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Saturday, December 26, 2015
December 26, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:53 PM :: 3362 Views

Jones Act unfairly hurts Hawaii while jeopardizing security of U.S.

DHHL Funding: Ige to Appeal Court Order?

SA: …In November, Circuit Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti said the state must fund DHHL’s operations to the tune of about $28 million a year. The instructions follow a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that found the state had “failed by any reasonable measure, under the undisputed facts, to provide sufficient funding to DHHL.”

However, Ige’s 2017 fiscal year budget, which he sent to the Legislature on Monday, includes only $9.6 million in general funds for DHHL. Ige also hasn’t increased DHHL’s funding for the current year — the court said the state owed the department about $19 million.

Ige told reporters during a Monday press conference on the budget that it was “premature at this time” to increase DHHL’s funding.

“We are working with the attorney general’s office to understand the court ruling, and once we are clear about what our obligations are, we will be submitting a supplemental request to the Legislature.”

Earlier this month Ige said during an editorial board meeting with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he was considering appealing the court ruling.

“I do have some concerns about the decision (relating to) separation of powers,” he said. “I am not aware of any other court being able to direct the Legislature or the executive to appropriate specific amounts.”

Ige’s stance on future funding for DHHL is frustrating for attorneys who sued the state on behalf of Hawaiian beneficiaries, and compounds the state department’s budget concerns.

President Barack Obama’s administration stopped the flow of federal housing dollars to DHHL this year because the department wasn’t using the money fast enough. DHHL has a backlog of $55 million in unspent funds that it received from the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996.

The department had been receiving $13 million annually, which was reduced to $9 million in the federal 2015 fiscal year and wiped out entirely this year.

DHHL Director Jobie Masagatani said that the department is hoping it will receive another $9.7 million in federal funding for the 2017 fiscal year but hasn’t received any assurances. She said that DHHL has significantly increased its allocation of the funds.

Meanwhile, DHHL is operating for the first time this year without $30 million in funding that it received annually for 20 years as part of a $600 million court settlement with the state for misusing Hawaiian homelands.

Masagatani said that the budget constraints are hampering the department’s ability to plan for the future. She said the current general fund allocation supports DHHL operations only through the first three quarters of the year. After that, DHHL has to start dipping into special funds it hoped would go solely to the development of homestead lots.

DHHL also has a staff vacancy rate of about 30 percent….

Masagatani said the department is working to contain expenses by leasing space in its Kapolei office building and looking to invest trust funds in higher-earning assets.

She said that the budget constraints could slow operations and impede DHHL’s ability to whittle down the waiting list for homestead plots, which has grown to include about 27,000 beneficiaries….

Dec 6, 2015: Full Text: Court Orders State to Fund Hawaiian Homelands

SA: Church Conference to address Native Hawaiian issues

read … DHHL?

Gov. Ige goes big on budget for buildings

PBN: The governor proposed $1.8 billion in additional funding for capital improvement projects for fiscal year 2017 in the supplemental budget presented on Monday. Part of this 230 percent increase will be funded through general obligation bond funds of $891.8 million. This will mean $1.1 billion in general obligation bond funds used in 2017….

One of the programs Gov. Ige is particularly passionate about is rebuilding of the Oahu Community Correctional Center. The governor plans to introduce legislation to move this project forward in the next session. Another project which has been put off for too long is the new patient care facility at the Hawaii State Hospital, which he asked $160.5 million to build.

With the proposed drastic increase in spending the general fund balance will decrease. In fiscal year 2015, the general fund had a 12.59 percent carry-over balance of $828.1 million. However, With Ige’s proposed spending this will drop to 2.61 percent, or $197.4 million, by the end of fiscal year 2018….

A major portion of the supplemental budget is going to basic infrastructure and economic development, which makes up about 40 percent of the additional funding. The $729 million allocated to this area is split between funding the airports and the harbor. Kona and Honolulu airports are set to receive $179 million, Honolulu harbor will take in $350 million….

read … Gov. Ige goes big on budget for buildings

Prosecutor: Legislature Must Close Baby Killer Loophole

KGI: No charges will be filed against Christopher Cruz for the death of Victoria Kanahele’s baby, who died 30 minutes after an emergency cesarean section, according to the county prosecutor.

Kanahele was 28 weeks pregnant when she was stabbed earlier this month, allegedly by Cruz. Doctors at Wilcox Memorial Hospital rushed to perform an emergency C-section, but the baby did not survive.

“Under current Hawaii law, a person can only be charged with murder or manslaughter if the victim is a person who has been born and is alive at the time the conduct occurs,” said Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “The Hawaii Supreme Court directly addressed this issue in the 2005 case of State v. Aiwohi.”

Kollar said he’s not able to prosecute in the Cruz-Kanahele case, but he’s looking for a way to fix this.

“It’s time for the Legislature to close this loophole and we will be asking them to do so in the upcoming session,” he said. “In the past, law enforcement efforts to create enhanced penalties for crimes committed against pregnant women have failed due to trepidation that the law could be used against abortion providers. We are hopeful that a law can be crafted that will relieve those concerns while allowing prosecutors to seek the appropriate punishment against violent offenders.”

read … Hawaii Soft on Baby Killers

Defending GMOs ‘Right thing to do’

SA: A huge bravo to Lee Cataluna for having the courage to print the other side of the story regarding Monsanto (“Those wary of Monsanto’s aim should tour their property,” Star-Advertiser, Dec. 20).

Anti-GMO groups use intimidation and bullying to stifle the truth and get their way. Cataluna could have remained quiet. She spoke the truth because it was the right thing to do.

read ... Bravo

Police Memorial to Begin Construction

HNN: After years of delays, crews will soon start building a long-awaited tribute for Hawaii's fallen heroes. Construction work on a memorial honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty will begin on January 11 next to the Kalanimoku Building.

The Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony in 2011 after then-Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law to set aside land on Capitol District grounds. Hawaii is the only state without a memorial for fallen law enforcement officers, according to the foundation.

"It has taken us awhile, but now we are at the end of our quest," said Tommy Aiu, the foundation's executive director.

Organizers said they had no idea that it would take more than four years to come up with the funds needed for the nearly $1 million project. During the last legislative session, state lawmakers finally approved $608,000 for construction….

Aiu said the foundation collected about $250,000 through Ride for the Fallen events and other fundraisers. FBI Special Agent Ed Ignacio said he also raised roughly $17,000 by taking part in at least 20 triathlons while wearing nearly 40 pounds of tactical gear during the running portion. He knows 8 of the fallen officers….

read … Finally

Leasehold: State to Loosen its Grip on Hilo Businesses, Resorts

HTH: …Expiration of land leases on Banyan Drive and in the Kanoelehua Industrial Area is prompting the state to look at changing the way it manages the rental agreements and possibly consolidating properties.

In a series of recently released reports, the Department of Land and Natural Resources explores the economic potential of the major business areas and the viability of covering new land-use agreements with single master leases governed by an association.

There will be a public meeting on the future of these properties Jan. 15 at the Hawaii County Aupuni Center.

The outcome could affect management and redevelopment of three resort-zoned properties — now home to Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel, Country Club condominiums and Reed’s Bay Resort Hotel — on the Waiakea Peninsula and 70 leases in the industrial area, 21 of which expire in 2016.

The master lease approach, which could be based on the Sand Island Business Association, appears to be a more viable option for the industrial area, clustered mostly around the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and south of Hilo International Airport, than the three Banyan Drive properties, the reports suggest….

read … Leasehold

What's next for marijuana in Hawaii?

KL: Applications for medical dispensaries are available from Jan. 11 to Jan. 29 for a chance to open a dispensary in mid-2016….

read … Next

Obama: “I Feel Small”

AP: "The only problem I've got when I'm here is having to work out with Marines in the gym," Obama said

read … "The only problem I've got"

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