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Tuesday, March 1, 2016
March 1, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:59 PM :: 4767 Views

Grassroot: Aha ‘Constitution’ is Effort to Form Race-Based Government

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 29, 2016

Guards Union: Airport Security Contractor Illegally Holding Money Which Belongs to Workers

Tax Facts & Figures: How Does Hawaii Compare?

Hawaii: Only 38% Doubt God

Retaliation: Nailed for Campaign Spending Violations, House Reps Push HB2008 to Eliminate Investigators’ Positions

KHON: …A House Bill that has been sailing through the Finance Committee is pinning state agencies against the HGEA, the union for state employees.

House Bill 2008 would get rid of temporary, 89-day hires after two terms, or 6 months. Currently, the 89-day hire can be renewed indefinitely. 

Many state and county agencies hire the temps and dozens of departments have submitted testimony opposing HB 2008.  If it becomes law, the Attorney General's office would be the hardest hit.  Of the 50 investigators there, 43 are temporary, 89-day hires.  Many are retired police detectives who repeatedly take the positions because it allows them to still collect their county pensions. 

"You lose all that talent," says former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, who opposes HB 2008, "They're the most elite of the police departments and they (are paid) virtually nothing, You'll be lucky if you can hire mall cops."  Carlisle says the practice says millions because the state doesn't have to pay health insurance or other benefits.

The bill has passed both readings in the House Finance Committee.  Representatives James Tokioka and Romy Cachola are on the committee.  Both voted in favor or the bill even though both were investigated for campaign finance violations by the same Attorney General investigators.

Tokioka would not comment on camera but told me off camera, that his support of the bill has nothing to do with the misdemeanor that was resolved last year.

Cachola was not available for comment.

Representative Jarrett Keohokalole -- who also voted in favor -- says the bill is not about revenge .… (Know them by what they deny.)

HB2008: Text, Status

read … Know them by what they deny

Trump ‘A Nightmare for Hawaii GOP?’

Borreca: …“The direction the primary seems to be going is much further to the right than I would like to see,” said Fukumoto Chang, who is a former state GOP chairwoman.

Part of the local GOP’s problem is that Trump’s extremism is just wrong in Hawaii and part of it, she said, is because the national GOP has for years allowed the hate speech of candidates like Trump.

“The establishment in the GOP countenanced these very extreme ideas so that behind the scenes, the GOP was building this base of people and now it seems uncontrollable,” Fukumoto Chang said in an interview.

Today’s voting could put Trump so far ahead that challenges by the other GOP candidates could be just an afterthought by March 8.

“Donald Trump could easily win the Hawaii Caucus and I don’t think he is carrying a message that will win voters in the November general election,” Fukumoto Chang said.

Fritz Rohlfing, the Hawaii GOP chairman, said he thinks Trump will do well, but is not sure he will win next week’s Hawaii contest.

When asked if Trump’s divisive attacks make the GOP too toxic to survive the fall elections, Rohlfing said “no.”

“I don’t think the collapse of the party is imminent. There are always challenges to unifying a party after the primaries,” Rohlfing said.

Still, for local Republicans, who are already a tiny minority, any further political success for the New York billionaire is just a nightmare….

“Our voters just want us to be able to work together and create solutions, that is all what Hawaii people want. They don’t want to hear a whole lot of speeches,” she said.

In fact, Republicans in Hawaii have to recognize that they are winning despite the GOP brand, not because of it.

“If you are a Republican in Hawaii and you are winning, it is because your district likes you and because you are working hard; it is not because you are a Republican,” Fukumoto Chang said….

read … Nightmare?

Nai Aupuni Constitution: Limitless Land Grab

SA:  …Kelii Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said Monday that the same U.S. constitutional concerns about a racially based election of convention delegates still apply to the racially exclusive Hawaiian nation described in the governing document.

In addition, plans to hold a racially exclusive ratification vote underscore the importance of the lawsuit, Akina said.

“There are far-reaching implications of this document that should be a concern for all citizens of Hawaii and Native Hawaiians,” he said….“These include a virtually limitless land grab at all land, air, water and mineral rights in Hawaii as well as a claim to be able to enter into treaties with foreign powers,” he said.

The plaintiff’s legal team, which includes the conservative Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch, argued in a reply to the court last month that the cancellation of the delegate election does not make the case moot because the next steps include a ratification vote that is also racially restricted.

Na‘i Aupuni and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs had argued that the outcome of the convention was speculative.

“Now they’ve gone full steam ahead and passed a governing document,” Akina said. “This development should help convince the 9th Circuit of what we’ve said all along: The case is not moot. It doesn’t go away just because they canceled the previous election.”….

62% Say ‘Meaningless’ --  "What do you think about the Native Hawaiian constitution adopted during the aha (convention)?"

read … Press Forward

Legal turbulence that swirls around Nai Aupuni will not abate anytime soon

SA:  …the legal turbulence that swirls around the whole enterprise will not abate anytime soon. Confronting these problems squarely is essential to making further progress on what is necessarily a long-term movement.

Critics of the convention, also known as the ‘aha, correctly chronicle the flaws in the process, including these elements:

>> Na‘i Aupuni, the nonprofit organizers of the convention, sidestepped the looming legal impasse by canceling the election to choose delegates to the ‘aha. This departure from its own established process, which had been officially noticed and published, leads many people to reasonably question its legitimacy.

>> The roll of voters that will have to ratify the constitution was amassed from multiple enrollment campaigns, mounted under varying circumstances. There were stipulations about Hawaiian sovereignty that not all enrollees signed.

There is also a dispute over whether the ratification vote can include members of an electorate expanded beyond the current roll.

>> Legal challenges still hover over any ratification vote to be planned, which puts into question whether funds can be secured to do the outreach necessary to bring in sufficient participation.

It’s not even clear yet whether the original lawsuit, now lodged in the federal appellate court, is moot. But even if it is, the entire notion of a vote conducted only within the Native Hawaiian community is all but certain to draw down a new challenge.

The Grassroot Institute, the nonprofit policy group on the offensive in the current legal challenge, issued a statement Monday decrying the fact that “this (‘aha) Constitution does not follow the inclusive spirit of the (Hawaiian) kingdom, which was not racially-based.”

the federal government would need to recognize the new government as representing indigenous Hawaiians, similarly to recognition given to Native American tribes and Native Alaskan corporations.

Whether these hurdles can be cleared in time for the lame-duck Obama administration to complete the recognition process it launched seems doubtful, to put it mildly.

read … Not Abate Anytime Soon

Senate panel votes $75.3M gasoline tax hike

SA: The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday approved a hike in the gasoline tax, to 19 cents from 16 cents per gallon, as well as increases in the state’s vehicle registration fees and weight taxes. Proposed by Gov. David Ige’s administration, the measure is expected to increase costs for a typical motorist by about $83 a year.

Senate Bill 2938 still needs to pass votes in the Senate and the House before it can move to the Governor’s Office for consideration.

The hikes are expected to generate an extra $75.3 million annually for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, money that the department says is needed to (insert excuse here) ….

read … Tax Hike

Dead for Session: Two Different GE Tax Hikes

CB: …Two major proposals to increase the state’s general excise tax died Monday in the Senate money committee despite strong support from the Hawaii State Teachers Association and groups advocating for the elderly.

Senate Bill 2599, introduced by Sen. Michelle Kidani, would have increased the GET by 1 percent to fund education reforms ranging from cooling classrooms to establishing universal preschool and reducing class sizes.

And Senate Bill 2478, introduced by Sen. Roz Baker, called for upping the GET by a half-percent to provide a long-term care benefit of up to $70 a day for 365 days....

CB: Unions Still Want to Raise Your Taxes

read … Two Tax Hikes Dead

Kauai County’s GE tax hike plan filled with flaws

KGI: …Kauai officials are now considering imposition of a 1/2 percent increase in the General Excise Tax to fund road improvements and bus service expansion. Any tax increase is a poor idea and an excise tax increase is the one that hits working class people the hardest.

A recent (Feb. 25) 30-page promotion paper from the administration predicts that over its first 10 years the 1/2 percent GET supplement would generate $255 million of which (1) $98 million is proposed for road and bridge work and related facilities, (2) $93 million is proposed for “new transportation initiatives” and (3) $64 million for bus expansion and facilities.

In my view, the defects in this proposal are numerous and fatal. Admittedly, our roads need repairs and paving and our bridges need work. But the funds to accomplish this should not be coming from such a regressive new tax. We should not be entrapped by our state’s sly maneuver to have the counties rely on the excise tax increase, rather than obtaining their fair share of the TAT….

KGI: Taxes, salaries, rescues and Coco Palms

read … Tax Hike

Maui County: Now That Sugar is Dead, We Want 1000% Tax Hike on Farms, Ranches

MN:  Farmers and ranchers showed up in droves Monday afternoon opposing a bill they say will dramatically increase their property taxes, force them off of their land and make it more difficult for them to farm in already tough economic conditions.

About 70 people signed up to testify before the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee, with most asking members to kill a bill tailored to ease the disparity of property tax assessments between agricultural and nonagricultural land.

Currently, agricultural land is assessed using an "agriculture use value," which is based on a 1965 University of Hawaii study on the agricultural productivity of land. The bill calls for assessing the land at market value, at which all other land is valued….

Darren Strand, president of Maui Gold Pineapple Co., said that there were questions about leased land for farming, as his company does from Maui Land & Pineapple Co. He has about 15 years remaining on his 20-year lease and is not sure how the dedication portion of the bill would work for him. In addition, if there are increases in agricultural-land taxes, the costs could be passed down to him.

For the more than 1,000 acres his company leases below Makawao, he said the market value has been as high as $27 million and could lead to a 1,000 percent tax increase under one scenario. Even with the agricultural dedication discount, Strand estimates there still will be a tax increase of 600 percent….

At the beginning of the meeting, committee Chairman Riki Hokama said that the proposed bill was nothing new and has been under review by three previous council committees. But with the end of sugar this year and great reduction of pineapple since 2009, it is important "to see where this county wants to go" and if the county should continue its agricultural-use ‘subsidy’….

read … Farmers, ranchers oppose property tax proposal

Earned Income Tax Credit Bill Dies

CB: The Hawaii Senate’s budget committee has killed a bill that would have established a state earned income tax credit aimed at helping low-income families.

The Ways and Means Committee, led by Sen. Jill Tokuda, deferred the measure Monday. She said the proposal would have a $19 million impact on state revenue (and poor people will just have to keep paying for HGEA make-work schemes and UPW strip-club parties)….

The Ways and Means Committee also killed Senate Bill 2089, which would exempt certain low-income rental subsidy payments from the general excise tax. Tokuda said the bill could cost the state up to $4.5 million. A similar measure is still alive in the House.

read … No tax Relief for the Poor

Caldwell: HART Should Take Control of TheBus, HandiVan

SA: …Caldwell wants to merge rail, bus and paratransit operations under one agency managed by a mayoral administration.

Such a plan would transfer back to the city the now semiautonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. HART currently oversees construction of the $6.57 billion rail project from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

During his fourth State of the City address, given to about 200 people at the Mission Memorial Auditorium on Monday night, Caldwell said that like others, “I’m frustrated” at the climbing costs and delays of what was a $5.26 billion project when he gave his third speech a year ago…..

CB: Caldwell Stays The Course In State Of The City Speech

read … So Lets Give Rail Even More Power

HECO-NextEra Hearings End Today

IM: …the Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission will wind up the Evidentiary Hearing phase of the regulatory proceeding reviewing the proposal by Florida-based NextEra to acquire Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and its subsidiaries Maui Electric Company (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO).

Witnesses 49 through 51 will take the stand today. They are Eric Kvam, Henry Curtis and Kat Brady.

In the end the decision on whether the merger should be approved by the Commission will come down to the decision of three Commissioners….

read … HECO-NextEra Hearings End Today

SB2561: Why Does it Take 10 years to Build Affordable Housing in Hawaii?

HNN: …Sen. Sam Slom said the legislation lacks short term specifics.

"When they talk about building rental housing, what are you talking about? Three years, four years, five years? What's going to happen now?" he said.

Tokuda said $100,000 would be set aside for administrative costs for the Special Action Team.  The group would look at how other states complete affordable housing projects in a year or two, whereas in Hawaii it can take five to ten year.

"That's too long for our people. You look outside -- people need homes now," she said….

SB2561: Text, Status

read … 10 years

Can LUC Penalize Developers?

CB: …the LUC has no way of enforcing its conditions if a developer stops complying with them after the project is well underway, according to a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Yamane introduced House Bill 2043, which penalizes counties for failing to enforce permit conditions, and House Bill 2044, which would give the commission the power to levy $50,000 daily fines if developers don’t comply with stated agreements.

The measures must pass out of Judiciary this week if they’re going to make it to the House floor….

read … Haseko Bills

Ige, Legislators Flail About Looking for More Prison Space to Create UPW Positions, Spend More Money

KITV: …The 12-story high-rise was built about five years ago, but some lawmakers believe if the Bureau of Prisons can't fill it -- the state sure can.

Gov. David Ige confirmed his administration is exploring options to acquire the federal facility while at the same time looking to build a new Oahu Community Correctional Center on the grounds of the Halawa Prison.

"We have had discussions both with the congressional delegation and federal agencies about how we could both better utilize those federal detention center," said Ige.

House Public Safety chairman Gregg Takayama introduced a resolution calling on Hawaii's delegation to work with the Bureau of Prisons.

Takayama said it costs the federal government $28 million to operate the facility every year.

He said it may be a long shot, but he wants to see of the federal department is willing to have the state take over the facility, in exchange for housing federal detainees for free,

Public Safety said it currently has a lease to use up to 550 beds in the federal facility which has a capacity of about 1,200. Officials caution that the numbers fluctuate greatly. This week there are 165 Hawaii inmates at the center at a cost of $114 a day.  (If UPW guards were at work, we could get that cost up to maybe $144?)

read … UPW Jobtrust

3 Maui prison recruits fired after strip club fight, stabbing

HNN: Three prison guard recruits from Maui have been fired after they were involved in a fight that led to a stabbing during a night of partying at a Honolulu strip club.

The incident happened during the first week of the prison recruit class, officials said.

Sometime after midnight on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 4, two correctional officer recruits were stabbed, outside the Keeaumoku Domino's Pizza restaurant. One of them was stabbed in the cheek and stomach after getting into a fight with two men, officials said.

"That's really a pre-employment situation, people who were scheduled to be in our recruit class and it's under law enforcement and corrections investigation right now, so I'm not free to comment on that at this time," said Nolan Espinda, director of the state Public Safety Department, which oversees prisons.

The group of about a half dozen prison guard trainees from the neighbor islands told authorities that just before the stabbing, they had been drinking at Club 939, across the street from Dominoes.

Club 939 is a strip club that refers to itself as “Hawaii's premiere gentlemen’s club.” 

The guard trainees claimed they were attacked without provocation by two men outside the club, leading to a fight in which the guard trainees were stabbed.

The state said three of them were terminated from the class because they were medically unable to continue training….

Taxpayers pay to house off-island guard recruits at the Pagoda Hotel, which is just a couple of blocks away from the strip club and the stabbing location….

Just three years ago, the state tried to boost the quality of its prison guards by requiring a written test for the first time.

read … Oh yeah we need more of these UPW Guards

20 Convictions:  Out on Bail--Does it Again

KHON: …We hear about the revolving door in the criminal justice system, but critics say this is an extreme case and prosecutors should have asked for Kahale-Sugimura’s bail to be revoked last year.

The Honolulu Police Department says Kahale-Sugimura was riding a stolen motorcycle in October 2013 when officers surrounded him near Alvah Scott Elementary School. They say he got away, stole a pickup truck, tried to run officers down, and that’s when they fired at him and arrested him.

For that incident, he was charged with robbery and assaulting a police officer. Bail was set at $250,000, and that trial is pending.

Last July, Kahale-Sugimura was arrested for car theft while out on bail. His bail was increased to $450,000. His trial for that is also pending.

Even with that increased bail amount, he was out again and Kahale-Sugimura was arrested on Saturday for auto theft and a drug charge.

“Under these extraordinary circumstances and the rapid rate that this guy commits another crime — and it’s always the same and it’s always putting people in danger — this person should be determined to be a danger to the community and held without bail,” said former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

Court records show that Kahale-Sugimura has 20 convictions that include theft, robbery, and forgery. With charges that include assaulting an officer, Carlisle says prosecutors should have asked for no bail….

read … Soft on Crime

YB Monopoly: Lousy Service is Latest Excuse for Rate Hike

KHON: …Those who ship interisland say their patience is being tested with long delays at the pier, costing businesses and consumers money.

“The truckers tell me they can spend easily two to three hours either taking cargo to Young Brothers or picking cargo up from Young Brothers,” said Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council.

It’s a sentiment Always Investigating has heard from others. Some days, the line spills into the streets nearby.

“(There’s) a lot of waiting. Even on the road you see a lot of backup just right there at the light,” explained Charles Choice, who works nearby. “It kind of slows down traffic.”

So what’s going on? “With the recession, Young Brothers had lost cargo volume considerably,” Hansen said, “and they had cut back some of their receiving times.”

The cutback was to half-days twice a week. Since then the economy’s revved up with cargo volume bumping up.

But the shortened days and staffing did not.

“Congestion creates a situation that adds cost to them and it often delays the cargo moving to the neighbor islands,” Hansen said. “This is something that’s adding friction to our economy. This is something that really needs to be solved.” ….

read … Monopoly

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