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Thursday, November 20, 2014
November 20, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:27 PM :: 5469 Views

Report: Hawaii’s $30B unfunded retirement liabilities part of national trend

Inequality: Hawaii the only Blue State Among America's Most Equal

HONOLULU Ranks 12th for Successful Aging

Report: Hawaii DoE 'Ahead of the Curve' on Data Governance

Lack of Vegans Makes Hawaii Best State for Thanksgiving

Hawaii: Buy Obamacare, Pay for Abortion

Under secretary of the Army visits Hawaii

U.S. not prepared for a major volcanic eruption, panel says

UH Protest: Grad Students Win Jobs Back, Push for Budget Transparency

HART: Rail Contractor Buys Company Which Oversees it--Grabauskas OK With That

HNN:  There are new concerns with the Honolulu rail project.  The company hired to oversee the work has been bought out by the same business it is supposed to watch over....

A company called AECOM Technical Corporation was hired to design the second ten miles of the rail track.  Another company, URS Corporation, is supposed to make sure it does the job correctly.  But now AECOM owns URS.

"You don't want to have the fox watching the hen house so to speak. We need to sit down with them to ensure their independence," said Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO and Executive Director.  (OK once they 'sit dow' they will be independent.  Uh huh.)

AECOM was awarded three design contracts with the City of Honolulu (airport rail station group, airport guideway and city center guideway) totaling $99.2 million.

The URS contract is valued at $63.1 million, according to Hart.

Hart may need to rebind the entire URS contract, which Grabauskas hopes won't add more costs. 

(That's 're-bind', not 're-bid'.  Get it?  Question: Did he say 'rebind' because it is so close to 'rebid' that many might not notice?  Is that what HART communication consultants are doing these days?)

read ... Contract conflict creates new concerns for rail project

Wife of Police Chief Refuses to Show in Court--Was Lead prosecutor in Gambling Case

SA: The former lead prosecutor in the gambling, money laundering and racketeering case involving arcade sweepstakes machines is facing possible sanctions for failing to show up in state court Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Randal K.O. Lee issued an order requiring Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha to explain why he should not find her in contempt.

Kealoha is the wife of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha. The Honolulu prosecutor's office says she is on indefinite personal leave without pay....

Myles Breiner, lawyer for lead defendant Tracy T. Yoshimura, said: "According to (Deputy) Prosecutor Awong, who's handling the case now, despite his text­ing her, calling her and telling her to come to court, she flat-out refused. I think that speaks volumes about the nature of this case and why the indictment should be dismissed with prejudice." ...

Kealoha has been unreachable since she left the prosecutor's office....

read ... It Goes to the Top

Schatz Pushes $2 Trillion Carbon Tax to Fund Corporate Welfare

NJ: Along with Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz, Whitehouse on Tuesday introduced a bill that would impose a per-ton fee on carbon for large polluters, which he says could raise as much as $2 trillion in revenue over 10 years. In line with the Obama administration's estimate of the "social cost of carbon," the fee would start at $42 a ton with an inflation-adjusted 2 percent increase a year.

That money would be returned to taxpayers, although the bill doesn't specify a payment plan. Among the options were breaks on corporate or income taxes, infrastructure investments, and assistance to low-income families with high energy costs (tax credits for buying solar no doubt, LOL!).

(In other words, consumers will pay $2T more on electric bills and fuel taxes and the money will be handed over to eco-billionaires such as Brian Schatz' owner, California Billionaire Tom Steyer.  The eco-scammers are worried because the price of oil is going down, thus undermining demand for their alt-energy schemes.)

read ... Tax the People to Pay off the Rich

Legacy? Abercrombie Gave Hawaii a Gay Marriage

SA: ...Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday described the legalization of same-sex marriage as his proudest accomplishment as governor....

SA: Four Years of Tumult--Abercrombie Timeline

read ... You've Been Married!

2,200 Homeless Move to Hawaii from Mainland

SA: About 6 percent of Hawaii's homeless population — or about 600 people — arrived in the Aloha State in only the last 12 months, according to a new University of Hawaii report.

In addition, about 16 percent of the homeless population — or about 1,600 people — told Hawaii social service workers they became new residents within the last five years.

Those are among the findings in the latest joint study by UH-Manoa and the state Department of Human Services called the "Homeless Service Utilization Report: Hawaii 2014."

SA: Sit-lie opponents will rally for veto of expanded bill in desperate effort to keep the homeless on the streets

read ... 2200 Bums

Obama to Legalize 35,000 Illegals in Hawaii

CB: There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., with an estimated 35,000 living in Hawaii....

read ... Illegals legalized

OHA Trustee: Aha Will Create Indian Tribe

Apo: Hawaiians are moving forward with plans for a delegate election and a Hawaiian Constitutional Convention in 2015 to propose a Native Hawaiian governing entity that will succeed the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

In giving shape to a new Hawaiian governing entity to succeed OHA, convention delegates are also expected to address proposals that will redefine the political relationship between Hawaiians and the federal and state governments....

I believe that a Hawaiian nation-within-a-nation relationship will emerge out of the convention that not only will bring closure to our long-standing grievances, but also protect long-standing programs that support Hawaiians....

read ... Neutral? Not.

Hawaii Attorney General to Appeal Financial Disclosure Ruling

CB: It could be months if not longer before the Hawaii State Ethics Commission releases the financial disclosure statements of certain state board members that a judge ruled last week must be made public in accordance with a new law.

That’s because Hawaii Attorney General David Louie plans to appeal the court’s decision, which is expected to keep the records private while that lengthy process plays out.

The five-member commission voted 4-0 on Wednesday to not object to the AG’s move to appeal. Commissioner Melinda Wood abstained. The vote came after an almost hour-long discussion behind closed doors with Louie and two deputy attorneys general.

“The Attorney General believes that Act 230 and the complaint presents an important legal issue and should have appellate review,” Ethics Commissioner Susan DeGusman said before making her motion.

“The commission has no objection to the Attorney General filing an appeal to the preliminary injunction and/or taking necessary steps to seek further proceedings to obtain full and final appellate review on the merits,” she said....

Brian Black, the law center’s executive director, said Wednesday that he hopes the AG will be looking for ways to get the matter resolved as expeditiously as possible.  “It’s disappointing that they have allowed a course of action to continue that is not in the public interest and does not maintain the high ethical standards that the Legislature clearly wanted”....

read ... Abercrombie's Last Blast

Criminal? Commission to send PRP complaints to prosecutor

SA: The state Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday referred two complaints related to the 2012 mayoral campaign activities of the Pacific Resource Partnership Political Action Committee to city prosecutors to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

Commissioners voted 3-1 to refer both complaints for further consideration.

read ... Complaints

Lame Duck Anti-GMO Kauai Council Boosts Developers, Taxes Farmers

KE: The Kauai County Council inflicted blows on agriculture and coastal preservation yesterday, passing one bill to hike property taxes for those who grow GMO crops, and another that makes it easier to develop along rocky shorelines.

Overall, it was a disappointing final meeting for this Council, which will seat two new members next month. But there was one bright note: we will no longer have to endure Jay Furfaro and Tim Bynum, both of whom thankfully lost their re-election bids.

The Council first approved a shoreline setback bill that exempts rocky shorelines and coastal bluffs from setback requirements. The action green-lights development in all the wrong places, like hazardous cliffs and coastal bluffs. Councilman Mason Chock was a staunch opponent.

The Council then went on to pass Bynum's “agronomics” bill, which would make Kauai the first county in Hawaii, and possibly the nation, to use lease rents, rather than market value, to assess tax rates. Councilman Ross Kagawa, who joined Mel Rapozo in voting against the bill, finds that prospect worrisome.

read ... Tourism and Development Interests are Behind Anti-GMO activism

Oregon alfalfa farmers Sue to Overturn county GMO ban

CP: Oregon alfalfa growers challenging the legality of a county prohibition on genetically modified organisms have hinged their case on the state’s “right to farm” law.

The plaintiffs — Schulz Family Farms and James and Marilyn Frink — claim the GMO ban passed by Jackson County voters in May is precluded by the statute, which disallows local governments from deeming a common farming practice as a nuisance or trespass.

The complaint asks the Jackson County Circuit Court to stop the GMO ban from being enforced, or in the alternative, for $4.2 million in damages that the farmers would allegedly suffer if they must destory their biotech alfalfa crops by June 2015.

Schulz Family Farms grows 105 acres of “Roundup Ready” alfalfa that has been genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate herbicides, while the Frinks cultivate 200 acres of the biotech crop.

Alfalfa is a perennial crop with a 10-year lifespan, so the plaintiffs will lose out on several years of harvests if they’re forced to tear out the plants, the complaint said. Furthermore, they would have to replant the fields with other crops for about four years to ensure that any biotech alfalfa volunteers aren’t allowed to survive.

The plaintiffs say they sell alfalfa for roughly $200 to $300 per ton and would lose a major portion of their income if they had to switch to less profitable crops for several years — in the case of the Frinks, the disruption would likely drive them out of farming.

The county ordinance tries to circumvent Oregon’s right to farm law by designating the cultivation of biotech crops as a “violation” rather than a “nuisance,” the complaint said.

read ... Farmers vs Fools

State Amends Cesspool Rules

KGI: ...state Department of Health officials released amendments to their proposed rule changes on wastewater, which initially prohibited new cesspools from being built and required property owners to upgrade their cesspools to septic systems within 180 days after their property is sold.

“The rules will require only cesspools that most affect human health and water quality to be upgraded upon sale of a property,” state Department of Health officials wrote in a Nov. 13 report. “Only cesspools that are near a public drinking water well, and those within 750 feet of the shoreline, a stream or wetland will be affected.”

Of the 13,688 cesspools on Kauai, about 43 percent of them, or 5,863 individual cesspools, will need to be upgraded because they are located next to sensitive water bodies, state officials wrote. Though these cesspools would need to be upgraded when the property is sold, the state will give property owners one year, rather than six months, to do so.

Cesspool upgrades, however, would not apply to instances when affected properties are conveyed to family members. ...

read ... State officials amend cesspool rules

Will Estate Taxes Chase Retirees out of Hawaii?

RO: Legislators in states that have enacted an estate tax are concerned that wealthy retirees will simply move, depriving the state of income taxes now. Taxes are the most common reason retirees move from one state to another.

Hawaii and Delaware have estate tax exemptions that match the federal level. However, fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have lower exemption levels than the federal limit, and their tax rates range from 12 to 19 percent. New Jersey's estate tax exemption level is only $675,000, which results in decreased inheritances to heirs in even relatively modest estates.

In addition, seven states have an inheritance tax. Unlike an estate tax, which is made against an estate before the assets are distributed, an inheritance tax is paid by the beneficiaries. Maryland and New Jersey have both estate and inheritance taxes with maximum rates ranging from 9.5 percent to 18 percent.

If you live in a state that has an estate or inheritance tax, you may consider moving to a state that does not have inheritance tax or that has a higher exemption level. Estate taxes are governed by the laws of the state where you are “domiciled” on the date of death.

read ... Estate Taxes

HECO Socks Low Income Customers With Giant Deposits

HNN: There are 260 apartments at Puuwai Momi public housing. Starting next year the tenants will pay their own electricity bills. Shental Naeole isn't worried about that. But she is worried about a deposit her low-income family has to pay to Hawaiian Electric.

"Our deposit is $954," she said.

Carlene Beavers lives on a fixed income. Her HECO deposit is $700.

"It's going to be very hard because my income is $700 a month," she said.

The deposits are due in to the electric company next month. HECO based them on two months of a tenant's electricity use. Keith Nunes questions the calculation.

"Thirteen hundred dollars down payment. That's what HECO told me," he said.

read ... Electric Bill

DoH Leaves Kaiser out of Medicaid Options

SA: Kaiser spokeswoman Laura Lott said she has no idea how the mistake happened. The company has 24,000 Quest members and has a cap of 30,000, she said.

Lawmakers have received complaints from residents who want to sign up for Kaiser but were told they could not do so.

“There was some kind of glitch in the system. They (DHS) really won’t own it, and they won’t do anything about it to make it right,” said state Sen. Roz Baker

read ... A boost for HMSA

China Developing New Ways to Nuke Hawaii

DN: China’s growing sea-based nuclear deterrent began in 2007 with the commissioning of three Jin-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) and the expected introduction of two additional SSBNs by 2020.

The Jin’s SSBN’s JL–2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, appears to have reached initial operational capability, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.” The JL–2’s range of 4,598 miles gives China the ability to “conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii, and the western portion of the continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii.”

FN: Russian bombers threaten Guam

read ... Boom

DoH Shrink Vacations While Prisoner Languishes

WHT: ...Aranug was arrested June 28 for trespassing and contempt of court and was unable to post $400 bail. As petty misdemeanors, both offenses are punishable by up to 30 days in jail upon conviction. A mental health examination was ordered by Takase on June 30. The original date a hearing on the returns was July 22, but the court’s Adult Client Services Branch requested additional time on July 7, stating in a letter that 10 working days was not long enough to complete the process.

At the July 22 hearing, a continuance of Aranug’s case was granted because of a possible language barrier and a Yapese interpreter was requested.

Dr. Alex Lichton, a DOH forensic psychologist from Honolulu, was assigned to examine Aranug. He sent three letters to the court, on Aug. 20, Sept. 17 and Oct. 6, each requesting postponements of the exam for at least 30 days. The first two cited work backlogs, the third, vacation.

Meanwhile, Aranug remained in custody, and Dr. Frederic Manke, a DOH psychologist who supervises mental health services for East Hawaii courts, conducted the assessment of Aranug, although that isn’t normally a part of his duties. The court found Aranug unfit to proceed on Nov. 5 and she was transferred to the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe, Oahu, the following day....

read ... Vacation

Soft on Crime: 30 Convictions 20 Years Gets 5 year sentence

KGI: A Hanamaulu man who has accumulated 30 convictions over 20 years was sent to prison again for a methamphetamine charge on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court....

“He has been addicted to meth since he was 15,” Jajich said....

Given the seriousness of the new charges, Watanabe said the court had no option but to sentence Dejos to five years in prison with credit for time already served.  (Translation: He'll be back out next year looking for #31.)

“This defendant has had so many chances,” said Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “It is unfortunate to see him cycling through the system again, but until he decides to change his life once and for all, we fear this pattern will continue.”

read ... Soft on Crime

Federal Water Grab Could Affect Kona Judiciary Complex

WHT: The complex will use an estimated 23,500 gallons a day, less than 0.1 percent of the aquifer’s sustained yield of 38 million gallons a day, Seki noted.

The judiciary complex received $35 million from the Legislature over the past two sessions. Bids for the estimated $90 million project are scheduled to open no later than June 30, 2016. The building will be constructed north of Makalapua Shopping Center in Kailua-Kona. The long-awaited complex will consolidate West Hawaii judiciary functions, which are now scattered among subpar facilities.

The National Park Service petitioned last fall to place the Keauhou aquifer under the control of the state commission. It is not clear what level of scrutiny CWRM would require of existing permits if it does indeed vote next month to pursue the designation. More than 10,000 Department of Water Supply accounts and permits for 12 county wells are likely to receive some level of examination, DWS officials say. Existing users will have one year to file for a permit to continue drawing the water they already use. After that, new permits will be considered, according to the Department of Water Supply.

Any delay in the bid opening date or construction start date for the judiciary complex will have a negative impact on court users and increase development costs,

read ... Water Grab

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