LG Candidate Marissa Kerns Urges President Trump to Cancel All Remaining Federal Dollars for Honolulu Rail Project

Editor’s Note:  I know this weblog has not been recently updated. This is the first in what I hope to be a new series of posts as we get closer to the November 6 general election day. Most of this post is from LG candidate Marissa Kerns‘ press release. I have long been an opponent of the rail, so it is good that we restart the blog with this costly issue. Enjoy!


September 24, 2018

Media Contact: Marissa Kerns
Marissa Kerns for Lieutenant Governor
Cell: (808) 778-9985
Email: campaign@electmarissa.com

Honolulu, Hawaii — Republican lieutenant governor candidate Marissa Dipasupil Kerns called upon the Trump administration to cancel all remaining federal dollars for the first 20 miles of HART’s 34-mile rail construction project in Honolulu.

In a sternly-worded letter to President Donald Trump, Kerns urged Trump to “direct your administration to cancel all federal funding of the Honolulu rail transit project as set forth in the Full Funding Grant Agreement for this disastrous project between the FTA and the City & County of Honolulu. This is easily the biggest financial scam in Hawaii history. It’s bad enough that it affects Hawaii taxpayers. But I hate to see the nation’s taxpayers get suckered along with us in the Aloha State.”

Citing a steady stream of lies about cost, traffic relief, taxes, affordable housing and even the fare to be charged for riding rail, Kerns says that voters and taxpayers in Hawaii and across the nation have been defrauded by rail proponents.

Kerns zeroed in on the rapidly emerging likelihood that tens of millions or more in property taxes will need to be immediately diverted to the rail construction project in order for the City and HART to satisfy the Federal Transit Administration’s time-sensitive demand for a viable financial plan: “To date, there have been three tax increases for this project, when we were assured that the first tax hike in 2006 would be all the politicians needed from us. Most Hawaii residents are bracing themselves for even more tax hikes to pursue this greedy agenda built on a steady stream of lies. Indeed, even the FTA appears to be helping City leaders to increase the likelihood of grabbing property taxes to fund construction of this useless, make-work rail project.”

Kerns urged President Trump, Transportation Secretary Chao, and FTA Administrator Williams to disbelieve any plan which is received from HART: “And with the most complex parts of the project yet to be built — such as prep work with underground utilities, land acquisition, and the massive construction of miles and miles of rail guideways and rail stations in the most dense parts of the City & County of Honolulu — everyone knows that the costs will continue to skyrocket, long after our city leaders send you and the FTA their newest “plan”. In fact, the federal subsidy of this project used to amount to one-third the total construction cost. Now that one-third is down to a mere 17% of the quickly rising total. By the time this nightmare is over, I feel confident that the $1.55 billion federal subsidy for construction will probably only represent 9% or 10% of the total cost due to the crippling effects of incompetence, gross negligence and corruption at HART.”

In calling for a forensic audit, Kerns predicted that corruption and incompetence revealed through such an audit might warrant prosecution: “All taxpayers deserve to know why the price has tripled and who, if anyone, should go to jail for fraud and other related crimes.”

For Kern’s full letter to President Trump, here is a link: https://goo.gl/Q5Ho9a


Rail Tax Extension and Increase Bill Pass Out Of State Senate

Not surprisingly, 16 of the 25 Senators, all Democrats voted in favor of increasing the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) and extending the General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge to pay for the gigantically expensive fixed rail project now under construction on Oahu. The application of a new charge to the TAT will also force neighbor island counties to pay for Oahu rail.

Rescuing the taxpayers from the financial shackles of this gigantic, expensive rail mistake are the farthest thing on most if not all of the legislator and rail supporters minds. All they want to do is build this expensive train and take more money away from the struggling Hawaii taxpayers. It is probably hopeless (short of a North Korean nuclear missile attack) to think that somehow this gigantic expensive train can be stopped.

SB4 which was voted by the full Senate today moves on to the State House of Representatives where it is going through the same hearing process as it did in the Senate. It is expected that despite much testimony in opposition to rail and the new taxes, the House like the Senate will just rubber stamp its approval to the rail tax bailout bill.

It is so sad that the taxpayers have to continue to dish out more money for this gigantic mess that should have never been built in the first place.

Senators Who Voted YES on SB4 to the GET extension and TAT increase to bail out rail.

Stanley Chang (D-Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai)
Donovan Dela Cruz (D-Wahiawa-Whitmore-Mililani Mauka)
Will Espero (D-Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point)
Mike Gabbard (D-Kapolei-Makakilo)
Brickwood Galuteria (D-Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki)
Les Ihara (D-Moiliili-Kaimuki-Palolo)
Gil Keith-Agaran (D-Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului)
Michelle Kidani (D-Mililani-Waikele-Kunia)
Donna Mercado Kim (D-Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa)
Clarence Nishihara (D-Waipahu-Pearl City)
Karl Rhoads (D-Downtown-Nuuanu-Liliha)
Maile Shimabukuro (D-Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha)
Jill Tokuda (D-Kailua-Kaneohe)
Glenn Wakai (D-Kalihi-Salt Lake-Aliamanu)
Ron Kouchi (D-Kauai-Niihau)
Brian Taniguchi (D-Makiki-Tantalus-Manoa)

Senators Who Voted NO on SB4:

Roz Baker (D-West Maui-South Maui)
J. Kalani English (D-Molokai-Lanai-East Maui)
Josh Green (D-Naalehu-Kailua-Kona)
Breene Harimoto (D-Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea)
Lorraine Inouye (D-Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo)
Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-Hilo)
Gil Riviere (D-Heeia-Laie-Waialua)
Russell Ruderman (D-Puna)
Laura Thielen (D-Hawaii Kai-Waimanalo-Kailua)

All of the State Senators in Hawaii are Democrats.

The bill is being heard today in the House Finance Committee. The hearing started at 1:30pm.
Mayor Caldwell begs for fundsHonolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council Chair, Ron Menor are shown testifying on SB4 in their effort to get more money to fund rail at this past Monday’s hearing before the State Senate Ways & Means Committee. Photo by Choon James.

In Opposition to SB 4: GE Tax Extension and Increase to the TAT to Pay For Rail

By Melvin Ah Ching, Editor & Publisher, The Hawaii Political Platter Blog.Hawaii State Capitol 2With the start of the not so special legislative session to suck more money out of taxpayers, I decided to send testimony to the Senate Ways & Means Committee to oppose the extension of the General Excise Tax (GET) and the increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT). My testimony follows:

Testimony on SB 4.
Against GE Tax Extension
Against Increase to TAT
August 28, 2017.

To the members of Senate Ways & Means Committee,

I am against the implementation of the extension of the GET to pay for rail. I am also against the proposed INCREASE to the TAT. Furthermore, neighbor island taxpayers should not be paying for the rail that only benefits a small sector of Honolulu’s population.

This statement addresses my OPPOSITION to SB 4 and ask that all committee members as well as all members of the State Senate and the State House of Representatives vote NO on the implementation of this legislation.

Hawaii taxpayers are paying way too much for a rail system that should have never been built in the first place. The City & County of Honolulu bit more than they can afford and it is extremely sad and frustrating that the taxpayers have to foot this gigantic and expensive bill just to perpetuate the completion of this biggest mistake of the century.

Rail is not a solution to the transportation problem. It is only a development scheme to make our lives more expensive and to further engineer and price citizens out of their private, motorized vehicles.

Transient Oriented Development (TOD) is costing long time residents who own or rent properties near the rail line more money because of higher property tax assessments that are coming down the road. Many of us are old timers on limited or fixed incomes. The TOD will price many out of their homes.

I am angry at the rail and the taxes being implemented to pay for it. No extensions, No new taxes! The people in Hawaii are angry. Vote NO on SB 4.

Thank You.

Congresswoman Hanabusa Addresses Questions on National and Local Issues

Public Meeting with Congresswoman Hanabusa

U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa held a town meeting yesterday (May 9) at McKinley High School in Honolulu where she answered mostly partisan questions regarding issues effecting Hawaii and the nation. Among the items brought up during the 2 hour question and answer session were the budget including funding for rail, social programs, and the military; the status of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, education, security, Hawaiian sovereignty and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Firing of FBI Director James Comey: Hanabusa would like to see a special investigative committee convened to look into the Comey case and reasons why the Trump administration took this action. She says the ball on this action lies firmly in the hands of the GOP majority in Congress.

Maybe so, but Trump took action to get rid of Comey because of his in-action on further investigation on the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Questions still abound about the President’s campaign connections to the Russian government if any. At worst the firing of Comey came at the wrong time. Democrats, some Republicans and the media are having a “feeding frenzy” on this one.

Rail: Congresswoman Hanabusa said that funding for Honolulu’s beleaguered rail project is in the budget. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) still has to satisfy the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with its financial plan update in order to get the funds released. The Hawaii State Legislature did not include additional funding for rail this session. The City and County of Honolulu may pass legislation to enable other funding mechanisms such as raising the real property tax.

The over-budgeted rail project is costing taxpayers at least $10 billion. Estimates could peg the final cost of building rail to over $13 billion. Debate has been renewed again on whether to stop the rail at middle street, tear it down or bear the additional cost of a build-out to its intended destination of Ala Moana Center.

As I have stated many times, I remain opposed to the rail. It should never have been built.

Budget: Hanabusa says funding for Planned Parenthood is still in, while the President did not get funding to build “the wall”. The budget process will go through the till again as the government gets closer to the October 2017 fiscal year deadline.

Abortion funding with taxpayer dollars should be terminated.

Sanctuary Cities: The small partisan crowd of about 60 attendees was definitely for the concept of “sanctuary cities”, something that is opposed by the Trump administration. The Ninth Circuit Court on Appeals has invalidated the President’s executive order on banning immigration from some Islamic countries.

Sanctuary Cities are not a good idea since they allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. What part of “illegal immigrants” do Democrats and other bleeding hearts do not understand. Illegal means not sanctioned by law. Drunk driving is illegal. Stealing is illegal. Rape and murder is illegal. They all have dire consequences if people do these things. Illegal immigration is the same thing. Break the law, suffer the consequences.

Education: Hanabusa fears that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will “destroy public education” because she is an advocate of school vouchers. I think school vouchers are a good idea because parents will be able to use their tax money to fund their children’s education in institutions of their choice.

Local issues: Audience questions also touched upon the fuel storage tanks buried at Red Hill (most tanks are okay except for one of them); emergency access through the Kolekole Pass road; climate change; the military and Hawaiian governance.

Rep. Hanabusa stated that her stance on the issue of Hawaiian governance (restoration of the kingdom, federal recognition, or nothing at all) is up to the community to decide. “There is no right or wrong answer. It is about the process.”

I am firmly on the side of keeping Hawaii a part of the United States the way it is. If this issue came up for a vote, the entire state, regardless of race would have to have a say in it. The old Hawaiian Kingdom was not based on a tribe, but was a nation that included everyone. Like the vote that authorized the Territory of Hawaii to become a state in 1959, a vote to dissolve the State of Hawaii or change its governing status needs to be decided by everyone living in Hawaii, regardless of race.

Another issue that got some discussion was the status of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The monument falls under something called the “Antiquities Act” under which the President of the United States can create national monuments on federal lands through proclamation. The Papahanumokuakea monument, which is a large ocean area in the northern Hawaiian Islands has been targeted by the Trump administration “for review”. Commercial fishermen and businesses are opposed to the expansion of the monument.

I think a review on this is a good idea. People depend on fishing industry to get us fresh, affordable seafood. Environmental regulations are frequently passed that disregard the cost to consumers, adding inconvenience and negatively impacting the economy.

Lastly two interesting things that I got from the meeting.

  1. When people contact congressional delegations from outside their state or districts, many of the email programs automatically reject communications from out of state residents. Kind of makes sense since contact forms on Congressional web pages often point to pre-built pages asking for your name and address.
  2. Like a true Democrat, Rep. Hanabusa advocated that attendees hold the current federal government majority responsible by participating in a so-called “organic movement” exemplified by the recent Women’s March. She said “stay angry”.

Public Meeting with Congresswoman Hanabusa