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Wednesday, March 20, 2024
March 20, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:13 PM :: 2699 Views

Roadblocks to Re-Building on Maui

Hawaii 2nd-Worst Taxpayer ROI

Star-Advertiser to be Sold to Carpenter Media Friday -- after paying $150K ransom

Senator Rhoads shocked, just SHOCKED to be getting death threats after suggesting assassination of Donald Trump

KITV: … “This theory means the President of the United States, Trump or somebody else, can have someone assassinated. This idea is crazy but that’s the logical extreme and that’s what they’re litigating right now at the Supreme Court,” Rhoads said…

He reiterated that the tweet was meant as a question, not a threat. He said Donald Trump has a theory of "I can do whatever I want as president" which he believes mirrors Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"On the contrary, I just ask a simple question. If you take this theory to its logical conclusion, this is what you arrive at. If it’s what they really mean, it’s terrifying cause if Trump is re-elected, he’s going to start assassinating people like his hero, Putin. Putin just assassinated his most popular opponent," said Rhoads.

(CLUE: Never trust anyone who says ‘simple.’)

Political analyst John Hart said this tweet aligns with the senator's current bill in the legislature. Hart believes this should not incite any violence, just raise questions about what is happening at the Supreme Court….

Trump is asking for full presidential immunity in regards to the 2020 presidential election in which he is accused of trying to overthrow the results.

As for the death threats Rhoads has been getting, he plans to file a police report….

(IQ Test: Will your name be in that police report?)

Tweet: Sen Rhoads: OK for Biden to assassinate Trump?

read … Hawaii senator getting death threats after posts controversial tweet about Donald Trump

Prepping Tulsi for Trump’s Vice-Presidency: Mike Gabbard Now Supports Gay Marriage

CB: …  The person who led the charge to limit marriage rights between one man and one woman in Hawaii over a quarter of a century ago now says he’s sorry for his role.

“I want to take this opportunity before I vote to sincerely apologize,” Sen. Mike Gabbard said at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “As some of you know, I played a critical role in the passage of the 1998 constitutional amendment. So I want to say to all the people, I’m sorry. I am sincerely sorry if I offended you in any way. That comes from the bottom of my heart.”

Gabbard said that he had intended to vote against House Bill 2802, which proposes a Con Am to repeal the Legislature’s authority. And he said he still has “some issues” with the legislation.

But he said his views on marriage have changed over the years.

“I don’t believe government has any business in telling people who they can and they cannot love,” he explained, stunning the committee room audience that included prominent marriage rights activists.

Gabbard then proceeded to vote with reservations — a yes vote — on legislation that proposes to remove the Legislature’s authority over marriage….

USA Today: As Tulsi Gabbard joins Trump VP list, her father distances himself

MEANWHILE: The Transqueers Take The Mask Off - by Andrew Sullivan

read … The Sunshine Blog: The Star-Advertiser Paid A $150K Ransom. In Bitcoin

Honolulu Salary Commission Considers Giving Officials Raises ‘multiple times each year’

CB: … Members of the Honolulu Salary Commission are hoping to change the city charter to give themselves wider power for setting the salaries of top officials like the mayor, City Council members and department heads. That change would be subject to voter approval in a charter amendment, or could fall under the purview of a charter commission in 2026.

The commission discussed the change at a Tuesday meeting, including whether council members should be able to reject the commission’s proposed raises and whether the commission should have the power to change salaries multiple times each year….

SA: Panel OKs 3% pay hike for Honolulu mayor and City Council

Big Q: Should pay hikes of 3%-3.6% be given to City Council members and top city officials? -- 85% “No Way” 

HNN: Pay raises for top city officials get closer to becoming reality

read … Honolulu Salary Commission Considers Expanding Its Powers - Honolulu Civil Beat

No Bid $159M Job To Clean Up Lahaina's Commercial District Begins 7 Months After Fires

CB: …The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $159 million contract to Hawaii-based Hui Huliau Technology Services to demolish unsafe structures and clear debris and ash from 140 commercial and public buildings destroyed by the Aug. 8 fire in Lahaina.

Crews began work last week on the project, a key step toward restoring the mostly razed town’s economic heart. But less than a third of the commercial properties are registered for the program, a process complicated by generally needing signatures from all of the tenants in each building….

The commercial contract was signed in late February. It’s the second contract the Army Corps has awarded to the nonprofit Hui Huliau, an umbrella entity of six (for profit 8a) subsidiaries. They include Pono Aina Management that recently completed a $53.7 million contract from the Corps to build a temporary school in West Maui for 600 students who had gone to the destroyed King Kamehameha III Elementary School….

(REALLY OBVIOUS QUESTION: How much has the Lahaina cleanup been delayed to enhance the profit of Hawaii’s politically-connected 8a Corps???)

Bob Fenton, who is leading FEMA’s fire recovery efforts on Maui, says this is the first time FEMA has paid for the commercial debris removal in a disaster….

Working with subcontractor Goodfellow Bros. and others, Technology Services began with the mobilization of two crews to start in the Limahana block of Lahaina.  …

(CLUE: 8as are just a front for their subcontractors.)

NPR: After the Hawaii wildfires, a delicate cleanup is underway : NPR

read … $159M Job To Clean Up Lahaina's Commercial District Begins 7 Months After Fires - Honolulu Civil Beat

How Building Codes Act As A Regressive Tax On Affordable Housing

CB: … There is a clear and undeniable nexus between code updates and construction costs….

Building codes are like speed limits. It doesn’t matter if you drive a moped or a Ferrari, the same rules apply. In tax terms this makes codes regressive rather than progressive.

Historically speaking, this has always been acknowledged in the creation of and updates to building codes. At the beginning of each code in the intent section it typically even states that the purpose of the code is “to establish the minimum requirements.”

Codes were never intended to be what we can do; they are there to establish the minimum we must do.

The last few decades have seen a significant evolution in building codes and the pace of change. In Hawaii the last decade has been particularly revolutionary….

read … How Building Codes Act As A Regressive Tax On Affordable Housing

Bills could force short-term vacation rentals into long-term housing for Maui residents

KITV: … Short-term vacation rentals on Maui could be facing a significant shift due to bills making their way now through the State Legislature. Vacation rental operators say, if this happens, Hawaii could lose millions in revenue….

Currently, House Bill 1838 and Senate Bill 2919 are making their way through the legislature, sparking heated debate among local residents, vacation rental owners and lawmakers….

Swan says the 13,000 short term rentals on Maui generated 40% of state real property tax revenue this fiscal year, or about $214 million, and represents 20% of the county operating budget….

The Senate and House bills are making their way through the State Legislature and action will be taken on them this week….

BIVN: Bill Allowing Hawaiʻi Counties To Phase Out Vacation Rentals Gets Senate Hearing

read … Bills could force short-term vacation rentals into long-term housing for Maui residents

Kawakami has an idea for ‘affordable housing’ --- Yes, its a tax hike

KHON: … Mayor Kawakami discussed taxing vacation rentals on Kauai at the same rate as hotels, something he thinks can generate revenue for affordable housing…

“Fortunately Kauai County was one of the first counties to be able to craft an ordinance into law and we’ve had it for over a decade. We went from 1,400 illegal vacation rentals in 2017 to less than 50 today. So because of that we have supreme confidence that we’re capturing all of the revenue. Two, we put a cap on vacation rentals operating outside of the VDA….

read … Mayor Kawakami confident vacation rental tax can help affordable housing

Reform HMSA practices before we run out of Doctors

SA: … The Hawaii County Medical Society applauds the recent legal ruling by Circuit Judge Robert Kim, which found Hawaii Medical Services Association (HMSA) contracts to be “unconscionable and unenforceable.”…

Our state has the worst shortage of primary care providers in America. We are at a crisis level, with Hawaii County’s doctor shortage estimated at 41% in 2023.

As stated by James Winkler, CEO/board director of Hale Lea Medicine: “After 30 years of practice, our nonprofit community medical center closed its doors due to unsustainably low reimbursement, primarily from HMSA. We provided primary care on the North Shore of Kauai, seeing approximately 15,000-17,000 visits annually. We provided pediatric, adult and geriatric medicine, and urgent care services. We also had three psychologists providing behavioral health services, as well as a full rehab and physical therapy department. In an open letter, Gov. Josh Green stated Hale Lea was vital for health care services to North Kauai.

“All of these services went out of business after 30 years of struggling to survive, leaving a major void in health care on Kauai’s North Shore….

RELATED: Court: HMSA Physician Contracts “oppressive, unconscionable, and unenforceable”

read … Reform isles’ health-insurer practices

SB2553: Hawaii Retirement Savings Program Auto-Enroll Scam Getting Closer

ASPPA: … Automatic enrollment of eligible employees in the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program is closer to being put in place. 

Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D-Waikiki) introduced SB2553 on Jan. 19, 2024. Under the bill, employees would no longer be required to opt in to participate in the Hawaii Retirement Savings Program but rather would be automatically enrolled. When the program began, one of the features that distinguished it from other states’ programs was that employees would have to actively opt in if they wanted to participate. 
On Feb. 2, the Senate Labor and Technology recommended passage with amendments and referred the bill to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which held a hearing on the bill on March 1. …

(CLUE: Passive, uninformed investors will be shunted off to underperforming funds with high service fees. Campaign contributors will loom large in these transactions.) 

BACKGROUND: Policy experts: Hawaii does not need to be in the retirement fund business

2022: SB3289: Advocates will be back for ‘Opt-out’ Again and Again until They Get it

read … Hawaii Retirement Savings Program Auto-Enroll Getting Closer

SB2443: Speeding Cameras to Make Comeback?

SA: … The agency’s red-light camera program is a two-year pilot project, and produced about 13,500 citations in its first nearly full year of operations. The cameras already track vehicle speeds for research purposes and can be programmed to issue speeding citations.

Citations for red-light running are issued to registered owners of vehicles caught by the system, and speed enforcement would be the same.

Sniffen said during Tuesday’s hearing that he wouldn’t support issuing citations for traveling 1 mph over the speed limit and that a 10 mph cushion has generally been established.

The state once before rolled out an automated speed enforcement program, but it did not go well.

That program began in 2002 under a state law enacted in 1998 and modified in 2000, and was supposed to be a three-year statewide pilot project involving operators of laser-equipped cameras stationed in roadside vans to ticket speeders and red-light runners.

During an initial two days of operation, 1,557 speeding citations were generated, compared with an average 100 daily citations by police for a variety of traffic offenses.

A public outcry, which included allegations that the contractor and state were incentivized by revenue to maximize citations, led to the “van cam” program being canceled after only three months of operation on Oahu.

Out of 18,954 citations issued during the curtailed operation, most were dismissed because the state Judiciary wasn’t pursuing fines for exceeding the speed limit by less than 10 mph even though DOT was allowing citations for driving at least 6 mph over the limit. Other citations were dismissed for different reasons, including a lack of documentation.

SB 2443 faces more consideration and possible changes ahead….

read … 10 intersections are new focus for ticket camera bill

Lingle joins recreational-cannabis debate in rare public stance

SA: … Former Gov. Linda Lingle testified for the first time before the state Legislature on Tuesday since leaving political office in 2010 and took a high-profile, political stance urging a House committee to kill the latest, perennial effort to legalize adult recreational cannabis use in Hawaii.

After more than three hours of testimony, the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, instead, voted to keep Senate Bill 2335 alive, with minor tweaks.

Lingle, a Republican who served her first of two gubernatorial terms beginning in 2002, called SB 2335 “a very dangerous bill” during Tuesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce….

MM: Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Clears Another House Committee After Passing Full Senate - Marijuana Moment

HNN: Legalization effort for recreational cannabis moves further at state capitol than ever before (

read … Lingle joins recreational-cannabis debate in rare public stance

Homeless Villages: A Viable Solution To Getting People Off The Street Or Just The Latest Fad?

CB: … Three weeks after the opening of Ho‘okahi Leo in Kalihi, residents of Hawaii’s third state-funded homeless village gathered to discuss the challenges of community life. 

Over plates of Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken and rice, more than a dozen formerly homeless neighbors talked about bathroom cleaning schedules, how to better share the temporary laundry facilities and what to do about visitors who break curfew.

It was a seemingly mundane conversation that masked the importance of the event: Building a sense of community and self-responsibility among Ho‘okahi residents is critically important to both the future of the housing project — and the state’s broader efforts to address homelessness. …

(CLUE: This concept works only for homeless who volunteer to leave the streets.  The vast majority of homeless want to stay right where they are.  They have to be FORCED off the streets.)

read … Homeless Villages: A Viable Solution To Getting People Off The Street Or Just The Latest Fad?

Amid city juggling act, popular soccer complex emerges as top contender for new landfill

HNN: …  Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s State of the City speech is landing like a time bomb on the City Council, which heard details about some of controversial plans Tuesday.

In his State of the City address, the mayor emphasized a better relationship with the military over use of its lands. It became clear Tuesday that involves a complicated puzzle involving a raceway, a landfill and a soccer complex, Managing Director Mike Formby told the council Budget Committee.

“So, right now, it’s just there’s all these juggling, moving parts up in the air,” Formby said.

Formby said the popular Waipio Soccer Complex is emerging as the top contender on government property for an Oahu landfill once the Waimanalo landfill near Ko Olina shuts down….

(CLUE: The real purpose is to create pressure to continue using Waimanalo Gulch.)

Formby said the decision about the site is far from final, and that the city is negotiating another landfill site with an unidentified private landowner, which he said would be much more expensive….

But Formby also made it clear that when the city finally receives 400 acres at Kalaeloa from the Navy, the soccer complex could relocate there. He said it could be built along with a raceway park…. 

KHON: Potential landfill in central Oahu draws criticism, while space for one is limited 

read … Amid city juggling act, popular soccer complex emerges as top contender for new landfill

Lahaina Fire News:

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