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!

______________________

PRESS RELEASE
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

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Physician Assisted Suicide Passes House Vote

The Hawaii State House of Representatives passed the Physician Assisted Suicide bill (HB 2703) on a third reading crossover vote. The vote count was 39 in favor and 12 opposed. Representatives Aquino, Cachola, Choy, Cullen, Har, Johanson, Kong, McDermott, Quinlan, Tupola, Ward, and Woodson voted against the bill’s passage.

The bill now advances to the Hawaii State Senate where it is expected to pass. Governor David Ige has indicated he supports killing people though assistance by a doctor.

More from the Honolulu Civil Beat website:

Emotions run high as legislators debate whether the measure grants a “civil right” or sends the wrong message about suicide.

Source: Hawaii House Passes Medical Aid In Dying Bill – Honolulu Civil Beat

Legislature Votes on Rail Tax Extension & Increase

Saving rail is more important than saving the taxpayers.

This is the conclusion that I have come to at the close of this week’s “special session” in which legislators chose to extend the General Excise Tax surcharge to fund rail by another 3 years to 2030 and levy an increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) charged statewide on all hotel and travel accommodations. The result of the tax increase and extension will be far reaching into peoples’ pocketbooks for years and decades to come.

As I have stated again and again in this blog and other sites previous, RAIL is a gigantic, expensive mistake that should have never happened. Billed as a transportation solution for residents on the west side of Oahu, rail is anything but that. It has turned into a gigantic, fiscal black hole complete with numerous change orders and cost overruns. The once touted $3.5 billion price tag has climbed to at least $10 billion and will probably climb even higher to $12 to $15 billion.

Kaka'ako High Rise Construction

Rail has become a gigantic, expensive development project that will impact taxpayers for decades to come.

Rail has turned out to be a development project for the well connected and financed investment companies that have taken advantage of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) breaks given by the city to construct high priced glass and concrete condo towers, shopping malls and more. These developments are springing up over prime agriculture lands out in West Oahu (Ho’opili project), replacing low rent and affordable residential and commercial districts in the Pearl City, Salt Lake, Airport, Kalihi, Kaka’ako and Ala Moana areas. Longtime residents who live along the TOD corridors will be negatively impacted with higher property assessments that will lead to higher property taxes.

As a long time resident living near one of the TOD zones at the Ala Moana Center end of the rail line, I have seen a steady increase of my property taxes over the years. With at least a half dozen new glass towers proposed, already under construction or completed in my area, I can only look forward to a dramatic property tax increase that may price me out of my own home. Sad huh? This does not include a possible, dedicated property tax increase to pay for the remainder of rail itself as threatened by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

I hate the rail for these reasons and many more. I wish it were never built.

— Melvin Ah Ching, Editor & Publisher, Hawaii Political Platter

Legislative History of SB4 | Special Session 2017

Special Session
SB4  
Measure Title: RELATING TO GOVERNMENT.
Report Title: County Surcharge on State Tax; Extension; Transient Accommodations Tax; Appropriations
Description: Authorizes a county that has adopted a surcharge on state tax to extend the surcharge to 12/31/2030. Authorizes a county to adopt a surcharge on state tax before 3/31/2018, under certain conditions. Decreases from 10% to 1% the surcharge gross proceeds retained by the State. Allows the director of finance to pay revenues derived from the county surcharge under certain conditions. Clarifies uses of surcharge revenues. Establishes a mass transit… (See bill for full description.)
Companion:
Package:
Current Referral: TRN/FIN
Introducer(s): KOUCHI (Introduced by request of another party)
Sort by Date Status Text
8/25/2017 S Pending Introduction.
8/25/2017 S The committee on WAM has scheduled a public hearing on 08-28-17 3:00pm in the Capitol Auditorium.
8/28/2017 S Introduced.
8/28/2017 S Passed First Reading.
8/28/2017 S Referred to WAM.
8/28/2017 H Bill scheduled to be heard by TRN/FIN on Wednesday, 08-30-17 1:30PM in the Auditorium.
8/28/2017 S The committee(s) on WAM recommend(s) that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes in WAM were as follows: 6 Aye(s); Senator(s) Dela Cruz, Keith-Agaran, Galuteria, Kidani, Shimabukuro, Wakai; Aye(s) with reservations: none; 5 No(es): English, Harimoto, Inouye, Kahele, Riviere; and 0 Excused: none.
8/29/2017 S Reported from WAM (Stand. Com. Rep. No. 3) with recommendation of passage on Second Reading and placement on the calendar for Third Reading.
8/29/2017 S Report adopted; Passed Second Reading with Senators Green, Harimoto, Inouye, Kahele, Riviere, Ruderman and Thielen voting “No”.
8/29/2017 S One Day Notice 08-30-17.
8/30/2017 S Passed Third Reading. Ayes, 16; Aye(s) with reservations: none. Noes, 9 (Senator(s) Baker, English, Green, Harimoto, Inouye, Kahele, Riviere, Ruderman, L. Thielen). Excused, 0 (none). Transmitted to House.
8/30/2017 H Received from Senate (Sen. Com. No. 3).
8/30/2017 H Passed First Reading.
8/30/2017 H Referred to TRN/FIN, referral sheet 1.
8/30/2017 H The committee on TRN recommends that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 3 Ayes: Representative(s) Aquino, Nakamura, McDermott; 1 Aye with reservations: San Buenaventura; 2 Noes: Quinlan, Brower; and 1 Excused: Hashem.
8/30/2017 H The committee on FIN recommend that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 8 Ayes: Representative(s) Luke, Cullen, Gates, Holt, Keohokalole, LoPresti, Nakamura, Yamashita; Ayes with reservations: none; 6 Noes: Cachola, DeCoite, Kobayashi, Lowen, Tupola, Ward; and 1 Excused: Representative(s) Fukumoto.
8/31/2017 H Reported from TRN/FIN (Stand. Com. Rep. No. 3), recommending passage on Second Reading and placement on the calendar for Third Reading.
8/31/2017 H Passed Second Reading; placed on the calendar for Third Reading with Representative(s) Creagan, Evans, McKelvey, Onishi, Oshiro, San Buenaventura voting aye with reservations (6); Representative(s) Brower, Choy, Lowen, Quinlan, Thielen, Todd, Tupola, Ward voting no (8) and Representative(s) Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, McDermott, Nishimoto excused (5).
9/1/2017 H Floor amendment #1 failed following Voice vote: Noes, 2 (Representative(s) Luke, McKelvey). Excused, 4 (Representative(s) Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, Nishimoto).
9/1/2017 H Floor amendment #2 failed following Voice vote: Noes, 1 (Representative(s) Luke). Excused, 4 (Representative(s) Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, Nishimoto).
9/1/2017 H Floor amendment #3 failed following Voice vote: Noes, 3 (Representative(s) Luke, Yamane, Say). Excused, 4 (Representative(s) Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, Nishimoto).
9/1/2017 H Floor amendment #4 failed following Voice vote: Noes, 2 (Representative(s) Luke, Aquino). Excused, 4 (Representative(s) Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, Nishimoto).
9/1/2017 H Passed Third Reading with Representative(s) Kobayashi, Onishi, Oshiro, San Buenaventura, Woodson voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Brower, Cachola, Creagan, DeCoite, Evans, Kong, Lowen, McKelvey, Quinlan, Say, Thielen, Todd, Tokioka, Tupola, Ward voting no (15) and Representative(s) Choy, Har, Hashem, Matsumoto, Nishimoto excused (5). Transmitted to Senate.
9/1/2017 S Received from House (Hse. Com. No. 3).
9/1/2017 S Enrolled to Governor.

It is highly likely that Hawaii Governor David Ige will sign the bill into law.

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