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Sunday, March 26, 2017
March 26, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:59 PM :: 3581 Views

Yes, Toto, Tourists Also Pay Real Property Tax

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Hawaii Co Ag Property Tax Rate up 48.2%

HTH: …A Kona coffee farmer is asking Mayor Harry Kim’s administration to put its money where its mouth is. Or a lot of people’s mouths, actually.

If the county truly supports sustainable agriculture, says Fred Housel, it will lower the tax rate on agricultural property. Now the highest rate in the state, the agricultural rate was increased by 31.5 percent in 2010.

With Hawaii Island being the breadbasket of the state, Housel says, it should encourage farming both to feed its people and as a viable economic engine.

“Since 2008, our property taxes have increased by 48.2 percent with no additions or improvements,” Housel said in a Feb. 15 letter to Kim. “We are very concerned about the high costs of farming in Hawaii County having a severe adverse impact on the sustainability of agriculture in Hawaii County.”

Tax rates, an important component of county budgeting, will come to the forefront over the coming weeks as Kim finalizes his annual spending plan in the face of increasing expenses and less help from the state.

Kim has said he doesn’t want to raise property taxes, but he hasn’t yet ruled it out. His proposed $474 million budget is $11 million more, or 2.4 percent higher, than the current budget.

County Council members are scheduled to undertake a department-by-department analysis of the budget April 11-13 as the individual department heads come before them to explain their program budgets….

read … Tax Hikes

HIDOT Airports Div Red Tape: Theater of the Absurd

SA: Last year, it took Hawaiian Airlines a month to re-stripe lines outside the gates at Maui’s Kahului Airport. It would have taken the state six times longer to get that work done, officials with the local carrier say.

“That’s to paint lines on pavement,” Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley said in a recent interview at the airline’s headquarters, bristling at the red tape his company often encounters. “That has a sort of theater of the absurd about it.”

For Dunkerley and his deputies, the Maui re-striping follows the same pattern of larger, costlier issues affecting Honolulu International Airport.

Outside their conference room window, heavy machinery operates across from the overseas terminal in a large dirt pit where a 345,000-square-foot rental car facility was supposed to have been built by now. On the airport’s Ewa wing, legal battles with a contractor have stalled the state’s progress to build a new hangar for Hawaiian to use, then demolish the old one, and then build a new concourse to fit larger planes.

Dunkerley, who leads one of the state’s largest employers, blames the issues that have plagued the Honolulu airport’s languishing modernization project — plus the leaky roofs and bathrooms, broken escalators and other blights that sometime greet travelers — on what he said is a cumbersome state procurement process that’s unfit to manage the airport and the roughly 8.5 million to 10 million passengers it serves each year.

“It’s our showcase,” he said. “It’s the first place people see on arrival, and it doesn’t do justice to this terrific community the way it is. The ambition was to make sure it was adequate for our needs, and we’re not delivering on that.”

For a second year in a row, legislation is moving at the Capitol that would shift oversight of Hawaii’s 15 airports from the state Department of Transportation to a new airport authority — a “corporation” led by members with industry expertise. Last year, the measure died near the end of the session during the Legislature’s pivotal conference negotiations.

Dunkerley and other supporters — which include the DOT itself — hope the new governance model would speed up construction and repairs. The state’s model, they argue, is designed to carefully oversee taxpayer dollars but it can’t keep pace with the needs of Hawaii’s airports, which are paid for by the airlines and other users’ fees.

Related: HIDOT Fails to Answer -- $78K Administrative Cost Per Mile

read … Corporation

Track rail costs with a Doomsday Clock

Shapiro: >> Transit experts from across North America ripped the cost and schedule of Honolulu rail, finding cost overruns “far in excess of the normal industry standards.” Instead of an adding machine, we have to track rail costs with a Doomsday Clock.

>> Senate and House money committee chairwomen Jill Tokuda and Sylvia Luke took tough stands on extending the rail excise tax because they don’t believe the city’s numbers. We’ll see if their conference committee is a sequel to “Profiles in Courage” or “Chicken Run.” ….

read … We just can’t catch a break from Trump and transit

Will Democrat ‘Mean Girls’ Let Fukumoto In?

Borreca: …Speaking on the House floor when Fukumoto was voted out as GOP leader by her own members, Thielen said, “The minority leader is being punished for participating in the Women’s March. I think that is disgraceful and appalling.”

Fukumoto caused the GOP to raise the party’s intolerance level to a new high by using the rally as a chance to call Trump a racist and a sexist.

“I thought our party could grow because of that, and now our party is dead,” said Thielen last week.

Thielen says she will stick with the GOP. Fukumoto, who is finding herself becoming something of a political Joan of Arc, is asking for membership in the Democratic Party.

A note of caution: When they want to be, Hawaii’s Democrats can be the absolute definition of the “Mean Girls” and become mostly a high school social clique, open to only the cool kids.

Interestingly, in January, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa joined the Democratic Party. He had been a Republican, but the county position is nonpartisan and Arakawa had been mostly nonpartisan. In the last governor’s race, Arakawa supported Mufi Hannemann, who was running as an independent.

Arakawa has been rumored to be interested in running for governor, but there have been no formal filings or fundraisers from Arakawa. He is term limited and will be out of office next year.

The departures of Fukumoto and Arakawa are not the Hawaii GOP’s big problem. The problem is that its president is astoundingly disliked.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week had 37 percent saying they approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance, with 56 percent saying they do not.

Much of Trump’s record has been a series of lies and mischaracterizations, from saying he had proof Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii to having proof that Obama wiretapped his New York offices.

In Hawaii last year, 62 percent of the voters voted for Hillary Clinton, the highest percent in the nation. That is the GOP’s biggest local problem, and it is one they can’t solve by defending Trump….

read … Hawaii’s ailing GOP won’t grow more popular while riding the coattails of Trump

DLNR: Sea Levels to Rise 3.2 Feet (or was it 9?)  We are all Doomed!

MN: Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. By the year 2030, the global mean sea level rise is predicted to be around 0.6 foot, then 1 foot by 2050, 2 feet by 2075 and 3.2 feet by 2100….

Maui’s rising sea level rate is just above that of Oahu and Kauai, which each experience around 1.4 millimeters, or 0.06 inches, of sea level rise a year, according to the state’s climate adaptation website. Maui sees about 2 millimeters, or 0.08 inches annually, while Hawaii island sees 3 millimeters, or 0.12 inches a year.

(Your beloved Editor is willing to buy your soon-to-be-worthless oceanfront Hawaii real estate for 10% of assessed value—cash!  Grab your title deed and hurry down to the escrow office before you are ‘under water’.  Be patient.  I am sure there will be a big line.)

read … Phony Baloney

‘Groundwater Inundation’ UH Manoa ‘Research’ Devises New Way to Shake Green Energy Tax Credits out of Lege

UHM: New research from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa reveals a large part of the the heavily urbanized area of Honolulu and Waikīkī is at risk of groundwater inundation—flooding that occurs as groundwater is lifted above the ground surface due to sea level rise. Shellie Habel, lead author of the study and doctoral student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and colleagues developed a computer model that combines ground elevation, groundwater location, monitoring data, estimates of tidal influence and numerical groundwater-flow modeling to simulate future flood scenarios in the urban core as sea level rises three feet, as is projected for this century under certain climate change scenarios.

IQ Test: Are you laughing?

read … Tax Credit Propaganda

SB1150 Chemophobia is Profitable: Selling ‘Bogus ‘Reef Safe’ Sunscreens

MN: According to the nonprofit EWG environmental research group, oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones.

(According to Nature and Scientific American, that’s a bunch of hype.)

Instead of chemical-based sunscreens, the research group recommends using sunscreen products containing minerals zinc and titanium oxide that are considered “reef safe.”  (Wake up and smell the money.)

Kihei residents Eric and Rebecca Nelson showed up to learn more Saturday, in part because of concerns about using sunscreen on a toddler they are raising.

“With children, you have to be extra cautious,” Eric Nelson said. “It takes a much smaller level of any chemical to have a substantial effect.”

Rebecca Nelson said that she plans to start using sunscreen more often herself. “But I don’t want to use the wrong kind.”

She ended up trading a spray bottle of sunscreen containing a coral-killing ingredient for a tube of Raw Elements sunscreen.  (Ca-chiiing!)

Wood said that the company and others donated “reef safe” sunscreen for the event. She said most of the “reef safe” sunscreens are available at health food stores.

Target sells a Bare Republic product that is “reef safe,” Wood said.  (Ca-chiiing!) But some popular tourist stores “don’t sell a single nonchemical sunscreen.”

On Saturday morning, one beachgoer handed Baldwin a container of sunscreen, asking, “Is this harmful?”

“If you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it on,” Baldwin said after reading the ingredients. “It sounds like it’s science fiction.”

He took the man’s container and gave him packets of Raw Elements sunscreen. (Ca-chiiing!)

After examining the ingredients in a product touted as “the No. 1 dermatologist recommended sunscreen,” Wood found coral-killing chemicals.

“It’s not always as straightforward as it looks,” she said.

She said sunscreen made with zinc and titanium oxide may be more difficult to blend into the skin. “That’s pretty much the only downside,” she said. “I think that’s a small price to pay.”

After about four hours, students had collected a full basket of sunscreen traded in by beachgoers.

Some of the club’s approximately 50 members have submitted testimony supporting state Senate Bill 1150, which would ban the use of sunscreen, sunblock and cosmetics containing oxybenzone or other chemicals harmful to reefs in a marine life conservation district.

read … All About the Green 'Bare Republic' and 'Raw Elements' cash in

Will State Fund Veterans Treatment Court?

HTH: This is part one in a two-part series looking at Big Island Veterans Treatment Court, its successes and financial uncertainty. One graduate talks about his journey from addiction and PTSD to a sober, healthy life. Part two Monday will detail one man’s graduation from the program….

The program started in 2014 with a federal grant of $310,000. That money ends Sept. 30 and those who run the program are currently looking to the Legislature to keep the court running for Hawaii Island’s veterans….

read … Veterans Treatment Court

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