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Sunday, April 02, 2017
April 2, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:22 PM :: 1101 Views

Economic Nexus: Solving the Online Tax Dodge

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Putting Patients First by Reducing Administrative Tasks in Health Care

Million Dollar Banker Caldwell Collects More Big Payoffs

Shapiro: Mayor Kirk Caldwell again made between $200,000 and $299,999 in 2016 from his side work as a Territorial Savings Bank director, he reported in his annual financial disclosure.

In a more detailed voluntary addendum, Caldwell broke down the income to director’s fees worth between $25,000 and $49,999 and grants of bank stock worth between $150,000 and $199,999.

For the first time, his total Territorial stock holdings surpassed $1 million, mostly from annual grants he’s received since 2010.

Caldwell’s bank income has raised ethical concerns because it dwarfs his $164,928 mayoral salary, and he’s the only county or state chief executive to hold such a lucrative outside position.

The city Ethics Commission blessed the arrangement because the city has no deposits with Territorial.

But critics contend the narrow construal ignores Territorial’s deep interest in city policies affecting its mortgage business — planning, zoning, building codes and permits, property taxes and public works projects that drive housing.

A bill in the state House this year would have prohibited such outside work for the governor and county mayors, but it died after one hearing.

The sponsor, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, cited ethics problems surrounding President Donald Trump’s tangled business interests as reason to restrain Hawaii chief executives….

Hannemann said there’s “no good reason that a governor or mayor should hold an outside paying position,” noting Caldwell is the only modern Hawaii chief executive who hasn’t withdrawn from his private profession while in office….

read … Caldwell makes bank from side job at Territorial

State gov’s practice of low expectations mires us from moving forward

Borreca: …April is a big time for government because it is when we pay government for all the stuff it does to help and protect.

But if, for instance, we mistakenly give the state too much money, we get it back. A tax refund. If you are waiting for a tax refund this year, get out a really big calendar to find when you are getting that refund — 16 weeks!

Yes, four months for a state tax refund. It is part of the remarkable consistency of Gov. David Ige’s administration. It shows that even when it came to power three years ago saying it wanted to smarten up the tax office, Ige and Co. have been resolute in keeping the money it owes you for an extra four months.

In last year’s State of the State speech, Ige noted: “While the history of the tax department’s computer programs is not a good one, the recent initiative to upgrade those programs is on time, on budget and meeting our first-year expectations.”

All this work means the tax office is busy, busy, busy and maybe they have really low expectations, because it is still a four-month wait for refunds….

Another place to practice the consistency of low expectations is at Aloha Stadium, which apparently is the longest-lasting (sorta) “weathered steel” stadium still in existence. Every two years Hawaii appropriates between $10 million and $40 million to continue to repair the stadium built in 1975 while it is busily rusting away.

Along with the repairs, we also pay to study what to do about the stadium. Fixing it and worrying about it, keeps the state distracted from the real task of making a permanent decision.

But, making a decision is sometimes the most expensive thing to do.

For instance, 13 years ago the folks running Honolulu International Airport launched a $739 million modernization plan “to add new concourses and wider taxiways for bigger planes,” according to a news report by Kevin Dayton, Honolulu Star-Advertiser Capitol Bureau chief.

The Department of Transportation has thrashed around with delay after delays, with each stoppage triggering its own set of lawsuits from contractors and subcontractors.

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines CEO, called the delays “appalling.”

Since when Linda Lingle was governor, the state has been getting ready for a leap into the 21st century of airport design, but instead of movement, it appears the DOT has been holding auditions for amateur hour….

read … State gov’s practice of low expectations mires us from moving forward

Castle: Why We’re Involved in Superintendent Search

SA: …We celebrate the gains made in recent years by our school system and applaud teachers for their hard work. Standards are now clearer. Chronic absenteeism is dropping. More students are graduating on time and going on to college, and fewer of them require remediation once they enter college. A new crop of school leaders is showing courage and creativity.

Yet — and here’s the second reason — not all students are receiving the education they need to achieve their dreams. Despite major improvement in recent years, our achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged students and others remain stubbornly high. Most alarming is that for every 100 9th graders, roughly only 20 get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree within six years after graduating from high school. Not enough keiki enter kindergarten ready to learn, because Hawaii lags behind most states in its support for high-quality early childhood education.

For these reasons, we expect that philanthropy will remain a permanent, nonpolitical source of capital for children. We aim not to replace public school dollars but to make those dollars work more effectively.

SA:First Hawaiian Bank: ‘Pay for Private School’

read … Castle

Prosecutor’s facility for abuse victims criticized over ethical and legal issues

SA:  It’s been open only six months, but the Honolulu prosecutor’s safe house for female victims of domestic violence, sex assault and human trafficking already is a flashpoint for criticism locally and nationally.

At the center of the controversy is the prosecutor’s policy of providing secured shelter in exchange for the women’s testimony against their alleged abusers.

No other county prosecutor or district attorney in the nation does that.

To stay in the Honolulu apartment complex, which has around-the-clock security, restricted access and video monitors throughout, the single women approved for the voluntary program must cooperate in the criminal prosecution and follow strict rules, which prosecutors say are necessary to protect the victims and others at the facility.

The victims, for instance, cannot leave the gated grounds without an authorized escort, possess cellphones or laptops, have access to email, or get visits from people who have not passed a criminal background check and been preapproved.

If a woman subsequently decides against testifying, she will be asked to leave the safe house.

read … Prosecutor’s facility for abuse victims criticized over ethical and legal issues

HCDA Considering New ‘Affordable Housing’ Rules for Kakaako

SA: It’s a challenge surmountable only if policymakers seize every opportunity to leverage government’s power to drive development in a desired direction. And if the state is not careful, one of those opportunities could easily slip away, without a push from the HCDA.

The agency is contemplating a change in its rules, which if enacted would drive a harder bargain with the developers seeking permits to build in Kakaako. The rules govern how lower-income “reserve” units and “workforce” homes for sale and rent are produced.

In essence, they would then be compelled to price them to be affordable for those earning less than now and, in the case of rentals, be kept at affordable rates for 30 years instead of 15….

The present affordability rules require any project on more than 20,000 square feet of land to reserve 20 percent of the homes for moderate-income buyers. These must be built for sale or rent at below-market prices, to be within their reach. And additional changes would bar profit-making quick resale on more of the units than face such restrictions now.

Generally, the biggest change being considered now would make developers produce affordable homes at lower prices and maintain such prices for longer.

Under this proposal, prices on average for such homes if sold would have to be affordable to someone earning 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) — homes priced at about $430,000 for a single person, $495,000 for a couple and $610,000 for a family of four….

read … State must push for affordable Kakaako homes

Jobs for the Homeless Advancing in Legislature

KITV: …The measure would connect the homeless with a service provider.

  “They would not only get money for working - cleaning up graffiti or picking up trash on the side of the road, but then at the end of the day they would be connected with the service providers who give a lot of folks help that they aren't receiving." Said Lee.

One of those service providers is Partners in Care.  They say their mission is to end homelessness in Hawaii.

  "We're a continuum of care of more than 35 non-profit homeless providers on Oahu." Said Greg Payton, Chair of the Advocacy Committee for Partners in Care….

read … State Lawmaker proposes plan to help eliminate homelessness in Hawaii

Incompetent HIDOT Airports Division Burns Millions Because it Cannot Make a Decision

SA: Another major piece of the long-delayed Honolulu Airport modernization program is stuck on a snag, this time involving a pair of smaller airlines that need to move but as yet have no place to go.

The state urgently needs to tear down the old low-rise commuter airline terminal next to the interisland terminal to clear the site for a planned new concourse. That new concourse will provide badly needed new gates at the crowded airport.

But that hasn’t happened. Construction of that new concourse has been stalled for the past year while the Department of Transportation figures out what to do with Mokulele Airlines and Island Air, which still operate from the old commuter terminal.

No final decision has been made yet on where to put those two airlines, and changes and delays in the airport modernization project have once again been costly for the department.

A summary of state spending on airport construction provided by the department shows the department spent more than $8.3 million on design and other work for a planned new commuter terminal before state Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami finally scrapped the project more than a year ago.

Without the new commuter terminal, the state has been unable to relocate the airlines that operate from the old commuter facility. And until that is done, the state cannot move forward on what is to be the Honolulu airport’s new “Mauka Concourse,” a $220 million project that will eventually be built where the old commuter terminal stands.

That Mauka Concourse is a major component of a $750 million Honolulu airport modernization program that was conceived during former Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration. The airport modernization program was then promoted by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie as one piece of his administration’s “New Day” initiative.

But some of the largest components of the modernization effort have been delayed for years or canceled. For example, construction on a $75 million maintenance hangar and cargo facility for Hawaiian Airlines was halted in 2015 when the state declared that the general contractor was in default.

read … Incompetent

West Hawaii Republicans hold rally, convention

WHT: …“West Hawaii Republicans are looking for accountability in our state Legislature and authenticity in pursuing the state motto: ‘The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,’” Ross said following the West Hawaii Republican Party Rally and Convention.

“We desperately want to provide a loyal opposition to the one party government we have in Hawaii and we’re hoping to reorganize ourselves and show ourselves worthy and relevant to that cause,” added Rick Thompson, vice chairman of communications for the party.

The rally and convention was held at Puu Nui Park in Waikoloa Village. Ross and Thompson said about 40 people took part in the get-together, during which, in addition to Ross, Carol Brown was unanimously elected vice chairwoman and David Buehler treasurer.

Also in attendance were East Hawaii Republican Party officers and guest speakers Oahu Reps. Gene Ward and Andria Tupola, and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Shirlene Ostrov.

Thompson said Ostrov, a 2016 Republican candidate who sought election to the the U.S. House to represent the 1st Congressional District, spoke about Republicans needing to be better organized and more visible in the community. Tupola provided an update on legislation currently moving through the state Legislature and “what the Minority Caucus is doing to be a voice in what’s happening in the state.”

“Republicanism is alive and well in West Hawaii,” said Ward, who is also the state’s Republican National committeeman. “The sky is not falling, rule of law will prevail and just hold on for the delivery of all the promises that the Trump Administration has made.”….

read … West Hawaii Republicans hold rally, convention

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