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Saturday, June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:50 PM :: 1232 Views

PUC Orders $107M Hawaii Electric Rate CUT--Thanks to President Donald J Trump

Supreme Court Legalizes Internet Sales Tax--And Hawaii May Get Nothing

Interior Announces Funds to Extend Yap Robotics League Program to Pohnpei, Chuuk

Caldwell: Creating HART was a Mistake

KHON: …Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is allowing six bills to become law without his signature.  The bills relate to the city and rail budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1….

His issue, Caldwell explained Friday, is with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

"People felt that it was not good to have politicians involved in issuing of contracts and awarding awards and managing the project. So they created HART to remove politics from this budget. That meant removing both the executive branch and the legislative branch, and so we have very limited oversight of the HART budget," he said. "Now if you ask me if I was to do it again, I would not create HART. I would like to have it over DTS (the city Department of Transportation Services), so I could have direct input. Right now, I have all the responsibility and none of the authority, and sometimes I find that very frustrating."….

SA: As he has done with other budget bills since he became mayor in 2013, Caldwell raised a long-running issue about whether his administration and the Council are authorized to amend budgets adopted by the semi-autonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The Council lowered HART’s operating budget and made adjustments that are HART-related to the six other budgets before approving them June 6.  Former Mayor Peter Car­lisle, Caldwell’s predecessor, also returned HART budgets without signature.

read … Mayor takes issue with HART, allows budget bills to become law without his signature

Caldwell Wants Council to Approve City Bonds for rail—Doesn’t Have Very Convincing Sales Pitch

CB: …Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking the City Council for the go-ahead to issue and sell $44 million in bonds to cover administrative costs of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, even though the agency has said it doesn’t need the money right now.

Rail’s federal partners have “indirectly” said they want the city to float those bonds to show Honolulu’s commitment to building the 20-mile train, Caldwell said at a press conference Friday.

“We’re going to actually give HART money they don’t need, which doesn’t generate fiscal responsibility at all. It’d be like giving a kid money they’re not asking for and expecting them not to spend it,” Caldwell said…. (That’s his sales pitch?)

Honolulu Budget Director Nelson Koyanagi clarified after the press conference that those city funds will in fact be used, replacing replacing federal and state funds that HART would have otherwise spent in the upcoming fiscal year.

“You can’t issue bonds and just hold onto the money. You need to spend it within a certain period of time,” Koyanagi said. “And so because we’re issuing it today we need to spend it today. Consequently the amount of other bonds would be reduced, and probably issued later down the line.”

Before the city can issue the bonds, the council must pass Bill 42 to lift the ban on using city funds for rail construction. Until then, only state and federal revenues can be used to build rail. Issuing bonds can take months, Koyanagi said, and he said he aims to issue the $44 million by mid-August.

In early March, a council shakeup put rail critics in power and Bill 42 has stalled since late February….

read … Caldwell Wants To Sell $44 Million In City Bonds For Rail

Raid of attorney's home connected to massive public corruption case

HNN: …Deputy U.S. Marshals, Homeland Security agents and Honolulu Police participated in the raid of attorney Christopher Woo's home.

Woo had a warrant for skipping his appearance before the federal grand jury investigating city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, former Honolulu Police Department Chief Louis Kealoha and his deputy prosecutor wife, Katherine….

HNN cameras were there on the day Woo was supposed to appear before the grand jury.

He showed up very late and was disheveled as he tried to go through court security while on the phone explaining his tardiness.

Woo was in custody after the raid, and then was released after appearing in court….

read … Raid of attorney's home connected to massive public corruption case

New UBER bills introduced

SA: …Mayor Kirk Caldwell said a bill he submitted Thursday to the Honolulu City Council will “level the playing field” for ride-hailing companies and traditional taxicab companies.

Meanwhile, Councilman Trevor Ozawa introduced his own measure, Bill 43, which requires all private transportation companies to provide more information to passengers….

The bills come on the heels of Caldwell’s veto Tuesday of Bill 35, which mandates a cap on how much ride-hailing companies can charge during peak hours. Uber and Lyft drivers objected to the bill, arguing a cap would disrupt their business model. Traditional taxi companies, however, were unhappy about Caldwell’s veto.

It’s unclear if Council members, who approved Bill 35 by a 6-3 vote, will try to override the veto. An override requires six votes.

Instead of capping the amount ride-hailing companies can charge, Caldwell’s new proposal, which had yet to be stamped as a numbered bill Thursday, strips away traditional taxi regulations and lets cabbies operate in the same manner as Uber and Lyft drivers.

It allows taxicab companies or drivers to either provide a fixed, upfront cost similar to Uber and Lyft drivers, or stick to the traditional method of using taxi meters that calculate fares based on mileage and time that’s set by the city Customer Services director. A new “all in” ceiling or taxi meters would also factor in surge pricing or other costs, city administration officials said.

The new bill also requires disclosure of any total ride fare in advance so customers can accept or reject their rides based on that information.

“Honolulu residents and visitors alike should have a choice in transportation options,” Caldwell said, in a news release….

Background: Caldwell: Loosen Taxi Regs for Everybody

read … New transportation bills introduced

Cataluna: Voters Need to teach Joker Kaniela Ing a Lesson 

Cataluna: …How can Ing ask voters to trust him to make laws when he can’t be trusted to follow them? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, particularly when you’re a lawmaker.

Of course, with Kaniela Ing, there’s more than just messing with campaign money. There was the resume-padding and the ticket for no- insurance on Maui that eventually led to his arrest. In that incident, he claimed for months that the cops tagged him while he was sitting in an undriveable old car that was parked on his street. Later, he admitted that actually yeah, just like the cop said, he was driving the car.

But aw shucks. He’s just a poor local boy and you know what? He tries so hard.

On behalf of all self-made local boys and girls who never had it easy, work crazy hours, take care of babies, follow a true call to serv­ice leadership and still manage to play it straight and obey the law and account for every hard-earned dollar that goes to their rent and their groceries, Kaniela Ing needs to drop out of the race.

If the Democratic Party doesn’t kick him to the curb and the campaign spending commission can’t work up the guts to send the case to the prosecutors, and the feds don’t step in, the voters need to teach this joker a lesson….

read … Teach This Joker a Lesson

Star-Adv: Ing betrays trust of donors

SA: …State Rep. Kaniela Ing has been ordered to pay $15,000 for a raft of campaign spending violations, including filing 23 false reports and using campaign funds to cover his personal rent repeatedly and a credit card bill for his domestic partner. Where to start?

(At least we now know what Ing really meant by “Get Money Out of Politics”)

At first, many gave the millennial politico the benefit of a doubt, believing in his line that the “inadvertent mistakes” were due to his inexperience.

But in scouring through five years of Ing’s bank records, the state Campaign Spending Commission found the many violations and still couldn’t account for how he spent more than $80,000 in contributions. In Wednesday’s appearance before the panel, Ing — a candidate for Congress, remember — even had the gall to try to blame a bank teller for not catching the fact that he had deposited a $2,000 campaign check into his personal bank account.

“Mistakes happen, yeah, but to blame the teller is not that nice,” admonished commission Chairman Bryan Luke.

Despite Ing’s trail of excuses for his failings, commissioners could not bring themselves to refer his case for criminal prosecution. Incredulously, one commissioner even remarked: Such a “prosecution could end this man’s career and there are not enough good politicians.”

The consideration here should not have been to Ing’s career, but to the true damage: that the violations erode precious confidence and trust in our politicians and political process. People invested money and hope in Ing — in his political potential, anyway — and that has been abused. Surely, that’s worth more, much more, than a mere $15,000 fine.

read … Ing betrays trust of donors

Closed voting sites and early absentee ballots raise concerns in Puna

SA:  …Political candidates running for office in areas heavily affected by Kilauea’s ongoing volcanic eruption on Hawaii island are complaining that the state Office of Elections is confusing voters and unnecessarily shutting down walk-in voting locations on the day of primary elections.

Both Pahoa Community Center and Pahoa High and Intermediate School will be closed to voting Aug. 11 with no alternative walk-in location available.

One County Council candidate is also concerned that plans to send absentee ballots to affected residents weeks ahead of schedule to compensate for the closures will give incumbents an unfair advantage.

“They are basically pre-empting the election,” said Frederic Wirick, who is running for the Hawaii County Council District 5 seat, representing western Puna, against incumbent Jennifer Ruggles….

Wirick, as well as Hawaii County Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara, are pushing the Office of Elections to keep Pahoa High and Intermediate School open for same-day, walk-in voting. They say the location is being regularly used and is not at risk from the lava….

O’Hara said she hoped the elections office would reconsider opening Pahoa High and Intermediate School for same-day voting this year.

However, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago said he wasn’t willing to do that for safety reasons. In addition to the lava flows, area residents have had to contend with toxic fumes from the eruption. Pahoa Community Center is serving as a shelter, so it could not be used.

To compensate for the closures, the Office of Elections plans to send out absentee ballots Monday to 6,000 registered voters in the two precincts.

Nago said that he’s also looking for a location that can host early walk-in voting in the area from July 30 through Aug. 9. Voters in the precinct also can cast ballots at any of the other four early walk-in locations on the island, which are in Hilo, Kona, Pahala and Kamuela.

Voters who have left the area can re-register to vote at a new location as late as Election Day….

Related: Candidate Q&A: Hawaii County Council District 5 — Frederic Wirick

read … Closed voting sites and early absentee ballots raise concerns in Puna

Charter school co-founder looks to future after eruption

SA: …With access to the school at 14-5322 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Road cut off, staff scrambled to evacuate and find new facilities to finish the school year, which wrapped up May 31. Students finished school at two locations in Hilo: the New Hope church in Waiakea for the elementary school students and the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island for the middle and high school students.

While the original school campus along the shoreline remains intact, there is no way of knowing when it will be available again. The school, however, will remain open, she said, and has committed to holding classes in Hilo for the fall.

“It’s especially important that people understand the school is open, that we’re resilient and operational,” she said. “This is so difficult on our community, and education is an important stabilizing factor. We want to stay in Hilo for next year. We committed to that, to being in Hilo.”

Osborne, 61, along with Keikialoha Kekipi, a lineal descendant of the area, co-founded Kua o ka La Public Charter School. The school opened its doors in 2002 on 600 acres of historic and cultural land owned by Kamehameha Schools near Ahalanui warm ponds.

She estimates at least a third of staff and families whose kids attended that school have been displaced by the eruptions. In the last school year, there were about 230 students from preschool to grade 12. The school has a staff of about 38.

“I’m focused on the school and the future of stabilizing the community,” said Osborne.

The Hawaiian-focused charter school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers dual-credit classes for high school and college in the fields of forestry, agriculture, marine biology, culinary arts and digital technology.

Long-term solutions are needed for those who have been displaced, said Osborne, and she hopes to be part of a county planning commission tasked with recommending initiatives to address four sectors affected by the eruption: housing, agriculture, employment and education. She envisions a new school campus as well as a satellite college campus in a new community….

read … Charter school co-founder looks to future after eruption

OHA Passes out Cash in Hanalei

KGI: …The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recently distributed the first set of disaster relief checks to 58 Native Hawaiians households impacted by the April flood on Kauai.

The checks were distributed at OHA’s Board meeting at the Waipa Foundation in Hanalei….

On June 7, the OHA Board announced a relief package of emergency loans and $500,000 in aid for Native Hawaiians impacted by the natural disasters on Kauai and Hawaii Island.

Since then, OHA began collaborating with Catholic Charities Hawaii to distribute $200,000 in OHA funds to Native Hawaiian households on Kauai affected by the flood….

In addition, OHA is partnering with the Waipa Foundation to distribute $50,000 to kalo farmers affected by the flooding and is also offering disaster relief loans for a variety of needs….

read … 58 Checks

Elon Musk Abandons 14 Gigantic Solar Farms

PBN: Tesla plans to close more than a dozen solar installation facilities across the country, amid a pullback of SolarCity, which it acquired for $2.6 billion in 2016, Reuters reports, citing internal documents and interviews with current and former employees.

Tesla plans to close 13 or 14 solar installation facilities in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona and Delaware, Reuters reports. The remaining 60 installation facilities will remain open….

Musk weathered sharp criticism in 2016 when he argued why Tesla needed to buy SolarCity. The company was cofounded by Musk's cousins and he had personally invested in it, sat on its board of directors, and was its single largest shareholder. Musk converted his SolarCity stake to an estimated $500 million worth of Tesla stock in the deal (causing himself to laugh uncontrollably).

A group of shareholders sued, saying Musk had hurt Tesla by acquiring SolarCity. In March, a judge in the lawsuit allowed the case to proceed, despite Tesla’s attempts to kill it….

read … Precisely as Predicted

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