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Friday, April 7, 2017
April 7, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:40 PM :: 4045 Views

Good Citizen or "Vexatious Requester"?

HB1022: $10M for Latest Honolulu Airport Mess

Ige Energy Code: Increase Home Construction Costs by $4700 per unit

Dairy: Billionaire Developer Omidyar Creates More Precedents Farmers Can’t Follow

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Vice President Mike Pence to Visit Hawaii

Will Tsutsui Resign Soon Enough to Entice Souki to Become LG?

MN: The political rumor mill is buzzing at the state Capitol and among those vying to succeed Mayor Alan Arakawa.

And, it all stems from Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui — whether he decides to enter the Maui mayor’s race, and, if so, when he would step down as lieutenant governor, and how that could set off a ripple effect through the leadership of the state Senate or House.

On Thursday, the 45-year-old Wailuku resident and former Senate president confirmed that he’s “pretty certain” he won’t seek re-election as lieutenant governor, and he’s thinking about running for mayor.

“It’s something I’m being asked about, almost on a daily basis,” he said. “Lots of people on Maui want me to come home.” ….

“I haven’t ruled anything out, but I haven’t made any decisions either,” he said. “My thinking is that in 2018 I do want to come home to Maui . . . In terms of what I intend to do, I haven’t really made up my mind.”

If Tsutsui resigns to run for mayor, there would be a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office, and Senate President Ron Kouchi of Kauai would be first in the line of succession. If he declines, next up would be House Speaker Joe Souki of Wailuku.

When asked about the prospect Wednesday, Souki said, “I don’t know.”

“I did show an interest in it,” Souki said. “It’s dependent upon Shan, when he’s going to be leaving.”….

If Tsutsui waits until the filing deadline on June 5, 2018, then there would be only about a half year remaining in the lieutenant governor’s term, and there would be little reason for Souki to give up his position as House speaker, McKelvey said.

If Souki were to leave the House, “Maui’s position would be murky at best,” he said….

Former five-term Maui County Council Member Mike Victorino has eyed the Maui County mayor’s office for years and confirmed Thursday that he’s running for mayor in 2018….

Aside from Tsutsui and Victorino, other potential mayoral candidates include Council Member (and convicted felon) Elle Cochran, who holds the West Maui residency seat; Council Member Don Guzman, who holds the Kahului residency seat; former Council Member Don Couch; and South Maui state Rep. Kaniela Ing (LOLROTF!).

Cochran (who used to rob tourists at gunpoint to buy drugs) announced her intention to run while appearing as a panelist at a gathering late last year.

In a video posted on YouTube by the Hawaii People’s Congress, Cochran said: “In 2018, I’m not going to be a council member any more. I’m going to run to be the mayor of Maui County.”….

MN: Cochran took part in armed robbery of 4 tourists

read … Tsutsui weighing run for Maui County mayor

Medicaid Plus Bills to watch

SR: Language is alive in legislation (HB552, HD1, SD1) that would create a “Medicaid Plus program.” This program would cover folks above Medicaid eligibility (138% FPL) up to 250% of the federal poverty level, or $70,725 per year for a family of four.

This program is a long way from being funded and implemented. But the idea is to provide a safety net if Congress repeals the ACA and middle class families lose the subsidies there.  This program could backfill disruption in the individual market as well.  One observer tells me it would be comparable to the old QUEST-Net program run by the state….

The Senate may take up the operating budget later today after a 48-hour delay following approval by the Ways and Means Committee (WAM).  WAM reduced spending compared to the governor’s introduced budget – appropriate given the mid-session revenue shortfall. However, it also added some funding for health.

About $9.6m was added for housing and homelessness programs for each FY following the defeat of SB 7 in the House. Almost $145m over two years was added to support the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, along with a $20m capital improvement allocation. Close to $3m was added for child and adolescent mental health. $13m was added to address chronic disease and about $10m went to re-base provider rates for Development Disabilities….

there may still be momentum around housing even if SB 7 died in the House. A Senate resolution asks providers and plans to start using ICD-10 codes to track homelessness in an attempt to get more and better direct information related to the chronically homeless population.

SB 397 funds a “Hospital Sustainability Program,” a bill with “strong support” from Queen’s. A bill related to opioid treatment is being taken up in SB505. The bill has had some vocal opposition but has now passed both chambers, albeit in different forms. SCR 80 creates a checklist process for employers wishing to offer high deductible health plans. It’s modest in initial scope but anything can change up until Sine Die on May 4th….

read … Medicaid Plus Bills to watch

HB1479: Hilo to Escape DLNR Join HCDA?

HTH: Hilo moved one step closer to having the state’s first Neighbor Island community economic district on Thursday after a bill creating the district cleared its final committee in the state Senate.

House Bill 1479, introduced by Rep. Mark Nakashima, D-Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, would establish the district within the Hawaii Community Development Authority, a division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. It would allow the HCDA to receive revenue and income, including that of the state-owned leases that comprise most of the district, and use that money to fund redevelopment projects.

The area that would be covered by the bill includes the Banyan Drive area and the Kanoelehua Industrial Area. Land in both areas is primarily on state leases. In the case of the KIA, those leases are all set to expire at the same time, as they were all issued after the 1960 tsunami….

HCDA has not testified in support or against the bill, but has provided comments. Executive director Jesse Souki estimated in testimony that the cost of establishing a Hilo district would be about $1.5 million annually, with initial startup costs of $50,000. This would cover full-time employees and a Hawaii Island satellite office.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which holds the long-term leases for most of the land in the proposed district, also provided comments about the measure.

In written testimony for Thursday’s Senate committee hearing, DLNR chairwoman Suzanne Case said that because the department incurred “significant costs and expenses” in maintaining the leases, “the department believes that all the revenues generated by existing leases (less the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ share) should be remitted to the department to allow it to continue to perform the lease management duties.”

Revenue from the leases is about $3 million annually, Kahele said.

“I think what you’re seeing now is DLNR getting a little worried … this bill has a chance, and I think it’s getting their attention,” he said. “The bill never said it would take the entire pot (of revenue); it said it would be shared.”

The exact proportion of sharing would be determined during conferencing when HB 1479 moves to that stage.

read … ‘Voices of Hilo have been heard’: Community economic district bill nears passage

New stadium? UH Wants Cut of the Action

SA: A day after the Aloha Stadium Authority accepted a consultant’s report that conceptualized a facility to replace the 42-year-old, 50,000-seat stadium, members of the UH Board Of Regents Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics questioned school administrators about the issue.

UH President David Lassner told regents, “Our goal is to have a more favorable financial relationship with the stadium where we play football so that it becomes a revenue opportunity for us as it is for most other universities around the country.”

UH is one of two schools in the 12-member Mountain West Conference that do not own or operate their own football stadiums.

UH can resell some parking spots and sells field-level advertising but does not share in most parking and advertising revenue and does not profit from concessions. UH does not pay rent at Aloha Stadium but does pay approximately $90,000-$100,000 per game for operations, including clean-up, security and electricity.

Although not specifically naming UH, the 181-page “Aloha Stadium Conceptual Redevelopment Report” addressed the possibility of the school getting a bigger cut saying, “… it is likely that several of the new revenue streams could be shared with the primary tenant, including stadium naming rights, advertising and sponsorships and luxury seating premiums.”

The report noted, “In a year of stabilized operations, it is estimated that operations of a new Aloha Stadium could generate approximately $5.2 million in annual income … after funding of a capital reserve but prior to any revenue sharing with the stadium’s primary tenant.”

SA: Another Sales Pitch for New Aloha Stadium

read … UH wants revenue-sharing opportunities in new stadium

Hawaii bill would criminalize trespassing on state lands

AP: The Hawaii House of Representatives approved a bill to make it a crime to trespass on all state lands despite concerns it could harm (help) homeless people (by forcing them to accept shelter.)….

“Currently there are huge encampments on state lands,” said House Minority Leader Andria Tupola, who voted for the bill with reservations….

HPR: Town Square: Sit and Lie Ban Expansion

read … Hawaii bill would criminalize trespassing on state lands

SB804: Anti-GMO Hype Fails in Legislature

KE: It's spring, which means flowers, long days, baseball.

But to paraphrase the classic poem Casey at the Bat, “there is no joy in antiville — Lukens and Hooser have struck out.”

Yeah, despite — or perhaps because of — all their fear-mongering, threats, mob action and baby-toting mamas flown into hearings, Center for Food Safety and HAPA had a dismal session at the Lege…

Of course, that's all part of the plan. Because without "bad guys" — seed companies, conventional farmers, thinking citizens, politicians who don't cower and cave — they've got no battle. And without a battle, they've got no raison d'être. And without a raison d'être to attract donors, they've got no cash.

See how it works? It's not about protecting the keiki and kupuna. It's all about protecting the cash flow…..

CB: Why Hawaii Still Won’t Require Disclosures Of Pesticide Use

read … Losers

SB1150: Anti-Sunscreen Hysteria Loses in Legislature

MN: Recently our state Legislature failed to pass a law banning the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone. (SB1150 is now a study instead of a ban, and it is headed for Conference Committee.)

Studies have proven that oxybenzone causes damage to coral. If our coral reefs die, our beaches will disappear and our many beautiful reef fish will have no home (the planet will die we are all doomed, etcetcetc). How could the Legislature fail to pass such a law? It is totally illogical not to do so. Bad legislators, bad!….  (Hysteria personified)

Reality for those few who can handle it: According to Nature and Scientific American, that’s a bunch of hype

SB1150: Text, Status

read … Hysteria Loses Again

Hawaii AG To Review Toddler Abuse Case That Kaneshiro Refused to Prosecute

CB: Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin is reviewing the 2015 assault of a toddler at an Ewa Beach day care after Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro declined to pursue the case, saying he had received no new information from the Honolulu Police Department despite the department taking a fresh look.

“I’m hopeful the attorney general can do something,” Chelsea Valiente, mother of the injured toddler, said Thursday.

The decision by the HPD to submit the evidence to Chin’s office is the latest turn in a case that sparked public outrage after Civil Beat wrote about it in February. More than two years after Peyton Valiente, 17 months old at the time, almost died from brain injuries, no one has been held to account.

Peyton was hurt while under the care of a babysitter, Manuela Ramos, who is married to a Honolulu police officer who has since retired….

Espero questioned Kaneshiro’s decision.

“A little boy was assaulted in a home and it appears like there are 3 suspects,” he wrote in response to Kaneshiro’s letter. “The injuries to Peyton are evidence enough. The hospital stay is evidence enough. What do you mean there is no evidence to proceed?”

He continued, “If you do not even try to ask or find justice through a grand jury, I question your decision-making. How do you know they will not be cooperative under a grand jury setting? People respond when put under certain situations….

read …Hawaii AG To Review Toddler Abuse Case That Police Botched

Child welfare settlements costing the state more than $5M

HNN: …Big Island Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville, who handled the Peter Boy Kema case, said there are still holes in the system.

"These cases happen too often. I understand the idea of reuniting families but sometimes you can drag it out too long and you can create a situation that can be bad, very bad," said Damerville.

During the past five years, the state has agreed to pay more than $5 million dollars to settle four separate cases where it was accused of inadequately protecting children.

This year, the state agreed to pay $875,000 over the death of four-year-old Zion McKeown on Maui in 2012.

Child Protective Services took him in 2008, then returned him to his mother two years later. She then sent him to his father, who now faces murder charges.

Then, there's the 2005 case of ten-year-old Alexis, in what was called a "house of horrors" on the Big Island.

She suffered permanent damage from malnutrition, burns to her face and body, and maggots living in her festering wounds.

A lawsuit alleged that school officials missed signs of abuse by a caregiver. The case was settled for nearly $6 million with the state paying nearly $3.5 million of that.

"We're going to continue to pay out that kind of money. But more importantly kids are going to continue to be harmed, maimed and killed," said attorney Eric Seitz….

read … Child welfare settlements costing the state more than $5M

Hi Tech Tax Credits Fund Womens Clothing Store at Ala Moana Mall

HNN: The High Technology Development Corporation, a state-sponsored group, recently released detailed information on how their businesses are doing.

One such company is The Collective, owned and operated by Allison Izu Song and Summer Shiigi.

The Collective is a space for local designers, one that houses their full fashion workshop.

They say the state helped them realize their dreams.

"They supported us with a manufacturing grant. They also supported us through space when we first started," Song said.

With manufacturing grants, like the one used by Song and Shiigi, businesses can get up to $100,00 to buy new equipment, train employees, or become energy efficient.

read … High?

Operating an illegal vacation rental? Beware, your neighbor could sue

KITV: …“From Kahaluu to Kahuku, there are 8 legal rentals. But if you go on VBRO there are 500 vacation units in this area,” said Walker.

Honolulu City Council Chair Ron Menor introduced a resolution 17-52 he said empowers neighbors to take action.

"By giving residents the opportunity to intercede , to be able to initiate a private actions, legal actions against these illegal operators, we think that's going to supplement the city's efforts to try and enforce our laws," said Menor.

The city administration admits it needs help.

“I don't think that our enforcement is very effective, so we are looking at other strategies," said Kathy Sukagawa who is the acting Director of the Department of Planning and Permitting.

The hotel workers’ union helped draft the measure and said it's similar to what other cities are considering….

Other operators said the measure is blatantly unfair to those who operate in resort zoned areas.

”This amendment will literally empower any neighbor within 1000 feet of a high rise condo in Waikiki to file a legal action, and let the city act as police, jury, and executioner, said Broker Peter Yee.

SA: Resolution 17-52 on illegal vacation rentals is deferred

read … Operating an illegal vacation rental? Beware, your neighbor could sue

Chin Defends Suit Against Trump Travel Ban

HTH: …Chin was greeted by a standing ovation from attendees inside the Waimea School Cafeteria where the meeting was held, another faction on the curb outside the school — armed with signage supporting Trump and his travel ban — questioned the Attorney General’s motives.

“I believe that Chin has chosen to file what amounts to a frivolous lawsuit,” said Patrick Henry, his right hand grasping an American flag. “I believe that he does not have legal rights to challenge an executive order by the president of the United States on any grounds and that the purpose of his frivolous lawsuit is to advance a potential future political career he has in mind.” …

it won’t be Chin arguing the case to the highest court in the land. Instead, his office has sought special counsel to present on Hawaii’s behalf, something he said is not uncommon.

Henry and the group of travel ban supporters outside the school took issue with that as well, calling the decision to spend the state’s limited resources on the legal proceedings irresponsible.

During the question-and-answer period to finish Chin’s presentation, an inquiry was raised about possible retribution on behalf of the federal government in retaliation to Hawaii’s legal action.

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared publicly that any sanctuary city or state — those that willfully choose not to comply with federal directives on immigration — will not receive federal funding.

One exception to that declaration are funds for law enforcement activities Sessions and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security deem necessary. Chin said another exception in effect, at least for now, is money for ongoing infrastructure projects, such as the rail system on Oahu.

State Rep. Gene Ward, Hawaii Kai and Kalama Valley, said last week that federal dollars amount to more than 20 percent of the state’s budget, or roughly $1.5 billion.

Chin said threats such as those leveled by Sessions at cities and states that won’t comply are worrisome but can also be legally challenged under the 11th amendment and a legal theory called “commandeering.”

Commandeering is coercion on the part of the federal government to exert undue influence over policies districts see as their own purview by threatening to withhold funding….

While Thursday evening was spotted with a handful of objections, questions and fears over Hawaii leading the way against Trump’s newest iteration of the travel ban, the majority in attendance weren’t only supportive of the action, but invigorated by it (because it gives them a chance to feel superior.)

Pablo Beimler, 28, was among them.  “I agree with (the action against the ban), and I would say I’m very proud of it,” he said. “I’m proud to say we live in the state that took Donald Trump head on….”

(That’s four “I’s”.  See how this works?)

read … Social Climbing Exercise

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