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Thursday, January 21, 2016
January 21, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:46 PM :: 4302 Views

Speaker Souki Proposes Fee Simple Conversion of State-Owned Commercial Leases

Full Text: Speaker Souki Opening Day Remarks

“Lofty and dogmatic statements that have no basis in substantive policy”–Hawaii Legislature Reconvenes

Unfulfilled promises, wasted tax money, poorly written contracts and unenforceable legislation—Hawaii Legislature Reconvenes

Aloha Aina ‘Aha Against US Tribe

Sen Kahele Hospitalized on Opening Day

Lawsuit: Lopaka Ryder, Killed by Drug Dealer, was exposed by Police as Informant

Opening Day at Legislature

Bought n Paid For: Legislators Employed by HGEA, AFL-CIO

SA: Sen. Jill Tokuda (D-Kailua, Kaneohe), chairwoman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which oversees state financial policies. “It takes so much work to understand all these line items in the budget and the billions of dollars going through the departments.”

In the past, she has supplemented her income through her own consulting firm, Kalliope. Last year, she said she earned between $25,000 and $50,000. She has consulted for the Daniel K. Inouye Institute….

A number of lawmakers, such as Rep. Sylvia Luke (D-Punchbowl, Pauoa, Nuuanu), Rep. Della Au Belatti (D-Moiliili, Makiki, Tantalus), Rep. Scott Saiki (D-Downtown, Kakaako, McCully) and Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D-Kalaeloa, Waianae, Makaha), earned income working as attorneys during the 2014 calendar year…

Sen. Russell Ruderman (D-Keaau, Pahoa, Kalapana) earns $1 million or more annually from his three natural food stores….

Sen. Josh Green (D-Naalehu, Kailua-Kona), a doctor, earned between $260,000 and $425,000 in 2014.

There are holes in Hawaii’s financial disclosure reporting. For instance, lawmakers working for consulting companies often don’t disclose their clients on their financial forms. Meanwhile, some lawmakers work for some of the major interests that lobby the Legislature.

Rep. Roy Takumi (D-Pearl City, Waipio, Pearl Harbor) earned between $25,000 and $50,000 in 2014 working as communications director for the AFL-CIO.

Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Higher Education Committee, works as a policy specialist for the Hawaii Government Employees Association. Taniguchi (D-Makiki, Tantalus, Manoa) said he helps train the union on legislative and state budget processes and assists their political action committee….

For instance, Rep. Jimmy Tokioka has voted on many bills related to telecommunications, some of which were backed by his employer, Oceanic Time Warner Cable. But Tokioka (D-Wailua, Hanamaulu, Lihue), who earns between $50,000 and $100,000 a year as a new business manager for the company….

Not Mentioned: Kakaako: How to Buy Hawaii State Senators--Legally 

SA: Who’s Who: The State of Hawaii 2016 Legislature

read … Moonlight

Vote Tuesday March 8--Hawaii Republicans could play bigger role in shaping GOP presidential race

HNN: …some political pundits believe the crowded race led by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio might not be decided by the start of the national GOP convention in July.

"This really could be the first time Hawaii does play a very active role in the selection of a presidential nominee," said former Hawaii Republican Congressman Charles Djou….

"It means that the candidates will probably spend more time for the delegates in Hawaii that their concerns are going to be paid attention to," said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii political science professor.

Hawaii Republicans get to vote on their presidential candidate in a March 8 caucus….

Related: Where to Vote: Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus

read … Bigger Role

$10 Billion: The Ultimate Price Tag for Honolulu Rail?

CB: At more than $6 billion the rail project is on track to be, per capita, the “nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco.” ….

read … $10 Billion

Sen Gil Kieth Agaran Proposes to Abolish Free Speech

CB: Lawmakers are weighing a bill that calls for a constitutional amendment that would go before Hawaii voters.

The ballot question:  “Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawaii be amended to provide that the right to free speech does not include the expenditure of money to influence elections?” 

(Clue: Any and all political speech influences elections.  Thus logically, money could no longer be used to publish the Star-Advertiser.) 

The bill comes from Gil Keith-Agaran, who will hear it Thursday morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs.

(Translation: I’m an incumbent and I don’t want anyone spending money to defeat me.)

Meanwhile: Sen Keith Agaran's Law Partner Seeking Marijuana Dispensary License

read … Abolish Free Speech

Leaders call for converting commercial leasehold lands to direct ownership

CB:  …said Souki in his speech: “I am not asking you to upset voters, but to be bold in this election year and do what needs to be done for the greater good. We cannot lose the momentum we have built up.”

To that end, the Maui lawmaker dropped a few bold ideas.

Topping the list is the conversion of commercial leasehold lands in Hawaii to fee simple status. Leaseholders can use property for a fixed period, but not own it; fee simple status is the most common form of direct, private land ownership.

We can level the playing field and change for the better the business landscape across the state if we are willing to re-invent the rules that govern commercial leasehold lands,” he said.

Souki said Hawaii had implemented a fee simple conversion before, with lands that support single-family and multi-family homes. Doing so, he argued, gave “the ordinary working person” a shot at true homeownership….

Related: Speaker Souki Proposes Fee Simple Conversion of State-Owned Commercial Leases

read … Leadership

Budget Preview for Legislative Opening Day

HPR: The Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i hosted a panel discussion on the State Budget today, one day before the Legislature convenes for its 2016 session….

read … Budget Preview for Legislative Opening Day

HB1041: Hawaii State Gaming Commission

CB: …the state of Hawaii has more than 170 boards and commissions and a chronic problem filling all those seats.

Well, get ready for one more: Proposed legislation calls for the creation of a State Gaming Commission, and there’s a hearing on it Friday afternoon.

read … Gambling

Competent Biography Would Explore Inouye Wartime Atrocity

SA: …A competent biography would help us understand Inouye — the proud son of Japanese immigrants, the graduate of McKinley High School and UH, the war hero and Medal of Honor recipient, and the controversial figure who allegedly committed a wartime atrocity and allegedly engaged in sexual harassment.

A longtime state and national political figure, he was once a revolutionary and later became an enduring symbol of the status quo.

His enormous influence over the Democratic Party of Hawaii probably accounts for the condition of Hawaii’s politics and government today.

The biography should assess the veracity of Inouye’s own “Journey to Washington” (1967). Why isn’t his autobiography still in print? Is there anything in it that he wanted to suppress?

The biography should review Inouye’s legislative record. Over a long political career of almost a half-century, what important pieces of legislation did he introduce and get passed?

The news media applauded his ability to bring home the bacon. What’s needed now is a review of those millions upon millions of dollars in federal appropriations. Who exactly benefited? What has so much Department of Defense money done to improve the lives of Hawaii residents and lay the foundation for a prosperous future?

Who was Daniel K. Inouye?

Did he rule over Hawaii?

The story of his life, read as a cautionary tale, could be his most important legacy.

Related: Forgotten Honouliuli: Jack Burns, Police Spy

read … Competent Biography

Apo: OHA is ‘De-Facto Governing Entity’

CB: There is no other institution in the state quite like the Office of Hawaiian Affairs….As a de facto governing entity….

It’s been 38 years since the 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention, when delegates created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. After all these years, the number one question that I get as an elected trustee of the body is: What does OHA do? It’s a fair question to ask, but a challenge to answer….some folk ask the question in frustration about the way they believe OHA manages its resources….

There is also no shortage of questions from Hawaiian beneficiaries who strongly oppose OHA’s official commitment to federal recognition and establishing a government-to-government relationship with the United States….

Since OHA is a creature of the state of Hawaii, it is an accomplice to the crime….

But the most interesting group, in my opinion, actually almost never asks any questions….

And so, in nautical terms, we have a “confused sea.”…

OHA is governed by a set of nine trustees elected in a statewide vote who are subject to the same set of laws that govern all elected officials….

It is unfortunate that most of what OHA does occurs under the radar. People only seem to hear about OHA when there are controversies. Consequently too many folks, including many Hawaiians, view what OHA does through a hazed-over window….

OHA is a state agency that is subject to state law. But there are a few notable exceptions. OHA serves Native Hawaiians, not the general public, and it has autonomy over its budgeting and resource-allocation processes. It can own lands, separate from state lands, and engage in the business of managing commercially valuable properties. The agency can also maintain a privately held investment portfolio. Most notably, OHA is not directly accountable to the governor or the Legislature….

And OHA boasts … a political advocacy team that is hyperactive on a number of fronts, especially on state and federal issues….

The drama will continue to play itself out over the next few years in unsuspecting ways that will affect everyone who calls Hawaii home….

read … Peter Apo

Bishop Museum on path to irrelevancy

SA: …Basing the future of Bishop Museum on tourism is a fundamentally flawed model, as demonstrated by the 2013/2014 financial statements (available online) reporting $8 million debt incurred while chasing tourism dollars, coincident with downplaying and now ending institutional research support.

Contrary to Director Blair Collis’ statement that this research model is a growing trend in science, such has never been a trend and, indeed, a model of just partial support is increasingly seen as unsustainable (“Bishop’s next move,” Star-Advertiser, Jan. 9).

As casual hires, the museum’s career researchers and curators will no longer be able to obtain major grants, especially from the National Science Foundation, which expects clearly visible institutional support….

read … Flawed

Ex-Principal: Imposition of Statewide Curriculum ‘Troubling’

SA: …It troubles me greatly that it is the students who are destined to suffer the consequences of what I perceive to be a newly minted dysfunctional system of public education in Hawaii.

It began with top-down dictates that were supposed to send us “racing to the top” in a few short years.

The package of reforms included national standards, a dramatic increase in non-diagnostic standardized testing, and high-stakes formulistic assessment mechanisms for principals and teachers.

The word from above was, “Do exactly what we tell you to do, or else.”

Curriculum decisions traditionally made by teams of classroom teachers are now routinely made by experts from central administration and national consulting firms. Never mind the unique needs of a particular school.

Professional educators in the schools have lost almost all autonomy in decision making about the core mission of providing instruction to students.

Even worse, schools have increasingly and predictably restructured around non-diagnostic, standardized testing schedules.

read … Curriculum

Court OKs New Rules On Homeless Sweeps

CB: The federal court has signed off on a number of changes to the temporary agreement that prevents the city from immediately disposing of any personal items during the enforcement of the stored property and sidewalk nuisance ordinances….

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office said the city is “pleased” with the amended agreement, noting that it “addresses a significant part of the lawsuit.”

Both parties are still working on a settlement and a proposal for the Honolulu City Council to consider in February to resolve the remaining issues in the case.

HNN: Homeless Drive Toddlers out of Mother Waldron park

read … Until Next Time

NextEra - Navy Deal Exposed

IM: …Among the provisions that NextEra and the Navy agreed to were giving the Navy unique changes to their electric rates regarding demand charges and amending state law to permit wheeling….

The Agreement calls for the HECO Companies to achieve higher levels of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in 2020 and 2030 than those required by law. Specifically, NextEra’s Exhibit 37 lists NextEra’s 95 commitments. Number 6 was revised to include the higher RPS commitment….

IM: NextEra-Military issues surface in HECO Merger Proceedings round two

read … NextEra - Navy Deal Exposed

Jones Act: Inconsistent Trade Policy Hinders Economic Growth

F: United States trade policy has evolved to meet the challenges and opportunities of international markets since the nation’s founding. Over the years, innovation has provided new outlets for accessing the global markets, but one law has fostered an inconsistent and inefficient standard for how goods move by water, and who carries them. The “Merchant Marine Act of 1920,” more commonly referred to as “The Jones Act,” is a protectionist law designed to safeguard the domestic shipping industry from foreign competition. By requiring that trade between U.S. ports be carried on a U.S.-built ship that is U.S. owned, flagged, and operated by a crew of 75 percent U.S. citizens, the trade policy effectively bans cabotage, the foreign competition within the United States. The Act was also designed to ensure steady order for the domestic shipbuilding industry as well as ensure the U.S. would maintain a domestic sealift capability of military resources in times of war….

read … Hinders

Judge Grabs HC&S Water

HNN: An Oahu judge has invalidated a state practice of issuing permits to Alexander & Baldwin to divert millions of gallons of irrigation water daily from streams for its Maui sugar operations.

Judge Rhonda Nishimura ruled Jan. 8 that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' use of the one-year revocable permits violated state law and was only meant to be temporary. The permits have been extended annually for 13 years without an official environmental review.

The ruling affects streams and tributaries from Nahiku to Huelo. Alexander & Baldwin has drawn from the waterways to irrigate 36,000 acres of sugar cane land and provide water to the county for 36,000 residents and farmers.

read … Judge rules on stream water division permits

Will Paranoia Keep Pot Heads Away from Dispensaries

CB: …Doctors are one of the key gatekeepers in this process, adding another layer of fear and control….

Off-putting as they were, the Iowa establishments were at least called “stores,” as in the corner dry goods store.   Hawaii’s places are called the more formidable and medical “dispensaries.”

In Iowa I did not need a note from anyone in authority in order to buy my bottle of bottom-shelf scotch. Not so with Hawaii’s medical marijuana.

You will probably need a note from a doctor. In the name of making the process “smooth and efficient,” the Hawaii Medical Association wants the state to require that each medical marijuana user sign an informed consent form listing marijuana’s harmful effects.

That form would resemble the informed consent form a patient signs when she is about to undergo a medical procedure.

read … Paranoia May Destroy ya

ACLU unveils privacy fight in 16 states

CNN: …On Wednesday, officials proposed legislation to guard personal privacy and student data, and to make it harder for police to use high-tech spying tactics.

The measures, which vary in topic and scope, would protect the personal information of 100 million Americans, a third of the nation.

Hawaii is considering a law that prevents a boss from demanding access to an employee's personal email or social media accounts. A measure in Missouri would offer that protection to students and workers….

read … 16 States

Lawsuit: Judge Improperly Sealed Records in Police Child Rape Case

WHT: …The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which is also owned by OPI, obtained a copy of the three-paragraph motion filed by Deputy Prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala.

Portnoy said the order to seal the documents is a violation of both the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as a 2014 ruling by the state Supreme Court that a state judge improperly closed court hearings and sealed transcripts in the first murder trial of federal agent Christopher Deedy.

“What the judge did is absolutely wrong in how she did it,” Portnoy said. “She didn’t hold a hearing; she didn’t give (public notice). And secondarily, what was done to seal the entire pleading was also wrong, although there may be a reason to seal just the identity of the victim.

“So we’re going to ask the Supreme Court to do, at a minimum, what is required, and that is to give notice and hold a hearing before she can seal any portion of that pleading.”

County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said the documents had to be sealed to protect the identity of the minor victim in the case.

“There’s a court rule that protects the disclosure of a minor’s name and other information about the minor,” Roth said….

read … OPI seeking to overturn judge’s decision

Little League thief granted reprieve

SA: A 36-year-old woman who admitted stealing more than $13,000 from a Little League Baseball organization is getting the opportunity to avoid conviction and clear the charge from her criminal record.

A state judge granted Nina Moore’s request Wednesday to defer her guilty pleas. She was facing charges of felony theft for stealing $13,368 from the Makakilo-Kapolei Youth Baseball League, and for stealing an additional $7,033 from clients of the accounting firm where she was employed.

All of the thefts occurred between October 2012 and June 2014….

read … Soft on Crime

Hawaii health officials worried about threat from Zika virus

HNN: Park said neither the baby nor the mother are infectious, and there was never a risk of transmission in Hawaii. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika.

The CDC is urging pregnant women to avoid traveling to 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean with active Zika virus transmission.

Hawaii is vulnerable because of international travelers and two species of mosquitoes found in the state that can transmit the virus.

"It is something that is of concern and something that they're going to have to continue to aggressively look for," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "They are going to have to work doubly hard to continue to trap mosquitoes and look for presence of the virus and to do some sentinel studies to see whether people are actually getting infected with the virus."

Meanwhile, University of Hawaii researchers started developing research tools to diagnose the virus two weeks ago.

Read … Coming Attractions

Kenoi Finally Gets Around to Filling Ethics Posts

WHT: After months of inaction because it couldn’t seat enough people to vote, the county Board of Ethics is getting reinforcements.

The County Council on Friday will vote on the confirmation of two nominees to fill out the five-member board. Both G. Rick Robinson and Josephine Ibarra are from West Hawaii, addressing some council members’ concerns that the board, composed of only Hilo-area members, does not represent the entire county.

Also pending on the council agenda is Bill 101, seeking a charter amendment to enlarge the board to nine members, with one member representing each council district.

County Managing Director Wally Lau, who has, along with Ethics Board Chairwoman Ku Kahakalau, been recruiting members for the board, said Wednesday that the choice of the two West Hawaii nominees was a reflection of the administration’s desire to to have a more representative board, rather than the looming bill.

WHT: Council postpones action on Ethics Board nominees

read … No Ethics

PETA Harasses Army Officer over Kahuku Pig Hunt

MT: Animal rights group PETA wants answers from the Army after learning a company commander offered his soldiers $100 during a field exercise to hunt and kill a wild pig.

“Soldiers used a Ka-Bar knife attached to a stick to stab the (delicious) pig, after which they repeatedly hit the pig’s head with an entrenching tool, sliced the pig’s throat with the Ka-Bar knife, and cut apart the pig’s body parts that were sealed in bags and later thrown into the wild,” according to a letter from PETA, which cites information received from a whistleblower who contacted the group.

The letter, dated Jan. 14, was addressed to Col. Richard Fromm, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. The issue is being handled by the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, the higher headquarters of the unit involved.

PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, went on in the letter to call on the Army to investigate this “troubling matter” concerning “apparently illegal activity at Kahuku Training Area.”

read … Pig Hunt

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