Who spent Hawaii’s $1 billion surplus?
Obamacare Repeal: How Will it Affect Hawaii?
UH Promises to Protect Illegals from Trump
New Obama Travel Costs Bring Eight-Year Total over $96 Million
$500K: OHA's Giant Cookie Loan
After 20 years John Waihee’s Golf Course Finally Ordered to Allow Access to Hawaiian Kingdom Road
SA: The owners of the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club must provide bathrooms, parking and trash receptacles for hikers of Maunawili Falls Trail or face losing their permit to operate the 18-hole course, the city said Thursday.
(This golf course was at the center of the 1990s Clinton Asian money scandals. To celebrate, Bill Clinton and John Waihee played the entire course in a pouring rain. Clinton gave Waihee the Apology Resolution. Waihee, decades later, used the site for the Fake Indian Tribe Aha. See links below.)
Art Challacombe, acting director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, has ordered HRT Realty LLC (now owned by Weinberg Trust/3900 Corp. which includes KSBE Trustee Chair Corbett Kalama on the Board) to come up with a plan for the improvements by June 1 and complete them by October or risk losing the 20-year-old conditional use permit that allows the Kailua golf course to operate on 420 acres of agriculturally zoned land. (Because Maunawili Falls Trail is a state-owned road dating back to the Hawaiian Kingdom and it runs right thru the course.)
Originally, the golf club only had to provide public access from the Maunawili Estates subdivision to Maunawili Falls. A surge in popularity of the Windward Oahu hiking trail has led to complaints from nearby homeowners about hikers allegedly trespassing on their property, using their lawns as toilets and vandalizing their cars.
“Something has to be done,” Challacombe said. “This problem has festered for 15 or more years. … Unfortunately, HRT has not stepped up to the plate to work with us.”
The city said HRT, which operates the golf course and clubhouse, has the authority to close access to the trail until October while working on the improvements. HRT must notify the city if and when it plans to close the trail and how it intends to close it….
Chris Nakamatsu, president of the Maunawili Estates Community Association, said DPP’s ruling is a first step in the right direction.
“The root of the problem is that the current trail has no stewardship. No one monitors use. No one maintains it. There is no security, no parking, no bathrooms, no trash pickup, even as use has escalated to over 1,000 hikers a week,” Nakamatsu said.
Nakamatsu said the trail has been destroyed as a result of the overuse.
“Human waste and filth wash down the mountains to Kawai Nui Marsh,” she said. “The trail itself is badly eroded with many spur trails to nowhere. Hikers come out covered from head to toe in mud with no place to wash off. Hikers often are lost at night wandering around the mountain and needing to be rescued in the dark. Hikers are getting hurt almost every week on this trail — many serious enough to require helicopter rescues all at taxpayer expense.”
Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson said HRT must bear some responsibility to the community.
“I don’t want to see access closed, but I do want to see the trailhead moved to another location on HRT Realty property,” Anderson said. “HRT bears some maintenance responsibility, and they should allow for parking accommodations and restroom access. Even Porta-Potties are better than what we have now, which is nothing.”
Big Q: Should the company that runs a golf course next to the Maunawili Falls Trail provide an improved trailhead, with parking and other amenities?
read … Political Connections No Longer Paying off?
High-Tech Schemers Grubbing for another $10M from Legislature
SA: Q: If state lawmakers go ahead and allocate $10 million for HI Growth, how would the money be spent?
A: It would really go to a doubling down on efforts already underway. Now is the time to stay the course. …
Translation: We would put it in our pockets and walk away laughing as we have so many times before.
Background: Auditor: DoTax allows $2B in Tax Credits Without Checking
read … Your Tax Dollars at Work
Decade Later Anti-Superferry Protesters Have Regrets—But Still Blame Others
KGI: It’s been almost 10 years since protesters rallied against the Superferry in Nawiliwili, but some Kauai residents have their reservations and optimisms about an interisland ferry system that may reemerge, pending a state study.
The opinions of Kauai residents TGI spoke with on Thursday agreed on one thing: a ferry would be beneficial for interisland travel. However, they said the state would have to follow the appropriate protocols, environmental studies and gather public feedback before initiating the venture.
“The state should look into interisland ferry. We need alternative transportation,” said Jimmy Trujillo, one of several protesters at Nawiliwili almost a decade ago. “It’s obvious that the airlines and the monopoly that the airlines have is not benefiting the local traveler.”
The Kapahi resident said individuals involved in the protest were unhappy with the state for not following its own rules.
“They needed to do an environmental impact statement, then the appropriate steps would be taken. But they fast-tracked it,” he said. “I think people on Kauai would benefit using an interisland ferry, but they wouldn’t want to support if it would cause environmental harm.”
Ferry operations were suspended in 2009 after the Hawaii Supreme Court (decided to) ruled the state’s operations of the ferry without a second complete EIS was unconstitutional….
read … Who Me?
Fontaine’s volunteer campaign treasurer sentenced for theft
MN: The volunteer treasurer of former state Rep. George Fontaine’s (R-Kihei) political campaign was taken into custody Wednesday to complete a 14-day jail term for stealing more than $4,000 in campaign funds.
Richard Kehoe, 47, of Kihei also was placed on four years’ probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service as part of his sentence….
Fontaine chose not to have access to the Friends of George Fontaine bank account created for the campaign, leaving Kehoe with the only access to the Bank of Hawaii account, Temas said. He said that Kehoe also was responsible for submitting information to the state Campaign Spending Commission.
After the commission found a discrepancy in an audit and contacted Fontaine, it was learned that Kehoe had issued a $4,150 check from the Friends account to his business on Feb. 2, 2014, leaving the account with a zero balance, Temas said….
“Was there something personal going on here? Were you mad at him or upset with him?” Loo asked.
“I was,” Kehoe replied….
read … Felony Theft
Senators Question Whether PUC Member Had Conflicts Of Interest
DB: …Sens. Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Energy Committee, and Donovan Dela Cruz, vice chair, have asked the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Department of the Attorney General to address several questions they have about the legal services Gorak provided for mainland clients appearing before federal energy regulators.
Their two-page letter to Richard Platel, chief disciplinary counsel, requests that his office look into potential violations of the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct and the conflicts Gorak may have had in representing clients from his law firm for the past three years while working as the commission’s chief attorney on matters involving similar issues and parties.
PUC Chair Randy Iwase, who recommended Gov. David Ige appoint Gorak, called the senators’ letter “very disappointing” and an attempt to “besmirch the reputation of a good man.”
“Tom Gorak is one of the most qualified nominees we’ve had in years,” Iwase said. “To have this kind of game played is a reason I think that good, extremely qualified people are discouraged from applying for important positions in government.”
Gorak’s 2016 financial disclosure statement, filed in August with the state Ethics Commission, values the side work done by his law firm, Gorak and Bay, at $50,000 to $100,000.
His statement notes the work was done for clients located primarily in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but does not say who they were or describe the nature of the services provided….
SA: Promote use of EVs on isle roads
read … Question
Farmers on Sustainability
KE: Though activists in Hawaii and elsewhere love to bash “industrial agriculture” and claim that conventional and biotech farmers are wantonly poisoning the land, the reality — per usual — is quite different.
A new survey shows that “most U.S. farmers and ranchers believe biotechnology and genetically-modified crops increase crop production efficiency and agricultural sustainability.”
According to a survey by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)….
read … Musings: On Sustainability
Guam Governor Deports 19 Criminals—Two Sneak Back in
GPDN: Gov. Eddie Calvo since July has commuted the sentences of 19 migrant convicts to allow for their removal from Guam. Sending criminals away before they have served their full sentences makes Guam safer and saves money at the prison, the administration has stated.
But there have been at least two cases in which migrant criminals, deported years ago, managed to return to Guam.
read … Deport 19
Mother Jones Looks at COFA
MJ: …The Marshall Islands and the FSM have the highest rates of diabetes in the world, according to a 2014 survey from the International Diabetes Federation…. But there are no dialysis centers in the Marshall Islands or Chuuk, and treatment for other ailments, including cancer, is limited….
read … An obscure 30-year-old treaty has landed thousands of Micronesians in poverty
California Democrats legalize child prostitution Effective Jan 1
WE: Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California. Yes, you read that right.
SB 1322 bars law enforcement from arresting sex workers who are under the age of 18 for soliciting or engaging in prostitution, or loitering with the intent to do so. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution….
As Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, a national leader on human trafficking issues, told the media, "It just opens up the door for traffickers to use these kids to commit crimes and exploit them even worse." Another prosecutor insightfully observed that if traffickers wrote legislation to protect themselves, it would read like SB 1322….
SB1322: Text Status
read … Coming to Hawaii Next?