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Tuesday, February 05, 2019
February 5, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:53 PM :: 830 Views

HB1184: Infant Born Alive Protection Bill to be Heard

Volcano Homeowners Face New Threat—From Government

Hawaii's dangerous idea: Allowing people to smoke is equivalent to killing them

Restaurant Closures Correlate to Minimum Wage Hikes

Hirokazu Toiya named Director of Emergency Management

Police prepare for TMT protests

WHT:  While law enforcers are preparing a response to anticipated protests of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea, Mayor Harry Kim is talking to stakeholders, has assembled a committee of Hawaiian cultural leaders and released his vision statement for the mountain’s future….

Attorney General Clare Connors told lawmakers last month Hawaii County will take the lead in the state’s response to protesters who attempt to interrupt construction of the telescope, which is expected to resume within the next few months….

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Bugado said Hawaii Police Department will take the lead in any enforcement action “since we have the most resources on the island.”

“Our main objective, of course, is to be sure there are no blockades or blockages in the road (to the summit),” Bugado said. “The opponents of the project have every right to protest, and we’re going to be sure to provide a safe area for the protesters, if they do want to protest the project.”…

Bugado noted that while county police will take the lead, they will be assisted by officers from the state Sheriff’s Division and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Both state and county law enforcers responded to protesters blocking the Maunakea Access Road in 2015 outside and above the visitor information station. Arrests were made, but many charges were later dropped.

County police officers left after protesters reached the state-owned portion of the road near Halepohaku. Bugado affirmed county police will continue leading enforcement efforts on state property, as well….

Kim’s Maunakea Core Committee includes: Chad Kalepa Baybayan, master navigator and a captain of the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe Hokule‘a; Gregory Chun, Ph.D., Office of Maunakea Management board chairman and UH’s senior adviser on Maunakea; Lucille Chung of the Hawaiian Civic Club; Larry Kimura, associate professor of Hawaiian language at UH-Hilo; Kepa Maly, cultural ethnographer resource specialist at Lana‘i Culture and Heritage Center; and Ka‘iulani Pahio, director of community programs at Kanu o ka ‘Aina Learning ‘Ohana….

read … As police prepare for TMT protests, Kim unveils guiding document, advisory committee

Council: Formby to Be Nominated—Will Keep Ozawa Staff in Place

CB: …A City Council committee passed a resolution Monday recommending Formby’s selection. The unanimous vote came after two motions to appoint other nominees failed.

The full City Council plans to vote on Formby’s appointment Tuesday….

Formby was also the chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. David Ige in the primary last year. Formby also is a former member of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which oversees the city’s beleaguered rail project….

(CLUE: Formby and Hanabusa support Ozawa against Caldwell’s pet Waters.)

Formby said he plans to take his cues from residents when it comes to voting on issues like monster homes, vacation rentals and traffic congestion.

Formby said he has no plans currently to bring in his own staff to replace people who have been working for Trevor Ozawa….

A total of 19 people were nominated to serve in the interim post, Hawaii News Now reported Saturday. The failed motions that preceded the Formby vote Monday called for the appointments of Kahi Pacarro and Richard Turbin….

SA: Committee vote unanimous for Mike Formby to temporarily fill Honolulu City Council seat  

SA: City Clerk Glen Takahashi administered the oath in the Council committee room as Peter Lee, Formby’s husband, looked on.

read … City Council Likely To Appoint Mike Formby As Interim Member

LoPresti asks court to reconsider his election challenge

SA: … Former state Rep. Matt LoPresti is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider his challenge of election results in his close contest for a state Senate seat, saying he recently learned the Honolulu City Clerk included 126 invalid ballots in the vote tally in his race.

According to the state Office of Elections, LoPresti lost his race against Republican Kurt Fevella by 116 votes, but LoPresti said the City Clerk notified him on Jan. 31 that vote count included 126 mail-in ballots that were collected and counted after the 6 p.m. deadline on election night.

City officials have publicly acknowledged they collected and counted mail-in ballots from the U.S. Postal Service after the 6 p.m. deadline set by state law, which prompted the state Supreme Court to invalidate the Honolulu City Council race between Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters….

read … LoPresti asks court to reconsider his election challenge

GET hike clears committee

HTH: … A doubling and 10-year extension of the county’s general excise tax moved forward Monday on an 8-1 vote after the County Council Finance Committee heard dire warnings (uh-huh) of property tax hikes and service cuts from Mayor Harry Kim. (Kinda like global warming.)

Property values — the underpinning of the county budget — have not yet been set, but Finance Director Deanna Sako said costs outside the county’s control, such as collective bargaining and retirement costs of public safety employees in particular, portend another tight budget year….

(Translation: More of your money is being transferred to HGEA and UPW.)

The tax hike faces two council votes and a public hearing before becoming law. It would go into effect Jan. 1, replacing the one-quarter percent GET that started just a month ago.

Several council members were (pretended to be) dubious that raising the GET is the best course of action, but they ultimately voted to forward the measure to the council with a positive recommendation….

read … GET hike clears committee

Maui Council Reaffirms Secretive Midnight Pay Hikes for Anti-GMO Staffers

MN: … A resolution proposed by Maui County Council Member Mike Molina to return council staff salaries to their levels prior to the pay increase approved at a Jan. 2 meeting was voted down Friday by the full council.

Molina, who supported the increase on Jan. 2 and later changed his mind, said he wanted to bring the matter back for review to allow for transparency in the council decision-making process and to “clear my conscience.”

The Jan. 2 resolution posted on the council’s agenda provided step increases for the various staffers but the “proposed increases came during the night” of the meeting so the public did not have advance notice, Molina said at Friday’s meeting.

Following the Jan. 2 meeting, which was the new council’s first, Molina said he fielded lots of calls and received emails including those from county employees, private sector employees and retirees. They were “very upset” and some questioned “our decision-making that night,” he said….

read … Effort to reconsider council staff pay hikes fails      

Disabled Workers Often Paid Far Below Minimum Wage

CB: …Lanakila Pacific hired me to work in their custodial services program, where I stripped and waxed floors for $1.06 per hour. It was hard physical labor, but they paid me less because I had a disability, and our lawmakers believed that I deserved it.

When I worked at Goodwill, they paid me 65 cents per hour. I sorted and hung clothing, and I also used a box cutter to break down cardboard boxes. With either of these jobs, if I had no disability, they would not have been allowed to pay me these wages. Our lawmakers have the power to repeal the section of our state minimum wage law that allow this….

In a recent letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation wrote, “CSAVR members stand united against sub-minimum wage, as well as segregated and sheltered employment that trivializes the worth of people with disabilities.” The National Disability Rights Network published “Beyond Segregated and Exploited,” describing sub-minimum-wage sheltered workshops and how their local affiliates around the nation are working to end the practice at the state level.

These work environments break the spirits of workers with disabilities and perpetuate the notion that we are not good enough to participate in the normal workforce. For now, workers with disabilities ask our governor and state Legislature to do their part to end this unfair labor practice in Hawaii. They can end the practice by striking the language in Section 387-9, Hawaii Revised Statutes, subsection (a). They can also withhold the state funds currently given to the workshops.

There is hope for workers with disabilities in Hawaii because there are some powerful leaders in our state who have demonstrated their support for the effort to end the payment of sub-minimum wages to workers with disabilities. Sen. Stanley Chang has continued to be a major champion, introducing Senate Bill 3023 in 2018 and another copy of it, Senate Bill 349, in 2019.

Rep. Amy Perruso has introduced House Bill 232 in 2019. Lt. Gov. Josh Green has advocated for this cause as a senator and LG candidate. Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, Roy Takumi, Aaron Johanson, John Mizuno and many others have also demonstrated their support. As the sub-minimum-wage workshops continue to advocate for their right to pay us pennies per hour, we continue to advocate for our right to be treated like everybody else….

Related: Naming Names: Hawaii Politicians Profit from Sub-Minimum Wage Sweatshops for the Disabled

read … Disabled Workers Often Paid Far Below Minimum Wage

Helicopter Tour Operators Seek Multi-Million Dollar Tax Break

IM: … The State Legislature is considering giving tax breaks to a billion-dollar company. SB 656 will be heard on Wednesday, February 6, 2019….

Continental Airlines wanted to build a  jet maintenance hangar in Hawai’i, Saipan, or Guam in the late 1990s. To lure Continental Airlines to Honolulu International Airport, Hawai’i legislators exempted servicing and maintenance of aircraft from the GET tax. The law gave the exemption only to companies servicing aircraft with two or more jet engines.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters testified last year. “We believe that HB 2007 will provide needed parity in tax treatment for all helicopters and with aircraft.”

Hawai’i Helicopters testified last year. “We believe that HB 2007 will provide needed parity in tax treatment for all helicopters and with aircraft. We appreciate your support.”

American Securities is the ultimate parent company of two Hawai’i helicopter tour companies: Hawaii Helicopters and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.

American Securities and its affiliates have approximately $23 billion under management.

American Securities feels it is entitled to tax breaks….

Harry Kim, Mayor of the Big Island, testified. “Helicopter companies are now asking the Legislature for more favorable treatment with respect to the general excise tax. There is no suggestion of economic hardship; there is no suggestion that new facilities will be attracted to Hawai’i; and there is no suggestion that the industry would use its savings to better accommodate those who live in their fly-over country. The exemption will simply add to the companies` bottom line, and reduce much needed revenue for the State.”

The bill died last year. Nothing in Hawai’i ever truly dies. The helicopter industry, faced with record numbers of tourists, and extremely generous tax breaks by the federal government, is back for another attempt to siphon off state funds that will have to be offset with taxes on the rest of us. …

read … Multi-Millionaires Seek Hawai’i Tax Exemption

Ala Wai Flood Control Project under fire

SA: … Sean Scanlan and his brother Cavan are raising their families in a quiet country home fronting the Pukele stream on a Palolo street with views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.

The brothers, who couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, had envisioned expanding the home to provide space for their children to raise their families there, too. But that dream could slip away if a planned Ala Wai Flood Control Project gets built according to the latest environmental impact statement, which expands mitigation efforts outside of Waikiki. The project’s re-scoping on Ipulei Place, where the Scanlan brothers live, has tripled and now on that street alone affects about a dozen households, including owners and renters.

“We’re right in the path. I could lose my home and no one told us. How are we supposed to contest something that we didn’t know about?” said Sean Scanlan, who is part of a growing hui of residents who hope to slow down the Ala Wai project long enough for decision makers to get a clearer picture of impacts and consider other options….

Despite emerging objections, the project appears to be moving forward. While minor changes to the size, scale and precise location of the project features might occur, Congress has appropriated $345 million, which won’t expire, for construction. Gov. David Ige’s budget seeks $125 million to meet a federal cost share requirement.

On Jan. 25 the state Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a right-of-entry permit to conduct due diligence related to the Ala Wai Flood Control Project on state land. At that meeting, BLNR denied a request for a contested case hearing made by Watase, the Palolo landowner who doesn’t want to relinquish his land for a Waiomao Detention Basin....

SA Editorial: More outreach for Ala Wai flood plan

read … Ala Wai Flood Control Project under fire

Civil Beat Sues To Get Teacher Misconduct Records

CB: … Civil Beat filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Education on Monday in an effort to get the disciplinary records of terminated or disciplined employees that it had requested.

The DOE refused to turn over most of the records or provided heavily redacted documents in response to a  public records request last May.

“It is clear that DOE is not following the law, and this case provides an opportunity for the courts to reaffirm several principles of open government established in OIP (Office of Information Practices) opinions,” said Brian Black, executive director of  The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, which is representing Civil Beat in the case….

read … Civil Beat Sues To Get Teacher Misconduct Records

These Lawmakers Think The State Should Charge $20 To Unblock Porn Sites

CB: … Gabbard’s Senate Bill 254 and House Bill 567 by Rep. Sam Kong are companion measures. They require those who sell or manufacture products that connect to the internet to include a mechanism to block child pornography, revenge pornography and websites that facilitate prostitution and human trafficking.

The block could be removed if consumers show they’re at least 18, acknowledge they have been informed about the dangers of removing the filter and pay $20 to the state….

Manufacturers would have to maintain a reporting mechanism to allow consumers to report porn that was not blocked by the filter, or legitimate content that was filtered.

The fees would go to a fund that would allow the state to make grants to organizations fighting human trafficking.

HB 567 is scheduled to be heard by the Intrastate Commerce Committee on Tuesday. The other measures don’t appear to have hearings scheduled yet.

House Bill 647 by Rep. Sharon Har includes many of the same provisions, with some variations. All three of the bills garnered co-sponsors — more than 20 in the case of Har’s bill….

read … These Lawmakers Think The State Should Charge $20 To Unblock Porn Sites

Rep. Richard Creagan declares cigarette sales the moral equivalent of slavery and murder.

R: …Legislative attempts to restrict access to tobacco usually come with some overheated rhetoric. But nothing comes close to the language in a Hawaii bill that would raise the state's smoking age to 100, effectively banning the sale of cigarettes.

"The cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history," declares HB 1509. The product, it continues, has "killed one hundred million people in the twentieth century and is likely to kill one billion people in the twenty-first century," giving the tobacco industry roughly the same body count as global communism.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Richard Creagan (D–South Kona/Ka'u), aims to halt this menace by raising the legal age for buying cigarettes to 30 in 2020, rising from there to 60 in 2023 and 100 in 2024. Retailers who sell cigarettes to underage Medicare recipients would be subject to fines of $500 per violation.

Cigars and e-cigarettes would be spared from these age restrictions. The bill would not prohibit those over the age of 21, the state's current smoking age, from merely possessing cigarettes….

And then, of course, there are the practical downsides of Creagan's proposed prohibition. Banning or severely restricting something that people really want to consume is rarely an effective policy. U.S. states that adopt higher rates of taxation to deter smoking have experienced an increase in the rate of cigarette smuggling, according to a 2015 study by the Tax Foundation. More than half the cigarettes sold in New York state—which has some the highest tobacco taxes in country—were smuggled in from other states.

The Himalayan nation of Bhutan banned the sale of cigarettes in 2004. A 2011 study in the Journal of International Drug Policy found that the policy was largely a failure. "Arguments that stringent anti-tobacco tax and regulatory approaches including a sales prohibition will induce tobacco consumption to cease or nearly cease has not occurred," it said. The author added that "illegal tobacco smuggling including black market sales due to the sales ban in Bhutan remains robust."

Why any Hawaii lawmaker would think he'll be able to escape these effects of prohibition is a mystery….

read … Hawaii State Bill Would Raise Smoking Age to 100 by 2024

Hawaii’s medical marijuana program on the rise, and out-of-state patients are on horizon

MBZ: … Hawaii’s medical marijuana patient rolls continue to grow, rising 17% in 2018, with the vast majority of adults in the program seeking relief from severe pain.

More than 20,000 patients 18 and older, or 85%, reported severe pain as a qualifying condition for MMJ treatment.

Among those adults, severe pain was followed by persistent muscle spasms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Patients 17 and younger are most commonly treated for seizures, PTSD and epilepsy.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana patient rolls added 3,467 new patients to reach 23,746 patients as of Dec. 31.

Dispensaries stand to benefit from a new patient base as the state prepares to implement Act 116, allowing registered MMJ cardholders from other states to obtain a 60-day Hawaiian medical marijuana card….

The state health department estimates that 5,000 out-of-state visitors will apply for a temporary MMJ card during the first year of the reciprocity program….

read … Marijuana Business Daily

150 Children Forced to be Homeless by Their Drug Addict Parents

HNN: … “They’re never sleeping in the same place, they’re never eating at the same time. They’re not going to school. Basically, nothing in their lives is normal,” said IHS spokesman Kimo Carvalho.

Every month, more keiki are enrolling in the IHS Children’s Enrichment Program. That’s why a gift from the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have come at a better time….

For the past eight months, resources at the Children’s Enrichment Program have been stretched to the limit. There is just one coordinator for more than 150 children….

read … Gift is aimed at helping homeless keiki get much-needed stability in their lives

Hospitals Post Prices—But Only Computers Can Read Them

CB: … One of the great mysteries in medical care has nothing to do with the function of the human body, the way medicines are discovered, or the secret to longevity.

The question that has defied answering for as long as I can remember is simply this:

How much does it cost?

On Jan. 1, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services started requiring that all inpatient hospitals and long-term care facilities post their prices online in a machine-readable format, meaning it can be easily processed by computers. This previously hidden data is referred to as the “chargemaster.”

Although it can be read by machines, it still can’t be understood by humans….

read … I Have No Idea How Much Your Hospital Stay Will Cost

Cult Owned Stores use Artificial Intelligence to Catch Thieves

PG: … Hawaiian retailer Down to Earth Organic & Natural (a Chris Butler cult-owned company which employs many cult members) has reported a deterrence of 3,000 theft incidents in the past year alone at its six independent grocery stores on Maui and Oahu through the adoption of new technology.

The Honolulu-based independent grocer saw its bottom line take a hit due to food theft, including cashiers "sweethearting" products – i.e., cashiers pretending to scan merchandise but deliberately bypassing the scanner. It installed StopLift's checkout vision systems two years ago to monitor cameras over the checkout area, letting the system's artificial intelligence (AI) video analytics software analyze security video to detect theft and improve operational efficiency at all checkouts.

Over the past year, StopLift's ScanItAll detected about 3,000 incidents of theft – 316 in one recent month alone. It even singled out four cashiers while they were stealing, which led to their termination under the grocer's zero-tolerance policy….

CB: I Didn’t Give Hawaii Energy Permission To Use My Data — Did You?

read … Artificial Intelligence Helps Hawaiian Independent Grocer Catch 3K Thefts in 1 Year

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