20 Years of Fraud--With Tokuda out of Legislature, DoH finally begins to check up on Recycling Companies
About that so-called Vienna housing model
Tweets highlight Matson's schizophrenic relationship with China
Feds Back Hawaii Sterile Mosquito Plan
Hawaii 4th-Highest Beer Taxes in USA
Lawsuit Challenges Hawaii's 'Sensitive Places' Gun Law
How Gov. Josh Green’s Approval Compares to the Nation’s Most Popular Governors
Council Votes 20% of Maui GE Tax Surcharge to Subsidize Developers
MN: … Maui County is one step closer to establishing a half-percent surcharge to the state general excise tax that could impact the cost of everyday goods and services.
The council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend approval of the measure, which would add a 0.5 percent surcharge to the state’s 4 percent GET, which is like a sales tax that is charged when residents buy products ranging from groceries to even a haircut. The extra revenue, which is estimated at around $80 million a year for the county, would be allotted to housing infrastructure such as sewer, water systems and even safety measures for streets….
Next, the council will hold a public hearing on the bill at 6 p.m. on July 6. First reading of the bill before the full council will be at 9 a.m. on July 7.
Committee Chairwoman Yuki Lei Sugimura has said that there is an Aug. 1 deadline for the council to pass the bill if the charge is to go into effect on Jan. 1.
At the committee meeting Tuesday, Council Member Tasha Kama proposed and won unanimous support for an amendment to have 20 percent of the revenues generated by the surcharge go toward housing infrastructure for the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which helped sway some council members in favor of the surcharge….
(CLUE: This is a subsidy for Ev Dowling and other DHHL developers. It will reduce their construction costs without reducing their DHHL home sales prices. If it were not a subsidy, tax money would not be needed to fund the improvements. Simply borrow to install infrastructure and then have the developer repay the loan from the receipts of home sales. If this were a subsidy to DHHL home buyers, then there would be a price-controlling mandate written into the bill. There isn’t.)
Council Chairwoman Alice Lee asked if the amendment could allow for “up to 20 percent” of the surcharge revenues for DHHL instead. Although she said she supports DHHL projects, she was concerned about what would happen if the funds were not spent in time. She also noted the $600 million in state funds already set aside by state lawmakers in 2022 to help those on the DHHL waiting list.
But Council Member Tamara Paltin supported Kama’s original proposal, noting that the DHHL has many Maui projects, including in her district of Lahaina, that could use extra funds for infrastructure. Paltin said the $600 million from the Legislature is intended to cover the entire state, and with the high cost of infrastructure, the allocation “doesn’t go that far.”
Paltin, who previously expressed concerns about tacking on the surcharge, describing it as a regressive tax, wasn’t sure how she would vote on the bill Tuesday but called Kama’s amendment a “game changer” for her.
(If Ev Dowling is happy, I'm happy.)
The DHHL proposal was also a plus for Council Member Shane Sinenci, who said he supported recommending the bill for passage, but “with (phony) reservations.” He noted the “additional taxes on our electorate” and also referenced the medical professionals who have come out to testify about how the state charges the GET on medical services, making it harder for them financially.
Doctors have expressed during committee meetings how burdensome it is, especially with the GET on Medicare and Medicaid, for which doctors cannot pass on the additional tax to patients….
REALITY: Sweet Deal for Maui Developer--DHHL Affordable Housing Credits
REALITY: Lyon Bribery: $240K to Buy DHHL Contract?
read … County tax surcharge moves closer to reality
Dela Cruz Holding Secret Fundraiser at WCIT HQ
CB: … The state legislator with the most campaign money to spend, according to the most recent financial disclosure filings, wants even more. Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is inviting donors to a fundraiser Wednesday evening at Brickhouse at the WCIT Architecture office on Kapiolani Boulevard.
According to promotional material obtained by The Sunshine Blog (someone who got an invite sent it to us), the evening is billed as “A Night of Food, Fun, Fellowship & Entertainment.” Suggested contributions: $250, $500, $1,000, $2,000 or $4,000.
WCIT Architecture — whose projects include hotels and resorts, commercial and residential properties — lists two of Dela Cruz’s business interests, DTL Hawaii and Aina Archaeology, on its website as strategic partners.
One veteran politico tells The Blog that Dela Cruz’s fundraising reminds him of the pay-to-play era where architects and engineers and developers ruled as part of a so-called Mega Club.
Dela Cruz already had nearly $1 million in his campaign account as of the end of 2022 and that total likely grew during the recently ended legislative session. But candidate committee reports covering the period from Jan. 1 through June 30 aren’t due until the end of July.
And alas, it appears the Senate money chair did not file an advance notice of the fundraiser with the state Campaign Spending Commission as required by law. At least there was no notice posted on the commission’s website as of Tuesday evening….
CLUE: ‘Aloha Stadium’
read … Money Talks, The Spirit Of Aloha And Good Intentions
Rail: Pearl Highlands Station designed to benefit $11B KSBE Development
SA: … “Over time, the Pearl Highlands station area could transition from a suburban commercial center to a thriving pedestrian-friendly district complete with a mixture of commercial, residential and community uses,” the city’s transit-oriented development plan for the area said.
This plan anticipates that 1,500 homes and 1.1 million square feet of retail, office and industrial business space can be developed within a half-mile of the station.
One such contemplated project is redevelopment of the state-owned Hale Laulima affordable-housing complex. Hale Laulima has just 36 rental homes spread among nine two-story buildings on 4 acres near the station. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority plans to add 700 homes on the site it owns.
A much bigger envisioned project is planned by Kamehameha Schools, which intends to develop, with a partner, about 2,000 acres of former agricultural fields between Pearl City and Waipio into a community with 11,109 homes ($1M each = $11.1B), five public schools and more than a half-million square feet of commercial space over nearly 50 years.
The trust envisions that its plan would concentrate 2,000 to 3,000 of the homes more densely near the makai end of the site, which is a little over a half-mile from the Waiawa station….
Construction, however, is likely 10 to 15 years away for the Kamehameha Schools Waiawa project….
SA: Skyline: Honolulu rail station at LCC is unique and isolated
read … Skyline: Pearl Highlands line disconnected from Central Oahu
Honolulu liquor enforcement still a mess, report finds
SA: … One inspector reportedly took 10 hours to conduct a single inspection and two minutes to do two others at businesses about 4 miles apart, the report said. Records show the same inspector conducting multiple inspections at the same time — all within a 24-hour period.
Multiple inspectors reported visiting the same restaurant on the same day and being in multiple places at once. In the first months of 2023, 146 data entries were modified more than 34 days after they were initially entered, the review said ….
Big Q: What do you think about calls for a major shake-up of the Honolulu Liquor Commission?
CB: Some Honolulu businesses have received more than one inspection a month and others none at all, the commission heard.
KITV: Internal review finds Honolulu liquor commission needs oversight, and some business owners agree
read … Honolulu liquor enforcement a mess, report finds
City braces for complaints over lack of key amenities, like bathrooms, at Honolulu rail stations
HNN: … Rachel Wagenman was along for the ride Tuesday as city employees, family and friends were invited to try the system, going from the Halawa to East Kapolei stations and back. She noticed the lack of escalators, and was concerned about what will happen when stations are serving hurried commuters….
The escalators are reversible by station operators, depending on whether crowds are coming or going. And there is an elevator at each platform. At the University of Hawaii West Oahu station, the single elevator is the only alternative to stairs, because there is no escalator to either platform.
Riders also need to know that, like many big transit systems these days, bathrooms are only available by request. Wagenman knew that before she came.
“The restroom was probably my biggest fear, even just coming to like test it,” she said. “I didn’t drink a lot of water on purpose before I came.”…
read … City braces for complaints over lack of key amenities, like bathrooms, at Honolulu rail stations
Rail still a painful reminder for some businesses
KHON: … As rail construction went on, she says traffic was a mess and parking stalls taken by massive construction equipment.
Nakakura said they lost about 40% of their business and wound up closing an extra two days a week.
“The overhead would be more than, you know, and also we had to tell our employees not to come in for a while too because it wasn’t worth it,” said Nakakura….
Fujimoto says business dropped about 50%. And the construction pain hit them twice, first in Waipahu, then in Waimalu.
Shiro’s wound up closing its Waipahu restaurant permanently. Fujimoto says the landlord even offered him free rent to stay open, but Fujimoto says that wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile….
read … Rail still a painful reminder for some businesses
Hawaiian Homes Commissioners Reverse Kali Watson Water Appointment
CB: … DHHL staff told commissioners that this is the first time that local government officials have reserved a key role at the county level for a representative serving the Hawaiian Homes Commission and beneficiaries – something that both agency staff and beneficiaries welcomed because of the influence the new water authority could have on Maui’s future.
But in part because the process is so new, both state and county officials have run into issues. Monday’s action came after DHHL twice in the last month rescinded nominees for the board and then acknowledged that it “erred” in failing to seek the Hawaiian Homes Commission’s approval first.
In March, then-interim DHHL Director Ikaika Anderson initially selected Scheuer. But in June, Watson wrote to the Maui officials to say he had “reconsidered” Scheuer’s recommendation and was instead tapping Dwight Burns, who works for a construction industry fund and has generational ties to East Maui.
“He’s a good guy. I’ve talked to him on the phone several times,” Watson said of Burns during Monday’s meeting, adding that he “actually made his suggestion as a representative not knowing that we had already submitted for Dr. Scheuer.”
But the sudden change without public explanation raised alarms among beneficiaries ....
read … Hawaiian Homes Commission Chooses Water Policy Expert As First Rep On East Maui Water Board
Ikaika Anderson pleads not guilty in May incident
KHON: … Former city councilmember Ikaika Anderson appeared in court Tuesday morning.
He plead not guilty to a charge of Abuse Household Member, a misdemeanor.
Anderson was arrested on the evening of May 15 after, police records state, a woman told a third party that Anderson had abused her. The third party reported the incident to police.
Anderson was nominated to head DHHL but withdrew his nomination after he was denied confirmation by the state senate for the position.
Anderson is expected back in court in August….
read … Ikaika Anderson pleads not guilty in May incident
Thousands cited for running the red, the few who contest it are unsuccessful
KHON: … According to numbers by the Department of Transportation, since the red light safety camera pilot program started in November 2022, a total of 6,311 citations have been issued at all 10 of the locations….
All citations are sent to the police department for final approval and mailed to the owner of the vehicle within 10 days of the incident….
So far, according to DOT, two people have contested their citations and lost. Several others were also trying to fight their citations.
The fine for a red light citation is $200….
read … Thousands cited for running the red, the few who contest it are unsuccessful
Green plans to veto commercial use boating permits bill
TGI: … As reported by The Garden Island last month, House Bill 1090 would allow the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to reduce commercial boating operations throughout the state by canceling permits and reissuing them to various set limits.
The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation previously stated that the bill would help manage overuse and reduce environmental impacts after receiving numerous complaints of the “over-commercialization of the state’s nearshore waters and public facilities.”
“It’s scary to give the government that control that they can just shut down businesses whenever they want or without any very specific or obvious reason,” said Candice Le Croix, a captain and manager at tour company Na Pali Experience, to The Garden Island last month.
LeCroix’s business operates out of the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha, which has a launching ramp where the DLNR has issued at least 15 permits more than the set limit of 25 permits currently allowed under Hawai‘i Administrative Rules.
LeCroix previously said the bill would force the majority of boat tour operators on the westside to significantly downsize or shut down….
read … Green plans to veto commercial use boating permits bill
6,479 Police Calls on Homeless Drug Addicts at Uncle Billy’s Hotel
HTH: … Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy will introduce at a council committee hearing next week a resolution urging Gov. Josh Green to issue an emergency proclamation to speed up the process to remove the dilapidated building, which has been disused since 2017.
Citing the frequent fires and calls to police and emergency services that have plagued the building — the resolution claims there have been 6,479 police calls in the area between September 2018 and April 2023 — the measure argues that the state’s delays in removing the structure property constitute both a health hazard and a significant financial cost to the county.
“The police and fire department are spending half a million dollars on responding to calls just from Uncle Billy’s,” Lee Loy said Tuesday. “Anybody who’s taken the drive down Banyan Drive can see how bad it is.”…
BIN: Hawaiʻi County councilwoman calls for ‘drastic’ action at abandoned Uncle Billy’s hotel in Hilo
read … ‘Nuclear option’ eyed for Uncle Billy’s hotel
As predicted: Planning panel to consider 2-year Waimanalo landfill extension
SA: … The Honolulu Planning Commission today is expected to review the city’s request for a two-year extension to find a replacement site for the controversial, decades-old Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei.
The city Department of Environmental Services’ formal request — first submitted in December — would amend a previous state-issued special-use permit granted in 2019, which would extend the prior deadline of Dec. 31, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2024…
According to the city, the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, which opened in 1987, takes in approximately 250,000 tons of waste per year, with roughly 72% being ash and residue from the HPOWER plant, where waste
that is not (is) recycled is burned to generate electricity….
SA Editorial: Extend search for new landfill
SA: Board extends time for public input on landfill
Big Q: What do you think is the best option for developing a new Oahu landfill?
read … Planning panel to consider 2-year Waimanalo landfill extension