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Sunday, October 10, 2021
October 10, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:00 PM :: 3353 Views

HART Makes Up Its Voting Rules

UH Law School Forum: The Constitutionality of Vaccine Mandates

Wood Pellets? Hawaii 'Green' Energy Scam is Dirtier Than Coal

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted October 9, 2021

Early Christmas for Insiders: Oahu’s proposed 3% hotel tax to benefit overbudget rail

Borreca: … As far as the City and County of Honolulu was concerned, Christmas came when the Council started plowing through Bill 40 — which if approved, would allow the city to raise the hotel room tax 3%.

The money would be used to replace the money lost when the state took away all the subsidies provided to the counties. Maui and Kauai are also implementing their own hotel room tax, but there’s a catch with Honolulu.

There’s a lot of talk that the new tax would go not just for paying the police and fire services, fixing the parks, improving city services and helping the poor — no, the idea is to mount a tourist-funded rescue mission….

“Bill 40 would levy a 3% city transient accommodations tax on visitor accommodations. It would be imposed in addition to the state’s current 10.25% visitor tax. Counties received a total of about $130 million annually, with Honolulu County receiving 44%, or about $45 million. Honolulu’s proposed TAT would put a 3% tax on all gross rental proceeds from establishments such as vacation rentals, hotels and timeshares,” she reported, adding that Mayor Rick Blangiardi voiced support for the proposed tax, “but stopped short of advocating for funds to be used on the city’s rail project.”

“If a fixed percentage of at least half of the TAT to the county goes to rail construction, operations, and rail-focused activities such as TOD (transient-oriented development), it will help create ripe conditions for housing redevelopment and walkable communities,” said Linda Schatz, principal in Schatz Collaborative (wife of Brian Schatz and a former food-truck mall promoter)….

“A fixed percentage of the city’s Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) dedicated to rail is exactly what the county needs now to continue this project,” said the Hawaii Operating Engineers.

“This new revenue source, a tourist tax, comes from our visitors rather than our residents … A dedicated local revenue source will allow for the completion of a system that will transform Oahu,” said the General Contractors Association.

“Dedicating a percentage of the TAT will also pay for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the system after construction has been completed, again, without the need to raise property taxes,” added the Carpenters Union….

Flashback, 2014: Linda Schatz, wife of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, joins Forest City Hawaii as development manager  “Linda Schatz worked in the commercial real estate division of Kamehameha Schools from 2008 to 2013 and was involved in planning its Kakaako master plan. Schatz studied architecture at the University of Hawaii, earning a doctorate of architecture in 2009. Her thesis was on transit-oriented development in Iwilei.”

Flashback 2017: Schatz-Connected Developer building ‘Shopping Center’ at Pupukea

Flashback 2017: UH Law Prof Antolini: Mrs Brian Schatz’ North Shore Shopping Plaza is Not News – Stop reporting it

read … On Politics: Power players pushing hard for Oahu’s proposed 3% hotel tax to benefit overbudget rail

More Chaos and Magical Thinking at HART

Shapiro: … Last week Colleen Hanabusa told Hawaii News Now the top priority of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation she chairs is “building public confidence.”

“The public has got to feel that HART knows what it’s talking about,” she said.

In the next day’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, HART’s interim CEO, Lori Kahikina, gave a classic demonstration of how little the rail agency knows its business.

In texts to a reporter on the problems of doors opening while the train is moving and wheels too thin for too-wide tracks, she said there’s still no remedy on the doors from train builder Hitachi, nor a final decision after all these months on whether to replace the troublesome wheels or the tracks. In the meantime, HART has considered using local welders to fix the problem, but none offered bids.

She ended the exchange with, oops, she was told the matter was in procurement and she couldn’t talk about it.

In other signs of ongoing chaos, HART staff departures continue at the highest levels, and there’s still no answer to getting the train through the maze of utilities on Dillingham Boulevard. HART directors, after failing to get voter approval to solve a quorum problem via a City Charter amendment or the Legislature to pass a law, thumbed their noses at voters and lawmakers and just cut the number of votes needed for a quorum, inviting legal challenges of board actions.

It’s no wonder rail, with the current projected cost of $12.5 billion to finish to Ala Moana Center, is $7 billion over budget, more than a decade behind schedule and desperately seeking a bailout on a $3.5 billion deficit.

On the latter, HART is lately pinning its hopes on getting a share of the 3% city hotel room tax authorized by the Legislature and in the process of being passed by the City Council.

It’s another example of magical thinking by rail leaders….Even if rail somehow got the whole $48 million, it would cover barely a third of the projected $140 million in annual operating costs. If applied to the construction deficit, it would take 70 years to cover the $3.5 billion….

read … Honolulu rail leaders must talk sense if they want our confidence

Hawaii Tourism Authority sole-source contract “our share of the gold”

SA: … HTA President and CEO John De Fries said the new RFP will be the first procurement under HTA’s new paradigm, and as such has been modified to align with its new vision of “Malama Kuu Home” (“Caring for My Beloved Home”) through the principles of “regenerative tourism.” …

HTA Chief Brand Officer Kalani Ka‘ana‘ana, who along with De Fries is Native Hawaiian, is confident the coming RFP process will start “all of the things that we are trying to accomplish with our pivot.”…

Angela Keen, co-founder of Hawaii Kapu Quarantine Breakers, said news of the sole-sourced destination management contract has upset some of the group’s members, who feel that tourism has not been adequately managed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They question HTA’s decision to award the contract to HVCB, the entity responsible for increasing U.S. visitor arrivals.

“For my group, there is a big concern. You need to put out that request to any available company that could do their best and not just pick one like HVCB, which in their past their goal was to bring in the visitors,” Keen said. “It’s almost like they are lining their pocket with their best friend.”

Former HTA board member Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett said he is disappointed with HTA’s decision to give out its first major destination management contract without going through procurement. Hewett said the contract may have been better served by organizations such as the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association or a council of indigenous elders, who could tap into local expertise.

“Where does the money go and how does it benefit the people of Hawaii? That’s always my concern,” Hewett said. “At the end of the rainbow there is supposed to be one pot of gold. We never got our share of the gold. We need new vision to take us into the future.”…

State Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Salt Lake-Aliamanu), who chairs the state Senate’s Energy, Economic Development, Tourism and Technology Committee, said HTA should have waited to award the destination management contract given possible duplication with the next U.S. major market area contract.

“They could have waited and figured out a better strategy. But I understand from their standpoint they have money that would have been expiring at the end of the year so they are going to just burn it,” Wakai said.

HTA projects it will return $2.6 million to the state’s general fund this year. However, Wakai said HTA’s rush to encumber millions more is an example of poor stewardship of state resources.

“It’s all based on how much money that they’ve got to spend, and then they come up with a strategy. That’s backwards,” Wakai said. “They have not endeared themselves to getting more money for their programs next year.”

De Fries and Ka‘ana‘ana maintain that HVCB was a natural choice for the first destination management contract…while bringing more “pono” ….

Related: RFP: HTA to Seek 'Politically Correct' Tourists Only

read … Hawaii Tourism Authority contract award to top marketing agency prompts scrutiny

$7 Trillion Economic Losses Due to Failed ‘Distance Learning’ Schemes?

CB: … data showing students lacking access to technology or in unstable homes simply did not do as well as other students.

That, he said, is likely to result in a long-term decline in educational achievement and productivity, as a massive cohort of people with stunted skills moves into the workforce.

Short-term, he said, there might be a small increase in GDP as students drop out of school and go to work instead of continuing to learn.

But the long-term negative effect could be staggering, he said, totaling $7 trillion in lost GDP decades down the road when the current cohort of kids reaches prime working years.

“The children of today are the workforce of tomorrow,” he said….

read … Distance learning is stunting education of students and that would cause problems for companies in the future.

Free The Covid Cluster Data. Tell Us Where Outbreaks Are Occurring

CB: … Hawaii officials' refusal to be more open with public health data is unnecessarily putting people at risk of getting sick…..

read … Free The Covid Cluster Data. Tell Us Where Outbreaks Are Occurring

Waimanalo Missing Girl Case--After Two Generations of Drug Addicts, CWS Places Kids With Convicted Felon

SA: … Barbara Kumai took in her biological granddaughter, whose birth name was Ariel Sellers, and her older sister, now 12, in 2017 when they were 2 and 8 and shortly after losing her own son to cancer.

Kumai’s daughter, Melanie Joseph, and the father of the girls, Adam Sellers, were addicted to drugs at the time, became homeless and could not keep them….

DHS Child Welfare Serv­ices allowed Kumai to keep her two grandchildren until late 2018, when her boyfriend got into a serious motorcycle accident.

“The social worker said she didn’t want me to get overwhelmed,” the 51-year-old said. “Every time she came to visit, I had just come home from the hospital and I was tired.”…

Then one evening, Kumai said, the social worker told her to “pack up the girls.” At 7:30 the next morning, the social worker arrived and took them a block away to the Kaluas’ house….

Kumai said she thought the decision to move the children may have been because of her own past.

“I made the same mistakes,” she said, explaining that her own drug use led to her children being removed by state child welfare officials. “That was so many years ago. I was trying to tell (the social worker) that people change. I changed a lot.”

Six months after Isabella and her sister were placed with the Kaluas, Kumai said the same social worker returned to her house with the children.

Kumai said she was told that Lehua Kalua was under investigation and was asked, “If found guilty, if I would take them back. I said, ‘Yeah.’ Then suddenly, boom! The investigation is over with and everything is OK. That was the end of my visits.”…

read … Grandmother of missing Waimanalo girl wanted ‘a chance’

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