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Sunday, December 21, 2014
December 21, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:33 PM :: 3934 Views

Task Force: Legislature Must Act This Session to Get Obamacare Waiver for Hawaii

ILWU Port Slowdowns Behind Japanese Potato Crisis?

133 Candidates File for Neighborhood Board Elections

London Mayor’s Unpaid Tax Bill

Activists Push for Right to Give Marijuana to 5-year old, 8-year old

SA: The law is silent on how the state's 13,000 patients can get seeds for the seven plants they are allowed to grow....

Jari Sugano and Reid Kaneshiro of Mililani Mauka struggle on their own.

This year, they went looking for a marijuana plant to cultivate in their backyard so they could create a tincture to help treat their daughter's seizures.

Five-year-old Maile "MJ" Kaneshiro was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. The couple also has an 8-year-old autistic son, Austin. (Quick IQ Test: Marijuana is good medicine for small children? T/F)

A stranger finally gave them a plant, Sugano said.

Dravet Syndrome Foundation: No Research has been done on CBD

read ... 5 to 8 years old

Homosexual Rape Traumatizes Hawaii 6 Year Old

SA: ...In 2012, a 6-year-old foster child was sexually assaulted by a 17-year-old foster youth living in the same home. It was believed to be one of three cases since 2010 in which a Hawaii child was sexually abused while in foster care.

In this case, though, the young boy's mother worked for the state agency responsible for protecting Hawaii's foster children.

She says her own employer, the Department of Human Services, failed her son by keeping him in the same home with a teenager who DHS knew had a history of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Even after she urged the department to place the two youths in separate homes, it failed to do so; a few weeks later, her son was sexually assaulted by the teen, according to the DHS worker....

From fiscal year 2010 to 2014, DHS investigated 24 reports of a child suffering abuse or harm while in foster care and confirmed abuse in 19, according to the department. Three cases involved sexual abuse.

More than 1,100 children typically are in Hawaii foster homes each month....

When she learned in 2012 that her son was in the same home as the teenager, she said she urged the DHS social worker assigned to the case to separate the two. The social worker replied that the mother had no say on where her son was placed, according to the mother. Less than a month later, the mother added, the assault occurred.

"It was clearly their fault," the woman said, referring to DHS. "But they can't even look me in the eye. They can't even acknowledge it."

Her son has become angrier since the assault, underwent therapy as a sex-abuse victim and to this day will only use a women's restroom when away from home, the mother said.

Bill Grimm, senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, Calif., said details of the case as described by the Star-Advertiser suggest that the young victim has grounds for a claim against the state.

"There's a good argument to be made that his constitutional rights were violated," Grimm said, noting a state's obligation under the U.S. Constitution to protect foster children from harm.

read ... Homosexual Rape

Scary Sticker Shock: Prospects Slim for Alarming $700M Rail Cost Overrun

SA: The $6 billion question about Honolulu's rail project, now projected to carry a price tag close to that amount, is less about the cost than about this: What is Honolulu going to get as a result of an alarming projected overrun of anywhere from $500 million to $700 million?

Before decision makers can agree on how to pay the mounting bills to finish the project — and at this stage, finishing it remains the desired outcome — they need to get more details from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation about exactly what cost-cutting will mean to the final product, as well as a full accounting of alternative financing strategies.

This kind of disclosure is mandatory before extending the general excise tax surcharge, the funding mechanism established by law, beyond its 2022 sunset date.  (Translation: The Star-Adv is giving HART advice on its sales pitch.)

For one thing, extending the tax will almost certainly open the debate over what else the tax money could finance, including any possible expansion of the service to Manoa or central Kapolei.

That talk should be tabled until taxpayers have a clearer sense of what kind of rail project they're actually buying.

The scariest part about HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas' presentation to the HART board last week is not only the sticker shock but the fact that it's projected when so much of the project itself remains uncertain. About 40 percent of the work for the 20-mile rail line is still uncontracted, and the prospects of any good news on that front are slim. All the pretty pictures on the website, all the community forums about the look of the 21 rail stations, have been thrown into doubt.

The action plan Grabauskas unveiled seemed more aspirational than solidly prescriptive. Even given all the unknown factors — specifications for the contracts on most of the rail stations are still months away — it's unnerving that the options haven't been fleshed out more fully at this late date.

For example, there are bullet points with proposals to "explore alternative financing options for project components, such as the Pearl Highlands Parking Garage," and to "explore new partnerships with private and public entities" such as the state Department of Transportation, for access to federal dollars.

The clock is ticking, loudly, and one would have hoped that HART staff had progressed a bit beyond the exploration stage by now. Lawmakers contemplating alternate funding sources must have their options laid out in much fuller detail than that....

read ... Aspirational

Shapiro: Rail is $5.26B Lemon

Shapiro: From Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board member Carrie Okinaga on raising rail CEO Daniel Grabauskas' pay and bonus to $295,500: "We've found a leader who makes tough decisions, who makes lemonade out of lemons." Finally they admit we bought a $5.26 billion lemon.

read ... Lemon

Ige's Budget Due Monday: Santa Claus is coming, but he'll probably skip UH

SA: Gov. David Ige is scheduled to send his executive budget to the Legislature on Monday and unless the University of Hawaii alum is overflowing with Christmas spirit, it could portend a bleak year for the school's struggling athletic department.

With the latest in a string of annual deficits projected at $3.5 million, athletics has long shown that it has fallen and is unable to get up.

Nor is it finding many outstretched hands willing to help....

Whether you agree with departing athletic director Ben Jay's stewardship of the 21-sport, $32 million program these last two years — and more belt tightening and fiscal discipline could have been accomplished — he is right about at least one thing when he says, "Everybody is waiting for somebody else to take care of the problem."

Meanwhile, UH's teams are becoming less competitive across the board and public confidence has plummeted....

read ... Santa Claus is coming, but he'll probably skip UH

Mufi: No HEI sale to NextEra unless it serves Hawaii cronies

SA: The way forward is to take Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Transmission, at his word and create incentives that align public and private interests: "We share Hawaiian Electric's vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawaii's dependence on foreign oil and, importantly, lowering customer bills."

Here are some of the elements that should be considered in determining a new and improved public policy:

» Should the power generation and power distribution businesses of HEI be separated to allow for greater competition and consumer choice?  (This is an automatic deal killer because NextEra's model is full integration.)

» If we maintain the vertically integrated model, should NextEra be required to open its grid to all power producers on a fair and equal basis?  (Ditto)

» Just as we have created incentives for solar and wind, should we do likewise to develop the considerable potential of geothermal power and build an inter-island grid?

» Should we require NextEra to say how much of Hawaii's electricity production in five years' time will come from solar, wind, geothermal, liquefied natural gas and other fossil fuels?

» Should NextEra be required to formally indicate a price reduction target for five years out? How big a price cut can we expect, and what are the returns to shareholders over the same period?

read ... Mufi Hannemann

REITS Targeted for $60M Tax Hike--to be Passed on to Tenants

SA: Currently, around $14 billion of Hawaii property is owned by REITs. These companies are earning an estimated $700 million to $1 billion every year in Hawaii, but they pay zero income tax. That is a loss of between $30 to $60 million annually in taxes for Hawaii.

Then there's the capital gains tax on the sale of these properties, which is also not being taxed in Hawaii.

If a REIT sells one of its trophy shopping centers in Hawaii for a $100 million gain, the taxes on the gain are paid to the mainland states where its shareholders live. Hawaii gets nothing.

If a local corporation sold a property for a $100 million gain, the state of Hawaii would collect $4 million in capital gains tax.

REITs may pay general excise tax, conveyance tax and real property taxes in Hawaii, but in the case of the retail, office and industrial properties, 100 percent of those taxes are passed on to the REITs' overburdened local tenants....

2014: HB1726

read ... $60M Tax Hike

Honolulu Affordable Housing Rules Not Like Maui's?

SA: We need to link growth directly with a supply of modestly priced, for-sale and rental housing. Inclusionary zoning (IZ), which has been employed by more than 400 municipalities nationwide, can help.

IZ policies require that developers designate a portion of the housing they produce for low- or moderate-income households. These policies are tailor made for hot- housing-market cities like Honolulu. Most of the nation's in-demand expensive cities have recently adopted IZ housing policies including New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., Stamford, Conn., Boston and San Diego. Collectively, these policies are generating thousands of affordable homes for lower-and middle-income workers, seniors and long-time residents who are often forced to move elsewhere when new development and redevelopment occurs.

Comprehensive reviews of IZ policies, such as the national study prepared in 2006 by the Furman Center at New York University, provide strong evidence that standard IZ policies do not slow overall housing development. It takes an outlier policy to reduce housing starts, like Maui County's Residential Workforce Housing Policy, which, because of its extreme requirements, brought housing development on the Valley Isle to a slow crawl. (Maui is now reviewing those extreme policies.)

Unlike Maui's policy, the new Islandwide Housing Strategy being considered by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council includes mainstream IZ provisions that, in my opinion, have the best promise for addressing our shortage of affordable housing.

read ... Mainstream?

Ethics Commission staff recommend closing lobbyist disclosure loopholes

ILind: One of the matters considered by the State Ethics Commission at its meeting this past week was a recap of their interpretations of the provision for lobbyist registration and reporting (“State Ethics Commission Staff Recommendation Regarding Registration And Reporting Requirements For Lobbyists And Organizations That Engage In Lobbying Activities“)....

...organizations that rely on volunteer lobbyists, or engage in grassroots lobbying (urging members of the public to communicate with legislators about legislation), would be required to register and report their lobbying costs if the organization hits either the 5-hours or $750 threshold.

The commission presented an example:

A grassroots organization does not employ a lobbyist, but the organization spends $1,000 for newspaper and television ads urging the public to contact their legislators about a bill. The organization pays for the ads using contributions received from its members for its lobbying activities. The organization must file a lobbying report. The report must include the organization’s advertising expenditures and contributions received by the organization for the purpose of lobbying.

The state lobbyist law exempts anyone who has special knowledge about an issue and is “occasionally” requested to appear at the legislature by a member, and administrative agency, or even a lobbyist.

read ... Ethics Commission staff recommend closing lobbyist disclosure loopholes

Lava Six to seven days away from Pahoa

HTH: The June 27 lava flow was about a half-mile from Pahoa Marketplace on Saturday morning after advancing 160 yards in the past day, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Darryl Oliveira, Civil Defense administrator, said Saturday the flow was about six to seven days from reaching businesses based on its current rate of advance.

An evacuation might occur when lava is estimated to be about three days from reaching the marketplace, located near the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130.

Lava was about 0.7 miles from that intersection Saturday morning, according to Civil Defense.

The county Saturday opened the Railroad Avenue alternate route to allow residents to get familiar with the packed gravel road and new way of getting around if the highway is closed.

read ... Six to seven days away

Plastic Bags OK if they are Thicker and Say 'Reusable'?

KGI: Last week, Foodland was sending customers home with large plastic grocery bags; an unusual sight considering county law requires all retail establishments on Kauai provide only recyclable paper or reusable bags.

Store manager Orlando Dutdut said Friday that the shipment of plastic bags arrived earlier in the week, and that there was confusion about whether or not the store was allowed to distribute them.

“I stopped it after talking with the county,” Dutdut said Friday. “We got it all straightened out.”

Written on the thick, white bags were the words: “I am a reusable bag!” and “Reuse me over and over again for a greener Hawaii.”

County Solid Waste Program Coordinator Allison Fraley said the county followed up after hearing the bags were being distributed.

“Foodland thought the bags were allowed under our law because thick plastic bags of this sort are defined as reusable under Maui and Hawaii County laws,” she said. “The managers of the two Foodland stores, Waipouli and Princeville, provided immediate compliance and pulled the bags.”

Neither store received a fine.

read ... Adventures from Wonderland

Obama Hanging our with Hooker-Lovin Buddy (again)

DM: The president left his house before noon for Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which overlooks the crystal waters and lush mountains by Kaneohe Bay.

On the base, Obama played golf with friends Mike Brush, Joe Paulsen and Bobby Titcomb, according to the White House Press Office.

Remember? Obama Friend Arrested in Prostitution Sting

read ... Protesters greet Obama on first day of his Hawaiian vacation

Hawaii? Hacker posts more S. Korean reactor info on Internet

YH: A hacker who obtained blueprints of South Korean nuclear reactors Sunday posted more internal information on the facilities, including the floor maps, on the Internet, threatening further "leaks" unless authorities close down the reactors.

Using an account named "president of anti-nuclear reactor group," the hacker revealed on Twitter the designs and manuals of Gori-2 and Wolsong-1 nuclear reactors taken from the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP). The information included details on the facilities' air condition and cooling systems.

The hacker signed the posting as president of the anti-nuclear group in Hawaii.

read ... Hawaii?



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