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Saturday, January 11, 2020
January 11, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:33 PM :: 1080 Views

Pine: High Profile Ousters Cast Shadow on Government Transparency

State spending cap is useless

Schatz Bill: Funnel Tax Credit Money to Pono Shim's LLC

Hawaii Family Advocates 2020 Public Policy Priorities

'Rest Stop' Serves Homeless 68,000 Times--Only 92 Accept Housing

Mayor Kim: Exempt Health Care from GE Tax

HTH: … Legislation tackling health-care costs, homelessness and cesspools are among six priorities identified by Mayor Harry Kim as the four county mayors head to Honolulu Wednesday to address legislative money committees.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee and House Finance Committee have scheduled a joint informational session at the state Capitol for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the opening day of the regular legislative session….

A top priority for Kim is helping to make health care more affordable by exempting private health-care providers from the general excise tax. Kim said a group of physicians visited him Monday and described their situation as dire. In fact, Kim said, he’d declared a health-care crisis in 2007 during an earlier term as mayor and held a health-care summit to try to work out solutions.

“I had 12 individuals coming in to say, ‘Harry, we are in a crisis.’ On top of that, they said it’s getting worse,” Kim said. “I’m embarrassed that I put it on a back burner. … Without a good health-care system, you don’t have community growth.”…

Managing Director Roy Takemoto unveiled Kim’s priorities Tuesday to the County Council Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development as part of what is slated to become monthly briefings to the council. Takemoto said the administration presented the priorities Monday to House Speaker Scott Saiki after communicating them to the committee chairmen.

Takemoto said the exemption could make a big difference to physicians, while not costing the state all that much in taxes.

“It’s very, very critical,” Takemoto said. “For a practice that’s just marginal, this makes a big difference. Already some medical expenses from the hospitals are exempt but this is extending the exemption to private medical practice.”

Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter hopes the exemption can go farther and also exempt equipment and supplies purchased by nonprofit federally qualified health centers.

“We need to look into how we can minimize or exempt the supplies and equipment that they purchase because what they’re purchasing to do their services, those people selling it to them are not exempt from the GET, so they have a rising cost so the health centers are having to absorb the rising cost of the GET expense,” Poindexter said. “Yes, we’ll be able to help the private sector, but also the most important places who provide services for uninsured, underinsured, Medicare, Medicaid population that’s the target population is going to be hit by this.”… 

PBN: Why Hawaii Island doctors are looking for tax relief

AP: Hawaii County Mayor Identifies 6 Legislative Priorities

Related: UH report shows more than 150 doctors left Hawaii in 2019

read … ‘Health-care collapse’ Kim’s top legislative priority

‘Affordable’ Housing on a Jail with Free Land and Tax Credits – $1,539/mo

SA: … Nearly a decade ago, an idea was broached for a 1.5-acre of underutilized state property in Pawaa: redevelop it to serve the dual needs of juvenile-rehab and affordable housing. That idea has now cleared a key vote, with the state Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. board approving a preliminary financing “intent” to provide over $80 million in a development partnership for an $89 million, 201-unit rental project. Hale Kalele’s affordable housing would be atop two floors of juvenile service facilities — a unique sharing of space that makes sense, since the Judiciary-owned site currently houses two worn building used for low-risk youth programs.

The parcel is bounded by Piikoi, Alder and Elm streets — and because it sits within a half-mile of the city’s planned Ala Moana rail station, the 20-story tower will be allowed to exceed the area’s height limit. Encouragingly, this is targeted for Hawaii’s workforce residents — unlike other projects dubiously approved using transit-oriented development exemptions.

MK Alder Street Partners LLLP will benefit from a $1 annual lease with the state, plus over $80 million in bonds, a loan and state and federal tax credits. Such a financial stack is what it takes, apparently, to deliver housing for households earning no more than 60% of Honolulu’s median income: about $57,840 for a couple, $72,300 for a family of four. Rents at these units would start at $1,213 for a 380-square-foot studio, $1,539 for two-bedroom units averaging 705 square feet….

read … Affordable

In trial for 4 arrested at Mauna Kea protest, prosecutors call TMT blockade ‘unjustified’

HNN: … prosecutors say the protesters held “Aole TMT” (or no TMT) signs and that they broke the law with a calculated plan: A blockade that included Hawaiian elders sitting in chairs across the road.

“These defendants may have have characterized their actions as kapu aloha and peaceful, but nonetheless it involved a plan, an organized plan, something that was calculated and basically something that was unjustified,” said deputy Attorney General Darrell Wong

But the defendants and their attorneys say it was government that blocked the activists from practicing their religion and culture, which is protected under the law.

Also on the stand today Friday was DOCARE’s Hawaii Island Branch Chief Lino Kamakau, who tried to negotiate with the kupuna to leave. He says he gave them several warnings before they were arrested.

read … In trial for 4 arrested at Mauna Kea protest, prosecutors call TMT blockade ‘unjustified’

Kelly King Installed Secret Spy Cameras in Council Chambers

MN: … An $8,000 project to install covert security cameras in the Council Chambers of the county building in order to monitor an active shooter or hostage situation was kept secret from most council members and the public, county officials said.

Four covert video recording cameras with no audio capabilities were installed briefly in Council Chambers late last year before being disconnected days later, council officials said.

However, then-Council Chairwoman Kelly King, who authorized the purchase order and was the sole member to have prior knowledge of the camera project, said Thursday that she was following recommendations from the Office of the County Clerk and the Office of Corporation Counsel’s Risk Management Division to assist law enforcement.

“The reason why I didn’t talk about it was because no one was supposed to know,” King said. “In a case that something happened, cameras would be first the thing shooters would take out.”

Current Chairwoman Alice Lee, King’s successor, said Thursday that “the rest of the council members were not aware of any of this.” The council as a whole now will decide what to do with the inactive cameras, she added….

read … Spy Cameras

Maui Council Chair King’s downfall was putting community over money

MN: … Among the top five objectives stated in the plan, responsible stewardship over natural resources was first, followed by preserving the unique identity of Maui, communities with diversity of housing maintaining rural ag lands and respecting the dignity of residents. Yet, rampant commercial and retail development rezoning of land to urban from ag continues at a furious pace. Luxury hotels and homes for wealthy Mainlanders continue to far outpace the housing needs of residents with average incomes. Affordable apartments aren’t even discussed….

read … King downfall was putting community over money

Dead Duckbill: Abandoned flood project in Hauula cost taxpayers $146K ... and flooding is still a problem

HNN: … Back in 2012, the city spent $128,000 to install what’s known as a duckbill valve system to ease the flooding along the Pokiwai Stream.

During heavy rains, the stream gets backed up by sand at the mouth, causing flooding in nearby homes and yards.

To prevent that, the duckbill system was supposed to transport excess streamwater to the ocean while blocking seawater and sand from flowing back into the stream.

Within months of its installation, the public outcry forced the city to dismantle the project, costing another $18,000.

“After we put it in we in, we were getting calls that it’s not working," Yonamine said.

“They felt the water was getting stagnant and they were having odor issues so they wanted the city to remove the duckbill.”….

read … Abandoned flood project in Hauula cost taxpayers $146K ... and flooding is still a problem

Soft on Crime: Gets Away With Murder, Kidnapping Because of ‘Major Depression’

HTH: …Chang’s crime spree started before dawn on Dec. 19, 2017, with police responding to a 5:39 p.m. report of a shooting on Nohea Street in Leilani Estates subdivision. Officers found the victim, Ralph Aviles Jr., then 25, with multiple gunshot wounds to his body.

Aviles told police he and Sandy Nasario, then 30, the mother of Chang’s four daughters, were tailed by a blue SUV driven by Chang. When both vehicles stopped, Chang and Aviles allegedly engaged in a confrontation that ended with Chang shooting Aviles several times.

Aviles is the son of retired professional boxer Ralph Aviles Sr., who was once the world’s third-ranked junior lightweight and a major draw as a main-event fighter at Honolulu’s Blaisdell Center Arena.

Police say after Chang shot Aviles, he ordered Nasario into Chang’s SUV.

Puna Patrol Officer Tristin Allen encountered the SUV turning into the driveway of a Leilani Avenue home, police said.

Gunshots coming from the home during the hourslong standoff caused more than $20,000 in damage to Allen’s Toyota 4Runner, according to a court document.

Allen wasn’t injured but was forced to leave his vehicle on the road and establish a perimeter with the assistance of other responding officers, police said.

If convicted of the first-degree attempted murder charge for shooting at Allen while the latter was on duty, Chang would’ve faced a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole….

(But here’s what happened instead….)

The judge ordered Chang transferred to the custody of the state Department of Health and set a status hearing for 9:30 a.m. April 3.

Chang did not make a statement during his sentencing hearing.

According to court minutes, psychiatrist Andrew Bisset testified on Nov. 22 that Chang was impaired by a major depressive order, and psychiatrist Henry Yang testified on Oct. 25 Chang’s depression rendered him incapable of determining the wrongfulness of his actions.

Psychologist Allison Gunderson disagreed, testifying on Nov. 22 that Chang’s cognitive and volitional functions weren’t substantially impaired by a physical or mental defect.

HTH: Next to Walk: Relatives of slain Eden Roc man flock to alleged killer’s hearing

read … Soft on Crime

Lawsuit: Police Beat up Legal Gun User

KGI: … Kauai police officers arrived at the property, pushed through the gate and approached the residence, where Gal came out to greet them “with the true belief that they would just ask him if he had fired shots, check his paperwork and leave,” according to the suit.

Gal had his pistol tucked into the waistband of his pants, so when one of the officers asked if he had a gun on him, he responded, “always.”

That’s when police then took Gal to the ground and placed him in handcuffs, a tactic that was entirely unnecessary, according to the complaint, which says the officers “could have and should have simply and politely” asked him to turn over the weapon.

“KPD police officers could have easily just put Mr. Gal’s hands behind his back and handcuffed him,” the lawsuit says, “and even that was not necessary,” because he was neither verbally or physically hostile or aggressive.

While he was on the ground, Gal spoke with the police for a few minutes, and the conversation became contentious, according to the suit, when Gal insisted that he had the right to be armed on his own land.

The complaint says one of the officers aggressively stood Gal up and forcefully walked him outside the gate to his property, where he forced him to take a couple steps backward and “purposely tripped him with his left foot,” pushing Mr. Gal to the ground.

Gal, still handcuffed, had no ability to break his fall, and when he hit the ground, the complaint says he “felt a terrible sharp burning” in his lower back, rib cage and neck. The officers checked Gal’s gun permits and animal-eradication permit, took his cuffs off, returned his belongings and left.

Gal was not arrested or charged with anything, but his lawsuit alleges he suffered serious physical and emotional damages during the altercation with police.

In the complaint, Gal lists numerous, permanent injuries caused by the incident, including a fractured spine in multiple locations and nerve damage resulting in randomly tearing in the eyes, erectile dysfunction and “random, no-reason sweating, tingling feet,” leaving him in “constant, severe pain.” ….

read … Farmer sues police

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