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Thursday, May 26, 2016
May 26, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:14 PM :: 3663 Views

After One Month as HART Chair, Hanabusa flees to run for Congress

Ethics: Hawaii DoT Capital Improvements Director in Bed with Parsons Brinckerhoff–Literally

Hawaii Most Unaffordable Rentals of Any State

Billions of Dollars Later, Veterans Health Administration Still Failing

Jones Act Worsens Puerto Rico’s economic crisis

Hawaii Democrat Insiders Scheme to Block Sanders Supporters

SA: …After nearly a year, our efforts paid off when more than 33,000 people showed up to cast votes in the Hawaii Democratic Party’s March 26 presidential preference poll (PPP). Bernie won by a landslide, garnering 70 percent of those votes. We had pulled off a huge feat, in a state with one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country.

But Bernie asked us not only to work for him, but also to learn about and get involved in our local Democratic Party. Most of us stayed after the preference poll so we could participate in precinct elections. By the end of that day, many of us proudly walked out of those meetings as delegates, precinct presidents and district chairs, eager to take on our new responsibilities.

We were strong. We were organized. We were ready for the Republicans.

But we were not ready for the opposition that would lie ahead from inside our own party.

Within days of the PPP, the challenges started. Election results were questioned or changed. Paperwork was submitted late or in some cases not at all. County and state delegates had problems getting convention credentials. Signatures were invalidated and refused.

We naively took officer positions and joined caucuses thinking we were going to be able to dig in on the issues and start making the changes we so desperately need.

In some cases, our ideas and energy were welcomed, and we have found a new home in the Democratic Party. But we are not welcomed everywhere. Some caucus doors feel shut to us. Some volunteers talk openly at party headquarters about the strategies they use to block participation by new members. Some hardline Hillary Clinton supporters monitor our posts on social media, hoping to find evidence of “disloyalty.”

A rule has been proposed to ban new members from voting in caucuses unless they join at least two weeks in advance. The excuse is to improve “logistics,” but the discussions have made it clear the aim is reducing turnout from “newcomers.” ….

This weekend, the Democratic Party of Hawaii will hold its biennial state convention….

Related: Hawaii Democratic Convention This Weekend

read … Fate of Hawaii Democratic Party in the balance this weekend

Djou still weighing potential run for Takai's seat, but party already all in

HNN: …Former Congressman Charles Djou hasn't yet decided whether he'll run for U.S. Rep. Mark Takai's seat. Nonetheless, Hawaii Republican Party leaders are already pointing to him as their best option for a competitive race.

"He's definitely head and shoulders above anybody else we could put up for that particular seat," said Fritz Rohlfing, Hawaii Republican Party chairman.

Rohlfing said he has been in contact with Djou, who is seeking feedback from family, close advisers, party members and potential donors.

Last week, Takai (D-Hawaii) announced he would not run for re-election in November so he could instead focus on fighting cancer.

Several Democrats are also weighing potential runs.

Rohlfing said Djou’s experience as a former congressman and strong name recognition give him a fighting chance.

"The short notice makes it difficult, but it makes it even more imperative that we get somebody that's already well-known and has a track record and he fits the bill perfectly," he said….

read … Run

Dillingham Rail: Hanabusa Caught Flatfooted (Again)

HNN: …"I was surprised at the complexity and really the mess underneath Dillingham and the fact that we'd have to move almost every one of the different types of utilities," said Colleen Hanabusa, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board chairwoman.

The cost to build the rapid transit project has already ballooned well over initial projections.

The most recent estimate from federal officials is around $8.1 billion, and HART admits even that's expected to be too low.

"Given the fact that we do not have the funds, we're going to have to hear what the staff has to say as to what is the alternative," Hanabusa said.

One of the biggest factors driving up the price is the cost associated with relocating utilities through the Dillingham corridor. That work alone is estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million.

HART has already spent $100 million in design and property acquisition for the Dillingham route.

"It's not just HECO. It's also Board of Water Supply, Hawaii Gas, and there's fiber-optic traffic lines under there. There's all kinds of stuff," said Mike Formby….

read … Nobody Else is Surprised

HART Role a Liability to Hanabusa

SA: …Hanabusa last month was named chairwoman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation overseeing the troubled rail pro-ject, which federal officials now estimate might cost $8.1 billion. Arguably that role has increasingly become a potential political liability in recent months as it became clear that cost overruns might cause the project to run out of money.

Observers of the local political scene have also suggested Hanabusa might challenge Gov. David Ige in a bid to become governor, and Moore joked that Hanabusa’s reported decision to try to return to Congress may come as a relief to Ige.

read … A Liability

UH files motion to remove hearings officer in Thirty Meter Telescope case

HNN: …In a motion filed by UH on Wednesday, the university is asks the board to find a new hearing officer.

Questions about Amano's ability to serve without prejudice were raised after her membership to Imiloa Astronomy Center was reported.

According to the motion, UH doesn't believe Amano's prior membership is reason enough to disqualify her.

Instead, officials say it may be necessary to rule out any appearance of impropriety that could get the contested case hearing reversed later. …

HTH: UH-Hilo asks for new TMT hearings officer

PDF: Full Text of Motion

read … Remove

Kahuku Rallies to Stop Latest Wind Farm Scheme

SA: Roughly 24 residents gathered at Kahuku Village Association Community Center on Wednesday evening to voice their concerns about a proposed 25-megawatt wind project, the second wind farm near the North Shore community.

Some said they were worried about the health impacts the proposed turbines would have on those who live nearby and the degrading property values. Another concern among the Kahuku residents was the inability of the majority of the working-class community to participate in the meetings held by developer Na Pua Makani Power Partners LLC.

Wednesday’s meeting was called to show residents a draft of the project’s environmental impact statement. In the draft, Na Pua Makani said it plans to decrease the number of turbines it will develop near the North Shore community to nine from 10, but the turbines will be roughly 144 feet taller, standing at 656 feet.

“It’s a ripe area to screw over and we have been screwed over,” said resident Charlotte Kamauoha, 48. “A lot of us had no clue about the first set of windmills.”

The first wind farm features a dozen windmills, which were installed in 2011 by First Wind LLC.

Na Pua Makani’s parent company, Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings LLC, a Southern California wind energy development company, plans to supply energy to Hawaiian Electric Co. at 15 cents per kilowatt-hour over the next 20 years….

Comments on the draft EIS will be accepted through June 7. They can be sent to brita.woeck@tetratech.com. Include “Na Pua Makani Second Draft EIS” in the subject line….

Background: Lloyds of London Lawsuit Reveals Story Behind Kahuku Windfarm Fires

read … Kahuku wind farm draws concerns over health and property impacts

No Martin Mayoral Decision Yet

CB: “Despite speculation, likely from potential opponents, I have not made a decision about whether to enter the Mayor’s race,” Martin said through a spokesman Wednesday. “The filing deadline is June 7 and my family and I will make our decision before that time.”

CB: Kaneshiro Files For Re-Election

read … Decision

Corruption: Will PUC Renew Sandwich Isles Certification?

IM: …Earlier this month, Sandwich Isles Communications and Pa Makani LLC, dba Sandwich Isles Wireless filed applications with the PUC to renew their Annual Certification as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier.

For the past two decades the Hawai`i Department of Hawaiian Home Land has given the politically connected Sandwich Isles, the exclusive rights to provide phone service for new customers on Hawaiian Home Lands.

The Federal Communications Commission provided Sandwich Isles, $830 per customer per month from the Universal Service Fund to subsidize phone service.

Earlier the year Federal Judge Susan Oki Mollway gave Sandwich Isles President Albert S.N. Hee a 46-month sentence for providing “false” salaries to family members, college tuition for his children, family vacations, massages and dozens of other personal expenses. Al Hee is the brother of former State Senator Clayton Hee….

read … PUC reality check, post HECO-NextEra merger

Pesticide Report Proves Anti-GMO Activists are Liars and Frauds

KGI: “The JFF group’s 15-month investigation into the island’s seed and coffee industry was unable to validate any of the wild health and environmental claims of the Bill 2491 controversy,” HCIA said in a statement. “While the JFF took a very aggressive tone, it could identify no health or environmental impacts associated with the industry’s pesticide use.”

CB: Pesticides in Hawaii

read … Absence of proof

Kauai Vehicle Tax Vacuums $5.5M from Consumers Pockets

KGI: …When the tax was first passed, it taxed three-quarters of a cent, or $0.0075, per pound for passenger vehicles and 2 cents for commercial vehicles, said Yvette Sahut, legislative assistant for Kauai County.

In 2001, the tax was increased to one and one quarter of a cent, or $0.0125.

More than a decade later, in 2014, the Kauai Council voted to approve a bill, No. 2543, to increase the tax by another three-quarters of a cent. That raised the vehicle weight tax to two cents, where it remains today….

On March 28, 2014, the Kauai Council voted 5-1 in favor of the increase. Council members Mason Chock, Gary Hooser, JoAnn Yukimura, Tim Bynum and Jay Furfaro voted for it. Councilman Ross Kagawa was the dissenting vote. Council chair Mel Rapozo was excused from voting that day….

Recently, the subject of vehicle weight tax was re-visited by the council when Yukimura introduced a bill to increase the tax by a cent.

The bill, No. 2631, proposed raising the tax for passenger vehicles to 3 cents and 5 cents for commercial vehicles.

The tax increase was introduced as a way to pay for the $100 million worth of backlogged road repairs and as an alternative to increasing the General Excise Tax.

On May 4, the council voted 4-3 to kill the bill…..

CB: To Make America Great Raise Income Taxes to 70%

read … Vehicle Tax

Hawaii is an absurdly expensive state to live in

MF: Hawaii is an absurdly expensive state to live in. This remote set of islands is a popular vacation destination for practically the entire world, and for that reason, everything you pay for comes at a premium. To give you a little perspective, it costs 36% more to live in Hawaii than it does in Mississippi, and some costs even exceed those you'll find in New York City. Compared with the Big Apple, the capital city of Honolulu has a cost-of-living index of 99.63, excluding rents, while groceries index at 112.49. That means groceries in Honolulu are 12% more expensive than they are in New York City. In fact, New York state as a whole is the only state in the nation that's more expensive than Hawaii, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Hawaii has no sales tax, but it does impose a general excise tax of 4% on all business activity. Meanwhile, there are 12 separate income tax brackets in Hawaii, with rates that range from 1.4% to 11%.

read … The 5 Worst States to Retire In

Solar Schemers Claim Hawaiian Electric could hit some rooftop solar caps next month

UD: The accelerating pace of rooftop applications for Hawaiian Electric's grid-supply tariff means the utility may fill its quota for the program in some areas as soon as June 2016, a coalition of solar companies warned in a filing with regulators last week. Any remaining capacity on all islands is likely to be filled by the beginning of August, the group said….

read … Utility Dive

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