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Friday, March 23, 2018
March 23, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:46 PM :: 5159 Views

Sources: OHA Trustees to 'Suspend' Crabbe

Voter backlash no longer a threat to tax hikes?

Domestic Violence: Shame on Clayton Hee

Sacrificing Safety Is an Unintended Consequence of the Jones Act

Hawaii Vacation Rentals: Impact on Housing and Economy

Schatz: Federal Budget Includes Many Hawaii Pork Barrel Projects

Iranian Government Hacked Hawaii State Computer System

Budget Boosts American Samoa Spending, Military Pay, Veterans Funding 

Sovereignty Activists to Tear down US Flag at DoE Schools

HNN: …While students across Hawaii protested against gun violence last Wednesday, two teens at Hana High School kick started a protest of their own: switching out positions of the school's flags, so the state flag flew above the American one.

One of those students have not been identified. The other is 16-year-old Jesiah Malaikini. He says the placement of the flags has bothered him for years.

"Our Kupuna being held against their will, being frightened, being hit for speaking our native tongue when it's just being reminded every single day looking at that flag," Malaikini said.

School administrators demanded Malaikini to re-position the flags. When he refused, he was suspended. …

According to Hawaii State Law, when the United States flag is displayed with the Hawaiian flag, the national flag shall occupy such position of honor.

Similar protests at University of Hawaii campuses have led the college to implement a two flag pole policy. Something some in the native Hawaiian community applaud.

"So that we can properly at least feel somewhat near equal, near justice, because it will never be until the 125 years of unresolved legality is resolved," Kalaniakea Wilson, supports flag demonstration said.

Malaikini launched a Go Fund Me to raise funds to place a second flag pole on campus so both flags can fly side by side. He hopes other schools will follow suit.

Malaikini also wants students across the state to participate in a flag walkout on March 29, asking them to lower the American flag on campus in a show of protest. …

Clue: Sovereignty flows from the will of the people.  The people’s will is statehood.

Feb 16, 2018: Protesters seize U.S., Hawaiian flags at UH–Maui College

read … Latest Sovereignty Trick

Hawaii Students Organize Four ‘March For Our Lives’ Rallies

SA: Saturday’s “March For Our Lives” rallies, part of a nationwide movement advocating for stricter gun control and student activism, will take place in at least four different locations in Hawaii: Ala Moana Park, the State Capitol; Kailua; and UH Maui College….

Honolulu March for Our Lives, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature a march that begins at the Hawaii State Capitol, heads down Richards Street and past the Federal Building, then back up Punchbowl Street, before ending at the Capitol….

A second rally in Honolulu — organized by area high school students — will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. between McCoy Pavilion and Piikoi Street in Ala Moana Park.

Youth March for Our Lives Honolulu will feature speakers and student musicians that represent a cross-section of public, charter and private schools including Farrington, Kalani, Castle, Kaiser and Moanalua high schools as well as Punahou, Iolani, Le Jardin, Assets and Hawaii Technology Academy….

Additional events in Hawaii include a planned march from Kailua Intermediate to Kailua High at 10 a.m.

A March For Our Lives Maui rally starting at 3 p.m. will be followed by a “Concert for Our Lives,” and is expected to draw musicians such as Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson….

read … March

Caldwell Invented $214M Rail Deficit by Changing Budget Assumptions

SA: …Honolulu’s critical but financially troubled project is at a precarious juncture. The Federal Transit Administration still has not approved the latest financial plan for the 20-mile, 21-stop elevated system. Until it does so, close to half the $1.55 billion federal subsidy for the project — $700 million — hangs in the balance.

Caldwell and administration leaders have met with FTA officials on the plan; they said the agency wants to see the city’s commitment to finish the project before yielding the rest of the federal share.

Caldwell’s plan in Bill 42 represents a sticking point with the Council. The measure seeks to cover a $214 million budgetary hole that opened up, even with the increase in the tax revenues approved last year by the state Legislature.

That shortfall in the plan to finish the $8.165 billion project resulted because state lawmakers used a more generous revenue projection than city officials did, the mayor said.

The mayor wants the Council to approve his proposal in the bill, which would secure $44 million for administrative costs by authorizing the issuance of bonds. The loan itself may not prove necessary but, he said, setting it up is needed as a show of faith to the FTA. Caldwell said the FTA is signalling it wants that amount plugged into the budget to certify that the plan covers all costs.

Some on the Council have balked, and there are legitimate reasons. Incurring debt for administrative costs is not ideal….

read … More Caldwell Money Games

HB2739: Senate Committee Votes 4-1 for Suicide

SA: …The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to advance House Bill 2739, known as the Our Care, Our Choice Act. Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) voted against the measure, citing concerns about government interfering in personal matters.

The committee did not make any amendments to the bill, which would allow terminally ill patients to request prescriptions for lethal doses of medication. Today’s committee hearing was a decision-making procedure only; no oral testimony was accepted.

The full Senate will vote on the measure early next week….

Eva Andrade, president of the Hawaii Family Forum, which works with the faith-based community and opposes the measure, described today’s committee vote as just another step in the process.

“It’s just a step. We’re not done. Our message is one of hope. Our message is one to the community that suicide is never a solution,” Andrade said.

She added that the organization plans to go out into communities to “educate people on what this bill actually says so that no one ever chooses it.”

Gov. David Ige has already said he supports the measure and would be “proud and honored” to sign it into law. The bill as written would take effect Jan. 1….

CB: More than 700 pages of written testimony were submitted prior to the short morning hearing but the public was not afforded a chance to comment in person. It was also not broadcast on television.

read … Suicide

HB2010 Gut n Replace Destroy Tourism Industry

PBN: House Bill 2010 has the power to “unravel the mission and purpose of the Hawaii Tourism Authority” and “reverse Hawaii’s tourism future,” according to HTA CEO and President George Szigeti.

The bill initially started out with the purpose of forgiving the bond debt obligation on the Hawaii Convention Center owed by HTA, with the debt to be treated as a public debt of the state.

It has since been gutted and replaced to become HB2010_SD1, which would reduce the HTA’s Tourism Special Fund, which comes from the Transient Accommodations Tax, from $82 million to $60.3 million, and would completely eliminate the $26.5 million in annual funding given to the Hawaii Convention Center.

This is a 44 percent drop in funding, and it would be the lowest total since 2002….

read … Death to Tourism

Legislators $30M Raid on GEMS Funds

PBN: House Bill 2249 earlier this week was passed by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy as well as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health. The bill, which deals with electric grid resilience, would establish a $30 million revolving line of credit sub-fund under the umbrella of the Green Energy Market Securitization Loan Fund for any state agency to finance energy efficiency measures. It would also set up a rebate program as well as a task force to prepare the state’s grid for natural disasters and other emergencies. … questions have been raised about the use of GEMS funds for the program.

“Ulupono opposes using GEMS funding, which is designed as a loan program to be used as a rebate program,” Murray Clay, Ulupono managing partner, said in testimony.

Leslie Cole-Brooks, executive director of the Distributed Energy Council of Hawaii, added, “DERC does not believe [the fund] would adequately support the DER industry in Hawaii and would only serve to create a ‘boom and bust’ dynamic.” It’s Senate bill companion, SB2910, which would create a $50 million revolving line of credit, has also crossed over to the House.

SB2939 has also made the transfer from the Senate to the House earlier this month. The bill would require the state Public Utilities Commission to establish performance incentives and penalty mechanisms that would tie Hawaiian Electric’s revenues directly to performance metrics. …The utility company opposes the current draft of the legislation, calling it “potentially too prescriptive and overbroad”…

On the transportation front, HB2728 has made its way to the Senate. The bill would eliminate fossil fuels from government owned and operated ground transportation by 2035 and subsequently in all ground transportation. The bill would also establish benchmarks for 2025….

HB1864 would expand the income tax credit for renewable energy technologies, including ocean thermal energy conversion.

HB1801 would amend the definition of “renewable portfolio standard” to more accurately reflect the percentage of renewable energy penetration in the state. It would also establish RPS and targets for gas utility companies.

SB 3001 would establish an alternative energy research and development pilot program, and appropriate money for grants under the pilot program.

IM: Postponing Climate Change Action so it can be Studied

read … Rate Hikes Coming

Ige Administration: House Budget Cuts Go Too Far

CB: …Frustrated by millions of dollars in cuts the House made earlier this month to the overall state budget bill, some of Gov. David Ige’s department heads appealed to the Senate for relief Thursday morning at the Capitol.

The Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, listened to their testimony but gave no indication of what changes might be made to the $7.4 billion spending plan for fiscal 2019, which starts July 1, or the $2.1 billion proposed budget for construction projects.

The committee deferred decision-making on House Bill 1900 for one week. Any differences between the two chambers’ budget drafts will be negotiated in a joint conference committee in April…..

The Senate has about $66 million more to work with for fiscal 2019 than the House did thanks to a rosier general-fund forecast last week by the state Council on Revenues. But Dela Cruz has already signaled that he intends to take a conservative approach to the budget and build up the rainy day fund.

The Ways and Means Committee is expected to take action on the budget bill at 10:45 a.m., Thursday, in Room 211 at the Capitol.

Read testimony from the departments here….

read … Ige Administration: House Budget Cuts Go Too Far

Hawaii businesses pay when government IT systems lag

PBN: …The system used by HI-EMA is only one example of Hawaii’s outdated IT infrastructure across its various government levels. Many tasks, which could be streamlined, secured and made more efficient through the use of modern technology, are still done by hand at the state and county levels. And it costs businesses real money.  …

The PUC’s online database, where all of its dockets and documents are archived, has received less than favorable reviews due to its rudimentary design and lack of user friendliness. “It’s difficult to work with,” said Ted Peck, CEO. “The PDF files are often not searchable. Some of their files are so huge that they are basically not email-able. It just really slows down the ability for a well-informed discussion and also drives up cost.”…

While numerous local and state agencies have tried to upgrade their IT performance, the results have been rather underwhelming. Hawaii’s state Judiciary, for example, has taken steps toward allowing attorneys to file and retrieve documents electronically, but the lion’s share of civil cases that affect business in the circuit courts are still conducted the old-fashioned way, on paper.

The circuit courts have an online electronic docketing system, called Hoohiki, but the documents listed are often unavailable online, and are only accessible at the courthouse where they were filed. The federal courts switched to electronic filing years ago, allowing attorneys to upload documents at any time of the day or night, and allowing anyone with an account to download those documents as soon as they are filed. …

While many real estate transactions on the Mainland are recorded in a city or county agency, every transaction in the state of Hawaii is recorded in one central place, the Bureau of Conveyances. The state agency has struggled for years with backlogs and delays in recording deeds, and has made some progress in recent years, digitizing millions of microfilm images and reference books. But recording still lags behind other cities, where data is available electronically within days, if not hours, of a deed recording. In some cases, those delays can cause problems for buyers or sellers working under a deadline.

“It costs buyers and sellers money because of the lateness,” Steve Sofos, president and CEO of Sofos Realty Corp., told PBN in an email. “In some cases, it has killed some IRS 1031 tax-deferred exchanges, which causes businesses to have to pay more taxes instead of completing an exchange and caused the buyer or seller the lost potentiality of a tax-deferred exchange.”

A 1031 exchange delay could mean thousands, or tens of thousands, in capital gains taxes….

Another source of headaches for many businesses is permitting. Whether it’s building permits from Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting, permits to conduct business from various state agencies, or other authorizations that businesses need to operate, the process can drag out and delay a business’s plans, tie up staff time and frustrate clients.

“It drives me absolutely nuts,” said Steve Joseph, vice president of operations and director of planning and permitting at PVT Land Company Ltd., a landfill and recycling facility on Oahu’s West side. “It’s taken me two-and-a-half years to renew my solid-waste permit [from the state Department of Health]. It’s taking me three years to get an electrical permit. Two years is $ 1 million for me, just to renew my solid-waste permit….

Bhagowalia had put the cost of completely modernizing and transforming the state’s IT system at $1 billion in 2012. Only three years later, his successor Keone Kali told members of the state Senate Committee on Economic Development and Technology that Hawaii was unable to successfully execute IT projects of more than $10 million. Nacapuy said since then, the state has not only accelerated the number of IT projects but also saved taxpayers money.

“It’s not going to cost us $1 billion,” Nacapuy said.

A prime example, he said, is the overhaul of the state’s antiquated payroll, time and attendance system, which is currently being implemented. “Previous administrations said that project was going to cost $150 million. We are doing a lot of the work now, and guess what, the RFP came in at $42 million. Not $150 million,” he said.

“We are modernizing the payroll system for the first time in the state’s history,” he added. “That payroll system is almost 50 years old. For the first time, government employees can access their pay stub online.”

But not every IT rollout has gone smoothly. The Department of Taxation’s tax system modernization project has become a hot-button issue in the state Legislature. The modernization project kicked off in 2015 and consists of five phases. The first three have already been completed and the fourth one, which includes individual income tax, was scheduled to be completed by November….

read … Hawaii businesses pay when government IT systems lag

Legislators Set to Gut Financial Disclosure Laws

CB: …A few weeks ago Civil Beat covered Senate Bill 2609, which would redact the financial information from our financial disclosures, essentially reversing the disclosure requirement passed in 2014. According to one testifier in favor of the bill, the financial disclosure requirement is a “barrier to attracting and keeping qualified nominees…”

When I read comments like that, after serving nearly four years on the LUC, it reminds me of my reaction when I hear a politician bellyache about the supposed “brain drain.” As someone who was born and raised here and has made my adult life in Hawaii I always end up thinking, “I guess all of us still here are stupid?”

In regards to SB 2609, apparently there are those of us who are qualified, and then there are those of us who are qualified.

The second bill (Senate Bill 2231) would have the same effect but in a trickier manner. It would eliminate the $10/day penalty for failing to timely file a financial disclosure statement….

read … Don’t Gut Financial Disclosure Laws

Hawaii drivers license vendor lost scanned documents for thousands in system crash

K5: …A vendor who issues Hawaii drivers licenses and ID cards says scans of sensitive documents for tens of thousands of residents may be unrecoverable because of a system crash.

The city stressed there was no data breach and there's no security threat to some 66,500 affected individuals.

City Customer Services Department Director Sherilyn Kajiwara also said the documents issue "does not affect the validity of the license."

Documents lost were scanned at drivers licensing centers from Feb. 25, 2017 to Sept. 15.

The problem stems from a "multiple hard disk crash" on Sept. 15 at Marquis ID Systems. A back-up system didn't work properly, and the vendor is still trying to recover corrupted documents….

read … Hawaii drivers license vendor lost scanned documents for thousands in system crash

Kealohas’ mailbox was altered, according to a new indictment

SA:  A conspirator altered the mechanism securing the mailbox of former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife so it could be easily removed, according to a new indictment against the Kealohas and four former members of the Honolulu Police Department’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit.

A federal grand jury returned the new indictment Thursday. It includes the same charges that are alleged in an October 2017 indictment against the Kealohas and former CIU officers, which the new indictment replaces. It also accuses one of the former CIU officers, retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi, of being more involved in the alleged mailbox theft frame-up than he was originally charged.

The new indictment does not name the conspirator who prepped the mailbox, the conspirator who removed and drove off with it or whether they are the same person.

Shiraishi was accused of lying to the federal grand jury that charged Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, with stealing the mailbox. The new indictment accuses him of lying to the grand jury that investigated the alleged frame-up and to the FBI.

As it now stands, both Kealohas, Shiraishi, Derek Wayne Hahn and Min-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen are charged with conspiring to frame Puana and lying to cover up their actions. Daniel Sellers is charged with lying to the grand jury and FBI. As part of the conspiracy, the new indictment accuses Katherine Kealoha, Nguyen and Sellers of illegally entering Puana’s home, searching it and seizing items after Puana was arrested for unlawfully entering a neighbor’s home.

Both Kealohas are also charged with multiple counts of bank fraud for allegedly submitting false documents and putting false information on loan applications. Some of the bank fraud charges accuse the Kealohas of claiming as their own and spending money that was supposed to be held in trust for two minors. Katherine Kealoha was the court-­appointed guardian of the money….

PDF: Superseding Indictment

read ... Stole their own mailbox

 Soft on Crime: Alleged Homeless Waikiki Slasher had 27 Convictions

HNN: …In the latest of a string of violent crimes in Waikiki, a woman is recovering after a man allegedly attacked her with a box cutter, leaving her with gashes to her hands, neck and chin.

It happened in broad daylight — about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon — in front of the Longs Drug Store on Kalakaua Avenue.

Sources say the victim works in the area and was sitting at one of the tables in front of Longs when a man randomly came up behind her.

The two exchanged a few words then, police say, he put her in a chokehold and tried to cut her throat.

It took less than an hour for police to arrest Andrew Davis just blocks from the scene near Royal Hawaiian and Kuhio….

People who work in the area say Davis has been homeless for some time and is often seen walking the streets acting strangely.

"Kind of really sketchy, dodgy," said Crystal Palacios. "One of those characters you kind of want to veer away from."

Kanehailua added: "I see him singing loud to himself. Talking to himself. You could tell he wasn't all there."

Now the 49-year-old is accused of attempted murder. He remains behind bars.

A check of Davis' criminal history shows a violent past dating back nearly three decades. He has 19 (Update: 27) convictions, including for manslaughter (Wow.  Just wow.), robbery and drug crimes….

(Idea.  Lets give him a job in the offices of the HPA so they can see their own handiwork up close and personal.)

read … Soft on Crime

$312K Cost Per Unit for Homeless Housing

HHC: …t’s a real mystery why it should cost anyone $5 million to put this project together.  The city reportedly paid $300,000 for the 1-acre lot.  There are only 16 units, which works out to about $312,000 for each of them, including the land.

$312,000 for small, prefabricated wooden boxes crammed together on city land in Waianae?

And it took them nearly three years?

Gosh, you’d never know that we have one of the nation’s worst homelessness crises.

Unless you opened your eyes just about anywhere.

If this is the best the city can do, we’re all in very deep trouble….

read … Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Kauai: 100 Protest Construction of a Single Family Home

KGI: …North Shore residents voiced their opposition to a construction project during a hearing at the Kapaa Public Library Wednesday night. Some were also angry that the public hearing was in Kapaa instead of Hanalei.

The proposed 4,300-square-foot, five-bedroom, single-family home would be constructed on property across the street from the Princeville fire station on 14 acres of state conservation land.

Because it’s on conservation land, the project has been scaled down for wildlife and to minimize its environmental footprint.

About 100 people attended the hearing held by the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources….

read … Gang of Thieves

Why major sports events don’t come to Hawaii

HNN:  …According to Hannemann the real issue continues to be that neither the city nor the state has a committee to deal specifically with sports events and organizations.

Hannemann says it's clear impact started with the loss of the Pro Bowl in 2016 and talks of UFC Hawaii stalling out and with the World Surf league threatening to pull the triple crown from Oahu's North Shore for three years.

The impact of these events leaving Hawaii doesn't just affect sports fans or local athletes, however. Hannemann says it impacts tourism and has left a black eye on the state as a destination sports location for future events.

"it hurts us tremendously,” he said. “Sports tourism is a huge market for us and we've had some proven winners in the past or that are currently here. Like the Sony Open and the Honolulu marathon and the pro bowl at one time. So we need to restore confidence in Hawaii being a great place to host these venues here….

Meanwhile: Will Caldwell Bumbling Wipe out North Shore Surf Contests?

read … Why major sports events don’t come to Hawaii

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