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Sunday, May 2, 2021
May 2, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 PM :: 4744 Views

Counties, the TAT Is Now Your Problem Too!

COVID-19 Joint Information Center Ends Daily Summary Reports

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 1, 2021

Legislators Sum up 2021 Session

KSBE Trustee Selection: “Intentionally trying to hide what’s going on”

CB: … Efforts to find a successor for a prominent trustee of Hawaii’s wealthiest Native Hawaiian trust have stalled, as a committee set up to screen candidates has withdrawn the names of the three people nominated for the position.

The move by the Kamehameha Schools Trustee Screening Committee comes just two months after the committee had put forth the names of three candidates to succeed outgoing trustee Micah Kane, a prominent Honolulu executive who is also chief executive of the Hawaii Community Foundation….

In February, the committee put forth the names of three people: Keith Fernandez, a prominent real estate developer; Eric Tom, a technology company executive; and Dr. Gregory Yim, a medical doctor. But in a document filed with the state Circuit Court in Honolulu, the steering committee said that after announcing the candidates it “received information and comments that now compel the Steering Committee to withdraw” their names.

The committee also said it couldn’t complete the process of selecting a trustee to succeed Kane. Finally, the committee said it would no longer consider public comments submitted anonymously “or submitted without proper authority to speak on behalf of another person, group, company, organization, or other entity or affiliation received during the public comment period.”…

While the document makes clear that the committee is withdrawing the names of Fernandez, Tom and Yim, it leaves unanswered numerous questions. Roth said he found the document perplexing.

“Whoever wrote it was either incompetent or intentionally trying to hide what’s going on,” Roth said.

Esther Kiaaina, a Honolulu City Councilwoman and member of a hui of prominent Native Hawaiians following the matter, agreed. She said she and hui members are especially concerned about what seems to be a lack of transparency.

“All of us have grave concerns about the committee trying to circumvent transparency,” she said….

2019: With All Eyes on Mauna Kea, OHA, KSBE Insiders Make a Quick Grab for $6.7M

2020: Insider Cacao Scheme: KSBE out $4M -- but OHA Dodges Bullet

read … Kamehameha Schools Is Struggling To Replace An Outgoing Trustee

Administrations change, but never Honolulu rail authority’s malfeasance

Shapiro: … Any hope the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is changing its degenerate ways was diminished by news that the flat-broke rail agency had awarded a consultancy worth up to $924,000 over six years to Colleen Hanabusa, former U.S. congresswoman, state Senate president and ultimate political insider….

Unmentioned was that this act Hanabusa figured in was the start of the stinking heap of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence and disinformation rail has come to represent as it morphed from a $5.2 billion commuter line that was supposed to run from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center by 2019 to a $12.5 billion sinkhole that will be lucky to make it to Middle Street by decade’s end.

Rewarding her with nearly $1 million for helping to kick it all off is the cherry on top of this steaming mound of malfeasance.

It’s mindless for HART to think its biggest need is someone who knows politics.

Hawaii’s pay-to-play politics and cronyism are the biggest causes of this ruinous failure that will cripple our city’s finances for a generation; what HART needs is someone who knows how to build a railroad — or dismantle one.

New interim HART CEO Lori Kahikina introduced herself by firing nearly half the agency’s staff, which may have been justified given HART’s miserable performance.

But replacing them with political retreads who got us in this mess like Hanabusa and former Councilman Joey Manahan, gifted with a $120,000 post as HART spokesman, offers little hope of a better future….

The specs for Hanabusa’s contract were written so she was virtually the only person who could qualify, and unsurprisingly, she was the only applicant.

Hanabusa’s most recent accomplishment is the rare political trifecta of losing elections for U.S. Senate, governor and Honolulu mayor….

The attacking nature of her campaigns left her on shaky terms with two of the people she lost to and is now supposed to lobby for more money for HART to misspend: Gov. David Ige and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who’s already said no federal bailout.

She also lost to Mayor Rick Blangiardi in last year’s primary election, but she’s good with him after endorsing him over Keith Amemiya in the general election.

There’s little chance Blangiardi, who promised to end such cronyism, was unaware of this deal. His managing director, Mike Formby, was Hanabusa’s chief of staff in Congress….

Borreca Fluff Piece: Colleen Hanabusa’s new contract with Honolulu rail authority will test her, and troubled project’s, resiliency

read … Administrations change, but never Honolulu rail authority’s malfeasance

Will Ige Veto TAT Hike, HTA Cuts?

SA: … the governor has signaled his concern over the passage of House Bill 862. In combination with HB 200, the measure upheaves the operation of the tourism authority. If enacted, HTA would lose about a quarter of its budget as well as the dedicated funding source through the transient accommodations tax.

Instead, HTA would have to seek its budgetary allowance routinely from lawmakers, making it difficult for the authority to do the multiyear planning required for effective tourism marketing.

Further, the counties would lose their shares of the TAT. Although they would now be empowered to assess their own hotel-room tax of up to 3 percentage points to make up the difference, it’s unclear what effect that could have on the hotel occupancy rates statewide, which have taken an unprecedented hit.

On Thursday the HTA board met to discuss the proposed cuts. John De Fries, the authority’s president and CEO, said the governor messaged the board during that meeting, airing his “deep concern” about HB 862.

Good. The notion of remaking HTA at this critical moment is unsettling, and Ige’s uneasiness with approving the bill is well founded. Tourism is at a particularly sensitive juncture, with kamaaina worried about containing it at more sustainable levels.

Further, the future of the sector, complicated by a global health crisis, is murky at best. Lawmakers contend that the TAT restructuring will compel tourists to pay a larger share of the costs for managing natural resources. There is also the passage of HB 1276, enabling “dynamic pricing” at state parks ….

read … Editorial: Small gains for 2021 Legislature

After a Year of Worthless Empty Chatter About Reimagining Tourism, The Industry is Back, Unchanged

CB:  … Hawaii Sen. Glenn Wakai echoed others calling for change recently when he expressed frustration about the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s inability to get much traction remaking tourism in the islands during the shutdown.

“We wasted a year,” said Wakai, who heads the Senate Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee. “They only have vague generalities. They did nothing to reimagine tourism.”

The tourism authority’s president and chief executive, John DeFries, said the agency has made strides in planning to reshape tourism. He pointed, for example, to a series of destination management plans the agency has crafted, with public input, for Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. A report for Oahu is expected to be finished this summer, he said….

read … Here’s Why It’s So Hard To Reshape Hawaii’s Tourism Industry

Waikiki area crimes made up 17% of the entire island’s crimes over the past week

SA: … Honolulu Police Department responded to 130 crimes in the Waikiki area over the past week, including two robberies and an assault on a law enforcement officer.

According to HPD’s crime mapping site, within a one mile radius of Waikiki, there were also 49 thefts, 21 cases of vandalism, 14 vehicle break-ins, one weapons charge, 9 more assaults, 11 burglaries, three drugs and alcohol cases, one driving under the influence, two cases of fraud, 12 motor vehicle thefts and four sex crime.

That slice of Waikiki made up more than 17% of the 752 crimes logged into HPD’s crime mapping site for the entire island during the seven-day period spanning April 24-April 30….

read … Welcoming the tourists back

Dozens of applications submitted for Maunakea working group

HTH: … More than 50 candidates have been nominated to fill seven positions on a working group to discuss new management structures for Maunakea….

the working group will consist of seven Native Hawaiian members and eight other members to discuss possible changes to the management of the mountain.

House speaker Scott Saiki said Friday that he has received 54 applications for those seven Native Hawaiian positions, despite misgivings about the group’s purpose by some Native Hawaiian organizations.

“This isn’t about whether (the Thirty Meter Telescope) should be built,” Saiki said. “This is about how the land should be managed. … The majority of the public wants to see a discussion like this.”

But Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, an organization dedicated to protecting Maunakea, said she believes the working group to be disingenuous and a waste of time for Native Hawaiians.

“Management (of Maunakea) is only part of our problem,” Pisciotta said. “We’ve been dealing with bad management for years. … It’s just illegal to allow a lessee to govern state land, to govern crown land, or to govern conservation land.

“It feels like Saiki’s trying to do an end run around the law,” Pisciotta continued….

The four members already named include Sterling Wong, chief advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Robert Masuda, first deputy at the Board of Land and Natural Resources; UH-Hilo chancellor Bonnie Irwin; and Rich Matsuda, interim chief operating officer at the W. M. Keck Observatory, representing the Maunakea Observatories.

Saiki said the remaining members, including the seven Native Hawaiian members, should be named this week….

Sometime this month, the group’s chair will determine a meeting schedule, with publicly accessible meetings to be held throughout the year until it submits its findings to the Legislature by Dec. 31….

read … Dozens of applications submitted for Maunakea working group

Unique affordable-housing program allows Department of Hawaiian Home Lands tenants to buy rentals

SA: … A state agency is duplicating a successful pilot program in which low-income Native Hawaiians became homeowners 15 years after their affordable rental housing became available for purchase.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands selected 60 beneficiaries April 17 to rent homes being built on Hawaii island, with a purchase option for tenants in 2036.

The neighborhood within DHHL’s master-planned Villages of La‘i ‘Opua community in Kealakehe represents a follow-up to a pilot project on Oahu that began in 2001 as rental housing and provided home ownership to tenants four years ago….

On Hawaii island, construction began on the 60 single-family rental homes at La‘i ‘Opua in November. Initial homes are expected to be finished in October at the $38 million project….

Monthly rent for most homes in the La‘i ‘Opua project is expected to be $921 for two-bedroom homes, $1,034 for three-bedroom homes and $1,132 for four-bedroom homes, reserved for households earning no more than 60% of the median income on Hawaii island….

TGI: Celebrating new homes

SA: An $83.8 million program could help Hawaii residents who lost homes in 2018 Kilauea eruption

read … Unique affordable-housing program allows Department of Hawaiian Home Lands tenants to buy rentals

Tent City Fail: Over 30 Homeless Addicts evicted from Lucy Wright Park – Nothing Achieved in a Year

TGI: … they live in their car that was parked at Lucy Wright Park for over a year.

“I’ve seen this park go from nice, beautiful,” Hauanio said. “Now nobody like come here. It’s an eyesore. It’s the first thing you see coming down the bridge, and the last thing going out.”

Hauanio, as he grabbed his spare tires, said he wasn’t sure exactly sure where he’d go next. He doesn’t like to be a burden to friends or family, so he eyed Hanapepe.

“It’s either here or going to Salt Pond,” Hauanio said. “We’re houseless. If we go on the beach, (the state) will step in.”

Hauanio said a lot of the park’s residents faced drug addiction, and need to have those issues addressed.

“There are a lot of resources, but the footwork is one we got to do ourselves,” Hauanio said “Not a lot of them can do it.” ….

(Lesson: Homeless tent cities are the problem not the solution.)

read … Over 30 evicted from Lucy Wright Park

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