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Thursday, February 25, 2016
February 25, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:36 PM :: 5157 Views

New School Construction: “Intentional misuse of taxpayers’ money”

El Faro Disaster could reshape Jones Act

UHERO Tries to Make Hi-Tech Tax Credits Look Good

PEW: Public support for environmental regulations varies by state

Pensions at Risk: Enviros Use Divestment Scheme in Bid to Take Control of ERS Billions

SA: Anthony Aalto, left, is chairman of the Sierra Club of Oahu; Michael Kramer is managing partner of Natural Investments LLC, a national portfolio management firm…. (Translation: He wants to force ERS to hire his company to run your retirement portfolio.)  The carbon bubble (Bubble? Oil stocks are at lows, not highs.) is growing because carbon regulations are multiplying. (Enviros message to ERS: Buy high, sell low and blame someone else.)

The Senate is currently considering Senate Bill 2155, which would require the ERS to slowly divest all fossil fuel stocks by 2021.

Reality:  Should ERS divest from fossil fuels? No, it would pose a risk for the system

read … Do The Math

Who Will Win Hawaii Presidential Caucuses?

CB: The presidential race in Hawaii is a well-kept secret. Not as much of a secret as the real cost of rail, but more so than most anywhere else.

This says something about Hawaii politics. And what it says is not good.

The best way to understand this is to consider the vacuum of knowledge about Donald Trump’s popularity here as well as the assumptions people make in this knowledge’s absence.

read … Well-Kept Secret

Native Hawaiian Indians In A Tribe

CB: (Long-winded essay by Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa claiming Hawaiians can go for a tribe and still go for independence….)  

Lets just skip to the comments: “Years ago, Lilikalā, I and others were at the UN in NYC. During a break in proceedings (Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues) I asked her if she would still be for federal recognition if there was no money attached to it.  She looked at me and immediately said, ‘of course not.’"

Key Exchange involving Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa >>> Pirate Video from Aha: Bumpy Kanahele Shouted Down, Walter Ritte Thrown Out

read … Lilikalā More kanaka than thou

Land Board gets case—Telescope Prepares to Leave Hawaii

SA: …The board is currently searching for a hearings officer.

“Once a new hearings officer has been selected, a new contested case hearing can be held. We cannot anticipate at this time how long that will take,” Joshua Wisch, special assistant to state Attorney General Douglas Chin, said in an email.

Earlier this month, the TMT International Observatory Board decided to search for an alternative site in case it is unable to build here in the next couple of years.

Ed Stone, TMT executive director, said the $1.4 billion project will need assurances from the state that it can obtain a permit for construction on Mauna Kea by the end of this year or the beginning of next….

HTH: “It’s for the mountain, and we’re not afraid to do it again,” said Kealoha Pisciotta (who has also demanded $50M in ‘rent’)

Read … Dead Telescope

Emergency: Push is on to Get Homeless Shelters Tied up in Environmental Red Tape Again

SA: “By suspending procurement and helping to cut down on some of the red tape, it helps these projects come online quickly,” said Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator. “We’re being very intentional in making sure it’s not a broad use of powers that can be applied under the cover of addressing homelessness.”

Even so, the strategy is prompting questions. Colin Moore, director of the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center, asks: “When does the emergency become permanent? When do you go back to the state of normal governing?….”

The Kauai County Planning Commission originally restricted Lihue’s Mana‘olana homeless shelter to 19 beds per night on the site of the old Lihue Elementary School.

Ige’s emergency proclamation allowed the county to waive the limit and sign a contract Friday with the existing operator, the Kauai Economic Opportunity, to run a larger shelter rather than go through the normal bid process, said Gary Mackler, Kauai’s acting housing director.

“The proclamation serves us by removing the requirements of an existing use permit that limits the number of beds to 19,” Mackler said. “Now we can add 20 beds for overnight use and expand to 39 beds.”

The new beds, along with extra lockers, are expected to be installed by the end of March, Mackler said.

“Many nights the facility is full and people would have to be turned away,” he said. “Hopefully that will now occur fewer times. We really appreciate the ability to move more quickly than we might otherwise.”

SA: City seeking bids for the expansion of Housing First

read … Emergency

Lawmakers look Save GEMS--alter school AC plan

SA: Earlier this month, Ige urged lawmakers to rush a bill through the Legislature by Monday, authorizing the use of the GEMS funds for the school air-conditioning initiative. But it is now clear that lawmakers won’t meet that deadline.

Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda and House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said Wednesday they agree the state must push ahead with plans to cool its public school classrooms, but Tokuda said she doesn’t plan to use GEMS money for the effort.

Instead, she wants to use part of a $170 million reimbursement for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 from the federal government that is owed to the state in connection with Medicaid. That is money the state has already received or expects to receive for Medicaid, which is funded by the state and federal governments to provide health care for low-income and disabled people.

read … Lawmakers look to alter school AC plan

Great News: Bill to Elect Judges Still Alive

CB: Senate Bill 2239, one of three related measures introduced by Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, would require all judges, as well as justices of the Supreme Court, to be elected to initial six-year terms by popular vote. Judges reapplying for additional terms would be subject to confirmation by the Senate, rather than the current review by the Judicial Selection Commission. Meanwhile, the proposed amendment would completely eliminate the commission, thus preventing future Gary Rodrigues’ from ensconcing themselves there….

read … Elect Judges

Bill on executive branch lobbying up for hearing Thursday

ILind: a bill to expand the state’s lobbyist law to include lobbying the executive branch as well as the Legislature, is set for a public hearing….

ILind: Regulating executive branch lobbying

read …  Bill on executive branch lobbying up for hearing Thursday a.m.

While Considering GE Tax Hike, Kauai Pushes Executive Pay Hikes

KGI: The county is considering more than $800,000 in raises for elected and appointed officials.

Wednesday, the salary commission presented a resolution to the county council to establish maximum salaries for more than 30 county positions, including the mayor and council.

Representatives from the police commission, the planning commission, and the civil service commission testified in favor of the resolution, as well as Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.

read … Your Tax Dollars at Work

Brickwood Galuteria Free—but Former Hawaii County Council candidate charged with voter fraud

HTH: …Hunt, 39, is a former legislative aide to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole and once worked as a staff reporter with West Hawaii Today.

In November 2014, a group of Hawaii island residents held a news media conference calling in question Hunt’s residency because she claimed in a homeowner tax exemption in Hilo and voted in 2010 and 2012 in District 5 in Puna.

Hunt’s attorney Brian De Lima today said Hunt was registered as a voter in the place where she resided and planned to plead not guilty to the charge.

He said Hunt resided with her husband Jeff and two children in an attached dwelling in the back of his surf shop in Puna prior to 2013….

SA: Hawaii politics hurt by lack of ethics

read… Meanwhile, Kenoi Walks Free

Small Donors Have Nothing for Caldwell

CB: Mayor Kirk Caldwell has received large chunks of cash from his own employees at Honolulu Hale as well as from those involved in major construction and development projects around town, a Civil Beat analysis of Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission data shows.

Caldwell raised almost $2.4 million between Nov. 7, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2015. Only a small percentage — about $16,000 — comes from individuals giving him $100 or less.

Many of the companies that gave tens of thousands of dollars to Caldwell’s campaign have received lucrative contracts to help build the city’s $6.6 billion rail project, which is slated to carry commuters from East Kapolei to downtown Honolulu at Ala Moana Center.

With less than six months to go before the Aug. 13 primary, Caldwell reports having $1.6 million in cash on hand….

CB: Kidani, Dela Cruz Hold Fundraisers

read … Boss 

SB2820—Will 100% = 100%?

PBN: Senate Bill 2820, introduced by Senate President Ron Kouchi, is intended to correct the renewable portfolio standards methodology to more accurately represent 100 percent renewable energy.

Senate Bill 2820 is a companion of House Bill 2291, which noted that the bills would amend the renewable portfolio standard calculation to be based on electrical energy generation as opposed to electrical energy sales.

“Failure to address this accounting error means that the current renewable portfolio standard calculation, which is renewable energy divided by total electricity sales, would overestimate the amount of renewable energy serving Hawaii’s electricity customers,” the bill said.

Both bills, which are included in the governor’s package of bills, are still moving ahead.

read … 100%?

Anti-Cane Burning Injunction Denied—For Now

MN: At least for now, open agricultural burns by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. will go on as planned after a 2nd Circuit judge granted the state Department of Health's request Wednesday to strike a motion by a Maui group and Maui residents to immediately halt cane burning while a lawsuit on the matter is pending.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza granted a motion filed by the state Department of the Attorney General on behalf of the state Health Department director to strike Stop Cane Burning's and several others' amended motion for preliminary injunction filed on Feb. 8.

The amended motion for preliminary injunction sought to stop the health director from permitting Alexander & Baldwin's (parent company of HC&S) agricultural burning in Maui and requiring the director to determine that A&B's existing burn permits were inappropriately issued and therefore void.

Cardoza granted the Department of Health's motion to strike a motion to stop cane burning immediately because the plaintiffs' lawsuit was being amended. Cardoza said everyone involved in the case should know what would be addressed in the overall proceedings prior to hearings on a preliminary injunction.

Because of Cardoza's ruling Wednesday, a hearing will not be held Friday on whether to impose a preliminary injunction.

read … Denied

Illegal TVRs: Political Amnesia

KE: The Legislature's Finance Committee has decided it's OK to allow illegal B&Bs and TVRs to flourish, so long as they're paying some taxes.

The panel — whose members include Kauai Rep. Jimmy Tokioka — yesterday passed HB 1850, which allows entities like AirBnB to serve as tax collection agencies. However, they aren't required to disclose the names and addresses of any of their operators, or verify whether they're paying general excise and transient accommodation taxes.

Kauai Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura was on HPR's “The Conversation” yesterday, mostly talking about the real property tax assessment cap the Council ended up approving for homesteads and long-term rentals. But she also weighed in on HB 1850, saying:

“We're concerned our neighborhoods will become horizontal hotels...and push out residents.”

Will become? Shoots, they already are.

read … Musings: Political Amnesia

Alleged Homosexual Child Molester Retires to Hawaii after 30 years Preying on Boys

HNN: A longtime Catholic school teacher accused of molesting dozens of boys in three states for decades is living on Oahu, but his name and those of priests accused of sexual misconduct are not listed in the state’s sex offender registry.

Catholic schoolteacher brother Edward Courtney is accused of sexually abusing more than 50 boys from New York to Chicago to Seattle over three decades….

In 2013, Courtney, 81, moved to Oahu and now lives in an apartment on Likini Street in Salt Lake. 

But you won't find Courtney's name or that of any priests accused of sexual molestation in Hawaii's Sexual Offender Registry, because they were never convicted of a crime.

read … Homosexual Child Molester

Former head of school avoids prison time after stealing nearly $153K

KHON: A former charter school principal was sentenced Wednesday for stealing nearly $153,000 from a Waipahu charter school.

Jeffrey Piontek was initially charged with two counts of first-degree theft and three counts of second-degree theft for stealing $136,099 from Hawaii Technology Academy.

According to the attorney general’s office, the money was spent on personal expenses, including flights, limo service, and first-class upgrades.

Piontek pleaded no contest to those charges.

During the course of the investigation, a second incident of theft was uncovered in which he used a contractor to work on his home and billed it to the school, for a total of $16,791.

In that case, he agreed to plead guilty to second-degree theft while three additional charges were dismissed….

read … Soft on Crime

Soft on Crime: Paroled murderer charged with Honolii shooting

HTH: Police have charged a recently paroled murderer with four felony offenses in connection with an early morning shooting Jan. 31 at Honolii lookout in Hilo that hospitalized a 31-year-old Kona man.

John Perez III of Hilo was charged at 7:30 a.m. today with attempted attempted second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm on the highway.

His bail was set at $350,000 and he is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in Hilo District Court.

Another suspect in the Honolii shooting, 29-year-old Scottie I.K. Yanagawa of Hilo, was killed in a Feb. 9 shootout with police in the Hilo Wal-Mart parking lot.

The 43-year-old Perez was paroled Dec. 18.  (Didn’t take him long, eh?) He was serving a life (SIC!!) sentence for the Aug. 27, 1991, beating and strangulation death of Juliana “Trish” Laysa, a 23-year-old prostitute whose body was found two days later in a cane field above Alae Cemetery in Hilo.

Perez, reputedly a gang leader, said he contributed to Laysa’s death, but accused Tad Mason of the actual killing. Perez said Mason called himself “The Prince of Darkness” and had sacrificed a dog in a satanic ritual.

Surprising:  Former MMA fighter ‘with history of offenses’ gets five years

read … Soft on Crime

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