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Sunday, February 05, 2017
February 5, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:50 PM :: 1049 Views
 

SB1056: Seawater Air Conditioning to Become New High Tech Tax Credit Scam?

Vacation Rentals: Tax Hike Bills on the Move in the Legislature

Hawaii Union Membership #2 in USA–21.7%

SB938: End the State Rail Tax Skim

Unfunded Pensions – Tip of the Iceberg?

276 Candidates Register for Honolulu Neighborhood Board

Don’t mug taxpayers to pay for Hawaii’s high cost of living

Condo Justice - The Ball's Now In Your Court

Save $4.2B, No Tax Hike: Ground-level rail reaches Legislature

SA: With rail facing its gravest fiscal crisis yet, a local cadre that once advocated bringing the elevated transit system down to street level in town is reviving that idea — and it’s taking its pitch directly to state lawmakers.

The coalition of architects, planners and environmental activists argued in its “Salvage the Rail” report released last week that taxpayers would save between $2.9 billion and $4.2 billion if rail officials redesign the system to run on the road as light rail past Middle Street, instead of building its elevated concrete pathway into urban Honolulu. The system might also start running about five years earlier, according to the report.

City and rail leaders reject those savings estimates outright and call the campaign misleading — but they’re not the audience that the coalition is trying to reach.

The revival of the dormant “at-grade” proposal comes as the Legislature once more debates what to do about rail, and whether to rescue the 20-mile, 21-station project with another extension of the general excise tax surcharge. The project now faces an approximately $3 billion shortfall, based on city estimates.

Rail officials continue to say they don’t know the final price tag.

read … No New Taxes

Mayor’s plan brings rail to new level of insanity

Shapiro: Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council Chairman Ron Menor think Oahu taxpayers are so rich we can pay not only for a $10 billion rail system that’s $5 billion over budget and climbing, but also for road projects on the neighbor islands.

The two offered leery lawmakers a ludicrous bribe if they bail out the city from its rail deficit by extending the Oahu’s half-percent rail excise tax surcharge.

They invited the state to increase its controversial 10 percent skim of the tax to 20 percent or 25 percent, which could boost the state’s annual rake from nearly $25 million to more than $60 million.

Most preposterously, Caldwell suggested these funds raised solely from Oahu taxpayers be used for projects such as a highway widening on the Big Island and a bypass road on Kauai.

Adding a 25 percent political premium to a grossly expensive project that’s already wildly over budget would move Oahu rail past train-wreck status to bats-in-the-belfry crazy.

The scheme comes the same week a University of Hawaii study called the state’s skim exorbitant and said it should be cut to 1 percent or less….

Let’s hope Oahu legislators, a sizable majority, have more scruples than our mayor and Council in protecting their constituents and will scuttle this shabby ploy….

read … Insanity

Rate hike proposals abound this year, PUC chair says

PBN: The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission will be busy this year, and in the coming years, dealing with proposed rate hikes by eight companies, including Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility, the head of the state agency told Pacific Business News this week.

The rate cases filed by Hawaiian Electric Co. and its two subsidiaries, Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co., as well as Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Young Brothers Ltd. and several water utility cases, come on the heels of the regulatory review of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric’s failed acquisition that ended in July….

The PUC also is cracking down on unlicensed tour vans.

“We didn’t have people to do surveillance,” Iwase said. “Now we do.”

The state agency is targeting such touristy areas as Lanikai in Windward Oahu and Hana on Maui.

“We have had complaints from those areas,” Iwase said. “We will start going to the Neighbor Islands more often and we will be active in enforcement.”

read … Rate Hikes

Being driven from GOP is rite of passage for many local successful Democrats

Borreca: …Being driven from the GOP is also something of a rite of passage for many local successful Democrats.

Remember when former state senator and now prominent City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi left the GOP? Or when state Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson was hounded out of the GOP because the right wing thought he wasn’t Republican enough? Now he is Democratic enough to chair the House Labor Committee.

Before that, the GOP said adios to former state Rep. Gil Riviere, who came back as Democratic state Sen. Gil Riviere. Also add to the GOP goodbye list Sen. Mike Gabbard, Rep. Jimmy Tokioka and former Rep. Karen Awana.

If the local GOP leaders’ campaign treasury can afford a mirror, it is all they would need to see who is driving their aggressive course to extinction….

read … Tent

Legislature tackles rising opioid abuse

WHT: Rep. Nicole Lowen of Kona’s 6th District has introduced a bill this session that would cap initial prescriptions for highly addictive opioids and benzodiazepines at seven consecutive days.

House Bill 666, for which Lowen is the primary introducer, is one of several bills put forth by Hawaii legislators in 2017 to tackle what a number of doctors, pharmacists and politicians have described as a national epidemic….

Dr. Scott Miscovich — a family physician and chairman of the Hawaii Opioid and Overdose Leadership Action Work Group (HO’OLA), which is comprised of doctors, pharmacists, academics, nonprofit and addiction community leadership, judges and drug enforcement officers — said…HB666 could work, and that five other states have passed similar legislation. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control last year incorporated initial opioid prescription limits as a guideline for primary care physicians dealing with moderate, painful injuries….

Senate Bill 505 — a competing measure with HB666, on which Green is a co-introducer — addresses informed consent….

Green added pharmacists are “using (PDMP) like crazy” and are catching abusers. But doctors are another story.

Miscovich said based on the most recent numbers available — out of roughly 3,000 physicians throughout the state, only around 140 use the PDMP.

read … Legislature tackles rising opioid abuse

Poor Gary Hooser. He just can't accept the fact that Kauai voters rejected him

KE: Poor Gary Hooser. He just can't accept the fact that Kauai voters rejected him. Instead, he's blaming it on the seed companies — and Hawaii News Now's Rick Daysog just lapped it right up.

Daysog, in yet another inaccurate, unbalanced hit piece on the seed industry, lets Hooser whimper about how “there's no question that the four GMO pesticide chemical companies on Kauai got together to beat me” — a totally bogus crybaby claim that led the station's “top story.”

Daysog apparently didn't know, or care, that Hooser spent more than any other County Council candidate in the history of Kauai elections, yet he still lost badly. Days obviously didn't bother to talk to any Kauai voters, or he would have known that Hooser was a victim of his own bad choices and hubris, not a seed company vendetta.

But Daysog needed some sort of drama — even though it was fake — to spice up his story on how much pro- and anti-GMO forces have been spending on campaign contributions and lobbying.

But although I sent Daysog an email advising him of the pitfalls of such an analysis, he stepped right into them….

read … Musings: In the Shadows

Kauai: Ala Loa Trail Could be Real Money Spinner

KGI: …Marti-Kini and a handful of kupuna educated over 100 people about the Ala Loa Trail by the entrance of north Koolau Road, by Kuhio Highway’s mile marker 20, in an effort to raise awareness to the public and the landowners whose lands are part of the ancient footpath.

“Our highest hope would be that an invitation be extended to Mark Zuckerberg and come out and bless us with his presence, so we can embrace him to our community,” said Tim Kallai, a Koolau Road resident. “And to understand and educate himself as to how we do things in the community here on Kauai.”

In a Jan. 27 letter to The Garden Island, Zuckerberg expressed regret for filing eight quiet title lawsuits on about a dozen parcels of kuleana land on his 700-acre estate in Kilauea. (Unless he pays them off) Part of the Ala Loa Trail (will be found to) crosses his property, say advocates for the trail….

read … Over 100 show for Ala Loa Trail event

Beachcombing Becomes Act of Penance in Eco Religion

HTH: Every time Stacey Breining, education and outreach coordinator for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, takes a group of volunteers to Kamilo Point in Ka‘u, she notices the same thing. People’s facial expressions change, becoming more and more somber, when they hop out of the car and see the beach.

Often, the volunteers are beach cleanup veterans — some have helped clean Hilo Bayfront — but even that experience doesn’t prepare them for seeing Kamilo Point.

“The closer they get to the sand, they realize how deep the issue is,” Breining said.

During the most recent HWF beach cleanup that took place Jan. 21 in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 66 people, including 15 keiki, collected 135 bags of trash at Kamilo Point. The trash weighed more than a ton (2,725 pounds). Washed-ashore fishing nets made up 450 pounds of the total.

An additional 2,000 pounds of net was dragged past the high tide level to be removed during the groups’ next cleanup.

(But since most people can’t interact directly in daily life with fishing nets, we want you to transmogrify them into plastic bags and do your penance at the grocery check out.)

HTH: Remnants from tsunami continue to wash ashore

read … A somber sight: Marine debris cleanups at Kamilo Point magnify need to reduce use of plastics

Longline association slams AP article claiming slavery

KITV: After conducting its investigation the task force found that all crewmen onboard those boats have documentation and are allowed off of their boats while docked.

Crews are known to walk around Piers 38 and 17 but have to stay within five minutes of their vessels in case of inspections.

The report also says both American and foreign crewmen work as independent contractors for a shared percentage of the catch.

"I think it's a shame when we have people from the Associated Press, a very big time news organization come into a community like this and make accusations for which they don't have background," said Jim Cook, Hawaii Longline Association.

Cook adds that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents inspect the boats at Honolulu's harbors daily.

He said the task force hasn't found anything that's risen to the accusations made by the A.P.

read … Longline association slams AP article claiming slavery

DLIR, DCCA Hound Construction Industry with Millions in Fines

PBN: Hawaii construction projects are being fined thousands for unlicensed activity, non-compliant permits, health and safety and other issues…

The conditions in Hawaii’s red-hot construction industry, including Honolulu having the highest construction costs in the United States, are leading to such issues as the use of illegal workers, unlicensed activity, payroll fraud, non-compliant permits, as well as health and safety issues.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the chief regulating agency of the construction industry, among others, is now going on the offensive by increasing fines and getting the word out regarding bad practices much earlier than it used to.

The state agency does not collect and tabulate data on fines, although in just the Maile Sky Court case alone last year, the fines topped $1 million.

Over at the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars in fines were doled out to contractors in 2016, based on tabulating DCCA fines as reported in PBN through the year. For one infraction alone last year, a contractor was fined $50,000 for a licensing issue while it worked on the build-out for the Coach Ala Moana Center store.

These issues have popped up not just at the Maile Sky Court, but also during the $573 million redevelopment of Ala Moana Center’s new Ewa wing in 2015-16 as well as in the recent renovation of the Polynesian Plaza hotel in Waikiki, roiling the construction industry, a major sector in the state. But beyond the construction industry, the state’s top industry — tourism — also is being negatively impacted

read … Crack

40 Years Later Nanakuli Getting a Library

SA: …Crews broke ground on the 3-acre property next to Nanaikapono Elementary School off Farrington Highway in November 2015. Construction was supposed to start in early 2014 and take about a year to complete. But the project was delayed due to a longer-than-expected building permit process, unforeseen site conditions and other issues, the state Department of Accounting and General Services said.

The 18,000-square-foot library was allocated $16.6 million in funding, which includes design, construction, utility work and furniture costs, according to DAGS. The library site is part of a 15-acre, state-owned property that was formerly an Army recreation facility.

In 2004 Nanaikapono Elementary was built on the mauka portion of the lot after relocating from a leased site across from Farrington Highway.

Designed by architect Glenn Miura of CDS International to be reminiscent of a Hawaiian village, the library will feature meeting rooms, a business center and an outdoor program room. The library was also designed to meet LEED Silver Certification or higher and will include green design elements and technologies such as photovoltaics and energy-efficient lighting fixtures.

“We’re excited,” said state Rep. Andria Tupola (R, Kalaeloa-Ko Olina-Maili). “It’s definitely going to make our community look way different. This is going to be a super nice looking library.”

Discussions for a library in Nanakuli date back to the 1970s. Planning initiatives started in 1994 and included community outreach efforts that began in 2012….

read … Since 1970s

Learning to change: Education program putting Kulani inmates on right course

HTH: Dustin Jose, a 35-year-old inmate from Kona, is poised on the edge of a plastic folding chair, listening attentively. It’s just after 5 p.m. Tuesday and class is in session at the Kulani Correctional Facility. Jose, wearing a gray prison uniform, is pondering an offbeat question.

“If you died today, how would people remember you?”

Jose isn’t sure.

“The first time I heard that (question), I went home and just kept thinking and thinking about it,” Jose told the Tribune-Herald after class, as fellow inmates shuffled past the prison’s wood-paneled instruction room. “And I realized, ‘Damn. I’ve been running the world hard and I don’t care about anyone but me.’”

It wasn’t your ordinary lesson, but then again, this wasn’t your ordinary class. This was “Transition Skills,” one of nine courses offered to Kulani inmates through Hawaii Community College’s noncredit division, the Office of Continuing Education and Training….

read … Learning to change: Education program putting Kulani inmates on right course

Use Community Colleges to Save Gifted Students from DoE

SA: High schools in Windward Oahu are committed to provide postsecondary opportunities for all our students. Consider that in 2014, Windward Community College (WCC) offered a single course on a high school campus, Kailua High School. Today, public school students in Windward Oahu can choose from among 23 college level courses — and that number is growing.

At Castle High School alone, WCC will offer 14 early college courses, allowing far more students to earn college credits or a degree while they complete their high school diploma….

Early college creates positive generational change and has a proven record of success that can be replicated statewide.

read … Early higher education spurs positive changes

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