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Sunday, December 02, 2018
December 2, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:13 PM :: 1608 Views

Fraud, Collusion, Embezzlement: Hawaii OPEB Debt

The County Strikes Back (part 2)

Senate Announces Committee Assignments

Feds Investigating Rail After ‘Breathtaking’ Cost Increases

SA: … Federal investigators are taking an interest in Hono­lulu’s $9 billion rail project, but it is unclear what has attracted their attention.

Officials with the city, state and federal governments who spoke on condition that they not be identi­fied told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that they are aware of the federal inquiry, which involves the Honolulu branch of the U.S. Attorney’s office. An investigator with the state Attorney General’s office is also involved, according to multiple sources….

Sources who describe the interest from federal authorities as an investigation were unsure what aspect of the rail project is under scrutiny….

Some of the cost increases within the project budget have been breathtaking. HART documents show the budget for professional services such as engineering, project management and construction management for rail ballooned from $1.183 billion in 2012 to more than $2.08 billion today.

Another budget category called “sitework and special conditions,” which includes utility relocation work, increased from $1.1 billion in 2012 to more than $2.54 billion today….

Kondo has twice attended meetings of the HART board to publicly announce that he is encountering what he calls “interference” in the audit process by the rail authority.

Kondo learned in May that HART employees are required to record their interviews with the auditor, which Kondo said sends a signal that “Big Brother is there, Big Brother is listening.” Kondo described that practice as “unprecedented” and told the HART board it sends a message to employees “they better toe the company line.”…

The rail authority also is withholding from the auditor the minutes from years of HART board meetings that were closed to the public….

read … Federal inquiry linked to rail

UH Global Warmers: Impose Carbon Taxes on Hawaii Because of White Privilege

SA: …“Donald Trump ignores inconvenient (complex) facts and embraces convenient (simple) ones that supplement his overall world view. A world view, endorsed by his supporters, that marginalizes women, celebrates white privilege, disparages other points of view, ignores social inequality, and sees humans as having dominion over nature,” Fletcher said….

read … Climate-change research is call to action for government officials on all levels

Economists: $800K is Affordable House

SA: … local economists say that what many people regard as a through-the-roof price is really still quite affordable by historical Hawaii standards when considering residents’ median income and interest rates.

(Translation: A&B and KSBE are concerned that legislative proposals to build lots of affordable housing will tip the supply-demand balance and reduce their profitability.)

In fact, housing prices prior to this decade have been more affordable only in two periods since the mid-1970s, according to Paul Brewbaker of Honolulu- based TZ Economics.

“It’s so bad (that) it’s about as good as it’s ever been,” said Brewbaker, a former Bank of Hawaii chief economist, during an affordable-housing conference at the state Capitol organized by state Sen. Stanley Chang (D, Diamond Head-Kahala- Hawaii Kai), last month. “There is no affordable- housing crisis in Honolulu. We are well within the affordability zone.”

(IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization has a similar view, and noted in a recent report the cost of home ownership in Hawaii today is lower than a decade ago.

“Most people don’t realize that,” said Carl Bonham, UHERO’s director. “They look at $800,000 and think: ‘Oh my God! That’s the highest ever.’”

A lot of things people buy cost more now than ever before because of inflation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean those things are less affordable than previously, Bonham explained.

In discussing housing affordability, Bonham and Brewbaker don’t mean to suggest Hawaii home prices are not high, and they recognize high home prices present difficulties for many local residents.

“Housing is not cheap because this is Honolulu, not Dayton (Ohio),” said Brewbaker at the conference….

(Translation: Ignore the artificial restriction on land supply which benefits A&B and KSBE at the expense of new families.  Just assume these conditions are immutable.) 

Brewbaker calculated 34.7 percent of Honolulu’s $116,600 median household income for a family of four would be needed to afford an $800,000 house with an average conventional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This percentage of income was about the same in 2014, 2015 and 2017. In other years going back to 2011 the percentage was around 33 percent.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regards a housing cost up to 30 percent of income as affordable.

Brewbaker, who has data going back to 1976, said the recent stretch of relatively good home affordability in Honolulu has been better only twice before — from 1976 to 1978 and from 1998 to 2004.

Honolulu’s best affordability figure was 28 percent in 1999 when the median home price was $290,000 and the average interest rate was 7.4 percent. The worst affordability figure was 62 percent in 1981 when the average interest rate was 16 percent and the median house price was $154,576.

In 2007 at the peak of a housing bubble fueled by sub-prime mortgages, it took 48 percent of the median income to pay for a $643,500 median-priced home….

read … $800,000 Honolulu home median considered modest

The need for tweeks:  Star-Adv Urges Lege to Make Oxy Easier to Get

SA: …When the 2019 Legislature convenes, lawmakers should examine whether our lineup of measures to reduce the scope of the opioid problem and related substance misuse can be amended to avoid undue restrictions on palliative care. Also, on the national level, Hawaii’s congressional delegation should guard against hyper-vigilance….

Hawaii’s count dropped lower, thanks in part to the new legislation and national vigilance. (Hence the problem….) The need for tweaks, (Yes.  They really did write this.  Not sure why they spelled it wrong.) … is to be expected when settling into a daunting public health strategy. ..

read … The need for tweeks

Smug Gabbard: Those of us here at the Sanders Institute are Superior to the Measly Little Humans Driven by Greed

CB: … U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii introduced herself to a (smug) audience of some of the brightest and most influential progressive minds (tritest and most pompous people) in America, from Cornel West to Bernie Sanders.

“You can’t hold your breath for very long,” she said in her smooth, measured (laying it on a bit thick here, eh?) tone. “You can’t exist for very long without air.   (Gee.  I wish I’d thought of that.)  You can’t exist for very long without clean water.  (Triteness squared.  Going for cubed.)

“However, so many of the decisions that are being made with regards to policy, many of the decisions that are being made by the corporations, the decisions that are being made by those driven by greed rather than driven by putting the interests and the liability of the people first, don’t take this into account.” (because they aren’t enlightened, conscious and progressive like we are.) …. 

read … Tulsi Gabbard In Vermont: Protect Our Resources From Those ‘Driven By Greed’

Remembering President George HW Bush

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