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Sunday, June 18, 2017
June 18, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:26 PM :: 6242 Views

Closing an Estate Tax Loophole?

New Sup’t Kishimoto set up to be Main Course of Political Feeding Frenzy

Shapiro: …overpromising only puts a political target on her back….

A more realistic goal would be to continue the steady progress made by her predecessor, Kathryn Matayoshi, in lifting our schools from the performance pits that historically put us closer to No. 50 than No. 1….

Matayoshi was dismissed by the Board of Education despite achieving improvement in student reading and math scores, graduating more students on time and better preparing them for college.

Her ouster had more to do with politics than performance; in pushing schools to do better, she ran afoul of the politically potent teachers union and disgruntled principals who helped elect Gov. David Ige.

Kishimoto, 48, will be paid $240,000 a year — $40,000 more than Mata­yoshi — and says all the right things about involving communities in “student- centered schools,” but it’ll be a daunting task if her job tenure depends primarily on making teachers and principals happy.

She’s also challenged by coming into the job with little community or political enthusiasm behind her….

There’s much public wariness in Hawaii of high-priced mainland hires who bring baggage from earlier jobs. (Translation: Hawaii political insiders hire someone like her every time they want a short-termer.)

Former University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood and former rail CEO Daniel Grabauskas, also hired after controversial tenures in previous positions, both ended up forced out amid much acrimony.

Faring equally poorly here are hires who come in making big promises that are impossible to fulfill, such as former UH President Evan Dobelle. Like Greenwood and Grabauskas, he ended up the main course at a political feeding frenzy….

Related: Sex, Lies, and Repetitious Badgering: Meet Hawaii’s New Superintendent of Schools

read … New schools chief doesn’t need political interference

Lawsuit: Sex, Lies and Retaliation in Maui County

MN: …Lesli Lyn Otani maintains that department Director David Goode removed her from her position March 29 and demoted her to the position of civil engineer V because she investigated employee misconduct, including alleged theft and illegal use of county-issued procurement cards, also know as pCards.

Torrential downpours Sept. 13 inflicted severe damage at Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley where the swollen Wailuku River tore away part of the park’s parking lot. Elsewhere, there was widespread flash flooding and landslides; homes were inundated and roads were closed….

By Sept. 19 and 20, Otani had problems with a Lahaina work crew not following the environmental consultant’s instructions, her lawsuit says.

Her “Lahaina subordinate was not following directions and refused to bring himself and his crew to work the necessary overtime to address the emergency,” the lawsuit’s complaint says….

Otani’s complaint says that, in discussions about the lack of progress in mitigating flood damage, “Goode, in front of her subordinates, including the Lahaina staff, repeatedly accused plaintiff of being ‘hypersensitive’ to environmental concerns and the county’s potential/actual violations of law.”…

Otani reported that because the Lahaina District crew refused to work as directed, she had to bring in the Wailuku, Hana and Makawao crews to do the work.

Her complaint says that her concerns about negative environmental impacts and violations of environmental laws led to her probation being extended beyond Sept. 30.

“The reason given at the time for the extension of probation was that plaintiff had an inappropriate/romantic relationship with a male subordinate, the same Lahaina subordinate that was causing problems during the emergency work and who essentially abandoned the project along with his crew,” the complaint says.

Otani maintains that the accusation of her having an inappropriate/romantic relationship with her subordinate “was made falsely and spread maliciously by the subordinate.”

Earlier this week, county Communications Director Rod Antone released a statement about Otani’s lawsuit. It pledged that the county would aggressively defend itself against “any and all lawsuits.”…

read … Lawsuit: County crew risked more damage following September flood

LG Candidates have no enthusiasm for Ige

Borreca: …The question for any candidate running for lieutenant governor is just how well can you get along with the governor, who today is David Ige? Arakawa so far is basing much of his campaign for LG on criticizing Ige.

“I do not see any direction where … the current administration is saying, ‘This is what we need to do to correct the situation in each of the departments,’” Arakawa said.

“We are kind of aimlessly floundering around,” he said to The Maui News.

Green, when asked if he would run a campaign that supports Ige’s record and platform, said, “No, I intend to run totally my own campaign as my own person.”….

read … Candidates so far for LG fail to spark voter enthusiasm

Another IT Disaster: Legislature Cuts off Funds for Tax System Modernization

SA: The state Department of Taxation’s new computer system has generated so many complaints from taxpayers and raised so many concerns among lawmakers (and HGEA fears of job loss) that the Legislature this year stepped in to halt the flow of new funding into the project.

Lawmakers this year refused a request from Gov. David Ige’s administration for $18 million in additional funding to continue the Tax System Modernization project, or TSM, forcing tax officials to scramble to find funds within the department that can be used in the year ahead to keep the project moving.

A consultant hired to monitor state progress in replacing the critical computer system warned in a new report that if the state Department of Taxation can’t persuade lawmakers to put up the necessary money next year, that would “almost certainly” mean the new system won’t be completed…..

State Tax Director Maria E. Zielinski said slowing the project down “would be the worst possible thing that we could do.”

It is critical to move TSM forward quickly because the old tax system doesn’t work, Zielinski said. “I mean, we’re using it, but people don’t know it has already crashed twice in the past year. Because we do things behind the scenes, it may not be obvious to taxpayers, but this is a very fragile system.”….

Concerns about those problems prompted lawmakers to withhold the $18 million requested by the Ige administration this year, and to pass House Bill 1414 requiring an audit of the modernization project. Lawmakers also transferred a half-dozen of the key tax department staff involved in the project to the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, where they will work under the supervision of state Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy…..

The consultant Advan­Tech noted that the TSM project is undergoing particular scrutiny because it is highly visible, and because some major state information technology projects failed in the past. One example involves the Tax Department itself. The department launched a system modernization effort in 1999, and eventually paid CGI Group Inc. $87.5 million to install what state officials later described as an already outdated computerized tax collection system.

Tax officials began rolling out the first phases of the entirely new tax system last year under a $59 million contact with Fast Enterprises…..

read … Tax System Modernization complaints halt additional funding

Public school spending in Hawaii is above U.S. norm

SA: …The Public Education Finances report was issued Wednesday and covers the 2015 fiscal year. The report shows that per-pupil expenditures vary widely across the states, from a high of $21,206 in New York to a low of $6,575 in Utah annually.

It pegged Hawaii’s overall “current per pupil spending” at $12,855, above the national average of $11,392. That figure includes salaries, wages and benefits, as well as spending for support services, including administration and pupil support. It does not include long-term costs of capital improvements….

Spending on “general administration” by Hawaii’s public school system was just a third of the national average, at $70 per pupil per year, as compared to $218 across the country….

While general administration costs were low in Hawaii, school-level admini­­strative spending was higher than the national norm, at $871 per pupil compared to the U.S. average of $626. That category covers “office of principal services,” according to the report.

Expenditures on instructional salaries and wages in Hawaii, when divided by the student population, exceeded the national norm but not by much. Hawaii spent $7,554 on that category, which includes benefits, versus the national average of $6,903.

The only category in which Hawaii dramatically outpaced the national average was in “pupil support services.” Hawaii’s public schools spent $1,239, nearly double the national average of $651, on pupil support. That category includes record keeping, student accounting, student appraisal, social work, counseling, medical, nursing, psychological and speech services….

To read the report, visit bit.ly/2rzkqBS

read … Public school spending in Hawaii is above U.S. norm

Renters Hit by 10% Property Tax Hike on Affordable Housing

WHT: Renters and owners of second homes, especially those in West Hawaii, are about to feel the sting of changes the County Council made to Mayor Harry Kim’s proposed property tax hikes.

Those changes may not last long, however. (This is a standard propaganda technique.  Announce a massive tax hike and then say it will be changed.  You weren’t fooled, were you?)

Kim said Thursday he plans to lower those rates at “the first opportunity we get to review.” That could be as early as next year,….

the council in a late-night June 5 session hiked the residential class by $1.05 from the current $10.05 in property tax for every $1,000 in net assessed value. The council also raised the tax on apartment buildings….

The changes added another $1.2 million in taxes to the three West Hawaii council districts from Kim’s proposal while reducing the other six districts by approximately $2 million, according to a West Hawaii Today analysis of the changes. Those numbers will change slightly when an estimated $3 million countywide in increases to the minimum tax are taken into account.

The council’s adjustments mean that North Kona’s District 8, with 11 percent of the population, will shoulder a full 33.4 percent of property taxes for the entire county, compared to 32.9 percent under Kim’s plan. At the other end of the scale, Puna’s District 5 will contribute just 3.9 percent, compared to 4.1 percent under Kim’s proposal…..

The residential class is composed of second homes for part-time residents, but it also includes rental houses, which is the bulk of the rental market in West Hawaii. While rentals also include short-term and vacation rentals, they also constitute a type of affordable housing for workers who can’t afford to buy homes.

Renters will feel the impact.

“The landlords pass this through,” said Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, who owns a rental house in Kona…..

The minimum tax of $100 will double to $200 for the least expensive properties. Some 31,651 parcels are affected, with the bulk of them — about 18,000 — in Puna’s two council districts….

About $16 million of the $37 million the tax hikes will generate comes from an increase in property values…..

(Its OK. The HGEA and UPW are worth every penny, right?)

read … Tax-changes-hit-west-hawaii-hardest

How Homeless Attack Workers, Get Away with it

PBN: …“It’s confusing as a business owner because I don’t know what to do,” said Lindsey Dymond, owner of Kalapawai Market, Kalapawai Cafe and Deli and Zias Caffe, referring to a recent incident where several of his employees were “attacked” by a homeless person outside one of his establishments.

“She decided to hide in the bushes and jumped out and started attacking staff,” he said about the alleged attacker. “Fortunately, she didn’t get too many hits in, but everyone was shaken up. I called up the police department. They came right away, and he was very quick to tell me that he couldn’t do anything about it because she was a known trouble maker.”

Dymond said the women’s known history of mental health issues required police to have permission from a police psychiatrist before any action could be taken.  (Translation: The homeless are superior beings.  Your politically correct rulers command you to bow before them.  Your rulers then laugh at the spectacle.)

“But it was 10 o’clock at night and the guy had gone home for the day, so nothing happened,” Dymond said. “If I had jumped out of the bushes and attacked someone it probably would have been a different outcome.”  (Bingo!)

read … Business leaders discuss homelessness at PBN's Windward Oahu Panel: Slideshow

Medicated Marijuana Drenched in Pesticides

SA: …we’ve learned from the insights and shortcomings of other states. For example, California, which does not have restrictions on pesticide use or set limits on pesticide residues on medical cannabis, has seen patients’ health compromised by cannabis products. According to a peer-reviewed study in The Journal of Toxicology, smoking medical cannabis with high levels of pesticides can cause serious damage to kidneys, the liver and other organs….

read … Pesticide

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