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Thursday, January 05, 2017
January 5, 2017 News Read
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Obamaphones for the Homeless: Busted in DHHL Scam, Company Teams up with Aloha United Way

Akina: Ethics Commission Upholds Participation in Suit Against Fake Indian Tribe

Caldwell Inaugural Address: Rail Could End up Like Superferry

Intermediate Court of Appeals: JSC Sends Six Nominees to Governor

Auditor: Three DoE Special Funds do not meet criteria

Honolulu: 1,309 Lane-Miles Repaved

Gabbard: I’m Going to Get Pregnant, not Challenge Mazie

MW: …how far does Gabbard see her star rising?

For the foreseeable future, no farther than the U.S. House of Representatives. She disavows any interest in an oft-rumored challenge to Mazie Hirono in 2018. “I think Mazie and Brian are doing a good job,” she says.

She remarried last year to cinematographer and fellow surfer Abraham Williams. Next year she’ll be 36 years old, and she and her husband want to have children.

But what if President-elect Trump does make her a job offer? Or, in 2020 or 2024, or beyond, what about a run for the big one? After all, in a recent New Yorker article titled, “Thirteen Women Who Should Consider Running for President,” Hawaii’s 2nd District member of Congress made the list.

Tulsi Gabbard has a lot of political future to ponder….

read … Boylan Fluff Piece

COR Cuts State Budget Forecast By $155 Million – Blames Trump!

CB: The state expects to collect about $155 million less in tax revenues than a panel of economists, accountants and others had previously projected for fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30.

The Council on Revenues updated its general fund forecast at its quarterly meeting Wednesday after two hours of debate. The discussion ranged from concerns about the effects Donald Trump’s administration may have on Hawaii’s biggest economic driver — the tourism industry — to local economic indicators such as construction activity and efforts to modernize the state Department of Taxation.

“It’s always about balancing out all the wants and needs against what we have,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee.

“I would hope that this latest Council on Revenues forecast would have the effect of tempering or managing some of the expectations that some of the people may have out there in terms of what may come out of the budget,” she said.

The council lowered its general fund growth forecast for fiscal year 2017 to 3 percent from 5.5 percent. It did not change its projections for the subsequent fiscal years, 5 percent for 2018 and 4.4 percent from 2019 to 2023….

Vice Chair Marilyn Niwao said she thinks this fiscal year will end up with about 2 percent growth….

read … President Donald J Trump is already reducing the amount of money corrupt politicians steal from Hawaii taxpayers!

State: Expect delays for tax refunds (Again)

HNN: The state is again warning taxpayers that they may need to wait as many as 16 weeks for a refund check after filing a Hawaii state tax return.

The delays are part of an increased effort to prevent fraud that was launched in 2015….

Last year, 638 state tax returns were flagged as problematic, for a variety of reasons. The tax office says it uncovered $12.2 million in fraudulent filings.

read … Keeping Your Money

Senators Voice Concerns Over UH Budget ‘Shell Game’

CB: The University of Hawaii is asking the state Legislature for additional appropriations of about $29 million for each of the next two fiscal years to add to its annual operating budget of about $1.1 billion….

But members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee cited concerns during a Wednesday hearing about the university asking for additional money when some resources could possibly be found within the current system.

One request is to add nine positions to help maintain facilities, mostly at UH Manoa, under the university’s 21st Centuries Facilities initiative….

“It seems like a shell game,” said Sen. Donna Mercado Kim.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, the committee chair, expressed concerns regarding the university’s request for $5 million for the UH Cancer Center for each of the next two fiscal years to help restore the money lost from declining state cigarette tax revenues….

Tokuda questioned one of the university’s special funds, called the UH Revenue Undertaking Fund-Cancer Center, which contained $6 million at the start of fiscal year 2017 and didn’t look like it was being used….

SA: Cancer Center has $6M nest egg and lawmakers want an accounting

read … Concerns

Minimum Wage?  How About a Tax Cut Instead

SA: …can Hawaii handle a $15 minimum wage? While our state is among those most in need of higher pay, it’s also ill-equipped to make that happen due to mid-Pacific isolation and heavy reliance on low-paying service sector and tourism-related jobs.

While larger businesses might absorb the payroll shock, smaller franchises and mom-and-pop businesses already contending with high costs tied to matters ranging from employee health insurance to a ramping up of fees for unloading cargo in Hawaii ports would surely struggle. They would pass along a slice of the burden to consumers with higher shelf, menu and services prices. Another slice would involve reduction in full-time employee rosters. But that’s nothing new to many low- and moderate-wage workers here who have long juggled at least two jobs….

Chances are that at this time next year, when the last of the state’s staggered pay hikes reaches $10.10 and the Legislature is poised to convene, there will be a call for a continued bump upward.

Lawmakers should prep for that probability by taking a hard look at options not tied to wages, such as establishing earned-income tax credits and nailing down more affordable housing. Also, in anticipation of an expected rise in employer use of automation, Gov. David Ige and others are seeking to step up state investments in education and training that lay the foundation for more high-paying technology-focused innovation sector jobs in the islands….

read … Tax Cut

New Hawaiian Affairs trustee foiled Fake Indian Tribe

AP: The man who thwarted an effort to hold an election for Native Hawaiians is the newest trustee of the public agency that provided $2.6 million for the failed self-governance vote.

Kelii Akina was elected in November as an at-large Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, unseating Haunani Apoliona, who was a trustee since 1996….

Akina, a 1976 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, said his views on Hawaiian issues are often misunderstood. People interpreted his slogan in their own ways, he said, adding that he will protect “foundational Hawaiian entitlements as secured by law,” including Hawaiian Homelands and ceded lands trusts.

He believes OHA’s role in helping Hawaiians embrace self-determination should be limited.

That was the premise of a lawsuit he and a group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians filed to stop an election for Native Hawaiians that was to select delegates for a constitutional convention. Their challenge reached the U.S. Supreme Court and prompted organizers to call off the election and send all candidates to the gathering. Lawyers for the plaintiffs withdrew the lawsuit in October.

Akina said the lawsuit doesn’t speak for his thoughts on self-determination for Native Hawaiians. “So long as public funds are not being used, I encourage all fellow Native Hawaiians to take part as they choose in the process of self-determinism, a right … afforded them by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” he said.

Akina is mostly known for his role as president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think-tank….

After graduating from Northwestern University, Akina spent the early ’80s living on the Waianae Coast while doing educational outreach for Youth For Christ.

He supports the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project. “Losing the TMT will harm Native Hawaiians,” he said.

As trustee, his first priority will be fiscal sustainability, he said.

Even before he was sworn in as trustee, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs adopted a resolution expressing concern over Akina’s position with Grassroot Institute. The resolution calls on him to resign from Grassroot Institute or decline the trusteeship to eliminate any perception of a conflict of interest.

In a written response to the group, Akina said there’s no conflict and that the OHA administration hasn’t taken issue with it. “The Grassroot board’s decision to appoint me as president and to affirm my leadership of their policies going forward is an affirmation of their willingness to support the Hawaiian community in new ways,” his letter said….

read … Foiled

Makekau: Crabbe Does NOT have Valid Contract

CB: “The matter if the CEO contract is in dispute because he rejected the 3 year extension and countered with a 5 year higher paying contract which the BOT rejected. So what's really at stake here is how the former chair of the board signed the 3 year extension without the other members of the board voting on it? All under the legal advice of counsel Robert Kline!”

read … No Golden Parachute Needed?

Lingle touts Trump as ‘great disrupter’

SA: …Lingle announced that she plans to move back to Hawaii in April. She’s been living in Illinois, where she spent a year working as chief operating officer for Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“We are here celebrating while the majority of East and West Coast voters, the media, various entertainment and cultural elites are still wondering what the heck happened,” Lingle told the crowd.

Lingle said that Trump tapped into pent-up frustrations among many Americans that the political establishment of both parties had been ignoring….

“A successful billionaire businessman and reality-TV star won the presidency because he understood and reflected the feelings of millions of Americans whose beliefs were increasingly put down and who had been let down by the establishment in both political parties. These millions of Americans who were tired of being demonized because they believed in America’s greatness and they wanted it restored,” Lingle said. “They were Americans who believed the nation’s immigration laws should be followed and enforced. They were Americans who wanted a stronger military and greater support for our veterans. They were Americans who felt that international trade deals too often hurt workers in their cities and towns. They were Americans who wanted their support for police officers and their pro-life and Second Amendment positions respected.

“And they were Americans who wanted to be able to say ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holiday’!” she said to cheers from the audience….

About 400 people attended the Hawaii Republican Party fundraiser, for which tables cost as much as $10,000. The mood was jubilant throughout the evening as guests ate, drank, listened to live music, danced and took photographs beside a life-size cutout of Trump.

THE slogan “Make America Great Again!” was displayed across signs on the wall and on a table of free bumper stickers.

While the Republican Party doesn’t score many victories in Hawaii, Trump’s surprise victory nationally and the Republicans’ continued control of both houses of Congress has re-energized the party, local officials say.

“It’s a huge boost for Republicans locally because now we know we are part of a winning majority nationally and now our job is to try to translate the national success into local success, which will not be automatic,” said Fritz Rohlfing, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party. “It’s not a foregone conclusion that we can succeed in the same way, but if we can think strategically and we try to address the concerns of the voters here and local issues, we can translate that into success locally. But it’s got to be tailored and customized to Hawaii.”

In Hawaii, Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump 62 percent to 30 percent.

CB: Trump Gives Hawaii Republicans A Rare Chance To Celebrate

SA: 9 Perfessers and a Convicted Felon from UH join opposition to Trump nominee

read … Lingle touts Trump as ‘great disrupter’

Police Commission Makes Kealoha Leave Indefinite, Will Reconvene Friday

KHON:  Honolulu’s chief of police is on leave indefinitely.

Max Sword, chair of the Honolulu Police Commission, also said he expects a decision Friday on Louis Kealoha’s future with the Honolulu Police Department….

Also Wednesday, commissioners grilled acting chief Cary Okimoto on the four officers who also received target letters. While they were never publicly named, we learned some held supervisor positions.

“It was one command-level officer and major who received a target letter,” said deputy chief Jerry Inouye. “He’s been relieved, not only of his assignment, but of his command as well. We moved them to another division where their work is not going to be anything that puts them in a position that allows them to handle evidence or any kind of information related to the case.”

HPD explained all four officers were reassigned to desk duties, and no one else received a letter. Okimoto admitted morale is low within the department….

… the panel plans to reconvene at 11:30 a.m. Friday and is in recess until then….

Kealoha’s criminal defense attorney, Myles Breiner, was not at Wednesday’s hearing…..

read … Chief on leave indefinitely, decision expected Friday

Latest Ko Olina spill prompts sewage capacity concerns

HNN: Tuesday's rupture of a 20-inch sewer line near the Ko Olina resort was the fifth spill in the area in less than four years, prompting environmentalist to question whether there's enough capacity for future developments, such as the planned 1,300-unit Atlantis Resort. …

The latest spill is just 32 feet away from the site of a 200,000-gallon leak back in November. It's also located almost directly on top of an April 2016 leak of a smaller, 16-inch sewer line.

That same 16-inch line ruptured four years ago, near the Diamond Head side of the resort, spilling 15,000 gallons of sewage. A fifth leak occurred back in April 2013, near what is now the Four Seasons resort.

The city estimates that the cost to fix the sewer lines and upgrade Ko Olina's wastewater system could hit $30 million….

The city, though, says the lines are big enough to handle current capacity. Two sewer lines were built in 1988 and 1990, by Ko Olina's original developer, Herbert Horita's West Beach Estates, and were later conveyed to the city.

Those lines were oversized by the developer to future expansion of the area, the city said.  (But apparently under-qualitied.)

"The projected 2020 future flow conditions still show ample capacity for both force mains," a city spokesman said.

read … Latest

Milner: More Hawaii Taxpayer Dollars should go to Green Energy Scammers

CB: …Gov. David Ige and the Legislature need to ask how much of a burden they are willing to assume for picking up the slack for, say, people who lose federal health care benefits, schools that can no longer depend on as much federal aid or sustainability policies involving federal money.

Sometimes responses based on that question may take the form of resistance. Jerry Brown, the governor of California, has promised to continue to move forward on global warming issues regardless of what Washington does.

Brown stated that if the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are not interested in global warning, “California will launch its own damn (climate) satellites.”

In The Atlantic, James Fallows called Brown’s words a “genuine fighting speech, “resolute but positive, rather than resentful or doomed.”

A “fighting speech” is not exactly part of Ige’s tool kit, but “resolute” and “positive” should be….

read … Corporate Welfare for Dem Contributors

Honolulu Tweaking Its Rules For Affordable Housing Near Rail

CB: The Honolulu Planning Commission has approved an amendment to the city’s land-use law that spells out how much affordable housing developers must provide if they want to be eligible for a special temporary permit that provides height and density advantages for building near planned rail stations.

The proposal would allow developers the option of providing money to the city instead of actually building the units….

SA: City can develop affordable housing without excessive giveaways

read … Tweek

Volunteers Needed to Count Homeless (lots of money at stake here if count comes in low, hint, hint)

HNN: …"There's just one door to go through for this year's count and that's via our website. We have a common place for volunteers to sign up. We're going to have one training curriculum."

Although the agency started recruiting volunteers a month and a half ago, the non-profit is still short 350 people. The most need is in the areas of downtown Honolulu, the Ewa region (which includes Pearl City and Aiea) and in Windward Oahu.

"You don't necessarily have to be someone going out in the community.  Again they're looking for volunteers with the facilities for the training. They're also looking for people to contribute toiletries or incentives to help engage individuals in the count," said Scott Morishige, the governor's homeless coordinator.

This year's count starts January 23. To sign up to volunteer, click here.

AP: As Obama era closes, goal to end veteran homelessness unmet

read … Point in Time Bum Survey

Rail Bungles Again: Crews dig up improperly installed curb along Kamehameha Hwy.

KHON: Rail officials tell us the curb on Kamehameha Highway wasn’t installed in the correct location.

It was dug up near the business Firestone so contractor Kiewit could place it in the correct spot….

read … Just a Small Error

Kaneshiro, HPD Claim they will crackdown on illegal game rooms in 2017

KHON: “I think the worst thing was the shooting, and then the stabbing and things like that, bank robberies,” she said.

In 2015, the Honolulu Police Department’s gambling detail conducted 65 operations and made 43 arrests. It also seized 241 illegal gambling machines valued at $1.75 million, and $229,529 in cash, according to the annual report.

“We are going to continue to close them down, but as you close them down and seize the machines, forfeit the machines, because it’s going to cost money to bring in more machines, and eventually, hopefully, the federal government would step down and not allow the machines to come in across the borders through the containers,” said city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

Racketeering charges could result in 10 years in prison and promoting gambling up to five years.

“We can charge the cashier. We can charge the person who is a security guard there. We can charge the person who is just managing that operation in a racketeering charge,” Kaneshiro said.

“Why does it take so long to actually close them down?” KHON2 asked….

read … What Crackdown?

Hawaii County Council Finds Excuse to Keep Buying Alcohol on P-Cards

HTH: Hawaii County Council members postponed a bill Wednesday that would strengthen restrictions on the purchase of alcohol after discussing whether certain ceremonial activities should be exempt.

Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy initially proposed changing the county code to specifically ban use of county funds to supply alcohol for “social or entertainment purposes.”

But some testifiers involved in the county’s sister city relationships and other council members expressed support for continuing to allow such purchases when toasting dignitaries.  (Can’t be expected to spend their own money, eh?)

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung said that’s expected of county officials when visiting sister cities in Japan.

read … Their Excuses

Retaliation: Kamelamela confirmation moves forward

WHT: …After an almost three-hour session, the County Council, sitting as the Committee on Governmental Relations and Economic Development, voted 7-2 to confirm Kamelamela as the county’s top civil attorney, sending the nomination to one more meeting for finalization.

Most at issue for council members was Kamelamela’s action shortly after nomination, visiting the Corporation Counsel office and notifying almost half of the 11 deputy attorneys they won’t be kept on in the next administration. He’s since reconsidered his action, and at least two of those attorneys can now stay on….

VIDEO: Council Debates Kamelamela Appointment

read … Department of Retaliation

Anti-GMO Clowns Find Way to Extend Maui Council Circus

MN: “Right now, the council is pretty well shut down . . . without any committees,” council Vice Chairman Bob Carroll said Tuesday.

On Monday, after many complaints from testifiers who thought the committees were too small and had been skewed in favor of the council “majority,” Council Members Kelly King (crony capitalist), Elle Cochran (convicted felon) and Alika Atay (anti-GMO whack job) called for a public hearing on the committees.

The date for the hearing has yet to be determined, but Council Chairman Mike White said during Monday’s meeting that the first available dates were Jan. 16 or 17.

Until a hearing happens, “there’s nowhere to refer any (bills) to,” Cochran said Wednesday. “It’s sort of at a standstill at this point until our next council meeting.”

read … Clowns

Maui County Corporation Counsel Wins Big in Vegas

MT: As we reported in our June 17, 2015 cover story “Maui County Corporation Counsel Pat Wong loves gambling in Las Vegas. And he wins a lot, too”, Wong has earned somewhere between $500,000 and $1.2 million gambling in Vegas.

read … Maui County Corporation Counsel Pat ‘The Gambler’ Wong Confronted about Las Vegas Gambling

Hawaii 2nd Highest Flu-Pneumonia Death Rate

PT: By many measures, Hawaii is one of the healthiest states in the union. Yet only Mississippi has a higher rate of flu or pneumonia deaths than the Aloha State.

read … #2

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