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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
January 26, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:48 PM :: 1835 Views

Sinkhole Cities: Honolulu 3rd Deepest Financial Pit

Legislature Stages Vaccination Party for 500 Cronies and Insiders

Hawaii Opens Door to More Unlicensed Cryptocurrency Schemes

DoH Announces 60 previously unreported COVID deaths

COVID Tourism: TVR Occupancy 40.5%

CNHA: Biden Could Help OHA Tribe Hide Illegal Activities from State Auditor

CB: … “It’s not by constantly fighting for every little thing. It’s about using the American system to elevate our voices,” said Kuhio Lewis, executive director of the nonprofit Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

(Translation: OHA cronies should stop being small-time and focus on bigger dollars.)

Lewis says that Biden’s election has generated a lot of excitement among pro-federal recognition advocates like himself.

Lewis noted that OHA is the 13th largest landowner in Hawaii. A new Hawaiian government could receive those assets and manage them free from the limitations imposed by state laws that have helped embroil OHA in scandal over the past few years.

(Translation: It’s not a scandal if there is no audit.)

Instead of the state Hawaiian Homes Commission discussing casino gaming or State Historic Preservation Office making decisions about Hawaiian burials, Lewis believes those conversations would occur between Native Hawaiians and federal officials.

(Translation: The casino is coming up now as part of the push for Fed Wreck.)

… Regress on establishing a government-to-government relationship with the U.S. has been in limbo since former President Barack Obama left office. In 2016, the Obama administration created a pathway for Hawaiians to be recognized as a government, similar to Native American tribal nations. Prior to that, federal acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples was limited to the continental U.S., excluding Pacific peoples….

But Kia’aina noted regardless of the Biden administration’s openness to a Native Hawaiian government, Hawaiians must be united in choosing their path. That would involve approving a governing document like a constitution and submitting it to the Interior Department.

“The question is how to get there,” Kia’aina said. “That is the No. 1 question facing our community.”

(Translation: If you don’t support Fed Wreck, you aren’t part of her ‘community.’)

A group of Hawaiians drafted a constitution back in the Obama era but no vote has been organized.

Kia’aina thinks it’s a good sign that Biden nominated Rep. Debra Haaland to lead the Interior Department, which would make her the country’s first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary. A spokeswoman for the Interior Department declined an interview request for this article, and the White House didn’t reply to a request for comment as of Monday’s deadline….

Although the establishment of a Native Hawaiian government doesn’t require congressional action, Hawaii’s delegation has supported the idea. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono praised Obama’s initiative, and Rep. Ed Case told Civil Beat last year the lack of a sovereign entity could mean Hawaiians miss out on federal funds for COVID-19 efforts.

Hawaii’s new Rep. Kai Kahele told Civil Beat in November that he’s not sure what political path is best for Hawaiians but that he wants to ensure they’re part of the conversation. Kahele is only the second Native Hawaiian to serve in Congress….

“Get out of our house!” several testifiers told federal officials during Interior Department hearings in 2014, part of a groundswell of vocal opposition during the hearings. “Go home!”…

Uahikea Maile, assistant professor of Indigenous studies at the University of Toronto, worries federal recognition would cede to the U.S. control over Hawaiian lands while providing only symbolic autonomy….

Precisely as Explained: Akaka Bill rewrite: Tribal jurisdiction for Hawaii?

Also Related: Supreme Court ruling shields Hawaiian Homelands and ceded lands revenue

read … Biden Raises Hopes For Native Hawaiians Seeking Federal Recognition

State of State: Ige Punts Tax Hike to Legislature

KITV: … House Speaker Scott Saiki said the remarks reflect the governor's "risk-averse nature," adding, "the governor needs to, and I have asked him publicly, to stop governing by consensus."…

"There's a point in time now, where we just need to make decisions, we need to make hard decisions and we need to make quick decisions," Saiki added.

Senate President Ronald Kouchi echoed that sentiment during a Zoom press conference with fellow senate leadership and said, "we were hoping to do it in a collaborative way with the governor but if they're not coming down with the ideas then we're going to get to work."

Members of the House and Senate also agree scaling back government agencies should be a priority this legislative session to offset the state's budget deficit.

"It is clear that we are not going to have economic recovery that can sustain government in its current form," Kouchi said--but he hopes the legislature can achieve reform "without affecting employees who are currently working for us."

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said consolidating government agencies will involve a case by case process, "improving government systems and using vacancy savings and attrition to re-shift and share resources." ….

read … Hawai'i Legislature disappointed by State of State address, call for clearer action

HB133: Hawaii Bill Would Increase Tax On Capital Gains

L360: … H.B. 133, which ‘progressive’ Rep. Jackson Sayama, D-St. Louis Heights, introduced  would increase the state's tax on capital gains to 9% …

read … Hawaii Bill Would Increase Tax On Capital Gains

HB470: Proposal would keep Hawaii unemployment tax at pre-Covid level

PBN: … Hawaii lawmakers are working to roll back the schedule that sets the amount of unemployment tax employers pay into the state's depleted fund to pre-Covid 19 levels before it's set to quadruple.

However some lawmakers say that Gov. David Ige's plan for the state to cover the interest payments for a $700 million federal loan didn't go far enough toward helping businesses.

The unemployment insurance rate schedule, which is determined by the ratio of the reserve fund to the adequate reserve fund, was set to increase to schedule rate H, the highest-possible rate in March. House Bill 470 would roll that back to schedule rate C for 2021, then increase to schedule rate D in 2022 and schedule rate E in 2023.

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke said the amount employers pay under schedule rate C is about $600 per employee; schedule rate H “is about $2,500, so it could be an increase about four to five times depending on the employer’s history.”

“If we want to continue to help economic recovery I don't think the state or the Legislature should be in a position to burden businesses and business activity, when it's not their cause,” she said. “That's one of the things that we will be doing, and we would have to do it prior to March because assessment happens in March.”

CB: The Hawaii governor recapped impacts from the pandemic, but never mentioned furloughs, layoffs or possible tax increases.

read … Proposal would keep Hawaii unemployment tax at pre-Covid level

Hawaii Tourism Authority readies for defunding

SA: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state agency responsible for leading tourism recovery across the isles, is in dire financial straits and has already started running “doomsday scenarios” in the event that it faces defunding.

Gov. David Ige issued an executive order earlier in the pandemic ceasing transient accommodations tax disbursements to HTA, which was established by the state Legislature in 1998 to serve as “the state’s lead agency supporting tourism.”

HTA in 2019 received $79 million in TAT funds and another $16.5 million for the Hawai‘i Convention Center. In fiscal year 2020 HTA received only the first four months of its TAT distribution and cut its fiscal budget in September to $48 million from $86 million and then down to $41 million in November.

HTA is surviving on carry-over funding from prior years and budget cuts. But the agency is rapidly burning through its reserves. Unless Ige restores some funding, HTA will be down to just $10 million by June 30, the end of fiscal year 2021.

“At $10 million with no added funding. I would be in a winding-down phase,” HTA president and CEO John De Fries told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Myself and Keith Regan (HTA chief administrative officer) are looking at what amounts to being kind of doomsday scenarios. We haven’t presented it to the board yet, but I mean, with that kind of dramatic loss in funding, it would eventually render HTA limited in whatever it could do.”…

read … Hawaii Tourism Authority readies for defunding

Witness in drug case involving Katherine Kealoha’s brother is now on the run

HNN: … Masunaga is co-conspirator number 4 in the 2019 federal indictment that charged former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her brother, Dr. Rudolph Puana, with drug crimes….

Kealoha, head of the career criminal unit at the time, took the case despite the clear conflict of interest since it involved her friend, Masunaga.

Seized text messages while Kealoha was in charge of the case show, prosecutors allege, that the deputy prosecutor intentionally sought to get Masunaga a “favorable” deal so police didn’t trace the drugs back to her brother.

“You are such a good person, now we need to vindicate you on many levels, while we have them be accountable!!!” Kealoha said, in one of the text messages to Masunaga.

Another said: “Just remember that I always got ur back, I love you and will protect you always!!!”

And when Masunaga agreed to the deal, she texted Kealoha this message: “Go TEAM!”

Kealoha responded: “GO TEAM!!! Can’t wait for this s**t to be over.”

The Puana trial is set for later this year.

Masuanaga’s latest issue stems from October 2018.

According to the Honolulu Crimestoppers webpage, Masunaga stole the wallet and cell phone of an acquaintance who was asleep then took out money from the victim’s PayPal account.

If you know where Masunaga is, call Crime Stoppers at 955-8300.

read … Witness in drug case involving Katherine Kealoha’s brother is now on the run

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