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Tuesday, May 30, 2017
May 30, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:24 AM :: 5019 Views

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 30, 2017

DTL: Sen Donovan Dela Cruz on Payroll of OHA’s Kakaako Developer

CB: The longtime pro-business (crony capitalism), pro-rail lawmaker has a history of ethics concerns, backroom dealing and a volatile temperament….

Dela Cruz’s most recent annual financial disclosure statement shows he receives as much as $100,000 a year as an officer with a company that has a number of contracts with Hawaii businesses. One of those is for work on the Honolulu rail project….

A couple years ago, Dela Cruz fended off an investigation by the Honolulu Ethics Commission into whether he and a few of his former colleagues wrongly accepted meals and gifts from lobbyists who had business before the city when he was council chair.

The commission, then led by Chuck Totto, abruptly dismissed all the charges in 2015 without a clear explanation as to why all the wining and dining — and failure to disclose it prior to voting on rail bills and other matters — did not violate the ethics code….

During his time on the council, he worked as an account supervisor for Stryker Weiner & Yokota, an influential public relations firm. He previously worked as an account executive with another big PR firm, McNeil Wilson Communications, and was public relations coordinator for Hilton Hawaiian Village.

As a state senator, Dela Cruz has been vice president of DTL Hawaii, described as “a Hawaiian strategy multidisciplinary studio that helps business, governments, organizations and communities navigate change.”

His financial disclosures show he was compensated between $50,000 and $100,000 for his DTL work last year. The company’s clients have included NextEra Energy, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Howard Hughes, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Young Brothers, Alexander & Baldwin, the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Royal Hawaiian Center.

In 2014, he was also the director of communications for WCIT Architecture, where his salary ranged between $25,000 and $50,000. DTL is part of a team that includes WCIT Architecture, Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and PBR Hawaii and is tasked with the master planning of OHA’s Kakaako Makai properties.

As a sub-consultant to WCIT Architecture, DTL was to provide “cultural research and narratives” that guided design of artwork adorning columns for the Honolulu rail guideway and its stations….

He introduced the bill in 2011 to create the Public Lands Development Corporation and, working with then-Sen. Malama Solomon and others, quietly got it passed…..

Related: Political Connections Pay Off: Former OHA Officer on the Inside Developing Kakaako

read … How Did Donovan Dela Cruz Just Become Hawaii’s Most Powerful Senator?

HSTA: Principals Can Hide Their Failures, Why Can’t We?

KGI: Despite months of negotiation and meetings, the Every Student Succeeds Act hasn’t undergone the changes that the Hawaii State Teachers Association wants to see.

“The ESSA plan, 80 percent of it, is still tied to test scores,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “We still believe that it’s too much teaching for the test and too focused on standardized tests.”

The period for public comments regarding the new ESSA, which will replace No Child Left Behind, ended on May 18. Lindsay Chambers, a spokesman from the state Department of Education, said the state is working out the details and going through feedback from the public. They intend to submit the ESSA plan for funding to the DOE in September…..

The DOE said the new ESSA is intended to go into effect for the upcoming school year, just four months away. While there is still groundwork to cover, Rosenlee said HSTA and DOE will come to terms to benefit teachers and students.

“We’re going to be watching closely to see this new plan allows teachers and principals to move away from teaching to the test,” he said. “That’s what the DOE says they’re trying to do.”

Related: Hiding Failure: DOE to stop ranking schools

read … ESSA ‘Still tied to test scores’

Parking rates might be raised to fund rail

SA: Beachgoers and surfers are the latest groups to object to a city plan to raise an additional $4 million by doubling parking prices and increasing parking enforcement hours in Waikiki and downtown.

The Honolulu City Council is slated to make a final decision on Bill 12 during its June 7 meeting, which starts at 10 a.m.

The proposed measure could cause the price at Waikiki metered stalls to go to $3 an hour between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. in areas where it is now $1.50 an hour, and to $1.50 an hour where it is now 75 cents an hour. Parking for 10 minutes would cost 50 cents. The proposal also could double designated metered parking rates downtown to $3 an hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell authored the bill after the Legislature called on the city to have more “skin in the game” to fund rail….

“To me the mayor and those guys can’t manage the expenditures for the rail, so they are literally trying to nickle-and-dime residents every which way they can to pay for it,” said Lou Erteschik, Waikiki Neighborhood Board vice chairman. “That’s the kind of rate that you would pay for a downtown garage. It’s way overpriced.”….

May 22, 2017: Skin in the Game?  5% Raise for Caldwell, 48 Other City Officials 

read … Parking rates might be raised to fund rail

‘Homeless court’ gets 4 of 21 into housing

SA: Oahu’s new “homeless court” so far has cleared a backlog of 268 cases since it began in January and — perhaps more important — has gotten four homeless defendants housed, including a chronically homeless man who now has an apartment after nearly 30 years on the street.

The man did not want to be identified, according to his initial caseworker and the city Prosecutor’s Office. He had been tucked among the homeless on Diamond Head and later was living on the streets of Waikiki.

He faced 33 court cases for infractions, bench warrants and other nonviolent offenses dating back to 2005 and was selected for the new Community Outreach Court — as it’s officially called — where he pleaded no contest to one charge in February as part of a plea agreement….

So far, 21 defendants — accounting for 268 cases — have appeared, including three who have gotten into transitional housing and the man who now has his first permanent home in nearly 30 years….

His citations (and housing) were the result of “the criminalization of being homeless,” Hemrajani said.  (Translation: By ‘criminalizing homelessness’ we finally forced some of them to accept shelter.  Obviously we need to apply more force.) “You can’t go to the bathroom (outdoors) without getting a ticket for public urination. He had been harassed by the police quite a bit. So it’s really great to connect him with services instead of penalizing him.”

(Translation: By ‘criminalizing homelessness’ we finally forced this nutjob to accept housing after 30 years of failure due to soft on homelessness policies.)

read … ‘Homeless court’ gets 4 into housing

After 26 Years, State-Owned Affordable Units to be Sold

HTH: …Rental rates on the units at all six complexes are determined by affordability guidelines set and updated annually by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For instance, a household on Hawaii Island earning 80 percent of the AMI would pay $1,045 monthly for a one-bedroom unit or $1,448 for a three-bedroom unit based on the 2016 guidelines.

A household earning 100 percent of the AMI would pay $1,306 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,810 for a three-bedroom unit.

Miyasaki said over the years, however, rental rates at the six properties have dropped below those thresholds, meaning some tenants are paying less than they could be charged. This, in part, is what has caused each of the properties to fall into various stages of disrepair.

To ensure the complexes’ preservation, a private company needs to be brought in, Miyasaki said. It’s a development that has some tenants at La‘ilani concerned about what the privatization of their state-owned affordable units means for rents moving forward.

“There are people who are afraid, worried they will end up on the street,” said John Dow, a married father of three who rents a three-bedroom unit at La‘ilani. “And if this is affordable housing, where are you going? Now more than ever, we need communities like this.”

Dow said Miyasaki explained to him and several others at a meeting earlier this month that some tenants paying well below the prices established by HUD may eventually see a monthly increase upward of $500, though that would not be immediate.

Miyasaki admitted privatization will drive up rental prices but said there are several safeguards in place.

First, the state will still own the land and is selling only the buildings to a private entity. Because of that, the state will be able to write affordability stipulations into the 75-year lease it plans to offer potential buyers.

The state will pay off the bonds that funded the project with the profits from the sale, using whatever is left to aid a longstanding rental assistance program to tenants across the six properties, some of whom have been able to earn up to $175 in monthly rental credits through the program.

Firm stipulations Miyasaki said will be included in the lease contract are maximum rental price increases of 2 percent each year for the next five years and the guaranteed continuation of the rental assistance program for the next decade.

Miyasaki explained that after five years is up, the new owner of the properties will be able to more aggressively raise rents to make sure each tenant is paying an amount in accordance with HUD guidelines.

Of the 200 tenants at La’ilani, 60 receive rental assistance and are paying below the HUD rates established for those making 80 percent of the AMI on Hawaii Island.

They will be most affected when rents are all increased to match the 80-100 percent AMI gap standards, regardless if some tenants don’t earn enough money to place them in the 80-100 percent range.

The other 140 tenants already pay rates commensurate with HUD standards.

read … Sold

King Tides: Global Warmers Receive “100s” of Propaganda Photos

HNN: …Forecasters expect a final round of elevated water levels from a king tide on Monday evening, but researchers are already starting to examine the impact of the recent coastal flooding event.

Citizen scientists captured images from across the state as the king tide rolled in at the same time as a south swell, and submitted hundreds of pictures and observations to the Hawaii and Pacific Islands King Tides Project.

"These photographs, especially the ones that are geo-tagged with latitude and longitude, are going to be very useful in our models for groundtruthing where our models predict flooding in the storm drains and groundwater inundation," said Chip Fletcher, associate dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa….

(The ‘truth’ about King Tides will soo become lies about non-existent sea level rise.)

read … In a time of Universal deceit….

COFA Funds to be Reduced?

GPDN: …President Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate $3 million in discretionary funds used to offset the financial impact of regional migrants from the Freely Associated States.

Rather than cutting support to our community, the federal government should give us more money to provide educational and other services to people from the Freely Associated States….

In addition to permanent reimbursement allocations, Guam receives money in the form of discretionary funds to offset education and infrastructure costs. According to the government of Guam, the Guam Department of Education received $2.8 million a year from discretionary funds in 2012 and 2013. That was cut to $1.7 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015.

While the money has been cut, the population of people from the Freely Associated States on Guam has increased. In 2012, there were 6,463 students from the Freely Associated States attending public schools here, according to the government of Guam. In 2016, there were 7,792. The government estimates the cost of educating those students was $62.5 million.

The federal government should keep its promises to Guam and the region. The Compacts of Free Association benefit the United States, and the United States should pay for the impact of its agreements in the region.

read … Don't cut discretionary Compact funds

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