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April 8, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 898 Views
 

Schatz-Connected Developer building ‘Shopping Center’ at Pupukea

Time for change at Hawaii’s airports

DLNR: Waikiki Eco Confab Cost Taxpayers $8M

Hidden LLCs: OHA CEO Lies to Ethics Panel?

CB: …Abigail Kawananakoa alleges that Kamana’opono Crabbe failed to inform the state Ethics Commission that he has ties to six companies.

Kawananakoa’s complaint, filed Tuesday, alleges that Crabbe failed to disclose the information in annual financial disclosure forms he submitted to the Ethics Commission from 2012 to this year.

Instead, the complaint states, Crabbe filed forms containing “materially false and misleading information.”…

public officials such as Crabbe are required to list every relationship with businesses and organizations, the terms of the office and the annual compensation for each.

Kawananakoa identified business registration filings for the six limited liability companies in question with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Each identifies Crabbe as a company manager during the same time period as his employment with OHA.

The companies are Hi’ilei Aloha, Hi’ipoi, Hi’kualono, Ho’okipaipai, Ho’okele Pono and Hi’ipaka….

She added that withholding the information was “particularly egregious” because, she said, the companies are managed by OHA and funded “in whole or in part” by OHA trust funds….

Related: Princess Kawananakoa criticizes OHA LLCs, demands transparency

PDF: Ethics Complaint

Background:

read … Is OHA’s CEO Keeping Ties To Companies Secret From Ethics Panel?

HGEA Tech Footdragging Costs State $1.72B per Year in Lost Tax Revenue

PBN: Hawaii could see its tax revenue increase by up to 25 percent once the project to modernize its outdated technology system has been fully implemented in three years, Pacific Business News has learned.

Maria Zielinski, the state’s director of taxation, said the tax system modernization project is on time and on budget with an expected completion date of 2020. The $59 million project, which kicked off in 2015 and is divided into five rollouts, will replace the state’s outdated legacy system.

The new system is expected to improve compliance and positively impact the state’s revenue, though current revenue numbers do not reflect those expectations, Zielinski said.

The state selected Colorado-based software and consulting service company Fast Enterprises as the vendor to implement the project in 2015.

“[Fast Enterprises has] always seen an increase once the fully integrated system is in place,” Zielinski said. “It really depends on how bad the legacy system was. They’ve seen anywhere from a 5 percent to a 25 percent increase in revenue.”

The state collected $6.89 billion in tax revenue during fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30. Based on this figure, the projected revenue increase could rage from $345 million to $1.72 billion.

“It’s hard to tell exactly at this point, but [Fast Enterprises] said they’ve seen an increase in virtually every instance,” Zielinski said….

read … Tech upgrade could boost Hawaii tax revenue by 25%

HB424: UH tuition freeze effort abandoned

SA: Lawmakers this week shelved legislation that was aimed at freezing tuition at University of Hawaii campuses but advanced a measure to subsidize tuition for needy UH students.

House Bill 424 initially proposed reinstating the university’s president as its chief procurement officer for construction contracts. But the bill was altered after it crossed over to the Senate, and language was inserted to also prohibit the Board of Regents from raising tuition for an unspecified period.

The amended measure had been endorsed by the Senate committees on Higher Education and Government Operations. However, the Ways and Means Committee, the bill’s final referral in the Senate, deferred the measure indefinitely at a hearing Tuesday. Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda said lawmakers could not reach agreement on the bill’s language.

The university testified against the parts of the bill that would cap tuition increases. Tuition and fees revenues make up roughly one-third of UH’s budget.

“Eliminating any tuition increases at the university is not a realistic means to fund a government operation (such as golden parachute deployments),” Jan Gouveia, UH’s vice president for administration, and Kalbert Young, chief financial officer, said in joint written testimony….

read … UH tuition freeze effort abandoned

UH Admin Not Intelligent Enough to Figure out Why Dorms are Vacant

HTH: …The 300-bed, suite-style dormitory opened in fall 2013 and has since struggled to fill all its beds. In December, the dorm was just 49 percent full and has remained under 60 percent occupancy since opening. Students have complained the dorm is too expensive and lacks services.

The campus had financed a portion of its $28 million construction using a 30-year, $17 million revenue bond, to be paid back through money generated from housing fees.

As a result of lower-than-anticipated occupancy, it’s had to dip into reserves to pay off those $1.1 million annual revenue bond payments. Reserve fund payments have amounted to more than $400,000 annually for the past three years.

Now, in an effort to solve the problem, administrators plan to roll out a draft version of a “multi-year, comprehensive plan” as early as next week that will “demonstrate the university’s work toward being able to pay the bond completely through housing over time,” said Farrah-Marie Gomes, UH-Hilo’s vice chancellor for student affairs.

(Better idea: Just cut the rent.)

The plan will be presented to students first in a series of town hall meetings slated to begin this month. Meetings will solicit input from students about what they consider affordable dorm prices, gather feedback on the plan’s proposed timeline, and collect other general comments, Gomes said….

(All of which will probably cost more than just cutting the rent.)

read … The rent is too damn high

Will Legislators Kill Vote by Mail in Conference?

DK: As expected, legislators in Hawaii’s entirely Democratic state Senate have unanimously advanced a bill out of committee to switch the state to a fully vote-by-mail system by the 2020 elections. The measure recently passed the full state House, and approval from the full Senate appears likely too. However, proponents remain worried that possible differences between the Senate and House versions could sink the bill, which is what happened during the last session of the legislature. After Hawaii once again ranked dead-last in turnout in 2016, the renewed urgency of measures to boost participation might finally sway legislators to get their act together.

How It Works: Vote by Mail Fraud: Romy Cachola Barged In, Wanted Ballots

read … Vote by Mail

Former HPD Narcotics Div Chief Now Selling Medicated marijuana

PBN: …More details have been revealed regarding the planned medical marijuana dispensary at the former Bank of Hawaii branch on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu with ties to well-known Hawaii businessman Colbert Matsumoto, including why the company behind it chose this location.

Keith Komita, chief compliance officer for Cure Oahu, one of three medical marijuana companies on Oahu to get a license to sell its products, spoke at last month’s Diamond Head/Kapahulu/St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board meeting, and gave more details on the company’s dispensary at 727 Kapahulu Blvd.

Komita, a former chief of the narcotics division for the Honolulu Police Department, said that Cure Oahu will not be growing marijuana at this facility, which will be renovated to look like a bank or pharmacy, according to minutes from the meeting.

“No one will be allowed inside the store unless they have their [state Department of Health]-issued medical marijuana card,” he said. “They will then have to register with the store and show their identification to confirm their identity. No one under the 21 years of age will be allowed inside the store unless they are a patient. No visits or tours are allowed [at] the store as background checks are needed for all caregivers and patients who enter the store.”

Department of Health inspectors and HPD officials will be the only people allowed to enter the property without a background check. Komita said that the property will have 24-hour security including video surveillance, alarms and security personnel.

“No patients will be allowed to use the products in and around the dispensary,” he said. “There will be no products that are made for smoking purposes. The store will provide pill and flour forms of medical marijuana, no joints or vapor will be sold.”

PBN: Hawaii's medical marijuana dispensaries await word on testing labs certification

read … HPD Narcotics

Hawaii Police Corruption Like Philippines

MN: …In a motion asking the judge to reconsider the order granting Weis’ request for a deferral, Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Segal said, “This type of conduct does directly affect society. It affects society’s trust in law enforcement.”

His motion included the declaration of one victim, who reported knowing Weis. After going to the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing in October 2013 to ask about obtaining a taxi permit, the victim was told he had outstanding traffic tickets issued by Weis.

“I was shocked to hear this because I knew I had never been pulled over by the police,” the man’s declaration said. One ticket was for excessive speeding, and an arrest warrant had been issued for the victim when he didn’t appear in court.

The man said he was afraid he would be fired from his job and wouldn’t be able to support his family.

On Oct. 8, 2013, he turned himself in at the police station and posted $750 bail. He was given a court date to appear for the warrant and citation and hired an attorney.

“Initially, I felt like no one believed me,” the man’s declaration said. “I was asked to take a polygraph test. When they asked me, I did not hesitate to take the test because I knew I did not get the citation. This situation was very stressful and upsetting for me.”

The man said he continues to “fear for the safety of myself and my family.”

“I am originally from the Philippines, where police corruption is widespread,” his declaration said. “This is not something I would ever expect to happen to me in the United States.”

read … Corruption

Advocates of police records reform lament lack of 'significant change'

HNN: "I don't think they had an appetite to take on a real significant change, for the last couple of years, in terms of making police disciplinary records more open," said Brian Black, of the Civil Beat Law Center….

Advocates wanted the exemption for police officers to be eliminated completely, but lawmakers watered down the proposal so much that only officers who had been disicplined twice in five years would face disclosure.

The proposals became so weak, critics say, that even reform advocates withdrew their support for them.

"I'm not disappointed that the bills are not moving, because they really weren't what I considered a significant change," said Black.

read … Advocates of police records reform lament lack of 'significant change'

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