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Tuesday, June 26, 2018
June 26, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:33 PM :: 1613 Views

Travel Ban Upheld 5-4

Supreme Court voids part of crisis pregnancy center law

Ige Releases 'Intent to Veto' List

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to Host Open Houses

VIDEO: "This Is Not A Drill: 38 Minutes That Changed Lives."

Volcano? What Volcano? Hawaii Hotel Occupancy Up 1.5% for May

Hawaii Governor intends to veto resort tax bill

SA: Some members of the state’s visitor industry are applauding Gov. David Ige’s decision to place a bill that would have increased visitor taxes on his intent-to-veto list.

Ige notified legislative leaders and key lawmakers Monday of his intent to veto Senate Bill 2699, which would have made resort fees subject to the transient accommodations tax (TAT).

Ige said the measure “creates an extensive and ambiguous expansion of the TAT. The vague language could subject restaurants, spas, and other businesses located in hotels to add the TAT to their services.”

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging &Tourism Association, said he hopes the bill does not become law.

Hannemann said the bill could reduce the number of tourists at a time when lava-related downturns are beginning to emerge. If the bill moved forward, Hannemann also said that it could widen the tax gap between what alternative accommodations and other lodging properties are required to pay.

The Waikiki Improvement Association and Unite Here Local 5, the hotel workers union, also criticized the bill’s “ambiguous language,” which they said could have unintended negative consequences….

read … Hawaii Governor intends to veto resort tax bill

State releases hundreds of pages of communications related to false missile alert

HNN: The redacted emails were released as part of a public records request filed by members of the media, including Hawaii News Now….

READ THE EMAILS:

In one email the day after the alert went out, an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tells former Administrator Vern Miyagi about repeated requests during planning sessions on the state's missile alert system to include a "deactivation section" after an alert is sent in case a missile is shot down or misses.

"Thought my request for a protocol was not based on a concern about human error, had the protocol been developed within the last two months, the delay yesterday would not have happened."….  

read … State releases hundreds of pages of communications related to false missile alert

Korematsu Overruled by 5-4 US Supreme Court

NYT:  In the annals of Supreme Court history, a 1944 decision upholding the forcible internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II has long stood out as a stain that is almost universally recognized as a shameful mistake. Yet that notorious precedent, Korematsu v. United States, remained law because no case gave justices an opportunity to overrule it.

But on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court’s conservative majority upheld President Trump’s ban on travel into the United States by citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. also seized the moment to finally overrule Korematsu.

“The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of presidential authority,” he wrote. Citing language used by then-Justice Robert H. Jackson in a dissent to the 1944 ruling, Justice Roberts added: “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — ‘has no place in law under the Constitution.’”…

read … Overruled

How Hawaii Governor Candidates Would Handle Burgeoning Pension Debt

CB: …None of the candidates have more experience addressing the pension and health care liabilities than David Ige.

He was chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee when the Legislature passed several measures that reformed the pension and health care programs and established payment plans for the programs. The bills did things like put a lid on increases in pension benefits until the system was fully funded; increased the retirement age and amounts employees had to contribute; and closed a loophole that employees used to boost their pensions by accruing overtime pay as retirement neared, among other things. Another bill effectively eliminated a practice known as pension spiking, which allows employees to game the system to boost their pensions.

Ige himself crafted legislation, enacted through a committee amendment, requiring government employers to pay the full amount of their health care benefit liability every year to get it under control.

Before the changes, the state was “one significant event” away from having liabilities that would be “unsustainable,” said Wes Machida, Ige’s former budget director and a former executive director of the pension fund.

The result benefits the state beyond insuring it can pay its obligation to retired government workers. Credit rating agencies have cited the measures when upgrading Hawaii’s credit rating, which allows the state to borrow money at a lower interest rate, and thus save money.

Several measures were introduced in the House by others as part of a package sponsored by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and the former governor told Civil Beat that Ige does not deserve credit for them. Still, the bills needed to go through Ige’s Ways and Means Committee. And Ige has been in charge of implementing the changes.

Machida also noted that Ige, as Ways and Means chair, was the main author of the legislation that helped get the health fund under control. Machida was running the pension system at the time, and Ige called Machida to his WAM office and picked his brain on how to get the woefully under-financed health plan caught up.

“I’m not telling you this because he (Ige) later made me part of his administration,” Machida said. “I’m telling you this because it’s a fact.”….

Hanabusa’s campaign declined repeated interview requests; however, from her record as a state legislator and from recent campaign statements, it appears that grappling with the state’s unfunded liabilities for government retirees has not been a priority.

Hanabusa played no part in the reforms to the pension and health benefits programs, for example. The Legislature began to make those changes in 2011, after Hanabusa stepped down as Senate President in 2010. Nor does Hanabusa’s campaign website identify getting a handle on the fiscal implications of government retirement programs as a priority….

Flashback: Act 100: How Hanabusa and Cayetano launched Hawaii Pension crisis

read … How Hawaii Governor Candidates Would Handle Burgeoning Pension Debt

Ruggles drops out of Puna council race

HTH: …Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles has withdrawn her candidacy for re-election, leaving two political newcomers as the voters’ choice for the District 5 council seat.

Because Ruggles withdrew after the deadline, her name will still be on the ballot, but her votes won’t be counted, said Hawaii County Clerk Stewart Maeda in a proclamation signed Friday

Ruggles’ request to withdraw came as special all-mail ballots were being prepared to be sent today to voters in Pahoa Community Center, 04-03, and Pahoa High/Intermediate School, 04-04. The state Elections Office opted for mail-in only ballots for those precincts because of the lava emergency.

Maeda said Ruggles’ announcement came in the nick of time to stuff a notice in the ballot envelopes.

Ruggles’ withdrawal came after the deadline to withdraw from the race. Withdrawals this late in the game are allowed only with a doctor’s note, under state law….

Remaining in the race are Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder and Frederic Ric Wirick.

Kanealii-Kleinfelder and Wirick, contacted for comment, said Ruggles’ announcement was unexpected, but their campaigns won’t change with her withdrawal.

“I don’t believe this was a campaign against Ruggles; I think it’s a campaign for the island,” Wirick, 57, said about his candidacy. “We need to get back to basics — improve our infrastructure and feed our people.”

Wirick is pushing for increased sustainable agriculture on the island by reforming laws and codes that work against farmers.

Kanealii-Kleinfelder, 37, said he’s running a proactive campaign as well, in his case, focusing on making the island a better place for the next generation….

“She was a very strong incumbent,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “We hope she is doing well and that whatever it is that is keeping her from running is not too serious.”

The first candidate forum of the election season is planned for 5 p.m. Friday at Hawaiian Shores Community Center, Wirick said…

read … Ruggles drops out of Puna council race

HB2729: Allow vaping for Marijuana—Ban it for Tobacco

SA:  …a delivery system with the ease of adjusting dosage that smoking provides, but that is more clinical and odor-free.

The legal availability of cannabis oil in cartridges used for vaping would seem to meet those requirements. A measure passed by lawmakers to make that happen, House Bill 2729, is poised to become law, which is a rational development.

The bill included other provisions as well, including establishing criteria for out-of-state cannabis patients and caregivers to be credentialed to purchase products at Hawaii dispensaries. This aspect also makes sense, given that strict safeguards, including requirements for equivalent medical-cannabis certification from the traveler’s own state, are in place.

HB 2729 is under review by Gov. David Ige who will decide whether to sign it or let it become law without his signature. The prospect of a veto appears to be off the table: Rightly, the governor has left the bill off his list of measures for which he’s retaining the option to veto.

Initially, the administration did have concerns about authorizing the vaping option. The state Department of Health has been executing a policy discouraging both tobacco smoking and e-cigarettes, and officials wanted to be sure this measure would not compromise that position.

In early testimony on the bill, health officials urged lawmakers to clarify the bill’s language to “ensure against the use of vaping devices for vaping or smoking of tobacco or tobacco products.”…

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

Big Q: What do you think of marijuana dispensaries selling cannabis cartridges for “vaping”?

read … Allow vaping for medical cannabis

City services, DMVs back up and running after daylong outage

HNN:  …The outage affected all city computers, except those used for 911 and other emergency services.

When the problems were in full swing, city Department of Information Technology Director Mark Wong said, "For all practical purposes, we are without computing services."

"Any of our users sitting at a desk, anything that’s on a server that has a person that needs to get on that server — printing, email getting to your files, all of those are currently unavailable."

The problem was caused by human error: A vendor working to upgrade a fire suppression system in the Fasi Municipal Building data center "moved a wire" about 9:15 a.m., which caused the power backup systems at the center to shut down.

One the power backup systems were tripped, backups took over.

And that's a problem: Since there was no actual outage, the systems began to fail as the batteries ran out.

The outage knocked out connectivity to a long list of city services. The problems also affected phone service, data storage system, city websites and services.

After power was restored about 10 a.m., telephone, servers and the mainframe came back up. But most everything else was still down.

Wong said that specialists were working to re-boot hundreds of different system in order to get them back online. And that took a fair bit of time….

KHON: City to double Saturday staff at some driver licensing centers, satellite city halls after outage

read … City services, DMVs back up and running after daylong outage

Biofuel Murders Orangutans

IM:  …Ethanol-to-electricity was proposed by Hawaiian Electric in 2005 as a way to jumpstart Hawai`i agriculture.

By the end of the year, HECO had switched to the idea of powering their proposed Campbell Industrial Park generation station with biodiesel.

In 2007 HECO proposed relying on Indonesian, Malaysian, and Borneo palm oil to make the biodiesel to fuel the new generator….

Back by more than a 100 local and global environmental, community, cultural and religious groups, Life of the Land was able to stop the palm oil proposal.

HECO instead went with (alleged) waste oil biodiesel imported from the continental U.S….

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) released a report today: “Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force”….

Given a certain global demand for vegetable oils, and the fact that the oil palm produces these oils more effectively than any other crop, there appears to be no straightforward way to phase out palm oil without incurring potentially more significant environmental and social impacts elsewhere from compensatory expansion of alternative oil crops.  (Translation: The only real solution is to stop using biofuel.)….

Lead author Erik Meijaard gave presentations at the International Primatological Society XXIII Congress, held in Kyoto, Japan, in 2010,  titled “Potential Influence of Palm Oil and Carbon Policies on Orangutan Conservation and Forest Cover”….  (Translation: Biofuel murders Orangutans.)

read … IUCN Issues Report on Palm Oil Sustainability

Haoles are Just Another Ethnic Voting Bloc

CB: …I was surprised recently when political analyst Dan Boylan said in a TV interview that Ed Case has an advantage by being the only haole in Hawaii’s crowded 1st Congressional District race — the urban Oahu district….

Political analysts here rarely give any attention to the white vote or speculate that being a haole might help put a candidate over the top. Instead, they tend to emphasize the Japanese-American vote, the Filipino-American vote or they wonder about where the Hawaiian vote will go.

On the mainland, white is a default identity. Caucasians seldom talk about their whiteness unless they are white nationalists or part of the alt-right….

Apparently I am not the only one pondering Boylan’s comment about Case’s haole advantage in the congressional race. I ran into Boylan at a party Thursday where he told me that after his TV comments, his biracial son, Peter, ended up having to defend him from critics who were calling him a racist.

Case says he was surprised by Boylan’s analysis.

“It frankly disturbed me. It was such a raw statement. It made me uncomfortable at best and at worst, offended,” said Case….

“At the end of the day, voters want to feel comfortable, to know the candidate is someone who understands them,” he said. “The voter wants to feel an initial bond deeper than issue agreement, a similarity, an emotional bonding. We all are conscious of our ethnicity, but I have never believed it to be a finishing point for a voter, just a starting point.”

Case acknowledges that some Hawaii voters still select their candidates solely by race, but he says as time goes on there is less purely ethnic voting….

Boylan says he stands by what he said on TV….“A lot of the voters are not thinking deeply about the issues,” Boylan said. “They are thinking: Whom do I feel good about; who do I like? Haoles will pick Case because they feel comfortable with him. I would like to think we never vote that way in a multiethnic society, but we always do. Japanese support Japanese; haoles support haoles, Chinese support Chinese.”

But woe to any candidate who makes a blatant racial appeal to voters, he says.  (Translation: All of this is being put out there to undermine Case.)

read …. Ethnic Politics

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