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Thursday, July 14, 2016
July 14, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:54 PM :: 3747 Views

VIDEO: Djou Launches First TV Commercial

2016 Democrat Platform: Hawaiians Among “Indigenous Tribal Nations”

DoI Final Ruling: Slippery Slope to Fed Wreck?

A Practical Approach to Occupational Licensing Reform

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted July 14, 2016

Register to Vote Online Here -- Before Today's Deadline

Djou: Middle Street is Disastrous Idea

HNN: "This election for mayor is about trust," Djou said….

"The Mayor's office is nowhere to be found. It's a combination of incompetence and mismanagement," said Djou….

"The Caldwell proposal to just cut it off right at Middle Street is just a disastrous idea. It comes from simply this pattern of mismanagement and incompetence that seems to define the Honolulu rail project. That's all the more reason why we need new leadership at City Hall," said Djou….

related: VIDEO: Djou Launches First TV Commercial

read … Election

Just in Time for Primary Election: Grabauskas to be Next Sacrificial Lamb

SA: In years past, Honolulu rail Executive Director Dan Grabauskas has regularly received glowing annual reviews and $35,000 salary bonuses from the rail board for his handling of the largest public works project in state history.

But this year’s job evaluation — much like the future of the rail project that Grabauskas oversees — is shrouded in uncertainty. The closed-door process has dragged on and there’s no sign yet how the board will act regarding its embattled director.  (Translation: He is doomed.)

Since April 21, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board members have given themselves two 60-day extensions to keep talking in private and “investigating certain matters,” as board Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa recently put it. The board has spent more than seven hours discussing Grabauskas’ job performance behind closed doors, the rail agency’s records show, which is far more time than it dedicated to any of Grabauskas’ prior three evaluations.  (Translation: They got rid of Horner and it wasn’t enough.  Now they need to get rid of Grabauskas….)

Today the board will once again take up Grabauskas’ job evaluation in executive session. It’s the only item on the board’s meeting agenda. The group has until Aug. 21 under its latest deadline to issue its report on Grabauskas….  (but Caldwell’s deadline is August 13 and absentee voting starts next week so you can count on quick action….)

read … Grabauskas tops agenda of HART board meeting after weeks of criticism

Honolulu Charter Commission advances proposal to extend officeholders’ terms

SA: The number of terms that elected officials could serve continuously would be raised to three from the current two under one of 27 proposals the Honolulu City Charter Commission voted to advance Wednesday.

The proposals now go to the commission’s Committee on Submission and Information, which will meet Friday to look into whether any of the proposals should be eliminated, consolidated or changed to conform with the charter’s style and legality. Its recommendations would then be considered by the full commission, Commission Chairman David Rae said after Wednesday’s meeting….

Proposal 44 would change to three the number of four-year terms that elected mayors, City Council members and prosecutors could serve consecutively. Currently elected mayors and Council members can serve a maximum of two straight terms, while elected prosecutors have no term limits.

If approved by voters in November, those already in office would be able to serve up to three terms, not three additional terms. For example, Council Chairman Ernie Martin is in the middle of his second term and, under current law, is “termed out” and barred from seeking a third term when his second four-year term is up in 2018. If the Charter amendment is approved, he would be allowed to seek a third term that would keep him on the Council through 2022.

The proposal, introduced by commission member Paul Oshiro, has generated little fanfare and only a smattering of testimony. The commission vote was 10-3, with members Michael Broderick, Rick Tsujimura and Pam Witty-Oakland casting the “no” votes.

read … Commission advances proposal to extend officeholders’ terms

DoT: We Worked hard to Shake Down Legislators

SA: …HDOT leadership explained the need for additional revenues to make investments on system preservation and safety, while continuing the capacity-building program. It discussed the impacts to the program should funding not be increased on numerous occasions with the public, lawmakers and media. A detailed Frequently Asked Questions document regarding House Bill 2409/Senate Bill 2938, the user fee increase bills, was sent to every lawmaker in March.

HDOT leadership requested meetings with each lawmaker to discuss the department’s needs and the impacts of not receiving the additional funding. The user fee increase bills were discussed at various public meetings, including Pearl City on Feb. 18, Aiea on March 22 and Mililani on March 23.

The proposals were the subject of numerous media stories, including in the Star-Advertiser. The stories clearly state HDOT is shifting resources toward system preservation over capacity projects. This is also not a new discussion as previous administrations had broached this subject with the community and Legislature.

Sixteen state senators clearly understood the need for the additional funding and we thank them for their support. Regrettably the bill still did not pass the House Transportation Committee. The $37 million approved by the state Legislature this last session will be used to expedite more special maintenance projects and is very much appreciated. However, it is a one-time infusion of funds that HDOT will not be able to sustain a capacity program with….

Blackmail Sheet: SB2938 FAQ

read … Shake Down

HGEA files lawsuit to stop privatization of airport security

KHON: The state’s largest public workers union has filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Transportation to keep it from using private security to perform law enforcement and policing services at Honolulu International Airport.

The state recently awarded Securitas a three-year, $130 million contract for security at all Hawaii airports.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association believes security should be handled by the state Department of Public Safety’s Sheriffs Division….

read … HGEA vs Privatization

Criminal inquiry focuses on IBEW ex-leader

SA: State and federal agencies have begun a criminal investigation into the finances of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 after its leader, Brian Ahakuelo, was scrutinized for allegedly using union money to pay for personal expenses and hiring immediate family members at high salaries.

The state Attorney General’s office, Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Labor began the probe after the IBEW parent organization placed Local 1260 in emergency trusteeship on May 6 over concerns of financial mismanagement. Ahakuelo and 18 staff members are on paid leave during the investigation.

“We can confirm there is a criminal investigation and that the local has received a subpoena for information in connection with that investigation,” said Harold Dias, a former state AFL-CIO president and IBEW international representative, who was appointed trustee of the union….

The former union leader earned $201,712 in 2015, while his wife was paid $105,119, according to Local 1260’s most recent financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Brandon Ahakuelo, the union’s chief of staff, received $143,274, while daughter-in-law Neiani, an executive assistant, earned $77,656. Ahakuelo’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Estencion, senior executive assistant, had a salary of $101,855, the filing shows. Ahakuelo hired a fifth relative, son-in-law Eric Falkner, in March as a training coordinator/organizer for $125,000 a year, though he lives in Las Vegas.

The union terminated the family members on May 24.

read … IBEW inquiry focuses on ex-leader

General fund tax deposits up 8 percent

PBN: During fiscal year 2016, the state's general tax deposits were up by 8 percent year over year, helped by a jump in corporate income tax during June.

For the fiscal year, which ended at the end of June, the general excise and use tax collections — the largest category of tax collections — totaled $3.2 billion compared with $3 billion in fiscal year 2015.

The total general fund was $6.2 billion for fiscal year 2016, up $461.3 million from the previous year. The surge was due in part to a $40 million jump in corporate income tax in May and June. It led to a 77.8 percent increase year over year….

read … 8%

Land Board Writes Greenmail into new water lease approach

SA: Companies that for years, and in some cases decades, have been allowed to bypass stringent environmental requirements for using public water will be required to conduct environmental reviews and consult with Native Hawaiians to see whether the use disrupts taro farming or other customary practices if they want to continue using the water.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources has been renewing temporary water permits for 10 companies year after year, but state officials now say that under Hawaii law the temporary permits were not supposed to extend beyond a year.

Under new guidance adopted by the Land Board last month, the companies will be required to apply for long-term leases, which could require them to conduct extensive environmental impact statements, consult with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands about whether its beneficiaries might need the water and, in some cases, seek a conservation district use permit.

Under Hawaii law, long-term water leases are subject to the competitive bid process….

read … Greenmail

Fisheries: Local Food Production Up, Enviros Seek New Ways to Shut it Down

CB: Hawaii’s longline fleet is about to hit its 3,554-ton limit for bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific, prompting a closure date for the fishery of July 22, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The longliners had caught an estimated 98 percent of their annual quota by Wednesday, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service reported. The feds had been predicting longliners would hit their bigeye tuna limit by Aug. 14.

But the closure will likely be short-lived thanks to a federal rule that proposes, like in years past, allowing U.S. Pacific Island territories — American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands — to each allocate up to 1,000 tons of their 2,000-ton quotas to U.S. longliners under a “specified fishing agreement.”

n April, the Hawaii Longline Association reached such an agreement with the Marianas that involves paying the territory $250,000 in each of the next three years for up to half of its quota. That’s $50,000 more than the association paid the territory last year….

Hawaii’s fleet, which has roughly 140 vessels, caught the 1,000 tons by the end of November, but NMFS let it keep fishing through the end of the year after it worked out a similar agreement to use an additional 1,000 tons of Guam’s quota.

David Henkin, staff attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, calls it a “shell game” that allows overfishing, but the courts have so far disagreed. A U.S. District Court judge ruled in December that federal regulations allow Hawaii fishermen to continue sidestepping these international catch limits.

As of Wednesday, the Hawaii longliners had caught 38 percent of their 500-ton quota in the Eastern Pacific, which fewer vessels are able to access….

Best Comment: “It was the Environmental NGO’s that pushed the commodity trading scheme in the first place, and now they are offended?”

read … Long Line

Peter Apo: Marine Monument Proposal Isn’t ‘Hawaiian’

CB: The Western idea of conservation is inconsistent with traditional Hawaiian management of resources….

read … Hawaiian

Why Honolulu Can’t Be Sure How Many Homeless Veterans It Has

CB: At least 200 veterans still need permanent housing, but two recent efforts to count them generated significantly different results.

HNN: 211 hotline now an important lifeline for homeless

read … Veterans

Questions raised about mayor’s PV land lease

MN: Ethics Board hears whether contract is influencing county energy policy….

read … PV Lease

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