DBEDT: State Economic Performance Better Than Expected
Health Department Detects Petroleum Product in Navy Water System
Third Saint from Kalaupapa? Bishops Advance cause of Brother Joseph Dutton
Fed Wreck's Back--And Guess Who is Pushing it
How Ige's Latest COVID Emergency Proclamation Affects Sunshine Law
Ige Seeking Two BLNR Nominees
Meals & Mahalo Nui to the Heroes of the Pandemic
Elder-Abuse: Hawaii Rankings Mixed
Hawaii Ranks #2 for Potholes
How Much Do You Need To Be ‘Rich’ in Hawaii?
Another Big Tax Hike to Fund Rail: Honolulu Council Approves 3% Hotel Tax For Oahu-and they already say it’s not enough
CB: … A bill to levy a new 3% transient accommodations tax on Honolulu hotel rooms and other visitor rentals won easy approval from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday despite objections from critics of the city’s rail project, which will receive much of the money from the new tax.
About one-third of the revenue from the new tax will be directed to rail during the first two years, and rail will receive half of all the money raised from the tax thereafter. But that will still not be enough cash to cover rail’s huge budget shortfall, which the city now estimates is about $2 billion.
State tax officials estimate the city will receive a total of nearly $86 million from the new tax in the year that begins July 1, with collections ramping up from there to more than $99 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2027.
However, tax officials warn actual collections may vary depending on performance of Hawaii’s tourism industry….
SA: City Council passes new Oahu visitor tax which could generate $86 million a year
HNN: As City Council passes bill to raise hotel room tax, portion of revenue could help fund rail
NOTE: Rail first ‘justified’ a 0.5% GE Tax Override--then made permanent and statewide. Now it ‘justifies’ a 3% TAT increase--and they are already telling you it isn’t enough.
read … Honolulu City Council Approves A New 3% Hotel Tax For Oahu
Fearing Contamination, Honolulu Has Slowed Pumping At A Well Near Red Hill
CB: … As officials wait for answers about the source of petroleum contamination in the water near Red Hill, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply is pumping water from one of its wells, the Halawa shaft, at half the rate it normally does as a “precautionary measure,” the agency said on Wednesday.
The water board typically pumps 10 million gallons per day from the Halawa shaft, which provides water to over 400,000 people from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai – over 20% of the water for the area.
As of Wednesday, it was pumping at a rate of 5 million per day.
The move shows that the island agency in charge of delivering clean water to metropolitan Honolulu and beyond is taking seriously the possibility that the island’s drinking water could be at risk.
“Right now, it almost looks like a disaster unfolding before our eyes,” Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernie Lau said.…
VIDEO: Hawaii military officials address petroleum product detected in water from Red Hill school
read … Fearing Contamination, Honolulu Has Slowed Pumping At A Well Near Red Hill
To Steal a House Seat for Themselves, Big Island Democrats Threaten Lawsuit to Exclude Military Dependents from Count
HTH: … The Hawaii County Democratic Party is asking the state Reapportionment Commission to take another look at how nonresident military and students were extracted from population data in light of new figures showing there were almost twice as many military personnel as previously thought.
The number of military removed from counts prior to allocating state legislative districts is especially important to the Big island, which last census received a fourth Senate seat and this year was predicted to earn an eighth House seat because of its population growth….
“Evidence indicates new (nonresident military) numbers have been given to commission members by the Department of Defense but not released to the public. These latest calculations indicate about 123,000 (nonresident) military residents (active duty service members and dependents) in Hawaii,” said Barbara Dalton, county party chairwoman, in a Nov. 23 letter to the Reapportionment Commission. “This (nonresident military) total is substantially larger than the 64,415 used by the Reapportionment Commission to create reapportioned maps.”…
(They are demanding that military dependents be removed from the apportionment base in order to ensure Oahu is underrepresented in the Lege.)
Any lawsuits wouldn’t happen until maps are official approved by the Reapportionment Commission, which is expected to happen after a series of public hearings this month….
Flashback 2012 Federal Reapportionment Lawsuit:
read … County Democrats seek clarity on reapportionment
Honolulu Police Commission to be subject of city audit
SA: … The Honolulu Police Commission’s policies and procedures will be the subject of a city audit, which the panel’s chairwoman welcomes as the next step in a series of reviews that have so far evaluated conduct of police officers and prosecuting attorneys.
In the wake of the federal convictions in Hawaii’s largest corruption case involving former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katherine Kealoha, the City Council passed a resolution requesting the city auditor to conduct a performance audit of the Honolulu Police Department and the Department of Prosecuting Attorney’s policies and procedures related to employee misconduct.
Police commissioners were questioned during the audit of HPD, and had an indication that the auditor’s scrutiny would next turn their way….
read … Honolulu Police Commission to be subject of city audit
Collusion and High Prices: Supreme Court to hear Paeahu Solar Case
IM: … this case asks whether an energy project may burden consumers with unjustifiably high prices by engaging in anticompetitive practices, may substitute marketing for genuine community outreach, and may impact public trust resources without appropriate Commission review ….
read … Hawaiʻi Supreme Court to Hear Paeahu Solar Appeal on Monday
GoPros, Wheelbarrows And Foie Gras: CNMI Governor’s Spending Under Investigation
CB: … The territorial government’s Judicial and Governmental Operations Committee has been investigating Republican Gov. Ralph Torres since 2019 and has already questioned several key witnesses who furnished details surrounding thousands of pages of receipts and records dating back to 2016. Five more people will be subpoenaed, according to the committee chair, with the governor expected to appear last.
Torres has led the U.S. Pacific territory since late 2015. But much of his time in office has been mired in controversy due to his involvement with the Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific Casino, exorbitant travel costs, spending of public funds, and being raided and investigated by the FBI. The JGO Committee has subpoenaed close contacts of Torres since the beginning of this year, seeking testimony from his personal security detail, his chief of staff and wife, among others.
The proceeding came to a head two weeks ago, when Torres’ executive secretary Frances Dela Cruz was found in criminal contempt for refusing to answer questions. And his former running mate, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, split with him after he was subpoenaed. Palacios is now running against him in next year’s gubernatorial elections due to a “crisis of confidence.”
The current probes into the governor have been underway since late 2019, when the FBI executed a search and seizure warrant on the governor’s home, office and car as well as the offices of the casino. His brothers were also under investigation. Shortly after, the House minority Democrats requested documents pertaining to Torres’ spending of public funds and launched their own investigation.
The subsequent minority report, published in January 2020, showed the governor and associates had taken more than 102 trips, costing $490,000 in airfare, taxis, boat trips, accommodations, per diems and stipends….
read … GoPros, Wheelbarrows And Foie Gras: CNMI Governor’s Spending Under Investigation
Harsh Reality -- Carbon Taxes Promote Deforestation
IM: … Carbon taxes are not inherently evil but the way they are being implemented is of great harm. The global adoption of carbon taxes is focused on short-term profits rather than science. Multinational dark funds are causing a global greenwashing disaster of epic proportions.
Carbon taxes, as implemented throughout the world, place a tax on carbon, or more specifically, a tax on some or all carbon emissions from fossil fuel use.
Biomass-based energy, as implemented throughout most of the world, is defined politically as carbon neutral irrespective of scientific analysis that proves otherwise.
The simplest and most efficient biomass to use is trees. The lowest economic cost biomass is to clear cut forests, turn trees into wood pellets, and to burn the wood pellets, ignoring scientific studies on their true climate impact, and ignoring the fact that wood burns inefficiently, releasing large amounts of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
European carbon taxes led to a massive explosion in the use of deforestation to fuel renewable energy. For every three trees chopped down around the world, one tree is planted. On average, the world has a net loss of more than one million trees per hour….
Life of the Land opposes the Hu Honua proposing to chop down Big Island forests to sell high-priced electricity to HELCO….
read … Harsh Reality -- Carbon Taxes Promote Deforestation
More Hawaii tourist hotspots will soon require reservations
SFG: … Reservations became a requirement this year to visit Hanauma Bay on Oahu and Waianapanapa State Park in Hana, Maui. These follow the implementation of Haena State Park’s own reservation system launched in 2019 on Kauai, and Haleakala National Park’s reservation requirement for sunrise viewing in 2017 on Maui….
HTA published Destination Management Action Plans (DMAPs) this year for Maui Nui (Maui, Molokai and Lanai), Kauai, Hawaii Island and Oahu. The plans promote regenerative tourism, which is the newest buzzword in the industry that basically means leaving a place better than what it was, or in a better condition three generations from now than it is today. The DMAPs were created with this concept in mind and outline actions to prevent overcrowding, improve the environment and provide a better quality of life for residents.
Listed in the DMAPs are visitor hotspots that need addressing. These include Maunawili Falls and Koko Head Trail on Oahu, Pools of Oheo on Maui, Wailua River State Park on Kauai and Waipio Valley on Hawaii Island. But HTA isn’t able to confirm yet which of these places, if any, will require reservations in the future. However, Leahi (aka Diamond Head), which can exceed 50,000 visitors per month, is already being considered….
read … ‘We have to manage visitor impacts’: More Hawaii tourist hotspots will soon require reservations
Tour operators suffer due to lack of workers
TGI: … Passenger air arrivals are up almost 14% from November 2019, but many tour operators have still not been able to return to full capacity after over a year of tight tourism restrictions that shuttered or downsized businesses island-wide.
The labor shortage is hitting tour operators hard.
Before the pandemic, Kaua‘i Backcountry Adventures had approximately 105 employees. Now, they’re operating with just 63.
According to General Manager Sean Stogner, he is only seeing about two applications a month.
“We are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it and we just can’t find any employees,” Stogner said. “It’s pretty rough.”
Despite offering raises and working overtime, the company is only able to work at about 80% capacity right now….
CB: Green Jobs Youth Corps Hiring for Make-Work Jobs
read … Tour operators benefit from tourism uptick, still face challenges
Hawaii ranks in top six states for health care for racial and ethnic groups
SoR: … Hawaii is one of just six states that rank above average in health care for all ethnic groups, according to a November 2021 study from the Commonwealth Fund. The study collected data on 24 different health indicators and grouped them into three general categories: health outcomes, health care access, and health care quality. …
read … Hawaii ranks in top six states for health care by racial and ethnic groups
Honolulu Housing Authority Third Director in Two Months
CB: … Honolulu’s director of the Office of Housing Antony Krucky will take on a dual role by leading the city’s Department of Community Services after a high turnover within the last two months.
The Honolulu City Council unanimously approved Krucky’s appointment Wednesday to lead the department that administers human services, working and housing services and other programs.
Krucky is Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s second appointee after Director Sarah Allen resigned in September. She cited family medical reasons for her departure.
Following Allen’s resignation, deputy director Joy Barua became acting director, then resigned in late October.
Krucky, a former businessman, has said that the Department of Community services is a large department, which deploys “much of the federal funds that the city gets.”
According to his resume, Krucky has no experience in social services.
read … Honolulu Housing Chief Gets Second Role As Head Of Community Services
Police commission approves taxpayer-funded defense for officers who fatally shot teen
HNN: …The officers are fighting a civil lawsuit filed by the teen’s family.
They were cleared of all criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them in July. In August, a district court judge found there was no probable cause for the murder case to move forward.
The police commission approved public funds for the criminal defense team, too, but Hawaii News Now has learned that a mainland organization that supports police officers paid those bills instead….
read … Police commission approves taxpayer-funded defense for officers who fatally shot teen
In effort to reduce crime, police clear out homeless drug addicts’ encampment on Kauai
KITV: … local and state entities worked to clear the Kaiakea encampment across from the Kealia Kai lookout.
KPD said it initiated the cleanup project earlier this year after multiple crimes were reported in the area.
Investigative Services Bureau Detective Barry DeBlake said two fentanyl-related deaths were linked to the location and police also responded to at least two overdose incidents in the area in which Narcan was administered to save the individuals.
Over the course of several months, police said they removed more than 500 used syringes, as well as numerous used Narcan applications and empty crystal methamphetamine bags.
During the cleanup project, the county’s housing agency coordinator provided assistance to those living at the encampment….
read … In effort to reduce crime, police clear out homeless encampment on Kauai
Corona Virus News: