SB2699: Reactionary Reaction to Resort Fees
HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3
Prepare to Evacuate Puna Makai: Hwy 132 May Soon be Covered by Lava
HSTA Again Selects Ige as Governor
Hawaii Innocence Project Tied to Alleged Waikiki Pimp
SA: …Isaiah McCoy walked out of a Delaware prison a free man in January 2017, five years after being convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
A judge found him not guilty at a retrial, and McCoy soon began enjoying the limelight that came with his exoneration. He reveled in speaking engagements before lawyers associations and anti-death penalty groups.
“People were loving my story,” McCoy said….
But in less than a year, he went from death row in Delaware to giving speeches about wrongful convictions to back behind bars.
Now, he’s in a detention center in Hawaii, where he is charged with seven counts of sex trafficking.
He told The Associated Press from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center he’s again accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he’ll use his knowledge of the law — learned during years of incarceration — to represent himself at his upcoming trial.
Prosecutors aren’t impressed. They say McCoy became a pimp after moving to Hawaii and that he threatened and coerced young women into prostitution. They call his arguments for dropping the charges, including vindictive prosecution, “conclusory and baseless.”
A Tuesday hearing is scheduled on McCoy’s motion to dismiss the case….
…While McCoy was in L.A., a University of Hawaii law student contacted him about speaking at a criminal justice reform rally she organized at the state Capitol. McCoy thought it would be a good opportunity to visit his mother and siblings who had moved to Hawaii.
McCoy sounded well-spoken and sincere at the April 2017 Hawaii speaking engagement, said Kenneth Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project, who also spoke at the rally. “He has the ability to capture people’s attention.”
(Maybe it was the dental grill? That’s always an attention getter.)
McCoy decided to stay in Hawaii…
“Everything in his life was hitting on all cylinders,” said one of his brothers, Daniel Moody. “He didn’t have any plans for anything negative.”
By September, McCoy was in the news. He spoke to a Honolulu TV news station after a friend was arrested and charged with a fatal Waikiki shooting. McCoy, who was not a suspect in the case, told Hawaii News Now police targeted Jordan Smith because he’s black. McCoy said he brought Smith, the brother of a childhood friend, to Hawaii from Delaware for a fresh start.
While working as a security guard for a Waikiki hotel in an area of the tourist mecca known for prostitution, McCoy started dating a woman who he says worked as a stripper and prostitute. He could relate to her, and she wasn’t judgmental about his time behind bars.
He said the woman is one of the seven alleged victims in the indictment against him.
McCoy said he and the woman had a falling out, and she went to Honolulu’s Susannah Wesley Community Center — a nonprofit human services association that helps trafficking victims — and lied about being afraid of McCoy in exchange for a plane ticket out of Hawaii. The other alleged victims did the same, he said.
“All of these females were prostitutes before I met them,” McCoy said. “Why would I have to force someone to do what they’re already doing?”….
McCoy’s Army soldier wife, Tawana Roberts, is a co-defendant in the federal case. They wed six days after meeting at a Honolulu nightclub….
Roberts is charged with prostitution in a separate case in state court. According to police documents in that case, McCoy was actively pimping in Hawaii since December 2017.
In January, authorities conducted a sting involving an undercover officer with a pretend foot fetish who set up a meeting in a Waikiki hotel room. Roberts and another woman who showed up with her were arrested.
The next day, a federal grand jury returned a sealed indictment charging McCoy and Roberts with one count of sex trafficking. Another indictment later added six more counts…..
(IQ Test: Are you impressed with the Innocence Project now?)
SA: Ex-Death Row Inmate Wants To Be Tried By A Judge In Hawaii Case
read … Pimp Importers
HART, Council, Caldwell Try New Scam on $44M rail shortfall
SA: …An impasse between the Honolulu City Council and Mayor Kirk Caldwell over how to plug an estimated $44 million shortfall in the city rail project’s recovery plan apparently has been resolved.
City Council Budget Chairman Trevor Ozawa announced Friday he is proposing that the $44 million become part of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s capital improvements project budget instead of in the city’s general capital improvements budget.
If the money is borrowed, the principal and interest would need to be paid back through the city’s operating budget, which is funded primarily through property taxes, because they would be general obligation bonds. That also would have been the case under the original plan in Caldwell’s budget package.
But HART officials repeatedly have said that the version of the recovery plan the Federal Transit Administration was using for its calculations was outdated and that its more recent forecasts for general excise tax surcharge revenue show there won’t be a need to borrow the money….
Most of the criticism from Council members involved the notion that the city would be borrowing money to pay for administrative costs associated with the project’s construction. Ozawa, Council Chairman Ernie Martin and other Council members have been proposing cuts to the city’s 2019 operating budget to come up with the $44 million.
On Friday, however, Ozawa said that placing the $44 million in the HART capital budget was the right thing to do, especially since HART officials have assured him the borrowing won’t be needed based on current GET surcharge revenue forecasts. The bulk of the city’s share is coming from the surcharge….
The issue is expected to be discussed at a Council Budget Committee meeting on Tuesday.
The $44 million actually is part of a projected $214 million shortfall in project costs. The city will need to come up with that funding….
CB: New Plan Looks To Spare City From Cuts to Pay For Rail
read … City officials reach agreement on $44M shortfall in rail spending
Maui Taxpayers Pay $15.9M for Rail
MN: …The Legislature deferred Senate Bill 648, Senate Draft 1, House Draft 1, which would have provided the county with an additional $14.8 million in transient accommodations tax revenues. If the bill had passed, the county could have received approximately $38.3 million from TAT revenues for the upcoming fiscal year. Instead, the county will collect a little over $23.4 million from the TAT.
During recent budget deliberations, the County Council made conservative revenue estimates and did not factor the potential TAT windfall from the proposed bill into Maui County’s 2019 fiscal year budget.
In last year’s special session, the Legislature decided that the Neighbor Islands would help fund Honolulu’s rail project by increasing the TAT by 1 percent. Maui County generates approximately $15.9 million a year to support the rail project.
The Legislature and the governor approved House Bill 2587 House Draft 1, Senate Draft 2, Conference Draft 1, which will allow the counties to collect additional revenue from a general excise tax surcharge. The bill specifies that the Neighbor Island counties can utilize proceeds from the surcharges only for operating and capital costs of public transportation and roadway infrastructure.
The same measure was introduced last year and the county has been hesitant in accepting the state’s proposal because of the mandated conditions on use of the proceeds. Kauai County has been the only county, so far, to exercise the GET surcharge option.
Senate Bill 2922, Senate Draft 1, House Draft 1 was also approved by the Legislature and proposes a state constitutional amendment that would allow state lawmakers to establish a surcharge on investment real property. The revenues of the surcharge would be used to fund public education.
As it relates to the taxing powers and duties of local government bodies, the Hawaii Constitution currently states, “the taxation of real property shall be exercised exclusively by the counties.” Maui County’s main source of income is from real property taxes, which accounts for more than 40 percent of its total revenue.
Increasing real property taxes by adding a surcharge will burden many residents and make balancing the county’s budget in the future very difficult.
The unintended consequence of adding a surcharge on real property tax lies in passing the burden to renters, who are part of the county’s workforce. As a result, the potential surcharge could further exacerbate the state’s affordable housing crisis….
read … Recapping state’s legislative and county’s budget sessions
Homicidal Lunatic Protecting Seven HGEA Members from Justice
SA: It has been six months since acquitted killer Randall Saito escaped from the state psychiatric hospital in Kaneohe and there is still no word on who helped him orchestrate an intricate plan that included thousands of dollars in cash and multiple fake IDs.
State officials say six Hawaii State Hospital workers are still on “off-duty status” since the state Attorney General’s Office started an administrative investigation in November. The employees were on unpaid leave for the first 30 days, but have since been paid as required under their union contract. A seventh person who worked under a separate state contract is no longer at the hospital. The Health Department, which oversees the hospital, said it could not immediately disclose the salaries for those positions.
James Walther, special assistant to Attorney General Russell Suzuki, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that there are no updates on who helped Saito both inside and outside the facility. He also did not provide a time frame for the release of the investigative report….
the six hospital employees remain off duty with pay….
read … Saito escape accomplice still not identified
Water rates poised to rise (again)
SA: …BWS is now seeking to raise $60 million through rate increases over four years to help finance a stepped-up schedule for improving the island’s largest water system. Also, it would borrow money so that it could spend $271 million more during that period.
Two public hearings on the matter will be held this week: Monday at Kapolei Hale and Tuesday at Kaneohe’s Benjamin Parker Elementary School. Another, May 24 at Miliani Recreation Center No. 5. All three are set for 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Among proposed billing changes are tweaks aimed at fairness and conservation: a reduced rate for residential customers drawing less than 2,000 gallons monthly, and an increase for those using more than 30,000 gallons. The average single-family household now consumes 9,000 gallons.
The base cost of water for the average single-family household customer is proposed to rise by 19.3 percent over four years, starting in mid-2019. BWS describes its plan as a gradual approach — less likely to touch off customer “rate shock” when compared with the last round of hikes.
In 2011 BWS increased rates by 70 percent over five years. That was on the heels of a near-50 percent increase over five years, which started in 2006….
The agency maintained that the two spikes were needed to pay for a backlog of pipeline work. (They’re still using the same story.)
A proposal for a desal plant, which surfaced a decade ago but stalled, is now resurfacing. The BWS Master Plan calls for construction of a facility, within the next few years, on land that was part of the Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Initially, it would provide an additional 1 million gallons of potable water to Ewa and Waianae, and would be capable of further expansion.
BWS has also acquired the state’s demonstration brackish water desalination plant facilities in Kapolei Business Park, which could be reconstructed to supplement potable water supply for Kapolei.
Usagawa said desalination had been put on hold, in part, due to strides in water conservation. Since the 1990s, Oahu has cut its daily water use by about 30 gallons per person, resulting in savings of more than 12 million gallons a day….
read … Water rates poised to rise
Molokai Ranch Hibiscus Scheme Evaporates Quickly
MN: …With the Akaku cameras rolling, the chief executive officer of Lamplighter Energy talked about growing a type of hibiscus on 20,000 acres to be used for biofuel in South Korea. His offers to the community were just as grand — perhaps some 200 jobs and 5,000 acres for the community to farm.
The video of De Rosa is about all that some Molokai residents have seen of the man who once expressed interest in buying 55,575 acres of Molokai Ranch land. Many had no idea of his plans. And, none of the people who first got wind of his proposal seems to have heard from him since….
A call to the office number on De Rosa’s business card reaches a message saying the line has been disconnected, and a call to his cellphone goes straight to voicemail…..
Meanwhile: State Supreme Court to Hear Molokai Ranch Water Case
read … No Surprise
Hawaii Potentially Banning 70 Percent Of Sunscreen Brands
BW: …Majority of the known sunscreen brands contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These brands are not only being sold in Hawaii but also across the world. Some of these brands are the Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat, Neutrogena, and Coppertone.
Johnson & Johnson, which owns Neutrogena, said it stands by the statement given by the CHPA.
“…[S]afety and welfare of millions of Hawaii residents and tourists have been severely compromised by the passage of SB 2571 that will ban at least 70 percent of the sunscreens on the market today, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs,” the CHPA asserts in its statement.
“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that excess sun exposure without effective sunscreen increases the risk of developing skin cancer in both adults and children,” the statement argues.
The association highlighted that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
CHPA describes the looming ban as an irresponsible action, making it difficult for families and tourists to protect themselves from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. The CHPA contends that oxybenzone and octinoxate are key ingredients of the effective sunscreen brands in the market. It pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration recognized the two ingredients as safe and effective.
The organization stresses that banning the sunscreens deviate the attention from the more pertinent causes of coral decline such as global warming, agricultural runoff, sewage, and overfishing.
Finally, CHPA concludes that the ban creates a false hope that prohibiting these sunscreens will heal Hawaii’s coral reef while it will have little to no impact on their survival. Rather, it says that banning sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate has the potential to create a public health crisis.
The Hawaii Medical Association, Hawaii Dermatological Society, Hawaii Skin cancer Coalition, and Hawaii Department of Health have also expressed concerns regarding the legislation. The ABC Stores, the Hawaii Food Industry Association, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, and the Personal Care Products Council object the legislation as well….
read … Hawaii Potentially Banning 70 Percent Of Sunscreen Brands