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Friday, July 22, 2016
July 22, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:34 PM :: 4430 Views

VIDEO: HART Vice-Chair Endorses Charles Djou

Hawaii 3rd Highest Excise Taxes in USA

Golden Parachutes are Expensive -- Massive tuition increases approved by UH regents

Honolulu ADU Incentives Now Law

Ige Announces $12M Homelessness Plan

DoH Socks Hawaii’s Last Cane Plantation with $600K Fine

TS Darby heading to Hawaii, tropical storm watch issued for Big Island, Maui Co

Big Mess: Legislators’ Trash Heap imperils pension fund

SA: State lawmakers have created a huge mess with the enactment of Senate Bill 2077.

This law creates an unaffordable enhancement of separation benefits for employees of Maui’s public hospital system.

The system is due to transfer to private management in a desperately needed cost-cutting initiative….

Wednesday’s override clarifies nothing about what the final impact will be.

It’s the legislators’ job to set the state’s spending priorities through the budget process. With this override, however, they effectively waved off that responsibility by enacting the measure without setting aside funds to pay for it.

Any effort to craft a compromise version of the bill that would pass muster with the governor was abandoned, as well.

The lack of a funding mechanism creates a dilemma for Ige. The governor either must carve out millions of dollars from some other source, or come back to the regular session with a request for a supplemental appropriation.

This assumes he can implement the measure at all.

A spokesman for the state attorney general said Thursday that the agency is still reviewing the bill to determine what the next steps would be.

Why?

Because, according to an attorney for the state Employees’ Retirement System (ERS), the special severance arrangement violates the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, endangering the fund’s tax-exempt status….

Privatization is projected to save the state $260 million in hospital subsidies over 10 years.

But that savings will be offset if the special severance benefits of the hospitals’ 1,400 employees are carried out — to the tune of an estimated $60 million or more. These are employees who ultimately will keep their jobs under the new management.

So the richer benefits are hard to justify, particularly if they would further hobble a retirement system already struggling to dig itself out of a fiscal hole.

Defenders of the override have said they were concerned that failure to enact the deal would tie up the transfer of the hospitals in further legal knots, imperiling the smooth transition of hospital operations crucial to Maui residents.

But it’s no solution to let a plainly flawed bill become law, one that could generate its own set of legal complications. Lawmakers should have considered the repercussions while they were hurrying the bill through with little discussion in the waning days of the session.

That was an unconscionable thing to do from the start. And so is saving it from the trash heap and lobbing it back to the governor now….

read … Big Mess

Suddenly Caldwell Claims City Finances are All Better Now, Just Ignore that Rail Thingy 

CB: …Djou has said that rail will “bankrupt” the city, but the ad’s narrator counters, “City finances are better than when (Caldwell) took office.”

Funding for rail is “completely independent of city finances (Caldwell lie #1) and is being achieved without long term debt for future taxpayers (Caldwell lie #2),” the ad states….

Simple and obvious debunk of Caldwell’s two latest lies:

  1. Dependent on City Finances: HART Grab for City Loan Highlights Caldwell’s Untrustworthiness
  2. Long Term Debt: HART considers federal loan to help patch rail shortfall

Isn’t it embarrassing to see how easily Caldwell’s ramblings are dismissed?  Just asking….

read … Fact Checking the Fact Check

Hawaii GOP’s Only Senate Seat May Be In Jeopardy

CB: State Sen. Sam Slom has held the District 9 seat representing East Honolulu for two decades, but a pair of Democratic candidates are spending thousands of dollars in hopes of unseating Hawaii’s only Republican senator.

Stanley Chang is the clear frontrunner in the Democratic primary. The former Honolulu City Council member raised $45,000 over the past six months and has stacked up endorsements from the Hawaii Government Employees Union and influential construction unions.

Chang, 33, represented neighborhoods stretching from Ala Moana to Hawaii Kai on the Council from 2011 to 2015….

Slom serves on every committee and is often the lone voice of dissent. His office has published an alternative state budget for the last several years, and he has gained the respect of his colleagues even if they make most of their decisions behind closed doors in the Majority Caucus room….

Hawaii Kai residents have been receiving mailers headlined, “Stanley Chang Listens,” that emphasize the work he did as a councilman to “clear Waikiki sidewalks” of homeless, fund road repairs and block salary increase for Council members.

The mailers stand in contrast with Chang’s TV ad when he was running for Congress, in which he hailed progressive policies like abortion rights and gay marriage, and cited the need for universal preschool and labeling genetically modified food….

The senator has printed a few fliers but hasn’t spent any money on advertising yet this year. Slom has less than half as much money in the bank — about $23,000 as of his last campaign filing deadline.

Slom said he usually focuses on sign-waving, knocking on doors and attending community events. He said he has never run a TV ad.

“I’m going to have a difficult time though quite frankly walking (through the district) as much as I have in the past,” he said….

Slom received about $4,600 over the past six months, a fraction of what Chang raised. So far Slom has spent less than $1,000, mainly on food and beverages from Costco, Foodland and Safeway….

“I think it would actually be frankly better for the Democratic Party if they did not have that (Senate District 9 seat),” Hart said. “When you virtually have all the seats you no longer have any excuses.”

read … Hawaii GOP’s Only Senate Seat May Be In Jeopardy

NextEra to pull out of Hawaii wind farm, undersea cable and power supply improvement projects

PBN: …According to dockets filed with the Hawaii state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday, NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) has filed to withdraw from its ongoing projects in Hawaii.

These include the Oahu-Maui interisland transmission cable (docket 2013-0169); Castle & Cooke's proposed Lanai Wind Project (docket 2013-0168); and power supply improvement plans underway with Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaii Electric Light Co. and Maui Electric Co.

All three dockets cite the July 15 PUC order rejecting NextEra's acquisition of HECO….

read … NextEra Energy Quits Big Cable

Your Tuition Hike At Work: Vice Chancellor Quits, Scores Big Fat Salary to Teach English

SA: The chief academic officer for the University of Hawaii at Manoa announced he is resigning from the post but said the decision was not a result of complaints lodged last year by faculty and staff over alleged bullying and racist and sexist behavior.

Reed Dasenbrock, who has been vice chancellor of academic affairs at Manoa since 2009, said he will return to teaching after 20 years as an administrator at Manoa and in New Mexico

(Clue: Contract likely assures a big fat salary and light teaching load until he pensions out.)

“That is a long time. I think this is the right time to announce that I plan to return soon to my faculty position in English, especially given the changes in the UH administration including changes in the Manoa leadership and after the satisfactory resolution of the complaint by a number of faculty against me,” Dasenbrock said Thursday in an email to faculty….

(Clue: The more useless administrators UH hires, the more infighting they generate—hence the need for tuition hikes.)

read … Golden Parachute

Kealohas file motion to dismiss federal prosecutor from grand jury investigation

KHON: …Attorney Myles Breiner alleges in a motion filed Wednesday that the prosecutor violated the process by leaking information about the grand jury proceedings.

The grand jury has been going on for about 18 months, and is said to be looking into corruption involving Chief Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, who’s a deputy prosecutor.

“We believe we’ve raised some serious concerns about the ethical manner in which the special prosecutor has been operating. we consider his behavior to be something that should be subject to review and rebuke. and we’re asking that he be disqualified,” said Breiner….

read … Kealohas file motion

Chinatown Gambling: Price of HPD Protection $7,000?

HNN: His sentence also includes forfeiting more than $96,000 and 14 gambling machines.

Pham's game rooms allowed patrons to gamble using slot machines, video game machines and card tables.

Prosecutors say he made $10,000 to $28,000 weekly from his illegal gambling business.

Prosecutors say he paid more than $7,000 in bribes to Honolulu police officers pretending to accept money in exchange for protecting him from law enforcement….

read … 3-year prison sentence for Honolulu gambling, bribery

Hawaii health agency faces challenge in Hepatitis A outbreak

AP: Frustrated Hawaii health officials say they have faced a number of challenges trying to identify the source of a hepatitis A outbreak that has affected at least 74 people on the island of Oahu

read … Hep A

Valley Fever Could be Excuse to Release Hundreds of Criminals

CB: Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is preparing to file a class-action lawsuit, on behalf of Hunt and other prisoners, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the return of all Hawaii prisoners from Saguaro.

read … Or Place them in Expensive, Corrupt UPW Prisons

Cab companies see profits plummet as ride-sharing expands

HNN: Cory Thompson drives with Charley's Taxi, and he says the night shift used to be his bread and butter.

Now, he can go hours without a customer.

"I know I'm down 50 percent easily, 50 percent of my income," he said.

He blames his losses on ride-sharing companies, like Uber and Lyft.

The wild popularity of the companies has taken business away from traditional cab companies, which argue the ride-sharing have an unfair advantage because they have fewer regulations to contend with.

Charley's President Dale Evans said these days, between 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., the company has three to eight cars on the road. "Before we would have maybe 36 cars on the road," he said.

Likewise, Charley's dispatch center used to be busy at night. But now, it's quiet.

Head dispatcher Taimi Toeaina said the taxi company used to see 25 to 30 calls per hour. The number is now about three to seven….

read … Internet Billionaires

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