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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
April 23, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:27 PM :: 1122 Views

Auditor: Foster Kids Sleep in Attic of Home Full of Lunatics, Perverts, and Drug Addicts

How does Hawai‘i’s economic geography affect its healthcare industry?

SB 2487 Marijuana Decriminalization Fails to Pass Final Reading in the Senate

Four House Bills up for Final Reading

Small Business Economic Trends: How does Hawaii Compare?

Here’s the Salary a Person Needs To Be Considered Middle Class in Hawaii

HB2342 on Governor's Desk: Legalize 'open carry' of everything except guns

Hawaii's Best Cities to Start a Business

Green: 450 units to be built for 'FEMA Ineligible' Lahaina Survivors

City Points to Empty Rail System as Example of 'Sustainability'

Alaska Judge orders high-profile businessman detained until completion of Kaneshiro bribery trial

HNN: … In a startling development Monday, a federal judge ordered high-profile businessman Dennis Mitsunaga, 82, to be detained until the completion of a sprawling criminal bribery trial in which former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is also indicted.

The judge issued the order because he said Mitsunaga violated a no-contact order and may have committed additional crimes, including obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Federal agents arrested Mitsunaga on Friday at his Waialae Iki home….

Recently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into a protective order violation in connection with the case. According to the government, someone on the defense team leaked confidential grand jury transcripts and tried to get a witness to change his testimony.

Mitsunaga remains at the Federal Detention Center.

In arguing for his release, his attorney noted his advanced age and health conditions (many campaign contributions.  He pointed out that this is only happening because an Alaska judge was brought in to hear the case.  He then began pumping his fist while shouting ‘Defend Hawaii’.)

SA: Hawaii businessman Dennis Mitsunaga to remain in jail during trial

CB: Corruption Defendant Dennis Mitsunaga Jailed For Alleged Witness Tampering For Duration Of Trial

read … Judge orders high-profile businessman detained until completion of Kaneshiro bribery trial

Legislature Ending in Chaos—just like last year

HNN: … The funding negotiations at the Legislature Monday afternoon drew a huge crowd of insiders, including lobbyists and advocacy groups.

There was no public discussion of the Bissen letter, requesting $125 million to deal with everything from landfills for debris to housing for survivors.

So far, lawmakers have only offered about half that amount — and it’s in the form of a loan that maui county would have to pay back.

Bissen’s request is hard for lawmakers to accept because they are on a tight deadline with a lot of other demands, but they say they want to support Maui as best they can.

“New last-minute requests may have a difficult time,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz. “Although there are opportunities with other bills once the budget passes.”

Lawmakers now have just five days to make all the big decisions, hopefully without descending into chaos like the session did on their last Friday deadline last year….

March 1, 2024: Unions Squeeze Lawmakers: ‘Stop The Bleeding’ of OUR State Cash To Pay For Maui Fire Victims

read … In last-minute plea to Legislature, Maui’s mayor requests $125M for wildfire recovery aid

Maui County's Property Tax Base Increases Despite Lahaina Fire – Council Pushing 10% Property tax Hike

CB: … The council is mulling proposed tax increases to raise 10% more revenue from property taxes next year….The Maui County Council received welcome news Monday that despite the destruction of 2,146 structures in the Aug. 8 wildfires, the certified taxable value of property for fiscal year 2025 increased by 4.2% to $73.3 billion.

That translates to about $1.2 million more than was projected in March under Mayor Richard Bissen’s proposed budget, including his changes to tax rates and exemptions, according to acting Finance Director Maria Zielinski. The county is expecting to collect $587.3 million in total revenue from property taxes, she said.

Council member Tamara Paltin, who represents Lahaina, clapped when hearing the new figures …

(CLUE:  Lahaina fire boosted property values islandwide by further restricting supply.  When there is only one house left amidst the smoldering wreckage of Maui, it will sell for $73.4B.)

read … Maui County's Property Tax Base Increases Despite Lahaina Fire - Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaiian Airlines Losing $1M per day

BH: … Hawaii Airlines just announced their first quarter 2024 earnings and the result was that their losses increased since the prior period. This time, the GAAP net loss for the three month period was $137.6 million, compared with $101.2 million Hawaiian lost in the prior quarter. The current losses come to a staggering $1.515 million per day. This confirms what investment analysts had predicted: “a year-over-year decline in earnings on higher revenues.”

With regards to their financial performance, Hawaiian’s Shannon Okinaka, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer said, “We are not satisfied with our current financial performance.”

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Hawaiian Airlines reported a loss rate of $1 million per day. It underscores ongoing struggles to regain profitability post-Covid. The airline’s total net loss for 2023 amounted to $260 million. Hawaiian Airlines, a much smaller carrier compared to giants like Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United, faces intense market pressures that challenge its financial resilience….

SA: Hawaiian boosts revenue but loses $137.6M in first quarter | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

HA: Hawaiian Holdings Reports 2024 First Quarter Financial Results | Hawaiian Airlines | Newsroom

read … Hawaiian Airlines' Outlook After Posting $138 Million Loss - Beat of Hawaii

Short Term Rentals not just for tourists

SA: … Lengthy hotel stays are often prohibitively expensive and impractical. This creates a barrier for mainland-based family members who wish to visit to care for loved ones. Legal short-term rentals provide a cost-effective, welcoming environment, allowing ohana to stay connected.

For those who live here in Hawaii, legal short-term rentals provide a convenient place to stay while their homes are uninhabitable due to damage, fumigation, renovation or between moves. Legal short-term rentals also provide an affordable option for construction workers, farm laborers and other seasonal employees who need a temporary place to live while working on other islands.

The same is true for visiting health care workers. With a reported 4,000 vacancies in the field statewide, our residents rely on traveling nurses and other medical professionals to close the gap. Eliminating legal short-term rentals could discourage health care workers from working here, and potentially make it even more challenging for our residents to get the medical care they need.

Many local families who provide legal short-term housing rely on their rental income to help pay hefty mortgages and secure financial stability. For some, losing this income will make it impossible to stay in their homes, especially kupuna on a fixed income. Legal short-term rentals also provide income for those who provide services to these homes, including property managers, cleaners, contractors, landscapers and maintenance vendors.

Some proponents of SB 2919 and HB 1838 argue that eliminating short-term rentals will alleviate Hawaii’s affordable housing shortage. But this is simply not the case. The true cause of our affordable housing crisis is onerous regulations, excessive red tape, and high building costs that make it difficult for developers to build new homes at the right price. Data from the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization (UHERO) Hawaii Housing Fact Book confirms Hawaii has the most expensive housing in the nation and the total supply has not grown significantly. This is primarily attributed to the most restrictive housing, including lengthy permit delays, land use restrictions and legislative hurdles….

read … Column: Protect residents’ right to own rentals

Dozens of drivers arrested, jailed for DUI despite test results showing no alcohol in their system

HNN: … Over the last two years, dozens of Oahu drivers have been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence with breathalyzer results of 0.00 — meaning no alcohol showed as present in their system, HNN Investigates has found.

In 2022 and 2023, nearly 300 drivers who were arrested had breath or blood test results below the legal limit of 0.08, according to HPD data on arrests that did not result in charges.

Even more concerning, there were 69 people with results of 0.00….

Burge said the department puts pressure on officers to make drunk driving arrests, “especially if you’re in these specialized units, where there is an unwritten quota.”…

Another attorney specializing in traffic cases, Pat McPherson, said officers will sometimes make an arrest at the beginning of their shift so they don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the night. “They arrest the first person,” McPherson said, then they don’t go back out….

HNN Investigates received data from the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office that showed most cases that HPD refers to them are declined. Last year, HPD sent 1,283 cases for prosecution but 1,038 were rejected — that means 80% were declined….

Burge noted, arresting people who are innocent has another effect.

“The drunk guys are left on the road,” he said….

read … Dozens of drivers arrested, jailed for DUI despite test results showing no alcohol in their system

Multiple Arrests Yield only Baby Steps towards Good Government

SA: …  Gov. Josh Green should sign into law the latest raft of bills that are being described as “good government” legislation. They may be baby steps toward the ideal of a government apparatus that is more efficient and less vulnerable to corruption. …

So the enactment of new laws is less a cause for celebration, and more a reason to keep the pressure on lawmakers for more rigor on the reform path.

This phase of the on-again, off-again ethics journey picked up steam with the prison sentences, over the past two years, for two former lawmakers: one-time Senate majority leader J. Kalani English and former state Rep. Ty Cullen.

But the public has no shortage of reminders of other corruption potential, with charges associated with influential officials such as former police Chief Louis Kealoha; Katherine Kealoha, his former wife and ousted deputy prosecutor; and former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, now undergoing trial. And the public deserves more action.

There could be a boost in accountability from the passage of House Bill 1881. The measure, once signed, would raise fines for violations of state standards of conduct by lawmakers and lobbyists to $5,000; they are now set at $1,000, which certainly doesn’t pack much of a punitive punch.

(DO THE MATH: Two bribery convictions boost fines to $5000.  76 bribery convictions would boost fines to $153,000.  76 x $153K = $11.6M.  After they all pay up, we could cut taxes.)

Among the other nine “good government” bills are a few that aim to improve the openness of various board and agency meetings and their documents. One example: HB 1597 clarifies when and how the public may file suit over a decision made by the Office of Information Practices. All of that is fine, but these yield only the most incremental improvements at the bottom line of public service….

read … Editorial: Move to reform Hawaii government

Hawaii Expungements Legislation Heads To Governor

MM: … The legislature did pass two other measures that would take steps toward expunging certain marijuana-related criminal records, however. Last week the House approved HB 1595, which would create a pilot program around marijuana expungements. It cleared the chamber on a 41–9 vote, with one member excused and now proceeds to Gov. Josh Green (D), who has said he supports legalization.

Senators on Monday also signed off on SB 2706, which would create a so-called Clean Slate Expungement Task Force charged with crafting legislation for a state-led record-clearing program. While that expungements bill does not explicitly mention cannabis, marijuana-related offenses are widely expected to be included in the would-be task force’s discussions.

The new body would include state officials—including the attorney general, chief justice, public defender and various prosecutors—as well as representatives from various advocacy groups, including ACLU, LPP, the Hawaii Innocence Project and others….

read … Hawaii Senate Rejects Marijuana Decrim Expansion Bill, While Expungements Legislation Heads To Governor - Marijuana Moment

Legislature Orders Study Of Online Sports Betting In Hawaii

SBL: … HI HCR70 and its companion bill, HI HR55, were debated, amended, and passed by the Hawaii State Senate yesteday. These bills task the Hawaii Department Of Business, Economic Development, And Tourism with conducting a local sports betting analysis.

This study would form a group to analyze the impact sports betting in Hawaii would have on the economy, the tourism industry, and whether it would affect the status of unlicensed operators….

read … Legislature Considers Study Of Online Sports Betting In Hawaii –

Four years and $7M later, only seven duplexes are under construction at Puuhonua O Waianae Mauka

HNN: … Puuhonua O Waianae Mauka will be the new home for Auntie Twinkle’s village, which has been at the Waianae Small Boat Harbor for nearly two decades.

(If it were ever completed, it would house around 250 people.)

The long-standing homeless meth addict camp at the harbor is run by the woman affectionately known as “Auntie Twinkle” and currently houses around 200 meth heads….

By the end of the year, 25 of them could be moving into seven duplexes being built about five minutes up the road Mauka.

(Good Read: ‘Animal Farm’)

“It’s crazy now to me. Being able to do something like this is unbelievable,” said James Pakele, who has been working on the project since it started in 2020.

Pakele says the 20 acres of land on which the homes are being built was bought from a private landowner for $1.4 million, and government red tape has been cut to help speed up construction.

“Under the Ige administration, he covered us under his emergency proclamation for homelessness, and when Josh Green got into office, he continued the proclamation,” said Pakele….

So far, they’ve raised around seven of the $10 million needed for the project to house the village’s current residents eventually….

(DO THE MATH: $7M/7 duplexes = $500K per unit.)

read … ‘We had tents. Now we have homes’: Village for homeless prepares for new location

Lahaina Fire News:

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