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Wednesday, March 13, 2019
March 13, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:11 PM :: 1257 Views

Road Usage Charge: HDoT Community Meetings on Latest Tax Hike Scheme

Auditor: Every Special Fund Proposed by Legislators Fails to Meet Criteria

The Difference Between Real and Fake Energy Policy

HART to Defy Federal Subpoena?

CB: … A month has passed since the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation received its first grand jury subpoena, but the board overseeing the rail project has yet to discuss the criminal probe with its attorneys.

That’s not a big concern for the first two federal orders and the tens of thousands of pages that HART has started collecting to comply with them. However, the delay could complicate matters with the third subpoena, board chairman Damien Kim recently acknowledged.

That order, dated Feb. 15, requires the local agency to hand over by next week all of the board’s executive-session meeting minutes through 2018.

Board members have previously refused to provide many of those same private records to the state auditor’s office, saying they were following the advice from the city’s Corporation Counsel.

Thus, when the third federal subpoena landed, Kim said the board would again consult with Corporation Counsel before deciding how much of its closed-door details it would release to federal investigators….

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with this federal one,” Kim said Thursday. The board is “just trying to get a clearer picture of what we’re heading to. We’ll do whatever is told of us.”

That discussion hasn’t happened yet, even though HART has a March 21 deadline to comply with the U.S. Attorney’s Office….

read … PleasePleasePlease defy the Feds Pleeeeaaaase!

Hawaii's predicted to bring in about $80 mil fewer dollars in tax revenue this fiscal year

KITV:  … At their last meeting in January, the Council on Revenues forecasted the economy to grow 4.2% for fiscal year 2018/2019. They've now lowered it to 3%. …

They're expecting an $81.6 million dollar loss in tax revenues. The volcanic eruption on the Big Island, bad weather on Maui and other events slowed down visitors and visitor spending.

Add that to $15 million in emergency funds Governor David Ige used for repairs to Pali Highway after February's landslides and another $3.4 million for inmates who are waiting at other prisons in the U.S. for space at Halawa Correctional Facility.

In total: an expected 100 million dollars lost….

Bills that include a tax on mandatory resort fees, online vacation booking platforms and timeshares. Some are up for discussion later this week….

read … Hawaii's predicted to bring in about $80 mil fewer dollars in tax revenue this fiscal year

Nearly all state jails operating over capacity

KITV: … Kaua'i Community Correctional Center is built for 128 inmates, but as of February 28th it houses 179.

Hawaii Community Correctional Center was built for 226 but has 403 inmates.

OCCC has a capacity for 954 inmates but houses 1,055 and there are 1,604 inmates at prisons in Arizona and at the Federal Detention Center. …

read … Nearly all state jails operating over capacity

Take longer view on Hawaii infrastructure

SA: … The state’s disintegrating roads, brittle bridges and run-down public buildings are partly due to short-term thinking. What we need is long-term thinking to resolve the problem.

Hawaii typically ranks near the bottom for worst infrastructure in the nation, according to multiple national reports. The tally of state deferred maintenance projects includes $240 million for the Aloha Stadium, $125 million for the Ala Wai Canal, $38 million for the state Capitol, $868 million for school facilities, $848 million for university facilities, $535 million for hospitals, $808 million for public housing, and $654 million for roads and bridges.

In total, the state has identified $4.3 billion in deferred maintenance projects, and that number will likely grow higher as more projects are tallied.

These costs are an unfunded liability for which lawmakers failed to budget in previous years. At the same time, today’s taxpayers are already busy paying for Hawaii’s other unfunded liabilities, such as the combined $25.6 billion unfunded liability for the state’s public pension and health benefits.

In fiscal 2020, Hawaii taxpayers are scheduled to pay a total of $4 billion for “fixed costs,” consisting of $1 billion for public pension debt, $1.1 billion for health benefits debt, $1 billion for Medicaid and almost $900 million for debt service.

Those annual fixed costs equal a full half of the state’s $8 billion general operating budget…

SA: Fix what we have before building new things

read … Take longer view on Hawaii infrastructure

Official charged with enforcing building codes didn’t get permits for residence

HTH: … The county official charged with ensuring building permit laws are followed didn’t get building, plumbing or electrical permits for a solar water and photovoltaic system on his own property until 23 years after the fact….

Erickson, an architect who’s worked for the county Building Division for almost eight years, said Tuesday he had to pay engineering fees and fines after the department received a complaint about his lack of permits.

“I was notified someone complained,” Erickson said. “I told them to treat me just like anyone else.”

Erickson’s building and electrical permits were approved after final inspections Jan. 18 and his plumbing permit was approved after final inspection Jan. 24, according to records obtained by West Hawaii Today….

In 2016, Rob Tucker, a Puna prefab structure builder, filed ethics complaints for what he saw as preferential treatment for some permit applicants while his permit applications languished in the system.

“This person gets waved right through, and other people get 44 hurdles to jump over,” Tucker characterized the permit process.

The county, in its defense, says that many building permit applications come before the department in an incomplete condition.

During the 2016-17 fiscal year, only half of the 1,860 permits applied for passed during their first review, Tanaka told the council in January. An additional 20 percent passed after the second review, 13 percent passed after the third review and the remainder took from four to seven reviews to pass.

The Ethics Board subsequently dismissed both complaints based on a lack of an alleged violation.

The County Council Public Works and Mass Transit Committee on Tuesday grilled Erickson and his boss Yamamoto about an unrelated item. Council members were concerned that a sign variance for a Kailua-Kona Holiday Inn had been applied for five years ago and has still not been finalized.

Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, chairwoman of the committee, rewrote the resolution seeking the sign variance and presented it to her colleagues after pointing out numerous mistakes, including the zoning designation, on the original resolution presented by the department.

“We hope to get good work product from them which is factually accurate,” Lee Loy said of her stinging indictment of the department. “This was intended to be a teaching moment.”….

read … Official charged with enforcing building codes didn’t get permits for residence

School Chief Chooses Some Of The People Helping To Evaluate Her

CB: … Business leaders, principals and the Honolulu police chief are among the people the Hawaii school superintendent has asked for input on the public education system’s successes and challenges as part of her year-end evaluation process.

The names of 20 people asked to provide feedback were approved by the Board of Education on March 7.

Their responses to survey questions developed by Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will be used “to inform goal setting for the next school year,” according to a BOE document.

While this so-called stakeholder feedback is not the evaluation, the document states, it will be used by the board and Kishimoto to help create a plan to improve and address problem areas. …

read … School Chief Chooses Some Of The People Helping To Evaluate Her

One judge approves sale of Kealohas’ home; another reschedules their fraud trial

SA: … Judge J. Michael Seabright approved the sale of their home today after a buyer offered $1.3 million in cash.

…Seabright postponed a request by the Kealoha’s attorneys that the couple be reimbursed for association fees and costs for services such as landscaping and their water bills.

Soon after that hearing, Judge Richard L. Puglisi scheduled the Kealoha’s bank fraud trial for Oct. 21.

The Kealohas were scheduled to stand trial on bank fraud charges last November, but the trial was rescheduled for June after Katherine Kealoha was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer and began seeking immediate treatment….

HNN:  Judge OKs use of cell tracking data in ‘mailbox case’ against Kealohas, officers 

read … One judge approves sale of Kealohas’ home; another reschedules their fraud trial

Judge rules bank fraud evidence can't be used in Kealoha corruption trial

KHON: … Allegations of bank fraud and theft will not be allowed in the Kealoha trial accusing them of framing a relative for mailbox theft….

"It definitely helps the Kealohas' case. The more they can keep out evidence of other alleged wrongdoings on their part, it makes them look more credible in the eyes of the jury," said Bakke.

The judge will allow prosecutors to use evidence related to money that Gerard Puana gave to Katherine Kealoha, which she allegedly never paid back.

As well as allegations of Kealoha not making payments on a reverse mortgage on a home owned by her grandmother Florence Puana. 
The judge ruled that these can be considered as motives…. 

SA: Judge allows some evidence of motive in Kealohas’ trial

read … Judge rules bank fraud evidence can't be used in Kealoha corruption trial

Legislator: Calls Run 30-0 Against Sanctuary State

KGI: … a couple of Kauai representatives sounded off on the issue.

“I received probably 30 calls and tests and emails regarding the bill,” said Rep. Jimmy Tokioka.

He said that’s just Kauai involvement, and that’s a fairly high level of engagement. He said he received more feedback from the rest of the state as well.

“Every single inquiry, request of me, was for me to vote against the bill,” Tokioka said. “A lot of people from my district had major concerns with Hawaii being a sanctuary sate.”….

read … No to sanctuary state

Investigation: No laws were broken when athletes skied down a snow-less Mauna Kea

HNN: .. The investigation, recently conducted by the UH Hilo Office of Maunakea Management, revealed that there was no damaged done to historic archaeological sites or natural resources on the mountain.

But the investigation did reaffirm the need for an enhancement of management rules.

“There was no legal recourse to penalize the individuals because no laws were broken,” the university said in a news release. “UH is in the process of developing administrative rules, an essential resource management tool that would address these types of situations.” …

PDF:  Report

read … Snow-Less

Biomass is not Carbon Neutral

IM: … Most of the carbon (80%) In the biomass-soil-atmosphere cycle is found in the soil…..

read … Confusion Reigns Over Biomass-Climate Change Interactions

Gabbard Among ‘Those Going Nowhere’

WaPo: … not all low-performing candidates are the same. Some, including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, are barely known outside their home states. Others are known but have yet to make any significant impression on voters - such as Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Then there are those going nowhere, such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who cannot bring herself to agree with virtually the entire world that Syrian President Bashar Assad is a war criminal for, among other things, bombing civilians, torture and the use of chemical weapons….

read … The Washington Post

Did Hawaii Company Funnel Malaysian Money to Trump Campaign?

WSJ: … The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether $100,000 donated to a Trump-related political fundraising committee originated from a fugitive Malaysian businessman alleged to be at the center of a global financial scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.

The $100,000 donation was made in December 2017 to the Trump Victory committee—which is involved in helping re-elect President Trump in 2020—by Larry Davis, a U.S. citizen who co-owns LNS Capital, a Hawaii-based investment company, people familiar with the investigation say.

Authorities are seeking to determine whether transfers totaling $1.5 million to LNS Capital seven months earlier—originating with the Malaysian businessman,Jho Low—financed Mr. Davis’s donation to Trump Victory, say the people familiar with the matter.

It is a federal offense for foreign individuals or companies to make direct or indirect donations to U.S. politicians or fundraising committees. The rules are designed to stop foreigners from using cash to try to influence U.S. politics, including payments made indirectly through entities or U.S. citizens acting as intermediaries, who also could face charges….

read … The Wall Street Journal

Arrested in Waikiki: Coach Helped Rich Liberals get their Idiot Children into the Colleges They won’t let you attend

SA: … The FBI in Hawaii arrested Jovan Vavic, a water polo coach at the University of Southern California wanted in connection with a massive college admissions bribery scheme, this morning in Waikiki.

FBI spokesman Jason White confirmed Vavic was arrested at about 6:30 a.m. in Waikiki today without incident. Vavic is expected to appear in court at 1 p.m….

Federal agents have arrested dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits in multiple states. They were charged in documents unsealed today in federal court in Boston.

Athletic coaches from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and Georgetown, and Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, among others, are implicated, as well as parents and exam administrators.

Vavic is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering….

read … Arrested in Waikiki: Water Polo Coach Helped Rich Liberals get their Idiot Children into the Colleges They won’t let you attend

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