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Wednesday, February 14, 2018
February 14, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:36 PM :: 4263 Views

OHA Audit Released: "Alternate funding process directs money to individuals"

Hypocrisy: Hawaii AG Demands Congress End Secret Sex Harassment Settlements--but says nothing about State Legislators

Gallup: Hawaii Ranks 3rd in Well-Being

$1.1B for New Airport Concourse

How Ethnically Diverse are Towns in Hawaii?

SB1279: Tax-Credit Scholarships for Special Needs Students

Panicked HSTA Already Hunkering Down for Janus Decision

CB: …Last September, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the case of Janus v American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which will quite likely change the way public sector unions operate across the country….

…HSTA is already beginning to plan for a worse-case scenario.

Union leadership is pushing a universal membership drive to register non-members. The union’s school level leaders have been reaching out to previously unregistered teachers and getting them to sign up.

Another strategy is the ongoing “Red For Ed” campaign, which requests teachers wear red or HSTA shirts on Tuesdays in a show of solidarity.

A video has been posted on YouTube to tell teachers about the case. HSTA has launched a contest for schools to submit pictures of their faculties wearing red for a chance to win prizes.

Finally, leadership has begun to take hard looks at how the union spends money in an effort to be more cost-effective. One preemptive step is to cut this year’s union convention from a two-day event down to one day.

Which brings us back to Institute Day. Union leaders need to seriously consider the future of this event. If it is to continue, there needs to be a more obvious purpose.

Despite its potential for being a powerful show of union strength, most teachers do not enjoy the gathering at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. Walking into the Blaisdell from the free parking provided by McKinley High School, you pass a lot of people walking out, having already signed in.

Teachers from the farther reaches of Oahu seriously question if the rally is even worth the gas money to drive into town….

Related: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Janus?

read … A Look into a Future Free of Public Employees Unions

Hawaii ERS Gambled on Market Calm—Then Everything Changed

WSJ: …In the past, pension funds, endowments and family offices pursued relatively safe investments. After interest rates collapsed on the heels of the financial crisis, they ran into challenges paying pensioners and filling university budgets, and added riskier bets on hedge funds and venture capital in the hopes of winning better returns.

More recently, some of these investors also made big, unpublicized wagers seeking to benefit from what had been an unusually long period of low volatility, according to pension-fund consultants and others who deal with these institutions. The strategies, often involving the writing of complicated options contracts, were for years a source of easy money. Markets hadn’t been so calm since the 1950s.

Among those making such bets were Harvard University’s endowment, the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii and the Illinois State Universities Retirement System.

Yet volatility has now returned to markets, with a vengeance. When the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 2,400 points in a week, intraday market swings also surged. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, a measure of expected swings in the S&P 500, closed at its highest level last week since August 2015, recording its biggest one-day jump ever on Feb. 5 as it surged to 37.32 from 17.31 the prior day.

The $16.9 billion Hawaii fund in 2016 began earning money selling “put” options—essentially a bet that markets would stay calm or rise. When markets fall, Hawaii is on the hook to pay out.

“We’ve taken some losses that you’d expect with these sharp moves,” said Vijoy Chattergy, the fund’s chief investment officer, on Feb. 8. He also said “they’re within expectations.”….

The put options it began selling in 2016 give holders the right, but not the obligation, to sell stocks at a certain level. When markets are calm, Hawaii receives a check each month from whoever is buying a put option. If markets fall, whoever bought the put can collect.

The fund’s Mr. Chattergy, while worried about an extended downturn, says Hawaii has taken steps to mitigate losses. He said Hawaii will continue to sell these put contracts, convinced the income will offset market turbulence. “We’re continuing to trade the strategy.”… 

Feb 15: ERS Fires Investment Officer After Losses on VIX Puts

SA: State pension fund loses 6% in stock sell-off

read … Hawaii Gambled on Market Calm—Then Everything Changed

Hawaii County Officials Have Trouble Making Up Excuses for GE Tax Hike

WHT: …“Right now, we only know that they want to raise a tax at a time when we’re already struggling with taxes. We know generally what they’re going do with it, but we don’t have specifics at this point, so I’m not one to write a blank check to my government.”….

read … West Hawaii residents chime in on proposed GET hike

Star-Adv: Lets Make More Excuses for Alt-Energy Rate Hikes

SA: Lets just skip to the comments – “"Charting a path to a future in which Hawaii’s electricity sector is teeming with renewable energy options is neither easy nor inexpensive."
Or smart.
This first sentence says it all. Our state's misguided "renewable" energy initiatives will always be orders of magnitude more expensive than domestically abundant, cheap, and clean conventional fuels such as natural gas, while being more unreliable….”

read … Control rising electricity rates

Rail Promised Lots Of Jobs But There’s No Sure Count Of What It’s Delivering

CB:…HART doesn’t keep track of the totals, but its point-in-time counts suggest fewer people are employed than had been projected….

read … Rail Lie Busted

Federal Budget Deal Does not Change Rail Funding

CB: … One thing the agreement will not mean is more money for the Honolulu rail project.

“I will repeat this until we are done with this project,” Schatz said. “There is not a penny more or a penny less than what was originally committed in the full funding grant agreement.”

Honolulu received a $1.55 billion grant through the Federal Transit Administration to build a 20-mile commuter rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

But as the project ballooned in cost from about $5.2 billion to just over $9 billion, some have wondered if the federal government would be willing to pony up more cash. Schatz said that’s a non-starter.

“This is not to say that we won’t get more money for public transportation,” he said. “It’s just that in the case of rail the federal government has promised a fixed amount.”

The Hawaii delegation split on the budget deal with Schatz and Hanabusa both in support and Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voting against the measure….

read … Deal

Legislation Would Have Ordered Homeowners to Allow Strangers in Home During Missile Alert

HNN: …Members of the state House of Representatives have introduced two pieces of legislation specifically designed to address this issue.

The first, House Bill 2673, prohibits places of public accommodation from denying shelter to any person when the state, or any portion thereof, is the subject of an emergency alert that advises the public to immediately seek shelter.

It would require businesses to provide a safe place for the public to shelter until a federal, state, or county emergency management official advises that the emergency condition no longer exists. It would also fine anyone that violates the law, though the amount has not yet been determined.

There would also be provisions for civil liability immunity, with certain exceptions.

A second measure, House Bill 2693, also requires businesses and homeowners to provide shelter upon missile threat alert and would provides immunity. However, lawmakers later removed the provision forcing homeowners to open up their homes as shelters. …

Cataluna: Faxed threats taken more seriously than false missile alert

read … It's been a month since Hawaii's false missile alert. Here's what's changed

Bill To Regulate Police Officers Clears Another Hurdle

CB: Hawaii sets minimum standards for barbers, boxing event promoters and private security guards, but is one of five states without such standards for law enforcement officers. It’s the only state without a board to regulate officers and keep bad cops off the street.

A measure to change that cleared another hurdle Tuesday when House Bill 2071 was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee….

read … Bill To Regulate Police Officers Clears Another Hurdle

HIDoT: HB2658 Would Invalidate Real ID

CB: …House Bill 2658 would amend the state law by which residents 25 to 71 years old are required to renew their licenses every eight years. Those under the age of 18 must renew every four years, while those 72 and older renew every two years.

The law currently states, “If the licensee is a legal immigrant, the license shall expire no later than the licensee’s authorized period of stay in the United States.” The words “period of stay” has meant that Micronesians, even though they are legal immigrants, must renew their licenses every year.

HB 2659 would add these words to that sentence: “provided further that this paragraph shall not apply to a person who is a citizen of a country having a valid Compact of Free Association with the United States and who provides proof of legal presence in the United States.”…

the state Department of Transportation opposes the bill, arguing that it is in “direct conflict” with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. The act requires state driver’s licenses and identification cards to be accepted by the Department of Homeland Security.

“Losing our compliance status would mean that Hawaii’s driver’s license would no longer be an accepted form of identification for the purposes of domestic commercial air travel and entrance to federal facilities,” the DOT said in testimony.

Two second-year students at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Taylor Brack and Andres Y. Gonzalez, disagree….

Oregon: Not in Compliance with Real ID, Must Comply by Oct 10, 2018

read … Bill Would Spare Micronesians A Yearly Trip To The DMV

City issues default notice to contractor of $53.6M traffic management center

SA: …Among the defaults: incorrect installation of the roofing and the weather resistant barrier behind the exterior metal panels, each of which may have contributed to water infiltration into the interior of the building, as well as incorrect installation of lobby glass walls assembly and the parapet walls.

The city broke ground on the facility, at South King and Alapai streets, in April 2015. The original completion date was June 2017.

City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong asked the City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee today for special private counsel to assist her office in the matter.

“The Default Letter was issued only after many opportunities had been given to Watts to correct the various issues that had been identified by the city,” Leong said in a release. “We trust that Watts will take this letter seriously and cure the defaults in accordance with the construction contract.”

The release said: “Over the course of the past year, the city informed Watts of numerous deficiencies under the construction contract for the JTMC, which were not appropriately corrected in a timely manner. Out of the more than 90 Non-Compliant Reports issued to Watts, approximately 80 percent of the non-complaint work remains uncorrected.”….

read … City issues default notice to contractor of $53.6M traffic management center

GE Tax Booklets: DoTax Fails Again

SA: The mailing of GE booklets to taxpayers who had specifically requested to continue receiving them from the state Department of Taxation was delayed until mid-February, said Deborah Kwan, a DOTAX spokeswoman. You and others who had requested booklets might not receive them before the Feb. 20 GE tax filing deadline, she said.

Anyone who needs a booklet should download it from tax.hawaii.gov/forms, she said. You can also file GE taxes online at hitax. hawaii.gov, she said….

HGEA Members just can’t be bothered to collect taxes.)

read … Taxpayers told to go online after late mailing of GE booklets

Anti-Sunscreen Hysteria – Manufacturers Cash in on Chemophobia

SA: …A bill to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate received overwhelming support and won approval Feb. 7 in its first joint public hearing at the state Legislature.

Those chemicals increase coral bleaching and reproductive diseases and cause deformities in some marine life, according to the bill.

Both chemicals have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, but Senate Bill 2571 would prohibit the sale of sunscreen in any form that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate without a medical prescription.

“The science is now clear (NOT!) that oxybenzone and octinoxate are damaging our coral reefs and are a danger to human health,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard (who never misses the chemophobia bandwagon). “There are plenty of alternative sunscreens on the market with local companies even producing them.”… (And they contribute to my campaign.)…

Testimony from Hawaii Medical Assoc: “Given the lack of peer reviewed evidence suggesting that sunscreen is a cause of coral bleaching and the overwhelming evidence that not wearing sunscreen increases rates of deadly cancer, the HMA would like to propose that this issue be studied more deeply before passing a policy that would severely limit the availability of sunscreens that people are likely to wear on a daily basis.”

Best Comment: “I spent a good ten minutes in Long's last week looking for a non-chemical sunscreen that didn't cost over $15.”

SB2571: Text, Status

read … Chemophobia

HB584: Biomass Tax Break Frankenbill

IM: The State Legislature will hold a hearing for HB 584 HD1 on Thursday that will expand “participation in Hawaii’s enterprise zone program” by expanding the definition of “eligible business activity” to include a “biomass energy facility.”

The biomass facility does not have to be sustainable, green, or cost-effective; it can deplete carbon stored in biomass and expand greenhouse gas emissions when the material is burned to make energy.

The only requirement for eligibility is that it is a biomass energy facility. The term biomass is not defined.

The bill was introduced as an empty shell bill last year by a legislator pushing for vague geothermal enterprise zones located somewhere in Puna. On February 2, 2018, the new contents were inserted… 

The 2009 State Legislature passed a bill that was 116 words in length and left the Public Utilities Commission to figure out what it meant. Hawai`i Revised Statutes §269-27.3states,

…The public utilities commission shall have the authority to establish preferential rates for the purchase of renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities….

Biomass companies tried to use the law twice. The Public Utilities Commission did not approve preferential rates in either case.

The first case involved Anaergia, a privately-owned Canadian “clean energy” company which sought to use the law for a Lahaina biofuel operation involving injection wells. Maui County injection wells are polluting the ocean. The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against ongoing ocean pollution.

The second case involved Hū Honua Bioenergy`s proposed biomass facility on the Hamakua Coast. Life of the Land appealed the Commission ruling to the Hawai`i Supreme Court….

read … Proposed Hawai`i Tax Break for Biomass Facilities Without Regard for Climate Impacts

HB2109: Solar Contractors Block Efficient, Inexpensive Tank-less Water Heaters

IM: …The 2008 Legislature passed SB 644 SD3 HD3 CD1 which was signed into law as Act 204.

The 2009 Legislature amended the law by passing HB1464 HD3 SD2 CD1, which became Act 155.

DBEDT was given the role of reviewing variance requests. Variances are supposed to act as an emergency safety valve, as opposed to a vehicle to get around a legislative requirement.

Since the law went into effect in 2100, DBEDT received 5,627 variance requests, rejected 28 and approved 5,599, including 5,290 requests for the installation of an instantaneous gas water heater.

Over 2,200 of the variance requests were filed by a single developer. Two thirds of all variances granted were for the Island of Hawaii, most notably East Hawaii.

A proposed fix was proposed for the 2018 State Legislature. HB 2109 would require that solar water heater variance applications be signed by the architect or mechanical engineer attesting to the need for the variance and would narrow available criteria for granting a variance.

Sherry Pollack, Vice President of the Hawaii chapter of 350.org, suggested expanding the law to cover all duplexes, triplexes, condos, or other multi-family dwellings….

(Translation: Lets make housing more unaffordable so we can profit ourselves.)

Rep. Matt LoPresti told the Hawaii Gas representative that he had a couple of young daughters.  LoPresti said it was "very offensive" to hear a fossil fuel company claim that allowing consumers to buy gas water heaters was "social justice". 

(Translation: I am a mindless regressive leftist.)

Reality: Because of its failure to embrace LNG, Hawaii is one of only a few states to see CO2 output Increasing

read … Unaffordable

Retaliation Victim Gets Better Treatment After Going Public

KGI: …Charles Rapozo is feeling better these days.

“I feel like I got out of a cage and I feel more at peace,” he said Tuesday at the Historic County Building. “People treat me with respect over here and the workers are kind to me, with ‘good mornings’ and ‘thank yous,’ and just being polite to me.”

The long-time County of Kauai employee filed a lawsuit against the county last year, claiming he was retaliated against for bringing up concerns about asbestos at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

For over a year, Rapozo said he sat in his truck while still getting paid and still getting satisfactory work evaluations.

But shortly after The Garden Island published a story on Jan. 7 about his situation, Rapozo was moved to a new worksite, is doing better and is greatly relieved.

Within two days of his new assignment, Rapozo said he had his safety equipment and his bosses call him regularly to check up on him. He said he was also trained within that time frame….

Lesson to Victims of Retaliation: “Go public and your enemies will step back.”

MN: Maui Mayor’s plea for legal fees in Taylor suit shot down by panel

read … Retaliation

Another Anti-Asian Rant from the Politically Correct Diversity Crowd

NS: “…just because we’re not White doesn’t mean we have no role in the continual occupation and colonization of Native Hawaiian lands (bla, bla, bla)….”

read … Hawaii is Not Your Asian Paradise….

An Anti-Male Rant from Mee-Too Crowd

CB: “…The #MeToo movement is setting a new norm about what constitutes acceptable treatment of women at work….”

Translation: They target only those they wish to target.

Proof: Sex Harassment: Hawaii Legislators Admit Covering up Four Cases

read … Fake Fake Fake

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