NYT: Chorus of Calls to Relax Jones Act for Puerto Rico
Progressive Paradise Lost
New Study: “Medical Marijuana Laws Amplify Recreational Juvenile Marijuana Use”
And the Lowsman Trophy Goes To…Hawaii!
Nai Aupuni Launches Desperate Last Push to Force Hawaiians into Fake Indian tribe
SA: Board members met with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorial board recently to lay out the ambitious ‘aha timeline, to urge all Native Hawaiians to participate, and to emphasize that there is no pre-determined outcome for the convention....
Eligible voters and delegates will be drawn from Kanaʻiolowalu, the Native Hawaiian voter roll that certifies ethnicity according to birth certificate or other eligible documentation; registrants must be 18 or older. Nearly 123,000 Hawaiians here and outside the islands have already registered, according to the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, and registration remains open ahead of the election of ‘aha delegates....
The goal is to have potential delegates officially campaigning by the end of September, elected by December and convening the ‘aha by spring of 2016. If the delegates come up with a framework for a reorganized government, it would be presented to Native Hawaiians for ratification about two months after the ‘aha concludes....
A total of three outside contractors are being hired to run and observe the private elections, which the board members likened to leadership elections in national labor unions or other professional associations, and to help organize the ‘aha. Na‘i Aupuni has hired Election-America to run the delegate election; the firm, with offices in New York, California and Washington, D.C., describes itself as a "full-service election management organization" that processes millions of votes annually and has overseen complex elections on six continents. The firm would also oversee the ratification vote, if one is needed after the ‘aha....
Best Comment: "The schedule is driven by an overwhelming feeling that the Hawaiian tribe created by this process MUST be offered to the federal government for federal recognition while Obama is still President; i.e., January 20, 2017. Because everyone knows that the new Republican President will never recognize it. A delay here, a protest there, a lawsuit along the way, will push the schedule too far back and the whole thing will become moot." ...
Link: Chris Backert, CEO of Election America
Reality: Can OHA Keep Na'i Aupuni from Stealing $2.6M?
read ... Running out of Time
Nai Aupuni Claims Aha Candidates May Apply in Late July or Early August
SA: Here is the tentative timeline for the election of delegates, the convening of the ‘aha and the possible ratification vote of whatever documents are drafted at the ‘aha. Dates are subject to change, depending on when the Native Hawaiian voter roll is certified.
» Late July or early August: Notices sent to certified voters explaining the apportionment of delegates, how to file as a delegate candidate and the voting process. Based on a pro rata of voters now registered, Oahu will have 20 delegates, Hawaii island seven, Maui three, Kauai two, Molokai/Lanai one and seven will come from outside Hawaii.
» Late July or early August: Application available for delegate candidates.
» Mid-September: Deadline to file as a delegate candidate.
» End of September: List of qualified delegate candidates announced.
» Mid-October: Voter registration closes.
» Early November: Voting begins.
» Early December: Voting ends.
» Day after voting ends: Election results announced publicly.
» Between February and April 2016: ‘Aha held on Oahu over the course of eight consecutive weeks (40 work days, Monday through Friday).
» Two months after ‘aha concludes: If delegates recommend a form of Hawaiian government, a referendum will be held among all certified Native Hawaiian voters.
read ... Doomed Effort
Neighbor island mayors tempted by GET increase
Borreca: It is time for neighbor island mayors to turn over their cards so voters can see what Mayors Alan Arakawa, Billy Kenoi and Bernard Carvalho Jr. are holding.
The neighbor island counties have one year, starting this month, to decide if they want to raise the general excise tax by half a percentage point....
Some like Maui's Arakawa wanted to double the tax increase, telling lawmakers during the session to "allow the counties the flexibility to add a surcharge of up to 1 percent."
The counties lost state money when a portion of the so-called hotel room tax known as the transient accommodation tax was trimmed by the Legislature. But now the new tax increase can go for more than a Honolulu-style rapid transit system.
The bill says the tax increase can go for "for public transportation systems, including public roadways or highways, public buses, trains, ferries, pedestrian paths or sidewalks, or bicycle paths."
Maui's Arakawa did not respond to inquiries to comment last week, but House Speaker Joe Souki, a veteran Maui legislator, said he thought Maui would back away from the chance to raise taxes.
"Maui is doing pretty well financially. The tax base is good and the bond rating is quite high, so I'm not sure they will go for it, but I could be wrong. I wish they would, because I think it would help with their transportation problems," Souki said in an interview.
This year will tell whether neighbor island pols think an expanded county budget is worth the political perils of putting their name on a tax increase.
June 30, 2015:
read ... Tempted
Honolulu Ethics Commission’s media policy gets no support
ILind: Since the Honolulu Ethics Commission voted to ignore concerns raised by its staff and instead adopt a new and restrictive policy for communicating with the public and the news media, the reactions have been uniformly negative.
Here’s a brief recap.
There have been two posts here concerning the new policy (June 25: “A two-prong attack on ethics“, and June 26: “City Ethics Commission rejected staff concerns about restrictive media policy“)....
Some strong words from a Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorial, June 29: “Ethics panel’s media policy must be voided” ....
Hawaii News Now editorial by Rick Blangiardi: “Local Connection: Ethics Commission” ....
Civil Beat Editorial Board, June 30: “Honolulu Ethics Commission Needs to Scrap Its New Anti-Media Policy.” ....
According to a report by Keoki Kerr at Hawaii News Now, the media policy is a result of a disagreement over how to answer questions concerning the possibility that undisclosed conflicts of City Council members could void key votes authorizing the Honolulu rail project (“Ethics Commission clamps down on director who says rail votes might be thrown out“).
read ... Honolulu Ethics Commission’s media policy gets no support
The HI cost of doing business
KGI: Infrastructure, location and taxes were the main contributors to the Rainbow State’s bottom ranking for the second time in three years.
About 40 percent of the state’s bridges are rated deficient or worse, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Tax Foundation’s annual ranking of State Business Tax Climate put Hawaii at No. 30 in the nation for its tax system.
And being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean brings its own challenges for business owners, such as high land, real estate and construction costs. Add to that the state’s Prepaid Health Care law which requires employers to provide medical insurance for employees working more than 20 hours per week and earning more than $672 a month....
Bob Gunter, president and CEO of Koloa Rum Company, said what really impacts costs here the most are logistics and the cost of freight — getting ingredients and supplies necessary to manufacture products.
Hawaii is under the Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which requires goods transported between two U.S. ports to be carried on U.S.-flagged ships, be U.S. constructed, be U.S. owned and be crewed by U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Under this act, Gunter said, the lack of shipping competition results in high costs for businesses and consumers.
“The cost of getting an average ocean container to us here from the Mainland is three to four times the cost of getting the same container from the Mainland U.S. to a foreign country, such as China or Australia,” he said. “One of the things that would really help us all in Hawaii — not only businesses, but individual consumers — would be to find a way to exempt Hawaii or somehow reduce the impact of shipping rates.”....
read ... Business
Block new Charter School Applications for One Year?
SA: The commission's executive director, Tom Hutton, made a recommendation to forgo new applications for the 2016-17 school year at the commission's June 18 meeting, citing serious concerns about workload capacity next year.
"We're not particularly wild about taking a year off from applications, but we have some real capacity issues," Hutton told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "We've been really wrestling with what to do."
Next summer, the state's entire portfolio of existing charter contracts — covering 33 schools — is set to expire, meaning the commission would be taking up those contract renewals during the time when it normally would start accepting and reviewing new applications....
read ... Can't handle the workload
LOL: Plastic Bags Still Legal -- if they are thicker
HNN: A long-awaited plastic bag ban took effect Wednesday on Oahu. But customers at Walmart were still getting plastic bags, leaving some surprised.
The new law forbids plastic checkout bags, but it does allow reusable plastic bags, if they're at least 2.25 mils thick....
And it meets the thickness requirement, so it is legal. but Pacarro says it breaks the spirit of the new law.
"It's a very thick plastic bag, and the intent of the law was to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and stop producing bags made out of fossil fuels, which is plastic," he said.
Debbie Smith of Waikiki had a whole collection of bags after shopping downtown, and was still surprised at first to get the plastic one from her Walmart clerk.
"I asked her, and she told me these were biodegradable, faster than the other bags," said Smith.
Smith also got a new thicker plastic bag from Long's Drugs, one that says it can be used at least 125 times.
HNN showed the Walmart bag to some of the vendors at the monthly Arts and Fleas market at the Hawaii State Art Museum.
"I think it's cool. It's reusable," said Jeff Sanner of Avant Pop....
(Two legs good. Four legs better!)
read ... Some retailers still giving out plastic bags on Oahu, and they're legal
Mizuno: Fly Brower Attackers to Virginia
SA: Mizuno maintains the attack on Brower and the subsequent attention it has drawn to the Kakaako homeless encampment could be the spark that brings city and state officials together to find long-term solutions for a problem that so far has eluded easy fixes.
"I'm part of the system, and the state and counties have been kicking the can down the road for years," Mizuno said. "The Brower incident — as unfortunate as it is and as close as I am to Brower — will be a game-changer in how we deal with the homeless situation. Sometimes you need something like this to get a tsunami of support."
Mizuno often uses his own money and personal airline miles to send homeless people to live with family on the mainland. And he has pledged to help Totoa, her husband, adult daughter and the son who admitted attacking Brower get airline tickets so they can live with Totoa's adult daughter in Virginia — if and when a possible criminal case is resolved.
DN: Rep. Brower reaches out to media as House plans to “talk” with him
read ... Fly
Star-Adv: Governor Should Lead Push for New Homeless Tent City
SA: It doesn't help that Gov. David Ige has been so passive on this issue. So far he has done little to find an alternative location for what has become a de facto "safe zone" along Ilalo and Ohe streets, where hundreds of people now live in tents, some of them hardened into semi-permanent structures.
There is some value to keeping the homeless population gathered where social outreach workers can locate them. But, clearly, that section of Kakaako is not the place.
Government has a duty to define the place that's appropriate for a temporary encampment, with some provision for sanitation and security. In addition to Kamehameha Schools and other private property owners, there are state agencies — the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Community Development Authority — controlling land in the area.
All of these forces need to be marshaled in the search for solutions, with the governor sending out a strong, unifying message.
read ... Tent City Shell Game
Octogenarian warns Caldwell to leave beach park alone
Shapiro: Myrna Ariola, 81, is a good reason why Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had best tread lightly with his revitalization of Ala Moana Beach Park.
Ariola, whose age is coincidentally the same as Oahu's most heavily used park, gives Caldwell a stern scolding in a YouTube video called "Myrna's Message to the Mayor."
Her simple message: Local people like Ala Moana just as it is and don't want it messed with.
She scorns Caldwell's $1.2 million contract with a New York consultant to recommend improvements for the park.
"Mr. Mayor, I think you should leave the park alone," she admonishes. "Have more workers. Maintain what we have, not put in more stuff and spending money on consultants. Consultants don't even live here. We do."
It seems to resonate in the community, with more than 3,500 views in two weeks on a YouTube channel associated with TV newsman Dick Allgire....
Video: Myrna's Message To The Mayor
read ... Save Ala Moana Park
Kym Pine Proposal seeks to shut landfill
SA: City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine hopes to expedite the closure of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill, a contentious issue prompting years of frustration and concerns.
Pine has introduced a resolution calling for the city to take steps to close the landfill and to implement sustainable waste-management practices, urging city officials to conduct studies to evaluate alternative technologies.
City Council members are scheduled to vote on the proposal at a Wednesday meeting at Kapolei Hale....
read ... Waimanalo Gulch Again