City Piles on Big Ticket Projects as money woes mount
Borreca: …“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them,” wrote Fitzgerald in a 1926 story.
Substitute Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the City Council for Fitzgerald’s “the very rich,” and you can understand how it is that no matter how much debt rises, city leaders continue to promise to spend more. They are different from you and me because they can always pick up another expensive project….
First, the city unveiled its latest scheme to restore the Waikiki Natatorium, shut 40 years ago and left by city officials to fester and disintegrate into a dangerous eyesore….
fixing the Natatorium for nearly $26 million is chicken feed compared with the latest estimate for redoing the Blaisdell Center….
he has a plan costing a staggering $773 million — yes, nearly a billion dollars.
For that you would get a second parking garage, a new exhibition hall with a new performance space, a new arena and assorted arts ensemble buildings for hula and orchestras. Plus there would be a 2,500-seat sports pavilion for practices and tournaments.
We all know the price is only going to go up. Reports in the Star-Advertiser in March pegged the cost at $717 million; since then, it has already increased $56.1 million.
But wait, what about the city’s overbudget rail project, now pegged at $8.3 billion but with no plans for covering the estimated yearly $120 million operating costs for the train? Caldwell and the City Council fought for a month to scrape together another $44 million to satisfy the feds last month — so where is the money for running the train coming from?….
“They have never been straightforward with the public,” Luke said of Caldwell and Council….
read … City thinks too richly as money woes mount
Star-Adv: DLNR must extract more rent money from Small Businesses
SA: … State lawmakers will be meeting before long to face the usual headaches of squaring Hawaii’s mounting expenses with available revenues, an enterprise that always includes a search for new sources of money.
If the state is to avoid saddling taxpayers with more of the burden, one approach has got to be making the most of the capacity for raising cash that the state already has. In monetizing valuable state-owned properties through revocable permits and long-term leasing, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is falling well short of expectations.
The issue of how DLNR is handling the state’s valuable assets touched off a three-part series last week by Honolulu Star-Advertiser writer Rob Perez….
Finding ways to improve this situation should be an imperative for DLNR, and for the Legislature when it convenes in January. There may be changes in statute required to optimize the agency’s operations, and those could be uncovered through an informational briefing.
This could pair with guidance derived from the Office of the Auditor, which already has been enlisted in an audit of the agency’s Land Division….
Reality: OHA Money Grab Behind Star-Adv Push for Higher DLNR Land Rents
As Explained: Harbors Division Fee Hike designed to boost $77M OHA Slush Fund?
PDF: DLNR Answers to Star-Adv Questions (35 pgs -- word ‘harbor’ appears 42 times)
read … DLNR must boost property revenue
Flacking for Hotel Industry, Appleseed Center urges tough vacation rental rules
SA: … A local nonprofit focused on poverty issues is urging that Hawaii follow several cities around the world in getting tough on regulating the use of homes as short-term vacation rentals.
The Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice released a report filled with recommendations Monday as the Honolulu City Council prepares again to debate a bill addressing the issue after years of public frustration.
“It is time for Hawaii’s counties to tackle our VRU (vacation rental unit) challenges responsibly and thoughtfully,” said the report that focuses on limiting the number of such units and having strong rule enforcement….
Appleseed contends that 73 percent of Hawaii vacation unit hosts operate more than one unit and that 52 percent of VRU owners are nonresidents.
The nonprofit said the 23,000 vacation rentals estimated by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to exist in the state reflect 35 percent growth in inventory since 2015 and represent one out of 24 homes in Hawaii. These vacation rentals include legal units at resorts along with illegal units advertised online….
PDF: Priced Out of Paradise
read … Appleseed Center urges tough vacation rental rules
Rape victim sues DOE
WHT: …The lawsuit stems from a reported assault that occurred in Old Kona Airport Park on Sept. 3, 2016. Sigrah, 15 at the time, and Latrik, 17 at the time, were eventually charged as adults for first-degree sexual assault, among other offenses….
Since the teens were students at Kealakehe High School at the time of the reported assault, the victim included the Department of Education on the complaint.
The lawsuit states the Department of Education, Hawaii School District is tasked with a “duty to identify and provide educational and mental health intervention/referral services as needed by students attending public schools.”
“Upon information and belief, the Hawaii Department of Education, Hawaii School District knew or reasonably should have known about Tyron Sigrah’s and Samuel Latrik’s mental health issues, their anti-social behaviors, and their fascination with violence towards women and others,” the complaint states.
The DOE filed for a dismissal. According to the department’s motion to dismiss, the complaint failed to name a proper state entity that is capable of being sued….
read … Rape victim sues county, DOE
Hawaii County seeks flexibility in using GET funds
HTH: …Hawaii County officials plan to ask lawmakers for more flexibility in how it can use its general excise tax surcharge.
The state Legislature previously gave counties the option of adding a half percent surcharge to the GET to fund transportation projects. The County Council approved a smaller one-quarter percent increase last June, with is set to take effect Jan. 1….
Roy Takemoto, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, said the county would like to be able to also use the revenue for other needs, including disaster response and recovery following the Kilauea eruption. Additionally, it wants clarity on whether it can pass another one-quarter percent increase by a March deadline, or if the county only had one shot at it under state law.
He said the GET issue will be raised as part of the county’s request to the Legislature for disaster recovery. That is also expected to include a funding request of about $150 million to address issues such as housing, road and other infrastructure repairs, and support for a redevelopment agency, among others.
“The county requests assistance to learn from past land use mistakes and reshape the future of Puna,” the draft request says. “This vision will require a partnership and resources of Federal, State, County, business, nonprofits, faith-based, and community stakeholders.”
The GET surcharge is expected to raise $10 million for the remainder of the 2018-19 fiscal year and $25 million a year after that before it expires Dec. 31, 2020.
The county has so far received $22 million from the state in disaster appropriations, including a $10 million transfer the council voted to accept this week.
Deanna Sako, county Finance Director, estimated at a council meeting this week that the county has spent about $8 million of the initial $12 million appropriation. About $5.4 million was for overtime costs….
read … County seeks flexibility in using GET funds
Hawaii’s disability benefit denials reversed at highest rate in nation
SA: …Administrative law judges overturn denials of disability claims in Hawaii at easily the highest rate of any state in the country, raising questions about a state agency that historically has been criticized for emphasizing speed over quality in deciding whether someone is entitled to benefits.
The judges in 64 percent of cases ruled in favor of Hawaii applicants who appealed their benefit denials — by far the highest rate among the 50 states and substantially above the national average of 43 percent, according to the website disabilityjudges.com, which tracks appeal outcomes nationally.
The state with the next highest rate was Maine at 52 percent, according to the website. Alaska had the lowest rate at 17 percent, meaning few denials there were overturned. ….
read … Hawaii’s disability benefit denials reversed at highest rate in nation
Caldwell: Don’t delay needed fire sprinkler law
SA: … The bill I signed into law last May, just a short seven months ago, is a step toward the goal of avoiding another Marco Polo fire. It was a compromise bill with many options for making our residential high-rises safer and with numerous periods of delay for allowing unsafe buildings to come into compliance. Some of these delays are as long as 12 years. This is a long time.
This 12 years is on top of the three years to complete a fire safety evaluation of the high-rise residential building, which runs to May 2021, and passing the evaluation within six years, which runs to May 2024. These are alternatives to retrofitting noncompliant residential high-rises with sprinklers, and residents and condominium associations can pick from a menu of alternatives….
The evaluation process is estimated to cost approximately $30 per unit…
I am requesting that the City Council not override my veto….
read … Delay
Bitchy Gabbard Just a Trump Copycat
Cataluna: …Gabbard’s profane tweet feels like copy-catting. Trump set the tone and politicians all the way down to city hall feel like they have to talk dirty to be trendy. But Honolulu Councilman Ikaika Anderson can spit a string of filthy things in a Council meeting and it’s kind of a shrug. Like anyone expects Ikaika Anderson to be Mr. Class and Mr. Eloquent.
Congresswoman Gabbard, however, is supposed to be a trendsetter, someone people can look up to, a representative of all these diverse things we’ve never seen before in higher office.
Plus, she’s been called out for similar behavior for defending Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader whose civil war has killed hundreds of thousands. She may not like Saudi Arabia, for good reason, but the Syrians aren’t the guys in white hats, either.
The crude word Gabbard chose has long been used as a bludgeon against women. It is employed to demean an opinionated woman, an angry woman, a woman who doesn’t put up with nonsense. More recently it’s slang used to describe a weakling, male or female, who lets themselves be pushed around and used. It is not a feminist word. It is not a precise word. It is vulgar….
read … Trend of political profanity getting old
Gabbard Going from the ridiculous to the profane
Shapiro: …>> U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called President Donald Trump “Saudi Arabia’s bitch” after he excused its prince in the murder of a journalist. It had all the moral authority of a legislator who cozied up to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after he nerve-gassed his people.
>> Her tweet caused international awkwardness when the comment reached Russia. Vladimir Putin thought Trump was all his.
>> Gabbard followed in the potty-mouth footsteps of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who made headlines by accusing Republicans of “bullsh*t” and declaring, “F*** them.” The Aloha State is fast becoming known as The @#$&*%! State….
read … Going from the ridiculous to the profane