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Wednesday, December 19, 2018
December 19, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:47 PM :: 3130 Views

Cato: Ige 3rd-Worst Governor in USA

Cato Institute’s Jones Act Conference

Economic Security: In Hawaii it Costs $96K

Homelessness: Hawaii has 4th Largest Increase and 4th Largest Decrease

HAWSCT's Latest Water Case Isn't About Water

Petition Filed With Court To Impeach Prosecutor Kaneshiro

CB: …A total of 864 signatures were submitted, and at least 500 must be verified before the process can move forward….

read … Petition Filed With Court To Impeach Prosecutor Kaneshiro

Josh Green uses old power playbook

SA: … It’s obvious Green is wasting no time planning for his own run for governor in the next election. He’s using the same old playbook used so successfully by Hawaii Democrats over the last 50 years: cozying up to unions, getting financial support from big business and seeking exposure in local media at every opportunity.

Hiring carpenters union official Brooke Wilson as his chief of staff is just the beginning, as Green’s quest for power shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s also not surprising that the local media, especially the Star-Advertiser, continue to go along with this same old political game….

read … Josh Green uses old power playbook

Some Grumbling Over Senate Committee Posts

CB: …Four senators agreed to talk about their concerns about Senate President Ron Kouchi’s leadership. They asked to speak anonymously because of concerns about working relationships.

They say that they were not asked which committees they wished to serve on, something they say has been the custom in recent sessions.

And some are serving on only three committees rather than four or five, as has sometimes been the case in the past.

And some senators don’t sit on any of the so-called A-bracket committees, such as Ways and Means, Judiciary, and Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health. These are the committees that see the lion’s share of legislation and carry the greatest influence.

Two freshmen senators, Jarrett Keohokalole and Sharon Moriwaki, were not assigned to WAM. Working directly on the budget is an ideal crash course in Legislating 101, which is why many Senate freshmen dating back to at least 2005 served stints on WAM.

And of all 16 committees, only two in the 2019-2020 biennial session have more than five members — WAM (12 members) and CPH (seven). Some committees that in the past have had as many as seven or nine members now have five, making it easier to reach a quorum — and to control votes….

I asked Kouchi about the appointment of Dru Kanuha as majority caucus leader and his placement on four committees, including the coveted WAM, even though it’s his first year. The president responded by telling me I had not done my homework because, if I had, I would know that former Sen. Shan Tsutsui had assumed the same leadership position his first year (in 2003) as well as Kouchi himself (in 2011)….

(Translation Dru Kanuha is being put on a path to a political future.  He is the old boys next favorite after Billy Kenoi crashed and burned.)

read … Some Grumbling Over Senate Committee Posts

Bloated rail lost public trust long ago

SA: … I am amazed that anyone with grey matter between their ears (especially an executive) could think public trust is even a possibility given the schedule and budgetary debacle the Honolulu rail transit project has become. This was supposed to be a $3.7 billion train, not a $9 billion train.

Imagine remodeling your house, and the contractor says $37,000, but then keeps raising the price. At some point, long before the contractor says $90,000, you will have lost your faith in the contractor to complete the work on time or on budget. This is a rational and human reaction to the progress thus far….

read … Bloated rail lost public trust long ago

The cost of living just got more expensive for homeowners

KHON:  …the parts of Oahu with the largest increase in property taxes may surprise you….

The City and County of Honolulu’s Real Property Assessment Division has prepared the 2019 real property notice of assessments applicable to the 2019-20 tax year, and sent approximately 295,000 notices on Dec. 15.

The aggregate assessed valuation of all real property on Oahu increased from $257.99 billion to $275.46 billion, indicating an approximate increase of 6.8 percent. Contributing to this increase were newer residential subdivisions, recently built condominiums, and the robust markets of the commercial, industrial, and hotel and resort classifications.

Real property assessment administrator Steven Takahara says overall residential properties have increased 5.4 percent, but that doesn't mean everyone will pay more.

The property assessments for North Shore residents increased more than 10 percent with Kahuku and Leeward Oahu up more than 7 percent.

Urban Honolulu and Kalihi saw a 5 percent increase and Windward Oahu and East Honolulu saw the lowest increase of just over 3 percent….

Homeowners have until Jan. 15, 2019 to appeal.

Hand delivered appeals must be received and accepted by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2019. If the appeal is mailed, it must be postmarked by a government postal service on or before Jan. 15, 2019. Appeals filed online at www.realpropertyhonolulu.com must be completed by 11:59 p.m., Jan. 15, 2019….

HNN: Homeowners say illegal vacation rentals are pushing up property taxes

SA: Oahu property valuations heading up 

Big Q: What’s the general reaction to your real property tax assessment this year?

read … The cost of living in paradise just got more expensive for homeowners

Minimum-wage hike Leads to Restaurant Closures

SA: …In August 2018, a University of Washington study found that increasing Seattle’s minimum wage from $11 to $13 an hour resulted in both the loss of about 5,000 jobs and an average cut in pay for the remaining employees of about $125 a month, thanks to a cut in their job hours of more than 9 percent….

In 2010, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Federal Reserve Board compiled the results of 53 scholarly studies into a book, “Minimum Wages,” and concluded there is “no compelling evidence that minimum wages on net help poor or low-income families, and some evidence that minimum wages adversely affect these families, and increase poverty.”

Those same researchers found that a minimum-wage hike increases the proportion of poor families by 0.5 to 1 percent.

The minimum-wage debate is often framed as a fight between businesses and employees. In truth, raising the legal minimum wage can hurt both. Employment declines as businesses find ways to cope with the increased cost. Some turn to automation, some stop hiring, and some demand more work from the employees that stay.

Sometimes an increase in the minimum wage is the straw on the camel’s back that forces restaurants to close entirely.

In 2017, Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research and Michael Luca of Harvard Business School looked at restaurant closings in San Francisco after the minimum wage was raised to $13 an hour. The pair found that the higher minimum wage led to the death of many mid-range restaurants, as well as fewer new restaurant openings. For every dollar that the San Francisco minimum wage went up, there was a 4 to 10 percent increase in the likelihood of restaurant closings….

read … Minimum-wage hike hurts workers

OJ Simpson Innocence Project Fights Retired Judge in Effort to Free Rapist-Murderer

HTH: … The Hawaii Innocence Project (most recently in the press for bringing not-a-pimp McCoy to Hawaii) is accusing a retired Seattle judge of interfering with its attempt to exonerate a man convicted of the Christmas Eve 1991 abduction, rape and murder of Dana Ireland.

In a letter to Attorney General Russell Suzuki dated Monday, HIP, which represents Albert “Ian” Schweitzer in a petition seeking Schweitzer’s conviction be vacated and he be granted a new trial, alleges Mike Heavey, who is not licensed to practice law in Hawaii, is providing unsolicited and unauthorized legal advice to individuals associated with Schweitzer’s case….

Copies of HIP’s letter also were sent to the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Washington state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.

The correspondence asks Suzuki’s office to “take action in accordance with the grievances HIP has set forth in this letter.”

Schweitzer was one of three men convicted in the highly publicized Ireland case and is serving a life sentence in an Arizona prison. His younger brother, Shawn, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years probation and a year in jail. The third man, Frank Pauline Jr. — whose confession, later recanted (yawn), implicated the Schweitzers in the case — was murdered in a New Mexico prison while serving a life sentence in the case (thus saving the taxpayers lots of money).

Since 2014, Heavey, on behalf of Seattle-based Judges for Justice, has publicly espoused a theory that all three are innocent and that a single killer, whom Heavey has described as a voyeur obsessed with Ireland, ran her over with a pickup truck on Kapoho Kai Drive, which was inundated by lava earlier this year, then took the badly injured woman to a remote fishing path in Waa Waa, raped her and left her to die….

HIP’s letter claims Heavey’s “most recent email to Ian’s legal team, prosecutors and Linda alleges we are mishandling Ian’s case and not doing an adequate job in getting Ian out of prison.” (Great!)

Lawson added HIP is being assisted by Barry Scheck, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, who gained national repute for his knowledge of DNA evidence during the O.J. Simpson murder trial.  (Because Schweitzer is just as innocent as OJ Simpson.) 

CB: A Retired Judge Keeps Asking, Who Really Killed Dana Ireland?

Reality:  UH: Ken Lawson Admits his “Innocence Project” Brought Alleged Pimp to Hawaii

read … The Good Fight—Keep on Fighting (each other), Please!

Thousands of Hawaii teens admit to injecting illegal drugs

HNN: … According to new state Department of Health figures, 1,200 public high school students (2.8 percent) admitted to injecting illegal drugs last year. Meanwhile, 2,000 public middle school students (7.1 percent) said they’d shot up.

Both numbers put Hawaii well above the national average of 1.5 percent….

The former dealer, who identified himself as BJ, said the internet isn’t the only place adolescents are learning how to shoot up.

“You got their older brothers, cousins, moms, dads. They see them do that,' he said. “It’s becoming a lot more accepted and widely used that way."…

Despite a tremendous need for drug treatment facilities in the islands, Oahu has only one social detox program.

“So getting people to get stabilized to get treatment is a very big gap," said Lusk.

Meanwhile, addiction treatments tailored toward youth is almost non-existent….

read … Thousands of Hawaii teens admit to injecting illegal drugs

Terrified BoE Members to Counter Luke Push for ‘Zero Based Budgeting’

CB: …The committee, which includes Payne and board members Bruce Voss, Dwight Takeno and Kili Namau’u, will attend legislative hearings, submit testimony on bills separate from the DOE’s and answer specific questions regarding the DOE.

It won’t supplant the DOE’s own advocacy efforts at the Legislature, but instead will work in partnership with the superintendent’s team, said Payne. The idea is to be able to engage with lawmakers even before a bill goes to hearing and serve a more proactive role in sorting through the DOE budget.

“I want us to go in understanding things ahead of time, and not just reacting (to issues raised in hearings),” Payne said. “People are always saying, (the DOE is) asking for so much, you’re the biggest part of the budget.”

Providing more specifics could help secure more education funding or justify why additional funds are needed in certain areas.

“Some (legislators) are interested in how (a funding request) is going to help students or student progress,” Payne said. “Others are interested in us showing how (existing) money is being spent.”

The latter preference is reflected in the words of Rep. Sylvia Luke, the House Finance chair, who said her input to DOE officials regarding their budget usually is, “This makes no sense.” She specifically cited “EDN 100, 150, 200, 300, 400” — the various categories, like school-based support, instructional support and administrative support — into which the DOE carves up its budget.

“How do we know how much is being spent at Kalani High vs. Campbell High? And how many kids are you servicing?” Luke said. “If we don’t know those things, how do we know if we’re spending those monies efficiently?”

The 2019 legislative session, the start of a new fiscal biennium, could be particularly important for the DOE, whose $1.9 billion annual budget — covering a school system of 179,000 students and 22,000 employees — trails only the state Department of Human Services as the agency taking up the largest share of state expenditures….

Dec 18, 2018: Zero Based Budgeting on Table as Legislators Seek to Trim Governor’s Power

read … State Education Board Plans To Lobby Legislature Directly

Delays, Denials, Wasted Tax Dollars: DOE’s Troubled Treatment Of Injured Workers

CB: …Civil Beat analyzed about 200 administrative decisions from 2013 to 2018 involving claimants who worked in the schools after hearing from workers’ comp insiders, such as attorneys and doctors, that the state Department of Education’s operation was unusually inefficient and hard on workers.

The decisions were handed down by hearing officers at the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which administers the workers’ comp system.

The analysis found a number of recurring problems:

  • The DOE’s workers’ comp unit denies claims that neutral fact finders later rule should have been accepted, in the meantime digging some workers into financial holes and leaving their injuries untreated.
  • It routinely fails to pay providers such as doctors and chiropractors, who then must decide whether to treat injured workers as the bills mount or cut them off.
  • DOE’s late payments and rule-breaking sometimes leads to thousands of dollars of fine per case – as much as $20,000 in one case — paid by taxpayers.
  • The unit forces claimants to go to hearings for no apparent reason, then  capitulates without making an argument. In some cases, the DOE failed to attend the hearing at all.

An internal audit in 2015 found sloppy record-keeping and inefficiencies by both the workers’ comp unit and the schools that report injuries to it. The operation relied on a manual process that the audit termed “time consuming and labor intensive.”

Claims managers, instead of assessing medical information and talking to doctors, were overwhelmed with clerical work.

Unlike other workers’ comp operations in the private and public sector, the DOE’s lacked in-house specialists such as vocational rehabilitation counselors, nurses and attorneys.

These inefficiencies led to delays for injured workers.

In 93 percent of cases, for instance, the initial report of the injury was made after the seven-day deadline laid out in statute, mostly when schools failed to forward the reports to the workers’ comp unit on time. The average time for the reports that failed to meet the deadline was 47 days…. 

CB: DOE Workers Deserve Better When They’re Injured On The Job

read … Delays, Denials, Wasted Tax Dollars: DOE’s Troubled Treatment Of Injured Workers

Settlement reached over alleged gender discrimination within the Maui Police Department

HNN: …Mollie Klingman was once a captain with the Maui Police Department. She filed a sex discrimination lawsuit earlier this year after she claimed she was passed up for a promotion because she’s a woman.

Klingman claims she was overlooked twice for promotions, once in 2013 and again in 2014 because of her gender. She aimed to become the department’s first assistant chief.

The man who got the job she wanted is current Assistant Chief John Jakubczak.

In this Hawaii News Now report from March of this year, Klingman said her faith in the department’s fairness was quickly shattered once she applied for the position.

“An assistant chief in the department had told me I shouldn’t bother to apply. That I should know how it is, that’s the way the department works ... but I did apply,” she said earlier this year….

read … Settlement reached over alleged gender discrimination within the Maui Police Department

Big Fat Salary Hikes for Top CWS Officials

WHT:  The two top officials at Hawaii County’s Department of Water Supply received pay raises Tuesday after a performance evaluation by the Water Board during its last meeting of the calendar year.

DWS Manager-Chief Engineer Keith Okamoto made just over $130,000 in 2018 and will receive a roughly 5 percent bump, said outgoing Water Board Chair Craig Takamine. The increase will put Okamoto’s salary in the $137,000 range.

The board also lifted DWS Deputy Kawika Uyehara’s salary to reflect a total equivalent to 95 percent of Okamoto’s take-home pay, meaning Uyehara will clear right around $130,000 in 2019….

HTH: Personnel changes in county Public Works, Planning

read … DWS brass awarded salary bumps

Goodbye Kona, homeless situation too aggressive to enjoy stay

WHT: …Your downtown district is saturated with transient people who are unsettlingly confident. They stroll the streets high on drugs and distract tourists for money and attention. One man sprawled across the pathway to our condo and refused to move when I was trying to push our stroller to the beach. A seemingly mentally ill woman screamed all night outside our condo while late night parties bellowed, and my young daughter could not fall asleep until we assured her we were safe and “everything would be all right in the morning.”

But everything was not all right in the morning. When my family and I got up early for our scheduled family photographs at the Old Kona Airport Park, I was disgusted to see so much litter on the grounds that our professional, local photographer had to change locations so our family could take home a portrait with a landscape free of rubbish and transients….

WHT: Tourist too passive aggressive to enjoy vacation

Big Q: Are you encouraged by a new federal report that shows a 9 percent drop in Hawaii’s homeless rate?

read … Goodbye Kona, homeless situation too aggressive to enjoy stay

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