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Sunday, June 24, 2018
June 24, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:40 PM :: 2521 Views

Akina: Caldwell makes right call on ride-hailing

Travel Ban, Forced Union Dues Decisions Coming in Supreme Court's Final Week

Pray I Don’t Alter It Any Further

Special Session?  Wait Until After August 11 Primary

Borreca: …I asked House Speaker Scott Saiki if now is the time for the state Legislature to come back into special session and start making grants.

Saiki urged caution — pointing out that Gov. David Ige has used his emergency declaration powers to designate $12 million in state dollars for the Big Island county government emergency.

Saiki and a legislative delegation toured the devastation earlier this month and asked officials how much they would need.

“The response was it is too early to tell. They said they would have a better idea in August,” Saiki (a Hanabusa endorser) said in an interview…. 

SA: State ready to offer financial support, but Hawaii County has to ask (Play Patty-Cake ‘til Aug 11)

read … Election Trumps Volcano

Felix: Forensic audit needed for rail project

SA: …When taking opportunity cost into consideration, Honolulu’s rail cost will likely be $33 per ride….

In 2017, the Government Accountability Office reported that, with financing costs, Oahu’s rail project cost would come in at almost $10 billion.

If Honolulu placed that $10 billion into investments that yielded a 5 percent return, the annual opportunity cost would be a sizeable $500 million a year — available for transportation alternatives.

When adding in the $100 million projected for rail’s yearly operating costs, that’s an annual $600 million that could have been made available for a wide array of transportation alternatives, given all the new technology that has been developed since this project began.

With rail ridership that’s likely to be 18 million yearly — half of what the city is projecting — the cost for each ride would be the aforementioned $33 — with most of that borne by Oahu taxpayers….

I have requested that this matter be placed on HART’s board agenda and encourage public testimony.


read … Forensic audit needed for rail project

Designed to Fail: OIP’s current difficulties are self-imposed

ILind: … some of OIP’s current difficulties are self-imposed.

Specifically, OIP has made an administrative decision to prepare “often lengthy formal and informal opinions written to withstand judicial scrutiny” without further intervention by OIP.

So instead of preparing detailed opinions meant “to withstand judicial scrutiny” only in those relatively few occasions when a particular court case is deemed important enough to require OIP to intevene , OIP has apparently decided to put that level of work into all of its formal and informal opinions. This no doubt requires more time and more staff resources to push these opinions out the door.

This seems to turn the whole original idea of OIP on its head.

One of the primary considerations behind the creation of OIP was that it was intended to provide individuals with an alternative to expensive and time-consuming litigation when confronted with an agency’s refusal to disclose public records. Aggrieved requesters could ask for an opinion from OIP, which would hopefully suffice to pry public records out of foot-dragging agencies.

When an agency challenges an OIP opinion, state law requires courts to defer to the agency’s position unless they are “palpably erroneous.” And that would appear to apply whether OIP issued shorter, streamlined opinions such as those issued by many other states, as well as to the longer, more detailed opinions that now chew up so much staff time.

By law, OIP has standing to intevene in any case involving application of the sunshine or public records laws.

In its published replies to criticism from the Civil Beat Law Center, OIP has not fully explained why it believes the policy of writing each opinion to meet the “withstand judicial scrutiny” standard makes sense, given the accompanying costs in time, staff, and resources….

read … Should all OIP opinions be written to withstand judicial scrutiny?

FEC Will Get Ing

Shapiro: …Ing, a 29-year-old Democrat now running for Congress, used campaign money to make personal rent payments, cover personal legal fees and pay credit card debt of his domestic partner.

He admitted depositing a $2,000 check made out to his campaign into his personal account, but blamed the bank teller for letting him do it — continuing a long history of blaming others and his youth.

He keeps saying he takes responsibility for his mistakes, but never really does.

The commission rightly refused to reduce his fine based on his pleas of poverty, instead offering him a payment plan.

Commissioner Gary Shoda made a strong case for referring the violations for criminal prosecution, arguing “the level or the number of violations is astounding … every single report is incorrect.”

Ing was spared criminal charges by other commissioners who didn’t want to ruin his career, with one saying “there are not enough good politicians.”

(Really Obvious Point: Those commissioners should resign.)

That a person involved in the arm-wrestling to get Ing to honestly report his campaign finances would equate him to a “good politician” is astounding in its own right.

The lack of enough good politicians hardly justifies giving a pass to a bad politician. A chronic blame-shifter who can’t honestly manage his campaign and personal finances shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the public’s finances.

Ing also faces questions from the Federal Election Commission, which informed him last month that he left out key information from a federal filing in his campaign for the congressional seat Colleen Hana- busa is leaving to run for governor.

If Ing’s career is ruined, it’s nobody’s fault but his own; Maui voters trusted him and he didn’t take it seriously enough to make even a minimal effort to play it straight on his campaign finances….

read … Campaign violations dim Kaniela Ing’s once-bright future

Young Brothers seeks 11.05% rate hike

MN: … Young Brothers is requesting an overall 11.05 percent increase in its shipping rates, which will vary by cargo class, due to hikes in wages and benefits for its workers and a projected loss of $7.8 million before taxes this year, interisland shipping company officials said in filings with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The proposal follows the company’s previous request for a 13.3 percent increase filed in December, which was rejected by the commission in January. In its decision, the commission explained that the application was incomplete and directed the shipper — which makes port calls at Kahului, Kaunakakai and Lanai’s Kaumalapau harbors in Maui County — to submit supplemental information regarding tax issues identified by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs….

The commission will be holding public meetings next month on Maui, Molokai and Lanai to gather public testimony as it considers its final decision. The meetings schedule follows:

• Molokai, 4:30 p.m. July 10 at the Kulana ‘Oiwi Office of Hawaiian Affairs Conference Room in Kaunakakai.

• Maui, 5:30 p.m. July 11 at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku.

• Lanai, 4:30 p.m. July 12 at Lanai Senior Center in Lanai City….

Union wages have increased by $6.3 million and pension, health and other benefits have risen $5.1 million over the past four years, he said.

Boivin said the company also has lost nearly 40 percent in cargo volume from interstate shipper Matson — equal to approximately $1.9 million in annual interstate general freight revenues….

The DCCA’s Consumer Advocate opposed the company’s original request last year in large part because the shipper did not factor in the recent federal tax overhaul benefiting businesses, according to published reports. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted at the end of last year, decreases the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Dean Nishina, executive director of the Consumer Advocate Division, said in a letter to the PUC that the tax benefits should be reflected in the company’s business projections.

The state agency has not yet offered a position on Young Brothers’ latest proposal but has requested more information….

read … Hearings on Young Brothers rate hikes set

Yukimura: How I have kept Affordable Housing to a Minimum on Kauai for Decades

KGI: …The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee that I convened in 2013, which included Realtors, developers, nonprofit service organizations and government agencies that deal with housing and homelessness, studied the economics of affordable housing. We unanimously concluded that the average cost of building a housing unit is about $450,000; thus an average subsidy of about $200,000 per unit is required. 

(That’s $200K or free land from the State—an option which is conveniently left out.) 

Over the past 40 years since plantation camps stopped being a primary source of housing, at least 2,000 affordable homes have been built. (That’s 20 per year since 1978.  Pathetic.) The capital for this building came from a variety of sources: private developers of affordable housing; affordable housing zoning conditions that required market developers, including large landowners, to provide land, infrastructure, cash or turnkey units; and county, state and federal funding.

After Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the county received $42 million in federal housing monies. Because then-Housing Director Chad Taniguchi and his team used those monies so strategically to leverage the other contributions mentioned above and because that stewardship was continued by Mattie Yoshioka, Ken Rainforth and Gary Mackler in subsequent administrations, this money supported the building of some 1500 units over the past 25 years and only ran out about three years ago as the present housing director took office.  (That’s 60 per year. Also pathetic.)

Now that it’s gone, the county needs another infusion of capital if we are to build more (insufficient amounts of) affordable housing. For this reason, I have introduced a resolution proposing a charter amendment that would require the county to annually earmark 3 percent of existing real property tax revenues for the development of affordable housing over the next 20 years. If the resolution is approved by the County Council, the charter amendment will be placed on the ballot for the voters to decide in November.

If approved by the voters, there will be $4 million per year or $80 million over the next 20 years for the development of affordable housing. This charter amendment would implement both the newly adopted Kauai General Plan and the Housing Agency’s strategic plan….

($4M / $200K = 20 units per year.  See how this works?  The key is to avoid discussing the use of state-owned land.) 

Hooser: The intersection of policy, politics – 3 percent for housing

read … Drip Drip Drip

More judges can ease caseloads

SA: …it’s clear that congestion could be quickly eased with the hiring of more judges and support staff. For the past five years, the Legislature (full of lawyers who profit from these delays) has rejected requests to fund new positions it authorized — but never funded — a decade ago….

SA: Nationwide, approximately 95 percent of all persons convicted of a felony have waived their right to trial by entering a plea of guilty

read … More judges can ease caseloads

Special court helps direct homeless criminals to services rather than jail or fines

SA: …At the start of the latest session held Tuesday in Wahiawa District Court, Judge Darolyn Lendio welcomed the nine “participants,” as they’re called. All were accused of multiple violations — as many as nine in one instance.

Even Deputy Prosecutor Mark Tom discourages the use of the term “defendants” to describe the homeless people he prosecutes in the special court, which has cleared 943 cases so far.

They’re accused of non-felony offenses that people around Oahu complain about every day, such as having a tent in a park, obstructing sidewalks and urinating and defecating in public.

As of last week, 56 people had completed their sentences of community service hours rather than go to jail or face fines they cannot afford.

Twenty-three more are on their way, adding up to a total of 1,561.5 hours of cleaning public spaces such as around the Honolulu Zoo — or, for one participant with mobility issues, shredding documents at the Public Defender’s Office….

At the same time, social service agencies direct the participants to a range of services. Sixteen people now have jobs. And 37 moved off the street and into shelters, permanent homes or are living with friends and family. Sixteen underwent substance abuse assessments and or treatment.

Unlike other criminal courts, no one who fails to appear in Community Outreach Court is issued a bench warrant, which would only compound their legal issues.

The program has had two participants drop out, and three disappear….

read … Special court helps direct homeless to services rather than jail or fines

Rides to shelters help clear homeless off Honolulu sidewalks

SA: …Providing homeless people with rides to shelters played a key role in a new effort that got 56 people from Waikiki to Chinatown off of the streets between April 4 and June 13.

City and state officials, Honolulu police and social service workers since April have been conducting homeless outreach operations, working mostly at night and with better coordination between shelters and agencies, including substance abuse treatment centers. They also have been providing immediate transportation for anyone who agrees to get off the street, said Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator.

In the past, social service workers typically provided a bus pass or taxi voucher, and hoped those who had agreed to leave the streets would show up….

read … Rides to shelters help clear homeless off Honolulu sidewalks

Civil War guns spark Hawaii classroom conflict

SA: …Mililani Middle School teacher Garret Ogata likes to make history feel real, so when he covers the American Civil War, he shares relics dating from that conflict: letters penned by soldiers on the battlefield, photographs, even antique firearms.

His principal, Elynne Chung, approved his classroom presentation several years ago but abruptly changed her tune this spring, Ogata said. She ruled out bringing any guns on campus, citing the series of school shootings across the country.

“I told her there is no correlation between the two,” said Ogata, a veteran teacher. “I’m not bringing in modern firearms. These are antiques and give students an opportunity to see things that they won’t even see in a museum. She said all it takes is one parent to complain.”…

read … Civil War guns spark Hawaii classroom conflict

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