GMO Moratorium Shuts Down Farms for Over 2 Years
Dear Editor, October 17, 2014
The GMO initiative states that the moratorium will last “until such time that the terms of the Moratorium Amendment or Repeal" (Section 6.) have been met.”
If the terms are to be met, then this means the GMO grower has 90 days to provide money for a study, (no dollar amount is given) then the County must appoint 1) a JFFG Committee of experts, 2) an unbiased expert professional consultant, est. 60 days, 3) allow 30 days for public input, 4) allow 18 months or 540 days to complete the study, 5) allow 90 days for public input on the completed study, and 6) allow at least 30 days to evaluate the public input before publishing the final study.
From the above, the total minimum number of days to complete such a study would be 840 days, or 2.34 years.
All the above must be done before the moratorium can be removed, if approved by the Council.
And they call this a temporary moratorium.
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Ohana Means Being Prepared Together
Dear Editor: October 15, 2014
Our islands are vulnerable to natural disaster and emergencies can happen at anytime. As a 20-year Waikiki Resident and long time caregiver to our Kupuna and individuals with disabilities I'd like to encourage all of us to take a few minutes to check-in on our neighbors during the present threat of hurricane Ana. (or anytime a warning alarm is sounded) By doing so together, we can help our neighbors with physical limitations cope, feel protected and be better prepared. Being proactive in caring for our aging population and each other keeps all of Hawaii's residents safer.
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Punatics Always Wrong
Dear Editor: October 14, 2014
So let me get this straight: The geothermal plant in Puna leaks fumes for a short period of time and 100 Puna residents complain of "lethargy".
It's Puna, how can they tell?
This was during an active hurricane, levels on site never exceeded allowed limits, NO plant workers got ill, but some Puna residents far away got "lethargic".
And now $750,000 of our hard-earned tax dollars will be spent to prove to these lethargic residents that there is no big health concern from the geothermal plant.
Somehow the Philippines and Iceland can do what Hawaii cannot.
These are the same folks who said radiated fruits give you cancer (Don't), that the Super Ferry kills whales (Didn't) that GMO papayas give you cancer (Don't).
Quite frankly, no amount of real science will shut these nutballs up.
They and their fellow travelers are in fact pagans of primitive thought, and no study will stop their madness from hurting the rest of our community.
Better is to pay them off to just move far away.
Their delusions belong on the dust-bin of history.
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Attorney General facilitates lack of transparency
Dear Editor, October 1, 2014
Laws, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing when the Attorney General facilitates lack of transparency!
The most egregious recent example is the Attorney General's opinion on Act 230. The law simply requires public financial disclosure by certain boards and commissions and agencies like the HCDA.
Needless to say, HCDA members with a sweet tooth for delicious granting of "exceptions" to state laws, regulations, and agreements for developers benefit, have not complied.
The Legislature has done an excellent job promoting transparency with this law, all that is left is for the Administration to act honestly, and ask that their appointees to voluntarily comply with Act 230. Decisions made by compromised agencies should not be valid since 8 July when the law was passed. Does the administration endorse the Attorney General decision of grandfathering potentially corrupt practices?
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Let’s Rethink Our Property Tax System
Dear Editor, October 2, 2014
An article in West Hawaii Today September 30, 3014 about possible property tax revisions and a letter to the Editor in West Hawaii Today October 1, 2014 also addressing the policing of the homeowners’ exemption have prompted me to write about our property tax structure. I believe there is a fundamental principle that should underlie good tax policy: the tax should be paid primarily by those who benefit from the revenue it generates. Applying this principle to our property tax system leads me to conclude it is very unfair and counterproductive.
Our property tax is the primary source of revenue for county services. The primary beneficiaries of those services are those of us who live here. As much as I benefit from the homeowners’ exemption, especially as I’ve gotten older, it makes no sense to me from a policy perspective.
1. It increases the relative tax burden on rental properties. This may be politically popular, but only because the average renter doesn’t realize he is paying these taxes indirectly through a higher rent – a lower property tax burden would translate into a lower rent.
2. It shifts the tax burden from East Hawaii to West Hawaii. The exemption is a larger percentage of the assessed value in areas where the average home value is less. For example, a $60,000 exemption reduces the tax burden on a $180,000 home in Hilo by one-third. If the same home on a similarly sized lot in Kona were valued at $240,000, the exemption would only reduce the burden by one-fourth. The Hilo homeowner pays about $740 per year, while his Kona counterpart pays about $1,100. Hence, a home worth one-third more pays 50% more in property taxes.
3. It shifts the burden from those of us who live here and enjoy the benefits that our local government provides to those part-time residents who spend less time here and place much less burden on government services. The new higher rate of tax on high value residential properties that don’t qualify for a homeowners’ exemption is particularly egregious. Snowbirds and other part-time residents with high value homes have seen their property taxes increase by almost two-thirds over the past year – last years’ $6,000 tax bill has become $10,000 this year. These folks don’t have a vote in the elections, but they can and do vote with their feet. Many may view this as an indication that they are not welcome here, and they may well look to other locations where they are not subjected to such disparate tax treatment. We benefit much more from these part-time residents – particularly those who decide to support causes within our communities – than we do from the tourism we so actively promote.
So I urge our County Council and the Stakeholder’s Task Force to rethink the current property tax structure. I don’t believe that increasing the homeowners’ exemption and saving homeowners $10 per month will make a significant difference to homeowners. Rather, a lower rate for all residential properties, without a homeowner’s exemption, that was designed to generate the same amount of revenue would be a better tax policy for our island.
I would also suggest that the tax rates for agricultural and other undeveloped property should be lower than for developed residential and commercial properties. Reducing the property tax on these properties reduces the incentive for their development, and they create relatively little need for county government services.