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Monday, June 11, 2018
June 11, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:36 PM :: 3265 Views

Kamehameha: The Founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Gabbard a Lonely Vote for Russia in Congress

CB: …This year Gabbard was the only member of the House Armed Services Committee to vote against the NDAA, which passed 60 to 1.

Then, on May 22, she took to the House floor to fight for an amendment that would have cut language in the bill that allows the secretary of defense and secretary of state to develop a strategy that counters the “destabilizing activities of (Russia’s ally) Iran” without congressional approval.

During a four-and-half-minute floor speech she said the provision, if it remained, would allow the U.S. to go to war with Iran (which is backing Russia's ally Assad in Syria). It was one of the main reasons, she said, she voted against the NDAA in committee.

Gabbard then went on to criticize the U.S. for participating in “military adventurism and interventionist wars,” including (against Iranian forces) in Yemen and (Russia’s ally) Syria, where she traveled in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

Despite the impassioned speech, her amendment failed by a vote of 60 to 355. Even Hanabusa was opposed.

Two days later, on May 24, when the House voted on the full bill, Gabbard again opposed the legislation, along with 65 of her colleagues, almost all of them Democrats….

read … Chris Butler’s Foreign Policy

SB2699: TAT on Everything Hotels Do

CB: Visitors to Hawaii hotels, who are already paying the nation’s top prices, should get ready to dig deeper into their wallets to offset a broader application of the state’s transient accommodations tax.

On average, visitors paid almost $293 per night to stay in a Hawaii hotel during the first quarter, the highest rate in the nation, according to a Hawaii Hotel Performance Report released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority last month. Based on that figure, they also paid roughly $30.45 nightly for the transient accommodations tax, currently 10.25 percent of the room charge.

Historically, TAT, which is in addition to the state’s 4.5 percent general excise tax, has been levied solely on hotel, resort and timeshare industry rooms. It hasn’t applied to daily resort fees, which might include a variety of bundled offerings from fitness center use to bottled water, Wi-Fi, phone calls and the like. But this past session, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2699, which could apply TAT to virtually any lodging business transactions, from resort fees and parking to food and beverage orders, activities, spa appointments, banquet services or the like.

According to a study conducted in May by Travel Hawaii, some 111 Hawaii hotels currently charge resort fees, ranging from $10 to $46 per day. Parking costs, which also have been exempted from TAT collections, could run another $9 to $35 per day. If Senate Bill 2699 becomes law, hotel, resort and timeshare visitors would automatically pay another $2 to $8 per night to cover TAT on resort fees and parking alone. Factor in conference events, wedding banquets and the like, and costs could quickly add up….

read … Lodging industry opposes tax hike

Will Same-Day Registration Make a Difference for Voter Turnout?

SA: …It starts with a gubernatorial election that pits the sitting governor, David Ige, against a former colleague when both served in the state Senate: U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Now that the third candidate, Clayton Hee, has dropped out of the top race to seek his old state Senate seat instead, expect the fireworks between the two contenders to flare up.

Hanabusa’s candidacy has put her congressional seat up for grabs again, and there’s no shortage of hopefuls. Ed Case, the former congressman, is seeking another chance to return to Washington, contending with a full slate from the state Capitol and City Hall, and two elective newcomers.

In addition, there’s an uncommonly vigorous race for lieutenant governor, and this has opened several doors for newcomers, especially in the state House. The question is, will the voters take advantage of all the opportunity?

Hawaii is already an accommodating state for voters, with early voting that includes mail-in and walk-in options, as well as the conventional voting on Election Day. This year for the first time, eligible residents will be able to go to their polling precinct and register to vote, casting their ballot immediately afterward.

This removes a final obstacle — excuse, really — for voters who are disconnected and fail to commit. By the time the excitement around the election piques their interest, the registration deadline has passed. That shouldn’t happen any more. Voters simply go to their assigned voting place with an ID (information: 453-8683, or elections.hawaii.gov).

Of course, there’s no need to wait until the last day: The state’s Online Voter Registration System (olvr.hawaii.gov) makes it more convenient. And, those who do register by July 12 — the statutory deadline 30 days before the election — will have the option of getting an absentee ballot mailed to them.

read … Primary election a boon for voters

Maui: Climate change, open space and land management strategies primed for ballot

MN: …The first Maui County Charter amendment proposes the creation of an office of climate change, sustainability and resiliency, akin to the office the voters of the City and County of Honolulu approved in 2016….

…second charter amendment proposes to expand the uses of the Open Space, Natural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund. The fund was established by charter amendment in 2002…the charter currently prohibits use of the monies for any purpose other than acquisition….

a third amendment  establishes a department of land management….

(All of these involve more land in government hands and less in private hands, thus jacking up housing prices by shifting the demand-supply equation.)

read … Maui: Climate change, open space and land management strategies primed for ballot

Hanabusa Once Picked Ige for Transparency Initiative

CB: …Frustrated with former Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s record on transparency, a group of 22 media outlets and open-government groups delivered a letter to Ige’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney, a few weeks after he took office in December 2014.

The letter asked Ige to speak out strongly in favor of government transparency in light of a rising public demand for openness and “increasing public suspicion of institutions that respond to scrutiny without comment or full disclosure.”

The groups — which included Civil Beat, TV stations, Hawaii Public Radio, online news outlets and nonprofits like Common Cause and League of Women Voters — sought three things: require state agencies to presume government documents are public and invoke exceptions to disclosure only if they must; mandate that each state agency post contact information for the public to easily find out how to submit records requests; and make requests in the public interest free or only charge copying costs….

Nearly three years later, in August 2017, Ige issued an executive memo that addressed the first two points, which some agencies followed. He also encouraged state agencies to “take practical actions to reduce the costs” of fulfilling records requests….

In 2008, when Hanabusa was Senate president, she appointed Ige to be technology liaison for the chamber’s paperless initiative. He propelled the Senate into the 21st Century by getting bills, testimony and other legislative documents, including the budget, on the Capitol’s public website — something Ige said was “unheard of at that time.”…

GOP candidate Ray L’Heureux, a former state Department of Education assistant superintendent who recently entered the race, was traveling with his family in Europe…

State Rep. Andria Tupola did not return repeated phone calls and emails left with her legislative office and campaign staff over the past two weeks requesting an interview….

read … Here’s What Candidates For Governor Say About Public Information Policies

Socialist Uber Study Full of Errors

CB: …Steve Paselk’s recent letter (“Letters: Regulate Uber Drivers — For Their Own Good”)about Uber drivers purportedly earning a mere $9.21 per hour is unintentionally ironic, given the Honolulu City Council’s decision Wednesday to cap surge pricing (“City Council Votes To Cap Uber And Lyft Prices”) for all local ride-hail drivers.

The study Paselk quoted contains myriad errors in its methodologies, but one of its biggest is its failure to take fares earned during surge-priced periods into account. As anyone who’s driven for a ride-hail service, myself included, can tell you, these surges are the only means by which the vast majority of Uber and Lyft drivers earn a decent wage….

read … No Socialism

Push for Homeless Tent Cities Based on NIMBYism

CB: …Some members of the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board oppose the so-called “safe zones” and point to what they see as unhealthy living conditions at Oahu’s closest thing to an existing safe zone, the longtime homeless encampment at the Waianae Boat Harbor known as Puuhonua O Waianae.

But members of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board have generally been supportive of that encampment. One man who volunteers there said opponents should be careful what they wish for because if it were closed, its still-homeless residents would disperse throughout West Oahu communities that already have more than their share of smaller homeless encampments…

(Translation: ‘Supporters’ of ‘Puuhonua o Waianae’ are NIMBYs who don’t want the tweekers back in their neighborhoods.)

read … The Debate Over ‘Safe Zones’ Is Heating Up In West Oahu

Shelter fatigue: Stress takes toll on lava evacuees

HTH: …Madison Welch, 19, recently left the Pahoa shelter for other housing. She goes back to visit her mom, but said she doesn’t like being there.

“At this point, it just feels very hostile in there.”

Madison said she had to get out because it was “too negative for me.”

Stacy Welch said that the general morale at the shelter is down.

“It’s like, ‘Wow, we’re here another day, and there’s no end in sight,’” she said.

Lesa Callahan, who evacuated from Leilani, has been at the Pahoa shelter from the beginning, too.

Her experience has been “good and bad.” She has been “somewhat disappointed with the Red Cross, but outside of the Red Cross, the support has been overwhelming from the community, from private donors as well as businesses,” she said.

Shelter operations seem to be “overstaffed and very unorganized,” Callahan said.

She is part of a group staying in the community center’s upper baseball field that have been assisting others in need.

There are safety concerns, too, because the shelter is open to anyone, she said….

In the shelters, Fielder said, the Red Cross’ disaster mental health team has been averaging about 80 contacts a day, “and people don’t have to come to us, we will go to this.”…

read … Shelter fatigue: Stress takes toll on lava evacuees

Value of Hawaii’s seed crop drops 19%

SA: Hawaii’s corn-dominated seed industry plunged 19 percent in value during the 2017-18 season, according to a preliminary government estimate.

However, shipments of seeds out of the state are projected to be up 67 percent to a record 12.7 million pounds in the season that ends this month, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report issued Friday. That’s up from 7.6 million pounds in the prior season. The previous high was 12 million pounds in the 2009-10 season.

Seed producers have had a presence in Hawaii since the 1960s, favoring the climate in part because corn can be planted and raised to maturity three or four times in a year compared with only once on the mainland….

Many local agriculture leaders view the seed business as a good force that has kept workers employed and farmland productive in the wake of sugar cane’s disappearance, though (pseudo-) environmentalists and natural-­ food proponents (other quacks) detest the industry because much of the work involves genetic engineering. Such concerns have led to litigation as well as state and county initiatives to restrict or ban work with genetically modified organisms.

Hawaii’s seed industry is made up of five companies: Beck’s, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, DowDuPont and Syngenta. Together they operated 10 farms on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Kauai covering 3,210 acres under cultivation in the most recent season. That is down 22 percent from the previous season, when there were 11 farms covering 4,090 acres….

read … Value of Hawaii’s seed crop drops 19%

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