Archive for July, 2006

Charter Amendment For Increased Property Taxes

An article at HawaiiReporter’s website outlines a Honolulu City Charter proposal that would mandate a certain percentage of property taxes be dedicated to “the acquisition or preservation of watersheds, drinking water sources, beaches, coastal areas and other natural, cultural and historical sites.” According to the article’s author Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, this proposed requirement will guarantee regular increases to Honolulu’s already high property taxes that people have been complaining about for several years.

Kalapa also states “backers of the amendment obviously did not think the issue of preservation of natural resources could persuade enough voters to adopt the provision and therefore earmarked an equal amount to provide and maintain affordable housing for low-income families. The provision, to be considered by the Honolulu voters, will earmark one percent of real property tax collections for these purposes with the windfall to be divided equally between natural resource preservation and affordable housing.”

Why should our money be earmarked for such purposes? Kalapa says this kind of funding is “poor public policy” as it “”restricts budget flexibility, creates inefficiencies and lessens accountability.”

Read the article. If you are concerned about this charter amendment proposal taking away more of your hard earned money, be sure to vote this amendment down.

Remember we are already paying some of the highest taxes in the State of Hawaii. Next year the General Excise Tax increases another 12.5% (thanks Governor Lingle) to pay for rail, the container redemption tax is slated to go up later this year and the state has a budget surplus that should be returned to the taxpayers. We cannot continue down this long and spiraling road of more tax increases to save property that is not ours or build homes that we won’t live in.

Relevant Links:

Downtown Planet Folds After 27 Years

A regular part of downtown Honolulu comes to an end today as the last issue of the Downtown Planet is published.

Downtown Planet Ends 27 Year Run

By Erika Engle

The Monday, July 24 edition of the Downtown Planet, a free weekly newspaper founded in 1979, will be its last, due to insufficient advertising revenue.

Its final issue hits the street as early as today.

Of all the little papers in our town, the Downtown Planet had improved the most in terms of look and overall presentation since it was acquired from its former owners in 2004.

Many of us have been regular readers of this publication since the 1980s. One of the early columns that I always looked forward to was the “Consumer Alert” and another one written about the happenings in Chinatown. Lately one of the most read columns “Political Steam,” written by Mano Pua was a regular editorial piece that poked at the local politicians and their doings.

Another feature that I always liked was the Downtown parking report which published the rates to all of the major public and private parking lots in the area. This last issue had the most extensive report with a map of downtown Honolulu going from Chinatown to the Capitol District. The map contained locator marks to all of the parking lots.

The photos had also improved and most of the time the “Planet Patrol” photo feature reminded the public and government officials of some spot in the area that needed improvement. “Planet Patrol” highlighted little problems like intersections that lacked ADA compliant curbing or of roadway potholes that needed immediate attention. These were the newer features that were added to the Downtown Planet in recent years.

The planet will be sorely missed by regulars of the Downtown area and Honolulu in general.

Here is the link to the Downtown Planet: http://www.downtownplanet.com

In time the site may go away. Be sure to look for the last issue on a newsstand near you or download the PDF file from their website to keep as a souvenir.

Friends of the Library Book Sale

Friends of the Library Book Sale

The 59th annual Hawaii Friends of the Library used book sale commenced on Saturday and will last for an entire week until this coming Saturday. More than 100,000 books, records, tapes, videos, CDs, DVDs, maps, and magazines are on sale, the proceeds of which benefit the Hawaii State Public Library System. The book sale is always a hit and draws thousands of bookworms and bargain hunters from all over the island, state and even the mainland. Unfortunately for the first time in its history, the state’s general excise tax is now being applied to purchases and being passed on to consumers.

The book sale is held in Honolulu at the McKinley High School cafeteria.

Anti-Smoking March

Anti-Smoking March

I was on my way to lunch this afternoon in downtown Honolulu when I happen to come across this small group of student marchers who were rallying against smoking. The Hawaii State Legislature passed a tougher smoking law that will ban the practice in most public places. The cigarette tax will also be increasing this year.

Shot with fixed focused Sony Cybershot U30 mini digital.

OHA Purchase of KGMB TV Would be Very Bad

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) entertained the possibility of buying TV station KGMB (Channel 9). The CBS affiliate has been on sale for more than a year by its current owner Emmis Communications. Recent meetings by an OHA committee set matters into motion to explore the possible purchase of the commercial TV station two days ago.

I firmly believe that government agencies should stay completely out of ownership of commercial media. The stated intention for OHA’s purchase of KGMB would have been to use it as a “medium of accurate and timely communication regarding Hawaiian affairs to the general public…” re: OHA run propaganda media machine. Surely, programming would be altered and the up and coming KGMB newscast would be seriously compromised, not to mention that this purchase would be a misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Emmis wants to sell the station for at least $40 million.

Late yesterday, the OHA Board of Trustees decided to nix the purchase idea at another meeting. Trustee Oswald Stender may still bring the issue up again.

This is not the first time that some branch of State Government has looked into the possibility of media ownership. Several years ago the State Legislature had a proposal before them to set up a traffic information radio station. Up until a few years ago, the State was actually subsidizing the operations of KHET Channel 11, Hawaii’s PBS station with taxpayer dollars. The State still funds operations at Olelo, the public access government and educational cable channels.

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