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Friday, January 5, 2018
January 5, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:55 PM :: 5859 Views

Hawaii tax policy feels the heat

"Why Isn’t Honolulu Helping Businesses Hurt By Rail Construction?" (Because It Doesn't Want To, And No One Is Making It)

Atlas Van Lines: Hawaii #5 State for Outbound Moves

Chin Resignation: Announcement Coming Sunday

SA: U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa says Attorney General Douglas Chin should resign from his job as the state’s top law enforcement officer to make his run for Congress, and Gov. David Ige on Thursday said he expects Chin will resign if that would be “in the best interest of the people of Hawaii.”…

UPDATE: Chin to Campaign on the Job for 9 More Weeks

“I think that given the nature of what he is running for, and as somebody who knows what it takes to run for Congress, I think he should resign,” Hanabusa said. “But that’s just my opinion. I think the most important thing is he’s got to think of the integrity of the office.”

Ige said last month he did not ask Chin to resign, but said in a brief written statement Thursday that “the Attorney General is a unique position, and once appointed, the AG cannot be removed except by the Senate. I believe Doug will do the right thing and step down if that’s in the best interest of the people of Hawaii.”

A spokesman for Chin’s campaign said Thursday that Chin “has made a decision about whether he will continue serving as attorney general, and he will make an announcement this Sunday when he is not working.”….

Chin will probably also need to raise money from corporate interests even as the Attorney General’s Office may be handling litigation or other legal matters involving the local unions or those private interests, she said.

“It looks like an inherent conflict of interest, right?” she asked. “His main challenge is going to be raising money. The attorney general, raising money in this climate? How are you going to do that?”

Hanabusa, meanwhile, says she will not resign, and plans to serve out her own term in Congress as she campaigns for governor this year. She said she can manage both roles, and did so before when she ran for U.S. Senate in 2014….

UPDATE: Chin to Campaign on the Job for 9 More Weeks

Shapiro: For Attorney General Douglas Chin: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” — W.C. Fields

read … Chin should resign to run, Hanabusa says

Complete List: 35 Hawaii Legislators have a Second Job

HB: Nearly half of our state legislators hold second jobs, from pilot, doctor and lawyer to business owner, real estate agent and more….

Of the 25 state senators, 14 have another job; in the House, 21 of 51 state representatives have one….

Sen. Will Espero. “…for a while I was looking for a job, and I couldn’t find one, or nobody would hire me,” he says, until he got a job doing community relations at D.R. Horton….”

For a lawmaker who is on the clock as an attorney, like Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, that separation between her two jobs applies when she’s working part-time at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. She used to attend the organization’s outreach events but stopped going when she and her supervisor saw that the public kept getting confused about whether she was there as part of Legal Aid or in her role as a senator….

Shimabukuro says the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is sometimes the subject of legislation and applies for grants-in-aid. She says she has disclosed potential conflicts of interest multiple times over discussions about Legal Aid, but each instance was excused when it was determined that any benefits to the organization wouldn’t extend to her as an individual….

There’s a difference between appearance of conflict and direct conflict, says Sen. Brian Taniguchi, a policy specialist with the Hawaii Government Employees Association, or HGEA, the union that represents many state and county government workers. “Direct conflict is where you get what they call pecuniary, monetary, benefits from the action that you take. And only you. Nobody else. So the appearance of conflict is a lot broader and it could be anything. It could be people’s perception of what things are. We go by the direct conflict,” he says. “ ‘Don’t you have a conflict working for a bank? Don’t you have a conflict working for HGEA?’ I basically tell them, ‘No, because by passing a law I don’t get more money or pay myself more. I don’t get a pecuniary benefit.’”

The perception of conflict is different, he adds, “because the public perceives things differently. ‘Oh you work for HGEA; no wonder they got their 2 percent raise.’ So that’s not quite reality, but that’s what people perceive.”…

From time to time, Sen. Rosalyn Baker takes paid and pro bono consulting jobs where she’ll help write grants….

…UH doesn’t allow legislators to work at the university.  UH policy requires its employees to resign or be separated from their university employment upon being sworn into public office. “The holding of Public Elective Office is generally incompatible with serving as a University Employee,” the policy reads. “Issues include conflicts of commitment between multiple employers as well as conflicts of interest.”…

LINK: Complete Lit of Legislators Outside Jobs 

SA: Legislator’s side pay wholly out of touch

Not Profiled:

read … 35 Hawaii Legislators have a Second Job

Hawaii has record-low unemployment -- Why are people leaving?

WaPo: …One answer trumps all others: home prices. Hawaii has the most expensive housing in the nation, according to the home value index from housing website Zillow. Rent costs trail only D.C. and (in some months) California. Overall, Hawaii had the highest cost of living of any state in 2017 (D.C. was higher), the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness found, and housing was the main driver.

It's always been expensive to live in Hawaii, but it's getting worse….

How can homelessness and house prices be high even as the state's population is steady or falling? Some factors—tight zoning regulations, lack of land suitable for development, and not-in-my-back-yard-ism—have long been present on the islands, but there's one issue that has come to loom over all others: tourism.

Tourism has long been key to Hawaii's economy, but today it dominates. Tourists have arrived in all-time record numbers each of the past six years, and Bonham's organization predicts they will continue to do so for years to come….

But these record arrivals haven't come with record spending. Adjusted for inflation, today's tourists are more frugal than their predecessors….

The state granted about 4,100 residential housing permits in 2016, but Bonham estimated that they'd need about double that to accommodate demand and rein in prices….

The high price of land and the shortage of affordable labor has also pushed sugar and pineapple plantations out of business, Brittany Lyte reported for The Washington Post in December….

Preliminary data back up the notion that Hawaii residents are continuing to vote with their feet. Moving company Atlas Van Lines found that, among its customers in 2017 (through Dec. 15), there were three moves out of Hawaii for every two moves in…. 

read … Washington Post

Project Delays at Hawaii’s Airports

HB: Modernization and expansion projects at Hawaii’s airports are years behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars over budget. Some say the solution is an independent statewide airport authority….

Twenty-one hours out of the day, Hawaii’s largest airport has enough gates to accommodate all the arriving and departing planes. But during the peak hours of 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., that’s not always the case.

If a flight arrives in Honolulu outside of its scheduled time, or if there are operational delays that keep a plane from leaving its gate, planes often have to wait on the tarmac for a gate to open. During the summer, when seasonal flights are added, that wait can last an hour, says Blaine Miyasato, co-chair of the Airlines Committee of Hawaii. Airports in Lihue, Kahului and Kona face similar situations. “We’re at and beyond capacity.”

The state’s program to expand and modernize Honolulu’s Inouye International Airport and Neighbor Island airports is years behind schedule. In fact, red tape often stands in the way of getting things done. That’s why advocates say Hawaii’s 15 airports should be managed by an independent airport corporation, rather than directly by the state government….

read … Project Delays at Hawaii’s Airports

Chin: Hawaii won’t be affected by federal decision to roll back marijuana policy

KHON: …Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin explains: “The U.S. Department of Justice came out with a memo today that basically said, ‘We’re going to rescind prior direction that made prosecuting marijuana a low priority.’ They’re not saying it’s necessarily a high priority either. They’re just saying we’re no longer telling our U.S. attorneys that this is a low priority.”

Chin says it’s unlikely Hawaii will be affected, as medical marijuana falls under different regulations.

“I think right now, what we can see is that unfortunately this memo is going to be introducing a lot of uncertainty into the marijuana industry, maybe more in other states than here in Hawaii, and that’s partly because we have so few dispensaries and I think both the legislature and the administration has been really careful about rolling out the legal medical marijuana dispensaries in a very deliberate fashion,” he said.

“One thing I did notice in today’s memo is that it mentions that whatever the U.S. attorney is supposed to do is they’re supposed to do it in conjunction with applicable state laws and rules and regulations, so that at least gives an out for someone who’s on the federal side to be able to say, ‘Look, we have to examine whether or not we’re going to prosecute someone for federal violations for having marijuana. If we’re going to do that, we have to do that in the context of what the existing state laws are,” Chin added.

Hawaii’s Department of Health agrees. In a statement, a department spokeswoman said, “Our state has a rigorous regulatory role in regards to medical cannabis licensing and patient registration, so this is not a great concern for Hawaii’s medical cannabis program.”

On the federal level, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard denounced Sessions’ decision, and called on Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which removes marijuana from the federal controlled substances list….

read … Hawaii won’t be affected by federal decision to roll back marijuana policy

Blocked by OHA, Drug Treatment Center Finally Breaks Ground on Kauai

KGI: Theresa Koki, Life’s Choices Kauai coordinator, said in the past 12 years on Kauai, there have been 15 adolescent deaths due to drug addiction and suicide….

Families facing underage drug and alcohol abuse issues will soon have the option to seek treatment on island, instead of having to send loved ones elsewhere.

A Thursday groundbreaking for the roughly 15,000-square-foot Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center on the north end of Maalo Road was attended by about 100 people.

The $5 million center will include an eight-bedroom residential structure that may be expanded, with additional open space for recreational and agricultural healing activities.

It is scheduled to open in early 2019….

Chief Judge Randall Valenciano, Fifth Circuit Court said the judiciary is looking forward to having the facility as an option for youth, but he wanted to expand the vision, because drug abuse extends beyond youth.

“This cannot be the end product,” he said. “There needs to be a program for everyone on Kauai for drug treatment.”

Koki said groundwork for the center began in 2002 when then Mayor Bryan Baptiste created the anti-drug office. In 2003, Baptiste created a drug response plan, and in 2006 an adolescent treatment center was proposed.

“He never wavered from his desire to see Kauai youth treated on this island, supported by their families and the resources in their community,” Koki said.

The fight to see the center to fruition has been contentious at times.

Ground was broken for the facility near the salt beds in Hanapepe in 2006, but construction was halted due to what some (the Office of Hawaiian Affairs) said were negative environmental impacts the center would have in the area….

2007: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility

read … A place for keiki to heal

State Gives $10K Payouts to Inmates

KHON: …his past fiscal year, Hawaii has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle damage claims.

A good chunk of our money is going to inmates behind bars.

Of the $260,710.52 the state paid out, nearly a third of it went to pay inmates — more than $80,000, mostly to settle lawsuits alleging they were mistreated or injured behind bars.

One man was paid out $10,000 because he slipped at Halawa Correctional Facility. Another received a $10,000 payout after being injured in a fight.

Taxpayers are also on the hook when inmates’ property is lost. Steven Capobianco, the Maui man convicted of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly Scott, received $83 after his order from Maui Community Correctional Center’s store was lost….

Are you getting paid?  Click here

read … Got an Excuse? Get a Check

Honolulu EMS announces the need for more money to Shuttle Homeless to ER

KHON: …The department posted a message on Facebook Wednesday.

It said more than 120,000 911 calls came into the EMS dispatch center last year.

With 18 full-time and two part-time ambulances, the department says its system is wearing down at an increasing rate.

On Monday, EMS spokeswoman Shayne Enright talked about the stress on resources.

“A lot of these calls were non-emergency calls. Non-emergency calls don’t happen only on New Year’s Eve. We’d like to stress that throughout the year, and these calls have got to go down so our resources are available for the real emergencies,” she said. “While we’re out on non-emergency calls, we’re taking valuable resources away from people that need them.”…

HHC: State response to Waianae squatter camp: Incompetence and blatant censorship

read … Honolulu EMS announces the need for more money

Hawaii Needs 500 Volunteers to Count Homeless

KHON:  Every year, during the last week of January, volunteers canvas the state to get a tally of how many homeless people are living in Hawaii.

Organizers are looking for 500 volunteers, but even though recruiting started a month ago, only about 50 have signed up.

Participating requires less than a half day's work.

"Volunteers are asked to put in about an hour of training prior to the event, and then about two hours, sometimes three hours during the night of the point in time count," said Carvalho. "It's a very well organized. A very safe count. We actually train the volunteers on knowing what the survey is going to be. How to be comfortable and interact with a homeless person."

While urban Honolulu accounts for a large part of Oahu's homeless population, the state is stressing the need for volunteers outside of town.

"I know in year's, past some of the rural areas such as Wahiawa, the North Shore and Windward Oahu, the community came to us and said those areas had been under counted, so we want to make sure we have good volunteer turnout island wide," said the Governor's Homeless Coordinator, Scott Morishige.

Taking part in the actual count isn't the only way to volunteer. Organizers also need donations; things like toiletries that they can use as incentives to get folks to take the survey.

For more information on how to volunteer, click here….

SA: Jen Stasch: The director of Partners in Care counts the homeless and reaches out to them

read … Need 500

Solution: Stop Allowing the Homeless to Refuse Shelter

Cataluna: The homeless people who stubbornly set up camp along the Kakaako Waterfront were rousted (again), offered help and temporary shelter (again) but instead (again) took up residence a few blocks mauka on another public space, Mother Waldron Park.

Absolutely no one is surprised.

Now that the homeless camp at Mother Waldron Park has been given notice, everyone knows what will happen next. The only question is where. It’s a seemingly endless game of chasing people out, offering them help they don’t want and waiting to see where they pitch their tents and tarps next….

anger over people who stubbornly cling to a lifestyle choice that is so far from societal norms like health, safety, stability and dignity. There’s also fear tied to the stories of violence, theft and vandalism and sorrow for the children who are living like this….

People want to help. They really do. Sometimes the community gets sick and tired and really sour about donating money, time, park space and soap to a problem that refuses to go away. People don’t want to feel like suckers…

Best Comment: “keep them away from our sidewalks, parks, and public places. If necessary, put them in jail.”

read … Community would help homeless if a good solution is presented

Lawyers: Hawaii Leading Way to Eco Socialsm

CLN: Amending a state constitution to include the right to a clean and healthy environment is just the first step in the process. Courts have to uphold that right in order to make it enforceable and meaningful. Then there is precedent to guide decisions.

“Once you give this environmental constitutional right meaning, and strength, then it can be applied in a variety of new and different contexts,” Tuholske explained. Constitutional rights and their meaning evolve over time, he noted. “So decisions like the one in Hawaii are another important step.”

Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, said the Hawaii decision has a narrower meaning.

“It’s not one of these holdings that broadly stands for the proposition that there’s a constitutional right to have climate change considered in state decision-making,” he said. “It’s more of a narrow procedural decision specific to Hawaii than a broad declaration of the nature of constitutional rights. But it’s certainly a critical decision for Hawaii and for that state’s energy policy moving forward.”

While it may not be a landmark ruling, Burger, van Rossum and Tuholske agree that the Hawaiian Supreme Court’s interpretation of the state’s constitutional environmental right is nonetheless notable.

“Rather than use its power to limit the use of the state constitutional provision for definition and protection of environmental rights, the state Supreme Court took the opportunity to strengthen it,” said van Rossum.

“It’s a very important decision,” Tuholske added. “Citizens and judges look to see what other courts are doing. Hawaii is, I think, in some ways way out in front and is a leader for environmental constitutional provisions.”…

Related: Hawaii Supreme Court Rules Public has Property Right to a Clean Environment

read … Hawaii Joins Trend: Recognizes Constitutional Right to Safe Climate and Environment

HGEA, UPW Members Just Can’t Do Their Jobs

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