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Thursday, September 06, 2018
September 6, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:24 PM :: 918 Views

HSTA Rental Tax: Expedited Hearing for Counties Lawsuit 

Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Laws Written by Gut n Replace Method

Climate Commission Grabs for Control of Waikiki

JSC Nominates Six for Appeals Court Vacancy

Hirono: Kavanaugh 'Critical' 8th Vote in Rice v Cayetano 

OHA Hires Auditor to Look at 'Fraud, Waste, and Abuse'

PAC Formed to Oppose HSTA Rental Tax

KGI: …The Affordable Hawaii Coalition PAC, a coalition of concerned citizens and community organizations representing diverse interests from across the state – has been formed to inform the public about the negative effects of this proposed constitutional amendment and to stop this new tax.

It is urging business leaders to speak to other businesses and community organizations; provide information to employees; write letters to the editor of your local newspaper and post information on social media.

“The proposed amendment establishes a new tax on real properties that would take money from the counties’ only source of funding for critical services like police, fire, park maintenance, road repairs, garbage pickup, etc. The counties are already struggling due to a lack of resources,” the coalition’s report says.

It warns that “the impact will be felt not just by local property owners, but by the people and businesses who rent from them. The result will be higher residential rents and business leases and an increase in the cost of goods and services.”

local officials feel they have a reason to be fearful. Not only could the county lose control over its primary revenue source, but it’s very likely its bond rating would suffer as well, Miura said. Losing control of its tax base could result in a lower bond rating and consequently, higher interest rates on county borrowing, she said.

“We can’t afford to open the door and let the state start taking county funds for state departments,” said Miura. “Once you open the door we can’t stop it.”

Currently, the constitution states, “all functions, powers and duties relating to the taxation of real property shall be exercised exclusively by the counties.” If the ballot initiative passes, this wording will be appended, “provided that the legislature may establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property.”…

The Kauai Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the amendment….

CB: Do The School Tax Ballot Question Right Or Don’t Do It At All

read … Oppose

Legislators, Hawaii County Dicker over Relief Package

SA: … Hawaii County officials met House lawmakers at the state Capitol on Wednesday to urge them to convene a special session to provide another $17.4 million in state funding for the county’s “immediate needs” for recovery from the damage done by Kilauea Volcano lava.

However, House Speaker Scott Saiki said lawmakers are not yet ready to commit to that plan, and urged county officials to search for other ways to finance the near-term recovery effort.

That could include asking Gov. David Ige to tap into the $125 million that was earmarked last spring for flood recovery on Kauai and Oahu, because much of that money has not been spent, Saiki said….

The latest estimate presented to lawmakers Wednesday by Executive Assistant Roy Takemoto and county Research & Development Director Diane Ley is that $765 million will be needed in state, federal and county funding.

Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim did not attend the Wednesday meeting, but has said only about $100 million of that would be the state’s share.

Saiki said one concern raised at the meeting is the county eruption recovery plan assumes about $440 million would be covered by the federal government through Community Development Block Grant funds, “but there’s no commitment by the federal government to provide those funds at this point.”…

The total package of “immediate needs” for the county amounts to more than $61 million, with $30 million of that yet to be requested from the state or federal governments, Ley said. County officials want another $5 million to be provided to state agencies to help with the lava flow recovery effort, and are seeking $17.4 million from lawmakers in a special session.

That last category includes $2.2 million for operational support such as employee overtime; $2.6 million for housing assistance; nearly $5 million for relocation and support for agricultural operations; and $3.15 million to relocate the Kua O Ka La Public Charter School that was displaced by the lava flow.

Another $2 million is being requested for revitalization of Pahoa Village business district, including improvements such as a parking lot and visitors center, Takemoto said….

read … Hawaii County officials seek millions in lava aid

Mental capacity at core of Kawananakoa case

SA: …The Honolulu tax attorney who drafted Abigail Kawananakoa’s $215 million trust says the Campbell Estate heiress was always adamant about protecting the largest part of her estate for the Native Hawaiian community.

What’s more, Steven Rinesmith says both he and Kawananakoa’s former attorney and now-trustee, James Wright, were admonished by their client to defend her trust against anyone who would alter its intent and meaning after she was either deceased or unable to handle her affairs.

That’s why, Rinesmith says in court documents, Kawananakoa insisted he write the trust document with a disability clause requiring a higher level of mental capacity for her to maintain control as trustee….

A psychiatrist hired by the court to conduct a medical evaluation concluded that Kawananakoa does not have the mental capacity to manage her own financial affairs as a result of the stroke.

However, a special master assigned to advise the judge is recommending that Kawananakoa be declared mentally capable of changing or revoking her trust and also of removing and replacing the trustee. James Kawachika said Kawananakoa needs only testamentary capacity, or the minimum level required to make out a will.

A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10 on a petition to reverse Wright’s appointment as trustee. If he is removed, it would not only return control to Kawananakoa but pave the way for the trust to be turned over to a trio of trustees, one of them being Worth…. 

HNN: Court-appointed official says heiress Kawananakoa may be victim of 'undue influence'

KITV: "Greedy and not Pono": friends of Hawaiian heiress concerned about wife's management of fortune

Related: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality

read … Mental capacity at core of Kawananakoa case

Caldwell TVR ‘Compromise’ Pleases Nobody at Hearing

SA: … Most of the nearly 50 people who testified on Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposed short-term vacation rental bill Wednesday found something to dislike about it.

One segment of those who spoke said the omnibus bill goes too far by allowing an unlimited number of bed-and-breakfast establishments in Oahu’s residential districts while another group said the measure would be too onerous for families just trying to make a few extra dollars to get by.

With 35 registered speakers yet to speak and time running out for the allotted use of the Mission Memorial Auditorium, the Honolulu Planning Commission halted the hearing at 4 p.m. and will resume taking testimony at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 19….

SA: Editorial: Vacation rental bill a good start

read … Most speak against vacation rental bill

Maui County Pays Contractor to Hunt Down Illegal TVRs Online

MN: … The Maui News – Maui County and the Maui Visitors Bureau have begun implementing a 10-year tourism strategic plan that, among other goals, aims to discourage visitors from staying in illegal vacation rentals.

“Airbnb and VRBO have been game changers in visitor accommodations booking,” said county Office of Economic Development Director Teena Rasmussen. “Visitors are finding their way into every neighborhood within the county. . . . Residents have expressed frustration over additional noise from partying, congestion and the takeover of workforce housing.”

There was no immediate estimate on the number of legal and illegal vacation rentals in Maui County.

The county has hired LODGINGRevs, a Colorado-based company that specializes in rooting out illegal short-term rentals. The company extracts data from photographs to locate properties and can overcome vacation rental operators’ online efforts to remain undetected.

According to an announcement of the strategic plan’s implementation, the Office of Economic Development and Maui Visitors Bureau have consulted with the county Department of Planning to develop visitor messaging to discourage booking illegal vacation rentals.

Visitors will be encouraged to ask if transient vacation rentals are legal, and visitors will be referred to the county website, which will help them find listings for legal accommodations. Eventually, MVB will purchase advertising on popular visitor sites to spread the message.

“Illegal TVRs were discussed multiple times during the (County) Council budget process this year,” said MVB Executive Director Sherry Duong. “The council earmarked funding to help create this messaging.”….

read … Tourism strategic plan is launched

Large sums of cash help major candidates, but not necessarily those backed by super PACs

SA: The winners of the Democratic and Republican party nominations for governor and lieutenant governor in last month’s primary election all outspent their opponents on their way to victory….

Incumbent Democratic Gov. David Ige spent $2.64 million to defeat U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, his biggest challenger, who spent $2.18 million in her unsuccessful bid. From July 28 to Aug. 11, Hanabusa spent $289,675 to Ige’s $267,988.

Ige reported receiving $2.28 million over the campaign while Hanabusa reported total receipts of $2.17 million. During the last two weeks of the campaign, Hanabusa outraised Ige $206,467 to $120,489.

Ige reported $206,883 in cash on hand, which did not factor in $47,591 in unpaid expenditures, leaving him a cash surplus of $159,292.

That’s a large jump on state Rep. Andria Tupola, the Republican nominee for governor, who reported $11,731 in available cash, which does not factor in $11,220 in outstanding loans that leave her a surplus of $511.

Tupola reported $318,134 in receipts over the entire campaign, $16,322 in the last two weeks. That’s far greater than the $42,889 collected by former state Sen. John Carroll, who received only $50 in the last two weeks.

Tupola spent $320,083, far more than Carroll’s $50,540…..

Among the GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, Marissa Kerns spent $19,070 to second-place finisher Steve Lipscomb’s $10,149 and third-place finisher Jeremy Low’s $9,817.

A large percentage of each of their campaigns was through self-financing. Kerns loaned her campaign $15,000, Lipscomb loaned his campaign $5,000 and Low loaned his campaign $19,801….

read … Large sums of cash help major candidates, but not necessarily those backed by super PACs

Feds Force Hawaii DOE To Strengthen Its Student Discipline Code

CB: …Chapter 19, the Hawaii administrative law governing student misconduct and discipline, came under fire from federal officials last year for its vagueness, lack of grievance procedures for students alleging harassment on the basis of race, sex or disability and its lack of a provision to notify students and families where and how to file complaints.

The student disciplinary code, the feds concluded in a letter sent to school superintendent Christina Kishimoto in January, does not comply with federal laws designed to protect students against race, sex and disability-based harassment.

Now, under the terms of a settlement struck with the federal government late last year, the Hawaii Department of Education is poised to revise Chapter 19 for the first time in a decade.

DOE officials are expected to present to the Hawaii Board of Education on Thursday proposed amendments to Chapter 19 that seek to fill in those gaps flagged by the federal government.

The proposed amendments include a “clear and easily understood explanation” of where and to whom to file a complaint of bullying or harassment based on those protected classes; “reasonably prompt time frames” for the stages of a school investigation into an incident; definitions and examples of what may constitute race, sex and disability-based harassment against students; and notice of potential remedies for parties, among other provisions.

If the board approves the amendments, the education department will hold hearings to collect public input and feedback on them before the end of the year, according to a compliance timeline drafted by the DOE.….

read … Hawaii DOE Looks To Strengthen Its Student Discipline Code

Hawaii County Council: Keanu Sai Followers Show up to Support Absent Doper Ruggles

WHT: …“As a Hawaiian subject, I am a protected person. … This body illegally enacts United States laws in violation of the Hague and Geneva conventions, and as a victim of war crimes that stem from this unlawful legislation, I demand that this body immediately cease and desist.”

Not once, not twice, not three times, but at least 20 times, those words were uttered, along with a dozen sentences in between, as residents of every stripe, from all corners of the island, came to the County Council meeting Wednesday to support Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles in her stance questioning U.S. law in Hawaii….

Sovereignty activist Kale Gumapac (who lost his house because he followed Keanu Sai’s mortgage scam to the end) said the letter was drafted by a group who wanted to present a unified voice to the council. Another 10 or so testifiers used their own words on the same topic, during two hours of testimony…. 

VIDEO: Hawaiian Kingdom Supporters Tell Council “Cease & Desist”

read … Crowd comes out to support Ruggles

Homeless Leave Drug-Related Trash All Over Moiliili Park

KITV: …"The bathrooms need some work because the toilets there are very dirty, and the playground needs some work so the kids can come and play safely at the playground and there's lots of trash and drug related trash definitely needs clean- up,"…

BI: San Francisco's out-of-control homelessness crisis could be combated by a new tracking tool

read … Honolulu parks in the Mo'ili'ili area are closed until November for repairs

Homeless Overrun Wahiawa Birthing Stones, Rob Visitors at Gunpoint

HPR: …Kukaniloko is known as the birthing stones of the Hawaiian royalty. The most sacred and highest ranking ali’i traveled there to give birth on the large stone formation. But in recent years an encampment of homeless has taken hold in the area. Concern for visitors to the area has become an issue after a recent gunpoint robbery….

read … OHA Considers Management Plan for Wahiawa Birthing Stones

From Hawaii to Vermont, States Tackle Efficiency Standards

NRDC: …Hawaii held a hearing for a state standards bill, but it didn’t pass the committee. This is not unusual in state legislatures, though. It often takes a cycle or two for lawmakers to get comfortable with a concept and get it done. We’re thrilled that no matter which coast you’re on (or in the middle of the Pacific, in Hawaii’s case), appliance standards have gained steam….

UD: States could save $16B annually through energy efficiency policies: report

read … Standards

Kauai Scientists: Absence of Snorkel Rentals Leads to Restoration of our Reef

KGI: …Four months after the April flood that put the North Shore off-limits to visitors and most others, there was talk of a rejuvenation of marine life. More coral and more fish, thanks to there being almost no people in the water.

Without the constant streams of tourists venturing out to snorkel and play and to hike the Kalalau, there was talk of a quieter, more peaceful, most serene lifestyle again. A return to the good ole’ days.

read … Ban Snorkel Rentals

Pierre Omidyar’s Employee Glenn Greenwald says White House ‘Coward’ Behind Anonymous Op-ed Part of ‘Unelected Cabal’

B: …The Intercept co-founder and Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday evening lambasted the senior White House official – who admitted in an anonymously written opinion-editorial to subverting President Donald Trump’s America First agenda – as an un-self-aware “coward,” part of an “unelected cabal.”….

As Explained: “If you’re answering to Omidyar you’re really not independent.”

Oh, and one more thing: After Syria Chemical Attack Tulsi Gabbard Still Flacking for Russia and Assad

(Between Civil Beat and Tulsi Gabbard, it is difficult to see any Hawaii-based complaints against Trump’s alleged Russia connections as anything other than jealousy.)

read … Omidyar

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