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Friday, September 1, 2017
September 1, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:10 PM :: 3584 Views

Rail: Republicans Propose 'Forensic Audit' Amendment

Rail: FTA is open to shortening the route

Obamacare Could Bankrupt ERS

Profiting from Telescope Protests and Kakaako Development, OHA Trustee Fined $25K

Cool Schools: Ige Claims Success

Hawaii Crime Index Drops to New Low

Bill Before Congress: Claim--Hawaii Allows 'horrific legal market' in Dog Meat

Oahu GE Tax Adds 9% to Sister Island Grocery Bills

SA: …eight of the 45 House members present Thursday registered their dissent against Senate Bill 4. Since it was a voice vote, there wasn’t a complete tally afterward…..

Rep. Gene Ward (R, ­Kalama Valley-Queen’s Gate-­Hawaii Kai) said House members had been prohibited from adding amendments at this point in the session and called the move unfair.

“It’s a done deal, it’s locked and loaded, and you’re not going to touch it because tomorrow we’re going to send the whole thing to wrap it up,” Ward said on the floor to his colleagues.

Ward’s fellow House Republican, Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe Bay), expressed similar frustrations and called on lawmakers to hold off on a decision.

“I don’t want to enable the city to continue with its project that has just gone out of control,” Thielen said Thursday. “We have the opportunity to force the city, the Council members, the mayor and HART to rethink what it is doing.”….

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (D, Pahoa-Kalapana) said Thursday that she supports SB 4 with reservations. She called the proposal a step “toward tax equity” that doesn’t rely as heavily on the general excise tax so it won’t burden as heavily the “neighbor island poor.”

San Buenaventura added that she had calculated a $150 neighbor island grocery bill to include some $13 of Oahu-based excise tax….  

(13/137 = 9.5%  13/150 = 8.7%)

read … House poised to OK rail bailout today

Rail bill permanently shifts hotel tax $$ away from neighbor islands

ILind  If you wonder why neighbor island legislators are angered by the using the hotel room tax to pay for Honolulu’s rail system, check out Nancy Cook Lauer’s story in Sunday’s Hawaii Tribune Herald (“Who pays the price? Many on Big Island not on board to fund rail for Honolulu“). It’s an excellent story, pinning down Big Island legislators, but it also caught a key part of the rail tax story of special relevance to the neighbor islands that hasn’t gotten much attention.

She writes that the proposed changes to the state’s hotel room tax will take a “temporary” reduction in the neighbor islands’ share of the tax and make it permanent, costing each of the counties close to half of what they were receiving prior to the recession.

And to twist the knife a bit more, setting a permanent cap requires walking past the recommendation of group appointed by the legislature itself, which advised that the share of the tax allocated to the neighbor islands should grow as the total amount collected grows….

read … Rail bill permanently shifts hotel tax $$ away from neighbor islands

After Years, City Suddenly Pretends to be Interested in private partnerships for troubled rail project

HNN: …A previous plan to build a $200 million parking structure and highrise at the Pearl Highlands station was shelved, but now the city and the authority are eyeing that and two other locations -- the Middle Street bus terminal and Ala Moana Center -- for potential development…..

But he says there is enough land at Middle Street and Pearl Highlands and that the city can look at purchasing and consolidating land near the Ala Moana station….

"The board will be hyper-vigilant in looking for cost saving measures other delivery methods such as (public-private partnerships), " said Terrence Lee, vice chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

(Really.  We mean it this time.  You believe us don’t you?)

CB: Will Stricter Oversight Put Honolulu Rail On Track? (Clue: “No.”)

read … Scrambling for cash, city looks to private partnerships for troubled rail project

Ige Buys Oshiro out of House with $120K HLRB Gig--Gets to Make Appointment

SA: …The makeover at the state House of Representatives continues. The House has new leadership, including Speaker Scott Saiki, and other members of the body are moving around.

Notably, Reps. Isaac Choy and James Tokioka, critics of the new rail deal, have been kicked off the powerful Finance Committee. And a past chairman of that committee, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, has been nominated by Gov. David Ige to lead the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. Should the Senate approve his nomination by Friday, Oshiro would leave the House in late September — and that’ll give Ige the plum opportunity to appoint his replacement from a short list provided by the Democratic Party….

read … Oshiro

Homeless Tweeker Camp under Nimitz a 'hot spot' for crime

HNN: Just off Nimitz Highway, a row of cars line an informal entrance to the viaduct.

Despite signs warning trespassers to keep out, nearby businesses say any type of enforcement is a joke.

"Nobody here is doing anything about it," said John Leary, who owns Island Demo, Inc. in Mapunapuna. "It's sad. We're forgotten down here."

Leary said in the evening there are upwards of 20 vehicles parked near the viaduct. Leary's crews have had to dodge cars weaving through traffic toward the illegal parking lot. 

"It's live action. You just got to be careful especially at night," he said.

Outreach workers estimate 200 people live beneath the viaduct. But they say not all of those people who frequent the camp are homeless.

"It's a hot spot for all sorts of activities," said City Councilman Joey Manahan, who claims the viaduct is home to an illegal gambling den.

It's an operation that's gone unchecked for more than a year, he said, adding that he also believes drug dealing and prostitution are happening there….

"We get a ticket if we're parked on the street more than two days. They don't do anything about those people," he said….

HNN: Crackdown on modified vehicles spurs hundreds of citations at truckers rally

read … Area under Nimitz viaduct a 'hot spot' for crime

Homeless Bombard Queens Until Hospital Ponies Up

SA:…The Queen’s Medical Center and Hawaii Medical Service Association, who plan to raise $5 million to open the facility in 2018…..

H4 — for hygiene, health, housing and humanitarian — is a needed initiative in a time of both rising homelessness and health-care costs. It targets chronic homeless overusers of Hawaii’s hospitals — the costly emergency rooms — to try to divert them to more appropriate, less-expensive treatment…..

The focus on medical intervention would include a rapid detox and wound care center. All this promises to be an innovative solution for improving health among homeless while also bringing down medical costs.

And those costs are staggering. Consider that $92,000 yearly is spent on the average high-utilizer hospital patient. Consider that the city Emergency Medical Services’s top homeless user called for an ambulance an astounding 157 times last year. And consider that one homeless man’s woes totaled about 18 months in hospital stays — an estimated $1 million for his chronic diseases, conditions arising from drug abuse, malnutrition and living on the street.

The increasing strain, on both funding and providers, is evident. Hospitals here treated homeless patients 15,900 times in 2015, up from about 14,900 the previous year, said the Hawaii Health Information Corp.

The Queen’s Medical Center emergency room, which handles nearly 64 percent of the state’s homeless hospital encounters, knows only too well the medical and financial demands. Of the 2015 total, 10,126 were treated at Queen’s, with nearly 80 percent of them diagnosed with behavioral or substance abuse issues. The medical center provides about $10.5 million annually in unreimbursed care to the chronic homeless community…..

read … Strategy Pays off 

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