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.

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Biki Bikeshare Racks Taking Away Public Parking Spaces

Biki Taking Away Parking

Biki bikeshare racks are sprouting like weeds all over urban Honolulu taking away some valuable and cherished parking spaces that motorists regularly use. What’s up with this? What is this Biki thing?

The bikeshare operation is the latest effort in the City & County of Honolulu’s scheme of engineering and pricing motorists out of our vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) by making driving and parking more expensive through higher taxes and fees.

Now we have Biki,  a private company to setting up rental bicycle racks all over town, taking away valuable, highly used, parking spaces away from the motoring public. Some of those spaces are places where motorists enjoy free, unmetered parking, such as in the area along Kalakaua Avenue near Kapiolani Park.

Biki is a non-profit bicycle sharing operation that is priced (like old fashioned cell phone service) at $3.50 per ride, per user for a 30 minute block. Bike renters can pick up a bike at one rack and return it to another. The service takes only takes electronic payments. No cash. Each rack is self powered with a small solar array mounted on a pole adjacent to the rack. The racks will hold about 20 or so bikes.

The bicycles are goofy looking and as this photo shows, may also contain advertising. It will be just a matter of time before some of the bike racks and bicycles are vandalized.

The per ride pricing is very high for most residents. The current bus fare is $2.50 per ride, unlimited distance and time. The per ride bus fare is going up to $2.75 after a recent bill was passed by the City Council. The $2.75 is still cheaper than the Biki $3.50 rental. Clearly the high priced Biki is aimed at tourists.

That said, why are Biki racks popping up in neighborhoods where tourists don’t travel to? Why are Biki racks taking up valuable parking spaces, metered or free, that residents use? I have to think this is part of the city’s larger agenda to get most of us out of our motor vehicles.

Biki should only be set up in places that target tourists. Biki racks should never replace any motor vehicle public parking. It is bad enough that the city has taken many parking spaces away to build bicycle lanes. Motorists are being shortchanged while paying ever increasing taxes and fees to operate a vehicle.

#Biki #Bikeshare

Additional Links:

Honolulu Residents Get Raw Deal With Bikeshare, Civil Beat Commentary

Attorney General’s office seeks answers to city’s new Bikeshare program, KHON on YouTube

Biki Pushback at Kapiolani Park, KITV 4 News

Vote No on City Charter Amendment 8, HawaiiFiles Blog Archive

 

Biki Taking Away Parking
More like “no parking forever” in this area next to Ross Dress For Less on Keeaumoku.

Biki Taking Away Parking
City parking meters and spaces are covered up to transfer revenues to Biki operations.

Biki Stations: EXPENSIVE!
Will you pay $3.50 to rent a goofy looking bicycle for 30 minutes (or less)?

Biki Station: Ala Moana Park
Biki logo on one of their Ala Moana Park racks as it is on all others.

South King Street - Honolulu HI
Honolulu’s street parking spaces are under assault by Biki and other bicycle policies being implemented by the City & County of Honoululu.

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

Welcome to The Hawaii Political Platter

"Let the People Vote"//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Is there a place for conservative policy in Hawaii? For more than 60 years now the State of Hawaii has been dominated by the Democratic Party. Over the past six decades the policies set forth by the Hawaii Democrat Party has pushed this state further and further into disrepair, economic stagnation, over development, wasteful government spending, more taxes, more cost, increasing homelessness, out of this world real estate and rental prices, over regulation, socialism, and much, much more. If something can go horribly wrong (rail) in Hawaii, it will.

Can the State of Hawaii ever recover from this? The only sure way is to kick all of the entrenched Democrats and left-leaning Republicans out of city, state and federal offices and start over again with a fresh new slate of people committed to freedom, liberty, capitalism and a Hawaii that we can afford to live and work in. Is that possible?

Probably not, but it is a worthy goal, no matter how difficult.

The purpose of this blog is to point out some of the most pressing issues that impact our social, cultural, educational and financial well being.

Posts appearing in this blog will generally be that of the author and comes from a conservative point of view. On occasion we may have guest opinions, press releases and news items cross posted from other websites. While the focus is on Hawaii government nd politics and items from the mainland United States and the rest of the world will occasionally show up here.

The blog will not be updated on a regular basis and at times may lay idle between posts.

We hope you find this blog to be interesting in the coming weeks and months.