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Sunday, February 23, 2020
February 23, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:40 PM :: 2950 Views

Katherine Kealoha’s Boyfriend’s Attorney’s Cell Phone found at Massage Parlor?

Dillingham Crash is Fourth Fatal Incident in Less Than a Year

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Do You Buy Fuel? Then Be Very Afraid!

Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit — and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave’

LAT: … When President Trump ticks off his accomplishments since taking office, he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.

In few places has the effect been felt more powerfully than in the sprawling 9th Circuit, which covers California and eight other states. Because of Trump’s success in filling vacancies, the San Francisco-based circuit, long dominated by Democratic appointees, has suddenly shifted to the right, with an even more pronounced tilt expected in the years ahead.

Trump has now named 10 judges to the 9th Circuit — more than one-third of its active judges — compared with seven appointed by President Obama over eight years.

“Trump has effectively flipped the circuit,” said 9th Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., an appointee of President George W. Bush….

Among those who have caused the most consternation (ie the best) is Judge Daniel P. Collins, a former federal prosecutor and partner of a prestigious law firm….

read … Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit — and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave’

SB2488 Surprise: HSTA Cash Grab is $34M, not $25M 

HTH: … Senate Bill 2488 was recommended for approval with amendments Wednesday by the Senate Ways and Means committee….

As it stands, the bill would authorize a onetime $25 million appropriation from the state’s general revenues to fund discretionary teacher salary adjustments as part of an “experimental modernization project” tackling teacher pay equity issues, pay differentials for certain teachers, or both.

Duncan Osorio, bills chief for the Ways andz Means Committee, said the committee’s amendment proposes an additional allocation of nearly $9 million for fringe benefits.

However, the committee will reconsider the bill to increase the funding amount and clean up the appropriation language.

“What we found out is that $25 million is just not enough money to fulfill the whole intention (of the bill),” he said.

The state Department of Education launched a multi-phased initiative to address teacher compensation late last year, and on Jan. 7, a pay differential — approved by the state Board of Education in December — was implemented to increase pay for teachers…

read … Bill that would boost teachers’ pay moves forward

Kamehameha Schools vs HSTA: “We can make early learning accessible”

KSBE: …Our community has one of the most exciting opportunities in decades to make a difference in the lives of thousands of children and improve our entire education system. We can make early childhood learning accessible for the thousands of Hawaii families who just can’t afford it. Dollar for dollar, this is the single most beneficial investment we can make in our future….

In Hawaii, we have approximately 40,000 children ages 3 and 4. One of out every two children at these ages — approximately 20,000 keiki — does not attend nursery school, preschool or kindergarten. The biggest hurdle remains simple economics. More than half of Hawaii families struggle to keep up with our high cost of living. For them, paying $1,000 a month or more for private preschool just isn’t an option.

Public preschool and the federally funded Head Start program for low-income families serve less than 4,000 students. At our current pace of growth, it would take decades to expand access to early learning to all 3- and 4-year-olds in Hawaii….

Currently, state legislators are considering a proposal, House Bill 2543, HD1, which is part of a package of legislative bills that aims to address the issues most important to Hawaii’s working families. The bill proposes to increase funding for early learning programs. The approach also seeks to identify existing facilities that can serve as preschool classrooms, such as college campuses, public schools, public libraries and commercial properties.

The state Executive Office on Early Learning, Department of Education and many other dedicated organizations are doing amazing work…

It all starts with legal and policy changes at the state level. HB 2543, HD1, provides a foundation for building on the work of the early learning community….

read … Early education addresses inequities and provides better outcomes for keiki

Telescope Protests: Stop mollycoddling this minority of malcontents and lawbreakers

WHT: … I was disappointed, but not surprised to read that Mayor Harry Kim had asked for another two-month moratorium on the Thirty Meter Telescope.

He cannot be so naive as to believe that the protesters are going to compromise after their stonewalling tactics have been patently successful since last July. They don’t mind that they are holding up a very worthwhile project, that they are costing the taxpayers (most of whom want the project to go forward) many millions of dollars, that they are defying the courts and breaking the law (largely with impunity), and that they are fomenting racism and xenophobia.

There is no reason to think they are going to become more conciliatory during the next few months. During the last “cooling-off period,” the TMT held up their end of the bargain, but the protesters continued to announce they would never back down while instituting yet another frivolous and expensive court case. The mess they left on the mountain belies their claim to have environmental concerns about the mountain.

They have created a myth out of whole cloth that the mountain is sacred to them. Older Hawaiians have told me that they and their family and friends have been hunting and hiking on Maunakea for generations and that none of them has ever seen other Hawaiians practicing religious rites on the mountain. In fact, before the access road was constructed, very few of them even went up there because the terrain was so difficult to traverse.

When asked what it is they are actually protesting about the TMT and what it is they want, their responses are all over the map. Some of them just shrug their shoulders and say something to the effect that they were told to show up, so they did. The bottom line seems to be that they want concessions and financial reparations….

It is past time for our mayor and our governor to develop and to adhere to a moral and legal compass. They need to stop mollycoddling this minority of malcontents and lawbreakers. They need to listen to the majority of their constituents, to quit squandering that majority’s tax money that could be used for much more useful projects, and to apply the law equally to all people….

read … Allow TMT to begin construction

Already dubious if proposed reconciliation commission will resolve anything, let alone TMT

Borreca: … In government terms, a reconciliation commission is some group that is supposed to point to past wrongdoing in the hope of resolving the conflict. At least 46 countries list reconciliation commissions. Ige in written testimony mentioned commissions from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Ige’s state government officials were unanimous in saying they thought a reconciliation commission was just what we need.

Native Hawaiians were not so impressed.

“The governor-appointed panel to look into reconciliation is disingenuous,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale, chairwoman of the Ka Lahui Political Action Committee, calling it “a bogus reconciliation process.”

A Honolulu Star-Advertiser report of a legislative hearing on the proposed commission mentioned great mistrust for Ige.

“Makiki resident Ilima Long opposed the measure, telling lawmakers the bill ‘came out of nowhere.’ If lawmakers want to build trust with the Hawaiian community, they should amend the resolution to ‘take the governor out of it, specifically this governor,’” the paper reported.

As usually happens with Ige’s government style, the veteran Democrat is unable to pull the trigger; he just can’t take the lead and declare this is right and this is wrong.

The thing about reconciliation commissions is that they are supposed to explore a government wrongdoing or misdeed, and then with the wound exposed start a healing process.

Instead of saying either “Open the heavens, build that telescope” or “Forget it, we are not in the business of disrespecting Hawaiian culture,” Ige just parries and sidesteps the question….

At their best, reconciliation commissions deal with a painful history and thorough examination so a way forward can be positively explored. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is called one of the most important. Canada’s commission delved into its horrible mistreatment of indigenous peoples, and served as a model for Australia and New Zealand to look at their own treatment of their indigenous peoples.

For Hawaii, TMT and Mauna Kea, Ige’s inability to lead appears only to be matched by the Legislature. In its first revision of the call for reconciliation, lawmakers amended the resolution to remove any mention of Mauna Kea, saying instead that it would be “relating to past, present, and future issues of importance to the Native Hawaiian people, the State of Hawaii, and the United States of America.”

HTH: TMT-related bills fail to gain traction

read … Already dubious if proposed reconciliation commission will resolve anything, let alone TMT

No need coronavirus tests when Hawaii leaders are psychic

Shapiro: … Hawaii health officials assured us that the coronavirus is not circulating here, even though nobody has been tested because federal test kits sent us were defective. With facts like this, who needs a Ouija board?…

read … No need coronavirus tests when Hawaii leaders are psychic

Hawaii doctors, patients need break from GET

SA: … Hawaii is unique in that it taxes health care for private medical practices with the state general excise tax, which can reach 4.7% with county surcharges. Very few other U.S. states tax health care, which penalizes patients for being sick or injured.

It is one thing to tax people when they buy a new car or home. It is quite another to tax people when they break their hip, or need cancer treatment. Many patients are already struggling with medical bills, and they may be unable to work. For families trying to adhere to their budget, the GET tax on health care services amounts to surprise taxation on top of already unplanned medical expenses.

Today Hawaii is experiencing a critical shortage of doctors and advanced practice registered nurse (APRNs), with a 44% shortage on Hawaii island, 39% on Maui and 30% on Kauai. The statewide shortage of doctors is estimated at 820 and the APRN deficit exceeds 500.

Hawaii hospitals and their employed providers are exempt from the GET tax, but overburdened primary care providers and specialists in the communities are struggling to keep their doors open. Most Hawaii medical practices operate on a slim profit margin, and are forced to pass the GET tax on to patients…

With Medicare patients, providers absorb the tax… (Taxing the tax.)

read … Hawaii doctors, patients need break from GET

REIT Tax is Back

SA: …Senate lawmakers are once again considering a bill to impose the state’s corporate income tax on real estate investment trusts, an idea that Gov. David Ige vetoed last year because he worried the plan would prompt major investors to abandon Hawaii.

State tax officials estimated last year that taxing the trusts, or REITs, would haul in only about $9 million in extra corporate income tax revenue for the state, which is a relatively modest sum in a state that is expected to collect more than $7.4 billion in taxes this year.

But interim state Tax Director Rona Suzuki said last week that calculation made assumptions that may be incorrect, and the state is now seeking more information from the REITs doing business in Hawaii.

“There were a couple of assumptions in there that were big assumptions, I would say big assumptions in there, but we don’t know if they’re true or not,” she said.

Suzuki said the state has identified 70 real estate investment trusts that operated in Hawaii in 2018, and some of them are major players in the local retail, hotel and housing sectors. She estimated those trusts had about $1.3 billion in gross income that year.

They include Brookfield Properties REIT, which owns Ala Moana Center, the Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo and Whalers Village in Lahaina; and also Host Hotels &Resorts, Inc., which owns Hyatt Regency Maui on Kaanapali Beach, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui, and Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach.

Another well-known REIT doing business in Hawaii is Douglas Emmett Inc., which owns over 2,000 workforce rental apartment units.

REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their profits to their shareholders each year, and under the federal tax code they are allowed to deduct those distributions to shareholders from their corporate income tax liabilities.

Hawaii and every other state except for New Hampshire allow the REITs to claim similar deductions to reduce their state corporate income tax liabilities, but critics have been lobbying Hawaii lawmakers for several years to abolish that tax break. ….

read … Lawmakers revisit axing tax break for Real Estate Investment Trusts

Homeless Drug Addicts Use School Bus Shelter as Toilet

SA: … One photo shows a homeless man lying face down on the cement just steps away from a school bus. The door to the bus is open. The man is unconscious — sleeping or passed out. The children had to shuffle past him that morning to get on the bus to go to school.

In another series of photos — photos too graphic for the newspaper — taken one afternoon at the same Hawaii Kai bus stop, a homeless woman is pulling up her underwear after relieving herself onto the cement bench around a planter. This happened in broad daylight, in full view of everyone and anyone, just minutes before the school bus returned the children at the end of the day….

Recently, Kamehameha Schools changed their morning pickup location to the Costco parking lot for the students’ safety. By the afternoon, the homeless people have left the Kiss and Ride location, so that’s where the bus brings them home.

“At one point the area was power washed because of the odor of vomit, urine and feces,” one person who uses the area said….

read … The Homeless Have More Rights than Your Children

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