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Sunday, December 24, 2017
December 24, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:34 PM :: 5036 Views

How Christmas Came to Hawaii

DoE: Feds Require 'Minor Adjustments' to our ESSA Plan to Hide Failure

2018 Ballot: Constitutional Convention?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 22, 2017

Worst Drivers: Hawaii Ranks 6th for Drunk Driving

Bloomberg considers Jones Act reform options

Young Puerto Rican calls for Jones Act repeal

Viking River Cruses blocked by Jones Act

By Refusing to Resign AG Chin Can Help Campaign Supporters Work out Deals, Avoid Prosecution

Shapiro: Attorney General Douglas Chin’s announcement that he’s running for Congress is no surprise, but Gov. David Ige’s decision not to ask Chin to resign while he campaigns is surprising and troubling.

The attorney general is Hawaii’s top law enforcer, and our state has always held that law enforcement and partisan politics don’t mix.

Keeping the AG out of politics is the primary reason for making the position appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature rather than elected by the people, as 43 states do….

Even supporters of the tough stand against Trump have questioned Chin’s unprecedented stream of media pronouncements from an office that has traditionally refrained from personal promotion.

There’s little doubt the heavy public relations that made his candidacy viable will continue as the race unfolds, and Chin will lose any benefit of the doubt on his motives as it becomes impossible to separate official press releases from his campaign.

Which makes it disingenuous for Ige to claim that Chin needs to stay on because “we have important cases that are in progress that I think are fundamentally important to our state.”

The opposite is true; Chin’s campaign creates many potential conflicts in representing the state’s best interests in those cases, some of which involve labor, business and other powerful interests whose political and financial support he needs.

No matter how straight he tries to play it, Chin will be suspected of working out deals for campaign support with the wide array of people and organizations who have legal issues before the state.

Public trust in Hawaii law enforcement has been battered by federal corruption charges against former Honolulu police Chief Louis Kealoha and questions involving city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s conduct.

Chin and Ige should be helping to restore trust, not deepening the mistrust.

read … Chin should resign as AG while he runs for Congress

Republican Tax Cuts Get Hawaii Democrat Legislators Thinking About How to take that money away

SA: How much extra money will be in Hawaii residents’ pocketbooks? Because these are the people who will spend any disposable income and boost the local economy, that’s a key question. That’s so, regardless of whether the increase results from changed withholding rules or a bump in pay awarded by employers….

How much long-term economic growth will this generate?

In that context, the budget proposal Gov. David Ige released Monday is relatively modest for an election-year spending plan, but it still includes some add-ons that will require careful vetting as lawmakers confront fiscal realities in January.

The governor is proposing to spend about $175 million more from the general fund than it is projected to collect in taxes and other revenues in the year that begins July 1. Of course, those projections could change if tax reform at the federal level trickles down to more spending locally, meaning more pouring into state coffers from the general excise tax….

According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, more than 598,000 of island taxpayers would receive at least some level of tax cuts….

read … How much extra money will be in Hawaii residents’ pocketbooks—and how can the Legislature take that money away?

National Republicans Cut Taxes, Hawaii Democrats Raise Taxes

SA: In Congress, the GOP’s massive tax cut measure is expected to lower the federal tax burden for most Hawaii residents in 2019. How much and for how long depends on your circumstances, but for most regular folks, the savings should be pretty modest.

Heading in the opposite direction, meanwhile, are property taxes. Property valuations on Oahu rose all over the place. For private homeowners, valuations have generally increased 6.1 percent for the 2018-19 tax year (results may vary depending on your neighborhood). Hotel/resort, commercial and industrial properties have gone up even more. So while the tax rate may not change, there’s a good chance the amount paid by you — or your landlord — will go up.

If you’re starting to hyperventilate, don’t look at your electricity bill. It’s going up, too. Hawaiian Electric Co. received interim approval to increase its base rate by 2.5 percent, raising electrical bills for 304,261 Oahu customers. It could have been worse: HECO initially wanted 6.9 percent, but was prepared to settle for 3.5 percent. Don’t expect the utility to give up trying….

read … A taxing problem for Hawaii

Borreca: Democrats Can Defeat Tupola Simply by Mentioning Trump

Borreca: …“Yes, I am running for governor,” Tupola said in an interview last week while waiting to board a plane for a campaign swing to Molokai.

If most Republicans in Hawaii tend to get mired in the political culture wars of same-sex marriage and abortion, Tupola, a strong Mormon with a relatively low American Conservative Union ranking of 39 percent, is more likely to be out organizing community self-help projects than proselytizing.

Tupola said she is running because she thinks a lot of the state government is not working well, and while she can nag bureaucrats to fix the streets or unjam school bottlenecks, one really has to be in charge to get anything done.

“I can call the DOE and tell them this project is behind, or the DOT to say this is not being taken care of or this project is behind, or this business hasn’t gotten a permit for five years. But, it is all systemic of things wrong at the operations level,” Tupola said.

Spending 18 months living and working in Venezuela as a Christian missionary showed her a different side of government. The socialist government of Hugo Chavez, she said, may have addressed poverty but destroyed Venezuelans’ “desire to work.”

Tupola’s ideas of fitting GOP ideas into a decidedly Democratic Hawaii are to stress financial conservatism, support local business, support freedom of religion and support for the military.

The biggest national political stumbling block for a Hawaii Republican is what to say about President Donald Trump, who had his biggest popular vote loss in Hawaii and who continues to set new record lows as the least popular president in American history.

“I did support Donald Trump because I felt we needed a new direction for our country,” she said, adding that America is at a crossroad looking for new definitions and new leadership.

Still, trying to positively fit Hawaii voters into a matrix that favorably explains Trump’s slash-and-burn political style is more than just a difficult task; it may be impossible.

read … Gov-hopeful Tupola tries to square GOP ideals here

Kam Schools Lawyers Want to Grill Victims of Child Molester for Two Years Before Trial Begins

HNN: … During this pause, it's time for Kamehameha to show true remorse by adopting a more humane approach to the survivors' lawsuit. Kamehameha and St. Francis attorneys are still demanding that the civil trial be delayed for two years while the men and their families are put under oath for hours of questioning….

read … Kamehameha Schools Apology

Life after sugar – a year later 87.5% of land is fallow

MN: It’s been one year since HC&S brought its final harvest of cane to the Puunene Mill, ceasing sugar cultivation on 36,000 acres and laying off 660 workers.

…For now, A&B has 4,500 acres in active ranching and farming, said Jerrod Schreck, director of renewable energy and land stewardship for A&B. Crops include pongamia, sweet potato and biogas feedstock crops for a Maui County renewable energy project.  (4500 /36000 = 12.5%)

An additional 15,000 acres are under active negotiations, with possibilities including non-GMO sorghum for energy and animal feed, coffee and some food crops that local farmers want to grow….

In May, A&B formed Kulolio Ranch, a wholly owned subsidiary that collaborates with the six ranches of Maui Cattle Co. to raise calves on-island. The ranchers provide the calves while retaining ownership; Kulolio Ranch raises them to maturity and market weight.

A&B has about 900 animals in its cattle ranching operation, Schreck said.

Meanwhile, leftover cane and weeds have been sprouting up in some of the “inactive” fields around Maui. Rick Volner, general manager of diversified agriculture for A&B, said the company is managing plant growth on these lands through mowing and other means….

MN: Former employees reflect on their lives after HC&S’s closure

read …Life after sugar – a year later

HTA falling short on payments to the state for the convention center

SA: The Hawaii Tourism Authority has fallen short of making its full state reimbursement for the Hawai‘i Convention Center for the past two years and may extend the facility’s debt repayment schedule again — even though the agency still owes 79 percent of the center’s original $350 million balance.

HTA has made $490 million in principal and interest payments, but still owes $277 million on the center, which was first funded in 1999, said state Department of Budget and Finance Director Wesley Machida.

Under the current debt repayment schedule that HTA agreed to honor in 2011, the agency must reimburse the state $26.4 million annually for principal and interest payments, which are currently at a 6 percent rate….

But the state’s funding to HTA has fallen by $6.5 million annually since fiscal year 2016, said Marc Togashi, HTA vice president of finance.

“Complications relating to the state’s purchase of the Turtle Bay conservation easement” have reduced HTA’s statutory funding by $6.5 million annually, Togashi said. The reduction left HTA without “sufficient funds to pay the full $26.4 million obligation while also ensuring the Hawai‘i Convention Center had adequate funds to operate,” he said.

read … Falling Short

Airport Div Wasting $45M on new Space for Bankrupt Island Air

SA: …The state Department of Transportation is building a $40 million to $45 million structure under Gate 6 at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport that was meant to provide operating space for Island Air, but that space will now be left vacant in the wake of the airline’s bankruptcy.

Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Transportation Department, said state officials are in the process of scaling back on that project to leave the 24,000-square-foot space as an unfinished shell, which will reduce the cost of construction somewhat.

Transportation officials don’t know yet exactly how much the state will save by reducing the scope of the project, but “it will be several million dollars less,” he said….

read … Bankrupt

A woman’s struggles after a crash with an HPD officer renew questions over discipline

SA: …HPD eventually determined that Neves’ actions that January night violated six standards of conduct, according to department records. The agency found that Neves failed to use his flashing blue lights and siren and was driving at an unreasonable rate of speed.

Yet he suffered only a minor sanction: a written reprimand.

Soroka said Neves’ punishment was much too light, pointing out that he wasn’t even suspended.

“I lost everything,” she said. “He didn’t miss one day of work.”….

read … A crash with HPD

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