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Sunday, June 17, 2018
June 17, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:02 PM :: 3180 Views

Can’t You Just Change the Agenda?

HART Board to Discuss Public-Private Partnerships 

Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card -- Hawaii Stuck on 'F'

Education for Politicians: HGEA Fickle, Untrustworthy 

Borreca: Today’s word is “situational,” as in relating to a specific situation or circumstance.

…Last week, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s campaign for governor against Gov. David Ige won its most important endorsement when the state’s biggest and most politically active union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, backed Hanabusa.

Four years ago, the HGEA supported Ige, but only in the general election against former GOP Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, running as an independent. In the primary, against then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the HGEA was silent.

Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director, has previously said the union does not endorse in a primary “if there is a significant split in the ranks.”

So for the HGEA to come out now against the Democratic incumbent shows that the union is perhaps as much concerned about the Ige administration’s competency (obsequiousness) as well as Ige’s politics.

The situational matter in all this is that there was a time when if you found an HGEA dartboard, it was likely to have Hanabusa’s portrait on it.

teamed up with then-Gov. Ben Cayetano in a major reform of state civil service laws. At the same time she also led the fight to reform the public employee health insurance laws, at the time when the unions were selling their own members health insurance.

Then-HGEA head Russell Okata said the union “was very unhappy with her leadership.”

Inside of two elections, the HGEA had helped drive four Hanabusa allies out of the state Legislature. Then the HGEA went inside the Legislature to change the little-known, but union-critical law on binding arbitration.

Halting binding arbitration was called the “most important government reform in decades.”

Basically, binding arbitration means that instead of negotiating a new pay contract, the HGEA could call for binding arbitration, with the arbitrator almost always saying if the state has a way to pay for a requested pay raise, it must do so.

For two years, binding arbitration was repealed with Hanabusa’s help. It forced HGEA to bargain just like any other union and if it didn’t like management’s offer, the alternative was a strike.

Legislators, after seeing what the HGEA could do to Hanabusa’s political buddies, desperately changed the law back to binding arbitration, and the HGEA’s finger would always be on the state budget.

The HGEA’s Okata called it a “defining moment.”

Hanabusa back in that 2003 vote defined herself as the only Senate Democrat to stand up to the HGEA with her “no” vote. Hanabusa’s fellow senator, David Ige, voted with the HGEA….

read … HGEA’s situational endorsement shows time can heal wounds from deep political rifts

Star-Adv: Ige Should Veto TAT Hike

SA: …At the start of this year’s legislative session, a bill pitched that aimed to subject the mandatory resort fee to the TAT seemed like a fair enough move as those sorts of fees were included in the original vision of the tax shouldered largely by tourists. By the end of the session, however, state lawmakers passed an over-reach version of Senate Bill 2699 that Gov. David Ige should now veto.

If the measure becomes law, the 10.25 percent TAT could be tacked on to virtually any lodging business transaction — mandatory as well as optional, both of which are already subject to the state’s 4.5 percent general excise tax.

According to a recent study by Travel Hawaii, slightly more than 100 Hawaii hotels charge resort fees, ranging from $10 to $46 per day. Parking costs, which have been exempted from TAT collections, could run another $9 to $35 per day.

If SB 2699 becomes law, hotel, resort and timeshare visitors would automatically pay another $2 to $8 per night to cover TAT on resort fees and parking alone. When other transactions, such as those tied to conference events and wedding banquets are folded in, costs to the consumer could climb much higher.

Eric Gill, who serves as Unite Here Local 5’s secretary-treasurer has rightly pointed out that such “nickel-and-diming undermines guest satisfaction,” and can yield negative effects on everything from tipping to banquet bookings, which in turn affect the pocketbooks of the union’s members. While Local 5 supported the original measure, it opposes the bill that’s now on the governor’s desk and could become law as soon as next month without a veto….

in testimony opposing SB 2699 from its get-go, the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, the state’s largest private-sector visitor industry organization, expressed understandable exasperation. Its president, Mufi Hannemann, said turning to the industry to foot costs of “new mandates” and to “balance the budget, with the only overarching justification given that the state needs the money, is a dangerous pattern.”….

read … Don’t expand reach of TAT

Public hearing Monday on Hawaii County general excise tax increase

HTH:  The public will have two opportunities to weigh in on a proposed quarter-percent increase to the general excise tax before the County Council takes its final vote Tuesday.

Administration officials say there’s a twofold reason for instituting the tax: to patch an estimated $5 million hole in the current budget and to diversify county revenues, to spare property owners future tax hikes.  (Sales Pitch: Hike your taxes so we won’t hike your taxes.  LOLROTF!)

About 30 percent to 40 percent of the GET is paid by tourists, they say …

(‘They’ are Lying: GE Tax: Audit Shows Tourists pay only 14.1%)

A divided council, by a 5-4 vote last week, barely passed Bill 159, a downsized version of the mayor’s GET surcharge attempt. The new bill trims the tax from one-half percent to one-quarter, and curtails the length of the tax to Dec. 31, 2020, rather than the Dec. 31, 2030 deadline allowed by the state Legislature.

But passage is by no means guaranteed, with several council members saying they voted yes only to move the bill forward to a public hearing. Input from their constituents will determine how they ultimately vote, they said….

The public hearing and the council meeting will be held at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona, with public testimony also taken by videoconference at Hilo council chambers, the Waimea and Pahoa council offices, the Naalehu state office building and the old Kohala courthouse.

Because the tax is itself taxed, the tax on a $100 purchase would increase by 26 cents, raising the purchase from $104.17 to $104.43, once the 4 percent state GET is also taken into account….

If passed, the tax goes into effect Jan. 1, raising about $10 million for the 2018-19 budget year, and $20 million the year after that….

Reality: GE Tax: Audit Shows Tourists pay only 14.1%

read … Public hearing Monday on general excise tax increase


TMT back in court

HTH: The saga of the Thirty Meter Telescope will return to the state Supreme Court this week as oral arguments are held June 21 for the project’s land use permit.

The appeal of the permit for building on Maunakea…follows the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approving the document last September after a lengthy second contested case hearing….

In December 2015, the high court overturned the permit because the Land Board previously voted to approve it before holding the first contested case, a quasi-judicial hearing, thereby depriving opponents of due process. The ruling led to a redo of the contested case.

It’s not known when the court will rule on the issue, or a separate appeal regarding the project’s sublease with the University of Hawaii. Oral arguments for that case occurred in March. No ruling has been issued….

The telescope could reach first light in 2028 if built on Maunakea. TIO has selected a backup site in the Canary Islands if it can’t build in Hawaii….

read … TMT back in court

Supply key to housing crisis

KGI: …Kauai County Councilman Arthur Brun said his employer, Hartung Brothers, has been trying to build farmworker housing on its Westside property.

“We want workers to live right on the land,” he said at the Kauai Board of Realtors general membership meeting on Friday.

But there’s a problem.

“There’s so much red tape to get it done,” Brun told about 100 people at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort. “It’s a battle.”

“The politics have gotten in front of the daily living,” he added.

His comments exemplified some of the points guest speakers Paul Brewbaker of TZ Economics and Rick Cassidy made during their humorous and analytical 90-minute program on economics and housing….

Their main point seemed to be that there is a lack of affordable housing, and part of that is due to government regulations that limit building.

“My whole thing is, let people build,” Brewbaker said….

The recently updated General Plan for Kauai says it will need 9,000 additional housing units over the next 20 years. About 8,000 need to be affordable, which is defined as housing with rent or mortgage cost no more than 30 percent of household income for families with incomes below 140 percent of median income.

A public hearing before the Kauai County Council on an affordable housing charter amendment is scheduled 1:30 p.m. June 27 in the Historic County Building.

The amendment proposes to earmark 3 percent of real property taxes to provide capital for affordable housing…. 

(Clue: A shortage of capital is NOT the problem.)

“Every time prices go up, regulation goes up,” he said.

The men referred to “a lot of stupid regulations” that force everyone to jump through hoops and deal with what Brewbaker called the “gatekeeper process.”

“What we have is a Robin Hood policy,” Brewbaker said. “Steal from the rich, give to the poor.”

He suggested the focus must be on fewer regulations and more creativity to increase the housing supply. The use of public lands should be in the discussion, he added.

“How bad would it be to have too many homes for the first time ever?” Brewbaker asked. “Supply is the issue.”

read … Supply key to housing crisis

Accident survivor relies on rideshare

Cataluna: …“I will have a lifetime of rehab,” Yukumoto said.

He can drive, but some days are better than others, and on the bad days, he calls Uber to get to and from appointments at Queen’s, the Rehab Hospital, Tripler Army Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs offices.

To visit Tripler and for going on base for shopping or to pick up a prescription, Yukumoto uses Uber Military, where the driver is active duty or a veteran with easy access to restricted military property.

“The driver shows their military or veteran’s ID, I show my own veteran’s credentials, and we’re in. That’s it. Fast and easy.” Yukumoto said. Without a military ID, the screening process to get on base can be arduous. “For military or veterans such as myself who use the VA center often, this is an extremely valuable option to have,” he said.

He also makes use of Uber Assist, where drivers are trained to help riders with mobility issues….

read … Accident survivor relies on rideshare

Repeated delays in case shows inherent frustrations

SA: …The Wengler case was just one of several dozen misdemeanor abuse cases that Somerville heard that Monday morning in late April. Of the 27 that were placed on her calendar for setting of trial dates, 18 were continued at least a month, including 10 because the prosecution wasn’t ready. The defense requested the other eight continuances, usually because the lawyers needed more time to consult with the defendant.

The prosecution sought the delays mostly because the victims were not there. Some had not been served subpoenas, while other victims were served but failed to show up….

Each time one side requested a continuance, the other side objected, part of a strategic dance that typically unfolds as the cases advance. In most instances, Somerville granted the requests. In one case she dismissed charges against a defendant after the prosecution, which had received two prior continuances, said it wasn’t ready to go to trial.

Another case couldn’t proceed because the defendant failed to appear, prompting the issuing of an arrest warrant. The delay meant the five prosecution witnesses who were there had to return to court, likely more than once….

read … Repeated delays in 1 case shows inherent frustrations

‘Personality Traits’—Liberals latest Excuse for Keeping Asian Americans out of good Colleges

SA: We were wondering which excuse the affirmative action crowd would use next in an effort to justify their police of restricting Asian American university admissions at top schools…..

read … Harvard rated Asian-American applicants lower on personality traits, suit says

$60K Nuisance Money for Fired Maui Film Commissioner

MN: …“All the evidence and deposition showed he had absolutely no case,” Arakawa said in an email. “However, because the court system is so high, our corporation counsel recommended we settle and council recommended we settle, so we settled.

“It just goes to show that the system that we have can really protect people who have frivolous cases and bring it before the county,” he said. “It’s much less expensive to just settle it because even if we tried to recover the costs from him we wouldn’t be able to because he wouldn’t have the means to do it.”

On the merits of the case, Arakawa maintained that “we were absolutely in the right.”

The mayor said that, in Donenfeld’s deposition, “Harry actually admits all the charges were pretty much hearsay.”

The settlement appears to bring to a close the fallout of Donenfeld’s firing as county film commissioner in September 2013.

At the time, the reasons behind his dismissal were undisclosed, described only as a “personnel issue.”

The firing came about six months after Socrates Buenger opened the Maui Film Studios, when he began leasing a 21,000-square-foot soundstage at the Maui Lani Village Center and worked with Donenfeld to gain a foothold for Maui in film industry production.

Also, around the time of Donenfeld’s firing, the new Maui Film Studios lost three productions with combined budgets amounting to $300 million, Buenger said at the time. He added that all three cancellations happened on the same day, which he found “kind of curious.”

When asked why his film studio was struggling, Buenger then attributed it to Arakawa’s “close relationship” with then part-time Maui resident Ryan Kavanaugh, chief executive of Relativity Media….

read … Nuisance Money

UH Athletics Still Losing Money

SA: …Despite the projection of closing the 2018 books June 30 with a $2.3 million to $2.6 million deficit, “There is reason for optimism,” said Kalbert Young, the UH system’s vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer.

“I would say that in (going on) three years of focusing on it, they have made tremendous progress (from a $4.2 million deficit in FY 2015),” Young said.

Securing a $2.7 million appropriation from the legislature two years ago “is definitely part of that, but even without that, they have made a fair amount of progress,” Young said.


But, Young cautioned, “The toughest part is always that last $2.5 million to $3 million. The low-hanging fruit is basically gone.” ….

read … UH AD Matlin hopes his 2020 vision brings balance

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