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Tuesday, December 15, 2015
December 15, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:04 PM :: 4141 Views

Nai Aupuni Terminates Election—$5000 Bribe Offered to Delegates for a Self-Appointed ‘Aha of Cronies

Internet tax ban could offer relief for Hawaii businesses

87 Times More Homeless in Honolulu than Las Vegas

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 14, 2015

Trump Files to be on the Ballot in Hawaii

Another Triumph of Jones Act Shipbuilding: USS Milwaukee breaks down on Maiden Voyage

HSTA Taxes Without End—$750M / year Forever

CB: …HSTA’s proposal calls for raising the GET by 1 percent to bring in an estimated $750 million a year.…

Former HSTA Executive Director Joan Husted said she doesn’t recall the union ever putting forth a proposal of this size before….

State Sen. Michelle Kidani has agreed to introduce legislation that includes the union proposal, the HSTA said, and political observers say Rosenlee’s efforts to rally support for the bill will likely go well beyond traditional lobbying efforts….

The union plans to rally at the state Capitol from 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 5  in support of the legislation….

Sen. Kidani may have agreed to introduce HSTA’s omnibus legislation, but according to a member of her staff, the senator has not read the draft yet, and declined to comment on the proposed legislation.

Getting a bill introduced is the easy part, said Neal Milner, a University of Hawaii professor emeritus and Civil Beat columnist. Getting the bill to go somewhere is an entirely different matter.

Tax increases are a tough sell, Milner said….

Gov. David Ige said he agrees with many of the HSTA priorities, but not with its proposed funding mechanism….

“Raising the GET to fund education has no end,” Takumi wrote. “Whether this is good public policy will certainly be debated.”

HTH: More students arrested for fighting at Pahoa school

read … Taxes Without End

Kauai Council Considering Massive GE Tax Hike

KGI: The cost of your plate lunch could be on the rise, as well as many other daily purchases, if a proposed one-half percent increase to the general excise tax passes through the county’s chain of command.

The issue arose this year after the state Legislature granted counties the right to establish a one-half percent surcharge on the GET. Counties have until July 1 to enact an ordinance that would increase the tax from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2027.

The Kauai County Council is taking up the proposition again on Wednesday, and the question is whether to raise the current 4 percent tax on all Hawaii businesses’ gross incomes.

“Regarding the GET, it is a very important discussion that will need to be thoroughly vetted with our administration,” Kauai Councilman Mason Chock said.

Should the increase pass the council, an estimated $255 million would be generated for the County of Kauai over the next 10 years and all of it would go toward transportation…..

read … Massive GE Tax Hike

Caldwell Turns on Kealoha—But Still Claims he has no Authority over Chief

HNN: …It's the first time the mayor has been openly critical of Louis Kealoha's handling of the controversy.

"The chief has told me, he's innocent," Caldwell told Grace Lee.

Hawaii News Now was the only station to report that a federal grand jury is currently hearing the FBI case against Chief Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a Deputy Prosecutor.  A special federal attorney has been flying back and forth from California to lead the proceedings, which includes subpoenas for HPD records, documents and witnesses. 

The case is looking into whether the Kealohas abused their power after their mailbox was stolen in 2013, they accused a family member of the crime, but the case was dismissed….

"I've actually told the chief, perception becomes reality" Caldwell says, "I've encouraged him from time to time to step out and say more. That's about as much as I can do as mayor."

Political expert Colin Moore says it's a good, strategic move for the mayor to distance himself from Kealoha now.

"(Caldwell's) worried that the community doesn't trust him," says Moore.  Caldwell is up for re-election next year.  "I think maybe he sees this as a way to separate himself from the scandal early on."  ….

CB: Caldwell (Finally) Speaks Out About Kealoha

ILind: Mayor advises police chief to address federal probe

read … Throw Kealoha Under Bus

Micronesians Face Long Waits as ObamaCare Deadline Today

HPR: The clock is ticking for Hawai‘i residents who want to enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The deadline is tomorrow and the state is scrambling to sign people up in time. That’s a special challenge for more than 7,500 Hawai‘i residents from countries of the Compact of Free Association, including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau….

read … Deadline Dec 15

Feds to Stick Hawaii With 3% Obamacare Fee

AP: …The proposed fee concerns four states including Oregon that run federally supported state-based marketplaces. Nevada, New Mexico and Hawaii also abandoned their exchanges due to technology fiascos and switched to the federal portal, but have retained some state functions.

The proposed user fee of 3 percent of the monthly premiums would be paid by insurance carriers who offer plans in those states via HealthCare.Gov. Carriers are expected to pass the new costs on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the fee covers the costs of running the federal IT platform. A reduced fee rate of 1.5 percent is being considered for the 2017 benefit year to ease the transition for states, said spokesman Aaron Albright.

The government already charges a 3.5 percent fee on premiums in states that rely on HealthCare.Gov and other services. States that run their own exchange portals don’t have federal user fees — but may charge carriers their own fees….

read ... Another Rate Hike Thanks to Obama

HPD detective arrested on suspicion of abuse of family member

KHON: A Honolulu police detective is on restricted duty after being arrested over the weekend.

Leslie Morris, 42, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Sunday in his Waikiki home on suspicion of abuse of a family member.

According to Honolulu police, the incident involved an adult female….

UPDATE: Court Dismisses Charge 'With Prejudice' Feb 1, 2017

read … Another One

Maui Jail Overcrowded

MN: …On Thursday, there were 463 inmates at the facility - which has an operating bed capacity of 301. The number of inmates supervised by the jail is actually higher, 478 inmates, because of those serving their time on weekends and those who are on electronic monitoring.

During a media tour of the jail Monday, Warden James Hirano said that there is no room to expand the more-than-four-decade-old jail on the 7-acre site along Waiale Road. MCCC's last expansion in 1994, with new inmate housing modules and dormitories, maxed out the limits of the property….

In one 13-by-8 foot cell, two inmates were assigned to bunk beds and another slept on a mattress on the floor. The bunk bed and mattress on the floor were about two arms length apart. Also in the cell was a sink and a toilet.

Officials said that having three inmates to a cell has been a common occurrence since 2000. In early 2013, the population started fluctuating with short periods of four people to a cell.

Pre-trial detainees - those awaiting court disposition - make up the majority of the inmate population. The population also includes those sentenced to less than one year, those in the Maui/Molokai Drug Court program and those nearing the end of prison terms.

The facility has been configured to separate inmates in the Drug Court program from the general inmate population.

These days, the MCCC population also includes more mentally ill and homeless inmates as well as older offenders, compared to the past, jail staff said….

read … Jail

Hawaii a model for how to improve K-12 education

USNWR: …The new Every Student Succeeds Act wisely returns to the states much of the authority for directing school improvement that the federal government had assumed in the past 15 years. Some states are ready to roll, but plenty are searching for potential role models. Fortunately, at least two such candidates are easy to find.

Earlier this fall, the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the "Nation's Report Card," provided a snapshot of student achievement across the land. Amidst generally disappointing results, there were a few bright spots. Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, led the nation in aggregate national assessment improvement over the past decade. From dismal depths in 2005, the two have climbed their way to respectability. In a new report for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, entitled, "Laggards to Leaders in K-12," we take a deeper look at what has transpired in these locales that can help account for their outsized gains….

Hawaii's story is strikingly different (from DC). It is not an account of controversial leaders or bold policies but of culture and collaboration. As a small island state with only 180,000 students and a single school district, Hawaii makes it possible for state leaders to have a direct connection to the schools – and direct control over what happens – in ways that are not feasible in larger states. That personal touch was augmented by leadership stability; Hawaii has had just two state superintendents in the past 14 years.

The District's bold strategies would have limited applicability in Hawaii because the state couldn't overhaul its teaching force even if it wanted to. As one official observed, "We're an island. We get 100 Teach For America teachers a year. Pretty much all our other new teachers come out of the University of Hawaii. If we fire them, it's not like we've got replacements." Hawaii's strategy focused on granting more power to local schools and encouraging instructional alignment across grade levels (extending up to the university system). The small size leadership features a lot of conversation and shared commitment, frequently spearheaded by the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, which connects leaders in K–12, higher education, business, philanthropy and government. That trust and familiarity played a key role in Hawaii making notions like "data-driven decisions" and "local control" much more than empty slogans.

Although the District and Hawaii approached school improvement in vastly different ways, both states have made great strides. That suggests it may be worth paying particular attention to a few key similarities….

PBN: U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Hawaii education department a nod

2009: “Diverse Providers” in Action: School Restructuring in Hawaii

read … Hawaii Model

Others have shown interest in buying Hawaiian Electric, Gov. David Ige says

PBN: California-based Sempra Energy, which owns a large wind energy farm on the island of Maui, apparently was interested in buying Hawaiian Electric….

Another firm led by billionaire businessman Warren Buffett was said to possibly be interested in buying Hawaiian Electric….

IM: HEI Analyzed Golden Parachutes Every Year

SciAm: 3 Reasons Hawaii Put the Brakes on Solar

read … Others Interested

70 Pages of Secret NextEra Documents to be Made Public

SA: Public Utilities Commission Chairman Randy Iwase said Monday that nine sets of confidential documents relating to the review of the proposed purchase of the state’s largest electrical utility should be made public today.

At the tenth of 12 hearings for state regulators to review NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Iwase said NextEra and HEI would need to refile roughly 70 pages of documents previously marked as secret. The PUC has twice closed its hearings to the public — once when NextEra Energy Hawaii President Eric Gleason was answering questions and once when Hawaiian Electric CEO Alan Oshima testified — to discuss confidential documents.

In the same order, the PUC allowed three sets of documents to remain confidential.

PDF: 12 Pages of NextEra Docs

read … Secrecy

Excuses: Ige Claims lack of infrastructure on state-owned lands stymies development

PBN: Hawaii Gov. David Ige says he has made affordable housing one of his top priorities but also says state officials and developers face a common stumbling block when plans are drawn up: a dearth of water and sewer connections on available land in Honolulu.

Though he and other state officials have worked with developers to foster public-private partnerships and find state-owned lands that can be used for affordable housing developments, Ige said many potential project sites do not have the necessary infrastructure connections in place.

(Simple Solution: Reduce the cost of the land in exchange for the developer building the sewer and water connections.)

PBN: New company offers 100% financing in Hawaii for cesspool upgrades as governor blames sewer issue for affordable housing problem

read … Excuses

Kakaako Homeless Sweep—One More Decides to Accept Shelter

SA:  The sweep started at approximately 2 a.m. Officials from the Institute for Human Services and the Kalihi Palama Health Center were on site to assist the homeless.

It’s unclear how many homeless people were at Kewalo at the time of the sweep.

State Homeless Coordinator Scott Morishige, who was at park early this morning, said they have partnered with the city to provide buses for individuals interested in going to a shelter.

Only one individual pursued that option, said Morishige. The individual was transported to a shelter at the Institute for Human Services and enrolled in the state Housing First program….

Morishige noted many items left behind by the homeless were picked up by a private contractor and stored at an offsite warehouse.

Of the sweep, 19-old Samantha Rodrigues who (didn’t get on the free bus to the shelter and) has been living at the park for nine months said, “This is just ridiculous.” 

A woman who declined to give her name was tearful and frustrated by the enforcement. “Fo’ real, where the (expletive) are we going to go? (Except a shelter, that is.)”

 

read … Still Refusing Shelter

Governor turns his back on Hawaii football fans

Borreca: Clearly the current occupant of Washington Place doesn’t have all the answers, but on several big issues, he has made a decision.

The University of Hawaii is currently trying to get $3 million for athletics and $5 million for the Cancer Center. Ige did not try to split the difference. For Ige it is docs, not jocks.

“There are many, many, many requests for the resources that the state collects from taxpayers and part of my job is trying to decide what is more important. I do believe the Cancer Center is more important than athletics,” Ige said.

The Ige administration may actually be more of a Scrooge than that because the latest version of the 2016 state budget recommendations show the Department of Budget and Finance rejecting both appropriations.….

ILind:  Gov. Ige offers no aid for dealing with UH athletics deficit

read … Gov. Ige will let UH athletics figure out its financial future

Honolulu Council Dumps P-Cards in Wake of Kenoi Scandals

SA: …recent experience with the Honolulu City Council — not to mention the pCard scandal with Hawaii island Mayor Billy Kenoi — suggest they cause more trouble than they’re worth. Fortunately, it appears that the Council is moving to correct a potential vulnerability before it creates a Kenoi problem on Oahu.

City Council Chairman Ernie Martin followed the correct instinct by announcing a “precautionary” policy change barring Council members from using the city-issued cards to pay for travel and travel-related expenses.

On Thursday, Martin dispatched a memo to the other eight members, noting that the pCards would be taken away Dec. 29. Among the reasons, he said, were attempted identity theft as well as the work of tracking paperwork and answering queries about policies and delayed reimbursements.

The chairman’s executive assistant, Laura Figueira, confirmed “a recent attempt to compromise a Council pCard” but declined to say which member it was or disclose further details of that episode.

But surely there’s more at issue than paperwork management here, given the reform in procedure.

Instead of the individual cards, which Martin had instituted for the Council four years ago, members will continue to have access to the Council Administrative Services office pCard to pay for registration fees for conventions or meetings. That seems an efficient way to deal with those minor expenses.

But if they plan to travel, members will have to submit “intent to travel” forms in advance then pay their airfare and hotel bills with their own money, later getting reimbursed.

All of that seems aimed less at simplifying things than at bringing more oversight and control over expenses — which, as the Kenoi investigation suggests, is the right approach….

read … Scandal

Hawaii County Council to Reform Kenoi-Controlled Ethics Commission?

HTH: Bill 101 in its original form would have put a charter amendment on the ballot asking voter approval to expand the Board of Ethics from five to nine members, with one member from each council district. Each County Council member would have submitted two names to the mayor, who would pick one from each district and send the nomination to the council for confirmation.

The committee had nixed that idea, saying the current system where the mayor appoints and the council confirms is similar to all other boards and commissions. It’s important for the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances for that process to continue, they said.

“I urge you all to reconsider,” said Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, the bill sponsor. “Our current system of dealing with the Ethics Board and dealing with ethics violations is broken and we need to fix it. … We don’t keep house. We leave it to the state and the feds to do something.”

Council members Monday still didn’t like Wille’s proposed setup, but they said enlarging the board from its current five members to nine, or possibly seven, could help the board field a quorum. The board hasn’t met since August, because it currently has just three members, and all three need to attend every meeting in order to achieve a quorum, or board majority.

Ethics Board Chairwoman Ku Kahakalau, who was not at the council meeting but was reached by phone afterward, disagreed that the Ethics Board is dysfunctional.  (They’re doing a fine job of protecting their leader, Billy Kenoi.)

read … Fine Job

Hawaii County Council Wants to ‘Loosen’ Sunshine Laws

HTH: Measures limiting lifeguards’ liability, giving counties more authority to regulate vacation rentals, loosening the Sunshine Law and requiring safety checks for mopeds are among a package of seven proposals approved by the County Council on Monday to be sent to the state Legislature.

The measures, contained in Resolution 353, must be passed by all four counties before they are sent to the Hawaii State Association of Counties to be presented to the Legislature, which starts its 2016 session Jan. 20.

But even with the endorsement of all four local governments, the HSAC packages have historically had a poor batting average as far as the state lawmakers passing their measures, noted Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, HSAC executive vice president.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to move so much,” Onishi said.

read … DOA

How Casinos Fiscally Impact Counties

CB: …A research team at the University of Nevada, Reno, looked at all U.S. county data from 1987 to 2007, a time when the number of states that legalized gambling grew from two to 33.

Among the findings, as summarized by Journalist’s Resource from the Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, are these:

“The researchers did not find that opening casinos improved the fiscal condition of the counties. However, when a positive effect of commercial casinos was found, it was primarily through revenue sharing legislation. In these cases, local laws mandated states to share revenues from casino taxes with counties. For these states, the opening of casinos increased the sales tax revenues by more than 75 percent and increased revenues and expenditures by more than 11 percent and 12 percent respectively.”

The authors added, however, that “Whether the increase in county expenditures is due to the social impacts of casinos and increased demand for public services or simply governments spending their additional revenue cannot be determined with our data but is a subject worthy of further exploration.”….

read … How Casinos Fiscally Impact Counties

Anti-Gun Nuts Disappointed to Report only 16 Gun Deaths in Hawaii

CB: …(People using) Guns have killed 16 people in Hawaii this year, mostly in the 2nd Congressional District representing rural Oahu and the outer islands. There were four gun deaths (caused by people using guns) in the 1st Congressional District, which includes Honolulu and Kapolei.

That’s according to data compiled by The Guardian, which published an interesting interactive feature Monday that lets users anti-gun nuts see where their elected officials stand on guns and how much money they’ve received from the gun lobby….

read … 16 Gun Deaths: What’d Hawaii Reps Do?

Ivory: Animal Liberation Nuts to Renew Harassment of Antique Dealers, Musicians, Gun Collectors

CB: …On Monday, the Humane Society of the United States held a forum at the state Capitol to talk to lawmakers about passing a prohibition during the 2016 legislative session.

The organization has been pushing for a Hawaii sales ban for at least the past two years to help….

read … Prohibition

QUICK HITS:

'The Obamas treat Air Force One like an Uber ride'

Hui of Democrat students at UH-Manoa tries to get peers into politics

Air Force mourns loss of 22-year-old airman from Hawaii

DOH completes 10,000+ food inspections

A new road relieves traffic congestion near Sand Island

There's Shelter, And Then There's Housing. Utah Claims Muted Victory

Another Fluff Piece on Muslim ‘Refugees’

Matson Loses Containers off San Francisco

149 cases of dengue fever confirmed on Hawaii Island

Pearl City businesses suffer after three-week phone outage

The Fiscal Impact of Legalized Casino Gambling

Musings: Forbidden Fruit II

Civil Beat: Lets Allow Lawyers to Destroy Gun Manufacturers

Another Fluff Piece on Hawaii’s Hi-Tech Welfare Queens

 

 

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