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Saturday, April 22, 2017
April 22, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:46 PM :: 3792 Views

Ira Einhorn, Earth Day's Dirty Secret

Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

HB165: How Lawmakers can Deal with Annoying Citizens

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Kouchi Wants 20% Rail Skim—10-Year GE Tax Hike

SA: The pressure on state lawmakers to provide extra funding to bail out the Honolulu rail project has become so intense that some senators are reportedly lining up votes in a power play that could sideline Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda.

Tokuda is key to the rail debate because as chairwoman of that committee, she controls appropriations and tax measures in the Senate. It is unclear yet whether the talk of removing her is a genuine reorganization effort or is designed to prod her into supporting more funding for rail….

Now, Senate President Ron Kouchi and Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Inouye are floating a new proposal that would extend the rail surcharge by 10 years to 2037, which would provide the rail funds that Caldwell says the city needs.

The new draft bill would also commit 19 percent of the revenue from the surcharge to the state Highway Fund to help finance highway projects, and 1 percent would be retained by the state tax department to cover the cost of administering the tax.

Sources say that Tokuda has balked at that idea, which has helped fuel talk of replacing her with someone willing to accept the new rail tax proposal. Tokuda declined repeated requests for an interview Friday.

read … Sen. Tokuda could face ouster over rail project

Desperate to Sway Conference Committee, HART Claims Recovery plan for rail required by FTA ‘is not complete at this stage’

KHON: A recovery plan is due to the federal government in just over a week, but the head of the rail authority says answers are still up in the air.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials and testifiers said they hope the state Legislature ends up approving a lengthy extension of the general excise tax surcharge to pay for rail, which is billions short of what’s needed to finish the project.

(Clue: Even if the Lege Conf Ctte fell for this line of BS, the bill will not have been voted by both houses nor signed by the Gov on April 30.)

HART is racing toward an April 30 deadline to tell the Federal Transit Administration how it will get the job done, and how to pay for it.

“The FTA is fully aware of the process that we are going through,” said Krishniah Murthy, HART interim CEO. “We have been constantly in touch with them and they have been following us very closely, so it’s not a surprise to them that the product we are going to give them is not complete at this stage.”

House and Senate differences need to be hashed out in the bill. The last version only extended the tax for two more years to 2029.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the construction division gave an update on two issues.

The first addressed those plastic shims used to level the guideway. They were cracking by the thousands, and now officials say all 110,000 shims along the line have been replaced.  (Just makes you wanna give em mo money doesn’t it?)

Concerns about cracks in the rail cars themselves have also been resolved after a material defect was fixed by the train car maker.  (Uh-huh.  Sure nothing to see here.)

read … Recovery plan for rail required by FTA ‘is not complete at this stage’

DOT disregards its duty to public

SA: So many bureaucrats, so few results….

DOT Director Ford Fuchigami recently warned legislators about the poor condition of the state’s 15 airports, including at Honolulu. He cited the “progressive deterioration of the quality of terminal facilities, which no longer reflect the best of our state, and are increasingly well below the standard of other airports serving leading global destinations.”

Decision-making for the airports system needs to be centralized under an authority or corporation, he said, in order to free it from complex state requirements, such as the procurement code.

So — here is the man in charge acknowledging his and his agency’s inability to get much done, unless a new sub-entity is created. It is a stunning admission of failure, of a governmental quagmire that bureaucrats can’t — or won’t — confront.

This is how public operations stagnate under state officials without the fortitude or leadership to cut through red tape and problems; instead, efforts go into devising complex work-arounds. And it is a woeful abdication of responsibility — by Fuchigami, but also by a silent Gov. David Ige who should be out front demanding better.

That extends to Hawaii’s roadways, which 26 percent of Hawaii Poll respondents criticized as “very poor,” 38 percent rated below average and 27 percent rated as middling. That left less than 10 percent of respondents giving high marks for the quality of roads that we all pay to help maintain….

Despite attempts over a couple of days for response to the poll’s findings, the DOT ignored repeated calls for comment, let alone explanation….

Related: HIDOT Fails to Answer -- $78K Administrative Cost Per Mile

read … DOT disregards its duty to public

Telescope: Ige says his involvement in the case is limited to administrative actions

PBN: …The governor said that when he visited the mountain, he saw hundreds of cars on the summit of Mauna Kea.

"I don't think that was conducive to science, and I don't think that was conducive to the culture, so I think we need to do a better job," Ige said.

A decision from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on the permit request for the observatory could still be months away. Officials are currently in the process of transcribing the formal hearings on the matter. Those hearings lasted for 44 days and concluded last month.

In the meantime, TMT officials have reached an agreement with a Spanish agency to build the project on the Canary Island of La Palma should the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reject its permit request.

Ige said that his involvement in the case was limited to administrative actions, so the hearings could be conducted in a reasonable time-frame.

"We look forward to the decision, now that all the formal hearings have been completed," he said.

There's still the possibility of a second contested case hearing regarding the project.

In December, Hilo Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources should have held a hearing for TMT’s sublease agreement with the University of Hawaii at Hilo for the site….

read … Ige Mauna

Anti-GMO Activists Boycott ‘March for Science’

KE: I suppose it was inevitable that controversy should intrude into Saturday's March for Science-Hawaii.

Though the international event is intended to be a non-partisan celebration of the scientific method and scientific innovation, it seems that some folks just can't handle the presentation of viewpoints that oppose their own, especially when the facts aren't on their side. 

Yes, the anti-TMT (Tirty-Meter Telescope) and anti-GMO activists are all huhu that the Hawaii March organizers dared to invite speakers who represent the science side of these two issues. And in their typical “my way or the highway” approach to things, some of them are calling for a boycott –oh, boo hoo; your absence won't even be noticed — and/or actively trying to discredit and smear the participants they don't like.

Not surprisingly, their ranks include the Sierra Club's Nate Yuen and failed politician Gary Hooser, who huffed….

Of course, this is nothing new. But what's really sad is how the University of Hawaii, which is hosting the March event, is cowering in the face of this controversy, rather than standing up to these bullies. Per usual, the antis started attacking Joni on the Hawaii March for Science Facebook page, which had posted an announcement about her planned speech, just as it acknowledged the other speakers in tomorrow's line up at UH.

Joni responded to correct the lies and other science-defenders joined in, pointing out the misinformation and lack of science that drives the anti-GMO stance.

The organizers —neophtyes to the ugliness that characterizes the anti-GMO movmement — were appalled and began deleting some of the nastier comments. This was followed by them asking Joni not to talk about GMOs or pesticides during her 5-minute talk.

Or as a friend quipped:

Dear Galileo -

We are looking forward to your speech at the Vatican. We all agree on the value of science. Just please don’t mention your idea about the sun going round the earth.

Love, the Catholic Church

Reality: Environmentalism is a religion

read … Musings: Cowed by Anti-Science Bullies

Will FEMA Cancel Hawaii’s access to federal flood insurance?

SA: In April 2016, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent a letter warning the state of Hawaii that it will suspend Hawaii’s participation from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) because of Act 203, which exempts agricultural structures from building permits.

Act 203 was passed with intent to ease building costs for farmers wanting to construct greenhouses, storage containers, and other structures not intended for dwellings as long as they are under 1,000 square feet. However, reports of unauthorized homes being built on flood planes in agricultural districts raised concerns, causing FEMA to take action because they require permits for all construction.

In FEMA’s letter, it stated, “Failure to address this compliance problem by July 31, 2017, will force FEMA to initiate suspension procedures for the State and all Hawaii communities that participate in the NFIP.”

read … Measure needed to protect access to federal flood insurance

Incompetent Lazy HGEA Members Leave ‘$1B Sitting on the Floor’

PBN: …The administration’s biggest ongoing project involves the Department of Taxation, Ige said. Its aim is to boost tax revenue and increase efficiency.

The $59 million tax system modernization project, which started in 2015 and will run through 2020, could result in a revenue increase of up to 25 percent, according to Maria Zielinski, director of taxation. The figures are based on the experience of project vendor Fast Enterprise, which has implemented similar systems in various other U.S. states.

“As the [Senate] Ways and Means Committee chair, I heard the horror stories of mail coming into the [tax] department and sitting as much as 45 days before it got processed,” Ige said. Up to $1 billion were simply sitting on the floor, he added.

The state has also begun the process of upgrading its payroll, time and attendance system. It awarded a $41.5 million contract to New Jersey-based CherryRoad Technologies and Honolulu-based Pacxa last June.

The payroll-and-personnel system modernization will affect more than 75,000 state employees.

These initial two projects are only the beginning of an IT modernization…

read … HGEA Too Lazy to Collect the Taxes

Vexatious Stene: Public communications with DPW staff stymied

H247: Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless, his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises. The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.

I was able to get that part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects. In addition, I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers, or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments. This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works staff over the years. This is why I believe this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

read … Stene: Public communications with DPW staff stymied

Gays Won’t be Forcing Your Insurance Rates Higher This Year

SA: Hawaii lawmakers killed a bill that sought to (force insurance ratepayers to fork over $20K to pay for surrogate mothers to carry babies to term and then hand them over to homosexuals).

The decision came after health care lobbyists argued it was a bad idea to make insurers cover a fertility procedure for surrogate mothers that gay male couples rely on to have a child.

State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, the Senate’s lead negotiator for the bill, suggested killing the bill at a committee hearing today.

“I’m not certain that it’s ready for prime time, considering that we have no surrogacy laws on the books in the state of Hawaii, and I believe we need to address those,” Baker said.

read … Hawaii lawmakers kill bill seeking equal access to fertility treatment

Head of Police Commission Has Ties to SHOPO Pres, Samoa

SA: Max Sword has the kind of links with the Honolulu Police Department that comes with being a kamaaina — community ties rather than family ones.

Sword is vice president for industry affairs at Outrigger Hotels & Resorts; Tenari Maafala, the police union president, once worked for Outrigger. Some ties go back to childhood for the future police officers who once played on the neighborhood soccer teams Sword used to coach in Kaneohe….

Sword, 65, was born and raised in American Samoa until his family sent him to finish his secondary education at Punahou School. His aim upon graduating from Peru State College in Nebraska was to become a ship’s captain. But a friend lured him with a job at Aikahi Catamarans, where he became a vice president; then, for the past 30 years at Outrigger, his career redirection to the visitor industry was complete….

…his current goal to appoint “the best person we can find” to the top HPD job. All things being equal, a local resident has an advantage, Sword said, but all things aren’t always equal.

“You know what? I would like to have a local person,” he said….

read … Head of Honolulu Police Commission leads search for next police chief

Committee Rejects Governor’s Choice For Utilities Commission—Senate hearing Next

CB: But the full Senate will ultimately decide whether Tom Gorak’s appointment to the PUC will be confirmed.

IM: Senate Committee Opposes PUC Nominee Thomas Gorak

SA: Senate committee votes against Ige’s choice for PUC

read … Next Stop Senate

Soft on Crime: Homeless Lunatic Allegedly Slashes Haliewa Grocer

SA: Mayhew’s lengthy criminal record includes terroristic threatening, harassment, abuse of a family or a household member, assault, assault of a police officer, criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. He was recently released from prison in December 2016 after he served more than five years in prison for a second-assault conviction.

Mayhew soon was back in trouble when he entered a Haleiwa home on March 27 after finding a spare key hidden near the front door, according to court documents. The resident arrived home and found him taking a shower. She immediately called police. According to court records, Mayhew spent 10 days in jail and pleaded no contest to criminal trespassing. On April 6, Judge Melanie May at Wahiawa District Court sentenced him to a year of probation.

Under the terms of his probation, May ordered him to seek mental health treatment under the direction of his probation officer and that Mayhew is responsible to pay for treatment. Mayhew was also ordered to stay away from the Haleiwa resident and her husband.

In a separate case involving a terroristic threatening charge, a mental health court panel indicated Mayhew has schizophrenia.

read … Soft on Crime

Lawyers Field Day: Supreme Court Rules Impaired drivers entitled to lawyer before taking alcohol, drug test

HNN: In a unanimous decision Friday, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that anyone pulled over for impaired driving has the right to speak with a lawyer before taking an alcohol or drug test.

The decision is a blow to advocates, who say it could lead to fewer drunk driving prosecutions.

Jonathan Burge, the attorney who brought the case to the state Supreme Court, said an individual could ultimately refuse to take any test. But there are consequences.

"I'd say this evidence will kill you if it comes in, but if you don't do it, you're going to have twice as long a license revocation and that's the decision you'll have to make," he said.d

The ruling throws out a common practice police officers have been doing for years -- telling drivers they weren't entitled to an attorney before submitting a blood or breath test.

Critics argue the ruling is a step backward in the fight against drunk drivers and the ruling could potentially throw out key evidence in criminal cases.

"If you ask for a lawyer and you try to telephone him and he's not available or you forget his number or you can't find someone, by the time you finally find someone the blood alcohol level in your system will have dissipated to the point where you are now sober," said Arkie Koehl, of Mother's Against Drunk Driving.

read … Soft on Crime

Hawaii's medi-juana dispensaries prepare for license renewals as state delays continue

PBN: …A year after receiving their licenses, medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii have yet to generate any revenue, but it’s already time for them to renew their licenses.

The Hawaii State Department of Health issued licenses to eight medical marijuana dispensaries last April at a cost of $75,000 each. It will cost an additional $50,000 for each dispensary to renew….

read …. So Incompetent They Can’t Even Make Money Selling Weed

Affordable Housing? Lawmakers consider more rules that would add Cost to new homes

KHON: …Some of the standards Elefante is proposing include one entrance into the home at ground level with no steps, 32-inch doors instead of the traditional 30, and one wheelchair accessible full bath on the main floor. Hallways would also be built wide to accommodate wheelchair access. Randy Kim works for Atlas Construction, one of Hawaii’s builders. He says adding these standards could be costly. “So if you’re going to use more materials or you’re going to use more labor to get this implemented then yes it’s going to raise the cost.”

Kim says Hawaii’s unique landscape could pose a challenge to builders who are trying to design under these proposed set of rules. “It’s just really trying to paint a broad stroke with something that is very complicated as far as the whole design process, being that we’re a design and build contractor we go through this step-by-step through every job that we design and build for families.”

If the resolution is adopted the city would then have 60 days to report back to the council with it’s recommendations about the possible new standards.

To view the resolution, click here….

read … Costly Accessibility 



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