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Sunday, February 18, 2024
February 18, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 3095 Views

Skimming Nuclear Munitions Contract? Lawsuit Alleges Dawson is Fake Hawaiian Company

The ConAm Returns Again

City May be Short on Sanitation Trucks for Months to Come

Hawaii's high cost of living is due to “one little thing after another, just building on each other”

111 Candidates Pull Papers Statewide

Lahaina Cleanup is Scam to Keep Owners off their own Properties

CB: … Officials have made it almost impossible for property owners to clean up their own lots and the federal program is going slowly….

Mario, a commercial landscaper, has access to tools and small machinery. And Mario’s son had recently completed a free training course on hazardous waste cleanup specifically tailored to the Lahaina wildfire recovery effort.

With Mario’s homeowner’s insurance coverage, U‘i figured they could pay themselves to discard the ash and twisted metal remains of their lives. Surely they’d be able to get the work done faster than the federal government.

But doing the work themselves would require them to adhere to the same stringent specialized hazmat protocol as the Corps, with one frustrating caveat: They would not be permitted to dump the waste in the Olowalu landfill, opened early this year as a temporary disposal site. Instead, they would need to wait for Maui County to select a site and build a permanent burial ground for the Lahaina wildfire’s toxic remains.

They also wouldn’t be able to get paid to clear the property. After researching Mario’s insurance policy, U‘i learned the policy would only pay out to a business entity.

The kicker, though, was the sometimes aggressive community pressure Mario felt to join the government-sponsored cleanup. After the county put out messaging saying the Corps would first clean up neighborhoods where all of the property owners had opted in, neighbors started urging neighbors to send in their application for the government program, which bears no cost to the property owner.…

Even after the Corps removes the fire debris from his property, Mario won’t be permitted to live on his land until Lahaina’s fire-damaged water and sewer systems have been rehabilitated. Government leaders haven’t announced a timeline for this work, either — another point of discouragement for Mario and U‘i, and others like them who want to move back onto their property as soon as possible….

RELATED: Skimming Nuclear Munitions Contract? Lawsuit Alleges Dawson is Fake Hawaiian Company

read … Property Cleanup In Lahaina Has Become A Frustrating Waiting Game For This Fire Victim

Exodus of Hawaii residents cost state $185M in lost taxes since 2020

SA: … Since graduating from Roosevelt High School on Oahu in 2009, Higa estimates that a quarter of his approximately 400 fellow graduates have moved out of state, primarily to the Pacific Northwest, California and Nevada.

“Every year I’ve watched more and more of my classmates leave for the continent,” Higa said. “The cost of living and cost of housing is a huge part of why they left.”…

The on-going exodus of Hawaii residents far outstrips the number of U.S. residents moving to the islands, resulting in the overall loss of 36,789 Hawaii residents over the last three years.

In dollars, fewer residents means the state has missed out on an average of $61.8 million in tax revenue in each of the last three years, mostly in lost personal income and General Excise Taxes, according to the state Department of Taxation.

“This is a rough estimate,” said Seth Colby, the Tax Department’s research and planning officer. “But with our out-migration, it would account for $185 million” less in state revenues since 2020….

read … Exodus of Hawaii residents cost state $185M in lost taxes since 2020

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that taxes Medicare, Medicaid and TriCare insurance benefits

SA: … Hawaii has the worst shortage of primary care providers in America. Maui has the worst shortage of both physicians and of primary care providers in our state. The University of Hawaii Area Health Education Center reports that Maui had a 43% shortage of doctors in 2023, which worsened from the 40% of the previous year. This compounds the dwindling resources in the rest of the county, including Molokai, where care for 60% of the residents has been severely disrupted for more than a year. The access-to-care crisis on Maui also has been affected by the loss of three medical clinics in the recent tragic fire. Doctor shortages on our other neighbor islands are also significantly worse, with a 41% shortage of doctors on Hawaii island.

This lack of health care professionals is in large part due to low reimbursements from Medicare and local insurance companies, which often do not cover the costs of providing care in our high-cost state.

Hawaii’s regressive taxation of health care is a major factor in our access-to-care crisis. Most states do not broadly tax medical services, because the tax burden often falls on those least able to pay it. It is not pono to tax our kupuna if they break a hip, or a family when their child develop leukemia….

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that taxes Medicare, Medicaid and TriCare insurance benefits. The recent increase in Medicaid payments to Medicare levels is a welcome step. But providers often break even or lose money caring for Medicare patients, and the general excise tax (GET) drives many medical practices into the red. Since the GET is on gross income, the actual impact on net income is estimated to be 15-20%….

read …  State tax policy drives doctor shortage

FEMA housing far from burned properties in West Maui

CB: … Fenton said FEMA is probably going to build one group site in West Maui for a projected 150 to 160 households that will need a temporary unit because a direct-lease unit didn’t work out, including failure to pass a criminal background check….

So far only 219 of the 1,196 eligible households now live in direct-lease properties, despite many units being available for weeks. That includes a remodeled two-bedroom condo in Kihei with an ocean view that has been sitting empty for more than a month….

read … Why Are Hundreds Of Lahaina Fire Survivors Turning Down FEMA Housing? Because They're Not In West Maui

SB2693: Outlaw Kaniela Ing’s Lahaina Charity Scam

CB: … (Kaniela Ing’s) super PAC Our Hawaii Action also raised eyebrows — and official state attention — after it quickly collected more than $680,000 that it said it was giving directly to organizations that were helping fire victims but also suggested it would use the money to fund political candidates.

That raised the eyebrows in particular of House Speaker Scott Saiki who asked the AG’s office to investigate and establish auditing procedures to ensure that money raised for fire relief was going to victims. He urged Gov. Josh Green to issue an emergency proclamation warning against fraudulent fundraisers.

Lawmakers have taken that concern to heart it seems and on Friday the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would make it a criminal offense to commit “charitable fraud” during a state of emergency declared by the Hawaii governor.

Senate Bill 2693 criminalizes certain deceptive or misleading practices during emergencies including using funds raised under the pretext of direct assistance for victims for other than that purpose. Soliciting could be anything from email, a handbill or even an honor box that purports to be raising money for victims.

The bill was sponsored by five Democratic senators, but in true bipartisan spirit Jacob Wienczek of the Hawaii Young Republicans submitted testimony in support. “During a crisis, it is ghastly and inhumane for people to misuse charitable contributions and the promise of charitable aid,” he said.

Originally the bill sought to make the law retroactive to July 2023, (before the Lahaina fire) but that ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from passing “ex facto law” — any law that retroactively criminalizes behavior.

The bill has already cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee and now goes to the full Senate for consideration….

FLASHBACK: For ‘Progressive’ Criminal Kaniela Ing Lahaina Fires are Just Another Grift

read … The Sunshine Blog: Reefer Madness, Familiar Faces And Fake Fundraisers

Blangiardi’s biggest decision was to halt construction of the city rail line before reaching all the way to Ala Moana.

Borreca: … Blangiardi’s biggest decision was to halt construction of the city rail line before reaching all the way to Ala Moana.

As Blangiardi said at the time, rail was in trouble.

“Facing a history of cost overruns, an inadequate budget and delayed construction timetables, including a disillusioned public, and our weary and concerned partner, the Federal Transit Administration, our first order of business was to regroup the team of city leaders and key principals overseeing the construction and ultimately the operations of the rail, a team that had all but quit working together during HART’s time spent pursuing a public-private partnership,” he said in March 2022.

For the portions of the city rail line that are functioning and open to the public, Blangiardi has been supportive — but he has not supported going over budget to get to Honolulu’s major shopping destination at Ala Moana. So far there has not been public backlash for that decision.

In fact, the lack of major opposition in his reelection effort shows that so far, Blangiardi’s nonconfrontational style has gotten quiet public approval….

read … On Politics: Mayor Blangiardi’s managerial style serving him well

City auditor reviews building permit department

SA: … Earlier this month the Honolulu Office of the City Auditor submitted an update to its original 2020 report. The prior audit resulted in 16 formal recommendations to DPP to improve building permit applications services that attempt to end controversial, months-long delays to process permits….

The latest audit — conducted from July to January — determined four of the original 16 recommendations were completed, two were unresolved, five were still in progress, one never started and four were dropped completely “as the risk associated with the recommendation no longer exists or is no longer applicable.”

Achieved recommendations include one in which DPP ceased repeated review cycles for building permits — a practice that created significant, often-costly delays for many building permit applicants….

Takeuchi Apuna told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that “the permitting system has been broken for decades and will not be fixed overnight.”….

 

 

 

DPP_Follow_Up_on_Report_20-01.pdf (honolulu.gov)

Off the news: DPP revamp making steady progress

read … City auditor reviews building permit department

More Empty promises on horizon for future Hawaiian homestead leases

SA: … DHHL plans to resume issuing undivided interest lease awards, which are sometimes referred to as “paper leases” and essentially promise homestead lot leases at an uncertain future date for a specific subdivision project where the land isn’t ready for near-term use because it lacks road and utility infrastructure.

Kali Watson, a former DHHL director tapped in 2023 to lead the agency again, let members of a state House of Representatives committee know during a January briefing that he plans to issue undivided interest leases this year, and later clarified that he aims to issue nearly 3,700 such awards at numerous envisioned projects with uncertain funding prospects and development timetables.

The planned move represents a revival of a nearly 20-year-old program where close to half of all such leases still haven’t been converted into lot leases upon which to live….

From 2003 to 2006, during the administration of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, the agency heralded awarding nearly 2,300 residential homestead leases compared with 5,941 awarded in the prior 82-year history of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.

Yet more than half the awards during those four years were undivided interest leases….

After about 16 years, 774 of the 1,434 undivided interest leases awarded in 2005 and 2006 had not been converted to homestead leases with beneficiaries moved into new homes as of June 30, 2022, according to DHHL’s most recent annual report….

read … New promises on horizon for future Hawaiian homestead leases | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

 

Taxpayers Are On The Hook For $1.25 Million After The State Failed To Provide Water To An Oahu Farmer

 

CB: … The Agribusiness Development Corp. is asking lawmakers to pay $1.25 million to settle a case that an Oahu farming outfit brought against it in 2019, alleging the state agency knowingly made years of false promises. 

Ohana Best says the ADC’s former executive director, James Nakatani, told it that water would be made available and encouraged the company to invest in infrastructure on 160 acres of former plantation land.

Investments were made but the water never came, so Ohana Best sued the ADC and Nakatani on eight counts of bad business dealings, settling in late November for $1.25 million. Nakatani died in April last year.

The ADC case is one of several that the Attorney General’s Office is asking the Legislature to settle this session, a total of 28 civil claims amounting to over $13.4 million. That could increase over the course of the legislative session if more settlements come in before lawmakers adjourn in early May….

PDF: SB3029 SD1 (hawaii.gov)

read … Taxpayers Are On The Hook For $1.25 Million After The State Failed To Provide Water To An Oahu Farmer

Child welfare bureaucracy’s debilitating “cover your ass” mentality must be replaced

Shapiro:  … The child welfare bureaucracy’s debilitating “cover your ass” mentality must be replaced with something closer to NASA’s old dictum of “failure is not an option,” with clear lines of responsibility, accountability and transparency.

With so much at stake, it simply doesn’t cut it to stonewall by hiding behind privacy laws and bureaucratic double talk about ongoing investigations….

Exposing themselves to public pressure to make the system better isn’t a bad thing; it focuses needed attention on the problem and can lead to good solutions, while withholding relevant information does the opposite….

read … State needs a better plan for protecting abused kids

HB1799/SB2670: Help Gays Access Fresh Schoolboys

SA: … House Bill 1799 and its companion, Senate Bill 2670, would require the state Department of Education to establish a procedure allowing students to use their preferred names over legal names in an effort to strengthen “inclusivity” within public schools.

“It’s pretty straightforward, although unfortunately, in the current legislative climate all the things that should be simple, straightforward and important are just really difficult,” said state Rep. Jeanne Kapela (D, Volcano- Hawaiian Ocean View)…..

Kapela introduced the House bill as a part of the Legislature’s Equality Caucus package. “This is the first time we’ve introduced this measure,” she said. “I think it’s so important that we support students in their decisions.”

It would mainly support students who are transitioning or identify as a different gender, she said….

read … Stalled bills would support student inclusivity, identities

Lahaina Fire News:

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