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Thursday, December 28, 2017
December 28, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:20 PM :: 4084 Views

9th Circuit Gives Enviros New Way to Shut Down Hawaii Fishing Fleet

Star-Adv: Chin Must Resign

SA: …Gov. David Ige, who appointed Chin to the AG post, said he believes Chin need not resign.

“I am certain that he is aware of the prohibition of campaigning using state resources and state time, and I know that he will follow the law,” Ige said.

(Hilarious: Chin is already using State resources for campaigning every time he sends out another anti-Trump litigation news release.  That litigation is the reason Chin has a chance in this election.)

Unfortunately, the governor is missing the point. It has less to do with any specific quibbles about Chin’s own grasp of campaign law and ethics — there are no issues to raise there.

It’s more to do with the potential overlap between the AG’s office and parties that could take advantage of it. As with most issues of political and governmental ethics, the appearance of a conflict is a problem, with or without an actual ethical lapse.

The state attorney general is the gatekeeper for potential legal action, and even if he takes a back seat, Chin still would be in a position to decide whom to sue.

There can be national and multinational companies doing business in Hawaii, any number of which could be seeking a way to steer clear of legal entanglements. And they might think that having the ear of the AG certainly couldn’t hurt.

Keeping the separation between moneyed interests and the AG is one of the reasons why Hawaii has kept it as an appointed rather than elected office. Hawaii is one of only a handful of states that has drawn this bright line…..

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

read … Chin can’t be both AG and candidate

Lawsuits: HPD Keeps Problem Cops on the Job for Years

CB: …Over the past two months, Seitz has filed new civil complaints in cases involving two former Honolulu police officers who have both been sentenced in state court for their criminal conduct  — one, Anson Kimura, for drunkenly shooting a bartender in the stomach, and the other, Keoki Duarte, for assaulting a truck driver on the H1 freeway after a car accident.

In both cases, Seitz argued that HPD officials knew — or at least should have known — that the officers were troubled before they injured their respective victims represented by Seitz. The city is a defendant in the suits.

He said administrators did little to address the officers’ behavior internally through discipline, counseling, treatment or training.

Instead, Seitz said Kimura and Duarte felt they could act with impunity due to HPD’s “de facto policy, practice, or custom” that ignored, condoned and in some cases, covered up for misconduct so long as it went unreported and remained out of the public eye.

The complaint also stated that Kimura — who agreed to independently settle with Park for $300,000 — had been investigated by HPD’s internal affairs on at least three occasions — twice in 1999 and another time in 2003 — although the lawsuit says the department’s records related to those incidents don’t appear to be complete or accurate.

In Duarte’s case, which was filed earlier this month, Seitz argued that HPD knew he had an anger management problem before his December 2015 assault on truck driver Jonard Escalante, and could have stepped in to prevent it.

Duarte had been sued once before for excessive use of force along with several other officers in the brutal arrest of two hikers they mistook for burglars in 2012.

SA: Open disciplinary records of HPD

read … Silence

Solar Tax Credits -- $500M Lost Tax Revenue That has to be Made up by Other Taxpayers

SA: …Half a billion dollars and counting. That’s about how much Hawaii tax filers claimed from 2012-2015 for the Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Credit (RETTC) with the vast majority of that sum being for solar energy systems, electric and thermal.

In 2015, the most recent year the Department of Taxation has published data, 13,954 tax filers claimed the RETTC for a total of $98.6 million, or 32.4 percent of the total $303.9 million claimed for all tax credits that year. The RETTC represents the state’s single largest tax credit category.

For 2014, 14,902 tax filers made claims for the RETTC totaling $110.2 million.

In 2013, the comparable figure was $118.3 million, while 2012 held the record with $164 million in credit dollars claimed….. 

PBN: Hawaii taxpayers claim close to $100M in solar tax credits

read … $500M

Territorial joins other banks in giving out bonuses and raising minimum wage

SA: …Territorial Savings Bank has joined the state’s four largest banks in giving out bonuses to employees and increasing the minimum wage.

(President Donald J Trump has now forced million-dollar Democrat banker Kirk Caldwell to give his workers a raise.)

The state’s fifth-largest bank said today that most of its employees will receive a $1,000 bonus and that it will be increasing its starting wage to $15 an hour from $11.25 an hour beginning Monday. The bonus, which was awarded today to 247 employees, is in addition to a $250 bonus that had been paid earlier this month to the same employees, following a practice that has been in place for several years. The 36 employees at the vice president level and above did not receive the $1,000 bonuses….

All of the major publicly traded banks in Hawaii have now rewarded employees with bonuses and increased their starting wages.

The banks said the bonuses and wage increases were spurred by the tax cuts signed into law Friday by President Donald Trump that will cut the federal corporate tax rates to 21 percent from 35 percent and save the banks millions of dollars.

Bank of Hawaii was the first local bank to announce a $1,000 bonus to most employees and a new minimum wage of $15 an hour. Its announcement on Friday afternoon was followed a couple hours later by First Hawaiian Bank, which said it will reward $1,500 bonuses to most employees and raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

American Savings Bank said on Saturday it would give out $1,000 bonuses to most of its employees and boost its minimum wage to $15.25 an hour. Then on Sunday, Central Pacific Bank said it would give out out $1,000 bonuses to most employees and increase its minimum wage to $15.25 an hour.

The minimum wage for all the banks before the announced increases ranged from $11.25 to $12.75 an hour.

Hawaii’s minimum wage, which is now $9.25, goes up to $10.10 an hour starting Monday.  .

(Fight for $15! -- Stupid socialists just can’t keep up with President Donald J Trump, LOL!)

read … Territorial joins other banks in giving out bonuses and raising minimum wage

Con Con Could Abolish State Senate 

SA: In the 2018 general election, voters will be asked whether they want a constitutional convention (Con Con). A Con Con should be held because the Legislature is unlikely to pass constructive laws that pose conflicts of interests to the Legislature as a body or to legislators as individuals, such as:

>> Giving the counties more taxing power beyond the property tax.

>> Adopting publicly funded elections in order to reduce government corruption.

>> Shifting to a unicameral legislature to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

>> Remove the Legislature’s exemption from the Sunshine Law.

>> Prohibit the Legislature from interfering with the formulation of public policy that applies to Hawaii’s public school system and the University of Hawaii because the Board of Education and the Board of Regents, respectively, are supposed to be responsible.

(Which should be abolished House or Senate?  Answer: Senate because it is made up entirely of one party.)

read … Con Con could fix legislative flaws

2018 Legislature: Usual Suspects Get Ready

IM: …Hawai`i quietly released the “Hawai‘i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report” last week….

The informal pre-opening legislative committee information gathering period starts on December 29, 2017. 

The day before the Legislature officially opens, two conferences will be held at the Capitol: the Hawai`i Bioeconomy - Biotechnology Conference and the Kanaka Maoli Legislative Priorities 2018.

 The latter will be presented in room 224, from 8:30 am-12:30 pm. The event is sponsored by Ho`omana Pono Political Action Committee and the Ka Lāhui Hawai`i Political Action Committee.

Presentations will be made by the two Political Action Committees, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp (NHLC), Hui Kū Like Kākou, Holomua Pu`uhonua, Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, and the Community Alliance on Prisons….

Ka Lāhui failed to follow new federal and state charity rules imposed a few years ago, and their non-profit tax status was revoked. Their PAC is not currently registered with the Hawai`i DCCA business registration division.  …

read … The 2018 Hawaii State Legislature is Imminent

174 Lords of Political Correctness Give Themselves big pay hikes at UH

SA: Some lawmakers are blasting a decision by the University of Hawaii to award $800,000 in pay raises and merit-based bonuses to university executives.

With 174 out of 198 executives eligible for increases that take effect Monday, the average employee would see a roughly $4,600 boost in compensation.  (Idea: Fire the 24 laggards.)

The pay hikes were recommended last month by UH President David Lassner for high-performing employees in executive and managerial positions that include vice presidents and associate vice presidents, chancellors and vice chancellors, deans and associate deans, and program directors and officers….

Big Q:  What do you think about the 174 University of Hawaii executives getting $800,000 total in pay hikes/bonuses?  (67% say "overpaid")

Related: Raises for UH staffers: Many at UH-Hilo, HCC earn more than $100K per year

read … Lawmakers question big pay hikes at UH

End of tax write-off for premium seats may hit hard at UH

SA: When the New Year dawns Monday, so, too, will an anxious and fiscally challenging chapter in University of Hawaii athletic department fundraising.

One consequence of the new federal tax bill that was passed by Congress last week is the elimination of an 80 percent deduction for donations connected to premium seat purchases, UH and national officials said.

The impact “will be huge for our members,” said Tom McMillen, president and CEO of the Maryland-based LEAD1 Association. McMillen, a former Rhodes Scholar, NBA player and congressman, has put estimates at hundreds of millions of dollars overall for the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, including UH, his organization represents.

In good years UH has grossed as much as $4.4 million annually from its premium seat contributions and parking initiatives, or as much as 10 percent of the revenue it takes to run the 21-team athletic program in Manoa….

(Maybe they should ‘take a knee’ in protest.  LOL!)

read … End of tax write-off for premium seats may hit hard at UH

Will DoE Finally Revamp Teacher Recruitment?

CB: “HIDOE is in the process of drafting legislative language that would allow individuals from outside the U.S. to work as a teacher in HIDOE,” the department’s spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz wrote in an email. “This is the first step. HIDOE will need to develop guidelines on how to implement the program.” ….

Only about half of all teachers hired stay on for five years. About 1,011 of the roughly 13,000 total teacher positions this year are filled by long-term substitutes or emergency substitutes.

Nationwide, most states are grappling with a teacher shortage. In Hawaii, the shortage is most pronounced in the instruction areas of English, math, science, special education, Hawaiian studies and vocational education, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The DOE recruits heavily from the mainland, and has already posted its first recruitment visit of 2018 on its website: a February session in Tampa, Florida. During a Nov. 21 Board of Education meeting, member Hubert Minn questioned why the state wasn’t looking at foreign countries to recruit permanent teachers.

“We keep going back west to recruit teachers, why aren’t we going to the East?” he said, pointing out that Las Vegas and Arizona are recruiting teachers from places like the Philippines “in droves.”

read … Hawaii’s Expanding Hunt For The Elusive Schoolteacher

Rate Hike--HECO asks for $6 million more from the state PUC

SA: …HECO filed a motion Friday asking the PUC to reconsider its decision that “significantly reduced the amount of pension expenses that could be recovered in utility rates,” the company said in a news release Tuesday.

The 2.5 percent rate increase approved by the PUC would add about $38 million to HECO’s revenue. HECO, without specifying the percentage increase being sought, said it is seeking an additional $6 million for a total of about $44 million. HECO said it would use the added $6 million to pay pension expenses….

HEI News Release: Hawaiian Electric seeks commission approval to recover pension contributions

read … Rate Hike Coming

$1.75 billion cesspool problem: Required upgrades could lead to massive sewer rate increases

HTH: …It’s an expensive problem.

The cost to upgrade all of the state’s roughly 88,000 cesspools is estimated at $1.75 billion. State law requires the elimination of cesspools in Hawaii by 2050.

Puako homeowners, for example, would face monthly bills of $200-$800 for 20-30 years, just for their system alone. Only 30 percent of Hilo property owners are connected to a sewer system.

“This is going to cost a lot of money to fix,” county Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski said Wednesday. “There’s really no choice. The ocean is our breadbasket. We need to protect it.”…

In 2015, Ige signed Act 120, which gives $10,000 income tax credits for homeowners in areas near water sources to upgrade their cesspools to more effective wastewater treatment systems. The credit program runs though Dec. 31, 2020.

So far, only 47 applications have been processed, according to the report. The program is limited to a total of $5 million or about 500 cesspool upgrades per year. Under the law, owners of cesspools located within 500 feet of the ocean, streams or marsh areas or near drinking water sources can qualify for the tax credit….

read … Sewer

Oahu grapples with Caldwell sewage spills

HNN: …over the last two days, three large spills have sent thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into Oahu waterways.

On Wednesday, the city said debris blocked a sewage pipe, causing an estimated 7,200 gallons of raw wastewater to spill out of a manhole.

The spill was reported about 11:30 a.m., and about 1,000 gallons was recovered.

The rest went into a storm drain that discharges into Honolulu Harbor.

Two other sewage spills happened Tuesday, as Oahu was hit with heavy rains.

The first spill happened about 6:20 p.m. in Kalihi, when about 6,800 gallons of untreated wastewater flowed from a manhole into storm drains on North School Street that lead to Kapalama Canal.

The second spill happened about 7:30 p.m. in Kailua, when about 3,151 gallons of untreated wastewater flowed from a manhole on Popoia Road.

About 200 gallons of sewage ended up in Kaelepulu Canal….

read … Caldwell

Solar Scammers Come up with new Way to Rip off Consumers

SA: Hawaii’s long-awaited Community-Based Renewable Energy Program is designed to let residents, including renters, buy their electricity from off-site producers of renewable power.

The first phase will focus on solar farms developed by parties other than Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc.’s utility companies. Customers will be able to buy subscriptions to acquire energy from such a solar farm and receive a credit on their HECO electric bill….

The PUC issued the 156-page order and attachment issued late Friday, just before the long Christmas weekend, and local energy experts were still digesting the dense document Tuesday….

Key details – on how to sign up and how much people might be able to save on their power bills – remain unclear. But the program is officially off the ground…. 

PVM: Hawaii regulators order expanded community renewables program

PBN: Hawaii regulators approve community-based solar program, opening door for small businesses, renters

Flashback: No Blackout: RevoluSun Exposed

read … Rip Off Coming

The Atlantic Working on Article on Hawaii P3 Conservation Partnerships

TA: …Great private/public partnerships in preservation taking place all over. Here is an example from the County of Hawai‘i:

County of Hawai‘i Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (PONC)

This Commission develops two prioritized lists of lands for potential acquisition funding from the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It ranks potential county acquisitions and possible partnerships with the State or nonprofit organizations.

PONC Fund (aka Open Space or 2 percent Fund) 2 percent of Hawai‘i County real property tax revenues collected annually; fund to be used for acquiring lands or property entitlements in the County of Hawai‘i for the following….

read … Private-Public Partnership for Conservation: Examples From Oregon, Hawaii, and Maine

Prosecutors: Waianae Health Center employee stole diabetic supplies for black market

HNN: …A former employee at Waianae's largest medical facility has been indicted for the alleged theft of thosands of boxes of diabetic test strips that were later sold on the black market.

Over the course of roughly 14 months, according to Honolulu prosecutors, 47-year-old Stacie-Lynn Pihana – who worked in the pharmacy at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center – ordered and then intercepted more than 2,000 cases of the test strips before destroying all corresponding paperwork and taking them from the facility.

Authorities say losses to the hospital totaled more than $695,000. An indictment released Wednesday alleges that Pihana began stealing the medical supplies from the hospital in July of 2016 and then selling them to a local source.

Prosecutor say the local source then transported the boxes of test strips to Las Vegas for resale.

"There's a definite demand on the black market for diabetic test strips," said Chris Van Marter, deputy city prosecutor. "They can be very expensive, and they're a necessary product for people dealing with the challenges of diabetes. So people are looking for ways to find them at cheaper prices."….

read … Stolen

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