Hawaii 2nd-Highest Tax Burden in USA
Hawaii Pensions Underfunded by 39%
Who lives longer: Hawaii life expectancies examined in research study
SB501: House Judiciary Passes Bill Forcing Pro-Life Centers to Promote Abortion
Deal Announced to Preserve Ka Iwi Coast
$792M GE Tax Hike for Rail Passes House Finance Committee
CB: …Instead of extending Oahu’s 0.5 percent surcharge, which is set to expire a decade from now, in perpetuity, the House Finance Committee passed an amended version of the rail tax bill that falls well short of that.
Chairwoman Sylvia Luke announced that Senate Bill 1183 was amended to extend the surcharge for just two years beyond its 2027 sunset date. That would provide the city and its rail agency with $792 million more in revenue….
Luke also said the state would adjust the amount of “skim” it levies on the surcharge, reducing it from 10 percent to just 1 percent. That would generate another $397 million which, combined with the $792 million, comes to just under $1.2 billion.
In Luke’s estimation, that’s roughly the amount of money the city and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation need to finish the project…..
Murthy, speaking of the actions taken by the HART board before he joined it, said, “Apparently, mistakes were made.”
He explained that contracts in 2009, 2010 and 2012 were not “properly vetted” and lacked “clarity,” and so contained inaccuracies…..
Because the bill is “clean” — that is, there is no “defective date” language to delay when it would take effect — the Senate could choose to accept what the House did and conduct its own floor vote.
If there are disagreements, SB 1183 could end up in conference committee, the behind-closed-doors maneuvering where Senate and House negotiators would try to reach an acceptable compromise.
But the Senate could also kill the bill.
This much seems certain: Caldwell promised legislators he would not return for a third time to ask for more money.
“I’m not coming back again,” he said, (lying).
SB1183: Text, Status
read … Two Years, then Try for More
Princess Kawananakoa criticizes OHA LLCs, demands transparency
HNN: Over the past decade, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has transferred millions of dollars of its real estate holdings, including its ownership of Waimea Valley and a poi mill on Kauai to private, nonprofit companies that it controls.
But critics say those nonprofits were created to shield OHA from public scrutiny, and to conceal mismanagement.
"These LLCs are really a scheme for OHA to avoid the sunshine law," said Jim Bickerton, attorney of Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa.
Kawananakoa is demanding that OHA make public the finances of the nonprofits, saying she is "deeply concerned about what appears to be a misuse and misdirection of trust funds by OHA."
These nonprofits appeared to have lost about $261,000 in 2015, which is the latest year for which figures are available. Figures for all of the nonprofits were not available.
A review of state business registration also show that the nonprofits list former OHA managers Clyde Namuo and Richard Pezzulo as officers.
"It will become the playground of insiders and wheeler dealers, and will really hurt the cause of Hawaiian people," said Bickerton.
OHA defended its use of the nonprofits, saying it plans to address any misunderstandings about them at a board meeting next month.
Kawananakoa also filed an ethics complaint against OHA CEO Kamanao Crabbe on Tuesday. She alleges he failed to disclose that he's also an officer of these nonprofits. …
read … Princess Kawananakoa criticizes OHA's use of funds, demands transparency
Prosecutors: We Know where Peter Boy’s Body was Left
SA: …Had Kema refused to take the plea deal, he would have gone to trial on the murder charge and could have rolled the dice that the jury would have found him not guilty of murder, Damerville said. He also could have opted to ask the judge to instruct jurors on the charge of manslaughter.
Damerville said he did not get the case until March 2016 but that the 10-year statute of limitations for manslaughter had expired in 2007. (There is no time limit for a murder charge.)
“In 2007, we were still dealing with, ‘Is this boy still alive?’” he said, adding that developments in 2011 and 2016 have made the case much easier to prosecute.
(Yes. Hawaii County voters elected Mitch Roth prosecutor. That made all the difference.)
Police will now take statements from Kema as to what really happened and have him lead them to the remains.
Damerville said they have an idea of where the body is but did not release any location for fear “amateur hunters” may go searching….
Prosecutors say that Jaylin Kema does not know where Peter Boy’s remains are but may have a general idea.
Medeiros said, “There are too many variables to say whether we’ll be able to recover the body,” including Kema’s memory, whether the body was buried or just placed on the ground, and the condition of the remains….
WHT: Justice for ‘Peter Boy’: Father of 6-year-old missing since 1997 pleads guilty to manslaughter
read … Manslaughter
Star-Adv: State Taxpayers Must Give More Money to ‘Green’ Billionaires who fund National Dems—and Pander to the Anti-GMO Morons who Make up the Dem Base
SA: AES Hawaii Inc., the state’s only coal-fired power plant, says it will stick with plans to convert to renewable fuel sources. Under state law that calls for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045, the Kalaeloa plant, which gets its coal from Indonesia, has about five years to find a new fuel source. And on Monday the state Senate Committee on Ways and Means passed HB 1580, which sets a goal for reaching 100 percent renewable ground transportation fuel — also within 28 years…. (Tax credits galore, baaaybeeee!)
Earlier this year, when support for the proposed chlorpyrifos ban appeared shaky due to selection of Pruitt — a backer of reducing environmental regulatory oversight — state legislators pushed a bill to ban all use of the spray staple in the islands.
The state licenses 25 pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos, 13 of which have food uses. The remaining dozen are used in tree plantations, nurseries, golf courses, and in ant and roach baits sold in child-resistant packaging.
In testimony, the bill’s supporters asserted a highly toxic threat, and opponents argued that farmers and others should be able to use the pest-control option as long as the EPA allows. While the bill has failed to advance, lawmakers pledged to push a new bill next year. “We have an obligation as elected officials at the state level to take action to protect our people when the federal government won’t,” said Rep. Chris Lee, House Energy and Environmental Protection chairman.
SA: Solar businesses struggle without incentives
read … Save protections for environment
Union Organizer: Please Start Paying Home Caregivers so unions can Scoop up their Dues Money
SA: Hawaii would be the first state, when it passes Senate Bill 534/House Bill 607, to invest in the care infrastructure to support families and the fastest-growing workforce sector in the nation: home care.
(And as a union organizer now ensconced at a cush UHM position, I can’t wait for this big score.)
By investing in care, and by vigorously opposing the current assaults on our democratic ideals, we honor the memories of our loved ones who lived through America’s darkest moments. Hawaii is the fulfillment of the promise of a multiracial democracy that supports the idea that we can all live, work and care for our families with dignity.
read … Column by Union Organizer Ai-jen Poo
Women's March Organizer: Please help Insurance Companies Make More Money by Killing off Expensive Oldsters
SA: Hawaii’s “Death With Dignity” Bill has been shelved. The bill would have allowed terminally ill people to have a choice to die without suffering. The title does not refer to the notion some people have that choosing to end life prior to its natural occurrence is the “coward’s way out.” The “cowards” are those who refused to support the bill. No matter which side of the fence our local politicians lean on, the “politics as usual” mentality will fail. The weight of the Resistance against entrenched systems that no longer serve the people will create a tipping point that breaks the stranglehold. Make no mistake — each and every political representative will be held accountable. (Yawn.)
“I think you and your family should suffer.”
Best Comments: “Calling people cowards because they do not support your belief is not being tolerant.” “Call me crazy but this woman seems to be consumed with anger. Apparently she was the rabble rouser who organized the angry feminist (are there another kind?) marches with the obscene pink pus$y hats and the vulgar language. Now she demands politicians pass "death with dignity" legislation become law or risk her wrath.” “Ms Teresa Shook, for me, you are shown to be the coward in placing the medical doctors between you and your God. Auwe.” “’I think you and your family should suffer.’ That statement from her shows her character and her intolerance to the beliefs of other people.”
Reality: Meet the Insurance Executive Behind Assisted Suicide in Hawaii
read … Superiority Complex on Display
Legislators Reject Assisted Suicide due to Lack of Safeguards
CB: …experts on both sides acknowledged holes in the legislation….
Ultimately, the votes weren’t there to pass it out of the committee, which includes Belatti, and Reps. Marcus Oshiro, Andria Tupola, Bert Kobayashi, Sharon Har, Dee Morikawa and Chris Todd.
Belatti, like many of her House colleagues, including Kobayashi and Todd, said she supports the concept of medical aid in dying but could not back the bill in its present form or find a way to amend it that would alleviate concerns about insufficient safeguards….
“With something of this significance, when you have testimony from agencies that are weak, and that don’t show a complete commitment to this policy decision that is so important, the committee was within its rights to kind of slow this process down,” she said….
Tupola, one of five Republicans in the House, cited Dr. Rae Seitz’s testimony in a statement she put out supporting the deferral of the bill. Har, too, noted Seitz’s comments as compelling. Seitz, a palliative care expert who supports the concept of medical aid in dying, told the committee that “Hawaii’s health care community is not yet prepared.”
“I was concerned with the bill because of issues with death certificate accuracy, no mandate that the medication be taken in a controlled environment with a witness, lack of enforcement and no definition for ‘self-administration,’” Tupola said.
Oshiro echoed those concerns, describing the bill as “beyond repair.”
“I take this seriously. It’s literally life and death,” he said….
Lawmakers’ concerns mostly centered around the safeguards and a series of “what-if” scenarios. Should a witness be present when the lethal medication is taken by the patient? What qualifications should the medical professionals giving the terminal diagnosis have? How are records kept?
Belatti said it was the Legislature’s job to “balance the right to choose with protecting those who are most vulnerable…There must be a broader discussion about safeguards and oversight to this ‘aid in dying’ proposal.”….
read … No Safeguards
Council Drops Caldwell’s Garbage Tax in order to Slip other Tax Hikes Thru
CB: Other Caldwell proposals to increase taxes and fees on vehicle weight, parking meters, the bus system, zoo admission and golf courses were all approved by the Budget Committee. Next the bills go to second readings at the full council meeting April 26.
Bills to increase some property tax rates and the county fuel tax will be considered during a special Budget Committee meeting Tuesday.
Another contentious revenue-generating bill was resurrected after being deferred for more than a year. It passed through the committee Wednesday and will now go to the full council meeting for its third reading.
Bill 78, originally proposed in 2015, would create a program allowing organizations and individuals to sponsor certain city facilities. The city would create signs to acknowledge the money received….
The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee deferred Bill 10 on Wednesday. The bill would establish a $10 monthly fee for the city’s semiweekly trash collection service, which is currently free.
read … Proposal To Charge For Honolulu Trash Pickup Discarded For Now
$300K more OK’d for firms defending in Kealoha suit
SA: Council Chairman Ron Menor said after Tuesday’s meeting that the Corporation Counsel requested the additional funds — $100,000 per firm — due to the “complex and detailed nature” of the lawsuit. He said the lawyers have had to review a “voluminous” amount of documents and numerous claims filed by the Kealohas. He said the lawyers and Corporation Counsel did not indicate if they would need more funds in the future and that the case does not seem to be headed to trial anytime soon.
read … $300K more OK’d for firms defending in Kealohas’ suit
Applications Closed for Honolulu Police Chief
KITV: …In Wednesday's Police Commission meeting, members revealed that applications are still coming in so the number of applicants could total more than 30.
The application deadline was Monday, April 3. Applications post-marked on that date are still being accepted.
Once all of the candidates are looked over, the commission will make its top selections.
Identities and details about the potential candidates will not be released until the final cut, scheduled for May.
A consultant will then be hired to assess and rank each candidate. Assessment includes a 3-day assessment class, a full background check and psychological evaluation.
The Police Commission said a new Police Chief will be hired by July 2017.
HTH: Pretrial conference slated for ex-cop accused in road rage incident
read … More than 25 candidates apply for Honolulu's Top Cop position
Pandering to Squatters on Kauai
KGI: A day after four men were arrested for trespassing, Wainiha community members and county officials met Wednesday to discuss community safety, kuleana lands and Native Hawaiian rights.
“I feel now we’re getting to where we need to be. We’re collectively coming together as ohana and finding the resolutions,” said Ka‘imi Hermosura, a Wainiha resident and one of the four men detained Tuesday. “We are trying to do something peacefully to do the right thing to preserve, to protect and to honor our families.”
Hermosura was designated by kupuna as a konohiki (headman of land in an ahupa‘a) in Wainiha and addressed his concerns to Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. and county attorney Mauna Kea Trask, as crowd of about 50 people listened on kuleana land Hermosura says is his birthright via royal patent….
(Lets just skip to the comments since they are far more intelligent than the article.)
“The squatters don't own the land. Why give them your ear anyway. Kick them out and move on. More people will start doing this now.”
“Mayor Carvalho is wasting his time meeting with these clowns. Holding a Royal Patent does not give one the right to squat on land that you have not paid one penny in land tax for. It also does not give you the right to build an illegal, unpermitted dwelling. There are ways to prove ownership through the courts supported by entities within the Hawaiian Community. Problem is that even when you find out you are a legal heir, you will also find that you share this patch of land with 100's of relatives who now have to agree on how to proceed forward. Then there is the issue of back taxes and who pays. Once all this is established you still have to deal with the claim of burial grounds on the property. The same rules that you want to apply to the state recognized owners of this land now apply to you. Get a real job and support your family and stop sponging off the system.”
“They will not win, they are mistaken in reading the land patents and they don't know how to follow the paper trail that proves that they were sold out by their ancestors. The paperwork is there, Carvalho knows it, but he is playing both sides. He knows the Hawaiians will lose, but he wants to save face.
These people are squatters, Americans born in America. The land does not belong to them, it was sold long ago. This is a stupid pipedream. I do not understand how people can be so bloody ignorant. Almost like some people have a stupid gene or something that won't allow them to understand or grasp TRUTH. They see a shiny, heard a folk tale, are frustrated with the cost of living on Kauai, can't afford to make it in the real world, seen what Native Americans have (they deserved it, they were slaughtered and uprooted, you weren't) so they decide to pull this kind of stuff.
You were sold out by your ancestors. 94% of the population of Hawaii voted for statehood, to become one of the United States. That's what you are, the 50th state. Not the Hawaiian Kingdom, that was finished long long ago.”
“Reading this article, I am not clear what the final resolution was??? What happened to property rights? The county fails to protect the legal owner of record who pays the real property taxes? Politics step aside, Courts must have a final ruling.”
read … Mayor, Wainiha residents discuss safety, arrests, kuleana land, Native Hawaiian rights
State reaches settlement in case where 4 year-old was stomped to death
HNN: The state legislature is preparing to approve an $875,000 settlement in a lawsuit in the case of a boy who was allegedly stomped to death by his father on Maui.
Zion McKeown spent part of his short life in state custody because his parents were deemed unfit. But despite warnings from his grandmother, the state eventually returned the boy to his mother, who eventually sent the child to live with his father, Kyle McKeown. …
Zion had been returned to his mother, Rooney's daughter, in 2009. In justifying the settlement, the state Attorney General's office said both parents had a history of mental illness and violence against family members, along with criminal convictions for violence. …
But the Attorney General's office said state Child Welfare Services failed to follow up on anonymous reports in February 2010 that Zion was being abused by his mother.
read … State reaches settlement in case where 4 year-old was stomped to death
Company says meth users down, while fake urine up
SA: …Workforce drug tests by Honolulu-based Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc. showed that synthetic urine — used to mask drug use — climbed to 1.2 percent of tested workers, up from 0.9 percent in the year-earlier period, the lab said Wednesday. The use of crystal meth, also known as ice, was 0.6 percent, down from 0.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
“This could be that our shrinking job pool is drawing out more synthetic urine users or that more crystal meth users are turning to synthetic urine,” said Carl Linden, DLS’ scientific director of toxicology. “Last year they were almost even, and now synthetic urine is double the crystal meth level.”….
Meanwhile, workers’ use of cocaine, marijuana and opiate remained steady year over year at approximately 0.2 percent, 2.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively….
read … Company says meth users down, while fake urine up
Medicated Marijuana Dealership Bristling with Spy Cameras
MN: Several 360-degree security cameras monitor each room, and custom security glass has been installed in windows and doors, she said. A photo is taken of every visitor that enters and exits each room of the store, she said.
State law does not allow media or anyone aside from the licensee to take photos or video inside the dispensary due to security risks, Freitas Gorman said. She noted that the store is “more secure than a bank.” ….
“We’ve built several security features into this building that are not visible to the naked eye, and we wanted it that way,” she said. “This is Maui. We didn’t want steel bars over the windows. We wanted it to just look like our neighbors, and I think we succeeded in doing that.”
Anyone may visit the store for information on the Health Department’s Medical Marijuana Patient Registry Program. About 25 workers will staff the dispensary and be available to speak to visitors in the waiting room.
Only registered cardholders will be allowed into the next area, the education room, where a patient care specialist will answer questions from customers and help place orders on an iPad, Freitas Gorman said. She said a price list, photos of the products and complimentary coffee and snacks will be available to customers.
The next room will be for the transaction, where cardholders can see the physical plants and products for purchase. (This is just like a car dealership.) Customers will not be allowed to physically handle or smell the plants, which will be packaged in small display bottles and placed in glass cases, in accordance with state law, Freitas Gorman said. She added that no more than eight people can be in the sales room at one time.
All products are sold in opaque childproof containers that are sealed and cannot be opened on the premises, including in the parking lot, Freitas Gorman said. The outside view looking through the windows will be blocked, but sunshine will be able to get through inside, she said.
The store plans to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and will adjust according to traffic patterns, Freitas Gorman said. The store will be ready to open by July.
read … Sales Floor
HR136: Ing’s Animal Liberation Hype Debunked
SA: …As a published scientist in the field of dolphin behavior and social cognition, I oppose House Resolution 136/House Concurrent Resolution 208 (written by anti-aquarium nut Rep Kaniela Ing), now being considered in the Hawaii Legislature. I am struck by the scientific inaccuracy present in this resolution. The idea expressed in the resolution that these dolphins are prevented from contributing to natural ecology implies that they were recently caught or that they could be released.
However, North American facilities have not taken from the wild in decades…
read … Debunk of Animal Liberation Hype
Borlaug’s dream is being realized
AFS: Dr. Norman Borlaug, whose scientific research sparked a “green revolution” in agriculture that saved millions of lives, was prescient.
Groundbreaking research that he envisioned nearly 50 years ago is finally coming to fruition as scientists announce new advances in their efforts to develop plants that can create their own sources of fertilizer.
Borlaug alluded to this work in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was awarded in 1970 in recognition of a life dedicated to feeding the world’s hungry population….
KE: Musings: Borlaug's Food for Thought
read … Borlaug’s dream is being realized