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Saturday, February 15, 2020
February 15, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 1294 Views

After Refusing to Supply Records, OHA Sues State Auditor

More 'Sacred' Trash at Mauna Campsite

Office of Mauna Kea Management Cleans Mountain (again)

Hawaii Carbon Tax Would Be a Big Burden for Families and Businesses

Meatless Mondays in Hawaii Schools? -- Politicized Veganism Threatens Human Health

127 Candidates File for Election

Ige to Select Nominee for 3rd Circuit Court Hilo

HSTA Big Idea:  Tax Housing to …uh … Make Housing Affordable

PBN: … editor Janis Magin reached out to Hawaii State Teachers Association president Corey Rosenlee for comment, and I’m mystified by his response.

“Giving the Board of Education authority over taxation is common practice across the United States, and it is how many systems pay for their schools," he said.

Rosenlee must not have much faith in his union’s product if thinks Hawaii residents are too poorly educated to know that this is because Hawaii is the only state in America that runs education as a function of state, not county, government. As a consequence, our board and department of education have something no other public schools in the country have: their hand in every paycheck issued in the Islands, in every general excise tax transaction.

The DOE’s budget is $2.1 billion, supplemented by a separate $559 million Capital Improvement Program budget, per hawaiipublicschools.org. Of that, 82% comes from the state’s general fund, nearly 13% from federal funding, 4% from state special funds and just under 1% from trust funds.

Proponents of the teacher tax are going to have to answer some big question, like:

The state employs about 73,000 people, of which HSTA’s 13,700 members are just under 19%. Why is it necessary to amend the constitution, alter the relationship between the state and county governments, and add a new tax burden on all homeowners just to pay this one category of employee more? No one doubts teachers are important, but are they more important than, say, the state’s public health employees now scrambling to protect us from coronavirus? Its public safety employees? Why shouldn’t they each have independent taxing authority?

How does raising the cost of housing with a new property tax help teachers afford the cost of housing? Doesn’t this idea cancel itself out? Or is the expectation that teachers will get more in raises than they’ll pay in property taxes, subsidized by all the homeowners who are not teachers?

And what about those other homeowners? According to the ALICE Report, and the data on people fleeing Hawaii by the thousands, many of them are struggling to afford a home, too. What’s fair about making home ownership more expensive for them?

What about the role of Legislature and the Governor? We elect these people to represent us and ensure that government services are accountable. Budgeting authority is one of their tools to deliver that accountability. If this one category of state worker is given direct taxing authority, how much less responsive will they be to public input? Is the Board of Education more, or less, useful an authority than the core branches of government?

Why is state government so incapable of providing raises for teachers without this new tax? The state’s total annual operating budget, as of fiscal year 2021, is $16 billion. That’s $1.1 million dollars for each of the 13,700 teachers it employs. And we’re being told, in all seriousness, in the most dire language, that absolutely none of that money can be moved from other departments or priorities to teacher salaries?

That’s incredible, in the literal sense of the word. It’s an argument that lacks credibility. Unless it’s true that the legislative and executive branches are now useless for their basic functions….

read … Pupu Platter 196: Questions on teacher tax

SB2793: Decriminalize Methamphetamines, Heroin, Cocaine

SA: … It would be a misdemeanor — and no longer a Class C felony — to possess less than 2 grams of a “dangerous drug” such as methamphetamine, heroin, morphine and cocaine under a bill that passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Senate Bill 2793 would create a new misdemeanor offense of promotion of a dangerous drug in the fourth degree.

According to SB 2793, “Enforcement of the offense of promotion of a dangerous drug in the third-degree costs state taxpayers over $13 million each year…”

The bill was supported by Kauai’s prosecuting attorney and opposed by the state attorney general, prosecuting attorneys on Maui and Honolulu, the Maui and Hawaii island police departments and Circuit Judge Shirley Kawamura.

Supporters of SB 2793 include the state public defender, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Libertarian Party of Hawaii and the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii.

Following a hearing Friday, SB 2793 was amended to increase the amount of drugs that would be included in the new fourth-degree possession class — 2 grams from one-sixteenth of an ounce….

Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors wrote that the bill would apply retroactively and convert felony convictions into misdemeanor convictions.

Connors agreed with Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto, who testified in person that drug defendants are offered multiple opportunities and programs to avoid criminal convictions — along with probation even before going to prison….

Kenneth Bugado Jr., Hawaii County’s deputy police chief, wrote to the Judiciary Committee that methamphetamine, cocaine, morphine and heroin are highly addictive and “often directly responsible for thefts, robberies, and assaults on members of our community.”

He also wrote that “many of the homeless persons that my officers encounter are either under the influence of dangerous drugs, have dangerous drugs in their possession or are homeless due to their addiction to dangerous drugs.”… 

KITV: Bill in Hawaii's Senate would make possessing under two grams of a "dangerous drug" a misdemeanor. 

HNN: Lawmakers consider reducing penalties for small amounts of dangerous drugs

read … Hawaii bill would decriminalize small amounts of ‘dangerous’ drugs

Police Confiscate Gun Stash from Halfway House for Ex-Cons

KITV: … People on Pele Street were surprised to hear about the amount of guns discovered in a halfway house near Punchbowl and Vineyard, but they were more shocked to find out who owns them.

Honolulu Police SWAT team collected about 30 firearms and ammunition, including rifles and what looked like a machine gun, from a 90-year-old priest -- Father Richard Rubie -- a World War II veteran. He lives in the shelter and has run the ministry there for more than two decades for the St Francis of Assisi Celtic Catholic Church.

"The people who come to this house, they are from prison, on parole, they have murder, they have rape, they're on drugs, that's my call to help those people," Rubie said….

Apaisa said Rubie has threatened neighbors, so he filed a temporary restraining order. He says he saw a gun handle in Rubie's jacket and claims Rubie made a hand gesture of shooting a gun at him. …

The TRO search warrant was executed -- and by law -- any person subject to such an order must give up possession of any firearm and ammunition to police. 

"It's just scary. I'm glad they did that. Because I don't know how he would be," said Ann McCleary, who's lived at the shelter for more than 5 years. "I think he has dementia….”

ILind: Informative discussion of Hibiscus Drive incident from an unusual source

read … 90-year-old priest and war veteran ordered to give up guns amid dispute with residents of transitional shelter

SB2697: REIT Tax is Back

CB: … The Senate Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to hear Senate Bill 2697 on Tuesday.

It would disallow dividend deduction for real estate investment trusts — that is, it would allow the state of Hawaii to impose corporate income taxes on REITs.

HB 2697 is very similar to Senate Bill 301, which called for the same thing in the 2019 Hawaii Legislature. It was vetoed by Gov. David Ige.

The new bill has the same author — Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran…

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Again Considering Taxing Income On REITs

AG Debunks Protesters’ Latest Lawsuit

HTH: … The office of the state attorney general responded late Thursday to a lawsuit by three Native Hawaiians challenging the state’s jurisdiction over the Maunakea Access Road.

A statement by Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, argued that the issues raised by the lawsuit have already been conclusively settled.

“There is no competent claim – legal or otherwise – that Mauna Kea Access Road is under the control and jurisdiction of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands,” the statement read. “The Department of Transportation has control and jurisdiction over all state highways, including Mauna Kea Access Road, which is designated to DOT’s State Highway System as Route 210.

“Moreover, all claims related to the utilization of DHHL property for public roads and highways were resolved by Act 14 (1995). To the extent there remain any outstanding issues regarding compensation pursuant to Act 14, DHHL and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) are in discussion.”…

Feb 13, 2020: Telescope Protesters Sue State (again)

read … State AG responds to lawsuit

Hawaii Police Shootings Review Board Finally Releases Its First Decision

CB: … Two years after it was created by the Legislature, the state’s police fatalities board has released the findings in its first case to the public.

The board unanimously recommended against prosecuting three Big Island police officers who in July 2018 shot and killed a murder suspect after he fired at them while hiding underneath a blanket in the bed of a pickup truck.

The officers were part of a team working a checkpoint and screening vehicles for Justin Waiki, who was suspected in the murder of Hawaii County police officer Bronson Kaliloa.

The Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review Board, which reviews police actions resulting in fatalities and makes recommendations to state prosecutors, decided at a public meeting last month to release the recommendation in its entirety. The report was dated March 19, 2019 — nearly one year ago.

The report details the events surrounding the officer-involved shooting and discusses the basis for the board’s decision to recommend against prosecution.

The board, created in 2017, had been hung up about whether and under what circumstances its recommendations and the investigative materials it used should be made public….

read … Hawaii Police Shootings Review Board Finally Releases Its First Decision

More Homeless Mayhem: Paia Murder, Kidnapping, Arson

MN: … Police opened a murder and kidnapping investigation after Blair’s severely beaten body was discovered at about 12:30 p.m. Feb. 1 in the area of Holomua Road and Baldwin Avenue. Officers later found that a vehicle owned by Blair had been set on fire at another location in Paia.

William Douglas Allen, 39, whom police described as a suspect, was arrested at about 6 p.m. the same day when an off-duty police sergeant saw Allen in the Paia municipal parking lot and called police dispatch, police said….

After being arrested, Allen, who is homeless, was released pending further investigation of second-degree murder, first-degree arson and kidnapping, police records show. But he continued to be held at the Maui Community Correctional Center in lieu of $500,000 bail after also being arrested on warrants in a probation-violation case.

On Friday afternoon, Furtado said she learned from the Maui County prosecutor’s office that the murder case against Allen was proceeding….

About a year-and-a-half ago, he moved back to Maui, Furtado said.  … Furtado said she thought Blair was staying at a safe location in the dirt parking lot near the Paia Youth & Cultural Center because other people also camped there. She said she heard that was where her son’s white van was found burned….

read … Family of beating victim, 20, demands justice

Big Fat Raises for Maui County Execs

MN: … The mayor’s pay was last increased July 1, 2016, by 12 percent to $151,979.

Council members and chairperson last saw a raise in 2013, when their pay was hiked 15 percent to current rates. Council members earn $76,475 with the chair receiving $82,225….

…old salaries and the 2 percent increase approved by the Salary Commission on Friday retroactive to Jan. 1….

  • Department of the Corporation Counsel  Corporation counsel $146,575 $149,507  First deputy $139,246 $142,031
  • Environmental Management  Director $143,409 $146,277  Deputy $129,069 $131,650
  • Finance  Director $135,052 $137,753  Deputy $121,546 $123,977
  • Housing and Human Concerns  Director $131,602 $134,234  Deputy $118,442 $120,811
  • Management  Director $145,798 $148,714  Deputy $131,218 $133,842
  • Parks and Recreation  Director $132,398 $135,046  Deputy $119,159 $121,542
  • Planning  Director $134,654 $137,347  Deputy $121,189 $123,613
  • Prosecuting Attorney  Prosecutor $146,575 $149,507  First Deputy $139,246 $142,031
  • Public Works  Director $143,409 $146,277  Deputy $129,069 $131,650
  • Transportation  Director $123,908 $126,386  Deputy $111,517 $113,747
  • Water Supply  Director $139,961 $142,760  Deputy $124,927 $127,426

read … Most Maui County directors to receive 2 percent salary increase

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