Thursday, December 9, 2021
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, August 8, 2021
A Policy Statement About Fines
By Tom Yamachika @ 6:00 AM :: 1644 Views :: Honolulu County, Development, Law Enforcement

A Policy Statement About Fines

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

This week we are taking up as a new and noteworthy development Bill 17 being considered by the Honolulu City Council.

That bill would give the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting a clear pathway to enforcing fines that the Department imposed by allowing the Department to record liens against the property that the fines concern, and then to foreclose on the liens like a mortgage company would if a mortgage was in default.

Except that the Department doesn’t really want to do that stuff.

Department Director Uchida was recently quoted in the Star-Advertiser. “The problem is to go the next step to put a lien on the property and actually foreclose, you got to go to the court system,” he said. “[Corporation] Counsel is understaffed, we’re understaffed, so everything gets bogged down there.”

The Department has the authority under current law to slap liens on property and foreclose them. Yet, some properties have unpaid fines totaling more than $150,000, or fines that have remained unpaid for more than five years.

If the Department has been acting like a toothless tiger all this time although it certainly had the teeth, why do lawmakers think that this bill is going to cause any significant change?

“The purpose of Bill 17 is to make a policy statement that you need to address noncompliance with the housing code, specifically public nuisances, and that at a certain point the department must act,” said Tommy Waters, council chair and introducer of Bill 17.

But it seems that the problem might not be something this bill can solve.

If a CEO of a normal company told the Board of Directors that the staff were too busy to collect unpaid money that its customers owed, and that the unpaid receivables on occasion exceeded $150,000 per customer or were outstanding for five years or more, that CEO wouldn’t have that job for much longer.

Even if the CEO was a really talented subject matter expert, there are just some basic competencies that just have to be there so that the business can survive. The same is true even in government. The basic competencies need to be there, although perhaps for different reasons. Here, we want our agencies to deter bad behavior by enforcing fines and penalties. If it were well known that penalties weren’t being enforced, there’s a good chance that bad actors would ignore the penalties, continue to act badly, and maybe encourage others to do the same. Lawmakers sometimes overlook these basic facts.

To solve the problem here, there needs to be a change in the underlying mentality. Enacting a bill as a “policy statement” can’t be expected to accomplish much. Something else needs to be done.

Perhaps the Council should consider requiring the Department to turn over its seriously unpaid fine cases to its property tax collectors. Those folks record liens and do foreclosure suits all the time and don’t complain about doing them. By the way, current law already allows the fines to be added to other debts the taxpayer might owe, including property taxes, so it would not be a serious crimp in the system to have the Department fork them over to the property tax folks.

Save the policy statements for the campaign trail – if we want to go forward with this, we need thoughtful action.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT