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Tuesday, July 03, 2018
July 3, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:14 PM :: 1916 Views

ACLU Demands Pahoa Voters be Allowed to Register and Vote in Person on Election Day

Reorganizing the HTA

Ige Appoints Four New Members to HTA Board

Hawaii Congressional Delegation--How They Voted July 2, 2018

HART Seeks Applicants to Fill Board Vacancy 

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Individual Income Taxes?

Designed to Fail: Local 5 Pushing Subprime Mortgage Scheme

UH Cancer Center Keeps National Cancer Institute designation

Hanabusa: Elect Me and I Will Build Massive Festering Homeless Tent Cities Everywhere

SA:  The state Legislature approved $30 million this year to create ohana zones — legalized homeless camps. The funding allocation was hailed by legislative leaders as a major step toward addressing the state’s ongoing homeless problem in which an estimated 3,500 people remain unsheltered statewide.

But how — or whether — that money is used will largely depend on who is elected governor in November. The two major contenders for the office — Gov. David Ige and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, both Democrats — have staked out opposing positions on the issue.

Ige has said in recent days that his administration will not build ohana zones, also known as safe zones. He said they haven’t worked in the past, go against national best practices and could cost as much as or more than permanent housing solutions.

“It doesn’t help to reduce homelessness. Safety and security is an issue and a problem, and it gets very expensive. In many instances the actual cost per individual in the safe zones are actually very similar or even higher than costs for programs that have a proven track record of working,” Ige told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser in an interview Friday. “So we are focused on those programs that really move homeless individuals into permanent housing, rather than safe zones that don’t work.”

While the public may be on board with legalized homeless camps in theory, it becomes a much thornier political issue when discussions turn to where the government should locate the camps, how many people they should support and what type of infrastructure and services should be provided. Early sites that were scoped by a working group included residential areas in Kaimuki and Pupukea and at Wallace Beach Park in Hale­iwa.

Hanabusa declined to be interviewed for this story in recent days….

Hanabusa also didn’t respond to specific questions about where the ohana zones might be located if she becomes governor or whether she had a vision for what the homeless encampments would look like. But her campaign did release a statement Sunday reiterating her support for the camps….

read … Top gubernatorial candidates differ on ohana zones

Grants in Aid: Kidani, Yamane, Maluafiti Send Themselves $126K

CB: …Over the past few years, the Hawaii Legislature has approved several hundred thousand dollars in grants-in-aid to an animal nonprofit that has two state lawmakers on its board of directors, according to tax forms and government records.

Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani and Rep. Ryan Yamane did not disclose their ties to Poi Dogs & Popoki before voting in April on the overall budget bill, which included another $126,000 in grant money for the group, according to the House and Senate journals….

A similar issue arose in 2014 when the Legislature awarded a $100,000 grant-in-aid to a nonprofit headed by Rep. Rida Cabanilla to clean up a plantation cemetery. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration did not release the funding though because the Ewa Historical Society had lost its tax-exempt status.

The grant process is competitive and the decision-making process murky. Some 270 nonprofits applied for grants-in-aid in January. The applications are posted online, and it notes Yamane and Kidani as board members. …

Poi Dogs & Popoki President Alicia Maluafiti had asked for $141,500 to continue the nonprofit’s work spaying and neutering cats and dogs. She received $190,000 in 2016 for a mobile pet wellness clinic and $200,000 in 2014 for facility renovations. The group also receives grant money from the county and private donations.

Maluafiti does the work on a volunteer basis. Her day job is a lobbyist for biotech firms, pesticide companies and property-management groups.

Last legislative session, Maluafiti worked the Capitol halls on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, CropLife America, Owners of Ilikai Apartment Building, Automotive Body and Painting Association of Hawaii and Associa, where Kidani has worked as a community relations manager.

There are other lobbyists on the Poi Dogs & Popoki board of directors, including Richard Emery of Hawaii First and Blake Oshiro of Capitol Consultants.

Maluafiti is also running for election this year. She’s enlisted Kidani’s support in her bid to win the open Senate seat representing Ewa in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary….

Maluafiti’s top opponent is Rep. Matt LoPresti…

read … How Capitol Connections Helped A Nonprofit Win A State Grant

Trump Revokes Obama’s Anti-Asian School Admissions Policy

SA: The Trump administration is rescinding Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools to take a student’s race into account in order to promote diversity in admissions, a U.S. official said today.

The shift would give schools and universities the federal government’s blessing to take a race-neutral approach to students they consider for admission.

The action comes amid a high-profile court fight over admission at Harvard University as well as Supreme Court turnover expected to produce a more critical eye toward schools’ affirmative action policies….

Dec 12, 2017: How Affirmative Action Hurts Asian-Americans in College Admissions

read … Trump to revoke Obama policy factoring race in school admissions

Feds: Honolulu Rail Is Still Short By $134 Million

CB: Honolulu rail officials’ current $8 billion construction budget — their magic number to get all the way to Ala Moana — is still short by $134 million, a new federal report finds.

Jacobs Engineering, the independent firm watching rail for the Federal Transit Administration, recommends that Honolulu rail officials add that amount to ensure the full 20-mile, 21-station system gets completed.

Further, rail probably won’t be finished and ready for service until September 2026, Jacobs found. That’s nearly a another full year on top of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s current completion estimate of December 2025.

Jacob’s final “risk-refresh” report, released today, analyzes how solid HART’s $8.16 billion budget really is.  A new report for Honolulu rail is done every two years.

The latest one follows reports in April that the project’s federal overseers believed the project to be about $250 million short. Since then, HART leaders have testified to City Council members that they were confident they had convinced the FTA that the local agency’s current, $8.16 billion estimate is solid.….

read … Still Short

Honolulu rail’s price tag now estimated at $8.3 billion, up $100 million

PBN: The latest report on the city’s troubled rail project by independent oversight consultant Jacobs Engineering Group estimates the project will cost $8.3 billion, a $100 million increase from the current estimate.

Damien Kim, chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said the new estimate is good news since it’s not much higher than the $8.2 billion that HART has been projecting the 20-mile, East Kapolei-to-Ala Moana Center line will cost, before financing costs.

Using a different method to estimate construction costs, the Jacobs report “shows HART has gained control of the projects costs,” Kim said in a statement. “HART has already implemented several of the report’s recommendations and has plans to address the others.”….

read … $100M

Sen. Espero To Gov. Ige: ‘Huge Mistake’ To Veto Police Board

CB: …Police corruption and misconduct have been in the news for several years now. While most officers are law-abiding professionals respected by the public. I believe HB 2071 will help restore faith and confidence back to law enforcement given that we have had high profile corruption cases and convictions in our state. A review of our recruitment, education, training, and supervision of law enforcement is in order….

Totally Related: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President

read … Sen. Espero To Gov. Ige: ‘Huge Mistake’ To Veto Police Board

Last call today for changes to Maui County Charter

MN: …In addition to the county manager proposal, other possible amendments include establishing an Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency and a Department of Land Management and deleting the requirement of the council having to approve the removal of the director of Water Supply.

Last month, the committee agreed to recommend for approval three proposed charter amendments.

One would establish a $20,000 penalty for illegal transient accommodations and another amendment would streamline the processing of claims against the county. The third proposed amendment calls for expanding the uses of the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to include safety and security improvements on lands acquired through the fund.

All three resolutions are up for first reading at the Friday’s council meeting….

read … Last call today for changes to charter

Sunscreen Ban Based on Junk Science

KGI … scientists, health associations and ocean experts say an oxybenzone ban isn’t going to be the silver bullet for the problems with Hawaii’s coral reefs — and that they think there might not be enough evidence to enact a ban at all.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association said the ban is “based on weak science,” will remove about 70 percent of sunscreen products from shelves and is more likely to increase the number of people who don’t use sun protection when they go to Hawaii.

“This irresponsible action will make it more difficult for families to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays,” said the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in a statement about the ban.

The CHPA spokesman continued: “This ban also avoids the real causes of coral decline according to scientists in Hawaii and around the world: global warming, agricultural runoff, sewage, and overfishing. This ban creates false hope that banning sunscreen will restore the health of coral reef around the Hawaiian Islands.”

Ige is scheduled to sign Bill 2571 into law today and if it’s signed, the ban will go into effect January 2021….

read … Sunscreen and science

Gap widens between arrivals and hotel occupancy: is Airbnb the reason?

PBN: …While visitor arrivals increased seven percent in May, hotel occupancy only rose 1.5 percentage points to 79.5 percent when compared to last year, hinting at the growing popularity of alternative accommodations in the Islands.

Year-do-date figures also echo this trend: arrivals are up 8.4 percent through May, while hotel occupancy is up 1.8 percentage points when compared to the same period last year.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority discussed this trend during last week’s board meeting, with board Chairman Rick Fried suggesting vacation rental platforms, such as Airbnb, to be the cause to the widening gap.

Sean Dee, HTA board member and an executive vice president at Outrigger Enterprises Group, said it was “the biggest gap” he has seen reported.

“As we prepare to go into the next legislative session, this trend is something we need to pay attention to and monitor,” Dee said. “Part of our role is to create awareness of this because a big chunk of that [gap] is not paying TAT.”…

read … Gap widens between arrivals and hotel occupancy: is Airbnb the reason?

Hawaii officials eye a new approach to tourism

HNN: Four local experts on tourism are suggesting it’s time for complete rethink of how Hawaii manages its top industry — and officials are listening.

Consulting economist Paul Brewbaker and tourism consultants Frank Haas, John Knox and James Mak, all well known in the Hawaii business community for their expertise on the subject, want the state to work for well-managed tourism, not merely market the destination.

George Szigeti, outgoing CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, told Hawaii News Now he agrees.

“The new person coming in will have to really look in a new direction to re-pivot this and how we manage the destination,” he told Sunrise Monday.

The four experts made their points to the Hawaii Economics Association.

Then, last Thursday, they found themselves invited to give the same presentation to Gov. David Ige.

Tourism numbers look superficially good: Ever more visitors paying ever higher room rates.

But the four say the cash flow isn’t as good when you account for inflation, and it comes at the cost of pressure on the environment and taxing the patience of residents.

In 1955, the average stay was 25 days, Paul Brewbaker says. Now, “it’s eight or nine days if we’re lucky.”

Put another way, Hawaii depends on a larger number of people to produce a given number of vacation days.

That’s why Hanauma Bay has to be closed once a week, and park rangers recently created a reservations list to see the sunrise from Haleakala.

Tourism benefits the state by providing tens of thousands of tourism jobs, many of them union jobs with good wages and benefits. But constrained inventory and high room rates have driven many visitors to alternative lodgings that don’t support those jobs.

Despite record tourism numbers, “it’s been almost 30 years since tourism actually had a record year, by constant dollar tourism receipts,” Brewbaker said. “Tourism today is the same economic size as it was in 1989.”….

PBN: Does the leadership change at the HTA have you worried about the agency's direction?

read … Hawaii officials eye a new approach to tourism

Charter School Principal Calls It Quits After A Year

CB: …The principal of one of Hawaii’s newest charter schools resigned Monday amid ongoing struggles with teacher turnover and staff morale.

Kamalani Academy in Wahiawa opened in August. In its inaugural year, more than half of Kamalani’s 14 teachers left the school.

The school’s governing board informed staff and parents of Jeff Vilardi’s resignation in an email Monday. Amanda Langston, the school’s student services coordinator, will take over as interim principal.…

read … Charter School Principal Calls It Quits After A Year

Soft on Crime: Police searching for man with 17 prior convictions after parole violation

HNN: …Police are looking a man wanted for violating parole.

CrimeStoppers is looking for 28-year-old Kainoa Ah Mook Sang. Police say he has 17 prior convictions.

Ah Mook Sang was among six people arrested in May 2010 in connection with a violent home invasion that left four injured. …

read … Police searching for man with 17 prior convictions after parole violation

State Religion Celebrates Sinners’ $0.15 Tithe

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