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Saturday, January 29, 2022
January 29, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:05 PM :: 1934 Views

Auditor Rips 'Never-ending fishing expedition'

Minimum debate over minimum wage

Blangiardi Exempts Affordable rentals from GE Tax

Lawsuits Threatened as Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Approves Final Legislative Maps

CB: … The first round of maps proposed in October would have pitted eight incumbents against each other. The final maps approved Friday will see at least (a piddling) three pairs of incumbents face-off in the 2022 election.….

Area residents who testified at a commission meeting Friday warned of potential lawsuits to overturn the maps….“You’re guaranteeing a legal challenge,” Kaimuki resident and former political candidate Becky Gardner told the commission….

Residents of areas most affected by redistricting also have called for various revisions to the maps throughout the process. Some of the strongest voices have been from Kailua and Waimanalo residents who opposed plans to expand their House district to include Portlock.

While the final House maps remove Portlock from that district, it’s still included in the accompanying Senate District.

Sandy Ma, director of Common Cause Hawaii, worried that Hawaiian voters could be disenfranchised as new House maps split the Hawaiian homestead community in Papakolea. In Kapolei, the Maluohai homestead subdivision would also be split between two House districts.

West Hawaii island residents also raised concerns that new legislative lines breaks off Waikoloa from a House district that covers areas of Kona and places the community in a district that comprises Kohala….

Bill Hicks, a Kailua resident who has led the public charge on suggesting new Oahu maps to the commission, said the commission’s final proposal still does not meet all the criteria set forth in the state constitution, which among other thing says that House districts should be wholly included in Senate districts where practicable….

Commissioner Robin Kennedy was the lone “no” vote on Friday. She asked that other maps proposed by Hicks and other residents be considered, but the other commissioners didn’t take up her request….

read … Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Approves Final Legislative Maps

House Panel Recommends Further Harassment Of Hawaii State Auditor

CB: … Nine months after being chartered to examine two state audits, a special Hawaii House of Representatives committee has issued its final report.

While the full report will not be posted until Saturday noon on the panel’s website, committee members said Friday that it will entail both legislative proposals to improve the performance of the Agribusiness Development Corp. and the special land use fund operated by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

And, though the committee was not specifically tasked to assess the performance of the Office of the Auditor itself — which conducted the audits of the ADC and DLNR — its report will make 11 recommendations related to that office.

The report will call for an independent third party to conduct a performance evaluation of the office and ask the Office of Attorney General to investigate some of the findings in the report….

Before the press conference at the Capitol, the House committee voted to approve the final version of the report. Voting “yes” were Belatti, Vice Chair Linda Ichiyama and Reps. Mark Hashem, David Tarnas, Amy Perusso and Kyle Yamashita.

Rep. Val Okimoto, the only Republican on the panel, voted “no” as did Democrat Dale Kobayashi….

The committee has two legislative recommendations regarding the auditor that could be heard in the 2022 session that began Jan. 19:

House Bill 2419, which would require the auditor to disclose “information, evidence, and requested documents, including working papers, to an investigating committee after the final audit report has been issued.”

House Bill 2420, which would establish draft audit report requirements so that the auditor will follow best auditing practices and standards when obtaining testimonial evidence and, if recording an interview, to follow certain requirements….

read … House Panel Recommends Further Investigation Of Hawaii State Auditor

Official: Biden aware of Hawaii fuel spill; WH commits to restore drinking water, trust

SN: … The response from the Biden administration comes following repeated requests by Spectrum News to confirm whether President Biden was aware of the specifics surrounding the fuel spill and if he was apprised of current efforts to bring clean drinking water back to those stationed at Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

"The president was briefed and is clear: Nothing is more important than the health, safety, and well-being of our people, their families, and our community neighbors," the official told Spectrum News exclusively.

"That’s why we are committed to ensuring all parties move quickly and transparently in this process with the full support and oversight of the federal government in making the required physical infrastructure changes and working with the local community to restore both clean drinking water and trust moving forward," the official added….

(IQ Test: Did you notice the absence of a ‘defuel Red Hill’ statement?)

read … Official: Biden aware of Hawaii fuel spill; WH commits to restore drinking water, trust

Hawaii Senate Votes To Raise Minimum Wage By October

CB: … The Senate moved with lightning speed this week to pass a measure that would raise Hawaii’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by October and $18 an hour by 2026.

In an unprecedented move on Friday morning, the 25-member Senate voted 24-1 to pass Senate Bill 2018 in just the second week of the 2022 legislative session. SB 2018 gained early support, with 20 senators signing on to the bill.….

(IDEA: Abolish the Senate.  Go unicameral.)

House Bill 2510 would raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2023. The measure would increase the minimum wage a dollar per year until 2030, when it reaches $18 an hour….

read … Hawaii Senate Votes To Raise Minimum Wage By October

Honolulu City Council to consider raising property tax rate

KITV: …  "I got calls from folks in my district whose property values went up hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, almost a million dollars in some cases," Council Chair Tommy Waters told KITV.

Waters said the property value for his own home, built in 1926, jumped by $200,000.

Kaimuki residents Dave and Shayna Kusumoto face the prospect of paying a thousand dollars more in property taxes than they did just two years ago.

"Along with everything else, how are families like us going to afford to pay for the rising costs of all these things? Gas, food, all these prices are going up and if property tax is going to go up too, that's kind of overwhelming," said Shayna Kusumoto.

The issue's a top focus for city councilmembers trying to find a solution to the greater tax burden on Oahu residents.

(CLUE: This is about INCREASING property tax rates, not lowering them.)

Bills to increase the homeowner's exemption and require greater transparency as to why a property's value is rising are also on the table.

"One of the things I'd like to look at is using city property to build more affordable housing. I think if there's more inventory, the property values would go down and you know, it could get more local people as homeowners," Waters added. "Everything's on the table, including lowering the property tax rate. But the fact of the matter is ... the administration must balance the budget."

Waters said the council will once again be debating increasing the taxes on foreign investors who own homes but aren't living here as another possible solution….

(See? Told you.)

read … Honolulu City Council to consider lowering property tax rate

HART Claims ’Frog’ Problem to be Solved at End of Legislative Session, System Operational in time for Elections

CB: … Honolulu rail’s notorious “frog” problem, in which the train wheels don’t properly align with the tracks at certain crossings, should be fixed via welding by the end of April, officials reported on Friday in a generally upbeat meeting on the future of the troubled project….

(Since the Legislative session ends May 2, this is obviously timed to line up with the end of session.  Question: How does HART attain an advantage by this maneuver?)

Once the track welding is done, the rail system will have to undergo 90 consecutive days of error-free operational testing. If anything goes wrong as the driverless trains run along the elevated track, crews will have to start the testing period over from scratch….

Kahikina quoted language in a recent report by the contractors hired to oversee rail for the Federal Transit Administration that praised the increased “openness and transparency” they’ve seen under her leadership. That report hasn’t been released publicly because the board hasn’t seen it yet. A HART spokesman said it may become available next week….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

The agency hopes to finish the designs for utility relocation along Dillingham this year and issue a request for proposals by the end of the year in order to award that contract, Kahikina added…. 

Jade Butay, who sits on the board as the state’s Department of Transportation director, described the presentation as “sunshine and rainbows.”…

read … Kahikina Touts Progress On Rail But Big Hurdles Loom

Blangiardi: No plan to institute booster mandate on Oahu

HNN: … As the Omicron surge abates, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says he’s not considering a booster mandate for Oahu similar to the one Maui County has.

“I believe in my heart our local residents, they know what to do and they’re doing it,” he said.

“We asked a few weeks ago about personal responsibility and now we’re seeing it manifest itself so I think at this point in time we’re not entertaining any mandates.”

Under the city’s Safe Access Oahu program, patrons at restaurants, bars, gym, movie theaters and other businesses must show proof they’re vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID in the last 48 hours….

SA Editorial: Boost for Safe Travels?

read … Blangiardi: No plan to institute booster mandate on Oahu

Anti-Vaxxer Harasses Kids at Sunset Elementary

SA: … A man who was angry about Sunset Beach Elementary School’s COVID-19 safety rules walked onto the campus without authorization Thursday with his smartphone video camera running as he cursed and argued loudly with some staff members.

The incident caused some children to cry before he finally left.

A teacher who witnessed the 11:30 a.m. incident said approximately 60 third and fourth graders were at the school cafeteria for lunch when the man walked toward the cafeteria’s rear entrance, aiming his phone camera toward the students….

A social media video provided to the Honolulu Star- Advertiser appears to have been shot by the man as he entered the campus. In what appears to be a Facebook Live post, the man, in a red shirt and dark glasses, had the camera pointed toward himself as he said, “Yeah, so I’m here at Sunset Beach Elementary. I’m gonna go see firsthand what they’re doing.”

He turned the camera forward to show children standing outside the cafeteria as he approached and said, “They’re at lunch right now. Yeah, they sure are. So I’m gonna see for myself,” and then turned the camera back to himself and continued, “what kinda illegal s— they got going on here. Stay tuned.”

The teacher who witnessed the incident said the man said something about “segregation” as he tried to videotape students as they sat 3 feet apart in compliance with state Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols. She asked that her name be withheld because she fears retribution.

She said she heard the man level a string of profanities at Sunset Principal Eliza Elkington before he said, “I’ve heard horror stories about you.”

The teacher said school employees kept the man from entering the cafeteria, steered him to a different area outside the other end of the building and shut the cafeteria doors. However, students could still see and hear the commotion through the cafeteria’s screened windows, and while some children were merely curious, “some kids were scared and upset and crying,” she said.

The teacher and other staff members said the man is a member of the North Shore community who does not have children attending the school. He was told to leave, and he did so after about five minutes, yelling and cursing as he left, the teacher said….

Some children and staff members were shaken, and at least one child was crying because he recognized the man, the teacher said. Police arrived after the man had left.

A Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Friday said no arrest was made….

read … Campus intrusion at Sunset Elementary upsets staff, students

Police union says HPD staffing shortages are putting officers and the public at risk

HNN: … There are regularly about 300 vacant positions. Add to that officers on leave and COVID call outs.

“It’s getting worse,” said Robert Cavaco, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Cavaco pointed to last Friday night in HPD’s District 3, which extends from Waipahu to Red Hill. Only eight officers reported for duty at 10 p.m., when the shift started.

That’s just 47% of full staffing.

About midnight there was a fatal pedestrian accident on the H-2 Freeway, which required five of the eight officers to respond….

Cavaco said HPD leaders need to shift resources to address the problem. “We believe there are officers that are in nice-to-have assignments and not need-to-have assignments,” he said.

Cavaco used the example of a community policing team that might have five officers plus a sergeant.

He said the department should put four of those officers back in patrol to ease the strain.

Cavaco said one officer can handle the community and neighborhood watch meetings as most have gone virtual during the pandemic….

read … Police union says HPD staffing shortages are putting officers and the public at risk

Commission nears deadline to propose changes to Maui County government

MN: ... Narrowing down the list of 40 proposed charter amendments that could be placed on the general election ballot is one of the bigger challenges the Maui County Charter Commission has on its plate as it prepares to complete its report on proposed changes to county government.

The proposals being considered include changing council elections from at-large elections to elections within three county districts, establishing new planning commissions for each community plan area and bifurcating the Department of Housing and Human Concerns….

Commission members have a deadline of Feb. 18 to submit their list of proposed charter amendments to the council for review. The council will then have about a month to make any recommendations on the amendments, commissioners said. It will then be up to the commission to make any changes if it wants to, or leave the amendments as they are to be placed on the general election ballot. The council also has an opportunity to propose charter amendments of its own….

To view the draft report and schedules for the commission’s virtual meetings, visit mauicounty.gov/1791/Charter-Commission.

Background: 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist to Rewrite Maui County Charter?

read … Commission nears deadline to propose changes to Maui County government

Maui Garbage Isle thanks to Homeless Meth Addicts

MN: … If awards were given out for trash along roadways and beach access points or shopping carts filled with trash left wherever, the island of Maui would be considered a world-class contender for such awards.

No doubt, the island’s homeless problem is a prime contributor to the messes we see in our travels. North Kihei Road along Sugar Beach is an absolute pigsty and is home to homeless living in cars or impromptu camp sites.

Honoapiilani Highway near Ukumehame Beach Park is another garbage dump for the homeless. The “top of the heap” would have to be the area around Walmart and Target, especially at the corner of Mayor Elmer F. Cravalho Way (Airport Access Road) and Pakaula Street….

read … More Homeless Mayhem

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