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Tuesday, November 16, 2021
November 16, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:25 PM :: 2712 Views

Government regulations get thumbs down in Hawaii survey

State Financial Reports 84% Transparent

Kauai: Dude Allegedly Freaks out After Trailer Refused at Transfer Station

Pirate Law

Council Bill 39 -- $185M Tax Giveaway to Solar Schemers   

SA: ... The Honolulu City Council is weighing a bill that would provide renewable energy projects with substantial relief from an unexpected and steep increase in property taxes.

(Reality: Solar farms are not agriculture.)

As currently drafted, Bill 39 would exempt the projects from 80% of the property taxes imposed. The proposed discount comes on the heels of Honolulu Hale this year moving the projects from the agricultural tax category to the industrial tax rate.

(Caldwell left office: Coincidence???)

The upshot for Clearway Energy Group’s Waipio and Lanikuhana solar projects was a combined annual real property tax bill that soared from last year’s (giveaway) levy of $30,000 to upwards of $800,000…..

($770K x 20 yrs = $15.4M)

Clearway’s tax rate switch occurred after an appraiser team with the city’s Office of Budget and Fiscal Service’s Real Property Assessment Division spotted solar panels on agricultural land while conducting a site inspection, and later deemed solar energy production at the sites as industrial use.

(Clue: Solar farms are not agriculture.  They were getting a quiet subsidy like so many other subsidies.  Solar doesn't work without subsidies.)

The team determined that because of “higher use being done on the land,” with power being sold to Hawaiian Electric, city ordinance requires grouping with industrial rate properties, said Andrew Kawano, who serves as the city’s Budget and Fiscal Services director.

If the tax classification holds, the state Energy Office estimates the industrial rate would be imposed on a total of 12 existing projects and nine under development — all with solar panels on ag land….

($15.4M x 12 = $184.8M giveaway to solar schemers) 

SA Editorial: Taxing solar projects

Bill 39: Text, Status

read … Property tax assessments jeopardize Oahu’s clean energy projects

What Salary Records Tell Us About Who ‘Earns’ The Big Bucks In The DOE

CB: … 1.6% of all DOE employees — excluding high school principals who are among the top-compensated in the DOE — had a starting salary of at least $99,000 in the fiscal year that began on July 1, compared with 0.3% in 2011, according to Civil Beat’s Public Employee Salary Database….

recent positions include risk manager, with a starting salary of at least $112,138. The title “deputy complex area superintendent” also appeared for the first time in 2020 with a starting salary of $130,000, according to the database.

“What are these people doing? Are they providing direct support or oversight?” asked James Shon, former director of the Hawaii Educational Policy Center. “The overall amount of DOE money at the state level may or may not reflect an effort to support learning.”

The DOE, which oversees the nation’s only single-district statewide school system, is the state’s largest agency. The total number of employees has changed little over the past decade, from 21,928 in 2011 to 21,997, but overall salaries have risen….

read … What Salary Records Tell Us About Who Earns The Big Bucks In The DOE

Certificate of need stands in way of West Maui hospital

MN: … While some states do not have certificate-of-need laws, Hawaii has the most in the U.S., covering 28 different medical services and leading to the fewest hospital beds per capita in the nation, according to the Grassroot Institute.

The payment model for health care has “completely changed” since certificate-of-need laws were established decades ago, Lopez-Bauman said.

“It’s absolutely absurd that the state of Hawaii is running their medical marketplace like they’re in the 1970s,” she added.

For West Maui — a community whose commute to Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku is lengthy and often too far away in emergency situations, or who’s sometimes cut off from health care due to traffic crashes and fires on Honoapiilani Highway — this second hospital is crucial, but certificate-of-need laws are standing in the way.

Joe Pluta, president of the West Maui Taxpayers Association, said during the Zoom meeting that the situation is a “life or death issue.”…

read … Certificate of need stands in way of West Maui hospital

How Rail Will Get Millions from Build Back Better

CB: … The package also includes more than $637 million to help repair and expand bus transit across the state.

Notably, it excludes any funding for Oahu’s tumultuous, multibillion-dollar rail transit project, which faces a renewed budget shortfall of some $3.6 billion dollars.

Schatz said Monday that’s because the infrastructure deal aims to fix and improve existing transit systems, not build new ones. Still, he said, the influx of federal dollars could take some budget strain off the city and thus free up more local spending on rail.

Hirono, Schatz, and most other Democrats in Congress now aim to pass a separate, ambitious social spending package valued at some $3.5 trillion….

(That ‘social spending’ will pay for a lot of meth.) 

Hawaii Rep. Ed Case is among a handful of fiscally conservative Democrats threatening that bill, dubbed “Build Back Better….

Schatz said Monday that he’s had recent discussions with Case regarding Build Back Better but preferred to keep the contents of those discussions confidential….

SA: Hawaii construction industry to see most of $2.8 billion federal infrastructure funds

read … Pork and Trillions More Coming

Biological family of Isabella 'Ariel' Kalua considering legal action against state

HNN: … The biological family of Isabella “Ariel” Kalua continue their pursuit for answers, and now they say they could take legal action against the state for its failure to keep her safe.

The family says they are basing the possible legal action due to alleged incompetencies. Police say Isabella died at the hands of her adoptive parents sometime in August 2021.

In an exclusive interview on Monday with KITV4, the little girl's biological aunt, Lana Idao, said there are still a lot of questions about why Isabella was placed with the family.  Idao said right now "all options are on the table" to get justice for the young girl.….

read … Biological family of Isabella 'Ariel' Kalua considering legal action against state

Christopher Deedy Won’t Face Third Trial For 2011 Shooting

CB: … The City and County of Honolulu won’t pursue assault charges against Christopher Deedy, a federal agent who fatally shot a Hawaii resident in a Waikiki McDonald’s in 2011.

Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm said Monday he decided not to pursue a third trial in Deedy’s case based on the outcome of two previous trials, which, respectively, resulted in Deedy being acquitted of murder charges and juries unable to reach a decision on other felony charges.

The prosecutor also weighed Hawaii case law dealing with hung juries and considered all the evidence the office gathered in its decade-long effort to see Deedy behind bars.

Alm said he didn’t find enough evidence to justify taking the case to trial a third time.

“The job of the prosecutor’s office is to do justice, not win cases,” Alm said during a news conference. “Enough already.” … 

read … Christopher Deedy Won’t Face Third Trial For 2011 Shooting

Hawaii’s pandemic travel rules could remain into next year

AP: … Hawaii’s policy of requiring vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to bypass quarantine rules for people entering the state will likely stay in place into next year, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.

Green told Hawaii News Now he doesn’t think the “Safe Travels” program will go away “until the rest of the world has seen a great decrease in COVID. My gut tells me the governor will be reluctant to do away with it until spring 2022.”…

read … Hawaii’s pandemic travel rules could remain into next year

Spying on You: Did they change the rules for Saturday’s University of Hawaii football game?

SA: …  Question: I want to go to the last home game but I don’t have a smartphone. Will I be able able to get in?

Answer: Yes, assuming that you have a ticket and also present a picture ID and proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. University of Hawaii football fans are strongly encouraged to download the LumiSight app on their smartphone or other mobile device to verify their status and speed entry to Saturday’s game at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex. However, fans who don’t have a smartphone can show a hard copy of their vaccination card and ID and fill out the related health questionnaire and contact-tracing forms at the stadium, before entering the stands, according to the game-day FAQs at hawaiiathletics.com….

Background: Spying on You: UH fans encouraged to download LumiSight app

read … Did they change the rules for Saturday’s University of Hawaii football game?

At least 10,000 keiki have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

HNN: … The state's racing to vaccinate as many young children as possible before the Christmas holiday when people gather with family and friends --placing everyone at higher risk for infection.

"We're definitely still on the defense with regards to COVID. We have been unable to defend the children until now," Pascua said. "So COVID is definitely still active, it is morphing into new variants as we speak. It's surging. So it doesn't really matter if you don't really believe in the vaccine. COVID really believes in us."

There are more than 118,000 keiki five to 11 years old now eligible to get the shot. And the state's ramping up efforts to make it as easy as possible.

A Health Department spokesman says efforts are underway to set up vaccination clinics at more than 100 schools.

Dr. Pascua believes immunizing keiki will make a big difference in keeping COVID at bay in the community.

"We are human beings. Our actions are the immune system of society," he said. "So if only half of the people decide to get shots, that means only half of the public immune system is actually working. Meanwhile, COVID is full operation."

In order for keiki to be fully vaccinated by Christmas, they'll need to get their first of two doses by the end of this week.….

read … At least 10,000 keiki have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Hawaii County council districts slowly taking shape

HTH: … Members of the county Redistricting Commission, battling against a tight timeframe to have a proposed map ready for public hearings next month, on Friday spent almost four hours, tugging a little here, adding a little there, before settling on two working drafts that they’ll continue fine-tuning Nov. 23.

The commission doesn’t have long to do its work because the U.S. Census Bureau was late providing data due to challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Maps are due by Dec. 31, according to the county charter. The new districts will be used by candidates who can start qualifying for election starting March 1. …

read … New council districts slowly taking shape

Hawaii ranks last for finding lung cancer early

SA: … The annual screenings are limited to the highest-risk smokers, in part, due to the risk of false positive results, which can cause anxiety and lead to follow-up tests and procedures that aren’t needed and carry their own risk.

The task force found that conducting the annual screenings for high-risk smokers can prevent many lung cancer deaths. But in Hawaii, just 2.8% of high risk smokers were undergoing the annual scans, compared to 5.7% nationally, according to the study.

The state-by state analysis also found that just 19% of lung cancer cases in Hawaii are diagnosed early, compared to 24.5% nationally.

The study also found that only 18.5% of those diagnosed with lung cancer in Hawaii underwent surgery, compared with 20.7% nationally, placing Hawaii 33rd in the nation. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage….

Of Hawaii residents diagnosed with lung cancer, 26.5% received no treatment, compared with 21.1% nationally, placing Hawaii 45th in the nation.

Just 20.7% of Hawaii residents were alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis, compared with a national average of 23.7%, placing Hawaii 38th in the nation for survival….

The study also found that Native Hawaiians are more likely to be diagnosed and die of lung cancer than other ethnic groups….

LINK: Report

read … Hawaii ranks last for finding lung cancer early

$6 for a gallon of gas: Hawaii’s most rural islands paying more for basic goods

HNN: … The U.S. Consumer Price Index is up 6% across the country from a year ago.

That’s driving up the bills for food and gas almost everywhere, but especially on Lanai and Molokai.

Hawaii’s average gas price is $4.34 a gallon. That’s about a 15-cent hike since last month and more than a dollar compared to last year’s average, according to American Automobile Association.

But AAA doesn’t factor in Molokai or Lanai’s rates where it’s $5.29 a gallon on the Friendly Isle and $6.09 on the Pineapple Island.….

read … $6 for a gallon of gas: Hawaii’s most rural islands paying more for basic goods

Enviros Smell Opportunity After ‘Damning’ Audit Of Pacific Fisheries Fund

CB: … the enviros are upset because fishermen control WESPAC.  They want control….

read … Congressmen Seek Reforms After ‘Damning’ Audit Of Pacific Fisheries Fund

‘Cash Grab or Moneymaker’ -- Second Charter School in violation of charter contract

TGI: … A newly adopted distance-learning program used at Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i has put the school in violation of its charter school contract, the State Charter School Commission ruled Monday.

Official enrollment counts will decrease because of the violation, causing numbers to drop back to those counted in August and exclude additional students that were enrolled for the online program put on by Utah-based subcontractor Harmony in October. Kamalani Academy on O‘ahu faced a similar ruling….

Both Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i and Kamalani representatives referenced a temporary authorization granted on May 13 that gave schools flexibility to move to distance learning in response to COVID-19 infection rates….

Student enrollment has a big impact on funding with per-pupil funding for state charters equaling around $7,000 (the number is adjusted each year to align with funding levels for the Department of Education). The Harmony program costs Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i just $2,800 per pupil….

“It’s not a cash grab moneymaker on our side, there is some risk involved,” Adams said…. 

read … Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i in violation of charter contract

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