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Thursday, March 29, 2018
March 29, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:16 PM :: 5635 Views

FBI Investigation of OHA: How You Can Help

Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff: 34 Years Later

Bridge Aina Lea: Jury Rejects LUC Taking After 15 Mins Deliberation

Senate Rushing to Commit Suicide--Vote Set With One Day Notice

Fake War Hero Gets Real Prison Time

Kapiolani Community College announces final three candidates for chancellor

Kailua, Kaneohe, Pearl City--Caldwell Pushing Plan to Jam Up Traffic Even More   

Bonfire of the Millennials: Fukumoto Joins Ing in Race to Oblivion

SA: …Fukumoto, 34, said she has been watching the four other major contenders for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Colleen Hanabusa, and said she hasn’t yet seen what she wants in a candidate….

(Translation: Ing got 2%?  I’m so in!)

She acknowledged she is entering the race late — the Democratic primary is slightly more than four months away — but said a recent Star-Advertiser voter poll asking about the race suggested that “nobody’s excited” about the candidates who are already running (Ing.  And as a smug millennial, I just can’t imagine that we aren’t what is wanted by the voters.  For our entire lives, we have been told that we are the future.  But which ‘we’?  Since the poll shows that Ing isn’t the future, it must be me.)

(Feel free to take a moment and laugh.)

read … Two Smug Millennials Going to Their Destruction

HART: We’re Not Planning for Sea Level Rise, Nor Should We

HNN: In 2025, the state’s largest public works project will officially be complete: A 20-mile rail line with 21 stations and a price tag of $8.2 billion (B-b-but sea level rise will make this price go up a lot and we allll believe in sea level rise.  Just keep reading and you will see…. )

In a little over 30 years, a portion of Oahu’s elevated rail system that will run through Honolulu's urban core could be submerged in floodwaters if sea levels rise by as much as 3 feet as projected, rail officials acknowledge. Under this scenario, and barring mitigation efforts, the support columns holding up the rail guideway would be under water and the station entryways could be inaccessible.

“If sea level rise happens within that timeframe, or some other impact, we’ve got to be ready to do something about it, at least at street level,” said Leo Asuncion, director of the state Office of Planning and co-chair of the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (without cracking a grin).

According to the group, everything from Hawaii’s most popular tourist destination — Waikiki Beach — to its busiest airport is under threat  (nobody mentions all those shiny new Kaka’ako condos….).

Sea level rise of 3 feet by mid-century and beyond, according to a comprehensive report the commission submitted to the state Legislature, will mean widespread destruction to Hawaii’s critical infrastructure, with more than 6,500 structures near the shoreline being compromised or lost, 25,800 acres of land flooded, and chronic flooding of major roads, utilities and other key structures.

As Hawaii is at the front lines of this unprecedented event, the commission says, it's clear that something must be done to save the state's major infrastructure projects that are critical to the state’s economy. But what's unclear is what exactly can be done — and what we should be doing right now. 

(Maybe we should immediately stop building new stuff on the rail line, in Kakaako and Waikiki.  I mean if we realllly believe this shinola.)

No project underscores that uncertainty better than Honolulu’s rail line….

For example, if  (When.  You mean when. Right?  Are you a denier?  You will have to go for diversity training again.  You remember how that went last time?) flooding happens in downtown Honolulu, it will likely impact Aloha Tower and Hawaii Pacific University first…

(But since HPU just spent megabux relocating from high-n-dry Fort Street to Aloha Tower, we can state unequivocally that HPU does not believe in sea level rise.)

“That same sea level rise that would impact the downtown station would also impact Nimitz Highway, so…. “We’d probably have to coordinate with the state DOT.”…  (LOLROTF!)

“We are building for today and that’s the thing we should be doing, for today and for the near future,” said Bill Brennan, communications director for HART. “If we need to adjust down the line, there’s going to be much more involved than just the rail station.”…  (Translation: “We’re Not Planning for Sea Level Rise, Nor Should We.”)

Although HART believes that it can construct the entire rail system with its $8.2 billion budget by 2025, the question remains: Where will the money come from if flooding takes a toll on rail?  (If??? There they go again!)

That question would fall on the city’s Department of Transportation Services, Brennan said, which would have jurisdiction over the rail line and stations once they’re built. 

(Translation: If you believe in sea level rise, rail is gonna cost a lot more than we’ve been saying!  Lesson: They only believe in global warming when it is time to raise your taxes and electric rates.) 

“All the operation and maintenance budget will be decided on a yearly basis by the city, so whatever it is that’s needed for rail operations will be part of the budget,” Brennan said.  (See?)

(And next, they blame –drumroll please—Donald J Trump—clash cymbals!)

Spirandelli added that there’s also no leadership coming from the federal government — and even more so after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement last year — but that there could be hope on a micro level with Hawaii seemingly stepping up efforts to curb climate change through the creation of commissions both at the city and state level.

(Yes.  A commission.  That’s what we need.  Maybe they will stick their finger in the dike.)

read … The water is rising. Is Hawaii's largest public works project ready?

Green Energy Scammers Want to Punish You for Buying Fuel-Efficient Cars

CB: …the state’s gas tax is the largest source of funding for our state’s highways, contributing approximately 31 percent of revenue for maintenance and new construction projects. Owners of EVs, which make up only 0.63 percent of Hawaii’s 1.06 million passenger vehicles, do not contribute into that fund…. (So sad.)

…Options include the implementation of a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax, also known as a “Road User Fee,” which would charge motorists by miles driven, rather than by fuel consumption.

However, while the tax identifies motorists that travel more frequently along our public roadway, it is unsuccessful at distinguishing between the various types of vehicles being driven. This means larger vehicles, which require more energy and have a greater impact on the environment, would be taxed at exactly the same rate-per-mile as fuel-efficient vehicles. Less efficient vehicles would actually be paying less per-unit of emissions or per-unit of energy used than electric and other fuel-efficient vehicles.

Bottom line: An immediate swap of the gas tax for an across-the-board VMT tax is simply bad policy…. 

 (Sounds good right?  Nope.  They’re still after your money.  Just keep reading.)

A better solution would be to gradually move from the gas tax to the VMT tax as EV share increases. Under this policy, everyone pays something for using the roads, yet there is still an incentive to be more fuel efficient and create less emissions. 

(Translation: We want to keep the fuel tax AND impose a mileage tax.  Lesson: They only believe in global warming when it is time to raise your taxes and electric rates.)   

IM: State of Hawai`i, Counties, HECO & Ulupono present Electrification of Transportation (EoT) Options

read … State Must Strike Balance In Funding Roadways

Star-Adv: Move carefully on paid leave

SA: …before a mandate is enacted and benefit payments start rolling, the state should thoroughly size up issues and costs tethered to such a program.

The bills task the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to come up with administrative rules by Jan. 1, 2020, to create a program that includes, in addition to universal coverage, job protection for workers who tap family leave as well as a system of so-called progressive wage replacement that allows low-income workers to receive a higher percentage of weekly earnings. That system is clearly a key to success. Without it, many cash-strapped workers would still be unable to afford leave time.

Also, the bills direct an “implementation board” — members would include large- and small-business owners, labor unions, state department heads and family leave advocates — to examine at least two funding models: social insurance, which relies on across-the-board payroll deductions; and expansion of temporary disability insurance.

Some supporters, such as the Hawaii State Teacher Association and the Hawaii Public Health Institute, want to see a specified guarantee of a minimum of 16 weeks of paid family leave and a broad definition of “family” that allows non-relatives to be designated as family for purposes of caregiving. Such provisions would present potentially insurmountable challenges to many employers….

Related: Hanabusa Campaign Plan: Send swarms of homeless into streets as absentee ballots drop

read … Move carefully on paid leave

‘Death with dignity’ is still suicide

SA: …The recent discussions regarding the House Bill 2739, the so-called Our Care, Our Choice Act, tout autonomy. Yet I find it ironic that the act of taking one’s life, which people have been doing quite autonomously for thousands of years, is now only to be sanctioned if one has the permission of one’s “health” care provider, the state Legislature and the governor.

My wonder at this apparent contradiction is compounded when I think of how, until now, we have prided ourselves on helping people not take their own lives. We have suicide prevention programs and hotlines, and have always considered suicide a tragedy that wreaks havoc on so many survivors who feel grief and frustration that they were not able to prevent this “autonomous” decision from being made….

If this door to choosing death is opened, will insurance companies and health care facilities continue to provide very expensive but ingenious treatments, developed over generations by scientists, technicians, and medical personnel? Or will the “bottom line” lead them to refuse these expensive treatments because the patient has the choice of a much quicker and less expensive death?

Will medical personnel or pharmacists be forced to provide a lethal drug against their consciences because the patient has lawfully insisted upon having it? In other words, the “auto” in “autonomous” would easily become a cancer that would inflict us all….

Capitulation Story: Medical Aid In Dying: A Long Journey From No To Yes For These Lawmakers

read … ‘Death with dignity’ is still suicide

HSTA-owned Legislature: Hearing today on bill that would outlaw standardized tests

HTH: …State lawmakers will hear a bill today that would cap the number of standardized tests students take at four per school year.

House Bill 2117 says limiting the assessments would help “promote real-world learning experiences for Hawaii’s children (hide failure)”…

Students statewide took an average of 10 (a zillion) standardized tests during the 2016-17 school year, according to a survey of 1,764 teachers (union liars) conducted by the teachers’ union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which supports the bill.

HSTA also said 64 237,337 percent of teachers used instructional time to prepare students for tests, and 56 182,004 percent used time they’d otherwise spend teaching art, music, ecofaddism, and other subjects….

read … Hearing today on bill that would limit standardized tests

Hawaii's problem with open record requests has extended to false missile alert

TH: …For those who had hoped to know what happened, they were left with a lot of unanswered questions.

For anyone acquainted with the state’s transparency policy, this isn’t a surprise.

The Associated Press, for example, asked for state records that might have revealed how the governor and other state officials dealt with the crisis. What it received was useless information and a lack of cooperation.

The governor’s office still refuses to release phone logs, messages, texts or a calendar related to the day of the false alert, citing an exemption to the open records law. It agreed to provide redacted emails at a charge of $1,485 for the search (waiving $60 because it was in the “public interest”) and $5 for copies….

Hawaii-EMA similarly has been resistant to open-records requests, though it did release a redacted 24-second recording of the drill that provoked the false alert. (The redacted tape consisted of the words “Exercise, exercise, exercise”; a long beep; the phrase “This is not a drill”; another long beep; and a repeat of “Exercise, exercise, exercise.”)

It’s important to note that the only thing special about this situation has been the level of interest outside of Hawaii. Otherwise, how the governor’s office and Hawaii-EMA reacted to the flurry of inquiries was exactly how most government agencies in the state react when faced with information requests — especially those that could unearth potentially damaging or embarrassing information.

In Hawaii, such requests and appeals often languish until the people asking give up in frustration. Agencies often quote prohibitive search and copy fees to discourage records requests. And appeals to the state’s Office of Information Practices (OIP) stretch on for months.

According to a recent study, the average time it takes to get a transparency decision from the OIP is 474 days….

read … Hawaii's problem with open record requests has extended to false missile alert

SB2489: Timeshare Tax Too Complicated for HGEA Members to Figure out--So Let's Raise It!

UHERO: …Senate Bill 2489 SD2 currently under consideration by the 2018 Hawaii State Legislature proposes to level the playing field by increasing the amount of occupancy taxes paid by most timeshare occupants.5 It increases the TOT tax base from one-half of the gross daily maintenance fees to an unspecified per cent of the gross maintenance fees. Presumably the final percentage will be greater than 50 per cent. The problem is determining what the appropriate percentage should be. That will not be easy. UHERO’s 2008 working paper also concluded that HRS 237D is too complicated for owners to comply and for the tax department to administer.

An alternative to tying the timeshare occupancy tax base to maintenance fees is a per diem tax—a fixed dollar amount per day per unit determined by legislation. The tax is severed from “fair market rental value.” For example, in 2017 the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) enacted legislation to levy a $25 per day occupancy fee (tax) on timeshare units in the territory regardless of the size or value of the units.6 A per diem tax is relatively easy to administer; a fixed sum per day is collected from occupants at the time of check-out. …

CB: How About A Little Love For Vacation Rentals

read … Lets Milk Timeshares for Even More Tax Money

Caldwell’s $11.6M Garbage Tax Advances

SA: …A bill creating a monthly $5 charge for curbside trash pickup cleared its first hurdle at the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday but still has a long way to go.

If the measure is approved, the fee would go into effect for homeowners on Jan. 1. It would net the city an additional $5.8 million during the six remaining months of the fiscal year, and then $11.6 million every ensuing year.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he introduced Bill 19 in hopes of freeing up cash in the $2.61 billion operating budget for other purposes (because he could and because it can be increased in the future)….

read … A $5 trash pickup fee advances

Edison and the King: How Hawaii Became Electrified

IEEE: …In 1881, Thomas Edison convinced King Kalakaua that electric streetlamps were superior to gas….

read … Edison and the King

Formerly homeless vets get a fresh start at West Oahu complex

HNN: …Hale Uhiwai Nalu, a 50-unit affordable housing complex that exclusively houses formerly homeless and at-risk veterans.…The project, the second phase of a  took a little more than a year to complete and cost $9 million.  ($180K per unit)

About half the money came from the state's rental housing trust fund program. Loans and a grant covered the rest.

Rent is based on income. And there are crucial amenities available on-site available for every tenant.

"We have on-site support services, case management, we have peer specialist. We have community events," said Cloudbreak Communities community development Director Kyna-Haley Vea. "We really want to create quality of life for our veterans. Camaraderie. Something they've grown to love while serving."

Meanwhile, another expansion of the project is already in the works, with four additional complexes adding another 200 units.

"We're starting the process now and hopefully we can roll it out and every two years produce a new building," Vea said….

read … Formerly homeless vets get a fresh start at West Oahu complex

Condo community cracks down on vacation rentals

SA: …Wait long enough for government action, and the private sector may step up to craft its own fix.

Waikiki Lanais is a condo where there had been a practice of short-term rentals, but now its association board has decided it had better enforce the city’s law. Now, while the city is wrangling over its own efforts at a crackdown on illegal vacation rentals, the condo has instituted a ban.

Not that the would-be vacation rental “hosts” are going down without a legal fight, with opponents conducting depositions Thursday.

Other condo folks are surely watching to see how this plays out….

read … One community cracks down on vacation rentals

Snorkeling Kills 90 in 5 Years

HNN: … In the last five years, 90 people have died in snorkeling related activities, according to the state Department of Health. And a rise in that number has prompted experts to try to figure out why….

"With the increase in the different types of masks and snorkels, it has gotten us to a place where we're asking questions. Is there a correlation between the drowning that we're having and the different type of equipment that they use?" said city Ocean Safety Lieutenant Kawika Eckart, who's in charge of lifeguards at Hanauma Bay, the state's most popular snorkeling spot.

Experts are divided on one of those pieces of equipment, the full-face mask. Those masks allow the user to breathe through the nose, rather than the mouth, as with a traditional mask….

experts are also looking at other factors, such as the health and experience level of the snorkeler. They also want to increase education about snorkeling, especially for visitors to the islands….

(Idea: Ban snorkel rentals.) 

read … Snorkeling Kills

Sunscreens save lives, have limited impact on coral reefs

SA: …The state Legislature is considering banning the sale of sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate because of a potential link to coral reef damage.

A Star-Advertiser editorial on March 3, entitled “Ensure sunscreen is safe for our reefs,” endorsed the pending legislation. However, the 25-member organizations of the Hawaii Skin Cancer Coalition — including physicians, nurses and cancer researchers — is concerned that the rules are based on misrepresentation of the current science surrounding common chemicals in sunscreen and their link to coral reef damage.

We agree that damage to coral reefs is precipitated by human interaction; but the primary sources of this damage are not swimmers wearing sunscreen, but rather land-based source pollution (e.g. industrial waste), over-fishing, invasive species and climate change. In fact, the foundational studies that report reef effects of oxybenzone and octinoxate (by Henry Lim in 2016, Sujin Kim in 2014 and C. A. Downs in 2014) were conducted in laboratory settings and do not test the actual risks to coral in a natural setting. One study even states that the sample obtained for testing from Hawaii’s coral reefs had minimally detectible levels of oxybenzone and octinoxate (Downs 2014).

Morbidity and deaths from skin cancers are on the rise in the U.S. and Hawaii. The current focus of Hawaii’s legislative policy limiting sale of sunscreen products will undermine years of progress toward addressing the effects of unprotected sun exposure, a primary risk factor for skin cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 5 million people in the U.S. are treated for skin cancers each year, at a cost of over $8 billion to our health care system. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the second most common form of cancer for females aged 15-29 years old. Each year more than 10,000 people die of melanoma….

read … Sunscreens save lives, have limited impact on coral reefs

Prosecutors want one corruption trial against Kealohas

KITV: …Derek Hahn, Bobby Nguyen, Daniel Sellers, and Gordon Shiraishi, asked a judge to be tried separately from the couple.

But prosecutors say four trials would bog down the court schedule, require multiple juries, and force witnesses to testify repeatedly about the same facts.

The Kealohas want one trial for accusations they framed a relative for a mailbox theft and another trial for bank fraud….

read … Prosecutors want one corruption trial against Kealohas

Government: Hawaii County to Pay $30K to Set up Wi-Fi at Pahoa Comm Ctr?

HTH: …“Who pays $30,000 for internet?” Petricci asked.

Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara said she understands the position of the testifiers but suggested the county could lose the money if it doesn’t use it. She voted aye with reservations along with Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, who represents Puna mauka.

“When (the state) sees a fund that’s not being utilized, it seems like an attractive pot of cash to go after,” she said….

read … Council eyes using $30K of geothermal royalties to get internet access at Pahoa Community Center

Appleseed: Trump Tax Cuts Can’t Possibly Be Good We Demand DBEDT Get With the Program

SA:  …Many of Hawaii’s poorest residents got uplifting financial news earlier this month: Federal tax changes will save them $1,182 on average this year. Now comes bad news about that: The savings estimate made by a state agency probably was in error.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which issued a report with the estimate March 12, now says it probably overestimated the average savings for 92,030 Hawaii taxpayers earning up to $10,000 under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A local nonprofit addressing poverty issues, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, disputed DBEDT’s estimate Wednesday in a report from its recently formed research and analysis affiliate Hawaii Budget and Policy Center.

The Appleseed affiliate’s analysis concluded that the actual average savings for taxpayers in the same income range would be a “token” amount.

For a household earning $5,180 with one dependent, the savings would be $75 instead of DBEDT’s reported $1,073, the Appleseed report said.

The Appleseed report also noted that low-income households without dependent children, including most senior households, will see no benefit from the new tax code.….

read … The Comments

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