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Sunday, June 10, 2018
June 10, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:45 PM :: 2969 Views

What Does State Constitution Say About Balanced Budget?

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Just home from Iraq, air traffic controllers answer call for Volcano Relief

Culture of accountability results in academic successes at Kamehameha III Elementary

Travel Ban? Janus? Supreme Court Poised for Blockbuster Finish

Why are isle residents struggling, income-wise?

SA: …Every year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development updates its calculation of the area median income (AMI) for a family in a given location, and in April, Honolulu got a bit of a shock.

The AMI for Oahu families was set at $96,000, an 11 percent jump from the previous year. The income level affects who qualifies for affordable housing. For example, workforce housing is reserved for those earning between 80 percent to 140 percent of AMI, and low-income housing is geared for those at 60 percent AMI and below….

An examination of the yearly figures shows that the 2017 AMI estimate was based on five years that included a dip in income — these were still fairly early post-recession years — so that the increase in 2018 looked larger.

Even given those caveats, it’s still difficult to understand — until one considers that these AMIs are family incomes. Barbara Poole-Street, a retired professor of economics at Chaminade University, said this reflects the current social dynamic, especially in Hawaii’s setting of service-economy jobs and high costs of living.

“It used to be that young people would graduate and move out on their own,” Poole-Street said. “Now those young people stay home and are considered part of that family.”…

The economy has certainly recovered since the recession of a decade ago, Bonham said, but for many people the wages have barely kept up with inflation. In real terms, earners may have worked their way back up only to where they were in 2005 or so.

“When you take out inflation, you essentially have this flat median family income,” he added. “The recovery leaves you no better off than 10 years ago — or 30. That’s the story about ‘Things aren’t so great.’”

Concurring with that assessment is Eugene Tian, chief economist at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Tian said personal income increases between 1987 and 2017 averaged 4.7 percent a year. But over the past 20 years, the annual growth rate is only 4.3 percent.

“What we see is a declining growth rate,” Tian said. “I see this is a national trend.”

And if wages aren’t increasing as fast as the cost of living, people have to share the costs. Statistics indicate that Hawaii is a standout among the states for the size and demographics of those households.

Tian said Hawaii ranks second behind Utah for the largest household size in the nation, and first for multigenerational families — 11.5 percent of all family households comprise three or more generations.

And driving this intimate family arrangement, of course, are lower individual wages….

Related: Hawaii Job Market Schizophrenic 

DBEDT: How Does Hawaii Compare?

read … Why are isle residents struggling, income-wise?

Most People Don’t Know who the Politicians Are

SA: …As shocking as it seems to members of the state Legislature and the City Council, most members of the general public don’t know the names or faces of their state representative, senator or Council member. And they are not likely to be making up flash cards to start testing themselves.

When the Star-Advertiser surveyed 1st Congressional District voters in March, there were four major congressional candidates. Only veteran city and state politician, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, had decent voter ID numbers; just 6 percent said they didn’t recognize her.

Lt. Gov. and former Attorney General Doug Chin, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and state Rep. Kaniela Ing all had “did not recognize” numbers between 30 and 59 percent….

In some ways, Case looks strong because in past races, even in losing attempts, he has taken more than 45,000 votes.

On Oahu in his 2012 U.S. Senate race loss against Mazie Hirono, Case had 72,000 votes. His Oahu tally against the late U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka in 2016 was 77,000. And in the 2010 special election for the 1st Congressional seat, Case came in third with 47,000. So Oahu voters are familiar with Case and a significant number are willing to vote for him….

read … Ed Case brings buzz, and name recognition, to crowded U.S. House race

Difficult to take Hawaii Republicans seriously

Shapiro: …With each election cycle, it becomes more difficult to take Hawaii Republicans seriously as a major political party.

Republicans candidates have filed to run in this year’s statewide races — U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, lieutenant governor — but they are mostly unknowns with little organization or GOP perennials who have never come close in big contests.

The party’s most promising candidate for governor had to obtain a restraining order against an online troll working for a GOP opponent, as Republicans show more interest in fighting each other than fighting Democrats….

The GOP’s irrelevance is most apparent in the Legislature, where it now holds none of 25 Senate seats for the first time and a historic-low five of 51 House seats.

Chances for improving these numbers are dim after Republicans last week fielded candidates to challenge Democrats in only four of 12 Senate districts and 19 of 51 House districts.

The party is cash poor and bitterly divided between moderates struggling to find a platform they can sell to the state’s diverse and liberal electorate and a right wing that attacks the moderates as RINOs (Republicans in name only).

A Trumpist war against people of color, immigrants, women and LGBTs simply won’t appeal in a state of minorities and immigrants….

the GOP’s dysfunction is everybody’s problem because it means most elections are effectively settled in the Democratic primary, where only 202,283 of the state’s 726,940 registered voters participated in 2016, leaving the 437,664 voters in the general election with little left to decide….

read … Top-two system offers better choices than party primaries

Star-Adv:  Don’t put ceiling on ridehail fares

SA: …Bill 35, which authorizes the establishment of a cap on how much ridehailing charges could “surge” during heavy commuter times, was passed 6-3. But this attempt to overregulate what is a self-regulating marketplace with pricing that’s transparent to customers is wrongheaded and will not ultimately serve the public….

Ridehailing customers can decide whether or not to accept the ride, knowing the price up front, and can decide whether delaying their trip to an off-peak time, or finding another option, would suit them best.

It would be the nation’s first such ban, but being first is a dubious honor when the action itself is a misstep. Mayor Kirk Caldwell should put a swift end to the bill by issuing a veto. Council members who may be wavering should not vote to override a veto….

Related: 'Surge pricing' ban will hurt Honolulu consumers

read … Don’t put ceiling on ridehail fares

Loss of Geo Plant Jacks up Big Island Electric Bills

DB: … the loss of PGV would add about $2.60 to the June bill of a typical residential customer on Hawaii Island who uses an average 500 kilowatt-hours per month. What’s more, “Without PGV, Hawaii Island will go from 57 percent renewable to 37 percent renewable,” Lee-Moku said. …

read … The Kilauea Eruption Flooded Hawaii’s First Geothermal Plant. What Next?

In Latest Effort to Shut Down Fishing Industry, Enviros Re-Classify Opah into Five Species

LVRJ: …Most opah landed by those vessels arrive at the United Fishing Agency auction in Honolulu, where Underkoffler was working several years ago when Garrett Kitazaki flagged the big-eyed opah for her and her colleague Meagan Luers, another study co-author.

They took measurements, clipped fins and sent tissue samples to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in San Diego. From the samples collected at the auction, the team quickly determined the fish were distinct from each other.

“In that effort to find more, we stumbled across more very distinct opah species,” said John Hyde, program leader of genetics fisheries at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center who did the DNA tests.

They put out a call to museums, ports and commercial fisheries to get samples of opah. They thumbed through literature dating back to the 1700s to find references and descriptions of the fish. Underkoffler even traveled to Monaco to check out a specimen. (They always wrangle free vacations.)

“It kept building and building,” said Underkoffler, who now works for NOAA’s seafood inspection program in Seattle.

Hyde said that “when you realize there are five species instead of one, it tells us there’s a lot to still discover out there.”

read … Which of the Five will be Labelled ‘Threatened’ First?

Hawaii County Police say changes made after evidence in high-profile cases compromised

HTH: The safety and integrity of collected police evidence has been called into question as reports of lost and stolen evidence from storage lockers have come to light.

Hawaii County police attribute the loss of DNA evidence in two separate high-profile 2016 criminal cases to rodents. The items, a bloodied wadding from a shotgun shell and a tampon, were drying in an outdoor evidence locker behind the Kona Police Station when police think a mongoose, or other type of rodent, sneaked in and snatched them….

The lost DNA evidence was brought to public awareness Monday when defense attorneys attempted to suppress all DNA evidence and drop sexual assault charges due to the loss or spoliation of the tampon in a reported 2016 rape case that occurred at Old Kona Airport Park. While appalled, a 3rd Circuit judge determined the loss to be negligent, and denied the motion, as the charges, he said, were far too serious to drop….

read … Compromised

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