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Sunday, March 6, 2016
March 6, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:03 PM :: 4887 Views

Nai Aupuni Aha Roll Call--How They Voted

Energy Star Certification Program Promises Hawaii DoE $300M in Savings

Tax Conformity: Can We Make It Move?

March 8 GOP Caucus – Where to Vote

What Really Happened at Aha: Delegate ‘Crying like a little B***h’, ‘Hostage’ Demands $5000 Ransom, and more

HI: …Despite heavy opposition from federal recognition advocates and an agenda deliberately primed to produce a federal recognition-friendly constitution, Hawaiian independence advocates at the Native Hawaiian Convention, better known as the ʻAha, succeeded in planting a stake in the ground for the “pursuit of independence.”

For Jade Danner, a staunch proponent of federal recognition, those three words—hard won additions to the draft constitution’s preamble—were a stake to the heart. According to Katie Kamelamela, one of two appointed sergeants-at-arms during the ʻAha, the words sent her “crying like a little bitch” to the parking lot….

the first week of the ʻAha saw inklings of the discord to come, as calls for increased transparency and the admission of non-participant observers were vehemently rebuffed by federal recognition proponents.

(Related Video: Hawaiian activists arrested outside Nai Aupuni Aha)

The ruckus over transparency and non-participant observers carried on over days and included a Washington state participant who explained that she already felt “like a hostage” and said: “pay me my $5,000 and I’ll go home,” referring to her Naʻi Aupuni stipend.

A more intense skirmish over transparency erupted when a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha became incensed, stalking forward to confront a transparency advocate face to face after the man had trained his mobile phone camera on him only minutes before while he delivered a tirade of anti-transparency rhetoric.

Just a day later, the same participant once again became the focal point of a commotion. Carrying ti leaves and dressed in a red and yellow ʻahu ʻula (royal cloak), he became overwrought after the usual morning protocol of singing the Hawaiian doxology, breaking out into an emotionally charged solo performance of “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi” until he was escorted away by the sergeants-at-arms as he repeatedly shouted “don’t touch me!”

As police officers attempted to respond to the altercation, Bumpy Kanahele kept them at bay by standing in the doorway and persuading them that all was under control, demonstrating a sometimes generous-to-a-fault urge to aloha one another that triumphed over the rules of conduct adopted by the ʻAha throughout the four-week proceedings. The troubled participant was nevertheless banned from the premises by the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club management the following day and did not return to the ʻAha….

By the end of the first week, the ʻAha plenary of more than 100 unelected participants had devolved into a chaotic and frustrating atmosphere….

As expressed by Makalehua member Kaʻaihue, one of the group’s UH Richardson Law grads, they were “in it to win it.” It was an attitude that would be seen again and again over the coming weeks as Makalehua members pushed to write a constitution in a mere 20 days….

read … A look at what went on behind the closed gates of the Royal Hawaiian Golf Course last month

Nai Aupuni ‘Constitution’ Becomes New Excuse for Multi-Million Dollar Cash Grab

SA: …Cash, perhaps lots of it, will be needed, they say, to pay for a campaign to educate Native Hawaiians about the new governing document, (Translation: Pay girlfriend $600K to make videos) add new Hawaiian registered voters (Translation: Lots of first class travel to mainland) and stage a ratification election (Translation: More fat juicy PR contracts outside procurement law).

Key members of the aha say fundraising likely will be necessary to dodge the same potentially lengthy legal delays that led to the cancellation of November’s election of convention delegates.  (Translation: OHA gave us money and we took it all for ourselves.  Now we want more so we can take that, too.  But OHA can’t give it to us.)

Na‘i Aupuni, the nonprofit tabbed by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to oversee the nation-building exercise, discontinued vote counting to duck trouble with the U.S. Supreme Court, which had temporarily halted the balloting in response to a lawsuit claiming public funds were being used to finance a racially exclusive election contrary to the U.S. Constitution….

Initially, Na‘i Aupuni, which received nearly $2.6 million from OHA, was assigned to pay for the ratification election under its agreement with the state agency. It’s unclear how much money the nonprofit has remaining in its coffers after switching gears to host a convention with more than three times the number of participants originally planned.  (Translation: We gave all the money to Waihee’s fancy golf club and to the so-called delegates’ $4000 and $5000 stipends.) ….

a Na‘i Aupuni spokesman said Friday he couldn’t immediately provide any answers about the organization’s financial situation.

OHA spokesman Garett Kamemoto also declined to comment, citing the lawsuit that also names the state agency.

In any case, aha participants say it appears they will need private funds to underwrite the ratification campaign, and they hope to secure the funds fairly quickly to advance the progress of the monthlong convention.

“We don’t want to lose any momentum,” said veteran Native Hawaiian advocate Davianna McGregor, a University of Hawaii ethnic studies professor who was both a participant and served as an aha expert on kingdom law. “The wave is building.”

A group of young aha participants calling themselves Na Makalehua met last weekend to talk about the next steps.

“Our timeline fell somewhere between six months to a year for the ideal ratification,” said Zuri Aki, a UH law student who served as chief drafter during the aha….

How much money will be needed?

Asked immediately after the convention, former state lawmaker (Abercrombie crony) and participant Annelle Amaral speculated it would cost as much as $500,000 for the election alone….

Participant Naalehu Anthony, who is vice chairman of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, said the roll is still open for registration but is operating with the help of only a handful of volunteers. Substantial funding will be needed if a large number of people are to sign up, he said.  (Translation: Give more money to the Roll Commission, LOLRollOTF!)

Not every participant who voted for the constitution necessarily supports federal recognition, Aki noted. In fact, when the convention split into two groups during its second week, nearly two-thirds of the participants found their way to the independence caucus, he said.  (Translation: We are trying to co-opt them.)

But even if federal recognition is not achieved, Jade Danner said, a Native Hawaiian government recognized as legitimate by Hawaiians will have value. (Because we can coopt it later and then be recognized as a tribe.)

Danner said that while she was initially disappointed with the clause in the constitution’s preamble that reserves the right to seek independence, she does not see it as a deal-breaker to federal recognition.

“I expect the DOI will see the pursuit of independence as a good thing….”  (Yeah.  Right.  Just keep telling yourself this.)

read … Funds needed to continue building fake Tribe

Mayor’s role on bank board seems to be a clear conflict

Shapiro: Mayor Kirk Caldwell faces two re-elections this year, and his bid for a second $157,080-a-year mayoral term isn’t the vote that most affects his pocketbook.

Caldwell is also up in May for a new three-year term on the board of Territorial Bancorp Inc., a directorship he’s held since 2007 that earned him between $200,000 and $299,999 in 2015, according to his financial disclosure.

The mayor also owns Territorial stock worth between $900,000 and $999,999 at the end of 2015. In September, he sold 4,479 shares for $117,619…..

jobs aren’t unusual among legislators, whose government work is considered part-time; Caldwell’s Territorial directorship started when he was House majority leader.

But such side positions are rare among full-time chief executives.

When Caldwell’s office was asked in 2014 and Totto was asked recently if they knew of past mayors who did such lucrative outside work, neither responded.

Caldwell’s family wealth is rooted in banking; his wife, Donna Tanoue, is a Bank of Hawaii vice chairwoman who earned between $700,000 and $799,000 in 2015 and owned stock worth at least $1 million.

Before becoming mayor, Caldwell was an attorney who represented banks….

(Now he’s a Mayor who continually racks up debts financed profitably by those very same banks.)

read … Mayor’s role on bank board seems to be a clear conflict

Rail Tax Hike: ‘Can’t I get the Same Thing?’ 

SA: The likelihood of lawmakers raising the state’s 4 percent general excise tax anytime soon is lower than the half-percent to 1 percent increases that proponents have been emboldened into pushing this legislative session.

Especially in an election year, the word “sacred” comes to mind during discussions on the GET, the 4 percent — or 4.5 percent on Oahu — added to the cost of goods and services statewide. The GET, imposed on the gross income of businesses, is considered a far-reaching, regressive tax — and that’s largely why efforts to raise it almost always fail.

After 40 years with a 4 percent GET, it was a major feat to convince lawmakers to back a half-percent GET surcharge that enabled funding of Oahu’s rail project — not just once, but twice — the second time in 2015 to extend the surcharge to 2027. Not so surprisingly, other groups tried to ride that momentum.

“It was one of the things debated” when GET surcharge bills made their way through the state Legislature, said Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. “That if you let one constituency or group get this, then others will be running through the door not too long afterwards asking, ‘Can’t I get the same thing?’ ….

read … Running through the door

Maui County: Punitive tax plan has Real Potential to Shut Down Farms, Ranches

MN: …The proposal before the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee to tax farm and ranch land at "market value" instead of "agricultural use value" is not only ill-conceived; its timing couldn't be worse.

It has the very real potential to shut down farms and ranches, big and small….

SA: HC&S workers recall lifetimes spent in sugar as the Maui company’s final harvest begins

read … The Maui News

Senate moving bill to grab veto power on reappointment of judges and justices

IL: …SB2420 was introduced by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran along with two other bills that would have provided for the election of judges.

SB2420 was passed unamended by Keith-Agaran’s Committee on Judiciary and Labor by a 4-1 vote, with Sen. Laura Thielen the lone “no” vote. The election bills both died in committee.

The three measures are widely seen by observers as a political message being sent to the Judiciary, and likely at the Supreme Court in particular, accompanied by the threatened loss of judicial independence.

And one interesting thing to note is that no one in the Senate is taking responsibility for the implicit message. No one has stepped forward to say what decisions of the court have drawn the wrath of the Senate, or at least the Senate leadership, which presumably has backed the bills. No one has identified problems in the current reappointment process that might have prompted the bills. Instead, we’re apparently back to back room discussions in which unknown senators use the judicial selection process as a bargaining chip in furtherance of their unstated political goals….

read … Senate moving bill to grab veto power on reappointment of judges and justices

Abercrombie, Sanders: Birds of a Feather

Borreca: …Abercrombie and Sanders are holding the same hymnal.

“There is no question — his campaign platform is one I support: universal health care, foreign policy, opposition to regime change — I support him in that sense,” Abercrombie said.

On a personal level, Abercrombie and Sanders are close personal friends. They both started the same year in Congress, 1990. They are co-founders of the Progressive Caucus, and Abercrombie and his wife, Dr. Nancie Caraway, have stayed with Sanders while on vacation in Vermont.  (And they are both male-charismatic type hippies from the 60s and 70s.)

“My relationship with Bernie goes back 26 years and we remain very close,” said Abercrombie.

The veteran Hawaii political leader said the upcoming presidential contest should be taken seriously, because GOP billionaire and reality TV star Donald Trump has captured much of the “discontent, sense of alienation that is out there because people think government is dysfunctional.”

Although he suspects that Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, the “surge campaign” is with Trump, who he predicts will win the GOP nomination.

“The enthusiasm for Clinton is at best limited, but I think the numbers are there. For Sen. Sanders, the big number of superdelegates Clinton already controls is going to make it a real challenge for Bernie,” Abercrombie said….

As for Gabbard, Abercrombie predicted the rising two-term Democrat will be campaigning across the country for Sanders.

“You will be hearing a lot more from Tulsi,” Abercrombie said.

read … Sanders has Hawaii allies in Abercrombie, Gabbard

SB2569: Homelessness Court Sought to handle 14,860 Tickets

SA: …Hawaii Public Defender Jack Tonaki says his office is struggling with an onslaught of cases involving homeless people who have been cited by local law enforcement for a range of minor offenses.

It can now take several months for clients in need of a public defender just to get an appointment with his staff.

“We are just overloaded,” Tonaki said.

In an effort to break up homeless camps and prod the homeless out of tourist hot spots and away from the doorsteps of shops and office buildings downtown, police have been increasing the number of tickets they’re issuing for a wide range of “nuisance offenses,” such as trespassing, littering, sitting and lying on public sidewalks, urinating and defecating in public, camping in parks and carrying open liquor containers.

The number of homeless on Oahu is also on the rise.

Between 2013 and 2015, the number of these types of citations, which are typically issued to homeless, spiked by one-third on Oahu, to 14,860 from 11,203, Tonaki said….

…the courts, prosecutor and public defender all are pushing for a mobile court that would travel to areas that are more accessible to the homeless population, such as community centers and shelters. Instead of focusing on fines or jail time, the mobile court would offer alternatives such as community service or mental health and substance abuse treatment.

State lawmakers are currently debating the proposal, which is outlined in Senate Bill 2569. The measure has passed two Senate committees and still needs to pass the full Senate and votes in the House. In addition to the support of Tonaki and Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, the bill has the backing of Gov. David Ige’s homeless coordinator and the state Judiciary….

read … Homelessness Court

Star-Adv: Quit playing politics with homelessness

SA: The islandwide dearth of affordable housing, and the homelessness crisis that arises in part from that shortfall, is too consequential to the people of Oahu to allow it to be treated as a political football.

Yet that is what it has become under the City Council chairmanship of Ernie Martin, who last week made an appalling show of arrogance about the latest request from Mayor Kirk Caldwell for a new office of eight people dealing with housing projects.

That was the opportunity to show some of the leadership Honolulu needs on its most vexing problem, and so far, Martin hasn’t shown it.

Martin and Caldwell are plainly political rivals. If politics is the problem, then it’s time for the chairman to make way for someone who can run the Council without that same distraction. Honolulu needs a City Council that can approach these issues professionally….

The basic response from the chairman? A snarky boo-hoo. Instead of any substantive critique or serious response, Martin preferred a laugh line, offering the mayor a box of Kleenex tissues.

That’s theatrics, the sort that the weary public has come to expect when an election season looms. On Friday Martin acknowledged that he has not shut the door on running against Caldwell later this year.

SA: Council and mayor clash over housing

read … Quit playing politics with homelessness

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