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Monday, May 22, 2023
May 22, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:33 PM :: 1379 Views

Hawaii Residents Furthest Behind on Retirement Savings

Illegal ‘Five-Point System’ Allows Hawaii Tourism Authority to Funnel money to CNHA

SA: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority is slated to make three major awards today, covering procurement to manage the brands and market Hawaii to the United States and Canada, and to offer support services for destination stewardship.

If all goes smoothly it’s a pivotal opportunity to earn the trust of the state Legislature, whose doubts left the agency without a dedicated source of funding this year.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

Trust will be paramount as lawmakers allowed the only bill with an HTA appropriation, House Bill 1375, to die at the end of session. …The bill took on many new forms throughout the session and in conference, and ultimately the clock ran out before lawmakers reached consensus leaving HTA intact but without adequate funding.

Lawmakers, however, did open the door in the final days of approval for the state budget bill, House Bill 300, for HTA to petition up to $60 million from a $200 million appropriation to the state Budget and Finance Department. But the move was more of a lifeline than a vote of confidence, and whether HTA gets the funding will be subject to a five-point system of checks and balances, and likely perception over how well it executes procurement and its destination management programs.

(CLUE: Totally illegal and unconstitutional.  But that means nothing unless somebody sues.)

HTA … now has a new champion in Jimmy Tokioka, appointed by Green to head DBEDT May 5 after lawmakers did not confirm Sadayasu earlier in the session….

Tokioka said an approvals process is being set up for HTA’s requests, which will be subject to support from him, legislative leadership, the state Budget and Finance director, and the governor and lieutenant governor.

REALITY: Green Tokioka DBEDT Appointment part of Dela Cruz’ $200M Slush Fund Scam

read … Funding allows Hawaii Tourism Authority to cover procurements

Unconstitutional Process Wastes first $50M on First Responders Park

CB: … The budget bill was not finished by the deadline, and the “leadership” insisted that members vote on it anyway, even though many important expenditures were still blank. That is, they voted on a budget bill that they had not read, because it wasn’t written yet!

(CLUE: Totally illegal and unconstitutional.  But that means nothing unless somebody sues.)

The details, such as hundreds of millions of dollars here and there, were filled in later. This is gut and replace in the extreme, and it is possibly unconstitutional. The Legislature could have extended the session to complete its important business instead of the farce of voting on a bill that was incomplete, with big money at stake. 

The final worksheets for the budget were released on May 15, while the legislature voted on it May 1 and the session ended on May 4. 

This leaves room for a lot of funny business. 

A bill to fund a First Responders Technology Campus had died during session due to lack of support. Interestingly, even the Honolulu Police Department was not in support, even though it would be the main beneficiary.

Public input was against it, due to the loss of valuable ag land and the massive waste of money. The included proposed hotel on ag land is unconstitutional. Even the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board was silent and did not support it….

But Sen. Donavan Dela Cruz does not take no for an answer when it comes to spending huge chunks of money in his own district of Wahiawa, whether the project is useful or not. So he singlehandedly inserted funds in the budget after it was passed, to include $50 million for the first steps in developing the campus.

The budget bill lists $50 million for the Hawaii Technology Development Corp., without explanation. It is understood that this is for the first increments of the campus, even though the campus is not mentioned. The campus is very poorly defined, but includes the use of 200 acres of agricultural land for a massive development including a hotel, swimming pool and training facilities. …

read … Nobody Wants The First Responders Park. So Why Are We Building It?

HART will ultimately hurt the less-fortunate more than it will help them

USB: … The legislature, the federal government, and a controversial surcharge on Hawaii’s existing General Excise Tax have bankrolled HART construction to date (Hawaii’s excise tax, which is a tax on business transactions, has existed for decades in lieu of a sales tax). In 2005, the legislature approved a measure allowing county governments to impose a 0.5 percent surcharge on the General Excise Tax to help fund the transit project. The City and County of Honolulu opted to raise the GET to 4.5 percent through the end of 2030. For comparison’s sake, California’s state sales tax is 7.25 percent.

The problem with a regressive tax is that it hits low-income Hawaiians the hardest. As a result, said Natalie Isawa, a non-voting HART board member, thinks that HART will ultimately hurt the less-fortunate more than it will help them.

“My concern with [HART] has always been the cost,” Iwasa said. “I am a CPA and certified fraud examiner. So dollars are my business, and my concern has only increased over the years. … We have this project that is supposed to help those from [west of the city] who tend to be lower income and tend to have to work in town at the hotels and such. We’re building this for them, and yet we’re taxing them for it.”

Iwasa is opposed to the rail project, but she praised the city’s bus network and cited biking and walking as congestion-easing alternatives. Oahu being an island, Iwasa noted that widening freeways would be impractical but said she “can see why people would think they would not really care so much about money being spent on another freeway lane. … Because most people drive cars.” …

read … Trouble in Paradise: Political Gridlock, Cost Overruns and Taxpayer Fatigue Plague Hawaii Transit Project

Building Affordable in California, Hawaii: High Demand, High Hurdles

MHN: … As a developer of affordable housing communities in California and Hawaii, we are faced with several immediate challenges. In Hawaii, these include the availability of land and infrastructure, limited funding resources and legislative concerns, such as the permitting processes and zoning restrictions, which all create obstacles to timely and cost-effective development….

read … Building Affordable in California, Hawaii: High Demand, High Hurdles

Maui’s Zoning Code Is More Than 60 Years Old. Where’s The Update?

CB: … Hawaiian Community Assets, a consultant hired by the county for $300,000 to create a plan to spur the construction of 5,000 affordable homes, wrote that updating the zoning code should be the No. 1 policy priority for government officials wanting to lower the cost of living in a community where the typical home price tops $1.2 million.

Lawrence Carnicelli, an executive with Alaula Builders, which develops affordable homes, said that developers often run into problems when the old zoning doesn’t match up with the state’s current land-use designations or the county’s islandwide and community plans, which can add years to developers’ timelines and hundreds of thousands of dollars to project costs….

read … Maui’s Zoning Code Is More Than 60 Years Old. Where’s The Update?

Police chief talks trust during EHCC panel discussion

HTH: … Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz told about 50 who attended a panel discussion Saturday at East Hawaii Cultural Center “trust is the currency” that leads to better relations between the community and police….

The forum, “Community and Policing,” began with four University of Hawaii at Hilo students presenting findings of a research study they helped conduct as part of a 300-level criminology class taught by Ellen Meiser, a UH-Hilo assistant professor of sociology. The study was initiated by EHCC with funding from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities.

According to Carol Walker, EHCC’s executive director, EHCC commissioned the study to honor the history of its building at 141 Kalakaua St. — which, decades ago, served as Hilo’s police station, courthouse and jail.

Researchers surveyed 250 individuals of diverse ages and backgrounds.

According to the study, the top three safety concerns in East Hawaii are drugs, property crime, and a lack of police presence.

Only about 1 in 3 respondents feel there is currently a positive relationship between the community and the police department, according to the survey. That’s down significantly from the 73% who felt the police and community had a positive connection between 1930 and 1970, the study states.

Despite that, about 80% surveyed feel comfortable contacting police to report a crime, but almost half, 49%, don’t believe police treat all people fairly.

And 19% report that they or their families are directly impacted by incarceration. That’s significantly lower than the national rate of 1 in 2 adults being impacted by incarceration, according to a 2019 Cornell University and FWD.us study.

Complete results of the local study are online at easthawaiipolicingstudy.com ….

UH: Lower satisfaction with Hawaiʻi Island police contradicts experiences

read … Police chief talks trust during EHCC panel discussion               

Rape Bus remains on Dillingham Blvd in Kalihi--Lawyer Hired instead of Tow Truck Driver

KITV: … An abandoned bus alongside Dillingham Boulevard in Kalihi has stayed put, despite a notice of violation from the city calling for it's removal by May 20th.

In March of this year a 50 year old woman claims she was sexually assaulted there.

Many people in the vicinity are trying to rebuild their lives at nearby treatment facilities and the bus is a continued source of concern.

The Institute for Human Services is located right next door.

Utilizing IHS's services, Charlotte Marquez told KITV4, "People have been walking by and they've been asking if we'd like to do drugs with them or if we'd like to go with them inside (the bus), kids are at risk."…

This weekend, a management member of a business close to the area of concern commented that the bus owner passed away during the pandemic which could be slowing down the removal process - however he feels the city will tow the bus away, and a lawyer has reportedly been hired….

read … Abandoned bus  remains on Dillingham Blvd in Kalihi

Legislative Agenda:

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