Remembering Senator Fred Rohlfing, Republican Reformer
Sex Harassment: New House Rules "add another layer of silence"
Feds to PUC: Stop Approving Bat-Killing Windfarms without Endangered Species Permits
HECO Pushing Seven Giant Battery Farms
Hawaii 4th-Fewest Families with Young Children
Keli'i Akina Interviews Environmental Watchdog Caroll Cox
Rep Ward Calls for Second Trump-Kim Summit to be held at Waikiki
Auditor Follows up on Foundation for Culture and Arts
Hawaii Still Paying Out Millions for Act 215/221 Hi Tech Tax Credit Scams
CB: …Even though the Legislature eliminated the High Technology Business Investment Tax Credit in 2009, taxpayers shelled out $16.3 million for the credit in 2016, the latest year for which data were available from the Hawaii Department of Taxation. Among credits for economic development, only Hawaii’s renewable energy and motion picture tax credits cost the state more.
The state still pays out tax credits for the expired program because the law setting up the high-tech credits allowed investors to invest money and then hold on to the credits indefinitely before redeeming them.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” Greg Kim, a Honolulu attorney who works with startups, said of the technology tax credit….
Kim, who has spent decades helping fledgling companies in Silicon Valley and Hawaii, said he knows of only one of the qualified high-tech businesses that’s still around from the early days,….
Background: DoTax Report Reveals Tax Credits Claimed by Hawaii Taxpayers
read … This Long-Expired High-Tech Tax Credit Is Still Costing Hawaii Millions
BoE Secretly Votes to Extend Kishimoto Contract
SA: … The state Board of Education last month voted behind closed doors to extend Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s contract by one year, but a question has arisen about whether the action was proper.
In a statement issued Monday, the board said it is working with the state Attorney General’s Office “to review our procedures and address a technical issue raised after the meeting to ensure that the necessary administrative rules and protocols were followed.”
It’s unclear what the technical issue is or whether another vote will be needed. But the Dec. 21 contract vote in executive session was consistent with past practices, the statement said.
According to the memo, posted on the state Department of Education’s website, the board determined that Kishimoto’s performance of professional standards and priorities has been “effective” overall. The board rated her “effective” in all areas, except ethical leadership, where it rated her as “highly effective.”…
The memo added that the board would consider an extension of the employment contract. It did not say, however, that the extension had been granted.
Details of the new contract were not immediately available Monday night, according to the department’s communication office.
According to Kishimoto’s original employment contract, she is eligible for incentive bonuses on top of her annual $240,000 base salary. But any performance-based incentive payments cannot exceed a $250,000 salary cap.
The contract calls for annual reviews of performance to determine any incentive payments, which are tied in part to progress made toward goals and objectives in the board and department’s joint strategic plan.
The strategic plan, which spans the duration of Kishimoto’s original contract, from 2017 to 2020, sets out goals for graduating more students, enrolling more graduates in college, retaining more teachers and improving test scores, among other things….
read … Question arises about vote on schools superintendent
Teacher turnover at highest rate
KITV: Teacher turnover is at its highest rate since 2001. In Hawaii, only 50% of teachers hired 5 years ago are still in the classroom….
"Special ed is a severe problem, we are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Teachers and parents are aware we cannot provide the services because we don't have enough qualified teachers to provide the service," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee….
"You could say we are time bomb waiting to happen but we are already there. There are over 1,000 classrooms on a daily basis without a qualified teacher," added Rosenlee….
read … Teacher turnover at highest rate
DLNR funds mishandled, audit finds
SA: … The January report by Auditor Les Kondo also raised questions about whether state ethics and procurement laws were violated by the department when it issued three consecutive purchase orders for $4,999.50 each, just 50 cents below the threshold requiring compliance with small- purchase procurement regulations. The three orders went to a consultant already on contract for the agency.
Auditors attempted to question the consultant about the purchase orders, but he refused to cooperate, leading Kondo’s office to issue a subpoena, according to the report….
The consultant, David Penn, eventually was hired as the program administrator or specialist, according to Case….
Among the audit’s other findings:
>> In a majority of cases, the department could not produce documents that grant recipients are required to file every two years to ensure the acquired property is being used in accordance with contract requirements and continues to serve the conservation purposes for which the grant was awarded.
>> The program failed to encumber money for approved projects on a timely basis, resulting in $2.2 million in lapsed funds.
>> Money languishes in the conservation fund because the program does not monitor grant awards to ensure projects are completed in a timely fashion.
>> The department erroneously paid administrative fees of nearly $685,000 to another state agency in FY 2016 and 2017, reducing what was available to fund projects in those years.
“It goes from worse to worst,” Donna Wong, executive director of Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, an environmental and conservation advocacy group, said of the audit’s findings….
SA Editorial: DLNR program needs tune-up
Background: Auditor: Conveyance Tax Money Misspent by DLNR
read … DLNR funds mishandled, audit finds
MADD’s New Target Is Drugged Driving
CB: … MADD’s commitment apparently helped, because alcohol-related deaths in Hawaii have gone down by more than 50 percent, according to the state Department of Transportation. But a more complex problem threatens road safety: drivers impaired by drugs.
For the first time this year, MADD Hawaii will be making a full-force effort to join the Honolulu Police Department and the DOT in a directed crusade to reduce fatalities from drugged driving.
“As we are seeing alcohol-caused fatal crashes decrease, we are seeing an increase in deaths caused by drug-impaired drivers, especially young drivers,” says McNamee.….
In 2016, the last year statistics were collected and confirmed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 52 out of 120 — or 43 percent — of drivers and passengers who died in Hawaii traffic accidents had illegal drugs in their systems (substances that appear on the list of controlled substances).
Drivers ages 16 to 45 are the most represented in Hawaii’s drugged driving deaths. And according to the state Department of Health’s trauma registry, marijuana was the most prevalent substance for which the fatally injured drivers in this age group tested positive….
read … MADD’s New Target Is Drugged Driving
Teen dies while scuba diving, company linked to a previous incident
KHON: … Saturday's scuba diving death off Maunalua Bay in East Honolulu shocked some in the diving community.
Some were surprised because the company the boy went out with has had trouble in the water before.
The teen was part of a dive tour with Island Divers. The same company that was involved in the 2016 death of a diver who was found unresponsive in waters off Kahala….
Representatives from Island Divers have not commented on what led to Saturday's death. They told prospective divers, that the incident happened because the boy, who was on a tour was, "doing his own thing."….
HNN: 13-year-old who died after Oahu dive incident identified as visitor from Mongolia
read … Teen dies while scuba diving, company linked to a previous incident
Nearly 2,000 businesses affected by Maui's new foam container ban
KITV: …Businesses now have to get a special sign allowing them to sell the last of their stock….
read … Nearly 2,000 businesses affected by Maui's new foam container ban
Filmmaker Settles Lawsuit After Hawaii Grants Him Tax Credits
CB: …A producer who alleged the Hawaii Film Office unlawfully withheld tax credits from his production because the office’s manager didn’t like the content of his movie has settled a lawsuit against the state.
Tim Chey, producer and director of a historical drama about Hawaii’s Chiefess Kapiolani, said the office has awarded him 100 percent of the credits he sought.
“I’m glad to have resolved the issues with the Hawaii Film Office and looking forward to release of this important movie,” Chey said….
Background: Filmmaker Sues Hawaii: My Film Is ‘Not The History They Want Told’
read … Filmmaker Settles Lawsuit After Hawaii Grants Him Tax Credits
Trip to Hawaii reveals rusting wind turbines
AT: … When I asked about the wind turbines that rest silent and unmoving on the jetties close to the rugged seashores of the mountains, he responded with the following statement.
“We are more concerned with the ecology of our island than of wind energy. We have two species of bats that near extinction. That is more important to our people.”
He continued, “I am not an expert of wind turbines, but I do know they were installed around 2008, and they did not prove to be as efficient as they were advertised to be.”….
Related: Broken promises: The rusting wind turbines of Hawaii
read … Trip to Hawaii reveals rusting wind turbines
Hundreds of volunteers still needed for homeless count
HNN: … Two weeks before the state’s annual homeless “point-in-time” count, officials say they’re still short hundreds of volunteers.
Starting Jan. 22, teams will canvass the state to tally Hawaii’s homeless population.
The annual count is a federal requirement. Results are tied to money that will go towards combating the statewide crisis — so accuracy is critical.
However, officials say they still need about 250 volunteers.
In particular, they’re looking for people who are familiar with Waianae, Oahu’s North Shore and central Oahu….
If you would like to register as count volunteer, click here. Every volunteer must attend a training session….
read … Hundreds of volunteers still needed for homeless count
Got $1.3M – Buy Kealoha Home (mailbox not included)
AP: … A judge allowed the lender to sell the four-bedroom home in Hawaii Kai, an upscale neighborhood.
The listing says the home “captures island living” with custom travertine floors, renovated kitchen and heated pool.
An open house is scheduled for Sunday….
Listing: Balcony over pool to watch your wife relaxing with her boyfriend/s
read … Ex-Honolulu police chief’s home for sale during foreclosure
Obama, Pelosi Hype Birtherism Again
Obama is empowered by birtherism because it makes his opponents look like idiots. Therefore he brings it up again and again.
Un, Trump Coming to Hawaii Next?
CNN: …Bangkok, Hanoi and Hawaii have been visited by White House scouting teams as they search for a location for a potential second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, according to a source familiar with the planning process.
On Sunday, Trump said that the US is "negotiating a location" for a second summit with Kim and the two had spoken "indirectly."….
read … US scouts Bangkok, Hanoi and Hawaii as possible locations for Kim-Trump summit