Report: OHA Forms Secret Partnership with Homeland Security, FEMA
Aftermath of the Maui Hospital Benefits Veto Override
Caldwell Ducks Debate as Fundraising Fades
State Issuing Fines on City for Sewer Spill and Failure to Maintain Infrastructure
Fishery Council Asks for Transparent Analysis of Proposed Marine Monument Expansion
Office of Elections Still Seeking Primary Day Poll Workers
Rep Ing Under Arrest—Hammered for Absenteeism, Lying, Mishandling of Funds
MN: …Ing has had to contend with questions about his legislative attendance, his handling of funding for the Kihei high school project and, most recently, his arrest on a warrant for failing to appear in court for a vehicle insurance violation.
At first, he explained he had been ticketed for driving without insurance while fixing his car outside his Kihei residence. He said his vehicle had been vandalized and was "undriveable." Later, he admitted the vehicle could be driven, although only a short distance.
He also alleged he was the victim of a "smear campaign," although he had no proof. And, he said he was distracted because his partner was "very pregnant" with the couple's first child….
While Ing has taken credit for South Maui funding tied to the Kihei high school project, Tegarden said appropriations for the school were mishandled.
For the 2013-15 biennium capital improvement budget, then-Gov. Abercrombie had proposed setting aside $150 million in general obligation bonds for the high school, she said. Instead, the Legislature appropriated only $30 million in general obligation bonds and tried to fund $100 million from the state Educational Facilities Improvement Fund without actually providing any real money for the project in the fund, she said. Later, the fund itself was repealed.
"I understand that the Legislature decided to change the amount of the request that the governor made (from $150 million to $30 million)," she said. "But the Legislature should have funded the entire project with general obligation bonds or at least provided general obligation bonds to the educational facilities special fund and then, of course, not repeal the fund."
In the end, "there was no $100 million for the governor to approve, and there was no $100 million for the DOE to spend," she said.
And, Ing was on the House Finance Committee at that time, she said.
"It is unfortunate that he and his colleagues made this unfortunate oversight that has cost our community, teachers, parents and children years in getting an education here in our own South Maui community," she said, adding that her aim, if elected, would be to "put a stop to all the finger-pointing" and meet with project stakeholders to "see how we can get this project back on track."….
Background: Rep Kaniela Ing Caught Lying About Arrest--Claims 'Conspiracy'
read … Vote August 13
Death of Big Money: Will Caldwell go the Way of Abercrombie?
Borreca: …Yes, that is true, Djou has picked up $225,507 while Caldwell took in $68,855 and Carlisle raised $56,748.
So it shows that Djou has some surprising vitality — but this race for mayor is still a dark and scary place if you are not the incumbent.
In total, Djou has raised $484,893. In comparison, Caldwell has raised $2,851,098. That’s a difference of 141 percent, meaning Djou still has a lot of whistling left to do in his campaign.
So far, Djou has spent $290,719 to promote his campaign while Caldwell has spent more than $2 million. In fact, Caldwell has spent a half-million dollars on his campaign during the month of July, compared with Djou spending $277,000.
But wait, the David vs. Goliath fans are saying, “What about David Ige against Neil Abercrombie? Ige was way outspent.”
True. The 2014 primary made election history in Hawaii. According to state campaign-finance reports, Ige spent just $584,488, or roughly $3.72 per vote. Abercrombie spent more than $5.5 million — or about $75.79 per vote.
Interestingly, Ige is still keeping with the low-profile fundraising. His campaign manager, Keith Hiraoka, said Ige has held only one fundraiser so far.
By way of comparison, during the first 18 months of Abercrombie’s administration, campaign records show he had already raised $1.8 million; during the same time period, Ige raised just $188,841.
All total, Ige today has a campaign balance of about $301,000….
read … Albatross, Neck
Rail projects in other major cities are dealing with similar budget woes
SA: …four cities have faced the same choices as Honolulu does now, and they’ve chosen different paths forward.
Boston-area transit officials aim to keep the Green Line extension project going by scaling back its design and securing more local funding. New York has already spent billions of dollars on a new tunnel taking shape under Manhattan and has pledged to keep digging despite the considerable increase. The Los Angeles area’s transit agency aims to cover cost increases to dig its own new downtown tunnel with dedicated sales tax sources, officials there say.
The Baltimore area, meanwhile, saw its long-awaited light rail project canceled last summer due to the rising costs.
All of these places had to consider the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding they stood to lose if they canceled their rail project or scaled down its scope too severely….
In May, project consultants suggested scaling back Green Line station features, including escalators, elevators and toilets. They also suggested trimming a train maintenance facility to almost half the size of its original design and to keep existing bridges along the line instead of building several new ones. Those and other moves, they said, should rein in the total cost to around $2.3 billion.
As for Oahu’s rail stations, “Everything they did in Boston, we’ve done,” Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation spokesman Bill Brennan said in an email Thursday. (IQ Test: Do you believe him?) He provided a list of 105 cost-reduction items to the stations that HART gave the City Council last year. (Embossed columns anyone?)
“There’s not much savings to be had on the guideway,” Brennan added, trying not to laugh….
read … Problems Inherent in Rail
20 Honolulu Charter proposals Will be on Ballot
SA: Oahu voters will be asked in November to consider 20 changes to the city Charter, the Honolulu Charter Commission decided last week.
By comparison, voters in 2006 had to decide 12 questions dealing with 18 issues. Nine were approved and three defeated.
The commission pared down the number of questions from 27 proposals by consolidating some on the table when its meeting began Thursday. Commission Chairman David Rae took exception to the suggestion that 20 proposals were a lot for the average voter to contemplate.
The list is “as long as it needs to be,” Rae said. “We started with 154 proposed Charter changes, generated by the City Council, the city administration and departments, public interest groups, Charter commissioners and the general public.” ….
The proposals will be translated into Chinese, Japanese and Ilocano then submitted to the Office of the City Clerk by Aug. 22.
Among the most widely discussed, if not controversial proposals:
>> Proposal 1 allows the Police Commission to fire or suspend the police chief for any reason. It also gives the commission the authority to subpoena witnesses and evidence when investigating alleged officer misconduct. Currently, the Charter says the chief can only be removed “for continuous maladministration.” The commission does not have subpoena powers.
>> Proposal 4 places the operations and maintenance of all city-owned transit operations, a “multi- modal transportation system,” under the city’s transportation services director. Currently, the Charter assigns responsibility over bus and paratransit operations and management under the transportation services director but operations and management for rail to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. The amendment also creates a rate commission to review and recommend changes for all fares and parking fees. HART retains responsibility over rail construction.
>> Proposal 9 establishes a dedicated Honolulu Zoo Fund and mandates that 0.5 percent of estimated annual property tax revenues be deposited into it. The fund is aimed at making it easier for the zoo to regain accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
>> Proposal 15 allows those holding elective city offices three consecutive terms of four years. The law now says the mayor, City Council members and the city prosecutor can be elected to a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms.
>> Proposal 12 requires city boards and commissions to be evaluated periodically to determine if they should be retained, amended or repealed. The exceptions would be the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, HART and those boards and commissions mandated by federal or state law.
>> Proposal 7 creates a city Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency.
>> Proposal 5 requires the city Affordable Housing Fund to be used to provide rental housing for those earning 60 percent or less of median household income for a minimum of 60 years. The current income limit is less than 50 percent of median, but developers are required to keep them affordable in perpetuity.
Go to honoluluchartercommission.org for the latest drafts of the 20 proposals.
read … 20 Proposals
Star-Adv: LNG Should Still be Considered
SA: A reassessment of fuel choices with an emphasis on stabilizing prices, in lieu of its once-anticipated liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply arrangement with NextEra.
HEI should investigate whether an alternative supply partnership, perhaps with Hawaii Gas, would be possible. Although LNG is a fossil fuel, it retains potential as a less costly “bridge fuel” that could ease the move to a more fully renewable-energy portfolio. That would be good for the ratepayer.
However, there are more possibilities. Oshima said the company is open to rethinking its rate-making system, aligning with the performance-based formula the PUC has endorsed. This means the utility’s profit incentive would be based on how well it performs for the customer.
Lee has said he will re-introduce a bill to speed the timeline for such a reform, something lawmakers should explore fully next session.
Big Q: 60% Extremely Doubtful -- Will HEI/HECO be able to meet the state’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045?
read … HEI must act quickly to set future path
Layoffs, “voluntary” buyouts hit Honolulu’s daily newspaper
ILind: …news veteran Bob Jones used Facebook to discuss this first round of cuts.
Very strange that not a peep in the local news media about Don Chapman being out as MidWeek editor as part of that paper’s cost-containment layoffs. Longtime chief photographer Natalie Walker gone as well.
Senior editor Terri Hefner currently handling the editor-in-chief duties.
Nothing in the Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat is still running a badly dated piece about potential layoffs.
My Facebook posts seem to be the sole source of that news. Odd, yes?
The newspaper has offered a buyout package in an attempt to entice those covered by the NewsGuild/CWA contract to leave voluntarily. Terms of the buyout weren’t disclosed, but it presumably offers at least a modest premium over the contract’s basic terms, which provide for one week of severance pay for each year worked.
To further confuse the situation, the current contract covering about 100 Star-Advertiser employees is due to expire on August 31.
I would expect that there will be several longtime journalists who will take this opportunity to retire.
Oahu Publications, which owns the Star-Advertiser, also owns Midweek, as well as newspapers on Kauai and the Big Island….
read … Layoffs, “voluntary” buyouts hit Honolulu’s daily newspaper
Next Step: Oceanfront Homeless Shelter Eases Rules
SA: …Starting Monday, the oft-criticized Next Step Shelter in Kakaako begins a new era intended to make it more welcoming to the homeless while emphasizing moving clients into permanent housing within 90 days.
Next Step clients often dot the shoreline of Kakaako Waterfront Park during the day because they have to be out of the shelter by 8:30 every morning, a daily exit that typically creates “a chaotic” time for both clients and staff, said Jason Espero, the new director of homeless services for Waikiki Health, which operates the shelter under a contract with the state.
The shelter’s daily morning checkout and 5:30 p.m. nightly check-in results in “a lot of emotion,” Espero said. “There’s a lot going on.”
Instead, starting Monday, all of the shelter’s clients can remain inside 24/7, where they can keep an eye on their belongings while getting help with job placement and finding permanent housing from the shelter’s staff of nine — all of whom have recently been trained to work as “housing navigators.”
Before, the shelter had only two housing navigators who each carried a caseload of 70 clients.
Now, Espero expects more clients will get assistance from the shelters’ staff, who individually will have an average of 20 clients.
And Espero is tackling the many complaints about the shelter’s “dozens of rules,” which used to be outlined in 13 pages for incoming clients, he said. New clients won’t even be required to have a tuberculosis test anymore, Espero said…..
Big Q: Do you agree with the easing of rules at Kakaako’s Next Stop Shelter for homeless people?
read … Oceanfront Real Estate
Umi Street families to be displaced for months during cleanup, asbestos testing
KHON: Umi Street flood victims are looking at two more months before they can move back into their homes.
The property manager tells us walls and some of the flooring will have to taken out. Before that’s done, each unit will have to be tested for asbestos.
So now the families are challenged with finding a place to stay for that long.
We wanted to know what’s being done to speed up the process.
In this case, the councilman for the district, Joey Manahan, is trying to help, and he’s asked the Institute for Human Services to find housing for the flood victims….
read … Caldwell
Voting preps underway ahead of Primary; volunteers still needed
KITV: The countdown to the upcoming Primary Election is on with just a week to go until thousands in Hawaii cast their votes.
State election officials, however, are still searching for more volunteers to help next Saturday….
OE: Volunteer Here
read … Volunteers