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Sunday, June 2, 2024
June 2, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:59 PM :: 1993 Views

Keeping more of your own money is a good thing

Dealing with the Insurance Crisis

Jones Act reform increasingly popular as law's effects become better known

Kauai: Grassroot Legislative Wrapup

Machine politics at work on Waianae Senate seat?

Shapiro: … Some West Oahu Democrats are worried another game of musical chairs for insiders is playing out in the selection of a new state senator to replace Maile Shimabukuro in District 22 (Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Makua).

Shimabukuro resigned at the end of the 2024 session, saying she wouldn’t finish her term that ended in November in order to … (blablabla).

She endorsed state Rep. Cedric Gates, who is battling former state Rep. Stacelynn Eli in the Aug. 10 Democratic primary, to succeed her.

Critics see it as a power play by Shimabukuro and party leaders to get Gates appointed to finish her term by Gov. Josh Green before the election, giving him the advantage of running as the incumbent senator.

Such an anointment would require Gates to resign from his House seat, potentially giving the party and Green a chance to appoint a preferred successor from Democrats seeking the job: Cross Makani Crabbe, Desire De Soto, Philip Ganaban and Ranson Soares.

District Democrats meet 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Nanakuli Public Library to select three candidates to finish Shimabukuro’s term. The recommendations will be reviewed by the Oahu and state Democratic chairs before being sent Friday to Green, who has 60 days to make a choice but seldom takes nearly that long….

RELATED: Long Lines Suppress Republican Votes on Election Day:  City Clerk Plans to do it Again in 2024

read … David Shapiro: Machine politics at work on Waianae Senate seat?

PUC orders criminal Al Hee to halt phone, internet service disconnections for 1,500 Hawaiian Home Lands households

HNN: ... The state Public Utilities Commission has ordered Sandwich Isles Communications not to cut phone and internet service to about 1,500 Hawaiian Home Lands households statewide.

Sandwich Isles Communications said service would end Saturday. The PUC said Friday evening that that was not enough notice and violated state laws.

The commission set a hearing for June 17.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands called the disconnections “unacceptable.”

“The situation is unacceptable but we are committed to resolving it,” said DHHL Broadband Coordinator Jaren Tengan. “It is unfortunate that Sandwich Isles is planning to disconnect the services to its customers with so little notice.”

DHHL also said the decision violates the company’s contract because there is no evidence they gave sufficient warning to regulators and they did not receive permission to cut service.

Gov. Josh Green also issued an emergency proclamation Friday evening, ordering telecommunications companies to provide uninterrupted service.

“DHHL is grateful to Governor Green for issuing an emergency proclamation,” Tengan said. “This will allow us to rapidly assist households and businesses on Hawaiian Home Lands.” …

read … PUC orders halt to phone, internet service disconnections for 1,500 Hawaiian Home Lands households

Tensions at HART: Next ‘near-death experience’ set for July

SA: … Colleen Hanabusa’s term as HART board chairperson expires in July 2026. ….

The latest evaluation made it clear that the sentiments were not universal, saying that “Board members’ ratings varied greatly.”

Kahikina’s contract expires on Dec. 31.

On Friday, the board’s Human Resources Committee has two related items on its agenda: a discussion of Kahikina’s contract; and an item described only as “Referral of Recent Media Reports Regarding Board Member Conduct for Investigation/Action,” which may be related to board member Natalie Iwasa’s recent appearance before the City Council in which she described Kahikina’s situation at HART as a “corrosive environment.”

There are several possibilities about what could happen between now and the end of the year, including some form of action by Blangiardi — who appointed Hanabusa to a five-year term that expires in July 2026 — or a vote by the board to remove Hanabusa as chair.

A potential compromise of a one-year contract extension for Kahikina would be unacceptable to Kahikina, who said she would consider it “insulting” given her role in turning around the project. She wants a three-year contract, just like her predecessors.

Kahikina wrote in response to her latest evaluation, “Related to the opening of the system, Senator (Brian) Schatz recently stated ‘this project faced multiple near-death experiences over many, many years.’ Mayor Blangiardi has commented many times that the rail project was one of the biggest problem areas at the City at the time of his election and that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) had lost all confidence in the project leadership that was in place before my arrival at HART…..” 

The uncertainty over who will lead HART next has implications for contractors who might bid on the last section of rail “guideway” heading into Kakaako, Iwasa said.

Bids are due in July but some firms may be reluctant “because relationships are important” and Kahikina has worked hard to rebuild them, Iwasa said ….

read … Tensions at HART leave future of rail leadership in doubt

Blangiardi or Nothing for Mayor

Borreca: … Last week, if Mayor Rick Blangiardi was looking at a list of candidates already filed to run for Honolulu mayor, he had to be smiling.

His name was the only one showing.

Amazingly, by the middle of last week the list of official candidates had one name: Richard John Blangiardi ….

“It’s hard to imagine how they could mount a challenge to the incumbent mayor. So, yes, Rick Blangiardi is effectively mayor-elect,” said Moore.

Ticking off the reasons why Blangiardi appears so formidable, Moore said the mayor has a lot of political assets.

He listed Blangiardi’s strong communication talents, no major political or natural disasters to handle, and the implementation of “some effective reforms.”

Also Blangiardi has political donations to use for campaign expenses, including polls, research, commercials and ads. State reports show that he has already collected $459,000.

“With longstanding ties to the business community,” Moore speculated, Blangiardi “could easily raise much more.”

“This is the first time this has occurred in Honolulu’s history. Ever since the office became nonpartisan, every mayoral election has been highly competitive,” explained Moore….

read … On Politics: Before election, looks like Mayor-elect Blangiardi

Red Cross Hawaii CEO's firing—‘retaliation’

KITV: … Diane Peters-Nguyen, CEO of American Red Cross' Pacific Islands Region, says she filed a complaint about her national leadership on April 9 with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Her lawyer Bridget Morgan-Bickerton says on April 16, Peters-Nguyen was placed on administrative leave. On May 3rd, she was fired. Morgan-Bickerton calls it a "retaliation."

Attorney Megan Kau is not involved with the case but gave us her legal analysis. "It's surprising to me that the Red Cross would terminate this employee after she has filed with the whole a civil rights commission. That immediately brings up a potential lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff claiming whistleblower or retaliation. It definitely opens up the employer to liability or potential liability.... Had the employer not terminated the employee subsequent to the employee filing the HCRC complaint, then there would be no basis for a lawsuit."…

BACKGROUND: Hawaii Red Cross CEO Fired for speaking out against the practice of encouraging wildfire survivors to move off-island

read … Legal analyst looks at timing and timeline of ex-Red Cross Hawaii CEO's firing

Hawaii Poised to Get $20,000 Tax Cut

NW: … A significant cut to Hawaii's income tax is likely on the way if Governor Josh Green signs a unanimously approved state budget for 2025. The budget includes House Bill 2404, which would gradually reduce the state income tax burden on Hawaii residents over several years. Honolulu Civil Beat estimated it could save median-income residents about $20,000 over the next seven years.

The new tax system operates by gradually reducing the base tax and excess percentage charges for every income range. An individual earning between $54,000 and $72,000 would have a tax imposed at $3,398 plus 7.9 percent of any income earned over $54,000. However, beginning in 2025, the base tax for this income tier would decrease by almost $900 to $2,513 plus 7.2 percent of any additional income above $54,000.

The tax reform would also gradually eliminate state income taxes for joint filers earning less than $19,200 in a series of incremental increases. By the year 2031, this would extend to joint filers earning up to $38,400, effectively eliminating state income taxes for them as well….

read … Some Americans Poised to Get $20,000 Tax Cut - Newsweek

Help for Maui’s fire-impacted businesses trickles down slowly

SA: … Carlos Montano, owner of The Sun Spot in Kihei, saw business drop dramatically in the aftermath of the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires, but held on for months hoping that the Maui Bridge Grant would help him turn it around.

Montano said he received half of a $6,190 bridge grant up front, but that the other half was held up in processing so long that he couldn’t avoid a bankruptcy filing. He said he was told that the funds were coming, but that they still hadn’t arrived on Tuesday, the day that he finished moving out of his retail store at the Azeka Shopping Center. If the funds arrive, Montano said he will try to resurrect his business by converting it to an online, swap meet and private party model.

“If the grant had come earlier, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I sell items from 60 small businesses so they are all affected by our closing,” he said. “It just became this big huge hassle to get just what was guaranteed to us last year. I’m so distraught.”

read … Help for Maui’s fire-impacted businesses trickles down slowly

Perfectly Good Telescopes Scraped off Mauna Kea: 1 down 5 to go

HTH: … The Hoku Kea Observatory, the University of Hawaii’s educational telescope on Maunakea, is no more.

The telescope was the first of five Maunakea observatories slated for removal as part of the university’s Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan and, as of the end of May, was the first to be completely removed from the summit….

read … UH observatory the first to go: Hoku Kea removed from Maunakea; CSO will be next

Honolulu Has Been Fighting Over Illegal Vacation Rentals Since The 1970s

CB: … “Because the counties have the power to zone areas, legislators were concerned about usurping county powers, but said they will act since the counties have not,” the Star-Bulletin wrote in 1980….

read …  Honolulu Has Been Fighting Over Illegal Vacation Rentals Since The 1970s

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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