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Sunday, February 27, 2022
February 27, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:50 PM :: 2209 Views

Blockbusters Buried in “Tax Administration”

Jones Act a threat to Hawaii security?

Halfway Point Legislation Alive and Dead

HB1732: Legislators Vote to Ban Carrying Tasers

Hawaii: Second-Largest Families in USA

SB3209: $16M Pay Hike and Less Classroom Time for Teachers

Heroic HSTA Steward Keeps Teachers out of Classroom

Putin's Pet Tulsi Gabbard draws cheers as CPAC Keynote

“It’s uncommon when they get caught”

Shapiro: … State Sen. J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty Cullen admitted taking bribes in cash and casino chips from a cesspool executive. It was a shocking surprise — to exactly nobody.

Fellow legislators rushed to get rid of hundreds of thousands in campaign donations (aka legal bribes) they got from the cesspool guy, Milton J. Choy. They were offended he didn’t pay in casino chips.

Shaken lawmakers are thinking of banning their controversial political fundraisers during session. It’s the political equivalent of plea bargaining.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who directs spending as Ways and Means chairman, held 19 in-session fundraisers in recent years garnering $521,453, and his House counterpart, Rep. Sylvia Luke, collected $356,557 in 13 events. When they follow the money, the money follows them back.

Public agencies are pressing legislators to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling forcing them to open up the documents showing how they come to decisions. How much of a bribe it takes to get things done is proprietary information….

The city Ethics Commission, which refused to probe Louis and Katherine Kealoha and stood by as planning officials took payoffs under its nose, is now rejecting staff plans to require gift disclosures from city employees to help thwart police bribery. Instead of watchdogs, we get fraidy-cats.

Two Honolulu rail board members refused Chair Colleen Hanabusa’s demand to sign a confidentiality agreement threatening “criminal penalties” for disclosing information. You know we’re cooked when the crime isn’t misspending billions of taxpayer dollars, but talking about it….

And the quote of the month … from House Speaker Scott Saiki on bribery revelations: “This is really bad. This is public corruption. … I hope it’s uncommon.” It’s uncommon when they get caught, anyway….

read … Hawaii politicos in shock: Quid pro quo is safe no more

Money piling up behind candidates in Hawaii gubernatorial race

SA: … Who becomes Hawaii’s next governor will be up to 300,000 to 400,000 or so voters later this year, but several hundred people and organizations really want to influence the decision.

A look at public campaign finance reports shows that the three current front-runners seeking the top elected office in the state have so far received about 2,200 monetary contributions, including individual maximum $6,000 deposits, from about 220 people or organizations.

For Kirk Caldwell, five of his most ardent financial backers work for condominium tower development firm Prospac Holdings Group, each of whom gave the maximum, or $30,000 in all….

Vicky Cayetano’s candidacy has attracted a concentration of $6,000 donations from four members of the local Kosasa family most recognized for establishing the ABC Stores convenience retail chain.

And Josh Green received maximum contributions from three Hawaii medical marijuana businesses plus the CEO of a fourth, whose wife also gave the legal limit.

All three Democrat candidates combined have taken in $3.4 million mainly from individuals but also from companies, political action committees and other organizations….

read … Money piling up behind candidates in Hawaii gubernatorial race

Police Commission Silent on Kapolei Murder

Borreca: … As of late last week, the Honolulu Police Commission agenda was still silent regarding any serious or comprehensive study or reaction to the disastrous murder in front of the Kapolei police station.

The agenda at least did make mention of the particularly irritating HPD embrace of radio secrecy as police radio transmissions have been encrypted. The agenda does note “Discussion of HPD media notification due to implementation of P25 radio system.”…

read … Recent police incidents, including Kapolei killing and radio snafu, impel HPD to do better

Let’s Remove Obstacles That Keep Citizens From Getting Government Records

CB: … Senate Bill 3252, which would waive copying costs for the first 100 pages of government records if disclosure is in the public’s interest. The charge — including the cost of agency staff searching for and reviewing the records — would be capped at a reasonable level….

Which brings us to other bills before lawmakers involving the public interest.

Legislators introduced a bill to allow acceptance of gifts by legislators and employees rather than report them to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. It would include foreign protocol gifts, “gifts of aloha” (i.e., plate lunches, lei, plaques, framed photos), invitations to charitable events and meals. Good government groups rightly pointed out that House Bill 1871 was a very bad idea.

Not coincidentally, the bill was killed the day after news broke that two former lawmakers had been arrested for accepting bribes. The day after that, the state Senate resurrected Les Ihara’s Senate Bill 555 from last year that would prohibit legislators from holding fundraisers during session — something that has been proposed year after year. It’s time for this bill to become law.

Here’s another wholly unnecessary bill: Senate Bill 2123. It calls for redacting dollar amount ranges in the public financial disclosure forms for top board and commission members because, some argue, not having to disclose the figures would attract more and better applicants….

Finally, House Bill 2303 would roll back a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that opened up many government records to the public, including draft documents and records that show how an agency came to a decision….

Related: HB2303: Help State and County Agencies Keep Their Secrets

read … Let’s Remove Obstacles That Keep Citizens From Getting Government Records

Carbon tax expensive, does little good

SA: … Two little-known bills in Hawaii’s Legislature propose to enact a massive tax increase called “carbon tax.” The proposed tax is framed to somehow cause a decrease in the use of fossil fuels (like gasoline), because gasoline will become so expensive, you will either curtail driving or buy an electric car. Or to somehow hurry Hawaiian Electric along in the conversion to renewable energy.

To help sell this attempt to change behavior, House Bill 2278 and Senate Bill 2732 slide in a rebate “scheme.” You supposedly get much of the tax back — all taxpayers in the same category would get the same dollar credit when filing their tax return. But if you are a high mileage driver due to the distance you drive to work, you will be a net loser. And if you don’t drive at all, the scheme will be an undeserved tax windfall. The net effect is that the state will be some sort of middle-man Robin Hood to punish your gas station, Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii Gas, your restaurant and other businesses — but the reality is that this tax will be passed on to the consumer by all of these providers….

read … Carbon tax expensive, does little good

Much of Hawaii is powered by Russian crude oil

SA: … even though roughly a quarter of Hawaii’s crude came from the Russian Far East in 2021, the company that runs the state’s lone refinery says it doesn’t anticipate any disruptions in supply because it can pivot to other sources with little problem.

However, oil prices, which already have been climbing for weeks in anticipation of the Ukraine conflict, are expected to continue to creep up by 20 cents to 60 cents in Hawaii, with most of the increase occurring in the summer….

“Five dollars a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline in Hawaii is within the realm of possibility,” said Shahriar “Shasha” Fesharaki, executive vice chairman and managing director of Facts Global Energy in Honolulu….

Russian crude oil has played a prominent role in Hawaii’s oil mix in recent years. In 2020, more crude came to Hawaii from Russia than any other part of the world. In 2019, more than 9 million barrels of Russian crude were shipped to the islands, representing about a third of the state’s oil imports that year.

In 2021, 64% of crude imports to Par Hawaii’s oil refinery in Kapolei were sourced from Libya, while approximately 25% came from Russia. The balance arrived here from Argentina and other places around the world….

read … Much of Hawaii is powered by Russian crude oil

Hawaii State Courts Only Ones Falling for ‘Sue Big Oil’ Scam

CLR: … Since 2017, these cases have been mired in a nearly five-year fight over whether they should be heard in state or federal court. Fossil fuel company defendants want the cases heard in federal court, where they can argue that the cases should be quickly dismissed on the grounds that federal common law climate claims are displaced by the Clean Air Act. Local and state government plaintiffs want the cases to remain in state court, where they can argue that climate nuisance claims are similar to past common law efforts to hold companies accountable for misleading the public about their products’ harms, like those against tobacco companies. The vast majority of courts that have ruled on this issue have said the climate claims should remain in state court. Yesterday, for the first time, a state court in Hawai‘i issued a ruling denying a motion to dismiss in a climate nuisance case, a key step in the case’s progression towards trial…. 



Like Prevails Over Iseri In Kauai Prosecutor Race

CB: … Like, who has never held public office before, had 72.2% of the vote compared to 27.8% for Iseri, according to early results.

The election pitted two former foes against one another.

Like sued Iseri in 2012, alleging that Iseri retaliated against her when she was deputy prosecutor because she failed to participate in Iseri’s reelection campaign. It was one of a half dozen civil lawsuits that named Iseri as a defendant during the time when she held the job of Kauai’s top prosecutor….

TGI: Like elected County of Kaua‘i Prosecuting Attorney

Link: Results

read … Like Prevails Over Iseri In Kauai Prosecutor Race

Sen. Stanley Chang Bill Would Legalize Monster Homes

CB: … For example, state Sen. Stanley Chang this session proposed a bill that would allow up to 10 housing units to be built on any parcel that allowed a residential dwelling.

It would essentially allow monster houses on steroids. When asked about the bill previously, Chang said he understood people don’t like monster homes. But his question for them was, what are the alternatives? In the end, the bill went nowhere, dying without a single hearing….

read … More Housing In Honolulu Means More Density. Are Monster Homes The Only Way?

Homeless Criminal from Mainland Arrested for Murder

KHON: … Jill Wright, the Director for Community Relations at IHS said the victim had been a client of theirs.

Witnesses said the suspect chased the victim and stabbed him multiple times less than a block from the IHS men’s shelter.

Police arrested the 42-year-old suspect several blocks away, not long after the alleged stabbing.

The suspect in Friday’s murder remains in police custody and the investigation is ongoing.

According to Wright, the victim and suspect knew each other.

The victim was staying at IHS and the suspect had also stayed there but was asked to leave for not following the rules.

“The suspect came to our shelter recently, having moved here from the mainland around Christmas time,” Wright explained. “As we understand it, he had recently been released from prison on the mainland, found his way here to Oahu, and was homeless, and so found his way to our men’s shelter.”

As an emergency shelter, IHS provides a second chance for people without any other options.

“But, especially when we talk about people coming from the mainland, we just don’t have a lot of information about their histories. And that makes our guests vulnerable.” …

SA: Fight near Institute of Human Services shelter leads to fatal stabbing of homeless man

read … Stabbing raises concerns of houseless violence

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