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Wednesday, February 06, 2019
February 6, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:27 PM :: 513 Views

SOTU: "America will never be a socialist country"

Tulsi Wins David Duke KKK Endorsement (again)

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Bills Scheduled for Hearings This Thursday

The Simon Abundance Index: Population growth equals greater resources

County of Kaua‘i celebrates one year of Electronic Plan Review services

Up 30%--Hawaii Second-Highest Per Capita Expenses for Higher Education

ICA Throws out Case Against Vacation Rental

JEFS Fail: Judiciary Electronic System Leaves Lawyers in the Dark

There’s insufficient evidence your sunscreen harms coral reefs

Bans are so easy, reform is too hard

Cataluna: … In just the last week there has been big talk from the Legislature about bills that would make Hawaii the first in the nation to ban people convicted of driving under the influence from buying liquor and the first in the nation to ban cigarettes. Those firsts sit on the altar of first-in-the-­nation promises about clean energy, carbon neutrality, crosswalk texting, pesticide spraying and plastic bag distributing.

First-in-the-nation proposals, especially if they have that great mix of kooky optimism and implausible enforceability, make for the kind of stories that get picked up by news outlets outside Hawaii and spread on a slow news day. They’re a great way for an ambitious politician to get some free publicity without having to craft and pass workable legislation. Ooh, they’re talking about me in Boise. Ooh, they mentioned my name in Santa Fe.

Whatever. We’re past being offended by the self-promotional bluster of politicians.

But hey, before the folks at the Capitol start cranking up on the headline-grabbing sideshow issues, how about first tackling all the ways Hawaii is near the bottom in the nation in important front-and-center things, like worst driving conditions, highest per-capita homeless, not to mention how it’s one of the hardest places to run a business, make a living, be a teacher or buy a house?

Aw, but fixing that stuff is hard….

read … Bans are so easy, reform is too hard

It Shouldn’t Take Audits And Lawsuits For Government To Be Transparent

CB: … For example, the state auditor earlier this month revealed that the staff of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation had been misleading the public and even its own board of directors about the costs and completion schedule for the city’s over-budget and behind-schedule rail project.

Then there’s the Legislature’s practice of “gut and replace,” whereby the contents of a bill can be removed and replaced with entirely different language, even after the bill has had public hearings and been approved by certain committees….

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause filed a lawsuit in September to end this deceitful practice, with support coming from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Republican Minority Caucus and Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. A Circuit Court judge dismissed the case last month, but the two groups said they will appeal the ruling.

There also has been a lack of transparency at the Honolulu Police Department, whose officials have put off telling the Honolulu Police Commission, and declined to tell the media, why it has refused through the years to issue concealed-carry handgun permits to apparently qualified applicants….

read … It Shouldn’t Take Audits And Lawsuits For Government To Be Transparent

Cesspool: Hawaii Co Council advances 300% sewer fee increase

HTH: … Sewer fees will almost double for some and triple for others during the next three years under a plan the County Council advanced Tuesday to one final reading….

Several council members balked at charging the 18 percent of county households that are on sewer systems for the entire cost of trying to keep coastal waters clean. A more equitable option, they said, would be to pay for the systems partially through property taxes, or through the soon-to-be doubled general excise tax, if the state Legislature gives the counties more flexibility….

The goal of getting all households off cesspools could cost upward of $800 million, Kucharski said. He said the cost of new sewer infrastructure is borne by all property owners, while ongoing maintenance falls to the users.

The council voted 7-2 to pass Bill 210 on first reading after an unsuccessful attempt by Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy to postpone the measure until the county could come up with alternatives. Lee Loy and Kohala Councilman Tim Richards were the sole “no” votes.

read … Council advances sewer fee increase

Judge: Force Hilo Residents to Buy Useless Solar Hot Water Systems

CB: …The result was DBEDT almost always granted the variances. Between January 2010 and August 2018, the plaintiffs alleged, DBEDT received 6,460 unique variance applications and approved 6,452 or 99.8 percent of them. (CLUE: Mot of these are in rainy areas such as Hilo where solar hot water systems DO NOT WORK.) Of the approved variances, approximately 6,096 or 94.4 percent were for the installation of gas water heaters….

In a victory for Hawaii clean energy advocates, a state judge on Tuesday said state officials will have to take a hard look at applications from people requesting permission to put gas water heaters into newly built homes and not simply rubber stamp approvals.

State law generally requires all new single-family homes to have solar water heater systems. But the law carves out exceptions that lets the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism grant variances allowing new home builders to install gas heaters in certain situations.

The lawsuit, brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association and the Sierra Club, said DBEDT had violated the law by rubber-stamping the variance requests rather than exercising discretion when granting the exceptions…. 

read … Profitable Activism

Senate May Invoke Rarely Used Subpoena Power For Hearing On Prison Chief

CB: … in late December the governor renominated Nolan Espinda for a second term as director of the state Department of Public Safety.

But concerns about Espinda’s management of the department, which includes overseeing the state’s four jails and four prisons, has raised concerns about whether the senators are able to learn the facts about what has occurred during the four years he has been director.

Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chair of the five-member Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs Committee, said Monday he has not yet made a decision on whether to subpoena potential testifiers.

“I had considered that but I have not made that final decision,” said Nishihara. “I am trying to see if I can get more information if it is required.” ….

Sen. Breene Harimoto, another member of the public safety committee, said he thinks subpoenas may be necessary in the case of Espinda.

“It is no secret that I have concerns (about Espinda) based on what I have been hearing from different sources, so that is public knowledge,” Harimoto said Monday. “These things are difficult. Some might characterize this as a ‘he said, she said’ kind of thing, or that it’s about disgruntled employees. But my gut feeling is that there is enough there that I am concerned, and I am hoping there is way we can confirm some concerns. I support subpoenaing testifiers.”

read … Senate May Invoke Rarely Used Subpoena Power For Hearing On Prison Chief

Bill to decriminalize pot use criticized

WHT:  … Senate Bill 606 is only one of several proposals to loosen or remove state prohibitions on recreational marijuana currently in the state Legislature. However, SB 606 is more bold than most other bills, as it would remove all criminal penalties regarding marijuana save one, and if passed would expunge the criminal record of any incident relating solely to marijuana….

The sole marijuana-related offense that would still exist under SB 606 is the promotion of marijuana to a minor, a new offense added by the bill that would be a Class B felony….

Nakamatsu pointed out that while the bill criminalizes distributing marijuana to minors, it does not raise the possibility of marijuana-related penalties for the minors themselves. And if marijuana-related incidents are no longer criminal offenses, then minor offenders would not be able to avail themselves of rehabilitative resources made available through family courts….

Nakamatsu also said the proposed process for expunging prior marijuana offense records is ambiguous and clashes with existing methods for expungement.

Meanwhile, Marshall Ando, engineering program manager for the Department of Transportation, said legalizing marijuana will lead to an increase in traffic crashes and fatalities. Ando said Colorado saw a precipitous increase in traffic fatalities since that state legalized the substance in 2012….

SB 606 is one of the first marijuana bills this session to reach a public hearing. House Bill 1383, which would decriminalize certain offenses and expunge prior marijuana criminal records, was similarly contentious at a hearing on Monday, while SB 686, which would legalize for personal use small amounts of marijuana, drew hundreds of pages in support and opposition on Jan. 31.

Committees will decide the fates of HB 1383 and SB 686 on Friday. No decision about SB 606 has yet been made….

Meanwhile: Creagan proposes (tobacco) cigarette ban

read …  Bill to decriminalize pot use criticized

AG: Court Should Force Air BnB to Hand over TVR Hosts’ Records

AP: … A judge should compel Airbnb to hand over 10 years of receipts and other documents from its hosts to the state of Hawaii in part because the home-sharing platform has acknowledged that the hosts aren't fully complying with state tax laws, a court filing said.

Hawaii's attorney general has asked a judge to allow the state to subpoena Airbnb to help it find which hosts haven't paid the state's equivalent of hotel and sales taxes.

The face-off follows disputes between Airbnb and local governments in other states.

In New York last month, a U.S. judge shelved a city law that would have required home-sharing platforms to reveal hosts' names and other information. New York City established the law so it could crack down on illegal listings and impose fines.

Hawaii needs the court's permission to serve the subpoena because its investigation targets a group of taxpayers, not specific individuals. A hearing is scheduled before state Circuit Court Judge James Ashford in Honolulu on Thursday.

The state attorney general said in a court filing Monday that Airbnb has acknowledged its hosts haven't all paid taxes, noting the company proposed legislation that would have allowed it to register as a Hawaii tax collection agent to ensure they do. The attorney general said such legislation wouldn't be necessary if hosts were tax compliant. …

Feb 1, 2019: Airbnb criticizes Hawaii attempt to subpoena host records

read … Hawaii: Airbnb has acknowledged hosts not paying all taxes

Taxpayers should pay for Kaneshiro’s attorneys, committee says

SA: … The City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee today voted 7-1 to recommend that city taxpayers foot the bill for private attorneys to represent city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro in his defense against a petition seeking to remove him from his elective office.

The vote was 7-1 with Councilman Ikaika Anderson the lone “no” vote. But besides Anderson’s objection, five other members voted yes with reservations. They were Council members Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan, Ann Kobayashi, Kymberly Pine and Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

The amount of the payment to retain the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon to represent Kaneshiro was not immediately disclosed (because nobody at Honolulu Hale can count that high.  And they can count pretty high….) 

read … Taxpayers should pay for Kaneshiro’s attorneys, committee says

Number of registered firearms in Hawaii unknown, study finds

SA: … In a state that has some of the toughest firearm laws in the nation, some may be surprised to learn there is no accurate count of the legally owned and registered firearms. Police and officials with the state Attorney General’s Office say there would be little point in trying to tally them up.

“Police departments’ firearm registration records date back to at least the 1920s, and it would be a monumental task of limited practical value to determine which persons and firearms still exist in Hawaii,” according to the Criminal Prevention & Justice Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

That conclusion is part of a recently released report called “Straight Shooting: An Objective Review of Hawaii Firearm Laws and Related Statistics” produced by the reference bureau, which conducts research for the state Legislature.

The report also cites statistics showing the rate of murders involving firearms in Hawaii averaged 0.8 per 100,000 residents from 1994 to 2017, while the average rate for the nation as a whole was more than triple that at 3.4 per 100,000 residents.

An average of 32 percent of all murders in Hawaii were committed with firearms from 1994 to 2017, while an average of nearly 60 percent of the murders in the U.S. were committed with firearms during the same period, according to the report.

The state Attorney General’s Office tallied 449,411 new firearm registrations from 2007 to 2017, according to the report, and the department “cautiously” estimates there are about 2 million privately owned firearms in Hawaii today…..,

read … Number of registered firearms in Hawaii unknown, study finds

Like HART and Kakaako Developers, HECO Does Not Believe Sea Level Rise Hype

IM: …The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection (EEP) heard HB 549 relating to the environment, and then EEP and the House Committee on Water, Land, And Hawaiian Affairs (WLH) heard House Bill 1564 relating to Coastal Zone Management yesterday….

“HB 549 proposes to address shoreline setback variance issues by eliminating the hardship provision allowing shoreline setback variances, while also requiring that the proposed action for which a variance is sought will neither adversely affect beach processes, result in flanking of adjacent properties, nor curtail public access unless it is clearly in the public interest. …

This measure also introduces regulatory mechanisms such as prohibiting shoreline armoring, which would have the effect of compelling all shoreline development that is impacted by sea level rise to eventually be moved inland.”…

“Hawaiian Electric is in opposition to H.B. 1564, Relating to Coastal Zone Management.

“The Bill prohibits the construction of shoreline hardening structures within the shoreline setback area. It also states no existing shoreline hardening structure shall be altered, repaired, or replaced. Hawaiian Electric has facilities within the shoreline setback areas. This Bill would restrict repair of those existing facilities and thus pose a threat to provide electricity.

“As an example, our Kahe Generation Facility on Oahu, which is in the shoreline setback area, produces the most firm and reliable electricity on the island. This facility is especially critical at night when the electrical load on Oahu is at its peak and all photovoltaic generation shuts down.”

Representative Wildberger asked Wong whether the utility was looking into managed retreat for their coastal transmission lines.

Wong replied that the HECO Companies have “no plans to relocate transmission lines in the inundation zone.” …  (Because sea level rise is a joke, not a reality.)

read … Retreating from Sea Level Rise in Hawai`i

Robbins should pause rail transit at Middle Street, then take stock

SA: … My organization, Hawaii Advocates For Consumer Rights (AFCR), has been against this rail project from day one, believing that the all-elevated-steel-on-steel-third-rail system we wound up with would indeed produce the massive construction costs and contract overruns we’ve been witnessing. Agreeing with the late Honolulu Councilman Duke Bainum, many of us believed that a rubber on concrete system that was elevated where necessary and “at grade” (on the ground) where possible was best, far less expensive and would also be much quieter than the “steel-on-steel” system that the voters approved after an unrelenting public disinformation campaign funded by the very companies, unions, individuals and consultants that would ultimately benefit the most financially via contracts and jobs.

In any event, Robbins may be the only person on Earth who can get the project built and operating. As AFCR recently testified at the City Council, we believe the best thing Robbins might do is to pause the project at Middle Street and get it operative — before a contract is signed on what has been acknowledged to be the most disruptive and expensive segment: Dillingham-downtown-Ala Moana.

If paused at Middle Street, HART could at least explore the feasibility of rerouting the project to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Given what we now know about climate change and the rising sea level, hopefully the Federal Transit Administration would understand these dire climate change projections and not demand its money back.

The very idea of the system terminating at Ala Moana Center was an ill-conceived plan from the beginning — given the additional amount of vehicular traffic (bus and car) that would be generated in and around the already near-gridlock Ala Moana area….

read … Robbins should pause rail transit at Middle Street, then take stock

Anti-Agriculture Activists Cut Seed Industry in Half

CB: … About 7,000 farms are spread across the islands, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, but most are small. Only about 3 percent of those farms had sales of $250,000 or more in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. In addition, Hawaii’s most lucrative crops aren’t exactly feeding the populace.

In 2017, Hawaii’s top commodity wasn’t meant for food at all; it was seed crops grown for export. Seed crops were valued at more than $120 million in 2017. That was down from previous years — they peaked at approximately $239.4 million in 2012, according to the USDA — but still more than twice the No. 2 commodity, macadamia nuts, which chalked up about $53.9 million. Cattle ranked third with $43.9 million in sales followed by coffee with $43.8 million.

read … Progress in Destroying Agriculture

News of OHA “takeover” shows shallowness of reporting on Hawaiian issues

ILind: … In the wake of last month’s attempted takeover of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs headquarters by a dozen men claiming to represent the Kauai-based “Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi,” Hawaii Public Radio broadcast a follow-up story under the headline, “Who Speaks for Native Hawaiians?

HPR explained:

Last week’s arrest of members of a Hawaiian sovereignty group brought up an often asked question in the Hawaiian community, “Who exactly speaks for native Hawaiians?”

But am I the only one who thinks this was a very poor question to pose?

Would you ask this same question about other ethic groups?

“Who exactly speaks for Haoles?” Or “Who speaks for Japanese?”

For a variety of reasons, those questions wouldn’t fly.

And when the questions were put to Hawaiians by HPR, it led nowhere, except that the question is hard to answer. As the leader of one organization told HPR, “…there are oftentimes challenges to any one entity’s ability to adequately represent such a diverse native Hawaiian community.”

Exactly….

read … News of OHA “takeover” shows shallowness of reporting on Hawaiian issues

After Hiring Russian Agent to Attack Hawaii Media, Gabbard Claims to have had no Contact with Russians

CB; … Gabbard then said, in response to a question from Joe Scarborough, that she has not had any contact with Russians in recent years….

Flashback: Tulsi Gabbard Hires Russian Agent to Keep Hawaii Media in Check

read … Gabbard Twisting in the Wind

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