Contested Case or Court Case? The Hawaii Supreme Court Decides
Oahu, Maui Among Metro Areas That Least Resemble U.S.
Progressive Utah Shows Reactionary Hawaii Way Forward on Homelessness
RFR: Perhaps the most extreme example of this loathing of the homeless was demonstrated in December of 2013. Hawaii state representative Tom Bower, declaring he was “disgusted” by Waikiki’s homeless problem, decided the thing to do was to take a sledge hammer and start publicly smashing shopping carts used by these unfortunates. If a homeless person had the temerity to try and get a few hours sleep, the mighty Tom Bower would rudely awaken them and order them to get their lazy asses moving, by God! ...
The state of Utah (not generally known for liberal politics) has taken a very Progressive step in dealing with the problem of homelessness. About a decade ago, the Beehive State started giving apartments to homeless people through the “Home First” program. There is no catch, no hidden strings and virtually no cost to program participants. They don’t even have to take a drug test – and a criminal record is not a barrier. In addition, each participant is assigned a caseworker who provides assistance in finding gainful employment and learning life skills. Regardless of whether or not they succeed in this part of the program, however, participants are still guaranteed a roof over their heads, as well as basic food and a cell phone with 250 free minutes per month.
For the State of Utah, it was less about what was ethically and morally right and more about economics. State bean counters came to a realization: it was more expensive to jail the homeless and send them to hospital emergency rooms than it was to simply furnish them with a place to live. Since the program started in 2005, the cost savings to taxpayers have been tremendous. Jail time and emergency health services for the homeless were costing Utah over $16,500 per person each year. Today, the state spends approximately $11,000 for every homeless person they provide with basic housing and a caseworker. By 2014, chronic homelessness had been decreased by 72%.
read ... Progressive Utah, Reactionary Hawaii
"Being Homeless in Hawaii Easier than Michigan"
KGI: ...On Kauai, only 26 percent of all homeless people (individuals and families) are sheltered in emergency or transitional housing, with the rest unsheltered. But more than half of homeless families are sheltered.
A 65-year-old homeless man who did not want to give his name said that he has a good opinion of the KEO shelter.
“I’ve stayed at the shelter some nights, but otherwise I just try to find a place to get out of the rain,” the man said. “Being homeless is probably easier here than it is in Michigan.”
The man said that he hasn’t been willing to accept help to get housing.
“It’s probably my own lack of motivation. That’s my own personal preference — I can’t speak for everyone who is homeless,” he said....
read ... Sloth
What can we do to make housing more affordable?
EJI: I recently read an American magazine article about O’ahu.
O’ahu is the most populous island in Hawaii – the island that includes Honolulu and landmarks like Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach.
A heading in the article jumped out at me.
It said, “Why is there a perpetual housing shortage?”
The writer explained the growing amount of overseas money going into real estate on the island.
A large and growing amount of this investment (in deals worth US$1 million or more) comes from Asia, notably Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea.
This article was just the latest I had seen from around the world....
All these cities have certain things in common.
They are successful places where many people want to live, and for various planning and regulatory reasons, the supply of land and housing has fallen behind.
Globally, low interest rates have pushed money into real estate, and certain cities seem especially popular among particular cross-border investors from China, Russia and elsewhere.
Rising interest rates may help ease the problem in the medium term, but probably not enough to make up for the longer-term shortage of supply.
So what is likely to happen?
Policymakers and the community – especially perhaps in Hong Kong – will face some very difficult choices.
Obviously, it is impossible – or very risky – for a typical young family to commit 17 years’ future earnings to buying a home.
Even if we allow for subsidized housing and low income taxes and transport costs, housing affordability in Hong Kong has become a major problem.
It is the single most important reason behind the discontent we see among the young.
Failure to do anything about it could ultimately threaten the legitimacy of the government.
read ... What can we do to make housing more affordable?
Anti-Telescope Protesters Prepare for 'Showdown' Wednesday
HTH: ...the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of TMT’s conservation district land use permit. Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the plaintiffs, said oral arguments are scheduled for Aug. 27....
Opponents say they have every intention of standing their ground and stopping TMT crews — again.
“Absolutely nothing has changed,” said Kahookahi Kanuha, adding he and others “will be ready.” ...
Wednesday will mark 91 days since tractor trailers carrying heavy equipment ascended the mountain’s summit to begin pre-construction....
Since then, a small group of protesters, mostly Native Hawaiians who call themselves protectors of the mountain they consider sacred, have maintained a constant, 24-hour presence at an unauthorized camp outside the Visitor Information Station, preparing for the day TMT comes back to build.
Kanuha, a protest organizer who was among those arrested in April, said TMT’s announcement was peculiar, disappointing and upsetting, but not unexpected.
As for what can be expected from his group Wednesday, Kanuha said more of the same — kapu aloha and peaceful resistance.
“We plan to be there, like we have been for the passed 80 some-odd days,” he said. “We don’t want them to build. We don’t want to allow them to commit desecration on the mountain.”
And if that means being arrested a second time, so be it, he said....
After an exchange of trespass notices earlier this month — first, from security guards to project opponents, and later vice versa — protesters were allowed back onto the TMT site. In a short video posted June 15 to Facebook, about a dozen protesters can be seen entering the area, near the summit of Mauna Kea, while security stationed at the entrance stood aside.
In an email last week, Caroline Witherspoon, president of Becker Communications, a public relations firm hired by TMT to handle media inquiries, confirmed no additional trespassing notices had been issued since June 8....
Walter Ritte...was en-route to the Big Island on Sunday....
read ... OHA Shake Down
Hawaii Hospitals: $3 billion in losses due to Medicare cuts and underpayments
SA: Hawaii hospitals are projected to lose $3.3 billion between 2010 and 2024 as a result of Medicare cuts and underpayments for more than 100,000 beneficiaries, a new study shows.
The report by the Hawaii Health Information Corp., a nonprofit that analyzes the state health industry, estimates reductions to Medicare's fee-for-service payments will cost state hospitals $838 million in the 15-year period, while underpayments — reimbursements that don't cover the cost of care — are expected to total $2.5 billion....
"For every dollar expended by Hawaii's hospitals to provide care, the federal government reimburses the hospitals 86 cents," said Peter Sybinsky, HHIC president and CEO. "It provides a significant loss of revenue for Hawaii's health care system. We are a low-cost state and because of that, these cuts are going to affect us probably more than in states where there's a lot higher expenditures per patient."
read ... $3B
Bag Ban to Nickel and Dime Consumers, Small Businesses
SA: "It's crazy," said Adrian Hong, president of Island Plastic Bags in Aiea, one of Oahu's few plastic bag manufacturers and distributers. "I'm getting five to 10 calls a day. A lot of people still haven't figured out what they're going to do."
That's not the case at City Mill. Carol Ai May, vice president, said the retailer with eight stores on Oahu plans to provide two bag options: Customers can buy a heavy duty 2.25-mil plastic bag for 10 cents or a reusable "eco-bag" for 99 cents.
At Foodland, with 32 Foodland and Sack N Save stores on four islands, the plan is to continue a rewards program for those who use their own bags, offering either 5 cents credit or three Hawaiian Air frequent flier miles per bag.
The store will step up the program July 1 with weekly prize drawings for those who bring in their own bags. Also, the stores will sell a variety of reusable cloth bags, at prices from 99 cents to $8.99. And if shoppers choose no bags, clerks will offer to help customers carry out their groceries — and offer the credit, as well.
"We've been working on our plan for a long time," said Foodland spokeswoman Sheryl Toda, who added that restrictions on the neighbor islands helped prepare the company for the Oahu ban. "We learned a lot."
While Foodland has embraced the new law, many small- and medium-size businesses view the edict as a burden, said Sheri Sakamoto, president of the Honolulu-based Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
"When there's a new fee here and a new fee there, plus a new regulation here and a new regulation there, it can add up to a lot of money, especially for a small business trying to make rent at the end of the month," Sakamoto said.
There's a fear the law will create new opportunities for shoplifting, with customers armed with their own bags plying the aisles, she said.
The plastic bags that most retailers use now cost about 2 cents to make, while the choices of bags available under the new law will cost between 10 and 14 cents, according to Hong of Island Plastic Bags.
Jerry Masaki, general manager of Pukalani Superette, said bag costs at the longtime Upcountry store are up 25 percent since Maui County established its ban. With the big supermarkets offering free paper bags, his store has been compelled to offer the same.
Masaki said he thinks there should be a mandatory charge for bags....
read ... Regulatory State
Full accounting needed in delay of tax refunds
SA: The long delays many Hawaii residents face waiting for their state tax refunds demand a full analysis, once the last return has finally been processed. That public disclosure should include a cost-benefit analysis that reveals how much of the tax revenue collected due to new stringent, time-consuming fraud-detection filters actually stays in the state's coffers.
The amount will be offset by the overtime the state is paying DoTAX employees to complete the intensive reviews of each tax return, and by the interest the state must pay to legitimate filers whose refunds are delayed beyond July 20.
Tax officials assure that the state budget will see a net gain, despite these costs. It is important to make that tally public.
In all, the state expects to pay $495 million in refunds this year, up from $478.4 million last year.
But the pace of refunds has fallen woefully behind schedule, thanks to the anti-fraud effort that so far has flagged about 8,585 suspicious returns and prevented $21.5 million in bogus refunds from being paid out. That's good news for the state budget, but it has inconvenienced legitimate taxpayers who paid the state more than they owed throughout the year and should have received the cash back in a more timely fashion....
read ... DoTax
The Death of Aaron Torres: ‘What’s the Big Secret?’
CB: Torres’ death made headlines in Honolulu, particularly after the city approved a $1.4 million settlement in May 2014 in a lawsuit brought by his estate. The 37-year-old was the top earner in his family and his union job driving trucks for “Hawaii Five-0” paid nearly $100,000 a year. The settlement was one of the largest in Honolulu Police Department history.....
Totally Related: The Teamsters Production Unit: Jim Dooley connects dots thru Honolulu underworld
read ... Secret
Environmental Court to open next week
SA: Starting July 1, legal cases pertaining to certain environmental and public health laws will be heard by a special Environmental Court established by the 2014 Legislature....
On Friday, the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of law will present a daylong symposium on how the court will function, and share experiences from similar courts in other countries.
Justice Swatanter Kumar, presiding judge of the National Green Tribunal of India, will offer a global context for the 350 environmental courts now operating in 41 countries. Hawaii’s Environmental Court is only the second in the United States, after Vermont’s. Speaking via video will be jurists from Brazil and Australia.
Background: Enviros win 90% in Hawaii Supreme Court
read ... State Religion
Enviros Plan to Give Themselves More of our Tax Money
SA: ...The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism set a goal of having 10,000 EVs on the road through 2015. According to the state energy office, as of March there were approximately 3,400 electric vehicles in Hawaii....
From August 2010 through May 2012, the state offered rebates of up to $4,500 for EV buyers (who are a superior life form) to encourage more drivers to switch, but that program ended.
Now the state said it is looking to reintroduce an incentive program.
"Combined with the federal tax credit, a state rebate could effectively make it cheaper to purchase an EV than a conventional vehicle," the state energy office said.
The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 to reduce the price of EVs....
The energy office plan included ideas to offer rebates for multiunit dwellings and workplaces that install charging stations, or updating building codes to ensure outlets are provided for EVs.
Currently the state offers free metered parking for EV owners for up to 2 1⁄2 hours or the maximum amount of time the meter allows.
In 2012 the state Legislature passed a law requiring parking lots that have 100 parking spaces or more to designate at least one space exclusively for EVs and equip it with a charging system.
For EV owners who charge at home, Hawaiian Electric Co. offers an incentive. The utility gives a discount on rates for charging EVs during off-peak times of day. The program was extended to run through October.
For rooftop photovoltaic owners in Hawaii, electricity generated by their solar panels can offset the cost of the electricity they use from the grid to charge their vehicles, increasing their savings even more, according to a report released by the state Energy Office in 2013.
read ... Tithe to the High Priests of the Eco Religion
Study: Teen Marijuana Use Decreases With Legalization
IBT: Medical marijuana advocates now have evidence legalizing pot for medical purposes does not lead to increased underage usage of the drug. A massive study analyzing data on 1 million teenagers in 48 states found legalizing medical marijuana actually reduced teen usage, the Guardian reported.
The study, published in the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry, tracked 1,098,270 8th-grade, 10th-grade and 12th-grade students over 24 years. The teens were asked if they had smoked or used marijuana products in the prior month. Teenage pot use didn’t increase with the rise of legal medical marijuana in 21 states as of 2014, the study found. Instead, teenage usage decreased from 8 percent before legalization to 6 percent afterward....
The researchers also said pot use decreased among eighth graders after medical marijuana was legalized because the teens started to see pot as a relatively harmless medical product. That "certainly doesn't fit with the idea of being a rebellious teenager," marijuana industry expert Debra Borchardt wrote for Forbes.
read ... Legal is Boring
Usual Activists Exploit Charleston Attack to Celebrate Themselves
SA: ...About 25 people gathered for prayer and song Thursday at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. The event was organized by its pastor, the Rev. Jonipher Kupono Kwong.
Rabbi Peter Schaktman and the Rev. Kyle Ann Lovett, a United Church of Christ minister, led the vigil, reading excerpts from an Esquire Magazine online article titled "Charleston Shooting: Speaking the Unspeakable, Thinking the Unthinkable."
Lovett read this excerpt: "Not to think about these things is to betray the dead. Not to speak of these things is to dishonor them. … The country must resist the temptation present in anesthetic innocence. It must reject the false comfort of learned disbelief and the narcotic embrace of concocted surprise. There is a ferocious underground fire running through American history. It rages unseen until it flares again from the warm earth." ...
First Unitarian Church of Honolulu's Kwong said in a news release, "May their memories live on in the form of our high resolve...."
Obama: You suffer original sin of racism, but I can grant you absolution (for a price)
read ... Same Smug Superiority, Different Day
Gay Activist Excited by BoE Sex Ed Plan
CB: The school system has a busy summer ahead of it in working to implement this policy change for the 2015-16 school year. We applaud the board for making a courageous decision ....
read ... Gays Aroused
U.S. developing 'Plan B' for deporting Saddam Hussein's convicted Honolulu-bound plane bomber
SA: ...Mohammed Rashed pleaded guilty in 2002 to his role in the bombing of Pan Am 830, which killed a Japanese teenager and injured more than a dozen others. Under the terms of his plea agreement, the U.S. government said it would work to deport the Jordanian-born Palestinian to the country of his choice after he finished serving his sentence on murder and conspiracy charges.
But efforts to deport Rashed have stalled amid diplomatic complications since his March 2013 release from prison. He remains at an immigration detention facility in Batavia, New York, and his lawyer has complained to a judge that the government appears to have failed to satisfy its end of the plea deal.
At a court hearing last month in Washington, Justice Department lawyer Christopher Dempsey said the government was developing a "Plan B" strategy to remove Rashed from the country. The details of that plan were not publicly disclosed in court, and lawyers involved in the case have declined to discuss it.
Flashback: One stop from Baghdad: Saddam Hussein's 1982 Honolulu attack
read ... Saddam
Honolulu City declares June 21 Chinese Communist 'Confucius Institute' Day
XNA: As some 280 heads of Confucius Institutes in North American and Oceanian countries gathered here Sunday to discuss the sustainable development of the institutes, Honolulu city declared that June 21 will be its " Confucius Institute Day".
In a proclamation letter, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the move is "in recognition of its commitment to education and friendship between the people of Hawaii and China."
Xu Lin, chief executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters and director-general of China's Hanban, said the designation of the Day demonstrated the strong support of the governments of Hawaii state and Honolulu city to the institute.
According to Xu, since the first Confucius Institute in the North American and Oceanian regions opened in the University of Maryland in 2004, 138 institutes has been established in the regions in the past decade, in addition to 552 Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools.
In the United States only, there are 108 Confucius Institutes and 451 Confucius Classrooms in operation now, the largest number in all the countries in the world....
Background: Chinese Communist 'Confucius Institute' a Threat to Academic Freedom at UH Manoa
read ... CCP Propaganda