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Friday, November 30, 2018
November 30, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:12 PM :: 1368 Views

What’s an airconditioned Neal Katyal worth?

Not all public-private partnerships are good

Forbes Best States for Business: Hawaii Ranks 46th

Report: Since recession, 10 states, including Hawaii, operate at structural deficits

Hawaii Ranks 15th for Financial Transparency

Honolulu--6th Oldest Homeowners in USA

OHA offering $7 million for community grants

How a U.S. law intended to reduce dependence on fossil fuels has unleashed an environmental disaster in Indonesia  

House and Senate Republicans Meet to Plan 2019 Agenda

Wanna Buy a House on Maui? County has $30K to Give You

Stream Flow Ruling Cuts off Lahaina Water Supply

Potential Criminal Prosecution: Hu Honua Violates Water Pollution Laws

In ‘game-changer,’ Hawaii given approval to use Medicaid dollars to help chronically homeless

HNN: … Hawaii is one of the first states in the country given the go-ahead to use federal Medicaid dollars — typically reserved for health care costs — to help homeless people move into housing….

The change is intended to help Hawaii’s chronically homeless population, made up of about 1,700 people.

And it represents a significant expansion of what falls under the umbrella of health care….

Starting in January, thanks to an approval made late last month, Medicaid will pick up the tab for some services designed to connect members of the chronically homeless population with housing.

While Medicaid traditionally provides health insurance for the poor, covering doctor’s visits and hospital stays, it will now pay for services in Hawaii like job training and transportation to look at apartments….

Related:

read … In ‘game-changer,’ Hawaii given approval to use Medicaid dollars to help chronically homeless

State Carbon Tax The Devil is in the Details

IM: …Should a carbon tax be imposed on locals who drive but not on tourists who generate the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions by flying to Hawai`i?

Should a carbon tax be used to provide free bus service? 

Would a tax refund for not owning a petroleum-powered vehicle be more effective than a carbon tax?

Should a carbon tax be imposed on a company for importing petroleum and hiring locals to make plastic bottles, but not be imposed on importing fossil fuel-based plastic bottles?

Should a carbon tax be imposed on agricultural emissions released in growing flowers for biodiesel, but not on the emissions from fracking on imported gas?

Should the carbon tax be highest for those who work in urban centers but found affordable housing far from town, and lower for economically well-off residents living downtown?

Should high greenhouse gas emitting renewables be assumed to be carbon neutral?

Should the carbon tax provide additional funding for specific projects, or allow the Legislature to have more money to play with?

Should a regressive carbon tax be added to the regressive GET tax to penalize economically challenged residents and families?

Should the carbon tax be on silos and tailpipes, or on gasoline and electricity, or on lifecycle emissions from GHG producing goods and services?

Should the revenue generated be spent on mass transit or subsidizing rooftop solar and storage for those who are economically challenged?

Should there be offsets, like teleworking (working from home) or carbon sequestration?

Who should manage the carbon tax?

How transparent should the carbon tax be?

How can a reasonable carbon tax be determined when the State is so far behind in determining the carbon inventory baseline?

Should the carbon tax be a tax on carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions?

Should a gradual increase in the carbon tax be part of the legislation?

Should the carbon tax be on all emissions or emissions above what polluters released in a specific year?

How would a carbon tax impact employment?

How should the success or failure of a carbon tax be measured?

How would a carbon tax impact the price of goods and services?

Would a ban on coal, fracked gas, fracked petroleum, and virgin biomass OR a carbon tax have a greater or smaller effect on global emissions?

Should there be a tax on plastic and petrochemicals?

Should fuels have different carbon taxes based on their respective greenhouse gas emissions, or should one tax be imposed on average fuel emissions?

Should clean energy be assumed to be clean by political or environmental definitions?

Who should pay the tax: wholesalers, retailers, consumers?

Should chopping down carbon sinks (forests) be taxed?

Who should be exempt from paying the tax?

Should exports be taxed?

Should businesses receive tax deductions for tracking carbon taxes?

Should carbon taxes replace other taxes?

Should carbon taxes be used to re-educate workers in fossil fuel industries?

Should subsidies for fossil fuels be ended?

What percent of carbon tax revenue should go to the counties?

Will a carbon tax increase ecotourism?

Is promoting an ever-increasing number of tourists, greenhouse gas friendly?

read … Devil in Details

Smelling Your Money, Green Scrum at Honolulu Hale

IM: … The Honolulu City Council`s Public Works, Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee heard Resolution 18-221 on November 28, 2018.

The resolution authored by Councilmembers Carol Fukunaga and Ann Kobayashi was passed out an amended draft (CD1).

“Resolution urging the city administration to establish goals for 100 percent renewable energy and a carbon neutral economy to accelerate the City of Honolulu’s adoption of the 2018 climate change action summit policies.”

The bill was supported by nearly 100 people and organizations including Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP), Hawai`i Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT),  Hawai`i Energy, Elemental Excelerator, Honolulu Climate Change Commission, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), Ulupono Initiative, East-West Center, Bikeshare Hawaii, Hawaii Green Growth, Blue Planet Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Hawaii Interfaith Power  & Light, Sierra Club of Hawai`i, We Are One, Young Progressives Demanding Action (YPDA), Our Revolution Hawaii, 350Hawai`i, and Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Inc. (HSEA).

Mesina DiGrazia-Roberts: “Hello, my name is Mesina, and I am 11 years old. I support Resolution 18-221. The United States Constitution protects our right to live in an environmentally safe planet….

read … Grubbing for your green

State’s high court stands by its Mauna Kea ruling

SA: The state Supreme Court on Thursday denied a motion to reconsider its ruling that allowed the granting of the construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope.

“This decision is shameful,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, leader of the Mauna Kea Hui, which had filed the motion to reconsider. “The people of Hawaii should be concerned. It goes against all the foundations of Hawaii’s legacy of environmental protection and treatment of the native people of this land.”

The state’s highest court last month affirmed 4-1 the state Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision to issue the conservation district use permit to the $1.4 billion astronomy project.

Associate Justice Michael Wilson dissented in the original ruling and in the reconsideration, which was also 4-1…. 

WHT: TMT project earns another victory

Nov 10, 2018: Hawaii Supreme Court Affirms TMT Permit 4-1

read … No Surprise

After Three Years Judge finally dismisses Kealohas' harassment lawsuit against city ethics commission, employees

HNN: … A civil lawsuit that has dragged on for three years was finally dismissed by a judge this week.

In 2015, then Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a deputy prosecutor at the time, filed the first civil lawsuit against the Honolulu Ethics Commission, its former director Chuck Totto and its former investigator Letha Decaires for defamation and abuse of power.

Totto’s attorney, Joaquim Cox, says Totto and Decaires were uncovering some of the same alleged wrongdoings the Kealohas were later charged with at the federal level.

“The lawsuit sought to simply deny the truth and then blame good public servants," Cox said.

According to Cox, the suit has already cost taxpayers more than $500,000 and he urged them months ago to drop it.

The Kealohas had repeatedly delayed depositions and questioning under oath for the lawsuit that they initiated and Cox said that was frustrating and costly.

“This lawsuit involved over a thousand pages of exhibits. There’s an enormous expense and realistically, an enormous waste brought on by the Kealohas to the taxpayers,” Cox said.

Totto and Decaires left the Honolulu Ethics Commission under pressure….

read … Judge dismisses Kealohas' civil lawsuit against city ethics commission, employees

State Claims ‘Dramatic’ Improvement In Adult Home Care Oversight

CB: … State lawmakers gathered at the Capitol on Thursday to hear health regulators respond to a searing audit that portrayed the agency trusted with protecting elderly residents of Hawaii’s adult care homes as all but dysfunctional.

The state audit’s primary takeaway is that many of the adult care homes have been operating without a valid license or with a license issued in haste despite any assurance that outstanding violations had been corrected.

The audit found that the Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance doesn’t enforce its own rules  and hasn’t issued a termination notice or even a fine in the last decade. The audit concludes that the agency appears to be more concerned with keeping the homes in business, rather than protecting the health and well-being of the residents.

DOH Interim Director Bruce Anderson told members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health and the House Health Committee that OHCA has already made a swift turnaround, implementing revised policies and speeding up inspections, while transitioning to a more efficient, all-digital record keeping system….

The prospect of such a fast turnaround raised the eyebrows of Rep. Bertrand Kobayashi.

“The picture that the auditor paints and the picture that you paint is so different, it’s bewildering,” Kobayashi said.

“I don’t know who to believe,” he said. “Apparently, according to your story, something has happened fairly miraculously in the last 12 months that has changed the picture that the auditor paints. And in my conception of government, miracles don’t happen.”

State Auditor Les Kondo said he couldn’t verify the improvements the OHCA claims to have made in the 11 months since he found the agency operating without any policies or standard procedures to guide issuing licenses, relicensing or the administering of fines or suspended and revoked licenses.

”Maybe a miracle happened,” Kondo said. “I don’t know.”

As an example of the agency’s flawed record-keeping less than a year ago, Kondo pointed out that the agency had no records for six care homes in 2017. The agency told auditors that four of these homes without records had shut down, he said. But Kondo said he later found that four of them still had an active license….

read … State Claims ‘Dramatic’ Improvement In Adult Home Care Oversight

CDC: Drug overdose deaths on the rise in Hawaii

HNN: … Hawaii’s rate of fatal drug overdoses remains below the national average, but ticked up last year, new CDC figures show.

In 2017, Hawaii saw 13.8 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people.

That's up from 12.8 the year before….

West Virginia had the highest drug overdose rate, at 57.8 drug deaths per 100,000 people.

Ohio (46.3) and Pennsylvania (44.3) rounded out the top three ….

Other states with low drug overdose fatality rates: Iowa (10.6), North Dakota (10.6) and Texas (10.1).

Nationwide in 2017, drug overdose deaths rose above 70,000 in 2017, up 10 percent to a record high.

The alarming figures were released on the same day that the CDC said the life expectancy in the U.S. had dropped for a second straight year, driven by the rise in drug deaths and and an increase in suicides….

PS: The decline in U.S. life expectancy is unlike anything we've seen in a century

read … CDC: Drug overdose deaths on the rise in Hawaii

Firefighters extinguish Homeless Tweeker Fire near Makai Research Pier

SA: ...Firefighters put out a small fire this afternoon at the site of an occasional homeless camp on the ocean side of Kalanianaole Highway near Makai Research Pier….

“There’s like a now-and-then homeless camp in that area. That’s what actually burned. The brush didn’t really catch at all.”…

read … Firefighters extinguish fire near Makai Research Pier

Honolulu Council to take up emergency measures for building permits

PBN: … A resolution urging Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration to implement emergency procedures to help with building permit delays passed the Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Housing Committee, a day after the mayor announced initiatives to speed up the permit process.

Resolution 18-272, which now heads to the fill council for a vote, asks Caldwell to consider transferring money to the Department of Planning and Permitting for emergency hires, using personal service contracts to fill positions, authorizing overtime pay and authorizing the contracting of private companies to assist with reviews and inspections.

Councilmember Kymberly Pine, the committee’s chair, introduced the resolution last week in conjunction with Bill 64, which was passed by the Council two weeks ago. Caldwell said Wednesday that he would allow the bill, which requires the DPP to approve residential permits within 60 days, to become law without his signature.

Pine told Pacific Business News that the resolution was “to show that we would support the council to transfer funds from other areas to allow them to temporarily use more overtime” and hire more people.

“It truly is a crisis,” she said. “The meetings that we started to hold two months ago, businesses were telling me they had [millions of dollars in work but they were laying off employees because they can’t get a permit.”

Caldwell on Wednesday also said the city would hire four new plan reviewers starting next month. The city plans to bring in at least two other experienced plan checkers on 89-day contracts to help with the backlog and train the new staff….

Related: Caldwell Allows 60-Day Permitting Bill to Become Law Without Signature

read …Honolulu Council to take up emergency measures for building permits

Bill 79 adds more restrictions designed to Squelch Affordable Housing Construction

SA: …The latest version of a comprehensive bill aimed at halting the growth of large-scale houses in residential zones would require smaller homes to abide by the same rules limiting the number of wet bars, bathrooms and laundry rooms allowed per dwelling, as well as provisions for more parking and a limit on the percentage of cement or other impermeable surfaces.

City Councilman Trevor Ozawa, who detailed the latest draft of Bill 79 at Thursday’s Zoning and Housing Committee meeting, stressed that he wants the Caldwell administration to offer its views on the ideas before the final language is passed. The committee gave preliminary OK to the bill, which now goes to the full Council for the second of three approvals next week….

the strong reaction to large-scale houses has, in turn, caused a backlash from builders and others who think going too far in regulations would make it more difficult to obtain already often-stalled building permits and, in the long term, limit the island’s housing stock during a housing shortage.

On Thursday members of HI Good Neighbor, a group comprised of those pushing for more laws against monster houses, testified in support of the bill and said they like Ozawa’s version. Several homebuilders, however, raised concerns about overregulation.

The key provision of Ozawa’s draft is that it bars a builder or homeowner from putting up a house with a floor area greater than 60 percent of a lot’s size, or what’s known as a floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.6. The administration had proposed a 0.7 FAR….

Capping the percentage of cement, concrete or other impervious surface at no more than 75 percent of a zoning lot area.

Requiring two parking stalls per unit but an additional stall for every 500 square feet of area over 2,500 square feet, excluding a garage or carport….

read … Latest ‘monster house’ bill adds restrictions

Aloha Stadium upgrade plan includes lots of condos

SA: …In a statement of scope, the state has said the project “includes studies and related planning for demolition of the existing Aloha Stadium and for development and construction of a new stadium facility for the State of Hawaii. Consideration includes mixed use development of the entire Aloha Stadium Site.”…

The process of determining a successor to Aloha Stadium will enter its most significant phase in more than five years next month, when work on a stadium master plan and environmental impact statement is scheduled to commence.

The timeline was laid out at an Aloha Stadium Authority meeting Thursday in a closed-door executive session with representatives of the Department of Accounting and General Services planning branch.

Officials said afterward there is an agreement in principle with an as-yet- unannounced firm chosen for the project, with work expected to begin when the contract is executed “in the coming weeks.”…

Parcel: 98 acres, 11.5 of which take in the stadium…

read … Aloha Stadium upgrade plan moves forward

Honolulu City Council Blocks Multi-Million Dollar Cellphone Service Upgrade:

HPR: The Honolulu City Council is putting the brakes on a proposal to improve cellphone coverage and generate millions in non-taxpayer revenue….

AT&T representative, Ken Lyons, briefed the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee on a proposal to mount small cell antennas on city-owned light poles to increase current capacity….

Each antenna would increase the wireless bandwidth and download speed within a 500 foot radius.  AT&T has estimated that 350-plus poles would be needed on O’ahu and is willing to pay the City $1-thousand to $2-thousand a month for the use of each pole.   But, Committee Vice Chair, Kimberly Pine, did not like the pole design….

“AT&T wanted something to be passed out before the middle of January when the fees will be going up based on a directive by the FCC.  I wasn’t aware of that but at the same time, our first priority here is to ensuring that we’re comfortable with it.”…

read … Honolulu City Council: "No" to Franken Poles

Ige Spent $3.2 Million On Re-Election Campaign, New Reports Show

CB: … Gov. David Ige’s landslide margin of victory over challenger Andria Tupola on Nov. 6 mirrored his monumental money advantage, according to newly released campaign spending reports.

Ige spent more than $558,000 on his campaign between the primary and general election. Tupola spent $185,674 during the same period.

For the entire election cycle, Ige spent a grand total of $3.2 million on his re-election campaign, six times as much as Tupola, who spent $510,655.

Ige won 61.4 percent of the vote to Tupola’s 33 percent ….

read … Ige Spent $3.2 Million On Re-Election Campaign, New Reports Show

Ige to be sworn for second term next week

HNN: … Ige is set to be sworn in for his second term next week at the rotunda in the state Capitol.

The inauguration ceremony will be held on Monday Dec. 3 and will begin with a musical prelude at 10:30 a.m., followed by a processional at 11:30 a.m.

The official swearing-in will take place at noon.

Josh Green, the lieutenant governor-elect, will be sworn in at the ceremony as well….

read … Ige to be sworn for second term next week

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