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Monday, February 18, 2019
February 18, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:44 PM :: 3112 Views

Fear is not Sustainable

Public hearing set for general excise tax hike

HTH: … The council has scheduled a public hearing on Bill 19, doubling the county GET surcharge from one-quarter to one-half cents on the dollar and extending it for 10 years until the end of 2030. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

People can also testify by videoconference from Hilo council chambers, the Waimea and Pahoa council offices, old Kohala courthouse and the Naalehu state office building.

The tax is charged on almost everything….

Council members, sitting as the Finance Committee last week, forwarded Bill 19 by an 8-1 vote.

Two council members who have been lobbying the Legislature for disaster recovery funding said legislative leaders have questioned whether the county is going to raise the GET under the temporary ability it allowed. The county will lose the opportunity if it doesn’t act by March 31….  (GOOD!)

read … Public hearing set for general excise tax hike

MECO: Force Customers to Pay for Useless Solar

MN: …Maui Electric Co. is seeking the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission to pass on $155,000 (it’ll be more later) in charges for 1.4 gigawatt hours of unused power last year from the two utility-scale solar arrays that went online last year. 

(Wind and solar are erratic.  They are there when you don’t need them and gone when you do.  Now MECO wants to force consumers to pay higher rates for unused and useless solar energy.)

In a Jan. 31 filing, MECO said it paid South Maui Renewable Resources, a 2.87-megawatt project located near the Maui Research and Technology Park, $110,359.33 for 997.8 megawatt hours of “compensable curtailed energy” per its power purchase agreement.

Curtailed energy means power supplied but unused by the utility.

The payment was from May, when the county’s first utility-scale solar project went online, until Dec. 31. The PUC filing said that SMRR has an annual energy contract for 6.75 gigawatt hours.

Ku’ia Solar, the 2.87-MW solar project near Lahainaluna High School, billed MECO for $44,803.80 for 405.1 MWh of compensable curtailed energy. The amount is less than SMRR because Ku’ia came online in October. Its total annual contract for energy is 6.6 GWh, the PUC filing said.

Ku’ia and SMRR are both operated by Kenyon Energy and are paid 11.06 cents per kilowatt hour for energy fed into MECO’s grid, which is (would be) lower than the cost of fossil-fuel produced power (if we didn’t have to pay for the useless untimely erratic garbage electricity they produce whenever they feel like it) …. 

read … MECO seeks to have customers pay for curtailed solar power

Bills call for building condos on state land

SA: … Hawaii lawmakers introduced at least eight bills at the Legislature this session, including two at the request of Gov. David Ige, offering variations on the leasehold condo idea….

(No fee simple.  See how this works?)

Yet the bills also have raised concerns, including among some holders or beneficiaries of state land not wanting to have their assets used for leasehold condos.

So far, two bills have advanced through their first committee hearings — one in the House and one in the Senate.

House Bill 817 is a copy of the two Ige bills and was introduced by Reps. Tom Brower, Mark Hashem and Roy Takumi. This two-page bill simply authorizes the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., a state agency, to lease state land for 99 years for condos sold to buyers under existing agency rules aimed at increasing affordable-housing production.

HHFDC primarily helps private developers produce affordable housing by providing low-cost financing and sometimes land. Such for-sale projects typically must provide only half of all units at prices affordable to households with moderate incomes.

The other bill, Senate Bill 1, is a more elaborate measure introduced by Sen. Stanley Chang. This 31-page bill also would apply HHFDC affordable-housing rules, such as buyer qualifications and resale restrictions, to leasehold condos on state land under 99-year leases. But SB 1 would have HHFDC act as the developer that contracts for construction and recoups its expenses from unit sales. Theoretically, bonds or other financing would be repaid from condo sales at no long-term cost to the state.

Chang’s bill intends to produce high-density housing where three-bedroom units would cost no more than $300,000 initially and then rise with inflation.

SB 1 also introduces new rules for HHFDC to either buy back the condos in some circumstances or collect most of the profit if the owner elects to sell.

(Thus ensuring that the occupants are forever locked out of real estate appreciation and are left further and further behind.)

read … Bills call for building condos on state land

Bill aims to decrease drugged-driving by redefining "drugs"

KITV: … Driving while drug-impaired is a growing problem, according to state and federal transportation agencies- but how do you legally define drug impairment? That's what a Senate bill looks to firm up. Police can arrest people for driving under the influence of drugs, but only if they test positive for a certain set of drugs as defined by state law. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founder Carol McNamee explains, "It's confined to the schedule of drugs in our statutes."….

In her fight against drugged-driving, which she fears is on the rise, she also hopes the state will build a drug testing lab. "When blood and urine are tested to identify drugs, most of the samples are send to the mainland which is expensive, costly, and time consuming," she says.

McNamee says MADD is still concerned about drunk driving, but it's now working on keeping our roads safe from drugged drivers. A Senate judiciary committee will have a public decision making on Senate bill 641 on Thursday at 9 a.m. in conference room 016….

read … Bill aims to decrease drugged-driving by redefining "drugs"

Red light camera bill passes judiciary and transportation committee

KHON: …many think it sounds similar to the van cam program….

Representative Troy Hashimoto (D) Kahakuloa, Waihee, Wailuku, Waikapu, who is also co-chair of the transportation committee, says he understands the need for the cameras but wants to make sure all counties consider the pros and cons. 

"We can pass the bill but once it gets implemented then there might be a lot of different opposition just like the van cam program,” he said.

"So if we can do it in a small area and see if it works well and then expand it throughout the state I think that may be a better way to go instead of pushing forward this program throughout the state all at once.”

The bill passed the Judiciary and Transportation Committee last week and will be heard by the Committee of Ways and Means on Wednesday. …

read … Red light camera bill passes judiciary and transportation committee

HB1311 Deferred: Was Latest Attack on Judicial Independence

ILind:  … The sharpest criticism of the bill came from Honolulu attorney Tom Farrell, whose testimony traced the legislative attacks on judicial independence back to the case of Nelson v. Dept. of Hawaiian Home Lands, which concerned when the Legislature was complying with the state constitutional provision requiring sufficient funds to be appropriated to the department. The Legislature retaliated with what Farrell calls “a campaign to degrade Hawaii’s judiciary and destroy judicial independence.” This is the fourth year that such bills have been filed.

We know exactly what will happen if our judges have to come before the Senate periodically in order to keep their jobs. If ever there was a living example of why the legislative branch should not be given the power to reconfirm judges, her name is Margery Bronster. She had to come back to the Senate to keep her job when Ben Cayetano was reelected and wanted to keep her as his Attorney General. She had the temerity to take on the Bishop Estate in Ben’s first term, and the Senate refused to reconfirm her in retaliation for it. That’s what we can expect the Senate to do with judges and, over time, the corrosive effect will be that no judge who wants to keep his job will dare to make a politically unpopular decision.

You can review all of the testimony presented to the House Judiciary Committee on HB1311 here.…

read … Independent

HB1326: Seven Years before OHA, Enviros Gain Control of Your Water

SA Editorial: … Native Hawaiian groups and environmentalists are justified in their anger about House Bill 1326, which prolongs for up to seven years compliance with hard-fought requirements pertaining to distribution and protection of the state’s water resources.

The measure advancing at the state Capitol would allow Alexander &Baldwin Inc., electrical utilities on Kauai and Hawaii island as well as farming and ranching operations to continue siphoning from streams and elsewhere even if they haven’t completed environmental reviews, consultations with Native Hawaiians about water needs and other legal must-dos ….

In January 2016, the Circuit Court ruled that the state does not have authority to issue water-collection permits with a term exceeding one year. The ruling left roughly one dozen holders of “revocable permits,” which had allowed collection for longer than one year, in limbo. By way of Act 126 (2016), the Legislature allotted three years to correct the problem.

Now, with the time running out, most of those revocable permit holders are far from close to compliance. The delay, claim the bill’s supporters and various state agencies, is due, in part, to failure to foresee complexities tied to compliance, and the state’s phasing out of long-standing water allocation practices established during the plantation era….

HB1326: Text, Status

read … foot-dragging on water leases

After 17 Attempts, Psychologists Think Criminal may be ‘Malingering’ 

HTH: … For the 17th time, a man accused of robbing the Pahoa branch of First Hawaiian Bank at knifepoint on May 17, 2017, has refused to leave his jail cell to appear in court, records indicate.

On Thursday, three mental health examiners told Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura that Anthony Louis Gover has also refused to participate in a court-ordered mental exam. The examiners, psychiatrists Drs. Andrew Bisset and Henry Yang, and psychologist Dr. Frederic Manke, opined that Gover is malingering — which in this case means feigning or exaggerating mental illness — and his refusals to participate in court or to cooperate with their interviews are willful….

Esther Hsu, a nurse manager at the hospital told him about an interaction she’d had with Gover.

“I believe it had to do with a check that she had received that was addressed to Mr. Gover,” Manke recalled. “And in order for it to be deposited into his Hawaii State Hospital patient account, he had to endorse it. And I believe, as I wrote in my report, initially when she approached him on the matter, he claimed not to know who he was.

“And then, when she told him in order to get access to the money, he needed to be able to sign it — and she did not give him any cues like addressing him by his name — he then signed his name to it, and the check was subsequently deposited, and he subsequently inquired about access to his money.”

The judge, according to records, has discussed “using reasonable force and restraints” to bring Gover to court on at least two occasions.

On April 16, 2018, Nakamura informed the lawyers he would go forward with trial despite Gover’s absence, records state. Neither of those options have been exercised.

read … Do ya think?

Homeless Camp Dog Attacks Cyclist

HNN: …  Barry Wagenvoord suffered several deep gashes on his right leg when he was attacked by a large brown dog near Lehua Community Park last month.

“I was in shock, I was in disbelief. He chomped down twice. I’m lucky he didn’t shake his head I guess," said the 58-year-old radio industry executive.

Wagenvoord said he spent four days in Pali Momi Medical Center after his leg got infected. He said doctors warned him that if his infection didn’t improve, his leg might have to get amputated.

“She had seen wounds like that on hands that had caused people to lose their hands. She said if it doesn’t get better soon I’m going to have to call the surgeon," he said.

In the end, doctors were able to get the infection under control.

The attack happened on a remote part of the path. Several bicyclists told Hawaii News Now they no longer use it because they consider it dangerous.

To be sure, the city has tried to make the area safer by removing nearby homeless camps but Wagenvoord said more can be done.

“I think it needs more patrols. I think I’ve ridden that path a hundred times and I’ve seen patrols, officers on those three-wheeler things, twice," he said…

read … A bike ride in Pearl City ends with a trip to the ER after vicious dog attack

Hawaii Is ‘Definitely and Imminently’ Filing a Lawsuit Against Trump’s Emergency

BB: … Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he “definitely and imminently” planned to file a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border….

He added, “We are prepared. We knew something like this might happen, and with our sister state partners, we are ready to go.”

Becerra specified to ABC News after his interview that New Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Minnesota will be joining California in the lawsuit….

read … Definitely

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