Hawaii COVID Hospitalizations Jump 90% in Week
Pouring cold water on 'visitor impact fee'
Hawaii's Throwback Rule -- The wrong tax, at the wrong rate, in the wrong state
Hawai‘i County seeking board, commission applicants to fill vacancies
Civil Defense: Public Meetings Set
Reimagining Tourism: DLNR Police Sweep Bums out of Uncle Billy's Hotel--Again
IRS Red Hill Relief: Will Not Tax Relocation Payments
Miske co-defendant Arrested for Witness Intimidation--faces revocation of pretrial release
ILind: … The federal probation office has petitioned the federal court to revoke the pretrial release of Preston Kimoto, who was sales manager for Kamaaina Termite and Oahu Termite.
UPDATE: Preston Kimoto Indictment -- witness intimidation
In addition to being a manager at Kamaaina Termite, state records show Kimoto held a car salesman’s license with Hawaii Partners, a Miske-owned company that was a licensed used car dealer. He frequently accompanied Miske to a Honolulu used car auction…
According to prosecutors, “during drug transactions he conducted just outside of Kama’aina Termite & Pest Control (KTPC), the headquarters of the Miske Enterprise, Kimoto promised the backing of Miske and the Enterprise to ’tax‘ or collect unpaid drug debts as an incentive for the customer to do drug business with him.”
“Kimoto’s conversations were recorded and he was under law enforcement surveillance when he conducted multiple drug transactions at KTPC,” according to previously filed court documemnts.
In addition, prosecutors allege Kimoto was a key participant in the kidnapping of a 72-year old accountant in October 2017. Prosecutors say two other men kidnapped and beat the accountant while demanding money, and later drove to Miske’s Kamaaina Termite office in Kakaako, where they conferred with Kimoto before releasing the accountant. Kimoto was apparently under electronic surveillance at the time.
According to one FBI report, the kidnapping was requested by a Honolulu businessman who was in a financial dispute with the accountant who was the kidnapping target. The businessman was willing to pay for the kidnapping.
Kimoto, 44, has been free on pretrial release since July 24, 2020, just a week after he was arrested along with Miske and nine other co-defendants….
SA: Alleged Miske co-conspirator jailed for witness tampering -- Dec. 16, Kimoto allegedly told the woman that the FBI would be talking to her. She and her family were the only people who could connect Kimoto to the kidnapping conspiracy and “it would be better for Victim-A” and her family if she told the FBI nothing, Kimoto allegedly said. “Kimoto stated that he would know if Victim-A cooperated with the FBI and reminded Victim-A that he knew where Victim-A lived, worked and where Victim-A’s children went to school,” according to the FBI agent’s affidavit.
PDF: Preston Kimoto Indictment -- witness intimidation
read … Miske co-defendant faces revocation of pretrial release
Maui Hate Criminals Admit to Damaging Shovel by Beating Man With It
AP: … A U.S. judge last month sentenced Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi to six and a half years in prison and Levi Aki Jr. to four years and two months in prison.
In a case that laid bare multicultural Hawaii’s complicated and nuanced race relations…
(Define ‘Nuanced’: Hit over head with shovel. Note: AP is pathetic.)
A court document filed this week says both men and prosecutors have agreed on $25,413.91 in restitution, to be paid jointly by Aki and Alo-Kaonohi. The amount includes nearly $11,000 in medical costs, $846 for an iPhone and $78.02 “for the loss of the roofing shovel used.”…
Kunzelman had requested $60,425.53.
His wife, Lori Kunzelman, said Wednesday they are not hopeful about receiving money from Aki and Alo-Kaonohi.
“We’ll never get anything back,” she said….
Aki and Alo-Kaonohi won’t be expected to begin paying monthly installments until they are released from prison.
Both men have started the process for an appeal, asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case….
read … Hawaiian men imprisoned for hate crime beating to pay $25K
Slush Fund: House Speaker Offers OHA $100M To Stop Lying About Kakaako High Rises
CB: … OHAʻs proposal to build the residential towers was rejected by the Legislature, but OHA has made it clear it will keep trying to build the condo towers by continuing to urge the state to toss out a 2006 law that prohibits such construction on all land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard.
Saiki met with Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Carmen Hulu Lindsey and Gov. Josh Green in the governor's office Friday to discuss the new offer that asks OHA to accept a cash payment to prevent the high rises. It also proposes an increase in the state's annual payments to OHA from the public lands revenues.
Here are the highlights of Saikiʻs offer to OHA as outlined in a letter he sent to Lindsey on Monday:
- Pay OHA $100 million for a public easement to prohibit residential development in order to preserve public access, scenic views and building height and density in Kakaako Makai.
- $65 million to OHA for wharf repairs the agency says are badly needed on the revetments in the former Fishermanʻs Wharf area.
- Increase OHAʻs share of Public Land Trust revenues from the current $21.5 million a year to $25 million beginning January and to increase payments to OHA annually using a formula of a three-year average of the Consumer Price Index.
- Pay $100,000 to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to put an inventory of the Public Land Trust properties on line to make the information easily searchable by the public.
In urging OHA to act promptly, Saiki says the proposal would be funded with money from the current state budget surplus and that there is no guarantee such a surplus will be there in the future….
(CLUE: That’s called a ‘takeaway.’)
OHA’s public relations consultant Ryan Kawailani Ozawa says the agency is not ready to respond to Saiki’s offer…. (LOL!)
(CLUE: It is easy to offer money --with a quick takeaway-- to OHA because they are never ready to accept quickly.)
Also Today: Supreme Court: OHA Can Hide its Crooked Deals in Executive Session (this is not a coincidence)
read … House Speaker Offers OHA $100M To Can Kakaako High Rises
HB727: Use Campaign Funds to Buy Votes and Build Legislative Factions
CB: … “In the 2022 campaign reporting period nearly $216,000 was donated to charities, full-time scholarships, public schools, and public libraries,” wrote Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters in testimony supporting the measure.
The Legislature’s judiciary chairs, Rep. David Tarnas, left, and Sen. Karl Rhoads, both amended a measure on regifting campaign contributions that now bears no resemblance to its original form. (Screenshot/2023)
While those might be good causes, “Contributions to community groups are simply ‘seeding the community’ for future votes,” testified Mason, who was also a member of the standards commission that proposed dozens of measures this session to make Hawaii politics more transparent and ethical.
Even more money in the same period — $350,577 — “was devoted to purchasing tickets for other candidates’ fundraisers,” Mason said.
Buying up to two tickets to fundraisers is currently the only legal method for one candidate to donate campaign funds directly to another candidate, as long as the cost doesn’t exceed the limits for all donations of $2,000 for House candidates, $4,000 for Senate candidates and $6,000 for statewide candidates.
The proposed elimination of that ticket-buying allowance was the only part of the bill preserved by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee during a Feb. 23 hearing. Chair David Tarnas argued that candidates should still be able to give their campaign funds to charities and schools, etc.
In follow-up testimony, the League of Women Voters said it was “disappointed” and asked that the original restrictions be restored by the Senate Judiciary Committee when it heard the bill March 21. Its chair, Sen. Karl Rhoads, ignored that request before saying he was going to “make a controversial recommendation here.”
Candidates giving campaign funds to other candidates evens the playing field and is “perfectly legitimate,” Rhoads said, because “the fundraising opportunities are not the same.”
“My recommendation on this one is to get rid of the purchase-of-ticket provision, which has become something of a farce — it’s just very easily gotten around — but what we’ll do instead is just say that a candidate can give no more than $2,000 per election period to any candidate,” Rhoads said in further amending the bill “without objection” from his committee colleagues.
The state Campaign Spending Commission, by the way, also wanted to end the practice of candidates giving campaign funds to other candidates. Its measures to do so, House Bill 94 and Senate Bill 199, stalled this session.
HB 727 lives on, unrecognizable from its original intent. But it’s likely headed to conference committee and who knows what will emerge there. Those discussions are held in secret….
read … Bill To Limit Campaign Fund Regifting Turns Into The Opposite
Senate Kills off Ethics Reform Bills
SA: …one of the most powerful reforms suggested by the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct (CISC) has stalled in the state Senate.
Both House Bill 726, drawn from CISC recommendations, and House Bill 89, proposed by the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, would prohibit state and county elected officials from asking for, or taking, campaign contributions during the legislative session. The bills have languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be dead for the session if not heard by Thursday.
These bills deserve to be heard and voted on by the full Senate. During the last session, the Legislature passed a half-step bill affecting the same range of candidates, banning fundraising events during session, so there’s no justification for shelving these reforms….
Other measures recommended by the CISC have crossed over from the House, but appear to have been squashed in the Senate — a severe miscalculation of the public’s appetite for reform. Should these bills fail this session, they must be revived and enacted at the first opportunity:
>> HB 719 would cap or waive the cost of “reproducing” certain government records, eliminating the practice of using exorbitant fees to discourage or deny access to public records. With electronic reproduction now available, it is past time to enact this bill.
>> HB 723 would expand Sunshine Law requirements to legislatively appointed bodies, and can be tailored to exclude certain sensitive entities. It’s a step forward to ensure public access to and participation in government meetings and should rightly move forward….
read … Save languishing ethics reform bills
Surprise: Rail 7PM Shutdown Secretly Locked in to Hitachi Contract 3 Years Ago
SA: … Prior to the vote, committee Chair Tyler Dos Santos- Tam questioned the city over the initial hours of operation for rail under city control: 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
Dos Santos-Tam also asked whether the city had the ability to amend those hours “if it’s shown there’s a need to do so if there’s overwhelming demand or perhaps underwhelming demand at certain times” on the rail line.
In response, Roger Morton, director of DTS, said the decision on operating hours for train service was determined two or three years ago when the contract with the project’s lead contractor, Hitachi, was negotiated.
“It is an interim operation while we extend the system,” said Morton. “So based on our analysis on bus ridership, in particular, we determined most of our bus ridership drops off precipitously after 7 p.m.”
Morton added that keeping the initial hours for rail service was a “question of balancing the cost of operating the rail system but also all of the associated bus service that accompanies the rail system.” He noted that “parallel bus service” would be part of the interconnected nature of the new rail line….
(Translation: This thing costs a lot to run just like it cost a lot to build.)
Once rail begins full operations (in the year 2457AD), the hours will be modified to 4 a.m. to midnight, according to DTS….
read … Council panel approves Honolulu’s rail safety plan
Gov. Green’s failed nominees could stay in place (NOT!)
SA: … Two of Gov. Josh Green’s Cabinet nominees who failed to win Senate confirmation — and any others who also might lack Senate support — will remain in place until the May 5 end of the legislative session and possibly for the rest of 2023 and even longer.
On March 24, Green’s nominees to lead the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism — Chris Sadayasu — and the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development — Scott Glenn — failed to win Senate confirmation.
A March 30 Senate deadline then expired for Green to name replacement nominees, meaning Sadayasu and Glenn can continue running their departments, along with any future Green appointees who also may be rejected by the Senate.
There are several options for what happens next.
Once the session ends, Green could appoint Sadayasu or Glenn as interim directors, give them a full year on the job and even renominate them during the 2024 legislative session, said political analyst Neal Milner….
CB: Wright says Star-Adv Wrong -- Among those correcting the story in the comments section were attorney Jim Wright, who cited Article v. Section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution: “No person who has been nominated for appointment to any office and whose appointment has not received the consent of the Senate shall be eligible to an interim appointment thereafter to such office.”
SA UPDATE: Green plans different nominees to lead DBEDT, Office of Planning -- Green is prohibited by Senate rules to name replacements for Chris Sadayasu and Scott Glenn this session after they failed to win Senate confirmation. But he plans to replace them sometime in May once the legislative session adjourns on May 5.
read … Gov. Green’s failed nominees could stay in place
When will property tax appeals be decided?
SA: … Question: When should people expect to hear back on their property tax appeals? What is the usual timeline?
Answer: “The city began scheduling property tax appeal hearings in February, and the first round of those hearings took place on March 2, 2023.
After an appeal has been heard by the Board of Review, it takes between four and eight weeks from the hearing date to notify appellants of the Board of Review’s decision. This means some appellants could begin hearing about the status of their property tax appeal this week, if they haven’t already,” Ian Scheuring, a spokesperson for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, said in an email.
By the Jan. 15 deadline, Oahu property owners had filed 2,134 property-value assessment appeals for fiscal year 2024, he said. The city tries to close all appeals by the end of the tax year, but that isn’t always possible, for a variety of reasons. “Last year, for example, 1,699 appeals were filed, and 313 of those appeals are still classified as open,” he said….
Kokua Line: Will city show tally on property-tax appeals?
read … When will property tax appeals be decided?
A bill to raise taxes on housing investments had plenty of support. Until it didn’t
HNN: … Senate Bill 362…would double the tax on sales of high-end residential properties in order to generate regular revenue for homeless and affordable housing programs.
Advocates, including Kenna Gipson with the Hawaii Appleseed Budget and Policy Center, fear it’s about to die….
(Genius: Make housing more affordable by taxing housing.)
The bill was opposed by developers and Realtors.
The Realtors Association testimony said doubling the tax would push the conveyance tax on a $2 million deal to $24,000 and up to $250,000 on a $10 million property.
Lyndsey Garcia, director of advocacy for the association, wrote: “Ultimately, we have a housing supply problem and the conveyance tax adds to the cost of housing and the cost of doing business in Hawaii.”
Advocates fear House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita may be killing the bill without explanation by refusing to schedule a hearing in his committee, which has to happen by Thursday....
TGI: Luxury home sales tax to fund affordable housing killed
read … A bill to raise taxes on luxury housing investments had plenty of support. Until it didn’t
’Green Fee’ would give Hawaii Tourism Authority $100M to bring more tourists here
KITV: … managing and protecting those natural resources would take more funds.
Funds that could come from revenue from another bill still alive at the State Capitol: a measure proposing a green fee, that ONLY visitors would pay. That fee would allow them to hike our trails, or use our natural resources.
"One of our goals is to generate sustained funding for ocean conservation and the visitor green fee is a pathway to do that. It would charge $50 and generate hundreds of million of dollars for ocean goals and ones of land as well." said Hawaii Green Fee Project Manager, Carissa Cabrera.
"If we can implement some kind of a green fee system, and we could get DLNR an estimated $100 million a year, there's a lot that we could do with that money in terms of taking care of natural resources," stated Quinlan….
Important financial committees in both the State House and State Senate will debate and vote on the bills to change the HTA, Wednesday morning….
read … Changes could be coming to Hawaii Tourism Authority
‘Climate Change’ is excuse for transfer of millions for Capital Improvement Projects to build lots of stuff at sea level in US Pacific Territories
CB: … Earlier this year, representatives from the U.S. Government Accountability Office traveled to American Samoa to meet with members of the territory’s newly formed climate resilience commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Vaalele Ale.
They discussed, among other things, the challenges American Samoa and other Pacific Island territories face when it comes to competing against states for federal funding.
“As a small island in the middle of the ocean, we feel the effects of climate change every day,” Talauega told GAO officials. “We see it in the rising tides and we feel it in the increased heat in the day. We are mindful of the constant change and have refocused our efforts through this commission.”
President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which passed in 2021, will provide tens of millions of dollars to American Samoa to help rebuild roads, improve its harbors and address the warming climate.
(PHOTO: Check out the seven-engine diesel powerhouse the American Samoa Power Authority built right at the water’s edge.)
According to the White House, nearly $70 million has already been announced for the territory, including $4.6 million for bridge repairs, (I’m feeling cooler already!) $10.7 million for lead pipe replacement in water lines (The polar bears can breathe easy.) and $2.1 million to help reconstruction the Anuu’u Wharf in Pago Pago (which is still at sea level and not drowning)
About $1.7 million has specifically been identified to address climate resiliency, which includes $250,000 to protect the Ofu Airport against storm damage and erosion. The territory’s total budget for fiscal year 2022 was about $550 million, with about half of that coming from federal grants.
(The purpose of the Commission is to teach Territorial grant writers how to start using ‘Climate Change’ as the excuse for everything.)
Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands so far are set to receive $142.6 million and $83.3 million, respectively, through the law.
There’s no question that American Samoa and other Pacific Island territories are on the front lines of the climate crisis…. (LOL!)
(So we need them to start using it to ask for money)
read … Pacific Territories Are Getting Millions To Address Climate Change. Is It Enough?
As Mental Health Crisis Worsens In Hawaii, Psychiatrist Shortage Takes Heavy Toll On Kids
CB: … Maui had two full-time and three part-time child psychiatrists last year. Kauai had one full-time pediatric psychiatrist and one who works part-time.
In 2022, the Big Island had one full-time child psychiatrist, who is currently not accepting new patients, and two part-time ones. There are none on Lanai or Molokai.
That’s according to data compiled by Dr. Kelley Withy, a professor at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine who produces the annual Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment.….
read … As Mental Health Crisis Worsens In Hawaii, Psychiatrist Shortage Takes Heavy Toll On Kids
Pinky Tows News: Hawaii to pay $26M to man hurt by runaway truck
SA: … The state has agreed to pay $26 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who received permanent debilitating injuries in 2019 after a tow truck with faulty brakes mangled the man’s subcompact car because the truck was blocked by barricades from taking a runaway truck ramp on Likelike Highway….
Braddock, who had worked for Sunrun, and his wife, Christine Braddock, sued the state, tow truck owner Pinky Tows Hawaii and driver Misty Mitchell….
Police said Mitchell, then 52, reported that the 2002 Kenworth truck’s brakes started to fail while heading Kahuku-bound on the Kahekili onramp from Likelike Highway, and struck 10 vehicles on both Kahuku-bound lanes of the Kahekili onramp.
The complaint alleged Pinky Tows’ negligence by not ensuring the tow truck was of sufficient towing capacity and properly maintained and repaired to tow the commercial refrigeration vehicle owned by Pint Size.
It also alleged Mitchell was careless and negligent by not sufficiently inspecting the tow truck to make sure it was properly maintained and had the capacity to tow the refrigerator truck.
Both Pinky Tows Hawaii and Mitchell settled the case for $300,000 each, the insurance policy limits, according to a court document filed March 10….
(CLUE: In 2003 the State Supreme Court found the then-owner of Pinky Tows civilly liable for operating a fleet of stolen trucks.)
read … Hawaii to pay $26M to man hurt by runaway truck
Green proposes pop-up homeless village Across from Queens Hospital
HNN: … He says an exact site for this pop-up village hasn’t been nailed down yet, but added one of the places under consideration is the lawn in front of the Department of Education building across from Queen’s Medical Center (for convenient access to ER merry-go-round)….
Green wants to start moving people out of encampments into tiny homes.
“We want something quick in a few places,” Green said. “Because law enforcement has said to us they don’t want to sweep people. They would rather find shelter for people.”
He says he would like to set up some “pallet shelters.”
They are currently being used in Waimanalo to house people who had been living on the beach. Green says unlike that permanent village, which was established in 2020, the new pop-up kauhale would be temporary.
The idea: Providing a place for people to get off the streets until more permanent kauhale can be built….
Waimanalo isn’t the only place the kauhale concept has seen success. Another tiny home village opened about a year ago in Kalaeloa. If the governor has his way, as many as 15 more could be built across the state….
Green says a kauhale typically costs about $2.5 million to build. That consists of about 30 tiny homes along with shared amenities, like bathrooms, kitchens and other community spaces.... ($2.5M / 30 = $83,333 per unit)
read … To address homelessness in his backyard, Green proposes pop-up homeless village near state Capitol
Bulldozer Clears Tons of Homeless’ Garbage from Kahala Beach
KHON: … The Department of Parks and Recreation said clean-up is underway to remove the large of amount trash that washed out during Sunday’s heavy rainstorm.
A lot of single-use plastics and clothing were also found in the piles of trash.
“And what a lot of ppl don’t realize is most clothing is not made from cotton, it’s polyester or some elastics that don’t biodegrade,” said Nate Serota from the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The City’s Department of Facility Maintenance and community members worked upstream to see where the pollution was coming from. They said they believed the items came from a Goodwill drop-off donation site where people have been leaving their donations outside, after business hours.
“And what’s happening is a lot of the houseless — a lot of thieves are noticing this accumulation and going and taking these donations for themselves,” said Serota. “And what they want they keep and what they don’t want they are discarding into the Molowai Stream.”…
read … PHOTOS: Kahala Beach littered with trash after heavy rainstorm
Dwayne Johnson Accused of Lying About His Hawaiian Heritage
SM: … Kevin couldn’t stay quiet at this and said, “I’m passing the phone to someone who’s been lying about his Hawaiian heritage for his whole career.” However, Dwayne Johnson couldn’t control his laughter at the same and continued the challenge with his final turn. The Rock’s Hawaiian heritage is often put under the radar because of his mixed heritage.
Dwayne Douglas Johnson or The Rock is the son of the former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson and Ata Johnson. His father came from a Black Nova Scotian heritage while his mother was a Samoan. His paternal side of the family also brings in traces of Irish ancestry. The rich cultural heritage helped Dwayne emerge to be one of the greatest stars in the WWE ring.
During the early years of his life, Dwayne Johnson moved to various places. Born in Hayward, California, he soon shifted to Auckland, New Zealand and lived with his maternal side of the family, and then returned to the United States. He started his elementary education in California and then shifted to Connecticut to complete his Middle School.
His high school education brought him to Nashville before he completed his graduation from Lehigh Valley. He then went to the University of Miami to pursue a career in football under a full athletic scholarship program. The millionaire star now resides in Los Angeles….
read … Dwayne Johnson Accused of Lying About His Hawaiian Heritage