Full Text: Arab Newspaper Describes Trump Role in Gabbard Syria Trip
Who’s Hiding Behind Homes for Hawaiians?
Hawaii: Monsanto is First Farm Awarded Zero Waste Certification
Congressman Jason Chaffetz to Address Hawaii Republican Fundraiser
Speaker Souki to Resign?
CB: Shan Tsutsui is bored being Hawaii’s lieutenant governor. The Maui resident has his restless eye on the post of Mayor Alan Arakawa, who completes his second and final term next year.
If Tsutsui runs for Maui mayor — and he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last month that he is considering it — the thinking goes he’ll resign to focus on the campaign. Word is he might make an announcement not long after the current legislative session wraps up next month.
By law, Senate President Ron Kouchi is first in line to assume Tsutsui’s gig, but he is said to not be interested.
House Speaker Joe Souki, however, is said to be interested in being lieutenant governor. He turns 84 this month and may have his eye on soon leaving public office.
The low-intensity LG gig could be Souki’s transition.
But his retirement would not happen until serving, say, a year as LG at a much higher pay level….
If Souki does step down as speaker, Majority Leader Scott Saiki is best positioned to take the reins. Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke, who is close to Saiki, seems to want to stay in her powerful job….
Reps. Chris Lee and Kaniela Ing are among the names bandied about to challenge Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, whose shine has been dulled by all that business with Syria….
But there is a big question as to who might run for lieutenant governor, since Souki would likely not do so even as the incumbent.
The names of state Sen. Josh Green, term-limited Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho and even Arakawa are heard in the political chat-o-sphere. Green has all but filed his papers, and he has a ton of cash in his campaign war chest….
Such is the rumor mill at the state Capitol that there was even this whopper floating around: That Kouchi would be replaced as president by Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda, who would then take the LG job, and then Kouchi would be returned as president….
read … Will Joe Souki Be Hawaii’s Next Lt Gov?
Taxation Without Legalization? 2 vacation rental tax measures advance
SA: Two bills to allow online vacation rental sites like Airbnb to collect taxes from hosts and remit them to the state moved forward Tuesday, including one that emerged after a task force bill to study vacation rentals was gutted and replaced.
Members of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday passed an amended version of Senate Bill 704 which is similar to a version of House Bill 1471 that died before crossover. The controversial bill skidded through with only four ayes, 10 reservations and three no votes. Ten members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee also voted yes on an amended version of House Bill 1471 earlier Tuesday.
“If home-sharing platforms were allowed to collect and remit taxes, we estimate Airbnb hosts would have generated $40 million for the state over the last two years alone,” Airbnb Policy Manager Matt Middlebrook said….
Middlebrook said Airbnb supports Senate Bill 704 in its current form, which he maintains does not affect a user’s county land use liability or shield owners since taxpayer information is “already confidential under state law.”
“The question before you is, Do you want to pursue additional revenue now or delay until local regulations are perfected?” Middlebrook testified….
Still, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which has 110,000 members in Hawaii, objects to the language in SB 704, said AHLA spokesman Kekoa McClellan. The city Department of Planning and Permitting’s acting director, Kathy Sokugawa, opposed SB 704 as written because she said it allowed owners to self-certify that they are legal….
AHLA, the city and Save Oahu’s Neighborhoods may be open to HB 1471.
“We stand united behind responsible and appropriate regulation of short-term rentals in Hawaii,” McClellan said. “We the hotels are working closely with Unite Here Local 5 and Save Oahu’s Neighborhoods on these regulations.”
Those organizations favor HB 1471, which requires short-term rental owners to register with the state and short-term rental platforms to provide transparent data, he said.
read … No Taxation Without Legalization
Lawmakers consider raising the cost of living in Honolulu
KHON: The Honolulu City Council is considering key proposals that would raise more money for the city by taking more money out of your pocket.
So which ones could cost you the most, and which ones are likely to pass?
Many council members are split with raising the cost of living in Honolulu. On Tuesday, we spoke with Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, who says it especially burdens those on fixed incomes like seniors.
First on the list: the county’s motor vehicle weight tax. The proposal (Bill 10) would increase that tax from 5 to 6 cents per pound.
So if you own a four-door sedan, your vehicle registration could go up about $30.
The first vote to keep advancing the proposal passed unanimously….
For those who take TheBus or TheHandi-Van, you may also have to pay more.
Right now senior citizens and people with disabilities pay $30 for an annual pass. If a measure to increase public transportation fares passes (Bill 28), they’ll see a $5 increase…..
Then there’s a new fee for trash pickup, which is something homeowners never had to pay.
For single-family homes with green, gray, and blue bins, residents could possibly end up paying $10 a month.
Those against this measure (Bill 29) say it would create more illegal dumping….
These measures will be taken up by the budget committee on Wednesday….
read … Lawmakers consider raising the cost of living in Honolulu
HB209: Sales Pitch for Massive Income Tax Hike
CB: The Working Family Tax Credit will eliminate state income tax bills for 11,000 families with children, and for many of them, provide much-needed tax refunds. That would help them keep more of what they earn and make ends meet.
This bill also improves the renter’s credit, which has not been adjusted for inflation in nearly 30 years. Doing this alone would help more than 80,000 households.
Catholic Charities also welcomes removing the 2017 sunset of the cost of living update for the Food/General Excise Tax (GET) credit….
There will be a free public event at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Friday, April 7 at 6 p.m. featuring experts in tax policy as well as those impacted by it. All are welcome.
LINK: HB670 SB932 Would have done the same things without a massive tax hike.
HB209: Text, Status
read … Tax Hike
HB1580 Gasoline Ban Morphs into Another Tax Credit Scheme
SA: A key Senate committee passed a bill Monday that sets a goal of having all ground transportation in Hawaii run on renewable fuel by 2045.
The Senate Committee on Ways and Means passed HB 1580, which provides “guidance” for a 2045 target that has no enforcement mechanisms. The bill also sets an intermediate target of reducing sales of gasoline by 5 percent by 2025. The committee took out language that required the state to add more electric vehicle chargers before 2025.
The bill was always designed to be a goal, but Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Waikoloa-Waimea-North Hilo) said she made changes to the intent of the bill to clarify it is not a mandate after speaking with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the Hawaii Petroleum Marketers Association….
Richard Wallsgrove, policy director for the Blue Planet Foundation, said he was happy with the bill because it begins the conversation for how the state can get fossil fuel transportation off the roads give his cronies even more tax credits.
read … Tax Credit Scheme
HART Borrows Another $20M, Now Owes $60M
KHON: The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is borrowing yet another $20 million to pay bills for the city’s rail project.
Interim executive director Krishniah Murthy submitted a notice to the Honolulu City Council last week.
That puts the total amount drawn so far in short-term municipal bonds, or tax-exempt commercial paper (TECP), at $110 million.
HART has already paid back $50 million of that.
The authority is authorized to draw up to $350 million of the city’s credit line….
read … HART draws another $20 million from city short-term credit for rail
Latest HIDOT Fiasco: AG seeks $10M to pay airport subcontractors
SA: State Attorney General Douglas Chin is asking lawmakers to earmark more than $10 million to settle claims by subcontractors who were never paid for materials or work they did on a Honolulu Airport cargo and maintenance hangar project that stalled in late 2015.
The state Department of Transportation declared general contractor DCK Pacific Construction LLC in default and removed the company from the job after transportation officials learned that subcontractors were not showing up to work because they had not been paid, according to court records.
The state is alleging it paid $3 million to DCK for work done up until Sept. 30, 2015, but that money was never paid out to the suppliers and subcontractors. None of the subcontractors were paid for work done on the project after Sept. 30, 2015, and state officials believe as many as 47 subcontractors are owed money….
read … State attorney general seeks $10M to pay airport subcontractors
Aloha Stadium Authority Deploys Sales Pitch for New Stadium and Condos
SA: Entering its 43rd year, Aloha Stadium has, “… served its useful life and is now a liability to fan experiences, a potential danger to public health and safety and a financial burden for maintenance and operations,” a consultant’s report warns.
The report notes “… inspections have identified pieces of the building that have actually fallen into public areas of the facility (fortunately the stadium was vacant at the time) bringing to reality the venue’s immediate and long-term risks to fans, the Stadium Authority and the State of Hawaii.”
The 180-page “Aloha Stadium Conceptual Redevelopment Report” and an accompanying 312-page structural review, which were accepted today by the Aloha Stadium Authority, were cited by a consultant who is recommending the building of a new stadium adjacent to the rusting Halawa facility as part of a redevelopment master plan….
read … Report: Aloha Stadium a ‘potential danger’ to public
Police Take Down Hanalei Shakedown: 4 Sovereignty Squatters Arrested on Kauai
KHON: …Kauai police said around 7:40 a.m. contractors hired by the property owner were attempting to access the land on Ananalu Road to remove a wooden structure that was illegally built.
Officers arrested Kaimi Hermosura, Noa Mau-Espiritu, Jesse Steel and Kapana Thronas-Kahoonei for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
But the dozens of demonstrators who showed up said the men were peacefully standing their ground and protecting the Wainiha land they claim is theirs by right of royal patent.
(Unless they get paid to leave in which case everything is AOK.)
Demonstrators also said the land is a sacred (more expensive) Hawaiian burial site, but police say otherwise.
"As far as we know, the research that's been done, and from the county attorney, there is no burial site on that property," said Police Chief Darryl Perry.
Perry said the legal owner of the land lives on the mainland and has plans to eventually develop the site.
"I'm just really so shocked and amazed no one got hurt given the amount of police and guns that were sent to defend the rights of a so-called private-property owner," said Ka'iulani Mahuka.
Mahuka was in Wainiha and thought it was unnecessary for 30 to 50 law enforcement officers to be there.
She and other demonstrators made multiple calls to the mayor's office demanding KPD to stand down.
Officers eventually did -- and so did the contractors….
KGI: Part of Group Squatting at Coco Palms
read … Squatters with a few lines of political rhetoric
City council considering expansion of sit-lie ban to some Kalihi, Iwilei streets
KHON: …Bill 13 was introduced by Councilman Joey Manahan, andit proposes a new enforcement zone in Kalihi, which would be bordered by Dillingham Boulevard and Kohou, North King, Winant, Kaiwiula and McNeill Streets.
The bill also would include other segments along Dillingham Boulevard, and Kaumualii and North King streets.
In Iwilei the ban would include Iwilei Road and Pine, Sumner and Kuwili Streets….
MN: Paradigm shift to solutions
read … City council considering expansion of sit-lie ban to some Kalihi, Iwilei streets
Peter Boy's father takes plea deal in son's 1997 death
HNN: ….Sources tell Hawaii News Now that Kema and his attorney spent weeks negotiating a deal that would allow him to avoid a murder trial.
According to the terms of his plea arrangement, Kema will be spared the possibility of spending life in prison, instead serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter and a five-year sentence for hindering prosecution.
He'll be allowed to serve the terms concurrently as long as he shows authorities where his son's remains are. If the remains can't be recovered, he'll have to pass a polygraph test while describing what happened to his son.
A formal sentencing hearing in the case has been scheduled for June 9.
Reports of the lighter sentence drew criticism after Hawaii News Now first broke the story about the arrangement Tuesday, but Peter Boy's family has long made clear what they want more than anything else is answers.
read … Plea deal
Cover-up for Homosexual Child Molester? Hearing of former Kamehameha Schools teacher accused of voyeurism to be public
HNN: Circuit Judge Rom Trader rejected Kamehameha School's motion to keep secret the testimony of security guards who investigated former speech teacher Gabriel Alisna.
Kamehameha Schools argued that the testimony would reveal privileged conversations between the staff and school lawyers. But lawyers for the victims accused the school of a cover-up.
"There is absolutely obstruction of justice. Somebody should arrest one or more of these attorneys if they're responsible for in holding this back (evidence) from the police and the prosecutor's office," attorney Michael Green said. Green represents several victims and their parents. "The videos of naked kids pales in comparison to what we believe our investigation shows this guy was doing to these children."
Alisna has pleaded not guilty to invasion of privacy and misdemeanor sex assault charges. His attorney says the guards' testimony is crucial to his client's defense.
"What Kamehameha Schools knew, when they knew it, and what actions they took and the motivations behind those actions are critical," lawyer Keith Shigetomi said….
According to Green, the security workers interviewed Alisna and inspected his apartment, where he allegedly filmed the boys, before calling police. He said the former speech teacher may have filmed as many as 30 students.
"The security people go in there and they clean the place out, which is a crime scene," said Green. "It's a fraud to let those people get into that house and then they sent Alisna in there and then they say 'you know what maybe we should call the cops.'"
The parent of one of the former students who was allegedly filmed also accused the school of a cover-up.
"I was lied to. They hid things. I had so much missing pieces of the whole story," parent Ron Taurio said.
SA: Judge changes his mind on closed-court hearing
Guam: Homosexual Child Molester ‘left trail of abused and broken children’
read … Hearing of former Kamehameha Schools teacher accused of voyeurism to be public
UPW Prison Guard Denies He Exposed Himself
SA: James Sinatra, supervisor of a janitorial work line, denies he exposed himself to one of the prisoners at the Women’s Community Correctional Center.
The inmate, identified as Jane Doe 10, alleges in the lawsuit that Sinatra approached her Nov. 21 and said he admired her and would take good care of her if she were in his life. She claims he called her into his office Nov. 23 and exposed himself, asking if it would make her happy, the lawsuit said.
Sinatra said a DPS internal investigation resulted in his exoneration and that he continues to work at WCCC.
The inmates are also suing the state, DPS Director Nolan Espinda, WCCC Warden Eric Tanaka and four WCCC guards, namely Chavon Freitas, Taofi Magalei, Brent Bauman and Gauta Vaa.
Schwartz said Sinatra and Vaa remain employed with DPS, but Freitas and Magalei left the department in October and Bauman left Friday….
The lawsuit alleges the guards coerced and encouraged the women to engage in sexual acts by giving them food, gifts and special privileges. In other cases they were allegedly forced to perform or comply for fear of punishment or some kind of retribution.
The complaint says Tanaka was the warden during the alleged sexual assaults and harassment.
The complaint alleges the state failed to properly screen, hire, train or supervise its employees and guards. It alleges the state wrongly allowed prolonged periods of one-on-one contact with the guards, including being alone in the control room.
It also alleges the state failed to investigate reported ongoing sexual activities between inmates and guards.
The complaint asserts that despite being put on notice for problems about poorly trained and supervised guards supervising female prisoners since 1992 when 22 cases of alleged misconduct were investigated, the state still has not set up adequate practices and procedures to monitor guards and employees while they are supervising female prisoners.
The complaint alleges the design of one WCCC control room “lends itself to sexual abuse” because the guards can directly observe inmates while showering.
Also, it alleges guards are not searched upon entry to the facility and bring in contraband, including drugs, makeup, food, clothing and other items.
WHT: Correctional facility clog could be cause for sewage spill into the Wailuku River
read … Prison worker named in suit says he’s been exonerated
Makers of diet pill blamed for sickening dozens
HNN: More than three years after a diet supplement sickened 72 people, most in Hawaii, civil and criminal cases against the makers of OxyELITE Pro rage on.
The latest development: A relatively unknown, international medical journal is slamming the Queen's Medical Center and the state Department of Health over how they handled the Hawaii patients. And the article is providing ammunition for OxyELITE's makers.
Two people who took the supplement died, three had to have liver transplants and about 50 more were hospitalized with liver failure or other issues between April and October 2013.
Many continue to have serious complications from the diet drug….
"There are medical journals that will take publications without peer reviewing it. In other words, having other doctors look at it and vet them for accuracy and that's apparently what the defense has come up with here," Fried said….
read … Makers of diet pill blamed for sickening dozens
Hawaii Gender gap 16 cents
KHON: According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women in Hawaii make 84 cents for every dollar a man in Hawaii makes.
This study is based on the median annual pay for a woman with a year-round, full-time job compared to the median annual pay for a man with a year-round, full-time job.
Pdf; Report: CD by CD
read … Gap