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Friday, March 31, 2017
March 31, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:14 PM :: 3970 Views

The Biggest Fruit Ever Grown in Hawaii

Hawaii lawmakers barreling toward $1 billion spending increase

Travel Ban: 9th Circuit Court Will Reverse Hawaii’s Political Hack Judge

Abortionist Moves to Hawaii after Undercover Video Expose

Rickrolling Rail

Video: Should Being Homeless in Hawaii be Considered an Illness?

After $2B in Tax Credits, High Tech Scammers Pay Only $27M in Taxes

Fuel, Property, Garbage: Caldwell Puts 9 Tax Hikes on Council Agenda

CB: Council members are considering nine proposals that would, among other things, increase property taxes for hotels and high-end property owners as well as cost people more at the gas pump….

The property tax hikes Caldwell has already proposed have drawn opposition from hoteliers and other resort owners.

Bill 31 would raise property tax rates for hotels and resorts from $12.90 per $1,000 of assessed value to $13.40 — a 3.9 percent increase. The city last increased property taxes on hotels and resorts in 2013, when the rate when from $12.40 to $12.90.

If Caldwell signs it, Bill 7 would create two tiers within the Residential A class.

It would do so by lowering the current rate for Residential A property owners from $6 to $4.50 per $1,000 of assessed value for the first $1 million of valuation. Above $1 million, the rate would increase to $9 per $1,000 value. The mayor has until April 10 to sign the bill.

The city estimates it will bring in $1.08 billion in property taxes during fiscal year 2017, which runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. More than $506 million of that total – about 47 percent – came from resident homeowners and $94 million came from non-occupant homeowners….

Caldwell again is proposing a fuel tax increase, something that hasn’t happened since 1989. In 2013 Caldwell wanted to increase the fuel tax by 5 cents, but the council killed the bill to raise the tax after its first reading.

Resolution 17-61 would raise the county fuel tax from 16.5 cents to 20 cents per gallon to generate $10.85 million a year, Pereira said….

Two other bills affecting Honolulu drivers would increase parking meter fees and the vehicle weight tax.

Bill 10 would raise the vehicle weight tax from 5 to 6 cents per pound by 2018, then to 7 cents by 2019. The rate hasn’t gone up since 2011.

Bill 12 would double parking fees in parts of the city to $3 per hour, up from $1.50 per hour. …

The cost of riding TheBus may go up as well, for the first time since 2010.

Monthly passes, used by about 70 percent of riders, would increase from $60 to $70 in January, then to $80 in July 2019 if the council passes Bill 28. The cost of a single bus ride would increase from $2.50 to $3.25 by July 2019.

The $2-per-trip fee for TheHandi-Van would also increase by 50 cents per year until it reaches $4….

Two other bills would increase admission fees for nonresident visitors to the Honolulu Zoo, and for greens fees at the city’s municipal golf courses.

Honolulu residents would face a trash pickup fee for the first time ever if the council passes Bill 29….

SA: Parcels from Amazon increase 10-20% ahead of tax collection

read … Taxes

Biofuel can be as Deadly as Coal

IM: Biopower caused problems for the model. “The high ecosystem impact of biopower, with land use largely offsetting the benefits of CO2 emission mitigation, is a novel finding. We hence would like to discuss bioenergy in more detail.”

Biomass plantations “require about two orders of magnitude more surface area than any other technology, although the impact of this land use is less per unit area than that of coal mines.”

Land transformations (land use changes) is different from land occupation (land use). They both cause significant impact.

“Land occupation may become a major contributor to the threat to ecosystems. This finding is not surprising, because land use is already one of the main drivers of global biodiversity loss.”

(Translation: The bulldozed the rainforest to plant palm oil trees.  The net result is less CO2 consumption )

Bio-Fuel Background:

read … Biofuel can be Green Energy Solution, or as Deadly as Coal.

Analysis: Hot housing market continues to drive up Honolulu rents

HNN: Rents in Honolulu are up nearly 6 percent from last year, according to new analysis from Apartment List….

The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Honolulu is $1,700, according to Apartment List, while the median rent for a two-bedroom is $2,360….

read … Rent Up Again

HB1401: Vote by Mail Approved by Senate Committees

CB: …Worried about the state’s anemic voter turnout, two Senate committees unanimously approved legislation Thursday to implement voting by mail for all Hawaii counties by 2020.

That pleased two major proponents of House Bill 1401, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, which believe more people will vote if the process is made more convenient and accessible.

But representatives for both nonprofits told members of the Senate committees on Judiciary and Labor and Ways and Means that they feared the legislation would be killed during the conference committee period that runs during the last two weeks of April.

After all, that’s what happened last year….

read … Vote-by-Mail

Another high ranking police officer retires amid federal investigation

HNN: …Police Maj. Gordon Shiraishi retired Thursday after 33 years with the Honolulu Police Department. 

Shiraishi was under investigation for his relation to the Kealoha corruption scandal.

In December, Shiraishi received an FBI target letter and had his police powers removed in December.

Shiraishi is considered a co-conspirator in the case that also forced the retirement of HPD Chief Louis Kealoha….

read … Another high ranking police officer retires amid federal investigation

Kealoha Litigation: Mo Money fo Mo Lawyers

SA: When then-Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his family sued the city Ethics Commission, the City Council was asked to provide up to $100,000 each to three downtown law firms to represent the commission, former commission Executive Director Chuck Totto and former commission investigator Letha DeCaires.

The Council approved the $300,000 in drawdown appropriations in August.

Now, city Corporation Counsel Donna Leong is asking the Council to provide additional taxpayer money to the three firms because of the ongoing nature of the Kealoha lawsuit. The trial has not yet begun.

read … Mo Money

Private Airport Security Firm Hires 6 Fired Cops

HNN: At least six law enforcement officers who were fired were then subsequently hired by a private security firm at Honolulu International Airport in recent years, Hawaii News Now sources say.

Securitas gets paid $36 million a year by the state, and provides "airport police" and other security services at the airport.

In recent years, they've been at the center of several high-profile incidents. Most recently, a Securitas officer fatally shot at family's dog at Honolulu International, and the dog's family said the guard "overreacted" and discharged his weapon near an infant and other bystanders.

HNN also learned that the security guard was terminated in 2014 from the Department of Defense, where he was a civilian law enforcement officer for a decade. He posted on social media that an argument with a religious group is what got him fired from the Army.

But he's not the only fired law enforcement officer to then be hired by Securitas.

Former Honolulu police officer Darren Cachola was fired for unprofessional behavior after surveillance video of him fighting with his girlfriend was sent to the media in 2014.

Cachola was never charged with any crimes and, sources say, he was able to qualify for a job with Securitas as an airport police officer.

Two HPD motorcycle officers, one fired after a DUI arrest and another accused of theft, were also working at the airport after being terminated from HPD.

A former sergeant who was involved in a game room beating is another officer who spent time with Securitas at the airport before his federal conviction. 

And Securitas also picked up an officer who was fired shortly after graduating from the Honolulu Police Academy while on field training.…

SA: Guard who shot dog is investigated

read … Private airport security firm faces scrutiny for hiring fired officers

Lawsuit alleges sexual assault, harassment at women’s prison

SA: Ten women have filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually assaulted and harassed by four guards and one Department of Public Safety worker while incarcerated at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

The complaint, filed Thursday in federal court by attorney Myles Breiner, alleges the sexual assaults and harassment occurred between 2013 and 2016.

The lawsuit alleges the state has disregarded “an obvious and ongoing pattern and practice of sexual abuse of inmates by both male and female guards and employees at WCCC that goes back at least 25 years.”….

read …Lawsuit alleges sexual assault, harassment at women’s prison

PR Advice: What Did HPD Get for $100K?

SA: …These are tips to members of the Honolulu Police Department for dealing with the media.

Oh no wait. It gets better.

“Keep hair out of your face; for women, no touching, swinging or play with your hair.”

For real. They went there.

Bennett Group Strategic Communications, a public relations company, was paid just over $100,000 to teach HPD officials how to better communicate with the media and the community. This included training sessions over the last year for top HPD officials, a communications plan and a seven-page guide titled “HPD MEDIA TRAINING: CRAFTING YOUR MESSAGE.”

The document assumes a sharply adversarial relationship between journalists and police. It lays out how cops are looking for facts while reporters are looking for drama. Law enforcement officers may have had extensive training in dealing with armed conflicts, murderous psychopaths and colossal natural disasters, but the underlying tone of the guide makes it seem like talking to a reporter is the most threatening thing they could face.

These lines in particular make journalists seem like rabid yet vapid wolverines, hungry for blood but easily distracted:

“Reporters feed on emotions. If they sense you don’t want to be there, they will push even harder.” ….

read … Don’t Play with your Hair

Monk Seal Obsessives Begin Suing Each Other

HNN: …In a lawsuit filed in state Circuit Court, a woman known for helping rescue seals said she's being harassed by volunteers for a nonprofit group that works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors monk seals in Hawaiian waters.

"I feel very worried and threatened about my personal safety when I'm on the beach and (Hawaii Marine Mammal Alliance) volunteers are around," said Hawaiian Monk Seal advocate Zeenat Mian.

The suit alleges that in July 2016 one volunteer shoved an "umbrella into her face so hard ... she broke the umbrella." A few days after that, another volunteer at Mokuleia "stalked and then literally chased her from the beach to her vehicle."

One confrontation, captured on video in 2015, shows a volunteer knocked her cell phone out of her hand. The woman was charged with harassment but was found not guilty.

Mian is also seeking temporary restraining orders against several volunteers in separate legal actions.

The nonprofit HMMA declined comment. Several volunteers are pursuing their own TROs against Mian, which will be heard in District Court on Friday.

Environmental activist Carroll Cox said he witnessed similar abusive behavior by a volunteer two weeks ago at Kaena Point.  He says the volunteers aren't properly trained in dealing with the public….

read … Suit filed over confrontations over Hawaiian monk seals

Anarchy: Silicon Valley Plan to Undermine Law and Order

CB: In late February, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg published an essay that laid out the social network’s vision for the coming years.

…The initial reaction to Zuckerberg’s manifesto was largely negative.

The Atlantic described it as “a blueprint for destroying journalism” by turning Facebook into “a news organization without journalists.” Bloomberg View referred to it as a “scary, dystopian document” to transform Facebook into “an extraterritorial state run by a small, unelected government that relies extensively on privately held algorithms for social engineering.”

Whatever the merits of these critiques, Zuckerberg is correct about one central issue: Internet and mobile technology could and should be used to enable far more extensive participation in democracy than most of us encounter….

(Translation: We billionaires can transform the demos into an anarchic mob.  And after anarchy comes … dictatorship.)

Proof: “A case in point is the Egyptian revolution in 2011. One of the leaders of the uprising created a Facebook page that became a focal point for organizing opposition to ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s regime. He later told CNN:  “I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him … This revolution started on Facebook.”

read … Anarchy

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