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Tuesday, November 10, 2015
November 10, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:50 PM :: 3172 Views

HART Math – When 1 + 1 Doesn’t Equal 2

Poll: 62% Support Telescope Construction--TMT to Re-Start Site Work

Nai Aupuni: Two Candidates Misplaced, and Another Quits the Race

Obamacare Covers 2.6% of Hawaii Insured

Hawaii Most Expensive State to Raise a Family

Hawaii GOP seeking election turnaround

HNN: Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona is working toward the next election, not as a candidate but with a group called Hawaii Family Advocates.

"What I want to do with that is to identify our faith based voters and make sure that I not only identify them and get them registered, but I get them out to vote," he said.

With lopsided losses at the ballot box piling up, Hawaii Republicans are searching for a winning formula....

Aiona said the controversy can confuse GOP backers but shouldn't sidetrack from efforts to find viable candidates.

"I'm meeting with one right now, very young, very talented, I think very appealing and will be a very good candidate for us," he said.

Borreca: Bernie Sanders Gets Support from Usual Yoga Types

read ... Turnaround

Rail in ethical limbo--The Fix is In

SA: ...At issue is the decision to hire the firm Starn, O’Toole, Marcus & Fisher to counter the complaint filed by Abigail Kawananakoa. The Campbell Estate heiress has charged that several Council members violated the ethics code in accepting gifts from parties advocating for the project.

The problem: Ivan Lui-Kwan, a board member for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and its former chairman, is a partner in the same firm as the attorney being hired, Mark Bennett.

The law firm will be paid up to $100,000, under a resolution the Council approved last week. The measure establishes that Bennett and other partners will be paid $375-$500 an hour for the work, with lesser rates paid to associates and paralegals.

The firm must have realized how this looked, because its principals say it will set up a legal screen to block Lui-Kwan from having any involvement with the case. And Donna Leong, the city corporation counsel, said that there is no conflict of interest.

But the fact remains that the law firm of one of the project’s top authorities will benefit from the contract. And that outcome should have been avoided, especially considering the ethical track record here.

First, there’s Kawananakoa’s lawsuit itself. The Council is being accused of taking key votes on the rail project after having improperly accepted gifts from lobbyists and others who would benefit from those decisions. This potentially compromises the votes on numerous bills, with repercussions on its financing arrangements.

The cleanest solution would be simply to re-vote the measures, but the Council leadership seems unwilling to move quickly toward resolution. Leadership has even sought, unwisely, to divert some of the proposed tax-increase funds to non-rail city projects.

Further, Chuck Totto, the director of the city Ethics Commission, has raised his own concerns on the same issues, but the commission has dispensed with that objection without the transparency one expects of an ethics panel. It voted to dismiss those complaints against Council members after a closed-door hearing.

The attorney defending the three accused in the ethics case — Ann Kobayashi, Ikaika Anderson and and former Council member Donovan Dela Cruz — is Colleen Hanabusa, herself a member of the HART board.

At best, the taxpayers must wonder what’s going on. Outspoken critics of the project already have concluded that it means the fix is in....

read ... Council puts rail in ethical limbo

Caldwell: Don't Cap HART Expenses

CB: ...The committee is considering passing the five-year tax extension as well as another proposal from Martin that would place a $910 million cap on additional spending from the extension while increasing accountability measures for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which is overseeing construction of the project.

With rail’s growing deficit of more than $1 billion dollars, Martin and others have wondered at what point the city might want to consider cutting its losses.

Their concern is that the GET extension — which was already approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Hawaii Gov. David Ige — might not be enough to cover costs should construction prices continue to soar. Some have broached the idea of shortening the route or eliminating stations.

“The essential question is: Is there a tipping point?” Martin asked Caldwell.

The mayor was careful in his response, at first saying he didn’t want to speculate about what would happen if rail costs exceeded the current total budget estimate of $6.6 billion.

He said the five-year GET extension should be enough to cover that amount, but it’s clear there’s not much cushion should there be major cost overruns in the future....

read ... Caldwell Urges Council Not To Cap GET Surcharge For Rail

Questions go unanswered as wider impact of Caldwell's August sewage spill revealed

KHON: The spill was estimated at about 500,000 gallons, but we’ve learned that the complete volume is hard to measure since the city admits it didn’t check every manhole that was overflowing, something it blamed on staffing.

We’ve been asking for more than a month for that staffing data, and now lawmakers and environmentalists are also calling for more transparency....

One business in the Waikiki area saw between six and 18 inches of raw sewage flood through its facility. They had to redo walls, floors and more to make everything sanitary, after tens of thousands of dollars of fixing.

Elsewhere, the Honolulu Fire Department called the city sewer trouble line about One Waterfront Plaza’s basement filling up with sewage-smelling water. That elicited an Environmental Services response three hours later and only a scope-out of the manholes on the street, according to the ENV report.

read ... Caldwell Lies

Priced out of Paradise: As housing inventory drops, rental rates go up

HNN: Rent has increased statewide 10- to 12-percent since 2012, while the housing inventory is way down -- and real estate experts those two factors are contributing to a housing crisis that's only forecast to get worse.

"Right now, because of the pressures of rising prices, growing incomes, growing jobs -- there's a lot more people running around looking for rentals than there is rental housing stock," said Ricky Cassiday, a Hawaii real estate analyst....

Cassiday said one out of every five Hawaii residents qualifies for affordable rentals, but only one in 20 is actually renting affordable housing because there just aren't enough units, regardless of how much families make.

In fact, analysts predict the state will need 17,000 new rental housing units by 2020.

"As the rental market gets tighter, as rents go up -- it becomes a problem," explained Peter Savio, founder of Savio Realty.

"Rents tend to rise faster than income -- especially in this type of market or this situation. We haven't built local condominiums for the local market in the last 10 to 15 years and that's the reason it's so tight this time. We haven't had the local developers building local condominiums with local pricing. We're building everything for the multi-million dollar apartments. We're building the more expensive units. We're not building the average units and that's what's creating the dilemma right now," he said....

read ... Supply n Demand

State pension fund down 6%

SA: Hawaii’s largest public pension fund declined more than a half-billion dollars in the first quarter of its new fiscal year as a Chinese-led economic slowdown dragged down the performance of the portfolio’s equity holdings in the domestic and international markets.

Investments in the state Employees’ Retirement System fund declined 6 percent in the period ended Sept. 30 as its assets — which include benefit disbursements — fell $561.7 million to wind up at $13.8 billion, according to a report presented to ERS trustees Monday by Portland, Ore.-based Pension Consulting Alliance Inc. It was the fund’s worst quarterly performance in four years since it declined 11.2 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

But ERS Chief Investment Officer Vijoy “Paul” Chattergy said the fund already has snapped back in the current quarter with assets unofficially at a record $14.5 billion.

read ... Down 6%

HECO 'Time of Use' Rates offer 9% Discount to Schools

PBN: Hawaiian Electric Co. is looking to help the state’s public schools deal with its classroom heat problems by offering lower daytime rates as more air conditioners are added to classrooms, the Honolulu-based utility said Monday.

The plan, which still needs the approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, would save the state Department of Education about 9 percent on its electric bills for the 12 months that ended in June, had the proposed rates been in effect.

read ... Air Conditioning

No Tenant's Union in Hawaii

CB:  More than 100 times a week, renters call the state Office of Consumer Protection, often with questions about their rights in contentious tenant-landlord relationships.

The office provides the callers with information, but not advocacy.

In fact, no organization advocates for tenants in Hawaii on a large scale, even though it has the most expensive rent in the nation at double the national average.

Nearly 46 percent of Honolulu residents are renters, according to the 2014 American Community Survey. That’s a higher percentage than Philadelphia, where there’s an active tenants’ union....

Attorneys at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii helped nearly 1,400 clients with landlord-tenant issues in fiscal year 2015. But more than 1,000 additional people called the agency and didn’t receive legal assistance due to the organization’s limited resources.

Victor Geminiani, co-executive director of the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, said Hawaii desperately needs an organization focused on providing renters with education, legal representation and political advocacy....

read ... Tenant's Union

Will Hawaii Dump Failed Medical Licensing System and Join Interstate Compact?

SA: Nearly a quarter of the states have approved a new compact that makes it easier for doctors to practice across their borders, and more states are considering joining.

As the system is implemented and membership grows, proponents say, access to health care will improve, and physician shortages, especially in rural areas, will ease....

read ... Licensing?

Woman: Peter Boy's Father Molested Me When I was 11

HNN: Hawaii County Police are investigating yet another case involving Peter and Jaylin Kema, the parents of missing 6-year old "Peter Boy."

Sources say a relative has come forward accusing Peter Kema Sr. of raping her more than a decade ago, when she was just 11 years old.

The relative says she would sleep over at the Kema's home and that one night, he sexually assaulted her. The victim told police that Jaylin Kema was there, but allegedly she did nothing to stop the attack.

The victim told Hawaii News Now she didn't came forward earlier because she was afraid and because she thought no one would believe her.

She went to police last week, after hearing the couple had been arrested for welfare fraud, and drug and firearms offenses. Jaylin was charged with welfare fraud, but Peter was released. He bailed out his wife Friday night....

The arrests came 18 years after 6-year-old Peter Boy disappeared on Hawaii Island....

WHT: ‘Peter Boy’s’ mother posts bail

read ... Alleged Child Molester

Homosexual Gets Life Sentence for Murdering, Dismembering Sex Partner

KHON: A man who killed another man and dumped his dismembered body in a ravine was sentenced Monday.

Bryan Suitt received life in prison with the possibility of parole after pleading no contest to the murder of Alex Gonzales.

Gonzales’ body was found in September 2013. He had been stabbed 55 times, dismembered and dumped in a shallow grave along Mililani Memorial Park Road.

Investigators say they uncovered “overwhelming evidence” that narrowed down Suitt as the prime suspect, including a receipt found during a search of his Waikiki rental apartment.

“The police tracked down that receipt and corresponding surveillance footage and found that is was the defendant who purchased on that day a pick and a bow saw,” said deputy prosecutor Scott Bell.

Bell said the search also uncovered the victim’s blood in the refrigerator, bathroom, and shards of glass....

read ... Gay Murder

Dirty Cop Among 55 federal prisoners Released Early in Hawaii

HNN: Over the next six years roughly 6000 inmates will be released from prisons nationwide. A total of 279 will return to Hawaii. Fifty-five have already been released.

One of the most high profile criminals was released last week.  Harold Cabbab was a 10-year veteran of HPD when he was busted stealing meth and cocaine from an evidence locker. The ruling shaved 4 months off his sentence....

read ... A Gift from Obama

Understaffing causing more city problems

ILind: Pang reported that regular trash pickups were missed throughout many parts of urban Honolulu, from Hawaii Kai to Aliamanu.

Green waste wasn’t picked up on its scheduled day here in our part of Kahala this week, and our regular Saturday pickup of the standard gray bins didn’t happen. Bulky items and green waste have had problems keeping on schedule recently.

Apparently this has been happening across Honolulu....

And last night KHON reported the city has been unable to keep grass mowed along public streets and in some public areas, an issue again blamed on staff shortages....

read ... Understaffing causing more city problems

27 Cases of Dengue on Big Island



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