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Friday, July 16, 2021
July 16, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:47 PM :: 2571 Views

DBEDT Projects Support Military Contracting

Ige: Eviction Moratorium Ends August 6

No Vaccination Mandate for UH System

It's not a mystery why so many people have been leaving the Aloha State

County Politicians Want TAT Hike Without Property Tax Cut

TGI: … The county administration is pushing forward two bills targeting the visitor industry: one establishing its own transient accommodations tax and another creating a new tax class for vehicle rental operations to be reviewed at first reading next Wednesday, July 21, by the County Council.

“While we could maintain a balanced budget via an increase in real property taxes, it is clear that the policy of burdening residents and commercial enterprises with funding the impacts of tourism activities on island is inequitable,” County Finance Director Reiko Matsuyama states in a July 8 memo to the council for Bill No. 2829, implementing a county TAT.

(Translation: You won’t be getting a property tax cut.)

Matsuyama said the average daily census of visitors on island has accounted for nearly 30% of the county’s serviceable population, and that, “our tax policy should reflect recouping this impact proportionally to the burden on County government.”…

Officials can do this with the passing of House Bill 862, now Act 1 of the 2021 Special Session, which eliminated the distribution of TAT revenue to the counties.

In the past, the county has been able to garner close to $15 million per year in general fund revenues from the state’s TAT, which stopped once the pandemic hit in fiscal year 2020, affecting the following years’ budgets.

“When our share was suspended this last year during the pandemic, we utilized our Reserve Fund to balance the budget for FY21 and FY22. It is essential that we now fill the TAT revenue gap to avoid the prospect of future financial shortfalls,” Matsuyama said….

read … Kaua‘i moving forward with county TAT discussions

City Council Leaders Team up with Sierra Club Boss to Remove Rail Critic From HART Board

CB: …The local board overseeing Honolulu’s troubled rail project is poised to lose one of its most outspoken members — and someone who’s called for a halt to construction — as city leaders aim to replace him.

That board member, construction-cost estimator Joe Uno, has served for about a year on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board and he wants to stay there for a new term.

He voiced strong objections Thursday to the move to cut him — and even sharper criticisms of his would-be replacement: Anthony Aalto….

He believes his support for halting the project at Middle Street, so that the city might consider alternatives to proceeding down Dillingham Boulevard given rail’s $3.6 billion funding shortfall, “has everything to do with my not being renominated.” That stance put him at odds with most of his board colleagues.

Uno’s term expired last month, but he has stayed on because the City Council neither nominated him nor anyone else to the new term.

That limbo state changed Wednesday, however, when Kalihi Councilwoman Radiant Cordero, who chairs the Transportation, Sustainability and Health Committee, introduced a resolution for Aalto, a documentary filmmaker, journalist and former Sierra Club Oahu Group chair, to join the board.

Aalto will replace Uno if Cordero’s resolution passes her committee on Tuesday and then gets approved by the full council at a later date….

after researching Aalto’s resume and background, Uno expressed outrage at the choice.

“I’m insulted. To replace me with someone with no qualifications? It’s pretty transparent, and not in a good way. I’m pretty angry now,” he said.

Uno said Aalto didn’t appear qualified to oversee the state’s largest-ever public works project “unless you’re going to make a movie about it.”…

To be sure, many of HART’s board members both past and present have lacked the minimum five years leadership experience in the transit sector or a similar industry that’s sought by the City Council….

(And that’s worked out so verrrry well.)

The documentary films that Aalto produced via his company, Green Island Films, have explored Oahu’s land-use and housing policies — and his history with Honolulu rail goes back a ways.

Nearly a decade ago the filmmaker chronicled the local Sierra Club leadership’s tense, behind-the-scenes debate over the decision to eventually endorse the transit project, and how it might impact Oahu, in the documentary film “Railroading Paradise.”….

On Thursday Aalto said he would approach his role on the board as a “concerned citizen” similar to Natalie Iwasa…

Iwasa, however, has generally expressed skepticism of rail’s value relative to its costs while Aalto supports building the line.

He said he doesn’t consider Middle Street a viable end point, although he has never preferred ending the line at Ala Moana, either.

(Translation he wants rail to just keep going and going forever.)

Last Friday, Toby Martyn resigned as HART board chair. An agency press release simply cited “personal reasons.” Martyn declined to elaborate….

Hanabusa in May declined her consultancy contract award and opted to fill a seat that was opening up on the board instead. She presided over her first new committee hearing earlier this month.

Martyn, meanwhile, happened to hold the one seat on the board that’s appointed by the eight other voting members. The board is now seeking qualified candidates to replace him, and on July 30 they’ll discuss further how to select that replacement.

What remains unclear is whether Uno would have an outsized role in who replaces Martyn and who serves as the new chair if he was to stay on the HART board….

HNN:  Honolulu rail authority opens applications to fill board member vacancy

read … City Council Leaders Look To Remove Rail Critic From HART Board

Hawaii School Board Says Families Should Have Distance Learning Option In The Fall

CB: … The Hawaii Board of Education on Thursday directed state education officials to formulate a distance learning plan before the new school year, giving them two weeks to figure out how to address the needs of families who still prefer virtual learning.

The task of figuring out how to provide a fully virtual option — or whether to do so at all — had fallen largely upon individual schools, with little guidance at the state or complex area level. So board members are asking the DOE to come up with solutions before the start of the school year on Aug. 3.

“The board understands it’s not possible for every school to do a distance learning option but it’s certainly possible within complexes,” BOE chairwoman Catherine Payne said after the meeting.

There are resources within complexes that can be temporarily deployed, such as assigning one teacher to virtually teach students grouped from several smaller schools within one complex, she noted.….

read … Hawaii School Board Says Families Should Have Distance Learning Option In The Fall

Tax credit could lift Hawaii families out of poverty

SA: ... The great majority of Hawaii families with children under age 18 should receive monthly payments of up to $300 for each child starting this week ….

(Do the math: 74M kids under 18 in USA x $300 = $22B x 12 months = $264B per year in free money from the sky $264B/330M US pop = $805 tax per person per year)

read … Tax credit could lift Hawaii families out of poverty

Free meals announced for all Hawaii public schools during 2021-22 academic year

SA: … The Hawaii Department of Education announced today that every student enrolled in the state’s 257 public schools will receive free breakfast and lunch meals during the entire 2021-22 academic year.

The meals will be offered due to a nationwide waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that aims to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by eliminating meal payment transactions in school cafeterias — settings where students and cashiers may not be able to maintain proper social distancing.

Federal funds will reimburse state education departments for meal costs….

Those who have already purchased meal credits in advance may choose to leave funds in the account for the following school year or contact their child’s school to request a refund….

read … Free meals announced for all Hawaii public schools during 2021-22 academic year

Honolulu Prosecutor: Sykap Case Is ‘No Perry Mason Moment’

CB: … Otake and the other defense attorneys argue that state laws, several state Supreme Court cases and court rules all indicate prosecutors need a grand jury indictment before pursuing charges through the courts.

Otake also cast doubt on the prosecutors’ ability to prove probable cause in court if they weren’t able to convince a grand jury, made up of regular individuals and not trained lawyers.

On Thursday, Van Marter fired back, writing that state law does not trump the constitution.

As part of a footnote in the reply brief, Van Marter cites a 2013 case that went to the Hawaii Supreme Court in which murder charges were brought against a defendant after a grand jury declined to indict the individual.

He writes that pursuing charges through a court hearing instead of a grand jury is not unprecedented and contends the defense’s arguments are “based on flawed legal analysis, misinterpretation of the law, oversight of contrary authorities, misleading strawman arguments and convoluted reasoning.”

“This is no Perry Mason moment,” Van Marter writes, referencing the 1950s court drama….

Bill Harrison, a prominent local defense attorney, doesn’t believe prosecutors are prohibited from going through a preliminary hearing process after failing to get an indictment from a grand jury and said the constitution gives prosecutors multiple options in pursuing charges.

Though he notes that the state Supreme Court still has not opined on the specific issue in this case…. 

read … Honolulu Prosecutor: Sykap Case Is ‘No Perry Mason Moment’

Maruo Sykap in custody after months-long search

KHON: … Maruo Sykap is in custody after the State Sheriff Special Operations Fugitive Unit located him in the downtown Honolulu area on Thursday. They convinced Sykap to turn himself in.

Sykap was wanted for a no bail grand jury bench warrant for first-degree robbery. He was indicted by a grand jury on April 30, which was his second indictment in less than a week; the first involved his brother, Mark, for allegedly assaulting and robbing a woman on Kalākaua Avenue….

KITV: Police arrest Sykap brother for grand jury bench warrant for first-degree robbery

read … Maruo Sykap in custody after months-long search

Homeless Nuisance: ‘Many times these cases turn into a psychotic criminal event’

SA: … Q: What do you think of civilian involvement in what has traditionally been police work — social workers responding to homeless situations, citizen crime patrols, and so on?

A: Some police departments in other states do not respond to certain types of cases like homeless nuisance, medical cases, parking complaints and other noncriminal types of cases. For our local departments, having organizations and advocacy groups that specialize in social outreach are an asset for our officers — their presence also deters criminal activity.

Having social workers respond to homeless nuisance cases has been discussed, but many times these cases turn into a psychotic criminal event. I would like to see a program that helps to alleviate the amount of calls our officers respond to so we can better service priority criminal cases with a shorter response time.

The bottom line is that we need more police officers and continued crisis/critical incident training….

read … Malcolm Lutu: Hawaii police union head reflects on police shootings, body cams, homelessness and public trust

Honolulu Mayor Vows To ‘Play Tough’ On Crime In Chinatown

CB: … Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm headlined a fundraiser to bolster the Weed and Seed program ….

read … Honolulu Mayor Vows To ‘Play Tough’ On Crime In Chinatown

Soft on Crime Study Projects More Criminals: Uses this as Argument Against new Jails

CB: … New projections released Thursday suggest the jail being planned to replace the Oahu Community Correctional Center will need to accommodate more than twice as many inmates as the original Kalihi jail was designed to hold.

Consultant Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates studied years of data on the OCCC inmates, and concluded that if the Hawaii criminal justice system continues on its current trajectory, by 2024 the new jail will need 1,012 jail beds for pretrial and other inmates, and another 393 less secure beds to house convicted felons who are soon to be released.

Longtime prison reform advocate Kat Brady told the Hawaii Correctional Systems Oversight Commission after a presentation by Pulitzer/Bogard that she is “appalled” the state would contemplate building a new jail that could house as many as 1,405 prisoners at a time.

(Because there will be no overcrowding, there will be no crisis for the soft-on-crime crowd to exploit in an effort to release lots and lots of criminals onto the streets.)

The jail originally was designed to hold for 628 inmates, but with additions over the years it now has an “operational capacity” of 954. However, the facility often holds more inmates than it is supposed to, with prisoners crowded into dorms or triple-celled in many cases.

OCCC was holding 887 men and women as of July 5, which is considerably lower than the normal population at the jail. In late July of 2019, for example, OCCC held 1,170 inmates….

read … A New Oahu Jail May Need To Be A Lot Bigger In The Near Future

Maui County Must Get Federal Water Permit After SCOTUS Ruling

BL: … Maui County, Hawaii, must get a federal water pollution permit for its releases of pollutants, a federal court in the state ruled Thursday following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the litigation. ….

read … Maui County Must Get Federal Water Permit After SCOTUS Ruling

Cargo airline was being investigated before crash off Hawaii

ACN: … The small Hawaii-based cargo operator that lost one of its planes July 2 when the pilots were forced to ditch it into the ocean after it lost power had been under investigation since last fall for alleged maintenance violations.

Rhoades Aviation Inc. was grounded on Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency said Friday in an emailed press release. The FAA action is separate from the investigation of the recent crash, the agency said.

The two pilots of the Boeing Co. 737-200 were rescued after they reported losing power in both engines while trying to return to the airport for an emergency landing.

“On June 13, the FAA notified Rhoades Aviation that the agency intended to rescind the authority for the airline to conduct maintenance inspections due to deficiencies identified during the investigation,” the FAA said in its release.

Losing that authority would prevent the airline from flying. The agency said it had been investigating “maintenance and safety practices.”

SA: Air cargo company that ditched plane off Hawaii is grounded

read … Cargo airline was being investigated before crash off Hawaii

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