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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
September 20, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:43 PM :: 3739 Views

Hawaii is #1 in Teacher Absenteeism at 79% 

Hawaii 6th Most Indebted State

Hawaii: 10,464 Student Loan Debtors Over Age 60

'Pono Policy Academy' to Begin Candidate Training Classes

Got Anxiety? DoH begins adding new excuses for Medicated Marijuana

Greenmail: OHA, UH Team up to Hire More Lawyers

Nuclear Blast Preparations: Inside Legislators’ Secret Meeting

CB: …Dozens of legislators and their staffers met behind closed doors Tuesday to hear a briefing by state Emergency Management Agency officials on preparedness for a North Korea nuclear strike on Hawaii.

Some lawmakers who attended stressed that the secret meeting was not called because of any immediate threat to the islands. Instead, it was a discussion of how to help the public prepare.

A public meeting on the topic is planned for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol auditorium. Legislators said they did not know how that meeting would differ from Tuesday’s.

Civil Beat obtained a copy of a memo Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, sent Monday inviting all legislators and their staffs to attend a presentation by the EMA “regarding recent regional military threats and the planned responses to such events.”…. 

read … Shelter

HART: We Overestimated Last Tax Hike by $600M

SA: …early in their long-anticipated 213-page report, released Monday, there’s a reminder of how such forecasts have fared previously.

The recovery plan states that rail’s earlier, 2015 bailout “was anticipated to yield $1.2 billion in additional funds.” In fact, some officials at the state Capitol anticipated it would yield $1.8 billion when the Legislature approved that five-year tax extension in May of that year.

By October 2015, as project costs continued to climb, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation instead forecast $1.5 billion.

And by February 2016, as new budget problems surfaced, officials were saying the five-year extension through 2027 could yield anywhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.

Several months later the island’s transit project would plunge into renewed fiscal crisis as projected costs skyrocketed.

It remains to be seen whether HART’s latest financial forecast, sent to the Federal Transit Administration with the recovery plan Friday, will eventually prove accurate enough to complete the full 20-mile, 21-station line.

However, after several years of intense public scrutiny and two high-profile audits with dozens of recommendations to better manage rail, HART’s new leaders insist that they’ve made the changes needed to handle risk, schedule and cost and get the project back on track….

PDF: Hart Recovery Plan – Sept. 15, 2017

read … Rail officials confident about strength of new plan

Ige’s School Reform: Kaiser HS Football Team Collapses Season Cancelled After Threats

HNN: …In a letter sent home to students on Tuesday, Kaiser High School principal Justin Mew announced that the remainder of the school's football season has been cancelled due to 'extreme concerns for student and staff safety.'

"The well being of our school community is a top priority, and we are committed to keeping our students and staff safe," wrote Mew in the letter.

In his letter to parents, Mew also says that 'an incident' occured on campus on Monday evening that required police involvement.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now that the Kaiser High School football team was supposed to have a parent meeting on Monday night about pulling up JV players to the varsity team for the homecoming game this weekend, but the meeting got canceled after an altercation at the field led to police being called. 

Members of the football team were pulled out of class on Tuesday for an emergency meeting with administrators to discuss what happened, sources say. Kaiser High School faculty and staff also reportedly met on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

In an email obtained by Hawaii News Now that was distributed internally to faculty and staff members, school administrators said that the decision to cancel the remainder of the football season was "due to escalating threats against members of our faculty and staff."

Multiple sources tell Hawaii News Now that there was a second, unspecified altercation involving a parent, but that the incident happened at head coach Arnold Martinez's home, not at the school.

Court records obtained by Hawaii News Now show that Martinez filed for a temporary restraining order last week…. 

read … Football

Special Education Parents: More Lawsuits Coming

WHT: …The Hawaii Department of Education’s new superintendent on Monday said delivery of special education services is among the areas eyed for improvement this year.

But the crowd at the meet-and-greet was mixed as to their confidence in the department’s ability to deliver.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, who took the reins in August, spoke about her plans for those programs and others to parents and faculty at Kealakehe High School.

Part of Kishimoto’s plan to improve special education includes a task force that is kicking off this week charged with looking at how special education services are delivered, what the core program will look like and what funding, staffing or other resources will be needed to enact it.

“So that we’re very purposeful in the design of our special education services,” Kishimoto said.

Carrie Tucker, a Volcano parent of a special education student, said that while Kishimoto mentioned plans to revise the delivery of services, she also wanted to hear about ways to revise what recourse is available for families when schools haven’t been effective in delivering those services.

She said she’s been trying to get her son’s school to help him advance more than one reading level per year — noting she’s spending time and money to supplement the education he gets in school — and that, at this point, the only recourse she feels she has is legal action….

“I came here hoping to avoid a legal battle; I was hoping to avoid court,” Tucker said. “And I feel more like my only recourse will be legal … I was convinced today that nothing will change for my son without legal representation.”

One specific outstanding question, she added, was how schools are going to address the behavioral needs of special needs students, saying punishing students for behaviors that manifest themselves as a result of a disability isn’t the answer. She said when staff punish behavior instead of consider what the behavior is expressing, it just makes everything worse….

Reality: DoE SPED: 24% Absenteeism, 40% Do Not Graduate

read … Special education services eyed for improvement

29% Property tax Hike for Maui TVRs

MN: …A bill under consideration by the Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee also would apply to property owners who rent out non-primary residences under a conditional permit allowing short-term vacation rental use.

The measure would reclassify rental properties from commercial (now taxed at $7.28 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed valuation) to the hotel and resort classification (now taxed at $9.37 per $1,000). The council sets property tax rates every budget year.

The bill would not affect property owners who use their primary residences for a permitted bed-and-breakfast or transient vacation rental. These properties would remain under the commercial residential tax category.

Scott Teruya, the county’s Real Property Tax Division administrator, said the change would net the county $640,000 in additional revenue. There would be 186 units affected by the change, Teruya told the committee….

PBN: Airbnb hosted more than 217,000 visitors in Hawaii this summer

read … 29% Tax Hike

$4M Effort Forces 42 Homeless Drug Addicts to Accept Shelter

HNN: …The state's new effort to move the homeless off Nimitz Highway combined with a recent expansion of the city's sit-lie ban have spurred close to 20 campers to congregate on the sidewalk outside the business.

"When customers do come, they feel unsafe," said Higa Food Service employee Daniel Rebujio.

Signs warn trespassers to keep out, but Rebujio says lately trouble has been finding its way into their parking lot.

"There's fights. People pee all over the place. They're swearing and there's a lot more activity going on at night," said Rebujio….

Morishige says while most of the people in the area have repeatedly refused help, the state stands behind its decision to increase enforcement.

In July, the state Department of Transportation launched a $4 million effort to rid parts of the H-1 Freeway and Nimitz Highway of homeless campers.

Morishige says the sweeps have prompted a total of 50 people to get off the street.

Forty-two have moved into shelters, leaving the embankments of the freeway. The other eight were sleeping on the sidewalks that border Nimitz Highway.

On Tuesday, Hawaii News Now found the embankment above the Punchbowl exit that was once crowded with tents is now free of campers.

"Crews go out multiple times a week. Sometimes more than one time a day to specific locations," Morishige said. "The idea is to have a regular presence. Not only the clean-up or the enforcement staff but to have a regular outreach presence."…

read … Amid Nimitz enforcement, dozens of homeless move to shelters — but many more don't

Kauai PD Raids Homeless Camps Forces 8 to Accept Shelter in Jail

KGI: …The Kauai Police Department’s Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team conducted a special mission on Monday in the Lihue and Kapaa areas, which led to arrests, the removal of illegal campsites and the removal of abandoned property.

In Lihue, eight subjects were arrested for 12 outstanding warrants, totaling $35,325 in bail.

The team, along with officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and county park rangers, also removed several illegal campsites and two truckloads of abandoned property in the Kapaa area near Lihi Park….

read … Not Homeless Any More

Hawaii Co: In a few years we may buy some Igloos, until then we will have massive festering homeless tent cities

WHT: …An igloo village could pop up in Kona over the next few years, as Hawaii County works on a homeless settlement across from the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Igloos — 20-foot-wide, 314-square-foot fiberglass domes that can each house four people — aren’t new to homeless housing. Nor are they new to Hawaii.

Igloos are currently in the works for a project of the First Assembly of God in Honolulu. The overlapping fish-scale exterior panels keep the interior 10-15 degrees cooler than outside, even in the sun, and the igloos can also be used for hurricane shelters, officials said.

They would be new to the Big Island, however.

“I like the igloo structures,” said Lance Niimi, an executive assistant of the mayor charged with homeless issues. “They’re easy to construct, they’re movable and they can handle hurricane-force winds.”

Niimi, making a presentation Tuesday to the County Council Committee on Human Services and Social Services, provided the Kona update at the request of Kona-area council members.

But several other council members pressed Niimi for details of a master plan that would provide a timeline for other areas of the county, such as Hilo, which is also experiencing rampant homelessness.

“We’re looking at this horrible upward trajectory,” said Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung. “To curb that trajectory … we need that master plan.”

The master plan will look at the entire island and also include treatment and employment options for homeless individuals. It’s estimated that about a third of the homeless population have mental health issues and about half have substance abuse problems….

read … Not Smart Enough Yet

Abused Toddler’s Mom Seeks Federal Help With Her Son’s Case Against ‘Friend of the Police’

CB: The mother of a Honolulu toddler who almost died from apparent abuse while under the care of a babysitter in 2015 is seeking a federal agency’s help in figuring out whether the sitter was ever put on the state’s child abuse and neglect registry.

In an Aug. 28 letter, Chelsea Valiente said it appears that the state Department of Human Services closed the case of her son, Peyton, when she and her husband went to family court to have their own names cleared. The letter was sent to the San Francisco regional program manager for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As a result, Valiente wrote, the department may have destroyed the entire case file. That means that the babysitter, Manuela Ramos, may never have been put on the registry, despite the fact that state officials identified her as the likely abuser, Valiente wrote….

But a transcript of a family court hearing on March 10, 2015, shows officials were confused over whether the whole case file would have to be tossed in order to clear the names of the Valientes, and what the implications would be for including Ramos on the list.

“We’re afraid that if there is a total expungement … there would be … nothing in our records showing that there was serious harm to the child and that the perpetrator was the babysitter,” Patrick Pascual, a deputy attorney general representing the department, told family court Judge Catherine Remigio…..

read … Feds Coming

HFD: We Know cause of Marco Polo Fire

CB: The Honolulu Fire Department knows the cause of the fire, but is refusing to reveal it — even to their own firefighters — until reports are finalized....

SA: Bobby Lee: The firefighters union chief sees hard lessons in the Marco Polo condo fire

read … Secret

Lanai Celebrates Death of Big Wind

IM: The Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO, MECO, & HELCO) have seen five gigantic, multiple-decade, multi-party, controversies over the past 100 years. The utility just lost their second and third controversies—the Big Wind & Interisland Cable--while two others remain hotly contested.

Friends of Lana`i hosted a party on Lana`i this past weekend to celebrate the death of Big Wind. Community activists and funders were joined by representatives of I Aloha Moloka`i, Life of the Land, and Hawai`i`s Thousand Friends…..

read … Celebrate!

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