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Monday, March 20, 2017
March 20, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:02 PM :: 4462 Views

After Six Years Fight State Attempt to Steal Property--State May Owe Developer $200M

SA: …Bridge Capital expected to finish in three years but encountered permitting delays, including a new requirement in late 2007 to produce an environmental impact statement in the wake of a legal ruling tied to the Hawaii Superferry. Then a global financial crisis hung up financing.

Wessels and his firm previously known as DW Aina Lea Development LLC joined Bridge Capital in 2007 to help deliver the affordable homes, and two years later bought the 61-acre first phase of the project. But the deadline wasn’t met, and the LUC rescinded its land-use approval in 2011.

At the time, Wessels claimed that $25 million had been spent on development, largely on infrastructure. Also, about 32 town homes were substantially complete, though they lacked roads or utilities.

Litigation ensued, and the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the LUC was wrong to rescind its approval.

Bridge Capital had sought $15 million in damages but negotiated a $1 million settlement with the state after the court ruling.

Wessels said the LUC decision stalled construction and inhibited the company’s ability to raise financing. Aina Lea has lodged a more than $200 million damage claim with the state that is outstanding….

read … Another snag ties up Villages of Aina Lea

Five Years Later—Still no Permit to Demolish Hotel, Build School

WHT: Kamehameha Schools remains in a holding pattern as it awaits approval of permits that will allow the organization to move forward with the removal of the Keauhou Beach Hotel, making way for a project-based educational complex dubbed Kahaluu Makai.

The hotel operated at a financial loss for several years before closing in 2012 amid concerns that its restoration wouldn’t prove economically viable. Since, Kamehameha Schools has been engaged in the complex bureaucratic process of tearing down a massive structure on environmentally and culturally sensitive land.

Initial projections estimated the demolition process might begin by early 2016, but progress has been slower than expected.

“Everything we can do or can submit has been submitted and done,” said Alapaki Nahale-a, Kamehameha Schools’ senior director of Community Engagement and Resources. “At this point, we are waiting for some of these other triggers to happen so we can take the next step. Leadership is united that the hotel is going to come down as fast as it possibly can while doing it right.”

Up next in the process — which involves the Hawaii County Planning Department, Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) — is obtaining approval of the Archaeological Preservation Plan and Archaeological Monitoring Plan from SHPD.

Crystal Kua, senior communications specialist with Kamehameha Schools Communications Group, said those two approvals along with the approval of the Burial Treatment Plan, which SHPD granted on Feb. 8, are required before the organization can submit applications for a demolition permit and a redevelopment permit to the county’s Department of Public Works.

Once all three are approved, the way will be cleared for the “soft demolition” phase of the hotel removal, which amounts to gutting the building’s interior before bringing down the structure itself.

read … Mindless Bureaucracy

Mindless Bureaucracy Obstructs Wireless Tech in Hawaii

SA: …the current regulatory environment makes it difficult for wireless companies to deploy innovative small-cell technology in a timely and cost-efficient manner in communities across Hawaii. This is why the state’s leading wireless carriers and telecom operators are encouraging lawmakers to pass House Bill 625 and Senate Bill 1201, which would streamline the state and municipal review processes and allow wireless providers (and the state and municipalities for that matter) more certainty to leverage the technology.

read … Mindless Wireless

Convention Center Goes Back to Losing Money

PBN: The Hawaii Convention Center has forecasted a net loss in 2017 after posting its first ever profit of $611,500 in 2016.

The organization, which is funded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, is projecting a loss of $1.5 million for this year, though this is about $200,000 less than what was originally anticipated when planning the budget.

read … Hawaii Convention Center forecasts $1.5M loss in 2017

Dealers’ Moldy Salmonella-Infected Marijuana Kept Waiting by State Bureaucracy

KITV: "It is hard for anyone to give a starting date because there are 2 major milestones that need to be achieved by the state, before we can open our dispensary," said Goldstein.

One milestone is labs that will test products need to be certified by the state.

"We're not allowed to sell any medicine that has not been tested," said Goldstein.

"We are verifying the labs that will performing potency and contamination testing for medical marijuana so it meets international standards,"

said State Laboratory Director Dr. Chris Whelen.

A number of labs have applied to certify medical marijuana, but that entail purchasing high tech equipment like a mass spectrometer, which can be used to analysis products.

Using high pressure, marijuana samples can be separated and filtered to find any contaminates like heavy metals or mold.

"Some of the patients using these products are particularly susceptible to certain types of infections. So we want to make sure the types of molds that cause infections in debilitated patients are not there," added Whelen.

Harmful bacteria, including e-coli and salmonella are also a concern in medical marijuana.

"Patients undergoing chemo have depressed immune systems and have a difficult time fighting infections with salmonella. Which we know to be widespread in the environment, it is everywhere," stated Whelen.

Labs not only have to acquire expensive testing equipment, they must hire and train experts along with get 3rd party accreditation. But according to Dr. Whelen they are getting closer to certification, "I think sufficient progress has been made that I'm optimistic the labs will be ready."

The state still needs to connect the patient registry and the seed-to-sale computer monitor system, so that all sales of medical marijuana by registered patients can be monitored.

The Department of Health will track plants from seed to sale using a Bio-track monitoring system. Each plant is given a unique number and that number stays with the plant its entire life. A system similar to ones being used in a half dozen other states.

Because of these requirements, Goldstein says he doesn't know exactly what day his dispensary doors will open, but he has narrowed it down the year to 2017, "We're looking forward to opening our first dispensary later this year."

read … Wanna Sell Some Moldy Salmonella Infected Weed

Bill 7: Caldwell’s Latest Tax Hike Trick

SA: Owners of properties classified as Residential A that are assessed at just over $1 million would benefit under a bill up for a final vote of the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday.

But those with Residential A properties assessed significantly higher than $1 million would need to pay more under Bill 7, which was initiated by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Residential A properties are defined as properties the city assesses at $1 million and more, and do not carry a homeowner exemption. A person has to be a permanent resident of the home to obtain an exemption for it….

read … ‘Caldwell Hiking Taxes’—A Redundant Statement

Big Fat Raises for Kauai County Execs 

KGI: The Salary Commission set double-digit maximum increases for some positions, like the directors of Housing and Parks and Recreation, and administrator of the Office of Boards and Commissions.

Currently, the salary for the director of Housing is set at $103,041. In this fiscal year, the person in that position has the potential to make $114,582, an increase of over $11,000.

Under the resolution, the deputy director of Parks and Recreation position sees the highest maximum salary increase. Right now, that salary is $98,748, and the Salary Commission set the maximum at $114,582.

The salaries for all of the employees will go into effect July 1.

In January, the Salary Commission also set maximum annual salaries for the councilmembers and council chair. Currently, the council chair’s salary is $63,879, but the commission set a maximum of $71,033.

The salary for councilmembers is currently $56,781. The commission set a maximum of $63,140.

If the councilmembers decide to accept the maximum set, those salaries will go into effect Dec. 1, 2018, at the start of the new term.

read … Money

Following the Anti-GMO Money, Part 2

KE: Some Hawaii anti-GMO activists are now starting to question the money trail that has delivered so much to the Center for Food Safety — and so little to them — while accomplishing essentially, well, nothing — except for a lot of huhu and humbug…..

read … Following the Anti-GMO Money, Part 2

Caldwell Makes Sustainability Unsustainable

SA: Back in November, voters approved most of the proposed 20 Honolulu City Charter amendments, including two that create two new agencies.

Perhaps it was hard to say “no” to ballot questions like this: “Should the city use its powers to serve the people in a sustainable and transparent manner and to promote stewardship of natural resources for present and future generations, and should the city create an Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency?”

Sustainability? Transparency? Surely, that sounded like the right stuff to many voters. But a new office? Growing bureaucracy now is dubious, due to unknown new-agency costs to taxpayers. Various figures had been discussed and both proposals had the backing of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration, but neither ballot item mentioned money….

Reality: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

read … Unsustainable

HB887: Don’t Pay off All the OPEB Debt and We’ll Be Rich, Rich Rich!

CB: …House Bill 887 and House Bill 888 are two measures I introduced that can help address the budget shortfall and also save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year. The state currently faces an $11 billion Health Unfunded Liability (HUL) and $12 billion Pension Unfunded Liability (PUL). Combined, the state and counties need to pre-fund $500 million for the HUL and $300 million for the PUL for a total of $800 million each year over the next 30 years. Pre-funding means making yearly contributions into a worker’s health and pension plan now so that there are enough funds for benefit payments later.

Under HB 887, pre-funding the HUL is capped at $2 billion and once that amount is reached, the state and city will no longer be required to pre-fund. Capping the amount at $2 billion has the same effect as freeing up $500 million per year for the next 30 years. Of that amount, $300 million will be diverted to pre-fund the Employee Retirement System for 30 years and beyond.

The remaining $200 million can be used yearly by the state and counties to balance this year’s budget, pay for state and county road repairs and improvements, or to fund collective bargaining agreements, education, affordable housing, homelessness problem, kupuna care and other needs.

We can also request the state and city to nix the proposed state gas tax and county fee increases for vehicle weight, property tax, vehicle registration, trash collection services and bus fares. These increases will overburden taxpayers, especially those who are a paycheck away from being homeless.

HB 888 calls for a feasibility study of providing health benefits to state and county employees using a self-insured model. A total of 46 out of 50 states now self-insure and/or self-fund at least one of their employee health care plans. Of these 46 states, 20 of them self-fund all of their health plan offerings….


read … OBEB Cap at $2B

SB382: Legislature Considers Restructuring Public Utilities Commission

IM: ….The Committee met last week during a period when the on-line legislative testimony submittal site crashed and was out of commission for days. The Committee heard SB 382. Not all of the testimony is currently available.

For the first time in a long time, the current commission chair, and two former commissioners, expressed very strong opinions on opposite sides of a proposed law.

The very complex, multi-layered, bill that has left a lot of energy stakeholders confused…..

read … Legislature Considers Restructuring Public Utilities Commission

HB2: Big Island Farms to Become TVRs

CB: …A bill in the Legislature might help these Kohala residents build tiny homes on land zoned for agriculture, but state and county officials warn doing so could lead to colonies of people living on agricultural lands who aren’t farming.

“It’s opened up a whole can of worms,” Rep. Cindy Evans said of the bill she introduced. Evans represents North Kona, and North and South Kohala.

House Bill 2 would add language to state law to specify that farm owners can legally build tiny homes on their land. The Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee unanimously passed the bill Friday.

State law already permits clusters of employee housing, but counties, rather than the state, issue permits for construction. It’s unclear whether Hawaii County would currently issue permits for a cluster of tiny homes on agricultural land….

read … Planting TVRs

Low morale plagues staff at veterans’ medical offices

SA: …A 2016 survey of staff members for the Honolulu- based VA Pacific Islands Health Care System indicated that they were more dissatisfied, demoralized and down on leadership when compared with their peers elsewhere in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

When questioned about job satisfaction, burnout, turnover, performance, customer satisfaction, senior management, competency and virtually every other category in the survey, more than 730 employees rated their workplace at levels worse than the VA average nationally and in the region that includes Hawaii, California, Nevada and Manila, according to the survey results. In many cases the Honolulu averages were markedly worse.

Among the nine locations in the region, Honolulu had the poorest marks in more than three-fourths of the 80-plus categories.

And in about two-thirds of the categories with at least three years of tracking data, the employees rated their workplace worse than they did a few years ago, according to the annual survey documents…..

read ... Low morale plagues staff at veterans’ medical offices

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