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Tuesday, April 11, 2023
April 11, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:59 PM :: 1764 Views

Bribery: Rep Ty Cullen gets 24 Months Prison

Hawaii AG Brings in Billionaire's Lawyer to Fight Against Second Amendment

Hawaii: Two Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

DoH Releases Hawai‘i Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Priced-out Hawaii residents check out of paradise while Legislators Pretend to Think About Cutting Taxes

SA: … Hawaii’s high cost of living continues to drive residents such as Bria Frazier away from the islands.

Frazier, 30, was raised in Nanakuli and currently lives in a Waikele duplex. She plans to move to Washington state in November or December because of the rising cost of living and because “there’s no income tax” in Washington.

Frazier has never had to watch her budget like she does now.

“Now I have to go to the groceries and calculate every single item before I get to that register,” Frazier said.

Frazier’s upcoming move follows an Oahu exodus that saw its population dip below 1 million in 2022; the latest estimates place the island’s population at 995,638, according to U.S. Census data released March 30.….

Michelle Gamble, now 44, left Ewa Beach in November 2021 with her parents, Michael and Sese Niumata, for the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, mainly for a better cost of living.

Gamble is a Realtor, and the majority of her clients are Hawaii expats who also moved to Las Vegas….

After graduating, Hewett returned to Oahu in 2014, struggled to find a good job, then ultimately moved to Las Vegas in 2015.

“I got kind of discouraged that Hawaii is predominantly who you know in terms of how you get a job,” Hewett said. “And I wanted to build a name for myself versus being someone’s cousin or someone’s niece or someone’s daughter.”…

With less than a month before the end of the legislative session, several measures designed to lower Hawaii’s cost of living remain alive, including:

>> The latest version of HB 493, which amends the adjusted gross income brackets and credit amounts of the refundable food/excise tax credit.

>> The latest version of HB 25, which converts the refundable food/excise tax credit to a tax rebate to be issued to qualifying taxpayers annually. It would apply after Dec. 31.

>> The latest version of SB 55, which increases the income thresholds and credit amounts of the income tax credit for low-income household renters by using tax brackets for individuals and different categories of households. The bill also annually adjusts the income thresholds and credit amounts for inflation, based on the consumer price index….

(CLUE: Most of these will die quietly in Conference Committee)

HSTA: Teacher tax credit back on the table, passes Senate Ways and Means Committee

read … Priced-out Hawaii residents check out of paradise

Honolulu City Council studying how to fake tax-relief measures and fool homeowners

SA: … A slew of real property taxation measures that might offer tax credits, tax exemptions or other means to aid homeowners affected by the approximately 10% or greater increase in real property assessments on Oahu is under consideration by the Honolulu City Council.

The Council proposals coincide with Mayor Rick Blan­giardi’s one-time $300 tax credit to nearly 152,000 qualifying homeowners as part of his proposed $3.41 billion operating budget for next fiscal year. The $300 rebates would be granted to those with an active home exemption on their 2023 assessment, regardless of property value.

(TRANSLATION: A one-time $300 payout to mask the fact that our taxes are going to be higher for years to come.) 

If approved, Blangiardi’s tax credit — funded in total for approximately $45.5 million — would take effect July 1….

Although the mayor’s tax rebate gained public notice, the nine-member Council has for over a year mulled a laundry list of more than 20 tax relief bills. A few of the latest measures include ones co-introduced by Council Chair Tommy Waters and Council member Radiant Cordero, who presides over the Council’s budget committee.

The measures include helping low-income kupuna; helping homeowners who were placed into a higher rate-paying real property tax class; and those renting properties long term — for 12 months or more. Other tax relief measures introduced in 2022 would increase the homeowners exemption, revise tax classifications or apply a vacancy tax.

But to achieve an approved tax relief bill, the Council first plans to establish a Permitted Interaction Group to investigate matters relating to real property taxation issues….

read … Honolulu City Council studying its own tax-relief measures

Greedflation Smacks Hawaii Worst Among Destinations

BH: … While February hotel revenue was up 17% compared with 2022, which was hugely up from pre-Covid, it came with 6% less demand. That was based on the state’s average daily room rate of $387 before taxes and fees.

In February, for example, Maui sat at a $655 average nightly rate (up 50%), but occupancy was down 9%. Wailea was at $1,004, up 55%, while occupancy was down 25%….

A recent Kamaaina rate stay on the Big Island caused us to pay nearly $1,000 per night per hotel room – a new high for any of BOH’s editors. A stay at an iconic Oahu resort was not far behind, where Kamaaina rates were simply through the roof. Even as they purported that Hawaii residents receive a 40% discount.

On Maui, luxury hotel rates are among the highest in the country, not stopping until they reached nearly $1,100 per night for 2022. Statistically, the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism numbers say that figures are up a mere 50% compared with pre-pandemic. Our experiences, based on what we’ve been paying, are that they have increased far more.

Only Oahu has come in with lower room rates, mainly due to the loss of international arrivals. Economists at the State of Hawaii concur, saying: “I think it’s the hotel industry strategy.” ….

read … Greedflation Smacks Hawaii Worst Among Destinations

Hilo’s Grand Naniloa Strangles on its Leasehold

HTH: … The beleaguered owners of the Grand Naniloa Hotel are once again requesting to refinance its mortgage to the tune of $54 million.

WHR LLC, the corporate entity which owns the Grand Naniloa, has been struggling financially for several years, having defaulted on a loan in 2021 and being mired in foreclosure proceedings and on the verge of bankruptcy ever since.

Ed Bushor — president of Tower Development, WHR’s primary partner — requested last June to refinance WHR’s $50 million mortgage with a $62 million secondary mortgage from another lender.

Because the hotel sits on land leased by the state, that request required approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, which denied the request on the grounds that the proposed terms for the secondary loan were too risky.

But in March, WHR tried again, once again submitting a request to refinance. This time, the new lender would be Swiss investment bank UBS Group AG, which would lend $54 million to WHR for a five-year term.

However, this new proposal does not seem likely to win over the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has recommended that the BLNR deny WHR’s request….

read … Grand Naniloa woes linger: Owners again seek permission to refinance loan

Why Does It Take So Long To Fire Bad Cops In Honolulu?

CB: … Recent national stories report officers involved in shootings and other serious incidents are quickly fired. But in Hawaii final discipline can take years….

Asked about the rapid dismissal of the Memphis officers during a meeting in February with the Civil Beat Editorial Board, Logan agreed that the Memphis department “took all the right actions for what it needed to do. They needed to take immediate action against the five officers.”

But, “we have a four-step grievance process for discipline,” Logan said. “And so that’s how our officers are engaged in that process. And that process takes a while.”

“We don’t have an agreement with our City and County of Honolulu that would allow me to terminate somebody that quick,” he said in the same interview.

The Honolulu Police Department’s latest report to the Legislature testifies to the amount of time the department can take to discipline its officers: A case from 2017 remained in arbitration, and a case from 2018 alleging an officer committed criminal property damage was still pending. So was the case of Derek Hahn, who was found guilty in 2019 of federal conspiracy charges for his involvement in the Louis Kealoha affair.

Another 32 cases of police officer misconduct, going back to 2020, remained in arbitration or pending according to records filed with the Legislature by HPD.

The grievance process also allows some officers accused of criminal conduct to return to the force….

Despite the perception, the Memphis Police Department does not have a policy that enables immediate dismissal.

“Nor has it ever had such a policy in the time I’ve lived here,” said Daniel Connolly, a longtime former investigative reporter for the Commercial Appeal, a Memphis newspaper.

Instead, the Memphis Police Department has its own bureaucratic process, usually with the union involved and similar to Honolulu, he said….

(TRANSLATION: They were thrown to the mob.)

Internal investigations are a defense against politicizing the police, SHOPO President Robert Cavaco said….

FLASHBACK: Secret Arbitration Revealed: How DPS Official Kept Crooked Cop On The Job After FBI Raid

read … Why Does It Take So Long To Fire Bad Cops In Honolulu?

HB1366: State Take Over and Ruin Successful HLTA Bum Deportation Program

HPR: … A bill at the state Legislature would create a three-year pilot program at the Department of Human Services to help people experiencing homelessness return to the continent, or other parts of the state, to rejoin their families. 

House Bill 1366 was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week with some changes. It will go to the full Senate floor sometime this week.

The measure copies a program from the Hawaiʻi Lodging and Tourism Association, which partners with nonprofits such as the Institute for Human Services.

IHS reports that it has helped relocate more than 600 people from Oʻahu in the last eight years.

It costs them an average of $1,000 per person to house and relocate.

In comparison, the nonprofit estimates it would cost taxpayers between $35,000 and $1 million to help (keep) chronically homeless individuals (on the streets) based on their needs (constant cycling between street, jail, and emergency room) ….

REALITY: if the State takes over this private sector program, it will be destroyed.

read … Proposed homeless relocation program flies to Senate floor for consideration

Biden Backs Plan To Restore Benefits For COFA Migrants

CB: … The endorsement comes as the U.S. is in negotiations over new deals with Compacts of Free Association nations….

read … Biden Backs Plan To Restore Benefits For COFA Migrants 

Legislative Agenda:

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