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Sunday, January 7, 2018
January 7, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:15 PM :: 4123 Views

GEMS Takes One on the Chin from the PUC

Supreme Court Justices asked to uphold third Trump immigration order

UH Manoa Prof Quits Modern Language Association After Refusal to Boycott Israel

KIUC Nominating Committee Confirms Six Candidates

State Robotics Championships Jan. 13-14, 2018

State Fires DoTax Tech Consultant After it Begins Telling Truth

SA: The state has terminated its contract with a consultant hired to oversee the $60 million modernization of the state tax department computer systems after the supposedly independent consultant revealed it had been coached by Department of Taxation officials on what it should say about the project in its reports.

The tax department hired Advan­Tech LLC under a $1.431 million contract, but AdvanTech said in a report made public last month that it had been instructed by state tax officials on which subjects “should and should not” be addressed in its monitoring reports.

The tax department also requested changes in the reports by Advan­Tech before they were made public, which the consultant said is “not the norm” in its experience.

State Tax Director Maria Zielinski abruptly resigned after that report was made public…

(Check this spin out….) “We should have fired them. I’m glad we did fire them, because it’s outrageous,” said Keohokalole (D, Kahaluu-Aliamanu-Kaneohe). “It’s pretty clear … that they were misleading the public on the status of the project. We have these guys serving as watchdogs, we pay them to serve as watchdogs, and it appears as though they were colluding with the department to water down the reports on the status of the project. So, they deserve to be fired.”…

(Reality: Advan­Tech is being fired because they started telling the truth.  If they had kept on lying, everything would be fine.)

The tax department itself awarded the contract to AdvanTech, and Keohokalole said the state should have learned by now that oversight contractors such as AdvanTech should answer to an outside agency. The oversight contractor should not be beholden to the department that is implementing the computer project that the contractor oversees, he said….

Linda Chu Takayama, the newly appointed director of the tax department, said the state is preparing a request for proposals for a new independent verification and validation contractor for the project….

(This RFP should give the HGEA time to sabotage the tech upgrade while nobody is around to say anything.)

Related:

read … We only pay you to lie for us

Republican Tax Reform will mean more Contributions to Charity

SA: …despite charities’ fears at the time, reported charitable giving actually increased in the years subsequent to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which like the 2017 tax reform act increased the cost of giving by increasing the standard deduction and decreasing marginal tax rates. One reasonable theory for this: more money in the pocket allowed folks to give more….

read … Will tax reform be naughty or nice for isle charitable giving?

Democrat Property tax panel proposes Millions in Tax Increases

SA: The Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission on Thursday passed its final report to the Honolulu City Council, recommending a host of changes aimed at making the tax burden more equitable among (burdensome for) the island’s property owners….

Among the recommendations were to include lots zoned for country and preservation use among the properties that may fall into the Residential A tax classification and to expand the definition of “low-income rental housing” to provide more incentive for developers to build affordable housing.

Commission Chairman Dennis Oshiro said issues tied to the city’s fledgling Residential A tax category were among the most highly discussed by the seven-member panel that began meeting in July at the request of the Council.

Residential A is the tax class that consists of all residential properties valued at $1 million or more that do not carry a homeowner exemption. Residential A property owners, beginning this year, pay $4.50 per $1,000 on the first $1 million of value and $9 per $1,000 on any additional value. Standard residential property owners have been paying $3.50 per $1,000 for years.

Critics say the Residential A category treats homeowners in the classification unfairly….

City tax officials estimated the change would affect about 300 property owners and yield an additional $1 million for the city annually….

Among the other recommendations:

>> Pass bills now before the Council creating new property tax classifications for lots near rail stations, or what are known as Transit Oriented Development zones, and for properties used for bed-and-breakfast establishments and other short-term vacation rentals.

>> Reject a proposed repeal of an ordinance that now provides exemptions for property owners in the Central Kakaako Industrial Zone after those affected testified against an appeal.

>> Reject proposals now before the Council calling for exemptions for organic farms, “ocean-friendly” restaurants, “buy local” restaurants, active military and honorably discharged veterans.

>> Pass a proposal currently before the Council upping the minimum tax paid on homes designated as historic residences to $1,000, up from $300.

For more on the report, go to 808ne.ws/PropTaxReport.

read … Property tax panel proposes changes for fairness

‘Baffle them with bull’ and other quotes to live by

Shapiro: >> For Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “We need a 12-step group for compulsive talkers. They could call it On Anon Anon.” — Paula Poundstone

>> For state Senate President Ron Kouchi: “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.” — George W. Bush

>> For House Speaker Scott Saiki: “The higher you climb on the flagpole, the more people see your rear end.” — Don Meredith

>> For House Republican Leader Andria Tupola: “Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!” — Matthew Arnold

>> For Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “The best way to compile inaccurate information that no one wants is to make it up.” — Scott Adams

>> For City Council Chairman Ron Menor and cohorts: “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.” — Thomas Brackett Reed

>> For Honolulu rail CEO Andrew Robbins: “Did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it ‘Riding The Gravy Train.’” — Pink Floyd

>> For City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro: “He is suffering from delusions of adequacy.” — Walter Kerr

read … ‘Baffle them with bull’ and other quotes to live by

CoCo Palms Grifters Confused in Court

KGI: On Friday: Twice, defendant Noa Mau-Espirito — who, with codefendant Charles Hepa, is self-represented in the case — asserted that Capt. James Cook arrived in Hawaii in 1776, when the actual year was 1778. These are guys trying to present a case faithful to Hawaiian history.

Three times, he got flustered and uttered the s-word (you know which word I mean) in open court. The first time, (“Your honor, s***.”) drew a chuckle from the judge. The next two times elicited raised eyebrows but no formal admonition.

He seemed to lose his way on several occasions, observing at one point, “I was saying what I said. I forget what I said already,” and later, “I apologize for things being kind of messy and stuff,” and “I really cannot hold the thing on my own.” That meant, clearly, that Mau-Espirito knows by now he is in far over his head trying to self-litigate such a case.

He acknowledged as much at one point when he told the judge he had been trying to get a lawyer, who he did not identify, but who he said might join the defense table sometime later Friday. No attorney materialized and an expert in Native Hawaiian law I have been consulting suggested that no qualified lawyer is likely to touch the case now….

The dictum is: “A person who represents himself or herself in court has a fool for a client.” …

In the audience Friday was Kauai County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask, one of a line of attorneys produced over decades by a family with historic ties to the Native Hawaiian community. He is as compassionate and committed an advocate as you’ll find for courts and governments taking seriously the often-ignored rights of Native Hawaiians.

So, during a break, we chatted in the hallway outside the courtroom. I asked him a question I think many people have about this litigation: What is it all about, really? His response tracked answers I have received from numerous other experts.

“This is really about social issues,” Trask said softly. “It’s about economics and about no jobs for Native Hawaiians. No opportunities. No houses.”

He agreed with literally everyone else I’ve talked to: the occupation of the Coco Palms property is primarily a broader protest about homelessness and bleak economic prospects for young Native Hawaiians, in particular.

Kauai County, Trask said, is all too aware of the real stakes at Coco Palms. It’s why the situation has been handled with delicacy. In other places under similar circumstances, the Kauai Police Department might already have descended on Coco Palms and driven the occupiers off.

KGI: CoCo Palms Grifters Claim to possess Cancer Cure

read … Defendants face rough road with self-representation

Homelessness Key to Entitlement Reform

SA:  …This week, I participated in the State of Reform Health Policy Conference in Seattle, which brings together senior health care leaders and policy makers.

John Kitzhaber, former Oregon governor and a former emergency room physician, recommended focusing not on budget cuts but the 20 to 25 percent waste in the system. “It is far better to gain savings by changing the care model. The key is to create value.”

Kitzhaber describes the social determinants of health as a prime place to invest. That means treating homelessness as a health problem and addressing associated housing, mental health and substance abuse issues. “Health is the first rung on the ladder of opportunity so there needs to be a floor to access basic services, and it can’t include everything,” the former governor said.

It may well be a necessary to trim entitlements in 2018, but there are smarter ways to improve the quality of life in American society….

Related:

read … Cutting health programs to pay for road initiatives is unwise

Will Legislature Approve Foster Care Pay Hike?

SA: …The so-called foster board rate in Hawaii remained unchanged at $529 per month for more than two decades until 2014, after the suit was filed. The rates were boosted at that time to a range of $576 to $676 a month depending on a child’s age.

The law says the payments need to be sufficient to cover the cost of providing such necessities as food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision and school supplies to care for abused and neglected children who have been removed from the custody of their parents. There are roughly 2,800 children in foster care in Hawaii.

The parties reached a tentative settlement last year that would have raised the monthly rates to $649 per child for younger children and $776 for children 12 years and older. The deal also called for the state to regularly review the rates to assure they are adequate.

The negotiated deal — which had consent from the Department of Human Serv­ices, Gov. David Ige and the Attorney General’s Office — was subject to funding from the Legislature.

To fund the higher foster payments, the Department of Human Services last year sought $7.13 million for each of the next two years as part of its budget request to the Legislature. A separate $3.4 million appropriation was requested as part of funding legislation to settle various claims against the state — $2.3 million in back pay to several thousand foster parents and $1.1 million in attorneys fees for the plaintiffs.

The settlement requests advanced through the 2017 legislative session with support from Senate leaders, but the House Finance Committee nixed the deal. Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-­Nuuanu) told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the time that she objected to paying for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees as well as to the courts mandating state programs.

The deal expired in June and the case has been scheduled for trial in March.

While attorneys representing the foster parents say they’re prepared to litigate the case, the Ige administration is again requesting $7.13 million for next fiscal year called for in the expired settlement to raise the monthly payments…. 

SA: Help foster parents help children in need

SA: Settle lawsuit over foster parent pay

read … Ige seeks pay raises for foster parents amid legal battle

Kapalama Container Terminal eliminating the incentive for industry to find savings

FHP: Port & harbor operations are #5 on the list of industries shedding jobs in the US, primarily due to automation & efficiencies, EXCEPT in HI where DOT foots the bill for developing infrastructure at Kapalama Container Terminal ... thus eliminating the incentive for industry to find savings or invest in automation for consumers (who end up paying higher shipping costs). The State could make such investments a requirement under the lease….

read … 24 Dying Industries

Kauai: County of Retaliation

KGI: When Charles Rapozo wakes up in the morning, he gets ready for janitorial work and makes his commute to the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

But he doesn’t do much in the way of cleaning.

Instead, he spends his day sitting in his truck.

That’s where The Garden Island found the County of Kauai employee last week, before the facility closed down for six months to start the new year — sitting, waiting, ready to work, but with no assigned tasks, although he says he arrives early every day to clean the bathrooms.

It has gone on like this for nearly a year.

He is still getting paid. He is still getting satisfactory grades on his work evaluations….

The lack of assigned work at the convention hall, Rapozo says, is because he’s being retaliated against for complaining about being exposed to asbestos for years while on the job and being denied safety gear and training on how to properly handle the deadly dust.

“The county administration gave me a death sentence,” Rapozo said. “Now I have to worry about mesothelioma for the rest of my life.”

Rapozo filed a lawsuit against the county last month….

read … Fighting a death sentence

LPN shortage leads to higher patient care costs

MN: …The recently released 2017 Nursing Workforce Report issued by the Hawaii State Center for Nursing shows a “substantial decline” of 12 percent in the number of Maui County LPN licenses between 2015 and 2017. In 2015, there were 434 LPNs and in 2017, 384. These nurses traditionally work in long-term and residential-care facilities.

Statewide, the number of active in-state LPN licenses in 2005 was 2,560 and in 2017 the number dropped 16 percent to 2,148.

Nursing and health care officials said that, generally, nurses are obtaining more education and sometimes even forgoing practice as an LPN to pursue a career as a registered nurse.

State forecasts project that, by the year 2030, one in four Hawaii residents will be age 65 or older. That means that an aging population needs more long-term care, so a continuing decline in the number of practicing LPNs would lead to an unmet demand….

News Release: Hawaiʻi doubles the number of advanced practice registered nurses

read … LPN Shortage

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