Two Departments Set to ‘Go Live’ on State’s New Payroll System
Homeless by Choice: Removed from Diamond Head Again
Tourist Spending up 10% in First Quarter
Hanalei: Please Send Frozen Free Range Chicken to Disaster Victims
CB: Some People, Unfortunately, Only Want the Good Stuff…A list of requests from Kauai flood victims includes some staples — and some things you wouldn’t normally associate with a disaster.
Like free range chicken, olive oil and fresh pre-minced ginger
read … Some People
Tax Hike on Ballot: Point by Point Debunk of HSTA Lies
PBN: …The Hawaii State Teachers Association tried this last year and failed; this year they succeeded. But their rationalizations aren’t any smarter. It boils down to raw envy.
“Many wealthy people are using these properties to pad their own wealth,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee in a statement. “If these rich out-of-state investors can afford multimillion-dollar properties, they can afford to pay taxes to help educate Hawaii’s children. No one is going after the average homeowner. We’re really going after the speculators and the corporations that are buying up so much property that it’s driving up the cost of living that people can’t afford to live in Hawaii.”
Rosenlee is either misinformed, or misinforming us deliberately. Hawaii’s housing shortage, and corresponding astronomical median home price, has far more to do with our own local anti-growth, anti-development policies than anything outside money is capable of doing.
The case for this bill was made with several other dubious assertions:
That public education is Hawaii is underfunded. Is it? In fact, Hawaii’s per-pupil funding is 17th highest in the nation, as of 2015, according to U.S. Census data compiled by the public policy website, governing.com. The state’s education budget was $2.36 billion that year, per-pupil spending was $12,855.
The national average was $11,392. It’s nice to know there’s some measure by which the DOE is above average, because it certainly isn’t when it comes to student outcomes.
But that’s peanuts when adjusted for Hawaii’s cost of living, argues HSTA, which exposes something true but unsaid by the union — none of this is about spending more money on students, or on education. It’s about spending money on teachers. That’s the only arena in which Hawaii’s cost of living has any relevance. Unless HSTA is planning on unleashing previously unseen levels of performance after it gets the money, the public will be left with schools no more effective than before, only more expensive.
Revenue and spending on the schools has actually been increasing, according to an independent audit of the DOE by N&K CPAs Inc., for the state auditor, even without a special tax. Revenues increased 12 percent from fiscal year 2015 to 2016, to $3.098 billion. In FY 2015, $2.393 was spent on school-related activities, in 2016 it was $2.498 billion.
For historical perspective, in 1998, according to the State Data Book, public school spending was $1.64 billion. In today’s dollars, that’s $2.46 billion, nearly exactly where we’re at now. Enrollment in ’98 was 188,069 students, as of the 2014-2015 school year, it’s down to 180,895. I have a hard time buying the argument that there’s some urgent, now-more-than-ever funding crisis.
That public education has no dedicated revenue stream. Gosh, no, aside from the enormous taxation powers of state government itself! Look at what the state takes out of your paycheck every two weeks. That, right there, is the dedicated revenue stream for public education, which is the single largest activity of state government….
read … Written exam in November on school tax
Feds: Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Kids Suspended Far More Often
CB: …The latest survey by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reveals that in the 2015-16 school year, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students accounted for 48 percent of all suspensions, 68 percent of expulsions and 48 percent of all school-based referrals to law enforcement. Those ethnic groups comprise just 30 percent of the student body.
As the result of their disproportionate share of out-of-school suspensions, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders accounted for more than half of all missed school days among Hawaii students overall, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection, a report that is released every two years.
That’s a cumulative 41,627 days missed by suspended Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students — three times as many days missed by Asian students and six times as many as white students, the OCR data shows.
read … Why Give These Schools More Money?
HB2748: Is Bob Nakata Act Really for Homeless Igloos?
PBN: …he former state senator from Kaneohe said he was “pretty amazed” when lawmakers took his suggestion to put $200 million into the Rental Housing Trust Fund as part of legislation dubbed the “Bob Nakata Act.”
The legislation — House Bill 2748 — was passed by House and Senate conferees on Tuesday and awaits a final vote in both chambers before heading for Gov. David Ige’s desk….
Nakata, a leader of the Faith Action for Community Equity group and a founder of Housing Now Hawaii, told Pacific Business News something needed to be done now “because homelessness has gotten so bad.”…
“I think we’ve taken a big step forward but success is not entirely assured,” he said. “Development forces are big, the homeless themselves are not necessarily the most popular people around.”
And there are always those who say not in my backyard, or NIMBY, who may say they support affordable housing but don’t want it any where near their own neighborhoods….
While some question whether lawmakers are overly optimistic about the number of affordable units the funding will help to build — at a news conference Tuesday, they said it could fund construction of more than 25,000 units between now and 2030, but one developer pointed out that it’s well known that each unit needs a subsidy of $125,000, so $200 million wouldn’t build anywhere near 25,000 units….
(But … Homeless igloos are about $10K each…. Hmmmm….)
read … Gut n Replace Mystery Bill
Saito Lawyer: Give me a deal and I’ll Rat out HGEA
SA: …The state Department of Health, which operates the State Hospital, says the attorney general is conducting an independent administrative investigation into Saito’s escape and that six hospital employees remain off the job pending the investigation’s findings….
The lawyer for Randall Saito says if the state wants to find out how the acquitted killer escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital, state lawyers should offer Saito a deal.
“If I were them I’d be offering everything,” said attorney Michael Green….
“If I was the attorney general of the state, I’d do everything I could to make sure that there’s some punishment to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Green said.
read … Rat Out the HGEA
SB2047: Push More inmates into Corrupt, Expensive UPW-Controlled Prisons
SA: …Lawmakers had been scheduled to meet today to consider Senate Bill 2047, which calls for an audit of portions of the prison system, but the House on Thursday discharged the members of a conference committee, signaling that lawmakers likely will not act on the bill.
A report by the Department of Public Safety in December indicates the system often does not comply with the requirement that inmates be returned to Hawaii a year before they are released.
According to the report, 348 inmates who were a year away from release were returned to Hawaii in 2017, but another 622 Hawaii prisoners who were within a year of their release dates were not returned.
The report explained that 233 of the inmates who weren’t returned had refused to participate in programs or were terminated from programs. Another 140 inmates were not returned to Hawaii because they had too many misconducts, and 70 others had escape histories within the past seven years that made them ineligible for minimum-custody status.
Another 59 refused parole or work furlough programs, opting instead to serve out their entire sentences. And 65 more were not returned to Hawaii as the law requires because there was not enough space in existing furlough programs, according to the report.
Mika, 48, claimed in an interview he was falsely accused of threatening a female corrections officer a month before he was supposed to return to Hawaii, and was beaten and placed in disciplinary segregation. That delayed his return to Hawaii by almost six months
read … UPW
Will The Kealoha Case Be One Big Show Or Separate Trials?
CB: A judge will soon decide whether to grant defendants’ wishes to split up the case or fulfill prosecutors’ desire to keep it intact….
read … Will The Kealoha Case Be One Big Show Or Separate Trials?
Judges, Legislators Cover Up Another CWS East Hawaii Failure
HTH: …According to court records, Honolulu attorney Joelle Segawa Kane filed the document on behalf of Tina Marie Kasten, a Florida resident and the aunt of Shaelynn Alohalani Haleaka Lehano-Stone, on Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court. The petition requests a court find that Lehano-Stone died intestate, which means without a will, and appoint Kasten as the estate’s representative….
The petition also requests that Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto, who’s assigned the case, expedite a hearing on the petition, as the statute of limitations to appoint a personal representative expires June 28, the two-year anniversary of the girl’s death.
An appointment of a personal representative is necessary before any civil lawsuit could be filed on behalf of the girl’s estate….
According to court records, Lehano-Stone was on the radar of Child Welfare Services almost from birth, and the state agency took her and at least one of her two siblings, a brother, into temporary custody in 2007.
Lehano-Stone’s case has elements reminiscent of Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” a 6-year-old who disappeared in 1997, and as it turned out, died that year, probably from septic shock due to extreme abuse. His body was discarded by his father, now serving 20 years for manslaughter. There also are similarities to the case of “Alexis,” a 10-year-old Puna girl starved and tortured in 2005 while in the care of Hyacinth Poouahi, a friend of the girl’s mother. Alexis survived, but is permanently disabled, and Poouahi is serving a 20-year prison term.
In a Feb. 7 email to state Sen. Josh Green and Rep. John Mizuno, Steve Lane, a retired private investigator appointed by Nakamoto as special master in the Peter Boy case to help determine if his surviving siblings have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, advocated for Senate Bill 2273 and House Bill 1885. Those companion bills would have established protocols that would allow children in foster care to obtain legal representation if they suffered an injury that arose to the level of civil liability and the appointment of a special master to investigate any potential tort claims.
Both bills died when the respective judiciary committees didn’t schedule hearings. The protocols in those measures were patterned after one for the 1st Circuit’s family courts established by Judge R. Mark Browning, which Lane said allowed for his appointment as special master in the Kema case….
Lane revealed in the correspondence that he petitioned Family Court on the Big Island in December, requesting to be appointed pro bono (without cost) in another extreme abuse case here, but was denied.
“Because the petition was filed in Family Court and those proceedings are confidential, I will not disclose the name of the case, victim or presiding judge,” Lane wrote. “That said, this is a fairly recent case where a young child was allegedly tortured and starved for years by her parents and ultimately died. Again there are alleged reports of the child repeatedly returned to an abusive family as occurred in the Kema case. Two other siblings in the home were removed, made wards of the state of Hawaii and placed in foster care. One of them, age 11, is reportedly almost non-verbal, likely the result of the abuse she suffered in the same home for years.”
In his email, Lane quoted what he said were numbered points the judge made in his written decision denying the appointment of a special master, including:
2. To date the 3rd Circuit has not followed or accepted the 1st Circuit Protocol Regarding Possible Torts Arising from (Hawaii Revised Statutes) Chapter 587 Cases.
3. Therefore, the 3rd Circuit decides petitions for appointment of special master on a case-by-case basis.
Lane told the lawmakers he found “several things that are troubling about this decision.”
“One, this is the same judge who approved the petition in the Peter Kema case, referencing the same protocol in the same circuit,” he wrote. “Two, the judge is also the judge assigned to preside over the criminal prosecutions of two of the three defendants who are allegedly responsible for the harm to these children.”
Nakamoto is assigned to the cases of Tiffany and Henrietta Stone (That’s two), while Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura is assigned to the case of Kevin Lehano (That’s one)….
read … Aunt in child starvation case seeks to represent estate
House Halts Bill To Water Down Financial Disclosures Of Key State Leaders
CB: Four years ago lawmakers unanimously voted to make public the financial disclosures of certain volunteers serving on some of the state’s most powerful boards and commissions.
The Legislature appeared poised to walk some of that information back until, in a surprise move Thursday, House leaders deferred a bill that would have obscured more information from the public.
Senate Bill 2609 would have allowed unpaid members of 14 boards and commissions to conceal certain information on their financial disclosure forms. The public would have been able to see a board member held stock in a particular company, for example, but not the dollar amount….
Related: SB2609 -- "The most unethical bill of the Session"
read … House Halts Bill To Water Down Financial Disclosures Of Key State Leaders
Hawaii May Soon Join The Other 49 States In Setting Police Standards
CB: The Legislature appears ready to make Hawaii the last state in the country to adopt minimum standards for law enforcement officers after Senate negotiators accepted a new proposal from their House counterparts.
House Bill 2071 originally proposed creation of a law enforcement standards board with the power to set minimum requirements, training standards for officers, and a licensing and certification process. Hawaii already licenses many other professions, including massage therapists, private security guards and barbers.
Last month the Senate passed a draft that altered the bill substantially, calling instead for a group to study the concept of such a board and for prohibiting officers fired for misconduct from being rehired by another law enforcement agency in the state.
On Wednesday the bill was heard in conference committee, where lawmakers from both chambers try to work through differences. House negotiators provided their Senate counterparts with a new, proposed draft that would create a standards board — not study it.
Senate negotiators voted to pass the draft Thursday. It will now be the subject of floor votes in both chambers. The previous versions of the bill won unanimous support in floor votes….
March, 2017: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President
read … Maybe
SB3095: After Months of Pandering to Anti-GMO Hysterics, Sanity Takes Hold?
CB: Environmental protection legislation that has been the subject of an intense lobbying and public relations campaign still has no resolution in the final days of 2018 Hawaii Legislature.
Senate Bill 3095 has drawn the interest of community groups, state and county officials, agribusinesses and the media.
It calls for mandatory disclosure of pesticide use, a reporting and regulation program and the establishment of buffer zones around schools when restricted-use pesticides are sprayed.
The measure would also ban the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient in 2019, although the state Department of Agriculture could grant temporary permits allowing its use through 2021…
The bill also requires sign-off from the money committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Failure to get that approval is often what kills dozens of bills on the last day of the Legislature’s conference committee period.
That day is Friday, and House and Senate conferees are scheduled to met on SB 3095 at 10 a.m. They have until a deadline of 6 p.m. to work things out.
As of Thursday, that was not a done deal….
MI: Histrionic Pesticide Legislation Remains Stalled in the Hawaii State Senate
read … Just Pandering to the anti-GMO idiots?
State House and Senate fail to reach agreement on short-term rentals
SA: …Lawmakers appear to have failed for a third straight year to resolve the conundrum over how best to tap into millions of dollars in uncollected state taxes from short-term vacation rentals without encouraging or endorsing illegal operators.
House and Senate negotiators working on House Bill 2605 deferred the measure indefinitely Thursday, citing opposing positions.
The Senate pushed a plan to allow so-called transient accommodations brokers like Airbnb to register as tax collection agents with the state to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of vacation rental operators.
That plan aimed to deter unlawful operators by making it a crime for home-sharing platforms to do business with those who break county zoning laws.
The House, meanwhile, had proposed a plan to incentivize the counties with $1 million “carrots” to regulate short-term rentals by coming up with a special property tax bracket for transient accommodations; developing a process to issue permits for short-term rentals and collect applicable taxes; and establishing an appeals process for denied permits.
Honolulu has long struggled with the issue of short-term rentals, prompting efforts by state lawmakers to intervene. By some counts there are 30,000 illegal short-term rentals in Hawaii, mostly on Oahu, where the city ceased issuing permits for transient rentals nearly 30 years ago. Except for grandfathered properties, short-term rentals are permitted only in areas zoned for resort use on the island, but that hasn’t deterred hundreds of illegal operators.
Opponents have faulted past legislative proposals for turning a blind eye to unlawful operators in exchange for the tax revenues….
read … State House and Senate fail to reach agreement on short-term rentals
Law Allows Maui County to Enlist private sector to cut Upcountry water list backlog
MN: …this could be solved relatively quickly, if the county were to take advantage of an obscure state law.
Currently, the Maui Department of Water Supply has been processing only 60 applications per year — making only a small dent each year in a backlog that currently stands at 1,728 properties.
Department of Water Supply officials say the major reason for the delay is lack of staffing. Currently, the department’s engineering division is short two engineers, leaving only two others to deal with the entire Upcountry water meter list….
Hiring a private contractor to help would be an obvious solution, but thanks to a 1997 state Supreme Court ruling known as the Konno decision, there are significant legal barriers in Hawaii to going down that path.
Fortunately, Hawaii Revised Statute 76-77 (7) does give the county the power to temporarily hire contractors when “personnel to perform the service cannot be obtained through normal civil service recruitment procedures,”albeit for only a year.
Under that law, a county’s personnel director is empowered to determine whether a department should temporarily use private contractors to address a county’s needs….
read … Enlist private sector to cut water list backlog
Banning Many Sunscreen Products Will Increase Skin Cancer Risk
CB: …The danger to coral reefs is unproven. Besides, the majority of sunscreen users never get close to the ocean….
Today, more than 70 percent of all sunscreens contain the critical ingredients oxybenzone or octinoxate for a good reason: they provide the vital broad-spectrum protection for high SPF sunscreens to block both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays that can cause skin aging, skin damage and skin cancer. These medical ingredients are proven safe and effective, and are critical for skin cancer prevention.
But Hawaii legislators are currently considering a ban on these sunscreens. Why? Because they are either being dramatically misled by one questionable article that blames sunscreens for our damaged coral reefs or appear to avoid dealing with the real causes of reef damage. If only it was so simple that we could save our reefs by banning these sunscreen ingredients.
Non-melanoma skin cancer affects 3.5 million Americans every year. One million Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer. Melanoma is now No. 7 in cancer-caused fatalities in the United States. Another 178,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year….
It’s not just the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii Department of Health, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Dermatology and the Hawaii Dermatological Society that understand the importance of sunscreens. Two out of three people in Hawaii say they use sunscreens, and four out of five Hawaii parents use sunscreens to protect their children, in addition to the over 9 million visitors who come to Hawaii from around the world each year.
The majority of sunscreen users never get close to the ocean. They go to work, school or for their daily outdoor exercise. Or they may be protecting themselves due to a medical condition worsened by sun exposure.
The very early, limited and questionable “science” that falsely accuses sunscreens of causing reef damage is dwarfed by volumes of local and international studies about the real threats to reefs: sewage, pollution, and the biggest offender, climate change. How is it that Midway island’s reef or the Great Barrier reef suffers the same damage as Oahu, but without the population and sunscreens?….
read … Banning Many Sunscreen Products Will Increase Skin Cancer Risk