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Tuesday, June 30, 2015
June 30, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:17 PM :: 4994 Views

$4M Lawsuit Claims Bumpy Kanahele Defrauds Am. Samoa of Tsunami Recovery Funds

Hawaiian Electric Proposes Higher Solar Price Structure

Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Breathes A Sigh Of Relief

Ige Releases ‘Intent to Veto’ List

Critics Question Ige's Sex Trafficking Veto

"Zero Emission Vehicles" Are Not Emission Free

Former Tax Director is Al Hee's Lawyer and Alibi

ILind: A funny thing happened on the way to the federal trial of Al Hee, president and sole shareholder of Waimana Enterprises, the parent company of Sandwich Isles Communications.

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors tried to disqualify Kurt Kawafuchi, one of Hee’s defense team, along with his entire Beverly Hills-based law firm, Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, P.C.

If Kawafuchi’s name sounds familiar, there’s a reason.

He served as state tax director during Linda Lingle’s administration, and resigned effective June 15, 2010. He now serves as chair of the state’s Council on Revenues.

He apparently began representing Hee and his companies less than three months after leaving his position as tax director....

Kawafuchi helped to set in place a “reliance” defense, meaning that Hee could say he simply followed the advice of his accountants and tax experts....

In their trial brief, Hee’s defense attorneys continued to put forward the “I just did what my accountants said” defense, which appears to be at the core of their case....

read ... Taxes are for Peasants

It Begins: Kenoi, Hawaii County Council Launch Push for GE Tax Hike

HTH: ...Mayor Billy Kenoi and Council Chairman Dru Kanuha welcomed the news about the GET surcharge. While both said they’re not sure they’ll push for the tax increase, they said they’re glad the state Legislature and governor are giving the county a chance to decide for itself.

The county has to host a public hearing and have an ordinance in place by July 1, 2016, or it loses its chance.

Kenoi said he won’t ask the County Council for the tax hike, but he’s ready to discuss it.

“It’s an important tool, it’s an additional tool to pay for important infrastructure,” Kenoi said. “It’s something we’ll take a look at. It’s not something we’re asking the council to do at this time.”

Kanuha said it’s an important discussion for the council to have. He said he’ll sponsor a bill, unless a council member “more passionate” about the issue beats him to it.

“I like the ability of the county to say whether it’s going to happen or not,” Kanuha said. “I think it’s important for us all to talk about it. … I’m just glad we have the opportunity to say whether it’s good or bad for our county.”

Unlike a sales tax, the GET is applied against all steps of a manufacturing process, leading to costs passed on to consumers beyond the 4 percent at the register. About one-third of it is paid by visitors.

The state’s four mayors asked the state to allow the one-half cent to make up for cutbacks in the counties’ share of the Transient Accommodations Tax, paid by guests at hotels and part-time renters.

read ... It Begins

It Begins: Kauai County Council Majority backs GE Tax Hike

KGI: ...there is already tentative support among a majority of members of the Kauai County Council.

Kauai County must act by July 1, 2016, if it wants to levy the tax that would expire at the end of 2027.

“The fact that the county has an option is a good thing,” Council Chair Mel Rapozo said. “If the funds will be used for infrastructure, I would be leaning toward supporting that.”

Likewise, Council Vice-Chair Ross Kagawa voiced support for the plan, noting it could help make up for revenue lost when the state capped the Transient Accommodation Tax.

“I’d rather collect the half-percent General Excise Tax from everybody, including visitors, than raising more property taxes,” Kagawa said, noting that the G.E.T. is, “the perfect way to let everyone pay for the services they use.”

Finance Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, who said he wants to see the money go toward road infrastructure, echoed that point.

“It enables us to collect tax from visitors who also use the roads,” he said.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura is a advocate of expanding the G.E.T and lobbied state lawmakers to give counties that option. But Yukimura said that if approved, she hopes most of the funds will go to public transit, rather than just being used for roads.

“I think it’s imperative to expand our transit system if we want to solve our traffic congestion,” Yukimura said. “Our traffic problem is not going to be solved by just building and expanding roads.”

Yukimura also expressed concern that the tax increase could hurt people with lower incomes, which is why she advocates using it for public transportation rather than just road infrastructure.

“It’s a regressive tax,” Yukimura said. “If you spend it on transit, you are going to be supporting the families that are hit the hardest by this tax.”

Officials from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration said he supports adding the 0.5-percent tax surcharge as a way of raising funds for transportation for the island. The council would have to hold public hearings before approving a tax surcharge.

All of Kauai’s legislative delegation voted in favor of giving counties the surcharge, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to support for raising the tax.

State Rep. Dee Morikawa said she voted in favor of the bill because Oahu needs it to complete the rail project, but that she doesn’t support adding the surcharge on Kauai.

“Kauai people are being taxed enough already with taxes and fees,” Morikawa said, although she added that she might support the G.E.T surcharge if the County Council offsets it by lowering other taxes, such as reducing vehicle weight tax and registration fees.

State Rep. Jimmy Tokioka said it is up to the mayor and County Council to decide if the surcharge is appropriate for Kauai.

“I voted in favor of the (tax) to support the continuation of the rail project on Oahu — it was clear they needed the extension to finish the rail project,” Tokioka said.

He declined to tell Kauai’s leaders what to do, but, “At least they have the option.”

read ... Tax Hike

State, Counties have time to Raise Your GE Taxes, But they can't be Bothered to use Existing Federal Road Building Funds

SA: When the federal government is telling you that you're working too slowly, then you know you've got a problem....

Commuters who are weary of the bumper-to-bumper nightmares on the highways — and these days, that includes neighbor islanders, too — were dismayed to learn over the weekend about the severity of logjams of the bureaucratic kind in the state transportation offices.

And this is the kind of congestion that could well cause the state to lose the money it needs to upgrade Hawaii's outdated and under-maintained highway system.

According to documents the Star-Advertiser acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, Federal Highway Administration officials are warning the state Department of Transportation (DOT) that its delays in progress on major projects could put millions of federal project dollars at risk.

That dims the state's prospects for ever bringing its crushing backlog of critical infrastructure improvements under control. The backlog hit its high point in 2010, when the list totaled nearly $1 billion in federal funds still to be spent on the work....

State lawmakers should change any statutes that produce an unwarranted delay in publishing the winning bid, because such delays have been bogging down the process. And if the losing bidder could be required to bear some of the cost of an unsuccessful bid protest, that could deter frivolous contract challenges, too.

Further, DOT, like virtually every agency throughout state government, is hobbled by the outdated information technology system. The federal officials urged more automation in the department's fiscal functions that are now handled manually.

This is just one more example of how the state's lagging IT improvements have had real, costly consequences. Legislators should heed the FHA's warnings when considering funds for technological upgrades.

The state DOT has turned to the low-hanging fruit of spending its federal funds on lesser projects, but this is not a long-term strategy. Several worthy projects, such as the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening on Hawaii island and the Kapaa Relief Route on Kauai, are meant to bring Hawaii's road networks up to the capacity needed to handle anticipated traffic in 2015.

For decades, DOT has lacked the sense of urgency about such projects....

read ... Don’t squander highway funding

Rep Tom Brower Gets in Fight With Homeless, Loses

SA: ...State Rep. Tom Brower was taken to Queen’s Medical Center after he was allegedly assaulted by several people in Kakaako Monday afternoon, sources told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman of the Department of Public Safety, said an altercation occurred at around 5 p.m., with sheriff’s deputies responding to the scene.

“They ganged up on this one man and he was taken to the hospital,” said Schwartz, who did not reveal the name of the victim.

An investigator with the attorney general’s office interviewed homeless people early Monday evening along Ohe Street concerning the assault. The investigator declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

Sources said Brower, 50, was videotaping some homeless people near the Children’s Discovery Center where there is a large homeless encampment when they asked him to stop. Brower was then allegedly assaulted, suffering a concussion and two swollen eyes, sources said. His camera was also stolen.

Shayne Enright, spokeswoman of the Emergency Medical Services, said paramedics transported a 50-year-old man to a trauma hospital in serious condition. The victim told paramedics he was apparently punched multiple times.

The incident is being investigated as a second-degree assault, which is considered a felony.

Brower (D-Ala Moana, Waikiki) made national headlines in 2013 after waging a one-man campaign using a sledgehammer to demolish stolen and abandoned shopping carts that homeless people used to carry their belongings....

read ... Brower Again

Brower: Homeless Becoming Angry, Unsafe

SA: ...In the weeks and months leading up to Monday's incident, Brower had grown increasingly concerned with constituents' complaints regarding the growth of homelessness in his district.

"The last few months, I've noticed that although there are fewer homeless people in the district, they have grown more angry. It's more unsafe at night," said Brower during an interview with the Star-Advertiser on June 12. "There are fewer homeless at Ala Moana Park, but they are grittier. The people living at the Wai­kiki promenade near the convention center are more hard-core."

Brower, who frequently talks to homeless people during walks through his district, said he has long sought to find more effective solutions.

"Kakaako has become a homeless campsite by default with the government's blessing," he said during the earlier interview. "Homelessness is being normalized."

Kimo Carvalho, community relations director for the Institute for Human Services, said that unsheltered homelessness in Kaka­ako has grown dramatically in the last few months.

"Today there were 183 tents," Carvalho said.

On June 9, Carvalho said, the count was 158 tents, up from 116 on May 6.

"That kind of increase in just the last few months goes to show that the Kaka­ako community has definitely adopted a protective barrier of a community and lifestyle, which many homeless clients view as a safe zone," he said. "They don't want to feel exposed."

read ... Brower Again

University Shuts off Telescope Protesters' Access to Toilets

HTH: ...It remained unclear when the road or the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, located just below the closed section, will be reopened. UH closed the small visitor center Thursday morning....

The road’s 4-mile unpaved section needs to be graded first. That takes about 8 hours to complete but could happen today, he said.

Trucks carrying water also need to get up the road as soon as possible to support the observatories atop the mountain, he said.

With the visitor center closed, UH also planned Monday to lock and later remove portable toilets on the back side of the building.

TMT protesters, who have been camped on state land across the road from the visitor center since late March, have used those facilities in addition to the main restrooms, which also are closed.

The nearest restrooms are located at Mauna Kea Recreation Area about 13 miles away....

read ... Mauna Kea summit road, visitor center remain closed

Gay Marriage: We Tricked Stupid Hawaii Voters and now we Laugh at You

Borreca: ...when Gov. Neil Abercrombie backed a special legislative session to open marriage to same-sex couples, there were howls of protest that the state had already voted this down.

That was incorrect. Voters who thought that giving the Legislature the power to define marriage (was the same as voting gay marriage down) were voters who were not listening to the instructions.... 

(Voters were forced to choose between those instructions and gay marriage.  Ultimately the fault is not with the voters but with the leading opponents of gay marriage who allowed themselves to be deceived into trusting the Hawaii State Legislature.)

2013: Abercrombie Thanks Sen Chumbley for Tricking Voters Back in '98

read ... Arrogance

Civil Beat Promotes Anti-Religion Sex Show at Honolulu Museum of Art

CB: The caption that describes a panel showing Adam instead of Eve eating the mythological apple says, “Adam in drag biting the apple. He is supported by his partner, the Pope, who is holding the child they have adopted.” 

(And, just to rub it in, the entire show is being seen by an 8-yr old child.  Yes, they are laughing at you.)

Yesterday: No Pule: Civil Beat Attacks Prayer at Hawaiian Charter Schools

read ... Kitsch

Hawaii governor plans to veto sex trafficking bill

AP: “I am committed to improving the laws regarding sex trafficking, but this is on the list because of concerns raised by the attorney general and three of the four prosecutors in the counties,” Ige said. “They do believe that while enacting legislation specifically on sex trafficking, the unintentional consequence of this measure would create loopholes and actually would make it more difficult to prosecute sex trafficking crimes as drafted in this measure.”

The bill intended to strengthen penalties for coercing victims into performing sex for money by listing sex trafficking as a Class A felony and stating those convicted of the crime would face fines up to $50,000.

Under current Hawaii law, promoting prostitution is illegal, but those who are forced into prostitution are often initially treated as criminals.

The proposal divided Hawaii’s law enforcement community because it could change the way officers go after pimps. Prostitutes often are coerced to testify against a pimp after an offer is made to drop charges, a practice with questionable ethics, Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said during hearings on the bill.

“Coercing testimony for in exchange for clemency is pretty abusive, and doesn’t provide the right environment for a victim to stand trial,” said Kathryn Xian, executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, which pushed for the bill. “They (law enforcement) don’t have an incentive to treat them like victims, because they have this option of coercion.”

Related: Critics Question Ige's Sex Trafficking Veto

read ... Veto

Busted: Another Luxury Real Estate Broker Behind Anti-GMO Hype

KE: ...watching the latest piece of anti-GMO propaganda, I see that Kauai is moving ever closer toward apocalypse — unless we let folks like Don Heacock save us.

I'm talking about the trailer for “Aina,” described by one promoter "as an "amazing fact-based film." It will hold its July 26 premiere on Kauai, which an unidentified man on camera unequivocally proclaims as "the hot spot on the planet for pesticide exposures."....

The film was brought to my attention first by Anonymous, and then by Jason Donovan, posting under the misnomer "just the facts." Jason followed up with a repeat of his first comment, and then a third comment, inquiring, "are you going to post my comments?” 'cause I guess I hadn't been snappy enough in letting him use my blog to promote the movie.

Who is Jason Donovan? I wondered, as my fingers typed his name into Google. Oh, Lordy, what a surprise. He's a Realtor with Kauai Tropical Properties, "an eco-brokerage" in Hanalei. And not just any Realtor, mind you, but one who has "closed on more than $40 Million worth of Kauai real estate transactions" and is also "responsible for creation of Sustain Kauai brand of eco-friendly real estate.”

Eco-friendly real estate? WTF is that? Though I get how real estate sales sustain Jason — and the anti-GMO movement — I can't quite see how they sustain Kauai. And how, exactly, can the Tropical Paradise website claim "the environment on Kauai is pristine" if it's also the world hot spot for pesticide exposures?

CB: Beach goers shocked to discover Turtle Poop

read ...  Musings: Trailer Trash

Former Oahu probation officer pleads guilty to theft, forgery

KITV: Sasao was charged with these offenses in May.  From July 1, 2011 through July 9, 2013, according to the complaint, Sasao allegedly collected eleven payments from various probationers that had been assigned to him and kept the payments for his own use.  Sasao then forged receipts to credit the payments to the various probationers.

Sasao faces up to 10 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.  Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 3.

AG: News Release

read ... Guilty

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