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Saturday, May 04, 2019
May 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:35 PM :: 1548 Views

HART Moves to Part Two of P3

Audit: HART Gives HECO Anything it Wants for Overhead--No Questions Asked

DoH: CBD Products are Illegal, 'Adulterated'

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

City prosecutor hired felony defendant Miske while case was pending

SA:  The city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney hired one of convicted felon Michael Miske’s companies while it was investigating and prosecuting the Honolulu businessman for felony assault and criminal property damage, according to an internal email disclosed by former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

Kealoha submitted the email in state court last week as part of her effort to block the disclosure of her employment record. The email accompanies written argument by Kealoha’s civil lawyer Kevin Sumida….

Circuit Judge Edward Kubo Jr. said in a hearing last month that it appears Lee is entitled to the file. He’s scheduled to decide Monday whether Lee is entitled to all, some or none of the file. He told Lee’s lawyer Megan Kau, however, that the file does not appear to be complete….

Prosecutor spokesman Brooks Baehr said Kamaaina Plumbing Co. performed emergency repairs to fix leaky pipes and valves in two units of the Prosecutor’s Safe House, formerly known as the Family Justice Center, in March 2015. He said Special Assistant to the Prosecutor Roger Lau selected Kama­aina Plumbing for the job.

Kealoha’s Career Criminal Unit was prosecuting Miske at the time for assault and criminal property damage for a December 2012 incident in an open parking lot near his Restaurant Row nightclub. The case is still pending but is now being prosecuted by the state Department of the Attorney General. Both law enforcement agencies declined to comment on why the Attorney General took over the case….

Both Kealoha and Miske say they never met each other. Kealoha said she contacted Lee’s subordinate officer at Lau’s request. Sumida describes Lau as Kealoha’s supervisor….

read … City prosecutor hired felony defendant while case was pending

Legislators: We Gave Counties Five Years to Act on TVRs—We Just Can’t Wait any Longer

HNN: … A proposal that would allow vacation rental platforms, such as Airbnb, to collect taxes for the state is now on the governor's desk.

Ige vetoed a similar bill in 2016. …

"We're very confident that through taxation some of the illegal activity will cease, but then it still comes down to what are the counties going to do to enforce some of the illegal rentals," said State Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee.

"We have held off for five years, maybe more, on passing legislation to collect taxes, waiting for the counties to establish whether or not they're legal or illegal, and we simply could not wait any longer," English said.

It's also unclear if Ige will sign into law a measure that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana.

"People assume once it becomes recreational or decriminalized it becomes legal," said Ige. "And it's not legal by federal law, and I think that becomes the confusion and that's always been my concern."

Ige has until June 24 to announce plans to veto any bill….

read … Fate of bills now in governor’s hands as legislative session comes to a close

House Blocked Illegal TVR Enforcement Measures

MN: … “We understand, and support that the Legislature’s focus was on getting the GET (general excise tax) and TAT (transient accommodations tax) revenue through the registration and tax collection process,” she said. “We had simply asked that the hosting platforms be required to provide the physical location of the vacation rental with their registration information. 

“That is all we need to enforce.”

The measure, Senate Bill 1292, reportedly has the potential to bring in more than $40 million in tax revenue to the state.

Earlier versions of SB 1292, which passed the Senate when Sen. Clarence Nishihara switched his vote, and other measures required the disclosure of the addresses, but they “didn’t move forward,” McLean said.

State senators “seemed to understand the counties’ challenges with enforcing illegal operations,” but the majority in the state House “would not support this strong stance,” she said….

read … Tax em all let God sort them out

After efforts to raise the minimum wage fail, lawmakers are being criticized for accepting pay raises

HNN: … State Lawmakers who couldn't reach a deal to increase Hawaii's minimum wage of $10.10 an hour are being criticized for accepting pay raises for themselves.

The raises, proposed by the state salary commission, automatically go into effect since House and Senate leaders did not reject them this session.

Right now, state senators and representatives, not including the Senate President and House Speaker, make $62,604 a year.

The commission recommended a 10 percent bump for state lawmakers in 2021, followed by a 2.5 percent raise every year until 2024, putting their annual salary at $74,160.

The Senate President and House Speaker, who receive higher pay, will end up with $83,052 in 2024….

Related: Massive Pay Hike for Hawaii Legislators?

read … After efforts to raise the minimum wage fail, lawmakers are being criticized for accepting pay raises

Good News: Ranked Choice Voting Fails to Pass Legislature

KOS: …Democrats … passed a bill to establish universal mail voting by 2020. That marked a departure from the last several years, where both chambers passed different versions of the proposal yet failed to agree on a single version, allowing the legislation to die each time.

The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. David Ige, who had been reluctant to take a position on many proposals before the legislative session ended but now has until June 24 to take action. If this bill becomes law, Hawaii would become the fourth state to adopt universal vote-by-mail after Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

The mail voting bill both prepays the postage cost to save voters a trip to the post office and would still provide voters with an opportunity to cast their ballots in person. The new law replaces traditional neighborhood polling places with vote centers where any voter in a county can drop off a completed mail ballot, cast an early in-person ballot, and even register at the same time they go to vote. The bill does end a requirement that employers give their employees time off to vote….

(Failed bills) … included automatic voter registration through the state's driver's licensing agency; the automatic "pre-registration" of 16- and 17-year-olds enrolled in Hawaii's schools so that they would be added to the rolls when they turn 18; and a bill to implement instant-runoff voting for all special elections….

Vote by Mail:

RCV/Instant Runoff:

read … Daily KOS

Anti-Vaxxer Charter School Board Members Resign

WHT: … The State Public Charter School Commission at its general meeting in Honolulu on Tuesday voted to accept the resignation of all of Kona Pacific Public Charter School’s governing board members and establish a new seven-member board.

The decision comes as an alternative to revoking the Kealakekua school’s charter contract, a process the commission voted to initiate in March. This latest move, said commission executive director Sione Thompson, halts that revocation process saying also that it’s very doubtful the school will close….

The commission voted in March to start the process for revoking the school’s charter contract via a notice of prospect of revocation, grounding its decision in evidence it said suggests the school violated aspects of the law and the state public charter school contract.

Those included allegations that the school commingled funds with the nonprofit that owns the land on which the school is located, overpaid lease rent and that the nonprofit was driving the governing board’s financial decisions….

Board applications are being accepted until May 14 at noon. Those applications will be reviewed and seven candidates will be recommended at the commission’s meeting on May 23….

WHT: End of childhood diseases was in sight

read … Beleaguered charter school board members resign

Enviros Make up ‘Value’ for Reefs in order to sell you ‘Reef Insurance’

SA: … A new study places a dollar value on Hawaii’s reefs — not for their natural beauty or as a tourist attraction, but for their function in providing flood protection.

Hawaii’s reefs are valued at more than $835 million, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy and the University of California-Santa Cruz. That’s how much they provide in flood protection, more than any other state or territory in the nation.

Reefs across the U.S. provide more than $1.8 billion in flood protection every year, the report found, including about $12 million on Kauai, $395 million on Oahu, $377 million on Maui and $51 million on Hawaii island.

In a 50-year storm, TNC said, coral reefs off Honolulu alone could provide more than $435 million in flood protection….

While these may look like general, ‘back of the envelope’ numbers, they are not…. (Know them by what they deny!)

In 2015 an estimated 50% of the live coral cover on Maui, and up to 90% of some West Hawaii reefs, were lost to a mass bleaching, according to TNC. Recent studies have shown, however, that reefs can recover under proper management.

The impacts of sea level rise, another growing concern, were not factored into this study, said Hum, but are being considered for future studies.

The dollar figures also allow the insurance industry to get involved. In Mexico, for instance, the government, TNC and other partners have set up an innovative trust fund for a reef insurance policy. If severe weather damages the reef, insurance would be available for restoration efforts. (LOLROTF! – They want you to pay them insurance premiums which they will periodically dip into to hire themselves at exorbitant salaries to do ‘reef restoration’ what a scam!)

Hum said TNC is now conducting a (political) feasibility study for a similar reef insurance policy for Hawaii’s reefs. (They are looking for somebody to introduce the bill.)

“We should be investing in reef management and insuring our investment so that we can keep those benefits in the years to come,” she said. “If you have a resource that is worth more than $800 million, you want to insure it against damage.”

read … Hawaii’s reefs provide more than $835M in flood protection, study shows

Big Problem: U.S. Pacific Pilots Can’t Get Realistic Combat Training

NI: … The reason? Lack of adequate training facilities in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), according to an audit by the Department of Defense Inspector General.

“As a result, the aviation units in the USINDOPACOM area of responsibility could not train as they would fight,” auditors concluded.

The report listed multiple problems, some of which were redacted in the version released to the public. “Most military training ranges were established over 75 years ago when the United States prepared for World War II,” the IG noted. Today’s aircraft are faster and have longer-range weapons, so they need a bigger training area.

But expanding airspace to train aircraft and helicopter pilots requires years to obtain FAA approval. And even then, environmental concerns are an obstacle, not just the mandatory environmental impact studies, but finding a location that doesn’t impact either civilian areas or endangered species. In Hawaii, for example, the Pohakuloa Training Area “was home to 26 threatened and endangered species and contained 1,200 identified archaeological sites, which must be protected by range officials. According to an Army official, the protection of endangered species and archaeological sites contributed to the limited range space available for training, which is about one-third (70) of the 210 square miles of range land.”…

As for aviation training at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, “the range was surrounded by neighborhoods that resulted in the range officials receiving noise complaints from nearby residents. According to an Army range official, when aviation units trained at the Multipurpose Range Complex, the Army had to close two other ranges nearby for safety concerns of the soldiers.”

The end result is that pilots can’t fly or fire weapons as they would in combat….

read … Big Problem: U.S. Pilots Can’t Get Realistic Combat Training

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