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Friday, September 07, 2018
September 7, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:44 PM :: 2102 Views

Hawaii: Lowest Level of Food Insecurity in USA

Nov 6 Ballot: PAR Publishes Con Con Backgrounder

States with the Biggest Bullying Problems

Honolulu rail contractor seeks ‘mega-substantial’ settlement over construction delays

SA: …The contractor installing the driverless operating system for the city’s 20-mile Honolulu rail project has filed a “mega-substantial” claim with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation seeking compensation for construction delays on the project.

HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins declined to say how much money contractor Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture is seeking because a settlement in the dispute is still being negotiated.

The claim was filed about 18 months ago, and seeks a “mega-substantial” amount, according to HART board member Ember Shinn….

Ansaldo signed a $1.4 billion contract with the city in 2011 that included $574 million for the design and construction of the train control systems, and also for delivery of 80 train vehicles. Ansaldo is also to be paid $830 million for operating and maintaining the rail system over 14 years….

Ansaldo is claiming damages because of the delays, but the claim is mostly based on the $574 million design and construction portion of the contract, Robbins said….

read … Honolulu rail contractor seeks ‘mega-substantial’ settlement over construction delays

Hawaii sues for info on Airbnb owners who aren't paying taxes

HNN: …The attorney general is going to court to force popular vacation rental site Airbnb to turn over documents dating back to 2008 about who is renting out property and what money they've made.

The motion is set to go before a judge Oct. 5.

The state says it believes that many vacation rental owners are failing to report and pay general excise tax and transient accommodation taxes, and they're asking the court to order Airbnb to turn over the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and bank information for potentially thousands of owners.

The state says it needs to use a subpoena against Airbnb because it hasn't been able to get the information in other ways.

"I am very proud of the state Department of Taxation for stepping forward and saying we want to get this information we want to assess whether there's up to $2 million in taxes due to this state," said state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who district includes Kailua and Kaneohe. "That’s serious money. But more serious than that, we need to crack down on these illegal whole house rentals that are taking the rental stock away from local people."

If the judge rules in the state's favor, its goal is to find out who's been paying — and who hasn't. 

"If they haven't been paying taxes it's unlikely they would facing criminal penalties depending on how they have avoided paying taxes," said state Director of Taxation Linda Takayama. "But certainly our first attempt is to get the taxes paid. There will be penalties and interest applied if they have not been paying."….

A report earlier this year from the Hawaii Appleseed Center estimated that 1 in 24 homes in the islands is a vacation rental. And of the state's 23,000 vacation rentals, more than half are owned by non-residents….

read … Hawaii sues for info on Airbnb owners who aren't paying taxes

Hawaii County Planning Commission seeks stricter short-term rental rules

WHT: …In an almost all-day session Thursday, the advisory board recommended greater changes even than the county Planning Department, which had 16 of its own proposed revisions to Bill 108. The bill, already more than a year in the making, goes to its next stop Sept. 20, when the Leeward Planning Commission takes it up.

Commissioners questioned why the bill applies only to unhosted short-term rentals, which are rentals of 30 days or less where the dwelling owner does not live on the property. What about also regulating people who rent out rooms in their homes or in buildings on their property, they asked.

Commissioners pointed to the estimates of 2,600 to 5,000 short-term rentals already advertising on the island….

read … Planning Commission seeks stricter short-term rental rules

Board of Education To Wait On Approving New Student Discipline Code

CB: The Hawaii Board of Education on Thursday decided to hold off on approving proposed changes to an administrative rule governing student misconduct and discipline to give state education officials time to modify the revisions based on community and board members’ concerns.

Largely, the concerns centered around the definitions of what constitutes bullying and whether it’s abundantly clear that the new grievance procedures apply equally to students who are bullied indiscriminately and to those based on the protected classes of race, national origin, sex and disability.

Board members from the finance/infrastructure and student achievement subcommittees decided to postpone taking a vote on approval until the first week of October so the state education department can clarify language before there is a public hearing on the issue….

SA: School board seeks stronger anti-bullying rules

read … Board of Education To Wait On Approving New Student Discipline Code

Airlines servicing Hawaii continue to throw support behind independent airport authority

PBN: In its recent move to invest $200 million in Hawaii airports, United Airlines joined other airlines servicing the Islands in supporting the creation of an independent airport authority to oversee state's 15 airports.

“As a member of the Airlines Committee of Hawaii, United is committed to supporting the state’s long term, multi-billion dollar airport capital improvement program which includes the refurbishment of the main International Terminal at Honolulu and the development of the airport’s Diamond Head concourse,” an airline spokesman said in an email to PBN.

The Airlines Committee of Hawaii has led efforts to establish a Hawaii airport authority for the past several years, though it has failed to pass the state Legislature.

“We support the concept of an independent airport authority for Hawaii similar to airport authorities operating throughout the country,” United (NYSE: UAL) added.

Establishing an airport corporation would transfer the operations of the state’s airports from the state Department of Transportation to an independent agency dedicated to managing and improving Hawaii’s airports. Airlines and stakeholders believe this would speed up the rate at which improvement projects are completed, and ultimately generate more economic opportunities for the state.

In the past 25 years, 13 major U.S. airport operators have made the switch to an independent authority model….

PBN: How Hawaii's airports will generate over $600M in energy cost savings over 20 years

read … Airlines servicing Hawaii continue to throw support behind independent airport authority

Wood-Burning Power Plant Raises Environmental Concerns

CB: …A facility that plans to burn 30 truckloads of eucalyptus logs daily requires massive amounts of water for cooling….“This will impact my business,” she said of a B&B operation located about 15 miles away in Hilo’s Keaukaha community…..

read … Wood-Burning Power Plant Raises Environmental Concerns

In wake of park closures, homeless encampments pop up on nearby streets

HNN: …A day after city crews closed three parks in the urban core, homeless encampments are popping up on nearby streets….

Last month, Hawaii News Now reported that residents who lived near the Old Stadium Park said it had turned into a haven for illegal drug use.

At least 84 people have been arrested in Old Stadium Park since the start of 2018, and more than 300 citations have been issued to park users during that stretch — the majority of them for being in the park after hours. …

MN: Judge inclined to release redacted mental reports

read … In wake of park closures, homeless encampments pop up on nearby streets

That Long Line For A Driver’s License May Get Even Longer

CB: …The number of expiring driver’s licenses increased from about 2,000 per month in the summer of 2017 to about 12,000 per month this summer. It will continue to climb through October, when the city Department of Customer Services is bracing for about 13,000 expiring driver’s licenses.

DCS Director Sheri Kajiwara said through a spokesman that she could not give a definite explanation for the spike.

But at a City Council parks committee meeting last week she cited a 2010 state law that made driver’s licenses valid for eight years instead of six as a possible reason for the spike. The impacts of the law are being felt now, eight years later, said Kajiwara.

That would seem to at least explain the low number of expiring licenses last year, since anyone renewing their license after the law’s passage would only now be facing possible expiration of an eight-year license….

A few other things that happened this summer exacerbated the backlog.

In March, the city announced that it had lost scanned documents of about 66,500 people due to malfunctioning hard disks maintained by a vendor contracted to issue driver’s licenses and state identification cards. As a result, 44,000 people needed to bring original copies of their documents to city centers, Kajiwara told the parks committee.

Then in June the city’s mainframe computer system malfunctioned. About 2,000 people who had appointments needed to come back another time, Kajiwara said. The city opened the Kapalama center on Saturday, June 30, to try to make up for it.

When the centers closed for two days as Hurricane Lane threatened Oahu last month, another 1,200 people lost their appointments.  …

A few other factors may have caused lines to get longer, Kajiwawa said. Starting in October 2020, anyone boarding an airplane or accessing military bases must have a state ID marked with a gold star, which the city began issuing in January. Some residents thought they needed to rush to get a new gold star license this year.

In 2013, the city added to the list of documents required to obtain a license or state ID. But some people still don’t understand what they need to bring in….

read … That Long Line For A Driver’s License May Get Even Longer

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