Hawaii GET adds $222M to healthcare costs
Maui Telescope Begins Making Observations--Thanks to Mayor Arakawa and Maui PD
ILWU Boss Gets 30 Months for Theft
Charting a New Fiscal Course for Hawaii: Fiscal Architecture Approach
Feds Bust Philippine KOJ Church
Bills Would Extend Statute of Limitations for Child Molestation
Second Amendment Rally Set for Capitol
HB2451: Assisted Suicide Proponents want Hawaii to be a testing ground for Nurses!
Election 2020: Candidate Filing Opens Monday Feb 3
Low, stagnant wages are main factors in Hawaii's population decline
PBN: … Hawaii’s minimum wage is the lowest in the nation when adjusted for the high cost of living in the Islands, which, combined with stagnant wages are among the main reasons for the state’s recent declines in population growth, according to an analysis of wage data by CBRE and a policy brief published by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization this week.
The CBRE analysis discusses the difference between the minimum wage, unchanged at $10.10 since 2018, and a so-called living wage, the hourly rate that an individual must earn to live in a given place — the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has said that is $17 an hour for a single person with no children in Hawaii.
The analysis found that three of every 10 jobs in Hawaii are in food, retail, personal care and service and health care support occupations which have median wages below the $17 identified by DBEDT as a living wage, and that 31% of full-time workers earn less than the living wage of $35,400 for a single person; a family of two adults and two children needs $72,336 to live here….
Meanwhile, the policy brief published by UHERO this week notes that Hawaii’s population grew by only 0.5% over the last decade, which was less than half the growth rate of the previous 10 years. UHERO expects that growth to “continue to slow to 0.2% per year between 2040 and 2050,” with Oahu’s population “barely growing at all,”…
read … Low, stagnant wages are main factors in Hawaii's population decline
Appointed Corruption: Council Considering Abolition of Prosecutor Elections
HPR: … Resolution 19-330 calls for the department to be part of the executive branch. This would allow the mayor to appoint the prosecutor -- instead of having the position be an elected one.
Councilmember Tommy Waters says recent controversies have highlighted a gap in the city charter. Specifically, the prosecutor, an elected official, can be on paid leave and allow an unelected appointee to take their place for an indefinite amount of time.
"Having an appointment process for the prosecuting attorney, similar to the prosecutor of Maui County and the Attorney General for the state, would allow for community input during the public hearing process," Waters said.
"If any concerns arise, however, about the prosecuting attorney's ability to fulfill their obligations -- then their removal could be achieved through a public hearing with additional public input."
Waters says the move would provide a check and balance to the office and restore public trust.
But testifiers noted that it would not prevent public corruption from happening. And that an appointed prosecutor would result in less transparency.
The Council passed Resolution 19-330 on first reading. It will be discussed at the council's next Executive Matters and Legal Affairs committee….
Related: Mauna Kea Protest Shows Need for a Return to Elected County Sheriffs
read … Honolulu Council Advances Measures Addressing Prosecuting Attorney Concerns
Public meetings start next week to discuss proposed stormwater fee
SA: … The city expects many questions about this proposal and has organized public meetings, starting next week. Meetings are scheduled from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
>> Monday: Kaiser High School
>> Tuesday: Kalani High School
>> Wednesday: Kaimuki High School…
related: City considers creating a new utility (and fee) for tackling storm water
read … Public meetings start next week to discuss proposed stormwater fee
Caldwell skeptical of HART’s promise to Help Mufi by opening Honolulu rail in October
SA: … HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins pledged at a news conference early this month that the rail line would open by October, but both Caldwell and the state Department of Transportation are warning they are not prepared to meet that deadline, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.
Caldwell was in Washington, D.C., last week on a trip that included a sit-down meeting with top officials in the Federal Transit Administration, and he returned to Honolulu to draft a letter urging the rail authority board to “better understand and monitor” some critical issues.
“The board should require HART to cease making promises to the public of an artificial starting date of rail service,” Caldwell said in the letter dated Wednesday, referring to Robbins’ promise to launch rail in October.
“Internally, the city’s target date is December 2020, but the city is not yet confident in the ability to open by that date,” Caldwell wrote.
He noted that while HART is responsible for building the 20-mile rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, it is the city Department of Transportation Services that must operate the system, and “the city has not committed to a date for the opening of service.”
While addressing the board today, Caldwell also reminded listeners that while the city intends to open the entire 20-mile rail line in December 2025, the FTA has said it calculates there is only a 65 percent probability that the rail line will open by September 2026. Additional delays in the project will increase the cost of rail, Caldwell said
“That additional time is partly why they believe the City and County of Honolulu will have to come up with additional money on top of what’s already been provided through these different funding mechanisms, which I hope doesn’t happen,” Caldwell told the board. …
read … Mayor Kirk Caldwell skeptical of HART’s promise to open Honolulu rail in October
Beware The ‘Magic’ Of Public-Private Partnerships For Honolulu Rail
CB: … The use of a private partner is often marketed as a kind of silver bullet to inspire trust in big public projects. In truth, PPPs have a mixed record….
read … Beware The ‘Magic’ Of Public-Private Partnerships For Honolulu Rail
Testifiers voice strong opposition to Young Brothers’ rate request
HTH: … The air was polite, but testimony before the state Public Utilities Commission Tuesday night in Hilo was overwhelmingly opposed to Young Brothers’ request to raise interisland ocean freight rates by 34%.
About 25 people attended the meeting at the Aupuni Center in Hilo, with 12 testifiers….
The requested rate hike also includes salary increases for International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers in 2020 and 2021 of 4.7%, per the collective bargaining agreement….
County Councilman Tim Richards of Kohala, a veterinarian and rancher who chairs the Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management Committee, said any large increase in the cost of doing business “is potentially ruinous to agriculture.”…
The state Consumer Advocate will assess Young Brothers rate request and make its recommendation on the proposal to the PUC before any action takes place. Any approved rate increase is expected to go into effect this fall….
Background: Young Brothers Rate Hike Proposal Based on Fraudulent Numbers
read … Testifiers voice strong opposition to Young Brothers’ rate request
Ethics Board to take on Maunakea road block
HTH: … The fences blocking Maunakea Access Road came down more than a month ago. But the debate over whether the government applied the law discriminately by not removing protesters and reopening the road is as robust as ever.
Some 16 testifiers weighed in on the issue Wednesday as the Board of Ethics considered a resolution allowing itself to conduct an investigatory hearing into why the rule of law wasn’t enforced at the protest site. Ten people also submitted emails.
“The general tone of the emails we received were very positive toward our movement toward investigating,” said board member Nan Sumner-Mack.
The board, which is empowered to call officials to testify on their actions or lack of action, agreed to amend its resolution and continue its discussion at its Feb. 28 meeting….
read … Ethics Board to take on Maunakea road block
Sovereignty Activist Lawyer on Trial for Mortgage Scams
ILind: … On January 16, 2020, Circuit Court Judge James H. Ashford denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing attorney Dexter Kaiama of multiple violations of Hawaii’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act.
The decision means a lawsuit seeking to bar Kaiama and associates from providing any assistance in the future to consumers facing foreclosure actions can now move forward.
The civil lawsuit was originally filed by the Office of Consumer Protection in April 2019. It alleges Kaiama violated multiple provisions of Hawaii’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act when he accepted payments to make special courtroom appearances in foreclosure proceedings.
In cases described in the OCP complaint, Kaiama allegedly made the “special appearances” in court on behalf of consumers recruited and advised by sovereignty activist David Keanu Sai and a third person, Rose Dradi….
read … Court declines to dismiss consumer protection case against Hawaiian attorney
Judge appears willing to allow subpoena of anti-TMT group’s financial records
SA: … A Circuit Court judge today said he was inclined to allow the state Attorney General’s office to subpoena financial records of a non-profit group devoted to Hawaiian issues, including raising funds to provide bail and other support for people opposed to the planned Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
Judge James Ashford, however, had concerns about the scope of the Attorney General’s subpoena and gave attorneys on both sides until Feb. 7 to reach agreement about how much financial information should be disclosed about KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance.
During today’s hearing to consider whether to quash the Attorney General’s subpoena of 18 different requests of KAHEA information held by First Hawaiian Bank, Ashford said he was inclined to allow the Attorney General’s office to obtain information regarding nine areas, such as monthly statements, cancelled checks and loan applications.
But Ashford had concerns about other First Hawaiian Bank information sought by the Attorney General’s subpoena, including surveillance photos taken from ATM machines.
read … Judge appears willing to allow subpoena of anti-TMT group’s financial records
Honolulu Voters Will Decide On Two-Term Limit For Prosecutor
CB: … Oahu residents voting in November’s election will be asked to decide whether the Honolulu prosecuting attorney should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. (Should be lifetime, not just consecutive.)
Honolulu City Council members voted unanimously on Wednesday to add the measure to the 2020 election ballot.
Councilman Ron Menor said he introduced Resolution 19-35 after receiving public complaints about ongoing corruption investigations that have “tarnished the reputation” of agencies including the Office of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney….
read … Honolulu Voters Will Decide On Two-Term Limit For Prosecutor
HB1676: Red-light cameras in the works
SA: … If House Bill 1676 passes, most of Honolulu makai of H-1, between Nuuanu Avenue and McCully Street, will be the zone for a pilot red-light camera program.
…Either you’re in the intersection when the light is red, or you’re not….
Still, some may protest the notion at the 10 a.m. Friday hearing in the state Capitol’s room 423.
read … Red-light cameras in the works
Child Molester: Former House candidate is sentenced to 5 years in prison
MN: … Chayne Marten, 67, of Napili had pleaded no contest to first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, with the prosecution dismissing sexual assault and other charges in exchange for his plea.
In October 2016, Marten was indicted on charges of five counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of third-degree sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. The charges alleged sexual contact and penetration of the girl from December 2007 to December 2010, while she was between ages 7 and 10. The girl is related to Marten.
The victim said Marten told her she was his favorite and gave her gifts while he started exposing himself to her, then groping her and forcing her into sexual acts.
She reported he would play a “creepy crawly game” that started with tickling her feet and led to sexually touching her, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.
“He said to me, ‘This is our secret. I can trust you, right?’ “ the victim said in court. “I was scared for a long time to say anything because he made it feel like it was my fault.”…
She said Marten’s wife would say, “Why can’t you just forgive and forget?”…
after the allegations surfaced, a Mainland relative of Marten reported he had done the same thing to her when she was 7 years old….
Marten’s son Chase contacted The Maui News on Wednesday evening and said that his “dad is a great father, and he has always tried to help the community all his life.”…
With a college education, real estate licenses in California and Hawaii, several homes and runs for elected office, Marten “looks very good on paper,” Bernard Lee said….
read … Former House candidate is sentenced to 5 years in prison
Hypocrites: Kauai County Still using Pesticides in County Parks
KGI: … The nonprofit organization Beyond Pesticides got the green light Wednesday from the Kauai County Council to partner with the county Department of Parks &Recreation on a project to train staff on alternative pest-management strategies.
Kauai County, like many land managers in Hawaii, uses some pesticides, herbicides and insecticides to manage pests in county parks.
Using a $7,500 grant obtained by Beyond Pesticides, the two entities will be targeting Kapaa Beach Park and Hofgaard Park in Waimea as initial sites for the training, which will provide information and resources to reduce the amount of toxic products used in weed and turf management on Kauai….
(Where are all the phonies screaming about cancer and birth defects?)
read … Still Using Pesticides
Homeless Man Forced To Lick Urinal By Police Files Civil Lawsuit
CB: … In a civil lawsuit filed in 1st Circuit Court, Samuel Ingall accused them of negligence, causing emotional distress, false imprisonment, unlawful seizure, and assault and battery, among other charges.
On Jan. 28, 2018, Officers John Rabago and Reginald Ramones told Ingall in an “aggressive tone” that the only way he could avoid arrest was to lick the urinal in the public restroom where the plaintiff was seeking shelter, according to the complaint.
Rabago pleaded guilty to depriving Ingall of his civil rights in a criminal case in November. Ramones pleaded guilty in September to a lesser charge of failing to inform authorities about the civil rights violation.
The civil complaint also alleged that Rabago instructed Ramones to close the bathroom door to make sure that the misconduct would not be caught on videotape. They then allegedly intimidated and restrained Ingall against his will….
read … Homeless Man Forced To Lick Urinal By Police Files Civil Lawsuit
Meth Bust During Homeless Sweep
HTH: … Police were informed of a makeshift camping area near some Banyan Trees at the Hilo Bay Front Soccer Field, according to the Hawaii Police Department. Police found rubbish and debris left around the trees. The debris was removed and area cleaned by the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation personnel.
Police continued sweeping the area where complaints have been received concerning criminal activity and loitering near the park areas. While on Bay Front Highway, police found a car parked with illegal motor vehicle stickers and stopped to investigate the matter.
Inside the vehicle, police found a man and a woman, and after identifying the couple learned they both had warrants for their arrest. While arresting the couple, police reportedly found drugs and associated drug paraphernalia within the vehicle, leading to the vehicle’s recovery.
A search warrant was obtained with police reportedly recovering 10 grams of methamphetamine, packets used for storing methamphetamine, and a glass smoking pipe used for consuming methamphetamine….
read … Couple arrested in Hilo for drugs, warrants