did not point out some areas of the budget where I think they should revisit for the good of the community.
The first was cutting out $2.5 million for first phase of Project Aloha, which would have housed homeless and near-homeless individuals and families in modular homes and the necessary funding to prep vacant lands for the housing units. This proposed project on the Old Maui High School property is modeled after the Kauhale Kamaile project on Oahu, which is already at capacity with 21 adults and 37 children calling the project home.
We need this project and more like it on Maui. The council has not approved any of our homeless projects, even after Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation to deal with the state’s homelessness crisis in 2015. I hope the council will reconsider Project Aloha’s merits.
Also, the council referred $9 million in homeless shelter expansions and affordable housing projects to the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee. I encourage all committee members to help our community by approving more projects….
read … Council members should revisit some areas of proposed budget
Homeless man sentenced to life in prison, blames drugs for killing his girlfriend
KHON: …A homeless man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his girlfriend at an encampment in Nanakuli.
58-year-old Fred Silva III stabbed Calvine Nakatani to death back in 2015.
In a statement before the judge, Silva admitted his actions were a drug fueled mistake, saying, “I blame the drugs.”
The parole board will decide how soon Silva could become eligible for parole….
read … Homeless man sentenced to life in prison, blames drugs for killing his girlfriend
Attempted Murder: Homeless Man Makes Excuses for Running over Bicyclist after Confrontation
MN: …Defendant: Van ‘steered by itself’ and hit bicyclist….
read … About People We Used to Lock up In Insane Asylums
Homeless Take Over: Are Waikiki’s Public Pavilions Hopelessly Crime-Ridden?
CB: …An old woman digs through the trash, collecting recyclables.
They have just finished their lunch when two police officers pull up on bikes to confront a scruffy-looking man who sits on the bench behind them. The officers sift through his possessions and ask him if he has a medical marijuana card.
“There’s people over there,” one of the officers tells him. “There’s children, you know?”
Joanne says she noticed him smoking pot earlier. She wasn’t particularly bothered by it, but these city pavilions at Kuhio Beach Park have become notorious harbors for homeless people and drug activity.
Lifeguards who work at the beach are often pulled from their assigned duties to deal with fights, defecation and lewd acts, according to a recent Hawaii News Now report.
“It’s a breeding ground for violence and criminal activity and some of this stuff is just absolutely disgusting and embarrassing,” said Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa, who represents the area.
The Honolulu Police Department made no one available for comment, but Ozawa thinks he has a solution.
“Destroy the pavilions,” he said. “Demolish them.”
Bill 37, a measure he introduced in late April, would require the city to remove any public park building in Waikiki, excluding restrooms, where there is proof of drug dealing or drug use. The city’s construction department has the power to remove the pavilions along Kalakaua, but this bill would require it, Ozawa said.
When outreach workers from the Institute for Human Services visit the pavilions they find people using methamphetamine and opioids and drinking alcohol, said IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho….
read … Homeless Beat Tourism
Homeless #1 Reason for Low Park Use
SA: …Public parks are an asset that require an ever-increasing outlay of cash resources to maintain. They have become magnets for the homeless population, so in addition to rising costs generally, the effect of itinerant encampments has been to increase maintenance needs.
These are parks not designed to weather this kind of more wear and tear. And the public is paying more for their upkeep, at the same time that the encampments have driven the public away….
Up to this point, city officials who had cleared encampments from the city sidewalks were unable to “sweep” homeless from the state-owned parks.
But clearing that jurisdictional barrier is not enough to ensure that residents finally feel secure about access to these underused public spaces. Alternative sites for the homeless, and more affordable housing, must be created, above all.
And the city must find a way to “activate” the parks, which now are so attractive to squatters….
According to a survey conducted for the report, 38 percent of those polled said they perceived safety concerns because of the homeless encampments. It was the chief reason cited for not using the parks….
read … Find better uses for Kakaako parks
Coco Palms Squatters Case Dismissed
KGI: …A motion to dismiss a quiet title case filed against Coco Palms Hui LLC, was granted during civil proceedings Thursday in Fifth Circuit Court, but that’s not the end of the Coco Palms legal battle according to those involved.
Instead, Noa Mau-Espirito, who originally filed the proceedings, said he and his group are planning on filing a lawsuit against the development company in federal court.
Co-plaintiff Kamu “Charles” Hepa agreed that the case should be dismissed.
The reason they’re doing this is that arguing over ownership by TMK (tax map key) numbers violates U.S. Constitutional law.
“For me to be arguing over this TMK issue, is total fraud and I realize I should have not filed in the beginning. So I apologize to everybody, for wasting everybody’s time,” Mau-Espirito said in court on Thursday. “It was after what I did what I did, I realized from some of my councils and my uncles that I did the wrong thing and that it’s not the proper way for us to go about this issue.”
Arguing on behalf of defendants and owners of Coco Palms Hui LLC, Chad Waters and Tyler Greene, Attorney Laurel Loo told the court the plaintiffs had not filed an opposition to their motion to dismiss. Their complaint, she said, does not establish a case on title.
read … Coco Palms case dismissed