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Thursday, March 5, 2020
March 5, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:20 PM :: 3031 Views

Cocaine: Another Tsuneyoshi Running for Honolulu Council

Japan Reduces TMT Funding

How Much Does Your State Collect in Corporate Income Taxes per Capita?

Will Non-Jones Act Service to Hawaii Survive?

Sudden Reversal: Josh Green Appointed to Head Corona Virus Response

Corona Virus Cruise Ship Made Four Stops in Hawaii

32 Counts of Fraud: Mortgage Scammer Convicted

Feds Agree to Consider Protections for Hawaii’s Cauliflower Coral

DoD: Local Obstructionism Exposes Hawaii to Missile Attack

SA: … U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono pressed Defense Secretary Mark Esper Wednesday on the future of a powerful $1.9 billion radar planned for the defense of Hawaii, with Esper saying the radar hasn’t been ruled out, but “for many years now we’ve had a problem with state and local authorities giving us permission to get onto that site.”

“If I recall the issue properly, … developing of the system is one thing, but if I develop a system and can’t put it somewhere, it has no effect. It’s wasted money,” Esper said at the Department of Defense budget hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Defense Department zeroed out funding in its fiscal 2021 budget request for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii….

2017: Hanabusa Blocks Missile Defense for Hawaii 

read … Defense secretary notes site delays in stalled $1.9B Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii

Judge orders Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun to remain in custody—UPW-USO Prison Smuggling an Issue in Case

KHON: … Brun faces drug and firearms charges and is described by prosecutors as the leader of a crime ring that distributed large quantities of methamphetamine. Investigators say he also has deep ties with the Samoan prison gang, USO.

Prosecutors filed motions to keep Brun in custody while he waits for his trial, saying he is a danger to the community and a flight risk. His attorney disagrees….

The indictment against Brun and 11 other defendants arrested during a sting operation also brings to light problems with drug trafficking inside Hawaii’s prisons and jails.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety sent a statement saying, “Stopping contraband from entering any correctional facility is an ongoing effort that we prioritize… our staff has increased their commitment to fighting this battle, by rooting out the pathways, and curbing contraband introduction in our facilities.”…

read … Judge orders Kauai Councilman Arthur Brun to remain in custody

Developer: What does it take to build affordable housing in Hawaii?

SA: … To be economically feasible to build rental housing for households earning 80% or below the area median income (AMI), requires zero land cost and significant government subsidies.

In addition to obtaining free land from the state or county, private developers commonly utilize Low-income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) in conjunction with tax-exempt private activity bonds administered through the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) to build affordable rental units….

In addition to LIHTCs, every rental unit priced for households earning no more than $72,300 a year (60% AMI) requires about $125,000 in Rental Housing Revolving Funds (RHRF) in order to keep rents affordable — $1,627 per month for a 2-bedroom unit.

Without these subsidies, rents would have to be priced much higher to cover the cost of construction. There are no government programs to subsidize the development of affordable rentals more than 80% AMI, making it difficult if not impossible to underwrite and finance.

HHFDC currently has approximately 5,000 rentals in construction and planned for households earning 60% or below AMI. This volume of activity is largely due to the recent infusions of funding by the state Legislature into the RHRF.

For-sale housing is quite different. It is generally for families earning between 80% to 140% AMI, or $96,400 to $120,000 (for a family of four) who have the capacity to qualify for and pay a mortgage. Teachers, firefighters and hospital workers are just an example who fall in this category. There are no government subsidy programs for the development of affordable for-sale housing. Senate Bill 3104 offers a solution to this.

Aside from acquiring entitled land, developers are responsible for many upfront costs: infrastructure (sewer, water, traffic impact fees) along with indirect expenses such as architectural, engineering fees, school impact fees, and fees from complying with energy efficient codes. All of these fees increase the cost of construction and need to be paid before one can secure a building permit and even begin construction.

(Wow.  Look at all the forces working against affordability!)

This is why SB 3104, Senate Draft 2, is so important for housing. It gives HHFDC the authority to grant long-term leasehold interests to homebuyers, which will cover the cost of land and reduce total development costs….

read … Stanford Carr

HPD Reform: 95 New Positions to Swamp Remaining Kealoha Loyalists

SA: … In the budget proposal Caldwell revealed Tuesday, he included 95 new positions for the department and the reactivation of six others to combat crime. All but 16 will be for sworn officers.

Chief of Police Susan Ballard said during a Honolulu Police Commission meeting Wednesday that it would be the largest influx of personnel to the department in decades….

Ballard said many of the positions will be used “just to shore up some of our areas.” That would include adding foot beats to Waikiki and Chinatown, but Ballard also mentioned Kailua “because it’s starting to grow to be a very important area for tourism.”

About a dozen positions would be used for the police department’s Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons initiative, “an area-based program that connects unsheltered persons to the kind of housing, shelter, or treatment program that best fits the needs of the individual,” as described by the city.

Ballard also mentioned that a few positions would go to the department’s cybercrime and elder abuse units.

Some of the civilian positions would go to the department’s video management unit to relieve officers currently doing that work.

But Ballard said it could be a few years to fill all the current vacancies in the police department — about 230 — and the new positions in Caldwell’s budget. Factors that contribute to the vacancies are retirement, leaving the island, low salaries and few qualified applicants, she said.

“(With) the current vacancies we have, plus the new 85 positions, you’re not going to realize a full-staffed police department probably until 2024, 2025,” she said….

(Recipe for Reform: Give the old guard all the OT they could dream of in order to get them their ‘top-3’ so they will retire.  Then flood the department with new hires trained in a different culture.)

read … HPD chief hopes to ‘shore up’ beats

Penny Stock Tout Exploits Veterans in Money-Making Scheme

HNN: … Sponsorship for each koa tree planted is $90…..

Reality: Lawsuits Close in on Hawaii’s Largest Carbon Credit Scheme

read … A fluff-piece titled ‘Legacy Trees seeks to honor Marines killed at Iwo Jima with koa forest’

Homeless Dude from Colorado Moves to Maui—Gets 6 months Free Housing in Jail

MN: … A homeless man is serving a six-month jail term for threatening a Kahului store manager with a paper-cutter blade.

Eugene Bingham, 57, was seen taking apart the paper cutter in Office Max when the manager tried to stop the defendant at about 3:30 p.m. Oct. 5, said Deputy Prosecutor Joanne Hicks.

She said Bingham held the blade in a way that caused the manager to feel threatened. Bingham said, “Don’t stop me, I was in the military,” while leaving the store with the blade, Hicks said.

Bingham has mental health issues and wanted to find something to protect himself from being hurt by others on the street.

Hicks said Bingham’s criminal record includes similar offenses, including a conviction for assault with a menacing simulated weapon in Colorado. He was sentenced in December 2018 to two years’ probation in that case, Hicks said….

Bingham was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service as part of four years’ probation. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to stay away from Office Max and the manager.

Bingham was ordered to write a letter apologizing to the manager….

read … Imported Criminal

Hawaii Legislature attempt to tax REITs advances for 7th year in a row

PBN: … For the seventh year in a row, the Hawaii Legislature has advanced legislation that would eliminate a major tax deduction for real estate investment trusts, which own the largest hotels, shopping centers, office buildings and apartment complexes in the state.

The Hawaii Senate on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2697, which would eliminate the tax deduction for the dividends paid by REITs to their shareholders. The bill will now be considered by the House.

A similar bill passed both houses last year but was vetoed by Gov. David Ige, who said that any potential gains wouldn’t be worth the unintended consequences to the state economy.

This year’s bill is being considered amid uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The question is when the economy's being disrupted why would you want to disrupt it more?,” said Steven Wechsler, president and CEO of the national REIT organization Nareit, who was in Honolulu this week….

read … Hawaii Legislature attempt to tax REITs advances for 7th year in a row

SB2539: Insurers Must Provide Free Abortions

CB: …Benefits that would have to be offered by insurers include an annual preventive health visit check up, procedures such as abortion or voluntary sterilization, as well as a variety of screening and counseling services for sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, domestic violence, breast cancer and breast feeding, among others….

Senate Bill 2539, introduced by Sen. Roz Baker, also would forbid insurers from charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible to patients. It passed the full Senate Tuesday by a 24-1 margin….

The House Finance Committee deferred a companion bill….

read … Bill Would Mandate More Reproductive Health Benefits

Lawsuit Claims Surety Kohala has been Cheating on Taxes for 20 Years

BBL: …The businessman who controls 93% of one of Hawaii’s largest landowners, along with the holding company’s other directors, were sued by a shareholder in Delaware over their alleged failure to pay millions in taxes and corporate fees for almost two decades.

The derivative lawsuit targets Surety Holdings Corp., company president Yoshihiro Kamon, his brother-in-law Masahiro Kume, who’s also a board member, and ex-CEO Howard R. Knapp. A subsidiary, Surety Kohala Corp., is a major Hawaii real estate developer.

The suit was filed Thursday in the Chancery Court by Joseph M. Sullivan, a longtime investor ….

EH: A Japan-based corporation that purchased most of the former sugar-cane acreage in North Kohala.

read … Major Hawaiian Developer Sued by Investor Over Tax Delinquency

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