North Korea Could Soon Launch Attack on Hawaii
$50K Cover-up: OHA, Garbage and Sex Harassment
Hawaii Challenges Trump’s Refugee Order, Takes No Refugees
5 Facts You Need to Know About Hawaii v Trump (v.2)
Hawaiian Electric Renewable Electricity Lags on Oahu—Reaches 26% Statewide
Hawaii House Unanimously Passes Bill to Limit Warrantless Drone Surveillance
Civil Rights Violation? EPA Investigating Anti-GMO Pesticide Hype
Trump Voter Captured at Campbell HS—Will be Disciplined
KITV: …An educator at Campbell High School is in hot water for stoking the flames (being politically incorrect) of how President Donald Trump's travel ban could impact his students.
Teacher John Sullivan sent an email to Campbell High School staff saying that he would NOT teach any children who were illegal immigrants. Sullivan's response came when he replied to an internal school email thread titled "STUDENTS ARE BEING KEPT HOME FROM SCHOOL DUE TO DEPORTATION FEARS."
Another teacher had messaged school staff members with recommendations on how to deal with students who were afraid their family members could face deportation from Hawaii. (A politically correct message.)
In his email Sullivan replied, "THIS IS ANOTHER ATTACK ON THE PRESIDENT OVER DEPORTATION. THEIR PARENTS NEED TO APPLY FOR IMMIGRATION LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. IF THEY ARE HERE IN THE US ILLEGALLY, I WON'T TEACH THEM." (A punishable political message.)
The Department of Education says the email violates the following polices and code of conduct.
The DOE says Sullivan will be disciplined by Campbell High School internally. In a letter obtained by KITV - Campbell High School Principal Jon Henry Lee says "teachers should not be using the schools email to voice political opinions" and that "Sullivan will teach any student who is enrolled at Campbell High School."
(Here is a complete list of heroic First Amendment lawyers eagerly rushing to offer Sullivan their services pro-bono: “…”)
read … Campbell teacher says he refuses to teach children of illegal immigrants
Big Q: Majority Oppose Hawaii Suit Against Trump
Ethics, insider edge, and governor’s role questioned in top school job switch
KITV: Did a Board of Education member who just resigned get an upper hand in his bid to become school superintendent? (Uhhh … duh!)
How will his former colleagues manage recruiting and hiring for the top job now? (Fake it until he makes it.)
During a short stint on the board, Darrel Galera — who now says he’s interested in applying for superintendent — weighed in on how to handle that job becoming vacant, and what steps should be taken in filling the position.
Critics are calling foul….
“There are rumblings now coming forward in terms of, you’ve had this situation where this individual participated not only in the removal of the superintendent,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda of the Ways and Means Committee, “but in the process of coming up with the prerequisites and qualifications for the selection of the new superintendent.”
“The Darrel Galera I know would never try to manipulate a system,” said UH law professor Randy Roth….
Senators also have questions for Gov. Ige, who has yet to send Galera and hundreds of other board and commission nominees to the Senate for the advise-and-consent confirmation process, months into the legislative session.
“Nothing is overdue,” the governor responded. “The deadline is March 31, and we anticipate getting all names to the Senate by that deadline.”…
“The moment that session is back you should be advise-and-consented and confirmed so it does not cast a shadow of doubt,” Tokuda said. “Use of the holdover position should never be abused. It’s there so that government can continue to operate, but in the end provide the public as well with the opportunity to weigh in. What we see here though is a real blurring of the lines. You’ve seen it whether it’s the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) or the Board of Education. He’s got to answer some questions in terms of where are the nominations and why haven’t they come down sooner, especially in light of what has happened over the last few days.”
Always Investigating asked the governor, did he appoint Galera to the Board of Education with the intent of him replacing the current superintendent? Ige told us “No.” (Translation: “Yes”)….
“I think there’s a number of major concerns that have been raised here from an ethical perspective,” Tokuda said.
A 2013 ethics advisory says board members need to quit when they decide to apply for a position at their agency.
We asked the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, what does the advisory say as to what the timing should be?
“The commission recognizes it’s not always crystal clear when someone makes a decision to apply for a job,” ethics director Dan Gluck said. “In a case where you have someone who is on a board and is applying for a job with that board, the commission was concerned, there is an inherent conflict. There’s an inherent unfairness in that kind of situation.”….
Ige: “This has been a big session about education.”
read … Ethics
House Panel Wants Budget Slashed By $500M
CB: In anticipation of a lowered economic forecast coming out next week, the House Finance Committee called for shaving a total of $500 million from the governor’s $14 billion budget proposal Wednesday.
Rep. Sylvia Luke, the committee chairwoman, told the audience in a crowded Capitol conference room that the flow of general excise tax revenue in fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30, has been less than expected.
It’s unclear exactly where the cuts will be made, but that should become evident when budget worksheets are made available next week.
The House is scheduled to send the budget to the Senate at that time, where Sen. Jill Tokuda’s Ways and Means committee will have the next crack at it.
“It is better to take a more aggressive approach and do further cuts now, as opposed to having a huge budget sent over to the Senate for them to do significant cuts,” said Luke.
If the Council on Revenues on Monday projects the state’s 3 percent rate of growth to decline — as Luke anticipates — it would mark the second time this year that the budget has had to be scaled back….
House Bill 100 is the primary legislative vehicle for the state budget.
As now drafted, it appropriates for operating and capital improvement costs $7.1 billion in general funds and $13.9 billion in all means of financing for fiscal year 2018, and $7.3 billion in general funds and $14.1 billion in all financing means for fiscal year 2019.
HB 100 has a Senate companion, Senate Bill 192, and differences will be worked out in HB 100 — probably during the two-week conference committee period at the end of April….
Given all the uncertainties in the current session, there is bound to be a lot of horse-trading between now and April 30, because final budget numbers dictate so much of what can or cannot happen in legislation and appropriations.
Major variables include settlements with 14 public sector collective bargaining units, and whether the state will transfer its share of the Oahu surcharge on the general excise tax to Honolulu to pay for the beleaguered rail project.
In spite of the sobering money numbers, the mood in the Finance Committee was buoyant.
Luke did not take to task any agency head, as is her wont….
read … Cut $500M
Honolulu Rail Is Too Much, Too Late
CB: Beyond exorbitant costs, we should stop rail now because it will be obsolete. By 2040, the answer to traffic woes will lie in ride-sharing services, driverless cars and other technology.
read … Honolulu Rail Is Too Much, Too Late
Waikiki Fee Hikes: More Opportunities to get into our Pocket
SA: “I’m hearing that it’s creating more opportunities, but it’s creating more opportunities to get into our pocket,” Fitzpatrick said. “I want to see more free parking for our citizens. This is just another organization paid to figure out how to get more money out of people.”
Linda Wong, who serves on the Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board, said she fears the district would result in greater bureaucracy and higher fees.
“The No. 1 complaint of locals is that there is no affordable parking in Waikiki,” she said. “If they go forward, they’ll just be kicking more locals out. Why do we need another group of paid employees to do what the city already does?”
Waikiki resident Robert Tellander said transportation reform shouldn’t be based so heavily on hospitality needs.
“The problem with this design is that it doesn’t deal with the common good,” he said. “It deals with how not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”
Egged said the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal when it goes before the City Council. City hearings have yet to be scheduled, but Egged said the organization is taking feedback at email@example.com.
read … Opportunity
Council Pushes $0.10 Bag Tax: More Opportunities to get into our Pocket (pt 2)
SA: An effort to stiffen Oahu’s contentious checkout bag ban came down to agreement on a single issue before City Council members Wednesday — charging shoppers a minimum 10-cent fee for each bag….
Lauren Zirbel, executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, which represents more than 200 food retailers statewide, said the law should remain the same to minimize additional costs to businesses with the addition of the fee. She said she is not in favor of repealing the existing ban at this point.
David Hong, owner of Island Plastic Bags Inc., said he would like to see the ban repealed to give shoppers more options.
But Dean Otsuki of the Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii called for a ban on all types of plastic bags, saying that the 10-cent fee would not be enough to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags….
Big Q: What do you think about a proposed 10-cent fee for each bag given at the checkout counter? (63% Say Leave Things as is)
read … 10-cent fee amendment helps advance plastic bag measure
Lawyer: Ex-Chief is Trying to Avoid My Process Servers
SA: The attorney for a man suing former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, claims lawyers for the two are avoiding being served papers on the complaint, and wants to be able to serve them through a general publication instead.
Eric Seitz, attorney for Gerard Puana, also stated in a U.S. District Court filing Wednesday that “I am informed and believe that a criminal indictment of most or all of the named defendants (in the civil suit) is likely to be presented to the grand jury within a matter of just weeks.”….
Other defendants named in the lawsuit are current and former HPD officers Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, Daniel Sellers, Niall Silva, Walter Callistro and Dru Akagi.
Documents filed by Seitz on Wednesday show Silva, Nguyen, Akagi and Sellers were served on Tuesday, but that attempts to serve the Kealohas have been unsuccessful “despite several calls and emails to their attorneys and numerous attempts by my process server to locate them at residential addresses that have been provided for us.”
As a result, Seitz said in his motion for an extension with Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang, “I am informed and believe that the lawyers for Defendants Katherine Kealoha and Louis Kealoha will not accept service on their behalf, that the Kealoha defendants actively are avoiding service, and that it therefore may become necessary to serve them by publication.”
Seitz asked that he be given until May 15 to serve the Kealohas, and permission to serve them by publication if necessary.
Myles Breiner, one of the Kealohas’ attorneys, called Seitz’s assertion “ludicrous” and an attempt to undermine the Kealohas’ credibility. (BUT … he did not say he would accept service on his clients behalf as attorneys normally do.)
UPDATE: Attorney Kevin Sumida accepted summonses for both Kealohas at his downtown office Thursday
read … Evade
State building linked to lawsuit, death of Hawaii Supreme Court justice
KITV: The lawsuit filed just months before his death cites exposure to asbestos tile and insulation while working in his basement office. The suit doesnt specifically name the state but it does go after more than a dozen manufacturers and companies including Bank of Hawaii and Hawaiian Trust Company which sold the building to the state.
"I personally worked in that building in the late1970s and early 80s, so I am aware of what the building looked like and I am aware that there were asbestos issues," said Francine Wai of the Disability & Communication Access Board.
State attorneys are watching to see how the asbestos lawsuit gets resolved. Ramil may have also been exposed while he served in the Navy and he was a smoker for close to 40 years. As for the Kamamalu building, it is still being renovated….
KITV: Ramil asbestos lawsuit takes new turn
read … Lawsuit
Lease for PV farm on Maui mayor’s property canceled
MN: A lease between Mayor Alan Arakawa’s family and a Hong Kong-based company seeking to build a photovoltaic farm on his family’s land in Kula that came under fire last year has been canceled, county and state records show.
Arakawa and his brother, Wallace, own three parcels, totaling 47 acres along Omaopio Road in Kula. Arakawa acknowledged the lease with SKY OMA PV-1, signed in June 2012 while he was mayor, which was not included on his financial disclosure statement filed in March 2016. The statement said he and his brother derived no income from the properties.
The mayor said last year that he and his brother currently do not receive income from the lease and that they would not be compensated by SKY OMA until the project was built and generating power for Maui Electric Co. He did tell the Ethics Board that he met a couple of times with representatives of the company and accompanied them to a meeting with MECO officials…..
read … Solar Connections
Economists: Deregulate Housing
WHT: A panel of economists from across the state delivered a two-part message to the House Committee on Economic Development and Business Wednesday morning at an informational meeting regarding the cost of living in Hawaii.
First, the primary factor driving the high cost of living in the state is the price of housing. Second, the best solution to at least stem that cost is to create more housing inventory.
“Basically, we need to do whatever we can to build more housing,” said Carl Bonham, professor of economics and executive director of the the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii. “Even if we do that … we may not bring down the cost of living. On the other hand, if we don’t build more housing, the number will get worse.”
Bonham added to accomplish this, onerous regulatory burdens to residential development in Hawaii must be lightened, reducing the number of approvals required to build.
“(There is) a very strong correlation between regulatory burden and volatility (of home prices) and overall level of home values,” he said.
There are no bills currently in the Hawaii State Legislature geared specifically at deregulating housing markets in Hawaii.
Based on numbers presented by economist Paul Brewbaker, of TZ Economics, the cost of living statewide is 17 percent higher in Hawaii than the national average.
read … Legislature Doing Nothing
Economists: Don't Tax Real Estate Investors
HPR: Housing prices in Hawai’i have been higher than the mainland for more than 60 years …driven by limited land, a small market and regulatory constraints. That, according to Economics Professor, Carl Bonham, who is also executive director of the U-H Economic Research Organization, UHERO.
“This is census data that shows the ratio of Hawai’i to U.S. owner-occupied home values. So Hawai’i’s home prices in 1950 were about one-and-three-quarters times the national average. By 1990 they were over 3 times the national average. And in 2015, they were still almost 3 times the national average. So really we’re not talking about something that’s new.”
State Economist, Eugene Tian, says a short housing supply and strong demand drive up prices. But he says most purchases since 2008 were made by local residents.
“We have 73.2 percent of the homes sold to local residents. If you add this data about 26 percent sold to out-of-state. You can see that Maui leading the trend with over half of the homes sold to out-of-state residents. That’s followed by Kaua’i County and Big Island. O’ahu has about 11.3 percent to the mainland and 3.8 percent to foreign residents.”
Tian says foreigners make up an average four percent of owners statewide. But state lawmakers have a number of bills this session to tax off-shore real estate investors as a way to increase state revenue.
PBN: One third of Hawaii’s real property taxes paid by out-of-state owners, according to DBEDT report
read … No New Taxes
Build more housing to tackle high cost of living
HNN: …They said Wednesday a shortage of housing is driving up housing costs.
Economist Eugene Tiang says Hawaii has the second-highest consumer debt in the nation and most of the debt is from mortgages.
He says on Maui 44 percent of homes are sold to mainland residents and 49 percent are sold to local residents. About 7 percent go to foreign investors.
Tiang says on Kauai and the Big Island about 40 percent of homes are sold to mainland residents….
SA: Hawaii has the second-highest consumer debt in the nation and 77 percent of the debt is from mortgages
read … Housing
Ex-officer gets fine, probation for issuing false tickets
MN: …Wailuku District Judge Adrianne Heely also granted Weis’ request for a chance to keep 12 misdemeanor convictions off his record if he successfully completes his probation.
Weis pleaded no contest as charged to three counts each of false reporting to law enforcement authorities, false swearing in official matters, unsworn falsification to authorities and tampering with a government record. The charges were brought for issuing false parking and speeding tickets to two people in three incidents occurring in April 2013, July 2013 and February 2014 in Kihei.
In one incident, a bench warrant was issued for the arrest of someone who didn’t show up in court for an excessive speeding ticket, said Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Segal…..
Without naming Weis, police reported that in March 2015, an officer was suspended for 60 days and fired for issuing fraudulent citations and working at a taxi service without authorization.
read … Probation
Wailuku homeless are hired to clean streets
HNN: …With $200,000 in public funds, the county launched "Clean and Safe," a program modeled after national efforts that link homeless people up with minimum wage jobs.
As part of the program, retired police officer and Wailuku Clean and Safe ambassador Lawrence Kauhaahaa helps clients get connected to social services….
Daniel Cessac said he and his son Logan jumped from place to place until he got steady work with Clean and Safe.
"I work here six days a week, so it's really helping me out to cover my bills," said Cessac.
"It makes me feel good to help the community, to help clean up and make it a nice clean area," added Logan….
read … Get a Job
Devil Styrofoam Will Have to Wait A Year or More to Get His Due
HTH: …It’s back to the drawing board for a proposed ban on foam food containers.
The County Council agreed Wednesday to form an ad hoc committee to amend Bill 13, following a flurry of amendments and recommendations from other council members and county staff.
“To me, this is a very important bill and it’s important to get it right,” said Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, sponsor of the bill. “If we have to extend this another year to get it right, let’s get it right.”
Kohala Councilman Tim Richards, who had opposed the bill at a prior committee meeting, agreed.
“I truly believe everyone on the council is seeking a solution,” Richards said. “We all agree with the intent. … The devil is in the details.”
Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter named O’Hara, Richards, Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha and North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff to the committee. The committee will incorporate existing amendments and consider other amendments to the measure, with a goal of being complete by June 30.
The move came after an analysis by Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski, who said he can’t support the bill without “adequate financial and personnel support.” Kucharski said the bill would be difficult to enforce because not all foam food containers are marked as such.
He asked why the bill addresses only polystyrene, a recyclable product, while not addressing other materials that aren’t recyclable.
“Allowing a non-recyclable that is just not polystyrene will simply change the composition of the waste in the environment, not help clean our environment,” Kucharski said.
Bill 13 would prohibit food being dispensed in disposable polystyrene — popularly known as “Styrofoam” — containers beginning July 1, 2018. It would exempt ice chests and coolers, county facility users and food vendors with county approval and providers of supplies during county emergencies declared by the mayor….
Reality: Environmentalism is a Religion
read … Strofoam
Trump Admin: "The government has wasted too much of the taxpayers' money on inefficient and misguided projects."
R: …"Infrastructure used to be a point of American pride, but now an overbearing, ineffective regulatory system can keep projects in limbo for years," Spicer said. "The government has wasted too much of the taxpayers' money on inefficient and misguided projects."
The White House sees infrastructure as a potential large job creator but officials have said the federal government cannot shoulder the entire burden. The administration is looking at toll roads, tax credits and other ways to spur private investment.
Major real estate and private equity executives attended the meeting, including developer Richard LeFrak, Vornado Realty Trust Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth, and Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris, the White House said.
LeFrak and Roth have been tapped to lead an infrastructure council that Trump plans to create, a spokesman for LeFrak had previously said.
The lunch with the CEOs follows his meeting on Tuesday with AFL-CIO union President Rich Trumka to talk infrastructure and other issues. The White House held a meeting of 15 federal agencies last Thursday to begin work on the administration's infrastructure plan.
Last month, Trump touted the infrastructure plan in an address to Congress.
"To launch our national rebuilding," he said, "I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States - financed through both public and private capital - creating millions of new jobs."
read … Infrastructure
Legislators Get Full Pension After Only 10 Years
SA: Question: Do elected officials in Hawaii (mayor, City Council, governor, state House and Senate) get government pensions and medical coverage even for a short time of office? … What about people they appoint to their Cabinet and other appointed positions? … What about just regular government employees? …
Answer: Elected officials may qualify for full state or county retirement benefits after five to 10 years of service, depending on their age and when they were elected. Appointees also are eligible, but the service and age requirements are slightly different.
read … Lifetime Welfare