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Thursday, June 07, 2018
June 7, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:35 PM :: 1005 Views

A Housing “Boom” and a Volcanic “Bang”

Cam Cavasso for Congress Dist 1

Little Pink House Coming to Hilo

Is the Hawaii Convention Center Profitable?

UH Manoa Ranks 302nd in Survey of 800 Universities

Honolulu Council Sneaking City Funds into Rail Project via Bond Sale

CB: …Even as the Honolulu City Council approved a plan Wednesday to cover some $44 million in rail costs next year, it learned that it faces a new, unexpected wrinkle.

The proposal that council leaders unveiled last month involved putting this new city share of project costs in rail’s capital budget — but then not actually floating the bonds to pay out those millions of dollars. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has said repeatedly that it currently doesn’t need the cash.

Council leaders, including its budget chairman, Trevor Ozawa, were optimistic that rail’s federal partners would accept the maneuver as a sufficient way to show the city is putting “skin in the game.” However, it was never clear whether the Federal Transit Administration would embrace such an idea.

About a week and a half ago, Ozawa said, HART delivered some sobering news: The FTA wants the city to issue those $44 million in bonds — not just include them as a placeholder in the budget….

If the federal agency’s position holds true as described, the City Council will likely have to take another vote to at least temporarily lift its longstanding ban on using city tax revenues — including property tax dollars — to help fund rail construction….

As Explained: A Sneaky Way to Approve City Funds for Rail

read … Feds May Require Honolulu To Sell Bonds For Rail Project 

Honolulu Budget: $214M for Rail

SA: The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday passed a $2.6 billion executive operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget is only about $3.5 million more than the one submitted to the Council by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in March. That was roughly 6.4 percent more than the current year’s proposal.

Caldwell’s original budget package included no increases in property tax rates, but did propose a $5 a month curbside refuse disposal charge. The fee was nixed by the Council’s Budget Committee in April.

The Council version also eliminates $44 million the administration had set aside in the operating budget to help fund a hole in the city’s $8.1 billion-plus, East Kapolei-to-Ala Moana rail project. Instead, under the plan devised by Council Budget Chairman Trevor Ozawa, the $44 million would be sourced through Bill 22, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s capital improvements projects (CIP) budget.

The amount is part of a projected $214 million hole that HART and city officials say would be left unfunded after the Legislature’s decision last fall to extend the excise tax surcharge by only three years instead of the four years that had been requested. That money is being spread out over 13 years under a recovery plan that is supposed to assure federal transit officials that the city is committed to using operating budget money — which is derived primarily from property taxes — if necessary.

Warring factions within the nine-member Council argued for more than an hour over whether to include in the bill language that states city revenue from the city’s operating budget could be used to pay the debt service for the $44 million. A minority faction insisted the Council should instead approve such language in a separate measure pending before the Council, Bill 42 (2017). In the end, the language was taken out of the HART CIP budget.

The city CIP budget approved by the Council Wednesday is for $1.09 billion, about 15 percent higher than the $875 million CIP budget Caldwell submitted.

HPR: Honolulu City Council Squabbles Over HART Budget, Again

read … Sneaking Rail into Budget

Honolulu Council approves 1st ride-hailing price cap in US

AP: Honolulu leaders approved a measure Wednesday to limit prices that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft can charge during peak demand, a cap that the companies say would be the first restriction of its kind in the United States.

The measure would prevent "surge pricing" if increased rates are higher than the maximum fare set by the city. Honolulu attorneys will review the measure before it goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who would have 10 days to sign it into law, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it….

read … Honolulu leaders approve 1st ride-hailing price cap in US

Hawaii County Council Uses Volcano as Excuse for GE Tax Hike

HTH: It took a volcanic eruption and a few compromises to convince them, but a majority of County Council members are now supporting a half-sized version of the previously ill-fated general excise tax surcharge.

The council, on first reading Wednesday, advanced Bill 159, creating a one-quarter percent county surcharge on the state GET. The measure, adding a quarter-penny tax on a dollar purchase, next goes to a public hearing and one more vote before taking effect Jan. 1.

The bill was amended to keep the tax only until Dec. 31, 2020, rather than the 2030 date allowed by the state Legislature….

The council voted 6-3 to pass the measure, with Puna Councilwomen Eileen O’Hara and Jen Ruggles, along with Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha, voting no….

read … Quarter-percent GET surcharge emerges as ‘compromise’

Mauna Kea Oral Arguments Set for Hawaii Supreme Court

IM: …The Hawaii Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Mauna Kea on June 21, 2018, starting at 9 a.m…..

Associate Justice Paula A. Nakayama recused herself and was replaced by Circuit Court Judge Jeannette H. Castagnetti.

SA: Mauna Kea observatory looks into oil leak (activists near ecstasy)

read … Mauna Kea Oral Arguments at the Hawaii Supreme Court

Kauai Council Votes to Exploit Flooding to Eradicate ‘Commercial Uses’

KGI: Due to April’s historic flooding and landslides that left many homes destroyed or damaged, the Kauai County Council passed an emergency bill Wednesday that would expedite the permitting process for impacted homesteads, residential and agricultural buildings.

The county is aware of 380 damage assessments the bill would affect.

Much of the nearly three-hour discussion centered on whether commercial home use should be added to the bill, which was in one of the amendments proposed by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, that didn’t get passed.

Because it’s an emergency bill, Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa said a line has to be drawn.

“I think at some point we just have to accept that not everybody’s going to like this bill and what is priority for me is priority for local residents that long-term rent, or just use their house as their residents,” he said.

Kagawa said he wants to make sure the North Shore is rebuilt the correct way….

read … Socialism

Volcano Sets New Record for Destruction of Homes

HTH: It’s a scene that had played out in Puna before — in Kalapana more than two decades ago and, before that, the village of Kapoho in 1960. But it had been decades since Hawaii Island residents seen Kilauea volcano take so much so quickly.

“Every house was lost (in Vacationland),” Mayor Harry Kim said. “That’s the unimaginable thing. All this happened in three days, from no threat to 100 percent or less. And that’s just mind-boggling.”

By Wednesday evening, nearly all of the estimated 500 residences in Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots had been destroyed, easily outpacing destruction from the Pu‘u ‘O‘o/Kupaianaha eruption, which claimed 215 structures from 1983 until its end just more than a month ago.

Only a few homes on the north side of Kapoho Bay remained.

A lava flow that is now 8 miles long continued to flow into the ocean Wednesday after filling in Kapoho Bay. Lava now extends 0.8 miles from the former shoreline.

The official count of homes lost to the current lower East Rift Zone eruption that started May 3 in Leilani Estates remained at 130. That number includes homes lost in Leilani and Lanipuna Gardens but does not include those destroyed in Kapoho.

In terms of total land covered, the 35-year Pu‘u ‘O‘o/Kupaianaha eruption remains on top with 56 square miles; the current eruption has covered 8.6 square miles so far….

read … Mayor reflects on destruction of Kapoho

How Hawaii made its lava disaster worse

TH: …a state-created insurance group incentivized living next to an active volcano….

read … How Hawaii made its lava disaster worse

Maui County Carnival seeks relief from high shipping costs

MN: ..“We don’t have a contract today and although that provides a level of insecurity for us, I’m still confident we’re going to have a 96th Maui Fair in October,” said Avery Chumbley, president of the Maui Fair Alliance, on Tuesday.

The alliance is in talks with E.K. Fernandez Shows to reach another deal to provide rides, games and entertainment for the fair. For the first time last year, the company agreed to only a one-year contract rather than its typical five-year commitment due to increased shipping rates.

“They still continue to express concerns for high Neighbor Island shipping costs and to get their materials from Oahu,” Chumbley said. “We continue to have discussions with the state Harbors Division looking at more permanent ways to find relief from that.”

Company President Scott Fernandez was unavailable to comment earlier this week due to the 50th State Fair happening this month at Aloha Stadium. He has previously pointed to shipping rates that have doubled over the past decade, which led to the cancellation of the Maui County Carnival last year.

Chumbley has sought commitments from E.K. Fernandez and the state to help continue the fair until at least the 100th anniversary coming up in four years. He met with representatives from Gov. David Ige’s office and the Harbors Division for help with shipping fees earlier this year.

“We’ve made some progress, but it’s still being looked at on a year-to-year basis as opposed to long term,” Chumbley said. “We were able to get consideration last year, but we’re hoping the state can agree to something on a more permanent basis going forward.”….

read … Fair officials seek relief from high shipping costs

Will City Spend $4M to Fix Pig Feed System That Ain’t Broken?

CB: … Elliot Telles stands over a steaming tub of pig slop – food waste being cooked down to a soup he feeds the 480 pigs on his farm.

Beside him 70-gallon plastic trash cans with the “EcoFeed” label wait to be picked up, hauled to restaurants, filled with food scraps and brought back to Telles’ Waianae farm.

Telles, who owns Jay’s Hog Farm, doesn’t pay for this service. But he depends on it.

The city requires large restaurants and cafeterias to recycle food waste their customers don’t eat. EcoFeed and a handful of other companies charge restaurants to transport the scraps to Oahu piggeries, supplying Terres a free and consistent source of hog feed.

A $4 million appropriation to build a food waste processing facility could either upend or complement Oahu’s food waste recycling system. That depends on how Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration, which doesn’t believe a new facility is needed, chooses to spend that money. 

read … If it Ani’t Broke Don’t Fix it

System Working Hard to Keep Drug Addicts Alive

CB: …What goes unmentioned about Act 72 is that it crucially also allows harm-reduction organizations like the CHOW Project to dispense naloxone in the community. As intended, this is already helping to reverse overdoses. Meanwhile, if as expected SB 2247 is signed by Gov. Ige, pharmacists will indeed be able to dispense naloxone to community members without a prescription. This is exactly the kind of workaround states must take until the Food and Drug Administration reclassifies naloxone as over-the-counter.

Ultimately, it is essential that we train the community to recognize an opioid overdose, especially in the age of the powerful fentanyl, so we are as prepared as possible when the time comes….

(Translation: The suicide squad finally found someone worthy of life.)

read … Keep Addicts Alive

Impressing Democrats by Bashing Trump—So Easy a Mazie Could Do it

HPR: …Mazie Hirono used to be known as the "good girl" of Hawaii politics. She was seen as polite, never in-your-face, not a boat-rocker. But now, that view has changed….The Senate's only immigrant takes that fight to President Trump, whom she openly calls "xenophobic" and a "liar" (can now look good by be-ing rather than do-ing)….

Horror: Giuliani Questions Credibility of Porno Actress

read … So Easy A Mazie Could do it

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