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Thursday, March 2, 2017
March 2, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:22 PM :: 4598 Views

HPD, FBI Investigate Threat to Honolulu Jewish Preschool

New Study Details Driving Forces of Hawaii's Unfunded Liability Crisis

OHA Ethics Complaints Ignored—Until Now

California Company Helps Hawaii Marijuana Dealers Plan Sales to 9M Tourists

City schedules meeting to update community on O‘ahu General Plan

Senate Judiciary and Labor Passes Assisted Suicide Bill Out of Committee

Memorial Service for Former State Rep Mark Moses

Trump Should Rescind Obama’s Hawaiian Government Rule

CB: …if the new administration really wants to make a statement about the Constitution … if they want to reject the identity politics that defined the Obama presidency … there’s one rule in particular that should be at the top of the “rescind” list: 40 CFR Part 50, otherwise known as “Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community.”….

When it comes to rolling back regulations that harm business, there are plenty of targets in the federal code. But if the new administration really wants to make a statement about the Constitution …  Why not begin with the fact that the rule was pushed through in the last months of the Obama presidency despite a myriad of practical and legal problems? The rule envisions a “government” of Native Hawaiians that depends upon a race-based vote — something forbidden by the Constitution and which was being litigated while the rule was under consideration. In fact, in Akina v. Hawaii, the Supreme Court upheld an injunction on a race-based election for delegates to a Native Hawaiian Constitutional Convention. And the sole reason for that convention was to start creating the Hawaiian “tribe” envisioned by the proposed rule….

The rule goes to immense effort to carve out a special government purely on race/ethnic origin. But doing so would violate the Constitution and could tear apart the social foundations of Hawaii. Considerations of how the regulation would affect every facet of life in the small multiracial state — from criminal law to child custody — were swept aside in order to cater to a specific political faction within the Hawaiian community.

And that may be the most troubling element of all. The Native Hawaiians who were supposed to benefit from the rule don’t support it. Public hearings in Hawaii were overwhelmed by individuals who opposed the rule and thousands of individuals submitted comments begging the federal government not to get involved in the issue. Polls show that support for a Native Hawaiian tribe (never more than a slim majority) has been steadily dwindling….

read … Trump Should Rescind Obama’s Hawaiian Government Rule

Grand Jury Investigation Needed to Get to Bottom of HPD Toddler Abuse Case

KITV: …Peyton was just 17-months-old when he nearly died after suffering a serious brain injury at a daycare owned by the wife of an HPD officer. No arrests were ever made in the case.

"If it was my child, I know I would be upset," said Chief Cary Okimoto, acting chief for Honolulu Police Department.

Two years later, Chief Okimoto called for a review of Peyton's case. He presented results to the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday.

"I was disappointed, because even though the policies and procedures were followed, it didn't move along as quickly as I thought it could," said Chief Okimoto.

By the time potential witnesses and suspects were approached for interviews, they had already hired attorneys.

"I don't think we're going to obtain enough proof for prosecution," said Asst. Chief Robert Robinson, of Honolulu Police Department.

Investigators believe it would take an investigative grand jury to get witnesses to testify in Peyton's case. …

read … Grand Jury Needed

Caldwell Budget Designed to Justify Tax Hike

SA: As they unveil this year’s budget plan, officials in the mayor’s office largely aim to convince state lawmakers that the city cannot cover the added costs to complete the island’s cash-strapped rail project.

“There’s no extra money,” Gary Kurokawa, the city’s deputy budget director, said Tuesday. “Every year it’s a struggle for the city (to fund vacant positions and golden parachutes). It’s never a position that we have extra money (because we steal everything that’s not nailed down).”

His (desperate and laughable) comments came a day after the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee voted 8-0 to strip a proposed tax extension from its rail measure and push the city to cover the project’s multi-billion-dollar shortfall instead.

That measure, Senate Bill 1183, now proposes an end to the state’s 10 percent fee on Oahu’s general excise tax surcharge, also known as “the skim.” The city would then have to come up with about a half a billion dollars in (alleged) rail costs — plus avoid spending any more contingency money for unforeseen costs (cooked up by Caldwell to make legislators do his heavy lifting for him)….

Ways and Means Chairwoman Jill Tokuda (D, Kailua-Kaneohe) told city leaders Monday that after reading the city’s fiscal year 2016 budget she’s convinced they could find a way to cover those rail expenses without another surcharge extension.

She pointed to the city’s own projected annual increases of more than $30 million in property tax revenues through 2021 — the natural gains from rising property values — as well as smaller projected increases in other taxes that the city collects, such as the fuel tax and the public utility franchise tax.

Tokuda further flagged money carried over from 2015 that comprised more than a quarter of the city’s nearly $3 billion budget in 2016. While most of that money is restricted to specific uses such as sewer, bus and affordable housing, Tokuda said the city should consider using its unrestricted “carryover” dollars to help fund rail construction.

Using those sources, plus an influx of about $300 million from the state’s ending its controversial rail-tax skim, the city should be able to string together a plan that covers the rest of rail construction to Ala Moana Center, Tokuda said Monday….

However, Kurokawa said Tuesday that all of the city’s growing revenues and unrestricted carryover dollars are already spoken for (Translation: Caldwell doesn’t wanna use that money for rail), and that the city will tap all those funds just to try to sustain city services (such as vacant positions, golden parachutes, and settlement of civil suits against HPD).

Reality: Murthy: I Can Complete Elevated Rail Without Tax Hike

read … City to offer senators new budget to support rail funding contentions

Hawaii Moves Too Slow On Asset Forfeiture Reform

CB: …At least 17 states have reformed their asset forfeiture laws in the past few years. New Mexico abolished civil forfeiture in 2015, and requires that a person be convicted before property can be forfeited. Last year, Nebraska changed its law to require a criminal conviction on drug, child pornography illegal gambling charges before authorities can seek forfeiture. Maryland, Washington, D.C., Florida and Minnesota are among the other states that have amended their laws to better protect due process rights.

Meanwhile, Hawaii has to date rejected similar proposals, instead making only a few small moves.

Last year, the House passed a bill that would have eliminated administrative forfeitures conducted by the attorney general, and limited civil asset forfeitures to cases where the property owner had been convicted of the underlying offense. Prosecutors and police testified against the bill, and it died in the Senate without getting a hearing.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed its own bill calling for the creation of a working group to review Hawaii’s asset forfeiture laws and recommend improvements. That measure died in the House during the final days of the 2016 session when it was bottled up in the Finance Committee.

As something of a compromise, perhaps, the House and Senate agreed on a concurrent resolution requesting a management audit of the asset forfeiture program administered by the Office of the Attorney General, and compilation of data on how the process has been used. Although the resolution called for the audit to be completed before the beginning of the 2017 session, it has not appeared in the lists of reports submitted to the Legislature this year.

Several reform measures introduced this year have all died without hearings.

The last time the state auditor looked at the asset forfeiture program was for a 1995 sunset evaluation of the law. At that time, the report noted several concerns. It cited media reports of forfeiture laws “causing major disruptions in the lives of individuals who face the loss of a home or other property under questionable circumstances, such as a friend bringing marijuana plants on a visit.”….

read … Forfeiture

Bitcoin Shutdown related to Hawaii Marijuana Dispensaries Tax Evasion System?

PBN: Brian Goldstein said he was shocked to receive an email on Tuesday from Coinbase informing him he needed to close his account, after the digital currency exchange company announced it was pulling out of Hawaii.

“The timing was bad for so many reasons,” said Goldstein, who is the CEO of Honolulu-based Manoa Botanicals, one of the eight state-certified medical marijuana dispensaries.

“At Manoa, we were just starting to look at what payment methods we can accept besides cash,” he told Pacific Business News. “We were just about to embark on a search to open a bitcoin merchant account. It was upsetting.”

“Being an all cash business creates risks,” he said. “We are actively looking at our options to mitigate and manage these risks through an alternate method of payment.” ….

Goldstein said he will continue searching for alternative methods of payment for his dispensary, adding he is considering the closed-loop payment system such as prepaid cards.

read … Manoa Botanicals CEO Brian Goldstein shocked by Coinbase's Hawaii exit

Your state is soaking you for beer money

MW:  …In Wisconsin (6 cents per gallon), Oregon (8 cents), Colorado (8 cents) and Pennsylvania (8 cents), brewers face a beer excise tax that’s well below that of not only neighboring states, but the rest of the nation collectively. Unsurprisingly, Wisconsin (121 breweries in 2015, 2.9 brewers per 100,000), Oregon (228, 7.7 per capita), Colorado (284, 7.3 per capita) and Pennsylvania (178, 1.9 per capita) all rank among the most bustling beer states in the union. Even Wyoming and its 2-cents-per-gallon excise tax — for a state with a population smaller than most major U.S. cities — still manages to have upwards of 23 breweries and 5.5 breweries per capita.

Meanwhile, Alaska ($1.07 per gallon), Hawaii (93 cents, not counting the additional 54 cents per gallon for draft beer), Alabama ($1.02 between state and local taxes), Georgia (85 cents between state and local taxes) and Tennessee ($1.29 between excise and wholesale taxes), impose some of the highest beer taxes in the land. Alaska’s 23 breweries are the fewest in the Pacific Northwest (even though it ranks eighth in breweries per capita). Meanwhile, Hawaii’s 13 breweries, Alabama’s 24, Georgia’s 45 and Tennessee’s 52 don’t seems so bad until you realize it ranks them 37th, 47th, 48th and 40th in breweries per capita, respectively….

HNN: Suit: Kona beer leads drinkers to believe it's made only in Hawaii

read … Your state is soaking you for beer money

Hawaii: Why Wait—We can Already Announce the Worst Appellate Decision of 2017

MWL: If a contest were held for the worst appellate decision of 2017, we might already have a winner. The recent unpublished Hawai’i Court of Appeals decision in Hawaiian Dredging Constr. Co., Inc. v. Fujikawa Assocs., Inc., 2017 WL 663540 (Haw. App. 2017) turns the very concept of workers’ compensation in the Aloha State upside down, and could result in higher construction costs as general liability carriers realize that indemnity clauses could cost their insured much more than previously thought. At the same time, the decision provides some interesting reimbursement opportunities in Hawai’i construction projects which are unavailable in any other state….

read … We’re Number 1

Kakaako Homeless Refuse Shelter, Dogs Attack Parkgoers

HNN: Leann McCall says it's hard to miss all the dogs at Kakaako Waterfront Park when she takes her daughter to the Children's Discovery Center.

"They're usually up this road up here. And campsites. Everywhere," McCall said.

Although she's never had a problem, others haven't been as lucky. The state confirms at least two people have been bitten in recent dog attacks.

Parkgoer Gerald Kim said he was walking his dog at the park in January when three unleashed dogs went after him and his dog.

Then last month, he witnessed a jogger being chased by a pack of barking dogs….

HCDA oversees Kakaako Waterfront Park, and has sought help from the Hawaiian Humane Society to remove at least seven dogs. Many of the animals belonged to campers living in the park who ignored citations. 

A newly-approved rule also allows the state to ban people from the park if they are cited multiple times for things like unleashed dogs or staking tents.

So far no one has been banned from the park, and HCDA says it wants to educate people before it begins enforcement.

It's also seeking help from police.

"We do have a security company that does some patrolling trying to get folks out, making sure they follow the rules," Souki said. "We are limited by that.  At the end of the day we really need the cooperation of law enforcement to make some of these penalties stick." ….

read … Homelessness

HB790: Sacrifice Agriculture to the Hysterical Demos

KE: Yesterday, McKelvey passed HB790 out of his Consumer Protection and Commerce committee. The bill would require agricultural entities that bought or used more than 10 pounds or 10 gallons of restricted use pesticides in the previous year to publicly disclose their use of allpesticides (and this includes Roundup) through signs and prior written notification of residents. 

It also provides for arbitrary county rule on all pesticide use issues, including buffer zones.

As state Agriculture Director Scott Enright noted, the bill goes well beyond the EPA's requirements, without any apparent scientific basis, and would require the DOA to hire new staff and “divert limited staff resources from primary enforcement responsibilities.” He further testified:

The Department submits that language in this bill seems to target a segment of the farming community. Although the expressed mission of this bill is to protect children from exposure to pesticides, this bill targets only one segment of the community that uses pesticides. Cases involving potential pesticide exposures to children or near schools were primarily due to pesticide use by homeowners and landscapers. This bill does not seem to address the primary route of exposure that poses the highest risk.

Though activists claim this bill is about their “right to know,” it's really about their desire to harass. Because you know that as soon as the sign is posted or the notice is sent, somebody is gonna make like they just got poisoned. And, thanks to provisions in this bill, an “injured citizen” could then file a lawsuit against the company.

Of course, McKelvey isn't the first to pander to this crowd. He's scared to death of losing his seat, and given the new demographics of his west Maui constituency, I guess he's got reason to be afraid….

read … Hysteria

Another step back for dairy – State orders Restart of EIS

KGI: Hawaii Dairy Farms may be back to square one with its environmental impact statement, a process that started with the release of its draft EIS in June.

On Jan. 17, HDF submitted its final environmental impact statement to the state’s Department of Health for review, but then withdrew the FEIS from consideration Feb. 21.

DOH still stated its position on the matter in a letter to HDF Tuesday.

“If HDF decides to file another environmental impact statement with DOH, in these circumstances HDF’s filing would need to be a second draft Environmental Impact Statement, not an FEIS,” the letter says. “DOH will not accept a FEIS in this case where an EIS does not first go through a second draft environmental impact statement process.”

Amy Hennessey, spokeswoman for HDF, said the company is disappointed with DOH’s determination, but “we respect the agency’s determination.”

“We believe the Department of Health’s decision, coupled with the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s more rigorous guidance on responses to comments, has far reaching consequences to all future development projects that require an EIS,” she said.  (NOTE: Mr Billionaire is voluntarily submitting an EIS.  Is he creating a political precedent which legislators or a judge will later transform into law—forcing agriculture to get EIS in the future?)  “We are currently evaluating the impact of this determination on the project’s timeline.” ….

“We’re committed to continuing our work with regulators and the community to bring the first pasture-based dairy to fruition,” Hennessey said.

LINK: News Release

read … Another Sacrifice

Planning panel gives city OK to use the landfill till it’s filled

SA: The Honolulu Planning Commission gave its approval Wednesday for the city to continue using Oahu’s only landfill until it’s filled to capacity, regardless of when that might be.

A final decision still must be affirmed by the state Land Use Commission, which had asked the city panel in 2012 to make a recommendation.

The 5-0 decision could lead to the end of a decades- long dispute between the city and residents in the West Oahu community who have long argued that the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill poses a danger and health threat. West Oahu residents and businesses said they were promised the city would shut the landfill and put its replacement elsewhere.

Attorneys for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Hawaii), the Ko Olina Community Association and state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha) raised objections to the vote.

Richard N. Wurdeman, who represents Hanabusa, a former Waianae Coast state senator, said he will ask the LUC to reject the commission’s decision.

The commission’s decision essentially removes from the city’s existing special-use permit a section that says no municipal solid waste — only ash and residue from the waste-to-energy HPOWER plant — would be accepted after July 31, 2012.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in May 2012, however, that the state acted improperly by imposing a deadline for the landfill’s closure despite the continuing need for the facility to operate beyond that date. The court kicked the matter back to the LUC, which remanded it back to the Planning Commission for its recommendation….

read … Waimanalo Gulch

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